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Nice Dress

Chapter Text

Klaus was never the same after Five vanished.

He had never been… stable. Or at least, he had always been a little bit more unstable than the rest of them. Considering what their family was like, Ben supposed that wasn’t really saying much. But Klaus has always been slightly more off. There was always an edge to him, a hint of mania that was never far from the surface. Before Five disappeared though, it was largely contained.

Sure, it wasn’t unusual to smell the tell-tale scent of weed drifting from his clothes, and he set fire to his room a bit more often than was probably considered healthy. And there were days, after his private training with their Father, that he would shut himself away from the world, loud music waling from behind his locked door, finally emerging after a week without food looking tired and withdrawn and always with his arms wrapped around Five. But overall, Klaus was just like the rest of them: damaged, broken in ways only those who grew up in the Academy could be, but somehow together enough to keep moving. Keep living.

When Five never came home, however, Klaus shattered, and nothing any of them did could put the pieces back together again.

So as Ben stands there in the corner of the kitchen, listening as Five makes his customary sandwich while rattling off incomprehensible nonsense about consciousness and quantum states and out of the blue comments about Klaus’ clothes (yeah Five, just because the rest of their siblings apparently missed that one does not mean Ben did), he isn’t watching Five like everyone else. No. Ben is watching Klaus, perched on the kitchen table, doing a remarkable job of pretending to be his normal, unstable self.

He does a pretty good job of it, all things considered. But Ben has spent an inordinate amount of time with his brother since his death, enough to be able look past the quirks, the frenetic movements and offbeat comments. Ben notices the desperation tinging Klaus’ eyes, the tremor that seems to flicker across his fingers until Klaus pushes them up against his face in an effort to stop them. He also sees the way that Klaus lit up, for one brief moment, when Five made that comment about his dress. And for a small instant, Ben saw his brother as he was seventeen years ago, the way he couldn’t help but light up whenever Five turned his attention towards him. But then the moment passes, the light begins to fade, and at Five’s mention of Delores, whoever the fuck that is, Ben watches as it is completely snuffed out.

So, Ben stands silently, watching as each of his siblings float out of the kitchen in the wake of Five’s departure (and God, the little shit hadn’t changed at all with his ever-present flare for the dramatic). Klaus, however, does not move from his spot on the table, staring blankly into space, his breathing becoming shallower by the second. When the last of Luther’s echoing steps fade from hearing, Klaus collapses in on himself, like a puppet whose string have been cut, hands clawing at his chest while his breathing turns panicked and wheezy.

“Fuck, Klaus, you need to breathe. It’s a panic attack, okay? Remember what we have to do? Deep breaths.”

It’s moments like these, when Klaus’ entire body seems to be shaking apart, that Ben really hates being dead. Hates not being able to take his brother into his arms and try to hold his too fragile form together. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, this has happened enough times that he at least knows how to calm his brother down.

“Remember the numbers, okay? Just start counting down from 100, okay?”

Klaus begins counting down from 100 by 3s, a technique a rehab counsellor tried to teach him years ago, which Klaus ignored in his typical fashion, but Ben paid enough attention to that he has been able to use it often throughout the years since. When Klaus is in the 40s, his breathing is even enough that the tears have stopped falling and he looks less like the world is collapsing around him. By the 10s, the shaking has mostly stopped, and a Klaus’ gaze is able to focus on Ben. After a few minutes of staring, reality finally seems to fully set in, and an alarming emptiness slowly settles into Klaus’ eyes.

“Five’s back.”

“Yeah, Klaus, he is.”

“He barely looked at me.”

Yes, Klaus was never the same after Five vanished. And Ben is fucking terrified about what will happen to Klaus now that he’s back.

Chapter Text

Nice dress.

The words keep on echoing around Five’s head, accompanied with what sounds suspiciously like Delores’ cackling laughter.

Nice dress.

It was almost enough to distract Five from the sheer indignity of once again being pubescent. Almost. Because, really, nothing can quite top that revelation. The thought of having to go through puberty for a second time was a nightmarish prospect that has been festering in his mind ever since he heard the words “little Number Five” come out of Klaus’ stupidly pretty mouth. Fuck. Now he is thinking about Klaus again.

Nice dress.

Five can’t help but release a loud groan, smacking his head a few times on the steering wheel in the vain hope that doing so will knock loose some form of tact. Maybe it’s not entirely his fault? He did just spend the last 45 years either marooned in the future with no one but Delores and whatever alcohol he could find for company or killing people for a shady organisation of out of time assassins. Perhaps some lack of social skills is understandable. But still, in the rare moments when Five let himself think about seeing Klaus again, it definitely didn’t include being so tongue tied he basically ignored Klaus or only capable of saying something as inane as “nice dress.”

Even though it was a nice dress. And while it most certainly wasn’t something Five ever thought about Klaus wearing, he has to admit that dresses definitely suit the younger man. Which brings Five back to his original problem: his apparent inability to actually speak to Klaus in anything close to a meaningful way.

Sitting in the kitchen after their Father’s funeral, Klaus half naked and clutching a guitar of all things, Five had been completely at a loss for words. If Allison hadn’t come in Five is not entirely sure what he would have done, other than pretend to rummage through the cupboards for the fifth time for a package of coffee he knew from the very beginning that he was never going to find. And then, when Klaus had asked where he was going, Five’s mind had gone blank, and suddenly all he could think about was Klaus, dead, body broken and lying amongst the debris.

Five has spent the last 45 years haunted by that image and knowing that in eight days Klaus is going to die, that his entire family is going to die, means shit all because Five has no idea how to stop it. So, he had done what he always does, rely on his natural charm and social grace. In other words, he was a total asshole.

Which brings Five to his current whereabouts, parked outside of Vanya’s apartment, covered in blood, most of which is not his own, wondering what the fuck he was even doing here. Because, yes, he had read Vanya’s book. But some part of him hadn’t really wanted to believe his family was that bad. Luther and Diego were always going to be next to useless, one too naïve and the other too impulsive, both too proud to listen to anyone but themselves. But Five had had hopes for Allison. That the intelligent, ambitious, powerful sister he remembered was still underneath the vapid film star mask she had chosen to wear. And Klaus. Five had read Vanya’s words about Klaus. He had read about the drugs, the rehab stints, the legal problems. But for some ridiculous reason, some idiotic part of his brain had convinced itself that Vanya was exaggerating, or that in the time since her book was published Klaus had gotten clean. Ten minutes spent with Klaus had proven that that was definitely not the case. He was even more fragile, even more lost, than he was all those years ago. And part of Five is terrified to admit that him disappearing might be, at least partially, to blame.

Five is also worried about what will happen to Klaus if he gets too close to him. The men in the diner caught up to him far faster than he was anticipating. And yes, he has removed the tracker, but he knows the people he worked for, he knows The Handler, and they will keep sending more people after him. Lionel and Bree, or Manning, or Hazel and Cha-Cha, it doesn’t matter. She will send someone after him, and soon. Especially after the way he had torn through those hired guns. Can he really live with himself if Klaus is somehow caught in the crossfire? To save Klaus from death by apocalypse only to see him killed by time travelling assassin? He has already lost Klaus twice, once when he jumped forward in time, and again when he found his body, so different from the boy he left behind yet somehow still undeniably Klaus. A third time might destroy whatever part of his sanity he has somehow managed to retain throughout the years of isolation and time jumps.

So, here he is. Outside of Vanya’s apartment, coming to the rapid and terrifying realisation that the only sibling he might actually be able to rely on, the only one that he can trust, is Vanya. Ordinary Number Seven.

The world is totally fucked.

Chapter Text

“Klaus! Klaus! KLAUS!”

Feeling a sharp, stinging slap slam into his right cheek, Klaus is momentarily ripped away from the voices. As his eyes adjust to the low light, the high-pitched screaming noise that has been ringing in his ears since his Father last ‘checked’ up on him stops, and Klaus realises that he was the one making it. Suddenly slamming back into a reality in which his soul isn’t being crushed by the wails of the dead, Klaus lets his eyes slowly focus on the warm presence crouched down in front on him, their hands lightly pulling through his hair in a comforting rhythm.

“F-Five?”

At Klaus’ stuttered greeting, Five’s mouth twists into its characteristic sardonic half smile, one of his hands moving out of Klaus’ hair to cup his cheek and brush away the tears tracks with his thumb.

“Well I’m not Luther.”

“N-n-no. Luther’s t-taller.”

Klaus’ voice is broken and wispy, and his throat feels like it’s on fire every time he speaks or swallows. This is a pretty normal state of affairs when it comes to his ‘private training sessions’ with Dad. Of course, no one other than Five ever seems to care that Klaus never speaks for days after these sessions. Diego even once stuttered out that it was a welcome relief from Klaus’ usual loquaciousness. Klaus remembers being both hurt by the comment but also oddly proud that Diego had managed to get out the word ‘loquaciousness’. Klaus figures Mom’s not so secret (at least to Klaus) anti-stuttering lessons have been paying off.

“Why –”

Klaus’ question is interrupted when a shuddering sob wracks through his body. Waiting a few moments for the shaking and wet hiccupping to pass, Klaus instead leans forward, curling into Five’s body. Five doesn’t really let people touch him. Except for Klaus. And only then, Klaus is usually only permitted fleeting moments of contact, an arm resting on Five’s shoulder for a post-mission photo op, a brushing of fingers against their shared tattoos when Five is in one of his darker moods. After Klaus’ training sessions are the only times when Five lets Klaus touch as much as he wants. In fact, some of Klaus’ most cherished memories are lying curled up with his brother, hidden under the covers of his bed, whispering secret plans for the future, of escape and freedom, to each other into the early hours of the morning. So, Klaus knows, without any doubt or hesitation, that Five will allow this contact, will hold him tight until the last of the tears stop falling and his body stops shaking uncontrollably.

“Why are you h-here?”

“You’ve been gone five hours. He’s never left you in here this long. I –” Here, Five breaks himself off, and Klaus shift his head so that he can glance up at Five’s face, which seems to be twisted in an odd expression Klaus usually only ever sees when Five has been given an equation he can’t yet understand.

“You?”

Five looks down at Klaus, and this time his smile seems more hesitant than sardonic. Klaus feels his breath catch at the look but chalks it up to residual tremors from his crying earlier.

“I was worried.”

Klaus can’t help but release a small broken whine at Five’s admission. He and his siblings care for each other, yes. But Klaus is not sure any of them have ever expressed it so blatantly to one another as Five just did. Especially to Klaus. Only Mom has ever said anything like that to Klaus, and her statements of care and affection definitely do not make Klaus feel so simultaneously off kilter yet safe. And Mom definitely has never interfered with Dad’s training sessions. In fact, Klaus can’t think of a single time anyone has interfered with any training session, Klaus or anyone else’s.

“Wait, how did you get in here?”

“I spatial jumped.”

Jerking his body away from Five’s, Klaus’ somewhat lowered heartrate spikes up again.

“What?! But Dad said that they were too dangerous for you to try them outside of a controlled environment!”

“Yeah, well, Dad doesn’t know everything. He never thinks I’m ready for the next step.”

If Klaus was a better sibling, he wouldn’t be jealous about how well Five is progressing in his training, about how quickly he is able to master his abilities. But he isn’t, so while he is undoubtedly proud, and a little in awe, of Five, Klaus is also jealous. Klaus wishes his power was as simple as Five’s, or Luther’s, or any of his other siblings (well, except for Ben). Five never seems scared about what he can do, and Klaus is constantly terrified. But Five is also, secretly, his favourite sibling, so he pushes down the flare of jealously and instead focuses on the warm feelings Five’s pronouncement sets off in his chest.

“Thank you, for coming for me.”

“Of course. Did the old man say how long until he would let you out?”

Klaus shudders as he remembers their Father coming in and asking the eternal question: have you overcome your fear of the dead? Klaus would never not be afraid of the voices, of the spectres always shifting in his peripheral vision, clamouring for their opportunity to walk out of the shadows and force their existence upon him. Five seems to notice his distress, because the arms around him tighten a little, giving Klaus enough strength to reply.

“Three hours.”

Five is silent for a few moments, no doubt running various calculations through his mind. Five always seemed to be thinking about something complex and mind consuming. Klaus was actually quite fond of the way that Five would sometimes disappear into his head when he was considering something especially difficult or important. After a few moments of silence, however, Five seems to have worked out the answer to whatever unasked question was swirling in his mind.

“Okay. I’m going to stay with you until just before Dad comes back, alright?”

Nodding, Klaus lets out a relieved breath and curls in closer to Five, who has started humming tunelessly in a way he knows sometimes helps distract Klaus from the other voices always vying for his attention.

“Promise you’ll stay, Five?”

Five doesn’t even hesitate before answering Klaus’ oft asked question. A ritual that had started up when Five had first started sneaking into Klaus’ room after his training sessions, it was one of the few things in his life that Klaus felt he could ever really count on.

“I promise, Klaus.”

Chapter Text

Vanya is useless.

Five knows that he shouldn’t be surprised. All of his siblings are useless. The fucking apocalypse is going to happen in seven days, and they are so involved in their petty, insignificant little lives that Five wonders if any of them will even notice when the entire world fractures apart.

Storming through the front door, Five follows the sound of manic, one sided conversation, trying not to let loose the scream of rage that has been building in his chest since that idiot Meritech doctor called security on him. Young man. He was fifty-fucking-eight-years old. He had survived an apocalypse, worked for and then escaped the Temps Commission. He had killed, tortured, maimed. He was a fucking lethal weapon that was somehow trapped in the body of a pubescent boy. A body that was small, weak, and un-fucking-controllable if his near perpetual erections were anything to go by.

Five supposed that was one benefit of going through puberty in a post-apocalyptic wasteland: you were generally too concerned about living through the next ten minutes to really focus on the perpetual horniness. Or maybe it was just the lack of instances where he was forced to come face to face with a mostly naked Klaus wearing only a pair of tiny, brightly coloured underwear. Underwear that seemed to be designed to show off everything, if the slightly longer than Five would ever admit to taking look was anything to go by.

Five could practically hear Delores’ eyes rolling at the way it takes him a few tries to be able to produce anything other than a distorted, gurgling sound.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Five watches as Klaus whirls around in response, his face briefly breaking open with a wide, delighted grin before he seems to catch himself, and the grin shifts into something more closed and calculating. It’s the same smile Klaus always used to give their other siblings, a smile that had always amused Five who usually delighted in whatever mischief Klaus wreaked upon the unsuspecting morons. The fact that Klaus now looks at Five that way hurts in ways that Five is not entirely comfortable interrogating. In fact, Five would happily never think about any of his reactions to Klaus since he managed to claw his way back to his family. His grip on his sanity is a little too tenuous currently for any in depth bouts of introspection, thank you very much.

“Fivey, my most favourite sibling. Wha- Dead siblings don’t count, Ben… What the hell do you mean by that? I thought we agreed we were never talking about that ever again… Well luckily for me you’re dead and I’m the only unlucky bastard who can actually hear you, so suck on that.”

For a few moments, Five could only stare as Klaus apparently carried on a one sided conversation with their dead brother. It was definitely a strange experience. Klaus had always been so terrified of the voices that constantly whispered to him that Five had never really seen him carry on what was, all things considered, a fairly normal conversation with one of them. Five supposed that it made sense, what with Ben being the ghost and all. Ben and Klaus had always been close. Not as close as Five and Klaus, not really, but from what Five had gleamed from Vanya’s god-awful book, after he had gotten trapped in the future Ben was the one to step up and help Klaus. Although, considering that Ben is now dead and Klaus has spent the better part of a decade in and out of jail or rehab, Five kind of wishes his brother had done a better job.

Five quickly realises that Klaus is unlikely to stop bickering with Ben without intervention, so he clears his throat loudly and spatial jumps so that he is standing almost uncomfortably close to his mostly-naked sibling. It was a tactic that, in the past, never failed to get Klaus’ full attention. And sure enough...

“Jesus Christ! What the ever loving fuck, Five! You know I hate when you do that. I have a very delicate constitution! Shut the fuck up, Ben!”

Five quickly reaches up and grips Klaus’ chin with his right hand, forcing the younger man to focus on him.

“Klaus, I need you to do something for me.”

That calculating look is back in Klaus’ eyes, a Cheshire cat-like grin twisting his features.

“Really? And what’s it worth to you, little Number Five?”

Trying to bite back both the growl building in his chest in response to the appellation and the sudden impulse to shake this distant stranger until he suddenly transforms back into the boy he remembers, Five narrows his eyes and tightens his grip on Klaus’ chin. Not enough to hurt, never that. Just enough to ensure that Klaus understands how close he is to losing his ever-loving shit. Five has not been around someone who can push every button he has, and then some he wasn’t even aware existed, for a very long time. Even Delores wasn’t this bad.

“I’ll pay you.”

At the mention of money, Klaus’ eyes brighten, his smile becoming less calculating and more relieved. Five isn’t really sure if he will actually pay Klaus at the end of this. On the one hand, he has never lied to Klaus, and while he is perfectly happy screwing over the rest of the population, the thought of doing so to Klaus makes something distinctly uncomfortable shift in his stomach. But Five is not an idiot. He knows exactly what Klaus will use the money for.

“How much?"

Then again, Five needs Klaus to get the information on that eye. And, really, how much will Klaus’ sobriety matter if Five can’t stop the wold from ending? Five would rather Klaus be alive and high than dead and sober. He can worry about getting Klaus clean after he stops the apocalypse. And he will get Klaus sober. Just, not yet.

“Enough. You’ll need to wear something different, though.”

It takes every bit of control Five has cultivated over the last fifty or so years to keep his eyes from flicking down to take in Klaus’ naked body.

“Oooh! Dress up. And what, pray tell, will I be dressing in this evening? Slinky evening gown? Cowboy hat and boots? I have a pair of chaps somewhere around here that do wonders for my figure.”

Ignoring the part of his brain that was trying to decide if he would prefer Klaus in the chaps or the dress, Five smirks, satisfied and relieved to know that Klaus will do what he’s told. Well, at least as much as Klaus ever does.

“Professional. You’ll be accompanying me to a company called Meritech. They have information that I need and because I’m stuck in this joke of a body the pompous prick who works there won’t release any names to me.”

“I have to say, Five, if you want me to use my assets to get this information, ‘professional’ is probably not what you want me to be aiming for.”

Five feels his blood turn to ice at the very idea of what Klaus is suggesting. The fact that his mind went there so quickly means that it’s likely something Klaus has done before. Which makes Five see red. Grinding his teeth together, Five takes a few moments to beat back his fury, promising himself that when this is all over, he is going to track down every man, woman, and child that ever so much as looked at Klaus the wrong way and hurt them in ways that most people didn’t even know were possible.

“No. You’re going to be posing as my father.”

“Huh. Kinky.”

Jerking away from Klaus, Five can’t help but release a loud sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Get changed then meet me in my room. I’m sure you can manage at least something that simple on your own.”

Not waiting for a reply, Five quickly jumps to his room, hoping to God that his body will calm the fuck down by the time Klaus is finished getting dressed.