Chapter 1: Luther
»Luther!« The hulking figure of his brother did not even turn around at the sound of his call. Not that he was honestly that surprised. Well, in Number One’s defense, he seemed to have more important things to do on this beautiful sunny day in late March - like opening another bottle of Whiskey. As Klaus floundered closer, he noticed that Luther had already one empty bottle in front of him on the counter. There was no way of telling, however, if the first bottle had been full when Luther started drinking. The cap of the new bottle provided great difficulty for Luther, though. No wonder with such large hands. Everything, even the buttons on his shirt, seemed too small for Luther now that he looked like … this.
»Luther, you need to tie me up so I can-« Finally, Luther succeeded in opening the bottle, poured a generous amount into a glass and drank it like it was ice tea. »Are you drinking?«
Maybe confronting Luther in his infamously charming way, was a mistake. In retrospect, as he picked up his body from the ground a little while later, he was willing to admit that. At the moment, however, he had not stopped to consider the danger his biggest brother might pose to him.
»You good?« Bless Ben and his endlessly kind heart.
»Peachy.« Despite his bruised ribs, courtesy of Luther throwing him across the room when Klaus had tried to keep him from running off to do God knows what. It was certainly not his responsibility to keep Luther save - or anyone for that matter. Especially not when he had his own fair share of demons to battle. Namely, his addiction this time around.
In fact, now that he made a mental inventory, he came to the conclusion that he felt like shit, actually. He felt like his skin was melting off of his muscles and like he wanted to vomit for hours. His eyes fell upon the bit of blue rope that he had brought down here with him and that now laid uselessly on the ground a few feet away from him. He had found the rope in the attic and didn't care to question for what it had been used in the past. Certainly not for sexy times. Hopefully not for sexy times.
When he came down to find Luther, he had initially wanted his brother to tie him up securely so that he could successfully detox - knowing full well that his brother would look at him with disgust at the inquiry. Luther had never had much sympathy for his struggles. That was just a fact. In Luther’s eyes, Klaus’ addiction and the resulting change in his personality, his flamboyance and his inclination to be dramatic, had been nothing more than a scream for attention. He wasn’t completely wrong there too. Luther had always been too occupied with his own struggles, or with Allison for that matter to consider why Klaus was behaving the way he did, though.
And Klaus … Well, to Luther, he had never been more than the useless and not even very loveable junkie of the family. He had looked down on him ever since his not so secret addiction had been revealed to the rest of their odd Brady Bunch.
And hell, he couldn't blame him.
It wasn't like Klaus was his own biggest fan, after all. Still, despite knowing how Luther would react to his request, despite knowing that Luther would tell him how weak he was and how pathetic he was, Klaus knew that he wouldn't be able to do this alone. He had never been good in detoxing on his own. Because, yes, he was too weak. He was too pathetic. He needed help. And, furthermore, he was terrified. It was not so much the process and the resulting pain of detoxing that was scary to Klaus. It was the after and it was the inbetween that was scaring him. It was knowing that the ghosts would be there and try to rip him apart.
»You don't need his help.« Ben sighed from where he was perched on the backrest of the fainting couch. That couldn't be very comfortable. »You don't need anyone to tie you up just to get clean, Klaus. You’ve done it before.«
»Did I?« Klaus laughed as he slowly got to his feet even though his knees started to buckle under his weight. He was boiling and so, he finally took off that vest that he had been wearing for the better part of ten months. He threw it at Ben and as it fell through him, it landed securely on the cushion of the fainting couch. Ben looked only mildly affronted at his brother’s rude behavior. »Last time I checked, I relapsed every single time when I was forced to get clean.«
»Because you were forced.« Ben’s voice always had this exasperated tinge to it that Klaus was slowly but surely growing tired of. »You were not ready. Now you want to get clean.«
»That doesn't change anything.« Klaus rolled his eyes. »You don't know how it is.«
»Yes, I do. I was there for the most part.«
Klaus refrained from telling Ben rudely to go fuck himself since Ben had no idea what it was actually like to battle an addiction. Sure, Ben had been a first-row witness to the shitshow that was his life but that did not mean that his brother really understood it. Klaus started nibbling on his fingernails instead of reflecting these thoughts to Ben. His fingers were trembling like leaves during a storm. He felt the familiar urge, the need to numb himself against the woes of the world and his very existence. He just wanted to not feel anything. He wanted to just forget that the last few days had even happened. The apocalypse, Dave.
»Anyway, you should follow Luther.« Ben instructed him at last. »In the condition that he’s in … He can’t be trusted to be left to his own devices, Klaus. He could get in serious danger.«
»Luther?« Klaus echoed with a faint laugh. »Luther Hargreeves? Whatever could possibly mean any danger to this monkey-man?«
Ben was right, of course. He knew that. Luther was drunk and he was dead set on not only getting more drunk but also on possibly getting high for the first time ever in his life. He wanted to get wasted, to forget what had happened, to forget his hurt and pain and fear and sadness. Klaus could relate.
Maybe that Luther was out there now, experiencing life for the first time ever was a good thing, right? He had spent his entire life in this house, had never had any friends and been then sent to the moon for four years where he had spent all this time isolated from the world and from other human beings. Maybe it was about time that Luther finally did what he wanted and maybe he should not try and hinder him.
He was free now. No more recycled air and soya-paste. Fuck, if the apocalypse was really about to hit them and kill them all, Luther should finally live life to the fullest. Hell! He should be living it up as well! One last hoorah before they would all burn to death.
Instead of doing exactly that, instead of shooting up every possible drug he could find and fucking whoever would fancy to fuck him, Klaus found himself out and about in the middle of the night. He was holding himself together with thin, trembling arms, tightly wound around his narrow torso as he was shivering in the mild air of this late March night only days away from the end of the world.
It was not cold at all. The night was warm and the partygoers he came across were wearing skimpy outfits and didn't seem to be freezing at all. Klaus, however, felt like he was stomping through Antarctica. He was freezing cold and yet boiling on the inside. He felt like his bones were melting and every step took such huge effort that he was almost sure he wouldn't make it even to the end of that alleyway he was currently stumbling through.
It was only thanks to Ben’s relentless cheerleading that Klaus had even made it thus far now. It was almost midnight and all Klaus wanted was to go home and sleep forever. »Okay, Benny - but that's the last place I’m gonna go to find him. If he’s not there … I’m gonna get home and … I don't know … I don't know.«
Find the drugs he had stuffed in that unicorn he had in his room still. Some admirer had won that stupid ugly-ass unicorn for him at a carnival when he was sixteen. Klaus had rewarded him with a blowjob behind the tent of the fortune teller. He had been too high to care that the guy was almost twice his age and married. He had been kind to him and even won him that stupid stuffed animal. He should throw it away.
By that point, Klaus hadn't been very much used to people being kind to him in any way. That thought should probably be more troublesome to Klaus than it was right now. He grasped at the brick-stone wall at his right-hand side for support as he was slowly dragging himself forward. He could already hear the loud music blaring from that abandoned warehouse that sat at the end of this alley. He had come here to have fun at a rave a lot in the past. Nothing had changed. Still, the same loud electronic music, the same freaks roaming the place that were so unashamedly themselves, the same colorful lights and strobes lighting up the entire place.
When he had first discovered this place at the tender age of fifteen, Klaus had fallen in love with all of this - but with the people the most. Until that point, he had never known people like the ones that came to a place like this even existed. People that were not all uniformly dressed in the same style of clothing and did the same things over and over again. People that were just themselves and wore the clothes they felt comfortable with.
Chokers with studs on it? Sure thing. Men in skirts? Why the heck not?
He had felt like Alice who had stumbled into Wonderland for the first time. He had never wanted to leave his own Wonderland after that. So many nights, Klaus had snuck in and refused to leave until the sun was already starting its relentless crawl up the sky. And, oh, there had been so many friendly blue caterpillars at every corner, offering him something to drink or something to smoke to forget who he was and get rid of his restraints. Some of them had taken his money, some of them had taken him.
A part of him hoped that Luther had found this place and discovered Wonderland too. A part of him hoped that Luther had found a place where he could just be himself without judgment.
As he rounded the corner, he nearly collided with two girls that were stumbling drunkenly away from the party. »That's the biggest hairy guy I’ve ever seen!« One of the girls giggled as she walked right through Ben while her friend almost ran into Klaus. The brothers exchanged a small glance with each other.
»Big hairy guy?«
»Sounds like our guy.« Ben smiled encouragingly, both hands shoved securely into the pockets of his jacket. And, really, why did his brother think it was a good idea to wear a leather jacket with a hood atop a hoodie? Overkill much? Then again, poor Benny never had the chance to grow out of his silly goth phase.
With a groan, Klaus continued on and stumbled into the small yard behind the warehouse. To his surprise, he found his brother sitting on the hood of an abandoned car with a bottle of beer in his hands. He was very much shirtless and that both served to disturb Klaus immensely as well as it made him strangely happy for his brother. He could understand why Luther was hiding his body underneath those awkward clothes he always wore. He got it. Here at this rave, no one cared. That had to be immensely freeing for the big guy. Klaus, for his part, was just thankful that he didn't need to go inside where temptation would be screaming at him from all corners. Needless to say, there was always the added bonus of running into someone he still owed money to.
»Luther!« Klaus exclaimed and his brother sluggishly turned his head to look at him. There was a bit of blood clinging to Luther’s stupid face right underneath his nose. As he realized that it was Klaus, he jumped off the car - it gave a sickening metal crunch - and extended his arms to him with the widest smile he had ever seen cling to Luther’s face. Luther had definitely never looked at him like this before.
»Brother!« Luther shot back so loud that Klaus was sure the entire neighborhood heard it. Before he could do anything, Luther had wrapped him up in the tightest bear hug Klaus had ever had the bad fortune of experiencing. Not that there was anything wrong with bear hugs. It was only unpleasant when the hug-giver was your half-naked half-ape very hairy and sweaty brother. Well, Klaus was equally sweaty and unpleasant right now, he assumed. »Come to join me?«
»N-No ... No … Why are you out here anyway?«
»I got kicked out.«
Oh, and didn't he look proud of himself? His first experience with the nightlife and he had been kicked out right away. No small feat indeed. »What? Why?«
»I had a fight with a guy. He was jealous that his girlfriend was dancing with me.« His proud grin got only wider at this. Well, he could be proud. Klaus was proud.
»Is that where you got that bloody nose too?« He smiled as he now took a seat on that car hood Luther had previously occupied. He felt like he would be crumbling to the ground if he would not sit down right now. Luther joined him with a smile and offered him his beer. He glanced at Ben and although Ben shook his head, he took the bottle and took a sip. He was beyond parched by this point. Maybe, Klaus thought as he leaned heavily against Luther next, he should delay getting clean for another day or two. He could always get clean after the apocalypse, right?
»Oh, that's nothing.« Luther chuckled and took the bottle again. »You should see the other guy.«
»That's not like you at all, though.« Klaus carefully prodded. »Picking fights, I mean. Well, unless it's Diego, I guess. And then it's mostly Diego picking the fights as well.« He was far too sober for this type of conversation. Well, that had been his goal anyway, right? To become sober and to stay sober. He wanted to do this for Dave. But he needed help. He really, really needed his brother’s help and Luther - the way he looked at Klaus now - did not seem in the right frame of mind to provide that kind of help. In fact, his brother looked as if he was the one needed help. Klaus had never been good at walking away from someone in need of help. »Hey … come on, tell me what's going on with you, big guy.«
Luther’s bright blue eyes were clouded from whatever he had introduced to his system and alcohol and watery from unshed tears. He should have probably realized that Luther would either be an angry drunk like Diego or a whiny drunk. He had not expected him to be both. He should have expected him to be both. Now, however, Klaus was confronted with watery blue eyes and a wobbly bottom lip and that was nothing he could handle while completely sober. Not when his whole body seemed adamant of ejecting his own organs and skeleton and sweat out every bit of liquid inside of him. He took the bottle from Luther again and took another huge gulp.
He ignored the disappointed head shake that Ben gave him before disappearing.
»Look at me!« Luther suddenly choked out. »I’m a monster. You all left and I stayed and I became a monster.« Klaus reacted on instinct as he had hours ago in the living room of their childhood torture chamber as he had tried to comfort his brother.
This time, however, he pulled Luther closer towards himself and Luther allowed it as he leaned against him and buried his bloody face in Klaus’ shoulder. He was sure that this could not be comfortable for the big guy. After all, Klaus was much smaller than he was. Not that Luther seemed to care all that much about being comfortable right now.
»Luther … No … Come on, you are no monster.« He mumbled softly. »This is just … This new body … it doesn't make you a monster.«
»But I am!« Luther sobbed. »And it's not just that body! I helped to drive you all away. I was dad's puppet and for what? I was too naive! Too blind! And what did I get for always doing what he told me to do? He sent me to my doom, he made me into a monster and then he sent me to the moon for four years! And for what? For nothing! It got me nothing! But I was stupid enough to believe a father wouldn't lie to his children!«
He felt sorry for his brother. It took a heart of stone to not feel sorry for Luther. It was easy to be mad with Luther for the way he behaved. More often than not, Luther behaved like a complete dingus and Diego was always eager to point that out as well. In the end, however, Klaus could recognize that they had all gone through abuse and all kinds of shit. As much as Klaus had been demeaned by their father, Luther had been pushed to the front and burdened with responsibility far bigger than any child should need to carry on their shoulders. No young boy should be carrying the responsibility for his siblings’ welfare. Superhero or not.
Whether or not they succeeded on missions had been Luther's responsibility as was every little injury, every scratch. And then Five vanished and Ben died. He could recognize what something like this would do to the psyche of a child. That didn't change anything about Luther being a dingus., though.
»Dad was such an asshole.« Klaus sighed quietly - an echo of his earlier statement in the living room of their house. »He … He never knew how to deal with anything unpleasant. Or … Well, I guess he just didn't want to deal with it. I mean … He locked me in a mausoleum when I wouldn't do what he wanted and he sent you to the moon after you were of no use for him anymore. He was a greedy old bastard who should have never been allowed anywhere near children.«
Apparently, he had chosen the wrong words as Luther sat up straight and grabbed both his shoulders in an almost bruising grip. He brought his face so close to Klaus’ own face that he could smell the alcohol on his breath. Under different circumstances, Klaus would have made jokes about Luther first buying him dinner or something along those lines.
»He locked you up?« Luther echoed but his voice sounded strangely hoarse and hollow. By tomorrow, Klaus thought, Luther would have forgotten everything. »Why didn't I know about that? Why didn't you tell me?«
Klaus hesitated for a moment. Because I didn't trust you. Because you wouldn't have cared. Because you wouldn't have believed me. Because you would have said I was just saying this for attention. Because you would have told me to stop being such a whiny bitch. He couldn't say that. Not now. Not when Luther needed his help and comfort. Now was not the time for brutal honesty. »You couldn't have done anything.« He opted for softly instead.
Even drunk Luther was more perceptive than he sometimes gave him credit for. »You didn't trust me.« Luther swallowed and sat back a bit again to get distance between them. »You thought I wouldn't do anything, right?«
»No … Lu … I mean…«
»No, it's okay. You're right. I probably … wouldn't have done anything. I was the worst brother ever! I didn't deserve your trust then and I don't deserve it now! And I don't even deserve it that you're here with me now, looking out for me!«
He felt a new wave of sympathy well up inside of him as he patted Luther’s shoulder awkwardly. »Come on, big guy. Let's get you back home, okay? I’m freezing and we can better talk on the way back, right? Get your head straightened out again.«
It was a surprise that Luther actually nodded and slowly maneuvered his gargantuan body off the car while Klaus climbed down after him to follow his brother. There was no telling how much Luther had taken or drunk this night but he was a bit unsteady on his tree trunk legs. He looked almost like a baby fawn. A very big hairy baby fawn that was part ape.
Together they stumbled out of the backyard and into the intricate network of narrow alleys and streets that would sooner or later deliver them back home. Nevermind the fact that Klaus could hardly stand anymore. He was sick from withdrawal, feverish and weak and yet he kept his back straight and smiled encouragingly at his brother while they made their way across town because that was the least he could do for Luther now.
»Come on, big guy, we’ll get you to bed now and you’ll see everything will look less shitty in the morning, right?« He could already see the mansion at the end of the next street. A few lights were still on here and there. Probably Allison or Diego, maybe Five. The crawling sensation on his insides became stronger each minute now. He needed to stay on the move, nevermind that he wanted to rest and was exhausted beyond belief. He needed to move, move, move.
»No.« Luther slurred and suddenly stopped. »No! Let's go back! Let’s have fun, come on! I don't want to go back home! I want to have fun! I want to do what you do! I want to find some nice girl and have fun!«
»Luther-« He took a hold of his brother’s arms and tried to get his attention. The whiny Luther from before seemed gone, though and he knew that he needed to be careful now. »Luther, you don't want this. You want to go home and to bed, yes? Think about Allison. What would she say if she would hear you talk like this? No, come on. You don't want to do anything you’d regret.«
Even though a part of him wanted to cheer his brother on to go and find some girl that would be willing to bang him. It was about time. His brother had spent too much time as a prisoner of their father. He knew, however, that Luther would regret it in the morning. He should not make the same mistakes as Klaus had.
»Allison!« Luther howled and Klaus knew right away that he had fucked up. »Allison will never look at me the same way ever again! She’s seen this … She knows I’m a monster now! What point is there? No … No, no, no, the world’s ending and at this rave, I can be who I am! So either let me go or come with me but if you try to stop me, I knock you out!«
»Luther I just don't want you to make the same mistakes I made, okay? Allison still adores you, no matter what!«
»What do you even care all of the sudden, huh?« Luther frowned and took a step closer, effectively cornering Klaus against the wall in his back. »What do you suddenly care about what kind of decisions I am making? It's not like you cared when I was all alone in that house! You left too, Klaus! You left me behind just like all the others! I wouldn't look like this if I hadn't been alone on that mission! But you and the others … you are all selfish pricks and you are the worst of them all anyway! A useless junkie and now you want to tell me to stop and play nice? Why? So that I can be everyone’s punching bag? No! I am done with all this! I am done with the Academy, the house … I am done with dad and with the others and with you! Especially you!«
Another bruise, Klaus thought bitterly as Luther pushed against his shoulder and sent him into the wall a bit harsher than his brother probably intended.
»You always only come back if you want anything anyway … So fuck off already, the world is ending, What more could you possibly want now?«
»I want you to help me get clean.« It was a last-ditch effort and he knew that it was probably futile. Luther wouldn't help him.
Luther was too far gone right now and he couldn't blame him because he was right. Everyone had fled the nest, everyone had left him behind instead of helping Luther to acknowledge the control dad had had over him. It had been their job to set their brother free and help him. Instead, they had all fled. Even Klaus. In fact, he had been the first to run away. He hadn't been a good brother. Too selfish and self-absorbed.
Luther's laugh was like a slap in the face as his brother took a step back again. »Now?« He huffed. »You will never be more than a junkie, Klaus. Just forget it. Go, have fun for the last few days on this planet. No one believes your crap anyway.«
It hurt. He would lie if he would say that it didn't hurt. Not that it would be new to him to hear crap like that but that didn't change anything. And yet as Luther turned to leave, he stopped him yet again. »Luther, come on, you don't mean that-«
»It should have been you!« Luther howled then as he whirled around and grabbed him around the throat like he had hours before. »It should have been you, Klaus! You should have been there on this mission! You should be looking like that now! Not me! I was always there! I always did what he said! I was a good son! And that is the thanks I get? It should have been you! No one would have cared if it had been you!« No one cared if you would have died.
»Luther!« He choked through the tears welling up in his eyes as he fought for breath and kicked his legs out but Luther only squeezed tighter. »Luther, stop!« He could see darkness creeping up on him. That couldn't be good. It probably wasn't good. Luther was too far gone to be reasoned with and before Klaus could fully grasp the severity of the situation, the danger he was in, he heard something snap like a twig and then his whole world turned black.
Everything that came after the snappening - as Klaus later referred to the incident in his own mind - was a blur. He had dove into a monochrome world without any hint of color save for the top he was wearing. It had been a fever dream he couldn't quite grasp. A little girl on a bike that had been way too sassy for her age. Being shaved by his dear dead papa. What a weird thing to experience. Yet, it was true. All of it.
As he woke up just minutes after it had happened, he knew that it had all been real. He had woken up alone and freezing cold on the ground. Luther had been gone. His own brother had killed him and then left him there. He had died and went to Heaven - joke of the century. And now here he was, dragging his numb legs against his chest and wrapping his arms around them in a tired effort of generating warmth.
No one would believe him if he would tell his siblings what had happened. Because Luther was right, to his siblings he was nothing more than a useless junkie that couldn't even be trusted alone in the house. A useless junkie no one noticed when he was gone and was annoyed by when he was there. And maybe getting clean was a stupid idea. What would it get him anyway? No one would ever take him seriously.
-End of Chapter 1-
Chapter 2: Diego
He found Diego at the harbor. His brother had always been drawn to deep dark waters. Surprise, surprise. Three days had passed since the failed apocalypse. Since the April 1st came and went without incident, Five was still unsure if they had truly won and somehow stopped the end of times by accident - which in and of itself would be very fitting for their whole team dynamic - the rest of them seemed eager to move on with their lives. Whatever that meant.
Moving on was nothing Diego was particularly good at, though. He just wasn't. There seemed to be something in Diego’s DNA that kept his brother from being a normal fucking person and get over stuff. Diego had always been incredibly vengeful. Then again, maybe it was too much to ask to be a normal fucking person in a family such as theirs. They had literally been trained to be superheroes, after all - Not to mention the fact that no one could explain how their existence was even possible in the first place. So, keeping that in mind, maybe Diego’s behavior was thus completely reasonable. For all they know, they could be part alien, after all. Ben had given him a very dark and gloomy look as Klaus had once told him that theory. Klaus, however, thought that this might at least explain the tentacle issue with Ben.
Well, more precisely, the Lovecraftian-monster-issue in dear old Benny’s case.
Maybe Diego’s troubles with moving forward were understandable, considering that he seemed to blame himself for the death of his ex-girlfriend, the cop. He was not the only one. Now that the apocalypse was averted and Diego had been cleared of all suspicion regarding the death of Detective Patch, he seemed almost even more unhappy about that fact. As if he wanted to be blamed. As if he wanted to be punished.
He knew how that felt.
That was why Klaus was the one who ventured out to the pier to find his brother. And, as he approached his brother, he allowed his eyes to roam over the small stretch of beach not too far off. He remembered fondly the night of his nineteenth birthday. He had spent it with Diego on that very stretch of beach. To this day, he still held that night in high regards as the best birthday he had ever experienced.
»Luther called another family meeting. He was pissed when you didn't show.« Klaus addressed the lonesome figure standing at the edge of the pier with their back towards Klaus. Even in the gloom of the setting sun, he could recognize his brother easily.
»I don't care.« Of course, he didn't care. He couldn't blame him. Klaus didn't care either about those stupid family meetings. Luther, on the other hand, was desperate to get the team back together. »And I don't care for your opinion either. I just want to be left alone, is that really that much to ask?«
His brother didn't even cast a look over his shoulder at him which was frankly just plain rude. Klaus, however, slowly walked over to his brother instead and sat down at the edge of the pier to allow his feet to dangle inches above the water. »Well, and I just want to find someone in this lovely family who helps me to get clean - is that too much to ask?«
Diego gave a faint little snort and he couldn't quite hold it against him either. How many times had his brother had a front-row seat to Klaus’ proving himself to be a complete and utter failure of a human being? He had probably lost count by now. And Klaus had to admit that, in the past, he had never stopped to consider what it was like to have him as a brother. In the past, he had just assumed that his siblings didn't care about him but now, after being reunited with all of them like this … even though they hadn't noticed that he had been kidnapped and tortured, he knew that this assumption had been wrong. They had cared about him but at some point caring about him had become too painful.
»As if I haven't heard that song before.« Diego sighed and sat down next to Klaus. His words stung but that was only because they were the truth. The truth always hurt more than a lie. »So for how long is it this time? One day? Two days?«
»I’ve been clean for a week now.« Klaus replied with the most confident smile he could muster right now. »I just need someone … I need you to help me stay clean. I’ve never gone so long without drugs outside of a facility and I … I could really need a sobriety buddy, you know? I mean, Ben is all good and well, but he can’t slap anything out of my hand if I am on the verge of relapsing.«
»Sorry, Bro.« Diego sighed and this finally did take him by surprise. »Not interested.«
»No, Klaus. I heard this all so many times before and I am tired of it. I am tired of this whole family and all the bullshit. I want to live my life and not bother anymore with this superhero crap or … or-«
Only then Klaus noticed that Diego had his domino mask in his hands. He fumbled with the familiar piece of his vigilante costume, a nervous tick that had swept over from their childhood like his stutter that still made itself known sometimes. He didn't need to say anything else for Klaus to reach out and put a comforting hand on Diego’s left to stop him from fiddling with the mask.
»Don't tell me you are going cold turkey too.« Klaus smirked playfully and finally took the mask from Diego. A part of him was terrified that Diego would throw it into the water. For just a moment he turned it over in his hands, feeling the familiar weight and texture on his fingertips. Before Diego could rip the mask from his hands again, Klaus then quickly shoved it in the pocket of his worn-out army vest. »What would the world be without you roaming the streets at night to beat up the bad guys?«
»Quieter.« Diego shrugged. »I wasn't very good at this thing anyway.«
»Not good?« Klaus parroted back. »Excuse you? You were awesome at it!«
»And how would you know?«
»Well, because I followed what you did those past years!« Whenever he and Diego had lost sight of each other anyway. Sometimes this city was so easy to get lost in. Sometimes it was so easy to get swept away by the tidal waves. »I mean you weren't very discreet, you know? There were articles about you and you were mentioned in the news a few times. The unknown hero of this city. You helped so many people, Dee. You are allowed to be proud of that.«
»I only beat up people. That's hardly something anyone should ever be proud of.« Diego, after all this time and after everything that had been going on lately, seemed tired. He had known that look on his face before. He had seen it a great many times in the mirror in some dirty motel room or the bathroom of a stranger. »I told myself I was doing detective work when I did this - only with the added bonus of being allowed to beat up bad guys. Now I realize that I have only been playing pretend this whole time ever since I was kicked out of the police academy. And I mean, fuck it, I wouldn't have ever been a good cop anyway.«
»You would have been an amazing cop. I don't know anyone who is as perceptive as you are.« Whenever there were siblings in need of being cheered up, Klaus seemed to fall back into his old habit of acting as a cheerleader for them again and again. Some might call it cute but Klaus himself honestly didn't know what to call it. Ben said that he tended to forget about himself whenever other people had problems. Ben said that he put his own troubles on hold if his siblings needed help. Maybe Ben was right. Maybe this was an issue.
»I didn't even notice that you have been kidnapped until it was too late.«
And yes, ouch, that hurt. As he had been tied to that chair in that motel room, as he had been beaten into an inch of his life by Cha-Cha and Hazel, he had known that his siblings had not realized that he was gone. He had known that no one had noticed his absence and that no one would come looking for him. To hear it out of Diego’s mouth now, however, hurt.
»That's just because I am such an inconspicuous personality. I hardly draw any attention towards myself. I am very shy and quiet, Diego. You, as my brother, should know as much.« This, at least, forced a snort out of Diego. That was enough, he assumed. more than he could honestly hope for right now as Diego seemed adamant to wallow in self-loathing for whatever reason he might have today. Well, Diego had always been great in finding reasons to hate himself. He was almost as good at it than Klaus.
»Clearly.« Diego scoffed. Klaus could feel the things that were left unsaid between them hanging in the air now. Maybe now was not the right time to bring any of this up as well. Diego didn't seem willing to talk about any of it and yet, now was as good a time as ever, right?
»I’m sorry about your friend.« Klaus sighed quietly. He had seen the obituary in Diego’s room the other day, neatly cut out of the newspaper from a few weeks ago. Detective Patch had died too young and that was partly his fault. Diego might blame himself for it but Klaus knew that he was at fault as well.
»Don't-« Diego stopped himself and clenched his jaw so tightly that Klaus was almost certain he would hurt his teeth. »Don't talk about her.« There was pain, pure and utter and undeniable amounts of pain in his brother’s voice as he directed those words at him. Of course, there was. He had killed Diego’s ex-girlfriend because he had not warned her, because he had fled the motel room like a little bitch instead of helping her.
Diego probably didn't even intend him to feel like this. It was not like Diego to blame others - except Luther. He was too soft, too gooey deep down inside. He was like a cookie that was burned and hard on the outside but still gooey and soft underneath that hard shell. Sobriety clearly was not very good for Klaus’ mental state when he started to compare his brother to a cookie that had been too long in the oven.
Though Diego might not be blaming him outright, Klaus knew that he was thinking it deep down. He would just not say it. It wouldn't be like Diego to say it. This gooey softness of Diego was exactly what Klaus had always loved the most about his brother. And yet it was the very same thing that caused his brother immense pain more often than not.
»She seemed to be nice.« Klaus muttered quietly and directed his gaze onto the sea before them instead of his brother. It seemed easier like this. »I mean … the few seconds I met her at least. She seemed to have been a good person. A lot of people said very nice things about her during her funeral.«
»You went to her funeral?« Diego asked and the confusion was dripping from his voice at that.
»Yeah … I felt … I felt that I owed her as much. I mean she died because she saved me, right? The least I could do for her was go to her funeral and pay her my respects.« If Ben would be here now, he would probably try to keep him from saying these things. »I mean … She died because of me. Because I didn't help her, I didn't warn her. I ran away like a little bitch and didn't even stop to consider her safety. I thought: She’s a cop, what's the worst that could happen to her?«
»Stop.« Diego hissed. »Stop- Just, shut up. Stop talking. Please. Please stop.«
Klaus had always been perceptive enough to hear the things left unsaid by his siblings. Stop talking or otherwise, I will hate you. Stop talking or otherwise, I will want to kill you. Stop talking or I might never be able to forgive you. And just like he had always been perceptive, he had also always had this little voice in the back of his head that was urging him to destroy everything he had built for himself, that was urging him to burn bridges and force people to hate him.
»If I had stayed and not run off like a complete coward, she might still be alive. I don't know. Maybe we would have both died. I could have warned her about Cha-Cha and Hazel at the very least, I guess. I should have warned her. But all I wanted was to get the hell out of Dodge and get ridiculously high again. It's my fault.«
»Yes, it is.« Diego's words cut deeper than his knives. He had anticipated it, maybe even tried to get him to this point. Yes, in fact, he had wanted this. He wanted his brother to unleash his anger on him. Having people be angry at him was sometimes a whole lot easier than dealing with those pesky emotions. »It's your fault she’s dead. She was a good person who always saw the best in people despite the dirt and the shit she saw on the streets. She didn't deserve to be shot in the back because she was saving a useless fucking junkie like you.«
»Woah there, tell me how you really feel, Tiger.«
»Is this all just a fucking joke to you?« Diego finally erupted as he pulled him up by the collar of his jacket, forcing Klaus to his feet again until their noses were almost touching.
Diego could be frightening when he was angry - more so than Luther. Sure, Luther might have accidentally killed him the other day but Diego … Diego would not bother with killing him. Maybe that was worse. And wasn’t that just fucked up all on its own? To know that his favorite living brother hated him was worse. And, in some way, it felt right. It felt good. Because he deserved to be hated by Diego. He had loved this woman.
»A good person died for you, Klaus! She would have gone on to do marvelous work! She would have been awesome! And yet you killed her with your fucking stupidity and selfishness because you wanted to get high! And now- Now you h-have the a-audacity t-t-to come to me a-and ask m-me for h-help? Y-You tell m-me y-you w-w-w-went t-to her funeral? A-Are you k-kid-kidding me right now?«
His anger was not nearly as bad as the stutter. The stutter broke his heart into a million tiny pieces. He couldn't stand it when Diego stuttered. He wanted to reach out and console him, tell him that everything was going to be okay. He much rather wanted Diego to punch him or scream at him. Everything was better than this stutter.
»You want to get clean? Now? After you destroyed your whole life already? After you got a good cop killed? Fuck you, Klaus.« Diego shoved him so hard that Klaus almost lost his footing and would have fallen into the harbor had it not been for his awesome balance. He had always meant to be a dancer or an acrobat, Klaus sometimes thought.
His brother’s voice sounded so raw and strained now. He could see the tears brimming in his dark eyes, the pain Diego was in. Diego was not good at dealing with his emotions. He was unable to articulate his emotions properly, his face, on the other hand, was too expressive for his own good. The furrowed brows, the trembling lips, the flaring nostrils. It was almost too much for Klaus to handle.
Diego always turned to anger instead of dealing with his pain properly and Klaus couldn't fault him. Diego turned to anger and Klaus to drugs. None of them had learned how to deal with their emotions because they hadn't been allowed to have emotions. »Fuck you!« Diego squeezed out again with another shove. His voice almost sounded like a sob. »Fuck you! It should have been you, Klaus! Not her! It should have been you! Fuck you! Fuck you!«
Klaus had no time reacting to the tears streaming down Diego’s face as the next shove took him so much by surprise that he did, finally, stumble back and fell into the water.
He felt like a cat that had fallen in the bathtub. Or maybe like a cat that had fallen in dirty harbor water. Either way, he felt like a very wet cat. The silence was heavy as they sat together on the edge of the platform, both equally dripping, both unable to find the right words.
»You are both dumbasses, you know that, right?« Ben chimed up from behind him. Of course, Ben only showed his ugly mug when there was something to laugh about. That was just who he was. This time, Klaus didn't even grace his dead brother with some sort of reaction. Diego might have shoved him into the water but Diego, deep down, still cared enough to jump in after Klaus and help him to get out. He shouldn't have done it. He should have walked away and let him drown in his self-pity.
»Why do you want to be clean, all of the sudden?« Diego broke the silence after what felt like an eternity. He wished Diego would still be mad. Instead, his brother seemed a lot calmer now that he had gotten his frustrations out on Klaus. Maybe the cold water had helped as well.
Klaus bit his bottom lip at the question. He didn't want to talk about it. He didn't deserve Diego’s help. His brother might not have meant what he said to him but Klaus sure as hell did. He didn't deserve Diego's forgiveness or help. Coming here had been a mistake.
»Come on, tell him.« Ben sighed as he sat down on Klaus’ other side. »Just say it, he’ll get it.«
With a frustrated little groan, Klaus dropped his shoulders and his head. He was freezing his ass off out here. Not for the first time he wished his superpower would be to get dry at will. »Because of Dave.« Klaus then shrugged.
»I never told you, huh?« He muttered quietly. »He was … the love of my life, I guess. At least, the first person I ever fell in love with. The first person who saw me for who I am and still, by some miracle, loved me. He was a crazy bastard.«
»He died … in Vietnam. Guess I never told you about that time I accidentally traveled through time after those bastards tortured me, right?« He forced out a throaty little laugh as he could see realization dawn on his brother’s stupid face. Surely, he remembered that little trip to the Veterans’ bar. »Well, turns out Vietnam was a shitshow. It was god awful. And there was I, dropped in the middle of a warzone in nothing but a towel.«
»Well, Dave must have been a very special person if he’d put up with all your weird-ass shit.« Diego muttered but avoided looking at Klaus once more to focus on the water instead.
»Yeah!« He chuckled but it sounded more like a sob to him. »Yeah, he was. Apparently, Dave saw me, realized I was the biggest dumbass in history, and took me under his wing. He was … He was kind, and strong, and vulnerable, and beautiful.« He paused for a second, aware of the way Diego just stared at him now. He was either shocked that he didn't know that something like this had happened to his brother or trying to figure out if Klaus was high or had dreamed this all up. »Beautiful … And I was foolish enough to follow him all the way to the front line.«
»You fought in the shit?«
»Oh, yeah, Baby.« He chuckled again.
»How’d they let you do that?«
»Let me? The war couldn't take enough bodies. Please. Including his.« As he stared out onto the open sea before him and watched a lone fisher boat in the distance, he tried to keep the memories from invading his brain once more. The nightmares were more than enough when he actually tried to sleep, thank you very much. He didn't need any more of this while he was awake.
»So … you want to get clean to see him again?« Diego prodded carefully and Klaus found himself shrugging.
»That was the plan. I mean … I’m sober since … Since I came back from Vietnam but … he hasn’t shown himself yet. And I wonder if he’ll ever do it. I wonder if he’ll even be able to find me. I mean … he died twenty years before I was even born, right?« He let out another sad little laugh. »Serves me right … to fall in love with a person who died long before I was even a twinkle in my mother’s eyes. Only someone as fucked up as I could achieve something like this, right? Maybe that was my punishment for Detective Patch. I took her from you and the universe gave me Dave only to rip him from me again. Yeah … honestly? Seems fair.«
Once again Diego surprised him as he put his arm around his shoulders and put his chin on top of Klaus’ wet curls. It was instinct that told him to shove Diego off and just walk away from the situation, that told him that he didn't deserve this little bit of brotherly affection. Not even that tiny hint of it. And yet he stayed and allowed Diego to comfort him even though it was he who needed comforting. Instead of running, he let out a small hiccup as he swallowed the sob that wanted to get out instead.
»Come on.« Diego muttered after a while of them sitting like this, both equally lost in their own heads. »We should get going, get dry and warm. Don't wanna risk you getting sick.«
Klaus wanted to object and yet he rose to his feet as Diego helped him to get up. Perhaps now was not the time to argue with his brother. He followed Diego to his car and since he was drenched himself, Diego didn't lose a single comment about how Klaus better not ruin his seats. They drove in silence back to the academy and only when they reached the daunting old house, Diego turned to him again. »Listen, Klaus« He began and usually nothing good ever followed after a start like this. »I want you to know that I am proud of you. For taking this step, for getting clean and trying to stay clean. And I … I’ll have your back, okay? Whatever you need, Man.«
He paused in getting out of the car then and rather turned his entire body towards Diego who still held onto the steering wheel as if for dear life. »Thank you, Dee.« He then finally mumbled. There was no humor or jest in his voice. He meant it.
It was important to him that Diego would have his back in this endeavor. It was important to him that he still had Diego in his life and on his side. And yet, as the next morning came, Klaus would not be in his bed at the academy. He would be out of the house, in some stranger’s bed with an apartment reeking of dope and alcohol and Klaus would feel disgusted with himself.
-End of Chapter 2-
Chapter 3: Allison
He didn't mean to pry. If anyone would ask, he would claim that it wasn't his fault either. Ben was his witness. It was Allison, after all, shouting in the kitchen where he was coincidentally headed. Was he to blame if his sister didn't possess any semblance of self-control? Certainly not, right? Then again, he was at fault for almost everything in this family by this point. It was easier to blame the family fuck up for everything, right? Hell, he would go as far as to assume that Five would outright blame him for bad weather.
»Patrick, please!« He heard his sister as he floundered down the corridor. He stopped though before he could enter the kitchen. Of course, eavesdropping was rude as Ben so tactfully pointed out as well now but Klaus was just curious and Allison just as good as all of them to put up walls. It was the patented Hargreeves’ method of coping with any kind of negative emotion. They built up walls and act as if everything was fine. If anyone would know about that, it was Klaus.
»You are unreasonable! Claire would be perfectly safe here- No! I mean … Yes, but what does that have to do with- Listen, Patrick- No! No, you will listen to me now, Patrick! I have done everything I was ordered to do by the court! I have the right to see my daughter!«
There was a part of him that wanted to come to her defense, to help her against her ex-husband. Then again, what would he be able to do? He had never met Patrick or Claire once. A part of him still felt a little snubbed by that fact. After all, his sister had gotten married without any of her family present as if none of them would exist and then she had had a daughter and had invited none of them to experience this with her. Claire was his niece as much as Allison was his sister, no matter that they were not technically related and might as well be strangers. This was the only family he had ever had. Another part of him, however, understood her reasoning. Had their places been swapped, would he have wanted his junkie brother around for all of that? What right did he have to involve himself in this? If anything, it would be incredibly rude of him to get involved in this drama, right?
You are such an attention whore, Klaus! A dark voice in the back of his mind echoed. It sounded suspiciously like Allison when they were kids. Surely, if he would try to defend her, Allison would later say that he wanted to make this all about him and be the center of attention. It was a bit ironic that the person who would usually say those things to him was a movie star.
However, as he heard how Allison - very violently - hung up the phone, Klaus reluctantly moved forward and into the kitchen where his sister stood fuming by the phone she had just pretty much slammed into the wall. Her attire was disheveled and she taking deep labored breaths as if hoping to calm herself down like this.
»Careful now, Klaus.« Ben muttered as he rudely phased through a wall into the room. »Remember the docu we watched about tiger-moms and their cubs?« He cringed at the reminder. Ben had a point though.
»Good Morning, Sis!« He addressed her with his widest and most charming smile. »And whatever has this poor phone done to you so early in the day, Darling?«
She whirled around on her heels to face him. Apparently, she had not even heard him approach, judging by the surprise that was now written all over her face. Surprise, however, quickly seemed to turn into something akin to anger. That now served to surprise Klaus in turn. Allison, dressed in her usual Sunday best in case paparazzi would spot her walk down the street when she would get donuts for the rest of the family, was used to getting her way no matter what. That much was a given because of her powers. Sure. She was not usually one to react with anger towards her siblings, though. Annoyance, perhaps, but only rarely anger. Not without a valid reason.
He remembered all those times he stole her clothes or make-up and not once had she lashed out in anger. Of all of the still living Hargreeves’ siblings, Allison probably had the best grip on her emotions. She was the most mellow and calm.
»Have you listened to my conversation?« And despite her usual calmness, her voice was poison and bite now.
He rolled his eyes as he walked over to the fridge to poke his head inside. He said “good morning” but it was nearly noon. As always, he had missed breakfast and their fridge was, as always, in a sorry state. Maybe that was why he had not seen Mom as he came downstairs. Diego was also suspiciously missing from the mansion. He was probably grocery shopping with Mom. Ever since that failed apocalypse and dad’s death, Mom finally got out of her shell a bit more. She left the house more frequently and was usually accompanied by Diego.
»Oh, good morning to you too, Klaus my dear favorite brother! How are you today? You look ravishing, Klaus. Oh, why thank you dearest sister. You look stunning yourself today. Are those new shoes?«
Allison didn't seem to be in the mood for his jokes today. That had to be expected after a conversation with Patrick. Ben snorted from somewhere behind him as he was, as per usual, not much of any help. She just clicked her tongue in annoyance while he raided the fridge. God almighty! Thank Diego! His brother had saved him a bit of Mom’s famous scrambled eggs and bacon. Well, he assumed at least that Diego had saved him that plate because, after all, his brother liked to tell him all the time that he needed to eat more and put some meat on those bones. Since they had all moved back into this house his siblings - but Diego especially - were all ridiculously concerned with his weight. As if they would have cared before, a nasty little voice in the back of his mind reminded him.
It's their way of showing that they care, Ben had helpfully translated their nagging at some point. It was still nagging though and Klaus hated it. Maybe it was unfair to say that his siblings hadn't cared about him in the past thirteen years as he had been living on the streets because, in all fairness, they had not known how to get a hold of him, right? Dave once said that he was still allowed to be hurting no matter if it was their fault or not. Fuck … How he missed Dave.
»I’m not in the mood for your games, Klaus.« She groaned.
»Well, last time I checked this is a free country, dear sister. You can go wherever you wanna go.« With that, he closed the fridge, walked over to the table and sat down with his scored cold breakfast. He could warm it up in the microwave but, honestly, he was starving and didn't care. He had lived off of all kinds of food and non-foods for the past thirteen years, after all. This was heaven compared to the crap he had stuffed himself with at times. As he started to dig in, he expected Allison to leave. Jeez, she was always in such foul a mood after talking to her ex. Yet, Allison didn't leave. She walked over to the table and put her hands flat on the tabletop instead.
Oh no, that’s her mom-stance.
As he glanced over to Ben who was sitting in the chair next to him, his brother made a grimace that conveyed perfectly that he would run away if he would be alive or corporal at the very least.
»To you, this is all just some big joke, right Klaus?« Well, here we fucking go again. »It's all so funny to you, right? I mean … Jesus, look at you. Must be nice to come back home after such a long time, after ruining your life and your body and fall back into the cozy safety of this house, having mom cooking for you and all of us who are looking out for you, right?«
He stopped his fork halfway on the way to his mouth as he looked at her with raised brows. »Allison…« He began quietly and at last lowered the fork back onto his plate. »What's wrong?« because attacking him like this was more Luther’s or Five’s stick really. However, as he looked at her - truly looked at her this time - he could tell that her eyes were those of a hurt animal lashing out in pain because it didn't know any other way.
»What's wrong?« Allison huffed. »What's wrong is that my ex-husband still keeps me from seeing my own daughter despite the fact that I have fulfilled everything the court has thrown at me! And you wanna know why, Klaus?«
He had the distinct feeling that he didn't wanna know.
»Because of you!«
»Whoa, whoa, whoa there. Slower, please. What does all of this have to do with me now?« She pinched her mouth into a frown that looked as if she had decided it was a good idea to bite into a lemon. »Ah. Because I’m a junkie, huh.«
He leaned back in his chair at this in silent triumph. It was a sick little feeling settling in his stomach as he realized that he was right. The flinch that went through Allison betrayed her calm facade. Allison and Vanya were the only two people in this family who never used this word against him. They found ways around it which didn't make it better. Then again, it was the truth, wasn't it? And yet, it reminded him of the time when his father and siblings would find ways around saying that he was gay because saying it meant acknowledging it.
»You told them that I’m clean, right? I’ve been clean for weeks now, Allie.«
»Patrick does not want Claire to come to this house as long as you are here, Klaus. He says that it is too dangerous putting a little girl into the vicinity of a drug addict, sober or not. Not to mention that your criminal record is as thick as the phonebook of New York. He doesn't care and CPS would agree with him. Hell, everyone would. I agree with him for God’s sake!«
It hurt a lot more than Klaus would have thought. He was not blind to the fact of how his siblings thought about him. He had never been blind to it. He had grown up knowing he was the family fuck up. He was the one with the weird powers that no one understood because no one saw what he saw. He was the quirky one. And when it turned out that he was gay … Well, that was just one more thing that was wrong with him, right? Starting his career as a drug addict and small-time criminal had been the next logical step and no one had been surprised. And although he knew that this was what his siblings thought about him, it fucking hurt.
»I mean, look at you, Klaus. If I am going to court with this they will look at the situation and agree with Patrick. You have done nothing with your life so far. If, at least, we could show them that you bettered yourself and made progress but all you do it hang around the house and paint. You are hardly what could be called a functioning member of society.«
»You almost act as if I would sell drugs to Claire if she would come over.« He shook his head and it was hard to keep the bitterness out of his voice at that. Ben reached over to put a hand on his shoulder and the tingling sensation as it went through him was almost comforting. »Or as if I would ever harm my niece. My niece, Allison. I always wanted to meet her. And you act as if I would ever bring any kind of harm to her. And while we are at the topic of talking about functioning members of society. What about Diego? What about Luther? Since Diego was kicked out of the police academy he has only worked odd jobs and was technically homeless because he was not registered at this boxing gym. Not to mention that his vigilante-ism was probably not exactly legal as well. And Luther has no job either. He just hangs around the house as well! At least I am doing something productive with my time instead of just listening to music and watching movies! And who would want to employ me anyway? As you said it yourself: I am just a useless junkie, right?«
»Klaus, that's not-«
»Yes, it is.« He cut her off. He could almost taste the excuses that were about to roll off her tongue. He couldn't deal with that now. »It is exactly what you wanted to say. So, say it. Klaus, you are a useless junkie and no one will give you a job and it is your fault that my asshat of an ex-husband won’t let me see my daughter. See? Was that so hard? No. Awesome that we were able to talk about it. If you’d excuse me now, I was going to waste my day and I can't do this properly with you around.«
Growing up in this family, he had learned that sometimes the best tactic was to confront an issue head first and without fear. And it seemed to work for a second there because Allison was taken aback by it and seemed tempted to just leave the kitchen. However, she knew him better than this. They had spent afternoons painting each other's nails and practicing the use of makeup, after all.
She knew him more intimately than most his siblings with the only exception being Diego, who had been forced to help him bathe at times when Klaus had been so violently ill that he couldn't do it himself or had broken yet another bone, and Benny, who just didn't have a choice but to know him very intimately. They had shared secrets whispered in the sanctity of Allison’s pink bedroom. He remembered a time when he had confessed his little puppy love crush on Diego and listened to her confessing her crush on Luther in return. He had acted surprised to hear about it and she had returned the favor.
So, instead of leaving, she actually sat down at the table with him next and laid her elbows on the wood. Klaus didn't look at her. He focused on his plate before him and his chipped black nail polish. He really needed to take better care of himself. Perhaps a self-care day was in order. Not that there was anything else for him to do anyway.
Five wouldn't let him join him in whatever endeavor because “you wouldn't understand what I am doing anyway, Klaus”. Diego was off either punching strangers or grocery shopping with Mom. And Luther … God knows what Luther was doing. Vanya was off to orchestra practice and that was really no place for him, to begin with. He didn't want to embarrass his sister, after all.
»I’m sorry, Klaus.« Well wasn’t that just unexpected? »I didn't mean to hurt you.«
»Hurt me?« He echoed dryly with a humorless little chuckle. »You could never.« His food suddenly looked very unappetizing. It wasn’t food that he was craving anyway. He was trying his best to stay clean, to stay strong and not fall back into his old habits but since last time it was … hard. It seemed harder than after Vietnam, after Dave. Impossible even.
»Drop it.« Allison sighed. »I know you, Klaus.«
»Do you?« He didn't mean to sound so mocking but it was inevitable, he assumed.
»I know you relapsed.«
The punch to his arm should have come as a surprise but it didn't. »Seriously, Klaus!« She then frowned. »Drop the bullshit! I know you smoked pot again and I know you started drinking again. I don't know what else and frankly I don't care but we both know that you are stronger than this, so cut the bullshit and tell me what's going on.«
»Am I?« He smiled wistfully. »Stronger than this?«
»You have to be stronger than this because otherwise, I will not be able to see my little girl again unless you move out or unless I move out. You have to be stronger than this because otherwise, I will never let her anywhere near you, Klaus.«
Klaus was silent for a while and looked at Ben as if his brother could help him in any way to escape this conversation. Klaus just wasn't good at adult talks like this nor did he care to be. As Ben, however, only leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms without saying a single word, Klaus let out a small sigh.
»I told myself, it's just this once - No big deal, right?« He then admitted quietly. »I had … I had a bad night … I had a fight with Diego and then … I just needed to escape this house and the ghosts, you know?«
And now that the dam was broken, there was no turning back for him anymore.
»I wandered the streets for a little bit and went back to one of the bars I used to frequent before all of this. I knew it was not a good idea but I thought … if I would go there and just have a coke or something, not buy alcohol or drugs or anything, I would be good to go. I thought, if I could resist the temptations while being there, nothing could ever sway me again.« A sad little smile started tugging at the corners of his mouth at this.
»Turns out I was not, in fact, stronger than temptation and I met this guy and went back to his apartment. We had a beer - God, how I hate beer - and weed and we fucked and I felt awful. Just awful the next morning. And I told myself, it was only this one little slip-up. Just a bit of beer and weed. No biggie. I can do this, I can start over and I wouldn't have to tell anyone because let's be honest here, no one cares anyway. I did this all on my own the first time and I could do it all on my own again, right? I didn't … I just was afraid to see how disappointed you all were. I was afraid of Luther telling me that he wasn't surprised. I was afraid of Diego and you and Vanya. It's hard enough with a disapproving ghost around you all the time. I wanted you guys to be proud of me for once and not be the family fuck-up.«
But now he was itching for more than just weed and he had done more than just weed since this slip-up. He craved the pills he had hidden in his old gym shoes upstairs in the back of his closet. His skin felt itchy at the mere thought of it and as he glanced at Ben he could tell that Ben knew what was going on inside of his head right now. Ben always knew.
Allison was silent for the longest time before she reached over the table and took a hold of his hands. He didn't pull away even though it was his instinct to do just that. He allowed her to take his hands regardless, expecting her to say something, to express her disappointment, perhaps. Instead, she inspected his nails critically for a moment, clearly weighing what she wanted to say to him.
»Your nails look abhorrent, little brother.« She opted for in the end. »I can't have my brother run around like this. How about I treat you to a nice relaxing day at my favorite spa and then we’ll figure this out.«
Klaus didn't mean to fall apart at the kitchen table over his plate of mostly untouched cold scrambled eggs and bacon. He didn't mean to allow Allison’s offer to cut him so deeply. Yet, he was powerless against the tidal wave of emotions crashing inside of him and overflowing in an instant. Allison just smiled at this and walked around the table. And this time as she reached out for him, his instinct did not tell him to push her away but lean into her touch as his big sister closed her arms around his trembling shoulders and allowed his head to rest against her stomach.
»Don't worry.« Allison muttered quietly as she stroked his hair. »We’ll get you through this.«
-End of Chapter 3-
Chapter 4: Five
Finding Number Five was never all that hard. Usually, one just had to follow the trail of empty coffee mugs or the crazed writing in white chalk all over the mansion’s walls as Five had stopped limiting himself to his room now that the old man was gone. In fact, there was hardly a room in the ancient house that had not been graced by Five’s complicated equations that none of them would ever be able to understand - except maybe Ben. Then again, Ben was a show-off.
Klaus wouldn't go as far as to say that his brother seemed more manic than usual - though thinking about it, yes, that did, in fact, seem like the right way of putting it.
He would have thought that, now that the apocalypse was averted, Five would be able to relax a bit and start enjoying life properly. Of course, it probably sucked ass that he was back in his thirteen-year-old body but at least his brother was getting a second chance at life and youth and that had to count for something. If Klaus would be granted a second chance … Well, he might not blow it like last time. At least that was what he was hoping for.
Five and he had never been particularly close. Even when they had all been kids, Five had always had this air of self-importance about him and looked upon his siblings as if he was too good to play with them. Especially when it came to Klaus. Five had always looked at him as if Number Four was nothing more than a mere bug under his polished shoes.
Five’s arrogance had not been lessened by the apocalypse. He had not mellowed out. Yet, whenever he would look at Klaus now there was something different in addition to the usual disdain in his eyes. He couldn't quite put his finger on it but it was a little unsettling at times and he much rather had his brother spout snide remarks at his expense. In spite of his brother’s crude comments about Klaus and his horrible lifestyle, however, Klaus knew that if he really wanted someone to help him and take him seriously while doing so, it would be Five.
He had tried asking Diego and Allison and came to the conclusion that he needed a much firmer hand. Diego was too soft. He had always been too soft with Klaus. So many times in the past his brother could have honestly helped him but Klaus had never allowed it and Diego had been too soft to force him. He might have this tough guy persona going on but deep down inside he had this fluffy mushy marshmallow core. It was honestly a bit disgusting.
»You look like shit.« As he found his brother Five, the thirteen-year-old was sitting on Dad’s old armchair in the sitting room with a heavy book about quantum physics on his lap and a scowl etched onto his face. Something was missing though and it was not the first time that Klaus noticed it in his peripheral. It was the absence of something huge that he could not quite name though. The proverbial elephant in the room, so to say. »In fact, you look like a plague victim. So, for all that is holy, please, Klaus, tell me that you have not been out on the streets again to suck some pest-riddled drug dealer off and caught whatever disease he might have carried.«
He was, honestly, a little affronted. Klaus would never pretend that stuff like this wouldn't have happened in the past. Hell, he had been living on the streets for around thirteen years. Sure, he had caught one or two STDs during that time. Sure, he had caught more than enough illnesses that had him hacking up his lungs at a regular basis and had Ben freaking out for the both of them. Still, it was something very different if Klaus wanted to talk shit about himself and if Five or any of his siblings decided to talk shit about him and his poor life choices. He directed his best scowl at Five but his brother seemed as unbothered by it as always.
»Where’s Dolores?« It finally caught his attention what was missing from the scene before him. Five, surrounded by books in the sitting room, an empty coffee mug on the table but no Dolores. That question seemed to have struck a chord in his brother as Five suddenly snapped his book shut and rose to his feet as if the armchair had bitten him right in his buttocks.
»None of your business.«
»No? Do you have a fight or something? Want me to talk to her?« He was aware that he was talking about a lifeless mannequin, of course. He was also aware that he was feeding into Five’s delusion in treating Dolores like a real person. It was probably not very healthy or productive. Knowing that had not kept him from pouring her a drink as well in the past or setting up a plate at breakfast under his siblings’ scowls.
»No.« Five hissed and was suddenly a little too close for comfort with a look on his face that held every intention of murder. »And now shut up.«
»He brought her back to the store.« Ben helpfully supplied at last from the sidelines where he was currently studying a stain on the wallpaper. »A few days ago, actually. I followed him.«
»So that's where you went, you creep.« Klaus directed at Ben with a sigh before returning his attention to Five who looked just a bit less murdery and a bit more impatient now. He was even tapping his foot. That was never a good sign. »Sorry, that you and Dolores broke up.« Klaus shrugged a bit helplessly. »I’ll miss that funky lady. Had great times together she and I, many late night gossip sessions, just us two girls, you know?«
»What do you want?«
»I beg your pardon?«
»Klaus we both know that you only come looking for me if you want something so just spit it out, I don't have all day.« Five sighed as he turned away from him and started to clean up the books he had thrown all over the place. »And before you ask: No I will not give you money for drugs and no I will not drive your through town to find your favorite dealer.«
»I’m clean, you know?«
»Oh come on, who are you kidding?«
It hurt. He didn't want it to hurt but it did. It had no right to hurt so badly but it did. Perhaps because Five was right. Perhaps because, no, he was not clean and no, he could not do this alone - clearly. All it had taken was Diego screaming at him and blaming him for Eudora’s death for him to relapse and go back to his old habits. For just a moment, he had almost forgotten about his desperate wish to see Dave again. The bliss of the drugs and having a warm body press up against him in his sleep had been enough for a short while.
»I mean, really, Klaus - You might be able to fool Diego because he always just wants to believe you got better but you can’t fool me or Allison. So tell me what you want.«
He really wanted to just leave again. He might as well curl up in his bed and try not to die.
»Do it, Klaus.« Ben urged because, as always, Ben knew what he wanted to do. »Come on don’t be such a pussy. You wanted someone to be tough with you. You got it.«
Ben was such a rat sometimes. »Okay, you know what? You’re right Five. I’m not … I’m not clean. I was and then … I relapsed, okay?«
»Surprise surprise. And now what?«
»I need you to help me.«
»I am not helping you with this crap.«
»No - you are not listening. I need you to help me get clean.«
»You are kidding right?« Five actually had the audacity to scoff. »I have more important things to do than help you get your life under control, Klaus.«
If he wouldn't be such a fucking masochist, he would have probably left then and there. Five’s words hurt him to the core as his brother had always known how to wield his words like a sword and every strike hit its intended target with precision.
»And what is so much more important than helping your poor brother get over his addiction?«
»Pretty much everything else.« Five sighed and put the last book back on the shelf. » Let's face it, Klaus, the chances that you get clean and stay clean are slim to none. Statistically speaking, it's a waste of my time.«
»You know, one would assume that you would actually be happy to spend a bit more time with your siblings now that the apocalypse has been averted and we are still all alive by some miracle. I mean wasn’t that the whole point?«
»I assume it's the drugs telling you that.«
»Oh, come on.« Klaus sighed and flopped down on the couch right next to Ben who had finally walked away from the stain on the wall. »You surely have stories to tell and I have time to kill. I mean you never talk about it and I get it. It can't be easy.« It was probably just as hard as it was for Klaus to talk about Vietnam and Dave. »All you told us was that you found us dead and … what then?«
»I don't have time for this.« He shouldn't be surprised that his brother just blinked out of existence. Still, as the flash of blue came and took Five with it, Klaus turned to Ben with a dramatic little sigh. »Kids am I right?«
The trembling started around the late afternoon that day. Diego had a fight this evening and spent the entire day at the gym and thus could not pester him about dinner. Luther and Allison had gone out and Vanya was at her rehearsals after Allison had convinced her to give it a try again. Obviously, Vanya was still struggling with this whole pesky having powers thing. In other words, no one was around to witness his misery as he later curled up under a mountain of blankets on one of the couches - or so he thought.
»What? Is your bed no longer good enough?« Of course, it was left to Five to attack him when he was miserable. After he had escaped from Klaus’ presence earlier this day, now he seemed all too eager again to push him down a peck and kick him when he was already on the ground.
Slowly he managed to worm his way out of his blankets just enough to throw the stink-eye at his brother. »Too many ghosts.« He finally slurred. It was true, down here it was less crowded. »Not so many ghosts down here.«
Five gave him a look he could not quite discern. He looked very much like he wanted to throw yet another insult at Klaus’ face but instead, he sat down heavily on the armchair he had occupied earlier in the day, a thick glass of scotch in his left hand. »So you’re serious about this getting clean thing.« Five argued.
»Mhm.« He really didn't want to talk right now. Whenever he would open his mouth he felt like he was going to vomit. If Five realized how Klaus felt, he didn't say anything and instead just went back to sipping his drink, allowing silence to settle over them.
»I found the others first.« Five spoke up after a long while. »When I came to the academy, it was in ruins. I found Luther and Allison close together, Diego a bit further off. They had all been crushed by the house falling down around them but I recognized them right away. I tried finding Ben and Vanya and I thought for the longest time that they had been buried deep beneath the rubble. So, I tried digging them out until my fingers were bleeding. I couldn't find you right away either. After a while - after I buried the other three - I thought that maybe you survived by some miracle. Maybe you weren’t there when it happened. And then I found you. You were alone when it happened. You were the only one of them whose eyes were still open. I almost didn't recognize you at first, had it not been for this tattoo on your arm.«
He pointed at his own arm, right to the spot where the mark was that their father had put upon them all. »And I remembered how you volunteered to go first and how you comforted Allison after. But when I found you and dug you out, I thought ‘What the hell happened in those seventeen years to my brother Klaus?’«
He took another swig and Klaus felt small as Five looked at him again. His eyes were those of an old man with wisdom beyond his years. »Of course, I found out the answer to that question when I found Vanya’s book. I knew you rolled blunts under the table when I left to jump through time. I knew you sometimes broke into dad’s liquor cabinet. I thought you were weak for doing so just because of ghosts. I couldn't fathom, though, that no one had intervened at some point in those seventeen years. I thought that surely at least Diego or Ben would have tried to get you back on track, right? And then I found Vanya's book and started reading and I felt like I started to understand it a little better - only that Vanya never understood it.«
»So … Is there a point to this?« Klaus finally mumbled even though his body currently tried to kill him. He needed Diego or someone to tie him up or knock him out. He wanted to go to Diego’s fight tonight and now he was here, wallowing in his own misery. »Or do you just want to belittle me again and tell me what a waste of space I am for not being able to kick my addiction.«
»But you did kick it.« Five replied sharply. »Before you decided to be a pansy.«
»You told me, after the apocalypse didn't happen, that I was an addict too. That I was addicted to the apocalypse.«
»I still think that.«
»And I came to the conclusion that you are right. I was alone for forty-five years in that wasteland of the world. My only companion was a mannequin and I still taste the ash on my tongue. All I did was try and survive for as long as I could and there had been so many times when I didn't know why I even wanted that. I didn't know if I would ever be able to go back home but I tried and tried and tried and every failure threw me back years it seemed.«
He didn't want to ruin the moment so he kept his mouth shut and did not ask his brother where the hell all of this came from now all of the sudden.
»At some days I just wanted to end it all, throw me off a cliff or something. At least I had Dolores. Couldn't leave her behind like this, right? And when the commission came to get me I thought that there was hope at last, that I might be able to go back and would never need to bury my siblings again. The apocalypse was the only thing on my mind for over forty years and it still is. I am still trying to figure out if, by stopping Vanya from blowing up the moon, we didn't inadvertently create something else. I can't stop thinking about it.«
It took him maximum effort to sit up on the sofa and he almost immediately regretted it. Instead of whining, he just pulled the blankets tighter around himself. »Let me tell you from the perspective of a seasoned junkie who went to rehab more times than I can count, you will never stop thinking about it. The drug, whatever it is, will dictate how you feel and think and interact. You will always have it in the back of your mind.«
»Then how does one get sober and stay sober?«
Klaus breathed a humorless chuckle. »Asking the wrong person here.«
»No, you managed before and you did have a reason for it. So what was it?«
Dave, he thought. The ghost that refused to show up. Even when he had been sober, Dave had refused to show himself and he didn't get it. Had he moved on and didn't want anything to do with the world of the living? Was he glad perhaps to be as far away from Klaus as possible? He just wanted to speak to him one last time.
»You wanted to speak to someone.« Five concluded quickly. »Someone who’s dead. And you can't do this when you are not completely sober.«
»Yupp« Klaus muttered as he rose to his feet. He needed a drink. Desperately. Five was the last person he wanted to talk to about Dave. He wouldn't get it anyway. »But that didn't work out so … Actually, now that I come to think about it, why should I even try to stay clean? He clearly does not want anything to do with me anymore. Hell, he is probably glad that he managed to get away from me - and all it took was a bullet to his chest, huh?«
He walked over to the bar where Five had left the bottle of scotch. His brother didn't even try to stop him as he uncapped it and took a swig straight from the bottle. It burned deliciously on his tongue and in the back of his throat. A bag of weed waited for him upstairs and he might even still have a few pills left. It would be enough until he would find the energy to actually go out there and buy more.
With a grin, Klaus lifted the bottle of scotch to his brother. »To fucked up lives and broken dreams!«
-End of Chapter 4-
Chapter 5: Vanya
The house was shaking. That was not new. It should be new and, by all means, concerning. To the general public, it probably would hit both checkboxes. However, that the Hargreeves house was shaking was simply old news by this point. The house was shaking quite frequently as of late. Waking up to plaster trickling down on his face, however, was not too pleasant.
»What is it this time?« Klaus groaned into the silence of his room. Well, silence beside the ever-present pleas of the dead around him or the aforementioned shaking and vibrating of the house. Sunlight was filtering in softly through the thin white curtains in front of his window and Ben had taken a seat at the foot of his bed like an old cat.
»Luther said something stupid.« Ben replied over his book without even looking at him.
»What else is new?«
»She threw a mug at his face.«
»With her hands?«
»With her powers.«
»Good for her.«
»Are you not going to intervene?«
»Why would I?«
»Because she might bring the house down.«
Klaus stretched luxuriously at that like a fat tomcat resting in a ray of sunlight. He felt only little desire to go and get mixed up in his siblings’ drama all the time. »That would be a shame.« He mumbled, tempted to close his eyes again. Well, the piece of plaster on his pillow proved to be uncomfortable though.
One of his pictures fell down from the wall as the house took another smaller shake. The picture landed on his left foot and made Klaus spiral into a world of utter agony for a few solid seconds. »Okay, okay! Geez, don’t get your panties all up in a bunch, Benjamin!« With a deep groan, he slowly extracted himself from his bed. »Is it so much to ask that I can sleep in for once?«
»It's 2 PM.«
He was already stumbling to his door as Ben chimed up again. »Shirt? Pants?«
He looked down on himself. Of course, after climbing out of his bed just now, he was only wearing a pair of briefs that sat low on his hips. With a sigh, he grabbed yesterday’s shirt from the ground, winked at Benny as he bent extra deep and put it on. That had to be sufficient, Klaus decided to leave his room. By all means, his siblings were lucky that he would put clothes on at all. After all, he was not the one taking affront to his nudity when he would walk around like on the day he was born. Envy, he liked to tell himself. They were all just envious of his gorgeous body.
Well, now that he was up, he had to admit that it was actually good that he got up. He was quite hungry and craved another hit of something - anything at all. » Let's see what's for breakfast - Oh, and maybe stop our sister from destroying our house. I just tidied up yesterday.«
As he looked back at Ben, his brother had the audacity to threw a pointed look at all the mess on the ground. Rude.
Finding the source of the mild earthquake was pretty easy. The closer he came to Vanya, the heavier the house was trembling before her and her anger. She was in the living room, silently boiling and unsuccessfully trying to calm down pacing up and down the room before she slumped on one of the couches. Five’s portrait had already fallen from the wall and, by some miracle, not landed in the fireplace. What a shame. He would have loved to see that little asshole’s face when he would realize that Vanya had accidentally destroyed his portrait.
»Vanya!« He trilled. »Dearest sister, what has your ovaries all twisted and wrong, Baby?«
It was never good when Vanya’s eyes were turning white and everyone in their family knew this. It meant that the world was only seconds away from disaster - or at least their house. Klaus was probably the only one out of all of them who was not afraid of her whenever she got like this. It might his general self-destructive tendencies kicking in. The same tendencies that had propelled him to the front line in the Vietnam war. Well, that and Dave, of course. Instead of shrinking away because of the dirty look she gave him, Klaus slumped down beside her on the sofa and put his head on her shoulder. That did not exactly calm her down, of course, but at least she took a deep breath and the house started to shake a little less.
»So, what's wrong? Benny said Luther said something stupid? I mean, not that this would be new in any way, right?«
Vanya breathed a sigh but still seemed unable to control her rage. In fact, Klaus’ words seemed only to serve as fuel to her fire right now. Quickly, he sat up straight again and placed his hands firmly on her shoulders. Even he could tell when jokes were misplaced and when serious Klaus was needed. Not that he would be very good at being serious. That he was not high right now did help, though. With a bit effort, he forced his sister to look at him, turning her whole body towards him until their knees were touching.
»Deep breaths, okay?« He began quieter this time, focussing his eyes on her’s until she would do the same thing. »Do it with me. In and out. In through the nose, out through the mouth- Good! Good!« With shaking hands, Vanya grabbed his arms as she took deep breath after deep breath, letting her eyes slip close to focus on the breathing instead of the pounding of her heart. He remembered a time when he had been so terrified by the ghosts, so panicked out of his mind that Vanya had grabbed him, pulled him into a quiet corner and taught him how to breathe. It seemed fair that he was repaying the favor now.
In fact, Vanya seemed to calm down significantly through this little exercise and soon, as she opened her eyes again, they had turned back to their usual dark color. »See?« Klaus smiled before shortly pulling her into a hug and pressing a kiss to her temple. »Wasn’t so hard, right, Sis?«
»Thank you.« Vanya muttered against his shoulder before pulling away. »I needed that.«
»I know.« He reassured her gently. The others, no matter how much he loves them and how much they might struggle with their own powers sometimes, had not a clue in the world what it was like to have powers that were based or influenced by emotion. They could switch it on and off as they pleased. They didn't know what it was like. »I know. So, tell me what Gorilla-man said that got you so upset.«
She leaned back against the cushions with a deep sigh. »He said that he thought it wasn’t a good idea to go to my rehearsals anymore - not until I got my powers under control. He was like: Vanya that's just too dangerous you have to admit it to yourself!«
»He tries to protect you.« Was he really trying to defend Luther? The brother who had accidentally broken his neck once? Well, not that anyone would know that. He doubted that Luther himself knew about it. Then again, the big guy was trying, really trying to break free from the brainwashing and become a real leader to this family. And, furthermore, a good brother.
»Yeah, I know.« Vanya sighed. »He’s not very good at it, though.«
»No, he is not.« Klaus laughed quietly. »He really is not. In his defense, he never learned how to protect us. Dad was not very keen on that whole protection thing. Give him time, he’ll work it out, I guess.«
»How are you always so optimistic?«
»Moi?« Klaus laughed. »Optimistic? What show have you been watching, Number Seven?«
»No, but you are.« Vanya shrugged. »You are always so calm and always see the best in people. I could never be like this. I mean … Before Leonard, I thought that the world was just a miserable place, you know? Everything seemed so bleak and grey and then when he came into my life … everything seemed to change … I don't know. It sounds stupid.«
»No, it really doesn't.«
»I mean … Now I know that this change in perspective only happened because he threw away my pills, right? They were suppressing my emotions and my powers and all that … But at the moment I thought: Wow, that's what love feels like.« Vanya mumbled and the faintest blush crept into her pale cheeks. It was truly adorable to see. Hell, Klaus and Vanya were much more alike than Klaus had ever realized. Dave had been the first person he had ever truly fallen in love with. Not counting his puppy love crush on Diego when they were kids. After experiencing love for the first time way into adulthood, he could understand how easily Vanya had fallen prey to this asshole. »It was the first time I felt this. And I was terrified of it, at first. And now that I know that this was all just … fake … I don't know what to do with this.«
»You keep it as a fond memory.« Klaus shrugged and brushed a strand of her long hair behind her right ear. »Not him, obviously. The feeling. Try to always remember that feeling, okay? The feeling of walking on clouds and sleeping on marshmallows, of having a wild butterfly orgy in your stomach.«
Vanya laughed at his description and for a second there, he could drown his own grief over Dave as he talked about this silly thing called love. He’d rather not remember what it felt like, honestly. Remembering it meant remembering Dave and he could not deal with that right now. He was trying his best to stay sober these days. He managed a week again and could feel himself swaying dangerously on the rope he had spun across that abyss. It was a struggle, each day - but if he could at least make his sister laugh, it was worth it.
»You sound like you have experience.«
»Me?« He grinned but the grin bit uncomfortably into his cheeks. »Of course! I have years and years and years of experience in all kinds of things, Darling.«
»I mean with being in love, you Dingus.« She punched his shoulder. Hell, that he would ever have such a talk with Vanya … This was a thing he would have discussed with Allison rather than Vanya. Maybe it was time to remedy that, he thought.
»Being in love.« He turned the word around in his head. Love was such a sore topic. He really, really didn't want to talk about it. He couldn't. It hurt too badly. »No … That's a field I have very little experience with, actually.«
»What?« Vanya guffawed. »No, I can't believe that! Surely, you have loads of experience! I mean, come on, Klaus! We all know you slept around a great deal, certainly, there were a few guys you fell for! Probably tons of ex-boyfriends!«
Keeping up that smile on his face became harder and harder every second now. Vanya's words stung more than they had any right to. She was telling the truth, after all. He had slept around a lot. He had fucked every guy who looked at him funny, in fact. He had whored himself out for money and drugs and all of that was a part of him. Hearing it so openly discussed hurt, though. It served as a reminder that he was just the junkie Klaus, just the easy-going never serious Klaus. Klaus who slept around. Klaus who dressed like a trashy one-dollar hooker. Klaus who was always high. All that might be true about him but … it still hurt.
»Well, I had a few crushes here and there.« He deflected with a laugh. Vanya didn't mean to hurt him. None of them did. They all just kept thinking that Klaus had much thicker skin than he actually had. »Remember that summer I was crushing hard on Diego?«
»How could anyone forget that? You were not very subtle about it.«
»Diego didn't notice.«
»No, because he is oblivious to most things and could never fathom that anyone would ever like him in such a way.« Vanya laughed. »I remember it, though. You were always trailing after him. You had those big puppy eyes always trained on him whenever he said something like it was the most genius thing you’ve ever heard.«
This time she forced a genuine laugh from him. »Well, in my defense, we were locked up in here, puberty hit me hard, I was gay and Diego was nice enough looking. Hell, if he wouldn't be my big bro I would still be crushing mad on him now.«
»As if that would be a reason for you not to crush on Diego. Look at Luther and Allison.« Vanya huffed. Before they could explore any of this further, however, she quickly moved on. »Okay, so no love affair. But certainly, you had suitors. I mean, look at you, you are gorgeous.«
»There were one or two.« He sighed. »Older guys, mostly. Wanted to be my sugar daddies or something. I mean, in retrospect, I was stupid not to agree to that, right? But those who wanted me like that wanted also that I would get clean first. So … Yeah.«
»But you are clean now. I can tell.« Vanya smiled and surprised him as she pushed one of his curls out of his forehead. They had never been the closest. Vanya had kept to herself mostly - No, they had pushed her to the side mostly. The closest Vanya had been to Five before he vanished and then Ben before he died. Klaus and her, however, had never been so close that they would hug or cuddle or anything like Klaus would with Diego or Ben or sometimes even Allison. It was nice, though.
»Sure.« She smiled. »Look at you … I always knew my brother was still underneath all of that.«
He didn't know what to make of this statement so he just grinned and enjoyed the moment of comfortable silence that settled over them. He forced himself to swallow the hurt her words had made him feel. He forced himself to swallow the pain he had experienced reading her book so many years ago that was still gnawing on him now. Instead of focussing his energy on all those negative things, he sat up a bit straighter again and looked at her with his brightest smile. His siblings never knew when they were fake anyway.
»So … Have you ever tried Yoga?«
-End of Chapter 5-
Chapter 6: Dave
Before you get too confused, my loves. Remember there is a companion piece to this story and this will be important after reading this last chapter <3 Not all is lost just yet <3
The sun was hanging low as Klaus returned home that evening. Even before he heard Luther’s booming voice calling out for him from the living room, he knew that he had missed their latest family gathering to discuss some war strategy or another. Ever since their failed little apocalypse, various weird phenomenons started appearing all over the world exponentially. Earthquakes in places that were usually earthquake-free, tornados, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions. All the good shit that made Five believe that they had just pushed the inevitable until the world would demand its justice for the way it had been treated by the human race until now.
He knew that he should have been here on time to listen to all of this but, in the end, he hadn't cared enough. He couldn't help them anyway, right? Oh … right. They thought he could. They thought he was capable of materializing Ben on a whim now that he was clean, right? And, after all, that was all he was worth to them. His only use was to bring back Ben so that Ben could fight in a war in which Klaus seemed helpless in his siblings’ eyes. Maybe someone should break the news to them.
The thought made him giggle a little.
»I’m glad you think that it's funny that you never show up to our meetings and treat all of this like a joke, Number Four.«
As Klaus looked up after getting rid of his shoes in the middle of the foyer, he saw Luther standing in all his glory in the doorway to the living room, the rest of his siblings piling up behind him like a bunch of clowns that were desperate to get out of a much too small clown car. Anyway, Number One really had his dad-impression down, hadn't he? The old man would be so fucking proud. Well, fuck me sideways, he probably is proud right now because that old fuckhead is probably watching us like he used to watch us through those creepy fucking cameras.
»Geez, I’m sorry, okay?« Klaus groaned. »I’m here now.«
»No.« This time it was Diego who spoke up as he slowly squeezed past Luther. The seriousness in his voice made him flinch just a little. This was his bad-cop-voice and this, right there, was his bad-cop-face too. Fuck, how many times in the past had he been privy to that face? He remembered a bleak dark day sitting in Diego’s crappy little car that smelled of gym socks and burger wrappers when Diego had told him that he would never help him again if he would blow this last chance he had given him. Of course, Klaus had blown said chance. This was just who he was. »No, it's not okay. I hate to agree with Luther as much as the next guy but you owe us an explanation, Klaus. This meeting was serious. So, where were you? You were gone the entire day!«
»So what? Am I not allowed to leave the house anymore?« He shot back and made a serious effort to sound as bitchy and bitter as humanly possible.
»Not as long as we can’t trust you not to make stupid decisions.« Five chimed in and Klaus couldn't help but scoff.
»So I am a prisoner, huh? Or is it because when I’m gone you can't talk to Ben or use Ben or me to your advantage?« And he knew the truth. He had known it for a while now. They didn't want him. They didn't need him. They needed Ben. They wanted Ben. This was how it had always been and now that they had Vanya on their team … Well, six was a much nicer number right? Sadly, they needed Klaus to get the one person they truly wanted. Fuck, if Ben would be alive … they probably couldn't care less about what he would be doing. On his siblings’ faces, he could see that he had hit the bull’s eye with his remark.
»Klaus that's not-«
»No, Vanya, you know what? He’s right!« Luther huffed and crossed his arms. »When he leaves the house to go god knows where he takes Ben with him and our ability to communicate with him. Klaus might not be interested in helping other people around the globe but Ben surely is. So, he is not only robbing us of a vital team member, but he is also robbing Ben of his chance to be part of this team again.«
»Ben says fuck you.«
»No, I didn't.« Ben sighed from where he was perched on the stairs. He hadn't followed Klaus out of the house when he had left it hours ago and he had not shown up at the graveyard too. Apparently, now that Klaus was back on drugs again, Ben had resigned himself to the fact that Klaus would never be anything but a useless junkie, at last. He much rather stayed behind at the house with his siblings who couldn't see or talk to him when Klaus was out than going with him. At last, Klaus thought, he had managed to destroy even this relationship. First, he had lost Diego after the shit he had done and after the stress and heartache he had subjected his brother too and now Ben too had enough of him. Maybe that was only his just punishment.
»And he wasn’t even with me today.« He continued quickly even though the argument sounded weak to his own ears. »So, whatever important shit you had to discuss, he heard you. Ben can choose where he wants to be. So, if he chooses to be with you guys as part of this team, he probably is there with you. None of you guys need me. Sam as always, right?«
»Klaus« Diego sounded even more serious now as he walked closer towards him. His dark eyes were scanning every inch of his face and Klaus knew exactly what he was trying to see. Diego knew him better than most people. Perhaps not as good as Ben who had always been there with him and seen him in the worst possible moments of his life while Diego only got front row seats to the aftermaths but Diego knew him better than any other living person. »Are you high?«
The question was like a punch in the guts. Not because it seemed to be the only explanation his siblings seemed to consider when it came to Klaus’ weird behavior but because it was true. He was high as a fucking kite and there was no denying and his siblings would learn the truth. Diego would learn the truth. He would be so disappointed in him. His mind was racing as he tried to come up with an explanation or something witty to say to his brother.
»You are, aren't you?« Fuck, he sounded so resigned, so sad. Not disappointed or angry. Just sad. Heartbroken.
»No!« He bit out maybe a bit too quickly and harshly and took a step back instinctively. »No, I’m not! I just wanted a bit of peace and quiet, okay? Geez, you guys are worse than dad sometimes!«
»Then manifest Ben.« Five demanded from behind Luther. »Manifest him and proof to us that you are still sober.«
»I’m not your little circus animal, you know?« Klaus hissed as he started walking up the stairs. »Have you ever stopped to consider that manifesting Ben takes a lot of energy out of me? Of course, not! Why would you? As long as you get your precious Benny-boy, right? And since you guys are more interested in moi than your absolutely serious and very important mission crap, it would seem that I didn't miss anything too important today. If you’d excuse me? I am tired.«
»Klaus, come on, man!« The pleading was even worse than Diego's cop-voice. »Just do it and prove us all wrong, yes?« And he sounded so hopeful, so desperate to still be able to believe in Klaus even though Diego already knew that he was high again. Diego could tell when he was bullshitting. Diego could read him like a book. Diego held me up in the showers of the gym once. Diego patched me up once when I was beaten to an inch of my life. When I couldn't remember my own name anymore, Diego was there. And still, Diego was desperate to believe in him. He had fucked up. He always fucked everything up.
And yet, he had gone to his siblings for help so many times. He had not outright told them, perhaps, but he had searched for their help and none of them had listened to him! None of them had realized that he really, really needed them!
»Okay, so you know what?« Klaus whirled back around to face his siblings - dead and alive. He wanted to yell at them, tell them how sick and tired he was of their holier than thou attitude. »You are right! Happy now? I am high as a kite! And I fucking love it!«
He wasn't met with the outrage he had predicted he would face. There was only silence echoing back at him now. Silence and utter disappointment voiced by none other than Diego. »You did so well … What happened?«
»Life happened, dear brother. Just life.«
It was dumb and he should be better than this. He knew this. He had heard it all a million fucking times already. He should be better than this. He should be stronger than this. The thing was though, he was not stronger or better. He had never felt the desire to fight his addiction until he came back from this whole fucked up time travel shenanigan stuff. He had wanted to be sober and clean for Dave. Just for Dave and maybe that was the wrong approach, yes. Possible. Maybe he should want to be clean for himself and not anyone else. Sure. The reality was, however, junkies always stayed junkies. They just started projecting their addiction onto something else. A relationship, exercise, sex. Because the addiction itself whether to alcohol or drugs was only a symptom of a larger problem. He had heard it all before in rehab. The root cause was something different, something that the junkie in question decided to ignore like an open wound until it started festering and infecting the entire body - starting with the brain.
Klaus knew what his wound was. It was easy, really.
It was his childhood and what he went through as a kid. His wound was being locked up in a mausoleum when he was barely eight years old for hours and hours and hours, being screamed at by angry ghosts, being confronted with the harsh reality of death at an age when he should not yet have a concept of death, to begin with.
And Dave, oh, wonderful Dave, he had been a glimmer of hope and he had latched onto him like he had latched onto heroin. A new addiction: getting sober to see Dave again. Seeing Dave again and then what? He couldn't have a relationship with a ghost, right? Ben would probably object to that but this was something different. Ben and he had a certain supernatural bond formed by their supernatural birth thirty years ago. Maybe it was better if he would never see Dave again and just move on. However, how was he meant to move on without being able to properly say his goodbyes to him? Dave had been ripped from him in a moment's notice! It was unfair. War was not fair, he assumed and death doesn't discriminate between the sinners and the saints.
»I should stop listening to Hamilton.« He giggled to himself as he threw the empty syringe into the waste bin by his desk and gathered his things.
»Klaus« Oh, Ben. Right. He was still there, currently sitting on Klaus’ bed like a cat claiming the space. »Klaus, come on, go to the others. They’ll help you.«
»I don't need help.« Klaus chuckled. »I am perfectly fine. I already know whats going to happen anyway. They’ll have another war council downstairs without me to discuss their strategy. They will decide that they’ll either throw me out back on the streets or force me into rehab. So, I’ll enjoy one last nice long hot bath in the comfort of my home before I’ll go back to sleeping in stranger’s apartments and motel rooms.«
»It doesn't have to be this way!« Ben urged and now he sounded desperate - as if it was him who would need to fuck random guys on the street again just for food or a warm bed. Oh, he was always too optimistic about everything. »You could just go to rehab and allow them to help you and this time it’ll stick.«
»It has never stuck. Why would it now? Don't be silly, Baby.« With that, he walked to the door to make the first step into the corridor. »So, if you don't wanna see my gorgeous body, you better stay here and give a man some privacy, okay?«
He walked out into the hallway and straight to the bathroom a few doors down. He felt like he was floating on clouds as he started the water in the bathtub and threw one of the bath bombs Allison had bought him into the tub. The small transistor radio on the windowsill above the tub was soon switched on by trembling fingers. Vanya had gotten it for his bathtub sessions because he had dropped his beloved walkman into the water a few months ago. Soon music was softly filling the room as he stripped and dumped his clothes right next to the tub on the ground unceremoniously. He almost stumbled as he stepped out of his jeans but only giggled to himself because of it. Oh, he would miss having a bathtub.
At least in the bath, he had his privacy, Klaus mused as he finally sunk into the hot water. Even Ben allowed him a little bit of just Klaus-time whenever Klaus would shimmy out of his clothes - no matter just how often he had already seen Klaus in his birthday suit in the past years. He remembered a night - a particularly bad night - when he had woken up in a seedy motel room on the ground, covered in blood and grime, beaten so badly that he couldn't move an inch. He remembered Ben calling out in his panic, sitting next to him on his ground as he had choked on his own spit. He remembered Ben pleading with him to get up and get out and find Diego.
As he lay comfortably in the water, he reached down to where his pants lay on the ground. After a quick search of his pockets, he found the small baggie filled with blue crystals. He didn't care how much of them he should take or if any at all. The high made him care less about his general safety than usual.
He just swallowed four of those pills dry and then allowed his body to further sink under a comforting blanket of bubbles. As long as he would lie underneath a blanket of bubbles, there was nothing that could hurt him.
For the longest time, Klaus just watched the bubbles dance in the light of the ceiling lamp. He wondered if he should get up for breath. He felt like he should but he would much rather just close his eyes and relax. Didn't that sound nice?
The familiar monochrome landscape of the afterlife greeted him the next time he opened his eyes. once again he was resting on the ground in the middle of nowhere just like last time. This time, however, everything felt just a little different. He could hear the wind rustle in the leaves of the oleander trees left and right to the path he was lying on. He could feel the soft breeze of an eternal summer ghost over his naked skin.
»You again!« Oh, he knew that voice. »You are not supposed to be here again!«
»I’m sorry.« Klaus muttered out of instinct. Even in death, he was getting on peoples’ nerves apparently. He slowly gathered himself and collected his limbs from the ground in a vain attempt of getting to his feet. It was much harder than it had any right to be. Silly, of course. He was dead. It shouldn't be hard.
Oh, yes. Again. He wondered how it had happened this time. Had he passed out in the bathtub and drowned?
»You overdosed.« God sighed but sounded more annoyed than truly angry. »Again. In a little while, your siblings will find you.«
»Oh.« He muttered calmly, only barely registering that he was standing naked in front of God herself. Not that she should care about his nudity. She had created him, after all. In fact, God did not bash an eyelid about the fact that he was in the nude. »Who?«
»Oh.« He said again and scratched the back of his neck. »Poor Diego.« God hummed in agreement and Klaus tried to picture his brother finding him in a pool of his own vomit once more - dead. He didn't deserve this but Klaus was too selfish to truly care about that now. He was dead. At peace at last. »So what do I do now? Am I getting wings or a halo or something?«
»No.« God replied. »Wouldn't suit you.«
»Pants, though. I don't want your junk dangling around like this all the time.« She huffed and snapped her fingers. Klaus found himself wearing his most beloved leather pants and was actually a bit grateful. »Your friend is waiting for you.«
He wouldn't fall for this again, he decided. Last time that little Miss Sunshine had told him someone was waiting for him well-aware of who Klaus thought it was he had met his father - the last person he wanted to meet in the afterlife. So he asked: »Who?« Instead of running off like a fool in love once more.
And then Klaus was running like a love-struck fool again to where the creepy little girl was pointing. This time there was no shed waiting for him in the distance that would miraculously turn itself into a barbershop. It was a bench standing in the middle of nowhere on a meadow. And there he sat. His back was turned towards Klaus but he could still tell that it was him, Dave. His Dave.
Dave in his army uniform. Dave with his dirty blonde hair and his easy smiles and his sun-kissed skin. The sun to his moon. Dave turned only as Klaus was mere steps apart from the bench and the smile he shot Klaus was just as gentle and soft as always as if no time had passed, as if they had seen each other just yesterday, dancing the night away in some run-down club in Vietnam.
»What did you do this time, ghost boy?« Dave mocked with a low chuckle. The kind of chuckle that sat deep in the back of the throat. Diego sounded similar to this as well. It was familiar and good and he didn't want a day to pass without being able to hear that sound.
»Dave!« He breathed and now that the moment was finally here, he didn't know how to react or what to do. He was completely helpless all of a sudden. Dave was here. Really here and he couldn't even sort out his thoughts. Ridiculous. For the longest time, Klaus just stood there, staring at his dead boyfriend until Dave finally got up from the bench to take bridging the distance from Klaus.
Now that he thought about it, it had always been Dave who had bridged the distance between them first. Always Dave who had made the first step because Klaus had been too panicked whenever he had drawn near. He, of all people. He, who was fucking other guys since his teenage years without wasting much thought about it. And yet, Dave was the first guy he had ever really fallen in love with and he always lost his shit around him. He was like a schoolgirl around Dave. No, scratch that, even school girls didn't lose their shit as much as he would.
However, the moment Dave was right there in front of him, the spell was broken and it was Klaus who smashed their mouths together so hard that he made Dave stumble back before he caught Klaus around the waist. »I love you.« He gasped between kisses, hungrier than he had ever felt for the man he wrapped his arms around. »I love you so much.«
»I missed you.« Dave replied equally breathlessly as he parted from their kiss just to press their foreheads together for a hot minute. »I waited an eternity for you. Guess I should have believed you when you said you came from the future.«
»Yeah!« He laughed in tears as he buried his long trembling fingers in his neck, grabbing tightly and brushing through the short hair at the back of his neck. »Yes, you should have! A-A-And I wanted to see you, I even got sober so that I would see you. You didn't show … Why didn't you show?«
»I know, Baby.« He smiled but he sounded so tired and sad all of the sudden. He didn't want to hear anything more now. He knew that he would shatter into a million tiny pieces. »I know. You did so well.«
»I was watching.«
»You were- what?« For just a second, Klaus pulled away, just enough so that he would be able to look Dave in the eyes again. Oh, those wonderful, soft blue eyes. Dave had always looked at him as if he was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen - or the most crazy. Both, probably. As Klaus leaned back a little, Dave wasted no time cupping his face with those calloused hands and Klaus quickly took a hold of his wrists, locking them in place. He never wanted to go another day without this touch.
»I just thought it wasn't right to intervene. I thought … How would you ever be able to move on if I would lurk around like all the other ghosts?« Dave smiled sadly. The realization that Dave had been with him that entire time, watching from beyond the grave without showing himself to Klaus even when he pleaded for him to come, even when he cried for him to come, hurt. »I didn't want to tether myself to you like Ben did. And yes, before you ask, I've seen Ben. He keeps an eye out for you. So ... Yeah ... Three is a crowd, right?«
»I don't get it.« That was a lie and Dave knew that. He knew what Dave meant. It would have been weird. It would have been awful. They could no longer have what they once shared, after all. Dave was dead. Sure, he could have materialized him but then what? Ghost sex? No, there were lines in the sand not even Klaus dared to cross. He got it. They would have driven each other insane with the want and need to be together and touch one another. It would have hurt them more than it would have done them any good, right?
»Yeah, you do.« Dave chuckled softly. »I am dead, Klaus. I died fifty years ago … I just wanted you to be happy. I wanted you to find love again. I wanted you to move on while you are still alive and still have a chance at happiness.«
»I’m dead now, though.« Klaus whispered. It felt like he was saying goodbye to him, to the only person he had truly ever loved. He didn't want to say goodbye to him. He wanted to stay here forever on this bench with Dave. And yet, he thought about Diego who was probably just finding him in the bathroom. Poor Diego. He had scratched him off the ground so often already. So many times had his poor brother put the pieces back together.
»Yeah, you are.« His blue eyes were so sad as he said it and brushed his fingers through Klaus’ curls. »And I really wished you were not, Dingus.«
-End of Chapter 6-