Klaus’ bedroom had always been one of his favorite places in the entire academy. It was a narrow room much like Diego’s own and his bed was, much like Diego’s own, shoved into the corner directly beneath the window. The window, conveniently enough, was leading straight to the fire escape, making it easy for Klaus to sneak out every night. They possessed much of the same furniture as their rooms were meant more as prison cells and not actual bedrooms. Klaus, however, had made sure early on to put every bit of his character on display in this room. Even as a child, he had found various ways of expressing his colorful character in the design of his room.
The walls were covered in posters and paintings and wherever they were not, drawings and scribbles that Klaus had done with sharpie filled up the naked spaces on the walls. Two years ago, right after Klaus had first started to write on his walls like a maniac, their father had forced Luther to paint over the proof of Klaus’ growing insanity only for Number Four to do it all again and again and again. No matter how often Reginald would force one of them to paint over Klaus’ walls, Klaus would just use the repainted walls as a fresh canvas to express his mania.
The room was small and crammed with stuff. His old guitar rested against the side of his desk and his desk itself was buried under a mountain of clothes and other crap. It was messy and crazy and Diego loved it. He loved the chaos and the wildness of it all. He even loved all those fairy lights which Klaus had hung up once with Luther’s help. Everyone in their family knew, after all, that Klaus had always been terrified of the dark.
Another wonderful thing about Klaus’ bedroom was that it was right next to Diego’s own bedroom and thus sneaking over had become a favorite past time of theirs.
Klaus lips were soft and welcoming under his own. His skin soft and his body oh so inviting how it molded around him and took him in as if it was made for that exact purpose. It was heaven. It was absolute bliss. His nails were digging half-moon marks into Diego's shoulder blades, marking him as his own forever even when those little crescent imprints would fade away. Klaus was leaving a much more prominent stamp on his soul now in the way his kisses burned as Diego rested between his perfect legs. He wanted to kiss his fingers and his hands and arms up to his shoulders. He wanted to kiss his toes and his feet and his ankles up to his cock.
There was no time, though. What they were doing had to happen in the dark and quickly too. It was forbidden and that only made their sin all the sweeter as orgasm his them like a freight train without much warning.
What they were doing no one could know and yet Diego knew that the blanket they were hiding under was not nearly enough sufficient protection from prying eyes. He knew that they were playing a dangerous game but that didn't stop him from drowning Klaus in kisses, broken only by their futile attempts of getting their breathing back under control.
Rolling off of Klaus, his body ached for the feeling of Klaus’ body around him and the grin on Klaus’ face, as he turned to face him in the half-light of his fairy lights above the window, told Diego that he felt exactly the same way.
»I love you.« Klaus whispered in the darkness and for once his pupils were not blown wide as he said it - not from the drugs in his system, at least.
He opened his mouth to repeat the words but before he could, the door was torn open. Hands grabbed him and pulled him out of Klaus’ bed and Diego knew that they had come too close to the fire and burned themselves on their own feverish teenage ignorance.
The fire in the marble fireplace at the long wall of the sitting room seemed always on, always filling the giant room with a soft warm glow and a welcoming crackling noise. Coming into the sitting room, was the epitome of coming home for all the Hargreeves children. It was the smell of the polished walnut wood and the oils that were used to keep the wood shiny and pristine. It was the heavy antique furniture all across the room, the soft sofas and armchairs. It was the gentle glow of the various lamps all across the room, the light filtering in through the giant windows that were leading into the garden. It was the smell of dust lingering in the air no matter how often Mom would dust the various little statues or candle holders.
The sitting room was the heart of the mansion, the warmest room in the entire building. It was their family room, the one place they all liked to hang out at together and just be a family. It was where Grace had once read stories to them, where Vanya would practice her violin, where Klaus would spend hours painting, where Allison would go through her scripts, where Luther would doze on the couch near one of the windows like a dog, where Ben would read until nightfall and where Diego would sit and just polish his knives or watch his siblings.
Beside him, Klaus was vibrating with tension and fear. Klaus had always been the most afraid of all of the siblings of their father. That was no secret either. As much as Klaus was afraid of the dark and of the ghosts only he could see, as much was he afraid of Sir Reginald.
Their siblings knew it and often preyed on it. Most importantly, their father knew how much fear he had instilled in Number Four over the course of the last seventeen years.
As they stood there in the middle of the sitting room, where the portrait of their lost brother was staring down on them in silent judgment, Diego tried not to think about the countless times he had witnessed how his father took Klaus out of the home at night only to bring him back in the wee hours of the morning or sometimes even days later. However, no matter how much time would have passed between him taking Klaus away and bringing him back, the return to the house would always be the same. His brother would always be covered in dirt and dust and cobwebs, paler than usual, with wild green eyes and in a state of utter shock or horror.
For the longest time since this had started at the age of eight, Diego had not dared to ask where their father was bringing Klaus or what he was doing to him there. A part of him had been afraid of the answers Klaus might give him. And Klaus … funny, vibrant, wild Klaus had been back to normal the next day, making jokes and being cheerful. It had taken Diego years to understand what was really going on.
As he stood here now only in his boxer shorts at Klaus’ side who was in an equal state of undress as he was, he just wanted to jump his father and scratch his eyes out. Their father wouldn't be much of an opponent either. However, his loyal Number One was standing right at his side and Luther wouldn't allow his father to get hurt by either one of his wayward brothers.
Luther was looking at them with utter disgust down his perfect nose as he stood there at their father’s right-hand side in his grey pajamas just like the rest of their siblings. The sitting room, the one place in this mansion where all the siblings liked to gather and hang out to just be together with the always crackling fire in the marble fireplace right underneath Five’s portrait, the walnut columns, and the heavy furniture, had lost all its warmth and all the comfort it had once emitted. And, by God, wasn't this whole situation just utterly humiliating?
That was the point, of course. This was meant to be humiliating. Their father had torn them from the bed, forced them to put on their underwear and dragged them down here while Pogo had called for their siblings to leave their beds and come downstairs as well. Mom, beloved Mom, hovered uselessly in the back near the archway leading to the staircase hall.
This, right here, was a very public display of their shame. He was outing his sons in front of their siblings, enticing them to be cruel to each other, kindling the age-old rivalry between each and every one of them and giving the other siblings something to attack them for. Their throats laid bare so to say. The only thing that their siblings needed to do now was to attack, to bury their fangs into their flash and rip out their throats.
Sir Reginald Hargreeves had never meant to raise them as siblings, after all. He had always meant to raise them as soldiers and make them into weapons.
Humiliation was not the only reason for this exercise in team building, of course. Diego was highly aware that their father preyed on Diego’s sense of pride. He wanted Diego to turn on Klaus in front of everyone. He wanted Diego to turn Klaus away from now on. He wanted to divide them, to crush them under his boot like the ants he saw them as.
Love between the siblings had never been encouraged by Sir Reginald. Not in a familiar sense of the word and especially not in the romantic sense either. They were, to him, only a group of kid soldiers and had never been supposed to form any sort of true bond. He called them siblings, brothers and sisters, but that wasn’t what the old man truly meant when referring to them like this. It had taken Diego all his life to understand this and never had it been clearer than at this moment as he looked at his siblings who were standing at his father’s side in their grey pajamas with blank expressions, schooled to appear unbothered by years of their father’s psychological torment.
Klaus had lost all his flamboyance, all his wit, all his mischievous and chaotic energy. Suddenly, Klaus was far too quiet and sullen beside Diego. He just stood there, staring at the ground to his feet, his shoulders hunched in embarrassment as if he had already accepted defeat. Klaus … the one person in this family who had never had a sense of shame was truly and unequivocally ashamed.
In his seventeen-year-old brain, the first thing he thought was that Klaus was ashamed of him and of being outed in front of their siblings like this. Not outed in the sense that he was gay because that had always been pretty clear to all of them in a way and, at the latest, as soon as he had started swooning over boys with Allison. No, maybe he was ashamed to have been outed for sleeping with Diego. Not because they were brothers but because he was Diego. And how could Diego Hargreeves ever have hoped to score someone as gorgeous as Klaus?
Diego would be naive, however, if he would think that being humiliated like this would be their punishment. He knew that his father was a cruel bastard and he liked to go after the weakest link and that was, sadly, Klaus for the most part when taking Vanya out of the equation. And even mousy little Vanya was much more able to stand her ground than Klaus was for the most part because she had resigned herself to a life of mediocrity and unimportance a long time ago.
»This kind of behavior is unacceptable, Number Two!« Reginald finally addressed him, as he was carefully cleaning his monocle with the handkerchief in the breast pocket of his dressing gown. His father looked odd without it, so Diego was glad as he put it back where it belonged.
Diego had never heard his father scream or yell at them. He had never heard him raise his voice and he didn't need to anyway. His father had always had this way of instilling the fear of God in his children even when keeping his voice low and calm as he did now. In fact, his words cut even deeper this way. Diego wished he would be yelling at them.
»I expected better of you than to fool around with your own brother!«
Shame, hot searing shame, was creeping into his cheeks and painting them red. He could feel that quite vividly. The truth was that Diego had only ever wanted to please his father. For the longest time, he had wanted to be Number One but he had learned early on that he would never be able to compete for his father’s pride with Luther or even Allison. Those two were his favorites followed shortly by Five and even Ben. Klaus and he had always been his least favorite children - possibly even after Vanya - and he had made this blatantly clear. Vanya, despite her uselessness, when it came to powers, was at least diligent and submissive. Klaus and Diego were neither one of those things for the most part. Still, Diego had wanted to please, had wanted to make him proud and never succeeded. His words now cut deep like knives, aiming to draw blood.
»I didn't expect much else from Number Four but you … I thought you were stronger than to give into temptation, Number Two! You are the biggest disappointment of my life. Don't you have anything to say for yourself?«
He avoided looking at his siblings who all stood there in their pajamas unwavering - even Vanya. Ben was the only one looking at the ground instead of them. Poor Benny had always been too good for this family. They didn't deserve him. Diego felt lost as he stood there and stared at his father, afraid to break eye contact while he just wanted to grab Klaus and run away.
»I-I’m s-sorry, S-Sir.« He finally managed to stammer out and he knew that this was not what his father wanted to hear at all. This wasn't done with a simple ‘I’m sorry’. He wanted to punish and humiliate. He wanted to destroy what they had and Diego was bracing himself for whatever he would throw their way now.
»I’m sorry doesn't cut it, Number Two.« Reginald thundered. »What you two did together was an abomination. It was wrong and disgusting.«
»Yes, Father.« He heard himself whisper.
»What was that?«
»You are right, Father.« Diego replied a little louder this time and clenched his shaking hands into fists. »It was disgusting and it won't happen again, Father.«
»I am, quite frankly, repulsed just by looking at you two. And your siblings certainly do feel the same way.« He didn't wait for the agreeing murmur. It was like a punch in the guts. They all acted as if they would not have seen the sidelong glances that Luther and Allison were throwing at each other since they were thirteen!
»However, I am not a monster and I am not unreasonable. I will give you two one last chance. You will seize this madness right now or otherwise you leave me no other chance but to throw one of you out and since we all know that Number Four over here is useless ever since he decided it would be a good idea to waste the gift he has been granted in taking drugs and drinking alcohol, I believe the choice of who I would ask to leave this house is pretty clear.«
He was a monster. He truly was.
Diego felt his heart shatter as he stood there and forced his face into an unwavering mask. He couldn't show weakness now. Klaus would suffer only more if he would show any kind of weakness towards his father.
»I understand.« He replied as calmly as he could. »It won’t happen again, Father. I don't know what possessed me to do this in the first place.«
»Good. I am glad I could at least made one of you see sense.« Diego allowed himself to relax for just a second before Reginald nodded at Pogo. The ape seemed hesitant but finally stepped forward and offered his master a thin bamboo stick that was usually stored in their father’s office. He wanted to shout as realization struck him but he couldn't get out any sound. »I am saddened to say, however, that your brother seems deaf to reason. Number Four has always been rebellious.«
None of their siblings jumped in to help, none of them reacted. Even Diego could only stare in horror as their father grabbed Klaus by the arm and directed him over to the sofa where he pushed him against the backrest and barely gave him time to brace himself.
»Don't think I would find joy in punishing you in such a barbaric way, Boy.« Reginald said as he forced Klaus against the backrest until Klaus grabbed onto the edge. He not once lifted his gaze and allowed their father to manhandle him in position as if he had already resigned himself to his fate. Well, what other choice did he have anyway? »However, it seems that you leave me no other choice since words do not seem to have any effect on you.«
As their father delivered the first blow to Klaus’ back, Diego flinched at the spot he was rooted to. He wanted to jump his father and rip him apart limb by limb but one look at Luther told him that Luther would not hesitate to beat the crap out of him if he would even do so much as move. As Diego clenched his fists, there were fingers curling around his wrist from behind him. Ben. He didn't need to glance over his shoulder to know that it was Ben who was trying to hold him back. The sick old bastard aimed for Klaus’ naked back to leave bloody bruises on his flawless skin.
»Count them out for me, Child.« Sir Reginald demanded with this booming voice of his as the rest of his children stood perfectly still behind him, forced to watch how their weakest brother got punished in such a gruesome way. Reginald was a man who liked to uphold a certain image to the public world. To outsiders, he was a man above any kind of violence.
The Hargreeves children, however, knew better than to believe that. Most of them had found themselves at the receiving end of a good beating once or twice before. However, whenever their father had inflicted violence upon them, he had always been controlled about it, always acted as if it was just as unpleasant for him as it was for them. However, when it came to Klaus, he seemed always tempted and now he was unleashing his anger at the boy.
Perhaps it was his frustration that Klaus was so resistant when it came to his training, his unwillingness to cooperate and learn to control them. Maybe it was because Klaus had turned to drugs and alcohol instead or because Reginald knew as well as his other children that Klaus would slip out at night to go partying. Diego wasn’t naive about it. He knew that he was not Klaus’ first lover either. Maybe it was the frustration that Klaus was now corrupting Diego as well. Diego, who had become a little too rebellious in his father’s mind as of late.
»Two.« Klaus bit out as the next hit came and crossed the first angry red line his father had created on his back. This was meant to scar him. It was not just a punishment that should scare him and teach him. Diego realized with a faltering heart that these hits with the stick were truly meant to injure Klaus and to mark his back in a way that would teach his other children not to disobey him.
»Three.« Klaus didn't sob or scream. In a way, he was much stronger than his other siblings. He had always had a high tolerance for pain and yet Reginald was dead set on making Klaus cry and scream tonight.
As Diego watched with trembling fists, knowing that looking away would only further Klaus’ punishment, he felt the worst he had ever felt in his entire life. He should be there for Klaus, protect him and just run away with him. Instead, he just stood there, watching, too afraid of their father. And he knew that the sound of the stick hitting skin and Klaus’ counting out each blow would haunt his nightmares from now for the rest of his life.
Klaus could hardly move when Diego saw him next. Reginald had taken him away for special training again right after he had delivered Klaus’ punishment and none of the siblings had seen him since. That was three days ago and since then the atmosphere among the siblings had been beyond awkward during that time. Diego felt small among the others. He felt defeated and weak and dirty in a way.
His father's humiliation tactic had worked perfectly as his siblings wouldn't even look at Diego for the most part and when they did they did so with questions in their eyes and perhaps even with disgust. No one would ask anything or say anything but the elephant was still in the room. Diego and Klaus had had sex and they all knew it and wondered what was wrong with them for doing such a thing.
Luther was, predictably, the hardest to get along with after that night. He wouldn't outright comment on Diego’s behavior but everything he would say to Diego had this undertone of judgment and utter disgust in it. Hypocrite.
Why was it okay that Luther and Allison were so obviously head over heels for each other but it was not okay that Diego and Klaus shared a similar love and attraction? Was it really so simple as to say it was because they were both guys? It couldn't be this simple, could it? To Diego, this just didn't make any sense and he refused to even try and wrap his brain around it. He loved Klaus and there was nothing wrong about it. Nothing.
Yet, he had stood by and watched him get punished.
He could take Luther. They had never gotten along, they had always fought with each other on some level. Ben, however, was very different. Ben, who was usually quiet and somber, who was the kindest one of them and who everyone loved dearly, would sometimes look at Diego with great disappointment etched in his face. Maybe Ben had hoped that Diego would grab Klaus and run that night. Ben had always been close to Klaus and though Ben would usually not speak up against his siblings much, he had always been fiercely protective of Klaus and his antics.
As Klaus had appeared at the breakfast table on that morning in his uniform as if nothing had happened, Diego had realized quickly that his brother avoided looking at him. He couldn't blame him. He had let him down, after all. He hadn't been there when Klaus had needed him the most and perhaps it was better if they acted like the other one wouldn't even exist. That didn't mean that it didn't hurt that Klaus was ignoring him throughout the rest of the day.
All throughout their group training on that first day, he tried to make eye-contact with Klaus and couldn't help but feel stupid about it. It was too obvious how lost he felt and Luther was cruel in using Diego’s inattention to his advantage. Klaus, however, didn't bat a lash when Diego lost his sparring match against their Number One and got thrown to the ground by Luther, his back slamming into the mats covering the floor. Though they were all pretty much the same height with the one exception being Vanya, and although Luther’s power was his super strength, Diego was usually the better fighter. He was quick on his feet like a dancer, he got moves Luther could only dream of and so he rarely lost against Luther when it came to hand to hand combat.
Yet, as he lay on his back with a soft moan coming over his lips at the defeat, the rest of their siblings continued their training without a care in the world.
»Pathetic.« Luther hummed as he looked down on Diego. He had managed to give Diego a bloody nose and that was truly something that had never happened before. Instead of helping Diego back to his feet, as would be the polite thing to do, Luther instead grabbed his towel and his water bottle and walked out of the gym. It was Ben who walked over to Diego and gave him a helping hand.
At first, as he looked at his brother from his spot on the ground, Diego wanted to slap Ben’s hand away. Ever since that god-awful night, his siblings had avoided touching him like the plague as if they would be scared to catch the gay. Not that it would have bothered them until that night when it came to Klaus. Perhaps it was just because Klaus had always been the queer one in every aspect of the word. Klaus had always been unapologetically himself and that was something Diego had always envied him for.
With a small huff, Diego, at last, accepted Ben’s hand as the other boy was already contemplating pulling it back. Ben’s smiles were rare these days but he got one for Diego now as he helped him to his feet.
Just then, there was a howl from the other side of the room and as Diego whipped his head around, he found Klaus on the ground, curled in on himself in pain and Allison seemingly shocked by his explosive reaction to whatever she had done to him. Diego didn't waste any time as he rushed over to the pair and fell to his knees beside Klaus.
Number Four was gasping for breath as if someone had punched all the air out of his lungs. »Klaus!« Diego called out as he reached for his brother and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. Klaus, however, flinched away from his touch as if burned before, in a rare flair of anger, he slapped Diego’s hands away and quickly got back to his feet despite the obvious pain on his face.
Seeing the anger Klaus had in his eyes as he stared down on Diego was like being stabbed right through the heart. Then again, if Diego had thought to see this fury in Klaus’ eyes directed towards him would be bad enough, the next thing that came out of Klaus’ mouth pulled the rug right out from under him for certain. »Stay away from me, Two.« Klaus snarled in this very un-Klaus kind of way.
Diego was stunned into silence by his brother’s heated reaction, so much in fact, that he was unable to scramble to his feet to stop him as Klaus waltzed out of the gym. Shame was burning through him again as he became increasingly aware of the way Allison and even Ben stared at him. It was as if he was standing naked in front of his siblings. They could clearly see how hard this was hitting him and so, Diego did the only thing he knew how to do properly. He schooled his face into an angry frown instead of a hurt one, got to his feet and just left the gym.
Ben’s death had come as a surprise to everyone. Maybe that was a bit of an understatement. Of course, none of them had expected it to happen. It was no secret that their work as a team of superheroes came with its fair share of dangers but none of them had ever seriously gotten hurt while doing their job. A few broken bones here or there, the occasional bloody nose or cut.
Maybe it had been naive of them to never realize the possibility of one of them dying. They were all together in the living room studying as their father had demanded of them while he was out with Ben and Luther on some mission. Two weeks had gone by since the night of the punishment and ever since Diego couldn't come within three feet of Klaus without anyone looking at him as if he was Hitler incarnate. Not to mention that their father didn't seem to have any trust in Diego whatsoever since then. He excluded him from missions and rather took Allison or Ben along to accompany Luther.
It was another form of humiliation in front of his siblings and Diego was not naive about that in the slightest. On this day, however, as they sat in the living room with their head buried in their books, Klaus suddenly shot up from his seat on the sofa. Usually, Diego would have sat beside him, trying to be close to Klaus without being too obvious about it. Klaus’ face was ashen at first. He stared at a spot at the wall across from him as if he saw something none of them could see. His mouth hung open for just a moment, his eyes large and wild.
»Ben?« The word was more of a gasp as it left his mouth. If he noticed that everyone was staring at him, he didn't show it. Instead, just a moment later, Klaus dropped his book and ran towards the archway leading into the front hall, a silent, desperate plea on his lips. »No! No, no, no, no, no!«
And just like this, the remaining three siblings in the room knew that Ben was dead. It was just as simple. As Klaus ran outside of the house into the storming rain to where his father had just arrived back at the house with Luther - without Ben - screaming at the top of his lungs, they knew Ben was dead.
With Ben’s death, everything changed. The house had lost the remaining bit of light it had held until that day. Their days seemed incredibly more bleak, the sky outside had steadily the color of steal. It was raining on the day their father had Ben’s statue delivered. Black marble on a granite pedestal with just his name and some obscure inscription. Ben Hargreeves. May the darkness within you find peace in the light.
And just like that, they had lost another sibling. At least for this one, they had a grave and a place to mourn, a body that could rot in the ground. It was maybe a relief to Reginald who hated to never have all the answers to a question and who seemed to have been driven mad by the disappearance of Number Five all those years ago. To the rest of the siblings, however, having a place to mourn their lost brother, didn't change anything.
Klaus outright refused to go into the courtyard from that day onwards. He had attended the funeral only because of the threats that their father had directed towards him. It was no surprise that Klaus had been hit by Ben’s death the hardest. He wouldn't talk about what he had seen that day of Ben’s death in the living room. In fact, he would not talk at all to them anymore and Diego couldn't shake the feeling that he had lost more than just one brother on that day. Klaus might as well have followed Ben into the ground.
His brother had always been a whole lot more sensitive than the rest of them and not in a bad way either. Klaus was empathetic to the feelings of other people - especially his siblings. In this sense, he was superior to all of them. He had always felt this incessant need to be close to them in some form. He had a certain kind of warmth to him whenever he would enter a room. Now, the entire house was cold as an ice block. It was his powers at work, Diego assumed. Whenever they wouldn't need to train or study together, Klaus would be holed up in his room doing god-knows-what and at night he would sneak out.
Diego, though hurt by the revelation, did not harbor any illusions to the fact that Klaus was not only seeking out drugs when he would leave but that he would be seeking out male company as well. He would take anything to numb the pain he was in and that included sex. Every night when he would hear his brother sneak out of his window, Diego turned around in his bed, one of his knives clutched tightly in his hand fighting the urge to run after him.
Their relationship was over. He had known this the moment Klaus had come back from his punishment. That didn't mean though that it wouldn't hurt. It did. It was ripping his heart out. And he knew that it was stupid and that he should focus on himself instead now. He should just forget about it, pretend as if it had never happened and move on with his life. Instead, he would not sleep until he would hear Klaus sneak back into the house every night, scared to death that one night he would not return to the house.
The world outside of the academy was scary and dangerous and no place for someone like Klaus and yet his brother, his beautiful, bold brother, was thriving in the darkest shadows of the night and there was nothing Diego could do about it. There was no way to protect Klaus from his own poisonous desires. Still, Diego loved him and that was the hardest thing about it. He loved, loved, loved him and he had lost him and it hurt like hell.
This night, as he lay in his bed staring at the ceiling and listening to how the house was turning over in its sleep, he thought about what he should do now. He knew that he couldn't stay at the house for any more time. His father's cruel humiliations got worse day by day and the way Klaus would flinch away from him was killing him.
Luther would never understand what Diego was going through and maybe it would be unfair to ask him to as well. A part of him wondered if things would be easier if his siblings understood and would feel compassion or at least pity but since they didn't, every day was like walking on eggshells. He couldn't take it any longer. The only thing holding him upright was Mom’s soft smile when he would seek her out during the day.
There was sudden commotion on the hallway. Footsteps rushing down the hall and then the door to their shared bathroom being burst open. Klaus, he thought. Klaus never closed the bathroom door. Klaus never closed his bedroom door. He hated being confined in closed-off spaces. He couldn't take the feeling of not being able to get out if he wanted to. For the longest time, Diego just laid in his bed, unsure of what to do. What if Klaus needed his help though? Should he really ignore him like this?
Then again … Klaus had been ignoring him for weeks now, right?
With a groan, Diego sat up in his bed and put the knife he had been toying with on his bedside table. He just sat there, though, waiting and listening. He didn't hear Klaus return to his bedroom for minutes and so, as he started to get restless, Diego got to his feet and left the room as silently as a cat. The light from the bathroom was flooding into the hallway and now that he was out of the room, he could hear the sound of retching quite clearly.
He found Klaus curled up on the tiles of the bathroom floor covered in cold sweat and the smell of vomit lingering in the air. He was naked except for his boxer shorts for some reason. Then again, Klaus preferred to sleep with as little clothes as possible. Panic gripped Diego’s heart tightly as he took in the position his brother was in right now. What if he had taken too much of whatever it was he was poisoning himself with?
»Fuck, Klaus!« He muttered as he fell to his knees beside him and put a hand on his forehead. He was burning up quite badly and for just a moment Diego hoped that it wasn't the drugs at all, that Klaus was merely sick and could be helped by Mom. For once, Klaus didn't flinch from him but instead leaned in further.
It was the first time that he saw Klaus in any state of undress since that god-awful night. His back was still littered in the cuts their father had inflicted on him. They would probably leave scars. The idea filled him with dread but more importantly with red hot flaring anger towards their father. Reginald Hargreeves had outdone himself this time. It was not rare that he would beat them into submission either with words or with his cane while the outside world was oblivious to the plight of the miracle children of the Umbrella Academy but at the very least he had always been rather careful not to leave marks on them. As if it would make the abuse any less true if there were no marks left behind on them.
»Klaus … Hey, Klaus, what's wrong?« Diego muttered as quietly as he could as to not wake the others as he noticed how unfocused Klaus’ green eyes were. He tried and failed to look at Diego's worried face before he extended his left hand to touch his cheek for just a moment. Warmth pooled in his stomach at the gesture. It was small and perhaps it was stupid of him to forgive and forget so easily. But this was Klaus and no matter how much Klaus had hurt him in the recent past, he loved him. He couldn't just switch this off like everyone expected him to.
»Diego…« Klaus slurred. »I’m sorry I was so mean to you.«
»No, no it's okay.« He replied quickly as if he was running out of time here. »I get it, Klaus. It's not your fault. Come on, I’ll get you back to your room and get Mom, okay? Just tell me if you took anything.«
»Diego.« He almost flinched at his brother’s voice behind him. Over his own rapid heartbeat and fear for his brother, he hadn't even heard how Luther had approached the bathroom to check on the commotion. Luther’s face was serious as always as Diego turned to look over his shoulder.
»He’s sick.« Diego explained just before Luther could go on a rant about how inappropriate all of this was. »He threw up and he has a fever. I wanted to take him back to bed and-«
»Go fetch Mom.« Luther droned on, his voice seemingly bare of emotion, as he stepped into the room with his remaining two brothers. »I’ll take care of this.«
»Diego … You should not be here.« As they shared a glance, it was the first time since that god-awful night in the sitting room that Diego thought he saw something akin to compassion in Luther's cold blue eyes. »If Dad finds you here … Just go fetch Mom, okay? And don't tell anyone that you found him here. Don't make this harder for yourself than it already is.«
Anger was Diego's default reaction to almost everything Luther would say and yet, as he slowly let go of Klaus and got to his feet, he didn't quite know what he felt towards his brother now. Was Luther really trying to protect him in this situation? Was he really understanding how hard all of this was for both Diego and Klaus? Or was this all some elaborate spiel? Then again, Luther had never been a very manipulative person. He was not smart enough to be one.
He left Klaus with a heavy heart and when he later returned to his room with Mom, Luther had already tucked their brother in and kept watch over Klaus’, sitting at the edge of his bed with Klaus naked and certainly cold feet in his lap. It was rare to see Luther being compassionate with anyone except Allison, it was rare to see Luther taking care of anyone except Allison. Diego felt like an intruder as he just stood there and watched over the scene. Ever since Ben’s death, Luther was a little different, a bit more somber and secluded perhaps. Maybe he even blamed himself for Ben’s death just like everyone else was blaming him.
Diego watched as Mom took over from Luther before Number One got up from the bed to give both Klaus and Mom a bit more space. Diego wanted to step away and retreat to his own room but as he walked down the hall, Luther suddenly grabbed him by the elbow. It was not the same hard and unrelenting grip he would usually use on him in anger. It was just a silent plea to stop and listen for a moment.
»You should go.« Luther mumbled as quietly as he could into the semi-darkness of the hallway.
»I was about to go back to bed.«
»That's not what I meant.« Luther let out a frustrated little sigh and drove a hand through his blonde hair. Luther, their fearless leader, had never been good with words. Well, he had never been good at leading either. »You should leave. The two of you should.«
»Luther … what are you…«
»Just listen, okay?« He seemed fidgety all of a sudden, nervous even. »Ben died … Five is gone. And if you two stay … I fear that Klaus might be next … or you. And I don't want that. I can't … Diego, I can't lose one more of you. So you should go. As soon as Klaus is better, you should take him and leave and never return.«
-End of Chapter 1-