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A Taste of a Poison Paradise

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Klaus Hargreeves was a little shit. A thorn in Peter’s side since he showed up out of nowhere. Never listening to orders and mocking him behind his back. Says that Peter didn’t scare him, no way his military commander, his sergeant, could ever strike the fear of god in him. Not that Peter should be scarier than the bullets that fly passed them but he should have Hargreeves’s goddamn respect.

But no.

The fucking guy doesn’t give a shit and even flaunts how he doesn’t care.

Insubordinate.

How often had Peter been giving orders or detailing a plan of attack when fucking Hargreeves tells him how stupid he is and then rattled off a better plan.

And it is!

Better, that is.

Mother fucker.

“It’s okay, Sarge. You haven’t been trained in tactics like I have. Oh sure, you had some training, but not like mine.”

The fuck did that mean.

The fuck did that even mean.

He shouldn’t be so good at tactics, he was a mess when he arrived. Naked, covered in blood, dopesick, lost, and confused. Didn’t even know what year it was. How someone so messed up had such great ideas was beyond Peter.

And of course it was one of the few times that Peter didn’t listen to Hargreeves’s advice that they get overrun by VC and a number of the men died and the ones who didn’t got captured. Thank god Klaus wasn’t rubbing it in his face. No, instead he was looking around the room, not at all appearing worried at all. He was humming that damn song he’d had in his head for the past week. Something about being toxic? When asked who sings it he always replied, “It’s Britany, bitch.”

“Well we are being treated like princes,” Klaus said, grin manic. “Fucking rope.”

They were tied to chairs in a room. At the moment it was just them in the room. Hargreeves, Katz, Evans, Rocker, and of course Peter, himself. They’d been knocked out and woke up tied to the chairs, by yes, fucking rope.

They all knew what was going to happen next.

Questioning.

Torture.

Probable death.

What was left of his unit looked afraid, not that Peter blamed them. He’d gotten them in this mess. Rocker looked like he’d already given up and Katz kept his eyes on Hargreeves who was wiggling in his chair as if he had to take a leak.

Before Peter could yell at him to knock it off the VC came in.

And while they were grinning, it was not a friendly sort of grin.

If they knew anything about the american military they would know that Peter was in charge and would have more info for them, so he would be up first for the torture.

“Okay, we’ve got some questions for you,” the rougher of the two said in a thick accent, leaning in towards Peter. “And it would save us a lot of time if you’d just answer them, otherwise it may get nasty.”

“What?” Hargreeves giggled, “Like how nasty your mom and I got last night?”

The idiot.

The VC turned to glare at Hargreeves who winked back.

“We’ll be with you in a moment,” the VC told Peter before going up to Hargreeves and giving him a punch so hard it scooted his chair back.

“Oh yes, daddy, I like it rough,” Hargreeves grinned up at him and there was blood in his teeth. He leaned in then said something in vietnamese. Based on how mad it made both of the VC, it was pretty scathing.

He got punched again.

It continued for a few minutes, Peter could only watch helplessly as Hargreeves bit out insults in what seemed like fluent vietnamese between punches.

Then a new VC opened the door to the room and said something to make the other two stand back from his men. “Excuse us,” the main guy said, cleaning the blood off his hand on his shirt, “we will be back.”

As soon as the door closed everyone turned to Hargreeves.

“What the fuck was that?” Peter demanded.

Hargreeves started wiggling in his chair again, with a triumphant smile, “Well, that was part one of a mulit-teired escape plan, darling.”

“Why does your mulit-teired escape plan involve you getting the shit beat out of you?” Katz demanded.

Well,” Hargreeves drawled out the word, “first off I know how to take a beating. Any of you know how? Hmm? And no, fights don’t count. This is a beating. It’s different than a fight. Secondly,” he jerked an arm sharply, “any of you been tortured? I have and last time it was by professionals. Like, my god, they knew what they were doing. I’m just glad they did waterboarding instead of what they did to the previous dude. Car battery to nipples? No thanks.”

“What the fuck,” Evans muttered.

Hargeeves let out a pained grunt as a loud pop sounded and his hand came out from behind him, “Third reason is that knocking me around helped loosen the ropes.” His thumb looked dislocated. “Stupid fucks used ropes. Ropes I can do. Duct tape? Zip ties? Handcuffs? Not so easy to break out of.”

Standing up, Hargreeves stretched after putting his thumb back in place. “Now, sorry to tell you, gotta leave y’all tied up for a bit.”

“No, you untie us now,” Peter commanded.

“Sorry, but not sorry. We don’t know the layout of the place, are outnumbered and outgunned. I am going out to help against those odds and if someone should check in on us one guy missing isn’t a big deal, they may not notice, however all of us? Sound the alarm! It’s dangerous, I’m falling. There’s not escape, I can’t wait,” He sang out after his explanation.

“Hargreeves! You’re right, it is dangerous. You untie me, I will go out and scout,” Peter used his best commanding tone. It was a voice that had gotten the most rebellious to stand up straight and not question him.

Hargreeves tsked him, “Oh you aren’t as sneaky as me. I’m a sneaky bitch, Sarge. Look at you! All muscles.” He leaned in then, “You need to work on your command voice, babe. Got nothing on Reggie or Number One. It’s more like this,” standing straight up and making a face he did an impression of either Reggie or this one person, “Number Four, untie me now.”

Peter found himself flinching at the tone. There was somehow something left unsaid, something bad.

Patting Peter on the cheek Hargreeves dropped his impression, “You’ll get it someday, Sarge.” He gave them all a calculating look before his eyes softened on Katz. Sighing, he turned to an empty side of the room, “Okay, who is going to scout? God I miss Ben, he would already have an escape route. Fine, fine.”

“God, he’s talking to himself again,” Rocker growled out.

This was news to Peter, “Excuse me? Does someone in my unit have imaginary friends? No one thought to tell me that he’s crazy?”

“He says he sees the dead,” Katz said quietly.

Rocker snorted, “The crazy bastard is our savior out of here. We’re fucked.”

Hargreeves seemed to be done with his argument with the air with a final, “Go on! Scout ahead. You stay and help guard my back and you two stay here with these ungrateful bitches. Come find me if someone comes back before I do.” Turning, he blew them a kiss before wiggling his fingers in the air in a wave and silently leaving them.

“Why has no one told me Hargreeves was crazy?” Peter tried to sound commanding again. Until Hargreeve had done his impression, it was one of the best around. He stared at Katz.

Katz and Hargreeves were thick as thieves. While Rocker and Evans seemed to know about the mental break, Katz would know the most. Peter was blind enough to not notice that one of his men had full conversations with the air but he didn’t miss how close those two where. There were some rumors of the two, Hargreeves obviously queer, but Peter didn’t care about that.

If any of his men liked other men he didn’t care. If they hallucinated? That was something more pressing.

Katz opened his mouth to answer when the door opened and Hargreeves came in, dragging a body after him. His head jerked up, staring at the air beside them as he hid the body in the room.

“Calm down, you don’t need to tattle on them.” He took the gun off the downed VC and checked the ammo, “I figured they’d be talking about me.”

“He dead, Hargreeves?” Peter demanded, gesturing at where he hid the body.

“Nah. Just knocked him out. He’ll be down for a while. Didn’t really want to add to my fan club.”

Right. Because ‘he could see the dead’. Fuck, what use was a soldlier who wouldn’t kill. “Okay, great, you got a gun. Untie us now.”

Hargreeves gave him a look, “Psh. One gun between the five of us? Plus, okay, this place is decently big with lots of men. Five of us will get caught unless prepared. Wait yet, till I thin the herd some more, dear.”

“It will take awhile for you to thin the herd by yourself,” Peter tried.

That caused Hargreeves to pause. Nodding, he said, “Okay, Dave can come with me.”

“No,” Peter said as Hargreeves made his way to Katz. “I’m your sergeant, you untie me.”

The air was apparently talking to Hargreeves again as he turned to look beside Peter. “Ugh, fine. But you won’t be coming with me and Sarge. You stay and watch over the other boys, ‘kay?” He pointed at his hallucination before untying Peter.

Peter was tempted to knock Hargreeves out and untie the rest and carry the mother fucker out and do their best to escape but fuck, Hargreeves comments about being outnumbered, outgunned, and not knowing the layout were good points.

Again, how was he so good at tactics.

Especially since he was mental.

Hargreeves eyed the three left, “Sorry darlings, can’t have you messing with the plan. We’ll untie you soon, promise.” He put and hand around Peter’s arm and started dragging him away.

Peter had to give Hargreeves some credit. He was a silent bastard. He had no idea he could move so quietly. Usually sound followed Hargreeves, he was always talking or singing, telling jokes or falling over. But this was someone who had training on how to sneak. Training that the US military did not give out. Not for grunts like him.

Squatted behind a corner, Hargreeves made some complicated hand motions before quietly saying, “Well Ben would know what that meant.” Rolling his eyes he added, “No, you can talk to me whenever, I cannot talk to you if I want to be sneaky. God you’re bad at this scouting thing, Jess. How many are around?”

Jess. Did Hargreeves think he was talking to Rogers? He died a few days after Hargreeves showed up.

Hargreeves flipped off his imaginary Rogers.

“Okay, the two VC from before are coming back. We hide here until they pass then we knock them out,” Hargreeves said. Peter wondered how he knew the VC were coming when he hadn’t looked around the corner. “You can knock people out quickly and silently, yes?”

Peter nodded.

Hargreeves gave a thumbs up.

And then the two VC from before (how he was right?) came around and didn't see either of them. Peter and Hargreeves snuck up behind them and Peter put his in a choke hold while Hargreeves pressed his thumb to the guy’s neck which made him instantly fall.

That was not taught at basic.

Where was this kid trained?

Quickly and quietly they drug the bodies back to the room. Three guns now. Two more guys and they will have enough that everyone will have a gun.

The guys they left in the room relaxed as soon as they realized it was Peter and Hargreeves with two more unconscious VC.

Hargreeves glared at Rocker and Evans, “Hey! Sarge wouldn’t turn against me, rude of you to suggest such a thing.”

“How the fuck id you know we said--” Rocker started before Evans interupted with, “He guessed!” while Katz rolled his eyes and muttered something about the dead.

Peter was not going to say he was tempted to do what Rocker and Evans had discussed. However after they all got out safe and managed to get back to base camp (assuming things continued as they were) he would have to send Hargreeves home. He couldn't in good conscious keep someone who hallucinated around.

“Once more into the fray, Sarge,” Hargreeves said, handing him a gun.

Peter paused, “Hold on, now we can untie them and leave them with a gun.” He looked at the three, “But stay here until we come back with more weapons. That’s an order.”

The three nodded and Hargreeves shrugged and freeing Katz first, making sure he got the gun. He said something quietly to Katz while Peter went ahead and untied the other two.

The second outing with Hargreeves went similar to the first, with him talking to the air and them both taking down the men quietly.

Before too long they were back in the room, enough guns for everyone. Once they passed them around Peter said it was time to make a plan, because they still didn’t have an escape route.

Hargreeves cleared his throat, his left eye was almost swollen shut from the beating he took earlier, “All my little scouts are back now.” Peter saw Rocker roll his eyes. “Cambell says he knows a route out. Says not many guards posted on it. We’re in some sort of building, obviously. But still in the jungle, not in the middle of a town. He’s got a backdoor near an outer fence of the camp.” He turned to the air and gave it a thumbs up, “Number one scout. Almost as good as Ben would’ve been-- yes I can and will continue comparing you all to Ben. He’s the best ghostie. Well he’s not alive or dead yet is he? You can look him up in the future if you want to meet him so badly, Jesus.”

Peter looked over at the other men to see how they were taking this. Rocker looked ticked off, obviously not wanting to follow a man out of his mind. Evans appeared very confused, not at all following the one sided conversation. Katz was making gooey eyes at Hargreeves. Great, he had two queers in his unit and they loved each other.

Hopefully Katz wouldn’t be too heart broken when Peter sent Hargreeves home.

“We are not following crazy around,” Rocker crossed his arms.

Hargreeves raised an eyebrow, “Oh? Sure. You lead the way then, Harry darling. Sure you know your way around? Not like we should follow the person who has gotten himself and you all free with guns and has left the room three times and obviously knows his way around. Even if I didn’t have my scouts, I’m the safe bet.”

“Hargreeves and I will lead,” Peter said before Rocker could protest again. Hargreeves made good points but also with him being co-leader Peter could keep an eye on him.

And so they quietly filed out of the room they’d been kept in and Hargreeves unofficially lead the way.

Peter felt like he shouldn’t let the crazy one lead but he had somehow known the two VC who beat him up were coming down the hallway without looking. Luck was on his side and Peter hoped it held out.

Everyone was suitably quiet. They could hear people talking in the distance, down hallways or in rooms. The building they were in seemed decently sized. Peter idly wondered if it was built to be part of a base or if the VC had repurposed whatever it was before.

Then a whispered, “What?” Hargreeves’s one eye widening as he put a stop to their escape. “How many? Okay, got an-- alright.” He turned to the others and quickly whispered, “We’re going to hide in a room up ahead for a few minutes as a group of at least twelve pass.”

“We can take them,” Rocker argued.

“Sure, we could surprise the group of twelve but then the whole camp knows we’re loose. Think we can fight a whole camp?” Katz pointed out. “We follow Klaus.”

Hargreeves nodded before ushering them in an empty room and shut the door. Peter leaned against the door but kept his gun at the ready. If there was a group he could maybe hold the door closed for a few precious seconds if they were coming to this room. Hopefully they would just walk down the hallway (if they were real).

They were real.

The group was talking amongst themselves.

It was easy to hear them through the door.

Rocker and Evan were staring unbelievably at Hargreeves.

Peter was doing the same.

How the absolute fuck did he know about this group? Twice Hargreeves knew about people before they appeared.

Maybe he could--?

No.

Impossible.

“It’s clear,” Hargreeves said, taking the lead without anyone protesting this time.

Without ever getting lost or taking the wrong hallway, they soon found themselves outside the building, near a fence that kept the jungle away from the base. Like Hargreeves claimed he could lead them.

They got a little ways from the camp before Klaus stopped them. “Anyone know how to get back to our base?”

Everyone started peering at the jungle, trying to see if anything looked familiar. Peter honestly was starting to panic at how Hargreeves got them out of an enemy camp. Sure they weren’t safe yet but he got all of them out without alerting the enemy or getting anyone but himself injured.

“Sorry Cambell, Jess is now number one scout,” Klaus winked (maybe he winked, it was hard to tell with one eye swollen shut) at the air next to Peter and then just started walking in a direction. He probably assumed they would all follow without a fight this time.

They followed.

They stayed silent and on alert as Hargreeves led them through the brush. None of them would feel comfortable until they were back at their base.

After an undetermined length of time they heard some people talking. Peter made sure they all started sneaking, could be enemy or friendlies, impossible to tell. “It’s our camp,” Hargreeves stated. Apparently not impossible to tell if you were Hargreeves.

Peter still wasn’t sure and ordered them to act like Hargreeves hadn’t announced that. Hargreeves just rolled his eyes at the order but kept his mouth shut.

However Peter soon started to recognize the jungle.

The bastard did it.

He got them home.

How the fuck?

Rocker and Evans ran ahead, grins on their faces. Katz stayed by Hargreeves side. Peter hung back slightly, so he could stare at Hargreeves. He needed time to process what was possibly happening.

Could he really see the dead?

They arrived back at their base. Some of the men hadn’t even had time to realize they’d been captured. A few men Peter had thought died while out on the mission hadn’t but managed to make it back to camp before his group did.

Peter was going to have some booze as soon as he could.

He watched as Katz took Hargreeves to medical while Hargreeves sang quietly, “Baby, can’t you see I’m calling? A guy like you should wear a warning.”.

And Peter, well, he would have to think about Hargreevees, possibly ask him some questions.

If Hargreeves had gone crazy, he needed to be sent home; however, if he could do as he said--

Well.

The next day Peter called Hargreeves into his tent.

Hargreeves’s face was a firework of bruises.

“Are you a VC spy, Hargreeves?” Hargreeves sputtered, obviously not expecting that question. “You appear out of thin air, somehow know your way around a VC camp and are able to lead us back to ours? Could be a ruse to get us to trust you.”

“You’ve got to be shitting me, Sarge. I know Dave said it yesterday, that I see the dead. I know people think I’m crazy, I know how it sounds,” Hargreeves said. Looking just to the right of Peter, Hargreeves nodded, “Miss Mel says to not be a dumbass.”

Peter couldn’t breathe.

Miss Mel was his foster mother. She was the one who raised him. The only mother he knew, who was always there for him. Hargreeves couldn’t have gotten her name from anywhere, no one at the camp knew about his childhood. No one knew about Miss Mel.

“Miss Mel?” Peter didn’t like how weak his voice sounded.

“Yeah, she was with us, y’know? Stays by your side. She’s the one I made stay in the room when we went out for guns. Big gossip, your Miss Mel and-- yes you are. She is! Tattled on the others whenever we got back.”

Peter sat down.

Miss Mel. God he missed her.

“Well then,” Peter started, unsure on what to say next.

Hargreeves shrugged. “I’ll uh, let you take some time to process that, Sarge. Um, if you want to talk to her some I can, y’know. But don’t tell anyone, I don’t normally like to play ouija board.”

“Oh my god your tattoos,” Peter muttered, hiding his head in his hands.

Hargreeves patted Peter on the shoulder, “Here’s a secret for you, dear: your Miss Mel is the most badass ghost here. You should be as proud of her as she is of you.”

With that, Hargreeves left Peter alone with his thoughts.

Left Peter alone with Miss Mel.

And no one living was around to see Peter break down and whisper his thoughts to the woman who raised him, to his mother. The only person she’d be tattling to would be Hargreeves, and if he decided to announce what Miss Mel said, well no one would believe crazy Hargreeves. And this was a secret that Peter didn’t mind Hargreeves knowing. Maybe he could count him as a friend. Peter wouldn’t mind that, counting Klaus as a friend.