Work Header

Like Oxygen

Chapter Text

Klaus orders waffles.

And fried eggs.

And sneaking a look at not-girlfriend's face, he orders coffee as well, he doesn't even like coffee.

‘cause why the hell not? He ain’t the one paying.

He’s sitting on the red vinyl seat opposite to Diego and maybe-girlfriend, Ben is sitting besides him, not that anyone else is aware of that little fact, but he’s made sure to wait until Ben sled in first, he always prefers the seat against the wall.

Lady-friend-who-might-be-a-girlfriend, Eudora, is looking at him like he’s a particularly complicated puzzle. Klaus resents that, he’s a pretty simple creature, all things considered.

“So, an ex?” She asks, breaking the silence.

It takes Klaus a second to realize what she’s implying but Diego is already spluttering out horrified denials, and Ben is pausing in his one sided glaring campaign to crack a smile.

“Pfft. He wishes.”Klaus says arrogantly, but is a bit thrown by how she reached that assumption.

Eudora smiles, unashamed, “Huh, and I was so sure too, I mean all that leather…” and she trails off meaningfully.

Klaus laughs, delighted.  

“I like her.” Ben says. Klaus grins in agreement.

“So, you’ve really never had a boyfriend?” She asks and it’s addressed to Diego who is red and horrified, it is clearly an old conversation , one that involves lots of violent denials, so it seems.

No. And that, is my brother.” He hisses, pointing at Klaus.

Klaus gives a jaunty wave, the hello clearly visible on his palm.

"Brother? You've never mentioned a brother." And the way she's looking at him is taking on a different light, Klaus is usually very good at reading people, it is the sort of skill one gains when growing up with an emotionless asshole like Reginald Hargreeves for a father, the sort of skill that his lifestyle augmented, but in that very second, he was too exhausted to spare the brain-power -and willpower, to be fair- to figure the woman out.

Diego trusted her, she was paying for food, good enough for him.

Diego's face goes all weird, mouth down-turned and eyebrows knitted, he knows that look, it’s not an attractive look on his brother, but that’s what he looks like when he tries to lie without really lying, it exhausting, like seriously, why go through the trouble when you’re lying either way?

"We're not really- close." Is what he ends up saying.

It is the truth, so he hums in agreement,  but it stings a bit, 'cause there was a time back when they were still an odd seven with no dead among them that they could've been close, they could've cared for each other how normal siblings do.

But then Five disappeared, and Ben died. And life at the Academy just- it wasn't worth it anymore.

"No shit." She says.

Diego is avoiding her eyes, fingers tapping a silent rhythm on the table, and Klaus is left with the unenviable position of feeling like an intruder. Klaus is very aware of when he’s not wanted, sometimes -most times- he ignores the hints, now is one of those times, he wants the food dammit.

So he looks at Ben, pretending to be disinterested in whatever relationship drama he managed to pull out.

Ben is watching the both of them like they’re a particularly intense episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, noticing his attention, Ben leans closer, an impression of closeness that only serves to make Klaus colder -makes the shaking worse- but he likes it nonetheless.

The tense moment is broken by the arrival of a cheerful waitress placing down their plates and telling them to enjoy their meal.

The food looks great, but the smell is paradoxical, 'cause on one hand he's fucking ravenous, but there is also a low grade nausea that is taking root in his stomach, one that might feel better when he eats or it might as well not.

He doesn't feel like throwing-up, he’s done enough of that last night.

Sometimes downing a bottle of cheap Vodka might seem like a good idea… oftentimes, it really isn’t.

Free food though.

Klaus puffs out a frustrated breath and slides his plate so that it’s equidistant between him and Ben, Ben can’t eat, but he likes the smell. (and isn’t that weird? A ghost with a sense of smell.)  

Lady-friend-who-might-be-a-girlfriend, is looking at him with a raised eyebrow, "you don't like it?"

"Nah, it smells great." To illustrate the point he grabs one of the toast triangles that came with the eggs and starts munching.

His stomach, miraculously, settles down.

And just like that, he's fucking starving.

It takes him a while to realize that he's the only one eating 'cause there are no sounds opposite to him, he looks up confused.

Eudora is looking at him with a confused sort of wondering, her fork half-way up to her mouth, Diego's eyebrows are knitted in concern.

“Something wrong?” He asks, blinking.

"When's the last time you've eaten, Klaus?" Diego says, like they're the sort of siblings who ask each other these kind of things.

Klaus shrugs, "this morning" and it is honest enough, he's had chocolate -pot chocolate- almost half an hour ago, that counted as food.

Now if he'd asked about last meal, well-

The thought was amusing enough that he lets out a slight giggle before clamping it down.

“Are you high ?” Diego asks and it’s incredulous.

Klaus shrugs, he’s not sure, pot doesn’t do much for him anymore, it dulls the world a bit, it’s easier to ignore the ghosts, but he’s not sure it qualifies as high.  

Diego squares his shoulders. And his jaw. He just, Becomes very square-y all of a sudden.

“No, I need an actual answer here Klaus.”

“Watcha think Benny-boy” Klaus asks, eyebrows raise theatrically, “Am I high?”

Ben makes a so-so motion with his hand and Klaus grins.

“Ben says I'm not high.” He announces like a victory.

“I did not!” Ben protests, not very convincingly though.

“Hush, you.” Klaus says fondly.

Eudora’s leaning back in her chair as if she wants to escape but is unsure how to do so appropriately. She’s opening her mouth and closing it again, like she wants to say something but isn’t sure how to best phrase it, Klaus doesn’t blame her, awkward family reunions must be nerve-wracking.

“Really? Really Klaus, we’re doing this here?” Diego says lowly.

Doing what? He wants to say, but another look at Eudora and it hits him, and with it the slow-dawning realization that “You didn’t tell her, you didn’t tell her anything.” he says with a small, disbelieving laugh.

Eudora frowns, “tell me what?” She asks, and ah there’s that danger.

Diego looks at her with real panic, the look of a man who is in deep shit and is unsure how to get out unscathed.

Funny thing brother dear, as someone who’s slept in literal shit many, many, times in his life, he can say with all authority that there is no way to get out without something icky sticking to you.

“Oh nothing really, just that we’re-”

Shut up.” Diego hisses out, and oops, there’s real anger there. What an angry bunch.

“Woah, calm down, Diego-dear-”

“He really should tell her though.” Ben says with all the authority of a ghost who’s only relationship experience came from trashy romance novels, heaven knows Ben died before he could so much as kiss a girl (or a guy).

“-Ben thinks you should tell her though.” He adds, just to be a little shit.

“Ben is fucking dead” He all but shouts at him, fists banging on the table.

“Diego!” Eudora hisses, shocked. Probably not at the words as much as the tone used.

Klaus reals back. “What is wrong with you ?” he says, taken aback.  

“What is wrong with me ? What the hell is wrong with you, you’re wasting your life Klaus, you’re not trying hard enough, you’re high all the time, you show up looking like some sort of cheap hooker and you’re still pretending that Ben is here and it is getting fucking old, okay?” Diego says, voice getting louder with every word, breath coming out in angry puffs.  

Klaus feels like someone’s just slapped him in the face, he looks at Diego, really looks, and just- he stops, there’s none of his brother’s usual kindness, nothing light-hearted that could be used to salvage the conversation. Not that he wants to spend any more second with that bastard. He wants to say ‘I’m not here for you, I wasn’t looking for you, what right do you have to judge me?’ he says none of that.

He slides out of the booth, ignoring Eudora who’s covering her mouth with a hand, mortified.

“Fuck you.” Klaus says. Cause what else is there to be said?

Klaus is angry, he is so angry he is shaking with it, with the indignation and the hurt of it.

You’re not trying hard enough, Klaus.” He mocks viciously. “ You look like a Hooker, Klaus.”

“Fuck him!”

What the hell does he even know, that fucking bastard.

He’s walking like stumbling, and he’s rounding up on Ben who’s following after him ever faithfully, “Did you hear what he said? Fuck him.” he spits out.

Ben says something, but it is lost in the roaring in his ears.

He is angry and he’s furious and people around him are moving away, avoiding the freak in the sparkly shirt (who looks like a hooker) who’s screaming at himself.

”He shouldn’t have said that.” Ben says.

Yes. He fucking shouldn’t have. Like what does he even know anyway. You’re better than this, Klaus. Fuck. him.”


“Who does he think he is?”


“-like, fuck, just because he’s got a somewhat normal li-”


“-fe now, he thinks he can just go around judging me ?”


“What?” he bites out viciously, rounding on his dead brother.

“Look.” Ben says urgently, gesturing behind him.

Klaus turns around, and there is a man and a woman, siblings or lovers or whatever the fuck, they’re on their knees clutching at their chests, they’re making a terrible choking sound, but that’s not what’s strange, no, oh no, what is strange  is the vague silhouette of their souls being forced outside of their bodies, agonized and desperate to remain anchored.

The sight shocks him into stillness, his jaw snaps shut and his anger fizzles away and with it the strange, intense pressure that surrounded him, his ears pop and slowly, sound return, and just as slowly, the silhouettes fade and the man falls on his back, the woman gasps out a desperate breath, she’s sobbing, a loud and ugly thing, clutching at her chest, at his hand. People are already gathering around them, someone is calling 911.

Klaus stumbles backward.

“Klaus, your eyes were glowing” Ben says.

He looks at them, at Ben with eyes wide and jaws clenched.

“Christ, I need a fucking drink.”

“Are we going to talk about this now?” Ben asks from his seat on the swing.

Klaus is sitting on the dusty ground, back to one of the metal struts, he’s holding a bottle of something cheap and terrible, but he’s not drunk. He’s drinking though and that is an important distinction to make, He doesn’t want to think.

Doesn’t want to talk either- and he adores talking.

“Do you think he’s right?” he asks, and in the evening light, he’s stripped of all pretenses, all shields. It is obvious that that was not what Ben wanted to talk about, but he licks his lips “I think that it is your life; you’re free to do whatever you want with it -and he has no right to say what he said.” is said slowly, every word picked and chosen carefully.

Klasu takes a swig of brown-and-disgusting. “I tried, you know.”

“I know.”

“With the- with ghosts and the drugs and the…” He trails off.

“I know.”

“It’s just so hard.”

“I know, Klaus, you don’t ha-”

“They’re- so loud-” he says, and hates how his voice breaks at the end, how wet it sounds.”-so loud.” is barely a whisper.  

Ben gets up from the swing and sort of reappear besides him, cold and not solid enough to be a physical comfort.

“Fuck him.” Ben says, and it is gentle.

Klaus raises his bottle in a parody of a toast.