They’d done it. Somehow his idiot siblings had managed to come together and prevent the Apocalypse.
He’d managed to jump them back 18 years, depositing his siblings’ consciousness into their 13-year-old bodies. They’d convinced Allison to rumor their Father and Pogo into giving them space, because none of them had the patience to deal with Reginald Hargreeves shit parenting again. Several emotional sibling meetings later (Five counts his blessings he was blissfully passed out for the majority of these, having exhausted himself from the jump) they become semi-functional human beings. They spend a few weeks this way: training Vanya, slowly mending their relationships, and inevitably goofing off because honestly his siblings have such short attention spans it’s incredible. He spends the majority of his time going over his equations – because Ben is alive here and dammit Five is saving all his siblings.
Eventually he’s ready once more, having redone his equations and restored his strength. It’s going to hurt. He knows this. Even just taking his siblings’ consciousness with him had been painful and this time he needs to take Ben’s corporeal form too. It’s going to be bad. Much much worse this time around but they don’t know that because he hasn’t told them and he isn’t planning to.
So when the day comes, they all join hands once more. He brushes of their last minute concern, tells them confidently that it’s all going to be fine, steels himself, and jumps.
It nearly kills him.
He’s out for over a week. But he wakes up on April 5th, 2019 to a beautiful day which shouldn’t exist.
He wakes up to his siblings, crowded around his bed and sound asleep. To Ben, alive and snoring softly, fingers intertwined with his.
Five figures it was worth it.
Sometimes however, Five thinks maybe it was not in fact worth it after all.
Because he would do anything for his siblings. He has given everything for his siblings. He would willingly die for his siblings. He’d let the entire goddamn world burn for his siblings. But sometimes being in the same room as his siblings for more than ten seconds…well it can be a little more than he can handle.
Particularly now, with the scars from the near apocalypse so fresh that his siblings insist on being close and checking in and knowing exactly where he is at all times and not giving him a single second of peace….
And its great. Five knows that it’s a good thing. Because his siblings, who had all gone their separate ways and had been at each others throats (days? Weeks? Months? ago – it doesn’t really matter. Time is an illusion anyway) are now trying their best to come together and be a real family. And he wants to be a real family too. Has wanted it for as long as he can remember.
But the thing is they’re smothering him. And Five has never really been the best with people even prior to years of isolation. Any form of physical comfort and affection he'd allowed himself to feel had ultimately been used against him. And now as much as the isolation makes him crave the contact, it also makes his skin crawl in discomfort, and more often than not he can’t handle this much of it.
He’d tried his best to stay amicable and upbeat, but eventually they’d worn him down and he’d started to snap at them again. Little comments here and there, just to push them back - just an inch, so that he could breath. When they got too close or were being particularly difficult he’d jump away for a moment of respite.
Needless to say, they were all resoundingly unhappy with his behavior of late.
Five can tell they’re running out of patience with him too. An inevitability honestly. The result of being together for far too long. As the one with the shortest tolerance, he’d cracked first and as a result, he’d been blamed for derailing Sibling Happy Family Fun Times.
When Luther had come after him, all high and mighty and talking about the importance of family. Luther who had literally locked Vanya in a soundproof cage like an animal. Coming to tell him how to treat his family. How he needed to put family first. Weeeeell, things may have escalated.
A shouting match and the threat of death to anyone that dared approach him later and eventually they’d decided to just let him be.
God he knows a couple of days away from his siblings shouldn’t feel as therapeutic as it did but man did he need the break. Too cool down, to attempt to settle into the idea of this new reality, and to crave their company again.
So now feeling rejuvenated and capable of withstanding vast amounts of idiocy without having to resort to fratricide or sororicide, he seeks out his siblings.
He finds them lounging around the living room laughing and talking, an empty bottle of one of their father’s expensive liquors between them.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t everyone favorite little psychopath back from his latest meltdown,” Klaus crows from where he’s sprawled across the couch, head on Ben’s lap and legs resting on Diego.
Five tenses at the term and veers from his current trajectory to the couch towards the bar. Just in case.
“Are you done being a dick?” Diego questions sarcastically. “Got it all out of your system now?”
“I don’t know Diego, are you done being an idiot? Have you got that out of your system?”
Klaus barks out a startled laugh while Diego goes red in the face, pulling out a blade from his holster and looking every bit like he’s about to chuck it at Five.
“Enough,” Allison groans with the air of exasperation that can only come from dealing with naughty children (and doesn’t Five just hate that). “Can’t we just have a nice civilized conversation for once?”
Diego huffs, grumbling something under his breath.
“What were you talking about then?” Five tries ignoring Diego entirely.
“Oh you know, reliving fond memories of dear Daddy-o. May he rest in eternal suffering,” Klaus singsongs, wiping a fake tear from his eye and blowing a kiss towards the floor at Hargreeves in hell.
With a roll of his eyes directed towards Klaus, Ben turns to Five. “Mostly talking about the horrible shit dad put as through as kids. It was weird being in our 13 year old bodies you know? Brought up a lot of stuff I guess I just repressed. We’re just trying to process it all.”
Five scoffs at that. Does he know? As the only one still currently stuck in his child body, he’s painstakingly familiar.
Ben seems to realize this as well and backtracks with a sheepish sorry.
“It’s been such a healing space truly,” Klaus mocks. “Sharing our fun experiences and then cursing out the old bastard for his years of abuse is therapeutic”.
Five snorts despite himself. “I’ll drink to that,” he says intending to turn and prepare himself a cocktail when Diego interrupts him.
“Ya what would you know about that?” Diego remarks with flippant wave of his hand and a scowl still firmly plastered to his face.
“Pardon?” Five questions calmly, arching an eyebrow at his brother.
“You’ve always had control over your power. Your personal training was easy - I never saw you have a hard time. Bet dad never locked you in the mausoleum. Never forced you to kill to train.”
No his training hadn’t been like Klaus or Ben’s.
He’d been forced to jump until he’d thrown up or collapsed unable to move any further. He’d been tied down and left in the dark to escape his bonds. He’d been made to jump to avoid electrocution, bullets, or knives. Knives Diego had thrown. Knives Diego had intentionally tried to hit Five with, to earn a smidgen of their father’s praise despite the fact Five had been soaked in sweat, feverish, and exhausted from the strain of chain jumping. Not that Diego had even noticed at the time.
He hadn’t been forced to kill for the sake of training until the Commission. But those had been people. Terrified, sobbing human beings, not small animals like those Ben had been forced to kill.
“No, I suppose I didn’t,” Five answers finally through his clenched teeth. Diego is still upset, a little tipsy, and he’s lashing out. Five should know - he does the same thing. It doesn’t mean anything. He doesn’t mean it.
“You always had it easier than the rest of us. Always so perfect, one of his favorites.”
“Be more like Five. Five adapted!” he continues mockingly in the world’s worst imitation of Reginald Hargreeves.
One of his favorites. Five almost laughs in his face. His father had in no means favored him. Had respected his intellect, perhaps. But favored him in any way, certainly not. Reginald demanded the upmost respect and complete and total obedience. Traits Five sorely lacked.
Their father had hated him for his quick wit and fast temper. While his siblings cowed behind his harsh glare and harsher words, Five rebelled. For the sake of rebelling or for his sibling’s sake (because the more their father focused on him the less he’d focus on the others). Punishing him for every act of subordination in his personal training. Trying to beat the stubbornness out of him and only growing more upset when Five only grinned and bore it all.
“And you didn’t have to deal with this shit for nearly as long,” Diego continues snapping Five from his thoughts.
“Excuse me,” Five practically growled and he can feel his temper rising. Diego tiptoeing towards a dangerous line.
“Well he does have a point,” Klaus added slowly. “You got out. Didn’t have to deal with five more years of dear ol Dad’s torture – oh excuse me, training.”
“I would’ve killed for that kind of freedom,” Diego adds under his breath.
Allison lets out a sigh, “Alright that’s enough, you know he wasn’t exactly… you know.”
“What? So he ended up in the Apocalypse – not ideal I’ll admit, but honestly there were some nights I’d take the end of all life as we know it over another day with Reggie am I right.” Klaus complains popping up to stand and hands sweeping around at his general surroundings, spinning to look at each of his siblings in turn and daring any of them to disagree.
Not ideal. Klaus has always made light of dark circumstances if the amount of dead jokes he made at Ben's expense was anything to go by. But to have his experience reduced to not ideal.
“Klaus shut up,” Ben hisses eyes darting worriedly towards Five before shifting back to his brother.
“Ben staying in this house literally killed you!” Diego exclaimed, “you don’t get to argue otherwise.”
“Yea!” Klaus rallied behind Diego’s agreement, “I mean come on!”.
Allison chewed on her bottom lip before hesitantly adding, “It did get worse after Five left.”
“Plus,” Klaus said pointing back at Five, “he’s the one who decided to run away. It’s not like it wasn’t his choice.”
“Guys” it’s Vanya this time.
“Whaaat!” Diego whines whirling to face her. “It’s not like Five cares what we think anyways. That would require him to ACTUALLY care about us and we all know that Five isn’t capable of caring about anything”.
And Five likes to believe that for the most part he has a strong handle on his emotions. He was trained to repress, to conceal. But something about the callous way they’ve just dismissed him. His suffering and the years he spent desperately wanting to escape. When the only thing that kept him alive had been the hope of escape. Something about the way Diego says it and the way none of his siblings seem particularly inclined to argue – how they won’t meet his eyes. It snaps something in him and his carefully constructed composure comes crumbling down.
“You think I wanted to leave,” Five seethes and he must look downright murderous because Klaus takes a step back away from him and Luther is standing now.
“Ok Five,” Luther says and his hands are raised in an appeasing motion, “let’s all just calm down now.”
“NO!” Five spits and he’s shaking. He’s literally shaking, that’s how angry he is.
“You think I WANTED to get stuck in the fucking Apocalypse! You think I WANTED to work for the Commission! You think I had a fucking CHOICE in any of this!” he screeches.
“I found your dead bodies, YOU ASSHOLE!” he screams jabbing his finger at Klaus. “I buried you, I buried all of you - it took me days! And I couldn’t even find Ben or Vanya. I was all alone. There was nothing left, it was literally hell and you think I was happier there! That I wanted this!”
“You think I don’t CARE about you, you imbeciles! You think I didn’t try everything I could to get back here. To get back to you. You think I didn’t try every day to get home. That I didn’t nearly kill myself trying!”
They flinch back from him then, a choked gasp escaping Allison as she covers her mouth with her hand and her eyes water. Ben is standing now, approaching slowly with eyes so full of sorrow and hurt it almost makes Five regret saying anything at all. But he’s already started and suddenly he can’t stop.
“I lost everything. EVERYTHING! You have no idea what I had to go through! What I had to do to survive! They turned me into a killer! They made me a MURDERER! A MONSTER!”
His siblings recoil as if struck.
“I lost her!” he shouts and then suddenly all his rage has left him and he feels hollow and empty. “I watched them die. And I stayed. I stayed when I could’ve tried to run. I stayed with the Commission for years just to try to get back to you. To save you.”
His eyes on his fists clenched tightly at his side he barely breathes, “I lost her because I couldn’t leave you here to die…and you think I don’t even care”.
He lifts his head up to meet his sibling’s eyes but they’re all frozen. Eyes wide and mouths dropped open in shock. He’s never yelled at them. Not like this he realizes in detachment. And then he feels liquid on his hand. He raises his hand to his cheek, drawing his gaze away from his siblings to stare at nothing instead, and feels the dampness there.
He hadn’t noticed.
He’s never cried in front of them either. He wonders at what point he’d started.
He’s not sure how long he stands there, frozen in what must be the quietest a room full of all seven Hargreeves siblings has ever been, when Klaus clearing this throat breaks him out of his trance.
But Five doesn’t stick around to hear what he has to say, vanishing in a swirl of blue instead.
She appears sometime in the second year. He thinks she’s a hallucination at first. It’s been days since he’s found a decent meal and he’s starving. The world around him fading in and out in random lapses of consciousness.
She tells him he’ll die here. In three days’ time. He’ll die alone and lost and no one will ever mourn him. She tells him he’ll never see his family again. That they’ll die too.
And then she gives him a way out. She makes him an offer. A deal with the devil in exchange for his life – for the possibility of seeing his siblings again and maybe, just maybe, a deep part of him hopes to believe – for the chance to stop this from ever happening. To save them.
He knows he can’t trust her. He can see it in her eyes. In her predatory smile. In the simple fact that he’d stumbled into the apocalypse alone two years ago and she’d waited until now to come to him.
But he’s so tired. So hurt and so scared and so lonely and she’s the only living thing he’s seen in years. He can’t imagine his life getting any worse.
So he takes the Handler’s hand and he goes with her.
He quickly learns that it can get so much worse.