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Who You Gonna Call..?

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Whenever Diego used to think about leaving home, silence was one of the main things he looked forward to. The Academy was always so noisy. During the day, someone was always training, and their father’s voice would echo down the halls, snapping at them to be faster, to focus, to try harder, to be better. The rest of them would just block it out, either recovering from their own training or anticipating their turn. None of them ever said anything. Maybe they should have.

At night, all he could hear was muffled crying. A different person every night. Some nights, when the sobs came from just through the wall, he knew it was Klaus. Sometimes he’d knock on the wall, just so Klaus knew Diego was there with him, and sometimes Klaus would knock back. Other nights, the sounds came from further down the hall, and Diego wouldn’t be able to tell who exactly it was. He could always tell in the morning though. They’d sit down for breakfast and one of them would be hunched over, trying to hide their blotched face and red rimmed eyes. They all knew, but none of them ever talked about it. Maybe they should have.

The only time he remembered crying, really crying, was after their first ever mission. He did good. He did really good. Took down two bank robbers with one throw and another with his back turned. But he was used to practicing on moving targets, or on his siblings in his free time with rubber balls. He’d never thrown a knife at a real person before. His targets had never screamed or bled before. Everyone kept telling him how great he’d been, but once they got home he locked himself in his room and sobbed until he had nothing left. He didn’t remember crying after that. He didn’t remember feeling much of anything after that, other than a deep, burning need to get out of there as soon as he could.

And now he was out, only it turned out silence wasn’t what he thought it would be. Silence was lonely. It still wasn’t true silence, what with the railway line running right behind his apartment. But the routine thundering that shook the building was nothing compared to the screams of his siblings waking up from their nightmares, or the alarm that used to pierce right through him to alert them of a new mission. He still hated sirens to this day. Not ideal, given his line of work, but he got by. But this morning, even with the rumbling of the train in his ears when he woke up, it was silent. Just like it had been for the last thirty mornings. No sounds of life, just him, with a whole empty apartment to himself.

The dark walls of his bedroom felt like they were closing in on him and he forced himself upright, wincing as pain shot through his skull. A stark reminder of the blow he took last night. Nothing unusual, just a standard mugging in a back alley that he happened to stumble across and put a stop to. But one of them managed to get behind him and smash a bottle over his head, and boy was he paying for it now. All he wanted to do was lie back down, roll over, and sleep it off, but Patch needed him at the precinct and the thought of letting her down again could outweigh any amount of pain he was in.

Swinging his legs off the bed, he dragged his feet across the floor as he headed to the bathroom. The sight of himself in the mirror made him cringe. There was dried blood streaked across his forehead and under his lip, and the makings of a nasty bruise on his left cheek.

“Shit,” he grumbled, splashing some water on his face. Even with the blood gone, he still looked like he hadn’t slept in a week, which wasn’t far from the truth. The longer he was alone in the apartment, the more restless he got. He’d been out every night for the last nine days, seeking out bar brawls and back street fights to put a stop to. When he first started the whole vigilante thing, he knew exactly what he was doing it for. He missed the feeling of helping people, of doing good. He missed being a hero. Nowadays the lines were blurred, and he wasn’t sure whether it was the thrill of helping someone that gave him that rush, or just the thrill of a good fight.

He staggered groggily out into the front room and his eyes immediately falling on the couch where the pillows and blankets lay undisturbed for the thirtieth morning in a row. Like clockwork, he circled the room, checking the batteries and the bulbs in each of the strategically placed lamps and nightlights. They hadn’t been used for thirty nights now, but he still checked they were working every morning. He had to be sure they wouldn’t run out halfway through the night. At first, they had all been electric lights. Plugged into every spare socket in the room to keep each corner lit. Then they had a power cut, and the next day Diego went out and bought battery-powered lights, because he never wanted to be woken up by those terrified screams again.

Once he was satisfied all the lights would make it through the night, he grabbed an energy bar from the cabinet full of untouched snacks and plopped himself down on the armchair opposite. Even after thirty days, he wouldn’t touch the couch, because the couch wasn’t his. The apartment was his, the bedroom, the food, all his, but the couch was Klaus’.

They left the academy together when they were seventeen without much of a plan, and with no idea of how long they’d end up sticking together. Diego had always been a little optimistic about how easy it would be to fall into an adult life. Figured after a couple of years they’d both have stable jobs and their own houses and see each other on weekends, but it turned out the real world wasn’t that simple. After a couple of years they were still staying in seedy motel rooms, drinking cheap liquor and living off scraps. It wasn’t until he graduated that things finally started to pick up, but even then it wasn’t by much. Eight years on and what had they gained? A shitty one bed apartment with damp walls and a recurring roach problem. Klaus didn’t even have a bed . Though, as he often reminded Diego during his more coherent moments, a couch and a roof over his head was probably more than he’d have if he were going at it alone. These days Klaus was either high as a kite or tearing his hair out when the ghosts got too loud, and he couldn’t work in either of those states. Diego tried not to think too much about where that left him, or what kind of future he could possibly have if they ever went their separate ways. During the rare moments when they did talk about it, Klaus always spoke like his future was hypothetical, like still being around in five years was a possibility, not a certainty. Diego tried not to think too much about that either.

Once Klaus had suggested that he could just go back to the Academy. Live with Luther and Pogo and mom and eat smiley face pancakes with whipped cream every day. But Diego had sworn to him the day they left that he was never gonna let their dad anywhere near him again, and he didn’t plan on breaking that promise. Not ever.

His head was still pounding as he made his way outside, and he found himself wondering for a brief second whether he should even be driving. He’d driven in worse conditions. As far as he was concerned, so long as he was reasonably sober and not losing a life threatening amount of blood, he was okay to be in control of a vehicle.

The drive from his apartment to the station was only five minutes, and before he knew it he was pulling up outside, trudging past crowds of people in suits towards his desk, where Patch was waiting for him. She stood out against the brown of the room and the grey of everyone in their suits mulling around her, wearing a bright blue, loose fitted shirt tucked into black suit pants. He didn’t make any effort to hide the way his eyes trailed over her, taking everything in and locking it in his memory, just in case he blinked and realised she was a dream.

Her hair was slicked back, pulled into her usual tight ponytail. From an outside perspective, it looked like she put the minimum of effort into her hair, but he knew that wasn’t true. He knew it naturally fell in tight curls around her face, and that every morning she straightened it out before she left the house. He’d told her once that he thought the curls suited her, and she’d told him she couldn’t give less of a damn what he thought. It just made him fall ten times harder for her.

Her dark eyes bore into him with an intensity matching his own, flicking across his face as she noticed the fresh bruises. A faint blush warmed her cheeks when she realised she was staring at him and she cleared her throat, looking down at the coffee cup she was holding and tapping her nails across the lid.

“You look like hell,” she finally said, holding the cup out to him.

Shrugging, he took the coffee, knocking it back like it was water. “Yeah well, you should see the other guys.”

“I did. This morning, after we got an ‘anonymous tip’ that two muggers had been apprehended.” Patch nodded over to the holding cell where the sources of his headache sat fidgeting on the bench, shooting him a disapproving look.

Diego cocked his head innocently. “I’ve never seen those men before in my life.” He smirked, pausing for a moment before adding, “Officer.”

She folded her arms, warning him silently to back off, but her eyes still lingered on his a little too long and he knew he’d had an effect. It had been over a year now since she’d officially broken things off with him, and two months since they’d last been together and she’d insisted it was absolutely the last time. Apparently they were ‘too different’, but Diego didn’t think they were different at all. She was just better at hiding who she was, and he brought too much of it out of her. Still, he kind of enjoyed the challenge now. He knew her well enough to know that if she really, truly wanted him to back off, she’d have no problem telling him that. And she knew him well enough to know that if she told him to back off, he would. But she never did, so neither did he.

“So,” he finally said, “Any good cases come in? Arson? Serial killer?”

“Oh, yeah, plenty. None of them assigned to you, because you,” She punctuated her words by shoving a thick binder of paperwork into his arms, “are still on desk duty, after last time.”

Diego clenched his jaw and bit his tongue to stop himself blowing up at her about it, again. It wasn’t her fault. Not like she was the one calling the shots around here. Though she hadn’t exactly jumped to his defence about the decision either.

The job had been simple enough. A girl had been caught stealing sandwiches from a corner store, all he had to do was get a statement from the owner and bring the girl in for questioning. When he got there, he was greeted by a furious store owner with a red face and veins popping on the side of his head. It was a miracle he made it through Diego’s questions without bursting a blood vessel.

Then he got to the kid. She was a small, scrawny little thing, with big wide brown eyes and her hair in long box braids. She’d backed up against the wall when he approached, her eyes focused firmly on the police badge hanging around his neck.

“Hey,” he’d said, as gently as he could, crouching down in front of her. He always got nervous when he had to deal with kids. Maybe because he knew how easy they were to hurt. “I’m Diego. You wanna tell me your name?”

“Are you a cop?” Her eyes were still fixed on his badge and he nodded, twisting it in his hand. “Mom told me not to trust cops.”

“That’s good advice. Your mom sounds like a smart lady,” he’d replied, watching as she played with the beads on her wrist. “You don’t have to trust me. I’m just tryin’a find out what happened.”

“Are you gonna arrest me?” She’d asked, finally looking into his eyes.

“No. I just have a few questions I gotta ask you. I’m supposed to do it at the station, but if you don’t wanna come with me that’s okay, we can just talk here.”

She didn’t want to stay in the store, so they sat outside. Her name was Olivia, she was eleven years old, her mom lost her job two months ago and couldn’t afford to pay for her school lunches anymore, and she was hungry. The store owner had wanted to sue the parents, and Diego told him they’d be in touch, then he drove Olivia home and shredded the report. It took less than twenty four hours for his Captain to find out what happened and ground him to his desk indefinitely.

“Diego.” Patch’s voice snapped him back to reality and he blinked absently at her. “You good?”

“Never better.” He patted the binder in his hands and gave her the fakest enthusiastic smile he could muster. “Duty calls, right?”

“Right. Let me know if you need anything.”

“An aspirin would be great,” he mumbled, still struggling to ignore the throbbing ache in the back of his head.

Patch just rolled her eyes, patting him on the shoulder and leaving him to sulk at his desk. He watched her as she marched across the room to discuss a case with one of the other guys. It wasn’t even an exciting case, from what he’d been able to gather. A burglary with one suspect and eighty pieces of evidence stacked against him, but it still would have been more exciting than the seventy hours of surveillance footage he was about to spend the day staring at.

Two hours in, his headache was ten times worse and he kinda felt like he was going to puke. He opened a separate tab to search for concussion symptoms. Four hours in, he was googling his legal rights to sue his employer for eye strain. Six hours in and he was weighing up the possibility of just going apeshit and throwing his computer at the wall. Would he get fired? Sure. Was that really such a bad thing? Jury’s out.

Seven and a half hours in, his phone lit up with an alarm he’d set thirty days ago.

Klaus – 30 minutes

He didn’t need the alarm to know what day it was. He’d been counting the days down from the moment Klaus checked himself in.

It was a little out of the blue, but when it came to Klaus, most things were.

They’d rented a movie to watch, but neither of them ended up paying much attention. All Diego could remember was that robots were involved. Klaus was uncharacteristically quiet, sitting in a contorted position on the floor trying to paint his toenails. It was obvious from his silence that something was on his mind, but Diego had learned it was usually best to let him bring it up on his own. Any time he tried to push it himself, Klaus would just change the subject and lock whatever he’d been thinking about behind another wall.

Sure enough, after almost an hour of complete silence, he told him he was going back to rehab. It came as a shock, just like it had the last time he’d said it, and the time before that. Klaus hated rehab, and made no secret of it. And yet, every couple of years, like clockwork, he’d go back and put himself through the whole thing again. Diego could never quite work out if it was just another habit he’d fallen into, or if deep down there was a part of him hoping that this time he might find someone who could actually help him. Either way, Diego went along with it, sometimes lent him some money if Klaus hadn’t managed to scrape enough together. Leaving the Academy meant they got to make their own decisions now. If Klaus decided he wanted to go back, Diego wasn’t gonna tell him not to, though sometimes, he wondered if maybe he should.

Shutting off the monitor that had been turning his eyes square all day, he grabbed his jacket and sauntered over to Patch’s desk. Her eyes flicked up briefly when he perched himself on the edge of her desk, before focusing back on the paperwork she was filling out. She made him wait almost two minutes, scribbling away at a leisurely pace before firmly punctuating her last sentence.

“You need something?” She asked, still not looking up at him as she neatly filed the stack of papers away in her desk drawer.

“I gotta get out of here early. If anyone asks can you just… say I went to look for some files or something?”

“How about I tell them the truth, and you accept the consequences of your actions like an adult?” She countered. “What’s so important that it can’t wait another twenty five minutes?”

He shifted where he was sitting, lowering his voice to barely more than a whisper. “My brother gets out of rehab soon. I- I… If I-”

The words got stuck in his throat and he cursed himself internally, looking up at the ceiling as he tried to picture what he wanted to say.

“If I don’t go h- he’ll just get himself in trouble again.”

Patch’s face softened, her warm brown eyes melting some of the anxiety away as she looked at him.

“He’s not your responsibility. You know that, right?”

“He’s my brother.”

She reached across the desk and took his hand, squeezing it gently as she studied his face.

“Fine,” she agreed after a moment, slumping back in her seat. “But this is the last time I’m covering your ass.”

He’d heard those words a hundred times already, but he wasn’t about to rub it in her face and risk her changing her mind. Instead, he pressed a kiss to her knuckles, partly to distract her from that brief hint of vulnerability, partly because he wanted to.

She snatched her hand back and he chuckled, hopping down from her desk and patting her shoulder. “Relax, Eudora, I’m leaving.”

“Don’t push it, Hargreeves,” she muttered, cradling her hand like he’d burned her and turning away from him before he could get another word in.

The sun was just starting to go down when he pulled up outside the clinic and got out of his car, and every minute that passed as he stared intently at the door felt like an hour. He started to wonder if maybe he’d missed him already, but as he looked down at his watch he heard the clinic’s door swing open and the unmistakable sound of Klaus’ voice, already in full conversation with someone.

“I don’t want to go see a movie with you. .…. Because you always talk through the whole thing! Go by yourself if you’re so desperate, nobody’s forcing you to follow me around.”

Diego watched him sauntering up the path towards him, chatting away to thin air. It wasn’t until Klaus stood a few feet away that he finally noticed him.

“Diego! Hey!” He beamed, throwing his arms around him.

He spoke with his usual cheery tone, but Diego could feel the shakiness in his hands as he grabbed fistfuls of his shirt, holding onto him like he was afraid he might suddenly slip away.

“It’s good to see you,” Klaus said in a quieter voice, pressing his nose into Diego’s shoulder and letting out a breath when Diego squeezed him tightly.

The cheap fur trim of his coat scratched his skin, but Diego didn’t let go until Klaus did. His hand lingered on his shoulder while Klaus wrapped his arms around himself, rocking back on his heels awkwardly.

“You okay?” Diego finally asked, looking him up and down.

“Oh, yeah I’m fine. I’m fine! I’m cured, actually. Can you believe that?”

Diego cocked his eyebrow, unconvinced. “You’re cured?”

“Yep! Yeah see I realised that actually, drugs are overrated! Yeah, no that’s all behind me now. I’m done with that.” He nodded, like he was trying to convince himself. “Rehab worked! Third time lucky, I guess.”

“This is your fourth time.”

“What? No it’s not.” Klaus looked away from him, counting on his fingers for a second. “Oh, no you’re right. Fourth time lucky then!” He grinned.

Diego nodded slowly, watching him intently. He was already fidgeting, shoving his hands in his pockets and rocking back and forth on his toes.

“Anyway, uh, it’s been great catching up and all but I actually… I actually have somewhere I need to be. So I’m just gonna… go. Okay bye.”

He made it two paces before Diego was grabbing the fur on his coat and yanking him back, ignoring the childish whine Klaus let out.

“Cured, huh?” He said flatly, holding him in place. “Like hell you are.”

“Let go of me, asshole.”

“Fine.” Diego released his grip, shrugging nonchalantly. “I was gonna ask if you wanted to get fried chicken? From that place you like, a couple blocks away? But clearly you got more important places to be.”

Klaus stared at him, searching his eyes for any signs of deception before sighing loudly and hanging his head in defeat.  

“Okay, fine,” he said, throwing his hands in the air. “Fine. We’ll do your thing.”

“Good. Get in.”

Diego held the passenger door open while Klaus bundled himself into the car, grumbling inaudibly as he curled himself up on the seat. It was completely pointless trying to keep him from getting high again. Diego knew that. He’d find a way to slip away from him somehow, or Diego would finally break and let him go. One way or another, he always got what he wanted in the end. But he’d be damned if he didn’t make him work for it first.

When they were teenagers, they were pretty much joined at the hip. It was strange, living with so many people, how alone he still felt most of the time. He got on well enough with Luther, but Luther thought the world of their Dad, so conversation topics were limited. Allison was usually hanging around with Luther. Even before Five disappeared, he was difficult to have a conversation with at the best of times. Any time Diego said anything to him, Five would just look at him like he was an idiot and walk away. Ben started shutting himself away a lot as they got older, and Vanya… Dad always kept her away from them as much as possible, until eventually he didn’t have to any more. She kept to herself, and they shut her out.

Klaus, though, was just Klaus. He hated Dad, and the Academy, and the missions as much as Diego did. He could be a lot to handle sometimes, even before he fell into the drugs, but he was always the easiest to talk to, and Klaus seemed to think the same of him. So any spare minute they got, they were together, sometimes complaining about whatever bullshit Dad had them doing that day, sometimes laughing about something dumb Luther had said at breakfast, sometimes not talking at all. Just being in each other’s company was enough to make everything a little more bearable, and a little less lonely. But that was then. Now, whenever they did spend time together, Diego felt like he was holding his brother hostage. He felt that way now, glancing over at him, with his knees pulled up to his chin and his head pressed against the car window, pouting like a stubborn toddler as he watched the streetlights and refused to acknowledge him.  

“Put your seatbelt on,” Diego mumbled.

Klaus gave him a hard stare and stuck his tongue out, so Diego slammed his foot on the brakes and sent him lurching forward with a shriek.

“Are you completely insane!?” Klaus snapped as he scrambled back onto his seat, staring at him with wide eyes. “I could have died .”

“Would’a been fine if you had your seatbelt on.” Diego shrugged, smiling smugly to himself when Klaus begrudgingly strapped himself in.  

They pulled up a few minutes later, and Klaus’ mood seemed to lift a little once he had a bucket of chicken in front of him. Diego watched him, perplexed, as he tore his way through it like he hadn’t eaten in days. He could get a better look at him in the harsh white light of the restaurant. His face was slimmer and paler than when he’d last seen him, and the dark circles under his eyes stood out in stark contrast. It looked like he’d tried to disguise them somewhat by smudging his eyeliner out further than usual, but it was obvious he hadn’t been sleeping. He’d taken his coat off, and Diego could just make out the scratch marks running up and down his forearms. Some of them had almost faded away to nothing, but others were red and raw, and couldn’t have been done more than a few hours ago.

“They not feed you in that place?” Diego asked as Klaus tossed aside another chicken bone onto the napkin in front of him.

“Most days.” He shrugged, already gnawing on another drumstick.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Klaus just rolled his eyes. “I’m kidding, we get three square meals a day. Are you gonna eat those fries?”

He shook his head and Klaus snatched them, shoving a handful into his mouth.

“It’s just,” He said through the mouthful of food. “Crazy as it may seem, having a bunch of corpses following you around all the time can kinda put you off your food.”

Diego frowned at him. He never knew quite how to respond when Klaus started talking about his powers. There was no right thing to say, nothing that could make it better. All he could do was nod and try to pretend he even remotely understood what was going on in Klaus’ head.

“Was it any better this time?” Diego asked, quietly clinging to the idea that maybe the last thirty days hadn’t been complete hell for him, but Klaus just shook his head.

“I mean, it wasn’t worse . Just the same, I guess. Had to sit in a circle with a bunch of assholes and talk about my feelings again. Then they’d be all ‘ooh, Klaus, maybe you’re just using drugs as a way to cope with all that childhood trauma’, and I’d be like ‘whaaaaaat?’ you know? Shit like that. It’s almost worth it for the look on their face every time when they think they’ve said something genuinely groundbreaking.” He huffed out a laugh, shaking his head to himself. “Like I actually paid someone to tell me that. Do you have any idea how much crack I could have bought with that money? I could have bought so much crack with that money.

“But you didn’t,” Diego pointed out, nudging his foot under the table. “I’m proud of you.”

The corner of Klaus’ mouth twitched into a semblance of a smile, but his eyes were still sad, studying him curiously.

“You know the moment you stop talking to me I’m gonna go straight to my dealer, right?”

“I know.”

“Then why are you doing this?”

Diego mulled the question over for a second. It was something he’d been asking himself a lot lately, and something a lot of people had been asking him. Any time he mentioned Klaus to anybody he’d be met with this sad, sympathetic look, like they felt sorry for him . And he didn’t understand that. He didn’t understand why he was the one they felt sorry for, and not Klaus. Brushing him off seemed to come easy to everyone else, but not to him. He’d tried, once or twice, to stop caring, but it didn’t come that easy to him. Maybe it stemmed from how close they were as kids, and all the promises they made to each other, or maybe he just didn’t know how to let go of the past. For a while he thought they all had that problem, but then Allison got married, and everyone but Klaus was invited. Then Luther went on his moon mission, and everyone but Klaus got a handwritten goodbye letter. He got it, to an extent. By all accounts it would be easier to forget about him, and sometimes he wished he could. Just flush out all the memories, the nightmares, the overdoses, all of it, and just move on with his life, but he couldn’t. At the wedding, Allison told him that Klaus was leeching off of him, and she was probably right. But at least he knew Klaus was safe. As safe as it was possible for him to be.

He could tell Klaus all of that, but they didn’t really talk to each other like that. Not anymore. And especially not in the middle of a run-down chicken shop. So instead he just shrugged.

“Maybe I just want to hang out with my brother,” he said, folding his arms. “Someone’s gotta.”

“Wow. You have such a way with words.” Klaus smirked, his first genuine smile of the day. “Have you ever considered branching out into poetry?”

Diego bit back a laugh and shook his head. “Nobody would wanna read that.”

“Uh, Diego, I think you’ll find poetry about repressed trauma always sells. We should-” Klaus gasped, his eyes going wide as he slammed his hands on the table. “We should become slam poets !”

“That is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”

“Thank you.” He grinned. “We’d be great! Hey I took that creative writing class a couple years back, remember? Tragically you would have to quit your job so we could tour, but you’ll get over it I’m sure.”

“Yeah, well, I hardly have a job anymore anyway,” Diego mumbled, slumping back in his seat. “So that’s not much of a loss.”

“Oh?” Klaus leant across the table, propping himself up on his elbows and cocking his head like a curious puppy. “What happened?”

Diego shook his head and Klaus whined. “Oh, come on! I thought the whole point of this was to keep me sat here so I don’t go on a bender. Tell me. Teeeell meeeeee.”

So Diego told him about the shoplifting. About the little girl and the angry store keeper and his prick of a boss, embellishing a few details to make the whole thing seem a little more badass. He tried to ignore the way Klaus’ eyes occasionally flicked over to the seat next to him, like a third person was privy to the whole conversation. It sent a chill up his spine to think that someone was sat next to him, completely invisible to him, but Klaus seemed completely unbothered by their presence, so he tried to stay unbothered too.

“So you cussed him out? In front of the entire precinct?” Klaus asked when he’d finished his story.

“Yup,” Diego lied. “Told him right where he could shove his bullshit morals.”

“Wow. And he didn’t fire you?”

“Hell no. They need me.”

In reality, his boss had cussed him out, for almost twenty minutes, before sending him back to his desk like a berated schoolboy. It was a miracle he hadn’t been fired, and Diego had a sneaking suspicion Patch may have had something to do with it. Still, he preferred his own version of the story.

Klaus was staring at him with a smug grin spread across his face, and he rolled his eyes. “Go ahead and say it, Klaus.”

“What?” He asked innocently. “I mean, yeah, usually I’d take this opportunity to point out how morally corrupt the police system is, but I feel like you’ve pretty much made that point for me this time.”

“There it is.” He sighed, mentally bracing himself for another lecture.

“I’m just saying if you’re so desperate to help people, you could have been a fireman. What they lack in brutality they make up for with sex appeal and basic levels of empathy.”

“Can’t stop murderers with a hose.”

“Not with that attitude.” Klaus shrugged, making an uncomfortable level of eye contact with him as he took a drawn out sip of milkshake. “Can we go? It’s getting a little crowded in here.”

Diego glanced around the empty restaurant and then back to Klaus, whose facial expression was suddenly a lot more solemn.

“Sure.” He nodded, following behind as Klaus bolted for the door.

It was disheartening, seeing Klaus get back in the car looking just as tense as he had been when they arrived, but that was how it always went. Any time it felt like he was getting somewhere, something would send him right back to square one.

“You okay, man?” He asked after a couple of minutes.

Klaus shrugged, propping his feet up on the dashboard. “Mmhmm. Yeah, I’m fine. I think we should find a new favourite fast food joint though. Some really freaky shit went down in that place.” His eyes went wide for a moment and Diego shuddered. “We could try Thai next time?”

“Or that Italian place we keep saying we’re gonna try,” Diego suggested. “That freaky shit could be the best thing to happen to us.”

They both sniggered quietly. Klaus switched the radio on and turned the volume down until it was almost inaudible, closing his eyes while Diego drove them the rest of the way home. When they got back Klaus immediately screwed his face up, staring straight ahead at the sink.

“How long’s it been since you did the dishes?”

Diego looked over at the dirty pots and bowls piled high across the counter, and a hint of shame washed over him as he tried to remember when he last washed anything.

“I don’t know. A week?” He finally said. “I’ve been busy.”

“Who raised you?” Klaus shoved his sleeves up to his elbows and started filling the sink up while Diego watched. “I mean I’m just trying to understand you here, Diego, because you spent more time with mom than any of us. And yet ,” He glanced around the apartment and screwed his nose up, “you live like this . I spent one afternoon with mom and now I make homemade pasta. So what the hell did you do with her all day?”

The thought of their mom ever seeing his apartment filled Diego with a primal sense of dread and he folded his arms defensively, slumping against the fridge and shrugging. “We just talked, most of the time,” he mumbled. She did teach him how to crochet one weekend, but if he told Klaus that he wouldn’t hear the end of it for a while, especially if he knew he’d kept the little rainbow octopus he’d made. Klaus was clearly not paying much attention to him, cursing as his coat sleeve slipped into the dishwater.

“Just take your coat off, you idiot.”

Urgh just take your coat off !” Klaus mimicked, waving his hands in the air. “No, it completes my look.”

“Is that what you’re calling it?” Diego snorted, looking him up and down. He was wearing almost exactly the same thing he’d had on when he went in thirty days ago. A multi-coloured 80’s pattern tank top, cropped patchwork denim jacket, and the same cut out leather pants he seemed to wear everywhere nowadays. The bright purple converse, however, were a new addition.

“Where’d you get the shoes?” He asked, already knowing the answer.  

“Oh! You like them? They’re Marvin’s. Or they were. They’re mine now.”

He nodded. “And does Marvin know you have his shoes?”

“By now? Probably.” Klaus sniggered. “I’ll bet he’s pissed .”

“You stole his shoes.”

“What? No! I left him my shoes! That’s not stealing, it’s swapping. Just because he didn’t explicitly agree to it doesn’t mean I stole them.”

He grinned at him and Diego rolled his eyes, grabbing a dishcloth and helping him dry off a few of the plates.

“Oh, nice of you to contribute,” Klaus said sarcastically. “Hey does your girlfriend know you get a crackhead kleptomaniac to do your dishes for you?”

“She’s not my girlfriend anymore,” Diego muttered.

“Well what am I supposed to call her now then? Your slam piece?”

Diego whipped him around the head with the dishcloth and he yelped, flicking water in his face in retaliation. They finished the dishes and Klaus left him to put everything away, pottering over to his little corner of the apartment.

“Did you remember to water Ben?” He asked when Diego approached, crouching to inspect the aloe plant he kept on the coffee table. “If he’s dead I’ll never forgive you.”

“He’s fine,” Diego told him as he sat back in his armchair. He might not be able to keep on top of dishes, but he could remember to water a houseplant every couple of days. Especially when Klaus was so weirdly protective of it. “And I still think you should choose a different name. Not sure this is how Ben would want us to remember him.”

“You know it’s funny, I named it after him because I thought it would piss him off but I actually think he really loves it,” Klaus chuckled, settling himself amongst the cushions on the couch and closing his eyes.

It was all a show. Diego knew that. He’d left his coat on, his shoes on. Any time he was still for a moment his finger would start tapping, or his knee would start bouncing and his eyes would flick over to the clock on the wall again. Sure enough, before even five minutes had passed he was sitting upright again, clapping his hands together.

“Well! This has been so much fun but I uh… you know. Things to do, places to be and all that.”

Diego didn’t say anything, and Klaus made it halfway across the room before he turned back around.

“Are you not even gonna try to stop me?”

He shrugged. “You’re an adult. You can make your own decisions.”

“Yeah, but…” Klaus trailed off. He wrapped his arms loosely around himself and rocked back on his heels for a moment before nodding his head slowly. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll see you later.”

With that, he disappeared out the door, leaving Diego alone again. Part of him wished he’d done more to stop Klaus, but all it would have done is delay the inevitable. It was impossible to keep it from happening again.

He curled up on the armchair like he used to when he was little, wrapping his arms around his legs and resting his chin on his knees. The last thing he wanted to think about was Klaus stumbling down some dark back alley to do fuck knows what, but in the silence it was hard to think about anything else. For almost ten minutes he sat, listening to the clock ticking behind him, before he gave up.

With a resounding sigh he trudged to his bedroom, fishing his mask and radio out of his drawer, throwing on a darker jacket and getting back in the car. He drove out to the edge of town to the docks, staring out at the water for what felt like an eternity, listening to the reports coming through on the radio.

…Reports of some teenagers loitering outside a Taco Bell…

…Got a call coming in of two men in hoodies stealing cigarettes from a mini-mart…

…Yeah we’ve had a report of gunfire in a residential area…

His ears perked up and he honed in on the report. The house was only a block away, and with the speed he drove, it barely took more than a minute for him to get there.

It was a tiny house, more like a glorified shed, squashed in among a row of similar buildings. The garden was overgrown, and ivy trailed up the walls and along the gutters. One of the windows was smashed out, with a few flimsy wooden boards nailed across as a makeshift repair job. It made Diego’s apartment seem like a dream. From outside, it looked like all the lights were off, so he jumped the gate and snuck around to the back of the house.

The backyard was just as unkempt as the front, and there was still no sign of activity inside. His eyes fell on the backdoor, which was just slightly ajar, with a large crack in the glass that looked as though it had been put there recently. Pulling his mask on, he started carefully edging the door open. The hinge creaked and he froze as the sound echoed through the house, but after a few seconds the only sound he could hear was his heart pounding in his ears. With the door open, he slipped inside, his eyes adjusting quickly to the darkness.

The inside was no better kept than outside. The floor was covered in crumpled beer cans and cigarette butts, and there was a thick musty smell in the air. Diego almost wished Klaus was here so he could appreciate that in the grand scheme of things, their apartment was pretty tidy.

Treading carefully around the trash that littered the floor, Diego made his way into the next room. There was a mattress on the floor in the corner, covered in yet more cans, and a desk against the far wall. Outside, a car drove past the window, and the headlights lit the room enough for Diego to make out a figure slumped in the chair by the desk. As he got closer, he noticed the gun still clutched in the man’s hand, and as he got closer still, he noticed the blood and brains splattered across the desk and the wall behind him.

“Shit,” Diego muttered, crouching down to get a better look at the bullet hole in the man’s skull.

The blood and the cold, dead eyes staring into his didn’t faze him. He was seven years old the first time his dad had slung a corpse in front of him and shown him which arteries to aim for on their next mission. It didn’t take long for Diego to develop a strong stomach after that.

He must have let his guard down, because he didn’t hear the footsteps creeping through the door, but he did hear the vaguely familiar voice behind him.

“Ew.”

He whipped a knife from his belt and spun around, slamming the guy against the wall by his shoulder.

“Christ, Diego, it’s me,” Klaus said, slapping his hand away. “Relax a little will you?”

Diego stared at him in disbelief as he brushed off his shoulders and straightened his coat out.

“How many more attempts are you planning to make on my life today? Because- Oh wow.” Klaus’ eyes went wide and he snorted out a laugh.

“Oh my fucking god,” he choked, wiping a non-existent tear from his eye. “You look like such a prick.”

It took Diego less than a second to realise what Klaus was talking about, and he whipped the mask off his face with lightning speed. It was already too late, Klaus was doubled over laughing, making goggles around his eyes with his hands.

“Don’t worry everyone, The Kraken will save us.”

“Klaus, what the hell are you doing here?” He demanded.

“Looking for my dealer.” Klaus glanced over Diego’s shoulder and shrugged. “Guess you beat me to it.”

For a moment Diego’s stance softened as he studied Klaus’ expression. Usually he could see past the walls Klaus put up, but even he was having a hard time reading him now. “You knew him?” He asked, squeezing his arm hesitantly.

Klaus just waved him off. “Barely. Actually I think we slept together?” His eyes went distant for a moment and he shook his head, chuckling to himself. “No. No, that was a different guy. Never mind. What was the question again?”

Before Diego could answer, the sound of police sirens cut through the air. They both flinched and Diego felt Klaus grab his hand, just as scarred by the noise as he was.

“You need to leave. Right now,” Diego said, bundling Klaus towards the door.  

He didn’t need to be told twice, scurrying off into the darkness with all the finesse of a blind baby giraffe. Diego followed him out, jumping back over the gate and perching himself on a wall in the shadows as the police car pulled up. Two detectives ran straight into the house, but the third, with her instantly recognisable blue shirt and ponytail, noticed him waiting.

“You ever stop working?” He asked when Patch approached him. “You gotta learn to switch off, Eudora. Take a break. I have a few suggestions if you-”

“What are you doing here, Diego?”

He shrugged, hopping down from his perch and smirking at her. “Following up on a gunshot report. You know the police response times in this city are appalling.”

Patch rolled her eyes and turned away from him, her eyes flicking across the boarded-up windows and overgrown weeds at the front of the house.

“Alright,” she sighed. “What did you find?”

“Not a lot. Guy shot himself in the head.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah.” He looked down at his feet, the image of the blood-splattered wall still burned into his brain. “You might wanna do a sweep of the house though. I’ve got it on good authority he was a dealer.”

“We’ll check it out. Thanks.” She nodded, turning back towards him. “You okay?”

Diego smirked. “I’m always okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Patting her arm reassuringly, he winked as he turned on his heel and headed back down the path to his car. He made it four paces before he heard her voice again.

“Diego.”

He stopped. Her voice was lower now, and a second later he felt her hand on his shoulder, spinning him back around to face her. Even through his jacket, he could feel her fingers burning his skin where they lingered. The streetlamp above them turned her dark eyes to amber and her brown skin to gold, and with her this close it was impossible not to stare. She stared back at him, using her free hand to brush away the wisps of hair that had escaped her ponytail.

“Your collar’s crooked,” she finally said, running her hand along Diego’s shoulder and smoothing his jacket collar down. Her fingers brushed his neck lightly, making him shiver, and he could see the corner of her mouth twitch into a smile. “Fixed it.”

There were a million things he wanted to tell her. He wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, how he still couldn’t believe someone like her even existed. He wanted to tell her he missed her so much it hurt, and he wanted to tell her all the things he wanted her to do to him. But when he opened his mouth nothing came out, and he couldn’t tell if that was the stutter, or just the effect she had on him. She seemed to hear it all just the same, and smiled up at him. Really smiled. The kind of smile that made her rosy cheeks glow and her eyes crinkle at the corners.

She took his hand, a mischievous glint in her eye as she pressed a kiss to his knuckles, the same way he’d done earlier, and he narrowed his eyes at her.

“Screw you,” he muttered.

She smirked. “That’s for leaving me to cover for you earlier.” Turning his hand, she pressed another kiss to his palm.

“What was that one for?”

“Just felt like it.” She shrugged, dropping his hand and reaching up to pat his shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He watched her as she turned on her heel and walked confidently back up the street, disappearing into the house. Letting out a breath he didn’t realise he was holding, Diego got back in his car, with plans to take a cold shower the second he got in.

Klaus was already home when he got back, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch with the stereo playing quietly in the corner of the room. At first Diego thought he was asleep, but when he walked past, Klaus peered up at him with glazed eyes and a wide smile.

“Diego,” he croaked, reaching out towards him. “Hey, what took you so long?”

He took Diego’s wrist in his hand and squeezed it, smiling to himself. He always got more affectionate when he was high, so Diego just let him get on with it. Once he’d released his grip, he slumped onto the floor by his feet and huffed to himself, trying to get the thought of Patch’s lingering fingers out of his mind.  

Klaus watched him curiously, propping himself up on his elbows.

“What’s your problem?”

“I’m horny as hell. That’s my problem,” he muttered, fidgeting in his seat.

“Well don’t look at me. I’m into some weird shit, but not that weird.” Diego grimaced at him and he chuckled to himself. “I have people I can connect you with though. What are you feeling, big man? Guy or girl? Neither? Both? You’re into big biker guys, right? I know a couple of those. Give me like, five minutes and I’ll have you sorted right out.”

“Klaus, no offense, but I don’t wanna sleep with anyone who feels comfortable giving you their phone number.”

“Yeah, that’s fair,” Klaus nodded, nestling back against the couch cushions and staring up at the ceiling. “We could go to a club? Like when we were teenagers, remember? You used to get really drunk and start dancing like an idiot, and somehow there’d always be someone who was into it.”

Diego sniggered at the memory. “You’d start hitting on guys twice our age and I kept having to step in and punch their lights out.”

“Hey, I never asked you to do that. I knew what I was doing.”

Klaus laughed, a little deliriously, when Diego rolled his eyes, sticking his leg out and prodding Diego’s cheek with his foot. “So who’s got you so worked up?” He asked. “Your lady detective friend again?”

He nodded and Klaus hummed happily to himself. “That’s sweet. What’s her name again?”

“Patch.”

“Patch! Yeah. We like Patch.” He sighed, his voice going hazy. “What’s she up to nowadays?”

“Currently, she’s clearing out your dead buddy’s house.”

Klaus was quiet for a moment, and Diego worried he might have been too blunt, but then he nodded. “That’s good,” he mumbled. “Is she gonna find the guy that killed him?”

“No, she…” He trailed off as he processed Klaus’ words, looking over at him and frowning. “What did you say?”

“That’s what you guys do, right? Bring murderers to justice.” Klaus waved his fist in the air triumphantly and Diego stared at him, bemused.

“Yeah but… Klaus, he killed himself.”

Diego shuffled a little closer to him and Klaus shook his head. “That’s not what he said. Someone broke in and-” He made a shooting motion with his hand, rolling his head to the side to look at him.

“You saw him?”

“Yeah, Diego, that’s kinda my thing, remember?” Klaus snorted. “He was pretty upset about it actually. It was sad. Last time I saw someone right after they died was…” He trailed off and his eyes flicked over to the empty armchair opposite, his mouth turning up into a sad smile. “Never mind.”

“Hey, focus,” Diego said, snapping his fingers to get Klaus’ attention back. “Did he say anything else?”

“Uh, not really. He was being really whiny so I just tuned him out after a while. Why?”

Diego rubbed his temples and let out a deep sigh. Why, of all people, did it have to be Klaus that could talk to the dead?

Klaus rolled over on the couch and curled up in the blankets, closing his eyes and leaving Diego to think over what he’d said. If it had been anyone else, they would have just dismissed it as some weird cry for attention, but Diego knew him. Klaus lied all the time, sure, but only to save his own ass. And when he did lie, he was terrible at it. It was easy to see through if you’d known him long enough, and Diego had known him long enough to know that he wasn’t lying about this. Eventually he got to his feet, pacing over to the other side of the room and dialling Patch’s number. The first time it went to voicemail. The second time she picked up instantly.

“This better be good, Diego. I’m in the middle of something.”

“Are you still at the house?”

“Yeah,” she said, a hint of pride in her voice. “We just found a whole lot of cocaine in his dishwasher.”

“Don’t touch anything else. It’s a murder scene.”

There was a long pause, and Diego drummed his fingers on the kitchen cabinet impatiently. “I’m serious, Patch.”

To his surprise, when she finally spoke, her tone was still completely serious. “How do you know?”

“It’s uh… kinda hard to explain over the phone. I just need you to trust me.”

He could hear her deep sigh over the line, and could almost picture her pinching the bridge of her nose like she always did when he asked her to trust him.

“I do,” she finally said. “Fine. I’ll get forensics in. Anything else?”

Diego glanced back over at Klaus, passed out on the couch and mumbling to himself in his sleep.

“I need you to get me on this case.”

Chapter Text

There were a lot of things Diego missed about Klaus when he wasn’t home. He missed the jokes that could pull him out of almost any bad mood, and how stubbornly affectionate he was, and the mixtapes that he always took with him when he left. More than anything he just missed having someone to talk to, someone that understood.

One thing he hadn’t missed, however, was Klaus’ unshakable early morning waking. The sun was barely peeking over the horizon through the crack in his curtains when he found himself being pulled into consciousness by the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen. Diego had been awake most of the night thinking over what Klaus had said last night. He couldn’t have fallen asleep more than a couple of hours ago. Grunting, he rolled onto his stomach and closed his eyes again in the hope of catching another thirty minutes.  

His hopes were dashed when, five minutes later, he heard a rhythmic knock on his bedroom door.

“Piss off.” He grumbled, pulling the duvet up over his head.  

Ignoring him, Klaus threw the door open and strode in.  

“Diego! Are you awake?” He chirped, taking Diego’s grunt as an answer. “Great! I’m making pancakes. Do you want some?”

Diego peered up at him from under the covers. He wanted to tell him exactly where he could stick his pancakes, but his stomach betrayed him, growling loudly at the mention of food.

“I’ll take that as a resounding yes.” Klaus grinned as he reached down to pat Diego’s back. “Get up, I’m not doing room service.”

“I hate you.” Diego muttered, pressing his face into the pillows while Klaus paced across the room and threw the curtains open.

“You love me.”

Klaus breezed out of the room and left Diego alone to feel sorry for himself. His head hurt more than yesterday, only now it was less a result of the blow to the head, and more a culmination of stress, no sleep, dehydration, and poor lifestyle choices. There were too many questions that he had no idea how to answer. Patch had said last night that she’d try and talk to their Captain about putting him on the case, but he was still gonna take a whole lot of convincing. And what did he have to back himself up? The word of his brother, whose addiction was no secret to anybody. He still didn’t even know if what Klaus claimed he saw was anything more than some drug induced hallucination. And even if, by some miracle, he did get the case, he had no leads, no suspects, and no evidence that a murder had even been committed. Diego lay there for a few more minutes with his eyes closed, trying to focus on the sound of Klaus chattering to himself in the kitchen instead of the noise in his head. He needed to talk to him about it, but the odds of Klaus remembering anything from last night were next to none.

His mood lifted when the smell of pancakes drifted into his room. It smelled like home. Not the bad home, that smelled of blood and steel. That tasted of salt and sounded like wounded cries and his father’s voice in his ear screaming at him to do it again. It smelled like real home. Like Sundays when their father would spend the morning locked away in his study and they got to have breakfast on their own. Mom made them all pancakes and they each decorated their own. Luther would sit on his left and show him the poem he’d written the day before, and Ben would sit on his right and tell him about the book he was reading. He’d toss blueberries across the room while Five jumped from one end to the other trying to catch them in his mouth, sometimes he tried to do it without teleporting, but he was never fast enough. Klaus perched himself in their father’s chair and did impressions that had them all falling off their chairs laughing, and if they all finished breakfast fast enough, Vanya would show them all the new violin piece she was working on while Allison sang along, making up the words as she went.

Finally dragging himself out of bed, he trudged out into the front room where Klaus was twirling in small circles to Marvin Gaye in a baby pink silk bathrobe and fluffy slippers. He stopped when he saw Diego approaching, chuckling to himself.

“Good morning, sunshine,” He grinned. “You look like shit.”

“I feel like shit.” Diego grumbled, dragging a hand down his face. “Didn’t get much sleep last night.”

Klaus’ expression turned more serious and he cocked his head. “Are you okay?”

He nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine, just got a lot on my mind.”

Klaus smiled sadly at him and nodded his understanding. Sleepless nights were nothing new for either of them. He held his arms out silently and Diego slumped against him, resting his forehead on Klaus’ shoulder and letting out a deep breath when Klaus wrapped his arms around him. They stood like that for a while, but Diego soon realised if he let Klaus hug him any longer he’d start crying like an idiot baby, and he tore himself away.

“You want whipped cream on your pancakes, tough guy?”

He laughed despite himself when Klaus waved the can in his face and waggled his eyebrows at him.

“Yeah, I do.” He finally said, and Klaus smiled knowingly at him.

“Great! Sit down, sit down, they’re almost done. “I made coffee too.” He gestured to the table where three cups had been poured out.

Diego sat in one of the hard metal chairs and drained one of the cups, pouring himself a refill immediately. He made a mental note as he tried, to no avail, to get comfortable, that they really needed to get some new chairs. He’d forgotten how shitty they were after spending the last thirty days eating almost exclusively in the armchair, but Klaus, for all his questionable lifestyle habits, always preferred sitting at the table. It was fine for him, the bright yellow wicker chair he’d brought back from a flea market a month after they moved in looked ten times more comfortable. Klaus claimed he bought it because two chairs weren’t enough, but Diego was almost certain he just hated the metal ones.

“Et voilà.” Klaus said, blowing a kiss to the air as he set down a plate piled high with pancakes, cream, and raspberries.

His presentation skills were a far cry from mom’s, but they tasted just as good. They ate in silence, except for the sound of Klaus humming along to the Whitney Houston song playing on the radio. Diego swiped the leftover cream from his plate, licking it off his fingers as he mulled over how to broach the murder topic.

Eventually, Klaus spoke, his voice distant out as he held his plate out towards him. “I gave myself too many raspberries. Do you want ‘em?”

He nodded, silently taking the plate and tossing one of the berries into his mouth.

“Klaus, I need to have a serious conversation with you.” He said as he set the plate down.

Klaus groaned loudly and hung his head. “Ugh, Diegoooo,” He whined. “It’s too early for another intervention. Can I at least get dressed first?”

“It’s not an intervention.”

“No? Oh.” Klaus leant back and kicked his feet up onto the table. “Carry on then.”

“Okay,” Diego said, scratching his neck nervously. “Do you remember anything you said to me last night? Before you went to sleep?”

“I’ll level with you. I don’t even remember getting home.”

He giggled and Diego sighed, folding his arms on the table and resting his chin on them. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

Klaus looked thoughtful for a moment and Diego could almost see the cogs turning in his head as he mentally retraced his steps.

“We uh… we got chicken. Then I left and… my dealer texted me to meet him at his house which was kinda weird. OH! And you were there! And he was dead! He was pissed about it.” He paused, furrowing his brow. “Why do dead people always feel like they have to yell about everything? Like, nobody’s gonna hear you!”

“I need you to focus.” Diego said when Klaus’ eyes started to go distant again. “Last night you told me someone broke in and killed him, and I really need that to be true, otherwise I’m gonna look like a total asshole in front of everyone at work. I’m not trying to pile the pressure on you here but I could probably lose my job over this.”

“That’s actually quite a lot of pressure, Diego.” Klaus mumbled, scratching the back of his hand anxiously. “I don’t remember much else.”

Diego sighed and buried his face in his arms. Just once in his life, it would be nice if something could be easy. He took a couple of deep breaths to stop himself losing his temper. If he did that, Klaus would never want to talk about it again.

“Okay. J- Just t-” The words got stuck again and he kicked the table leg in frustration, making Klaus flinch. Diego threw him an apologetic look but he waved him off, nodding at him to continue, so he took another breath and tried again. “Just tell mm- me you remember him saying that.”

Klaus nodded, worrying on his bottom lip. “Yeah. It’s hazy, but I think I remember.”

A hint of relief washed over him and he sat up again. “Good. That’s good. Do you remember anything else he said?”

“No. Oh wait, yeah! Yeah, he said whoever killed him ran out through the backdoor. He was all ‘Klauuuuus he went that waaay. Aveenge meeeeee’.” He sniggered. “I mean he didn’t say it like that. Ghosts don’t talk like that in real life. Be fun if they did though, right?”

“Sure.” Diego mumbled, barely paying attention to his rambling. “Okay, I can work with this.”

It wasn’t enough, nowhere near enough, but it was obvious Klaus was done with the conversation. He tried to visualise how the conversation with his Captain was going to go. The man hated his guts already, and barging into his office to demand control of a case he had almost no information about was surely not going to help matters. There had been many times when he’d found himself wishing he could swap powers with Klaus. Not usually because he had any great desire to see the dead, but just to give him a break from what was clearly a living hell. Right now though, seeing the dead would be real convenient. The only way Klaus could help is if he stayed sober long enough, and he’d be even tougher to convince of that than his boss. Still, he had to at least try.

“Hey,” He said as he looked up at Klaus, who was licking leftover pancake batter from a spatula. “If, hypothetically, I asked you to sober up for the day and use your powers, what would you want in return?”

Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Fifteen dollars?” He shrugged. “Oh! And a smoothie. I’m really craving a smoothie.”

“You could buy your own smoothie with the fifteen dollars.”

“Uh, sure, but then I wouldn’t have fifteen dollars anymore, idiot.” He huffed, leaning back in his chair. “I don’t wanna buy one, you make way better ones at home. Where are you going with this anyway?”

Diego didn’t say anything, and Klaus’ eyes went wide with dawning realisation.

“Oh. No. Nononono, no way. I’m not doing that. No.” He said, waving his hands in front of his face. “Nope. Absolutely not. No way.”

“Forty seconds ago you said you’d do it for a smoothie and a couple bucks.”

“You said hypothetically !” He exclaimed. “I’d do anything hypothetically!”

“Fine,” Diego sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Non-hypothetically, what would it take?”

“Nothing! You can’t just pay me to psychologically torture myself. What kind of terrible brother are you?”

“I will give you fifty dollars.”

“Really? Okay yeah I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” He nodded. “Do I get the smoothie too?”

“Sure.”

“Can I receive my payment up front?”

“No.” Diego said, ignoring the scowl Klaus gave him. “Come on, we gotta go.”

Klaus blinked at him. “What? Right now? I’m not ready.”

“How long can you possibly need to get ready?”

He shrugged. “Well, first of all I gotta take a bath. I can cut that down to two hours at a push.”

“Just take a shower like a normal person.”

“Oh, sure. Yeah! And when I’m done I’ll just throw myself right onto the tracks outside since clearly you wanna take away all my reasons for living.”

Sighing, Diego closed his eyes and tried to think.

“Fine,” He said after a minute, getting to his feet. “I’ll go, convince my boss to give me the case, and then when I need you I will call you. Capiche?”

“Waitwaitwait, you don’t even have the case yet?”

“That’s not important,” Diego mumbled. “I’m gonna get it. And when I do, you can meet me at the house and do your… thing.” He gestured vaguely at Klaus, who just raised his eyebrow at him.

“You think you can lay off the drugs until then?” Diego asked, looking him up and down with uncertainty.

“Yeah, yeah. Sure.” Klaus nodded, waving him off.

Diego wasn’t convinced, but he didn’t push it, leaving Klaus to ruminate on everything while he got ready for work. Before he left he assured him once again that he would be getting the case, and would call him when he was headed to the house. He said it so confidently that he almost started to believe it himself. He believed it all the way to the station, and all the way up to the office door. It wasn’t until he was called inside, and stood face to face with his Captain that he remembered exactly who he needed to convince.

Captain Carmichael was a tall, boxy man, who always sat hunched over at his desk with his fingers laced together like he was trying to be a James Bond villain. He had a pale face with a turned up nose, and thin sandy hair that he kept slicked back. His eyes were pale grey and deep set, always peering up at him with a fixed look of disapproval that mirrored his father’s. From the moment Diego had arrived, Carmichael had made it very clear that he wasn’t welcome. He was lumped with the worst cases, ranging from boring to unsolvable. If something went wrong, somehow Diego would end up with the blame. If he did something right, someone else would end up with the credit. It felt like Carmichael was playing a drawn out game of chicken with him, trying to see how far he could push him before he quit. How many curveballs it would take for Diego to slip up and finally give him reasonable grounds to fire him. He’d spent many a night racking his brain trying to work out what he’d ever done to get on his bad side, but there was nothing.

Carmichael just hated his guts, and now Diego had to convince him to put him in charge of a murder case.

“Hargreeves,” He grunted, staring intently down at the case notes spread across his desk. “You know, I had a real interesting morning. I expect you want to know why?”

He leant back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head, looking up at him with a piercing stare. Diego opened his mouth to respond, but he cut in before he could say anything.

“See, I came in this morning, and what do I find?” He asked, not giving Diego a chance to answer. “A forensics report, requested by you, for a suicide case you were not assigned to. Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems to me like you’ve got a hell of a lot of explaining to do.”

Finally, he paused, looking up at Diego expectantly. Diego took a breath and thought out exactly what he was going to say, determined not to trip over a single word in this conversation.

“It’s not a suicide case.” He said firmly. “He was murdered.”

Carmichael let out a booming laugh at that. “Oh?” He wheezed. “And I supposed you’ve come here to present me with an organised file of evidence.”

Diego folded his arms defensively. “Not exactly.”

“But you do have evidence?”

“No.”

It was obvious Carmichael was enjoying this, his lips twisted into a thin, crooked smile as he watched Diego racking his brains for something he could use.

“He was shot at his desk.” He continued, ignoring Carmichael’s taunting chuckle. “The killer set it up to look like suicide and left through the backdoor.”

“And, what? You just decided this? With no evidence?” Carmichael laughed again. “I know exactly what’s going on here, Hargreeves. This is just another sad attempt to get yourself back in the spotlight. But you know what? It’s not gonna work. You’re a desk jockey, not a superhero. Get out of my office.”

“I have a witness.” Diego blurted out.

He regretted it the moment the words passed his lips, but it seemed to pique Carmichael’s interest.

“Oh?” He said. “Alright. You’ve got five minutes. Who is it?”

Diego pursed his lips and wondered for a moment whether it was worth trying to spin an elaborate lie. Carmichael would see through it almost instantly, but that still felt like a better option than giving him the truth.

“It’s uh…” He paused, looking down at his feet and lowering his voice in the hopes it might fly over Carmichael’s head. “It’s my brother.”

Unfortunately, Carmichael heard him loud and clear, his smug smile twisting into a snarl. “Your five minutes just dropped to one, so you better start wrapping this up.”

“He saw the victim just after he was killed and got information on what happened. If you just let me take the case I can find the evidence and-”

“And what was your brother doing at a dead junkie’s house, exactly?” Carmichael interrupted, continuing before Diego had a chance to interject. “Actually, let me guess. He was getting high, as usual. You’re dismissed, Hargreeves.”

Diego stood his ground, flexing his fingers in frustration. “With respect, sir. You know who I am. You know who my brother is, and what he can do. I’m not just pulling this out of my ass.”

“Yeah, I know who your brother is,” Carmichael said, sitting upright in his seat. “He’s a washed up junkie who’ll do or say anything if he’s bribed with a quick high.”

“He’s more than that,” Diego muttered, clenching his jaw. His fingers itched to reach for the knives tucked under his jacket. He hadn’t killed anyone since he left home, maybe a little nostalgia would do him good. For a moment he weighed up the pros and cons of murdering his boss in broad daylight, in a building crammed with armed police officers, before quickly pushing that thought back out of his mind, flexing his fingers to stem the impulse. “I know he’s not exactly a credible witness,” He continued. “But I trust him, and if you let me take control of the case I can use the information he gave me to get some solid evidence.”

Carmichael studied his face for a moment, narrowing his eyes at him. “And if you don’t ? You will have wasted police resources, wasted a lot of people’s time, embarrassed yourself, and made me look like a damn idiot.”

He nodded, chewing his lip thoughtfully. It was gonna take something big, and dramatic. Klaus was usually better at doing the dramatic thing, but… one idea sparked in his head. A really stupid, reckless idea.

“Alright,” He said, leaning over Carmichael’s desk and locking eyes with him. “You give me the case, and if I can’t solve it in two weeks, I’ll walk. That’s what you want, right?”

“Is this all just a game to you, Hargreeves?”

Diego shrugged. “My job here’s been a game to you from day one. Why stop now?”

There was a long pause, and Carmichael leant back in his chair, lacing his fingers together and eyeing him thoughtfully.

“Alright, Hargreeves,” He said, with an air of mockery in his voice. “Two weeks. You’ll need a partner.”

For a moment Diego just blinked dumbly at him, struggling to process his own success. “Uh… right.” He cleared his throat. “Detective Patch already has some information about the case. I was think she and I could-”

“Detective Patch,” Carmichael interrupted. “Has better things to do with her time. Take Katz.”

“The new guy?”

“Yeah the new guy,” He nodded, smiling wickedly at him. “Who better to make him feel welcome than you?”

Diego bit his tongue and nodded. “Is that everything, sir?”

Gathering up the papers on his desk, Carmichael handed the file to him. “The forensics report,” He said as Diego snatched it from his hand. “Once Katz is briefed you can head back to the crime scene.”

With a curt nod, Diego turned on his heel and left, still trying to process what he’d just agreed to.

Patch was waiting for him outside the office, leaning back against the wall with her arms folded. Despite having worked late into the night with the forensics team last night, she was fresh faced and bright eyed as usual. Her hair was restyled and she’d swapped her blue shirt for a deep purple blouse and blazer.

“Do you ever sleep?” He asked as he approached her, looking her up and down.

She ignored the question and nodded to the file in his hand. “He actually gave you the case?”

“Don’t act so surprised, Eudora,” He smirked. “Why wouldn’t he put his best detective on the case?”

Patch laughed at that and he corrected himself. “Second best detective.”

“Thank you,” She said, her lips twitching into a smile. “So what’s our next move?”

“I don’t know. I’m thinking drinks at your place? Maybe a movie?” He grinned cockily and she slapped his arm.

“With the case, asshole.”

He chuckled, looking down at the file in his hand. “Yeah, about that. You’re not working with me.”

The look of disappointment on her face caught him off guard, and he found himself getting flustered as he tried to explain. “He uh… he’s putting Katz on the case with me instead. Guess he wants me to break him in.”

He decided to omit the detail about gambling his entire career on this stupid case, unable to face the inevitable lecture that would follow. Instead he just shrugged.

“Try not to take it too hard, yeah?”

She rolled her eyes. “Just give me five minutes to go cry it out,” She said, smirking up at him. “Good luck, Hargreeves.”

Patch patted his arm and headed back to her desk, leaving him to try and pick Katz out among the faces in the room.

Eventually he spotted him by the coffee machine, his curly hair setting him apart from the others milling around him. He strode confidently over to him, waiting to be acknowledged. Katz had only started a week ago, transferring to Diego’s precinct from Canada, and Diego hadn’t had a chance to get much of a read on him yet. Currently, he looked deep in thought, fixated on the coffee he was sipping with his brow furrowed.  

“Am I interrupting something?” He asked, pulling Katz out of his thoughts.

He looked up at him, shaking his head. “No. No I just…” He screwed his face up and set the cup down on the counter behind him. “I’m pretty sure I just put salt in that.”

Katz snorted and Diego blinked at him, drumming his fingers on the papers in his hand.

“Right,” He said. “Well, how about instead of putting more salt in your coffee, you help me put a murderer in jail?”

“Oh?” His eyes flashed with intrigue and he cocked his head. “You need a partner.”

Diego nodded and Katz grinned. “Alright. It’s Hargreeves, right?”

“Diego.” He corrected. “Not a fan of the surname thing.”

“Diego Hargreeves. That rings a bell.” Katz chewed on his lip thoughtfully for a moment and shook his head. “Nope, it’s gone. Anyway, since we’re not doing surnames, you can call me Dave.”

“Well, Dave,” He said, thrusting the file into his arms. “Do me a favour and go over this forensics report while I make a phone call.”

“Sure.” Dave nodded and grabbed his salted coffee from the counter, shuffling off to his desk while Diego made his way outside.

Klaus’ phone went straight to voicemail the first two times he dialled and he groaned, scuffing his foot against the ground in frustration. The third time, it rang for forty seconds before Klaus finally answered.

“Diego,” He said bluntly, not bothering with a hello. “I think I’ve figured out why you’re single. It’s because you’re so needy. Nobody wants to date a guy that phones three times in less than two minutes. Get a grip! You look desperate!”

“I told you I was gonna call. What were you doing?”

“Drying my hair! I’m not gonna put my whole life on hold because I’m expecting a call from you.”

He rolled his eyes, resting his head back against the wall behind him. “I got the case. How soon can you get to the house?”

There was a pause. “Thirty minutes probably. Twenty if I don’t paint my nails.”

Why would you need to paint your nails? You’re going to a crime scene, not a party.”

“First of all, those things are not mutually exclusive,” Klaus told him. “Second, I have to paint them because, unlike you, I take my appearance seriously. What if I meet the love of my life today and I have chipped nails?”

“You got problems a lot bigger than chipped nails, Klaus,” Diego muttered, rubbing his temple impatiently.

“Still, I’m not prepared to take that chance. I’ll see you in half an hour.”

He hung up before Diego could get another word in and he sighed, shaking his head to himself as he pushed through the door and headed back inside.

Dave was sat at his desk when he got back, his finger circling the edge of his empty coffee cup as he looked over the page in front of him.

“Tell me there’s something good in that report.” Diego said as he sat on the edge of the desk, snatching the papers from under his nose.

“Two sets of prints on the gun, one matching the victim. Three sets of fresh prints on the door.”

Diego nodded. “I can guess where at least one of those came from.” He mumbled, remembering the frenzied exit Klaus made when the police arrived the night before.

“They match with the first two,” Dave continued. “So someone else was in the house, holding the gun that killed him.”

“Son of a-” He cut his own sentence off midway, glaring over at Carmichael’s office door. He’d known, the whole time, that Diego was right, and he’d let him gamble everything away to prove it anyway.

He shook his head, slapping the file back down on the desk angrily and making Dave jump.

“Sorry,” He mumbled. “You ready to head to the crime scene?”

“Sure. But can we stop off at Starbucks first so I can get the taste of salty coffee out of my mouth?”

Diego stared at him for a second. “Why would you drink the whole thing?”

“I thought I might just get used to the taste,” Dave shrugged. “Let me tell you, I did not.”

He didn’t have a response to that so he turned and left, letting Dave follow behind him out to the car. At Starbucks, he decided to get something for Klaus to avoid the whiny comment he would inevitably make if he saw Dave’s cup. He could feel Dave’s eyes on him as he ordered it. Caramel frappe, with cream, chocolate sauce, and three shots of espresso.

Back in the car, he could see Dave out of the corner of his eye, nursing his iced macchiato and glancing back and forth between Diego and the heart attack currently sitting in the cup holder.

“It’s not for me,” Diego finally said. “It’s for my brother. He’s meeting us there.”

“Oh, okay. Is he in forensics or something?”

Diego snorted. “Not exactly.”

There was no sign of Klaus when they pulled up outside the house and he took a breath, turning back to Dave.

“So, about my brother. He’s a little…” He trailed off, struggling to think of a word that came close to capturing Klaus’ personality. “Unpredictable. You’ll see what I mean instantly but just… for your own sake I’d advise against trying to start a conversation with him unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

“He sounds fun.”

As if on cue, Diego heard a knock on the window, and turned to see Klaus waving at him through the glass.

Klaus grabbed Diego’s arm as soon as he got out of the car, thrusting his other hand in front of his face to show off his electric blue fingernails.

“See? Absolutely worth it.”

“Get off me, you idiot,” Diego muttered as he smacked his hand away. “I need you to-” He stopped, midway through his sentence when he saw what Klaus was wearing. The ripped up ombré jeans were nothing new, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the hauntingly familiar multi-coloured mermaid scale crop top that sat a little big around his shoulders. “Are you… Is that my old binder?”

“Oh, yeah!” Klaus grinned. “Always thought the print was more my style anyway. I mean you wore it what, once? When we were nineteen and crashed that house party? You know you should really start experimenting with your wardrobe again. The black on black on black works but you could take it so much further. Hey, you got Starbucks?”

Klaus’ eyes lit up as he spotted the liquid sugar bomb Diego was holding and he snatched it from his hand.

“You remembered my order? That’s sweet, we’re like a married couple.” He grinned, taking a sip and practically vibrating at the bolt of pure energy shooting into his system.

“Don’t be disgusting.”

“Relax, you’re not my type.” Klaus chuckled, slapping him on the shoulder.

He started taking another sip from his cup and Diego shook his head, the sound of the passenger door slamming pulling his attention away. It must have caught Klaus’ attention too, and Diego heard him inhale sharply and choke on his drink. After a minute long coughing fit, he regained his composure and turned back to Diego.

“Who’s your friend?”

Diego sighed, already regretting every decision that lead him to this point. “Klaus,” He said, gesturing over to Dave as he approached. “This is Dave. He’s my partner on the case. Dave, this is my brother, Klaus.”

Dave stared at Klaus for a moment, like he wasn’t sure how to respond to what he was seeing.

“I like your nail polish,” He finally said, his eyes lingering on Klaus’ hands wrapped around his Starbucks cup. Klaus cocked his eyebrow at that, giving Diego a knowing look while Dave continued to try and process everything. “You two are brothers? You look nothing alike.”

“Our mother had a sordid affair.” Klaus grinned, snaking his arm around Diego’s shoulder.

“We’re adopted.” Diego corrected. “You wanna start taking a look around the house, Dave? My brother and I need to have a conversation.”

Dave nodded, heading off up the path and through the door. The second he was out of sight, Klaus turned to look at him.

“I’m in love with him.”

“No you’re not,” Diego mumbled, dragging his hand down his face. “Can you please be serious?”

“Diego, I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life. I’m gonna get his name tattooed on my stomach. That’s how serious I am.”

“I bet you don’t even remember what his name is.”

Klaus paused and Diego folded his arms, raising his eyebrows expectantly. After almost a minute of silence, Klaus finally spoke.

“Steve.”

“Dave.”

“I knew that, I was testing you.” Klaus mumbled. A second passed and he shook his head, waving his arm around. “I- I don’t need to know his name to know I’m in love with him! That’s the least important thing to know about a person. You knew me for ten years before you found out my name! Does that mean you don’t love me? Because I got a friendship bracelet back home that I think proves otherwise.”

“You didn’t have a name until we were ten, it’s not the same,” Diego said flatly. “And that’s not the point. You always do this. Any time a guy is remotely nice to you, you claim he’s the love of your life. I need you to focus.”

“I do not always do that. Name one time I’ve done that.”

“Remember Simon?”

Klaus gasped and scowled at him. “How dare you say his name.”

“He was a barista, right? You told me he was your soulmate because he drew a cute little heart next to your name on your coffee cup.”

“Shut up.”

“But,” Diego continued. “When we went back the next day, he drew a heart next my name too. In fact, he drew hearts next to everyone’s names. That night I found you sat fully clothed in the shower listening to Gilbert O’Sullivan.”

“I was fine.” Klaus muttered, sipping at his drink and avoiding Diego’s eyes.

“You were crying.”

“Well joke’s on you, Diego. I’m always crying.”

“Whatever,” Diego said, giving up on that conversation. “Can you please focus? Have you sobered up?”

“More or less.” Klaus shrugged.

“It’s a yes or no question. Can you see the ghosts or not?”

“Uh,” Klaus’ eyes flicked over to Diego’s car bonnet. “Not yet. You know there’s no guarantee your guy is even still here, right? And I never fully figured out how to conjure specific people so-”

“Just get inside,” Diego sighed, ushering him up the path.

The house looked even worse than he remembered in the light of day. The walls were covered in muck and grime and the wallpaper was peeling in several places. There were stains all over the floor and the couch, and Diego didn’t want to think about what they might be from. Dave was inspecting the cracked glass in the backdoor, glancing over his shoulder when he heard Klaus and Diego behind him.  

“You think this is old? He asked, swinging the door on its hinges. “Given the rest of the house, I’m not sure getting his door fixed would be that high on his priorities.”

Diego shook his head. “A crack like that would spread, can’t be more than a couple days old.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I think-” Dave paused, glancing over Diego’s shoulder. “What is he doing?”

On the other side of the room, Klaus was tripping over scattered beer cans, drumming his hands on his thighs and making kissing noises.

“Here, ghosty ghosty,” He called as he wandered around in circles. “Come oooooooon. Work with me here.” He looked over at the empty couch and rolled his eyes. “Shut up. I know what I’m doing.”

“Klaus,” Diego said flatly, snapping him back into reality. “You got anything yet?”

“Yeah. One dead jerk who thinks he’s soo smart even though he never even graduated,” He stared pointedly back at the couch. “And a really angry looking grandma who won’t stop staring at me. I can’t find Josh though. I don’t think he’s here.”

“Who’s Josh?”

“The dead guy.” Klaus and Dave said in unison.

Diego shrunk back against the wall and made a mental note to actually read the case file when they got back. “What do you mean he’s not here?” He asked, trying to move the conversation on. “Where else would he be?”

Klaus shrugged. “I don’t know, I keep telling you they don’t always stay in the place they died. Sometimes they follow their body around and end up stuck in a graveyard for eternity, sometimes they follow treasured loved ones around,” He paused, blowing a kiss to the couch. “A lot of the murdered ones will follow their killers around, so unless you murdered him, we’re probably not gonna find him here.”  

The thought of all the people Diego had killed when he was younger following him around wasn’t one he wanted to dwell on. He glanced over at Dave, who either wasn’t listening or was completely unphased by their casual conversation about the habits of the dead. Instead, he was watching Klaus with a strange sort of fascination as he bickered with the empty space next to him. His eyes were fixed on Klaus’ wrist, and it took Diego a moment to realise his tattoo was on full display.

“Wait…” Dave said slowly, turning towards him. “Wait, I knew I recognised that name. You’re the umbrella kids, right?”

“Umbrella kids?” Klaus giggled. “I enjoy you.”

“Klaus, focus,” Diego told him, ignoring Klaus’ disgruntled muttering and turning back to Dave. “Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I’m the knife guy. No, we don’t do the superhero thing anymore. My brother really is on the moon, and I can’t get you my sister’s autograph. Under absolutely no circumstances am I gonna talk to you about Ben or Five or the Academy in general, and he,” He pointed over to Klaus, “really can see dead people. Any other questions?”

Dave looked thoughtful for a moment and shook his head. “Nope, you’ve pretty much covered all bases there.” He looked back at Klaus. “So he’s gonna talk to the victim for us?”

“That’s the plan, if he can get his shit together,” Diego sighed. “Nobody else knows about this, by the way. So if you could keep this between us that’d be great.”

“Hey, don’t worry. You can trust me.”

Trust wasn’t something that came easy to Diego, but for some reason he trusted Dave. He turned his attention back to Klaus, who was now sitting cross legged on the kitchen counter and seemed to have completely forgotten what he was supposed to be doing, picking absentmindedly at the laces of his stolen shoes. He looked up when Diego approached him.

“This is boring,” He whined, slumping back against the wall. “Can I have my money now?”

“Nope, we’re not giving up yet.”

Klaus groaned and pulled a cigarette out of his pocket, which Diego immediately smacked out of his hand.

“Will you please focus for five minutes?”

“I’m trying!”

Behind him, Dave piped up, “Maybe it’ll work if we go into another room?”

Klaus smiled at him affectionately. “You’re adorable. That won’t make any difference.” He paused thoughtfully for a moment, and held his arms out in front of him. “My powers actually work better if someone holds my hands.”

Without questioning it, Dave took his hands, and Diego shook his head in bewilderment. It was, by no means, the first time Klaus had made an idiot of himself with whoever had caught his eye at the time, but it was the first time Diego had seen someone so receptive to it. He let out a deep breath and rubbed his temples, his headache showing no sign of subsiding any time soon.

“Klaus,” He said slowly, taking Dave by the shoulders and pulling him away. “What is it gonna take to get you to concentrate?”

“I already told you, he’s not here!” Klaus said, throwing his arms up in the air. “What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to try and get him here!”

“I. Don’t. Know. How.” He clapped to punctuate each word. “I don’t know how! I’ve never done it before!”

“I know that,” Diego said bluntly, struggling to hide his irritation. “But you’re not even trying.”

Klaus groaned and buried his face in his hands, and Diego folded his arms impatiently. He turned to Dave to say something, but no sooner had he taken his eyes off Klaus, he heard the sound of smashing behind him. They all stared at the shattered cup on the tiles and Diego looked up at Klaus in complete disbelief.

“Are you serious, Klaus? How fucking childish can you be?”

“What!? I was sat two feet away from it! How could that possibly be my fault?”

“You’re unbelievable,” He muttered, flexing his fingers angrily.

I’m unbelievable? You’re unbelievable!” Klaus hopped down from the counter and jabbed him in the chest. “When we left you told me this was never gonna happen again. ‘Ooh once we get out of here you’ll never be forced to use your powers again, bro. We’re never gonna go on missions again, bro.’” He mimicked, slumping back against the counter. “This feels a hell of a lot like another mission, Diego.”

He opened his mouth to respond, but no words came out. Instead he just gawked at him as what he’d said sunk in. And, Jesus, was this who he was now? Reginald Hargreeves 2.0? Maybe that had been dad’s plan all along. Twist them all into some sick image of himself to feed his God complex and then send them out into the world to ruin even more lives. Or, maybe this was nothing to do with dad at all. Maybe this was just him. Either way, Klaus was right. This was exactly what they’d left the academy to get away from.

Klaus was staring awkwardly at his feet like he wished he’d never said anything at all, scratching the back of his neck and scuffing his shoe against the tiles. When he finally did look up, he barely made eye contact with Diego for a second before his eyes flicked away, going distant again. Next to him, Dave cleared his throat uncomfortably, shifting where he stood like he was hoping the ground would swallow him up.

“Klaus,” Diego said quietly after a moment. “I didn’t-”

He was interrupted by Klaus waving his hand in his face, still not looking at him.  

Diego persisted. “No, listen, you’re right. I shouldn’t have pushed-”

“Shut up,” He hissed. “I can hear something.”

He followed Klaus’ eyes to the open bedroom door, trying to no avail to hear whatever he was listening to. Klaus shoved his shoulder gently, pushing him out of the way as he wandered across the room and poked his head through the doorway.

“Uh, Diego?” He said, turning back towards them. “I found your guy.”

Klaus disappeared into the bedroom, and Diego and Dave followed behind him. The room was cramped once all three of them had bundled inside, but Klaus barely even acknowledged them, sat with his knees pulled up to his chest next to the mattress in the corner.

“Hey,” He said, snapping his fingers in the air. “Hi! Me again. Sorry I kinda took off yesterday but you know, I’m a busy person and avenging dead acquaintances was pretty low on my priorities that night so-”

Diego coughed, getting Klaus’ attention before he could go any further off track.

“Oh right, yeah! Anyway, this is my brother, Diego. He’s a cop. Him and his cute friend are gonna find the guy that killed you. I just need to…” He trailed off, looking back over at them. “Wait, what do you need me to do again?”

Dave shrugged and suddenly all eyes were on Diego. He couldn’t even see the dead guy, but somehow Diego knew he was staring at him expectantly too. He racked his brain for a moment as he tried to remember how to do his job, and cleared his throat.

“Okay, well, first off, can you ask him how much he remembers from last night?”

“Diego, I don’t need to ask him everything,” Klaus said, blinking at him like he was an idiot. “He can hear you.”

“Right,” Diego mumbled. “Dave, you got a pen? You should probably write all this down.”

Nodding, Dave pulled a notepad out from his back pocket, pausing to look at him. “Won’t it be quicker if Klaus writes?”

Klaus giggled and Diego shook his head. “We’d be here forever.”

“I’m dyslexic,” Klaus grinned, winking up at Dave like it was a brag.

He didn’t seem to question it, sitting cross legged on the floor next to Klaus without another word. Diego briefly considered sitting down too, but he only had to take one look at the state of the floor, and the even worse state of the mattress, to decide against it.

“So,” He said, unsure whether to direct his questions at Klaus, or the empty space on the mattress. “Last night. What does he - what do you remember about the attacker?”

They managed to get a pretty good picture, via Klaus, of what happened. The guy, Josh, had been sat at his desk, heard a noise behind him, and the next thing he knew there was a gun against his head and a bullet in his brain. He ‘woke up’ in time to see someone with buzzed blonde hair and a scarf pulled over their face setting up the suicide and run out the door, talking to themselves the entire time. They were short, shorter than Josh anyway, skinny, with tattoos on their shoulders that he couldn’t make out in the dark. According to Josh, they’d seemed panicked as they left, swinging the door open so hard it cracked the glass. They still had a way to go to prove anything, but it was a better starting point than Diego usually had for his cases. It occurred to him, while Klaus reeled off information and Dave rushed to get everything written down, that if they found a way to control Klaus’ addiction, this could be a job for him. Carmichael would laugh him out of the precinct if he tried to suggest it, and given how his last conversation with Klaus had gone, he wasn’t about to broach the subject with him again any time soon. Still, the thought lingered in his mind, along with a faint glimmer of hope that Klaus’ future might not be a total improbability.

“I think, if we’re gonna get anywhere here,” Dave said, pulling Diego out of his thoughts as he tapped his pen thoughtfully against the notepad. “We gotta figure out why you were killed.”

Another thought that crossed Diego’s mind was how easily Dave had taken to interviewing a ghost, talking to thin air like there was nothing unusual about what was happening.

Klaus shrugged. “He’s a loser who barely leaves his house. He just sells pot to pay for his geology classes. Why would anyone wanna kill him?”

“Patch found a stash of coke in his dishwasher, Klaus,” Diego told him. “I’d hardly call that ‘just selling pot’.”

What !?” Klaus snapped his head back towards the mattress, his mouth hanging open. “And you didn’t share ?”

There was silence for a moment and Klaus chuckled. “Oh, he wasn’t selling that.” He paused. “Do you have more?”

“Klaus,” Diego said bluntly.

“Killjoy,” He muttered, not taking his eyes off the empty space in front of him. “Still, no idea why anyone would wanna kill him for that. Like I said, he barely leaves the house. Maybe it was just some lunatic with a bloodlust.”

Diego shook his head. “You don’t break into someone’s house, shoot them, and then cover up the murder all on an impulse. It’s premeditated.”

For a few more minutes they all sat, throwing out ideas and getting them shot down. He had no enemies, no sour relationships, and no dramas. The most noteworthy thing to happen to him all month was two weeks ago, when he had to send a burger back in a diner because he’d asked for no onions. Eventually, both Diego and Dave had exhausted all of their questions, and Klaus was getting too restless and distracted to even get a full sentence out without going off topic. It was obvious he didn’t want to be there any more, glancing up at Diego every couple of seconds like he was waiting for permission to leave.

Finally, Diego put him out of his misery. “Okay, I think we’re done here.”

“Great!” Klaus leapt to his feet in a blur. “I’m gonna go get fucked up. You are not invited.” He said, looking over at Diego. “Dave, you’re invited! Drinks are on you because I have no money.”

Dave chuckled. “I can’t, I’m still on duty.”

“Aw,” He pouted. “Next time then.”

He ran his hand affectionately through Dave’s hair before turning and heading out through the door. Diego followed him. He wasn’t great at the apology thing, or talking about feelings in general, but he felt horrible about forcing Klaus to use his powers. Klaus was marching so fast he almost had to jog to catch up to him, grabbing his arm before he could get to the door.

“Klaus, wait,” He said, frowning when Klaus wrenched his arm away. “Can we talk?”

“What? No, you just said we were done! I’m going home.”

Klaus contradicted himself by staying put, wrapping his arms around himself and waiting for Diego to say something.

For a moment Diego just stared at him. He wished Klaus would have rambled for a little longer so he could have taken a minute to plan what he wanted to say.

“Uh, first off, you did really good. I’m…” He hesitated, trying to get a read on where Klaus’ mood was. “Proud of you?”

“Don’t patronise me, Diego.”

Okay, so he needs to get better at judging Klaus’ mood.

“Sorry,” He mumbled. “What I mean is… You really helped me out, and I really appreciate it.”

Klaus didn’t say anything and he sighed. “And, I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

That’s what you’re sorry for?” Klaus shook his head, chuckling to himself. “Okay, well, the yelling worked, right? So maybe dear old Papa wasn’t so crazy after all.”

Before Diego could even open his mouth, Klaus turned on his heel, thrusting his left hand into Diego’s face before he walked off.

When Klaus got his tattoos, Diego had been a little unsure why he wanted them on his hands of all places, especially after listening to him whine about how much they hurt for the next week. He had to admit though, having a bold GOOD BYE thrust in his face definitely got the message across that their conversation was over. He let him leave without another word, and when he turned around he saw Dave loitering awkwardly in the bedroom doorway.

“Sorry about that,” He said, holding the front door open and gesturing for Dave to follow him. “I don’t… We’re not like that all the time.”

Dave waved him off, shaking his head. “I got a brother and two older sisters, I get it.” He glanced up the path just as Klaus disappeared around the corner. “Is he okay?”

He wasn’t sure he remembered a time when Klaus was okay. Not by normal standards anyway. But even by Klaus standards, Diego hadn’t seen him that upset in a while. They couldn’t have been older than fifteen the last time he’d had to use his powers for anything, before their dad wrote him off as a lost cause and left him to go off the rails. The more he thought about it, the more he realised how much shit he’d probably just dredged up by making Klaus do that again.

“I shouldn’t have brought him here,” He said quietly, thinking out loud.

They both got back into the car without another word and sat in silence for a while, Diego staring blankly out at the road in front of them while Dave flipped through the notes he’d made.

“I think we should start by talking to this Alex guy,” Dave said after a while, tapping his notepad thoughtfully. “See if he knows anything.”

Alex was, from what they’d been able to gather, the only person Josh saw regularly. He referred to him as a friend, but Diego got the impression he was more of a customer. Their whole relationship comprised of getting baked together and then going home.

“Hey, you alright, man?”

It wasn’t until Dave nudged his arm that he realised he’d been asked a question, and he nodded absently.

“I’m fine,” He murmured. “It’s been a long day.”

“It’s midday.”

Really ? Shit.”

He let out an exasperated sigh and turned the keys in the ignition. “Okay, let’s find the stoner.”

As they drove, two main questions stuck in his mind. One: What were they gonna ask Alex if they found him? And two: What the hell was he gonna say to Klaus when he got home?

Chapter Text

Alex was an asshole.

They tracked him down easily enough. He attended the same college as Josh, and, according to his professor, spent most of his time in the library, which was where they eventually found him. He was a little younger than Josh. If Diego had to guess, he’d say around twenty. His blond hair was matted and pulled back in a ponytail, and Diego took an instant disliking to him the moment he saw him. It wasn’t until Dave cleared his throat that he even realised they were standing over him and looked up, staring at Diego with a hazed out expression he was used to getting from Klaus.

“Alex Jeffords?” He asked, holding his badge up when Alex nodded. “I’m Detective Hargreeves, this is Detective Katz. You got time for a couple of questions?”

It was a rhetorical question. Judging by the Gameboy clutched in his hands and the unopened textbooks shoved to the side, it was clear he had the time. Still, Alex gazed blankly up at him like he didn’t understand what he was being asked.  

“Am I under arrest?”

Diego cocked his eyebrow at him. “Should you be?”

“No… Nope,” He murmured, shaking his head and looking back down at the game he was playing. “Is this gonna take long? I’m in the middle of something.”

“It’s about Josh Haywood,” Dave said. “He was a friend of yours, right?”

Alex nodded but didn’t look up. “Yeah I guess, what about him?”

“He’s dead.”

Dave looked a little taken aback by Diego’s bluntness, but Alex didn’t react.

“Yeah, I know. Heard it this morning,” He said flatly. “Suicide, right? Yikes.”

They both stared at him, bemused, for a moment, glancing over at each other as they tried to figure out how to respond.

“We uh… actually have reason to believe he was murdered,” Dave told him.

That seemed to pique Alex’s interest enough to finally switch his Gameboy off and set it down on the table. Dave pulled up a chair and Diego followed suit. He let Dave take the lead with the questions, worried that he’d lose his temper too quickly if he tried to talk to him himself. The first ten minutes of their conversation consisted of Dave attempting to convince Alex that nobody was trying to kill him, and that they were not there to protect him from some kind of college stoner serial killer. Once that was laid to rest, they tried to get some kind of background information on Josh, but Alex didn’t seem to have much to offer.

“I didn’t really know him that well, to be honest,” He shrugged, rocking back on his chair. “He kept to himself most of the time. Pretty sure the only person he spoke to regularly was his mom.”

They tried exploring his relationship with his mom, but that got them nowhere. For over an hour they tried prying for some disagreement, some tiny thing Josh might have done to upset someone, but there was nothing. He was just… normal. Slightly closed off, but normal. Someone had broken into his house and shot him point blank in the head, and there just didn’t seem to be a single reason why. Eventually, Alex had to leave for a class, and Dave and Diego were left staring at each other, none the wiser about anything.

“Well, that was a waste of time,” Diego mumbled, folding his arms across the table and resting his chin on them.

Dave hummed quietly, drumming his pen against the table. “I dated a guy almost exactly like that when I was seventeen.”

“Wow,” Diego snorted. “I hope your tastes have improved since then.”

“Oh, I didn’t really like him at the time. I just wanted to rile my parents up.” He paused, worrying on his lip thoughtfully. “Wasted a lot of time doing that, then wasted even more time trying to do exactly what they wanted. Then, last month, I realised nothing I did was gonna be good enough, so I left.”

Diego blinked at him and he chuckled. “Sorry, that got a little heavy. This place is giving me high school flashbacks.”

“Yeah? Is it the textbooks or the pot smell?”

“Both.”

They both laughed and Diego nodded. “Yeah, me too,” He said as he got to his feet. “Let’s get out of here.”

As they walked back to the car, Dave spoke again.

“Hey, can I ask you a personal question?”

It caught Diego off guard, because people usually didn’t ask permission. Most people he met seemed to think that because they knew who he was, because he’d been on TV and done a couple of magazine interviews, that they were somehow entitled to his entire life story.

Dave seemed to sense his trepidation and hastily added, “You don’t have to answer it.”

They reached the car before Diego could answer, and it wasn’t until they were both inside that he turned back to him.

“Okay,” He said as he started the car. “What did you wanna ask?”

“I just wondered what it was like, growing up in a house full of superkids,” Dave said quietly, looking out at the road. “I mean, it was hard enough fighting for attention with three normal siblings. Must’ve been rough.”

Diego let out a somewhat hysterical laugh at that. “Yeah, you could say that. Five insanely powerful siblings and what can I do? Throw knives around corners.”

“Throwing knives is pretty cool too.”

“I can also hold my breath indefinitely,” Diego chuckled. “But that’s only cool if you don’t have a sister who can alter reality, or a brother with an interdimensional monster under his skin.”

He frowned, gripping the wheel a little tighter. “I don’t think we were fighting for attention, though. Attention from dad was just about the worst thing that could happen to you. If anything we were trying to avoid it,” He paused. “Except maybe Five, but look where that got him.”

Dave nodded slowly. “I mean, when you put it that way…” He trailed off and stared out the window for a moment. “So can you control anything you throw?”

“Yeah, within reason.”

“Can you control things that other people throw?”

Diego’s face fell and he moved his hand instinctively to the scar that ran along the side of his head, a permanent reminder of the time his father had asked the same question. It was only by sheer luck that Pogo had been sitting in on his training that day, and managed to convince Reginald to stick with knives at first, rather than bullets.

At least he had time to try and jump out of the way.

“No,” He mumbled. “I can’t do that.”

The two of them fell silent for the rest of the drive back to the precinct, and the conversation barely picked back up once they got there. They spent what felt like an eternity going back over all the notes Dave had made, bouncing ideas back and forth. Diego must have read over the forensics report ten times now, each time hoping that some new detail would suddenly appear that pulled everything together. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Carmichael watching him through his office window with a smug smirk on his face. He was probably already mentally picturing Diego’s empty desk. Fantasising about Diego turning in his badge.

Eventually Diego’s brain ran out of rational thoughts, and they called it quits. Dave still somehow managed to maintain his unshakable optimism, clapping him on the back before they went their separate ways and assuring him that tomorrow they would crack it, then beaming at him before leaving him alone in the parking lot.

He checked his phone. Almost two hours ago he’d sent Klaus a message in an attempt at making peace, asking what kind of smoothie he wanted. Klaus had read the text but hadn’t responded, so Diego fell back on his usual favourite, stopping off on his way home to get the blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. He was pretty sure Klaus liked the colour of it more than anything, but it usually seemed to cheer him up. The lights were on in the window when he pulled up outside, and when he walked through the door he could see Klaus out of the corner of his eye, curled up in the furthest corner of the couch and engulfed in an oversized pastel blue unicorn hoodie.

He didn’t acknowledge Diego when he came in, though he couldn’t be certain if he was intentionally ignoring him or not. His eyes were firmly locked on the battered sketchbook clutched in his hand, his brow furrowed and his tongue poking out in concentration as he scribbled furiously on the page with a worn piece of chalk. Diego decided it would be best not to disturb him and left him alone, quietly unpacking the groceries and rooting around in the cabinet for the box of fruit teas Klaus liked. Klaus needed an advanced warning before he used the blender for smoothies, but for now this was the next best thing. Behind him, the sound of scribbling had stopped and he could tell Klaus was watching him, but he glanced away again any time Diego turned to look at him.  

It was only when Diego came over to him and thrust the mug of tea towards him that he finally made eye contact with him. He set his drawing down and took the cup wordlessly, nursing it in his hands while Diego stood in front of him and tried to think of something to say. He’d gone over several potential conversation starters in his head while he’d been at the precinct with Dave, but none of them felt right anymore.

After almost a minute of awkward silence he cleared his throat.

“Can I sit with you?” He asked, shifting his feet awkwardly.

Klaus nodded without much hesitation so he sat down next to him, propping his feet up on the coffee table. They both sat silently, Diego picking at a loose thread on his jacket and Klaus circling the rim of his mug with his finger. When they finally did talk, it was at exactly the same time, both talking over each other and then snapping their mouths shut again.

“You go first,” Diego said quietly.

It took a moment for Klaus to speak again. Up close, Diego could see the orange chalk dust in his hair and smeared across his face. He could see how sore his eyes and nose were, how his eyeliner smudged down his face even more than usual, the way it always did when he’d been crying.

“I’m sorry I was such a prick earlier,” He mumbled, looking down at his tea.

Diego frowned at him. “What are you talking about?”

He shrugged, curling in on himself even more. “You were trying to do your job and I was being really difficult and I… I shouldn’t have said that stuff about dad and the missions. It wasn’t like that. You’re not like that. It was just a lot of pressure and I-”

“Klaus,” Diego interrupted him. “You’ve got nothing to be sorry for.”

Klaus looked at him like he didn’t understand what Diego had said, but he continued regardless.

“Look, what happened was my fault, okay? I- I... I shouldn’t have pushed you to use your powers. You don’t- We don’t do that anymore.” He paused, chewing on his lip hesitantly. “I was an asshole. I’m sorry.”

He thought he saw the faintest smile twitching on Klaus’ face at that, but he didn’t respond, sipping his tea silently. A few minutes ticked by and Klaus set the mug down on the coffee table and picked his sketchbook back up, smudging the chalk out with his thumb a little less frantically than before. Diego was starting to think the conversation was over, but before he could get up to move Klaus shuffled closer to him until their arms were pressed together, and silently nestled his head against his shoulder.

“My powers get stronger when I’m anxious, I think,” Klaus said quietly after a while, not looking up from his drawing. “I always suspected they did and... I guess today confirmed it. I get all this noise in my head but then it goes quiet and everything gets stronger. Does that make sense?”

Diego put his arm around him and squeezed his shoulder, and Klaus hummed appreciatively in response. “It’s pretty useless, right? I mean my powers are useless anyway, but… well who wants to see a dead person when they’re having a panic attack? I’m no expert on mental health but I don’t see how that’s supposed to benefit me.”

The sombre tone in Klaus’ voice was completely undermined by the smiling unicorn hood that greeted Diego when he tried to look down at him.

“It’s real hard to take you seriously with that thing on your head,” He said and Klaus giggled quietly, pulling the hood down. “Do you think dad knew?”

Klaus shrugged. “I don’t know. When he used to…” He trailed off, snuggling closer to him. “He always said it was because I needed to get over the fear.”

“Could have been lying. Could have been trying to scare you and see how strong your powers were.” He balled his hand into a fist at the thought, but Klaus just shook his head.

“Dad lied about a lot of shit, but he was usually pretty upfront about why he was torturing us.”

Unsure of what to say, Diego just hummed in agreement, running his hand up and down Klaus’ arm absentmindedly. “Well, either way, I’m not gonna make you do that again.” He paused, looking back down at him uncertainly. “Are we… Are we good?”

“Yeah, we’re good,” Klaus said softly. “I just wish you’d told me that a few hours ago. I’ve been stone cold sober all day ‘cause I didn’t know if you were gonna call again.”

Diego watched as Klaus pulled a bag of pills out of his pocket, knocking a couple back before he could react. Though, at this point, he wasn’t sure he even wanted to stop him. Klaus sighed and turned his sketchbook on its side, tilting it at different angles for a few moments.

“Either I draw ten times better when I’m sober,” He said slowly, holding it up for Diego to look at. “Or ten times worse. What do you think?”

He looked down at the page, which was an explosion of orange, yellow, and indigo streaks and smudges. “What’s it supposed to be?” He asked, tilting his head.

“I don’t know.” Klaus shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet. It’s abstract, I think. You wouldn’t understand.”

“No, I like it,” He insisted, taking the sketchbook and flipping it upside down. “It’s different to your other stuff.”

Klaus’ art style varied a lot depending his mood and whatever he’d taken that day. Most of the time he drew his dreams. Those were kept in the far corner of the apartment out of sight. Canvases stacked behind one another and turned to face the wall, filled with clusters of skeletal figures and wide empty eyes. Sketchbooks with singed corners and entire pages painted black, kept buried underneath a pile of clothes. Other times he flicked paint onto the pages and blurred everything together until the colours turned to mud. On really bad days he would curl up in the corner, tucked away behind the TV, pressing pencils down so hard they tore and through the paper, a decent alternative to scratching through his own skin. He didn’t show Diego those pages often, but the ones he did see never made any kind of sense to him. Just a series of markings and words in languages he didn’t understand or an order that made no sense.  

Still, the one consistency in all of them was how dark everything was. Everything was blacks, greys, deep purples, and blues. The brightest colour he’d seen Klaus use before was the red he used on the gory bodies from his nightmares. The orange and yellows in this picture were new, and it occurred to him that he’d never seen Klaus make anything while he was sober before.

“Hey, not to push the subject or anything,” Klaus said next to him, pulling him out of his thoughts. “But when can I get that money you promised me?”

Diego rolled his eyes and pulled his wallet out of his back pocket. “I know you’re gonna spend all of this on drugs,” He said as he counted the notes out. “But for my own peace of mind can you just... pretend you’re gonna buy something else.”

“For your information, Diego, I was going to buy some new paints. The chalk was fun but it’s not me.” He paused, chuckling to himself. “I’m a medium that can’t find his medium.”

“You’re hilarious,” Diego mumbled, handing him the money. “And paints do not cost fifty dollars.”

“I know that. The rest will be spent on drugs,” Klaus said plainly. “Oh! And a belly button piercing.”

“Why belly button?”

Klaus shrugged. “I have so many crop tops now. It just seems like the natural course of action to take.” He sighed thoughtfully to himself. “That being said, I think I’m gonna throw this one back in the garbage,” He said, gesturing to the mermaid top he was still wearing under the hoodie. “It fits me weird.”

“Yeah, because it was designed for me,” Diego reminded him. “Not you and your scrawny, flat ass chest.”

“I’m not scrawny,” He muttered and Diego chuckled, wrapping his other arm around Klaus’ tiny frame and pulling him effortlessly onto his lap to prove his point.

“See?” He smirked, holding him in place. “Scrawny.”

Klaus wriggled in a futile attempt to get free.

“Get off me, you ass,” He protested. “I’m forty eight minutes older than you. Whatever happened to respecting your elders?”

“I’m bigger than you.” Diego said confidently and Klaus snorted.

“I’m half an inch taller and you know it.”

“Your hair is taller than me,” He muttered. “That doesn’t count.”

Klaus finally wrenched himself out of Diego’s arms and clambered back onto the couch next to him, smirking cockily at him. “Yeah, well your combat boots don’t count either.”

“Go fuck yourself.”

Giggling to himself, Klaus wrapped his arms around Diego’s neck and attempted to kiss the side of his head, laughing even harder when Diego shoved him away. “Can’t you just accept me as your big brother?”

“No,” Diego said bluntly. “I would rather die.”

“Well now you’re just being dramatic,” Klaus mumbled as he rolled over, curling back up against the arm of the couch and plopping his feet into Diego’s lap. “And that’s coming from me.”

They both fell silent for a while. Diego peeled his jacket off and shifted round, lying back on the pillows at the other end of the couch and staring up at the ceiling. He could hear Klaus fumbling around next to him, and a couple of minutes later the TV in the corner of the room clicked on. The volume was too low for him to make out what was playing, but he welcomed the background noise, closing his eyes for a moment and listening to the muffled conversations between characters.

“Hmm,” Klaus hummed thoughtfully after a few minutes. “Do we have vodka?”

“We always have vodka,” Diego said quietly, not opening his eyes.

He didn’t need to look to know exactly what Klaus was doing. He could hear him scrambling to his feet, padding across the room, scraping one of the metal chairs cross the floor and climbing up to reach the top of the fridge where they kept all the alcohol. A few bottles clinked together as Klaus searched for the one he wanted, and then the fridge door swung open and a moment later he heard Klaus let out a frustrated sigh.

“We have two bottles of tequila, half a bottle of gin, a bottle of whiskey, three opened bottles of vodka, but no orange juice?” He paused. “Diego, are we alcoholics?”

“That’s the least of your problems, bro.”

“Yeah, you’re right. You’re right,” He mumbled. “Still. Why do we have no juice?”

“What do you need juice for?” Diego asked, finally turning to face him. “Just drink it neat like an adult.”

Klaus ignored him and continued rifling through the fridge, eventually pulling out a bottle of ginger ale and flopping back onto the couch.

“Wanna get drunk with me?” He asked, offering out the bottle of vodka he was clutching in his other hand and pouting when Diego shook his head.

“I have work tomorrow.”

Taking a swig from each bottle, Klaus cocked his eyebrow at him. “That doesn’t usually stop you. You’ve gone to work still drunk at least twice. Side note: I really think you might have a drinking problem.”

“I don’t have a drinking problem,” Diego insisted. “And I don’t usually have cases to work on that actually matter. I need to focus.”

“Why’s this so important to you?”

He paused. “Because… murder is bad?”

“Wow,” Klaus said sarcastically, taking another sip of vodka. “And here I was thinking the Police Academy was a waste of your time.”

Diego narrowed his eyes at him and he sniggered. “Seriously.” He prodded Diego’s leg with his foot. “You were getting really worked up about it earlier too.”

For a moment Diego said nothing, mentally weighing up the pros and cons of telling Klaus everything that happened with Carmichael that morning. It was impossible to hide anything from Klaus for long. Somehow he always knew when there was something Diego wasn’t telling him, and then he’d push and push until he finally cracked. But Diego couldn’t blame him for that. They weren’t supposed to hide stuff like this from each other. They were supposed to have each other’s backs. Any time Klaus got himself into trouble, real trouble, he always came to him, and they’d figure it out together. Diego didn’t find himself in these sort of situations that much anymore, but when they were kids he was knocking on Klaus’ door almost every night because he’d gotten himself into another mess that needed fixing. He seemed to have a talent for upsetting the others when he was younger. It wasn’t intentional, not all the time, he just seemed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time and the next thing he knew Allison was crying or Five was pissed at him. Klaus, on the other hand, always knew exactly what to say to fix everything. He still did, most of the time.

He felt Klaus poke him again and he sighed, curling his legs up.

“I did something really stupid,” He mumbled.

“That’s not exactly off-piste for you, Di,” Klaus said, chuckling when Diego gave him a cold stare. “I’m sorry. Continue.”

“I uh… I sorta told my boss I’d quit my job if I don’t solve this in two weeks.”

Klaus blinked at him and held the vodka out again. “You sure you don’t want any?”

This time Diego took the bottle, knocking almost half the bottle back and letting it burn down his throat.

“Jesus,” Klaus murmured, holding the ginger ale up. “You want something to wash that down, bud?”

“No. I’m a grown man.”

“I need you to understand that drinking neat spirits is not something any other normal adult does. Not unless they’re severely depressed.”

Ignoring him, Diego took another swig and handed the bottle back to him. “We spent over an hour interviewing our only lead and got fuck all, and now I’ve got thirteen days left to turn fuck all into a solved case.”

Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “I can try and help if you want?”

“You already helped,” Diego reminded him. “And I’m not making you do that again.”

“I don’t mean with my powers. Josh barely had a social life but he was a dealer, and I know a lot of people who probably had a run in with him at some point. Everyone pretty much knows everyone. I bet if I talk to a few guys I could find someone that knows something.”

He frowned when Diego didn’t immediately say anything. “Or I can stay out of it.”

Diego wasn’t ignoring him, just thinking. Maybe the alcohol was already starting to cloud his judgement, but it seemed like Klaus had actually had a good idea.

“That’d be great actually,” He said, nodding slowly. “Thanks.”

Klaus’ face lit up at that and he sat upright, grinning from ear to ear. “Really? Okay. This’ll be so much fun! We’ll be partners! Oh!” He gasped, his eyes going wide. “Do I get a badge ?”

“Absolutely not,” He said firmly. Klaus opened his mouth again and he cut in before he could speak. “You’re not getting a gun either. Don’t make me regret agreeing to this.”

“Aw.” Klaus pouted and took a sip of his drink, grimacing. “Ugh, this is making me feel sick,” He said, drinking another mouthful anyway.

“Have you eaten anything?”

His hesitation told Diego all he needed to know.

“Have I… Have I eaten anything?” Klaus wasn’t looking at him anymore, staring over at the empty armchair against the wall. “Oh yeah! I had some stale Cheez-Its three hours ago. Also we need more Cheez-Its.”

“I’ll make some dinner.”

“Oh Jesus, please don’t,” Klaus said. “Last time you did that you set the spaghetti on fire. I still don’t understand how.”

Diego folded his arms defensively and Klaus sniggered.

“Can we get pizza?” He asked, slumping against the arm of the couch. “I want pizza.”

“You have money now,” Diego pointed out. “You can order your own pizza.”

“I already told you I’m gonna use that for paints and a piercing. Sheesh, Diego. Learn to listen.”

He didn’t have the energy left to argue with him so he just sighed, pulling his phone out. “Fine. What do you want?”

They ordered way too much, drank too much, and probably talked too much. Diego must have fallen asleep on the couch, because the next time he opened his eyes it was morning, and he was lying on his stomach with a pillow tucked under his head and a blanket draped over him. His right arm and leg had gone numb from the awkward position he’d fallen asleep in, and it was a struggle trying to sit upright. Klaus was curled up tightly in the armchair across from him, passed out with his head slumped against the back of the chair and a notepad loosely clutched in his hands. He woke up when Diego started moving, sitting upright with a grunt and blinking into the sunlight.

“Morning, sunshine,” Diego smirked, chuckling at the dirty look Klaus gave him. “When did you go to sleep?”

“Uh, about forty minutes ago,” Klaus mumbled, glancing up at the clock above his head. He held his notepad up and tapped his pen against it. “I was thinking of ideas about who to talk to today.”

Unable to think about work related things this early in the morning, Diego just nodded and got to his feet. “I want eggs,” He grumbled, changing the subject.

“Are you gonna cook them this time?”

“Shut up.”

Klaus snorted but Diego ignored him, leaving him giggling to himself while he made them breakfast. They didn’t talk much more that morning. Klaus seemed to be taking his newfound responsibility on the case very seriously, continuing to scribble notes down on his pad while he drank the smoothie he’d been promised. Eventually Diego left him to it, getting himself ready for another day of work he really didn’t want to go to. Interestingly, his chronic headache had lessened today, and he was still trying to work out whether he was still drunk, or if alcohol really had solved some of his problems.

Before he left he tapped Klaus on the shoulder, bringing him back from wherever he’d drifted to.

“I’m going to work. You find anything, you call me. Okay?”

“Yeah,” Klaus nodded absently. “Yeah, okay. Sure.”

“You alright, man?”

“Severely sleep deprived, but other than that I’m fine.” He paused and smiled to himself. “Fine by my standards anyway.”

“Alright, take care of yourself.” Diego said, patting him on the shoulder and heading out.

Dave was waiting for him when he got to the precinct, with a large coffee in each hand and a sickeningly cheerful smile on his face.

“Good morning,” He said perkily, his eyes going wide when Diego snatched one of the coffees and started chugging it. “Woah, long night?”

“You could say that.”

“Yeah, me too. I was up all night thinking about this case and ended up falling asleep with my contacts in, so now I’m scared my eyeballs are gonna fall out or something. Hence,” He gestured to the glasses now framing his face. “Anyway, I shotgunned two Redbulls for breakfast so I’m raring to go, partner!”

Diego couldn’t fight the smile that crept onto his face when Dave grinned at him. He reminded him of a much younger version of Klaus, back before all the cynicism and the drugs twisted him into what he is now.

“You come up with anything before you passed out?” He asked, tossing the empty coffee cup into the trash and following Dave inside.

“A couple things, yeah,” Dave nodded, pulling some crumpled up notes out of his jacket. “First, I think we should try and track down Josh’s mom. It sounded like he had a pretty good relationship with her. Maybe she’ll know something his friends don’t. And, oh,” He chuckled and handed one of the pages to him. “This one’s from just before I passed out. I popped some sleeping pills and came up with this whole theory that he’d been killed by time travellers to trigger World War Three. It made a frightening amount of sense to me at the time.”

“Right,” Diego nodded. “Let’s stick with the mom thing for now.”

“Good call.”

“Do we know where she lives?” Diego dropped himself heavily into the chair at his desk and loaded up the clunky computer.

It took a torturous amount of time for them to find Josh’ mom. With the internet cutting in and out, and the computer taking twenty minutes at a time to load anything, it almost would have been faster for them to knock on every door in the city until they found her themselves. Especially given when they did find an address for Patricia Haywood, it turned out to be an apartment complex only a couple blocks away.

As they made their way there, Diego mentally prepared himself for what they were about be faced with. A grieving mother who thought her son had killed himself two days ago, and he was gonna have to tell her he’d been murdered. He hated delivering news like this at the best of times. Sometimes they cried, and he never knew what to do. Sometimes they got angry, which he was somewhat better equipped to deal with, but usually just ended up escalating the situation further. Sometimes they just shut down, which was understandable, but not ideal when he needed to question them. His only hope was that Dave was better at this than him.

What he hadn’t prepared himself for were the cop cars surrounding the apartment complex, or the police tape across an open apartment door when they got inside.

“Dave,” He said slowly, watching the forensics team through the doorway. “Tell me that’s not her apartment.”

“That’s not her apartment,” Dave mumbled next to him.

“You didn’t have to actually say it, but thank you.”

Dave shook his head and held up the paper he’d scribbled the address on. “No, it’s not her apartment. This is flat 24. We’re looking for 29.”

“Oh. Wow,” He said, taken aback that for once something had swung in his favour. “Okay, you go see if you can find her. I’m gonna see what happened here. We can meet back at the car after.”

They split up, and Diego ducked under the police tape to get into the apartment, weaving his way through forensics agents photographing the room. Patch was leant against the bathroom door at the other end of the room and spotted him approaching, watching him with a mixture of surprise and disbelief in her eyes.

“We gotta stop meeting like this, Eudora,” He smirked. “Do you seriously ever stop working?”

“What are you doing here?” She asked bluntly.

“Following up on a lead. You?”

“Investigating a homicide.” Patch nodded towards the bathtub, where a body sat slumped against the wall with a cut throat.

Diego screwed his nose up and she continued. “Hope that guy wasn’t your lead, because he’s not gonna be doing much more talking now.”

“You’ve got a sick sense of humour, Patch,” Diego grinned, shaking his head to himself. “I’m not looking for him. My guy’s mom lives across the hall.”

“Weird coincidence.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. You mind if I look around real quick?”

Patch cocked her eyebrow at him. “Since when do you ask permission?”

“Thought I’d try something new,” He shrugged.

It must have worked, because the corner of her mouth twitched into a smile and she rolled her eyes in resignation. “You have five minutes,” She said firmly, holding her fingers up to make her point. “Then they’re taking the body. So get to it.”

He didn’t need to be told twice, darting into the bathroom and trying to commit everything he laid eyes on to memory. The lock on the door was still intact, no sign of forced entry. The water in the bath was a deep crimson and the smell of blood was so overpowering he had to hold his breath to stop himself gagging as he leant over to get a closer look at the body. Whoever it was, he was young, mid-twenties at best, with dark hair and an owl tattooed across his chest. His throat had been sliced open and dried blood trailed down his neck and chest into the water. Other than that, there was no obvious sign of a fight. Whoever killed him must have snuck up on him pretty fast.

Somebody tapped him on the shoulder and he whipped his head around, his hand reaching instinctively for one of the knives tucked under his jacket. He was expecting Patch, or one of the forensics guys waiting to usher him out of the building, but instead he found himself face to face with Klaus, who just blinked at him in mild amusement.

“You need to relax, Diego,” He observed, glancing down at the knife holster.

You need to stop sneaking up on me,” Diego muttered as he flattened his jacket back down. He paused, his brain taking a few seconds to process the situation. “Wait what the hell are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.”

“How did you get in here? There’s cops guarding every door downstairs.”

“Yeah,” Klaus nodded. “But the window was unlocked, and nobody was guarding that. You guys are super bad at your jobs.”

Diego blinked at him. “We’re on the third floor. Di- Did you climb up here?”

“Yeah! It was surprisingly easy, actually. “My theory is that these frequent bouts of sobriety are turning me into a super-human.”

“You’re sober again?”

He nodded. “I changed my jacket at the last minute and forgot to transfer all the stuff in my pockets,” He said, gesturing to the black faux-fur coat he was wearing. “Thus, I also don’t have my phone and couldn’t call you. So now here I am. Did you know you’re a really easy person to find? Or maybe I’m just good at finding people. Should I be a private investigator?”

“Klaus, can we stay on topic?” Diego asked, glancing up at the clock on the wall. “I’m kinda on a tight schedule here.”

“Oh, yeah! Sure! Well, first point: I got the piercing, and I’ve never felt more body confident in my life.” He grinned proudly and pointed down at the purple jewels on his navel. “Second point: I talked to a couple people and I didn’t find anything about Josh specifically, but apparently a few days ago there was a major falling out between two of the big drug traffickers in the city. I mean Christ, I go into rehab for thirty days and everything goes to shit.”

“You think Josh might have got mixed up in all that?”

“I don’t know. You’d think he’d have mentioned it yesterday,” Klaus shrugged, his attention visibly drifting as he leaned around Diego’s shoulder to look at the corpse in the bath. “Oh, hey. I know this guy.”

Diego opened his mouth to respond, but he was interrupted by Patch barging back into the bathroom.

“Diego you gotta go, they’re getting ready to- oh…” She trailed off, her eyes flicking back and forth between him and Klaus. “Your brother’s here. Your brother’s in the middle of the crime scene. That’s great.”

“Patch!” Klaus exclaimed, clapping his hands together excitedly and pottering towards her with his arms outstretched. “Hey! It’s been forever!”

Patch’s face visibly softened for a moment when Klaus wrapped his arms around her and she smiled despite herself, returning the hug and patting his back affectionately.

“It’s good to see you, Klaus,” She said as he rocked her from side to side where they stood.

While Klaus was preoccupied, Patch looked back over at Diego and mouthed silently to him, “What. Is. He. Doing. Here?”

Diego held his hands up innocently and she shook her head, freeing herself from Klaus’ arms. “Klaus,” She said firmly as she tilted his chin down to look at him “You need to leave. Right now, before anyone else sees you in here. Okay?”

“Oh, okay. Okay, sure,” Klaus nodded, heading back over to the window he’d climbed in through. “Diego, are you coming?”

“No,” Patch answered for him. “I need to talk to him.”

Klaus paused for a moment and looked back and forth at the two of them, a knowing smile spreading across his face.

“Ooooh,” He grinned. “Okay, I get it. You guys need to talk. Right, right. I’ll get out of your way.”

“Oh my god, Klaus,” Diego groaned, trying to usher him through the window faster. “That’s not what’s happening.”

“Sure, no, that’s not what’s happening. Yeah,” Klaus said smugly as he lowered himself onto the ledge. “Enjoy your talk.”

Diego buried his face in his hands and sighed deeply, wishing he could just jump out of the window with him. When he turned back around Patch was staring at him with her arms folded.

“You have fifteen seconds to tell me exactly what’s going on.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” He lied. “He followed me here. He’s an idiot. What am I supposed to do?”

“He’s not an idiot,” She said bluntly. “He’s certainly smart enough to know that breaking into a crime scene crawling with cops is probably not the best idea for him. He wouldn’t come here unless it was important. You now have ten seconds.”

“What happens when I run out of time?”

Diego.”

“Okay fine,” He sighed, lowering his voice in the hopes she might not hear him. “He’s helping me with the case.”

Her silence was punishing. She stared at him in complete bewilderment for so long he thought he might have broken her completely. Behind them, the clock ticked on the wall for a painful amount of time before she finally moved, pinching the bridge of her nose and taking a deep breath.

“Okay,” She said slowly. “Okay, no, that’s great. You’ve gone insane. Perfect.”

“Eudora-”

“Don’t.” She held her hand up to silence him. “I mean, shit, Diego, have you completely lost your mind? If Carmichael finds out about this he’ll be handing your ass to you on a plate. Christ.”

“Dora, calm down.”

“Do not tell me to calm down. I am completely calm. Shit.”

Diego watched as she pulled her rabbit’s foot out from her blazer pocket, rubbing it anxiously between her fingers. “You’re breaking about a dozen laws. If anybody finds out-”

“Nobody’s gonna find out,” He assured her, putting his hands on her shoulders. “I’ve got everything under control.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yeah I do,” He insisted. “Look, Patch, you’ve got nothing to worry about, okay? I- I- I’m not asking you to cover for me. I’m not asking you to get involved. If everything goes south, it’s on me. I’m not gonna let you get mixed up in it.”

“I’m not worried about me, you piece of shit. I’m worried about you.

He stared dumbly at her for a moment, struggling to wrap his head around what she’d said. There was no hint of insincerity in her eyes. In fact, it was one of the few times he’d seen her look scared. Her dark eyes were wide and uncertain, flicking frantically across his face.

Frowning, he took the hand that was incessantly worrying the rabbit’s foot and squeezed it tightly.

“I’ll be fine, Patch,” He said softly.

“You always say that.”

“Yeah,” He grinned. “And I’m still alive, aren’t I?”

Patch huffed out a laugh, and it was the sweetest thing he’d heard all day. She loosened her grip on the charm clenched in her fist, reaching up with her free hand to fix his collar, which he was almost certain was perfectly straight already. In the back of his mind, he knew there were about a million things wrong with this situation. The biggest being the bloody naked corpse currently propped against the wall behind them. But Patch was looking at him differently now. Her eyes were softer, but more focused, burning into his in a way that made him forget to breathe. He wanted to say something to her, but he knew the words wouldn’t come out it he tried. Even if he could, he had no idea what he’d say. All he could do was stare back at her, and there were definitely worse things to be stuck doing.

She opened her mouth to speak again, flicking her tongue out to wet her bottom lip and pulling him an inch closer.

“Diego, I-”

She was cut off by a knocking on the window, and they both let out matching despairing groans, turning to see Klaus waving at them.

“What are you still doing here?” Diego demanded.

“Well, see, turns out that climbing up a building is a lot easier than climbing down! And I also think I might be scared of heights because I’m really not having a good time here.”

“Feeling nervous when you’re stood on a ledge three storeys up isn’t a fear of heights, Klaus. That’s just being a normal person,” Patch told him, shaking her head to herself. “Okay, plan B. I’ll go and draw everyone’s attention away from the door, and you two will have approximately ten seconds to get out of here.”

“That’s plan B ?” Klaus asked incredulously as he clambered back through the window and crouched down to kiss the solid bathroom tiles. “Why wasn’t that plan A?”

“Because this plan requires more effort on my part,” She said flatly. “Now please stop kissing my crime scene.”

Klaus scrambled to his feet and followed Diego over to the door. They waited while Patch headed out, and as soon as she gave a signal, Diego grabbed Klaus’ arm and marched him purposefully across the apartment, hurrying him through the door and down the stairs as fast as they could go.

“Well that was fun!” Klaus said cheerily when they got outside, his fear from moments ago apparently forgotten. “We should work together more often.”

Diego gave him a stony faced stare, holding him by the collar as he marched him back towards the car. “Klaus, I swear to God,” He muttered. “I am this close to putting your head through a wall.”

“Okay, clearly you’re upset.”

“Really? What gave you that impression?”

“Is this because I interrupted your moment with Patch back there? Because I really feel like I was doing you a favour. I mean what were you gonna do? Bang right next to a corpse? That’s not a memory you want, Diego. Trust me it’s not.” Klaus’ face turned solemn for a moment, but he waved it off. “Anyway, you’ve got nothing to worry about. I only saw the last forty seconds of whatever was going on in there, and it was pretty obvious she wants to do filthy, unspeakable things to you.”

His heart skipped a beat at that but he tried to remain indifferent about it, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly. “Yeah, well, she’s got eyes hasn’t she?” He said, patting Klaus on the back and guiding him down the street. “Come on, we gotta find Dave.”

“Dave is here? Aw, if I’d known I would have dressed sluttier.”

“What do you call this then? Conservative?” Diego asked, looking down at the sheer mesh crop top and leather pants he was wearing.

“You know I can take it so much further than this,” Klaus said with a wicked smile. “I’m gonna blow that man’s mind.”

Diego didn’t bother to argue, letting him drift into whatever fantasy he was now constructing while they walked back to where he’d parked.

Dave was already waiting for them when they got there, leant against the bonnet of the car and looking absently down at his phone. He waved when he saw them approaching, his eyes immediately falling on Klaus.

“Oh, hey,” He smiled as he stood upright. “I didn’t know you were coming.”

“Showing up completely unannounced is part of my charm,” Klaus grinned.

“I like the new piercing,” Dave observed, nodding down at Klaus’ stomach. “It suits you.”

Diego could probably count on one hand the number of times he’d seen Klaus speechless, but it was always fun to watch when it happened. He seized up completely, total bewilderment plastered across his face like he couldn’t work out what was happening to him, and he opened and closed his mouth repetitively like a goldfish as he tried to think of a response. Dave looked mildly concerned, probably worried that he’d said the wrong thing, but Diego just chuckled and elbowed Klaus in the ribs in an attempt to bring him back to life.

“Klaus,” He said, smirking when Klaus stared blankly at him. “You good?”

“Yeah,” Klaus mumbled quietly. “Yeah, yeah I’m good.” He looked back over at Dave and smiled brightly at him. “Thanks!”

Dave sniggered and Diego rolled his eyes, guiding Klaus towards the backdoor of the car. It was only when they were all inside that he remembered why they’d come to the apartment in the first place and he turned back to Dave expectantly.

“Did you find the mom?”

“Oh, no. She wasn’t in. I’ve been stood out here waiting for you for about fifteen minutes now.”

“Oh,” Diego said, unable to mask the disappointment in his voice.

“Yeah, you find anything in the other apartment?”

“He found love,” Klaus piped up from the backseat.

“You wanna walk home?” Diego threatened and Klaus fell silent, pouting and curling up on the seat.

“I found a dead guy and a lot of blood,” He told him. “Had his throat slashed in the bath. No idea who he was.”

“I know who he is,” Klaus said, leaning forward again and putting his hands on either side of Diego’s seat. “His name’s Dan. I buy molly off him sometimes. And we fucked,” He paused, glancing over at Dave. “But that was two years ago. I’m currently ready to mingle. Just throwing that out there.”

“Klaus,” Diego said, ignoring his attempts to flirt. “Is there anyone in this city that hasn’t sold you drugs and slept with you?”

“Hey! I never slept with Josh, remember? I slept with Dan. I always get them mixed up.”

Diego was about to tell him to shut up again when he paused, turning back around to look at him. “Do a lot of people get them mixed up?”

“Oh yeah, big time,” Klaus chuckled. “They look exactly alike. Except Dan has this really sexy tattoo on his chest. It was really embarrassing actually. I saw him last year and he had his shirt open and I was like ‘Josh! You got a tattoo?’ and he was all ‘Who’s Josh?’ I had to cut off communication with him for two months until he forgot about it.”

Shaking his head, Diego looked back over at Dave. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Dave nodded thoughtfully. “I should get a chest tattoo.”

“What? No. How was that your takeaway? Christ, I’m talking about Josh. What if he was never the target? We can’t find a motive for his murder because he was never supposed to be the victim. They got the wrong guy.”

“Huh. Explains the rushed cover-up job. Maybe they realised they’d messed up and panicked?”

They all sat in silence for a moment as they considered the idea, the only noise was the sound of Klaus fidgeting restlessly in the back seat. After a while he leant forward again, poking his head between the two of them.

“You want me to see if he remembers anything?” He asked.

“No,” Diego said, shaking his head. “I told you I’m not making you do that again.”

“Yeah, but-”

“Klaus, no,” He said firmly. “Now shut up, I need to think.”

He could still hear Klaus muttering to himself behind him but he tuned him out, trying to form some kind of cohesive plan in his head. Ideally, he needed to talk to Patch, but he wasn’t sure he could face her again just yet.

“Okay,” He said slowly. “If they were killed by the same person-”

“They were,” Klaus mumbled and he whipped back around, staring daggers at him.

“Be quiet,” He hissed. “If they were, how do we prove it? There’s gotta be CCTV around here, right?”

“And a whole lot of neighbours that could’a seen something,” Dave added, pulling his notepad out of his pocket and flipping back through the pages. “We don’t have much to go on, though. There’s probably a hundred guys with a blond buzz cut in the city.”

“He had a tattoo on his shoulder.”

“Yeah, so did at least three people in the coffee shop I stopped at this morning.”

Diego sighed, rubbing his temples in frustration. “Yeah, you’re right,” He murmured. “But that’s all we’ve got to work with.”

“The tattoo is an angel wing, if that helps,” Klaus offered, leaning back in his seat. “And she’s a woman, so maybe you should both start examining your personal biases.”

They both stared at him and he shrugged, pointing to the empty seat next to him. “Dan’s right here, if you want anything else.”

“Are you kidding? Why didn’t you say that before?” Diego asked him, looking back and forth between him and the empty back seat.

“I tried! You told me to shut up!”

“You did tell him to shut up,” Dave agreed. “Like three times.”

“Okay, fine. What’s he saying?”

Klaus was quiet for a moment, looking intently at the empty space next to him. “She had the scarf over her face again, but she had hazel eyes, long eyelashes, and- Dan she murdered you why are you describing her like you wanna make out with her? Focus. Okay. She was wearing a green tank top, and the wing tattoo goes right across her back. Is that helpful?”

“Really helpful,” Diego nodded. “Thanks.”

“See! We all make an amazing team!” Klaus clapped his hands together excitedly. “Hargreeves, and… Dave, I don’t know your surname.”

“Katz.”

“Hargreeves and Katz! Oh those sound good together. Our children will have adorable names.”

“Yeah, moving on,” Diego said swiftly. “I think we should do a sweep of the apartment complex, see if any of the neighbours saw her coming or going.”

“Can I come too?” Klaus asked.

“If I said no, would you listen to me and stay here?”

“No, I almost certainly would not.”

“Then you may as well come,” Diego shrugged, opening the car door and waving for them both to follow. “Let’s go.”

Klaus whooped loudly, looking more excited than Diego had ever seen him sober.

“This is gonna be so fun,” He grinned, wrapping his arms around them both as they walked back down the street. “Hargreeves and Katz are on the case. All we need now is a theme song.”

Chapter Text

“Hi, I’m Detective Venkman.”

The man in the doorway watched as Diego attempted to wrestle back his badge, which Klaus had swiped from around his neck and was currently strangling him with.

Stop taking the badge,” He told him when he finally wrenched it free, pulling the chain off his neck and shoving it in his pocket out of Klaus’ reach. “And stop telling people you’re a detective.”

“Venkman… like from Ghostbusters?” The man asked bemusedly and Klaus clapped his hands together excitedly.

Exactly like Ghostbusters! Thank you for noticing.”

He looked completely lost for words, and Diego couldn’t exactly blame him. Sighing, he pushed Klaus off to the side and turned back towards him. He was tall, and slim, and his lips were pursed together as he tried to stay civil.

“Sorry about him,” He mumbled, giving Klaus another hard stare. “We’re trying this new thing where we bring minor offenders out on patrol. Kinda like community service.”

“How’s that working out for you?”

“Horribly,” He said bluntly. “Just try to ignore him. Is it okay if I ask you a couple of questions?”

The man sighed. “Is this about what happened upstairs?” He asked, frowning when Diego nodded. “I didn’t hear anything last night, if that’s what you’re gonna ask.”

“That’s fine, I just need to know if you’ve seen anyone since yesterday morning that matches this description.”

He listed off everything Klaus had given him, but the man just shook his head.

“Sorry, doesn’t ring any bells,” He said, shutting the door abruptly in his face before he could get another word in.

“Wow,” Klaus chuckled. “Is it always like this?”

“More or less, yeah.”

 Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “What are the benefits of this job again?”

“Catching killers and saving lives,” He told him, taking him by the arm and leading him down the hall.

“Right, right. When you say it like that, it sounds exciting. But this…” He paused and gestured vaguely at their surroundings. “This is boring.”

“You asked to be included,” Diego reminded him. “And it’s not supposed to be fun.”

Huffing, Klaus stuck his bottom lip out childishly at him. “Can I go upstairs with Dave instead?”

“No.”

“Can I hold the badge?”

No.”

“Well what can I do?”

Diego thought for a moment and dug his hand into his back pocket, fishing out an old rubber bad and holding it out for him. “You wanna play with this?”

“I’m not a child, Diego.” Klaus muttered, but his eyes stayed fixed on the band and Diego cocked his eyebrow at him.

“I’m not hearing a no.”

They both stared at each other in silent challenge, waiting to see who would break first. Klaus narrowed his eyes at him and Diego shrugged, slowly moving to put it back in his pocket without taking his eyes off him. He’d almost put it away when Klaus finally stomped his foot.

“Okay wait, wait, wait. Fine. I do wanna play with it. Please.”

“Go wild, pal,” Diego smirked and tossed the rubber band into his hands, watching him immediately start looping it around his fingers.

Shaking his head, Diego left him to it, turning and heading to the next door along the hall. The woman in the next flat was so small he didn’t see her until he looked down. She was half his height and twice as wide, with long auburn hair and a round face covered in freckles, and seemed more than a little apprehensive about opening the door any further.

“Hi,” He said in the most non-threatening voice he could muster, pulling his badge out of his pocket and flashing it to her. “Detective Hargreeves. You got time for a few questions?”

The woman worried on her bottom lip for a moment and glanced over her shoulder, and when Diego followed her eyes he saw a baby laid out on a play mat behind her.

“It’ll only take a minute,” He assured her.

She still looked unsure. “What’s it about?”

“You heard about what happened upstairs?” He asked and she nodded. “We’re just trying to find out if anybody saw anything.”

Finally, the woman gave a resigned sigh and opened the door the rest of the way. “You wanna come in?”

“Thanks,” He said, turning to Klaus, who was focusing intently on the star pattern he was making with the rubber band, and patting him on the shoulder. “Klaus, come on.”

He could see the confusion on the woman’s face and he threw her an apologetic look. “Sorry. I can’t legally leave him unsupervised.”

“Hi!” Klaus said behind him, waving cheerfully at the woman in the door. “What’s your name?”

“Penny,” She answered, a little hesitantly, and Diego realised it hadn’t even occurred to him to ask.

Penny led the two of them into the flat and Klaus gasped excitedly when he saw the baby, crouching down and making quiet cooing noises. It seemed to put Penny a little more at ease and she smiled as she sat on the couch next to them.

“Her name’s Mae,” She told him.

“She’s adorable.”

“Moving on,” Diego cut in, determined to stay on topic. “We’re looking for a woman with a blonde buzz cut, wearing a green tank top with angel wings tattooed across her shoulders. You see anyone like that yesterday?”

Penny looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded. “Yeah, actually. I was just getting back from my dad’s with Mae, and this woman came running down the stairs and shoved me out of the way to get through the door. There’s a few weird people living around here so I didn’t think much of it at the time, but she looked exactly like that.”

“Okay, what time was this?”

“Um, about 9:30 I think?”

He talked to her for a few more minutes to see if he could get anything else. She didn’t have much more information, but just having one actual, living person say something that aligned with everything Klaus had said felt like a massive breakthrough. After saying goodbye, and tearing Klaus away from the baby he was seemingly enamoured by, they headed back out into the hall and made their way to the stairs to find Dave.

“Diego,” Klaus said as they walked. “I have some unsolicited advice for you.”

“I don’t want your advice.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s literally… Do you know what unsolicited means?”

Diego gave him a sideways glance. “I know what everything means.”

“Okay, I hear you. But your refusal to give me a straight answer kinda makes it look like you don’t know what it means.”

“What were you gonna say, Klaus?” He muttered.

“Oh, right, I was gonna say you need to work on your people skills. You know, since so much of your job involves interacting with…” He trailed off, gesturing with his hands while he tried to find the right word. “Well, with people.”

“My people skills are fine,” Diego said defensively.

Klaus winced, his voice coming out a pitch higher when he spoke again. “Are they?”

Ignoring him, Diego pushed past and jogged the rest of the way up the stairs, almost slamming straight into Dave going the opposite way.

“Whoa,” Dave chuckled, putting his hand on Diego’s arm to steady them both. “I thought you said we were meeting downstairs?”

“Oh, shit. Yeah,” He mumbled.

They’d only had that conversation twenty minutes ago and already it felt like a distant memory. Time had been moving weirdly ever since he took this case. It was only their second day of investigations, but it felt like they’d been working on it for months. Maybe after all those weeks on desk duty he’d just forgotten what it felt like to be busy. They all made their way back down the stairs and Diego filled Dave in on what they’d found. Dave had gotten a pretty similar story from one of the guys he’d spoken to, about a woman matching the description Klaus had given them barrelling down the stairs just after 9pm.

“Okay,” He said as he rubbed his forehead, trying to concentrate. “We need to find some CCTV.”

“Oh! There’s a pawn shop along this street,” Klaus piped up. “That’s where I sold our last TV set.”

Diego blinked at him. “You sold our- You told me someone robbed us.”

“And you believed me?”  

“I don’t have time for this,” Diego muttered. “We’re gonna continue this conversation later. Where’s the pawn shop?”

Klaus led them back out onto the street to a seedy looking store just a few yards away from the apartment.

“They have CCTV up there,” Klaus said, pointing up at the camera tucked into the corner by the window. “And there’s cameras across the street, there,” He pointed to another store on the other side of the road. “And down there.”

“You know all that offhand?” Dave asked and Diego chuckled.

“No, I’ve just stolen from here many times,” Klaus grinned. “But nobody can prove that! Now let’s roll, team.”

Shaking his head, Diego followed him inside. It was a cramped little shop, and the shutters on the windows only let in thin streams of light that did little to illuminate the place. One wall was completely covered in guitars, while the other side of the room was wall to wall cabinets filled with lamps, picture frames, watches, and a whole collection of other trinkets. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Dave walking up next to him, screwing his nose up.

“It smells like my grandma’s house in here,” He said quietly, and both Diego and Klaus gave him equally perplexed looks.

The man hunched over the corner counter scowled at them when they looked over at him, fixing Klaus with a beady eyed stare.

“You got a lot of nerve, Klaus. I’ll give you that,” He said gruffly, striding over to the jewellery cabinet and standing firmly in front of it with his arms folded. “You here to rob me blind again?”

“Aw, don’t be like that. As if I’d rob you when I’m here with two respected officers of the law.”

Klaus shoved his hand into Diego’s pocket and pulled his badge out, smiling innocently when the man sighed. “Fine. What do you want?”

“We need to look at some CCTV footage,” Diego answered for him, pausing for a moment before he added, “If that’s okay.”

“Sure, whatever. But he…” The man jabbed a finger at Klaus. “Doesn’t touch anything.”

“I’ll be keeping an eye on him,” Dave said from behind them, blinking when everyone turned to look at him. “What?”

“You want me to keep my hands where you can see them, officer?” Klaus purred and Diego groaned.

“Okay, let’s go look at some tapes,” He said before Klaus could get another word in. “Where are they?”

The man pointed to a door at the back of the shop, and Diego promptly marched the others through it into the backroom. It was dark and cramped, with barely enough standing room for the three of them. A desk was shoved up against one wall, which Klaus immediately climbed atop, crossing his legs next to the two monitors, and a solitary chair that Diego immediately claimed. Dave went to close the door behind them and Klaus’ whole face twisted as he shrunk in on himself, suddenly looking a lot younger.

“Leave it open,” Diego told him and Dave shrugged, perching himself on the edge of the desk next to Klaus, who instantly relaxed back into his cheery persona.

“This place still remind you of grandma’s?” He asked, rocking side to side and grinning in amusement.

“Big time,” Dave chuckled. “This room especially.”

“Dave, you are the most compelling person I’ve ever met in my life.”

“Oh, thank you.”

Diego did his best to ignore them, trying to focus on the blurry footage from the front of the shop flickering on the monitor in front of him. It took an age to rewind the tape back to last night, and served as a painful reminder of his weeks of desk duty. He couldn’t help but laugh to himself at the fact that, after finally getting put on a case, he’d still managed to end up stuck going through security footage again.

When he looked up again Klaus was stretching the material of his crop top out and leaning over for Dave to inspect it.

“See? It looks like stripes but actually it says ‘bitch please’ in really tiny letters,” He grinned, pointing to the yellow lettering. “It cost me two dollars in a thrift store.”

“I love that,” Dave said softly. “I haven’t worn anything like this since I was a twenty.”

God that is a stunning visual. Why would you even say that to me?”

“Why’d you stop?” Diego asked in a feeble attempt to intervene before Klaus’ mind wandered too far astray, and Dave shrugged.

“Parents, general society, uniform regulations. I could go on.”

“Ugh, society,” Klaus grumbled, yawning and rubbing his eyes. “Wow. Running on forty minutes of sleep is a lot harder when you’re sober. Does anyone have a Red Bull? Or some cocaine?”

Before either of them could respond, he slumped against Dave’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “I’m gonna just take a nap,” He said. “Wake me up when something exciting happens.”

Diego rolled his eyes, and within less than a minute Klaus was snoring quietly.

“How can he even sleep like this?” Dave asked, craning his neck to look at him.

“You learn to sleep in some interesting places when you grow up like we did. It’s a talent.” He paused, looking over at his brother leant heavily on Dave’s arm. “You know he won’t mind if you move him, right? You don’t have to let him lay all over you.”

“It’s fine.” Dave shrugged. “You find anything yet?”

“I have rewound two hours.”

“Oh, Christ.”

“Yeah. Better get comfortable.”

He was in need of a strong drink by the time he got to yesterday evening on the tape, and Dave looked like he was about to fall asleep with Klaus. They hadn’t even found anything yet, but just reaching the 8pm mark felt like it warranted its own celebration in the form of a high five. The high lasted all of five seconds, before they realised they now had to sit through two hours of real time footage, and by the 9pm mark they’d both lost the last of their enthusiasm for the case.

“Dave,” Diego said groggily, sliding a little further down in his chair. “I feel like we’ve built a decent relationship over the last couple days. We can rely on each other right?”

“Yeah, definitely.”

“Great, because I need you to do something for me.” He looked up at him seriously. “I got a knife in a holster under this jacket. I need you to take it and slit my throat.”

Dave laughed, and next to him Klaus jerked awake, sitting bolt upright and looking around with a disorientated look on his face. The screen Diego was watching blacked out and he cursed under his breath, smacking the monitor in frustration.

“Sorry, darlin’.” Dave smiled. “You okay?”

“Where the shit am I?” He asked as he rubbed his eyes. “Did we save the day yet?”

“Not yet,” Diego muttered, giving the monitor another whack and jolting it back to life.

“Shame. I’m going for a cigarette.”

Klaus shoved both his hands in his coat pockets and hung his head. “Uuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrggggggggggggh they’re in my other jacket,” He groaned, holding his hand out. “Diego, give me one of your knives so I can kill myself.”

Silently, Dave pulled out his own cigarette pack and handed it to him, and Klaus looked at him adoringly like he’d just presented him with a bouquet of roses. He hopped off the desk and strode across the one foot of floor space between them and the door, turning back expectantly.

“Are you coming?”

Dave looked over at Diego, who just shrugged at him. “You don’t need my permission, man.”

“Oh, right.” Dave chuckled. “I’m an adult.”

With that, he followed Klaus out and left Diego alone at the desk, staring at the continuous footage of an empty street. After a couple of minutes he pulled his phone out, deciding he should probably give Patch an advanced warning that he was working on her case. The first call went to voicemail. The second call she picked up after two rings, sounding less than thrilled to talk to him.

“What do you want, Hargreeves?” She demanded.

“Damn, Eudora. You greet everyone that way?”

“Just you specifically,” She muttered, and he could hear her letting out a deep breath on the other end of the line. “Sorry. It’s just… been a day. What’s up?”

“Okay, well, now I feel bad, because you’re really not gonna enjoy what I have to say.”

“When do I ever?”

He chuckled, but he could sense her impatience so he didn’t keep her waiting. “I need to take over your case.”

There was a long pause, and he was about to check if the signal had cut out when she spoke again.

“Feel like I misheard you there, Di.”

“I’m serious,” He told her. “My case and your case are the same case, and I need to… Shit, hang on a second.”

He looked back up at the monitor just as someone walked into frame. The second he saw the shaved head and tank top, he hit pause and grinned to himself.

“Patch, I gotta go,” He said abruptly.

“No, no. No way. What are you doing?”

“Investigating your case. I’ll tell you about it later.”

“Where are you?”

“Bye.”

Diego! ” She cried, but he snapped the phone shut before she could get another word in, shoving his phone back in his jacket and unpausing the tape.

The woman in the footage was walking slowly, with her hands hidden in her pockets. He could see the tattoo spread across her back, but not her face, and she kept her back to the camera as she walked along the street. The only glimpse he could get of her face was a brief profile shot just as she came onto camera, and it was barely enough to identify her. He was so focused on the screen in front of him he didn’t notice Klaus and Dave returning until Klaus was behind him, leaning over his shoulder and scaring him half to death.

“Find anything interesting, officer?”

“Don’t call me that, you idiot,” He muttered, shoving him away and pointing at the paused screen. “I found her.”

“Oh, great! Solving crime is so easy!”

Diego blinked at him. “What are you talking about? We’ve been working on this for two days and all we have is seven seconds of blurry footage of our suspects back, and absolutely nothing that physically connects her to either crime scene. We haven’t solved anything.”

“Aw,” Klaus pouted. “Does that mean I can’t go home yet?”

“Klaus, you can go home whenever you want. You chose to come with us.”

“Oh yeah.” He grinned, patting Diego’s shoulder. “I’m actually having a really fun time, to be honest. What’s next?”

Diego popped the tape out and held it up. “We need to take this, and-”

“Oh, give it to me. I’ll stick it down my pants and we can roll.”

He didn’t say anything, cocking his eyebrow at him and waiting for Klaus to work out where he’d gone wrong.

Oh,” He said after a minute. “Oh, you mean legally take it. Okay, yeah. Sure, we’ll do that.”

Diego just shook his head to himself, guiding Klaus back through the door into the main shop. The owner watched them, still eyeing Klaus with suspicion as they walked past, and it took Diego a moment to get his attention, practically waving the tape in his face.

“It cool if we take this?”

“Can I say no?”

“I mean, you can,” He shrugged. “But then I gotta go get a warrant to take it. And then we have to come back, and it’s a whole thing.”

The man narrowed his eyes at him and let out a frustrated huff. “Fine,” He said, waving his hand. “If it means you’ll leave.”

“Thank you,” Diego said sweetly, and the three of them trundled through the door and back down the street.

Klaus didn’t say anything until they were inside the car, shuffling awkwardly along the backseat and leaning he head forward between the two of them.

“Can I interest anyone in a bracelet?” He asked, reaching into his coat pocket and pulling out a fistful of tangled jewellery. “I have plenty.”

“Oh, wow,” Dave said quietly. “How did you even… That’s amazing.”

“That’s nothing, check this out!”

They both watched as Klaus started pulling an endless stream of material from his other pocket, finally holding up the deep blue fabric proudly.

“It’s a skirt, I think. I didn’t get much of a look at it beforehand.”

“How the hell did you steal a rack of jewellery and a skirt without any of us noticing?” Diego asked, staring at him in bewilderment. “There were three of us.”

“It’s pretty basic disarming, Diego,” Klaus said, like it was obvious. “Dad was a prick but he did teach me how to get a gun out of a holster without anyone seeing me.” He grinned and turned to Dave. “I was really good at disarming. One time, this guy twice my size had me with both hands behind my back and a gun to my head and I did a cool flip and got it out of his hand with my foot. It was very sexy of me.”

“Klaus, we were nine,” Diego reminded him.

Were we? That’s horrifying.”

“Have you guys actually had, like… therapy for this shit?” Dave asked, looking at them with a grave expression on his face.

Diego scoffed at that. He’d been to a total of three therapy sessions since he left home. No, three and a half, if he counted the one he stormed out of. The first time he went was after Klaus’ first spell in rehab. He told him about the group therapy he had to do while he was in there.

“I mean, I don’t feel like I gained much,” He’d told him. “There was no big epiphany moment or anything like that. But I sure got a lot off my chest.”

And Diego had a lot to get off his chest, so he figured he’d give it a shot. The first session was great. He wasn’t sure he’d ever talked for that long, continuously, in his life. He talked about everything that had happened to him, to all of them, when they were kids. About all the things dad did, all the things he made them do, and, temporarily at least, he felt a little bit lighter. Halfway through the second she’d pointed out that he was describing everything objectively, almost like it had happened to someone else, and after that things went downhill. Because as soon as he tried to connecting any kind of emotion to it, he froze up. He just felt angry. But it wasn’t real anger. That was just the only thing he knew how to recognise anymore. He didn’t go back after that, telling Klaus it wasn’t doing anything for him. Really he was just terrified of finally feeling everything he’d been numbing himself to for the last fifteen years. The second time was towards the end of his and Patch’s official relationship, when she’d all but marched him into the therapist’s office in a last ditch attempt at making a dent in the steel walls he’d apparently built up around himself. And this guy was determined to get him to confront that… hence the storming out. Since then he hadn’t bothered with the whole thing, deciding he’d rather stay like this than turn into Klaus, who he once found sobbing in the kitchen because he’d dropped his toast butter side down.

“Diego?” Dave asked and he blinked at him.

He and Klaus were both staring at him expectantly, and he realised he hadn’t been listening to anything either of them had been saying.

“Uh, what?”

“I said, what’s our next move?”

“Oh, right,” Diego mumbled, trying to focus on forming a coherent thought. “Give me a minute.”

Behind him, Klaus snorted and leant over to grin cockily at him. “This is why you were never in charge.”

“Shut up, like you’d do a better job.”

“Uh, I’d be an amazing leader, Diego,” Klaus scoffed. “I already have the perfect plan. First we all get baked.”

“I like this plan,” Dave said, nodding along intently.

Second, we find the scarf. Third, we get donuts and congratulate each other on the amazing detective work.” He paused for a moment. “Actually maybe we should move that ahead to now. I really want a donut. Diego, can we get donuts?”

“Forget about the donuts,” Diego grumbled. “What scarf are you talking about?”

Klaus shrugged. “Everyone kept saying she had a scarf over her face, but she didn’t on the tape.”

“That is… a really good point,” He said, making no attempt to hide his surprise. Klaus made a face and glanced over at the empty seat next to him, and Diego frowned at him. “What?”

“Nothing, nothing. Thank you for appreciating my good idea, which I came up with, on my own.”

“Right,” Diego mumbled. “It’s a good idea, but we can’t do anything else until I talk to Patch.

“Diego, we’re investigating two murders. Is your sex life really a priority right now?”

“That’s not-”

“Whaaat?” Dave cut in, grinning at Diego like a child. “You and Patch?”

Klaus let out an exaggerated laugh. “Have you been living under a rock, Dave?”

“In my defence, I only started working here a week ago.”

“And you spent that week under a rock?”

“Can you stop ?” Diego asked, exasperated. “I need to talk to her because this is her case, and considering our last conversation ended with me hanging up on her, she’s probably not gonna be too keen on giving it over to us.”

“Lover’s quarrel?” Klaus smiled, yelping when Diego spun around and thumped him in the shoulder.

“You are only a part of this because I’ve decided to allow it,” He reminded him. “Don’t push it.”

Klaus slumped back in his seat and folded his arms crossly. “I still think we should look for the scarf before we leave.”

“You just want an excuse to go through some garbage.”

“I’m trying to help, you condescending prick.”

“Klaus is right,” Dave agreed, glancing back at him. “If she did ditch the scarf here, we wanna find it as soon as possible. Longer we leave it the less chance we have of finding it at all.”

Sighing, Diego held his hands up in defeat. “Fine,” He huffed, turning to Dave while Klaus immediately scrambled out of the car behind them. “But we’re leaving in fifteen minutes, regardless of whether we find it or n-”

“Found it!”

They both looked out the window, where Klaus was proudly waving a square patterned scarf in the air and pointing to the trash can they were parked next to.

“It was in here! Right on the top!”

“You gotta be fucking-” Diego rolled the window down and Klaus grinned at him smugly. “Stop looking at me like that.”

“I found it so easily, Diego. It’s a shame I’m not a class traitor, because I really think I could make a great cop if I wanted to.”

“Just get back in the car,” He muttered.

Klaus did as he was told, and Diego drove them all back to the precinct, leaving him and Dave in the car while he went to find Patch. He wasn’t surprised to see her back at her desk, focused intently on the file in her hand. She didn’t look up until he was a few feet away from her, and as soon as she saw him her eyes went cold. Hopping to her feet, she grabbed him by the arm and marched him back across the room, shoving him into the conference room and slamming the door shut behind them.

It took him a few seconds to regain his composure, staring dumbly at her and wetting his bottom lip before he spoke.

“Thought you wanted to keep things professional at work,” He choked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She punctuated her sentence with a confident cock of her head. “We’re just two co-workers having a private discussion.”

“If that’s how we’re having discussions now, maybe we should do it more often.”

“Stop it.”

“Pretty sure you started it this time,” He smirked and she scowled at him.

“I mean it, stop. I’m trying to be angry with you,” She muttered. “I mean what the hell, Diego? First you waltz onto my crime scene, with Klaus of all people, which I don’t even have time to lecture you about again. Then you call me and just drop that you’re gonna take my case, which you’re not, by the way, and before I can even get a word in you hang up on me!? You do not get to hang up on me, Hargreeves. And now you’re just marching in all cocksure of yourself like you didn’t just hang up on me. I cannot believe you hung up on me.”

“Okay, you’ve made your point.”

Have I though?” She asked, sighing and pinching the bridge of her nose. “God, you give me a headache.”

Diego chuckled, leaning back against the table behind him. “You need to learn to switch off, Patch.”

“We both do,” She said, her voice softening as she looked back up at him. “Okay, tell me why you need my case.”

He paused, worrying on his bottom lip anxiously. “You’re gonna hate all of this.”

Patch just shrugged and hoisted herself onto the table next to him, folding her arms and looking at him expectantly. So he took a breath, and he told her everything. About what Klaus had told him after he found the first body, and what he found out when they went back. He told her about the dead ends, and what Klaus found out from the second victim, and the tape, and the scarf. He decided to omit the minor detail of the two week time limit Carmichael had agreed with him, not wanting to stress her out even more, but he gave her everything else.

She was silent for a moment after he finished talking, stroking her rabbit’s foot keychain thoughtfully.

“So, to clarify,” She finally said. “Your brother, who just got out of rehab, is helping you solve an incredibly important, complex murder case?”

“Pretty much, yeah,” He nodded, avoiding her eyes. “And I know how stupid it is. You don’t need to tell me.”

“I know, but as your co-worker I feel obligated to reiterate that what you’re doing is really stupid.”

He huffed out a laugh at that and she shifted closer, until their shoulders were pressed together. “As your friend, though,” She said, softer. “It’s a good idea.”

Diego blinked at her. “Come again?”

“I mean, the guy can see dead people. Pretty invaluable when you’re working a murder case.” Patch shrugged, and a few moments passed before she seemed to partially come to her senses again. “This doesn’t mean I’m defending you. What you’re doing is insane, and reckless, and mind bogglingly stupid, and… I mean shit, we’d never have known the cases were connected without him.”

“We still don’t have actual proof that he’s right,” Diego pointed out. “Whatever he says is just his word against everyone else’s.”

“I’ll get forensics to look at the prints from both crime scenes again. If it’s the same person something’s gotta match.”

Diego nodded but didn’t say anything and Patch frowned, nudging his arm gently.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” He said, shaking his head. He paused for a moment and turned to look at her. “You know he’s been sober all day?”

“This isn’t the way to keep him clean, Diego.”

“I know, but since he got involved it feels like he’s actually trying.” He sighed and looked down at his hands. “He’s been doing really good since he got out, by his standards, and I keep being an asshole to him.”

“He’s your brother,” Patch reminded him. “You should hear the shit me and my sister say to each other sometimes. If you think it’s bad when I’m cussing you out…” She laughed to herself, and Diego couldn’t help but smile at the way her eyes crinkled up. “But she knows I don’t mean any of it, and Klaus knows that too.”

And he knew that, because they’d been way worse to each other in the past. Calling each other every name under the sun and then falling back into normal conversation an hour later like it had never happened. It was the same with all his siblings. But he still couldn’t help but feel like he should be nicer to him sometimes. To all of them.

“Anyway,” Patch said, nudging his arm again. “You wanna see what I found while you and Katz were staring at CCTV tapes?”

That piqued Diego’s interest and he sat upright. “You found something?”

“Yeah I found something,” She scoffed. “Because I’m awesome at my job. Come on.”

She lead him through the door and back to her desk, thrusting a file into his hands and watching him smugly as he flipped through it.

“I pulled all his text conversations and contacts from his phone,” She grinned. “No surprises, most of the ones I’ve found already have records for drug possession. There’s one guy I haven’t been able to ID yet, he’s just down in the contacts as ‘M’, and he’s the last person our guy talked to. Texted him not long before he died asking if they’re still ‘on for tomorrow night’.”

“Sounds sexy,” Diego mumbled and she snorted.

“I mean, I went back through the conversation and they were planning to meet at this club downtown, Neon Palms,” She said, quirking her eyebrow when Diego smiled. “You know it?”

“Yeah, it’s a shithole,” He chuckled. “Klaus and I used to live in that place when we were teenagers.”

“Oh, then you’ll be more than happy going there tonight to look for this ‘M’ guy!”

She smirked at him and he rolled his eyes, fully aware he wasn’t going to get more of a say in the matter.

“Fine,” He shrugged. “Does this mean you are giving me the case?”

“I’m already starting to regret it.”

“Don’t be like that, Patch. You’ll find something else to do. Take a day off or something, if you even know how to do that.”

She narrowed her eyes at him, but she couldn’t hide the smile on her face, shoving him away from her and back towards the door. Taking the hint, he left her alone, heading back out to the car where the others were waiting.

When he got back, Dave was twisted around in his seat with his arms folded on top of the headrest and his chin resting on top of them, watching Klaus intently while he rambled about something.

“And that,” Klaus said as Diego got back in the car, “is how I got banned from Barnes and Noble.”

“Okay, you win. I can’t compete with that,” Dave said with a grin. “I got banned from an Arby’s once, but that was a completely different situation. I was set up, for one thing.”

“Ooh, what happened?”

“Can you guys have this conversation later?” Diego asked and Klaus flinched behind him.

Christ. When did you get back?”

“What are you- Just now? How can you possibly not have noticed that?”

“Gotta be honest, I didn’t notice either,” Dave said, shrugging as he turned back around.

“Great. Well, I’m back. Okay? And I have a plan, if anyone cares.”

“Diego, you seem a little worked up,” Klaus observed, poking his head over Diego’s shoulder to look at him. “Did you and Patch finally… I mean… you know, did you…”

Klaus trailed off, wiggling his eyebrows, and Diego stared coldly back at him.

“Yeah, Klaus,” He said sarcastically. “Patch and I just banged it out in the middle of a busy police precinct.”

“Why are you acting like that’s something you’ve never done before? Who are you trying to impress? Dave ? Dave’s not gonna care.”

“We’ve all done it, man.”

Diego hung his head and closed his eyes, taking a few deep breaths before he sat upright again.

“Okay,” He said. “Here’s what’s going on with the case.”

He told them what Patch had found, and Dave agreed to meet them at the club later that night before leaving them to make his own way home. Klaus clambered awkwardly into the passenger seat in his place, tucking his knees up to his chest and sitting quietly with his head against the window while Diego drove them back to their apartment. They got about halfway home before Klaus’ silence started to concern him and he turned to look at him.

“You okay?”

Klaus nodded, sitting up and resting his head back against the seat. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just thinking.”

“Didn’t know you had that in you.”

“Mm,” Klaus hummed, not paying attention. He was quiet for a few more minutes before turning towards him and looking at him seriously. “I think I might despise Dave.”

Diego stared at him for a moment. “Okay… That’s not exactly the impression you’ve been giving off.”

“Yeah. No, I think I hate him,” He mumbled, nodding to himself. “I keep thinking about him. But not in a sexy way anymore, just like… in general. That usually only happens when I hate someone.”

He looked so deadly serious that Diego felt bad for laughing at him, but he couldn’t help it. The more visibly offended Klaus looked the funnier it became, and he ended up laughing so hard he almost drove them straight off the road.

“Klaus,” He said as he tried to regain his composure. “You don’t hate him. You have a crush.”

“That’s stupid. No I don’t,” Klaus muttered, folding his arms defensively. “I’m an adult. I don’t get crushes, I just get fucked.”

Diego snorted. “Whatever you say, man. It’s a shame though, if you do hate him. Despite every aspect of your personality, he seems to kinda like you.”

Klaus was silent, and Diego worried for a moment that he’d teased him too far until he saw the smallest smile creep onto his face. It was a side he hadn’t really seen to Klaus before, save one time when they were thirteen and he’d gotten infatuated by a fan who’d presented him with a handmade card. He’d pinned it to his wall and talked Diego’s ear off about it for weeks, though it was hard to tell if that was a crush, or just excitement at getting some positive recognition. Both he and Ben had powers that were a little too scary for a lot of fans, and while Ben seemed glad of it, Diego could tell it got to Klaus sometimes.

When they got home, Klaus’ mood picked up again, and he instantly started busying himself looking through his clothes.

“We haven’t been to a club together for years,” He said excitedly, aimlessly tossing a jacket behind him as he dug through a pile. “What are you gonna wear? I already have some ideas for you.”

Diego plopped himself down in the armchair behind him and looked down at the dark shirt and jeans he was wearing.

“I was just gonna wear this.”

“Tell me, Diego, when did your soul die?”

“We’re not going there for a party,” He reminded him. “This is part of my job.”

“Right, right. Sure,” Klaus nodded. “And nothing screams ‘I’m not an undercover cop’ quite like wearing all black to a disco. Come on. At least wear your sexy jeans.”

“I am not wearing those jeans.”

After ten minutes of arguing, Klaus convinced him to wear the jeans. They were black, and studded, and a lot tighter than he remembered. He felt a weird sense of déjà vu as Klaus moved back and forth around his bedroom with an array of t-shirts slung over his arm, taking full control of Diego’s outfit for the night.

“Is everything you own black and grey?” He asked and Diego shrugged.

“I got one blue sweater, I think.”

“Ugh, okay. Try this.”

Klaus handed him a striped black and white V-neck that was so thin he could see his fingers through the material when he held it up.

“The nipple ring’s coming out tonight, baby,” Klaus grinned. “I mean what was the point of you even getting that if you never show it off?”

“I’m starting to think this is less about helping me blend in, and more about trying to get me laid,” Diego said as he pulled the shirt over his head.

“Well,” He sighed, “you have been a little uptight lately. And I get that part of that is the overwhelming time pressure to get this done before your entire career gets flushed down the toilet, but I also don’t think this whole… situation with Patch is helping. Here, put this on.” He thrust a denim jacket into Diego’s arms and sat cross legged on his bed, cocking his head and looking him up and down thoughtfully. “It’s an improvement. How do you feel?”

“Like I’m trying too hard to be seventeen again,” He mumbled, looking at himself in the mirror. “I’m too old for this shit.”

“Diego, we’re twenty five.”

“Basically middle aged.”

“That’s optimistic,” Klaus scoffed. “If I wake up tomorrow I’ll be defying expectations.”

Diego chuckled, because it was easier than taking Klaus seriously, and let him continue tweaking his outfit until it was time to leave. He wasn’t exactly thrilled about where they were going. While Klaus’ seemed able to reel off endless anecdotes about how much fun they used to have on their nights out, Diego could barely remember any of it. In those days he was usually black out drunk before they even left the house, and it felt strange to go back with no alcohol in his system… Almost no alcohol, anyway, since Klaus suggested they both do a tequila shot before they left.

When they arrived Dave was already waiting for them, leant against the wall with a cigarette in his hand. He was wearing a biker jacket over a green Hawaiian print shirt, with the first few buttons undone, and he smiled brightly when he spotted them.

“Hey!” He grinned. “You look great.”

Dave’s eyes were fixed on Klaus, who had swapped out the leather pants and mesh top for a sheer black tank top and printed geometric pink and blue leggings. He’d smeared purple eyeshadow ungracefully across his eyelids, and he stood a little taller than the two of them in a pair of heeled ankle boots. It was obvious Klaus had messed with his hair after doing his makeup. There were flecks of glitter running through it that glinted every time he moved his head. Maybe it was intentional, it was sometimes hard to tell with Klaus.

He was staring at Dave like a rabbit in headlights so Diego intervened, guiding Klaus towards the club entrance and turning to talk to Dave.

“In the texts Patch pulled, our guy said he’d be waiting in one of the booths. There’s two floors so I figure if you go upstairs and I go down we can both sweep the place and see if we can spot anyone. Then meet back after?”

Dave nodded and they all headed inside, flashing their badges at the bouncer to cut past the small queue of people waiting to get in. It was like walking into a wall of noise, and Diego found himself silently praying that they would find who they were looking for quickly so he could go home. Dave turned to him, mouthing something he couldn’t make out before heading off towards the stairs with Klaus in tow, and leaving Diego on his own to fight through the crowds.

The dancefloor stood between him and the booths on the far side of the club, and it was a battle to get across it, weaving between sticky bodies and ducking out of the way as arms reached out to try and pull him into a dance. He already felt like he’d been stuck inside for hours when he made it to the other side. It blew his mind to think that he used to enjoy coming here. The whole place smelled of sweat and drugs, and everything felt claustrophobic. Slowly, he started pacing past each of the booths, fast enough that he didn’t look suspicious, but slow enough that he could see everything that was going on. Two girls tangled up in each other’s arms and grinding against each other that he quickly side stepped past without a second look. A group of hooded figures exchanging sideways glances before slipping each other wads of cash and packets of pills that he turned a blind eye to. There was nothing that struck him as unusual, and nobody sitting alone. He went back and forth a couple of times, lingering by one of the empty booths for a while to see if anyone showed up, but there was nothing. Finally he gave up and started making his way back across the floor to find the others.

He found Dave at the foot of the stairs, still looking optimistic as ever, and with his shirt now undone almost down to his stomach. He tried to talk to him, but Diego couldn’t hear him until he shouted directly into his ear.

“You find anything?” He yelled, so close Diego could feel his breath on his ear.

“Nothing. You?”

Dave shook his head and Diego cursed under his breath, pausing for a moment before glancing over Dave’s shoulder.

“Where’s Klaus?”

Dave frowned. “I thought he went with you?”

A rush of panic hit him like a punch to the gut and he cursed again, reaching out instinctively and grabbing on to Dave’s shoulder to ground himself.

“He can’t have gone far. We’ll find him,” Dave shouted in his ear.

Diego shook his head. Even with anxiety making his heart thump against his chest, he could still think straight, and he still knew his brother.

“I know where he is,” He yelled back, leading Dave back through the crowds to the bathrooms on the other side of the club.

Sure enough, when he pushed the door open, Klaus was slumped against the wall in the corner. He was staring blankly up at the ceiling, a cigarette in his hand and a needle by his feet, with his arm draped loosely around the man sat next to him. It wasn’t until Diego and Dave were stood right at his feet that he seemed to notice them, smiling absently at them.

“Diego,” He croaked, lifting his hand weakly in an attempt at a wave. “Have you met my best friend?”

His companion gave an equally pathetic wave and smiled up at them. “I’ve never met this man before in my life.”

“It’s true,” Klaus chuckled.

“Klaus, get up. We’re leaving.”

Diego nudged Klaus’ leg with his foot and he nodded, waving his arm at him.

“Okay, okay. Yeah, I’m coming,” He mumbled, immediately closing his eyes and dropping his head back against the wall.

Klaus.” Diego kicked him again, a little harder, and jolted him back to life.

“Huh? What?”

“We’re leaving.”

“Yeah, yeah you said that already,” He sighed. “We’re leaving, we’re leaving. We’re going.”

Klaus still showed no sign of actually moving and Diego shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration.

“I got him,” Dave said from behind him, walking around and scooping Klaus up in his arms.

“Oh, that was just effortless for you, huh?” Klaus breathed.

He went limp against Dave, his eyelids fluttering as he stared dully at nothing. Diego just shook his head again and held the door open for Dave to walk past, following him across the club floor and outside. It was a relief when the night air hit him and he let out a deep breath he hadn’t realised he was holding. The temperature had dropped, but it was nice after being stuck inside the hot sweaty building. Neither he nor Dave had taken their cars to the club, and they were forced to walk back home, with Diego leading the way and Dave following behind with an almost comatose Klaus in his arms.

It was a while before either of them broke the silence, but finally Dave cleared his throat.

“So,” He said, his voice uncharacteristically subdued, “this was a total disaster.”

Diego nodded, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground in front of him. He couldn’t bring himself to actually look at Klaus right now, but he could tell from his humming that he was still vaguely conscious, so he tried to lead the conversation away from him.

“Our guy must’ve heard about what happened to Dan and not bothered to show.” He paused, mulling everything over for a moment. “Or, maybe he knows something, and now the cops are involved he’s laying low.”

“Why would he arrange to meet him if he knew something about him being murdered?”

He shrugged. “Throw off suspicion? I don’t know, it’s after midnight. Quit expecting me to make sense.”

Dave chuckled, but it quickly dissolved into a yawn. “Yeah, I’m regretting staying up so late last night.”

“Do you want me to take him?” Diego asked, nodding to Klaus, who was staring up at the sky and seemingly unaware he was being talked about.

“Nah, it’s fine,” Dave said, hoisting Klaus up a little closer to his chest. “He weighs literally nothing.”

“Right?”

Klaus lifted his head slightly and they both looked at him.

“Does anyone have any water?” He asked, blinking a few times and reaching up to hold on to Dave’s arm. “I’m so thirsty.”

Neither of them said anything and he sighed, letting his head roll back again.

“Ugh, Dave, stop swinging me around, you’re giving me vertigo.”

“I think that’s just you, darlin’,” Dave said, but he immediately slowed down and Diego could see he was making a concerted effort to keep his arms still.

Klaus continued mumbling softly to himself as they continued down the street, and Diego did his best to block him out. It was hard. Klaus said some horrible things when he was like this, with his inhibitions even lower than usual. And with the day he’d had, Diego didn’t want to hear any more of it. Instead he tried to focus on the buzz of the telegraph lines overhead, or the cars driving past.

“I’m just saying,” Klaus said, still breaking through the walls Diego was trying to build up with his incessant talking. “If you did want to take advantage of me, now’s the time. This is the sweet spot. Pliant enough to make me do what you want but just coherent enough that I’d put up a fight and make it interesting.”

Diego flexed his fingers, keeping his arms fixed rigidly to his sides, and Dave looked like he was battling between flinging Klaus away from him or holding on to him even tighter.

“I’m taking you home, Klaus,” He said quietly and Klaus sniggered.

“I bet you say that to all the boys.”

Dave looked over at him, and Diego gave him a sympathetic smile. The day felt like it had lasted an eternity, and he had a feeling he wasn’t going to see the back of it any time soon.

Chapter Text

They got Klaus back to their apartment and into Diego’s bed with minimal complaints. Diego went to the kitchen to grab him a glass of water, and when he got back Dave was still sat on the bed, watching Klaus with sad eyes. His hands were twitching and fidgeting in his lap, like he wanted to reach out and touch him but was stopping himself, and it took him a few moments to even notice Diego standing in the doorway.

“Can you give us a minute?” He asked and Dave nodded, getting to his feet and shuffling past him.

On the bed, Klaus looked unconscious, but every few breaths his eyelids would flicker again and he’d murmur an inaudible word or two. Setting the glass down on the wooden crate that served as a bedside table, he walked to the end of the bed and attempted to wrestle Klaus’ feet out of his boots. Immediately Klaus yanked his leg away, screwing his face up and whining.

“Klaus, just let me-”

“Get off me.”

Klaus . It’s me.”

He lifted his head up and looked down, squinting at him for a moment before relaxing back against the pillow.

“Oh, it is you,” He breathed, offering his feet back up sighing to himself while Diego pulled his shoes off. “It’s too hot in here.”

Pacing across the room, Diego pushed back one of the curtains and cracked the window open, and Klaus hummed happily when the cold air drifted in.

“Sit up for a sec,” Diego said, and Klaus huffed but did as he was told, propping his head up on the pillows.

He thrust the glass of water into Klaus’ hands and sat next to him on the bed while he drank it.

“Better?” He asked when Klaus handed the empty glass back to him.

Klaus nodded and mumbled something that sounded like a thank you, rolling over and snuggling up against Diego’s side. When he tried to move, Klaus flung his arm around his waist and grunted. He didn’t have the strength to actually hold him down, but Diego stayed where he was regardless, running his fingers absently through Klaus’ hair.

Leaning into his hand, Klaus hummed softly and continued mumbling indistinct noises. The glitter in his hair was sticking to Diego’s hand and he rolled his eyes.

“You’re gonna get glitter all over my bed, you dick.”

Klaus lips twisted into a smile and he cracked one eye open to look up at him.

“Maybe now you’ll finally change your bedsheets.”

“Fuck off.”

They both sniggered, falling silent for a moment before Klaus spoke again in a softer voice.

“Can I stay in here tonight?” He asked and Diego nodded.

“I’ll take the couch,” He said quietly, taking his hand out of Klaus’ hair and ignoring the whine of protest he elicited. “Try and get some sleep. You need anything, you call me. Okay?”

Klaus nodded and rolled onto his back, freeing Diego to get up. He kicked the trash can over to the side of the bed and grabbed the empty glass from the side, switching the lamp on and heading back through the door.

Dave was standing in the kitchen, leant back against the counter, and he looked up when Diego approached him.

“Is he okay?” He asked, his eyes flicking over to the bedroom door.

Diego nodded and walked silently back over to the sink to refill Klaus’ glass.

“Are you okay?”

He paused, turning back around to see Dave looking at him. His eyes burned into him and he looked down at the floor, nibbling at his lip for a moment before nodding again.

“I’ll be fine,” He mumbled.

“You want a cup of coffee or something?”

Diego huffed out a laugh. “Think I need something stronger than that,” He said, pausing for a moment before adding, “Coffee sounds good... Thanks.”

While Dave made them both a drink Diego poked his head back into the bedroom, where Klaus was already sound asleep on his bed, flat on his stomach with his arms hugging the pillow tightly. Diego crept across the room and set the water down next to him, and Klaus stirred but didn’t wake up, his eyebrows knotting together as he dreamt. The room was freezing cold now with the window open, so Diego pulled the duvet up over him, tucking him in before leaving and shutting the door behind him.

He sat down on the couch and moments later Dave appeared with two mugs, handing one to Diego before sitting in the armchair opposite. They were both silent for a few minutes, sipping their drinks while the clock ticked by on the wall.

“Sorry for dragging you into all this,” Diego finally said, not looking up from the mug in his hands. “Probably weren’t expecting to get all my family issues dumped on you when you agreed to work this case with me.”

Dave waved him off. “Don’t worry about it, it’s nice that you two are so close.”

Out of the corner of his eye Diego could see Dave curl his legs up on the armchair and he looked over at him sympathetically.

“You hear much from your siblings anymore?” He asked and Dave shook his head.

“I uh… didn’t even tell them I was leaving the country,” He admitted. “I have no idea if any of them have noticed yet, but they haven’t called, so...” He trailed off, shrugging to himself.

“Okay, now you sound like my sister.”

Dave chuckled. “Minus the Hollywood superstardom.”

“Oh, no, not Allison. Vanya,” He said, hurrying to explain when he saw the confusion on Dave’s face. “She didn’t… doesn’t have powers. She was like the dirty little secret none of us were allowed to mention in public… Anyway, it was the same when she left. There was no goodbye or anything, we just woke up that morning and she was gone. I don’t think she expected any of us to notice.”

“You did though?”

“Yeah. How could we not? It was right after…” He trailed off, tightening his grip on the mug in his hands. “Right after Ben died. The same night. It was like, one day there was six of us and the next we were down to four. I don’t know, we just fell apart after that I guess. I mean we were always more than a little dysfunctional, but we were still a family . But after Ben and then Vanya leaving the rest of us barely said a word to each other. At least not until Klaus-”

His stomach turned before he could get the rest of the sentence out and he stopped, knocking back the rest of his coffee and setting his mug down on the table.

“He uh… he OD’d.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah.” Diego nodded. He regretting putting the mug down, now wishing he had something in his hands to hold on to. Instead, he wrapped his arms around himself and shrunk back into the couch cushions.

“You don’t have to talk about it,” Dave said, so Diego stayed quiet. But the memory was still fresh in his mind like it had happened yesterday.

He wasn’t there when they found him, and he couldn’t really remember what he had been doing. Probably getting the shit kicked out of him in an alley like he had been most nights after Ben died. He just remembered getting home, slipping in through the kitchen window and immediately being pulled into a crushing hug by Luther. It was the first time… the only time he’d ever seen Luther cry. Even after Ben, he’d still kept his emotions to himself, locking himself in his room for almost two days and refusing to even let Allison inside until he was ready to come out again. Diego had never seen him break the stoic leader facade until then, when he’d clung to him, almost suffocating Diego with the tightness of his grip, and sobbed brokenly into his shoulder.

At first the only word he could get out was “Klaus”, and for a few horrible moments Diego thought he was already gone. The reality wasn’t much better. When Luther was finally able to get some complete sentences out, he’d told him what had happened.

“Neither of us had seen him all day and… and we figured it was just, you know, Klaus being Klaus . But I thought I’d check on him before I went to bed and he was…” He paused, pulling Diego impossibly closer to him. “He looked dead , Diego. I thought… he was cold and I couldn’t find his pulse and… I can’t lose anyone else. I just… I can’t. Mom said if I hadn’t found him when I did he might not have- wait, what the hell happened to you?”

Oh, yeah. He had been getting the shit kicked out of him.

He’d brushed it off before Luther could look too closely at his busted lip or the bruises that were doubtlessly covering his face, telling him it was nothing and asking where Klaus was now. Luther had taken him upstairs, where Allison and their mom were sat with Klaus who, if not for the IV in his hand, would have just looked like he was asleep. Immediately he was pulled into another, not so crushing hug by Allison, and it was the only time since they were fourteen that Diego remembered seeing her without her makeup and perfectly styled hair. Mom told them Klaus would be okay, but she couldn’t be sure when he’d wake up, so the three of them stayed, taking it in turns in the chair pulled up by Klaus’ bed.

At one point, when the sun was just starting to come up, and Diego was sat with Klaus while Allison slept on Luther’s shoulder on the floor, Luther asked him if he thought dad knew what had happened. Even after everything, he couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t come down to see if Klaus was okay. Diego said that maybe he was just busy, and that mom was keeping him updated. He knew it was bullshit, but it seemed to make Luther feel better.

Later, when Luther was asleep in the chair with Klaus’ hand clutched in his, and Diego had taken his place on the floor next to Allison, she’d asked him if he thought Klaus had done it on purpose. He supposed she thought he might know something they didn’t, being the closest to Klaus out of all of them, but the truth was he’d barely spoken to him after what happened to Ben, and he really didn’t have an answer for her. Allison seemed convinced though, and when she took her turn to sit with him, and she thought he and Luther were both asleep slumped next to each other, he heard her whispering to Klaus that she was sorry.

She was wrong, as it turned out. When Klaus did wake up a day later and realised what had happened, he clung to Allison for dear life and sobbed in her arms for close to an hour until he was finally able to choke out enough words to explain what had happened.

“I keep seeing him,” He’d said, and none of them had needed to ask who he was talking about. “No matter what I take. So I just took more and more to try and make him disappear and… I didn’t realise it was that much, I... I’m sorry. I just wanted him to go.”

“Klaus, that’s not your powers,” Allison had told him. “I see him too. All the time. We all do.”

Luther had nodded at that, and Diego nodded along too, but Klaus was still staring with uncertain eyes at the darkest corner of the room, and Diego still wondered sometimes if maybe it really had been him.

He and Klaus left not long after that, and they never spoke about it again. It was like an unspoken agreement between them, the one subject that they’d never go back to.

Across from him, Dave set his mug down on the coffee table and brought Diego back into reality.

“Sorry,” Dave mumbled when he saw the look of disorientation on his face. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. It’s been a long day.”

“We got some good stuff today though,” He said, ever the optimist, but it did little to lift Diego’s spirits.

“Yeah,” He muttered. “Until I fucked it up.”

Dave frowned at him, pacing across the floor and sitting next to him on the couch.

“Diego, this isn’t your fault,” He told him, cautiously putting an arm around him and squeezing his shoulder when Diego leaned into the touch. “He can make his own decisions.”

“He was sober for the whole day and I took him to a fucking nightclub. I mean that’s gotta be up there as one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life.” He laughed to himself. “I may as well have handed him a bag of pills myself.”

Dave didn’t say anything and Diego sighed, looking down at his hands.

“At least nobody saw him this time,” He said quietly, remembering another of Klaus’ overdoses. Someone in the ambulance must have spotted their tattoos, and the next thing he knew it was front page news. The only silver lining was Allison, who flew across the country to see him. She had to leave again before he woke up, too many commitments she couldn’t back out of, and Diego still wasn’t convinced Klaus had actually believed him when he told him she’d visited.

“I should go,” Dave said after a while, slowly getting to his feet. “Try and get some sleep, yeah? It’s the weekend tomorrow, so you can relax for a couple days.”

“No, I’ve got too much to do,” Diego mumbled. “You think you could come over again tomorrow? Just to go over everything?”

“Oh yeah, sure. If you want.”

“You don’t have to.”

“No, it’s no problem.” Dave smiled cheerily at him and started heading towards the door. He made it about halfway before Diego stopped him again.

“Dave?”

“Hm?” He looked back over his shoulder and Diego rested his arms on the back of the couch as he swivelled around to face him.

“Thanks for, um…” He paused, looking over at his closed bedroom door and then down at the ground. “Most of the guys at work would jump at the first opportunity to throw him in a cell so just… I don’t know. Thanks for not being a dick about all this I guess.”

Dave turned back around fully, rocking on his heels and shrugging. “This job was supposed to be about putting bad people away. He’s not a bad person.”

“Still. I think you’re the first person he’s managed to make a positive first impression on,” Diego admitted and Dave shrugged again.

“I think he’s sweet,” He said with a small smile, shoving his hands in his pockets and letting out a deep breath. “Anyway, guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He saw himself out, and Diego waved to him as he left, settling back against the pillows and closing his eyes. He didn’t get much sleep, between the thoughts of everything that had happened that day, and the sounds of Klaus mumbling and whimpering to himself in his sleep through the door, and when he woke up the next morning he felt like he’d not long fallen asleep.

It was Klaus that woke him up, throwing the bedroom door open and stumbling into the bathroom to puke his guts up. There was a long silence, and then Klaus crept back out, shuffling silently across the room until he was looming over him. Slowly, he started waving a hand in front of his face and Diego rolled his eyes, finally looking up at him.

“You’re not dead, Klaus. I can see you.”

“Oh, well that’s a shame,” Klaus sighed, flopping down bonelessly onto the armchair with a grunt.

Diego sat upright and looked him up and down. If he were still unconscious it would be easy to think he was on the brink of death, with his pale clammy skin and dark circles hollowing his eyes out.

“You look like shit,” He told him bluntly. “How do you feel?”

“Well,” Klaus said with an empty smile, “I think I just threw my kidneys up, and I’m pretty sure I’m currently having heart failure, but other than that I’m fabulous.”

He attempted to laugh but ended up gagging and having a coughing fit, and Diego narrowed his eyes at him.

“If you puke on my armchair I’m tossing you onto the street,” He warned.

“Please, spare me your sympathy.”

“You’re in for a hell of a disappointing day if you’re expecting sympathy from me,” Diego muttered.

He still felt guilty about what had happened, but if Klaus picked up on that he’d just use it and twist it to get whatever he wanted out of him. So Diego switched all his defenses on and ignored him, staring fixedly out through the window until Klaus gave up on getting a reaction and left to start rifling through the fridge.

“I’m craving…. I don’t know what I’m craving. What do you think?”

Diego looked over at him, but it was clear Klaus wasn’t talking to him, staring over his shoulder at the empty chair pulled up at the table.

“Don’t pull that face at me,” He muttered. “Yes you are! Get over yourself and pick a breakfast food .. Ew , no. God, it’s like you want me to puke again. Shut up and let me think.”

Shaking his head, Diego turned his back on him again. He was able to ignore him for all of forty seconds before Klaus appeared over him again, smiling a little more genuinely this time.

“Can I tempt you with a breakfast sandwich?”

Diego stared up at him for a moment and sighed. “Sure,” He mumbled, nodding his head, and Klaus’ smile stretched a little wider.

“Great! Sit tight and I’ll bring you breakfast in bed.”

“This is not my bed,” Diego said firmly, sitting upright. “This was a one time thing.”

“Is that supposed to upset me? I’d rather die than sleep in that bed again. It’s gross and it smells weird. Have you ever changed those sheets? Like in the whole time we’ve lived here?”

Wrapping one of Klaus’ blankets around himself, Diego said nothing, and Klaus went back to muttering to himself while he clattered around the kitchen. He didn’t know how Klaus could sleep here every night with just the thin blankets to keep him warm. Klaus had never mentioned it being a problem before, but Klaus didn’t mention a lot of things.

“Room service!” Klaus sung a few minutes later, presenting him with a sandwich the size of his head. “Eat up! You’re gonna need your strength for all this high pressure police work, right?”

Diego didn’t say anything, trying to figure out how he was going to get his mouth around his sandwich. Tentatively, Klaus pushed at his legs until he curled them up, giving him room to sit on the other end of the couch. He immediately pulled his own sandwich apart, nibbling at individual components and staring blankly out through the window for a moment.

“So how did it go yesterday?” He finally asked, looking back over at Diego. “Did you save the day?”

“Not exactly,” Diego mumbled through a mouthful of food. Klaus still sounded enthusiastic about the case, but after last night the thought of him getting involved any further made his stomach turn.

“Oh,” Klaus said, oblivious to his thoughts, “Well, I think we’re gonna make some progress today. I’ve got a good feeling, right here.” He held his hand over his heart and nodded to himself. “I was thinking maybe first we could-”

“I don’t want you helping with the case anymore.”

Klaus looked like he’d just been smacked across the face, staring at him with wide, hurt eyes.

“Why not?”

“Because- Why do you think, Klaus?” Diego set his plate down and sat upright, staring him down while Klaus shifted uncomfortably. “I mean do you want a list ? First of all you’re not a detective, you shouldn’t be involved with any of this anyway. If anybody finds out you’ve been f-following me around I can kiss my job goodbye, which means you can kiss goodbye to breakfast sandwiches and a roof over your head because this job is the only way I can afford any of this shit. I let you help out because I thought maybe if you had something to do you might stop all this bullshit and what do you do? The second you see an opportunity you crawl off to the nearest crackhead and leave me to scrape you up off the fucking floor. Again.”

He looked down at his lap, taking a deep breath and flexing his fingers. Klaus was quiet for a moment, hanging his head like a scolded child.

“I didn’t mean to,” He said quietly and Diego gave him an unconvinced look.

“So what?” He asked, feeling himself getting more frustrated by the second. “You tripped and accidentally shot yourself full’a heroin?”

“Obviously not,” Klaus muttered. “But maybe if you had corpses following you around all the time you’d-”

“Don’t give me that crap again, Klaus. It’s bullshit.”

“Oh, cool. Great! All those years of trauma are just bullshit! That’s a relief. Guess I’m cured now. Problem solved. Will you be accepting your Nobel Prize in person or by video link?”

Klaus tried to go back to picking at his food but Diego snatched the plate out of his hands before he could, holding it out of his reach.

“Give it back, you prick.”

“No,” He said firmly. “I’m not done talking to you. Look at me.”

Klaus scowled at him, which, he supposed, counted as doing as he was told, so Diego continued.

“Can you honestly, genuinely say that after being sober all day without a problem, your powers suddenly got too much to handle just as we got to a nightclub? Because that just seems a little convenient to me.”

“Go fuck yourself.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say,” He mumbled. “It’s bullshit.”

He didn’t get a response to that. Instead, Klaus swiped his plate back and shuffled as far away from him as he could, until he was pressed up against the arm of the couch. He curled up in the corner, and Diego watched him as he nibbled on a rasher of bacon, holding it in both hands like a toddler.

“I don’t do this shit because it’s fun you know,” He said after a few minutes.

“No. You do it because it’s easier than making any kind of effort to get better.”

“You’re a real asshole, you know that?”

“Yeah!” Diego said, getting to his feet. “I’m an asshole. But so are you.” He jabbed a finger at him and Klaus jerked away, folding his arms defensively. “Because every time this happens, I wind up feeling like it’s my fault. A-a-and like I should have kept a closer eye on you or done something differently. And yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have taken you to that club and maybe I should have been watching you but you’re a fucking adult, Klaus. And I’m your brother not your fucking babysitter. And you can call me an asshole if you want but I have tried, for years , to help you, but nothing I do is ever gonna work because you won’t even try and you just… You’ll just check yourself into rehab once a year like that’s enough and as soon as you leave you go straight back to your bullshit and I'm the one that has to deal with it and- a-and you fucking know that whatever shit you pull I’ll end up forgiving you, like an idiot, because I would still rather you were here treating me like crap, than be out there dead in some alley. And that’s where you’d be, if it weren’t for me. That or rotting in a jail cell.”

He walked off before Klaus could get another word in, shutting himself in his room… then turning and opening the door again so he could slam it properly and drive his point home. It took him approximately thirty seconds to realise that he was now trapped in his room with nothing to do, while Klaus now had the run of the entire apartment.

“Fuck’s sake,” He muttered to himself, kicking at one of the boxes sat in the corner of his room. It was almost five years now since they’d moved in, and still most of his stuff remained in boxes scattered across the floor, ready for if they ever needed to leave.

He got changed, sat on his bed for a while, then lay on his bed, then he got up and paced around. He flipped through a book from the small stack on his desk. One of Ben’s that had been left in Diego’s bedroom, that he’d never had the chance to reclaim. He hadn’t brought it with him on purpose. When he and Klaus decided they were leaving everything happened in a blur and he’d grabbed everything in sight, throwing it all in a bag without pausing for thought, and now he couldn’t quite bring himself to toss it out.

Outside, he heard the front door open and shut, and when he peered back into the front room Klaus was gone, along with his shoes and coat. Diego’s first instinct was to check his wallet, which he’d left in his jacket slung over the couch. There was nothing missing from it, and he immediately felt guilty about the assumption, but he wasn’t sure if he felt better or worse that Klaus hadn’t taken anything. With no money, Klaus could either stay out of trouble, or get into a whole lot of trouble.

Before he could dwell on it any further, there was a knock at the door. At first he thought maybe Klaus had forgotten his keys again, but it was Dave that greeted him in the doorway.

“Morning, partner!” He grinned, holding up a tray of coffees and noting the troubled look on Diego’s face. “You look like you need this. I also bought pastries if you want one.”

“Thanks,” Diego mumbled as he took one of the cups, letting Dave through and shutting the door behind him.

“Where’s Klaus?”

He took a sip of coffee and slumped into one of the metal dining chairs before responding.

“He uh… went out,” He said, looking down at the cup in his hand. “Probably won’t be back for a while.”

Dave looked a little disappointed at that, sitting opposite him and setting a brown paper bag in the middle of the table.

“Are you okay?” He asked, taking a pastry from the bag and gesturing for Diego to do the same. “You… I mean, don’t take this the wrong way or anything but you really don’t look too good.”

“I’m up to my ass in a case that’s going nowhere, my boss wants my head on a stick, my brother almost killed himself in a nightclub bathroom, and I slept on my couch last night. How’d you expect me to look?”

Dave frowned at him and he sighed, mumbling out a quiet, “Sorry.”

“No, it’s okay,” Dave said. “You sure you wanna do this today? I really think a day off would do you some good.”

“I can take a day off once the case is solved,” Diego muttered, ignoring Dave’s unconvinced face. “And that’s never gonna happen if we don’t come up with some semblance of a plan, because right now we’ve got nothing.”

Apparently deciding it wasn’t worth it to argue anymore, Dave shrugged and pulled a stack of notes from his bag, dumping them unceremoniously on the table.

“I’ve been writing everything down,” He explained. “It’s easier to spot things I’ve missed when I’ve got everything in front of me.”

Diego took one of the crumpled pages and read it over, cocking his eyebrow at him curiously.

“This whole page is just about Klaus trying to conjure that guy.”

He flinched when Dave snatched the paper from his hand and stuffed it back in his bag, folding his arms defensively.

“I didn’t say it was all gonna be relevant,” He mumbled as he sifted through the other notes and quickly returned a few more pages to his bag.

They went over the remaining notes together, bouncing ideas off each other and trying to work out what to do next. Every option was halted in its tracks by the fact that they still didn’t have their suspect, and it was infuriating. Thanks to Klaus, they knew exactly who their killer was, but neither of them knew who she was, and no matter what they came up with, they still weren’t any closer to finding her.

“What are we doing about the guy we were looking for yesterday?” Dave asked, after almost two hours of knocking their heads together. “Are they still a suspect or just another dead end?”

Diego let out a breath and shook his head. “I don’t know,” He said, pausing to drink some of the coffee that had long since gone cold. “That could have been our best lead but we… Without a name or description the chances of us ever tracking ‘em down again are next to nothing.”

He paused again, as he had done multiple times during their brainstorming, waiting in vain for Klaus to chime in with something. If he were here this would probably be the moment that he’d pipe up with something completely ridiculous and off topic, that still somehow lead them right to the answer they were looking for. He looked out through the window, where the rain that had started over an hour ago was still hammering down, and he couldn’t help but worry again about where Klaus might have scuttled off to.

“Maybe we could go back,” He said, trying to keep himself on topic. “Ask around at that club and see if anybody knows anything about an ‘M’?”

Dave nodded, looking back and forth between the notes laid out in front of him and stroking his chin thoughtfully for a moment.

“What if we-”

The door slammed open behind them before Dave could get the rest of his sentence out, and the ceiling light flickered as a rain sodden, stormy faced Klaus trudged past them, leaving puddles behind him on the floor as he walked.

“It’s raining,” He muttered as he gathered a bundle of dry clothes in his arms, storming back across the room and shutting himself in the bathroom without another word.

He grumbled and cursed to himself loudly in the other room while Diego and Dave sat in awkward silence, staring at each other across the table. When he emerged again, in black pyjama pants and a tie-dye hoodie that engulfed his whole body, he gazed back and forth between the two of them for a moment, pursing his lips and shooting a cold stare at the empty space next to him.

“Will you shut up ?” He hissed at nobody, begrudgingly taking a step forward like he was being pushed, and turning towards Diego. He folded his arms, then unfolded them and fixed them at his sides, then shoved both hands in the pocket of his hoodie and hung his head.

“I’m sorry,” He mumbled, almost inaudibly, “For screwing up yesterday, and for messing the case up, and for taking advantage of you, and for being an asshole, and… I’m sorry, okay? And I’m sorry for calling you an asshole and for-”

“Klaus,” Diego interrupted. “You can stop.”

“Oh thank god. I hate this.” Klaus rocked back on his heels and looked up at him with uncertainty. “Are we good?”

He nodded and Klaus breathed a sigh of relief, glancing back over his shoulder briefly before pulling his chair up next to Diego’s and curling himself up in it.

“What happened to your glasses?” He asked, looking at Dave curiously.

Dave moved his hand instinctively to where his glasses would have been, as if he’d forgotten for a moment that he wasn’t wearing them. “Oh,” He said, lowering his hand again. “I don’t usually like wearing them.”

“I thought they were cute,” Klaus said quietly, playing absently with one of the toggles on his hoodie. “I mean, not that you’re not cute without them. You’re really cute. I just liked the glasses too. You shouldn’t let other people’s opinions influence how you present yourself though so I guess it doesn’t really matter what I think anyway.”

“Okay, this is painful,” Diego said, jumping in before Klaus could get another word out. “What were we talking about?”

He didn’t get an answer from either of them, so he went back to the notes by himself, trying to focus on doing his job.

“Oh,” Dave piped up, a few minutes too late. “We were gonna go back to that club.”

“Ew, why would you wanna go back there?” Klaus mumbled, curling into a tighter ball. “In case you’ve already forgotten, I didn’t exactly have a blast last time.”

“You’re not coming this time,” Diego told him, and Klaus relaxed a little. “That guy we were looking for is still the only lead we have right now, and that club is the only place we have any chance of finding him now.”

“Okay… Or I could just call him? And then you can see him wherever you want?”

Diego blinked at him. “Excuse me?”

“He gave me his number last night. That and a whole lotta smack.”

“You… That was… Klaus are you kidding me? Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because I was off my face on drugs?” Klaus reminded him. “And I didn’t exactly get much opportunity earlier since… Well anyway his name’s Morris. No wonder he just goes by the initial.”

“You think you can get him to meet you?”

“Oh, he’ll definitely want to meet me,” Klaus chuckled. “I still owe him money. I’ll call him, I’ll call him. Should I… tell him you guys are coming?”

Diego thought on it for a moment and shook his head. “You should probably keep that to yourself for now. We don’t wanna spook him.”

Nodding, Klaus hopped to his feet and scurried across the room, digging through the pocket of his wet, discarded coat and fishing his phone out. While he made the call, Diego helped Dave gather the scattered notes on the table into a pile.

“You’re not gonna let him meet this guy on his own, right?” Dave asked, a hint of concern in his voice. “He could be dangerous.”

“Dave, we were taught how to kill someone with a toaster when we were six . He’s not as helpless as he looks.” Diego looked over at Klaus, sat cross legged on the couch and chatting away on the phone, before adding, “I’m not gonna send him on his own.”

“Okay, good,” Dave said quietly as he placed the stack of paper back in his bag, pausing for a moment before looking back up at him. “How do you kill someone with a toaster?”

“You strangle ‘em with the cord!” Klaus said, appearing in front of them and pretending to garotte himself. “Or gouge their eyes with the plug, but that’s if you just wanna maim them. Why? Who are we killing?”

“We’re not killing anybody,” Diego told him.

“Oh, well thank god ,” Klaus breathed as he sat back down. “I thought maybe you’d finally gone off the rails completely.”

Diego ignored him. “Did you call him?”

“Oh! Yeah! Yeah he said to meet him in an hour, behind this repair shop a few blocks from here.” He paused, looking down at his lap. “Does this mean I’m still helping?”

“For now,” Diego warned, but then he smirked to himself. “You can be our rookie.”

He reached over to ruffle Klaus’ hair and laughed when he smacked his hand away.

“Don’t touch my hair,” He muttered. “It’s already a mess.”

His hair had dried into a mop of curls, falling in ringlets in his face. He twisted one of the locks around his finger and pouted unhappily. “Do I have time to fix this before we go?”

“Depends if you want lunch or not.” Diego shrugged and Klaus huffed.

“Fine,” He said dramatically. “Then I shall be the laughing stock of the town.”

“I think it looks nice,” Dave said, smiling sweetly at him.

Diego had never, in his life, seen Klaus blush before, and even now he only got the briefest glimpse of his cheeks heating up before he yanked his hood up over his head and hid his face in his arms. He had no idea how to respond to the sight of his brother cowering in his seat after being complimented, so he turned his attention back to Dave, who was still grinning like an idiot at Klaus.

“Can I buy you lunch?” He offered. “Since I’m making you work a weekend.”

“What do you mean? I love working overtime with no extra pay.”

Diego blinked at him and he chuckled. “I’m fucking with you. Lunch sounds good, though.”

“Okay, good,” He said, patting Klaus on the shoulder to get his attention. “Klaus, go get dressed.”

“I am dressed.”

“You’re in pyjamas.”

Klaus narrowed his eyes at him but said nothing, pottering across the room and wrestling himself into a pair of ripped black jeans while Diego pulled his boots on. Dave went ahead of them, and as soon as he disappeared through the door Diego felt Klaus tapping him on the shoulder.

“Di?” He said softly, looking at him with wide, nervous eyes.

Diego frowned as he turned around to face him. “You alright?”

“Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Klaus nodded, looking down at his feet. “I just, um… I really am sorry. For last night and… this morning.”

“Dude, it’s fine. Come on, we gotta go.”

He moved to walk away but Klaus grabbed his arm and pulled him back, his face still disturbingly serious.

“Please, just let me…” Klaus trailed off, gripping on to the sleeve of Diego’s shirt and letting out a deep breath. “You’re all I’ve got left and I really don’t want to keep treating you like shit when you’re like… really nice to me all things considered and I just love you a lot and I appreciate you and-”

“Klaus, I’m literally begging you to stop.”

“Okay.”

They both fell silent and Diego shifted uncomfortably, opening and shutting his mouth dumbly a few times as he tried and failed to vocalise a response.

“I love you too, you idiot,” He finally mumbled, folding his arms awkwardly. “I hate this. Can we please go?”

Klaus grinned, finally letting go of the sad, serious demeanor and relaxing back to his usual manner. “You don’t wanna hug it out first?”

“Get fucked.”

Ignoring him, Klaus wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into a hug, and despite his protests, Diego let him. He hooked his chin on Klaus’ shoulder and closed his eyes for a moment while Klaus ran his hand up and down his back, unsure of who he was trying to reassure.

When Klaus tried to pull away from him again Diego clung on to him, and it took him a few seconds to realise what he was doing and let go of him again, wrapping his arms around himself and clearing his throat.

“Can we go now?” He asked and Klaus sniggered.

“Yeah,” He said, patting Diego’s chest as he started walking past him. “Dave’s gonna think we’re making out or something.”

“You’re disgusting,” Diego muttered. “If anything he probably thinks we killed each other.”

Klaus laughed at that and Diego followed him down the stairs to where Dave was waiting for them, leant back on the hood of his car and cocking his head curiously when he spotted them.

“You guys kiss and make up?” He asked, chuckling when Klaus threw his arm around Diego’s shoulder.

Diego ignored the question and looked down at the keys Dave was twirling in his hand. “I take it you’re driving?”

“Shotgun!” Klaus yelled and Diego looked at him incredulously.

“How come you never call shotgun when I’m driving?”

“Because you drive like a maniac,” Klaus said matter of factly. “And it’s easier for me to bail out of the backseat.”

Dave laughed and held the door open for Klaus to get in, shrugging when Diego gave him a cold stare. They ended up driving around for a while because Klaus kept changing his mind on where he wanted to go. Diego didn’t recall them ever establishing that this would be Klaus’ choice, but he seemed to have given himself that right anyway, and neither he or Dave had bothered to argue with him about it.

After almost fifteen minutes Klaus piped up again, “Actually, I think I do want Subway after all.”

“Are you kidding me?” Diego leaned over the seat to glare at him. “That was your original choice.”

“Quiet, backseat boy.”

They pulled up outside and Diego hurried Klaus inside before he could change his mind again, ordering for him to save time.

“How are we doing for time?” Diego asked after they’d sat down and Dave glanced at his watch.

“We’ve got twenty minutes.”

“We should probably try and get there early so we can-” He paused. “Klaus, what are you doing?”

Klaus, who had elected to sit on the table rather than the multitude of empty seats available to him, had taken one of Dave’s hands in his and was examining it intently, his brow furrowed in concentration.

“Palm reading,” He said, his eyes still firmly fixed on Dave’s hand.

“You haven’t touched your food.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“I swear I’m gonna kill you,” Diego muttered, but Klaus either didn’t hear him, or chose not to respond.

“What’s my palm say?” Dave asked, watching Klaus curiously.

“I’m not sure,” He said quietly. “I read a book on it a couple years ago but I don’t remember much. I think this one is your life line.” He pointed to one of the creases in his hand and hummed thoughtfully. “It’s pretty deep.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Pretty sure that means you’re unkillable.”

“Do me a favour and slash mine so I can die,” Diego said, holding his hand out to Klaus who just narrowed his eyes at him and said nothing. “Now can you stop… whatever the hell this is, and focus? We need to go and scope this meet point out before our guy gets there.”

“Scope it out?” Klaus scoffed. “Can you unclench for five minutes? It’s a car shop, what is there to scope ?”

“Exits and entrances, hiding spots, anything that can be used to kill us , I could go on.”

“Anyone ever tell you you’re a little paranoid?”

Diego ignored him and got to his feet, prompting the others to follow him back out to the car.

There wasn’t much sign of activity at the repair shop, and the alleyway around the back where they’d agreed to meet was of little interest. It felt vaguely familiar to him, though he wasn’t sure if he remembered it from an old fight, or as one of the many spots he’d found Klaus passed out before. The alley was a dead end, and when they got to the fence blocking the end he turned around and folded his arms as he spoke to them.

“Okay, here’s my plan,” He said firmly. “Klaus, you and I wait here for your buddy to show up so we can talk to him. And when I say ‘we’ I mean I will talk to him and you will keep your mouth shut. Capiche?”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I capiche. What about Dave?”

“He’s gonna wait by the car in case our guy tries to make a break for it. Any other questions?”

“Yeah, what if he has a gun?” Klaus asked.

“Dave also has a gun. I have many, many knives. You… you can run, I guess.”

“What if he’s bullet and knife proof?”

“That’s not a thing.”

“He could have superpowers too,” Dave suggested and Klaus nodded.

“Yeah, Diego, what if he has superpowers? He could kill us all.”

“What are you talking about that’s not- Can we just get on with this?” Diego dragged a hand down his face despairingly and Klaus sniggered.

Dave headed back down the alley to the road as he was told, leaving the two of them alone to wait. Barely ten seconds passed before Klaus turned to him again.

“I do think maybe you should let me talk a little bit,” He said, leaning back against the fence. “It’s just… I don’t want you to embarrass yourself or, more importantly, me, trying to talk to this guy.”

“You don’t want me to embarrass you ?” Diego huffed out a laugh in disbelief. “Is that a joke?”

“I’m being serious, Diego. You have no clue about any of this. The craziest shit you’ve done is get baked with me a few times when we were teenagers which barely counts as using. Everything you know about the drug scene probably came from the police academy, and that is almost definitely inaccurate. If you start spewing any of that shit to him he’s gonna know instantly that you’re a cop and trust me when I say that will not end well for us.”

Diego didn’t say anything and Klaus frowned, hurriedly adding, “It’s not a bad thing. I just think maybe-”

“No, you’re right,” He said before Klaus could finish, nodding to himself. “Okay, you do the talking.”

“Great! I’m thinking you should play my sweet innocent baby brother and I’m trying to show you a good time. The key to a good lie is to stretch the truth, right?”

“Don’t push it.”

Klaus giggled and patted his shoulder affectionately. “Oh! Do you have fifteen dollars? I told him I’d give him his money if he met me.”

Rolling his eyes, Diego handed him his wallet, and the two of them waited in silence for M to show up.

He was ten minutes late, and they’d been close to giving up when he finally strolled up, waving at Klaus who immediately pulled him into a hug.

“Sorry, man, I got held up. You know how it is with- Who’s this?”

His eyes fell on Diego and his expression shifted as he pulled away from Klaus, instantly looking defensive. Klaus just grinned and draped his arm over Diego’s shoulder.

“Relax, he’s my little brother,” He said sweetly, resting their heads together. “He’s the one that dragged me home last night.”

“Oh… you don’t look related.”

“Adopted,” They said in sync.

“I’m trying to broaden his experience of the world,” Klaus added, and M visibly relaxed at that. “Pull the stick out of his ass, you know?”

“I hear you,” He chuckled, pulling a needle and a bag of powder out of his pocket. “How much do you want?”

Diego tensed and his legs threatened to buckle just at the prospect of that needle coming anywhere near him, and Klaus quickly put an arm in front of him protectively.

“Whoa, okay, I want to show him a good time not destroy his life,” He said, laughing nervously. “Actually I was hoping you could help me find somebody.”

Klaus proceeded to give the vaguest description of a person ever. So vague, it even took Diego a few moments to realise he was describing Dan.

“He’s uh… he’s got like dark hair… about yay high, I think… uh… I think he had a tattoo?”

“You’re talking about Dan?” M said, against all odds, and Klaus nodded.

“Yeah! Yeah, that’s his name. Yeah, it’s nothing personal, I just wanna break my brother in gently.” He squeezed Diego’s shoulder and grinned over at him, and Diego smiled awkwardly back at him. “You know where I can find him?”

There was a long silence, and M stared right through them for a moment before shaking his head. “No he uh… he died.”

“Whaaaaaat?” Klaus said, in a voice so high and dramatic it would have sounded ridiculous coming from anyone other than him. “When?”

“Couple days ago,” He mumbled, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I don’t know anything about it. Probably overdosed.”

Diego knew a liar when he saw one, and it didn’t take a genius to spot this guy’s restless hands and shifting eyes. He was itching to ask him a million questions. How well did they know each other? When was the last time they saw each other? How did he-

“How’d you find out?” Klaus asked, as if he’d pulled the thought straight out of Diego’s head.

The question appeared to catch M off guard and he stared dumbly at them, stopping and starting as he tried to get a sentence out.

“I… He… Well… See I… have a uh… a friend who knew him and they told me what happened so… yeah,” He stammered, glancing over his shoulder and then back to Klaus. “Look I have places to be so if you’re not buying anything I really gotta… go. Here’s the number of a girl I know. She’ll be able to hook your brother up with something.” He grabbed Klaus’ hand and scribbled a number on the back with a marker. “I’ll see you around… or not, or… I don’t know. Bye.”

Klaus waved cheerfully at him as he walked away, waiting until he’d disappeared down the road before turning back to Diego with a huge grin plastered across his face.

“Police work is so easy. You had to do training for this? Get a certificate and everything? To do this ?”

“Shut up and let me see that,” Diego muttered, twisting Klaus’ hand to look at the number written on it. “Don’t wash your hands until we’ve written that down.”

“If only he’d written it on your hand, it might have been preserved forever.”

Diego ignored him and started walking back towards the street, leaving Klaus to follow behind him.

“So, are you glad you decided to let me help?” He asked when he’d caught up, still smiling like an idiot at him.

“Not really. You’ve been a pain in my ass since we left the house,” He said, before letting out a sigh and glancing over at him. “You were great.”

“Oh! Well, thank you.” Klaus smiled even wider and puffed his chest out proudly. “And if I may say, you did a wonderful job playing my boring and hopelessly stupid baby brother.”

“Don’t make me take it back, Klaus.”

Dave was waiting in the car when they reached him, and they quickly filled him in on what had happened. They all debated for a while about what to do next, whether to keep following him, or try calling the number he’d given them.

“I mean, the odds that it’s the girl we’re looking for have gotta be pretty slim, right?” Dave said. “And if he does know something, he wouldn’t send you straight to her.”

“But she could know something,” Diego pointed out. “Everyone seems to know everyone around here.”

“He could be giving her up to get himself out of trouble,” Klaus suggested, twisting in his seat to look at Diego. “We crackheads aren’t the most loyal of people.”

Dave frowned at that, mumbling quietly, “Don’t call yourself that.”

“I’m just saying,” Klaus continued, “He was guilty as hell and freaking out about it, and he could have just ran off without saying anything. But instead he gave us this ,” He held his hand up again, turning it to show off the smudging ink. “So it’s gotta be connected to something, right?”

Diego nodded. “We should call her.” He decided. “Give it a few hours though. If they’re working together, we don’t wanna give it away that we’re after them.”

Klaus let out a deep sigh and slumped back in his seat, turning to look at Dave. “It’s not fair that we got to do all the fun undercover interrogation stuff and you just had to sit here.”

“Oh, I accomplished things too,” Dave said proudly, holding up a folded newspaper. “I finished ninety percent of this crossword. I just need a nine letter word for ‘surprise attack’. Starts with an A and has an S in the middle.”

“Ambuscade,” Klaus said, just a few seconds later.

“How the hell do you know that?” Diego demanded and Klaus scoffed.

“As if I would know that, how much of a dork do you think I am?” He shook his head in apparent disbelief, looking over at the empty seat next to Diego and laughing to himself. “Come on, let’s go solve crime… and get snacks. Let’s get snacks and then solve crime.”

“We’re not getting snacks.”

“Fine. Then let’s immediately solve crime.”

Chapter Text

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with D.” 

Klaus sat back in his seat, looking very pleased with himself, and Dave hummed thoughtfully as he gazed out through the car window. It was quiet for a while as he scanned the environment, finally turning back to Klaus after almost a minute. 

“Dumpster?”

“No.” 

“Dog?”

“Nope.”

“Driveway?”

“You’re way off base, Davey.”

Dave folded his arms and huffed to himself, chewing on his lip for a moment before looking up again. “Is it me?”

“No.”

“Is it Diego?” 

No ! Come on, it’s so easy.” 

Giving up on his attempts to ignore them both, Diego let out a deep sigh. 

“It’s a dead guy,” He said, disgruntled, dragging a hand down his face. “It’s always a dead guy. This is why I didn’t wanna play.”

“Dead girl actually,” Klaus corrected.

“Well that’s cheating! That’s two words, Klaus. You have to say the first letter of both words.” 

While Klaus and Dave bickered about the rules and regulations of I Spy, Diego shut his eyes, laying his head back on the backseat and blocking them out for a moment. 

It had been a few hours since they’d tried to phone the number M had given them and gotten no response. Klaus had said, with a great amount of confidence, that trying the number too often would just get them blocked, so for now they left it, choosing instead to follow M and see if he lead them to anything. They’d been parked up outside what they assumed to be his apartment ever since, forced to endure Klaus’ endless string of ideas for entertainment. 

“Should we play Never Have I Ever?” 

“Yeah!” Dave said enthusiastically. 

“No,” Diego muttered flatly. “Absolutely not.”

Klaus pouted. “Why not?”

“Because you’re the worst person to play it with! You’ve done everything. Literally everything.”

“Well that’s not true at all. I’ve never set fire to my own pants, leapt out of the window in a blind panic, landed in my neighbours pond, and had a frog go in my mouth.”

“Yeah, because nobody in history has ever done that, Klaus.”

“I actually have done that,” Dave said quietly. “Except for the frog part. It was a newt, and it was really gross.”

“Dave,” Klaus sighed, holding his hands over his heart and looking at him adoringly, “You complete me.” 

“We’re not playing this,” Diego repeated and Klaus huffed, folding his arms crossly. 

“This is boring, Diego. We have to play something.”

“How about you play that game where you try to stay silent as long as possible? Maybe you’ll finally break your personal record of two and a half minutes?” 

Klaus narrowed his eyes at him. “My personal record is eight weeks.”

“I’m trying to give you a realistic goal here, man.” 

For forty five glorious seconds, it was silent, but Klaus had never been any good at this one. He burst into a fit of giggles, snorting and hiding his face in his hands. 

The car stereo lit up, blasting out Whitney Houston before Diego could even begin comment on how badly Klaus had failed. 

“Okay, you realise the challenge is to stay quiet , right? Not make as much noise as possible.”

“That wasn’t me,” Klaus insisted. 

“The key isn’t even in,” Dave said as he switched the stereo back off, staring at it in bewilderment. 

“You still laughed,” Diego continued, ignoring him. “So you lost.” 

“That wasn’t my fault! He made me laugh on purpose!” He pointed over to Dave, who held his hands up innocently but couldn’t disguise the mischievous grin on his face. 

“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” He insisted, chuckling when Klaus smacked his arm. 

“You’re both idiots,” Diego muttered. 

The two of them continued giggling to themselves and he shook his head to himself, leaning back in his seat and staring back through the window. 

A few minutes passed before the apartment door he was watching swung open and M emerged, looking even more on edge now than when they’d last seen him. Diego sat upright and tapped Dave on the shoulder, nodding to the cab M was currently bundling himself into. 

“Oh, shit,” Dave mumbled as he started the car.

They followed the taxi for a few blocks, eventually pulling up outside an old arcade and watching as M slipped inside. Klaus turned around, resting his chin on the back of his seat and grinning excitedly at him. 

“Can we go in?” He asked, looking at him with wide, pleading eyes. “Please?” 

“I don’t want you to get distracted,” He said flatly and Klaus scoffed. 

“More like you don’t want me to kick your ass at air hockey. Again .”

Diego glared at him and threw the car door open. 

“Fine,” He said as he swung his legs out of the car. “Rematch. Let’s see you beat me without the performance enhancers.”

“Molly is definitely not a performance enhancer.”

He ignored him, leading them across the street and through the building doors. He’d been to this arcade before. Mostly with Klaus, but they’d all gone once when they were kids, not long their eleventh birthday. Luther had spotted the place weeks ago on the way back from a mission, and convinced them all to save the handful of coins mom slipped into their birthday cards so they could go. It took their combined efforts to convince Luther not to tell their dad they were going, and one evening they all snuck out together, running down the street in a mob as fast as they could go. They stayed for hours until all their money was gone. Ben spent all his on snacks for all of them when they got there, saying he was perfectly happy watching the rest of them playing instead, and that arcade games were a waste of money anyway. Five discovered he had a talent for the claw machines and won them each a matching toy, and Diego was pretty sure his was still in his bedroom somewhere, lost amongst everything he’d grabbed to take with him when he left. 

Back then, the arcade had been completely new. It was all bright colours and lights, and to a group of eleven year olds who hadn’t seen much of the world outside of their training room, it was huge. Like an endless maze of shiny games and candy machines and things that any normal kid should be accustomed to seeing. Even when he’d returned with Klaus as teenagers, the thrill of being able to do whatever they wanted had filled the whole place with a similar kind of magic.

Stepping through the doors now, though, that feeling was well and truly crushed. It was cramped and dimly lit, and a musty smell hung in the air. The carpet that he remembered as electric blue and green was more of a faded, muddy grey, stained with god only knows what, and the shiny arcade machines were dented and worn, playing off key repetitive tunes over each other. He found himself wondering whether it had become run down over time, or if he’d just always been too blinded by childhood wonder to realise it had always been this way. 

Klaus was clearly not sharing his thoughts, taking in their surroundings with wide excited eyes and a grin on his face. 

“Aw, I’ve missed this place,” He said with a dreamy tone to his voice. “Look, they still have the same duck shaped stain on the wall.”

“It’s disgusting in here,” Diego mumbled, screwing his nose up. 

“It was always disgusting, Diego. We all got food poisoning from the hot dogs. Remember?” 

“Nope. Must have repressed that one.”

“All the things that happened to us and that’s the memory you decided to repress? Interesting call.” 

Diego didn’t respond, craning his neck just in time to see M turning a corner and hunching over a game of Tetris at the far end of the building. 

“Okay,” He said, keeping his eyes fixed on him. “I’m gonna stay on this side. Dave, you stay along the far wall. Klaus, you… you can do what you want, I guess. Who’d you wanna go with?” 

“Oh, um…” Klaus trailed off, looking over at Dave and then back to him with a helpless look on his face. “I don’t know. Why are you making me choose? I hate this.”

“Fine. You’re with me. Let’s go.” 

He relaxed at that and followed behind him while Dave headed across the floor and disappeared behind a wall of games. After weaving their way through the maze of machines, they found the old air hockey table where Klaus had beaten him before. Several times before, in fact, but Diego wasn’t about to remind him of that. Klaus seemed to have a remarkable amount of loose change on him, which he decided not to question, and they managed to scrape together enough pennies for two games. The first game Klaus won, again. The second Diego beat him so easily that it was obvious Klaus had let him win. 

“You finally beat me,” Klaus said, with a hint of teasing sarcasm in his voice. “Good job, little bro.”

“Don’t call me that,” He muttered, folding his arms and puffing his chest out. “I can’t play properly when I’ve got one eye on a suspect.”

“Oh, okay! Were you also watching suspects when I beat you the other six times?”

“Shove it up your ass, Klaus.”

He snarled at him and Klaus sniggered, resting his elbows on the table between them and smiling smugly at him. “How is it that you can hit a target perfectly from the other side of a room with anything you throw, but you can’t hit a puck into a goal from seven feet away?” 

“Fuck you. That’s how.” 

“Hmm,” Klaus hummed, stealing a glance over his shoulder and looking back at him with a more serious expression. “Is he doing anything of interest?”

“Not really,” Diego mumbled as he looked back over at M, who was still stood in the same corner of the room. “Either he really loves Tetris, or he’s waiting for someone.”

“You know that’s not exactly unusual behaviour for a dealer, right?”

“I know. I’m not an idiot ,” He snapped. “What I mean is, it looks like he’s anticipating something. He looks nervous.”

He recognised M’s behaviour. The glances over the shoulder, the restlessness, and the twitching hands were the same ones he’d seen from Klaus many a time when he’d gotten himself into some kind of trouble. 

“Maybe he knows we’re watching him,” Klaus suggested, gesturing down to the rainbow hoodie he was wearing. “I mean, I’m not exactly fading into the background here.” 

Diego pondered that for a moment and shook his head. “He could easily give us the slip in here,” He said, looking around at the walls of games and the groups of people milling in and out of the doors. “If he’d spotted us he would have made a break for it.” 

“Unless he wants us to see him.”

He was fairly certain Klaus was just in denial that his outfit might not be attracting as much attention as he anticipated, but it was an interesting thought regardless. Before he could say anything, Klaus strode around the table, rocking back on his heels and cocking his head innocently. 

“I’m gonna go find Dave.”

“Am I boring you?”

“No! No , I just… want a change of scenery.”

“You’re bored,” Diego said flatly and Klaus nodded. “Fine, whatever. Go. I don’t care.”

“Kinda sounds like you do care.”

“Well I don’t. Go.” 

Klaus opened his mouth to respond but seemed to think better of it at the last minute, pursing his lips again and scuttling off across the room. 

Once he was out of sight, Diego leant back and perched himself on the edge of the table, stealing another look over at M. He’d finally moved over to a different game, hunched over with the hood of his black jacket pulled up and his back to the rest of the room. He looked over his shoulder again and for a moment Diego thought he’d spotted him, but his eyes didn’t linger on him as he scanned the rest of the room and turned back to his game again.

It was harder to make himself look busy without Klaus to talk to, and he found himself walking in circles for a few minutes before giving up and sitting on one of the barstools against the far wall. He pretended to count out the change in his pocket in an attempt to look inconspicuous. For the most part it worked. Nobody paid him any mind, save for one teenage girl who was fixing him with a wide eyed stare from across the room and seemed unable to tear her gaze away. It wasn’t until she glanced down at his arm that he realised his tattoo was visible and he yanked his sleeve back up over his wrist, finally prompting her to look away again. It was hard to tell from her expression whether it was wonder or fear in her eyes. He’d grown accustomed to both over the years. 

Before he could dwell on it any further, the entrance doors swung open and a group of men walked in. He counted five of them, all dressed in white hoodies and each with a matching stony expression. They marched purposefully across the room and Diego followed them with his eyes as they walked all the way over to M, who tensed the second one of them placed a hand on his shoulder. The group crowded around him, guiding him away from the game he was playing and leading him across the floor before bundling him through a door into a back room at the other end of the building. 

Frowning, he got to his feet and started looking around the room for any sign of Klaus and Dave. He’d hoped that maybe the two of them had gotten a better view of what happened before the group disappeared behind the door, but that hope didn’t last for long. When he eventually found them, they were tucked away in a corner next to one of the claw machines, with any potential view of M completely obscured. 

“What are you idiots doing?” He asked as he rounded the corner.

Dave had crowded Klaus up against the side of the machine, with one hand against the glass next to his head and the other cupping Klaus’ cheek as he leant in so close that their noses bumped together. He jolted when he heard Diego’s voice, stumbling a few steps back while Klaus stared at him incredulously with his mouth hanging open. 

Diego ,” He whined, shoving his arm grumpily. “What do you want ?” 

“I wanted to find you . We have to-” He paused, noticing the plush unicorn Klaus was clutching. “What the hell is that?”

“Oh.” He smiled, looking down at the toy and hugging it tighter against his chest. “This is Sir Elton John. Dave won him in the claw machine. He’s really good at it, actually. Dave, show him.”

They both looked back at Dave, who was staring down at the ground like he was hoping a hole would open up beneath him. 

“Maybe later, darlin’,” He mumbled quietly, but Klaus didn’t seem prepared to take that answer and he pouted childishly. 

“Sir Elton needs a friend,” He said, thrusting the unicorn in his face and moving its head as he pretended to make it talk. “Pwease, Dave. I’m so wonely. I’ll wuv you fowever , Davey.” 

“Oh my god.” Dave laughed and hid his face in his hand, and Klaus giggled at him.

Diego cleared his throat and they both turned back round, blinking at him expectantly. 

“So while you two were winning prizes,” He said, glaring down at the toy which Klaus cradled protectively, “A bunch of guys came in and shoved M into the back room.” 

“Shit,” Dave mumbled. “Where is he now?”

“Still in there, I think,” He said as he craned his neck to look around the corner, where the door the men had disappeared behind was still closed. “Come on.” 

They followed him across the room to the door, huddling in a group outside and trying to listen through the wall to what was being said. Diego could hear hushed voices talking, but over the noise of the arcade it was impossible to make out any words. 

“What exactly is the plan here, Diego?” Klaus asked, leaning back against the wall next to him and picking at the chipped polish on his fingernails. “Crowd around a locked room like a bunch of weirdos and hope that whoever comes out doesn’t beat our asses?” 

“Shut up. I’m thinking,” Diego muttered.

His thinking time was cut short as the door handle started rattling and the three of them stumbled backwards, just managing to get out of the way in time before the door swung open and the group of white hoodies marched back out. One of the men looked back over his shoulder, his eyes landing on Diego and staring coldly at him for a moment before disappearing through the doors behind the others. 

“Okay, those guys give me the creeps,” Dave said quietly, his eyes still fixed on the exit. 

Diego nodded in agreement and looked over at Klaus. 

“You know them?” He asked, frowning when Klaus shook his head. “I thought you knew everybody?”

“I do know everybody,” Klaus mumbled. “Just not those guys.”

Diego decided not to argue with Klaus about their apparently conflicting definitions of ‘everybody’, turning his attention instead to the open doorway behind them, which M still hadn’t emerged from. His stomach twisted at the thought that something might have happened to him in that room. At the thought that something might have happened while he was right there outside and could have stopped it. He stood rooted to the spot while Dave took a tentative step towards the door, glancing inside and beckoning for them to follow. They all poked their heads around the doorway together, and Diego breathed a sigh of relief when he saw M sat on a countertop, apparently unharmed. 

He didn’t seem to notice them at first, sitting hunched over with his hands in his lap and sniffling quietly. 

“You should probably talk to him,” Klaus whispered, nudging Diego forward a step. 

“Why do I have to talk to him?” Diego hissed. “Two hours ago you were telling me to say as little as possible to him.”

“Yeah but now he’s crying . I’m not good with that stuff.”

“And I am!?” 

“What are you guys doing here?” 

They both looked back up and saw M staring at them, wiping his eyes with the back of his sleeve. “Are you stalking me? Do I have stalkers too now? This day is getting better by the second.” 

“We’re not stalkers,” Diego said, and Klaus and Dave gave him matching unconvinced looks. 

“We did literally follow him here,” Klaus pointed out. “Like, from his house.”

“And then spent the last hour watching him,” Dave added. 

“Creepy,” M mumbled, sniffling and rubbing his eyes again. 

It was the first time he’d actually stood face to face with him, and looking at him now, Diego started to realise how young he was. He had a round face with full cheeks, and big, wide eyes that stood out, bright green in stark contrast to his dark skin. He looked like he should still be in school, not handing out drugs in back alleys and getting roughed up by gangs of grown men. 

“How old are you?” He asked, more bluntly than he’d intended, and M raised an eyebrow at him. 

“Weird question to ask after stalking me all afternoon.”

“We didn’t-” Diego sighed and pulled his badge out of his back pocket, ignoring the hard stare he could feel Klaus giving him. “I’m a detective.”

M shrunk back into his hoodie and looked up at him with wide eyes. “I’m not under arrest, am I? You- I can’t. My uncle will kill me. Like, literally he will-”

“You’re not under arrest.”

“I almost sold Class A’s to you like, two hours ago.” 

“Yeah, I don’t care about that,” He said flatly. “And maybe don’t bring that up if I have to officially question you again.”

“Right.” M nodded, chewing on his lip thoughtfully for a moment before looking back up at him. “Sixteen.”

“‘Scuse me?”

“You asked how old I am,” He said. “I’m sixteen.” 

“You’re sixteen !?” The three of them exclaimed in unison and M shrugged nonchalantly. 

Dave looked completely horrified while Klaus just looked sad, and Diego clenched his fists angrily, taking a deep breath before hoisting himself onto the counter next to him. M watched him, edging away from him cautiously. 

“You gonna ask me where my parents are?” He asked, a little sarcastically. “Because I can guarantee the answer’s not as tragic as you’re hoping.” 

“I was gonna ask your name, but if you wanna keep being a mouth little shit I can march you home to them instead.”

“Diego, has anyone ever told you that you have a wonderful way with children?” Klaus asked, grinning cockily at him. 

“You bought heroin off the kid,” Diego reminded him. “You do not get to speak.”

“You still owe me fifteen bucks, man,” M piped up and Klaus folded his arms defensively. 

“I’m not about to be the guy who pays sixteen year olds for drugs.”

“Oh, okay. So you’re gonna be the guy that cons sixteen year olds out of drugs instead? Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.”

“Klaus, for God’s sake just give him the money,” Diego ordered, fixing him with a hard stare until Klaus begrudgingly handed the crumpled up bills to him. 

“Sweet,” M said as he tucked the money into his pocket, looking back over at Diego. “Now what do you want?” 

Diego paused, trying to pick his words carefully. 

“Two people have been killed,” He said slowly. “We’re just trying to figure out what happened.” 

M tensed up at that, avoiding Diego’s eyes and looking down at his hands. “What’s that got to do with me?”

“I don’t know,” He admitted. “But you were the last person to contact one of ‘em. And now you’re getting roughed up in the back of an arcade. So maybe you can tell me what the hell is going on.”

He didn’t get a response to that and he sighed, leaning towards him and lowering his voice so the others couldn’t hear him. “Look, I’m not accusing you of anything here. I know this wasn’t you. But if you know anything , I need you to tell me.” 

“I can’t,” M said, his voice barely more than a whisper. 

“M, if you’re in some kind of trouble I can-”

He shook his head rapidly before Diego could finish. “Did you call the number I gave you?” 

“Yeah, we didn’t get an answer.” 

“Keep trying her, please. She’s the one in trouble,” He said, wringing his hands nervously. “She’s my best friend and… and she always used to help me whenever I got into stupid messes. But now she needs help and I don’t know what to do.” 

Diego didn’t say anything, and M wrapped his arms around himself. “I’m gonna be in so much shit if anyone finds out I’m talking to cops,” He mumbled. “I need to go.” 

“Fine, but if you get in real trouble you can call-”

“Yeah, yeah. Call 911 and the friendly neighbourhood police force will come and save me. Like I didn’t hear that in every school assembly for the last ten years.”

“That’s not what-” Diego sighed, pointing over at Klaus. “You have his number. Anything happens, you call him, and we will come and find you. Okay?” 

M stared back at him for a moment, chewing on his lip before nodding hesitantly. “Fine,” He said, hopping down from the counter and striding towards the door, pausing and mumbling a quick “Thanks,” before he slipped out. 

The three of them stood there for a few minutes, looking back and forth at each other before Klaus finally broke the silence. 

“Did we just become parents?”

“Try not to get attached. We’re probably never gonna hear from him again.” 

Klaus looked a little deflated at that, cuddling the unicorn he was still holding against his chest and sighing. 

“We should go,” Dave said quietly, guiding Klaus towards the door while Diego followed behind them. 

They walked back through the arcade together. Klaus tried to convince them to stay longer so he could win something for Dave in return for the unicorn. His efforts didn’t last long. When Dave told him they could come back together another day he got so flustered he stumbled backwards, and the machine behind him spat a plastic bracelet out. According to him that counted as winning something, and Dave seemed pretty happy with his prize. 

Diego stayed quiet in the back of the car on the drive home, paying no attention to whatever conversation the two of them were having. It wasn’t until they pulled up outside his apartment that he sat up, leaning in between them to get their attention. 

“Klaus, you wanna try that number again?”

Klaus blinked at him a few times before finally processing what he’d said and nodding. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, sure,” He said as he pulled his phone out. 

They watched him intently as he redialed the number, but after a few minutes of silence he shook his head again. “It’s still switched off.” 

Dragging his hand down his face, Diego let out a frustrated breath and pushed the car door open. “We can try again tomorrow.” 

“Are we… Working tomorrow too?” Dave asked, a little hesitantly, and Diego frowned. 

“...No. I guess we can wait until Monday,” He said, pausing before adding, “Thanks for coming today.”

Dave waved him off. “It’s no problem. I’ll see you on Monday!”

With that, Diego got out, only to find himself waiting on the pavement for another five minutes while Dave and Klaus apparently struck up another conversation. Klaus laughed at something and finally got out of the car, grinning stupidly as they headed up the stairs. 

“What are you so happy about?” Diego asked him when they got through the door, cocking an eyebrow at him curiously. 

Klaus shrugged and shuffled over to the couch, collapsing onto it and curling up on his side. “Can I not just be in a good mood?”

“No. It’s weird,” He mumbled, ignoring the chuckle Klaus let out and pacing over to the kitchen. “Are you hungry?”

“That depends on what you’re offering. Burnt toast? A single slice of cheese? With your culinary prowess the possibilities are almost endless.” 

“Starve then.” 

“What do you do when I’m not here?” Klaus asked, rolling onto his stomach and propping himself up on his elbows. “Do you just survive on take out? Is that why we’re broke all the time? Wait! Does Patch bring you leftovers? Please say it’s that. That’d be hilarious. And adorable.” 

“She’s not my mom, asshole,” Diego muttered. “I can take care of myself.”

Can you though?” 

Diego ignored him and rifled through the cabinet, staring forlornly at the empty shelves before giving up and making himself some toast. He could feel Klaus’ snide remark coming a mile off without even looking at him, but he still sighed dejectedly when he heard him pipe up again behind him.

“Oh yeah, clearly you’ve got dinner covered. Sorry for questioning you.”

“Eat shit.”

Klaus sniggered, rolling onto his back and hanging his head over the arm of the couch. “Just say the word and I’ll make enough pomodoro to feed a family of twelve,” He said, looking up at him with a smug smile on his face. 

“I don’t need you to cook for me,” Diego said coldly, to which Klaus just shrugged. 

“Alright, enjoy your hot bread.” 

There was a long pause before Diego sighed again. “Fine,” He said, disgruntled. “You can cook something, I guess.” 

It was irritating how good Klaus’ cooking was. Given every aspect of his personality, it made no sense for him to excel at anything. Least of all this. Still, he seemed to enjoy it, only ever inviting Diego back into the kitchen when he needed help with a can opener which, according to him, were designed to discriminate against lefties. True to his word, he cooked up more pasta than anyone could ever possibly need, and despite their best efforts, they still had more than half left over. Diego wasn’t about to admit it, but he was thankful for the tub of leftovers they ended up with, and all the meals he wouldn’t have to try and cook for himself for the next few days. 

“Where did you learn to make that?” He asked as they potted the last of it up.

“Oh!” Klaus spun around, his eyes lighting up. “Fun story, actually. I met this little Italian lady in rehab the other week and she taught me the recipe. Said she had to ‘ pass on a legacy ’,” He wiggled his fingers and put on a spooky voice, sniggering to himself. “I still have no idea if she was dead or just nuts.” 

“How can you not know that?” 

“Well, I can’t just walk right up to someone’s face and be all ‘excuse me, are you dead?’, can I?” He said, like it was obvious. “I don’t wanna be rude.” 

Diego nodded thoughtfully. “I just... thought it’d be more obvious, I guess,” He said quietly, and Klaus hummed in response, giving him a small smile before turning and heading back over to the couch. 

He curled up in one corner while Diego sat on the other side, stretching his legs across the cushions and watching Klaus as he pulled his unicorn toy back into his lap and played absentmindedly with its arms for a while. It was always easy to tell when Klaus was building up to something. He could see him furrowing his brow on and off like he was going over possible conversations in his head, the same way he had just over a month ago when he announced he was going back to rehab. Diego left him alone to get on with it, fumbling around for the remote and staring vacantly at the news channel until Klaus was ready to talk. 

It was another twenty minutes before he spoke, cuddling his toy to his chest and looking up at him. 

“Can I talk to you about something?” He asked and Diego nodded, switching the TV back off and leaning back against the arm of the couch. 

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I think so,” He mumbled quietly, nodding to himself. “I’ve just… I don’t know. Weird things have been going on.”

“Yeah, no shit, Klaus. We’re on a murder case.”

“No, I mean weird things with me specifically,” He said. “Unrelated to the murder thing.”

Diego frowned, folding his arms and tilting his head curiously. “Okay,” He said slowly. “What kinda weird things?”

“Well.” Klaus let out a deep breath and paused for a moment, a little wide eyed like he wasn’t sure where to begin. “For starters, I keep feeling weird. Sort of… tingly? It’s like a static shock but everywhere at once.”

“You sure that’s not just withdrawals?” 

Klaus narrowed his eyes at him. “I think I should know what withdrawals feel like by now,” He muttered. “This is different. I don’t know how to explain it.”

“Jesus Christ, are you in love ?”

“No! No, that’s not- I mean, maybe? But that’s a whole separate thing I’m dealing with.” Klaus waved his hand and slumped back in frustration. “No, this is…” He sighed, chewing on his lip thoughtfully for a moment. “It happened earlier, when we were arguing and… and you slammed your door and I was pissed off and miserable and I felt it then, and the light went off, in the kitchen, at the same time.” 

If it weren’t for the way Klaus was nervously clutching his unicorn, and the look in his eye that Diego recognised from when they were kids, he would have made some kind of sarcastic comment at that. Instead he held himself back, nudging Klaus’ leg with his foot in an attempt to reassure him. 

“It was probably just a coincidence,” He told him, but Klaus shook his head. 

“Maybe if it was just that one thing, but it’s been happening a lot.”

“Like when?” 

Klaus looked thoughtful for a moment. “What about at the arcade? When I got that bracelet out of the machine.”

“Those machines are old and busted. You probably dislodged something when you knocked into it.” 

“And when the stereo came on in the car?” 

“Dave’s car is probably old and busted too!” He said, huffing out a laugh. “I mean, where are you going with this, Klaus? You think your whole life you’ve unknowingly had the power to… what? Switch on car stereos?”

“It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing to happen to us,” Klaus mumbled, hanging his head. “It’s a shame dad’s such an asshole. He’d probably know what was going on. The smart bastard.” 

“Hey,” Diego snapped, scooting towards him and nudging Klaus’ arm. “Dad was an idiot. Whatever’s going on with you, you and me can figure it out on our own. Okay?” 

Klaus nodded, keeping his head down and staying quiet for a few minutes. 

“This is the most sober I’ve been since… forever,” He said quietly. “Even after last night.”

He sniffled and wiped his face with the sleeve of his hoodie, and Diego shifted uncomfortably. 

“Hey, come on. Don’t do that,” He said, reaching out to squeeze his shoulder. 

Klaus just whined in response and shuffled forwards until his face was pressed into Diego’s chest, wrapping his arms around him and all but forcing Diego to do the same. 

“I... It’s gonna be okay.”

“Stop trying to say things. It’s painful,” Klaus said, his voice muffled. “Just give me a second.” 

“Right.” 

He rubbed Klaus’ back for a few minutes until finally he sat upright again, running his hand down his face and sighing. 

“I think I just have a lot going on,” He said, nodding like he was trying to convince himself. “Can we just watch a movie or something?” 

“Sure,” Diego said, watching as Klaus immediately hopped off the couch and scrambled over to the small stack of tapes piled up by the TV. 

It took Klaus fifteen minutes to make his mind up on what movie to watch, and when he finally picked Lilo and Stitch out, he didn’t seem to pay much attention to it anyway. As soon as the movie started he leant down, pulling an old cross stitch out from under the coffee table and sitting with his back leant against Diego’s side while he worked on it. 

“I thought you wanted to watch this?”

“I am watching it,” Klaus mumbled, 

not breaking his concentration, so Diego left him to it. 

Halfway through the movie Klaus finally put the cross stitch down, and three quarters of the way through Diego could hear him snoring quietly on his shoulder. He waited until the film was over before laying Klaus back onto the pillows and heading through the door to his own bed. 

It must have been way into the morning when he woke up, because Klaus was already dressed when he poked his head around his bedroom door. 

“If you wanna pee some time this morning, you better do it now. I’m about to break the all time record for the longest bath ever taken.” 

Diego knew from a wealth of experience that Klaus really could stay in there for a whole day if he wanted to, so he didn’t argue, forcing himself upright and pacing across the room. 

“What is the record?” He asked when he got out of the bathroom and Klaus shrugged. 

“I have no idea. I’m just gonna stay in there until I die.” 

“Nice.” 

While Klaus slipped into the bathroom, Diego slumped into his armchair and stared blankly into space for a while. He tried, really tried to switch off and think of something to spend the day doing, but all he could do was sit there, bouncing his leg restlessly and listening to the clock ticking by behind him. Finally he gave up, getting to his feet again and searching around through all of Klaus’ clutter for something to write on. 

Klaus had so much stuff , Diego had no idea how he ever managed to find anything among it all. Eventually he gave up and knocked on the bathroom door, rolling his eyes at the frustrated sigh he heard from the other side. 

“Diego, I’m trying to find inner peace. What do you want?” 

“Do you have a notepad I can borrow?”

“Oh, yeah I’ve got hundreds,” He said, pausing for a moment. “There’s one behind the couch cushions. It’s pink, you can’t miss it.” 

Nodding, Diego paced back over to the couch and pulled the cushions back, immediately spotting the colourful cover. He felt something crinkle in his hand when he reached back, and when he looked down he realised he’d pulled a bag of pills out with the notepad. For a moment he just stared at them, glancing over at the closed bathroom door and trying to decide whether Klaus had forgotten he’d put them there or not. In the end, he put them back, pushing the cushions back to hide them again. The last time he’d found one of Klaus’ stashes he’d thrown it all out, and when he found out Klaus left for almost two weeks. This time he tried to put it behind him, sitting at the table and flipping the notepad open to brainstorm some kind of plan. 

He had no idea how much time he spent scribbling nonsense ideas down and tossing the pages out across the table. He was so focused on what he was doing that a sudden knock on the door made him jump so hard he almost fell out of his chair, and he had to sit for a moment, disorientated, before he realised he had to answer it. As far as he knew, they weren’t expecting anyone. In the back of his mind he hoped maybe Dave had gotten restless too and come over to get some work done. Still, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen on his way over, holding it firmly at his side as he cracked the door open. 

It was Patch that greeted him through the gap, cocking an eyebrow at him as he opened the door the rest of the way. 

“You just get out of bed?” She asked, stepping past him without waiting to be invited. “What took you so long? And what the hell is that ?” She pointed down the knife in his hand. “Is that how you greet your mailman too?” 

Slumping his shoulders in shame, Diego set the knife back on the kitchen counter. 

“Sorry,” He mumbled, leaning back against the counter. “It’s been a weird few days.” 

She nodded in understanding, walking across the room and hoisting herself up onto the countertop next to him. “Are you okay?” 

Diego looked up at her, taking her in for a moment. She had her hair up in a bun, rather than her usual ponytail, with her curls escaping and falling around her face. Under her hoodie she was wearing a loose mustard sweater, and an old pair of worn out jeans with rips in the knees that Diego recognised from years ago. Kicking her sneakers off, she swung her legs out and looked at him expectantly, waiting for a response. 

“Yeah,” He said, a little dazed. “Yeah, I’m always okay. What are you doing here?”

“Uh, I don’t know,” Patch admitted. She worried on her bottom lip for a moment before looking back over at him. “This was kinda spontaneous.” 

Diego cocked his head at that. “Spontaneity’s not usually your thing, Eudora.” 

“Mm,” She hummed, nodding to herself. “I’ve been thinking about your case.”

“Don’t you have your own cases to be thinking about?”

“No, that’s the problem ,” She said, throwing her arms up in exasperation. “I finished all the paperwork on my case on Friday. I have a completely free weekend. You know what I did yesterday? Nothing. I sat in my pyjamas and watched Friends.”

“That... doesn’t sound so bad.”

“It was horrible, Diego. That show is not as good as everyone says it is.”

She let out a frustrated sigh and he chuckled, nudging her arm playfully. “You gotta learn to switch off, Patch.”

“Yeah? And how’s your day off going so far, Hargreeves?” She challenged, nodding down at the notes strewn across the table. “Those just recreational?” 

“Fine,” He said, shrugging his shoulders. “Maybe we both need to learn to switch off.” 

Huffing out a laugh, Patch nodded and looked down at her hands. “Yeah, maybe,” She said quietly. 

There was a long pause and Diego watched her curiously, unsure of what to say. Eventually she lifted her head again. Her eyes were soft when they looked at him, lingering for a moment before looking back over at the notes on the table. 

“So, you find anything good yet?” 

He smirked up at her, still amused by her inability to let go of her job for a few minutes, and shook his head. “Not really,” He said, pacing back over to the table and searching through the pages for the notes about what happened at the arcade. “We found M. Or, Klaus found him, actually, but that was a whole other thing.”

Patch hopped down from the counter and followed him, pulling a chair up and taking the page he held out to her. 

“How is your handwriting so neat? It contradicts your whole personality.” 

“I can’t tell if you’re complimenting me or insulting me.” 

“Bit of both.” She shrugged, smiling to herself and sitting back in her seat. “Did he tell you anything?”

“M? No,” He said, slumping back into the chair next to her. “He definitely knows something, but he didn’t wanna talk.”

“Should have brought him back to the station.”

“He’s a kid , Dora,” He said firmly. “He was scared.” 

“You’re too soft.” She prodded his arm as if to prove a point and he narrowed his eyes at her. 

“I’m not soft .”

“It’s not a bad thing, Diego,” She said, letting her hand linger on his arm. “Not so great for this job though.” 

Diego didn’t say anything, watching her read over the notes for a while. 

“So it’s been three days, and all you have is a phone number from this kid?” 

“Basically, yeah.”

“Where’s the number?” 

“Saved in Klaus’ phone.”

She frowned at him, folding her arms sternly. Diego knew she was about to lecture him about Klaus’ involvement in the case, but before she could get a word out the bathroom door flew open and Klaus strode across the room. 

“You know talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity, right, Di- oh!” He cut himself off when he spotted Patch sat at the table with him, grinning and looking back and forth at the two of them. “Your girlfriend’s here.”

Diego could feel Patch side eyeing him and he sighed. “Not my girlfriend, Klaus.”

“Why’s she wearing your hoodie then?” 

They both looked at each other, and then down at the hoodie that hung loosely on Patch’s shoulders and covered her hands up to the knuckle. 

“That’s probably not mine.”

“It’s laundry day and this was all I had.”

“I don’t even recognise it.”

“Friends can wear each other’s jackets.”

They both spoke over each other and Klaus sniggered. 

“You guys are cute,” He said, still grinning stupidly. “But let’s address the real elephant in the room, a.k.a. how stunningly gorgeous I look right now.” 

He gestured down to the deep blue, floor length skirt and white crop top he was wearing. Diego recognised the skirt from their trip to the pawn shop a couple of days ago and he rolled his eyes, watching as he began to dig through the clothes piled up in the corner of the room. 

“Ooh, remember my choker phase?” He didn’t seem to be aiming his question at anyone in particular as he pulled a handful of necklaces from an ornate box he’d hidden. “That was fun. Should I start wearing chokers again?”

“Are you going somewhere, Klaus?” Patch asked, watching him curiously with her chin resting on her hands. 

“Yes!” He said excitedly, his eyes lighting up like he’d been waiting for someone to ask. “Yeah! I have a date. Well, not like a date date. At least I don’t think it’s a date date. It’s a bit ambiguous. An ambiguous rendezvous. Anyway, point is, Dave and I are going out somewhere.” 

“What?” Diego sat upright, staring at him in bewilderment. “ Why ?”

“Because he asked me, Diego. That’s how most social interactions happen. Obviously you’re not familiar with that.” He chuckled to himself. “Basically, I made this offhand comment a couple days ago about showing him some of the fun places in town, you know, since he just moved here. And now we’re actually going, I guess. What’s the time anyway? I gotta go.” 

Hurriedly, he pulled his boots on, hopping to his feet and striding across the room. He paused in the doorway, looking over at the couch and frowning. 

“What are you doing? Aren’t you coming? .. Why not ? .. Fine, have fun being bored to death.” 

With that, he waved to the two of them and disappeared through the door. 

“So he’s just fully lost his mind now, huh?” Patch said, turning back towards him. 

“It’s the least of my problems right now.”

She chuckled. “He still sober?”

“More or less.” He nodded. “I found a bag of pills behind the couch that he hasn’t touched.”

“Damn. Maybe rehab works after all,” She said, smiling to herself. “I’ve never seen him in such a good mood before. It’s nice.” 

“I don’t think rehab’s got anything to do with it. He’s just been busy since he got out.”

“Right, busy helping you , which I’m thinking we need to have another conversation about.”

Diego shrugged, leaning back in his chair. “What am I supposed to do? You know what he’s like. I tell him to wait behind and the next thing I know he’s crawling through the vents because he decided to follow me anyway.”

“Hmm, like that time we raided that woman’s house, and somehow he was inside the locked garage.”

“Exactly like that. At least this way I know where he is most of the time.” 

She didn’t have a response to that, which he took as an argument won, and they both turned their attention back to the case notes. At one point, Patch pulled out a pen and started scribbling her own ideas down, and neither of them spoke for a while. 

When Diego looked up again, Patch had constructed a case map across the table and was staring at it intently, only breaking her concentration when she heard him laughing at her. 

“What? I’m trying to help you,” She said, folding her arms indignantly. But when she sat back and looked down at what she’d been doing, she laughed too. “Okay,” She conceded. “So maybe I don’t know how to switch off.”

“No shit.” 

“But neither do you, so stop being a hypocrite.” 

Diego nodded in agreement and she giggled again, her high pitched, croaky laugh that lit up the room and made it impossible not to smile with her. The more he looked at her, the harder it became to look away again, so he stopped trying. Instead he took in the way the afternoon sun filtering through the window hit her skin and turned it to bronze, and the shadows her lashes cast down her cheeks. The curls gradually unravelling on top of her head and falling in her face, that she tried to no avail to tuck back behind her ear. 

“Maybe we should do something else,” He suggested, the words falling out of his mouth before he could stop them.

“Like what?”

Patch looked up at him. Her dark eyes bored into him and suddenly looking at her became impossible. 

“I- I don’t know,” He mumbled, averting his gaze and looking down at his hands. “We could go get coffee or something… Or dinner.” 

She opened her mouth to reply, but snapped it shut again, and the seconds ticked by painfully while she thought. He already knew what she was going to say, but that didn’t make it feel any better when she finally shook her head. 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Diego,” She said softly. 

He didn’t bother trying to hide his disappointment, because he knew she’d be able to see it anyway, so he just slumped his shoulders and nodded. 

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“I should go.” 

“Yeah.”

Wordlessly, she reached over to squeeze his shoulder, before getting to her feet and pacing across the room to grab her shoes. 

“If you need anything-”

“I’ll call you,” He finished for her, smirking. “Don’t worry.”

Patch gave him a sad smile before saying goodbye and disappearing through the door, leaving him alone at the table with just his thoughts and her beautifully constructed map. 

He was still sat there when, well into the evening, Klaus returned with rosy cheeks and a smile on his face, and a faded biker jacket draped over his shoulders. 

“Hi,” Klaus said when he saw him, his voice still sounding far away. “You look miserable. Did Patch dump you again?” 

Diego let out a disgruntled sigh. “Klaus, she can’t dump me if we’re not dating .” 

Frowning, Klaus glanced over at the couch for a moment and nodded like he was listening to something. “ Oh ,” He said, looking back at Diego sadly and pulling his chair up to sit with him. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

“No,” He said flatly, hastily changing the subject before Klaus could try and pry any further. “How was your ambiguous rendezvous?” 

“It was… ambiguous.” There was a hint of disappointment in his voice, but he smiled anyway, resting his elbows on the table and sighing. “It was nice, though. I had a nice time.” 

He couldn’t help but smile at that, reaching out to ruffle Klaus’ hair and chuckling when he smacked him away. 

“I wonder if he’ll ask you to prom.”

“Shut up,” Klaus mumbled, smiling to himself. He tilted his head, looking down at the make-shift case map Diego had been staring at for the last few hours. “What’s this?”

“Patch made it,” He told him. “Hasn’t helped much. We’re still stuck at the same dead end.”

Klaus hummed thoughtfully, drumming his fingers against the table as he looked down at the notes. “I feel like we’ve missed something pretty obvious here.”

“Yeah? What’s that.”

“Well, we’ve spent the last two days trying to chase M down and find out what he knows about Dan, and we’ve gotten nowhere, right?”

“Right…”

“So… Why don’t we just reverse it? Ask Dan what he knows about M.”

Diego blinked at him. “You mean try and conjure him?”

“Yeah!” Klaus nodded. “I mean, I still don’t actually know how to do it, but I’m more sober now than I was the last time.”

For a moment they stared at each other while Diego tried to find some kind of fault with his idea, but eventually he conceded. “Okay, yeah, it’s worth a shot.”

Klaus’ face lit up and he clapped his hands together excitedly. 

“You know what this means, right?” 

“Don’t say it.” 

“The Séance is hosting a séance.”

Chapter Text

“Klaus, is all this necessary?” 

Klaus looked up from the candle he was lighting, one of many that he’d arranged in a ring around his yoga mat. He’d spent close to half an hour now setting up, laying the mat out behind the couch and setting out cushions - one that he was now sitting on, and another in front of him because, apparently, ghosts don’t like to just sit on the floor. A string of fairy lights had been carefully draped along the back of the couch, and now he was lighting his intricate display of candles. 

“Of course it is,” He said, blowing out the match he was holding. “This is how they do it in the movies, anyway. And it always seems to work for them.”

“Not sure many of those movies are grounded in reality , bro,” Diego mumbled. Klaus ignored him and he sat back in his seat, folding his arms as he watched. “Seriously, man, you look like you’re one step away from breaking out a crystal ball.”

“Oh, can you imagine ? I should get one, just for the aesthetic.” Klaus grinned to himself. “I do have an old ouija board somewhere, but who needs that when I’m here, right?” He held his palms up, flashing his tattoos at him to make his point. 

Diego rolled his eyes at him and Klaus sniggered, repositioning a couple of the candles before sitting back against the couch to admire his work. 

“Okay,” He said, tugging his boots off and crossing his legs on the cushion. “I think I’m ready to go.”

“Do you need me to do anything?” 

“Don’t let ‘em get me ,” Klaus whispered, staring at him with a dramatic, haunted look in his eyes before chuckling to himself and waving a hand at him. “Nah, I got this. Just stay quiet, I need to focus.” 

Shrugging, Diego leant his arm back on the table and left Klaus to it, watching him curiously. 

There was a long silence. Klaus fidgeted restlessly where he was sitting, alternating between keeping his eyes wide open and focused, or squeezed shut in concentration. Flipping his palms up one way, then the other, then holding his hands out in front of them and wiggling his fingers. 

“You have no idea what you’re doing,” Diego observed and Klaus huffed in frustration. 

“I have no idea what I’m doing,” He conceded, putting one hand on his hip and wagging his finger in the air. “Maybe if you’d continued with your training, Number Four,” He said, in what Diego assumed was supposed to be an impression of their father, “Instead of sneaking off to smoke mari juana , then maybe you’d know how to conjure one measley ghost, you problem child.”

“Klaus.”

He cocked his eyebrow at him and Klaus sighed, hanging his head dejectedly. “I’m sorry,” He mumbled. “I don’t know how to do it.”

“How did you do it last time?” Diego asked, racking his brain as he tried to remember their conversation. “You said your powers get stronger when you’re scared, right?”

“Yeah. So?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I could try scaring you?” 

Klaus scoffed at that. “By doing what? Forcing me to make a doctor’s appointment? Making me submit to the mortifying ordeal of being-”

He barely flinched when Diego sent a knife careering towards his head, missing him by half an inch and hitting the couch behind him. 

“As I was saying ,” He said, looking at him impatiently. “I’ve lived with you for literally my entire life. I’m desensitised to all your bullshit. I’ve also spent my whole life tormented by the shrieks of the dead, so there’s really not a lot left in this mortal realm that can scare-”

The train horn blaring outside their window made them both flinch, and Klaus clutched his chest dramatically. 

“Christ on a cracker . Why did we ever think living here was a good idea?” 

“Rent’s cheap,” Diego mumbled. “And it was the only place we looked at that had a bathtub.” 

“Well this is a high price to pay for- oh.” He looked up, staring straight ahead and blinking in surprise. “Oh, nevermind. That worked.” 

Diego looked down at the untouched cushion Klaus was sitting opposite and felt a shiver run down his spine. 

“You got him?” He asked, a little hesitantly, and Klaus nodded. 

“Yeah,” He said quietly, leaning forward and smiling at the empty space in front of him. “Hey man, how’ve you been? How’s death?” There was a pause and he chuckled. “Yeah, I hear that a lot. So, uh, sorry to spring this on you, but is it okay if we ask you a couple of questions regarding your… untimely passing?” 

Getting up from his seat, Diego crept across the room to sit next to him. He stopped, just as his foot was about to cross the ring of candles Klaus had set up, and something in him told him to leave it undisturbed. So instead he sat just outside, leaning towards him to whisper, “What’s he saying?” 

He didn’t respond for a moment, still listening to Dan’s response before turning towards him. 

“He says he’ll do it,” He said, pausing before adding, “And he wants to know why you’re whispering.” 

“I don’t know,” Diego said defensively, sitting upright again and raising his voice a little. “This is always weird for me.”

Klaus sniggered. “What do you want to ask him?” 

“Uh…” He looked at Klaus, then over at the empty space on the cushion, then back to Klaus again. “We need to know about M. How does he… How do you know him?” 

Silence. And then Klaus frowned.

“He says he only met him a couple days before he… You know.” He drew his finger across his throat and made a choking noise. Diego wasn’t sure how that was better than just saying that he’d died, but he stayed quiet and let him continue. “Apparently M introduced himself out of nowhere and kept pestering him about meeting up until he agreed.” 

“So they don’t know each other?” 

“Not really, they just-” Klaus cut himself off, whipping his head around and staring over at the kitchen. 

“You okay?”

It took a moment before Klaus seemed to register the question, nodding without breaking his gaze. “Yeah, yeah. I think I might have pulled a few extra people in here by accident, no biggie.”

Diego frowned, following Klaus’ eyes across the room, even though he knew he wouldn’t be able to see whoever it was he was watching. 

“How many?” He asked and Klaus let out a deep breath, glancing around and counting under his breath. 

“Eight, so far,” He said quietly. “It’s fine, I- shut up - I’ve got it under control. What were we talking about? M. Right.” He turned back to the space in front of him. “What was he like when you met him?” 

He could only assume that Dan was saying something in response, but he was certain Klaus wasn’t paying much attention. His foot was tapping restlessly and his eyes kept darting back and forth around the room, back to the kitchen, through the doorway into the bedroom, just over Diego’s shoulder. It was unsettling to watch. 

Despite how flustered he was getting, Klaus seemed determined to finish his conversation regardless. 

“And he never - zal je stil zijn!? - he didn’t even seem a little - pozhaluysta, zatknites - okay, guys, this isn’t gonna work if you’re all yelling over the top of each other! Christ, I get that your brains are literally rotting, but come on. Okay, I don't even know what language you're speaking in right now.” 

Diego shuffled over, getting as close to Klaus’ candle barrier as he could without risking his shirt catching fire. “You okay?” He asked, frowning when Klaus didn’t so much as acknowledge he had spoken. “Klaus?” 

Taking a deep breath, Klaus squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and stopped talking. The room was silent, save for the low thrum of the traffic drifting through the open window, but Klaus was wincing like he had a headache, and nothing Diego said to try and get his attention seemed to register. 

After a few minutes he opened his eyes again, and his face fell as he reached out in front of him. “Hey,” He said, his eyes wide and his voice raised so loud he was almost shouting. “Hey, hey, wait! Wait, wait, wait, don’t go! We still have to- shit !”

“What’s wrong?” Diego asked him, though at this point he was almost certain Klaus couldn’t hear him. “Klaus, what’s going on?” 

He knew, deep down, that Klaus would probably hear him better if he raised his voice more, but he was also fairly certain that screaming into his brother’s ear would be a bad idea. So instead he was left sitting helplessly, unable to talk to him, unable to touch him for fear of scaring him even further, unable to do anything except watch him. 

“Cale o bico!” Klaus screeched at the bathroom door. “Just… just stop . Please , I can’t… STOP !” 

He screamed the last word, throwing his arms over his face, and in an instant, the room went dark. The windows slammed shut. The candle flames sizzled and hissed into nothing. The string of lights above the couch crackled and died, along with every other night light placed around the room. Diego barely had a chance to process what had happened, when, another second later, the noise started. 

The only time he’d ever experienced a noise like it, he was nine. It was one of the few times their father had agreed to speak to the press after one of their missions, and as soon as he was done speaking they were bombarded by a swarm of reporters, each thrusting a microphone into their faces and asking a million different questions over the top of each other. But even that barely came close to the noise that was suddenly echoing around their apartment. 

It was as if a hundred people were crammed into their sitting room, all shouting at once. He could make out a few distinct voices, a woman shrieking, one that sounded like a child wailing, one that seemed vaguely familiar, shouting both their names, but they all soon blurred together into one indistinguishable din. 

In the darkness, he could just about make out Klaus’ shadow, still hunched over with his face hidden. Diego lunged forward, sending the burnt out candles clattering and rolling across the floor as he went, and threw an arm around him. He pulled him into his chest, feeling some temporary relief when Klaus responded and clung on to him, and used his free hand to reach blindly behind him, feeling for the knife he’d thrown into the back of the couch. 

When his hand finally found the handle, he yanked the knife out and hurled it at the wall where he knew the main light switch was. A woman screamed in his ear, so close he could swear he felt her breath on his neck, and for the first time in his life, he missed his target. 

“I need something to throw!” He yelled in Klaus’ ear, and this time he seemed to hear him, shoving his hand under the couch and fumbling around for a few painful seconds before thrusting something into Diego’s hand. It was small and cool, a lighter, he guessed, and this time, he didn’t miss. Hitting the light switch dead on and turning the ceiling light on. Instantly, the noise stopped, and he slumped back against the couch, breathing heavily. 

His ears were still ringing, but he tried to focus on Klaus, who was still clinging to him with his face buried in his shirt, making soft noises and talking to himself in a muffled voice. 

“It’s too dark,” He whimpered, keeping his eyes squeezed shut. “Please, I… I wanna go home.”

“Klaus, look at me. Hey.” He tilted Klaus’ chin up, and he cracked one eye open, blinking and looking around the room. “You’re home.”

Klaus looked pale, and more than a little disorientated, but he nodded, pushing his hair out of his face. 

“I think... perhaps I won’t do any more séances for a while,” He said quietly. 

He huffed out an almost hysterical laugh, but he was trembling against him. Diego dropped his head back against the couch, taking a few deep breaths.

“W-w-w.” He sighed, closing his eyes and trying to concentrate. “What the hell w- was that?” 

There was a pause before Klaus answered. Diego watched him as he chewed his lip thoughtfully and picked at a thread on the hem of his skirt. 

“I have no idea,” He admitted. “I don’t know, that’s never happened before. I mean, the crowd of dead people is nothing new, but the lights ? And-” He turned to look at the cushion, still perfectly positioned opposite him, then at the window next to them. “The windows too?” He sighed and looked back down at his hands. “Yeah, I don’t know what that was. I told you I’d been feeling weird.” 

“Yeah, no kidding,” Diego mumbled. “What about the noise?” 

Klaus frowned, his brow furrowing in confusion. “What noise?” 

“There is no way you couldn’t hear it, Klaus. That shit almost deafened me.” 

“Well, I couldn’t really hear much of anything over everyone shouting, so-”

“That’s what I’m talking about!” Diego interrupted him. “The shouting! It was like a hundred-”

“A hundred people talking at once,” Klaus said, finishing the sentence for him. 

Diego nodded, and all the colour drained from Klaus’ face. He stared at him, wide eyed, and slowly the realisation set in, making Diego feel sick to his stomach. 

“Oh,” He said quietly and Klaus nodded. 

“Yeah.” Klaus sounded like he’d had all the air punched out of him, and a few seconds passed before he spoke again. “Did you see them?” 

He shook his head, and Klaus seemed relieved at that. “Can you still hear them?” 

“No, it stopped after I-” He cut himself off as Klaus’ words sunk in, shuffling closer to him. “They’re still here? Are they still making that noise?”

“Most of them left when the lights came on.” Klaus looked around the room, tallying them up again. “There’s twelve now." He paused, glancing at the empty space next to him. “Thirteen. They’ve quietened down a bit now. You learn to tune it out after a while.” 

“How does that not drive you crazy?”

Klaus laughed. “Diego, have you seen me? It has driven me crazy.” 

Unable to think of anything to say to that, Diego stayed quiet, and the two of them sat in awkward silence. Finally, after a few minutes passed by, Diego sat up, patting Klaus’ shoulder as he got to his feet. 

“Put your shoes on,” He told him, marching across the room to find his boots.

“Why? Where are we going?”

“For a walk. They can’t all follow you, right?” He said, gesturing vaguely around the room.

Klaus blinked up at him for a moment, like he didn’t know how to respond. 

“Oh,” He said slowly, “Okay, sure. Give me a second.” 

He got to his feet and started rummaging around through his clothes, swapping the skirt out for a pair of floral leggings while Diego got his shoes on. When he turned back around, Klaus had thrown Dave’s jacket on and he chuckled, holding the front door open and following him down the stairs. 

“The man takes you out for the day and you steal his jacket?” He teased, elbowing Klaus’ arm. “I need to teach you some proper dating etiquette.” 

“It wasn’t a date,” Klaus said. “And even if it was, I would never take dating advice from you.” He pulled a cigarette out of his pocket, pausing to light it before he continued. “Besides, I didn’t steal it. He gave it to me and I forgot to give it back. It’s different.” 

“In that case, you can give it back when we see him tomorrow.”

“No way. It’s mine forever now.”

Diego smirked at him, draping his arm around Klaus’ shoulder as they walked. 

“What did you do, anyway? You never told me.”

“Because it’s none of your business,” Klaus retorted. “You never used to tell me what you did on your dates.”

“Thought it wasn’t a date?”

“It wasn’t,” He muttered, smiling despite himself. “He keeps being nice to me. It’s weird.”

“Maybe he’s a serial killer,” Diego suggested, “And soon he’s gonna lure you into his creepy basement, hack you up, and harvest your organs.” 

Klaus seemed to ponder that for a moment before shaking his head. “He doesn’t seem like the creepy basement type. He got upset earlier because he accidentally touched some wet grass.”

“More of a clinical killer, then?”

“Yeah, for sure.” Klaus nodded. “He’d wear latex gloves and slice me up with a scalpel.” 

They both laughed, continuing to amble aimlessly down the street together for a while. A few of the streetlamps flickered as they passed underneath, and in the back of Diego’s mind he wondered if that was simply evidence of the rundown part of town they lived in, or if Klaus was still unknowingly doing… something. Klaus seemed, outwardly at least, unphased by it, and they walked all the way to the docks before he spoke again, sitting on the edge of the wall and swinging his legs out. 

“Can I ask you something?” He asked as Diego sat next to him, leaning back on his hands. 

“Sure.”

“When you heard them all, did you…” He trailed off for a moment. “Did you hear anyone… I don’t know… specific ?” 

Diego frowned at him. “What do you mean?” He asked, but Klaus just shrugged. “Most of it just mixed into one big noise. I couldn’t hear much of anything.”

He didn’t get a response to that, and the pair sat in silence for a few minutes before Diego turned back towards him. 

“Can I ask you something?” 

“Uh huh, yeah.”

“Is it usually that bad?” 

There was a long pause before Klaus responded, looking out at the water and shaking his head. 

“It hasn’t been like that since I was a kid,” He said quietly, flicking a few stray pebbles off the wall as he talked. “Most of the time it just fades into the background… other times not so much.” 

He let out a shaky breath as he extinguished his cigarette on the brick, handing the butt to him and mumbling, “Can you toss that in the trash for me?”

While Diego wordlessly took it and flicked it into the trash can twenty feet behind them, Klaus took another breath and turned towards him. 

“I’m sorry you heard it,” He said, looking at him sadly. “I didn’t do it on purpose. I don’t even know what I did.”

“It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine. This is literally my worst nightmare and- and if I can’t figure out what the hell is happening and how to control it I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” He buried his face in his hands and whined, and the lamps running along the edge of the dock flickered in unison. “I don’t want you to see them too.”

Diego didn’t say anything for a moment, looking out at the water and thinking to himself. They could see the other half of the city from where they were, building blocks and skyscrapers lit up the clouds and cast long, rippling reflections in the water. From a distance, it was quiet, almost peaceful, but he knew their childhood home still stood somewhere behind that wall of buildings, almost empty now since Luther’s moon mission. 

“Do you remember when we were nine?” He asked, looking back over at him. “And I let that raccoon into your bedroom?”

“Yeah.” Klaus nodded. “It scratched me and mom had to quarantine me for three days in case I had rabies.” 

“Right. And when I threw a rock at that hornets nest and it landed on your head? Or the time I broke Luther’s record player and told him it was you? When I dropped that massive spider in your water and you almost drank it?”

“Yeah, you’re a horrible brother, Diego, I get it. What’s your point?” 

“That is my point,” He said. “I’m a horrible brother. So what does it matter if you accidentally use your powers on me a couple of times?”

Klaus frowned at him. “Forcing my awful, insanity inducing powers on you is a little different from you making me eat a bug.” 

“Well, I have also used my powers to throw a lot of knives at you.” 

“Okay, fine,” Klaus mumbled, pausing before adding, “And you’re not a horrible brother. You’re mediocre at worst.” 

“Thanks, man.” 

A few minutes passed in silence and Klaus nudged his arm. “Can we go home now? It’s freezing out here.” 

He nodded and the two of them got to their feet, heading back in the direction they’d come. Klaus seemed more relaxed when they got back to their apartment, kicking his shoes off and curling up on the couch. Expectantly, he looked over at Diego until he came and sat next to him, immediately shuffling over and dropping his head into his lap. Diego rolled his eyes and ruffled his hair, leaning back against the cushions while Klaus shifted and got comfortable. 

“Will you stay here for a little while?” Klaus asked, glancing up at him. “It’s harder to sleep when I’m sober.” 

Remembering the nights when they were kids, and Klaus would creep in through his bedroom door and slip under the duvet next to him, Diego nodded, grabbing the blanket from the back of the couch and draping it over him. 

He must have fallen asleep there, because the next time he opened his eyes it was morning, and his back ached from sitting upright all night. Klaus was already up, pottering around the kitchen in the same clothes he’d fallen asleep in, but with a dusty pink, knitted cardigan thrown over his shoulders, and grey slipper boots on his feet. He waved cheerily when he noticed Diego was awake, all the events of last night either forgotten or pushed to one side for the time being. 

“Oh good! You’re up,” He said with a grin. “I’m making eggs. You want some?” 

“Sure,” Diego grumbled, arching his back until it made a sickening cracking noise that had Klaus grimacing. 

It wasn’t long before Klaus was thrusting a plate of bacon, eggs, and toast in his face, sitting sideways in the armchair opposite him with his legs draped over the arm. They ate in silence, barely looking up at each other until they’d finished. 

“So,” Klaus said, setting his plate down on the coffee table, “What are we doing today?” 

I have to go to work before we can do anything.” He set his own plate down, picking up on Klaus’ visible disappointment. “Klaus, I can’t bring you to the precinct with me. My boss hates you.”

“How can he hate me when he’s never met me?”

“Your reputation precedes you,” Diego said flatly. “If it makes you feel any better, he hates me even more.” 

“Hmm,” Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “Well, he sounds like a prick. I’m glad he hates me.” 

“He is a prick,” He mumbled. “But my point is, you’ll have to wait here until Dave and I have sat through a bunch of briefings and all the boring stuff that you’d hate anyway . Once we get out I’ll call you and we can try and figure out an actual plan.” 

Klaus perked up at that, sitting upright and grinning at him. “In that case, I better start getting dressed.”

“It’s gonna be a good couple of hours before I’m out.”

“What’s your point? You know full well how long it takes me to get ready.” 

Shrugging, Diego left to get himself ready. Not bother with a goodbye when, twenty minutes later, he walked back past Klaus still rummaging through his assortment of clothes. 

Dave was waiting for him at his desk when he got into the precinct, handing him a cup of something that was definitely not coffee.

“What the hell is this?” He asked, eyeing it up cautiously. 

“Orange juice,” Dave told him. “Klaus said you drink too much caffeine.” 

“Well Klaus needs to mind his goddamn business.” 

Ignoring him, Dave forced the cup into his hand and patted him on the shoulder cheerfully. “Drink up, or next time it’ll be a spinach smoothie.” 

“I’ll turn you into a smoothie,” Diego muttered under his breath, sipping the juice and following him into the briefing room. 

It was his least favourite part of every week. Almost an hour of listening to Carmichael droning on about closed cases when all he wanted to do was get out and do something. Usually the only thing that made it bearable was Patch sitting next to him, looking over at him with an equally bored expression on her face any time Carmichael started talking about something particularly tedious. Today, though, she seemed determined to avoid him, marching past him without a word and seating herself between two other women at the front of the room. Dave nudged his arm and gave him a questioning look, but Diego ignored him, leading him silently to the opposite end of the room and sitting as far back as possible. 

“Are you okay?” Dave asked as he sat down and Diego nodded. 

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, it’s just Klaus said Patch was at your apartment yesterday and-”

“Did you two spend your whole date talking about me?”

Dave blushed and looked down at the cup in his hands. “It wasn’t a date,” He said quietly, pausing before looking over at him again. “Wait, did he say it was a date?”

“He said it was an ambiguous rendezvous.” 

“Oh.” Dave seemed to ponder that for a second before smiling to himself. “I like that. He’s really good with words. Have you noticed that?”

“Not really,” Diego mumbled, barely paying attention to him anymore. 

A few minutes passed by before the door swung open again, and Carmichael trudged into the room, looking as withered and miserable as ever. He droned on monotonously for an eternity about an open and shut case a couple of guys had solved, and a few new cases that were divvied up between everyone. Patch managed to bag herself a decent B&E case, and seemed pretty pleased with herself. A few other detectives went up to rope more people into their cases, and finally, finally , they could leave. 

As they started filing out of the room, Diego spotted Carmichael out of the corner of his eye walking over to Patch, taking her by the arm to talk to her as everyone else left. He could see her searching the room until her eyes fell on him, and he slowed down, pulling Dave back with him as they fell behind everyone else. Her eyes only lingered on him for a second before she turned back to Carmichael, but she seemed to relax after she’d spotted them. 

“Detective Patch.” Diego could just make out Carmichael’s smug voice from across the room. “I was just wondering about that homicide case I assigned you last week. I haven’t been able to find any paperwork on it.”

Patch didn’t respond for a moment, glancing back over at the two of them and clearing her throat. “I… handed that case over. To Hargreeves and Katz.” 

He looked at her like she’d just slapped him in the face, slowly turning to face them.

“Hargreeves,” He said, giving him an almost sinister smile. “Can I have a word? In my office.” 

Letting out a deep breath, Diego nodded and followed him through the door, waving off the silent “I’m sorry” Patch mouthed to him. Dave went to follow too, but Carmichael put an arm out to block him from coming into his office. 

“Just him.” 

Reluctantly, Dave left, leaving Carmichael to shut the door and circle around Diego, sitting down at his desk and staring up at him as if waiting for him to offer his own explanation. Instead, Diego just loudly slurped his drink, not stopping until the cup was completely drained. 

“Is everything a joke to you?” Carmichael asked him, his voice low. 

“Only the funny stuff.” 

“Really? And what about my precinct? Is that a joke? Because you seem determined to turn it into one.” 

“I’m just doing my job,” Diego said, folding his arms before adding, “Sir.”

“By taking Detective Patch’s cases? That’s your job now? Was it your job to shred that thieving kid’s case file too?”

“My job is to help people.”

“No, your job is to do what I tell you to do,” Carmichael spat, jabbing a finger at him accusingly. “I gave you one case, and you can’t even stick to that. Is there anything you can do successfully, Hargreeves?” 

Despite every bone in his body screaming at him to snap back, he bit his tongue. 

“The cases are connected,” He told him. “They were killed by the same person.”

“Can you prove that?”

“Not yet, but-”

“What a surprise,” Carmichael snarked. “As usual, you’re just making things up and hoping nobody questions it. Exceptional police work, detective.” 

Diego clenched his jaw, unable to come up with anything that would help argue his case, and hung his head defeatedly. 

“I still have ten days,” He mumbled and Carmichael laughed. 

“Then you’d better get on with it.” 

Nodding, Diego turned and skulked out of the room like a wounded animal, ignoring the curious looks he got from everyone milling around the precinct when he emerged. Patch and Dave were both waiting for him, perched on Dave’s desk and mirroring each other with their arms folded. 

“How was that?” Patch asked when he got to them, reaching a hand out to touch his arm, but then thinking better of it and snatching it back. 

“Oh, great, actually,” Diego said sarcastically. “We had a charming conversation about how much I respect him as a Captain, and how much he respects me as a detective. A real heart to heart. He invited me to Thanksgiving.” 

“Diego-”

“I got fucked right in the ass, Eudora, that’s how it was. What the hell? Why would you wait until now to tell him I took your case?” 

“Well, in my defense, ” She hissed, glancing around the room to check nobody was listening in. “There’s not a lot I can tell Carmichael, or anyone, about what you’re doing most of the time, considering you break about fifty laws every damn day. And even if I had told him when you weren’t around, do you really think he wouldn’t have waited it out and grilled your ass anyway?” She huffed in frustration and leant back on her hands, looking back up at him with a softer expression. “I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t know what to do.” 

She looked genuinely upset, and Diego suddenly regretted dragging her into another one of his messes. Though, deep down, he knew she’d have found a way to get herself involved regardless of what he did. 

“It’s fine,” He said quietly, avoiding her eyes. “It’s not your fault.”

“He gives me the creeps,” Patch muttered and Diego glanced back over his shoulder at Carmichael, who was still watching them through the shutters in his office. 

“Did you know he’s cheating on his wife?” Dave piped up, chuckling when they both looked over at him. 

“I didn’t even know he was married,” Diego admitted. 

“He never wears a ring,” Patch added.

“Yeah, because he’s cheating on his wife,” Dave said, with an air of certainty to his voice. “On my first day here I saw her dropping him off at work. I guess since she was right there he felt obliged to introduce her. Then on my second day I walked in on him and one of the clerks in the store room.” 

Diego and Patch both blinked at him and he shrugged. “That’s why he never wants to talk to me.” 

“Told you he was a creep,” Patch said, shaking her head to herself. “He tried asking me out to dinner once. It was gross.”

“What?” Diego looked over at her and she cringed. “You never told me that.”

“It was… when we were dating.”

What ?”

“I knew you’d do something stupid if I told you. Like, stab him in the eyeballs or something.”

“There are worse places I could stab him,” Diego muttered and she threw her hands up. 

“My point !”

“Yeah, I think she made the right call there,” Dave said in her defense. 

“Whatever,” Diego said, turning to Dave. “We really need to get somewhere with this case today, come on.”

Nodding, Dave hopped off his desk and followed him out through the door to his car. It was a relief to be away from Carmichael’s piercing stare, and for a moment they just sat in silence and soaked it up. Eventually, though, Dave turned towards him, reluctantly asking the question they were both avoiding. 

“So, uh… what exactly is our plan today?” 

“I have no idea,” Diego admitted, shaking his head. “I need to call Klaus and see where he’s at.” 

Dave nodded and Diego pulled his phone out, dialing Klaus’ number and sitting back in his seat. To his surprise, Klaus picked up almost immediately. 

“Diego, hey!” Klaus said. 

He sounded out of breath and Diego frowned. “Are you running?”

“No,” He panted. “Just walking fast! Are you still at the station? I’m headed there now.”

“I thought I told you to wait until I called you?”

“Yeah. Yeah, yeah, you did, but I got impatient,” He said. “I uh… I called that number again and… Christ, hang on a second.” There was a long pause while Klaus caught his breath before he continued. “Wow… I need to start exercising more. She answered, Diego. I told her M gave me the number and she said to meet her at her apartment tonight. I got the address and everything right here, just give me ten minutes and I can-”

“Klaus, we’ll come to you.”

“Oh thank god,” Klaus breathed. “Thank you.” 

“Where are you?” 

“Just at the end of our street.”

Diego shook his head. “We’ll be there in a couple of minutes. Stay where you are.”

“Don’t worry, you can’t miss me!”

He decided not to question what that meant, hanging up and starting the car. 

“Is he okay?” Dave asked as they headed down the road, relaxing a little when Diego nodded. 

He explained what Klaus had told him as they drove, and when he turned the corner onto their street, he saw what Klaus had meant about being hard to miss. He’d changed back into his black jeans, along with a bright yellow sweater that hung halfway down his thighs, and he waved at them when he spotted the car. 

“Hi!” He said, still a little out of breath as he clambered into the backseat. “That was fast. I hope you weren’t speeding , officer.”

“That doesn’t matter, where’s the- Are you wearing lipstick?” 

“Lip stain, actually,” Klaus corrected as he touched his lips, which were now stained a deep black. “I’m experimenting. Do you like it?” 

“Yeah, it looks good.” 

Dave nodded in agreement and Klaus wiggled happily in his seat, holding his hands up and flashing his bright orange, freshly painted nails. 

“I also did my nails,” He said eagerly and Diego rolled his eyes.

“Now you’re just fishing for compliments.”

“And?”

“They look nice,” Dave told him, resting his chin on the back of his seat and smiling at him. 

“The choker is new too.”

Klaus ,” Diego said impatiently, pulling Klaus’ focus back. “The phone call?” 

“Oh, right, yeah!” Klaus nodded and pulled a crumpled scrap of paper from his back pocket. “Basically, I asked if we’d be able to meet her. Didn’t mention the murders, obviously. And she agreed and gave me this address to meet her tonight. After eleven, she said.”

He handed the paper to Diego, who looked down at the smudged address Klaus had scribbled on it. 

“This is great, Klaus,” He said quietly. “Really great.”

Klaus grinned proudly, folding his arms on the back of Diego’s seat and looking over his shoulder at the paper. “She sounded really nervous on the phone.”

“M did say he thought she was in trouble,” Dave reminded them. “You think it has to do with the murders?” 

“I don’t know,” Diego sighed, folding the paper up and shoving it in his pocket. “Every time it feels like we’re on the right track we get turned back around again. I’ve given up on getting my hopes up.” 

Dave nodded and slumped back in his seat. “What the hell are we supposed to do for the next twelve hours?” 

“Ooh,” Klaus mused. “We could all get matching tattoos!”

“Okay!”

“Absolutely not,” Diego said firmly. 

“Well I’m out of ideas then,” Klaus huffed. 

They sat in silence for a few minutes as they all tried to come up with an idea, and it was Dave who finally spoke again. 

“I’m still unpacking in my apartment,” He said, glancing over at them. “I have a bunch of flat packs that still need assembling, if you guys wanna help with that?” 

Klaus looked eagerly over at Diego, who just shrugged and started the car again. 

“Okay, I guess that works until we think of something better.” 

Dave’s apartment wasn’t what he expected, though, he wasn’t entirely sure what he had expected. It was small, and clean, with wooden floors and white walls, and potted plants set on almost every available surface. The far wall opposite the kitchen was half covered with green and blue leafed wallpaper, with the rest of the roll and the glue still left on the floor ready to finish the job at some point. Every corner of the room was filled with packing boxes, some still sealed, others open and surrounded by stacks of books, wall art, pots, pans, crockery, all ready to be given a home. Diego got the impression, looking around the place, that Dave had started on about twenty different jobs at once, but not yet finished any of them, and it reminded him a little of Klaus and all his unfinished projects that cluttered up their front room.

Klaus made himself at home right away, kicking his shoes off at the door and padding across the room. He crouched down in front of a wooden cabinet that came halfway up the wall, with mesh across the doors and platforms running along the inside. 

Oh ,” He squeaked, leaning so close his face was almost pressed against the mesh. “What are you?”

“They’re chinchillas.” Dave walked over and sat cross legged on the floor next to Klaus, cracking one of the doors open while Diego followed curiously. “That one’s Fusilli. She’s a little shy,” He said, pointing to a creamy-beige mound of fur sat in one corner of the cage. “But Noodle loves people.” 

He pulled the round, dark grey Chinchilla out and plonked her into Klaus’ hands, who stared at her with wide eyes like Dave had just presented him with a box of treasure. 

“I love you too, Noodle,” He whispered. “You feel like a cloud.”

They all sat and watched the chinchilla wriggling and crawling around in Klaus’ arms for a while before Dave finally sat upright again. 

“Anyway! I really need to put this closet together. Right now I’m living out of a suitcase.” 

Reluctantly, Klaus set Noodle back down in her cage, sighing wistfully as they followed Dave through to his bedroom. 

“Diego, can we get a chinchilla?” 

“No.”

“But-”

No .” 

The bedroom was a little more put together, with a bed against one wall beneath the windows, a desk in the corner, and a deep blue and yellow rug laid out across the floor. A few pictures had been hung on the wall, and there were yet more plants balanced on top of suitcases and boxes. Several colourful suitcases with clothes spilling out from them lay on the floor by the far wall, and next to them were what looked like the makings of a closet, with wooden panels strewn out across the floor. 

Between the three of them they managed to put together the closet, a set of drawers, a coffee table, and two dining chairs. Dave had enough leftovers in his fridge to keep them going, and before they knew it, it was dark outside. 

“This is nice,” Dave said as he cleared the plates from the cardboard box they’d been using as a makeshift table. “I don’t think I’ve ever had guests before. You guys should come over more often.” 

“Pretty sure he’s ready to move in.” Diego pointed over to Klaus, who had made his way back over to the chinchilla enclosure across the room. “What time is it?”

Dave looked at his watch. “Almost ten.” 

“I think we should go early,” He said, already getting to his feet. “Scope the place out.”

Nodding in agreement, Dave dumped the dishes unceremoniously in the sink and went to grab his jacket. He frowned when Klaus stood up, looking back and forth between the two of them. 

“Should… you be coming?” He asked hesitantly. 

Klaus looked wounded, folding his arms indignantly, and Dave started hurriedly trying to explain himself. 

“It could be dangerous, is what I mean. I don’t… you could get hurt.”

“Dave, I was raised to be a killing machine,” Klaus reminded him and Dave gave a resounding sigh, nodding and following them through the door. 

Despite his confident words inside, Klaus looked a little uncertain as he bundled himself into the back of the car. 

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to go early?” He asked, leaning over Diego’s shoulder as he started the car. “I told you she sounded nervous. We might freak her out.” 

“It’ll be fine,” Diego insisted. “Put your seatbelt on.” 

Shrugging, Klaus slumped back in his seat and they pulled out of the drive. 

The address brought them to an apartment block in the centre of the city that seemed to rise up into the clouds, with tall windows and sleek glass balconies. It was the kind of place Diego usually went out of his way to avoid, because the people that went in and out would sneer and turn their noses up at him if they saw him. 

“You sure this is the right place?” He asked, glancing back at Klaus. 

“This is what she told me.”

Reluctantly, Diego got out of the car, closely followed by Dave and Klaus, and stared at the array of numbered buzzers on the wall outside the door. 

“Flat 264,” Klaus said from behind him, reaching over and pressing the button for him. 

The bell droned on for an eternity before finally falling silent again with no response, and they all exchanged a look. Sighing, Klaus pushed Diego to the side and walked up to the door. 

“You want me to pick the lock?” 

“A minute ago you said you didn’t want to freak her out, and now you’re suggesting we break in?”

“Yeah, well, you’re gonna break in either way, right?” Klaus asked, taking Diego’s drawn out silence as confirmation. “Right. And you take forever to pick locks, so I may as well do it.” 

Diego didn’t have a decent argument, so he left him to get on with it, and within less than a minute Klaus was pushing the door open and beckoning them inside. They walked up four flights of stairs before giving up and taking the elevator the rest of the way. When they made it to 264, Diego knocked on the door, but with no response again, Klaus opened it. The lights were off, but the city lights illuminated the room enough to look around.

The apartment was vast, and empty, with expanses of space and just a few pieces of clean cut furniture. Windows spanned the entirety of one wall with views that looked out onto the whole city, and glass wall dividers cut across the room, reflecting their shadows and making Diego flinch every time he moved. 

“Doesn’t look like anybody’s home,” Dave whispered into his ear. “Maybe we should wait outside?” 

He nodded, but as he moved to turn around, a clattering noise came from inside and he whipped his head back around, staring fixedly at an open doorway on the far side of the room. It was hard to make out in the dark, but it looked like it lead into a bedroom. 

“Come on,” He ordered, leading the two of them through the door. 

The three of them crept slowly in unison around the edge of the room. Every step they took seemed to echo against the walls, and every movement had their reflections dancing in the windows and the glass around the room. Instinctively, Diego pulled a knife out from under his jacket, flipping it in his hand and gripping it tightly. 

When they reached the kitchen, he stopped. He had a better view of the bedroom door from where they stood, and could make out a wide bed in the centre of the room, but no sign of movement. 

“Can you see anyone?” Klaus asked him, his voice hushed. 

He was stood back against the kitchen counters next to Dave when Diego turned to face him, his sweater practically glowing even in the darkness of the room. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he sighed and shook his head. 

“We’re not gonna find anything in here with you lighting up the room,” He hissed. “You look like a fucking glowstick.”

“Oh, well forgive me for not dressing for the occasion, Diego, but I wasn’t aware we were going to be breaking and entering today!” Klaus exclaimed, at full volume, immediately throwing his hand over his mouth and staring at him with wide eyes. 

Time seemed to stand still for a second, and the three of them stood still as statues, waiting for something to happen. But nothing did. Seconds turned to minutes, and finally Diego let out the breath he hadn’t realised he was holding. 

“Klaus, I swear to God. One of these days you’re gonna get us-”

DIEGO!

In a second, Klaus and Dave ducked down against the cabinets, and Diego felt himself being yanked to the floor behind the kitchen island just as a knife flew over their heads, piercing the wall. 

“-Killed,” He finished, slumping back against the island. 

Neither of them responded, staring at him with wide eyes. No. Not at him. He followed their eyes to the space next to him, just in time to see something glowing blue, that faded into nothing as soon as he focused on it. 

“How did you do that?” Klaus asked, his eyes still fixed on the space where the glow had been. There was a pause, and he looked down at his palms, his eyebrows knitted together. 

There was another noise behind them, and Diego heard footsteps bolting towards the front door. Without so much as a second thought, he leapt to his feet, just in time to see a figure disappearing through the doorway. Cursing, he ran after them, not bothering to wait for Klaus and Dave, who were still huddled on the floor in shock. 

They were already at the bottom of the first flight of stairs when he got out, and managed to stay ahead of him for another five floors. When he reached the sixth, he heard the elevator bell ringing, and the sound of the doors sliding. He knew, before he even turned around, that there was no way he’d to it in time, but he could throw something. 

He spun around, fingers wrapped around his knife and poised to hurl it in between the elevator doors, but he stopped. A girl stared back at him through the closing gap, pressed back against the far wall of the elevator and panting heavily. She was young, maybe even still a teenager. Her hair was blonde and shaved, and he could see the edges of the wing tattoos at the top of her shoulders. She stared at him with wide, terrified eyes, and then disappeared behind the closed doors. 

“Diego!” Klaus ran up behind him, grabbing his arm and clinging to it. “Are you okay? Where’d she go? It was her, did you see her? She-”

“She’s a kid,” He said quietly. “They didn’t s-s-s.. they didn’t say she was a kid , Klaus. Did they?” 

Klaus shook his head, squeezing his arm and asking in a softer voice, “Where is she?”

“She got in the elevator, there’s no way we’ll catch up to her.” He hung his head and let out a deep breath. “She’s gone.”

“She killed two people.”

“I know.”

“We need to find her.”

“I know ,” He said, looking back up at him. “Where’s Dave?”

“He’s coming,” Klaus assured him. “I left him behind a bit. You were chasing a murderer and I guess some adrenaline kicked in.” He chuckled. “I don’t think I’ve ever moved that fast in my life .” 

As if on cue, Dave appeared at the bottom of the stairs. 

“Oh, thank god,” He said, breathing heavily. “For a second I thought I’d have to run all the way to the bottom. What happened?” 

“She got away,” Klaus told him. 

“Shit.” 

They all stood silently for a moment, getting their breath back and processing everything that had happened. Finally, cleared his throat, pausing to try and get his thoughts in order before he spoke. 

“We need to talk to M again,” He said. “Feel like he owes us some kind of explanation. Considering his best friend just tried to kill us.” 

Dave nodded, looking a little shell shocked, and Diego sighed. 

“We can pick it up tomorrow. You want a lift home?” 

“Oh, sure, yeah. Thanks.”

“Are you okay?” 

It seemed to take Dave a few seconds to register what he was talking about, and he grinned at him. “Yeah! I’m fine. It’s not my first firefight,” He chuckled. “It’s just…” He glanced over at Klaus and shook his head. “Nothing.”

The three of them made their way out, and the drive back to Dave’s was silent. Both Dave and Klaus looked a little pale, like they’d just seen a ghost. Which, in Klaus’ case, was pretty normal. For Dave, not so much. Still, Diego decided not to push the subject, staying quiet as they drove. 

Dave said a brief goodbye when they got to his apartment, and the drive back home was equally silent. It wasn’t until they got inside that Klaus finally spoke. 

“Are you okay?” He asked, watching Diego intently as he paced across the room and sat down. 

“Me? Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Okay. Just… seemed like you were kinda freaking out back there.” Klaus said, slumping onto the couch next to him. “It’s fine if you were. Kids murdering people would freak a lot of people out.”

“You seem remarkably calm about it.” 

Klaus shrugged. “It’s different. I know the world is a nightmare, but you still think it’s this perfect little place where everything works like it should. Good guys are good guys, and bad guys are bad guys. That way, doing the right thing is easy. You just stick with the good guys and put away the bad guys.” He sighed, leaning his head on Diego’s shoulder and closing his eyes. “Except sometimes, the good guys aren’t so good. And sometimes the bad guys are just kids.”

Chapter Text

Klaus talked to himself through most of the night. Through his bedroom door, Diego could hear him mumbling quietly, his tone a lot more serious than usual. At one point he went to check on him, and found him sitting on a pillow on the floor holding his hands out like he was trying to grab at something that wasn’t there. He insisted he was fine, saying he was just “experimenting with something”, and Diego had too much else on his mind to think anything else of it. So he left him to it, pulling the duvet up over his head to block out Klaus’ voice. 

It made no difference either way. Even without Klaus’ incessant talking, his brain was too busy for sleep. Every time he closed his eyes he saw the girl’s face again, staring back at him with wide, terrified eyes. And he wondered if that was how he used to look, when he was sixteen and backed into a corner by men twice his age. They wouldn’t have known, of course. The mask would have hidden it. Maybe that was why their dad insisted they wear them. They would have been a lot less intimidating if everyone could see their eyes. 

As 3am rolled around, he gave up on sleeping, throwing his mask and radio into a bag and marching out into the front room. 

“Where are you going?” Klaus asked, still sat cross legged on the floor and watching him as he tugged his boots on. 

“Out,” He mumbled. 

Klaus opened his mouth to argue with him, but Diego grabbed his jacket and raced out the door before he could get another word in. 

The wind had picked up outside, blowing leaves and discarded plastic bags across the sidewalk, and he shoved his hands in his pockets as he walked to the car. He drove back into the centre of the city, close to the apartment block they’d been to earlier in the evening. Calls came through on his radio. Loitering. Graffiti. Noise complaints from a disgruntled neighbour. Armed robber at a convenience store? Okay, yeah. That’d do. 

Speeding down the road, he pulled up at the end of the street and snapped his domino mask on over his eyes. From the outside, the store looked normal. A neon sign flickered overhead, and through the window the shelves looked undisturbed. As he got closer he could hear the faint sound of a radio playing, and hushed voices talking, and through the glass in the door he was finally able to get a view of what was happening. Two men were crouched down behind the counter, holding on to each other. One of them older, with white hair and round glasses, the other younger with dark hair and a patchy beard. Father and son, he guessed, staying hidden behind the wall as he watched. On the other side of the counter, one masked figure stood holding a gun at the two men, while another attempted to pry open the register with a screwdriver. He didn’t want to burst in through the front door while there was a gun pointed at civilians, so he circled around, finding an open window that lead into what looked like a store room. 

He managed to slip inside, and immediately found himself face to face with a girl, holding a crowbar over her head with shaking hands. She had the same face as the two men cowering behind the counter in the front of the store, but her hair was dusty blonde in contrast to her brother, tied in a braid that fell over one of her shoulders. 

“What do you want?” She demanded, her voice cracking as she whispered, “I… I-I’ve called the cops. They’re on their way.”

“I am the cops.”

“You don’t look like-”

“Do you wanna see my badge?” He asked, pointing through the crack in the door behind them where one of the masked robbers was just visible. “Or do you want me to do something about this ?”  

The girl’s bottom lip started to quiver and she nodded, slowly lowering the crowbar she was holding and taking a shaky breath. 

“What’s your name?” He asked as he took the crowbar out of her hands. 

“Summer.” 

“Okay, Summer, I need you to be real quiet. Can you do that?” She nodded and he continued. “Is there a fuse box back here?” 

She nodded again, pointing to the far corner of the room. There were a few stacks of delivery boxes by the back wall and he lead her over to them. 

“I’m gonna kill the lights,” He told her, taking her shoulders and guiding her to crouch behind the boxes. “Stay here. Whatever happens, do not move until I tell you to come out. Got it?”

Summer did as she was told, hiding herself away and staying quiet while he flipped the switches and shut the lights off. 

There was silence for a moment, then muttering in the next room as the two men argued over who should check the fuses. Diego’s eyes adjusted almost instantly to the dark, and he could see one of the men feeling his way blindly through the doorway. The man cursed as he stumbled over mops and buckets, seemingly none the wiser to Diego stood just a few feet in front of him. He waited until the man was within touching distance before smacking him around the head with the crowbar and knocking him out cold, lurching forward to grab him before he crashed to the floor. Laying him down quietly on the ground, he unloaded the gun clutched in his hand and tossed the magazine through the window before crossing the room to the door. 

The store floor was dimly lit by the streetlamps outside, and every so often a car would speed past the windows, briefly lighting up the room. Creeping across the floor, he pressed himself up against one of the shelves and held his breath, staying completely silent to listen to the footsteps of the second man as he paced back and forth. The steps got closer and closer, until they were right behind him, and Diego swung his arm around the corner and plunged his knife into the other man’s shoulder. There was a hideous scream. The man’s gun clattered to the floor and Diego kicked it across the floor, ducking just in time to avoid the fist flying at his face. 

The man wrenched the knife out of his shoulder, hissing at the pain before slashing wildly at him. The blade caught Diego’s arm, slicing through his bicep and sending him stumbling back a few steps. He could feel the blood soaking through his sleeve, but he blocked out the pain and whipped another knife out from his holster, flinging it into the man’s leg. He dropped onto his knees and Diego surged forward again, smashing his knee into his face and, ignoring the sickening crunch as he broke his nose, immediately kicking him in the chest and leaving him flat on his back. 

He stood over him for a moment, not heading over to the men behind the counter until he was satisfied that he wasn’t getting up again. They both stared at him, wide eyed, as he approached and crouched down in front of them. 

“Are either of you hurt?” 

He was met with silence and he sighed, getting back to his feet. “Your daughter’s hiding in the store room,” He said, looking at the older of the two of them. 

They still didn’t say anything, but they stood up, following him through the door. While the three of them huddled together, Diego flicked the fuses back on, grabbing a handful of zip ties and dragging the unconscious man out into the store. He tied the two of them together and propped them up outside the front door as the sound of police sirens drew closer. For a moment he wondered if it might be Patch approaching, but he quickly pushed that thought out of his mind. Shaking his head, he headed back up the street to his car, passing the speeding police car as he drove home. 

Klaus was still up when he got in, having apparently given up on whatever he’d been trying to do earlier. He’d moved over to their dining table, picking at a bowl of dry cereal with one hand and leafing through a magazine with the other. 

“You save the world?” He asked, not looking up from the page he was reading as he reached behind him to lightly bump Diego’s stomach with his fist. 

Diego ignored him. Hanging his jacket up and peeling his sweater off, he examined the gash in his arm. It was deep. Much deeper than he’d first realised. It was still bleeding, and as he twisted his arm to get a better look, the pain finally set in. Starting as a dull ache and quickly building to a burning pain that shot through his whole arm and made him feel dizzy. 

“That doesn’t look good,” Klaus said, looking over at him and frowning. 

“It’s fine,” Diego muttered through gritted teeth. “I just need to clean it.”

He took a step towards the kitchen counter but had to stop again, reaching out and holding on to the metal chair next to him to steady himself. Klaus pushed his bowl away and stood up, looping an arm around him and guiding him into the chair. He pulled his chair up next to him and inspected the wound, and Diego balled his hand up into a fist as each careful touch sent a fresh wave of pain through his arm. 

“It needs stitches,” He said quietly, hopping back to his feet and pottering across the room. 

The pain subsided for a moment, replaced by a feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach, and Diego shook his head frantically. “Th-th-there is no way in hell I am letting you come anywhere near me with a needle.”

“Don’t be a baby.” 

A child-like whimper escaped his lips and Klaus sighed, turning back towards him with a slightly more sympathetic look. 

“It’s not gonna stop bleeding if I don’t stitch it, Diego,” He told him, sitting back down with a sewing kit clutched in his hand. “You can’t bleed out in the middle of the kitchen. How am I gonna explain that to our landlord? I’d never get the deposit back.” He pressed a flannel down on his arm. “Hold that down.”

Diego did as he was told, watching him as he selected what he was sure must have been the biggest needle he could possibly find and held it over the flame of his lighter for a moment. 

“Do you even know what you’re doing?” He asked nervously while Klaus threaded the needle. 

“Uh huh. Mom showed me how to do it years ago for when we were on missions. I’ve only ever done it once for real before, but Ben was fine after.” He paused, looking over at the empty metal chair positioned by the fridge and hissing. “Shut up, you were fine . I’m not gonna forget to clean it this time.” 

Frowning, Diego shifted in his seat, and Klaus got up to go to the sink. 

“Are you ready for a world of pain, my darling brother?” He asked as he mixed some salt and water together in a bowl, and Diego winced. 

“You know, the humane thing would be to sedate me.”

Klaus paused, standing up on tiptoes to see the top of the fridge. “There’s a bottle of whiskey up here.”

“Yeah that’ll do.” 

He caught the bottle Klaus tossed to him, unscrewing the cap and taking a swig. It burned the back of his throat, and he tried to focus on that rather than the torment Klaus was about to inflict on him. Sitting back down at the table, Klaus took the flannel out of his hand and soaked it in the water.

“I cannot stress enough how painful this is gonna be for you,” He said calmly as he wrung the cloth out and shuffled closer to him. 

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were enjoying this.”

“How could you even think that?” Klaus asked in an overly dramatic tone, holding his hand over his heart and feigning offense. He stayed quiet for a moment as he rolled the sleeve of Diego’s t-shirt up further, glancing back up at him and quietly saying, “That being said, I guess you could think of this as payback.” 

“Payback for what?”

Klaus shrugged. “The raccoon, the hornets, that thing with the battery. I could go on. I think you’re getting off pretty lightly.” 

Before Diego could say anything in response, Klaus was pressing the flannel onto his wound and he gritted his teeth. Despite his words, he could tell Klaus was making an effort to be as gentle as possible. It still burned like he was pressing a red hot poker into his flesh, and when Klaus wordlessly offered his free hand out for him to hold on to, he took it, squeezing it with as much strength as he could muster. 

“How you holding up, tough guy?”

“When this is over, I’m gonna kill you.” 

“Great! Well, I’m about to stitch it, so you might wanna avert your gaze for a couple minutes. I don’t want you passing out on me.” 

Shuddering, Diego looked over at the far window, watching the clouds passing in front of the moon outside and trying not to think about the pointy thing Klaus was about to stick in his skin. Despite his best efforts, he still yanked his arm away instinctively the second he felt Klaus touch him, and Klaus let out a frustrated sigh. 

“If you move , it’s gonna hurt more.”

“I know,” Diego muttered, letting Klaus take his arm back. “I’m not doing it on purpose.”

“Just think happy thoughts,” Klaus said, and Diego tried to ignore the pinch that must have been the needle going into his skin. “Think about… I don’t know. What makes you happy? Knives?” He paused for a moment. “Patch! Think about Patch.” 

“I don’t wanna think about Patch,” He mumbled.

“Lovesick, huh?”

“I am not lovesick . We’re friends.”

Klaus hummed thoughtfully. “Do you think maybe the breakdown in your relationship with her stems from your inability to be emotionally vulnerable, or to even admit that you have feelings about anything?”

Out of the corner of his eye he could see Klaus looking up at him questioningly and he scowled. “Stop trying to do therapy on me.” 

“Fine. I’m finished anyway.” 

“Really?” Diego looked down at the stitching on his arm. “That was fast.” 

“You’re welcome,” Klaus said, sitting back in his chair and looking him up and down. “I trust you already beat the shit out of whoever did that to you.” 

Diego nodded. “Broke his nose.” 

The two of them sat in silence, staring down at the table in front of them for a few minutes before Klaus spoke again. 

“I know I’m the last person that should be lecturing you on your unhealthy habits and self destructive tendencies,” He said, ignoring the cold look Diego gave him. “But have you ever thought about, I don’t know, taking up boxing or something?” He didn’t get a response, so he continued. “Or you could just go cold turkey, like me.”

“Don’t compare our things,” Diego muttered. “They’re not the same.”

“Sure they are.”

Diego glowered at him. “I do this to help people. I go out there,” He pointed a finger at the door to emphasise his point, “And I save people’s lives .”

“There’s lots of ways to save people’s lives. You don’t have to fight people to do it.”

“No, but that’s what I’m good at.”

“And you enjoy it.” 

“That’s not-” He cut himself off, clenching his jaw. “It’s still not the same.”

Klaus grinned at him. “First sign is denial.” 

“Stop it.” 

“Fine.” He shrugged, pausing before asking, “Are you okay? Besides the arm?” 

He nodded and Klaus leant forward, folding his arms on the table and nestling his chin on top of them. “What happened?” 

Diego described the whole thing to him, embellishing a few details to make the whole thing sound more exciting, the same way he always did when they were teenagers. Klaus stopped coming on missions with them when they were fifteen. Without his powers and with all the drugs, he was more of a hindrance than anything else, and their dad started insisting they leave him behind. He didn’t seem particularly heartbroken about it, but he still liked to hear about the missions afterwards. At first, they used to all sit together and describe everything, but one by one the others stopped and it ended up just the two of them, the same way everything always ended up. With Diego describing everything that happened while Klaus laid next to him and stared blankly up at the ceiling. He never looked like he was listening, but if he stopped talking, Klaus would nudge his arm and prompt him to continue. Though Diego was never sure if he really cared about what he was saying, or if he just liked having someone to talk to.

“I wonder what these people think when you show up,” Klaus mused, rubbing his eyes sleepily. “I mean, one minute your family is being held at gunpoint, and the next a low budget Daredevil is doing flips around the room. That’s gotta be weird.”

“I’m not a low budget Daredevil.”

“Oh, my mistake. I just assumed you got that mask from the dollar store,” He said, sniggering when Diego pulled a face at him.

“I’m going to bed,” He muttered. 

“Okay,” Klaus said, stifling a laugh. “Sweet dreams, Batman.”

“Go to hell.” 

Sleep still wasn’t coming easily. The cacophony of thoughts in his head replaced by the throbbing ache in his arm that flared every time he moved. Still, he must have passed out eventually, because the next thing he knew daylight was streaming into the room, and Klaus was hammering frantically on his door. 

“Diego?” He threw the door open and strode in. “Are you awake?”

“I am now , you prick.”

“Oh. Sorry.” 

Klaus hung his head ashamedly and Diego rolled his eyes, having to coax him to get back on topic. 

“What do you want, Klaus?” 

“Oh, right! M called,” He said, holding up the phone in his hand. “He wants to talk to you.” 

“Oh, good.” Diego sat upright and held his hand out. “‘Cause I’ve got a few things I wanna say to him.”

With a whole list of questions ready to fire off, he snatched the phone out of Klaus’ hand. On the other end of the line, it sounded like M was hyperventilating, and the fire left him again for a moment. 

“M?”

There was a pause before he got an answer. “Diego?” His voice was hushed, like he was scared of being overheard. “Is that you?”

“Yeah, where are you?” 

“Uh… at home.” He paused again. “Did you find Lara?” 

“Who?” 

“My friend? The number I gave you. You said you’d find her.”

“Oh.” Diego sat forward as images from the night before flashed in front of his eyes again. “Yeah, we found her, and she tried to kill us. So do you wanna explain to me what the fuck is going on?”

He was met with silence and he frowned. “M?”

“Yeah, yeah I’m here,” He said, a little frantically. “Um...  Shit , okay.”

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing. Nothing, I’m fine. I’m having a panic attack but it’s fine. It’s fine. My best friend is a killer now, apparently. I’m pretty sure someone’s trying to kill me, which is great. I still haven’t done my math homework, and that’s due, like, today. My mom doesn’t know I’m skipping school again and she still hasn’t left for work so I’m for sure gonna get caught and she’s gonna be pissed and-”

“M, slow down,” Diego interrupted, and on the other end of the line he heard him taking a few deep breaths. “What do you mean someone’s trying to kill you?” 

“Uh, yeah. That’s why I called, actually.” There was a pause. “Look I can’t really talk about it here. Can I... is it okay if I come over?” 

Diego thought it over for a second. Next to him, Klaus sat on the bed, leaning over to whisper to him. 

“What’s he saying?” 

“He wants to come over.”

“We can’t just invite random teenagers into our apartment, Diego,” Klaus said, sitting up and folding his arms. “What if one of the neighbours sees? What will Adelaide think?” 

“Adelaide thinks we’re dating ,” Diego pointed out. “I think we’re past worrying what she thinks.” 

“Fine. But if she thinks we’re grooming kids and stops bringing us brownies, that’s on you.” 

Shaking his head, Diego turned his attention back to M. “Okay, fine, you can come here,” He said, against his better judgement. 

He gave M their address and waited for him to hang up before handing the phone back to Klaus, who still looked deep in thought about their neighbour. 

“You know, she asked me the other day if I was planning on proposing to you,” He said, smirking at him. 

“You? Out of the two of us?” 

“I know, right?” Klaus sniggered. “It’s nice that she doesn’t make assumptions though.” He leant his head on Diego’s shoulder and grinned up at him. “Right, dear?”

“Gross. Why do you keep encouraging her?”

“Me? You’re the one that keeps saying we shouldn’t tell her.”

He folded his arms defensively and shrugged. “I just think it’d be more awkward now if we did tell her. We’ve been going along with it for three years. She’s gonna think we’re a pair of complete weirdos if she finds out.”

“We are a pair of complete weirdos, Diego,” Klaus pointed out, chewing on his lip for a moment before he spoke again. “So, is M coming?”

Diego nodded and he hummed thoughtfully. “Should we call Dave?”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea,” He said, frowning when Klaus looked at him expectantly. “What are you looking at me for? You’ve got his number, right? Now that you’re… What even are you doing? Courting?” 

“Courting?” Klaus snorted. “Are you ninety?”

“Do you have his number or not?”

“Obviously I have his number,” He mumbled. “But not because we’re courting .” 

Diego rolled his eyes and got up to get dressed while Klaus made the phone call. 

Twenty minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Diego was expecting M to arrive first, but when he opened the door it was Dave who stepped past him, panting heavily and immediately slumping into a chair. 

“Did you run here?” Diego asked and Dave shook his head. 

“No. Obviously not, that would be insane,” He said between breaths. “I ran to my car , then I drove here, then I ran up the stairs.”

“Right… Why?”

“Klaus said to get here as fast as I could,” He explained. “I thought it was an emergency.” 

Before Diego could respond, Klaus emerged from the bathroom, having changed into a pair of ripped burgundy jeans and an oversized black t-shirt that hung off one shoulder. 

“Wow,” He said when he saw Dave sat at the table. “You’re early.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“Dave, do not ever apologise for being in my house.”

Without another word, he turned on his heel and paced across the room, sitting cross legged on a cushion on the floor and smudging an eye pencil along his waterline. 

“Anyway,” Diego said, turning back to Dave and sitting in the chair opposite him. “M called.”

Dave was still staring across the room at Klaus, and Diego had to snap his finger in his face to get his attention. 

“Hm? What?”

“M called,” He repeated. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it sounds like he’s in trouble. He’s coming here.”

“Oh.” Dave looked a little taken aback by that, blinking in surprise at him. “You just… invited the drug dealing teenager who happens to be best friends with a murderer to your apartment?”

“I’ve had worse people in my apartment thanks to Klaus and his one night stands.” He paused, glancing over at him. “No offense.”

“No, it’s true,” Klaus agreed, not looking up from the mirror he was holding. “Pretty sure most of them are either dead or in prison now.” 

Dave didn’t look like he was paying much attention to their conversation, resting his chin on his hand and looking Diego up and down.

“What happened to you?” He asked, looking down at the stitches on his arm. They were just visible past the sleeve of his t-shirt, but the bruising that had developed overnight spread further across his bicep, looking a lot more grisly in the light of day. “Did she… is that from last night?” 

“It’s nothing,” Diego mumbled.

“It looks painful.”

“It’s fine.”

The ache in his arm wasn’t as intense anymore, but it was still hard to ignore, especially with all his attention focused on it. 

“Does Mr Vigilante need an ibuprofen?” 

Klaus appeared out of nowhere, crouching next to him with an exaggerated pout on his face and talking in a baby voice. 

“Go fuck yourself,” He muttered. His arm throbbed again and he gritted his teeth, sighing and looking back over at him. “Do we have any?”

Grinning smugly, Klaus held his hand out and presented him with two tablets that he swallowed without a second thought, smacking Klaus’ arm away when he reached up to ruffle his hair. 

“Our resident superhero here saved a family from some armed robbers last night,” Klaus explained, pulling his chair up to the table and smiling at Dave, who still looked a little confused. 

“Klaus, you wanna shut up?”

“Oh, now you’re embarrassed about your hobbies? You’re fine running around in tights and a mask beating up petty criminals like you’re fucking Nightwing but heaven forbid Dave knows about it.” 

Diego scowled at him, but Dave was nodding in understanding. 

“I get it,” He said. “I mean, you spent your whole being a superhero, and now you’re an adult with a 9-5 job. It makes sense that you’d revert back to the vigilante thing to feel something again.”

“Are you profiling me?” 

“I’m good at it, right?”

“Do me next!” Klaus said eagerly, holding his hands out for Dave to hold. 

“I don’t need your hands, Klaus.” Dave chuckled. “It’s not a psychic thing.”

“I know that.” 

He left his hands where they were and Dave took them without another comment, looking Klaus up and down for a second. He opened his mouth to say something, but a knock on the door stopped him before he could get a word out. 

Diego wasted no time leaping to his feet, eager to get away from whatever weird situation had been about to unfold. The second he opened the door, M darted inside and slammed it shut again, resting his head back and panting heavily. Nobody said anything until M got his breath back, lifting his head again and looking around. 

“This place is a shithole,” He said frankly, shuffling across the room and sitting in Diego’s chair. 

“Make yourself at home,” Diego muttered under his breath as he followed him, perching on the edge of the table. “So, are you finally gonna tell us what the hell is going on?” 

M didn’t say anything, chewing on his lip and looking down at his hands. 

“Because here’s what’s happened, so far, from my perspective,” He continued. “A guy turns up dead, and the last conversation on his phone happens to be with you. We try to find you. You get my brother blitzed on heroin-”

“Hey, that wasn’t his fault,” Klaus cut in. “I consciously sought that out.”

“Don’t interrupt me,” Diego said flatly. “ Then , when we do find you, you send us to your friend, who comes at us with a knife, and apparently murdered two people. Do you realise how this is looking for you?”

“I didn’t have anything to do with any murders,” M mumbled, keeping his eyes fixed on the table. 

“Do you think I’d give you my home address if I didn’t believe that?” 

He looked up at that, searching Diego’s eyes for some kind of deception. 

“Your friend,” Dave said, capturing their attention. “What’s she look like?”

He looked thoughtful for a second. “She’s um… she’s got blonde hair. She shaved it all off like, three weeks ago now. Sort of greeny-brown eyes, and a lip piercing.” 

“Any tattoos?” Diego prompted and he nodded. 

“A rose on her wrist and angel wings on her back.”

“Yeah, that was her,” Diego said. 

M curled in on himself, folding his arms tightly and hanging his head. 

“I didn’t know she…” He trailed off, wrapping his arms tighter around himself. “I knew she was in trouble. Her older brother disappeared two weeks ago, and she was looking for him. And then, last week, she started acting weird. Like, really paranoid all of a sudden. Then she stopped answering my calls, and I haven’t seen her since.” He paused and looked back up at him. “She couldn’t have killed those guys. She’s not… She’s been in fights before, but she wouldn’t kill anyone.” 

“Well, unless she has an identical twin -”

Klaus elbowed Diego sharply in the side and glared up at him, and he sighed. 

“We’re gonna try and find her,” He said in a softer voice. “Why didn’t you tell us any of this before? We could’a helped sooner.” 

M shrugged. “Cops don’t usually care about a few missing dealers,” He said quietly. “I’m not sure finding her is such a good idea now, anyway.” 

“Why not?” 

He paused. “Well, I’m pretty sure she’s trying to kill me now… or someone is anyway. I don’t know.” He hunched over, pulling his knees up to his chest and balancing his feet on the edge of the chair. 

Diego frowned, leaning towards him. “What do you mean? What happened?” 

“It’s probably nothing,” He mumbled. “I just… keep feeling like someone’s watching me. Every time I go anywhere it feels like I’m being followed.”

“Okay, maybe you’re just paranoid after-”

“And then last night someone tried to shoot me while they were driving past.”

“M, why didn’t you lead with that part?” 

He shrugged and Diego dragged a hand down his face. “Okay,” He said, rubbing his temples as he tried to organise his thoughts. “Who was shooting at you? Did you see them?”

“Oh, yeah, obviously. Because when there are bullets flying at my head my first thought is ‘hey, I think instead of ducking behind the first thing I can find, I’ll just look right at the source of the gunfire’. Are you stupid?” 

Klaus snorted at that and Diego shook his head. 

“Whereabouts where you?” He asked, doing his best to stay on topic. “And what time? We saw your friend at her apartment around ten.” 

“It was later than that,” M said, looking thoughtful for a moment. “Just after two, I think? My uncle called me and asked me to meet him at his place. So I was already expecting something bad, just not… attempted murder.” 

“You think your uncle was behind it?”

“Well, yeah,” He said, like it was obvious. “He already sent his stupid gang to warn me about looking for Lara and I ignored them.”

“Why would your uncle care about her?”

M chewed his lip again. “My uncle runs the biggest drug cartel in the city. That’s how I got involved in all this in the first place. I work for him and he keeps me and my mom safe. And Lara’s dad… I guess his gang is the second biggest.” He paused. “It used to be his gang, anyway. He died a few months ago and Lara’s brother took over. Everything’s been pretty much going to shit since then. There used to be an agreement between them about who went where, who sold to who, that sort of shit, but her brother started pushing the boundaries and sent one dealer out too far. Then he disappeared, then Lara, and then the dealer shows up dead.”

“Dan?”

M nodded and they all fell silent, processing everything he’d said. 

“Don’t suppose you’d be willing to say any of that in an actual statement, would you?” Diego asked, already knowing M’s answer. 

“No way,” He said, shaking his head. “That’d be like signing my own death certificate.” 

“We can protect you from-”

“No you can’t,” M cut in. “You can’t do shit .” He paused, letting out a deep breath and looking up at him with sad eyes. “Sorry,” He mumbled, quieter, “But you can’t.” 

“Fine,” Diego conceded. “We’ll figure something out. Can you show us where you were when you were shot at?” 

M looked at him for a moment, like he was weighing the decision up in his head, before nodding. “Sure. But if they come back and I get shot for real , that’s on you.” He paused. “Also, I call shotgun.” 

Rolling his eyes, Diego grabbed his jacket and lead them out to the car.

“So,” He said as they pulled out of the drive. “Since we’re helping each other now, are you gonna tell us your name?”

“Oh, sure,” M said. “It’s Max.”

“What?” Klaus leaned forward over Diego’s seat and stared at him incredulously. “You told me it was Morris.”

“Yeah, I just make up a name any time someone asks me that.”

Diego turned to look at him. “Is Max your real name?”

“Nope.”

“Are you gonna tell us your actual name?”

“Nope.”

“Fair enough.” 

There was a long pause before Klaus piped up again. “Is it Marvin?”

“No.”

“Mikey?”

“Let it go, Klaus,” Diego said firmly and Klaus huffed, slumping back in his seat and muttering something that had Dave throwing his head back laughing. 

M directed them into the heart of the city, not far from the apartment they’d been to the night before. 

“This is it,” He said quietly as they pulled up in what looked like a relatively normal street. Aside from some shattered glass on the road, the remnants of what Diego assumed must have been a car window that was hit by a bullet the night before, there were no obvious signs that anything had happened. 

“We’ll do a sweep of the street,” Diego said as he pushed the car door open. “See what we can find.”

He turned back to M and stopped in his tracks. His entire demeanour had shifted, from cocky teenager to scared kid, pressed back against the seat like he was trying to disappear inside it and tensing every time somebody walked past the car. 

“You okay, kid?” 

M’s eyes snapped over to him and he nodded, shrinking into his hoodie. “Yeah. Yeah, um…” He trailed off and wrapped his arms around himself. “Can I stay in here?” 

“Yeah, if you stay out of trouble.”

Diego moved to get out of the car but a pang of guilt hit him and he sighed defeatedly, slumping back into his seat and closing the door. 

“You two go,” He said, turning to Dave and Klaus behind him. “I’ll wait here.”

“Aw!” Klaus rested his chin on the back of his hands and grinned in amusement. “Who knew you had dad instincts, Diego?”

“Keep it up and I’ll be babysitting both of you.”

Klaus hissed at him, scrambling to follow Dave out of the car before Diego could change his mind. He watched the two of them as they started making their way down the street, Klaus skipping cheerfully and singing what sounded like “Hargreeves and Katz” over and over to the tune of Spiderman. M was watching them too, giving Diego a questioning look when he saw him turn around. 

“So are you like, his carer or..?” 

Diego snorted, and the corner of M’s mouth quirked into a smile. He looked down at his hands, playing with the toggle on his hoodie for a moment.

“You know I can look after myself, right?” He said quietly, not looking up at him. “You didn’t have to stay here.” 

“I’m just making sure you don’t hotwire my car,” Diego mumbled and M sniggered. 

“I don’t even know how to do that.”

“What? What kind of sixteen year old doesn’t know how to steal a car?” 

“Uh… a normal one?” M raised his eyebrow at him. “You don’t talk to a lot of teenagers, do you?”

“Not really,” He admitted. 

“Well most of us don’t know how to hotwire stuff.” 

“Pretty sure most of you don’t sell heroin to grown men in nightclubs either.”

“Touché.”

They both fell silent for a moment. M watched the cars passing by through the window while Diego pondered everything that had happened. 

“Why were you in that club?” He asked after a few minutes. “You must have known Dan was dead?”

M shook his head. “I didn’t find out about it until the next morning. I mean, I kinda figured when he didn’t show up that I was too late, but-”

“Too late for what?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged, sinking back into the seat like he was embarrassed about it. “I knew my uncle was gonna do something bad to him and I guess I thought… maybe I could warn him? It’s stupid, I know.” 

“It’s not stupid,” Diego told him, turning in his seat to face him. “You were trying to help. That’s a good thing.”

“Yeah, but I just screwed everything up,” He said. “It’s like… I don’t want to be a bad person, but every time I try to fix everything I just make it a million times worse and…” He trailed off, his bottom lip quivering as he balled his hands up into fists and rubbed his eyes. “Lara’s my best friend and I just wanted to find her and get out of here but now I don’t know what’s going on with her and… and now they’re gonna kill me.”

“Nobody’s gonna kill you. Look at me.” He put his hands on M’s shoulders, squeezing them reassuringly, and M tilted his head up to look at him. “I’m not gonna let anything happen to you. Okay?” 

M looked a little uncertainly, staring up at him with wide, tear filled eyes. 

“I’m scared,” He said, his voice barely more than a whisper. 

Before Diego could respond, M flung himself at him, burying his face against his chest and clinging on to his jacket. Diego froze, and it took him a few seconds to process what was happening before he wrapped his arms around him.

“I’m gonna help you,” He said. “And you must trust me a little bit, or you wouldn’t have called.”

M nodded. “You said I could call you if I was in trouble. Nobody’s ever said that before.” 

Frowning, Diego held onto him a little tighter. “You’re gonna be okay, M.” 

There was a long pause before M spoke again. 

“It’s Matteo.”

“What?”

“My actual name.”

Matteo shuffled back into his own seat, wiping his eyes on the back of his sleeve and folding his arms. “You can’t tell anyone,” He said firmly. “Especially not Klaus. He’ll be insufferable about it.” 

“Yeah, that’s a good call.”

As if on cue, the car door behind them flung open and Klaus clambered back inside, closely followed by Dave. 

“Diego!” Klaus said excitedly, leaning forwards. “You missed it. We saw the fattest rat I’ve ever seen in my life.” 

“The fattest ,” Dave agreed. “It was adorable. Like it had swallowed a tennis ball.”

Diego blinked at them. “That’s great. Did you find anything relevant ?” 

“Oh. No, not really,” Dave said, shaking his head. “There were a few skidmarks on the road, but that could’a been anything. The apartment we went to last night is literally just around the corner though, so she easily could have come from there and driven straight down here.” 

“So what do we do now?” Klaus asked and Diego shrugged, looking over at Matteo. 

“Have you eaten anything today?”

“I had like, a handful of lucky charms before I came to your place.”

“Okay, we’re getting food,” Diego decided, narrowing his eyes when Klaus grinned sappily at him. “Put your head back before you get whiplash.” 

They ended up in a drive through parking lot, Klaus and Dave talking quietly in the backseat about whether or not the rat they saw was fat or pregnant, while Matteo tore his way through a cheeseburger. 

“We need to- Jesus.” He paused as Matteo crammed a handful of fries into his mouth. “When was the last time you ate?”

“Yesterday,” Matteo said through his food. “I just really love Burger King.” 

Diego relaxed a little at that and continued. “We need to find your friend.”

“Lara,” He corrected. 

“Right. You got any idea where she could be?”

Matteo looked thoughtful for a moment. “She has a job,” He said. “She works night shifts at a retirement home on the other side of town. It was always important to her, so maybe she’s still there?”

“It’s a start.”

Matteo nodded. “Can I have your fries?”

“Sure.” 

He grabbed them eagerly, nibbling on one slowly. “I can’t go. My mom works there too,” He told him. “If she finds out I’m mixed up in this whole thing she’ll freak out.” 

“Does she know what you do?”

“Yeah,” He said, hanging his head slightly. “We don’t talk about it. I think… it’s easier for her to pretend everything’s fine if we don’t talk about it. She works a lot so I don’t see her that much anyway.” He chewed on his lip and looked back up at him. “I can’t go home. If my uncle’s trying to kill me he probably has people watching the place. Where am I gonna go?”

“I can drop you off at a friend’s,” Diego said as he started the car. “You’ll be safe with her.”

“Is she a cop too?” He asked hesitantly.

“Yeah.” He nodded. “My next suggestion was gonna be the station.”

“Your friend’s sounds good.” 

Patch’s house looked exactly like anyone would expect. Traditional, inherited from her grandmother a few years back, with brick walls, a pretty porch, and a neat lawn with a stone path leading up to the steps. There were planters on each downstairs window with white and red flowers, and an apple tree next door with branches that stretched out in front of the upstairs windows. Everything was neat and crisp, and it seemed impossible that she found the time to maintain it around all the hours she worked. 

“I’ll go talk to her,” He said as the pulled up outside, turning to Matteo. “Wait here.”

He hopped up the stairs and rapped on the front door, rocking back on his heels impatiently as he listened to the sound of footsteps slowly approaching. The woman that greeted him at the door wasn’t Patch, though she did have a strikingly similar face. Her skin was a shade darker and her eyes a shade lighter. Her hair was a short tuft of curls, shaved on either side and dyed electric purple, and she was dressed in shorts, a black tank top, and a garish yellow hawaiian shirt. He’d only met Patch’s sister on two occasions, but it was impossible not to recognise her. 

“So, you decided to come crawling back, huh?” She asked confidently as she swung the door open, blinking in surprise when she saw him. “Oh. It’s you.” 

“Nadia,” He said, equally caught off guard. “Everything okay?”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. I thought you were my girlfriend. We’re going through a…” Trailing off for a second, she waved her hand vaguely in the air. “A rough patch.” She snorted. “Ha! Rough Patch .”

“That’s hilarious,” He said flatly. “Is your sister here?”

“Ugh. Yeah, hang on.” She turned around and screamed down the hallway, “Eu DORA !” 

WHAT!? ” Patch’s voice screeched back. 

“YOUR FUCKBOY’S HERE!” 

The sound of frantic, thudding footsteps grew closer until Patch appeared from the front room. She dressed more casually in an oversized grey sweater and jeans, and her hair fell in curls over her shoulders instead of being pulled back in her usual ponytail. Her eyes flicked between the two of them as she walked calmly to the door and shoved Nadia out of the way. 

“He is not my fuckboy,” She muttered. “Go mope in your bedroom.”

“Okay, but are y’all gonna bang? Because I’d rather get out of the house if-”

“Go. Upstairs. Now.” 

Laughing, Nadia shrugged and disappeared up the stairs, leaving the two of them alone in the doorway. 

“So… your sister is staying?” He asked, smirking at her when she pinched the bridge of her nose.

“Her girlfriend kicked her out,” She explained. “She’s been here five hours and she’s driving me insane. How have you spent so long living with your brother without killing him?”

“The shared trauma helps.”

The corner of her mouth twitched into a smile and she sighed, leaning against the doorframe. “Please tell me you need my help with something at the precinct. Or just… anywhere that isn’t here.”

He paused. “Actually, I need you to do something that specifically involves staying here.”

“Go figure.” 

“How would you feel about babysitting for a few hours?” 

Her eyes went wide at that and she shook her head. “I am not having Klaus in my house again. Not after last time.” 

“Not Klaus, ” He said, doing his best not to laugh at the look of genuine relief on her face. “It’s this kid. He’s sixteen. He needs somewhere to stay tonight.” 

“What are you doing with a sixteen year old?”

“It’s… a long story.” He glanced over his shoulder where Matteo was watching them through the window. “I’ll explain everything just… can I bring him inside?” 

She stared at him for a moment as she tried to read his expression and she sighed. “Fine. Go get him.” 

Diego turned and beckoned for Matteo to get out of the car, watching him as he cautiously made his way up the porch steps to stand next to him. 

“M, this is Patch,” He said, waving his hand between the two of them. “Patch, M.”

Patch cocked her eyebrow at him, looking Matteo up and down. “Your name is M?”

“Your name is Patch? ” 

She blinked at him and Diego bit down on his lip to stifle a laugh. 

“Just get in,” She muttered, holding the door open and letting Matteo shuffle past her. 

Diego followed the two of them into the front room. The walls were olive green, with cream couches covered in soft orange cushions and a glass coffee table in the centre of the room. The whole house was warm and inviting. Almost comforting. Matteo quickly made himself at home, easing his feet out of his sneakers and settling into the matching cream recliner in the corner of the room. 

“You think you’ll be okay staying here for a few hours?” Diego asked him, smirking as Matteo nestled himself amongst the pillows and nodded. “Call me if anything happens, okay?”

He turned to leave, but Matteo leaned forward again, calling him back in a quiet voice. 

“Diego?” He waited until Diego stepped closer before continuing, “What’s gonna happen to Lara? When you find her?” 

“I…” He trailed off, struggling to think of a way to avoid upsetting him. “We’ll have to bring her in for questioning.”

“And then she’ll go to jail?” 

“Probably.”

Matteo hung his head and he sighed, reaching out to pat his shoulder. “I’m gonna make sure she’s safe, okay?”

He nodded, curling back up against the pillows, and Diego stayed where he was until he felt Patch’s hand on his arm pulling him out into the hallway. 

“I’d like that explanation now.” She folded her arms and looked at him expectantly. “What’s going on?” 

Diego stayed quiet for a moment, trying to decide where to start. 

“We found our killer,” He told her, slumping back against the wall behind him. “Went to her apartment last night.”

“How did that go?”

“Fantastically. I almost got a knife through my skull.”

“Shit.” Her face fell and she reached up to cup his face in her hand, her eyes softening as she ran her thumb over his cheek. “Are you okay?” 

Leaning into the touch, Diego grinned smugly. “Aw, you do care.” 

She didn’t say anything, narrowing her eyes at him when he turned his head to kiss the palm of her hand. 

“You still haven’t explained why there’s a teenager in my recliner.” 

Her voice was blunt, but her lips were curled into a smile, and she continued to trace along his jaw absentmindedly with the tips of her fingers. Coupled with the intensity in her eyes, it was making it increasingly hard to concentrate on what he was trying to say. 

“He… They’re friends. Him and the girl,” He said slowly. “He didn’t know she was killing people and ended up getting mixed up in the whole thing and now… He just needs somewhere safe to stay while I sort this out.” 

“How long is that gonna take?”

“Depends.”

“On what?”

He chewed his lip hesitantly. “On whether I can find this girl tonight or not,” He said. “M gave us a starting point. We should be able to find something.” 

Patch’s eyes burned into him, her smile replaced with a look of concern as she moved her hand away from his face to squeeze his shoulder. 

“What’s going on, Diego?” She asked, smoothing out the fabric of his jacket. 

“What do you mean?”

“I mean , you love this stuff. Hunting the bad guys down and being the hero, all that crap.” 

“What’s your point?” 

“You look miserable ,” She said softly. “So what’s going on?” 

Letting out a deep breath, he looked down at his feet, unable to meet her eyes as he mumbled, “She’s a teenager, Dora. I don’t feel like much of a hero when I’m trying to track down a kid.” 

Wordlessly, Patch guided his head down to her shoulder and he went with her, closing his eyes and letting her take some of his weight for a moment. He wrapped his arms around her waist and she let him pull her closer until they were pressed against each other, putting one arm around his shoulders and leaving the other hand on the back of his head to stroke his hair. 

“What are you gonna do?” She asked him after a few minutes. 

He shrugged. “My job, I guess.”

“I’ll come with you.” 

Shaking his head, he turned and rested his cheek on her shoulder, looking up at her. “I need you here. M isn’t safe on his own and you’re the only person I c-c- I can-” 

The words got stuck in his throat but she nodded, already knowing what he was trying to say. He stared up at her for a moment. The warm light shining behind her head made the edges of her hair glow like a halo around her face, but her eyes were dark in the shadow, almost black, and staring back at him with the same intensity. 

She dipped her head down and pressed a kiss to his cheek. And another. The third time, he tilted his head up to face her, leaving barely an inch of space between their lips. Part of him expected her to pull away again, the way she often did whenever they got this close to anything, but she caught him off guard, closing the last few millimeters for him. 

The kiss barely lasted a second before she pulled away again to look at him, but it was enough to make his head spin. Standing upright, he moved one hand up to tangle his fingers in her hair, dipping his head down to recapture her lips and kiss her properly. This time she let him, draping her arms around his neck and pushing him back against the wall. After what could have been an eternity, she pulled away from him again, resting their foreheads together and letting out a breathless laugh. 

“Some of us need to breathe, Diego,” She reminded him and he chuckled, pressing another kiss to the corner of her mouth. 

“Sorry.”

“I knew it.”

They both whipped their heads around to where Nadia stood at the foot of the stairs, grinning smugly. 

“Nadia, what do you want? ” Patch demanded, taking a step away from him. 

“Hey, I just came down to get chips,” She said, holding her hands up defensively as she walked past them. “Not my fault you two decided to start tonguing in the hallway.”

“You’re grounded.”

“I’m twenty four. You can’t ground me, you idiot.” 

Patch groaned and dragged a hand down her face before she turned back towards him, waiting for him to say something. 

“So… I’ll see you later?” He offered, unable to stop himself from smirking at her. 

“Yeah, if I don’t get arrested for murdering my sister,” She muttered as she walked with him to the door, pausing as she opened it. “Be careful.”

“Always am.” He ginned and she rolled her eyes, closing the door behind him before he could get another word in. 

Klaus leant forward as soon as he got back into the car, resting his chin on the back of the seat and smiling at him. He did his best to ignore him, but his stare was unwavering and he sighed, turning to face him. 

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing,” He said cheerily. “How’s Patch?” 

Diego eyed him suspiciously. “She’s fine.”

“That’s good.” 

They both stared at each other until finally Diego broke, throwing his hands up. “Okay, so what? Can you see through walls now, too? Is that another new power of yours?” 

“Obviously not. That would be ridiculous,” Klaus said quietly, sitting back in his seat and waiting until Diego started the car before piping up again, “Ghosts can, though.”

Dammit ,” He cursed, and Klaus and Dave fell about laughing behind him. “Can we focus on the case please?”

“Oh, sure. Sounds like you were really focused in there.” Dave chuckled. 

“You’re both dead to me.” 

The two of them carried on giggling, and despite his words, Diego couldn’t fight the smile on his face as he drove them across town. For a moment, it was easy to forget that they were on their way to face a killer.

Chapter Text

“So, when you and Patch get married,” Klaus said, resting his chin on the back of the passenger seat despite the multiple times he’d told him to put his head back. “Will that make her my sister?” 

“Yeah, I guess. She’d be your-” He cut himself off as he registered what Klaus had said. “We’re not getting married , you idiot. Shut up.” 

Klaus giggled. “Are you gonna take her name?”

“I’m gonna drive this car off the road and kill us all. That’s what I’m gonna do.”

“It’s cute that you think you can get away from me that easily.”

Diego shuddered and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter as they continued down the road. The light was just starting to fade, turning the sky to a pale purple, and the streetlights were beginning to flicker to life as they passed by. Everything felt strangely tranquil. There were businessmen milling along the streets on their way back from work, and kids weaving amongst them on bikes, racing each other home. Everyone’s day was coming to a close while theirs felt like it was only just starting. 

Even Klaus had gone quiet, finally sitting back in his seat. In the rearview Diego could see him nestling up against Dave’s side, resting his head on his shoulder and closing his eyes for a moment while Dave played absentmindedly with the curls in his hair. Dave noticed him watching and shifted awkwardly, though he still didn’t take his hand out of Klaus’ hair as he cleared his throat to speak. 

“So, uh… where are we actually going anyway?” He asked. “You never said.”

“Apparently Lara works at a nursing home. Honeylake Homes I think… or something corny like that.” 

“I hate retirement homes,” Klaus mumbled.

“We’re not staying long,” Diego assured him. “We just need to find out when they last saw her.” 

Klaus still didn’t look particularly happy about the idea, but he stayed quiet, snuggling closer to Dave and sighing to himself. 

“What’s wrong with nursing homes?” Dave asked. “I worked in one for like a year, it wasn’t so bad.”

“People go there to die,” Diego said quietly and Dave’s eyes widened a little with the realisation. 

“Oh.” He nodded, looking back down at Klaus. “Right.” 

He moved his hand out of Klaus’ hair and started stroking his cheek, and Klaus hummed contentedly. 

“You have really warm hands.”

“I’m pretty sure your face is just cold.” 

They both sniggered and Diego shook his head, turning his attention back to the road while the two of them continued talking quietly. It was another fifteen minutes before they made it to the home, pulling up in the parking lot outside. 

It looked a lot more modern than Diego had expected, with tall glass doors and windows, and light wooden panelling along the outside walls. There was a large stone fountain outside, surrounded by pink and purple flowers, and the three of them circled around it on their way up to the entrance. 

The reception room was much the same. A large, spacious room with soft couches and armchairs arranged in each corner of the room for people to sit. If it were still daytime, he imagined the sun would light up the whole room through the windows, but now the room was softly lit by wall lights on each side of the room. 

“What’s your plan here?” Dave asked, eyeing the reception desk where a woman was sat typing on a computer. “Are we just gonna walk straight in?”

Klaus, who was still glued to Dave’s side and glancing around the almost empty room uncomfortably, seemed to perk up at that.

“Don’t sweat it, I got this. Charming my way into places is one of my many talents.” 

Before either of them could say anything, he marched confidently up to the desk, resting his chin on his hands and smiling down at the receptionist, who looked up and cocked an eyebrow at him. 

“Can I help you?” She asked, pushing her circular glasses up her nose.

“Hi. Klaus Hargreeves. You probably know me as superhero and child star The Séance. Please, hold your applause.”

“Right,” She said flatly. “And are you here to see someone or..?” 

“I’m here to see lots of people.” He grinned. “Most of them dead. Because that’s my whole thing.”

The two of them argued back and forth about whether or not he could be allowed inside to ‘visit the dead’ and Diego shook his head, glancing over at Dave. 

“He used to try this all the time to get free food when we were kids,” He told him. 

“Did it ever work?”

“No. Usually I’d just steal a bunch of shit while he was talking to them.”

“Sir, I can’t let you in,” The receptionist said, clearly exasperated, and Klaus narrowed his eyes. 

“Oh really? Because your dead mother is telling me that you should.”

“My mother is right there.” 

She pointed across the room at an elderly woman reading a book in the corner of the room and Diego dragged a hand down his face, but Klaus seemed undeterred, leaning over the desk with wide, haunted eyes and whispering, “You can see them too?

“Get out.”

Klaus sighed dramatically and turned back towards them. “Okay, we’re going with Plan B!” He said in an upbeat voice. 

“What the hell is Plan- what are you doing? ” Diego asked, watching as Klaus started doing lunges in the middle of the room. 

“Just checking I can run in these jeans. Should be fine.” He stood upright again and grinned at him. “Trust me, this always works. Just wait for my signal.”

They watched as Klaus turned back towards the receptionist and smiled sweetly at her. 

“Do you mind if I borrow this?” He asked. 

Before she had a chance to respond, Klaus was ripping her computer monitor out of its socket and hurling it through the window. There was a deafening crash as the glass shattered and the receptionist screamed, ducking down behind the desk. 

“SECURITY!” Klaus screeched at the top of his lungs, kicking at the remnants of the glass. 

“Oh, wow,” Dave said quietly while Diego just sighed and glanced up at the clock. 

A security guard appeared from around the corner and Klaus made a break for the door, looking back over his shoulder at the two of them. 

“Why are you still here!? Go!

“You said to wait for a signal,” Diego pointed out and Klaus threw his hands up in the air. 

“What do you think that was?” 

“Oh, right.” 

He grabbed Dave by the arm and marched him past the reception desk while Klaus dived through the hole in the shattered window and disappeared up the path with the security guard hot on his tail. 

“Is he gonna be okay?” Dave asked as they walked calmly past a group of staff running out into the reception. 

“He’ll be fine.” 

“Does he know we could have just shown them our badges and walked right in?”

“I wouldn’t mention it.” 

They made their way down a corridor and found themselves in a large communal area. The residents seemed oblivious to the commotion going on at the other end of the building, milling around, watching TV, and playing board games around the room. Diego spotted a woman in a pale pink uniform piling empty teacups onto a tray and made his way over to her. Her face had a smattering of dark freckles and she wore a floral hijab that matched her uniform. She stopped what she was doing when she saw them approaching, standing upright and cocking her head curiously. 

“What’s going on out there?” She asked, craning her neck to peer down the corridor. “I thought I heard a crash.” 

“Must have been your imagination,” Diego said bluntly, pulling his badge out of his jacket pocket and holding it up for her. “I’m Detective Hargreeves. This is Detective Katz.” He gestured over to Dave, who waved cheerfully at her. “What’s your name?” 

“Navya,” She said quietly, shrinking back a little as she inspected the badge. “Is something wrong?” 

“No. No, nothing’s wrong. We’re just looking for someone,” He explained. “We were told she works here. Name’s Lara, she’s got short blonde hair and-”

“Oh, yeah.” Navya nodded before he could finish, folding her arms. “I know her.”

“You don’t sound thrilled about that.”

“Well, she hasn’t shown up to work for about a week now? Exactly a week, actually. The last shift she showed up for was last Monday. She never phoned or anything. Just stopped showing up. So now we’re all having to cover for her.” She paused. “Did something happen to her?” 

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

“Was there anything weird about her behaviour when you last saw her?” Dave asked. “Did she seem on edge or anything?”

“I don’t know. She was always a bit odd.” She shrugged. “She’s good with the residents, but she never talked to any of us that much. I always felt kinda bad for her. She seemed like a nice girl, just a little closed off.” 

Diego nodded. “Who else was here when she was working? Anyone she might have talked to?” 

Chewing on her lip thoughtfully, Navya paused for a moment. “You could ask Sasha. They used to give her a lift home some nights. I’m pretty sure they left together last week.” 

“Where can we find them?” 

Navya led them across the room and up a flight of stairs to a hallway that appeared to stretch on endlessly. A person with olive skin and dark curly hair pulled back in a ponytail was vacuuming, and didn’t seem to notice them approaching until Navya tapped their shoulder. 

“Oh, hi,” They said, looking over at Diego and Dave and frowning. “Who are these guys?”

“They’re cops,” Navya said and Sasha’s face fell even further. “They’re trying to find Lara.” 

“Is she in trouble?” 

“It’s complicated,” Diego told them. “We’re just trying to find out as much as we can. Apparently you were the last person here that saw her?”

Sasha nodded. “I didn’t like letting her walk home on her own so late when she’s, what? Nineteen? So I used to give her a ride if I was working the same shift. I was supposed to drive her home last week, but she ended up leaving with a group of guys instead. After that she just stopped showing up.”

Dave glanced over at him and Diego raised his eyebrow curiously. “What group of guys?”

“I don’t know who they were,” Sasha said. “It was weird. I went outside to meet her and they were sort of crowded around her talking. When she saw me she came over and told me she didn’t need a ride anymore. Said she was going home with her friends.”

“What’d they look like?” Dave asked and they shrugged. 

“It was dark and they were on the other side of the parking lot. I couldn’t really see them. They all had white hoodies on, though. Like they were trying to be nsync or something. I don’t remember anything else, sorry.”

“No, that’s great,” Diego told them, pausing for a moment before asking, “Out of curiosity, where did she usually have you drop her off?”

“Some crummy apartment,” Sasha said. “It’s not far from here. I didn’t even realise people lived there until I started giving her rides.” 

He thought back to the rich apartment block they’d found her in the night before and frowned. “Do you have the address?” 

They nodded, and Dave handed them a notepad to scribble it down. After they thanked them Navya led the two of them back downstairs and they made their way back through the reception, where the remnants of the smashed window were being swept up by a very disgruntled looking caretaker. The security guard was stood firmly by the door, eyeing them suspiciously as they passed, but there was no sign of Klaus. 

“He’s probably in the car,” Diego said, sensing Dave’s concern before he even opened his mouth. 

He wasn’t in the car, but Diego still wasn’t particularly concerned, more focused on what Sasha had told them. 

“So, Lara leaves work with a group of guys in white hoodies,” He said, thinking out loud. “They’ve gotta be the same ones roughing M up in the arcade a few days ago, who he said were working for his uncle. And the next day, Josh gets shot.”

“Right.” Dave nodded. “It doesn’t make sense though. If her family and M’s family are rivals, why would she be working with his uncle?” 

“Her brother made a mess of things. Maybe she switched sides to save her own ass?” 

Dave hummed thoughtfully and looked down at his hands. “I think we should find Klaus. He knows more about this stuff.” 

Rolling his eyes, Diego pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed Klaus’ number. It rang for almost a full minute before Klaus finally answered. 

“Hey,” He said casually, as if he hadn’t been fleeing an armed security guard twenty minutes ago. “Where are you?”

“Where are we? Where are you?

“I’m in the car waiting for you.”

Diego frowned, turning around to look at the empty backseat. “No you’re not. We’re in the car.”

There was a long pause on the other end of the phone before Klaus spoke again, quieter. “Then whose fucking car did I just break into?” 

“Oh my g- Klaus, where are you?” 

“Give me a second.” There was a scrambling noise as Klaus got out of whatever car he was in. “Oh wait, I see you. Two ticks!” 

He hung up before Diego could say anything else, and less than a minute later the back door swung open and Klaus clambered into his seat. 

“Good thing you called, huh!” He snigged, leaning forward and grinning at him. “That could have been really awkward.”

“I don’t understand how you got the wrong car. Did it even look like mine?”

“It was black.” Klaus shrugged. “And I don’t know a lot about cars.” 

Diego shook his head despairingly. “We need to get out of here before someone sees you,” He muttered as they pulled out of the parking lot. 

“How did you get away from the security guard?” Dave asked, twisting in his seat to face Klaus. 

“Oh! I hid in a tree! I didn’t think I’d be able to get up there, but apparently I can jump higher than I realised!” He sounded incredibly proud of himself and Dave chuckled. 

“You have a twig stuck in your hair.” 

“I think I’ll make it my new look.”

“Can we focus?” Diego said, cutting their conversation short as he pulled up at the side of the road. “We have a killer to find.”

“Is that why you spent ten minutes making out with Patch earlier?” Klaus asked, leaning forward. “To focus on finding a killer?”

“Your hair looks like a bird’s nest,” He said flatly. 

Klaus opened his mouth to say something but snapped it shut again, folding his arms and shuffling back grumpily. 

Ignoring him, Diego turned to Dave. “Do you have that address?”

Dave nodded and handed him the notepad, where Sasha had neatly written the street and apartment number. It didn’t match the one Lara had given them to meet her the night before. In fact, he didn’t recognise the street at all. 

Apparently already putting Diego’s comment behind him, Klaus leant over again. 

“What’s that?” 

“According to someone she works with, it’s Lara’s address.”

Klaus hummed thoughtfully as his eyes slowly scanned the words. “Did you find anything else?”

They told him everything Navya and Sasha had said, about her disappearing from work and the men in white hoodies that she left with the night before the first murder. 

“We should go check out this apartment,” Diego said, handing the notepad back to Dave. “Does anyone actually know where it is?” 

“I do!” Klaus piped up. “It’s not far from here.” 

Klaus was horrible at giving directions, and they spent a good half an hour going around in circles while he tried to get his bearings. 

“Are you sure you know where we’re going, Klaus?” Diego asked as they drove down a street he was certain they’d been down four times already.

“Yeah, absolutely,” He insisted. “But, in my defense, I was on a lot of drugs the last time I came here. It’s the next left, I think. Wait.” He turned to the empty seat next to him and frowned. “Are you sure? … Okay, next right .” 

Diego did as he said, and they found themselves on a dark, derelict street. The streetlamps were sparse and flickering, and most of the buildings were boarded up and abandoned. 

“You sure this is the right place?” 

“For sure,” Klaus said confidently. “I was here a few months ago, for reasons I won’t discuss.”

“You were getting high, weren’t you?”

“Sure was.”

The apartment building they pulled up outside could easily have been mistaken as abandoned if not for the light escaping through cracks in some of the curtained windows. The majority of the numbers had been scratched out or graffitied over on the buzzer outside, and the entrance door had been propped open with a brick for easy access. 

“What door number is it?” Dave asked and Diego checked the address again. 

“Four.”

“Hm?” Klaus looked up questioningly. 

“Not you , you idiot,” He muttered, leading them down the hallway until they found the right apartment. 

The door was slightly ajar, but as Diego reached out to push it open his phone went off loudly in his pocket, making them all jump and stumble backwards. 

Christ , Diego,” Klaus breathed, clutching his chest. “Would it kill you to put that thing on vibrate?” 

“I’ve never needed to,” He mumbled. “People don’t usually call me.”

“Really? That’s so sad.”

Diego ignored him and pulled his phone out of his pocket, looking down at Patch’s name flashing up on the screen. 

“You miss me already, Dora?”

Next to him, Klaus made a gagging motion and Dave snorted, so he turned his back on them. 

“Diego.” Patch’s voice sounded frantic and he dropped the cocky facade. “M’s gone.”

His heart dropped into his stomach and he almost dropped the phone with it, clearing his throat before he spoke again. “Come again?”

“He’s gone,” She said, a little slower. “He was asleep on the couch when I left him, but I just got out of the shower and… I don’t know. He must have run off.” 

Diego’s first instinct was to scream at her, and his second was to punch the wall next to him. Fortunately, he managed to bypass both of those, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. 

“You still there?” She asked after almost a minute.

“Yeah, I’m here. Just… Stay where you are. I’ll be there in a second.”

He hung up before she could say anything else, snapping the phone shut and turning back towards them. 

“The only word I heard was ‘shower’,” Klaus said with a grin. “I think that was enough for me to get the gist of your conversation.”

“I promise you, it wasn’t,” He muttered, pushing past them both. “We gotta go.” 

Apparently sensing his frustration, the two of them followed him quietly back to the car, and it wasn’t until they were halfway back to Patch’s house that Klaus spoke again. 

“Did something happen?” He asked, a little hesitantly. 

“M’s missing.” He gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and stared out at the road, racking his brain to think of anywhere Matteo could have gone. 

Patch was waiting in the doorway when they arrived, in sweatpants and a pyjama shirt with a cup of coffee clutched in her hands. She looked relieved when they arrived, taking a step forward to meet them at the top of the porch steps. 

“Diego, I-”

“Where did you leave him?”

She looked hurt by his bluntness but said nothing, leading the three of them back into the sitting room. 

“He was asleep,” She said, gesturing to the pillows and crumpled blanket spread out on the couch. “I was gone for five minutes , and Nadia was in the kitchen the whole time. Kid’s gotta be a freaking ninja.” 

Klaus scoffed. “He’s not special for being able to sneak out of the house undetected.” 

Ignoring him, Patch continued. “The latch was still on the front door so the little shit must have climbed out the window. I just don’t get why he’d be so desperate to get out when he knew he was in danger.” 

“He’s scared,” Diego said quietly. “He’s probably not thinking straight.”

He was struggling to think straight himself, dropping down onto the couch and rubbing his temples. 

“We need to find him,” He mumbled and the others nodded in agreement. 

“I’ll go get dressed,” Patch said, leaving to go upstairs. 

“I’ll make coffee,” Dave added as he followed behind her. 

Diego stayed where he was, hunching over with his head in his hands and squeezing his eyes shut. He felt sick thinking about Matteo out on his own, with no idea where Lara was and no clue how to get to him before she did. 

He felt the couch dip as Klaus sat next to him with a deflated sigh. 

“Are you okay?” He asked and Diego shook his head, turning to look up at him. 

“I think I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown.”

“You just noticed?” 

He cracked a smile at that and Diego huffed out a laugh, slumping against Klaus’ arm and closing his eyes again. 

“I have no idea what I’m doing,” He admitted. “And now this kid is gonna get killed, and I can’t do shit about it.” 

“Aw, come on, that’s not true. We’ll find him,” Klaus insisted, wrapping his arm around him and squeezing his shoulder reassuringly. “You’re good at this stuff. You were the champ at hide and seek.”

“This isn’t a kids game, Klaus. It’s serious.” 

“I know, but you did take hide and seek really seriously too,” He pointed out. “I saw you sniffing the floor one time to try and pick up our scents.” 

Diego couldn’t stop himself from smiling at that. “It worked. I found Allison ‘cause of her perfume.”

“See! That’s my point. You just gotta use your logic .” He tapped his finger against Diego’s forehead. “If you were a scared kid, and someone was trying to kill you, where would you go?”

He chewed on his lip for a moment, thinking back to every training session, every mission, when he’d wanted nothing more than to be back home with the others. 

“I’d wanna go back to my family,” He said quietly and Klaus gasped. 

“Diego, that is the sweetest-

“Not now.”

“Fine.” Klaus huffed. “Maybe he went home then?”

“That’s the last place he should go.”

“Right, but like you said, he’s probably not thinking straight.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” He mumbled, nodding to himself. “We’ll check out his apartment first. Maybe try ours, too. In case he went back there to wait for us.”

“There you go!” Klaus grinned and patted him on the back. “We got this.” 

Before Diego could respond, Dave walked back into the room carrying a tray with three mugs of coffee, setting it down on the table and handing them each a cup. He squeezed onto the couch next to Klaus, who took a sip of the coffee Dave had handed him and let out a surprised squeak. 

Wow , this is sweet.”

“Is it too much?”

Klaus shook his head. “No, it’s perfect. I’m just not used to people making it right.” He took another sip and grinned at him. “It’s the only way I can drink it.”

“Have you considered that maybe you don’t actually like coffee?”

“The thought had occurred to me, yeah.”

“Are we finding this kid or what?” Patch asked as she walked back into the room, with her pyjama shirt now tucked into a pair of jeans and a brown biker jacket thrown over the top. 

Diego and Dave both chugged their drinks in record time while Klaus set his half-full mug back on the table, and the three of them followed her back to the car. Behind him, he heard Dave whisper something to Klaus that made him laugh, but when he turned around they both smiled innocently at him before climbing into the two backseats. 

“I talked to Nadia,” Patch said as she got into the passenger seat next to him. “She said she heard him talking to someone on the phone not long before he disappeared. Is that any use to you?” 

“Did she hear anything he said?”

“No. She said he was whispering and that, and I’m quoting this, unlike some people, she doesn’t get off on sticking her nose into everyone’s business.” 

“Yeah, that sounds about right.” He chuckled.

Patch shook her head. “I don’t know how much more of her I can take,” She muttered. “Can we swap?”

“You’d rather live with Klaus?

“No. I meant Klaus can live with her and I’ll sleep on your nasty couch.”

“My couch is not nasty ,” He protested. “It’s fine.” 

She gave him an unconvinced look but shrugged. “I guess I’d still choose the couch over your bed.”

“What’s wrong with my bed!?

“Diego, your sheets have permanent blood stains on them.” 

“Oh, sure. Like I’m the only person with a few blood stains on my bed.”

“Of course you’re not,” She said flatly. “You and serial killers have that in common.” 

He didn’t have an argument for that so he stayed quiet, ignoring Patch’s stifled laughter as they pulled out of her drive. 

Matteo’s apartment was a dead end. There were no lights on inside, and none of the neighbours had seen any sign of him all day. Their apartment was the same. Undisturbed, with no sign that anybody had been there while they were away. 

Klaus suggested they go back to the centre of the city, back along the street where Matteo was attacked and all the way back to the apartment they found Lara in the night before. So they swept the street again, broken into the building again, and made their way up to the apartment again . And they found nothing. By the time they’d made it back to the car, hours had passed since Matteo had left Patch’s house. The roads were silent now as Diego drove them around aimlessly, unable to stay stationary while they came up with more ideas, and the clock on the dash ticked over to 5am when he glanced at it. 

“He could have gotten anywhere by now,” He muttered, flexing his fingers and tightening his grip on the wheel. “He could literally be in another state. Or dead. Or both!”

“Don’t be dramatic,” Patch said. Her voice was calm, but she’d been rolling her rabbit’s foot between her fingers since they got back in the car. “Tell me everything again. From the top.” 

“M and Lara are best friends.”

“Right.”

“Her dad runs one gang, his uncle runs another.”

“They’re like Romeo and Juliet,” Klaus added, leaning forward and grinning. 

“Klaus, no offense, but can you please just shut the fuck up for five minutes?” Diego pinched the bridge of his nose and Klaus slunk back again. 

“Sorry.”

“Lara’s dad dies,” Diego continued. “Her brother takes over, he sends a dealer too far out and pisses M’s uncle off in the process. Somehow he ends up getting Lara to kill the dealer, and now he wants M dead too for getting too involved. We take him to you while we go to find Lara, and then he runs off. Did I miss anything?” 

He looked back at Dave, who looked deep in thought. 

“Maybe we should try Lara’s apartment again.”

“That shithole we went to earlier?” He asked, frowning when Dave nodded. “Why would he go there?” 

“Because they’re best friends, and he’s obviously worried about her,” He pointed out. “And he probably still doesn’t really believe she’d hurt him.” 

The four of them exchanged glances and Diego cursed, spinning the car around in the middle of the road so fast that Patch had to grab hold of his arm to stop herself from being flung through the window. 

“I’m gonna die in here,” She said to herself, sinking back into her seat as they headed up the road. 

“Now who’s being dramatic?” 

They made it back to the derelict apartment block sooner than he expected, pulling up outside and running in through the door as fast as they could go. The four of them slowed down once they reached the hallway, and Diego led them one behind the other, with Patch directly behind him, then Dave, and Klaus tailing behind. They walked, with their backs up against the wall, down the hall to the door. He paused as soon as they reached it. Someone had been through since they left, and the door was now shut completely. Diego pulled one of his knives out from under his jacket, and behind him he heard Patch cocking her gun. She nodded up at him when he looked back at her, watching him as he reached out cautiously and pushed the door open

The room they found themselves in was sparsely decorated, with peeling wallpaper and barely any furniture, and the smell of damp hung in the air. Damp and blood. On the far side of the room Matteo was unconscious on his back with blood pooling underneath him. And above him, Lara. 

She was knelt on the floor next to him with blood covering her hands as she desperately tried to press down on the wound in his abdomen, whispering inaudibly to herself. It wasn’t until the door swung shut behind them that she noticed their arrival, snapping her head up and staring at them with wide eyes and tears streaking down her face. They all stood, frozen for a moment as she looked at them all. It wasn’t until her eyes fell on the police badge hung around Patch’s neck that she finally spoke, in a quiet, choked voice. 

“Help,” She pleaded, looking back down at the blood still flowing out through her hands. “I can’t get it to stop.” 

Klaus and Diego surged forward without missing a beat and Dave followed behind, crouching down next to them. 

“I need your jacket,” Diego said as he moved her hands away from Matteo’s stomach. 

Lara looked down at the hoodie she was wearing, then back up at him hesitantly. 

Now ,” He snapped and she nodded frantically, unzipping the jacket and handing it to him. 

Balling the hoodie up, he pressed it down on the wound, and above him Matteo made a noise that sounded somewhere between a groan and a sob. Klaus scrambled round, cupping Matteo’s face in his hands and pushing the hair out of his face. 

“Hey, buddy. It’s us,” He said softly. 

Matteo cracked his eyes open and groaned again, and Klaus frowned.  

“Did you hurt him again?”

“No,” Diego said, shaking his head. “I think that was just his reaction to you.”

“Well that’s rude,” Klaus muttered. Despite his obvious offense, he looked back down at Matteo and ran his thumb over his cheek in an attempt to comfort him. “You need to stay still,” He told him and Matteo grunted. “Can you remember what happened?” 

Diego didn’t need an explanation to know what had happened. He knew a stab wound when he saw one. As soon as Klaus asked the question, the colour drained from Lara’s face and she darted, leaping to her feet and barrelling past Patch and through the door. Patch took off after her and Diego cursed. He felt Dave move his hands away from Matteo, taking over to press down on the wound. 

“I got this,” He said, nudging him with his elbow. “Go.”

Not needing to be told twice, Diego sprang to his feet and sprinted after them. He caught up to Patch outside the building, but Lara was already halfway down the street and rounding the corner. 

“Throw something!” Patch cried, looking over at him. 

“I can’t, I only have knives.”

Dammit .” She started fumbling awkwardly in her pockets as she ran, finally pulling out a pen and thrusting it at him. “Can you work with that?”

Grabbing the pen, he flung it around the corner. There was a shout and a thud as the pen smacked her in the ankle and sent her tumbling to the ground. Patch caught up to her first, pinning her down and handcuffing her. As she was reading out her rights, an ambulance sped past them and pulled up outside the apartment building, and they got back just in time to see Matteo being carried into the back. Dave and Klaus were following behind the EMT, and while Patch was bundling Lara into the back of his car, he headed over to them. 

“We’re gonna go with him to the hospital,” Dave told him, with his arm around Klaus’ shoulder. “He’s gonna need people there in case his uncle wants to finish the job without Lara.”

“He’s not gonna like that,” Diego mumbled. 

“Yeah, that’s why I thought we should go before any backup gets there. At least then he can hear it from us.” 

Diego nodded. “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea,” He said, looking over at Klaus, who looked a little distant. “You okay?” 

“Mm? Yeah, I’m fine,” He said quietly. “I’ve been awake for twenty-four hours. You’re looking a little fuzzy round the edges right now, but it’s fine. It’s fine.” 

“You’ve been awake longer than this before.”

“Uh, sure. When I was on crack, Diego.” 

Chuckling, Dave helped him into the ramp, turning back to Diego. 

“She must have called the ambulance,” He said, frowning at him. “You really think it was her that stabbed him?”

“I don’t know.” He looked back at his car, where he could just about make out Lara’s silhouette in the backseat. “Maybe she’ll have some answers. But I doubt it’s gonna be that easy.” 

Patting his arm, Dave turned and followed Klaus into the ambulance, and Diego made his way back to the car where Patch was waiting for him. The drive back to the station was silent. The two of them exchanging the occasional glance at each other before looking back at Lara in the backseat, who was sniffling and shaking like a leaf, watching the streetlights outside as they drove. She didn’t put up a fight when they arrived, letting Diego take her by the arm and lead her inside without a fuss. 

“You got a lawyer?” He asked her as they walked down the corridor. 

“I don’t think so.” Her voice was quiet, cracking as she spoke, and even though he knew what she’d done, it was hard not to put an arm around her to try and reassure her. 

“Okay. We can get you one,” He told her but she shook her head. 

“I don’t want one.” 

He frowned, stopping for a moment and turning towards her. “You… Are you sure?” 

“I’m sure.” 

“You’re being arrested for attempted murder .”

“I don’t want a lawyer,” She said firmly, chewing on her lip and looking up at him. “Please.” 

He ended up pacing in circles while Lara had her prints taken, partly out of restlessness, and partly out of fear that he might fall asleep if he sat still for too long. He could feel Patch watching him from the chair she was sat in, but he did his best to ignore her. Eventually, she got up, leaving him alone in the room before returning a few minutes later with a cup of coffee in each hand. 

“Thanks,” He mumbled when she handed it to him, continuing with his pacing while she sat back down. 

“You know she’s gonna be in there a while, right?” She asked, her eyes following him intently. 

“I know. What’s your point?”

“My point is, it’s not gonna kill anyone if you sit down for five mintues.” 

Sighing, he gave in and slumped into the chair next to her, taking a sip of coffee. It was like drinking burnt toast and he grimaced. 

“Christ, the coffee here sucks,” He muttered.

“You just noticed?” She smirked and he huffed out a laugh. 

“Dave’s been buying us coffee for the last week,” He said, looking down at the cup in his hands, “And this tastes a million times worse now.” 

She laughed at that, leaning against him and circling the rim of her own cup with her finger. “Well, you’re stuck with the free stuff today.”

“You always did know how to show a guy a good time, Patch.”

“Shut up.” She giggled again, delirious from lack of sleep, and nudged his arm with her elbow. “I was gonna suggest going to that little place across the street, but short of setting off the fire alarm I don’t think there’s much I could do to get you out of here right now.” She paused, looking up at him. “You wouldn’t even leave if the fire alarm did go off, would you?”

“Probably not, no,” He admitted and she rolled her eyes. 

“Of course you wouldn’t. You’d have to save everyone else first.” She sighed and looked back down at her drink. “Why has Dave been buying you so much coffee anyway?” She asked, changing the subject. “You sure he’s not hitting on you?”

Diego snorted. “It’s not me he’s hitting on.” 

She quirked her eyebrow at that, and the perplexed look on her face made him laugh again. 

Klaus? ” She asked, humming thoughtfully when he nodded. “That’s sweet. Maybe there’s somebody out there for everybody after all.”

“I’ll believe that when Luther gets a date.” 

“Well, you haven’t spoken to him in years. Maybe he has.”

“With who? A moon rock?” 

Patch let out a laugh that quickly dissolved into a yawn, setting her cup down on the empty chair next to her and nestled her head against his shoulder. 

“You don’t have to stay here, Dora,” He told her. “I can do this on my own.” 

“I know.”

She snuggled closer to him and hummed when he wrapped his arm around her. For a moment she went quiet, and he thought she’d fallen asleep, but then she turned her head again and looked up at him. 

“Do you want me to do the interview with you?” She asked. “If Dave doesn’t get back in time?” 

“You trying to steal my case, Eudora?”

“Answer the question, Hargreeves.” 

He chewed on his lip thoughtfully for a moment and nodded. “Yeah, okay,” He said quietly. “Thanks.” 

“We should probably be preparing something.”

“Preparing what? ” He asked, scoffing. “I have literally no evidence that she killed those guys. All we have is her prints, and we don’t even know if those match yet. And even if they do match, what does that prove? Not a lot.”

“Okay, sorry I asked.” 

She smiled up at him and his resolve melted away again, chuckling and reaching up to run his fingers through her hair. 

“Since you’re insisting on staying awake,” She said with another yawn, closing her eyes. “Can you wake me up in five minutes?” 

“Sure.” He nodded, and within less than a minute her breathing grew heavier, making soft little noises that made him wish he could leave everything else behind and take her home. 

He let her sleep for ten minutes, twirling a lock of her hair around his finger absentmindedly and listening to the clock ticking by on the wall. His head was pounding. A combination of lack of sleep and too many thoughts. Part of him wanted to call Dave and find out if Matteo was okay, while another wanted to focus on what he was going to say to Lara. More than anything, he just wanted to rest his head on Patch’s and try to get a few minutes of sleep too. He was so busy trying to figure out what to prioritise that he ended up doing nothing at all, and when he woke her up with a nudge, he was no closer to a solution to any of his problems. 

Patch, at least, looked a little more refreshed, sitting upright and stretching her arms up above her head. 

“You have gotta be the only person on earth that actually feels better after a nap,” He said, watching her as she took a sip of her neglected coffee. 

“Maybe I’m just the only one that does it right,” She suggested. “But you look like you need a lot more than a nap.” 

He nodded, dragging a hand down his face. The temptation to sleep was even stronger now, but before he had a chance to say anything, an officer with a sharp face and platinum blonde hair strode down the corridor with a file in her hands. 

“Her prints matched both murder scenes,” She said flatly, thrusting the file into his hands. “She’s waiting in the interrogation room.” 

She turned on her heel without giving him an opportunity to respond, disappearing through another door and leaving the two of them to look through the papers on their own. Letting out a dejected sigh at the fact that he actually had to do his job, he got to his feet, and, with no word from Dave, Patch followed him.

“So,” She said, pulling her hair back into a loose ponytail as they walked, “Do you have a plan?”

“Yeah, I got a plan. I call it ‘good cop crying cop’.” He turned towards her with a completely serious expression on her face. “Basically, you interview her like normal while I have a total breakdown.” 

“I know you’re joking but honestly? I’m on board with that.”

Maybe he was just delirious at this point, but he laughed at that, continuing up a flight of stairs to the interrogation room.

Lara looked up when they walked through the door, watching them as they sat opposite her. It was the first time Diego had been able to really look at her. She was a lot different from how he’d pictured her when he first heard Klaus describing her, almost like a porcelain doll with round cheeks and doe eyes. What struck him more than anything was how small she was now that they were face to face. Hunched over with her bony shoulders exposed and thin arms folded on the table in front of her, she looked almost half his size in the chair. And she didn’t look scared anymore, just tired. Her eyes were dull and hollow, with mascara smudged around them and making thin tracks down her cheeks. Her lips were cracked and bleeding from being bitten, there were faded bruises along her arms, and although she’d had the chance to wash the blood from her hands, it still covered the grey tank top she was wearing. 

“You ready to start?” He asked her and she nodded, looking down at her hands. 

Next to him, Patch started the tape recorder and he cleared his throat. 

“Okay. It’s February eleventh and the time is…” He squinted at the clock hanging on the wall. “6:35AM. I’m Detective Diego Hargreeves, this is Detective Eudora Patch. Can you give us your name and date of birth?”

“Lara Wilson,” She said quietly, picking at her cuticles restlessly. “October thirteenth 1995.” 

“Before we start I just wanna remind you that you’re entitled to legal advice if you-” 

“I told you, I don’t want any.” She folded her arms stubbornly and he shrugged. 

“Suit yourself,” He mumbled, sitting back in his chair. “Okay, so just get right into it. Last night you were found at the scene of an assault, next to the body of a sixteen year old boy. From what we can gather so far, he was stabbed in the stomach.”

“His name’s Matteo,” She said quietly, glancing up at him. “Is he okay?”

He’d been bracing himself for silence, or at best a string of “no comments”, so it caught him a little off guard when she spoke. 

“That’s not what we’re here to talk about,” He told her and she hunched her shoulders, lowering her eyes again. “Was that your apartment?” 

“Yes.”

“Can you tell me what he was doing there?” 

“I asked him to come,” She told him, keeping her eyes fixed on the table. “I’d been avoiding him and I knew he was worried about me, and then last night I called him and said he needed to come over so I could talk to him.”

“Talk to him about what?”

She shook her head. “I didn’t really need to talk to him, I just told him that so he’d come,” She said. “I invited him over so I could…” She chewed on her lip. “Because I wanted to kill him.” 

Diego and Patch glanced at each other, then back at her, and she continued staring fixedly down at the table in front of her. She bit down harder on her lip, and he could see her digging her nails into her arms, so hard it looked like she was close to breaking the skin. 

It wasn’t until Patch nudged his arm that he remembered he was supposed to be talking and he leant forward. “You wanted to?” 

She squeezed her eyes shut and nodded. 

“Why did you want to kill him?”

He didn’t get a response to that and Patch took over, folding her arms on the table as she spoke. “What was the nature of your relationship with him?” 

“We’re friends.”

“Just friends?”

Lara’s face twisted into a scowl at that and she looked up at her, narrowing her eyes as she muttered, “ Yes , just friends.” 

“You stab all your friends in the stomach?” He asked and she curled in on herself again. “Why’d you do it?”

She didn’t say anything and he shrugged. “Okay, how about I tell you what I think has been going on, and you can tell me how wrong I am. Deal?” 

Taking her silence as an agreement, he continued. “See, we talked to Matteo a couple days ago and he told us about his drug lord uncle,” He told her, cocking his eyebrow when she flinched. “Apparently he didn’t get on too well with your dad.”

“My dad’s dead,” She mumbled. 

“I was getting to that,” He said flatly. “So your dad dies, and your brother takes over, right?” Silence. “But your brother royally fucks up.”

Patch elbowed him sharply in the ribs and he looked at her indignantly. 

“What? I can say that.”

“It’s not professional,” She muttered. 

“You wanna know what’s unprofessional, Detective? ” He asked. “Interrupting me when I’m doing my job.”

Narrowing her eyes at him, she sat back in her seat and folded her arms silently. 

“Your brother started pushing his luck and sending his dealers out further and further until one guy goes too far.” He pulled Dan’s case report out of the file and slid it towards her. “Daniel Jackson sells the wrong thing to the wrong guy and now Matteo’s uncle is pissed . So he does what any normal person would do, and arranges to have him killed. And apparently he decides you’re just the woman for the job. But we’ve got another problem. You end up killing the wrong guy.”

She cringed when he slid the second case report towards her, her eyes landing on Josh’s face and quickly looking away again. “Josh Haywood dies, and you try to frame it as a suicide so nobody finds out about the mistake. Then you finish the job with Dan. But while you were busy with that, Matteo was busy trying to stop you. So his uncle gives you one last job and asks you to kill your best friend . And you do it. Or you tried to anyway. How’d I do?” 

Lara didn’t say anything and he slumped back in his seat. “Come on, can I at least get a mark out of ten?” 

“I didn’t mean to kill Josh,” She said, her voice cracking. 

He blinked at her. “Is... that a confession?” 

She nodded and he frowned, pointing to the tape recorder. “You need to say something.” 

It was almost a minute before she spoke again, hanging her head and nodding again. “I did it,” She said quietly. “All of it. I killed both those guys and… and I tried to kill Matteo too but- I did it.” 

He and Patch sat in stunned silence, and he looked over at her, trying to work out whether he’d just hallucinated the last thirty seconds in a moment of sleep deprived insanity. From the equally surprised look on her face, it must have really happened. It was Patch who snapped out of it first and nudged his arm, reminding him that he could actually charge her. 

Everything went by in a blur as they walked her back through the station and left her to get booked in, and they ended up back at his desk, with him collapsed in his chair while Patch sat on the edge of the desk. 

“You have a lot of paperwork to do,” She told him with a hint of a smile on her face, and he squinted up at her. 

How can you be enthusiastic about that?” 

She shrugged. “I think it’s satisfying.” 

“I think you need to get out more,” He muttered. “I’m this close to passing out.” He held his fingers up, as close as he could physically make them to prove his point. “I want to have a meltdown just thinking about doing paperwork.” 

Before Patch could reply, he felt a hand pat him on the shoulder and looked up as Dave sat on the other side of his desk. He looked exhausted, but gave him an attempt at a smile as he leant back on his hands. 

“How’s M?” Diego asked him, letting out a relieved sigh when Dave gave him a thumbs up. 

“He’s real shaken up, but the doctor said he’ll be okay. He’s got a couple of security guards outside the door.” He paused for a moment to think. “Oh! And his name’s Matteo.”

“Yeah, I know that.”

“Oh.” Dave looked a little deflated at that. “Could you maybe not mention that to Klaus? He was really excited to find out before you.” 

He rolled his eyes, and it took him a moment before he finally registered Klaus’ absence. “Where is he?”

“Sleeping,” He told him. “He could barely keep his eyes open so I left him in my bed.”

Diego paused. “Come again?”

They both stared at each other and Dave’s eyes went wide. “That’s not- we weren’t- we just went back there to get my glasses and he was really tired so-”

“So you just let him sleep in your bed?”

“Well... I would’a felt bad making him stay on the couch.”

“Is there something you wanna say to me, Dave?” 

“Guys, can we focus?” Patch interrupted. “I’d really like to go home.” 

“Oh, right,” Dave said, sitting upright. “What happened with Lara?”

Diego told him everything that happened. Or, he attempted to. Patch took over about halfway through his account once it became clear that he was too tired to string complete sentences together anymore. 

There was a notable lack of celebration from any of them about the confession, and the atmosphere felt sombre. He wanted to blame it on the lack of sleep, but in the back of his mind he knew something wasn’t right. And as much as he wanted to march into Carmichael’s office and proudly announce that the case was closed, he was almost certain it wasn’t.

Chapter Text

Paperwork sucked at the best of times. Trying to fill out paperwork when you’ve had four hours of sleep and stayed awake for another twenty four? Diego felt like he’d found the tenth circle of Hell. He’d been staring at his own writing for the last twenty minutes, trying to figure out whether he needed to add anything, but the letters may as well have been hieroglyphs for all the sense they were making to him now. Sighing, he nudged Patch, who looked like she was close to taking another nap, and slid the page over to her. 

“Can you tell me if any of that makes sense?” He asked, resting his elbows on the desk and massaging his temples. “I think the part of my brain that knows how to read just shut down.” 

Patch made a noise that sounded somewhat like “sure” and started looking over the form. 

“Frontal lobe,” Dave said, his arms folded over the scattering of forms in front of him with his head resting on top of them.

“What?”

“That’s the part of your brain that knows how to read.” 

“Why do you know that?”

“I have no idea.”

Humming curiously, Diego turned back to Patch, whose eyebrows were knitted together as her eyes scanned his writing, looking up at him with a frown on her face. 

“Don’t do this to me, Patch,” He said, unable to mask the desperation in his voice. “If I have to write that again it’ll break me.”

“No, it’s fine, it’s just…” She paused, looking at the form again, and then back to him. “I mean, would it kill you to use a comma every once in a while?” 

Diego blinked at her, slowly reaching out to take the form back. 

“Why do I like you?” He asked and she shrugged, going back to her own writing while he stacked up the papers in front of him. “Are you done with this?” He pointed to the form Dave had been working on, which had been sat untouched next to his head for the last ten minutes. Lifting his head an inch to look at it, Dave nodded and slumped back down again. 

“I think so,” He mumbled. “I don’t know. I can’t even remember what I was writing on it.” 

“We’re gonna call it finished,” Diego decided for him as he added it to the pile. “Patch, you done?”

“Almost.”

“Okay, when you say ‘almost’, do you mean you’ve almost finished writing? Or do you mean you have finished but you wanna spend another twenty minutes editing it for no reason?” 

Narrowing her eyes, she handed him the form. 

“I’ve finished,” She muttered. “Carmichael better appreciate this.”

“Don’t be insensitive, Eudora. You know he doesn’t feel things.” 

She laughed at that, resting her head on her hand and closing her eyes for a moment. Next to him, Dave was snoring with his head on the desk and Diego chuckled, patting him lightly on the shoulder as he stood up. Grunting, he cracked one eye open and looked up at him. 

“Is it home time?” He asked quietly. 

“Eager to get back to my brother?”

“Come on, man. That’s not what I meant.”

Sniggering, Diego picked up the stack of paperwork, a feeling of impending doom washing over him as he looked over at Carmichael’s office door. 

“You think I can get this on his desk without having a conversation with him?” He asked, frowning when Patch and Dave both snorted. 

“Maybe if you walk really slowly, he won’t notice you,” Patch suggested and Dave sniggered. 

“You could wait until he opens the door and then just throw the paperwork inside.”

“Oh, that’s a good one!” 

“You’re both assholes,” He muttered, clutching the paperwork to his chest and making his way over to the office. 

Carmichael was hunched over his desk when he cracked the door open, scribbling furiously into a notepad. He didn’t look up as Diego entered, continuing as if he wasn’t there while he paced across the room and set the paperwork down in front of him. 

“Your resignation?” He asked dryly, not looking up from his writing. 

“Conviction records,” Diego quipped back. “My suspect confessed to both murders, plus a third attempted murder. It’s all there.” 

He patted the papers proudly, waiting for Carmichael to shoot him back down with another cutting remark. It never came. Instead, he set his pen down and laced his fingers together on the desk, looking up at him and raising his eyebrow. 

“Is there anything else?” 

“Uh… Not really.” The question caught him off guard and he shoved his hands in his pockets, chewing on his lip for a moment. “Katz and I have been working through the night, so we’d kinda like to go home,” He said, quickly adding, “Patch too.” 

He looked thoughtful for a moment and nodded. “Fine. But I want you all in first thing tomorrow,” He said, going back to his writing without another word. 

Nodding, Diego turned on his heel, only making it halfway to the door before Carmichael spoke again. 

“Hargreeves?”

He sighed, bracing himself again for the criticism as he turned back around. 

“Yes, sir?” 

“Good work,” He said, nodding to the papers. “On the case.”

Diego blinked at him. “You feeling okay, sir?” 

“I’ve never been better,” He muttered in the same monotone voice. 

“Interesting.” Diego paused, rocking back on his heels. “Hey, can I have a raise?”

“Get out.”

“Yes, sir.”

He left, closing the door behind him before Carmichael could say anything else, and made his way back to his desk. Dave had fallen asleep again with his face buried in his arms, and Patch looked incredibly focused as she balanced stationary on his back. 

“How was that?” She asked when he reached them, not looking up as she attempted to balance a stapler between Dave’s shoulder blades. 

“Surprisingly okay, actually,” He said as he sat down. “We can go… if you’re not otherwise occupied.”

He watched as she gently tapped Dave on the arm, sniggering to herself when he sat up and sent the stationary clattering to the ground. 

“What’s going on?” He mumbled, rubbing his eyes and looking up at them. “Where are we?”

“We’re going home,” Diego told him and Dave punched the air with a half hearted cheer, having to use his arms to push himself up out of the chair. 

The three of them walked out to the parking lot, and when Diego heard Dave pulling out his car keys it took a lot of restraint not to smack them out of his hand, reaching out instead and lowering Dave’s arm. 

“You’re not driving, you idiot. Get in my car.”

Dave didn’t put up much of a fight, pocketing his keys again and climbing into the backseat. He pulled out his own keys, frowning when Patch turned to him and held her hand out. 

“What?” He asked, curling his fingers around them possessively. 

“You’re not driving either. Give them to me.”

“I will have you know, Eudora” He said, swaying slightly as he tried to hold himself upright, “That I am perfectly fit to drive.” 

“Give them to me,” She repeated sharply. 

“No,” He said stubbornly. “How are you gonna get home if you’re the one driving? You'll have to drop us both off and then drive off with my car. You’re not leaving with my car, Eudora. And you’ve already made it very clear that you don’t like staying at my place. So unless you plan on-”

“I was gonna take Dave home and then drive both of us back to my place, you dumbass.”

“Oh, and what? I’m supposed to walk all the way home from your house?” 

Patch stared at him for a moment. “Did you hit your head, Hargreeves?” 

It took another minute to finally register what she meant, staring dumbly back at her and handing her the keys. 

“What about Klaus?” He asked as he climbed into the passenger seat. 

“I think he can survive without you for a few hours,” She said, nodding at Dave’s reflection in the mirror. “Dave can take care of him.” 

Dave made a noise of acknowledgement behind them before slumping back against the seat, and Diego shrugged. 

“Fine,” He mumbled as he sunk back into his own seat. He’d gotten a slight adrenaline rush after Lara confessed, but now that it had worn off he was hit with the reality of how tired he was all over again. 

He wasn’t sure if he actually fell asleep in the car, but the next thing he knew they were pulling up outside Dave’s apartment. They walked with him to his front door, mostly out of concern that he wouldn’t be able to get up the stairs unaided. From the doorway he could see through to Dave’s bedroom, where Klaus was curled up on the bed with his legs tangled up in a blanket and his arms hugging one of the pillows, apparently oblivious to their arrival. Dave was watching him when he turned back around, folding his arms defensively before he even had a chance to say anything. 

“I’m gonna sleep on the couch,” He mumbled, in response to a comment that hadn’t been made. 

“Do what you want,” Diego said with a shrug. “Just so you know, he talks in his sleep. And he says a lot of weird shit. Weirder than the stuff he says when he’s awake.” He turned to leave but stopped before he’d taken more than a step, turning back towards him again. “Also, if it starts getting dark out he’ll need a light on. And not just a little table lamp, I mean the whole room needs to be lit up. He’s probably gonna get disoriented when he wakes up in a different house. If he starts yelling when he wakes up, do not touch him until he asks you to. And don’t try to get him to talk about the nightmares.” 

As if on cue, Klaus let out a muffled whimper in the next room, mumbling something indistinguishable and thrashing his legs out before he settled down again. Dave didn’t look particularly fazed by the outburst, rocking back on his heels like he was getting impatient waiting for them to leave. 

“Is that everything?” He asked and Diego nodded.

“Yeah, I think so,” He said quietly. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

Patch took him by the arm and led him out before he could change his mind and start talking again, walking him back to the car and holding the door open for him. She had a small smile on her face as they drove back, glancing over at him every so often and sniggering to herself. 

“What’s the matter with you?” 

“Nothing,” She said, turning her attention back to the road. “You’re really sweet. You know that?”

“What? No I’m not. Shut up.” He folded his arms defensively and she laughed. 

“Yeah you are. With your little protective brother routine.”

“I wasn’t being protective ,” He muttered. “I was just making sure Dave doesn’t shit his pants when Klaus starts screaming at him in his sleep.” 

“Okay.”

“Shut up.”

“I said okay!” 

She bit her lip to stifle another laugh and he narrowed his eyes at her, shifting in his seat and looking through the window. When they arrived at her house, Diego made his way on autopilot back to the front room, collapsing onto the couch with a grunt. Patch followed behind him and folded her arms.

“What are you doing?” She asked as he closed his eyes.

“Sleeping,” He mumbled. “Is that allowed?” 

“You’re just… willingly relegating yourself to the couch?” 

He paused, cracking one eye open again and looking up at her. “Was that not the plan?” 

“I mean, it’s up to you I guess,” She said, shrugging at him. “But you can come upstairs if you want.” 

“I didn’t come here to try and get in bed with you, Patch.”

“I know. That’s not-” She dragged her hand down her face and leant against the doorframe with a defeated sigh. “I’m asking you.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.” 

They both stared at each other for a moment and she started drumming her fingers on her arm. “Are you coming or what?” 

“Yeah.” He nodded, and it took a few seconds for his legs to come back to life, getting to his feet and following her back into the hallway.

“You’re such an idiot,” She said as she started making her way up the stairs. “Why do I like you?”

“I think you like me because I’m an idiot.” 

Patch stopped him before he set foot on the stairs. “Take your shoes off. These are new carpets.”

Rolling his eyes, he tugged his boots off and left them at the foot of the stairs, hopping up them two at a time to catch up to her again. 

Patch’s bedroom wasn’t much bigger than his own, but the light, powder blue walls and tall windows made it feel more spacious. There was a white shaggy rug laid out over the floorboards, and a chair tucked into the furthest corner piled with blankets and pillows, with a stack of books balanced on the windowsill within easy reaching distance. The bed was pushed against the opposite wall, still unmade with the duvet crumpled on one side and pillows in every shade of blue squashed and strewn across the mattress. 

With little hesitation, he made his way over to the bed and fell forward onto the mattress, curling up and burying his face in the pillows. 

“Better than the couch?” Patch asked. 

“Ngh,” He responded and she laughed, circling around the bed and pulling the curtains shut to block out most of the daylight. 

“Are you sleeping like that?” 

Using some of the remaining energy in his body, he turned his head to the side to look up at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You still have your jacket on.” 

“Oh, right,” He mumbled. “Yeah, I guess I’m sleeping like this.”

“What about the knives?”

He attempted to respond, but the only noise that came out was a muffled grunt and she sighed, sitting on the edge of the bed and wrestling his arms out of his jacket for him. He glanced up at her when he felt her fingers tracing around the stitches on his arm, her eyebrows knitted together with concern. Her fingers brushed over a tender spot and she jerked her hand away when he flinched, mumbling a quiet, “Sorry” and moving her hand up to his shoulder. 

“Did she do that to you?” She asked, her eyes still fixed on the wound, and he shook his head. 

“That was... something else.”

She frowned, and he knew she knew what he meant, but she didn’t push the subject, staying quiet as she moved to unbuckle the knife holsters. It took a few more minutes for her to get the harness off his chest, muttering under her breath at his feeble attempt to lift himself off the mattress for her. 

“Better?” She asked as she set the knives down on her bedside table and he nodded. “Do you want the jeans off too?”

“Tryin’a get in my pants, Eudora?” 

She swatted his arm lightly and he laughed. “I can get them off myself. I’m not totally incapacitated.” 

“Thank God,” She muttered, getting up and leaving him to wriggle awkwardly out of his jeans while she padded across the room to change her clothes. 

A few minutes later he felt the mattress dip behind him as she sat back down, and he rolled over to look up at her. She’d changed back into her sweatpants and propped herself up against the headboard with a pillow behind her head and a book in one hand, while the other attempted continuously to brush away the locks of hair falling out of her ponytail and into her face. It had been so long since he’d been in her room to actually sleep , he’d almost forgotten all the little rituals she went through before she went to bed. 

“What are you reading?” He asked, his voice croaking, as he shuffled closer and craned his neck to try and get a view of the book she was holding. 

“It’s about a girl who gets a bunch of crazy superpowers, and now she has to save the world.”

“I’ll pass on that.”

“Actually, I think you’d like this one.”

“Hmm,” He hummed thoughtfully, grinning up at her. “You know, if superhero literature is your thing, Patch, you might enjoy this really great comic line called The Umbrella-”

She shoved his face away before he could finish, sniggering and shaking her head. 

“I wouldn’t read those things if you paid me.”

“Nobody would. That’s why they’ve been on sale for the last eight years.” 

“Try not to take it too hard,” She said with a smirk, reaching over with her free hand and running her fingers through his hair. “I’m sure it was nothing personal.”

“I don’t care, those things sucked. They could never get my skin tone right,” He mumbled. “I think I was blond in one run.”

She threw her head back laughing at that and he managed a sleepy smile, closing his eyes and listening to her giggling. The feeling of her fingers rubbing small circles across his scalp was sending tingles down his spine, and he started unconsciously leaning in to the touch. It didn’t take her long to notice and start applying a little more pressure, and it took a lot of restraint not to moan at the feeling. 

“You know I used to think you were an asshole?” She asked quietly and he huffed out a laugh. 

“Yeah, Patch, you didn’t make much of a secret of it.”

“I mean when you were a kid,” She said, giggling to herself. “I didn’t like you.”

He cracked one eye open again at that and smirked up at her. “Passing judgement on a preteen? That’s cold, even for you.”

“I was only two years older than you,” She pointed out. “And you were always so grouchy. You never said anything in any of your interviews, you always just sat there in the back looking like you couldn’t wait to leave.”

Diego closed his eyes again and hummed thoughtfully. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation fogging up his brain, or maybe part of him really wanted to start knocking down the wall he’d put up between them, but for whatever reason, he decided to tell her the truth this time.

“I wasn’t allowed to talk,” He said quietly, keeping his eyes closed. “Because of the stammer. Dad told me to let the others do the talking and to only say something if somebody spoke to me directly. Said he didn’t want me to look weak.”

The hand Patch was using to rub his head stilled for a moment, and she started carding her fingers slowly through his hair instead. 

“That’s horrible,” She said softly and he shrugged. 

“It was one of his nicer moments, to be honest.” 

Patch hummed, sensing that he was already done with the subject. “For the record,” She said as she continued stroking his hair. “I didn’t think you were an asshole when we met. That’s why it took me so long to work out who you were.” 

They both fell silent again and he yawned, nestling his head against the pillows. 

“Go to sleep,” She said after a few minutes, moving her hand further down and tracing lines softly across his shoulder blades. 

He didn’t have the energy to muster up a snarky response, so he just nodded, and it didn’t take him long to do as he was told. 

The sun had moved around when he woke up again, and was now shining directly through the gaps in the curtains and warming the whole room up. Patch was asleep opposite him, with her cheek squashed against her arm and her hair escaping from her ponytail and falling into her face. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and shifting into a more comfortable position with his arms hugging the pillow under his head, he watched her for a moment. Another curl fell in her face and he had to bite back a laugh when she snorted and wrinkled her nose up. She stirred when he reached over to tuck the hair behind her ear, cracking one eye open to look at him before letting out a deep breath and tilting her head up into his touch. 

“Good morning,” She said quietly, her voice low and raspy from sleeping. 

“I don’t think it’s morning.” 

Humming thoughtfully, she rolled over to look at the clock on her bedside table. 

“2:30,” She mumbled as she shuffled backwards, pressing her back against him and sighing contentedly when he looped his arm around her waist. 

They lay like that for a while, but it didn’t take long for Diego to start getting restless, nosing at her hair and tracing his fingers along the sliver of exposed skin between her shirt and the waistband of her pants. Shivering, she reached down and laced their fingers together, stopping his hand in its tracks. 

“Sorry,” He whispered in her ear and she shook her head, rolling around to face him.

Nudging his shoulder, she rolled him onto his back and straddled his hips, her lips quirking into a coy smile as she guided his hands back to her waist. 

“You know,” He said, shifting his shoulders to get comfortable. “It’d be nice if just once , you let me lead.”

“That’s never gonna happen.”

She grinned at him and leaned down until their faces were barely an inch apart, bumping their noses together and tracing her finger along his jaw. It felt like an eternity they were staring at each other, her dark eyes scanning his face, searching for something. 

“You waiting for my permission, Patch?” He asked, smirking up at her when she sniggered. 

“No,” She said softly, brushing her thumb across his cheek, “Just trying to figure out what you’re thinking.”

“How much time have you got?” 

Laughing, she leant in closer and pressed the briefest of kisses to his lips before pulling away again. He lifted his head up, trying to chase her lips and keep kissing her, but he paused.

“Wait, is your sister still here?” 

She shook her head. “She has work today. She won’t be back for a few hours.”

“It’s almost as if you planned this.” 

She shrugged, dipping down until her lips were teasingly close and waiting for him to lean up and kiss her again. It was the first time in a while that he didn’t feel like they had to rush anything, sinking back against the pillows and taking everything in. Her weight on top of him. Her smile whenever he grazed her lip with his teeth. Her fingers pulling lightly on his hair when he ran his hands up her sides, and the soft noises she made every time he skimmed over the hem of her shirt. 

She moved her fingers down, tracing the scar that ran along the side of his head down to his cheek. Pulling away from him for a moment, she ignored the disgruntled noise he made and tilted her head to look at it. 

“You ever gonna tell me how you got this one?” She asked and he huffed out a laugh. 

“Read the room, Dora.”

“I don’t mean now ,” She said with a laugh. “Just… one day?”

Humming thoughtfully, he turned and kissed the palm of her hand. “One day.” 

“Is it something really stupid?” She asked, biting her lip as she smiled down at him. “Is that why you won’t tell me? Did you slip and crack your head on a kitchen cabinet or something?”

“Not exactly.” He paused, pointing to the scar on his eyebrow. “I got this one from running into a door, though.” 

She giggled, and he took advantage of her momentary lapse in concentration, grabbing hold of her waist and flipping them over and bracketing her hips with his legs. 

“That’s cheating,” She muttered, though she didn’t put up much of a fight when he leant down to kiss her again. 

“You gonna arrest me?” 

“I might,” She warned as he kissed along her jaw and down her neck. “I’ve got enough on you.”

She shivered when he hummed against her skin, glancing up at her as he nipped experimentally at a sensitive spot on her neck. 

“Don’t you dare,” She warned and he chuckled. 

“You don’t want people to know you have fun sometimes?”

“Not with you,” She quipped. 

Sniggering, he crawled back up to face her.

“Nobody’s gonna know it was me,” He said lowly, dipping down to catch her lips again when she smiled. 

“Yes.. they will,” She said between kisses, cupping his face in her hands to get him to let up for a second. “Every single person in that precinct saw me leave with you. And even if they hadn’t , they’d still know it was you anyway.” 

“Because you’re so crazy about me?”

“Because you’re so annoyingly persistent.” She tried to keep a straight face, but her resolve crumbled again when he cocked his head innocently. 

They both fell silent for a moment, staring at each other before Diego spoke again, ducking down to nip at her bottom lip as he whispered, “You could always wear a turtleneck tomorrow.” 

She collapsed in a fit of giggles at that, letting her head fall back against the pillows and wrapping her arms around his shoulders as she laughed. 

“If you leave a single mark on me I’m kicking you out of bed,” She said, attempting to be stern despite her giggles. 

“Noted,” He purred before kissing the corner of her mouth, moving his hands up to her hair and hooking his finger around her hair tie. “Can I take this out?” 

She nodded and he eased her ponytail out, combing his fingers through the dark curls as they fell out across the pillow and cascaded around her face. 

“You’re beautiful,” He said, because it was true, and she smiled at the compliment, reaching up and guiding his hands down to her waist. 

“You’re taking too long.” 

Chuckling, he ran his thumbs over her hip bones, grinning smugly when she arched up off the mattress. He moved one hand further up, tracing along the edge of her t-shirt and looking up at her with a silent request. She nodded and he slipped his hand beneath the fabric, earning a satisfied hum of approval from her as he teased along her side. 

“You’re still taking too long,” She murmured, breathing heavily and letting out a frustrated noise when he dipped down to kiss her. 

“Jeeze, Eudora,” He teased. “You sound desperate.”

“Shut up,” She muttered as she smacked his shoulder lightly. “It’s been a while.”

“Yeah, no shit.” 

With his free hand, he ghosted his fingers across the waistband of her sweatpants, waiting for another nod before he slipped underneath. 

He didn’t remember falling asleep, but it was a little later in the afternoon when he opened his eyes, laid out on his back with Patch curled up in the duvet next to him. At first he thought she was asleep, but she looked up at him when he moved, sighing and giving him a small smile. This was always the worst part. Sitting in silence that just bordered on uncomfortable while they both waited for the other to say something. To give some kind of indication of where they stood now. 

It was Diego who eventually spoke, worrying on his bottom lip and picking at a loose thread on the hem of his shirt as he mumbled, “Now what?”

There was another long silence before she replied, just as quietly, “I don’t know.” 

More silence, and he let out a deep breath, drumming his fingers on the mattress awkwardly. 

“Can I use your shower?” 

“Sure.” She nodded, watching him as he sat upright. “There’s still a few of your things in the drawer if you want them.”

“You kept my stuff? That’s sweet,” He teased. “I never took you for the sentimental type.”

“It’s not sentimental,” She hissed. “You never took them back, and by the time I’d remembered they were there it was too late to offer them back to you because I knew you’d make exactly that kind of comment. And it’s not like I could just throw them out because they weren’t mine, so I’ve just been stuck with this drawer full of your shit. That is not sentiment.”

Diego nodded his head, pausing for a moment before smirking at her. “You just wanted something that smelled like me, right?”

She swatted his arm and he sniggered. 

“They don’t smell like you. They smell like shit that’s been sitting in my drawer for a year.” 

“Oh, so you have been smelling them?” 

“Are you taking that shower or not?” 

Chuckling, he got up and paced across the room to her drawers, wrenching the top one open to examine the clothes that were still neatly folded inside. 

“Remember when you used to wear colours?” Patch said flatly, watching him as he pulled the faded red t-shirt out. 

He ignored her and tossed the shirt onto the chair next to him, far more interested in the pair of dark jeans folded underneath. 

“Jesus,” He murmured under his breath, running his fingers over the rips on the knees. “Was I having a midlife crisis?”

“How old do you think you are, Diego?” 

“My psyche is pushing fifty.” 

She snorted. “They’re fine. Go.” 

Grabbing the clothes, he headed through the door and across the hall to the bathroom. It was a far cry from his own bathroom, which had barely enough floor space to stand up in. Hers was more spacious, with grey tiles that covered the floor and came halfway up the walls. 

It wasn’t until he was in the shower, with the water so cold it felt like shards of ice hitting his skin, that his brain started ticking over again, and he started thinking back to Lara’s confession. The more he thought about it, the more he wished he’d waited until he was in a more coherent frame of mind to talk to her. Nothing about it made sense. Least of all her willingness to confess to everything with only the slightest push. There was something about it that didn’t feel right, and now that the thought was in his head he couldn’t shake it. Drying himself off and throwing on the old clothes, he paced back to Patch’s room to collect the rest of his things. 

Patch was still curled up in bed, looking close to falling asleep again with her arms hugging one of the pillows. 

“You get lost or something?” She asked, her eyes following him as he walked around the bed. “What took you so long?” 

“I was thinking,” He mumbled. 

“I didn’t know you had it in you.” 

He ignored the comment, slinging his harness over his shoulders and grabbing his jacket. 

“Are you going somewhere?” 

“The station.”

Frowning, she sat upright and shuffled towards him. “What’s wrong?” 

“There’s something not right about that confession,” He said as he pulled his jacket on. “I’m gonna go talk to her again.”

“You don’t think she did it?”

Obviously she did it. Klaus already proved that before we even found her. I just think there’s more to it.” 

She nodded slowly, shifting with uncertainty under the duvet. 

“You don’t have to come with me,” He told her, reading her expression before she could speak. “I’m gonna get Dave.” 

“Okay,” She said with another nod, pausing before adding, “Call me if you find anything, though. Promise me.”

“Cross my heart.” He dragged his finger across his chest to make his point and she rolled her eyes, nestling back against the pillows. “I’ll, uh… See you later?” 

There was an uncertainty to his voice, and an uncertainty to the way she nodded, but he tried not to dwell on it as he made his way through the door and down the stairs to his car.

It didn’t take him long to get to Dave’s, taking the stairs two at a time and rapping on the door. A minute passed and he got no answer, so he knocked again, a little more forceful. This time he heard a faint but familiar laugh, and a few seconds later the door swung open. 

“Oh.” The smile on Klaus’ face faded a little when he saw him standing in the doorway. “It’s you.”

“Damn. Good to see you too, bro.” 

Klaus stepped to the side to let him in, watching as he walked past him. 

“You look refreshed,” He observed, the life returning to his face again as he grinned smugly and patted him on the shoulder. “Did you have a pleasant stay at Patch’s?” 

“How did you-” He cut himself off before he could finish, because of course Dave told him where he’d gone. Sighing, he shrugged and mumbled, “It was fine.” 

“I bet it was.” 

“Shut up.” 

Sniggering, Klaus folded his arms and leant back against the door. “So now what?” He asked, his face turning more serious. “Did she magically fall back in love with you this time?” 

Diego gawked at him for a second, taken aback by the sudden bluntness. “ No ,” He finally said, folding his arms defensively. “That’s not… I’m not… We’re friends .”

“Friends who bang each other?”

“Yeah. That’s a thing. Grow up.”

“I am well aware that it’s a thing, Diego,” Klaus said, with a striking amount of confidence. “But that thing only works if you’re not emotionally invested. This thing,” He drew a circle with his finger around him as he spoke, “Is not fuck buddies. This is a sad, scared little man-baby who can’t admit his feelings about anything, which, need I remind you, is the reason your relationship went to shit in the first place-”

“Yeah, Klaus, I happened to notice,” Diego hissed. 

“Oh, good! So you agree that this cycle you’re stuck in is just your weird attempt at trying to express your emotions because God forbid you just talk to her. And that you’re just clinging to the idea that maybe she’ll realise you still have feelings for her, and then she’ll realise she has feelings for you too. Except it’s never going to work because to her it is just sex, and that’s all it’s ever going to be unless you have an actual conversation because you literally broke her heart, Diego, and regardless of how determined you both are to pretend it never happened, that shit is not just gonna go away.” 

Diego stared at him, his mouth hanging open like a fish as he tried to come up with something to say. It was hard to come up with any kind of response with Klaus smiling smugly at him, the way he always did when he knew he’d rendered him speechless. 

“Why don’t you go fuck yourself, Klaus,” He muttered, narrowing his eyes when Klaus wiggled his eyebrows. “It’s none of your business, anyway.”

“Yeah, you’re right. You’re right.” Klaus nodded and looked down at the floor. “If you wanna keep torturing yourself, that’s your business.”

“Yeah? Well it didn’t feel like I was torturing myself.”

“Please, spare me the details!”

“I will!”

“Good!”

Good!

They both fell silent again. Klaus rocked back on his heels and cleared his throat, wringing his hands awkwardly. 

“So uh… moving on.” He said quietly. 

“Yeah.” Diego nodded. “How are you?”

“Oh, I’m great! Really good, actually. Hey are you wearing colours? I’m proud of you.” 

“Shut up,” He muttered, looking Klaus up and down and frowning. “What are you wearing?”

“Oh!” Klaus looked down at the grey sweats he was wearing, with the drawstrings tied in a tight knot to keep them from falling off his hips. “Sweatpants!”

“Since when do you wear sweatpants?”

“Since now,” He said with a grin. “Yeah. I couldn’t really sleep in those jeans. Little tight around…” He gestured vaguely downwards and then waved his hand. “Well you know what I mean. And un fortunately I’d been feeling a little slutty yesterday and decided to forgo the whole underwear thing, and Dave and I are still only in the early stages of… whatever this is, plus you know my whole thing about sleeping naked, so yeah, he gave me these, and I’m a little bit obsessed with them. Who knew clothes could be comfortable , right?” 

Diego blinked at him and he sniggered, shoving his hands in his pockets. 

“Why are you here anyway?” He asked, cocking his head curiously. “It better be important. Things were just starting to get interesting.”

“I need to- what do you mean interesting?

“None of your business.”

Diego rolled his eyes. “I need to talk to Dave about the case,” He told him as he glanced around the empty room. “Where is he?” 

“He’s in bed,” Klaus said, ignoring Diego quirking his eyebrow at him. “I’ll go get him.”

He turned on his heel and pushed the bedroom door open, and Diego followed behind him as he padded across the room to the bed where Dave was sitting, propped up against the pillows. Seemingly oblivious to Diego’s presence, he wrapped his arm around Klaus’ waist as soon as he was close enough, pulling him onto his lap and leaving his hands on his hips while Klaus tried to stop himself from laughing. 

“What took you so long?” He asked in a low voice. “Who was it?”

“My brother,” Klaus said, draping his arms over Dave’s shoulders. “He wants to know what your intentions are with me.” 

“Yeah? How much time do I get to think it over?”

“Zero seconds,” Diego said bluntly and Dave flinched. 

“Jesus Christ , man!” He exclaimed, tossing Klaus onto the mattress next to him and folding his arms while he curled up laughing. “What do you want?

“I need to talk to you.”

“Okay, good,” Dave said, sitting upright, “Because I have some points to make. First of all, Klaus is an adult, and he’s perfectly capable of making his own decisions without you getting involved in-”

“Not about Klaus , you moron.”

“Oh.”

“I’d like to hear what he has to say,” Klaus piped up, sinking back down again when Diego shot him a cold stare. 

“It’s about Lara,” He said, turning back to Dave. “I think we need to talk to her again.” 

Dave pursed his lips to hold back what Diego assumed was going to be a snide remark about working nonstop, staying silent for a moment before he spoke. 

“She already confessed to everything.” 

“Yeah, but it was too easy,” Diego said, perching himself on the edge of the bed. 

Klaus muttered something under his breath and nestled up against Dave’s side, closing his eyes while Diego continued talking. 

“She insisted on no lawyer, no legal advice, nothing. The only physical evidence we had on her were some fingerprints, which we never even showed her because in less than fifteen minutes she’d already confessed to two counts of homicide, and all it took was me asking nicely.” 

“Okay,” Dave said, nodding his head slowly. “I guess that’s a little weird.”

“A little?

“Well, she is a kid, Diego. She was probably scared shitless in that interrogation.”

“Yeah, she was terrified,” He agreed. “But I don’t think it was us she was scared of.” 

Dave looked thoughtful, chewing on his lip as he mulled everything over. Next to him, Klaus didn’t look like he was paying much attention, physically wrapping Dave’s arm around himself and humming happily when Dave pulled him closer. 

“You guys talk too much,” He mumbled.

“We still don’t know why she decided to switch sides,” Dave said, ignoring Klaus’ comment. “Or why she agreed to try and kill Matteo.” 

“His uncle’s gotta have some dirt on her or… or something .” Diego sighed and looked down at his hands, bouncing his knee restlessly. “I don’t know what could be so bad that she’d agree to kill people for him though.” 

“Hence why you wanna talk to her again?”

He nodded and Dave let out a deep breath. Klaus chuckled and leant towards him, glancing over at Diego before whispering, “It’s easier if you just do what he says.” 

“Okay, fine,” He said, holding his hands up in defeat. “You’re right. But I’m taking a shower first.” 

Diego shrugged at that and he got up, pacing across the room and grabbing some clothes before disappearing through the door. He and Klaus sat in silence for a few minutes until Diego cleared his throat. 

“So were you sharing the bed the whole time or…”

“Mmhmm,” Klaus hummed, nestling back against the pillows. “We didn’t do anything, so don’t get your panties in a bunch.” 

“That’s not what I-” He sighed. “I’m pretty sure you’ve never shared a bed with anyone before. Like, ever.” 

“I’ve shared a bed with you plenty of times.”

“I mean normal people.”

“Oh.” Klaus grinned. “Well in that case, yeah, you’re right.” 

He waited for a moment for Klaus to say something else, but it soon became clear he didn’t plan on elaborating, so Diego prompted him. 

“Was it… okay?”

“Yeah,” He said quietly. “I woke him up a few times, but he was really sweet about it. Oddly, he seemed to know exactly what to do and what to say to me.” 

Diego dropped his eyes at that and Klaus giggled, nudging him with his foot. 

“You realise being protective is supposed to be my job, right? Being the oldest and all.”

“Shut up, you idiot,” He muttered, but he couldn’t stop himself from sniggering at the way Klaus feigned offense, widening his eyes and hanging his mouth open as wide as he could get it. 

A few minutes passed and Dave returned, looking a little more perked up. 

“Let’s go,” He said abruptly, grabbing a jacket that had been left slung over a chair in the corner of the room. 

“Can we stop for milkshakes?” Klaus asked as he got up to find his jeans. 

“We are not stopping for milkshakes.” 

After stopping for milkshakes, they pulled up outside the station, and the three of them sat in the car for a few minutes as they tried to come up with a plan. 

“What do we actually know about Matteo’s uncle?” Dave asked over the noise of Klaus slurping his drink in the backseat. “Besides the fact that he’s an untouchable drug lord?”

“Nobody’s untouchable,” Diego muttered, twirling his straw as he thought. “We don’t know anything. Not even his name.” He paused and turned around to face Klaus. “Dan must’a known something about him. You think you could get him?” 

It seemed to take Klaus a few seconds to register that he was being spoken to, looking up blankly at him and pointing at his own face. “Me?”

“No, Klaus, I was talking to my other ghost-seeing brother.”

Klaus side eyed the empty seat at that and sniggered to himself, stirring his milkshake absentmindedly. “I uh… I can’t.” 

“What do you mean you-” He stopped mid-sentence when Klaus hung his head, and the realisation hit him. “You didn’t. Tell me you’re fucking joking, Klaus.”

“We were in a hospital ,” Klaus said defensively, curling up in the corner of the seat. “And you know I hate hospitals, so I popped one measly pill, just to take the edge off.”

Just one?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. “And another a few hours later to help me sleep, but that was all, I swear!” 

Diego pinched the bridge of his nose. “Do you have more on you?”

“No.”

“Turn out your pockets.”

“Diego, come on, I-”

Now.

Rolling his eyes, Klaus did as he was told, turning out his pockets to reveal nothing more than a few coins, a blue hair tie, and a pen cap. 

“Happy?” He asked, folding his arms indignantly, and Diego nodded. 

“Wait here,” He told him as he undid his seatbelt. “We won’t be long.”

“Why do I have to stay here?”

“Because I’m not letting you wander around a police station while you’re tripping balls, jackass.” 

“Oh.”

Klaus sunk back into his seat and the two of them got out. For a moment Diego considered locking the door, but part of him knew that if Klaus really wanted to get out, a locked door wasn’t going to stop him. Next to him, Dave cleared his throat, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly when Diego looked over at him. 

“I uh… I didn’t know,” He said quietly. “Just in case you thought we were both conspiring against you or something.” 

“I didn’t think that,” Diego mumbled. “Even if you had known, you wouldn’t have been able to stop him. So don’t worry about it.”

“Still, I feel kinda stupid for not realising.”

Diego shook his head, holding the door open for him as they walked inside. 

“You’ve only known him a week,” He pointed out. “I’ve known him our whole lives and he still finds ways to trick me. It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s my fault for letting him go to a hospital. If I’d been thinking straight then maybe-”

“Diego,” Dave interrupted, grabbing his arm and turning him around to face him. “He’s not your responsibility.”

“Yeah, well, he kinda is though.”

“No he’s not. He’s an adult, he can take care of himself.”

“He doesn’t though. He knows what his limits are and he knows exactly what he can and can’t handle, but if you tell him he has to go somewhere he’ll just do it anyway because that’s what we w-were raised to do. I do the same thing but it doesn’t matter because I can handle it but he can't, w-w-which is why I have to look out for him, because if I don't, then this ends up happening.” 

Dave didn’t say anything and he sighed, dragging his hand down his face. “You know, it’d be nice if we could just have one day where things didn’t end up going to total shit and- what are you doing?” 

“Hugging you,” Dave said as he wrapped his arms around his shoulders and pulled him closer. 

“Why?”

“Because you’re upset.”

“I’m not upset,” He muttered and Dave hummed thoughtfully. 

“So you’re just yelling in the middle of the police station… because you’re happy?”

“... Yes.” 

“Okay.” He chuckled, patting Diego’s back and letting go of him again. “Let’s go find Lara.”

He nodded and the two of them continued walking through the precinct and down the hall to the cells. 

“You know what I think would be hilarious?” Dave said while they were waiting for Lara to be brought out. “If we did the good cop bad cop thing, but I was the bad cop.” 

Diego snorted at that. “You know, when I was still training I sat in for an interrogation, and the second I sat down the guy turns to me and goes ‘I’m guessing you’re the bad cop then?’. I hadn’t even said anything.” 

“Well, to be fair, you do have a visible knife holster around your chest.” 

They both chuckled and Dave looked down at his hands, twiddling his thumbs before he spoke again. 

“So, um, I was thinking of taking Klaus out somewhere,” He said quietly. 

“Are you asking for my blessing or something?”

“No, I don’t give a shit about that. I just wondered what kind of movies he likes? You know him better than I do.”

“Oh, right.” Diego thought for a moment. “No scary movies, unless it’s so bad that he can make fun of it. He mostly likes romance movies and stuff to be honest. Really cheesy shit.” 

Dave cocked his eyebrow at that. “Are you just saying that to sabotage me?”

“No! I swear, that’s what he likes,” He said, holding his hands up innocently. “He also hates salted popcorn.” 

Before Dave could reply, the same sharp, platinum haired woman from before marched back towards them. 

“She’s ready,” She said flatly before turning on her heel and leading them down the hall to the interrogation room. 

Lara had cleaned up a bit since he last saw her, with a clean set of clothes and the blood wiped off her face. She watched them cautiously as they walked across the room and sat down, wrapping her arms tightly around herself and shifting uncomfortably in her chair. They went through all the formalities again. She quietly mumbled out her name and date of birth again, hanging her head when he’d finished talking. 

“I already told you what I did,” She said quietly before either of them had a chance to say anything. “Why are you back?”

“I have a few follow up questions,” Diego said with a shrug. “About why you killed those people.”

“You already know why. You said it all yourself before.”

“I know why they were killed. I don’t know why you killed them.”

She looked up at that, staring blankly at him like she couldn’t work out what he meant, so he continued. 

“Dan worked for your dad, right? And then your brother?” It was more of a statement than a question, but she nodded. “So what made you switch sides?”

“I switched to the winning side,” She mumbled, looking back down at the table. 

“So you just… abandoned your brother and started killing his guys? That’s cold.”

She stayed quiet for a moment and chewed on her lip, wrapping her arms tighter around herself. 

“And what about Matteo?” Diego continued. “You were happy to kill your best friend for nothing?” 

“I didn’t kill him.”

“But you tried to,” He pointed out. “Has it occurred to you that now you’re here, his uncle might just find somebody else to finish the job?” 

Dave nudged him under the table, but Lara looked up again, all the colour gone from her face as she stared at him. 

“I can’t help him,” She said, her voice barely more than a whisper. “I- What am I supposed to do?” 

“You tell us what happened, and then when we find that asshole, we can arrest him.” He jabbed his finger on the table to emphasise his point. “He must have done something to make you kill those people. Was he paying you?”

“No.”

“Did he hurt you?” Dave chipped in.

No , that’s not-” She buried her face in her hands and let out a deep breath before glancing back up at him. “He has my brother.”

“What do you mean? Where?”

“I don’t know ,” She said, slumping back in her chair defeatedly. “He just… he disappeared. And then the next thing I know I’m being hounded by these guys telling me that if I don’t do exactly what they say, they were gonna kill him.” 

Diego could feel Dave’s eyes on him, but he refused to turn around, leaning forwards towards Lara and looking her in the eye. 

“I’m gonna find your brother,” He told her. “But first I need you to tell me exactly what happened.”

Chapter Text

“Okay, let’s go from the top again.”

They’d been sat in the interrogation room for close to half an hour now, and it didn’t feel much like they’d gotten anywhere. Lara had worked herself into such a panic that most of the answers she was giving made barely any sense anymore. Dragging his hand down his face, Diego slumped back in his seat and sighed.

“Are you certain they have your brother?” He asked and she nodded, balling her hands up into fists to rub her eyes. “There’s no chance they could have been bluffing?”

“Th-They… They…” She took a deep breath and wiped her nose on the back of her sleeve. “They showed me videos of him.”

“What kind of videos?”

Lara’s lip started quivering again. “Um…” She hung her head, wringing her hands nervously. “He was tied up in a room. I don’t know where it was.”

“What did it look like?”

“I don’t know… dark? It looked pretty empty.”

“Are you sure it was a recent video?” Dave asked her. “Like, there’s no way it was just some old footage or something?”

“I’m sure.”

How sure?” Diego prompted.

Completely sure,” She said, sitting upright a little. “He got into a fight a couple of days before he went missing. Had to get stitches across his eyebrow. They were still there in the videos.”

“Right.” Diego shut his eyes and rubbed his temples, trying to fend off the headache he could already feel coming on. “So in thirty minutes, we’ve established that your brother has definitely been kidnapped.”

Lara let out a deep breath. “I don’t know what they’re gonna do to him now that I’m here.”

“That’s not important.”

Diego ,” Dave hissed and he rolled his eyes.

“What I mean is, you can’t worry about that right now. We need to focus on finding him. And the only way I’m gonna be able to do that is if you answer everything I ask you, as quickly as you can. Okay?”

She nodded, taking another breath and wrapping her arms around herself.

“Your brother, what’s his name?”

“Lucas.”

“How old is he?”

“Twenty one. He’ll be twenty two in a couple of weeks.”

“What’s he look like?”

“Um.” She paused, chewing on her lip thoughtfully. “He’s got light brown hair that’s sort of… shaved on one side.” She swiped her hand across the side of her head to make her point. “He’s taller than me. Like, 5’11 I think? He has a tattoo of a snake around his arm, and a rose… like my one,” She said, holding out her wrist to show the red rose tattoo. “But his is on his right wrist.”

“Is it supposed to mean something?”

“No.” She shook her head and the corner of her mouth twitched into a smile. “It was the first tattoo I got, and I was really nervous about it. So he came with me and got the same one to show me it wouldn’t hurt.”

Diego’s fingers twitched at that. “Wrist tattoos hurt like hell.”

“Oh yeah, he was a lying bastard. But we have matching tattoos now, so joke’s on him I guess.”  

Something about that tickled Dave and he chuckled to himself, hanging his head when Diego glanced over at him.

“Anyway,” He said, trying to push the conversation forward. “What can you tell us about Matteo’s uncle?”

She looked thoughtful again, shaking her head slowly. “Not a lot. His name’s Antoni. My dad used to work for him before they fell out, but I don’t know much about what happened. He tried to keep me away from all of that.” She fell silent for a moment. “He um… he has a penthouse in the middle of the city.” 

“Yeah, Lara, in case you forgot , you almost put a knife through my skull when we went there.” 

“Well… You did sneak up on me.” 

He didn’t have a good response to that, so he moved on. “Is there anything else you know?”

“I…” She paused, picking at her cuticles while she tried to think. “I’m pretty sure he owns one of the nightclubs in town. I overheard him and his guys talking about it sometimes.”

“Which one?” He asked, cocking his eyebrow at her. “There’s at least a dozen around here.”

“I don’t know ,” She said in an exasperated voice. “You realise we weren’t exactly best friends , right? He didn’t spend his free time spilling every detail of his life to me. You’re better off asking Matteo. He’ll know more about it than me.” 

Diego nodded, glancing over at Dave who just shrugged back at him. 

“Alright, I think we’re done,” He said as he sat upright, looking at her questioningly. “Unless you’ve got anything else to add?”

“I don’t think so.” She shook her head. “What’s gonna happen if you find him? Will I be able to see him before…” She trailed off, wrapping her arms around herself nervously, and she didn’t have to finish the sentence for him to know what she meant. 

“Did you get your court date yet?” 

She nodded. “It’s next week.”

“Okay, I’ll see what I can do,” He told her as he got to his feet. “But I gotta find him first.” 

He nudged Dave’s arm and the two of them left, walking silently down the corridor. 

“Are you okay?” Dave asked him as they approached the door and he nodded. 

“Yeah, I’m fine, I just…” He sighed, glancing over his shoulder before he spoke again. “Does this seem right to you?”

“Looking for her brother?”

“Arresting her.”

Dave looked taken aback by that, blinking at him. “I mean… She killed two people, Di,” He said quietly. “And she came pretty damn close to killing her best friend.”

“I know that, idiot. But what if she’s telling the truth about her brother? I mean… imagine a bunch of thugs had your brother tied up somewhere, and the only way to save him was to kill your friend. What would you do?”

“Oh, easy, I’d let the thugs have him,” Dave said, barely pausing for thought. “But I really can’t stand that guy so I’m probably not the best example to use here.”

“What if you had to kill your brother to save your best friend then?”

“To be honest I’m not sure I’d need the motive.”

“What the fuck did he do to you, Dave?” 

“It’s not important,” He said, waving his hand. “I see your point. But… she did still kill people.” 

“She was gonna have blood on her hands no matter what she did. I mean… Jesus, he’s a kid and she had to-”

“Diego,” Dave interrupted, grabbing his shoulders and turning him around to look at him. “I get it, okay? I get why this is important to you. But right now the best thing we can do for her is to find her brother before anyone else dies.” 

Diego stared at him for a moment and took a deep breath. “Yeah, you’re right,” He mumbled. “Sorry.” 

“Don’t worry about it. Let’s go.”

Dave patted him on the back and they headed back through the maze of desks where everyone was packing up to go home for the day. They made it about halfway towards the exit before they found their path being blocked by Carmichael, stepping out in front of them and folding his arms as he started down at them. 

“What happened to taking the day off, boys?” He asked, cocking his eyebrow at them. 

They both glanced at each other, then back up at him, stammering over each other for a moment before Diego managed to get a sentence out. 

“We were just… talking to our suspect again.”

“Your ‘suspect’? ” Carmichael asked, making air quotations with his fingers. “Are you referring to the girl who confessed to two counts of first degree murder this morning?” 

“Yeah, that one,” He mumbled and Carmichael scoffed. 

“And what? You just thought you’d stop by for a nice chat? Are you aware that your job is to arrest criminals, not befriend them?”  

He could hear a few people sniggering behind him and frowned. “Can we talk about this in your office, sir?” 

“Ooh, is this mission top secret , Hargreeves?” One of the detectives jeered, snorting when Diego shot him a cold look. 

“Here is fine,” Carmichael said flatly. “I’m sure your coworkers will be thrilled to hear about your latest police work.” 

Another round of sniggers and he clenched his jaw, shifting uncomfortably where he stood. “Fine,” He muttered. “She was blackmailed. Her brother’s being held hostage.”

“I don’t see how that concerns me.”

Diego blinked at him. “I- He’s probably gonna be killed if we don’t find him. And if you read our report you’d know that-”

“I read your report, Hargreeves. If this guy dies you know what that means? It means I have one less peddler on my streets. I know you have a personal investment in preserving this cities drug scene, but I don’t. And speaking of...” He turned, looking through the glass doors behind him. “Do you wanna explain to me why your junkie brother is loitering outside my precinct?” 

Leaning to the side, Diego glanced behind him and saw Klaus leant against the bonnet of his car with a cigarette in his hand. 

“I’m giving him a ride home,” He said, shrugging. “Last I checked there wasn’t a law against that.” 

“No, of course there’s not.” Carmichael shook his head. “Is he sick?”

“Excuse me?”

“Your brother. Is he sick?” 

“No?” 

“Oh, good. It’s just that Richards swore to me that she saw him outside the hospital this morning when she arrived to swap security duties with Katz. Weird coincidence, don’t you think?” 

“He was waiting for me,” Dave said before Diego even had a chance to think, and Carmichael whipped his head around to look at him. 

“I wasn’t asking you.”

“I know. But I’m answering you,” He told him. “We had a date. That’s why he was there.”

“You had a date with the junkie?”

“Call him that again and I’ll put your head through that window, sir.”

Excuse me?

Anyway ,” Diego butted in before Dave could respond and dig them into a deeper hole, “My case.”

“What about it?” 

“I’m not gonna sit here and let some kid die just because you don’t think he’s worth helping,” He said firmly, folding his arms. 

“So, what? You wanna reopen your case? For this?”

“Yes.”

“You realise this means you haven’t solved your case yet? So your little agreement with me still stands?” 

Diego paused, and the corner of Carmichael’s mouth twitched into a smug smile, knowing there was no way he was about to back out in front of the whole precinct. 

“Fine,” He muttered, flinching when Carmichael patted him on the shoulder. 

“Fine,” He agreed. “Good luck tracking down the biggest drug lord in the city, Hargreeves.” 

With that, he marched past them, and the two of them made their way awkwardly out into the parking lot. He could feel Dave staring at him as they walked, clearing his throat to get his attention. 

“What was that about?” He asked and Diego sighed, chewing on his lip.

“I uh…” He hung his head, embarrassed. “I told him if I didn’t solve this case in two weeks, I’d leave.” 

Dave was quiet for a moment, but then he laughed. “That’s ballsy,” He said. “So we’ve got, what, a week now to wrap this whole thing up?” 

“Yeah, basically.” 

“Awesome.” Dave nodded to himself. “Lucky for you, I work best under crippling time pressure.” 

Frowning, Diego scuffed his shoe against the ground. “I’m sorry I dragged you into all this,” He mumbled quietly. “This probably isn’t how you wanted your first week here to go, huh?”

“Oh, you could not be more wrong,” Dave said with a grin. “I moved here because I was bored out of my mind. I had no friends, a job I hated, and I did the same thing every day. This has been the single most exciting week of my life.” 

Diego smiled at that, patting him on the arm and turning to walk to the car, where Klaus was drumming his fingers impatiently as he waited for them. 

“You guys took forever,” He muttered as he clambered back into the backseat. “Can we go home now?” 

“Sure,” Diego said quietly and Dave blinked at him. 

“Aren’t we not gonna talk to Matteo?” He asked. “About his uncle?”

“The kid was stabbed a few hours ago. I doubt he’s gonna be in much of a talking mood.”

“Right… and the overwhelming time pressure?” 

“It’ll be fine,” He said confidently. “We’ll go in the morning once he’s had a chance to get some rest, ask him about his uncle, find out what nightclub Lara was talking about, go to the nightclub, do… some police stuff, save the day. Boom.” 

“Piece of cake.” Dave chuckled. “Okay. In that case I’ll take my car,” He said, pointing over to where it was still parked from earlier that day. “Before Carmichael gives me a ticket or something.” 

“Think you’re gonna get more than a ticket after the shit you said to him.”

Dave nodded, chewing on his lip thoughtfully, and Klaus leant his head forward. 

“Ooh,” He said, raising his eyebrows curiously. “What did you do?” 

“Oh, I threatened to smash his head through the glass.”

“I’ll be honest, Dave. That turns me on a little bit.” Klaus grinned. “But what the hell did he say to you?” 

“He was-”

“It’s not important,” Diego interrupted. “We’ll see you tomorrow?”

Taking that as his cue to leave, Dave nodded and pushed the door open again, turning to say goodbye to Klaus before getting out of the car and leaving the two of them alone. Klaus climbed awkwardly into the passenger seat and put his feet up on the dash, ignoring the hard stare Diego gave him and holding out a large bag of gummy bears. 

“Want one?” 

“Where the hell did you get those?” 

“The store across the street,” He told him. “I got ‘em while you were inside.” 

Diego eyed the bag suspiciously and Klaus rolled his eyes. “I paid for them, asshole. Do you want one or not?” 

Nodding, he grabbed a fistful and started the car. 

“I said one! ” Klaus exclaimed, snatching the bag away and clutching it to his chest. 

“I took one handful.”

“Prick.” 

He sniggered, shoving the gummy bears in his mouth, and Klaus ended up giggling too, nibbling on the one he was holding. 

“Why do you have those anyway?” Diego asked after a few minutes, glancing over at him. “I thought pizza bagels were your go-to for the munchies?”

“I don’t have the munchies. That’s weed, you idiot.”

“It’s all the same shit.”

“No it’s not.” Klaus laughed. “Molly is very different.”

“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t know, would I?” Diego mumbled and Klaus scoffed. 

“Yeah, okay. Whatever.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” 

“It means,” Klaus said, tossing his headless gummy bear into his mouth and looking over at him. “That you can’t just steal an entire bag of pills from my bedroom and expect me not to notice. I know it was you. You were the only person that knew where I used to hide ‘em.” 

Diego stared blankly at him. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” 

“Yeah you do. We were like, fifteen I think. I mean, if you wanted to try it you could have just asked me . I was worried you were gonna kill yourself or something. There was more than enough there to do it.” 

“Klaus, I never stole anything from you.” He paused, chewing on his lip for a moment. “I mean, I stole one of your sweaters once… and a marker pen. But that’s it.” 

You stole my marker?”

Klaus .”

“Right, right, yeah,” He murmured, waving his hand. “So who the hell took my pills then?” 

“I don’t know.” Diego shrugged. “Dad probably got rid of ‘em. He can’t have been thrilled about your little habit.”

“Diego, I used to roll joints at the dinner table . Dad didn’t give a shit.”

Klaus’ eyes went distant for a moment and he hung his head, squashing another gummy bear between his fingers. 

“What about Ben?” Diego suggested, lowering his voice subconsciously. “He wasn’t in a great place then. Maybe he took them?”

Glancing up at the rearview mirror, Klaus shook his head. 

“Vanya?”

Klaus sniggered at that. “Definitely not. I got high with her, like a year after those pills went missing, while you guys were on a mission. It was pretty obvious she’d never done anything like that before. It was hilarious.” 

The thought of their sister getting high made him chuckle, but silence soon fell over them again and they both glanced at each other as they pulled into their driveway. 

“That just leaves Luther and Allison,” Klaus said quietly and Diego frowned, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel thoughtfully. 

“I… can’t see it for either of them.”

Klaus opened his mouth to say something, but ended up in a fit of giggles, curling up in his seat unable to get any words out. 

“What’s the matter with you?”

“I just… I’m just picturing them…” He trailed off, trying to suppress the giggles. “I’m just picturing them both high as kites, having a mini rave in that stupid fort.” He burst out laughing again and waved his hand in the air. “With little glow sticks.”

“You’re a moron,” Diego said, though he couldn’t stop himself from sniggering when he started thinking about it. 

The two of them got out of the car and made their way inside. While Klaus rooted through his clothes and disappeared into the bathroom, mumbling something about the bath, Diego paced across the room to the fridge and grabbed a pot of leftovers. He shoved the pasta in the microwave and pulled his phone out of his jacket, chewing on his lip as he stared at Patch’s name in his contacts. After almost a minute of just letting his thumb hover over the dial button, he finally sucked in a breath and hit it, and it only rang for a few seconds before she picked up. 

“Hey,” She said, her voice croaking from sleep. 

“Did I wake you up?” 

In the background he could hear her bed creaking as she moved, but she denied it. “No. No I’m…” She paused, yawning. “I’m awake. How’d it go? Did she say anything?” 

“Uh, yeah,” He said as he hoisted himself up onto the the kitchen counter. “Apparently Matteo’s uncle and his band of assholes are holding her brother hostage somewhere, and they’ve been using him as blackmail material. All we have right now is her word but if she’s telling the truth…” He sighed. “That’s a hell of a situation to be in.”

“Yeah,” Patch murmured, going quiet for a moment. “Are you okay?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” 

“Well… This whole thing must be hitting a little close to home.”

It was his turn to go quiet. Despite his best efforts, she knew him pretty well, and even over the phone she always seemed to know what he was thinking. Sometimes before he even knew he was thinking it. 

“Diego?” 

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine,” He said quietly, hanging his head. “Kinda feels like this whole case was designed to mess with my head, right?” 

There was another pause before Patch said softly, “Do you want me to come over?” 

And he did. He really did. Even though it was barely more than a couple of hours since he’d been in her bed, with her curled up next to him tracing her fingers across his chest. Hearing her voice over the phone wasn’t quite enough to make him feel better, but it came teasingly close, as though she was there just out of reach. But despite all that, he knew it wouldn’t be a good idea, and that he’d only end up feeling a million times worse when she left again. 

“I can take care of myself,” He told her. “Don’t worry about it.”

Before she could say anything, the microwave pinged behind him and he heard her giggle. 

“Are you cooking, Hargreeves?” 

“Depends on your definition.”  

“Oh my god,” She said, laughing down the phone. “Do you have an adult supervising you?” 

“No, but I do have the fire department on standby.” 

Patch laughed again and he smiled to himself. “I gotta go,” He said, hopping down from the counter. “Before my latest culinary masterpiece gets cold.” 

“Okay, well, I’m getting takeout. Enjoy whatever nightmare you just created.”

“Relax. Klaus cooked it.”

“Oh, thank god.” She let out a dramatic sigh of relief. “I’ll see you later.” 

Hanging up the phone, he grabbed his leftovers and curled up on his armchair with his legs hanging over the armrest. An hour passed, and he’d done little more than stare at the ceiling. Klaus had gone quiet in the bathroom, which wasn’t unusual for him, but a few more minutes passed and Diego heard a loud splash in the other room, and what sounded like a choking noise. 

“You good?” He asked, craning his neck to try and peer through the crack in the door. 

“Yeah! Yup!” Klaus’ voice called. “Fell asleep for a second and almost drowned, but I’m fine now.”

“Dumbass.” 

Diego listened to the water sloshing, and wet footsteps padding back and forth around the room until a couple of minutes later Klaus emerged with a towel wrapped around his hair, dressed in a black cotton dress and a multicoloured cardigan that would have been better suited for somebody’s grandmother. He still had his bag of gummy bears clutched in one hand, and his headphones in the other which he tossed onto a pile of clothes in the corner of the room before collapsing onto the couch. 

“This guy I met in rehab told me this was supposed to help with withdrawals,” He said as he tossed a gummy bear into the air and caught it in his mouth. “But I’m not feeling an improvement.”

“He told you gummy bears help withdrawals?”

“Not gummy bears . Chewing.” 

Diego blinked at him. “I think he meant… like chewing gum . Not just eating stuff.” 

Humming thoughtfully, Klaus tipped the rest of the bag into his mouth, attempting to throw the empty packet in the trash but missing horribly. 

“Yeah, that makes more sense actually,” He said through the mouthful of candy. “You’re probably right.” 

For a moment it was quiet, aside from the sound of Klaus attempting to chew the two dozen gummy bears in his mouth, and Diego watched him as he scratched his arms restlessly. 

“Is it bad?” He asked, and Klaus shook his head. 

“Not really, but I’m not completely sober yet. Besides,” He turned his head and gave him a tired smile, “The withdrawals are kinda the least of my problems.” 

Diego nodded, looking down at his hands. “‘M sorry about the hospital You should never have gone there.”

“It’s okay,” Klaus said, waving his hand. “Thought it does sort of feel like we’re doing a grand tour of all my least favourite places. First the retirement home, then the hospital. Ooh, tomorrow we should go to the morgue!”

“I’m being serious.” 

“I know, I know. Don’t worry about it, it wasn’t that bad. And Dave was really sweet about the whole thing.” His face fell as he spoke and he sunk back into the pillows. “He’s probably not gonna want me staying at his place anymore, huh? Not after I popped a bunch of pills behind his back.” 

He looked genuinely heartbroken at the thought that Dave might have lost interest in him, and Diego was suddenly very thankful for the conversation they’d had at the police station. 

“I don’t think you need to worry about that, Klaus.” 

Klaus raised his eyebrows hopefully at that. “You don’t?” He asked, and Diego shook his head. “Did he say something to you?”

“None of your business.”

The smile crept back onto Klaus’ face and he hummed happily, hugging the unicorn Dave had won him a few days ago against his chest and resting his chin on its head. 

“I really like him. It’s very odd,” Klaus said, his voice going quiet as he stared into space. “And we talk a lot . Sometimes about the strangest things.” He paused, smiling to himself, and looked over at him. “Is that what you and Patch were like? Before?” 

“Yeah.” He nodded, remembering one of many nights they’d spent sat out in her garden, tipsy on cheap beer and huddled under one of her old blankets to keep warm, talking about anything and everything that popped into their heads until the sun came up. None of what they were saying had felt important at the time, but he was pretty certain there were things they knew about each other now that nobody else would ever find out about. 

Klaus hummed thoughtfully and looked down at the toy he was cuddling. “Hey, about that stuff I said earlier. I-”

“It’s fine,” Diego interrupted. “Don’t bother apologising.”

“I’m not apologising. I was right.”

“Well, in that case you can go fuck yourself.” 

“Can you let me finish my sentence, asshole?”

Narrowing his eyes, Diego stayed quiet and Klaus continued. 

“I wasn’t saying it to try and piss you off. I’m just worried about you.” 

“What are you talking about? I’m fine.”

Are you?” Klaus asked, raising his eyebrow at him. 

“I’m not talking about this with you.”

“Yeah you are. Because every time you and Patch end up… You know…” He trailed off, his brow furrowing in concentration as he bumped his fists together. “Jiving.”

Jiving?

“Yeah, shut up. You always go through your weird post-bang depression phase where you start moping around the place and talking about her all the time and I swear to God , Diego, I am not gonna go through it again. So we’re talking about it. Suck it up.”

“I don’t do that,” Diego muttered and Klaus frowned at him. 

“You’re eating carbs and staring at a wall.” 

“So what? I do that all the time.” 

“Diego.”

He groaned, dropping his head back against the armrest and huffing in frustration. “What do you want me to say, Klaus?” He asked, turning to look at him. “My life sucks, I feel like shit, and I’ve had a headache since last Tuesday. Okay? Feelings session over.”

Klaus was clearly hurt by his bluntness, but he didn’t say anything, curling up in the corner of the couch and petting his unicorn’s synthetic mane. It didn’t take long for him to feel bad for snapping at him and he sighed. 

“Do you want a drink?” 

“I’m supposed to be getting sober.”

“I know, but do you want one?” 

He nodded and Diego got to his feet, pacing across the room and balancing precariously on a chair to grab the bottle of tequila that stood on top of the fridge. 

“We still don’t have any mixers,” He said as he made his way back, and Klaus’ face lit up.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” He said proudly, reaching under the couch and pulling out a pack of juice boxes. “I found them the other day. They’re the same ones we had when we were little.”

“You know, for someone who constantly talks about how horrible our childhood was, you’re weirdly nostalgic.”

“Yeah, well, it wasn’t all bad.” Klaus shrugged as he stabbed a straw into one of the boxes. “The sleepovers were fun. Even if we did usually end up crying.”

“Or puking.”

“Or both.” 

Chuckling, he sat next to him on the couch and took a swig from the bottle before handing it over to him. He grabbed one of the juice boxes and Klaus cocked his eyebrow at him. 

“What happened to drinking your spirits neat like an ‘adult’?” 

“I’ve had a long day and I want a fucking juice box, back off.”

Klaus laughed, and the two of them passed the bottle back and forth to each other silently for a few minutes, though Diego was fairly certain Klaus only took a couple of sips. Sighing, Diego slumped against him and closed his eyes. 

“This is what I call the ‘moping and drinking your feelings’ phase of post-bang depression,” Klaus said quietly, wrapping his arm around him and squeezing his shoulder. 

“Catchy,” Diego mumbled. 

“I’m thinking of trademarking it.”

“Mm,” He hummed, bending the straw in his hand absentmindedly as he thought more about everything Klaus had said. Klaus was restless next to him. He could tell he was mulling over whether to try pushing the subject again, and with the alcohol in his system, it was getting harder to push back. 

“Do you remember the first time we talked about leaving the Academy?” He asked, and though he still had his eyes closed, he could feel Klaus nodding his head. 

“You mean after Five disappeared?”

“Yeah. And you said it would be a bad idea, ‘cause dad had already screwed us up too much to live in the real world.” 

“I’ve always been famous for my optimism,” Klaus murmured. 

He huffed out a laugh at that, but his smile was gone again in seconds and he glanced up at him. “Do you think if we’d left then, we’d be okay now?”

Klaus frowned at him, his eyebrows knitting together like he couldn’t figure out what he meant. “We’re okay,” He said, with a hint of uncertainty in his voice, squeezing Diego’s shoulder tighter. “Right?”

“I don’t know,” He admitted, lowering his voice the way he used to when they were little, as though he was worried somebody could be listening in. “I just… I know he’s not here anymore, but I-”

The words got stuck and it was a couple of minutes before he tried again, staring ahead at the wall while Klaus rested his cheek on the top of his head and waited for him to finish.

“It’s like, I know, logically , that there’s no way dad could know where we are, and he probably doesn’t give a shit about us anyway. And that the Academy doesn’t even exist anymore. But sometimes it still feels like we’re still stuck in one of his stupid tests.” He huffed, frustrated at himself. “And I know that makes no sense, because we left eight years ago and I shouldn’t care about that anymore.” 

Klaus didn’t say anything for a moment, and Diego started to regret ever opening his mouth, but then he sighed and wrapped his arm tighter around him. 

“Yeah, I get that too,” He said quietly and Diego looked up at him. 

“Really?”

“Mm,” He hummed. “You remember when we first moved in here and I sort of… trashed the place? And you got really mad at me ‘cause you thought I was on crack again?”

“Yeah.”

“I was looking for cameras,” He admitted. “I don’t know… The thought got stuck in my head and then I had to check, and by the time I’d realised what I was doing and that I was being completely insane it was too late.” 

Diego sat up a little. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I didn’t want you to think I’d genuinely lost my mind.” 

“Klaus-”

“I know, I know,” He said, waving his hand. “That ship sailed about fifteen years ago.” The corner of his mouth pulled into a crooked smile, but his eyes still looked sad. “How did this end up about me, anyway? I asked you about Patch and somehow you’ve managed to open up but still completely avoid the question.” 

“I was getting to that,” Diego said quietly, and suddenly he found himself wishing he’d never let himself get pulled into this conversation in the first place. 

Klaus cocked his head curiously, settling back against the pillows, and Diego let out a breath. It was hard to work out how to articulate what he wanted to say. He wasn’t even really sure what that was. 

“Patch made it a hundred times worse,” He said, cringing and hurrying to correct himself. “ She didn’t make it worse. She didn’t do anything wrong, it was me but she just… I don’t know. It just got a lot harder to switch all that paranoid bullshit off when she was around.”

It was more than that. A hell of a lot more. But he had no idea how to even begin explaining that to Klaus. How being friends was easy, and flirting was even easier because it didn’t mean anything, it was just fun. Only then it did start to mean something. And then it stopped being fun. 

When it was just the two of them it was perfect, and he sometimes caught himself thinking that maybe he’d gotten away from everything and maybe he actually had a shot at a normal life. But it wasn’t always just the two of them. The thought of anybody knowing about them made him feel sick, because emotional attachments were a weakness. They were a way for people to manipulate and control you, and to hurt you. So he kept his distance at work, which she was fine with. PDA was definitely out, which she was… sort of okay with. Sometimes even being near her when there were other people watching was too much, which she struggled with. And he knew it bothered her more than she let on, and she did her best to get him to talk about it, but how was he supposed to explain any of it to her? 

Still, somehow, she put up with all his bullshit, and somewhere along the line he must have tricked her into caring about him, because one night while they were laying in her bed, after a lengthy discussion about whether a dream she had about growing a tail meant anything, she cozied up next to him and whispered that she loved him, and that terrified him more than any training session or bank hold up ever could have. So he stayed painfully silent until she asked him to say something, which just lead to him saying all the wrong things. And then he left, and then he ignored her calls for two days until he was forced to see her at work, and that was that over and done with. 

“Diego,” Klaus said quietly, nudging his arm and pulling him back to reality. “You’re staring at the wall again.”

“Sorry,” He mumbled. 

“You okay?” 

He nodded. “Can we talk about something else?” 

Klaus paused for a moment before laying back with his head on the arm of the couch, shrugging as he plopped his feet into Diego’s lap. “I’m open to suggestions. “Hey, did I tell you I turned a light on yesterday? On purpose.”

“You want me to congratulate you?”

“I don’t mean- with my powers , idiot.” 

“Oh.” Diego leant his head back against the couch cushions and nodded to himself. “Yeah, that makes more sense.”

“You know what this means, right?” Klaus grinned at him. “It means we both have two powers now. And it also means I finally get to know what it’s like to have a power that doesn’t suck total dicks.” 

Diego hummed thoughtfully. “Just don’t start blowing all my bulbs, ‘cause you’ll be paying for replacements.”

“Oh, yeah, you don’t need to worry about that. I have this completely under control now.” 

The two of them stayed up for a few hours, jumping from topic to topic without ever getting into any kind of deep conversation, and after Klaus had to nudge him awake for the fifth time, Diego finally went to bed. 

It was about two hours later when he was jolted awake by a loud crash and a shout coming from the other side of his door. He sat upright, and everything was silent again for a moment until he heard Klaus’ voice quietly calling. 

“Uh… Diego? Can you come out here a second?”

Grumbling to himself, Diego swung his legs out of the bed, dragging his feet as he walked across the room and threw the door open. 

“What do you- What are you doing?

Klaus was crouched behind the table in the kitchen, with only his head visible over the top, staring at him with an expression that was somewhere between panic and bewilderment. As Diego got closer to him he could see his hands gripping the table, so tightly that his fingers shook and his knuckles turned white. 

“What’s the matter with you?” He asked and Klaus let out a slightly hysterical laugh. 

“Nothing, nothing. Um…” He paused, glancing down under the table for a second. “Listen, I’m gonna ask you something a little weird, and you’re gonna wanna say something sarcastic but I just… I need you to take me seriously. Because I’m either losing my mind or this is a bad trip or that was some seriously bad tequila we had or-”

Klaus ,” Diego cut in before he could talk himself into even more of a panic. “You’re rambling.”

“Right, right, yeah. Sorry. I just… Okay. Am I floating?”

Diego blinked at him. “Come again?”

“Am. I. Floating?

He searched Klaus’ face for a moment for any sign that this was a joke, but Klaus had a notoriously bad poker face, and he was staring at him with an intensity Diego hadn’t seen from him in a long time, so he walked over to him. 

“You have a bad dream or something?” He asked and Klaus snorted. 

“I’m not sure I’ve ever had a good dream.”

“Yeah,” Diego said as he started circling the table. “But even for you this is- Klaus, what the fuck?

Klaus was sitting behind the table with his legs folded underneath him, almost a foot clear of the ground. He watched as Diego got onto all fours to try and see if he was sitting on anything. 

“What the fuck?” He repeated. 

“I’m assuming, from your reaction, that I can’t blame this on my overactive imagination.” 

“What the fuck?”

“Stop saying that.” 

Sitting up, Diego stared at him and Klaus stared back, raising his eyebrows expectantly. 

“I don’t… what do you want me to do?

“Get me down, asshole.” 

“How the fuck am I supposed to- You get down!”

“I don’t know how!

“Just stop floating!”

“Oh! Great! ” Klaus exclaimed, bobbing in the air as he tried to turn around to face him properly. “Why didn’t I think of that! Thank Christ you’re here, else I’d be on the fucking ceiling by now! ‘Stop floating’. Jesus Christ. I should have moved out with Allison.”

“Oh, like Allison would have a better idea.”

“Pretty sure she’d come up with something better than ‘stop floating’, Diego!” 

“Okay! Okay, just… shit , give me a second.” He pinched the bridge of his nose and took a few breaths. 

“I don’t really have a second, Di,” Klaus said through gritted teeth, his arms started to shake as he continued gripping the edge of the table. 

“What happens if you let go?” 

Klaus stared at him, horrified. “I am not doing that.” 

“Yeah you are,” Diego said as he got to his feet. “Come on. I’ll catch you if you go to high, I promise.”

“Oh, like when you promised you’d catch me when we snuck out through my bedroom window?” 

“That was one time, Klaus.”

“Yeah, and to this day my ankle still clicks when I walk,” He muttered, chewing on his lip nervously for a moment and sighing. “Okay, fine. I’m letting go.”

Tentatively, Klaus loosened his grip on the table. He stayed in the same place, stationary in the air like he was sitting on an invisible box, and finally took his hands away completely, staring up at Diego the entire time. 

“Now what?” He asked, wrapping his arms around himself. 

“I don’t know,” Diego admitted. “I guess we just… wait for you to go down.”

“Wait for me to go down!?” 

Klaus rose slightly in the air and shrieked, flailing his arms around wildly and scrambling through the air until he managed to grab on to him. He wrapped his arms and legs around Diego’s torso and clung to him like a koala while Diego held on to him. 

“Why is this happening!?” Klaus screeched in his ear, panting as he tightened his grip on Diego’s shirt. “I’m a nice person! Sort of! I don’t deserve this! What if I stay up here forever!?” 

“Klaus, you need to calm down.”

“You try calming down when you’re five feet off the ground, asshole!”

“Stop yelling at me!”

“I’m not yelling! I’m just talking loudly!

Rolling his eyes, Diego shifted his arms into a more comfortable position and Klaus yelped again. 

“Do not let go of me! Don’t you dare let go of me!” 

“I’m not gonna let go of you, you idiot,” He said, exasperated. “I’m gonna go over to the couch, okay?” 

Klaus buried his face in Diego’s shoulder and nodded, so he started making his way back over to the couch. He didn’t weigh a massive amount at the best of times, but Klaus did feel noticeably lighter in Diego’s arms as he walked, almost like he was carrying a balloon rather than a person. He sat back on the couch, getting comfortable amongst the pillows with Klaus in his lap. 

For a while they stayed quiet. Diego could swear he heard Klaus sniffling against his shoulder at one point, but when he turned his head to look at him a few minutes later there was no sign that he’d been crying. He just looked tired. 

“It was nice of dad to keep my eighty extra powers to himself, huh?” He said quietly. “I bet he’s laughing it up right now.” 

“Maybe he didn’t know.” 

“Of course he knew. He knew everything. The bastard.” 

Diego hummed. “Weird that they’re only showing up now, though,” He said. “I mean all our other powers came out by the time we were what? Five? So how come you weren’t floating around the house when we were kids?”

“I don’t know.” Klaus shrugged. “I did have a lot going on.” 

“And how come the rest of us don’t have any new powers?”

“We only know you don’t have new powers,” He pointed out. “For all we know Luther could be shapeshifting. Up in space.” 

They both sniggered at the thought, and it wasn’t until Klaus shifted to get more comfortable that Diego noticed his weight in his lap. 

“I think you’re obeying the laws of physics again,” He said quietly and Klaus made a noise of agreement, loosening his grip a little. 

“Can you stay here?” He asked, keeping his arms loosely wrapped around him. “I really don’t wanna wake up on the ceiling.” 

Diego nodded, reaching out blindly for the blanket draped over the back of the couch and pulling it over them. Within less than a minute Klaus was snoring and mumbling to himself in his ear, and it wasn’t long before he fell asleep too. 

When he woke up the next morning, blinded by a sunbeam shining directly into his eyes, Klaus was still clinging to him, and more importantly, he still seemed to be adhering to the laws of gravity. He stirred when Diego sat upright, looking up at him and pulling a face as he untangled their limbs. 

“Get off me, you weirdo,” He grumbled, grabbing the blanket and curling up on the other side of the couch. 

Chuckling, Diego left him alone, padding across the room to make himself a coffee. He thought Klaus had fallen asleep again, but as he sat at the table with his cup in his hands he heard a quiet voice piping up. 

“Is that your breakfast?” 

He looked up and saw Klaus watching him from the couch, still wrapped up like a baby in his blanket. 

“I can cook some eggs or something if you want.” 

Diego shook his head, twirling a spoon in his cup absentmindedly. “I’m gonna get something on the way to the hospital.”

“Oh, sure,” Klaus said as he sat upright. “Of course you’re gonna buy breakfast the one time I’m not with you. Naturally.” 

“I just think Matteo’s more likely to talk if he has something other than hospital food to eat.”

“Blackmailing children? You’re finally starting to sound like a real cop, Diego.” 

“It’s not blackmail,” He said lowly. “He’s getting the food whether he talks or not.”

A smile spread across Klaus’ face at that and Diego frowned at him. 

“What’s wrong with you?”

“You care about him. It’s cute.”

“No I don’t . He’s a pain in my ass,” Diego muttered and Klaus shrugged. 

“Whatever you say. Hey, can you bring me back some breakfast food?”

“Klaus, I’m gonna be out for hours.”

“And? We have a microwave. You think I’m afraid to reheat a McMuffin?” 

They both fell silent, and after a few minutes Diego got up to get dressed. Just before he headed out the door he paused, looking back over at Klaus. 

“You sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Klaus said quietly, yawning and curling up amongst the pillows. “I feel like I ran a marathon last night. I’m going back to sleep.”

“Okay. Call me if… anything happens.”

Klaus nodded. “Maybe today I’ll find out I have laser vision. Or invisibility.” 

Chuckling, Diego left him to entertain himself and headed out to his car. 

Dave was standing outside the station when he pulled up, and he wasted no time hurrying over and getting in the car with him, looking a little flustered as he sipped the cup of coffee he was holding. 

“I did get one for you,” He said, gesturing to the cup. “But I ended up drinking them both. Sorry.” 

“You feeling okay, man?”

“Yeah, yeah. I just realised at about 3am last night that I’m absolutely gonna get fired the next time Carmichael sees me. So I’m just trying to avoid him until this case is wrapped.” 

Diego nodded. “If it makes you feel any better, Klaus might just consider proposing to you if you get kicked out of the force. ‘Specially if he knew you were defending him.”

“That actually does make me feel a little better.” 

“And if Carmichael does fire you, I can always just kill him.” 

Dave snorted, and Diego drove them to the hospital, stopping as planned to buy enough breakfast food to feed ten people. 

There was a security guard stationed outside Matteo’s hospital room, and he gave them a cold stare when they approached, folding his arms and looking down his nose at them. Diego stared back at him and he begrudgingly stepped to the side to let them through the door into the cramped hospital room, where Matteo was lying in bed hooked up to about a dozen tubes and wires. 

At first Diego thought he was asleep, but he opened his eyes when they shut the door behind them and groaned. 

“Morning, sunshine,” Diego said flatly and Matteo groaned again, pulling the flimsy blanket he was lying under over his head. 

“What are you doing here?” 

“Checking up on you,” He told him, slumping into the chair next to the bed. “You hungry?” 

Matteo peered out at him from under the blanket and narrowed his eyes, watching him intently as he pulled out the bag of food. His eyes went wide and he reached his hands out to grab it, but Diego held it out of his reach for a moment.

“Hold on. You gonna talk to us if I give you this?”

“I was gonna talk to you anyways,” Matteo mumbled, sitting upright and grabbing the bag when Diego handed it to him. 

They sat in silence while he tore his way through the food, and a few minutes later he looked back up at them both, his eyes flicking back and forth between the two of them before finally fixing back on Diego. 

“Where’s Klaus?” He asked with his mouth still full of food. 

“At home,” Diego said, frowning at him. “You realise he’s not a detective, right?” 

“Yeah, no shit.” Matteo paused to bite a piece of bacon he was holding. “He usually follows you around everywhere, though. He was here yesterday… I think.”

“He’s not a fan of hospitals.”

Matteo nodded thoughtfully, cramming the rest of the bacon into his mouth. “Yeah, that makes sense,” He said. “Must be a whole lot of spooks around here, right?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well, with his whole seeing the dead thing it’s gotta-”

“Since when did you know about that?” 

“Uh… Since always?” Matteo shrugged nonchalantly, picking apart the rest of his sandwich. “He talks a lot when he’s high. I thought he was nuts at first, but then once I met you I put two and two together.” 

Diego stared at him for a moment, shaking his head in disbelief. “You’ve known who we are the entire time?” He asked and Matteo nodded. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“What do you want me to do? Ask for your autograph? I was like, four years old when you guys peaked. Get over yourself.”

He could hear Dave sniggering next to him and elbowed him sharply in the ribs, sighing and dragging his hand down his face. 

“We need to talk about your uncle,” He said firmly. “We think he might have kidnapped Lara’s brother.”

“Yeah, that sounds pretty on brand for him.”

“So I need your help to find him.” 

Matteo shifted uncomfortably at that but he continued. 

“Lara mentioned something about a nightclub he owns. You know anything about that?” 

“Obsidian,” Matteo said quietly. “Down near the docks. I’ve never been in there.”

“I drove past there the other day,” Dave piped up. “Looked real fancy.”

“Full of stuck of pricks,” Diego added. 

“Yeah, basically that.” He nodded. “And since neither of you are stuck up pricks, there’s no way you’re gonna get in there. At best they’ll laugh in your faces, at worse they’ll realise you’re cops and kick the shit out of you.” 

“I appreciate your confidence, M,” Diego said dryly. “A stuffy nightclub is far from the toughest place I’ve had to break into.” 

“Suit yourself.” Matteo shrugged. “It opens at 10:30, but I’m pretty sure he has security in there 24/7. I don’t know what you’re expecting to find there, though. There’s no way he’d keep Lucas there. Everyone that knows Antoni knows about that club.”

“If you’ve got another suggestion, I’m all ears,” Diego muttered and Matteo hung his head, staying silent. “It’s a starting point.”

Matteo stayed quiet for a moment, looking down at his hands as he mumbled, “Is Lara okay?” 

“As okay as you can be when you’re on trial for double homicide.” Diego sighed, reaching over to squeeze his shoulder. “She’ll be alright. Are you gonna be okay? Does your mom know you’re here?”

“I called her last night. Told her she didn’t need to worry.” 

Nodding, Diego got to his feet. “Call us if you need anything, okay?”

“I don’t need your help,” Matteo muttered, yelping when Diego ruffled his hair and smacking his hand away. “Jesus, you’re embarrassing.” 

He had to bite back a laugh as he held the door open for Dave, following him out into the corridor. As they walked, they started making a plan to get into the nightclub, but Diego only made it halfway through his sentence when he was clipped on the shoulder by somebody walking the other way. When he looked behind him, he stopped in his tracks, reaching out to grab Dave’s arm. 

“What?” Dave asked, giving him a questioning look. 

Diego didn’t say anything. He just nodded to the two people in white hoodies who were heading back the way they’d just come, disappearing around the corner that lead to Matteo’s room.