“What are you doing? Why are you squirming like that?”
Five spares a glance at where Chase is currently starfished on his stomach across Dolores’ bed. She’d asked him politely to scoot over and make some room a few minutes ago, but he’d petulantly refused. Naturally, having grown up in a house with two older brothers, Dolores sat on him in retribution.
“You’re on top of me,” he whines.
“Soooo you’re squishing me!”
From his spot leaning against the base of the bed, Malakai laughs softly.
“Are you kidding me right now? You’re such a hypocrite! You throw yourself on top of us constantly!”
Chase sputters, indignant. “A hypocrite! I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You made Kai carry you here not two hours ago,” Five adds helpfully, shooting Chase a shit eating smile.
The shapeshifter had thrown his arms around Malakai’s neck from behind after training, declared himself too tired to walk anymore, and promptly dropped to become dead weight. A being of infinite patience, Kai dragged Chase back without complain, the entire thing made more comical by the extra couple inches of height Chase had on him.
“Sorry not ringing any bells. And anyways your point is moot.”
“Oh?” Dolores asks, with the arch of an eyebrow, “and why is that?”
“Because I happen to be cute and cuddly…”
“And you weeell… not so much.”
Five almost feels bad for him. Almost. He did bring this upon himself. He can face the consequences.
“You know what I think? You need a taste of your own medicine.”
With a stretch and a playful grin, Malakai pulls himself to his feet and then flops down on Chase’s legs. Amused, Five jumps and joins them, sprawling across Chase’s upper back to complete the dogpile.
Dolores reaches over him to flick the back of Chase’s head.“Now suffer in silence.”
“Are you going to scoot over?”
“Then deal with it.”
Chase chooses to deal with it poorly.
The speed and efficiency with which Dolores covertly communicates her intention is a testament to how long they’ve been working together. All it takes is a shift in her posture.
His eyes catch Malakai’s to make sure their timing is synchronized.
Unable to see them, Chase remains oblivious until it’s too late.
As one, Five forces his weight down on Chase’s upper body, grabbing one arm and trapping it behind his back, while Malakai pins his legs, effectively immobilizing him. Once he’s restrained, Dolores straddles him properly.
“Hey! What the—”
Chase cuts off with a shriek as Dolores’ fingers dig into his sides, right below his ribs. He bucks and writhes, laughing helplessly as he tries futilely to dislodge them.
He attempts to get up, but he doesn’t have the necessary leverage with only one free arm and collapses back down when Five mercilessly attacks his neck.
“Dolores ple-hehe-ase! Make it stop! I’m gonna dieee-haha!”
She doesn’t even pause in her ministrations, sending Five a devious smile. “Hmm I don’t know. Kai, what do you think?”
Malakai takes it as the cue that it is, stilling one of Chase’s trashing legs to go in for the kill.
Chase screams bloody murder.
Malakai tickling the sole of his foot renders him incoherent. He babbles unintelligently at them in what Five assumes are desperate pleas for relief.
After only a couple of minutes, his struggles weaken, having completely exhausted himself attempting escape.
When Chase’s full body laughter subsides to breathless giggles that Five knows from experience are accompanied by tears, he gestures to Dolores who finally grants her mercy.
Chase slumps lifelessly beneath them with a sigh of relief and they slide off to settle at his side. “You guys are the worst,” he grumbles once he’s caught his breath.
“But you love us,” Five quips, running his fingers through Chase’s hair in apology.
Chase leans into it, flipping onto his back like a cat. He tugs Kai closer with his legs and curls around Dolores, silently offering more room.
“Nope! Not even a little.”
“I’m sorry the what now?”
“For the third time,” Five grits, struggling to maintain composure, “the Inquisitor.”
“Right, yes… That sounds fucking horrifying. You realize that right?”
“Ya I’m gonna have to agree with Klaus on this one,” Diego says. “No one named the Inquisitor could possibly be good news.”
“You don’t invite the Inquisitor to your birthday party, that’s for sure!”
“Maybe he wasn't that bad," Vanya tries hopefully, but she obviously doesn't believe the words herself. Still, she practically pleads with her eyes that he refute them. "Are they right? Was he…”
It's so easy to forget how innocent his siblings really are, despite everything.
They claim to want the truth but how is Five not supposed to sugarcoat everything.
“He was in charge of interrogations. He questioned me. That's all.”
“But what could they want to ask you about?" Allison's brow is furrowed, the same expression she made as a child when trying to solve a difficult problem. "Weren’t there cameras? Wouldn’t they have seen what happened?”
Five shrugs. “They suspected I knew where Chase was and they wanted that information so I was… questioned.”
“But you didn’t know where he was," Luther states like that should've been the end of that. Five feels his lips tug up into a fond half smile.
“Yes well, they didn’t believe that.”
“How long were you with him?”
An eternity seems like it would be the wrong answer to give so he settles for, “I’m not sure…several days probably?”
"Several days of talking to some asshole, repeating the same thing over and over again. Must've driven you crazy."
The sharp pinprick of pain from his nails cutting into the meat of his palm is the only thing that prevents him from giving a full body shudder. He schools any other wayward signs of reaction, burying them back down and pray that no one picks up on it.
Talking. As far as his siblings know, that’s what they were doing and he's going to keep it that way.
Ben cocks his head and Five's stomach drops in the fear he's about to be called out. When he's not, he deludes himself into thinking luck might be on his side for once. “How come you don’t know how long it was?”
“It was a long time ago.” A little brusque, but his voice keeps steady and that's a win.
Ben does not buy it. Naturally, an innocuous question would manage to be equally damning. “You always remember everything.” Thinly veiled concern shines in his eyes as their gazes meet, his brother searching for something. “Are you sure that’s all? That's the only thing that happened.”
He’d have to be more careful with Ben. Even as a child, Ben's quiet nature and sensitivity had made him good a reading people. His stint as a ghost and subsequent time spent with Klaus, arguably the most empathetic person he knew, only served to make him all the more observant.
“Yes Ben,” Five says, forcing nonchalance into his tone. Brush it off, make it seem believable. “That’s all.”
With the foreboding creak of metal, the door opens. For a second, light filters in, painfully bright after so long in the dark, illuminating the bounds of his prison. Illuminating the silhouette of his captor.
Then the door clicks shut and it’s pitch black once more.
But now Five’s no longer alone.
Logically, he knows the effects of isolation. Of sensory deprivation. But that doesn’t make it any easier to handle.
He strains his senses. Trying to see is pointless, so he listens for the man’s movement. But it’s difficult above the deafening pounding of his heart, above the shuttering breaths he can’t control.
It feels like he’s surrounding. Like there’s a predator circling and he’s the prey, strung up and unable to escape.
His mind plays in the darkness, creating shadows he knows are not there. One moves across his peripheral and he startles all the same.
Fingers ghost across his skin and Five chokes on a cry when he can’t determine if they’re real or not.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he imagines Chase, happy and free and somewhere far, far away from here. He steels himself with the image, even as his body trembles, a learned fear response he cannot suppress.
The waiting is always the worst. He just wants it over with.
He almost preferred it before. When he’d not yet been subjected to the shadows. When the Inquisitor had needed the light to hit and cut, to draw as much pain as he could. To make him sensitive.
At least then he could see it coming. Even if it meant he’d had to look into sickly, unnatural violet eyes, which twinkled with sadistic glee at his every reaction. At every scream.
The Handler never physically hurt them. The Trainer had only done so out of adherence to some misplaced code of honor and discipline. He can understand them, even if he doesn’t agree with them.
But the Inquisitor...the Inquisitor enjoys it. Enjoys causing pain with a gusto that makes Five sick to his stomach. That raises his hackles and screams danger. Because a man so far gone to madness should never have been given the power and position he had. Perhaps the madness itself, was a result of those very things.
A breath brushes against his neck and Five holds his own in response, hair raising from the sensation of having his space encroached upon.
The Inquisitor laughs from behind him.
“Always so responsive for me. Such pretty little reactions. Did you miss me Death?”
Even if he wants to, he can’t answer. His voice taken from him long ago. Once he’d lost the ability to scream and the Inquisitor had tired of his broken rasping pleas.
“I missed playing with you,” the Inquisitor whispers, his voice moving directly in front of him.
The shackles clink as Five strains on his toes, trying to put any distance between them.
A finger taps playfully on the knife buried in his side, a mirror to the wound he’d inflicted on the Trainer. Five moans behind the gag when he slowly twists it, forcing it in deeper.
“Shall we continue where we left off?”
Fingers trail across the bare skin of his cheek in a mockery of comfort.
He’s not sure how long it lasts, but the pain makes fireworks explode across his vision. Whites everything out until blessedly, his body reaches its limit.
The darkness greets him like an old friend.