The unanimous decision is that they should, in fact, break for doughnuts.
So they sit around the dining room table and they eat their doughnuts. Klaus chatters brightly, engaging the others in conversation and generally raising spirits with the power of his personality alone.
However, the entire time Five can only really feel a growing sense of foreboding and a little bit of nausea.
Sighing softly, he pushes away his plate of half eaten doughnut mournfully.
There probably won’t even be any left by tomorrow if the way Luther has already tucked into fourteen is any indication. He watches as Diego takes one in each hand, alternating between them for mouthfuls.
Animals, the lot of them.
“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to you know.”
He levels Ben with an exasperated stare and only gets a patient smile in return. “Stop being so understanding,” he grumbles. “It makes it hard to be annoyed.”
Ben gives a little shrug, before plopping another piece of doughnut in his mouth.
“Ben’s right. We can talk about it later,” Allison soothes, settling her hand over his.
“No, we can’t,” Five groans, letting his head fall on the table dejectedly. “If we don’t do it now I’ll just chicken out. Just…just give me a minute.”
Allison pats his hand sympathetically before leaving him be. The other’s respect his wishes too, carrying on conversations which become an increasingly obvious attempt to stall for time as they run out of topics.
When the discussion steers towards whether Ben eating seafood could be considered cannibalism, Five figures it’s probably time to face the music. “Alright. What do you want to know?”
At the silence that follows, Klaus takes the lead. “Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I think the part I found most concerning was when you implied the Commission trained you to handle being beaten. Did that raise any red flags for you guys or was that just me? Anybody else?”
Luther tentatively raises his hand from across the table, hastily lowering it when he realizes the question was rhetorical.
“There we go! Luther too,” Klaus nods, good naturedly.
Five and his big mouth.
“We were trained to,” he fumbles, trying to figure out how to best phrase it in a way that would be least upsetting to his siblings, “...withstand?”
Expectant looks motion that he should continue.
“Poisons, drugs, pain. They wanted us immune to anything that could be used against us.” Well, that wasn’t entirely true either. “With the exception of the things they used against us,” he amends.
“It was part of the Trainer’s regular regimen, along side exercise and control over our abilities. He started with the poisons and drugs. Gave us small doses, increasing them overtime until our bodies could handle them.”
“He’d poison you?” Vanya looks horrified.
“It wasn’t as bad as it sounds,” he tries lamely.
He gets six glares in return and is cowed into silence.
“And then what? He beat the shit out of you?”
Five eyes Diego carefully. He’s pissed, that much is clear, but Five can’t find any of the explosive anger that had caused their yelling match earlier. It’s too bad. He’d give anything for another round right about now. It’d be much better than this.
“Among other things,” he acquiesces. “It was meant to teach us to withstand torture in case we were ever captured.”
“The entire time you were at the Commission this was happening to you?”
“No. Not the entire time. It was mostly in the first couple of years we were there, while he was still training the… endurance into us. He only used it after as a punishment. But the punishments got more frequent over time and then…” Five glances down at his hands beneath the table, nervously twiddling them together. He’d known where this conversation would inevitably lead, but that didn’t make it any easier to swallow.
“Then Chase killed the Trainer.”
“And he died for it.”
Five yawns tiredly as he blinks his bleary eyes open. God he’s sore.
He had practice with the Trainer first thing this morning and the man had not been in a good mood. He’d run Five ragged. Vindictively lashing out even after he’d run out of energy to jump.
After being released, he'd managed to stay conscious long enough to take a quick shower, toss on some clothes, and then had apparently passed out on top of his bed, not even managing to make it under the covers.
Lifting his head, Five spares a quick glance at the clock.
He’s missed Chase then. The shapeshifter should be at his own training session now. Has been at it for about an hour, and isn’t due back for another two.
Five curses. He should’ve stayed awake to check on him.
Chase returned from a mission late last night, and while Five didn’t know the details, it must’ve been a bad one. He’d awoken to the sound of Chase crawling into bed beside him, oddly subdued and seeking closeness. They’d both been exhausted, so Five had simply curled around his friend and resolved to talk about it in the morning.
Despite his own plan, he’d been unwilling to disturb Chase from his much needed, peaceful slumber by the time he’d had to leave for training.
He hopes the Trainer’s not being too hard on him, but given the man's bad mood this morning and the harshness he seems to reserve specially for Chase, Five’s not really counting on it.
Their relationship with the Trainer is…fraught with difficulties.
A strict disciplinarian, the Trainer prides himself, above all else, on the obedience of the men under his command. Traits which the Horsemen, by nature, have never had.
(They are trapped here against their will, pardon them if pleasing the Commission wasn’t the highest priority item on any of their to do lists.)
As a result, they’re often a source of embarrassment whenever they fail to be the perfect little soldiers he envisions. Unfortunately, the man’s also prone to taking such failures as slights against him, allowing them to fester.
Given absolute authority over their regimen, he takes to disciplining them in the way he best saw fit.
Abuse under the thinly veiled guise of training and punishment.
Malakai and Dolores were both best at escaping his anger, something he and Chase were not as well versed in.
Five simply couldn’t stomach the thought of groveling for forgiveness or adorning him with false platitudes to gain favor. Unlike the rest of them, he’d grown up under the hand of a similar vindictive asshole. He hadn’t survived Reginald Hargreeves, just to bow to another man just like him.
Chase’s discretions weren’t even really his fault. The forms he took were ruled by their animal instincts. While he’d learned to curve them over time, he was still best at it when one of the Horsemen was around.
But the Trainer considered this dependence, no matter how slight, to be a weakness. In the habit of bending people to see how far he could push them, the Trainer was getting him placed, alone, on increasingly more stressful assignments. Only to then get upset when Chase was inevitably pushed too far and snapped out of line.
Literally poking the bear and whining when he got bit.
Despite all that, Chase hadn’t failed to complete a single assignment. While that bar was enough for the Handler, who cared little as long as the job got done and the timeline remained relatively intact (and haven't they really pushed the boundaries of 'relatively intact' over the years), the Trainer was far more difficult to please.
Groaning, Five pulls himself to his feet.
Dolores is still away on a solo mission, not due back for a few more days. He’s the only one around who can check on Chase.
While interrupting is sure to get him punished, if the Trainer’s bad mood has anything to do with Chase’s assignment…
Chase doesn’t deserve that and Five might be able to talk their way out of it or at the very least, shift focus onto himself.
He fucking hates himself for not checking sooner.
There’s no way to even pretend this is training.
Five finds them in the middle of one of the smaller exercise rooms.
Chase is in the form of a malinois. A thick collar keeps the dog trapped in place, a short length of chain anchoring it to the ground. He's cowering, pressed against the floor by the force of the restrictions placed upon him.
The Trainer stands above him, just out of the animal’s reach. There’s a table just beside him full of tools that he brings out to use whenever he grows bored of his usual forms of torment. This is one of those times it seems.
He’s red in the face, shouting nonsense about Chase needing to learn his place, being nothing more than a dirty animal, baring a whip down brutally to accentuate the words.
The dog whimpers and cries with each strike, heartbreaking, pain-filled sounds. Unlike the Trainer, Five can hear Chase’s voice alongside them.
“Stop! Please stop! I’m sorry! Please it hurts, stop!”
Five’s blood boils.
He forces himself through a jump he wasn't sure he'd have the energy to make to land just behind the Trainer.
He’s supposed to talk. Supposed to wheedle their way out with words, but Chase cries out again and all his logic is dropped in favor of stopping the thing hurting his friend right now.
Braced against the table, because he made the jump but it was not steady, he grabs the first thing his hand touches, which turns out to be a hunting knife, and drives it non-fatally into the Trainer’s side.
It has the intended affect.
The Trainer yells out. The whip falling from his hand in the shock, clearly not having heard him appear. Furious eyes turning to focus on him.
“You little brat!”
The weight of the world barrels down on him all at once. The Trainer’s fist colliding against his jaw with concussive force, sending him crashing to the floor.
The impact leaves him dazed and disoriented.
With the squelch of flesh, the Trainer pulls out the knife, tossing it to the ground carelessly.
“I never liked you Death,” he starts conversationally, walking calmly towards his table of tools and inspecting them, taking this all in turn easily enough. “From the first time I met you I knew you were too headstrong. That you wouldn’t mold to fit my vision.”
His back is turned. Five knows he needs to move now. Needs to grab Chase and jump them out and deal with the consequences later.
But the simple action of turning on his side, has him retching miserably.
“I told the Handler it should’ve been you. Back with Famine, I mean. She should’ve put the bullet in your head, saved us all the trouble.” He holds up a pair of plyers, considering them. Deciding against it, he drops them to resume his search. “But she’s a contrary bitch and now here we are.”
With a sound of approval, he plucks an item from his collection, turning to grin down at Five.
“No matter. I’m supposed to be working with Conquest, but if you’re so eager you can take his place. Clearly, you need to be reminded of your position. And if it gets a little too rough... well, perhaps it’s time to lose another.”
A kick to his side sends Five sprawling on his back. Before he can even think to right himself, the Trainer is on him, straddling his hips. Five feels the familiar trill of panic as his body stops responding, paralyzed in the gravity of the stronger man’s hold.
“Don’t touch him!”
The Trainer’s placing something around his neck.
A collar his mind is eventually able to supply against the ringing in his ears.
With a grin, the Trainer pulls it tight, blocking off his air supply. Five’s fingers clench uselessly beside him.
He finally releases the tension and buckles the collar. It’s still unbearably tight, a noose around his throat, but at least now Five can take in small panicked breaths. The black that had infiltrated the corners of his vision receding again.
The Trainer leans back smugly to admire his work.
“You should feel honored. You’ll be the first to try it out. It’s specialized, you know. Had the engineers make it just for me,” he says proudly, waving a small black remote. “Nothing else is as strong.”
A shock collar. It’s a shock collar.
He’s afforded a precious second to come to terms with this information before his world explodes in agony.
Five grits his teeth, his muscles seizing uncontrollably.
“Don’t be like that,” the Trainer chastises, voice drifting in and out of range dizzyingly. “I want to hear you.”
There’s a click and Five screams.
After an eternity, it stops. Over the sound of his own gasping, desperate breaths he makes out the sound of chains rattling. A dog barking.
Then it’s gone again. Washed away in the sound of his own screams.
“Stop it! Leave him alone!”
At some point, he blacks out. He knows because cold water jolts him awake, so the electricity can burn through him again.
And then it all just stops.
Pins and needles run the length of his body and with it, the realization that he can move again.
Shakily, a kick of adrenaline gives him the strength to push himself to one side, instincts spurring him to get off his back, out of such a vulnerable position. It leaves his chest heaving from the exertion.
Sound slowly filters back like the world has been unmuted and he hears it.
The Trainer is on the ground, small black remote toppled just out of reach.
Blood gushes from where his throat has been torn open, his body twitching as he chokes on his own blood.
A wolf stumbles back, Chase falling on his butt a moment later. The collar around his neck is torn, barely clinging on. The length of chain still connected to it as well as the anchor point he’d ripped from concrete support.
His face is coated in blood, some of which still dribbles down his chin. His wide eyes are fixed on the man before him, hands trembling as if he’s just now realizing what he’s done.
The Trainer jerks one last time and then falls still.
Hysterically, Five realizes they’re well and truly fucked.