Vanya turned the corner onto the dreary street that housed The Umbrella Academy. The tall grey and beige buildings glared down at passerby, the stretched windows gaping open only to show dark rooms or curtains pulled tight. There were barriers set up along the street in front of the imposing double doors of the Academy, reporters talking to each other and fans clambering for the chance to see one of the teen idol superheroes in person.
Vanya sighed. One of the young girls wearing a fake Umbrella Academy jacket spoke loudly about how she and Allison would be best friends, how she and Klaus would make a cute couple, how she knew everything about the Umbrella Academy. Vanya snorted. No one knew everything about the Umbrella Academy because they didn’t know about her.
Vanya Hargreeves was perhaps one of the dirtiest of the Umbrella Academy’s secrets. The seventh adopted child. The ordinary one. The biggest mistake Reginald Hargreeves made when searching the world for the superpowered babies fifteen years ago.
She shouldered her way into the crowd, this many people out meant that her siblings were on a mission and would be back soon. She tightened her grip on the grocery bag of apples and cinnamon mom had sent her out for. Vanya had been grateful for the excuse to get out of the dark and empty house, but now she just wished she had Five’s powers and was able to jump to the kitchen.
A boy’s elbow met her stomach and she grunted. “Sorry!” She said.
The boy said nothing, didn’t even turn around. She was even invisible out in the real world that was full of other ordinary people. Vanya ducked her head, letting her hair fall to cover her face.
A hand caught her shoulder. “Hey!” A man said.
Vanya turned, shrugging out from under the hand.
“Hey!” He repeated. “That’s a really convincing cosplay! Amazing work, really, I almost thought you were a missing member,” He said enthusiastically, laughing at himself. “What are you? Genderbent Klaus?”
“Sure,” Vanya said, tugging on the cuff of her blazer, her eyes darting up to meet his before looking over his shoulder. Her dad’s sleek black car turned the same corner she had.
“Oh!” The man turned to see the car. “They’re here! Wow, Allison is gorgeous in those magazines, I’m sure you’ve seen them. Let me tell you, she’s even more beautiful in person! They turn sixteen in just a few months, right?” It was rhetorical, the man wasn’t looking at Vanya. He seemed too old to be talking about her sister that way. It made Vanya’s skin crawl.
For the first time in forever, Vanya was glad she didn’t get the same attention as the rest of her siblings. Sometimes, she thought, it is nice to slip away unnoticed.
She moved to slide away from him, hoping to go down the alley beside the Academy and climb the fire escape into the living room. Pogo had been reading there when she left, he would open the stained glass windows for her. But the man latched onto her arm again.
“Where are you going? They’re just pulling up,” He gestured to where the car was slowing.
Vanya helplessly held up her grocery bag.
The man grunted, furrowing his eyebrows.
She pulled her arm away from him with an insistent tug and turned to the alley.
Vanya wished she had stayed in the crowd. She wished she had pushed to the front and jumped the barrier and gone in the front door sandwiched between Luther and Diego or Ben and Allison, or linked armed with Klaus. That was all fantasy she knew if she had jumped the bar her father would have sent her away and back into the crowd to wait until they disappeared to go back home. No one could know about her. But still. She wished she had done something differently.
The man followed her into the alley.
The bag of apples and cinnamon fell to the ground when he pushed her to the wall behind the dumpster. For a moment Vanya worried that the fruit would be bruised. Klaus wouldn’t eat apples if they were bruised, he said they tasted poisonous then.
She could still hear the crowd. But the man had his hand pressed to her mouth, the other under her skirt. She screamed, she cried, she tried to kick him.
Vanya could here above her own heartbeat and thoughts and sobs the increase of noise from the crowd. Her family was so close. Her superhero family who couldn’t even save their own sister. Vanya doubted they would even notice she was gone until mom said something.
Maybe they’d think she ran away. Maybe they’d go looking for her, maybe they’d wait for a day like they had with Five, maybe they wouldn’t care.
She willed herself, harder than she ever had before to have super strength like Luther, or monsters in her chest like Ben. Anything to get rid of the man who pressed on.
It wasn’t until she was laying on the asphalt, her Umbrella Academy blazer and what felt like her very soul stolen from her by the stranger, that there was the spark of something in her stomach. It started to rain and inside the house, through the window that had been cracked open two stories above her, Vanya could hear Luther’s records playing.