“Thank you mom.”
Grace smiles brightly down at Vanya as she sets down her breakfast. “You're welcome dear.”
She hands the last plate of smiley face pancakes to Allison.
Satisfied that everyone at the table had been served, Luther starts eating with them. He’d been waiting politely, unlike Ben and Diego, both of which had no such reservations. He shoots them both a disappointed look for good measure.
“Wha?” Diego sputters around a mouthful of food.
Beside her, Allison wrinkles her nose in disgust.
Ben pauses for a moment, spoonful halfway to his mouth, and expression deadpan. “I didn’t get to eat anything for the 14 years I was dead, so I’ll be eating whenever I please thank you very much.”
Can’t argue with that.
“Bonjour ma famille!”
“Good morning Klaus. I made waffles specially for you, just how you like them.”
Klaus dances over to Grace, taking the plate in one hand and pressing a kiss to her cheek. “You’re an angel mom, you really are.”
He plunks himself down in the seat next to Diego, fork darting out lightning fast to steal a raspberry eye.
Klaus attempts another theft, flailing his long arms to try and get around Diego’s defensive guard.
A flash of light signals Five’s arrival and it’s all the distraction Klaus needs to pilfer a blueberry.
“Boys,” Mom admonishes with a smile before turning to Five who has settled himself down in his usual seat. “Good morning sweetheart. I made you coffee.”
Despite multiple attempts to get Five to eat something substantial for breakfast, the teen insisted he only wanted and needed coffee. They eventually decided unanimously, that it simply wasn’t worth the fight.
Today however, instead of gulping it down in one go like she expects him to, Five just stares at the cup.
“It’s not going to bite you know,” Diego taunts.
Five glares over at him, but at the challenge, takes a hesitant sip and then quickly sets the cup back down. “Thank you,” he smiles at Mom, a little forced.
A quick glance at Ben tells her she’s not the only one to find it unusual. Vanya files it away for later.
Content they’ve all been taken care of, Mom takes her leave.
As soon as she does, Five clears his throat, pushing the still full mug away from him.
“I’ve been thinking and well, the reason I didn’t want to tell you about my past…I was…”
It’s barely there, but Five shrinks at that. Vanya has the urge to smack Luther for his carelessness.
Five makes a face like he’s just swallowed a mouthful of raw sewage. “Yes,” he waves his hand through the air, “…those things.”
He takes a steadying breath, bringing his hands together in front of him and talking down at the table as he continues. “It’s just that…I um, well I just got you back...and—”
I don’t want to lose you, echoes in the back of her mind.
Her heart aches at the reminder.
“Five,” she waits until his attention is focused on her. “I don’t know much about what you went through but, it seems like you didn’t have much of a choice. You can’t blame yourself for things that were out of your control.”
Despite the fact he’s more somber now than his prior mirth, Klaus nods in agreement.
Five picks up on it, shoulders easing slightly in response.
For a moment she thinks they might be able to make some headway on the massive amounts of guilt Five seems inclined to constantly carry around with him. Most of which, Vanya suspect is misplaced and undeserved.
But then the moment is over and Five’s shaking his head stubbornly. “They’re still my actions,” he argues back, nails digging into the flesh of his clenched fists.
Vanya settles a hand over his own, running her thumb over his knuckles soothingly. “Well, we don’t blame you for them then.”
Five is usually fairly difficult to read, but his eyes shine with open relief and something that looks suspiciously like hope. “Thank you.”
Vanya squeezes his hand.
“Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that If you still want to know... I’ll try my best.”
Ben nods beside her. “I’d like that. I think it could be good for all of us.”
“Yay more story time,” Klaus claps excitedly.
Once they’re all piled into the living room, Five’s regret is instantaneous.
“Ya no, I can’t do it.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
From his place at the focus of the semicircle of siblings, Five squirms self consciously. “I hate this. You’re all just starring at me. No, it’s not happening.”
“Okaay,” Luther tries appeasingly, “we can rearrange ourselves.” He nudges at Diego who grumbles but moves, helping him position the furniture into something more casual, despite the extra work caused by everyone lazily remaining in their seats.
Five takes the opportunity to dart out of the center armchair, Klaus practically leaping over Diego in his haste to claim and sprawl across it.
Five choses to sit on the floor against one of the couches. Ben sits closest to him, and if he wanted to, he could lean against his brother’s legs. While he usually prefers to sit higher, the floor keeps him from having to make eye contact with any of them.
Luther sits himself back down at Five’s confirmation that the rearrangement is acceptable.
Ok. He can do this. He’s going to tell his siblings. He’s just got to open his mouth and tell them…
“Wait, should I go get mom?” Diego is already making to stand and do so even as he asks.
It’s like a bucket of ice water has been dumped over him.
“No!” Five clears his throat and tries again, calmer because he just shouted like a crazy person. “No, we are not calling mom.”
“What why not?”
“I am not telling mom the story of how I became a mass murderer, you idiot,” he lowers his voice to a whisper at the end. Five’s fairly certain Grace is too far across the house to actually hear him, but this house always did have eyes and ears everywhere.
It’s bad enough he’s telling his siblings. His young, morally sound siblings.
But Grace? Grace doesn’t need to know. There's nothing good to be gained from it.
Diego doesn’t dispute it further for which, Five is immensely grateful.
It does however, lead him back to his original problem.
“Sorry, I’m not actually sure how to start. I’ve never told anyone about it,” he admits.
“No worries. Would it help if we asked you questions?” Vanya suggests.
At his noncommittal shrug, Luther takes charge.
“What powers did the other Horsemen have?”
He assumes it’s a joke. That this is Luther’s attempt at really easing him into the topic, but the expectant look they’re all giving him quells that. Five actually gawks at them. “Wait, are you serious?”
“You don’t know? You had...you had all that information and you didn’t?”
He’d been so worried about what they might’ve managed to learn. About the conclusion they may have drawn with pieces of information and no background and all this time they hadn’t even…
God he loves his dumbass siblings.
He can't help the frantic laugh that bubbles up his throat. “Wow, you guys are terrible investigators.”
Just to be a shit and hoping to ease his nerves with familiarity, he turns to Diego and sneers, “I can see why you didn’t make detective.”
Diego bristles and snaps back, “I never tried to become a detective idiot.”
The smug look on his face at having throwing Five’s insult back at him (not that it was that impressive to begin with) disappears when Klaus pipes up. “Ya jokes on you! Diego flunked out of the police academy! He was never even an officer!”
“Thanks for that clarification Klaus.”
“I got you Di,” Klaus responds with a shit eating grin.
“My mistake,” Five taunts with a matching smile. Before the teasing can descend into something more severe, he replies to Luther’s original question. “Chase was a shapeshifter. He could turn into any animal. Malakai manipulated matter, both its shape and properties. And Dolores controlled fire.”
“We uh, we know what happened to Malakai.” He can’t actually see Allison from his current position, but the tone of her voice makes him think she’s fidgeting. Worrying her bottom lip between her teeth like she does when she's particularly anxious. “The others…Chase and Dolores?”
Five bows his head, closing his eyes for a moment to center himself against the onslaught of grief.
He hasn’t moved but Ben’s leg now brushes against him, a solid presence. “I’m sorry Five.”
“I tried to protect Malakai and he died for it,” Five forces out. “Chase and Dolores…they both died protecting me.”
They deserved so much better.
They deserved so much better than him.
He doesn’t say that part out loud.
“Hey, we don’t need to get into the heavy stuff right away.” Klaus is sitting upright in his seat now, arms wrapped around himself. “Not unless you want to I mean,” he backtracks when Five says nothing.
No, Five doesn’t particularly want to revisit those memories right now.
“What about your assignments?” Allison whispers a hushed scold at Luther, who wrings his hands when Five leans forwards to meet his gaze. “Well I mean, time traveling has to have been cool sometimes right? You must have seen some nice places at least…”
An assignment… It’s not a terrible idea. In the beginning they’d largely been sent after people who’d deserved it. The Handler had saved the more morally questionable cases for when they’d already been bloodied and desensitized.
“Sorry that was dumb.”
“No,” he corrects. “It’s a good idea. I just have to think of one.”
Many of his best memories occurred in the lulls during missions. In back alley streets and city parks around the world. Where they could breathe in fresh air and pilfer delicious food. Where they could pretend, at least for the moment, that they could one day be free. Where the Commission’s grip didn’t feel as tight, as suffocating.
Five turns and raises an eyebrow at Ben who blushes fiercely.
“Benny,” Klaus chides grinning.
“I wasn’t looking, I swear! I just…happened to see the title.”
Five only chuckles before turning somber. “London 1666,” he ruminates the idea in his mind for a second. One of their less gruesome assignments, though it decidedly hadn’t gone very well for him. There were also fairly few casualties, all things considering. Good enough for his purposes.
“That was a goddamn fucking mess,” he settles on as an introduction.
“What happened?” Vanya questions, attentive.
“I got shot, grazed my heart. That and we may have accidentally burned the city down, just a smidge.”
Diego chokes to his left. “Excuse me!?"
“It was only one third of the city!”
“THAT’S NOT WHAT IM TAKING ISSUE WITH!” He’s eyeing Five critically, as if the wound might decide to spontaneously make a reappearance.
Five rolls his eyes at the melodramatics. It was years ago.
Klaus waves his hand in a dismissive motion, shushing Diego before turning back to Five, looking just as captivated as Vanya. “So, what happened?”
“We were sent out on a job. It was all four of us, which was unusual. The Handler liked to hold one of us back so we wouldn’t get any ideas. But we were after one of our own. He was a defector, one of the Commission’s best assassins at the time. Intel placed him in London, hiding out in a bakery of all places. He was a legend but it was supposed to be easy for us, a simple ambush.”
“Except it wasn’t,” Ben guesses.
Now that he’s started, it’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the memory.
“No. See what we didn’t know, is that he had a partner. And that’s when things got messy.”
Malakai jumps down from his lookout position, leaning back against the wall beside Dolores on the roof.
“No one’s been in or out.”
Dolores drums her fingers impatiently against her knee. Five frowns at the nervous tick. It's been a while since he's seen it.
The lampposts below provide only enough light to make out her silhouette even from so close. “I’m not sure,” she confesses, rubbing at her arms as if cold. “I just have a bad feeling about this.”
Five frowns. Something feels off to him too. An itchy, nauseating sort of feeling that’s been building all day. More than just anxiety or trepidation. Something more instinctual than that.
A snowy owl swoops overhead, silent and almost invisible against the backdrop of the night sky. It hoots once and then twists acrobatically through the air, flitting back the way it came.
Five curses the lack of time. “You gonna to be ok?” he asks her. "You can sit this one out."
Malakai moves to his other side, holding out a hand. Five grasps it.
In the darkness, Dolores nods, taking his other hand without hesitation. “No it's okay. Let’s just get this over with.”
Holding them tight, Five tugs at the power inside him, allowing it to roll forth and engulf them. He drops them all safely in an alleyway, giving them a moment to steady themselves. They brush off the dizziness quickly, having grown used to the physical effects that come with accompanying him through jumps.
“He’s alone,” Chase confirms, appearing from the shadows.
The shapeshifter takes the lead. Moving swiftly through side doors and down the stairs into the sublevel, pausing to wordlessly point out any creaky planks.
Five spots the door easily, warm candlelight flicking out through the crevices.
They approach silently, Malakai slipping to the other side of the door, eyes trained on Five. Next to him, Chase shifts, the cheetah curling around his side, poised and ready to pounce. He keeps Dolores safely behind him. She huffs in annoyance, but allows it with little fuss.
The hair on the back of his neck stands on end.
He gives the signal and Kai takes the door down with a single hit, crumbling like it was nothing but dust.
Five gets a single instance to peer into the room.
Then all at once, dozens of rifles swing towards the doorway and open fire.