Work Header

Like Oxygen

Chapter Text

He barely notices at first, 'cause it starts so small.

It's so cold and he's so fucked on E to bother with a shelter.

Ben is nagging at him, hovering around like a particularly annoying fly, but Klaus is in such a good mood not even his dead brother's constipated face is enough to dampen his mood.

He shoves his good-bye hand at Ben and slurs out " Shhh Ben," he giggles " You're killing my buzz, mon amie,"

"Klaus-" Ben starts to talk but the words are hazy and it's so hard to follow the plot yanno? His legs are getting really tired, he has to sit down, and right now, there is a very inviting corner wedged between a wall and dumpster that's calling his name. He stumbles his way there and slides down, the floaty feeling intensifies for a second before evening out.

Klaus lets out another giggle.

"You'll freeze, Klaus, come on get up." Ben is still talking, and god people say he's the annoying one.

"Shhhhh" he slurs again, closing his eyes and tries to enjoy the last of his high, he's out of pills and out of money, sobriety in a few hours, will not be fun.

It is really cold.

He must have said that out loud because Ben is crouching through him, nose to nose. Klaus scrunches his up.

"Get off Benny-boy, you're cute and all but let's leave the incest vibe to One and Three."

"Get up. You'll die." Ben says, uncharacteristically serious, the snow going through his incorporeal body looks fuzzy.

Klaus rolls his eyes, "Not all of us could be so lucky, bro." He mutters and slides down further curling up in a ball, exhaustion and cold are pulling at his consciousness and all around him is sweet sweet oblivion.

Klaus sleeps, the sky keeps snowing.

He wakes up.

Surprise, surprise.

And it must be a surprise, because Ben looks both shocked and relieved, he's not sure if ghosts can cry, but Ben looks like he wants to cry a bit.

Klaus feels shitty and looking around, he's surprised he's not already dead, the alley is blanketed in snow and he is not dressed appropriately for the weather, at all. Leather pants and faux fur are really not that cold resistant. he's shivering and sweating and is not sure if it's the cold or the withdrawal, either way he wants to curl up and die.

He lets out a groan.

"Klaus!" Ben says hands outstretched as if wanting to touch, "You're okay! Fuck, don't do that." He says, sounding wrecked.

"'M sorry." Klaus groans out, and he is, he is sorry, shit he could have frozen to death, could have gotten pneumonia or lost his extremities,  he could have died and left his brother alone, Ben was dead though, what would happen to Ben when he dies?

"C'mon Klaus, get up, we need to get you somewhere warm."

Klaus nods, shaky and exhausted and so fucking grateful he's not dead, he feels dizzy with it, or maybe it's the drugs. Who the fuck cares anyway.

He tries not to think about being alive when he really really shouldn't be.


Ben says, it might be an extension to his power, that he can’t die, which yeah cool, but they have no way of actually testing the theory without going around dying and say what you want about Klaus, but he is not suicidal, at least not in an overt sense.

He’s kind of glad that he didn’t know about that supposed power when he still lived at the Academy, the very thought of what dear old daddy might have done to him makes him shudder.

So, with no way to prove it, his undeath goes on the back-burner, Klaus is busy, there are so many clubs he needs to visit, money to steal, objects to pawn, food when he remembers, life on the street is no cake walk baby.

The second time it happens, it is so overt it might as well be a slap to the face.

He’s in some rave or the other after a lovely stint in rehab, Klaus is this close to scoring some good shit with a promise of some friendly favours when the screaming starts.

He ignores it and keeps dancing with the John, thinking the ghosts have gone a little rowdy, but when actual humans start running, now that’s real.

Obviously , he goes to investigate, leaving the John with a jaunty wave, he can pick another one later. He’s curious, sue him.

Ben is hovering silently behind him so he assumes that his brother agrees with his life choices, lovely to be on the same page, brotha!

He staggers towards the source of screams when he sees them, a kid is clutching at his bleeding stomach and another is holding a bloody shank, he looks horrified at himself, at the situation, frozen in place, it’s kind of obvious that he had not meant for the situation to go that far.

“Yeesh that sucks.” he says to Ben, who nods, frowning.

He moves closer to them, and it is then that he realizes he knows the kid.

“Shit, shit, Ben that’s Matty.”  He says, pointing , trying to clutch at Ben’s arm only for his hand to go through, he ignores the disappointment and scrambles toward the injured kid, hands hovering uselessly before finally settling over the wound, trying to keep pressure on it. “Hey! Hey Matty, you know that’s not what I meant when I said you need to spice up your life, man.” He says with false cheer, tone wavering at the end.

Matty lets out a huff of laughter that devolves into a groan. “N- nice to uh- see you- Klaus.”

Klaus laughs, and if it sounds a bit deranged, no one could really blame him, what with the body bleeding out under him and all.

“Shit, someone call 911” he says looking around at the gathered crowd and he thinks his words must have been lost in the boom of the music but a woman waves her phone at him and he assumes that means that she already did.

Ben urges him to focus of Matty. “Talk to him.” he says.

“So Matty what brings you here, didn’t think it was your scene.” he’s babbling a bit but Matty’s eyes are getting unfocused and his breathing is getting more ragged by the second, a desperate sort of gasping that Klaus has learned means a lung was damaged, and shit this is not good.


“No no no no you can’t die, you will not die. You will not die.” he keeps up the stream of words but Matty is stilling, the desperate clawing becomes weaker and Klaus knows what the means.

He’s blinking away tears, still putting pressure on a wound that is no longer spurting out when the paramedics arrive, the woman shoulders him and goes to work on Matty, movement practiced and sure and then she stops.

just . stops.

And he knows, just like that, Matty is dead.

He takes in a ragged breath, that is more of a sob when the paramedic feels Matty’s pulse, she frowns and Klaus is confused, kid’s dead right?  he’s biting at his thumb, a terrible, terrible habit that he just can’t shake, Ben a comforting cold presence at his side, and he’s worried, he’s not used to being that worried, he doesn’t like that emotion, it’s icky.

The paramedic stops and she looks around in confusion, she’s holding the bloody, ruined shirt in one hand, moving it this way and that, and looking at the skin in confusion.

“You said it’s a stab injury.” she says, and Klaus is moving forward, terrified and unbearably tired.

“Yeah, yeah he was st-” and Klaus stops, because in front of him, Matty is breathing, he is breathing, and his stomach is drenched in blood, but under all that, the skin is unharmed.

“Huh.” Klaus says blankly.

He looks at Ben, who’s just as confused as him, so that means he’s not seeing things. And ain’t that a joke? Looking at your dead brother to confirm you’re not seeing things, HA!

Klaus gets the hell out of dodge.

He’s stumbling around with blood drying on his hands, wondering where the hell he’s supposed to spend the night, he was supposed to pick someone up, stay over, get some nice buzz going on, instead he’s freezing his ass off, sober af, and just downright miserable.

“Are we not going to discuss what happened in there?” That’s Ben, lovely Ben doesn’t know when to shut the fuck up.

“Obviously, Matty has some sort of latent healing powers.” Klaus drawls out. A woman takes one look at him and crosses to the other side, Klaus gives her the finger, she doesn’t notice, what a shame.

“Your eyes were glowing.”

Klaus stops and turns to face his brother fully. “Trick of light, baby.” he shrugs, walking backwards.


Klaus rolls his eyes, hiking his shoulders up and ignores Ben as much as he can.

Klaus does not want to think about whatever it was that happened at the club, about what it might imply, he does not want more powers, what he wants is to get high and find a nice warm place to curl up- both things which seem out of reach for now.

He grumbles out something intelligible and ignores Ben’s monotone “Klaus. Klaus. Klaus-”

He makes his way towards a nearby park, humming Queen loudly to drown out his brother and god was Ben always that annoying? He refuses to think that that development might be due to his long exposure to Klaus.

“Jesus Christ, shut up!” he ends up shouting, rounding on him, Ben smirks and Klaus scowls back.

“You ready to stop being so childish?”

I was being childish?” He asks incredulously.

“Klaus, you healed Matty.”

“Nops. See, that did not happen.” he says kicking down to lie on an out of the way bench, wrapping his coat tighter around him.

“Well, something happened. ‘Cause Matty was dead, and then suddenly he was not.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say, Ben, I see dead people that’s what I do, healing that’s just not my thing, now go away, I wanna sleep.” he mumbles out.

“Maybe it wasn’t healing.” Ben muses. “Maybe it’s something to do with the soul, maybe-” Ben is sounding more excited but Klaus is fucking exhausted, a bone deep thing that has nothing to do with sobriety and  absolutely nothing to do with miracle healing.

“Shut up, Ben” and because he feels guilty for being so cross with his brother he adds “Please.”

Ben sighs, but settles his incorporeal ass besides Klaus’s head anyway.

Between one breath and the next, Klaus falls asleep.


They do not mention the Matty Thing again, or well, Klaus doesn’t mention it and ignores Ben until he drops it, it works out for them.

Klaus is all jittery and coming down from a high, there is a very annoying ghost that keeps screeching about a bastard husband who had her killed, honestly Klaus would sympathize if she’d just stop screeching at talk at a normal decibel.

She does not.

So he’s bracing himself for a miserable afternoon when Ben points it out.

It, is a miserable sort of whining that is just low enough to be lost in the sounds of day to day life.

He’s all for ignoring it but Ben is insistent on checking it out and Ben rarely gets that invested in anything so they go to check it out.

The things he does for love.

Ben is a couple of steps ahead of him and is crouching near a wall, Klaus stands next to him, there is a large cat with a vicious looking wound on the side, it’s snuffling and breathing too fast for it too be normal.

“Aw, the poor thing.” Klaus says, and Ben nods, silent.

“We should get it to a vet.” he says, but he knows he won’t, he’s broke, they won’t help him.

Ben knows it too, if his silence is any indication.

Klaus bites his lip, letting the silence hang for a moment, “C’mon Benny, let’s go, nothing we can do.”

Ben was always, always, the softest out of his siblings, him and Vanya...maybe too soft.

“C’mon Ben.”

Ben doesn’t move, his fingers are moving over the cat’s body, he would be petting it, if his fingers weren’t going through it.

“Maybe- maybe, you could try to- do the Matty thing.” Ben says, haltingly.

Klaus frowns, annoyed, but one look at Ben’s face, tentatively hopeful and apologetic makes him sigh.

“Okay, okay, I can do this.” He whispers to himself and crouches down besides Ben.

He pauses for a second, unsure of how to proceed, trying to remember if he felt any different with Matty, but that night was hazy at best. He places one hand of the cat and it hisses at him, but is apparently too weak to try and dislodge him, it slumps back in exhaustion letting out a pathetic meow.

Klaus licks his lips and closes his eyes, taking a deep breathe and just- wishes.

He doesn’t want the cat to hurt, he wan’t it to stay alive, to thrive, to walk, for its body to mend and it’s soul to keep using the body as a vessel.

And just like that, he feels it. A tugging low in his belly, something flowing through him and out into the cat.

His eyes fly open and he stays suspended in the moment;  before his eyes, the cat’s body shifts and changes, the wound closing, it’s breathing evening out, it’s emaciated body filling out and just like that, the wounded feral stray looks more like a dirty house cat, one that’s a bit bloody, but alive and healthy.

“Huh.” he gets out.

And then promptly passes out.


Ben is there when he regains consciousness, -Ben is always there-  he’s looking at him with such wonder in his eyes it’s making Klaus feel slightly uncomfortable, he’s not used to such looks being thrown his way.

He turns around looking for the cat, it’s not there.

“It went away.” Ben says, and the wonder is still there in his voice. “It woke up and went wandering off.” he adds, almost gleefully.

Klaus groans, he’s rifling through his pockets before he could fully understand what is happening, he’s out of pills but there is some pot laced chocolate in his pocket, he breaks off a piece gratefully, slowly munching at it, even though he’s starving and would give anything to wolf it down. He takes a shuddering breath and closes his eyes gratefully as the calming effect of pot takes over, it’s too soon for it to be actually taking effect, but just the placebo effect is enough for now.

“Klaus, you did it.” Ben says, not commenting on the chocolate.

“Mh-m” he grunts, munching at the bar.

“No, listen to me,” Ben says, kneeling in front of him. “You fixed that cat, you healed Matty, even that day I’m pretty sure you brought yourself back from the dead.”

Klaus raises an eyebrow. “So?” he drawls out.

“So? So your powers are greater than we thought, they’re not just about seeing the dead” He says, as excited as Ben ever gets, which is not so much, his brother is such a downer at times.

“Yeah, so?” He repeats again.

“We could help people.”

“I don’t want to help people Ben, I just- I just want to-” Get high and have fun. He doesn’t say.

But it is obvious by the way he’s trailing off.

The disappointment that’s rolling off of Ben in waves is- it hurts. So Klaus deals with it the way he deals with everything else, he ignores it, stands up, ignores the swaying ,his shoulders are hunched close to  his ears and he just walking away. Away from Ben and his disappointed face.

It’s not like Klaus doesn’t want to help people, maybe a long time ago, when The Umbrella Academy was still a thing, he would have been ecstatic at finding such powers, he would have jumped at the chance of being more than the creepy lookout.

There were days when he used to fantasize about the other things he might be able to do, to be more useful, like Five and his jumps or like Luther’s super strength, something cool that doesn’t lead to claw at his face in desperation.  

Maybe if he’d just worked hard enough at his powers he would have figured it earlier, maybe he would have figured it soon enough to keep Ben alive.


He lets out a frustrated scream, kicking the loose gravel and ignores the looks that that gets him, his feet end up taking him to a small diner. He stands there for a second, he literally doesn’t have any money left. nothing . nada.

He’s so hungry though.

He sighs and turns around, colliding solidly with someone.


“Watch out, asshole” a man calls out.

The figure, a small woman, steadies him, and glares at her companion. Klaus flashes her a grin and turns to face the bastard, throw some choice insults at him.

“Diego?!” he says instead, eyes wide and an honestly pleased expression on his face.

“Klaus? What are you doing here?” Diego says, eyes flitting between the woman and Klaus’s no doubtedly unkempt form.

The pleasure dims a little at Diego’s obvious reluctance to be seen with him, so he takes a step back eyes instinctively searching for Ben for reassurance.

He finds him sending a dirty look towards Diego, it helps ease the dark feeling that settles in his chest.

Diego must have noticed how his words sounded or maybe the well placed elbow from his lady-friend was what clued him in, ‘cause he hastens to add “Not that i’m not -uh happy to see you, it’s uh-  been-been a while?” It ends up being more of a question than a statement and the man winces.

The woman huffs rolling her eyes, “What Diego is trying to say here, is that we’re happy to see you -Klaus was it? My name is Eudora, Why don’t you join us?” She says motioning towards the diner, there is a calculating look in her eyes that makes Klaus just a tad wary of her.

At Diego’s panicked look, Klaus sends what he hopes is a convincing grin, “Nah thanks, don’t want to crash your date or anything, see ya later Diego.” he says, wiggling his eyebrows teasingly.

He’s turning on his heel, - high heels are great for a dramatic exit- when his stomach chooses that exact moment to betray him, it growls and klaus feels shame burning his face he is all but ready to ignore the sound and keep walking, his empty pockets all but burning in reminder when the lady grabs his arm.

He turns, startled, and catches sight of her determined face. “No, I insist, come on. I’ll pay” she says.

He looks at Diego, waits for an indication of what to do next, the lure of free food too good to ignore but he’s not going to do anything to jeopardize whatever Diego’s got going on in his life or whatever, but Diego’s face is taking on a very familiar determined expression, the guilt going on the back-burner.

“Yeah, c’mon Klaus, let’s catch up.” he says, putting one hand on Klaus’s shoulder, all but frog-marching him inside.