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The Four Horsemen

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In a surprising turn of events, things don’t immediately go to shit. No, it takes a few hours for that to happen.

After the riveting round of sibling apologies, Five heads straight back to his room. Burrowing himself under the sheets in his bed and curling up to ride out the rest of his hangover, which is currently manifesting in the form of a massive migraine.

He’s not sure how long he lays there, but eventually Ben appears with medicine and a soft smile to coax him out to lunch. Not one to deny Ben anything, he obediently follows, despite the fact that the very thought of food has his stomach threatening to rebel.

On the way, Five snatches Allison’s showy movie star sunglasses to block out the light which is suddenly blinding. If he growls at Diego and Klaus for laughing well, that’s neither here nor there.

He’s more than ready to crawl miserably back into bed after successfully managing to not hurl through lunch, but before he can make his escape, Vanya is suggesting family bonding time and looking at them all with bright hopeful eyes.

Five puts his foot down. He’s already been manipulated by one of his soft spoken siblings, he refuses to be sucked into loud, obnoxious hijinks when he still feels like shit.

So naturally, he finds himself in the living room surrounded by his siblings less than ten minutes later. He attributes his current malleability to an unwillingness to argue with the pounding in his head and the inability to jump without making everything worse.

The concession is made that the lights be kept dim and the noise at a minimum. He also gets an entire couch to himself which is now covered in blankets and pillows. His siblings journeyed across the house to collect them, offering them up like he was some sort of vengeful god who could only be appeased with the softest of materials. He’s warm and comfy and not about to complain.

His hoard also includes one of Klaus’ stuffed animals because he couldn’t well refuse that with how fucking pleased Klaus looked at offering it, now could he. It's a purple hippo. Diego got it for him.

They’re watching one of Allison’s movies. A surprisingly wholesome activity if not for the fact they’re watching it for the sole purpose of making fun of her. The film is one of her first, back when she still had no idea how to act and simply rumored her way into getting her parts. She mispronounces the town’s name every other line and the amount of plot holes is frankly astounding. She honest to god trips in one of the scenes and the poor rumored director didn't think to cut it from the film.

It’s a fucking masterpiece.

The teasing has Allison blushing and laughing in equal measure, so it’s all in good fun. One of his sibling’s better ideas truly. If the way Diego and Klaus keep not so covertly sending each other looks is any indication, it’s not the first time they’ve partaken in this particular pastime either.

He must doze at some point because the next thing he knows he’s startling awake, panic squeezing his chest tight. Five just barely manages to stop the small frightened sound from escaping, coherent enough to recognize Diego hovering over him.

“I’m fine,” he croaks before Diego can open his mouth and insinuate otherwise, mouth dry and rough. Diego shoots him a look and Five pulls himself into a sitting position to put some distance between them. “It’s nothing,” he emphasizes.

Diego sighs but says nothing and Five thinks they might actually brush it under the rug except-

“Ok no, I’m sorry I can’t ignore the elephant in the room any longer.” Five sends Klaus his most threatening stop-talking-right-now look, but it must be dulled by his rumpled appearance and clutching of a stuffed animal since he continues anyways. “What the hell are you so scared of us finding out?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Five bites out. He pushes the plush away.

“If it wasn’t already incredibly obvious, you were literally talking in your sleep just now short stack.”

He was talking in his sleep? Shit. What the hell did he say?

“The jig is up! J’accuse!”

Five levels Klaus with his best blank stare. His brother huffs and throws his arms out at his side.

“Oh come on! We are literally the world’s most dysfunctional family and biggest group of fuckups! Right guys?” Klaus gives a little bounce at the end, spinning around and looking for someone to high five him.

“No one is going to high five you for that,” Luther grumbles.

Klaus blows a raspberry at him. “Who asked you anyways Curious George!” Klaus barrels onwards before Luther can properly articulate his displeasure at the nickname. “Anyways, the point is no mistake is too grand for this family!”

This is very much not the conversation Five wants to be having right now. He can feel the throbbing behind his eyes increasing. “You can’t just say that. You don’t know what I did.”

“What could you have possibly done that would make us hate you? Vanya literally killed every single person on the planet. I think whatever you did probably pails in comparison.”

Dude!” Ben reprimands.

Because Ben is literally Klaus’ part time conscience, he quickly amends. “No offense Vanya!”

“None taken?” She responds, voice tilting in confusion like she hasn’t decided if she should be offended or not.

“Can we just drop it?” Five prays to whatever deity there is that Klaus will let it go.

“No, no we cannot.”

Of course. He sends a quick fuck you to the powers that be.

“Klaus, I’m serious.”

“So am I. So super serious!”

Five scrubs at his face in exhaustion. “I can’t…” He decides to try for honesty. For vulnerability. Klaus usually responds to that. “I don’t want to lose you,” he admits quietly.

Klaus bursts out a startled laugh. “That’s literally insane! More insane than your usual brand of insane in fact.” Five feels himself prickling with indignation and his brother must pick up on it because he pauses, voice softening as he tries for reassuring. “You’re not going to lose us.”

Ya no, he can’t do this.

Five stands up to head back to his room but between one blink and the next Klaus materializes in front of him. He’s not sure if Klaus was that fast or if he’s just that slow right now and it’s more than a little disconcerting. Either way, the act gives him a brief glimpse into a world in which Klaus was born with his powers instead and it’s terrifying, lawless world.

“What did you do? Did you kill Abraham Lincoln?”

The change in line of questioning is so fast, it almost gives him whiplash. “No,” he finally drags the word out. Technically true. He’d been there but Chase fired the shot.

“Beyoncé?”

“No.” His tired brain catches up a few seconds later. “She’s not even dead!”

Klaus throws himself bodily into a dramatic gasp. “Are you planning to kill Beyoncé?”

“No! Why would I—”

“Oh my god did you kill Princess Diana!?”

“What does that have to do with anythi—”

“Just tell me!” Klaus stomps his foot like a child throwing a tantrum. Five can feel the sound rattling through his bones.

“Klau—”

“I promise nothing will change! Just tell me!

He forces the palm of his hands against his temple. Colors exploding behind his closed eyelids.

“Five are you oka—”

“Tell me tell me tell me!”

The pressure is increasing higher and higher. Pain throbbing in tune with his heart beat.

“Klaus give it a rest you’re giving him a mig—”

“Tell me tell me!”

It’s too much. It’s all too much.

“TELL ME”

"TELL MEEEEEEEEE"

“DAMMIT KLAUS, I KILLED DAVE!”

Silence smothers the room and with it, the ability to think returns to him. The words he’s just shouted registering. Panic rushes through his body, the adrenaline pushing the pain to the foreground for the time being. The blood freezes in his veins, heart beat climbing faster and faster.

“What?” Klaus is looking at him with wide eyes. Five can’t remember a time he’s ever heard his loud eccentric brother sound so small.

He opens his mouth but no sound comes out.

“Five, what did you say? What did you JUST SAY?”

He flinches back at the shout, finally finding his voice. “I killed Dave, Klaus,” he replies because it’s too late. Because Klaus deserves to know. “It was me.”

Five doesn’t dare turn to look at the rest of his siblings.

In front of him, Klaus takes a half step back.

“No. No, no, no. You’re lying. You’re joking and it’s not a funny joke Five, so just stop it!”

“I’m telling you the truth.”

“No, no you didn’t.” Klaus is shaking his head back and forth as if he can physically force the thought from his mind. “You couldn’t have. That’s impossible.” There’s desperation in his voice. He’s begging Five to take it back.

Five wishes he could take it back.

“It’s not.” He schools the emotion from his tone. Needs Klaus to understand. “There was an anomaly... They didn’t know exactly what caused it, but they were able to calculate the death most likely to fix it and—”

“No! Shut up your lying!”

“I’m not.”

“SHUT UP! SHUT UP!”

Five doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.

One small hysterical part wants to laugh. To scream 'I told you so!' because he’d been right in the worst of ways.

A sick part of him wants this. Wants Klaus to get angry, to hate him. To hit him and yell and scream, because that’s what he deserves. The love and compassion had been too painful with the truth rattling around in his brain. The anger is easier, more familiar.

The rest of him just wants to cry. Because Klaus is crying, trembling as silent tears stream down his cheeks.

He’s not going to cry. He’s not! Crying will garner sympathy, especially in this pathetic excuse for a body. He refuses to guilt them into undeserved sympathy.

The one person I ever loved more than myself’, Klaus had said once. And Five fucking killed him.

Klaus turns and races from the room. Five doesn't even try to stop him. What the hell could he even say?

He can't even fully apologize. Did he regret that the chosen soldier was Dave? Yes, of course. Would he do it again knowing what he knows now? Yes. 

The ends justify the means.

Five makes the mistake of accidentally meeting Ben’s gaze. It’s like getting punched in the gut, leaves him breathless and sick. His brother says nothing, only follows after Klaus, feet pounding up the stairs a moment later.

“Fuck you didn’t.” His eyes track to Diego. “Jesus, please tell me you didn’t.”

He has nothing else to say. No comfort or justification to offer his sibling.

Christ.” It’s a whisper, murmured under his breath, and then he’s gone, following after Ben and Klaus.

Five is left with his other siblings. They know in practice, who Dave was to Klaus. But not in the same way as Ben and Diego, who’d both been there in the original timeline. Who’d seen the way his death affected Klaus first hand in the days immediately after. Who'd seen the way Five's actions had hurt Klaus in the days immediately after.

“I should go.” Five says after a beat. Klaus deserves to process this. “He won’t want me around. It’s for the best.”

He doesn’t have anywhere else to go, but he can’t stay here.

No one attempts to stop him. Despite having expected it, despite deserving it, hurt wells up all the same. He pushes it down stubbornly. He doesn’t get his family’s comfort after murdering his brother’s soul mate.

Just as he’s opening the door, someone rushes to catch up with him.

“Five!”

Vanya then.

He turns back to glance at her. “He just, he needs some time.” She tries weakly, but she looks unsure.

Five shakes his head. No. Klaus will never forgive him for this.


 

Vietnam 1968

The air is hot and humid as Five treks through the jungle. He wipes the sweat on his brow away for what must be the hundredth time. His boots sink into the muddy soils despite the fact they’re traveling light and he’s burdened only by the weight of the rifle on his back.

In front of him, Malakai has molded the gauntlet on his arm into a machete, utilizing it to cut through the thick underbrush.

“This is stupid. Why is the Handler making us do this anyways?”

There far enough from enemy territory that Five doesn’t reprimand him for speaking up. He only gives a tired sigh. Arguing about why they’re sent on an assignment is a waste of time, it’s not like they have any say regardless. “You heard what they said. There’s some unknown time anomaly. This will fix it.”

“Killing a soldier on the front line?” Kai pauses to look back at him. He’s panting and covered in sweat too. They’ve been walking for hours. “The whole company dies in less than a week. It’s pointless.”

Five doesn’t have a response to that, but he figures it’s about time to take a break. Malakai gives his approval and they continue onward until they come across a suitable place to rest. He warps the machete back to its original form, pulling the canteens out of his rucksack and tossing one to Five.

Five savors the coolness of the water and fights the urge to pour some over his head in an attempt to beat the heat. He can't waste what little they have. Curious now that Malakai has brought it up, he snatches their briefing from the pack, considering the details more carefully.

“Hey that’s weird.”

“What?”

“Well there’s 200 people enlisted in this company.”

“And? That’s pretty standard.” Kai looks thoroughly unimpressed, swatting impatiently at a pesky mosquito.

“According to this, 201 casualties were recorded in that ambush in a few days. That’s one extra man.”

Malakai perks at this, leaning towards him to get a better view of the file. “Typo?”

“No it can’t be, these briefings are never wrong. And look at this.” Five flips forward to the right page, turning to give Malakai a better view. “Once we correct the timeline by killing this guy uhhh David Katz, only 199 are killed. One is our guy but—"

"The extra soldier disappears.”

Five hums in confirmation.

Kai mulls it over, chewing on his bottom lip, before he finally shrugs, equally at a loss. “Huh. Guess that one lucky bastard gets to live.”

“Ya, I guess so,” Five echoes.

One lucky bastard indeed.