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Skinned Knees and Hollow Trees

Chapter Text

On October 1st, 1989, Morticia spontaneously gives birth to a lovely, beautiful baby boy, despite not being pregnant that morning. She names this baby Klaus. Somehow, in some way, it makes everything right.

When a man comes to buy her son, Morticia is not in the least bit surprised, though perhaps she's not nearly as offended as she could be. Her son is, after all, absolutely darling. Who wouldn't want her son? But she declines, because she is an Addams and Addams' stick together. The man, Reginald, presses her at first, seemingly running out of options- apparently, he's some sort of collector of peculiar things- peculiar children included.

Morticia understands his interest in the strange and bizarre, and holds no ill will towards him. Still, an inkling of her hopes for only the best for the ones he did manage to acquire, because when she looks at him she sees he is empty, and not in the delightfully macabre way.

She's getting discharged from the hospital when she meets Janet.

Janet is young, harried, looking to be on the verge of tears. Swaddled in her arms is a chubby little baby, and she stares at him, adoring, but terrified, unsure of what to do. Upon conversing with her, Janet reveals she is nineteen, and still living with her parents, who were extremely unhappy to hear the news of her son's birth. They didn't believe her when she called them and said she was never pregnant that morning. Janet is a law student, has no money or ability to care for her son. Her parents want her to get rid of him as soon as possible.

She tells Morticia that she's met Reginald, and refused his offer to take her son. She, like Morticia, did not like the look in his eyes, the inflection in his voice as he spoke to her about her baby. Like he wasn't real, like he wasn't there. But Reginald is already speaking to her parents, who decide Janet will either give up her son or raise him on the streets. They will not allow any daughter of theirs to become a mother whilst unmarried.

Morticia sees the fear in Janet's eyes, and makes an offer.

Janet looks ready to refuse, worried Morticia would be just like Reginald, just as empty, but for the first time she takes notice of the little bundle in Morticia's arms. "What's his name?" Janet asks, voice breathy and distant.

"Klaus," Morticia tells her proudly. "He was born a couple days ago, October first. Quite a delightful time, October. The month of Samhain." Janet's eyes widen.

"I- him too, my son. He was born October first." Morticia's eyebrows raise. What a lovely coincidence, she thinks, and after further conversation, Janet decides Morticia would be a good mother to her son, who's so little and perfect and beautiful, who deserves better than Janet could ever give him.

"Has he a name yet?" Morticia asks, leaning in to take a look at the sleeping child. Janet shakes her head.

"Not yet, but I was thinking maybe Benjamin? It was my grandpa's name." Morticia hums at this, before suggesting Benedict. Janet's brows furrow, but she really sees no reason to say no. Morticia will be his mother from now on, no matter how much it hurts Janet to think of giving her little boy up. Still, her parents will be here soon, and she wants Ben to be somewhere safe and far, far away before they can get to him.

When Morticia and her husband leave the hospital, they come out with two sons, rather than one.

She makes eye contact with Reginald on the way out, whose eyes are narrowed and looks to be seething. Once more, she wishes the best for those children.

"It's an Addams!" Gomez cries proudly, and really, he should be proud, because never had there been a more Addams baby. Their dear Klaus, with pale skin and dark hair and eyes, is the perfect Addams.

Wednesday, on the other hand, is absolutely unhappy to find out she's now the older sister to two menaces rather than just one.

To hear her mother was pregnant with one was already bad enough, but upon seeing Morticia return with double the swathes of evil, Wednesday decides something must be done.

And so, Wednesday, a solid three years old, determines that both brothers must be killed.

Wednesday cannot kill her brothers.

She tried of course, with all her three-year-old might, but alas it was not to be. They're unfortunately sturdy little things, and oddly lucky, which Wednesday hates. Even the combined powers of herself and Pugsley are no match, and yet she's not about to admit defeat.

Ripping off the tarp from her guillotine, Wednesday instructs Pugsley to grab Benedict and bring him to her. They hold a mock trial for the beast, in which he pleads guilty by his own admission, and they settle him in the guillotine. And yet, when the blade falls, it's stopped by a thick, black tentacle, which smacks it away and unhinges it from the wooden structure. Benedict continues to babble and coo as the tentacle slithers back into its home, right in his gut.

Wednesday decides right then and there that Benedict could be spared. After all, it wasn't every day that someone was born with the ability to summon Eldritch horrors from their innards.

For now, she will break the exciting news to her parents.

When Klaus begins reacting to thin air, Wednesday hopes it's because he has schizophrenia, like their great grandfather. However, the family finds out the answer is even better. Klaus can actually see and communicate with the dead, something his parents are incredibly proud of. He was proving to be more and more of an Addams every day!

And Ben, small, unassuming Ben, who everyone was slightly worried about (to find the Addams character in one not of their blood was very rare), surprises them as well by accidentally summoning an Eldritch horror from the deep. Their family, Morticia decides, is coming together very, very nicely.

Though, something that definitely concerns them is their new neighbors, who despite not having done anything in particular to offend the Addams family, are most definitely people to keep an eye on. Or, more specifically, the patriarch of the large family, one Sir Reginald Hargreeves. It seems to Morticia a bit too coincidental that he'd suddenly arrived with seven (unfortunate) children in tow, giving a bit too meaningful of a glance at the Addams' manor as the movers unloaded their boxes and such.

Still, Addams' are nothing if not accepting, and so they genuinely hope their new neighbors will settle in and get along with them finely in the future.

Chapter Text

Klaus creeps through the halls as quietly as he can. Just as he's about to turn the corner, he looks to his great-grandmother Belladonna and whispers, "Are you sure he's here?"

She nods enthusiastically. Klaus, encouraged by this, proceeds to round the corner. He makes it to the large window, turning back to Belladonna and silently counting to three before finally ripping the curtains open.

"Gotcha!" He yells. Ben groans, unfurling himself from the fetal position and dusting off his pants.

"How do you keep finding me?" 

Klaus giggles as he helps his brother up. "Great-granny is really good at finding people." Klaus shares a conspiratorial grin with the woman, and Ben pouts.

"No fair," he whines, "using ghosts to help you win is cheating! They can phase through solid objects!"

Klaus sticks his tongue out at his brother. "It's not cheating, it's thinking outside the box. I'm just smart."

Ben scoffs, hands crossed over his chest. "You're lazy is what you are."

Klaus waves his hand dismissively. "Details, details," he says, before throwing an arm around Ben's shoulders and leading him downstairs.

"Anyway, let's go outside. I wanna catch some fireflies before dinner time!"

Klaus laughs as he chases the fireflies around the backyard. "You know, you'd probably catch more if you'd just use a jar or a net." Ben is perched on the porch swing their parents had bought almost exclusively for him, legs crossed like the mannerly little fourth-grader he is. The sun has yet to fully set, the summer season loathing to let go of its rays even as time trickled into the evening hours.

"Yeah, and then take all the fun out of it," Klaus retorts. He manages to snatch one, clasping his hands over it and running over to Ben and his jar. "Look, I got one!" He shoves his cupped hands in Ben's face, just barely cracking them open enough to show his brother the blinking little light between his fingers.

"I have no clue what's so fun about running around tirelessly and getting sweaty just to catch a single bug or two and let it go three minutes later. But whatever makes you happy," Ben tells him flippantly. He grabs the jar beside him and opens it so Klaus can put the firefly in and catch some more.

The lid is perforated this time, unlike when they were six and Klaus just put the bugs in the nearest mason jar he could find. Wednesday didn't mind when all the fireflies started dying from lack of oxygen, but Klaus certainly did. He'd cried, and Wednesday poked fun at him until he cried harder, at which point she attempted to make amends by telling him that this way, the ghost fireflies would light up the night for him all year round. He didn't seem to mind so much after that, but everyone still thought it best to keep the fireflies from dying around Klaus ever since then.

Ben doesn't actually know if there are ghost bugs, but Klaus never said anything about it, so he assumes they don't exist.

The boy is snapped from his musings when Klaus asks, "Hey, who's that?" He looks in the direction his brother's pointing in, to see a boy about their age. The kid examines his surroundings in confusion, still and unmoving just behind the treeline that borders their backyard. The stranger makes eye contact with them, visibly startling and turning to leave.

"Hey, wait up!" Klaus calls, running to meet them. Ben follows Klaus closely, curiosity piqued. They'd never met anybody their age in the neighborhood before. In fact, the only kids that live there are the ones next door, who are hardly outside long enough for anyone to even know what they look like. Hell, sometimes Ben forgets that they even have neighbors what with how rarely they see them.

The boy stops and turns to face them again as they catch up. Up close, Ben is able to make out his appearance- tan skin, messy black hair, and big brown eyes. He looks between the two brothers warily, which Ben finds odd, considering he's the one that popped up on their property.

"Who're you?" Klaus asks, not one for tact. The boy instinctively straightens, jaw jutting out and squaring his shoulders as if that made him cool or intimidating.

"I-I'm Number Two," Number Two says, tone sounding kind of like those soldiers in the military movie Ben watched once. Klaus quirks a brow.

"Number Two? At what?" Number Two's face goes blank, as if unsure how to respond.


Ben tilts his head. "Is that your name?" Number Two nods slowly, brows furrowed.

"Huh," Klaus says, then shrugs. He's heard weirder names- his sister is named after a day of the week, and to be honest, he's not even the slightest bit sure what a Pugsley is. "Okay. So, then, what are you doing here?" This seems to remind Number Two of something, as he scowls and clenches his fists.

"I needed to get away from my stupid brother," he spits, glaring at the dirt as if it'd done something to personally offend him. "And I'm sick of being stuck in the house."

"Are you our neighbor?" Ben points to the forest in the general direction of the Hargreeves estate. Number Two nods. "Hmm," he muses, then shares a look with Klaus. He gives the medium a shrug, and the curly-haired boy claps his hands together.

"Alright. Do you wanna play with us til you have to go home?" Number Two is visibly shocked by this sudden turn of events, but also isn't keen on returning before he absolutely has to.

"Okay. How do we play?" If Klaus was even remotely phased by the wording, he didn't let it show.

"Today, we're going to catch fireflies, and then put them in the jar. Usually we'd play guillotine or something, but Wednesday's hogging it and we were already trying to collect some earlier. Oh! Thanks for reminding me!" Klaus smiles up at thin air, confusing Number Two, before turning back to their guest. "I'm Klaus, and this is my brother Ben. It's very nice to meet you!" He continues to lead their new friend back to the firefly jar.

"Um, okay." Number Two doesn't know what else to say, which doesn't bother Klaus in the slightest, since he has the innate ability to hold a completely one-sided conversation. "How d-do we catch... fire-y flies?"

"It's very simple. You find one, then you chase after it, and then you cup it in your hands! And then Benny here will open the jar and you'll put it in as fast as you can to keep the other fireflies from escaping!"

They spend the next hour chasing the bugs around and putting them in the jar. It's very obvious to Ben that Number Two has likely never so much as heard of fireflies before, let alone caught any, as he takes a while to distinguish fireflies from every other bug he finds, and even longer to successfully catch one without squishing and killing it.

Eventually, they decide to move onto some other games, like Witch Doctor and tag. Klaus makes it a point to tell Number Two that he likes Witch Doctor the best, because their land is full of things they can put in any number of potions and the like.

"Why is your yard full of weird stuff, anyway?" Number Two asks them. "Almost everything in it is ei-either dead or some kind of poison."

"Because they're horrific," Ben tells him. "And mother loves the dreadful side of things." Klaus nods enthusiastically.

"It's a family thing," he tells Number Two proudly. "We all have a fondness for the frightful. They're actually quite lovely." He shows Number Two their mother's flowers closer to the front of the yard.

"These are her best. They come out the prettiest every year. Their scientific name is Convallaria majalis, but most people call them Lily of the valley or May Bells. And then these are her Mountain-laurels, or Kalmia latifolia, and her Hemlocks- Conium maculatum. They're not as pretty as the May Bells or the Mountain-laurels, but just as deadly. But Oleander and Belladonna are way more poisonous- they're over there- and they look absolutely lovely during full bloom. I like Oleander's colors the best, but Belladonna just sounds so beautiful. That's probably why my great grandmother was named Belladonna, it's much more fitting than Oleander or Hemlock, though I suppose Laurel could've worked."

"You sure know a lot about this stuff," Number Two says, voice wavering somewhere in the midst of amused, wary, and awed. Klaus preens.

"Yes, of course! I want to work with these too one day, and mother will only let me if I know what I'm doing." Poisonous plants are probably the only thing Klaus will ever willingly study. Ben knows that by now, Klaus has already finished almost all of the toxicology and plant-related books they have in their family library, which is honestly a lot. Mother was very proud to hear that her son is so fascinated with poisons, and has taken to buying him books at nearly every opportunity.

Ben, who is a regular to the family library, finds this beneficial as well, because there can never be enough books. However, he makes sure to regularly request other things as well, since he doesn't find poisons nearly as interesting as Klaus does. They aren't quite old enough to understand some of the older texts the library has yet, but their parents are somehow always able to find books that were an easy enough read for nine-year-olds to understand. He's fairly certain it has something to do with a great uncle of theirs who writes books- he's seen some of his works, like Guillotine Assembly and Care for Kids and The Art of Strangulation, Beginners' Edition.

"How poisonous are most of these, anyway?"

"Very. They can cause all sorts of things, from as minor as a stomachache to dysentery to death."

"What's dys-dysent-tery?"

"Bloody diarrhea and inflamed intestines," Ben pipes up. "It's an extremely painful infection, and you can die from it if left untreated." Number Two is now thoroughly disturbed, and Ben can't help but smile as the boy inches away from the plants.

"Don't worry, you won't die just from touching them. Mother doesn't grow any contact-poisons. You'd have to get them in your body for it to hurt you." Klaus blinks. "Ben, do you think feeding them to Cthulu would kill it?"

"I'm not sure. I don't think it even eats. If it does, it's probably getting its food through me, which means we share a stomach and I would also die." Klaus pouts.

"That's a shame," he says. "It would be awesome if Cthulu was immune to everything."

"What?" Number Two couldn't seem to decide which person he wanted to ask, because he keeps looking between the two of them incredulously. "What's a Cth-c-clu- what is that? Why is it part of your stomach?"

"I have tentacles that live in my stomach, and everyone calls it Cthulu like the Eldritch horror." It's only after he says this that Ben wonders if it's perhaps too soon to mention something like this. After all, while his family doesn't mind his extra passenger in the slightest, it doesn't take a genius to see that the Addams family is far from the norm. None of the kids at school are comfortable with his abnormality, as most of them are either afraid of him or simply don't believe that he actually has a bundle of tentacles hiding in his abdomen.

"Huh," Number Two says. "That's kind of weird."

"You don't seem very surprised."

"I mean, that's definitely different, but one of my brothers can teleport, and I don't need to breathe, so it's not like you're alone." Klaus' eyes light up at this.

"Does that mean you're like us?"

"If by that you mean if I have powers, then yes."

"Yeah, but like, are you one of the 43 too? A miracle?"

Number Two's brows furrow. "I wouldn't call it a miracle, but yeah, me and my siblings were all born to random ladies on October 1st."

"Of course you're a miracle! That's what mother calls us, at least. Isn't your family happy to have you?" Number Two's face twists with an emotion Ben can't recognize as anything other than anguish. Seeing the boy shrink in on himself, he rushes to change the topic.

"Klaus, why don't we keep playing? We don't have much time before supper."

"Okay! What should we do next?" Klaus tilts his head, seemingly waiting for a response. Just as Number Two opens his mouth, a smile spreads across Klaus' face. "You're absolutely right!" He exclaims suddenly, and then turns to his new friend. "Two, let's play Inquisition!"

Before Number Two can ask what that is, Klaus skips ahead to grab the thin blanket from the porch swing. He turns instead to Ben, and asks, "is he always like this?"

"Depends on what you mean."

"Like, bouncing around and stuff. And talking to thin air." Ben hums.

"Yeah, probably. I mean, it's not like I remember what he was like when we were babies, but as far as I know, he's always been hyper. And he's not talking to thin air."

"Then what is he talking to?"

"Ghosts," Ben tells him quite plainly. If Number Two wasn't surprised by Cthulu, he shouldn't be surprised by Klaus being a medium either. "He can see and talk to them, and sometimes he can make them visible." What a day that'd been, Ben thinks, recalling the time that Klaus had accidentally summoned a ghost at the dinner table. They were all extremely pleased, but their parents also made sure to make a new rule- no summoning ghosts at the table. However, they followed this up by giving them all cake, which probably wasn't the best way to prevent Klaus from doing something they didn't want him to do.

"A-are they ugly?"

"Sometimes." Ben remembers that the ghost Klaus summoned that first time was covered in blood and screaming. "Klaus thinks it's really funny, usually. As long as they don't try waking him up."

Klaus flounces over to them with the thin blanket now wrapped around his tiny nine-year-old shoulders. "I am King Ferdinand of Spain!" He cries, waving a stick at them. "The Spanish Inquisition is now in order!"

"If you're Ferdinand, where's Isabella?" They usually play this game with Wednesday and Pugsley, as purging heretics was only fun when you weren't sure who was actually a heretic.

"Isabella is on a diplomatic voyage!"

"That's not historically correct."

"Shut up, heathen!" Klaus thwacks Ben with his stick, which Ben swats away half-heartedly.

They play until the sun finally begins to set, and Morticia comes to summon her sons for dinner.

"Boys, supper will be ready soon. I'm afraid you'll have to retire for today and wash up in time to eat." Klaus sighs dramatically.

"Coming Mother!" Both boys say as one. They look at their friend somewhat regretfully. "I guess you'll have to go then," Ben says, "before your family comes looking for you."

"But we can play again soon, right?" Klaus' eyes are wide and hopeful, making Number Two lean away awkwardly.

"Uh, we'll-we'll see. I'm not usually allowed out, but I-I'll try and come back as soon as I can." That was enough for the young medium, who smiles brightly, and pulls the other boy into a sudden hug.

"See you later, Two!" Klaus grabs Ben by the wrist and runs back to the house. Just as Number Two turns to leave, he hears the curly-haired Addams call out to him. "Hey, wait!"

Klaus returns with the jar of fireflies in hand, offering them up to a confused Number Two. "Here, I almost forgot," he says, shoving them closer to the other boy.

"Why?" Number two queries. "I thought y-you wanted those?"

"I can catch them anytime I like. But you're not allowed out a lot, right? I could tell you've never seen these before. So you can take them instead. Though, you'll probably have to release them before you go to bed, or else they'll die." Number Two takes the jar from Klaus, staring at the blinking little lights in wonder. He has to admit, they were really pretty, and it makes him happy that Klaus wants to give them to him. He does feel somewhat embarrassed that he's obviously never seen these things before today- he didn't even know that that wasn't normal until he decided to hop the fence that evening.

Still, he manages a quiet, "thank you," and is kind of amazed to see Klaus' face brighten even more. He doesn't know it yet, but Klaus doesn't have many friends outside of his family. And while the young Addams child doesn't quite mind this, he's still a very social creature (surprising, when comparing him to the likes of his sister), and is always mildly disappointed when people avoid him in school. He definitely has more friends than Wednesday, but it wasn't like she was even trying. She doesn't like friends at all, says they're only good for when you want to stab them in the back dramatically. (Klaus is all for drama, but he still wants friends.)

"No problem," Klaus assures him, before adding, "see you soon." With a lingering smile, he runs back inside where the rest of his family is waiting for him. Number Two stands there for a moment, watching the shadows through the windows of a happy family gathering for a meal. They're loud and full of joy and laughter, something he didn't know belonged at the meal table until this moment, and something in him aches. He shakes it off, knowing his own dinnertime will be starting soon, and runs home.

"I saw that you seemed to have made a friend," Morticia says at dinner. Her youngest sons nod in unison.

"We found him wandering the perimeter," Ben informs. "Klaus was the one that wanted to talk to him."

"His name is Number Two!" Klaus is proud to have befriended someone his age, especially since this 'Number Two' is actually alive. "He lives next door!"

This causes Gomez to slow in his eating for a second, before resuming his normal pace. "Oh? You mean the house with the large umbrella on the gates?" Ben nods.

"He ran through the woods, and I guess he got a little lost, because he somehow made it to our backyard."

"Number Two is an interesting name," Morticia remarks. "Do you know where he got it?"

"Nope!" Klaus pops the 'p' and shoves another piece of chicken in his mouth.

Gomez and Morticia share a look. It's not to say that they don't like the Hargreeves, necessarily, or even that they don't want their children speaking to them- they're quite pleased to hear that their sons are making friends. However, they both know full well that Reginald Hargreeves is not the safest of men, and while the naming could simply mean the man was fond of numbers, the couple is sure that it means something far different.

Still, this is just a bit of a hunch, one that their Grandmama doesn't seem to pick up on, since she's still giving Pugsley a bit of a hard time about the mess he's been making at the table so far. So they decide to just take quiet note of this fact and leave the matter be.

"I'm very glad to hear you're getting along with the other children in the neighborhood," Gomez flashes a kind smile at his sons, who smile back. "Maybe next time you can have them over for dinner." Ben grins, and Klaus lets out a squeal of excitement, his cup vibrating in the slightest. It catches Morticia's eye, but she doesn't bring it up.

"We'll be sure to ask next time," Ben assures his father. They then move on to other topics, and the matter is nearly forgotten.

Dread coils in Number Two's stomach as he gets closer to his house. His father is probably incredibly unhappy that he ran away- and there's no way he doesn't know, considering the cameras that cover every inch of the place.

Still, he has to return at some point, or face the consequences that would surely be worse if he forces his father to come get him. So he steels himself and knocks on the front door.

Pogo opens it, giving Number Two a look of appraisal (and moderate weariness). He sighs and opens the door wider for Number Two to step inside.

"Welcome home, Mister Two," he greets. Number Two nods.

"Thanks, P-pogo," he murmurs.

"Would you like me to take that for you?" Pogo's hands reach out to the blazer Number Two has balled up in his arms. "If it's dirty, I will see to it that it is washed." Number Two shakes his head. His jar of fireflies is hidden in it, and he's not very keen on the idea of letting anyone see it- he knows there's no way his father will let him keep them if he sees them.

"I'm fine, Pogo, it was just a bit h-hot out. It's summer," the boy points out. Just as Pogo looks as if he's about to say something, someone clears their throat. They turn to find Reginald striding over to them, expression tight.

"Number Two," he begins, and the child tries his best not to shrink in on himself. "Do you have even the slightest idea what time it is?"

"I-i-it," he gulps, feeling even worse when the corners of his father's lips curl downwards at his stutter. He takes a shaky breath and tries again. "I-it's a-almos-t dinner, sir."

"And where, exactly, have you been this whole time?" Number Two opens his mouth and then quickly shuts it, not wanting to tell his father about Klaus and Ben. Was it wrong to already see them as friends, as his little secret? It was something special that he never wanted to share, especially not with his father, as that might ruin things. He doesn't want the magic getting ruined.

Reginald quirks a brow as his son opens his mouth and then closes it once more. "I did not raise a fish, Number Two," he says, as if he raised Number Two at all. Still, the boy knew better than to voice that opinion, lest he never see the light of day again.

"I-I w-w-wandered in-in-into some-someone's backy-ard."

"And you stayed there?" Number Two shifts his hold on his cargo for a moment.


"Doing what, exactly?" The jar of fireflies seem to get heavier in his arms.

"Talk-talking. A-about flow-flowers," he adds quickly.


"T-t-they li-like flowers," Number Two cringes at this, knowing this not only doesn't impress his father, but that he may have just given away his location with this. There were only two houses in this specific area of the neighborhood that have a garden of any sort (especially in the backyard), and only one of them belongs to a family. The other was a very old woman who lived alone with her many stray pets.

"The Addams family, hm?" Those words threaten to squeeze all the hope from Number Two's chest, knowing that he did, in fact, give away his location. "Very well."


Number Two's eyes widen at his father, but he remains silent, knowing better than to ask.

"There are worse places you could've wound up," Reginald decides, before dismissing his son, who wasn't yet shocked enough to pass up the opportunity to leave as soon as possible. "Be sure to clean up, dinner is in thirty minutes and we will not wait for you."

As Number Two retreats, he hears Reginald pose a question to Pogo. "The Addams, they have two sons born October first, do they not?"

"They do, sir. They were why we-"

"Yes," Reginald interrupts his butler. "I know. It is why I have yet to punish Number Two for his behavior today."

Number Two sprints up the stairs, the voices fading behind him. If he'd stayed, he might've heard the rest of the conversation, and maybe it might've changed the way things play out in the future. But he doesn't, and it won't.

Instead, he makes it to his room, hides his jar in his closet, washes his hands and changes his clothes, and goes back down for dinner.

It's late at night when Number Two finds the courage to take out the fireflies. He double checks the lock on his door, before grabbing the jar and sitting on the window sill.

He watches them for a while, the way they dance, glittering little lights spinning around each other gracefully. He knows they're just bugs, that there's a very plain and boring reason why they light up, and yet he doesn't let that stop his tentative imagination from pulling him into the magic of it. If he just sits back, lets his eyes glaze over as he watches them float, he thinks he sees fairies, fluttering and twirling about. He thinks he sees embers, little sparks of flame that glow and hum with warmth and never die out, birthed by an unknown fire and swirling, flying away into the night sky.

He thinks he sees beauty, or at least something beautiful, with the potential for more as it gleams the way lightning does, flashing in and out, bright and maybe a little mindless, but something to behold. Something that radiates heat, a smoldering bolt that leaves you maybe a little breathless.

He sees hope, maybe because of the day that passed, with the boys with the big eyes and warm smiles and how one of them saw nothing wrong with handing him this piece of wonder, something so small and seemingly mundane, but that fills him with fascination. Something full of magic and beauty, like fairies or glowing embers, that glimmers in the sky like stars and illuminates the night.

And as he thinks this, his heart fills in his chest, expanding until he thinks it's stealing room from his lungs, getting larger and filling with something light and fuzzy until he thinks he just might float away, float like the fireflies, float to the moon. And so he unscrews the cap, a whisper of something like a wish to his ears, and watches as one by one, these shining little lights of hope, sparks that set off fire, escape into the night sky, glittering and gleaming like the twinkling stars.

He's so taken by the beauty of it all that he almost falls forward out the window, his heart aching with the desire to take flight with them, to leave everything behind and become a glowing ember, a shard of lightning, a glimmer of hope.

And maybe some tears fall, but Number Two is alone, so who is to tell?

Chapter Text

"Are you sure this is going to work?" Even as Ben asks this, he knows what the answer was going to be. His brother is nothing if not inordinately confident in himself and all his hare-brained schemes, even when they were inherently bound to fall apart.

"Absolutely!" Klaus' cheerful statement only serves to confirm Ben's suspicions. "Let's get this started, Benny!" Klaus lays flat on his back as Ben reluctantly continues following the steps of the manual.

"If you die or something, I'm going to tell mother that you did this all by yourself." Ben lights the candles surrounding his brother, careful not to disturb the salt circle's intricate pentagram design. He then lifts the bowl of blood above their heads, murmuring the chant exactly as the book instructs, before dipping his fingers in it and flicking the blood onto his brother's body.

Klaus makes a whining noise of discomfort, and Ben scowls. "Don't complain, this was your idea," he snaps. Klaus pouts in response, but says nothing.

Ben looks over the next step in the book, which says to use the blood to paint sigils into the ground within the salt circle. The remaining blood was to be fed to Klaus, who again whines, but quiets down when Ben reminds him that it was his fault for not fully reading the manual.

"It's your own blood, anyway," Ben remarks.

"It doesn't mean I like the taste." Klaus wrinkles his nose as he tries to ignore the sharp tang of iron in his blood.

"You shouldn't." Before Klaus can say anything in response, Ben continues. "Now lay your head down and stay still. Apparently if we get this wrong you might end up breaking your neck and dying."

"Oh, goody!"

Ben flips the large grimoire to the next page and begins reading the chant aloud, the Latin words forming perfectly on his tongue. Despite being nine years old, Ben takes to his foreign language lessons quite well, going so far as to begin privately studying Latin and Greek.

As Ben's chanting gets louder (as the grimoire instructs), the candle flames suddenly start flickering, a sourceless wind picking up in the room and getting stronger by the second. There is a sudden howling, like banshees in the distance that Ben assumes is likely the ghost from the other side, desperately calling out from beyond the veil. The candles and empty bowl are soon rattling, and out of nowhere Klaus' limp body is being lifted into the air, hovering softly a few centimeters off the ground and steadily rising. Books and knick-knacks levitate around them, a picture frame nearly hitting Ben in the head as it makes its way to the rapidly growing tornado of items spinning around them.

Ben powers through the whole ordeal, secure in the knowledge that whatever happens will be solved swiftly in the typical Addams way. Cthulu rumbles deep in Ben's chest, its presence a solid assurance that he is safe.

Ben is halfway done with the incantation, his brother a good foot or so in the air, when the windows shatter, the force blowing away some salt and breaking the circle. The fires from the candles become columns of flame, singeing the ceiling before dying out just as quickly. The harsh wind dissipates with a lingering cackle as the shrieking immediately ceases. The household items crash on the hardwood floor.

Klaus laughs breathlessly, and it is only then that Ben realizes he is still floating.

"Wow," Klaus whispers, more to himself than anything else. He turns to Ben, flailing awkwardly in an attempt to get his body to move through the air. "Let's go show mom!"

Morticia is, as expected, nothing less than proud of her darling Klaus, who never ceases to surprise her day in and day out. Not only were her sons taking the initiative and performing their very first satanic ritual all on their own, but now they've discovered yet another facet of Klaus' abilities.

"This is absolutely marvelous news," she says, a genial smile gracing her lips. "I'm so proud of you, my dears." Klaus beams at her as he swims through the air, still trying to figure out just how to maneuver with less gravity.

"Yes, but do you know how to get down from there?" Wednesday asks, watching Klaus struggle to turn his body around.

"Nope!" Her brother says, far too enthusiastically.

"We're not sure how long it'll last, either. He can't seem to get down," Ben informs them. Morticia still has that tiny little smile on her face.

"Well, that's just fine, isn't it? If the effects are temporary, then we will simply have to wait it out. Otherwise, I'm sure we will find a way to accommodate Klaus' new state of being."

"I propose a medieval ball and chain, preferably around his neck," Wednesday suggests. Ben mulls over her statement.

"That sounds wonderful, but that might only keep his neck down and not the rest of him. I believe it would be best around his waist," he says, observing as Klaus finally seems to get the hang of floating and manages to assume a sitting position in thin air.

"I will never come down!" Klaus crows, hands on his hips. Wordlessly, Ben grips him by the ankle and yanks him down, the other boy letting out a yelp as he's pulled closer to the ground. Immediately after Ben lets go, however, the young medium simply bobs back up to his original spot.

For the remainder of the month, Klaus adjusts to life without being able to touch the ground, taking to levitating like a fish in water.

"Sir, I do not mean to impose, but I must ask- do you also see the flying child?" Pogo never thought he'd ever have to ask this sort of question, but the levitating boy the Addams' chained to a large iron ball gives Pogo cause for concern. Admittedly, said child is giggling and trying to control the trajectory of his flight, twisting and turning awkwardly as he tries to maneuver in the air. He manages to get stuck upside down, and laughs even harder as the blood rushes to his head. His brother watches him with an odd mix of fascination, exasperation, and adoration from his spot on the cushioned armchair. He says something inaudible, and his floating sibling sticks his tongue out in response.

"Indeed I do, Pogo," Reginald tells his butler. He scrutinizes the boy intensely, hands folded behind his back. "It seems things are developing at a far quicker pace than anticipated." He sounds oddly pleased at this, and continues to stare even once Ben makes eye contact with him, the previously affectionate smile immediately wiping off the boy's face. He says something to Klaus, who wriggles around wildly to see Reginald as well. Ben drags Klaus by the chain towards the backyard and they disappear from view. "However, I know it could be faster and more efficient. If only..."

The man turns from the window, musing quietly to himself until Grace approaches.

"Sir, I would just like to inform you that Number Two, Number Three, and Number Six were all treated in the infirmary today." Part of Grace's programming includes reporting to Reginald any and all trips to the infirmary the children take, as usually it means at least one person was stabbed or otherwise unable to train for the foreseeable future.

"And what was the cause of this?" After all, it wouldn't do if the injuries are due to infighting- and considering two of the subjects involved are numbers Two and Six, this would be the likeliest cause. And infighting must be punished.

Grace's smile tightens just the slightest bit, so minute a change that neither men notice it. "It appears that Number Three and Number Six got into an argument, and Number Three tried to rumor Number Six, causing her to light Number Three's hair on fire in retaliation. Number Three beat out the flames, then attacked Number Six, and their scuffle got Number Two involved when they knocked him over, which turned it into a three-way fight. They were then brought to the infirmary to be treated for the burns, cuts, and fractured wrist. Also, Number Six bit Number Three, so I treated that as well."

Reginald frowns deeper than usual. Must Number Six always be such a terrible nuisance? "Very well. Return to your usual duties." At this dismissal, Grace inclines her head, plastic smile wide as ever as she excuses herself from the room.

On the way back to their rooms, Number Two grumbles under his breath things along the lines of 'stupid sisters' and their inherent ability to 'drag innocent bystanders into their dumb fights'. A few steps ahead of him, Six groans.

"Will you just get over it already?" She snaps. "It's not like it was on purpose."

"Get over it? You dragged me into your stupid cat fight and this one," he points to Number Three, who scoffs, "almost clawed my eyes out!" It isn't as if Two particularly dislikes Six- in fact, most of the time they get along fairly well, bonding over their mutual dislike of One (and usually, by extension Three) as well as their enjoyment of a decent fight. However, the appreciation for throwing punches doesn't extend to fighting each other, and unfortunately for Two, Six is fair in the way that she will indiscriminately scrap with anyone.

Probably the only siblings she's never fought are Four and Seven, but that's likely because Seven is too scared to so much as look people in the eyes, let alone irritate Six, and Four is, well, Four.

No one fights Four.

"Like I said, it was an accident." Six looks ready to set him on fire, but then, she's always ready to do that anyways. "So just let it go."

"Girls are dumb," Two complains, then yelps as his shirt lights aflame, batting it out quickly. Ahead of them, Three sighs in an incredibly put-upon manner, and Two thinks he's never met a bigger hypocrite in his life.

"What, you think you're better than us or something?" Two snaps.

"I haven't said anything," Three sniffs, causing Two's eyes to narrow.

"Yeah, but you're thinking it. You always think you're better." Six groans, knowing what's going to come next.

"Well, I'm not the one starting the fight."

"Is that why Six set your hair on fire? Because you were minding your own business?" His sister turns around to face him, meeting his glare with her own. Before she can say anything, however, Six butts in.

"Hey, can you guys kill each other tomorrow or something? Because I'm pretty sure we already tried that, like, an hour ago, and fighting more than once in a day might make Reginald decide to throw us down a flight of stairs or something, and I actually like my bones being intact."

Three scowls, before snapping, "It's not my problem, anyway," and storming away. Six rolls her eyes and picks up her own pace, disappearing down the hall.

"Mother, Father, how do you tell if someone is a pedophile?" Perhaps this isn't the best thing to say immediately after entering your home, but it's certainly the first and most important thing on Ben's mind upon stepping inside. His parents look at each other with unreadable expressions, before turning to him.

"What's that?" Klaus asks, and it's then that Ben remembers that he's still dragging his brother by the chain like a human balloon. He hands his brother off to their butler, before turning his attention back to his parents.

"What has spurred this on, my dear?" Morticia asks, in a tone Ben has never heard from her.

"While we were outside on the front lawn, an old man kept staring at us through his window. He was quite shameless about it, actually. I made eye contact and he just stared back, though mostly he was watching Klaus. He didn't seem very surprised about Klaus' new predicament, but his expression did seem very strange."

"This wouldn't happen to be anyone we know, would it? What did he look like?" Gomez moves to gently rest his hand on Ben's arm, intently watching his son's facial expressions.

"He was bald, mostly, and had a white mustache, and was wearing a monocle, I think," Ben recounts steadily. He frowns. "I'm pretty sure he was also standing next to a monkey. But it was very short, and could barely seem to look out the window, so I'm not entirely sure." Gomez nods steadily.

"Which home was he in?" Morticia's sudden question brings the attention to her. Her eyes are narrowed in the way that means she's cataloging which poison herbs are ready for use in her garden.

"The one next door," Ben tells her. "Two's place." Gomez's grip tightens fractionally, not wanting to squeeze too hard, and again the two Addams parents lock eyes. They're silently communicating, and Ben idly wonders if he'll ever meet someone who understands him the way his parents understand each other.

"Well, I'm sure he was just intrigued- after all, it's quite rare to see two young boys as darling as you and your brother," Morticia finally says, lips quirking just the slightest bit. "Still, I'm proud of you for coming to us with this. Let us know if something like this happens again, yes? And I think it best to take someone with you when you go outside from now on. Like Lurch, or Grandmama, just to watch you two." Ben, the most obedient of the Addams children, nods dutifully.

Gomez gives his son a kiss on the forehead and one last smile, before sending him off to do whatever he wishes upstairs. "I knew it," he says, once Ben is out of earshot. "I absolutely knew it. Oh, cara mia, he's after our sons!"

"I know, mon cher, but there is no need for worry. We will handle this in the usual Addams way. Reginald will not so much as touch a single hair."

Klaus is rifling through his clothes when the door swings open, revealing his older sister.

"Oh? Am I interrupting something?" Wednesday cocks a brow, her monotonous tone still somehow managing to convey her curiosity. She eyes the feather boa carelessly hung over one shoulder.

"Not at all," Klaus says flippantly. "Was there something you wanted, or are you just here to see me?" He hears the door shut behind him, and Wednesday taking a seat on his bed.

"Mother and Father have been speaking about Reginald." Klaus frowns and turns to face her, seeming to think deeply about it for a minute.


"The one Ben says he saw watching you two." Klaus' eyes widen dramatically in surprise.

"Oh, you mean the Monopoly man?" Klaus turns to Agatha, a ghost who has long since learned not to scream at Klaus. "I didn't know that was his name!" Agatha shrugs helplessly.

"Monopoly man?" Wednesday asks. Klaus shrugs the way Agatha did.

"Or Mr. Peanut, whichever you prefer. But yes, he's a bald old white man with a suit and a monocle, and I'm pretty sure he used a walking stick at least once, so I'd say he makes quite the Monopoly man."

"So it's true? He watched you two?"

"I guess so, but I'm not surprised. I'm quite adorable, I must say, and besides that I'm now too good for gravity, which I'm sure is what caught his eyes." Wednesday flawlessly ignores Klaus' propensity for being himself with all the skill and ease of an experienced sibling.

"Well, if he tries to approach you again, go for the kneecaps. He'll never see it coming." She hands him her surgical scalpels, silver and well-polished in their case. He stares at them reverently, before thanking her profusely.

"I probably can't aim for kneecaps anymore, but I'll at least try the eyes. You and I both know that's my favorite." Wednesday nods sagely at this, and Klaus thanks her again before she leaves. She would probably give Ben something too, if he didn't already have a personal bodyguard in the form of Cthulu. Still, she drops in to speak to him, offering to help him make the most explosive combinations possible with the chemistry kit he got from their father the week before.

It's late at night when Two hears an odd tapping on his window. At first, he dismisses it as a tree branch or perhaps a bug. He rolls over in bed and buries himself further into the pillows, until the tapping intensifies, and soon there's a figure blocking the moonlight, casting a large shadow over his entire room. Two sits upright, mind still far too hazy to truly be alarmed and instead only mildly irritated. He turns around to face the issue, only to be met head-on with what looked like Satan himself plastered against his window, breathing heavily onto the glass and whispering his name repeatedly.

On instinct, Number Two snatches the daggers he left under his pillow and throws them at the window in quick succession. The figure yelps and backs away as the glass shatters, and it's only then that Two realizes that it's a person- in fact, a very familiar person.

"K-Klaus?" He says incredulously.

"Dick move, Two," and, yeah, that's definitely Klaus, which Two isn't sure is a good or bad thing.

"W-what the hell, Klaus? What're you d-doing here? How- how'd you even get up to this floor?" He runs over to the shattered window, noticing that Klaus is only half-heartedly clutching the brick wall.

"Don't worry about it," Klaus says flippantly, "Benny's got me covered." He shows Two a rope tied around his waist, and Two leans a bit out the window to see the rope lead all the way to the ground, where a tiny figure stands holding it.

"How is that supposed to help?"

"It's to keep me from floating away, of course!" Two loves his friend, truly, he does, but it's times like this that utterly convinces him that Klaus is insane. Of course, it isn't like there were too many of those moments in the first place, considering how he's only seen Klaus once when Two broke into his backyard. It's been at least two months since then, and Two hasn't been able to have more than thirty minutes of free time at once, let alone a whole afternoon to run off and play again. As time goes on, Two is given less and less free time, which wasn't much to begin with.

"You still haven't t-t-told me why you're h-here."

"Isn't it obvious? Benny and I wanted to see you! Though, Benny keeps telling me we should just wait for you to come over, but that's dumb and boring! Who needs to wait when I can just come on over?"

"You can't, though. My d-d-dad won't want visitors, and there's cameras all over this place. H-he probably already has footage of you guys c-coming over here and t-talking to me. I might get in trou-trouble!"

It's then that Klaus' expression changes, morphing into something serious. It's so unfamiliar that it makes Two nervous. "About that," Klaus says, "what's your dad like? Is he- are you okay here?" It's a question Two's never dreamed of having to answer before, and he isn't sure what the odd feeling that settles in his gut means, but he's sure it's that he can't answer honestly. That he shouldn't, even though he doesn't understand why.

"What- what do you mean?" Klaus contemplates for a moment, searching for something on Two's face that Two's unsure Klaus will find.

Finally, he says, "Are the cameras aimed to see the windows?" It takes Two a moment to think about this, bewildered by the derailment of the line of conversation.

"Um, maybe? I don't think so. Mostly it's aimed at my bed, I think, but I'm n-not allowed into the office so I've never seen any of it." Klaus hums thoughtfully, accepting the answer.

"Well, my dear Two, that is plenty good news. It just means that I'll have to stay out here, is all." Two never gets to ask if Klaus' arms can handle all of that weight, since Klaus steamrolls right over his concern. "Anyway, as I was saying, how prone to staring at small, adorable, perfect young children is your dear old dad? Is that a hobby of his? Or is it only for the most loveable of kids?"

"Um, I don't know?" It's phrased more as a question, though honestly it might as well be with how confusing the questions are. "He usually only pays attention to me and my siblings if we're training. Or in trouble." Klaus hums again at this.

"Is he," Klaus pauses, "is he good? To you? Does he ever get close, physically?" Two's brows furrow, not expecting the conversation to go this route.

"Not really, I don't think he likes contact. He's pat O-one's shoulder once or twice, and he s-slapped Six for setting a house plant on fire when we were seven." Two's not sure if Klaus is satisfied with the answer, but the Addams child can tell that Two's close to his sharing limit for the day. He quickly changes his tune, delivering the line with a bright smile.

"Alrighty, then! That's good to hear, I guess, though it sucks that he doesn't know what hugs are. Anyway, now that I've defeated gravity, I should be able to see you more often! Though I can't come all the time, since I need my beauty sleep. You don't become this gorgeous without some effort! Don't want the extra moonlight to make me look anything less than close to death."

Two ignores the eccentricity in favor of enjoying his time with Klaus, until about forty minutes later when Ben calls from the ground below them. "Klaus, we gotta go! We've been out too long." Ben tugs on the rope for emphasis, and Klaus sighs dramatically.

"Well, I suppose that means I must take my leave," he says forlornly. "I will see you soon, my dear. Our love shall not be forgotten!" He cries dramatically. Or as much as he can, given he's still trying to be as quiet as possible. Two rolls his eyes at his friend's antics- it should've made him uncomfortable, being who he is, but Klaus is such an exuberant character that Two is simply nothing more than exasperated by him, despite it being their second encounter. Klaus puts the back of his hand on his forehead in a caricature of a swoon, and as if on cue, Ben yanks on the rope as hard as he can, causing Klaus to lose his grip and disappear from sight.

Two's heart threatens to leap out of his chest, too terrified to even cry out as he moves to look out the window. Any previous doubts Two had on Klaus' sanity flies out the window with Klaus when he sees his friend suddenly stop in his descent to the earth, body suspended in mid air. Even from so far away, he can hear Klaus' giggle, and Ben hissing something to his brother angrily. He smiles softly at this, the same soft, unnameable thing from the time they first met filling and expanding in his chest in the way it did with the fireflies.

He thinks those two will never stop making him feel like this, like the world is full of wonder for him, if he could only be allowed to grasp it. He hopes they never stop making him feel like this. Two waves at them as they leave, Klaus still floating and Ben leading him home with the rope, like a human balloon. They wave back with differing amounts of enthusiasm, and it's only then that Two remembers, as he moves to close the window, that he'd shattered it upon seeing Klaus outside.

And yet, instead of contemplating his death, Two, feeling far too light on the inside from seeing his only friends, settles back under the covers and sleeps. He can't wait for them to visit again, the start of this new nightly ritual sparking anticipation and joy inside him, awaiting the next time they greet him at the window. He drifts off into sleep, guided by promises of company and hope into dreams filled with wonder and two special, wide-eyed boys.

Chapter Text

Much to Klaus' dismay, his inability to remain tethered to the earth only stays for about three more weeks, before the earth sees fit to reclaim him. Fortunately, Klaus learns that he's now able to float whenever he desires, though it's still difficult staying afloat for extended periods of time, as is floating on command. Still, Klaus is glad to know he can still visit Two at night, and is also able to take Ben up to the window sometimes.

His reunion with gravity happens just in time for school, which none of the Addams children are at all enthusiastic about. They all, like every year, beg their parents to home school them, to no avail. The only one who doesn't put up too much of a fight is Ben, who's actually somewhat interested in returning- after all, the schools have science labs, which means he can practice on all sorts of experiments for free. Soon after, October rolls around. October, of course, is the Addams family's favorite month of the year. Not only is it the month of Halloween, but it's also the birth month of their special little boys.

"So, are you guys gonna celebrate your birthday?" Klaus asks this to Two one afternoon. Two, having snuck out of his house just a few minutes earlier, is lounging about with his friends in Klaus' room.

"I guess," Two says, shrugging. "I d-don't see what the big deal is, th-though." Klaus sits up incredulously, looking at his friend. From his perch on the armchair, Ben sighs, knowing Two is going to end up regretting those words.

"What do you mean, 'it's no big deal'?!" Klaus squishes Two's cheeks with his hands, eliciting sounds of protest from Two. The Addams boy ignores this in favor of sitting himself on top of the boy and yelling at him. "Two! It's the absolute biggest and most important deal in the world! In history!" Two continues to squirm and swat at Klaus' arms, but the boy remains determined.

"G 'rf mr," Two says, desperately flailing his arms as Klaus all but throttles him.

"The situation is worse than I thought," Klaus tells Ben gravely. "It's time we take matters into our own hands." Ben sighs, closing his book.

"That's all fine and well, but I'm fairly certain that he has to be alive in order for any of this to matter." Klaus looks down to find Two's flailing getting weaker. He gasps and releases his friend.

"You're lucky I c-c-can't choke to death," he snaps, glaring at Klaus viciously. The medium merely sends him a cheeky smile.

"No, you're lucky, because it means I can't kill you for saying birthdays aren't important."

Two sighs. "I still don't understand what you're freaking out about. So w-what if it's a birthday? It's just there as a y-yearly reminder of how old you are, n-n-not much else." Klaus gasps, then turns to Ben.

"Do you hear this, Benny? It's like he's never had a birthday party before! The travesty!" Klaus wails. He lays the back of his hand on his forehead, posing like one of those distressed damsels in all the old, terrible movies Wednesday found and tortured them with. "What is he going to say now, that he's never known the joys of birthday feasts, or selfishly hoarding masses of presents?"

Ben, who only wants to go back to his book, patiently tells his brother, "Klaus, I think that's exactly what he's saying. His dad sucks, remember?" Klaus blinked, face blank in the realization that, yes, Reginald Hargreeves is a shit father and Klaus should never expect anything much from him.

"Huh," he says, quite profoundly, and Two shifts uncomfortably. "I never thought that he'd refuse to throw them a decent birthday party, though. Ooh!" He claps his hands excitedly. "I know, I know! You can come celebrate your birthday with us! We can spend the whole day together!"

"I d-don't know," Two says, shifting uncomfortably. "I don't think I'll have time af-after training." Klaus pouts.

"Aw, c'mon," he whines, "Don't tell me you won't even have fun on your birthday! I've said this before, but your dad's the worst."

Two huffs.

"Look, I'll s-see what I can- can- can do, okay? But I can't make any promises. He's st-still mad about the window." Klaus squeals, completely ignoring the second half of his friend's sentence in favor or tackling him into another hug. Ben sighs for what feels like the nth time that day. He's fairly certain that just because Two doesn't need to breathe, doesn't mean he'll survive getting his throat crushed. Unfortunately for their friend, it doesn't seem like Klaus is going to remember that for a long while.

"Now that I think about it, w-what were you doing the r-ritual for?" Two asks this in the middle of the night, while Klaus and Ben are visiting him. Klaus has his feet dangling out the window, and Ben has his planted firmly on the windowsill. Ben has become something like a human library for Two, lending him books that Ben finds absolutely crucial for Two to read. He's now caressing one of the books Two recently borrowed from him, a very cherished novel that Ben is glad to have back.

The brothers blink in surprise, recalling the events that led up to the discovery of more of Klaus' powers. Earlier, they'd recounted the events, and mentioned that Ben actually never had the chance to finish the incantation, which originally served a different purpose other than making people float.

"Huh," Klaus muses, "You know, I don't think I remember. Do you remember, Benny?" He asks his brother, who hums lowly as he contemplates the question.

"I believe we were trying to open the gate between the spirit world and the living world, with you as the gateway," he finally says. "Something about... wanting all of your friends to be in the same place?" Klaus' eyes light up at the recollection.

"Oh yeah!" He exclaims. Two gapes.

"What? Why- why would you w-w-ant to do that?" Klaus blinks up at him innocently.

"I wanted you to meet my other friends," he says simply. "I talk to Agatha and Belladonna all the time, but you can't even see them. It's kind of a bummer, y'know? Plus, Henry's especially needy for attention, but I can't spend all my time with him or else I won't have time for you or Benny. It'd be nice if Henry could make some other friends."

Two shakes his head, reminding himself that he shouldn't be so surprised. This is Klaus and Ben, after all.

Eventually, it gets late enough that Klaus nearly teeters out the window from sleepiness, which is when they decide to call it a night. Two watches the brothers retreat, his heart never ceasing to get that float-y feeling that comes with every encounter he has with them.

"So, I'm going to take a wild guess and say that they're your friends?" Two freezes at the sound of the voice. He turns around to come face to face with Six, who's leaning casually against the door frame.

"How lo-long have- have you known?" Six hums, clearly amused by the threatening tone he tries to intimidate her with.

"Quite a while. I mean, it's not like you were doing a very good job at hiding it. You've been way more distracted, staring off into space, going off alone, and even staying out of more and more fights. Honestly, you seem to be getting happier." Two blinks. Despite the worry over the fact that he was being so obvious these past few months, something in his chest flutters at the thought that he's been visibly happier. It's true, that Ben and Klaus make him happy, and the thought of his friends somehow distracts him from the situation.

"See? You've got that stupid look on your face that tells me you aren't even listening to a single word I'm saying." Six's lazy drawl is enough to snap him out of his thoughts, and he immediately tenses. She notices this and quirks a brow, trying to fight off a smirk.

"Oh, please. You really think I of all people am interested in snitching to the old man? I don't even like being in the same room as him most days, you think I'd willingly go talk to him?" She scoffed. "As if. If I cared that much, I wouldn't be waiting until now to do something." Two can't help but agree with this statement, knowing that Six is far too impatient and generally apathetic to bother with some kind of long-term scheme to ruin his happiness. "Besides," she murmurs, and something in her tone suddenly sounds a lot more serious. "Four says the shadows are leaving you."

Two pauses, unprepared for this sudden piece of information. Everyone in their house knows better than to dismiss the things that Four says, even when they don't always make sense. Because, however cryptic the words are, they always consist of the complete and absolute truth, and few have prospered from actively denying it.

Two doesn't exactly know what the shadows are, but he knows that Four speaks of them often. She says they're unlike the shadows everyone else see, but that they cling to everyone just like a real shadow. The difference is that the light doesn't get rid of them. She says the only one without one is Grace, and that normal people don't have as many as the Hargreeves do. Four's never said anything about shadows being able to leave, only that you can collect them as time goes on, but Two assumes that if gaining them is bad, then losing them must, by default, be good.

Six seems to think so as well, going by how soft her eyes suddenly are and how she hasn't done anything about his secret friendship til now. "I know the old geezer knows something, but just- just be careful, okay? I won't say anything as long as you promise me that." It's times like this that make Six his favorite, Two thinks, as he promises her the way she asks. She doesn't hang around after that, choosing to slink off into the darkness towards her room.

Two settles into bed, whatever shreds of doubt still left about Klaus and Ben completely dissipating with the knowledge that they make the shadows go away.

Two ends up not even bothering to ask Reginald for permission to leave.

He tries, on multiple occasions, but finds himself (begrudgingly) chickening out. He knows he can't risk asking, or else it might expose that he's been meeting up with Klaus and Ben for months now. Say what one might about Number Two, but he isn't an idiot. He sees the way Reginald watches the boys like hawks whenever they're outside, no matter what he's doing or what they're doing. And, though this says nothing much considering the lives of the Hargreeves', he knows that this isn't normal.

Reginald is nearly obsessive with how much he watches the two Addams children, standing by windows and muttering under his breath as he jots down God knows what in that little notebook of his.

Two knows that no matter what kind of reaction an invitation would elicit from his father, it isn't going to be good.

And so he stays quiet about the party, all the way to the very day. He plans to simply slink out of the room and disappear when no one is watching, and it's during this that he honestly believes that being Seven would really benefit him. He's never really been one for stealth, but he hopes that his current skills in it will help him get the job done.

It's while the gift-giving process is winding down that he decides now is his chance to leave. Everyone is finished handing out their handmade items and smuggled things, and Diego is ready to excuse himself to the bathroom where he'll take the chance to leave, when suddenly his Mom steps into the middle of the room and calls them to attention.

"Children," She says, with the same lovely smile she's always had, "your father has decided that since you've all been quite good, and that you're getting older now, you're now ready for something very, very special."

"Two!" Klaus flings open the door and drags his friend in, grinning widely enough to look just short of terrifying. "You're here! You're really here!" Two gasps for breath as Klaus celebrates his arrival. Ben approaches the duo with concern written all over his face.

"Are you alright?" He asks, resting a hand on the other boy's shoulder. "Do you need me to get you something?" Two shakes his head frantically. He stands straight, eyes wide and face a bit flushed.

"G-g-guys," he says, excitement rolling off him in waves, "guys, I h- I have a n-name!" Klaus stops celebrating and stares at him oddly. Two takes his shoulders and shakes them wildly. "I have a name! M-my mom gave me a n- a name!" Ben cuts off his babbling by interjecting.

"Two, slow down. We don't understand what's happening." Two's head whips around to face his other friend, and Ben leans back a little as if to avoid being shaken as well.

"Th-at's just it. It's n-not T-two anymore. I have a name! I'm- I'm not a number! Now I can-" his cheeks pink, stopping for the first time since he started speaking, before finally murmuring, "now I can be like you guys."

The Addams boys stare at him for a moment, before staring at each other, and then finally looking back at Two with matching smiles. They each grab one of Two's hands with their own, causing him to look up from where his gaze is trained on the floor. "Tell us everything," they say in unison, and then drag Two to the living room.

"-And that's when she c-came up to the mi-mi-middle of the room and t-told everyone that we w-w-were getting names!"

Klaus leans forward in his seat. "So, then, what's your name?"

Two's chest puffs out in pride as he tells them, "I'm Diego."

"Diego," Ben echoes, testing it out on his tongue. He nods, liking the way it sounds.

"Diego," Klaus repeats. "Diego," he says again, with a slightly different tone, as if trying out what it could feel like in different scenarios. He then leaps up from the chair and chants, "Diego, Diego, Diego!" Diego's face starts aching at how widely he's smiling as Klaus drags Ben off his own seat and ropes him into jumping up and down like lunatics. His friends are amazing, Diego thinks, watching as they behave like animals in their own home.

Klaus reaches out to pull his newly-named friend into the mix, and soon they're simply running wild around the living room, squealing and shrieking like the joyful children they have every right to be.

A while later, the trio are sprawled across the floor, when Ben blinks before turning to Klaus and saying, "didn't we have presents to give him?" Klaus gasps and sits up.

"You're absolutely right, Benny! How could we ever forget?" Klaus scrambles to a corner of the room, and it's only then that Diego realizes that there's a large pile of wrapped boxes sitting there. His mind almost doesn't comprehend the sheer amount of boxes, wrapped neatly with monochrome wrapping paper and topped with silver bows. Is that normal?

"No," Ben says, so close to Diego that he almost jumps out of his skin. "I can see it written all over your face- no, most people don't give that many presents. Our family just goes a bit overboard." Diego flushes in embarrassment at being so transparent. First his sister, now Ben? Can everyone see through him that easily?

Klaus returns with the only colorful boxes in the room. The wrappings are mostly vibrant reds and golds, and stick out like a sore thumb in the room as a whole. "We actually had to go buy the wrapping paper just for this occasion, since no one in our family likes anything this bright. But it was worth it, because now the presents look like Gryffindor House!"

Diego frowns. "What's Gryffindor?"

"And that's why you have to read Harry Potter," Ben says.


Ben sighs and simply hands Diego one of the boxes out of the pile. "Just open it," he tells him in the most resigned manner. Diego would be more bashful, but he's too curious (and also touched) by the large pile of presents just for him to be too offended.

The Addams family watches their youngest two play happily with the boy from the doorway, not even trying to be inconspicuous. They are, after all, too absorbed in each other's company to notice the rest of the family observing them.

They don't want to overwhelm Diego, who actually looks close to tears as it is, but they also want a good look at the child their sons were so taken with. They want to know what kind of child Reginald Hargreeves is capable of raising.

They want to see the extent of the damage Reginald has done.

Eventually, when Diego has opened all of his presents and successfully calmed down, they trickle into the room to officially meet the boy. Wednesday goes first, moving silently until she was a mere few feet away from them. Diego startles a little, surprised by her entrance, but Wednesday sticks out a hand for him to shake.

"Hello, Diego. My brothers have spoken of you quite often. It is wonderful to officially meet you. I am Wednesday." Diego tentatively shakes her hand and murmurs an awkward greeting. As soon as Wednesday steps away, Pugsley comes up just after her.

"I'm Pugsley. Thanks for playing with my brothers, I'm pretty sure Klaus would die of loneliness since he doesn't have other friends." Klaus squawks indignantly as Ben laughs. Morticia and Gomez smile good-naturedly as their children tease each other.

"I know we have seen each other before, but this is the first time we have spoken directly. I am Morticia, dear. My sons are quite fond of you, and you seem to be a rather exceptional child. You are welcome here any time you please." Diego doesn't seem to know what to do with all of the attention, but he doesn't seem to be against it, either. He mumbles a quick thanks, and Morticia smiles genially at him.

It's later in the evening when Diego finally decides he must return home. Klaus whines the entire time, begging him to stay, while Ben admonishes him, reminding his brother that Diego had his own family to get back to.

"Yeah, but they suck! He tells us about what it's like there all the time! And besides, it's our birthday! All three of us! We should be able to have a sleepover at least."

Surprisingly- or perhaps unsurprisingly, as Klaus has a knack for being both charming and convincing- Diego relents and agrees to stay the night, regardless of how anxious it makes him, wondering how Reginald will react when he realizes Diego won't be coming home tonight.

He focuses instead on having the most fun he's ever had in his entire life. He's always dreamed of being able to live with Klaus and Ben so they could have fun all day long, and today he is able to see what that is like. They try out their new toys and run around the backyard and play all sorts of games in and outside the house. When dinner is ready, Diego sits at the table with them instead of going home, and gets a better idea of what family dinners are actually supposed to be like.

There is lots of conversation, from simple things like how their day was to things like the news and such. No one in the family seems even the slightest bit perturbed by or surprised at Diego's attendance, and it shocks and warms him up inside. This is what he's missing, he thinks, staring at Klaus and Pugsley fighting over the last piece of meat. This is what his family is missing.

When the time comes for them to change into their pajamas, both Klaus and Ben offer to let him borrow some of their own. He goes with Ben's spares, when Klaus suggests he and Diego wear matching pajamas.

"I don't know what's not to like," he huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. "We'd look so cute in matching jammies." Diego wrinkles his nose.

"It's not the matching that's the problem," he explains, "it's the fact that I don't want to wear a dress."

"It's a nightgown, and it feels incredibly freeing," Klaus insists, "it's like wearing a blanket. And besides," he sits upright and strikes a vaguely magazine-inspired pose, "I look absolutely fantastic in this!"

"Of course you do," Diego agrees easily, "but I still don't want to wear a dress." Klaus sighs in the most put-upon manner he can manage, but yields.

"Fine," he says breezily, "have fun with Ben in the button-up universe." As it turns out, Ben's closet is indeed filled to the brim with buttoned everything. Any type of clothing he feels comfortable wearing, that just so happens to come with buttons sometimes, exists in his wardrobe, from dress shirts to onesies. Ben pulls out a few and allows Diego to take his pick, though the boy personally chooses to wear a button-up pajama set with a little skull embroidered onto the shirt pocket.

"What is this?" Diego asks, lifting one of them.

"It's one of my favorites," Ben tells him, "it's a skeleton onesie. It's supposed to cover most of your body." In a way, it was like a dress but with pants, Diego decides (as he has yet to learn what a romper is), and chooses this from the lot.

The sleepover ends up being one of the best nights of Diego's life.

He still can't believe that his father hasn't come to ruin it for him, seeing as he's been missing for the entire day. Perhaps he already knows where Diego is, and simply doesn't care that he's choosing to spend his time this way. In fact, Diego would bet that Reginald knows, since the man is so obsessed with having control over every single aspect of his children's lives that it wouldn't be possible for him to be comfortable not knowing. Diego opts to simply be grateful for whatever the reason, and stop thinking about it as soon as possible. He knows it's silly, but there's a part of him that believes that if he thinks of his father for too long, the man would suddenly appear as if summoned.

Diego doesn't want Reginald to come.

And yet, all those thoughts are swept away by Ben and Klaus, who preoccupy him with movies (something he's never allowed to watch), and video games, and stories, and late-night kitchen raids. And even when they collapse from exhaustion in a messy pile on Klaus' bedroom floor, Diego sleeps the night away without a single thought of Reginald.

When the morning comes, Diego doesn't actually know it at first. Klaus has blackout curtains, meaning the sunlight doesn't wake Diego up like it usually does if the alarm or his mom doesn't for whatever reason. In fact, he only wakes up when Klaus rolls on top of him, which causes him to groan and shove his friend off. Klaus, ever the heavy sleeper, doesn't wake up.

As soon as he sits up, he realizes the absolute disarray the room is in. While it wasn't all that clean when he got there, it definitely didn't look like Halloween and Mardi Gras had a baby that threw up on it. The floor is sort of sticky in some places from the soda Klaus spilled the night before, and there's crumbs from the snacks they snuck up there, and an unusual amount of feathers and beads.

Diego's head is spinning from a combination of sleeping late right after a sugar high and the bruise that's forming from the time that Ben accidentally elbowed him in the head when they were trying to build a fort. For whatever reason, there's glitter everywhere, which Diego only vaguely remembers is probably from the glitter bomb they tried to make with Klaus' craft glitter and Ben's chemistry kit.

He stumbles to his feet, looking to find a clock, only to remember that Klaus doesn't have one in his room, since he's apparently a firm believer of 'not being rushed' and 'getting to things whenever you get to them'. In other words, he's extra and a lazy fuck, but Diego wouldn't have him any other way.

Ben wakes up while Diego is looking for his clothes, fumbling around because the sleep-fog hasn't completely left him yet. "Morning," Ben mumbles, rubbing his eyes. Diego grunts in response.

"Do y-you know where my s-sw-weater vest is?" Ben points underneath the bed, and Diego crawls in to grab it.

"You gonna have breakfast first, or do you just want to head back after you change?" Diego mulls it over in his head. He really, really wants to have breakfast with them, but he doesn't know how long he has until Reginald decides he's over-stayed his welcome. What if missing a meal is what crosses the line? Sure, he missed dinner, but what if the cut-off time is breakfast the next morning?

Before he can reply, he catches a whiff of something cooking downstairs, and his stomach growls as if to respond in his stead. He grins sheepishly at Ben, who chuckles.

"Guess that answers the question," he says, amused, before standing up and stretching. "Alright, well, you should probably change then. I'll get out an extra toothbrush for you." He kicks Klaus awake as he says this, making his brother whine and roll over, muttering things under his breath. Ben kicks Klaus again as Diego steps out of the room, causing the medium to groan and sit up.

Once they're all dressed and ready, the trio scamper downstairs, in need of a good meal.

Wednesday and Pugsley are setting the table, while Lurch portions out the meals. Breakfast is omelettes, and Diego is practically salivating at the sight of them.

"Oh goody!" Klaus claps his hands in delight and they all settle around the table. Their meal is accompanied by quiet conversation, and Diego is again amazed at the warmth this family shares.

"Diego, dear." Diego's attention is brought to Morticia, Ben and Klaus' mother and perhaps the prettiest person around other than his own mom. She smiles softly at him, somehow making him feel embarrassed for whatever reason. "You're welcome to stay all day, but I am worried about what your father must think. Is there a particular time you must return?"

"I, I don't really know," he confesses, "I've never h-had a s-slee-sleepover before. But I guess a-around 9:30, since that's when tr-aining starts." If the Addams find anything strange with that statement, they don't let it show.

"Very well, then," Morticia smiles kindly at him, and he fights the bashful blush that threatens to bloom on his cheeks. "It's almost 9:15, so if you would like we can have someone walk you back home." Klaus squeals, but before he can volunteer, Morticia turns to him and says, "You must clean your room after breakfast, dear." Her son pouts and whines, but she remains adamant. He turns his puppy dog eyes on his father, who usually crumbles at the sight of them, but he too refuses to let him walk Diego home.

"You have too much to do today, Klaus," he insists. "Perhaps some other time."

"Um, it's fine," Diego says, "I don't need anyone to walk me. We live right next door, so I won't get lost."

"It's not about that," Ben informs him, "Mother and Father say it's just not right to leave a child outside on their own. Even in the backyard, there is at least someone to watch us from the window." Gomez smiles at his son.

"That's right. Even in the neighborhood, things can happen. Children are too precious to leave unprotected."

In the end, Wednesday and Lurch wind up walking him home. They were going to send Lurch on his own, but Wednesday elected herself to go along with them. Throughout the walk, Diego is visibly nervous. He initially planned to simply hop the fence and come in through the back, but it's no longer possible with Lurch and Wednesday around. They reach the front door, having walked in silence, and before anyone can knock, it swings open to reveal Reginald himself. This surprises Diego, as Reginald has never opened the door a single time in the ten years that he's lived with the man. It's always Pogo, or occasionally Grace.

"Number Two," he sneers, looking at him as if he was a particularly disgusting stain on his tablecloth. His eyes flicker down to the bag of presents Diego carries, but he says nothing of it. Diego tries his hardest not to shrink in on himself, knowing his father will only ridicule him more. "I see you've finally decided to grace us with your presence." His gaze drifts over to Wednesday, piercing her with a near-identical glare. Diego watches with something like awe as Wednesday stares Reginald down, not even the slightest bit phased by the man.

"And who is this?" He finally asks, not once looking at his son. Wednesday introduces herself, ignoring the fact that Reginald addressed Diego.

"I am Wednesday Addams," she tells him, "I take it that you are Diego's father?" Despite the introduction, Wednesday does not offer him her hand. Reginald is silent for a moment, picking her apart.

"Indeed, what is the meaning of this?" Wednesday is entirely unperturbed by their silent stare-down, her posture not having faltered a single centimeter.

"It is a simple courtesy call," she says coolly. "After all, your son has spent the night over at our home, so we felt it appropriate to give our greetings. We also decided it is impertinent that we show you who you may be dealing with in the future." Reginald's eyes narrow, and Diego shifts awkwardly from foot to foot.

"Excuse me?"

"Oh, make no mistake, this is not a threat. Rather, it is a statement, stating clearly that we recognize your interests and are not in the slightest bit enthused. We implore you to keep your distance in any physical or metaphorical way, and promise any further action on our part will only be in response to any dangerous implications indicated by you or anyone else who may attempt to act in your stead." A flash of anger lights up Reginald's eyes, making Diego want to run. He's never seen his father so angry before.

"How dare you-"

"This is, once again, not a threat, but rather a response to the clear interest you show, and we are preemptively reminding you that we are not, in any way, shape, or form, interested. They are not for sale. There will be no negotiations or bargains, and we will be monitoring very, very closely. That is all. Good day." The entire time, Wednesday's voice and facial expressions remained stable, and once more Diego feels awe and admiration towards her fill him. Truly an Addams girl, she is.

With this, Wednesday bids Diego an almost gentle farewell, reminding him that he is allowed over at any time he wishes, before making her way back to her own home, her butler right behind her. Diego is left standing awkwardly at the door while his father fumes. Eventually, Reginald retreats back into the house, finally allowing Diego inside. He ignores all of his siblings' comments about his absence, even Number One's- now Luther's- jab at him for 'skipping out', save for the small, knowing smile he shares with the newly-dubbed Charlie, formerly Six.

Chapter Text

To say the Addams family is 'enthusiastic' about Halloween would be like saying moths are simply 'fond' of flames.

Halloween is, in Klaus' own words, the bread, butter, water, air, and glitter of their family, and every year they go all out on decorations, food, and all other forms of festivities.

One would wonder what they could possibly do to make their lives more Halloween-themed than ever, considering the nature of their family, but it is also well-known that the Addams family's flair for dramatics and going the extra mile is a dominant trait that runs within them all.

That being said, Klaus and Ben already have their costumes and route picked out by mid August, and have been excited since even before that. They explain this to Diego, who is absolutely bewildered by the thought- how can someone anticipate a holiday to such an extent that they'd prepare so far in advance?

"W-w-wh-at are- are you gon- gon-na be th-th-th-this y-year, then?" Diego asks his friends.

"Harry Potter," Ben tells him simply. He continues working away at what looks like a letter. Diego thinks this makes sense, since Harry Potter is probably Ben's favorite series other than Goosebumps.

"Well, I was deciding between vampire and witch for, like, a really long time, but then I was like, 'why choose, when I can just do both?' And so I did! I'm gonna be a vampire witch!" It takes Diego a minute to fully process what Klaus says. It doesn't really make all that much sense, and yet that in itself is somehow such a Klaus answer that he finds it rather fitting.

"What about you? What do you wanna be, Di?"

Diego frowns at the question. "I- I don't- I'm- I'm n-n-not go-going." Klaus huffs.

"Okay, well, what would you wear if you were going?" The heavy emphasis causes Ben to stop writing and stare silently at his brother for a moment. Klaus gives him a look, and Ben goes back to his letter, shaking his head and seemingly giving up on something.

Diego shrugs. "I- I- I don't n-no-know." Klaus hums contemplatively.

"What do you think, Benny?" He asks suddenly.

"Probably a super hero of some kind, he likes the idea of saving the day. DC, because he's too salty about Nick Fury to be an Avenger. So... Batman?"

"Definitely Batman," Klaus agrees. Diego blinks uncomprehendingly.


"You'd make a good Batman. Wanna be Batman?"

"I- I g- I guess."

Klaus yanks the lollipop he's been swirling in his mouth out with a 'pop' and uses it to point at Diego. "It's settled, then. You'll be Batman. Now, let's go downstairs so we can give Grandmama your measurements." He drags Diego out of Ben's room before he's processed the turn of events fast enough to put up a fight.

"You're going trick-or-treating with us this year, because obviously your dad's not responsible enough to make sure you're having fun. So, we're going to do it instead. We'll collect more candy than anybody else!"

At this point, Diego's so used to his friend's antics that he simply quits thinking and says, "Okay."

Halloween rolls around, and before they know it it's evening and all the children are getting dressed. Klaus puts on his own costume before heading out to get Diego, whose costume is still at their house.

It's only when he's been running for a little too long that Klaus starts to realize he isn't where he should be.

The Hargreeves live next door, so the walk is never long, and requires no twists or turns, and yet Klaus finds himself still wandering around more than five minutes later.

Finally, he stumbles into a clearing. It still isn't the Hargreeves' property, though, and Klaus is starting to get nervous. The ghosts hiss and whisper, and some of them flicker out. The rest swirl around him, restless, and he doesn't know why until he spots a figure crouched in the grass a few feet away.

It's a girl with straight brown hair, from what Klaus can gather. He guesses she's about his age when she stands and he sees she's roughly around his height.

"Hello there," she says suddenly, almost making Klaus jump out of his skin. "Can I help you with something, Klaus?" Klaus blinks, before slowly stepping out of the foliage.

"How do you know my name?"

"I was told," she explains simply.

"By who?"

The girl tilts her head, still not turning to him. "They say you're like me," she says instead. "You see, just like I can. Not as well, but you can."

The girl finally turns to face him, and yet still she isn't truly looking at him. Her eyes are distant and unfocused, as if she is speaking to someone else. Even as she stands still, she sways slightly, as if unable to keep her feet completely anchored to the ground.

"What do you mean?" Klaus is intrigued by her, and yet something about the way the ghosts titter nervously and avoid her makes him uneasy. The girl smiles, dreamy and dazed.

"Exactly as I say," she tells him, in a tone that seems to say that she thinks he's being silly for missing the obvious. "As I always do." She leans down towards a flower, and yet instead of picking it out of the ground, she plucks out a single blade of grass right by it. She twirls it admiringly, and leans in to sniff it as if it were the daisy she left rooted to the earth.

"They're my favorite." The girl looks up at him and smiles again. Klaus is, for the first time, at a complete loss for words. He merely stays there, unable to bring himself to remember where he was going, or that he had any destination in mind at all.

They stay there for a while, the girl humming underneath her breath as she roots through the grass for specific blades and even the odd pebble or two. Suddenly, she speaks up again. "You walk with them like friends, so unlike the ones before. I wonder how far from the roads can we stray? Will things here truly be unlike any other?"

He doesn't know how to respond to this, so he doesn't. Eventually, she rights herself, dusting off her clean skirt but leaving her knees dirty.

"Thank you for keeping me company for this short while. But I do believe that you came here with a goal in mind." It's then that he remembers exactly why he's there, and he immediately scrambles to check his watch. Oddly enough, not even a minute has passed. "You must continue on your way now. Good day, Klaus. And another thing- let's try not to mess up this time." He looks up, a farewell on his lips, only to realize that she is nowhere to be found.

"Psst! Diego! Diego! Hey!" Diego nearly jumps out of his skin at the hiss coming from the window. He runs over, only to find Klaus clinging to the brick walls. He opens the window with frantic hands. What is Klaus doing here? It's way too early for his usual visits with Ben. For goodness' sake, it's barely evening, meaning the sun is still setting. How is he supposed to hide this? They don't have locks on their doors!

"K-k-kl-Klaus, are- are y- are you in-insane?" The boy in question opens his mouth to interject, but Diego beats him to it. "Don't answer that. But what are you doing here this early? The sun's not even down yet!" 

"We can't wait til sundown! All the fun starts now, Di! Come on!" He grabs Diego's wrist and tugs encouragingly.

"W-where? Wha-at?" Klaus looks at him incredulously.

"What do you think? We're going trick-or-treating!"

"Y-you- you w-w-were se-seri-serious?"

Klaus raises a brow. "Of course I was, what do you mean? You think I'd just joke like that? Di, we've talked about this. We're friends, which means I'm obligated to drag you around everywhere and throw you into questionable situations for the fun of it for the rest of our lives. Now, come on already! You've gotta put on your costume and be completely ready in, like, forty minutes, which isn't nearly enough time!"

With that, Klaus yanks Diego by his wrists out the window. Diego yelps as he becomes victim to gravity, only for Klaus to laugh, since he's still holding onto him.

They float down safely, since Klaus still hasn't completely mastered maneuvering in mid-air, and take off towards the Addams' home.

When they arrive, the house is filled with commotion as everyone flits about, finalizing preparations. There is the smell of pastries being baked, the sweet aroma causing Diego's stomach to growl despite already eating dinner. Klaus ushers him into his Grandmama's room, which has outfits strewn about it.

"W-wha-what's all- all th-thi-this?"

"The costumes, remember? Grandmama insists on making ours. She always does really well." There's an outfit Diego didn't notice earlier that's hung on a doorknob. Klaus picks it up and presents it to his friend. "Here, this one's yours. It's a little last minute, since we only measured you a few weeks ago, but Grandmama's been working on it all month, so it's still really nice."

'Nice' doesn't even begin to cover it. The costume is all black, save for the bat symbol in the middle, making it obvious that she made him the Batman costume he talked to Klaus about. They even have a mask for him, and though it's store-bought because they only work with fabrics, Diego's still getting a little misty-eyed.

"O-oh," he murmurs, at a loss for words. He shouldn't be surprised anymore, and yet time and time again he's caught off guard by their generosity. Is it really okay for him to accept such nice things?

"Put it on, quick, so we can show Grandmama. I know she's already got pictures of everyone else, so she's gonna want some group photos now too, so we have to get them done soon or we'll start our candy hunt late!" Diego's distracted from his musings by Klaus rushing him into changing.

"Wh-what ab-ab-about you?" Klaus puts a hand on his chest in a mockery of offense.

"Why, Diego, I'm already wearing it!" Diego takes in the outfit, from the pointed lace-up boots to the long-sleeved dress and long cape. They're all black, the official Addams color, save for the striped black-and-white stockings. To be honest, it looks like something Klaus probably already has in his closet, which is probably why Diego didn't think it was his costume. He voices this opinion, which is when Klaus takes the pointed witch hat off the desk and neatly places it on his head.

"I just forgot the hat. Mother already put my fangs in this morning, so all I need now is a wand. So don't worry about me! Just hurry up and get changed!" He shuts the door, leaving Diego to put on his costume.

Grandmama claps her hands in delight when Diego emerges from her room. "Perfect!" She exclaims. "Fits well, doesn't it?" She flutters around him excitedly, examining the fabric and the way it looks on him.

"It-i-it's real- really n-ice," Diego compliments, before he adds a soft, "than-thank you." Grandmama waves half-heartedly at the thanks.

"No, no, it could've been better, but I'm glad to hear you like it." She pats his cheek. "Such a polite boy." Diego will refuse to admit it later on, but his face heats up at the praise. He ducks his head as if to hide his blush.

"Are you ready for pictures, Grandmama?" It's Pugsley, who is proudly dressed as a very realistic zombie. His grandmother nods enthusiastically and pulls a camera out of seemingly thin air. Diego doesn't know what to do for a moment, until Ben grabs him and stands him between himself and his brother, who is still playing with the wand Ben let him borrow.

After what is probably a million pictures, the children are given their bags and sent on their way with Lurch in tow.

Klaus skips ahead of the group, swinging his bag and singing somewhat off-key to 'This is Halloween', a song Diego only recognizes from the time Klaus forced him into having a Halloween movie night. No one comments, entirely used to his antics. "How many houses do we have left?" Ben asks.

"We have the cul-de-sac and the ones on the next street over," Wednesday tells him. She checks her watch. "And a little under an hour and a half to do it."

Ben nods in understanding before calling out to his brother. "Klaus, we've got an hour and a half. Also, quit running into the road."

Klaus sticks his tongue out at Ben. "I can do what I want!" And runs ahead of the group. Which is a problem, since they went to a different neighborhood to trick-or-treat (seeing as half their neighbors are retired and sleep at 7:30), meaning none of them know this neighborhood all that well. Ben groans, tired of Klaus' lack of thought, and suddenly a tentacle is bursting from his stomach and reeling Klaus in by the waist.

The boy in question squawks at the disrespect, not taken aback so much as feeling petulant about being told what to do. He's placed gently on the ground next to Ben and then the tentacle retreats, slithering back under the shirt and disappearing. "How rude!" The medium's exclamation goes largely ignored, which makes him pout until Ben shoves a lollipop in his mouth. The bribery works, as he skips beside his siblings in a much more subdued manner, placated for the time being.

Diego snorts, somewhat amused by his friend's predictability and likening the candy to a pacifier. Ben seems to share the thought, as they both stifle chuckles when they make eye contact.

When they begin to circle back, Klaus is swishing his wand in the air haphazardly, pretending to cast spells to make Diego laugh. Diego's arm is somewhat sore from the sheer amount of candy he has in his bag, but if anything he's over the moon about it. Eventually, Klaus starts yelling out the butchered versions of Harry Potter spells, ignoring Ben's corrections.

"Abracadabra! Boom! You're dead!"

"Avada Kedavra," Ben says idly, no longer correcting for more than the simple sake of doing so.




A roll of eyes. "Alohomora."



"Expecto Pagoda!"

Ben's eye twitches. "Expecto Patronum."

"Wingy dingy!" He cries, flailing his wand.

"You're not even trying anymore," Ben remarks blandly, and Diego thinks this is probably the best day of his life.

Klaus continues to scream "Wingy dingy" at the top of his lungs, until suddenly a garden gnome goes flying. They all freeze, before Klaus hesitantly raises his wand and points it at the gnome.

"Uh, wingy dingy?" It comes out as more of a question, and still the gnome twitches and rises unsteadily off the ground.

Klaus' jaw goes slack, and he drops his wand. The gnome falls from the broken concentration as he turns to his stunned siblings.

"OH MY GOD BENNY, I'M A WIZARD!" The 'wizard' flings himself at his brother, squeezing him in a vice-like grip and then shaking him by the shoulders.

In his excitement, the gnome shatters behind them, but they're too wrapped up in the moment to care.

"We gotta tell mom and dad!" Klaus says, vibrating with excitement. Everyone agrees, so they hurry home to break the news to their parents.

Morticia and Gomez are overjoyed to hear their son has discovered yet another ability, and though Klaus realizes he doesn't actually need the wand or the incatation to move things around, he still insists on it every time.

Later, when all the fanfare winds down, Diego changes back into his uniform. Klaus and Ben escort Diego back home, and Klaus floats him to his bedroom window.

There's a note on his nightstand, and when Diego picks it up he knows immediately who it's from.

Hey loser, it reads, and he snorts.

The old man was asking for you. I told him you threw up 'cause I punched you too hard and that you're sleeping it off. He didn't bother checking, I don't think, but be prepared to lie your butt off at breakfast.

- You'd better know who this is, stupid.

Smiling, Diego quickly changes into pajamas before creeping out into the hall, candy in hand.

He leaves a handful right on her nightstand alongside a sticky note with a smiley face on it. He slips out the door and goes back to bed, not even worried about Reginald questioning him in the morning.

Chapter Text

"Absolutely not! The skull can't go over there, it's too close to the other skull!" Diego huffs in irritation.

"I d-don't s-s-see why that ma-matters."

"Style, Di, style! The balance and coordination will be thrown off, and that's unacceptable! It must be absolutely perfect!"

"A bit strange to hear about balance and coordination from you, Klaus," Ben says as he hangs a fake spider up. Klaus gasps.

"I don't know what you're talking about. My sense of fashion is flawless! You're just too jealous to admit it!"

"Oh, yes, I'm so very jealous of your glitter bombs and feather boas," Ben mutters dryly. His brother pointedly ignores it.

"I st-still do-don-don't know w-w-w-why a-a-ll this is- is suh-suh-such a b- a big d-deal."  Klaus turns to Diego, still holding the plastic severed head.

"It matters because we're going to be staring at this tree for the next month or so," Klaus explains patiently. It's just about the only thing he does with patience, and Diego really appreciates it. "We can't be staring at an ugly, unstylish tree for an entire month. It's sitting in the middle of our house!"

"B-but why d-do we nee-need a tr-tr-tree? W-why does the h-h-oliday ma-matter at all?"

Klaus looks at Diego as if he's just told him summer vacation was cancelled and they'd have to go to school year-round. "Diego, I've said this before, and I'm going to say this again." Klaus rests his hands on Diego's shoulders, leaning in to ensure his friend is only paying attention to him. "You. Need. Love. Love and attention, all of it, and holidays are entire days dedicated to showing love and attention. Therefore, this is extremely important, and we are going to celebrate it like the world is ending in a week." Diego blinks the dizziness from his eyes.

"O-okay," he murmurs, unsure of what else to say. Klaus smiles and pats Diego on the cheek.

"Good. Now, let's finish decorating our Creepmas tree!" Klaus claps happily, then turns back to the tree that Ben is still decorating.

"Is-is-isn't it pron-pronounced Chri-Chris-Christmas?"

"It is," Ben confirms, "but we prefer to celebrate it our way, and putting rosy-cheeked angels and glittery snowflakes on our tree isn't how we prefer it." It makes sense, so Diego accepts the answer and goes to hang another plastic ball on the dead tree.

"W-wha-what are- are y-you do-doing?" Diego asks Ben as he watches him write something at his desk. It's multiple pages long, but it doesn't look like homework.

"Writing a letter to Janet." He tells him this as he finishes the final sentence and stacks all the papers up.


"My birth mom." Ben says, as if it's a conclusion Diego should've come to on his own. Perhaps sensing Diego's intense stare, Ben elaborates. "She was really young when she had me, and her parents didn't want her to keep me. So she gave me to Mother, so I could be safe and happy. Which is why Mother and I send her pictures and letters, so she knows that I'm okay."

Diego nods slowly, digesting the new information. He can't think of anything else to add, so he remains silent. He watches as his friend folds the papers and fits them nicely in the fancy envelope. Ben then opens his drawer, revealing a large set of stationery supplies including wax and seals, because he is nothing if not elegantly over-the-top.

Diego thinks it's an Addams thing, having a dramatic but fancy flair to anything they do. The only one who seems to differ from that is Klaus, who's simply over-the-top in general. Though he admittedly still has his fancy side, Diego decides, remembering Klaus' collection of antique jewelry and pretty clothes. It's a shame one can barely tell because of his overpowering glitter addiction.

As if summoned by the thought, Klaus bursts into the room carrying multiple shopping bags on his thin arms. Diego doesn't know why Klaus is so skinny, considering all the weight he lifts for hours on end during shopping sprees, but alas, the world works in mysterious ways. Perhaps it's also a secret power?

"I'm baaaaack!" Klaus sings loudly. He flings his bags on the bed, before flopping himself right on top. "I've gone shopping with Mother again!"

"H-he-hey, Klaus." Diego greets. "What- what've- what've you g- g-ot there?"

"I'm glad you asked!" He wiggles around to pull out one of the many bags. "We got so many things! There were these really cute snow boots at the store, it's got fur on the inside and little heels, and these cute little puff balls on the laces! I can't wait til it gets colder so I can wear them everywhere. Oh, and there's this adorable sweater, it's made of wool and has a turtleneck and usually I don't really like turtlenecks, but the fabric's real soft so it isn't itchy or anything. And then, I've got..."

It's early December, and Diego can see his breath misting the windows when he looks outside.

It's harder for Diego to come up with excuses to sneak out to see Klaus and Ben, leaving him noticeably gloomy. He hasn't fought with Luther in weeks, not because he's too happy to bother, but because he's seemingly lost the energy to do anything. It actually makes his brother worried for once, casting him cautious glances and being gentler with him while sparring.

People seem to tiptoe around him- everyone but Reginald, who goes out of his way to make everything harder on his son. Every slump of the shoulders, every small sigh or downcast look, and Reginald would call Diego out and find some way to punish him. 

"-iego? Diego!" Diego practically jumps out of his skin, snapping to attention only to find Pogo staring at him in a somewhat disappointed manner. A quick glance around reveals that the rest of his siblings are watching him with varying levels of concern. He clears his throat awkwardly.


"Are you alright, child?" Pogo shuffles a little closer, inspecting Diego as best he can. "You've been terribly distracted for quite some time now." Diego shifts uncomfortably in his seat, feeling the pressure of all their eyes on him.

"I- I, uh, I- I'm fi-fine. Sor- sorry." Pogo stares at him for a while longer, before finally nodding.

"Very well, if you're sure. However, please do not hesitate to tell me or Grace if anything is the matter." Diego nods, and the lesson resumes. His siblings' stares linger for a minute, before one by one returning to the lesson.

"What's going on with you?" Diego snaps out of his reverie, turning to find Charlie. She steps further into the room, eyeing him in that analytical way that most others don't realize is with concern. Diego steps away from the windows and flops onto the bed.

"Nothing," he mumbles, shrugging. Charlie stands there for a moment, contemplating, before finally sitting down beside him.

"If it was really nothing you'd have shaken it off by now." Diego hates that she's right, and hates that she can see through him so well. He says nothing. "It's those boys, isn't it? Your friends." He jerks, looking up at her for the first time. She quirks a brow. "Oh, come on, they're the only ones who could affect you this bad. Give me some credit already, would you? We both know I'm not stupid."

Diego slumps, sighing. "Y-yeah, it's ab-b-bout them. It's got-gotten real c-cold, so-so we c-can't hang out as-as much. They c-can't vis-vis-visit at night an-anymore, 'cause if- 'cause if I-I leave the w- the window open, then we'll-we'll g-get sick, b-b-but they c-can't come in 'cause of the c-c-cameras. Klau-Klaus tried coming o-o-over anyway, but h-h-he got a c-cold right- right af-ter." Charlie blinks.

"Why don't you just go see them?"

Diego stares at her incredulously.

"An-an- and ris- risk g-g-g-etting c-caught by- by d-dad? Are- are yo-you k-ki-kid-ding me? Dad wo-wo-would ski-skin me al-alive! H-he-e-e's b-b-been cr-crack-cracking do-down on- on m-m-me sin-since Hal-Halloween!"

Charlie huffs.

"Yeah, well, obviously we won't be going in the day. We'll go right after dinner. We can stage a fight, get sent upstairs early, and then sneak out."

"W-we?" His sister smirks at his questioning tone.

"Yeah, 'we'. Obviously, you're taking me with you. After all, I have been saving your butt these past few months. 'Sides, I'm sick of this place. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been allowed to just stand in the backyard in my whole life, and I'm ten! If I don't get a break soon, I'm setting this place on fire."

Diego agrees with the sentiment. Charlie's always been the restless type, not adventurous so much as nomadic. It's always been her dream to wander, so being cooped up in the house all day is probably driving her crazy.

Still, something in him says that Charlie's only partially telling the truth about why she wants to go with him. He can't figure out what or why though, so he simply lets the matter rest.

"O-ok-o-okay," Diego finally concedes, "W-we- we ha-h-ha-ave a deal." They shake on it, Charlie intentionally gripping too hard and causing Diego to give her a glare that she responds to with a cheeky smile.

It's finally dinner time, and Diego's never been more nervous about it.

He and Charlie agreed only a few hours before to stage an incident that would get them sent upstairs early, but they never actually discussed what they'd do specifically, or even at what point during the meal. He keeps sending her furtive but definitely desperate looks, but it's as if Charlie doesn't see him, her eyes trained on her plate.

Eventually, Diego decides to just eat as much as he can before anything goes down, and hope that his sister knows what she's doing.

Just as he's close to clearing his plate, he feels a sudden pain in his shin, and he hisses, partially from the unexpectedness. Reginald pauses, training a steely eye on Diego.

"Is there a problem, Number Two?" He asks in a voice that makes it clear he isn't actually concerned. Diego purses his lips and shakes his head, unwilling to use his words unless he must. "Then I suggest you remain silent, unless you wish to have extra training in the morning." Diego's response is to shove another piece of meat in his mouth, before shooting a glare at Charlie. What was that kick for?

Her reply is to kick him again, even harder and in the same spot, though this time Diego doesn't make any noise and resolves to kick her back. They're soon embroiled in a shin-kicking war, and before long he forgets he's trying to remain subtle and quiet, and it becomes obvious that they're attacking each other beneath the table.

One particularly hard kick gets evaded, the foot instead crashing into the table and shattering the illusion of discretion. Both children press on, and before long Diego's sleeve is on fire and he's trying to bat it out.

He yelps and dumps his glass of water on it before throwing the steak knife at her, not actually using his powers to aim anywhere in particular. This is evidenced in the way Charlie tilts her head by a fraction and manages to avoid the blade.

That's the exact moment that Reginald decides enough is enough and slams his fists on the table, instantly commanding the attention of everyone in the room.

"Get out." He snaps, not even bothering with a lecture this time. "If you two insist on squabbling like mere, stupid children, then I will gladly treat you as such. Both of you, return to your rooms this instant." They both get up, throwing angry looks at each other as if they didn't plan for exactly this to happen. "And since you have already finished your supper, you will not be enjoying breakfast tomorrow morning."

They both storm out, grumbling and scowling all the way until they were far enough out of sight and earshot. Immediately, they break into a sprint.

Once they make it to Charlie's room, she starts cackling. "It worked! It actually worked; this is awesome." Diego nods fervently, too anxious about leaving to find the humor yet. Charlie pats him on the shoulder.

"Good work." She runs a hand through her hair, pushing back the stray golden locks that managed to fall in her face, cheeks a bit red as she calms down from her laughing fit. "Now, let's get out of here."

It turns out, her escape route is through her bedroom window to a tree with a rope tied to it. Diego doesn't know where Charlie got her hands on a rope this sturdy and long, but decides quite wisely that it is better to not ask any questions.

He also wonders if she does this a lot- sneaking out for a brief moment just to get a break from the stifled chaos that makes up their childhood- before deciding that this too isn't any of his business, and shimmies down the tree.

He shudders a little from the winter cold- for some reason, they didn't think far enough ahead to bring coats- and yet the feeling immediately fades when Charlie grips the crook of his elbow.

Never before has someone had a more convenient power, Diego thinks, and the two of them take off towards the Addams' house.

"Wait, he what?"

Charlie cackles at Klaus' incredulous voice. "Yup. I'm completely serious." Diego's face burns in embarrassment as they continue talking about him. It's at this moment that he regrets bringing Charlie with him, if only because now she gets to tell his only friends all of his most embarrassing stories.

"No way," Klaus' grin can't be any wider. "I can't believe that!"

"Well, it happened, and then Mom caught him, and he just looked at her and said-" 

"C-ca-can- can we no-not t-t-ta-talk ab-about em-emba-embarrass-rassing sto-stories?" Diego snaps. Klaus pinches his cheeks, causing Diego to aggressively swat Klaus' hands away. 

"Aw, but it's so much fun!"

"Yeah, it's fun embarrassing you," Charlie teases. Her brother responds with a glare.

"N-no, it-it-'s n-n-no-not." Charlie sighs.

"Alright, alright," she concedes, "let's do something else then. Anything we can do to kill time?"

"We can have a snowball fight!" Klaus gasps, clapping his hands together. "We've been wanting to do that, but it's not as fun with just two people. But now we can make teams! Right, Benny?" In response, Ben pulls out the plans he drew up for the snow fort.

"Tell Mother to prepare the hot chocolate, because we're going to need a lot of fuel." Ben's voice is determined, which in hindsight should typically clue everyone else in on what direction this snowball fight is fated to take.

"We don't have coats," Charlie points out.

"We have plenty of coats. Just pick some stuff out of the closets and then prepare for battle!" Klaus rolls off the sofa to run upstairs, determined to find his favorite winter clothes.

Ten minutes later, and they're all outside building their team forts. Ben and Charlie decide to partner up because Klaus keeps accidentally stepping on or toppling over Ben's snow walls, and Charlie is the only one who seems to understand his blueprints. It isn't long before Klaus 'accidentally' hits Ben's head with one of their 'test throws', and soon the war has begun.

A flurry of snowballs fly in every direction, demolishing forts and coating all of the kids in a healthy layer of ice. The only one unperturbed by this is Charlie, who melts the snow when it becomes too much, though Klaus insists it's cheating since it means they can't tell when they've hit her or not.

Charlie then tells Klaus that it's cheating to use ghosts to do your bidding, and Diego interjects to say that cheating is when you use your tentacles to throw multiple snowballs at once, especially if those tentacles technically belong to an eldritch horror in your stomach, which could be considered the third member of your team. Ben fires back that being able to manipulate the trajectory of your throws midair is the true cheat, and before long they've called a state of total war as they launch volley after volley of snowballs at each other with reckless abandon.

Eventually their forts are completely destroyed, nothing more than icy lumps on the ground as the children resort to lobbing their snow right at each other's faces, chasing each other around until a clear victor can be declared in this wintry war of aggression.

At some point, Klaus pushes out a wave of snow with his telekinesis, which Ben bats away using Cthulu's many appendages. Charlie then sees fit to set Klaus and Diego's fort's flag (an old rag tied to a hockey stick stuck in the ground) on fire, declaring that 'Klaustopia' has fallen. Diego, in turn, takes a butter knife he stole from the kitchen weeks ago from his boot and tosses it at Ben and Charlie's flag, effectively cutting it off the pole.

"It doesn't count if I already set your flag on fire first!"

"Yes it does! If we're going down, we're taking your precious Valhalla down with us!"

At some point, their new self-appointed President Ben organizes a peace treaty, and within the next hour they begin making snowmen, with Ben making everyone promise not to turn it into a competition.

"We've lost enough good men on both sides," he says gravely. "And my blood pressure is already getting rather high. We need to regroup, join hands, and prevent cardiac arrest." And so they continue to create snowmen, rebuilding their fallen troops, until Morticia steps outside to tell them it's too dark to remain outdoors any longer, and to warm up with hot chocolate.

Klaus, who is entirely ready to complain upon being told to stop playing with snow, is immediately won over by the promise of hot chocolate. They scamper inside, welcoming the sweet beverage, still chattering excitedly about the events of that day.

"Diego, Charlie, will you two be staying the night?" Morticia suddenly asks. "It's getting quite late, and I'm sure you're both very tired. Would you like to stay here, or return home?" The Hargreeves siblings turn to her, then each other, and then back to her again. 

"Will that really be alright, Miss Morticia?" Charlie asks, far more polite to the woman than she is to even her own father. Morticia smiles.

"Of course," she replies, "and it would be most convenient, since tomorrow we will be distributing the presents."

"Sure," Charlie says, agreeing for the both of them. "We'd love to stay."

That night, as they all curl up in the family room (Klaus wants to be right by the presents so he can open them as soon as possible, of course), Diego rolls over, only to find a cold spot where his sister should be. He sits up, and eventually finds her sitting by the window. He joins her, silent as he gives her the opportunity to speak whenever she's ready.

"Your friends are pretty fun." She says after some time. She's still staring out the window. "I can see why you like them so much."

"Y-yeah, the-the-they're p-p-p-prett-y g-g-great." Charlie hums under her breath. They pass yet another moment in silence.

"Do you think," she begins, "do you think there's something wrong with us?" Diego frowns, unsure of what she means. "Like, I know we're... different, and that's not what I mean. But," she chews on her bottom lip, unable to fully find the words and becoming somewhat frustrated.

"Klaus and Ben are different too, but they're happy. Their family loves them. They're not afraid of their dad. They don't get locked in basement cellars when they get in trouble. But then I start thinking about our family, and..." A long pause, before she whispers, "I wish he never bought us."

Charlie finally looks at him, and Diego finds himself at a loss for words. He wishes, not for the first time, that he had the answer to that question, the very same one that's plagued him since that summer day in the Addams' backyard that feels so long ago now.

But he doesn't have any answers at all, and Charlie's staring at him with a look that's more vulnerable and lost than she's ever allowed herself to look, and all he can do is stare back. The silence feels unbearable all of a sudden, and eventually they go back to bed, deciding to push the matter to the back of their minds until the time comes in which they can't ignore it.

Christmas- or perhaps the correct term is 'Creepmas'- day comes, and the morning is nothing short of perfect. Charlie, despite meeting them all the day before, wakes up and receives nearly as many presents as Diego- something Klaus laments, as they apparently didn't have enough time to gather as many presents as they did for him.

Charlie doesn't see why they have anything to lament at all, considering they managed to collect an insane amount of presents for her in a singular day in the first place, so she honestly doesn't have any complaints.

Still, they insist on giving her just as many as Diego the next year, and Charlie briefly wonders if they'll crash the economy if they keep this up.

The rest of the morning is spent at breakfast and a brief session in the snow, before the Hargreeves siblings agree that it's time to head home, deciding to shove all they can in large bags and carry them back. Klaus floats Diego through the window, while Charlie opts to climb the rope still hanging from her room. They both make it inside just in time for Grace to get them for lunch, as they weren't supposed to have breakfast that morning.

"Number Two and Number Six, I trust that you have seen the error in your ways?" Reginald asks. Diego straightens his back and nods dutifully. In the corner of his eye, he can see his sister shrug, back still slumped but body tense. Reginald stares at them for a moment.

"Good, then you should have no complaints about having extra training for the rest of the day." Perhaps Reginald is simply trying to get a rise out of them, but neither really care. As they're shooed away to go train, they share a smile. Reginald can dole out as many punishments as he wants. He can't ruin Creepmas.

Chapter Text

"Poor, wretched girl. You are there but they cannot see you. You were meant to shine, but now your light is dimming. So empty, so empty. The vultures flock as they wait to consume your voice. Hungry, hungry, taking everything from you, until you are nothing but a hollow shell."

Fran tilts her head as she watches its massive body hunch over Vanya. It clings to her, whispering to her words she doesn't hear, but rather feels. It's particularly vicious today, more persistent as it tears into her psyche and feasts on her fear.

It's always such a shame to see the way they seem to hang off their bodies, clinging tighter than the shadows at all times. Vanya curls in on herself, subconsciously reacting to the cruelty of its words without knowing they're being said.

Fran makes her way out of the library, the creature's disparaging comments disappearing behind her. As she makes her way to her room, she passes more siblings with more shades at their sides, their incessant hisses making the children's eyes darken and shoulders slump by the slightest fraction.

She sees as the darkness is drawn to them like magnets, twisting and building and growing. It's quite the shame, she thinks, because she knows they're meant for so much more than this. They're worth so much more than a lifetime of being ensconced in the shadows, served up on a silver platter as fodder for the beasts.

She keeps walking.

She passes a portrait of Reginald, and knows without a single doubt that this is all his fault. For him, she has no pity. For him, she has no sympathy. She knows with no uncertainty that this man, this foul, cruel beast in human skin, is the sole reason these halls are stained with blood and sin, why these children are bound to Horrible Awfuls. He is so deeply entrenched in the words and whisperings of his own Horrible Awfuls that they're nearly melded together.

She sees it all around him, the darkness, the way his Horrible Awfuls have become so deeply entrenched into his mind and soul that they needn't attack him any longer. Rather, they've become him, shrieking and snarling at everyone else, endeavoring to siphon off their pain and sorrow in the way they no longer can with Reginald.

She isn't sure who mirrors who, but understands that it no longer makes a difference. Reginald has never overcome his Horrible Awfuls. He chose to join them instead, and that is a point past returning from.

Fran makes it to her room, taking in everything around her. It's so terribly bland, nothing but a bed, nightstand, and desk, and she can't help the sigh she lets out. She closes her eyes for a moment, letting everything fade around her.

Immediately, she feels the change in the very air. She smiles without even looking, not needing sight to confirm what she already knows.

"Fran," comes the call of a familiar voice.

She opens her eyes.

"Klaus, my dear, whatever is the matter?" Morticia brushes her fingers through her son's hair delicately. Her son has been sighing since he got home, staring off into space and leaning dramatically against various pieces of furniture. Her other son, Benedict, groans from across the room. She turns to him.

"Benedict, darling, do you know what's putting your brother in such a state?" If her son was any less of a properly raised Addams, or even any less of himself, perhaps he would've rolled his eyes. Alas, Benedict is a well-mannered young boy who tries his best to be as sophisticated as possible at all times, and as such resorts instead to simply huffing once more.

"He's being dramatic as usual," he tells her, shifting to cross his legs and straighten his posture. Klaus sighs even louder than before, rolling onto his back so he can throw a hand theatrically over his forehead. "Apparently, he can't handle seeing one decent-looking person without losing his mind, and now he refuses to stop with his theatrics because I pointed out how little of a deal it is."

As if to prove his point, Klaus shoots up in his seat to throw him what is likely the most exaggerated glare he's thrown to date. Benedict thus remains entirely unfazed.

"I can't help it," Klaus insists, gazing up at his mother with the most woeful of eyes. "He's just so lovely mother, he really is!" It's at this point that Gomez enters the room, planning on getting himself a fresh cup of coffee. He smiles when he sees his wife and sons there, and comes to join the conversation.

"Mia cara," he greets, kissing her on the cheek. She hums as she accepts it, though they're soon interrupted by Klaus' put-upon, woe-is-me sigh, one that he's probably been practicing for quite some time.

"What's wrong, son?" Gomez chuckles, cupping the side of his son's head and comfortingly rubbing his thumb against his cheekbone. Klaus leans into the affection as he continues to pout and whine.

"He's lovesick," Benedict says with a mild amount of disgust. He is, after all, still a child, and while not all of them are adverse to the idea of romance, there are definitely still a substantial amount of them that are less than enthused by the idea. "This boy just moved in, and today was his first day in our class."

Gomez freezes, unwilling to accept the words he hears. "Klaus? Is- is that true, son?" At the lack of denial from anyone in the room, Gomez's smile completely wipes off his face. "I- Klaus?" He sounds absolutely lost, and perhaps a little betrayed. His Klaus, his little devil? In love?

"It- with who?" Who would possibly try to take away his precious boy?

Klaus sits up to meet his father's gaze properly. He grasps both of the older man's hands with his own as he does, commanding Gomez's attention. "His name is Dave, and he's the prettiest boy I've ever seen." The confirmation shatters his father's heart, and the man sits down to relieve his shaky knees.

"Oh, Dio mio," he breathes, mind racing a mile a minute. "This is truly happening." Ben finally gives up on any sense of propriety and rolls his eyes, deciding to call it quits for the day. Morticia rests both hands on her husband's shoulders in an attempt to console him.

"Oh, mon cher, we knew this day would come," she tells him.

"But so soon, mia cara? He's so young- I'm not ready to give him away!" He cries. Perhaps one might be aghast at the blatant disregard the Addams seem to have at the reveal of their son's interest in boys, considering it is, after all, 1999, but the Addams have never been concerned with such trivial matters such as that. Their little boy is in love, and that is the only thing that matters.

Meanwhile, Klaus remains unperturbed by them talking about him, as he continues to sigh and stare out the window in what they now knew to be a lovesick manner.

Wednesday chooses this moment to emerge from her own room, perhaps to find an afternoon snack for herself. She takes in the scene around her, before turning as Ben approaches her. "No one here is sane." She quirks a single brow at his words.

"And you've just discovered this now?" Her voice is as monotone and unwavering as ever, and yet it's laced with a lilt of humor Ben is attuned to at this point.

"No, just incredulously reconfirming the truth." She hums in understanding, and then they part ways.

"Oh, what does it matter? My love is doomed, anyways! Star-crossed! Ill-fated! We can never be together!" Klaus wails, and Morticia moves to comfort her son.

"What makes you say such a thing, darling? You like him, do you not?"

"Oh mother, of course I do! He's so pretty, and sweet, and smart, and he's just perfect! But it's obvious it'll never work out- he goes to Sunday school! His last school was a Catholic school, and he even has a little cross necklace! And if that isn't bad enough, he looks absolutely adorable in it too! Almost cuter than I do! Even his little khaki shorts and polo shirts look good on him, mother! How is this possible? I don't even look good in khaki shorts and polo shirts!"

At every compliment he gives Dave, Gomez looks more and more terrified. Morticia decides Klaus is more of a priority than consoling her husband, who is a fully grown adult, and resolves to handle her son's dilemma first.

"Oh, Klaus, my sweet boy, you needn't worry so much. Love cannot be so easily defeated by such a thing. It is still possible that it will all turn out well in the end. And what better way to find out, than by trying?" She strokes his cheek adoringly. "Come now, your eyes watering. Save those lovely tears of yours." Klaus vigorously rubs his eyes, before giving Morticia a blinding smile.

"You're right, mother," he says, already sounding several times more enthusiastic than before. "I can't let something as dumb as khakis or Catholic school get in the way of me marrying the prettiest, nicest boy in the world! I'm gonna go scheme!"

Completely re-energized, Klaus leaps off the sofa and sprints up the stairs, mind racing with the possibilities. Morticia smiles softly at the sight. Ah, to be young and in love.

She turns to her husband when he emits a noise akin to a punch to the gut. She sighs at the dazed look he gives her. This isn't going to be a good time for him.

There's a knock on Ben's door, roughly an hour or so after he escapes the live-action soap opera in the family room. He goes to open it, only to come face-to-face with his father, who stares at him with puppy dog eyes that no grown adult should be capable of possessing.

"Yes, father?" As if this in itself is an invitation, Gomez shuffles into his son's room and sits himself down on the boy's bed.

"Benedict, my son, you'd tell me if anything was happening in your life, yes?" Ben raises an eyebrow.

"Yes?" It comes out as a question, asking just where he's trying to take this. Gomez nods fervently.

"Good, good," he says. There's an awkward, uncomfortable silence, before his father speaks up again. "You- please, be honest with me, my son. You haven't... found anyone, have you?" Ben groans, and upon seeing his father still staring at him with wide, worried eyes, he sighs heavily.

"No, Dad, I'm not in love with anybody. No, Dad, no one's going to steal me away. No, Dad, I'm not going to run off with an 'unworthy choice' that you despise. No, I'm not going to elope in the middle of the night and not tell you where I'm going."

His drawl sounds quite monotone, making it clear that they've had a similar conversation many times before, and that he's not even remotely amused by this.

Gomez nods silently, somewhat cowed by his son's irritation, before smiling brightly. "That's all I need to know, little devil." He pats Ben's cheek, and the boy gives him a wry smile in return. The older man takes his leave, his steps significantly lighter than before.

It's a cold Tuesday morning, and David Katz is nervous.

He just moved to a new town on Saturday, and he knows not a single person here. It's scary, considering he's only lived in one place his entire life, and all of his friends came from the same school and used to all live close by, and now he's in a completely different place halfway across the country with not a single familiar thing in sight.

Still, he doesn't complain, because he knows Momma and Daddy are doing this because it's a good opportunity for the family, a job with better pay in a place with a bigger house and better schools and safer neighborhoods.

But it doesn't stop him from wishing his Daddy never got that offer, nor does it stop his Momma from noticing how little he wants to be here, in this town with perfect trees and nicely-mowed lawns and freshly-painted, perfect houses.

He knows she knows, because instead of driving straight home after his first day of school, she surprises him by stopping by an ice cream store and getting him a triple-scoop double fudge with all his favorite toppings at once, something she's never let him do before, and when he gets home she lets him watch three episodes of the Rugrats- he's not allowed to watch T.V on weeknights, you see- and doesn't even bat an eye when he stays up thirty minutes past his bed time.

She still makes him shower and brush his teeth and pray, but that doesn't bother him in the slightest. How could it, when Momma let him have as many toppings on his ice cream as he wanted, and watch T.V. on a day that he isn't supposed to, and stay up later than she's ever let him?

That doesn't stop the encroaching feelings of anxiety and discomfort that threaten to overwhelm him that next Tuesday morning at the thought of going back to his new school where he doesn't know anybody. But it helps, knowing that Momma's always gonna be there to make it better.

When he goes to school, his heart is pounding and he can't seem to make himself meet anyone's gaze. When the teacher pauses the lesson for recess, he can't help but feel both terrified and sad, because everyone else immediately splits off to do their own thing outside, and Dave can't seem to do anything other than fidget nervously at his seat on the furthest bench from the playground.

He's spiraling again, dwelling entirely too long on thoughts too negative, when he hears the crunching of mulch only a few feet ahead of him. His gaze is still trained on the ground when a pair of shoes appear in his line of sight, and Dave follows them up until he finds a face and-

Oh, wow.

Are boys supposed to be this pretty? At least, he thinks this person's a boy. He looks like one, but his green eyes are so round and clear and bright, and his cheeks and nose are the brightest, loveliest shade of red from the winter cold, and he's got the largest, sweetest smile on his perfect face. Dave thinks instead that this boy might actually be an angel, like the ones in the books and paintings and bedtime stories Momma reads him at night.

Before he can embarrass himself any further with his prolonged staring, the angel boy holds out a delicate hand for him to shake. "Hello there," he greets, and oh dear, did his voice have to be so pretty too? "I'm Klaus. It's very lovely to meet you." Dave tentatively shakes the boy's hand, still caught off guard by his appearance.

"I- uh, Dave." Inwardly, he winces at the splutter. Can he truly be any more of an embarrassment? Klaus doesn't seem to mind, though, since he simply giggles and invites himself to sit beside Dave- not, of course, that Dave minds at all.

"I noticed that you just moved here," Klaus begins. "Which means you probably don't have any friends." Dave shrinks in on himself a little, but before he can begin to feel bad about himself, Klaus continues. "Do you wanna be my friend?" Dave looks up at him with what's probably too much hope in eyes too wide, because Klaus looks just a little sad.

Finally, his lips split in a large smile that, unbeknownst to him, goes straight to Klaus' heart and sets it afire.


When Wednesday kicks down the door to Klaus' room, the boy merely quirks a brow. His sister crosses her arms over her chest and storms inside. "You broke Father," she says, without any form of greeting or explanation. "Again." She adds.

"Well, hello to you too," Klaus chooses to say. Wednesday remains stone-faced. "I'm glad to see you this fine morning, sister dear."

"He's bothering the rest of us because he's under the impression that it won't be long before his other children 'leave the nest' and 'elope with ordinary folk'. He's inconsolable, and Mother's on her last bit of patience." Klaus sighs heavily.

"Well, it's not my fault he's reacting this way. I can't help my undying love! I've met my soulmate, Wednesday! We connected! The spark is there! Nay, the flames are already burning, and they'll never be put out!" Wednesday stares at him blankly.

"I'm telling Mother to stop letting you watch romance movies."

Klaus ignores his sister's jab, opting to wax poetic about his crush. Admittedly, this is the first time Klaus has ever expressed genuine romantic interest in anyone, so it isn't as if he's the type to have a new 'flame' every day. However, this point can be contested with the fact that he's also ten years old, which barely gives him much time to gain crushes on people in the first place.

For an Addams, however, this is still considered quite sudden, as Addams' are notoriously difficult to earn the heart of, but also just as difficult to lose. (Wednesday isn't sure if it's truly a trait passed down for generations, or merely the way they are raised, but most Addams' can count on one hand the amount of times they've fallen for someone, and even less of those times were they mere fleeting infatuations.)

Grandmama explained to her and Pugsley once that until her husband, she hadn't loved anyone, and that it's quite a common pattern among their family. For Klaus to have met Dave and become interested in him immediately is quite an odd thing for them. But then, the Addams family is nothing if not odd.

Hopefully, this boy will prove to be worth it all, because otherwise Wednesday will have to nail dead forest creatures to his front door.

Chapter Text

When Number Two first sneaks out that sunny summer day, it's right after training. He gets into a fight with Number One over something mundane again, and runs off into the woods while his brother isn't paying attention. Number One's so panicked by this that he bursts into tears, terrified of Reginald's reaction and for Number Two's safety. He's the leader, he knows his father will say. How can he lose one of his subordinates?

And then Father will look at him in that stony, disappointed way that lets him know he's messed up and everything is his fault. He's nine years old but he's the leader, he can't hide behind excuses and get by with his incompetency.

Father pulls him aside and hands him a book, telling him to read it and then write an essay about where he failed as a leader. Number One looks down at the book, and can already tell he won't understand nearly a third of the words in it. The Prince, it's called, by Niccolo Machiavelli. He's not allowed to ask for help.

Still, Father tells him this is the only way that he can be better, the only way he can stop failing so much, the only way Father will forgive him. With those final words, he sends Number One upstairs without dinner for the evening, telling him the ache of his empty stomach will encourage him to stop failing, and remind him of this lesson.

By the end of the book, Number One's head is swimming with words and phrases he barely understands. But one thing sticks in his mind and burrows deep.

It is better to be feared than to be loved.

It rings in his head even as his eyes rove over the other pages, even as he writes his pathetic approximation of an essay, even as he heads to Father's office to turn in his work.

It is better to be feared than to be loved.

When he finally turns it in to his father, the man asks him if he's learned anything from the book. Number One repeats, without any hesitation, the words that have been burned into his psyche. The look in his father's eyes isn't one of pride, not yet, but somewhat similar, like something in the realm of acceptance, perhaps even- though Number One dare not entertain the idea- approval.

However, Father barely skims the papers before throwing it out in the bin next to him, right in front of Number One. Father doesn't say if he did well or not, but he doesn't make him do any more essays. Number One hopes one day he'll be able to make Father proud the way he's supposed to.

Number Seven is eight when Sir Reginald slaps her in the face for making eye contact with him. He tells her she has no right to, and when this proclamation is met with silence from the rest of her siblings in the dining room, she eventually agrees. She never looks anywhere higher than his chin ever again.

She is nine when he ups the dosage in her medication after she gets angry for the first time. Someone ruined one of her favorite music sheets, and though she doesn't remember what she did, she remembers how she spends six months so nauseous and drowsy and generally out of it that she could barely remember her own name sometimes.

Vanya is ten when she sees Diego sneaking out at night, running off with two boys towards the house next door, and wonders- of all thoughts- if he is finally deciding to leave and never return. Instead of being worried, all she feels deep inside is a foreign blend of envy and grief. She can only think that he is lucky.

When Number Three has her mouth duct taped for the entire day, it's because Dad is tired of her "incessant, despicable whining" after he hears her complaining to Number Five about the pain in her wrist when Five twisted it funny during their sparring match.

He tells her that her voice is unnecessary outside of training her powers, and that if he hears her whining about 'trivial matters' once more, he would leave the tape on for two whole days, and she would have to go without meals.

She complies, because there is nothing else for her to do, because even after Mom gives her a check-up and discovers her wrist is actually sprained and tells Dad, he doesn't do anything more than exclude her from activities that would normally require using both hands.

 Her words are unnecessary, he tells her after Mom patches her up. It would be wiser if she simply did not speak unless required to. She was not given a mouth to use however she wants. Her voice is a tool, and one only uses tools when there is a job to be done.

 Number Three takes care to never speak around Dad unless she must, learning at the delicate age of seven that she is not meant to do more than she is told. The lesson is carved into her in its own way, a way that also taught Number Three that she is not fond of going hungry for whole days.

Number Five is six when he first begins to think about running away.

Because he is six, however, the words in his mind aren't "running away" but rather "leave forever". And soon, at barely seven, he looks for ways to go as far and as fast as possible, reasoning that, if he can go from room to room in the blink of an eye, he should be able to do the same at a greater distance.

He doesn't want to approach Reginald, but eventually he does, ignoring the steadily increasing 'thump thump thump' rhythm of his pulse and the creeping discomfort (it is not fear; even at seven, he knows better than to so much as think the word 'fear' near Reginald Hargreeves) in favor of clearing his throat and, for the first but certainly far from last time, inquires about the strange concept he's heard of called time travel.

Reginald's response is to tell him without any amount of hesitation that Five is not only incapable of time travel, but also that he likely never will be, and to give up on such "foolish, frivolous dreams" that very instant. To ensure that Number Five keeps such idiotic ideas out of his "feeble mind", he orders him to warp from one end of the house to the next repeatedly without break until Reginald is satisfied.

As it turns out, "satisfied" is when Five collapses on the ground, trembling and puking all over himself. The boy is nearly broken apart, his atoms not accustomed to such abuse and, for a terrifying moment, some of them refused- or perhaps forgot how- to recombine, and so Five lays crumpled on the ground until he's no longer in danger of losing solidity.

Reginald tells "Humpty Dumpty" to put such useless drivel out of his mind, and focus on trying not to lose shape and fall apart instead, as he apparently "is so terribly incompetent" that he "cannot do even the most basic and necessary of tasks required to live". Reginald leaves him on the floor, still quivering.

Number Five learns to never allow Reginald to be satisfied.

He also becomes entirely obsessed with the notion of time travel.

Number Six is four when she learns she will never be more than a mere space filler.

Hargreeves does not hesitate for even the slightest moment when making it crystal clear that not only was she not his first choice, but she was not his second, either. Or third.

In fact, had the other peculiar children not been dead, untraceable, not for sale, or otherwise inaccessible to Hargreeves, he would never so much as contemplated buying her.

He takes great care to ensure she understands that, of all seven siblings, she was actually the cheapest to buy- that is to say, she was free. Her birth mother, according to him, hadn't hesitated for even a second before thrusting her at the old geezer the moment she learned what he was there for.

A demon child, she had called her. Fires start when she so much as glances at something. Fires that do not burn her. Fires that she delights in. Number Six's birth mother saw this, and decided she would either find someone willing to take her far, far away, or she would dispose of the infant Number Six herself.

Still, Hargreeves gave her a small amount of money in the event that the woman might somehow try to spin it against him, perhaps in the hopes of suing or something similar. Even so, he'd given her a mere two hundred dollars.

Number Seven was worth sixty thousand, he told her. Number Seven was worth sixty thousand, and in Number Seven's case it was clear to even her own mother that she'd likely be useless.

Number Six is five when she decides that, if she truly is a demon, she'll simply have to make the most of it, and welcome the flames. One day, she might find it in her to burn the world down. She'd need to be prepared for that.

Charlie is ten when she looks at Diego, and his friends who sneak in through the window just to see him, and the snowmen all four of them built on that one perfect day, and finds something she thinks is worth burning the world down for.

Fran has always known, has always seen, has always been.

When she looks at Sir Reginald Hargeeves, the Horrible Awful in human flesh, she feels her lips curl downwards in both pity and distaste. No matter where or how or why, he is never any different.

It is a shame, for academically the man is brilliant, and politically he is powerful, and financially he is unstoppable. He could save so many lives, and yet instead he is merely fixated on destroying them under that same pretense.

If Fran could not see, she would say he is the most vile man to have ever lived; human only in appearance, a most foul beast if there ever was one. But Fran can see, and she sees that while no less than Remor awaits such a disgusting creature, the world is never quite so simple.

But all in due layers, she reminds herself, for she cannot do quite so much here. It is not up to her, for if it was, Reginald Hargreeves would never have existed.

As she moves down the hall, she finds Five in his room, frustrated with the equations he has hastily scribbled over the boards and papers. Fran smiles softly, heartstrings tugging at the sight.

How many will be lost to this? How many, until they needn't any longer? Will this really be the only in which things are different? Or will they follow too, treading worn tracks? 

"You seem to be having trouble."

Five growls at the comment, tossing yet another completed notebook at the wall. While he's never necessarily been the carefree sort, he's unusually tense whenever time travel is involved.

Fran misses seeing him relaxed, or as relaxed as one could be in this house of horrors. He's always been ambitious and at times, singularly driven, but the obsession has taken things to new, unprecedented levels.

It's all beginning to look the same.

"I'm at a roadblock. Again." He grits out. He hates to admit his shortcomings, she understands. Especially for something he's so passionate about. "He keeps talking about acorns! I just don't get it! What does he know, anyway?"

'He' is most certainly none other than Reginald, who has taken to feeding Five only the slightest morsels of information. It drives Five insane, and Fran is quite sure that's the only reason why the man bothers.

Oh, dear.

Five is prepared to murder someone when Fran comes to his room.

Usually, he hates when people come into his space, but he'll admit he's quite intrigued by his sister. Fran is nothing if not cryptic, and he enjoys trying to decode the things she says, puzzles as they are. So far, she seems to be the only one who understands what he says, other than Reginald, who Five tends to avoid on principle.

However, he is aggravated, and not in the mood to try deciphering her words at this time. Still, he explains his issue to her upon request, and watches as she hums and scans her eyes over his work. He isn't sure what she can possibly to do help, but waits until she gets her fill, says her riddle, and leaves him to his work. Finally, she speaks.

"You see, Five, time-"

"Is an illusion?" Five interrupts sarcastically, uninterested in hearing her confusing riddles. Perhaps if he finishes it for her, he can resume his research sooner. She stares at him strangely, as if he is the nonsensical one.

"Is liquid," she corrects. "It is a jump rope, not a lifeline." It is one of the most straightforward things she's ever said, and Five still has no idea what she means by it. "That is the reason you have failed to discover how to travel through it, and why your father insists you wait. You are trying to run when truly, you must swim."

"How would you know?" Five asks with narrowed eyes. Fran's smile is kind, but the meaning is indecipherable.

"Because I must, or I would not survive."

Her brother is nothing if not bewildered by this statement. Perhaps she shouldn't reveal so much. Perhaps she is beginning to become too partial, too preferential to them, but she can't seem to help it. Perhaps it's because they're family.

She usually doesn't have siblings.

"You'll figure it out Five, I'm sure." She pats his shoulder affectionately and turns to leave. She should not stay here, lest she say more. "You've always been brilliant. Just take care not to leave us behind." She closes the door and makes her way to her own room.

Hopefully, this would be enough- for now- to keep him from going too far, too fast.

The Hargreeves children all sit on the couch, backs impossibly straight, as they wait for their father to arrive. Pogo announced earlier that the man requires their presence.

He finally appears, and immediately the attention is completely on him.

"Children," he begins. Instantly, they know something is different. "For years, I have ensured you all train diligently and vigorously, and for one sole purpose. This, as you know, involves the safety of the world." The children shift, anxious but also on the edges of their seats.

"Finally, the time has come. We will embark on our first mission this week. This will be a long, crucial mission, not simply as our debut but by its very nature. We will be gone for quite some time, and therefore you must all pack extensively." He glides over to the stairs.

"With this, the Umbrella Academy's inaugural class will debut in the eyes of the public. Do well not to make fools of yourselves and, by extension, the rest of the Academy."