Klaus had done his best not to look at calendars recently, but it was still hard to avoid the date completely. And even if he didn’t know what the date was, he felt like it had somehow been burned into his subconscious, so that it couldn’t pass by without him knowing.
After all, what else would explain the ache in his chest when he’d woken up that morning, fingers twitching for something stronger than a cigarette, much much stronger.
Ben didn’t know what the date meant, because he wasn’t there in Vietnam with Klaus, on account of not being born yet in order to have died and be a ghost. It was making his head ache to just think about.
But Ben didn’t know, which made it that much easier to hide it from his family.
And they were a family again, for the most part, not just people who happened to share a last name and a history of childhood trauma. Allison had moved back to California, working on getting custody of Claire again, and Five wasn’t always in the city (a perk of not needing to pay for travel), but most of the time, the six of them (five if Ben wasn’t counted as a corporeal being) were in the same city, sometimes even the same house.
And there were the family dinners once a week, and those were certainly something.
Them going back in time had changed some things, like avoiding the apocalypse and certain events leading up to it (Grace, Pogo, the house being destroyed) but hadn’t changed others.
Namely Ben. Ben was still dead.
But Klaus was getting pretty good at manifesting him, and could hold it most of the day, without even being in the same vicinity.
Which meant that when Ben went to read in the library after breakfast, Klaus could slip out of the house without him noticing. Vanya wasn’t there, since she lived in her apartment most of the time, Luther was out running errands in a minivan like a suburban mom, Diego was sleeping in, and Five?
Okay, Klaus had no idea what Five was doing, but he figured it was better that way. Out of all of them, Five was probably the only one who could stop Klaus, and he didn’t want that, not today.
He didn’t intentionally seek out any of his dealers, just wandered around downtown. He figured fate could have a chance in intervening, but maybe he was meant to get high, because it only took five minutes before he ran into one.
They exchanged some pleasantries- Klaus thought the guy’s name might have been Chaz- and then Klaus was the proud owner of enough heroin to kill him.
That wasn’t why he’d gotten it all, not really, he just had enough money that he could. One of the perks of being sober for the better part of a year was getting his allowance reinstated. And it wasn’t like he paid for much, except clothes, because Allison only had so many he could swipe before her closet started looking bare.
So he went ahead and bought enough needles and syringes that he wouldn’t have to reuse any of them, because he could be a responsible adult.
You know. Considering.
He hadn’t opted for injected drugs most of the time, even when he was regularly using. It was a lot of work to prepare them, and the whole needle thing wasn’t his favourite, if he was being honest. It was so much easier to pop a pill or smoke it. Not as intense of a high, but he usually wasn’t going for that. He was in search of quiet.
Today was a bit different though. Hence the heroin.
The high hit him, and the ghost that was wandering around in the middle of the nearby street vanished. It had been wailing in Spanish about a bike, and Klaus was relieved that it fell silent. A nearby jumper stopped looping through their last moments. And a person lying across the alley from him, who Klaus thought was just sleeping off the high, vanished. Apparently they were a ghost. Klaus felt briefly bad about that before he didn’t care about any of it.
The thing about the sudden high that heroin gave you also meant it wore off faster. That was fine; Klaus had bought multiple doses for a reason. It was a lot harder to find a vein for the second injection, seeing as how he was already high, but he managed.
And then that high faded.
He considered it, and then shrugged.
And then he was out of drugs. And still breathing!
And thankfully still high.
He closed his eyes and smiled.
He drifted like that for a while, utterly indifferent. It was nice. No ghosts, no thoughts.
Just the hazy existence of drugs.
God he missed this.
There was a pop, and Five appeared in a flash of blue, looking furious. It had taken them nearly a month to get him to wear something other than the academy uniform, and he still looked like a schoolboy following a dress code, but it was better than nothing.
“What the hell Klaus?” he demanded. “I’ve been looking for you for more than an hour. I was talking to Ben and he disappeared. That hasn’t happened in months. So you were either dead or high.” He glared. “Honestly, I’m not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed.”
Klaus sighed. “Yeah, me too bud.” He held an arm out. “Take me home?”
Five rolled his eyes, but grabbed Klaus by the hand and folded them into space time and had them spat back out again in the mansion.
Ugh, he still hated that sensation.
“I’m going to my room. See you at dinner.”
Five appeared in front of him. “Like hell you are.”
“Unless you want to discuss feelings,” Klaus said, drawing the word out like it was a piece of taffy.
Five looked disgusted. “God no. But you’ve been clean for what, nine months now? What changed?”
Klaus’s gaze drifted to the calendar on the fridge. “Anniversary,” he said vaguely, trying to sidestep Five, which of course failed.
Five didn’t even have to teleport to cut Klaus off, just sidestepped in front of him.
“Is this about the dog tags?” he asked, eyes narrowing as he studied Klaus’s neck. Klaus had actually put on a shirt that covered his chest today, cause it was a bit chilly out, but he was sure the outline could be seen underneath.
“I don’t think that’s your concern.”
Five rolled his eyes, but disappeared with another pop.
Somehow, that didn’t reassure Klaus in the slightest.
From deep within the house, Klaus could hear Diego swearing loudly.
He sighed. Yeah. Definitely not good.
OKAY SO TIMELINE AND SCIENCE NOTES:
Okay so by all accounts, there would have not been an American camp anywhere in A Shau valley in 1968 that lasted 10 months, so unless Klaus landed there in August, then they left there, but just doesn’t mention that when speaking to Diego for whatever reason, then it’s factual. But considering it’s 2019 and no one has a cell phone, I think we can assume that TUA takes place in a universe that is at least slightly different than our own, and that American troops might still have been there from sometime in 1968 for a 10 month period.
(So considering that time is mostly a lie, and I can do what I want, this is set at a nebulous time in the fall/winter because what even.)
Can you become addicted after one dose, even if you were previously an addict? Psychologically yes, physically, who can say. By which I mean, I did check, but couldn’t find anything that would say definitively.
Five and Diego both reappeared a minute later, Diego still in his pjs, his hair sticking up.
“What the fuck Klaus?” he demanded.
Klaus waved at him with his ‘hello’ hand.
He sighed. “What did you take?”
“Me? Take something?” He held a hand to his chest in fake outrage. “How dare!”
“That won’t work. Five already told me where he found you.”
“Because I can’t just take a walk?”
They both stared at him.
“I mean, yeah, I wouldn’t, but still,” he mumbled.
“His pupils are dilated, and his pulse is slow,” Five told Diego. Klaus had no clue when Five took his pulse. “I’m thinking a central nervous system depressant.”
“Just say words,” Diego huffed.
Diego was cranky when he was woken up suddenly with no chance for coffee, geez.
“Some kind of opiate, probably.”
Diego narrowed his eyes at Klaus. “What did you take?” he repeated.
“Oh, you know. Just a gentlemanly amount of heroin. If this was like, the 1800s we’d all be doing it.”
Diego sighed, and seemed weirdly sad. Five just looked disappointed, which Klaus was more comfortable with. He had been the family disappointment for decades, after all.
“Is Ben here?” Five asked.
Klaus shrugged. “Not in this room. Around, probably.”
Klaus kinda expected Ben was avoiding him. He knew what it meant to suddenly stop manifesting. Ben probably didn’t want to deal with Klaus in that state again, not now that there were others who could.
“How much did you take?” Diego demanded, like the information would mean anything to him. Klaus scoffed.
“I already told you. A gentlemanly amount.”
“Once? Twice? Seven?”
Klaus shook his head. He was tired of this. The buzz was wearing off and he just wanted to sleep, since he didn’t have any other options.
(That thought startled him. He didn’t think this was about killing himself, but he realized he would have been fine if he had fallen asleep and not woken up. Girly god probably wouldn’t have let it happen, but maybe she’d at least let him see Dave. Anything.)
He tried to push past Diego, but there was a knife to his chest before Five could even teleport to stop him.
Klaus briefly considered walking forward, if only to see what Diego would do. Klaus was certain he wouldn’t have the strength to force the knife deep enough in his own chest to kill him, so Diego would either slice him open and finish the job, or slice him open and let him by. He was interested to see what it would be.
“Don’t,” Five warned them. He brushed the knife aside and looked up at Klaus. “Are you at risk of dying if we let you sleep?”
“Aren’t we all?”
Five rolled his eyes. “Jesus, I swear, sometimes it would be easier if I was still an assassin. Klaus. Just tell me. How much of the drug is still in your system? Do we need to drag you down to the med bay and get Mom to monitor you? Or can we just take turns sitting by your bed to make sure you don’t die?”
Klaus scoffed. “I’d be fine on my own, but I doubt you’re going to let me pick that option. I’m still breathing and standing, and considering the onset of heroin is…” he considered it, “short, I’m not gonna beef it if I have a nap. Now let me go to my room.”
“Let him go,” Five ordered, pushing Diego’s knife down after he tried to raise it again. “I’ll be up in five minutes. If you have any drugs left on you I’d suggest getting rid of them.” His eyes flashed dangerously, and Klaus felt a bit of what so many hapless civilians must have felt in their final moments. Terror.
If anything, Klaus had it worse, because this was coming from the body of a 14 year old.
Klaus forced a smile and waved his ‘goodbye’ hand at his brothers. He could hear them whisper yelling at each other as he left, but he didn’t want to stick around to hear it.
Ben was waiting in his room. His expression would have broken Klaus, if he wasn’t already a wonderful sculpture that was made of a thousand little pieces that had been stuck back together with a glue gun and glitter.
“Why?” he asked.
Klaus realized a second too late that the question made him reach for his dog tags, and Ben couldn’t miss that.
“Today?” he asked softly.
Klaus nodded. His vision was blurry, which was bullshit. He hadn’t agreed to that.
“Why didn’t you say anything? To any one of us?”
Klaus gave him a watery smile. “Because then you would have stopped me,” he whispered. The exhaustion was seeping into his bones. His bed was calling to him.
He curled on it, a comma on top of the covers. He hadn’t taken his shoes off. He was exhausted. Between the ghosts and his own emotions, he hadn’t been getting a lot of sleep lately. Turned out that all it took was multiple doses of heroin. Who would have guessed?
Klaus hadn’t realized his eyes had closed, but Five popped into his room, Diego trudging up the hall, because of course Five couldn’t walk like a normal human, and poked him.
“Hey,” he said sharply. “What did I say about dying?”
Diego opened the door. “Is he dead?”
“Not yet,” Klaus muttered. “Starting to wish I was.” He wiggled his feet around. “Take my boots off?” he asked Diego, because god knows Five would die sooner than help him.
Diego sighed, which Klaus knew was more for show than anything, and began unlacing.
“We need to identify the trigger,” Five said, holding a notebook and a pencil in front of him, poised to take notes. “What was different about today, or the week leading up to it?”
“Yeah, I can answer that one,” Ben said.
Five and Diego turned to him, and even Klaus was surprised with that one.
“Huh,” he said. He’d have to unpack that later, when he was sober, or maybe not. Ignoring things had worked out well enough before. He was happy to keep doing it.
Ben only shrugged in response.
“Dave died today. That’s what it was.”
Five looked back to him. “The dogtags?”
Klaus closed his eyes instead of responding, because his voice would only betray him.
“Shit,” Diego said softly. “I’m sorry man.”
“What happened?” Five directed to Ben, who shook his head.
“Vietnam,” Klaus whispered. “Ben hadn’t been born yet, let alone died. Apparently there are some laws of physics that apply to ghosts.”
Five considered that for a moment, and Klaus bet there was something he was thinking about.
“He died in my arms,” Klaus said. “Fifty years ago today. Less than a year ago. Time, huh. It fucks you up.”
“So instead of talking to one of us, to any of us, you went out and got high?” Diego said, somewhat accusatory.
Klaus shrugged. “My default setting, I suppose.”
Ben sighed. “Klaus, that’s not what he meant. Can’t you tell he’s hurt you didn’t go to him? We’re all hurt. We thought that you trusted us.”
Klaus would have thought that Ben was just talking out of his ass, having read too many psychology books, paid attention in too many group therapy sessions, if it wasn’t for Diego, who was very pointedly not looking at Klaus.
He sat up. “Oh my god you are.” He looked to Five, who was staring back at Klaus defiantly. “You all are.”
“I’m not-” he began, but Ben placed a hand over his mouth, which… huh. That was something else he’d have to think about when thinking wasn’t so much of a struggle. Manifesting Ben while high and making him corporeal? What a big day.
What an awful day.
Tears sprung up in his eyes again, and he slouched back on the bed, boots finally removed, but no energy left to climb underneath the covers. He was just going to lay on top of them and leak tears, and maybe later, when the high was completely gone, and he’d slept the rest of the day away, then maybe he would get up and deal with… whatever this was. But not now.
He was already starting to drift off when Five and Diego started making a game plan.
“We’ll need to take shifts to sit in here to make sure he doesn’t stop breathing or choke on his vomit. I’d include Ben, but we don’t know how long he’ll be corporeal for. Sorry,” he added.
“I get it,” Ben replied.
“And there goes Ben,” Diego sighed.
“Sorry guys,” Ben told them, but only Klaus heard.
“We’re not getting Luther involved. I could call Vanya, but…”
Klaus stopped listening as he fell into a dreamless sleep. Or if there were dreams, he couldn’t remember them.
He woke up vomiting. Someone was there, pulling him upright, holding some kind of bucket underneath him. It took him a minute to realize it was a giant mixing bowl. Huh. Bet Mom wasn’t happy about that.
“You done?” Diego asked after a minute, when Klaus was just sitting there shaky and breathless.
He considered it. “For now.” He sank back down into the bed. His mouth was disgusting, but it had been worse, and he didn’t particularly care. “What time is it?” he mumbled.
Klaus hummed. He’d almost managed to avoid the day completely, but here he was with however long left, starting withdrawal. It was fitting. He deserved it.
“You okay?” Diego asked.
“I’m referring to your physical state, not the emotional clusterfuck that is your head.”
“Oh, well in that case. The standard. Nausea, chills, cramps, muscle aches.”
“You were crying in your sleep,” Diego told him.
“It’s a withdrawal thing,” he huffed. “Definitely not related to my emotional state.”
“You were talking in your sleep too.”
Klaus busied himself with adjusting his pillow so he didn’t have to look at or speak to Diego.
“I’m gonna deal with this,” Diego said, pointing to the mixing bowl. “You just… stay alive til I get back.”
“I’ll do my very best,” Klaus promised.
At some point, he had either climbed under the covers, or someone had pulled them over him. Now they were sweat soaked and damp. Disgusting.
He kicked his way out from underneath them, and laid there for a minute. Yep, now he was freezing.
You deserve this, he reminded himself, and then nearly tripped as he got out of bed. Damn his coltish legs. He just wanted pjs.
He’d found a pair of sweats, which was close enough to pjs, even though they might have originally belonged to Allison, and was pulling them on when Ben phased in through his door.
“Hey buddy,” Klaus said.
“You look like shit.”
“And death has done wonder for your complexion too,” Klaus sighed. He didn’t bother looking for a new shirt, just fell into bed topless.
“Has it started?”
Klaus scoffed. “I don’t just throw up on Diego for fun.”
“That explains why Mom was yelling at him for ruining a mixing bowl,” Ben mused.
“Good for her,” Klaus mumbled, already half asleep again.
“Lay on your side,” Ben ordered. “I’ve watched you nearly choke enough times.”
Klaus rolled his eyes, which were closed, so Ben couldn’t see them anyway, but did it.
He bolted upright, a scream dying in his throat. Dave.
Five was sitting in the armchair at the end of his bed, a massive book in his lap. He looked over at Klaus with concern. Or. Well. As much concern as the little guy could muster.
“Nightmare,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if waking you would have been better…” he trailed off.
“Yeah,” Klaus said hoarsely. He suspected they both knew their fair share about PTSD, at least enough to recognize it in each other.
Neither of them said anything for a bit, then Five vanished with a pop.
Klaus stared at the spot he’d been sitting. The book sank into his chair now that it wasn’t sitting on Five’s lap.
Five reappeared, a sports drink in his hand.
“My favourite flavour,” Klaus said, taking it.
“Yeah. You’re probably already dehydrated, and we really don’t need it getting worse,” Five said, returning to the chair. As he picked up the book, Klaus could see the cover. It was one of the books that the therapists in rehab centers always had on their shelves, to prove that they were professionals. Klaus wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Five had just popped into an office and swiped it.
He took a sip of the drink, ignoring the nausea that was roiling in his stomach.
“Good book?” he asked.
Five didn’t bother looking at him. “Not really.”
Klaus hummed, and took another sip. “You can turn more lights on, if you’re having trouble reading in this,” he said, gesturing to the room, which was lit only by the strands of twinkling lights he’d strung up years ago for ambience. And so he wouldn’t have to sleep in the complete dark. He wondered who’d turned them on, since he had turned them off before he’d gone out on his drug walkabout.
“Thanks,” Five said, but didn’t bother getting up to turn a light on.
Klaus shrugged, taking another sip of the drink. His stomach seemed okay with it so far, and Five was probably right about the dehydration.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Klaus told him, almost as if it was an apology.
“You don’t have to keep sitting with me-”
Five glared at him, and Klaus shut up. “You really think anyone can make me do something I don’t want to do?”
Klaus thought that last week, Vanya had talked Five into going to the beach with her, and that Five definitely didn’t want to do that. But he still had some sense of self preservation, and so he didn’t mention that.
He shrugged instead.
“We’re doing this family shit now, and this is what families do. Drink,” he ordered.
“Bossy,” Klaus muttered, but obeyed.
Two days passed in shifts. Klaus awoke to find different people sitting in his room with him. Mostly Diego and Five, but Luther once, and Vanya a few times. Ben was usually there, but Klaus hadn’t been able to make him corporeal or visible again on purpose.
He alternated between sweating and shivering. His eyes kept watering, his nose kept running, and his muscles felt like he’d been bench pressing Luther. He was itching to do something, anything, but also couldn’t stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. His siblings had to untangle him from the scarf he’d been trying to work on a few times so he didn’t wrap it around his neck while he slept and choked himself. That would have been an embarrassing way to go.
The tremors that started around the end of the second day certainly didn’t make knitting any easier either. Honestly, he was so over withdrawal. But not in a way that he had experienced the many times he’d done this before. Not in a way that he wanted to be high again. Because surprisingly, he didn’t. He was just… bored of feeling like shit.
Sometimes during the third, or maybe fourth day, he woke up from a nightmare he didn’t remember, but knew was about Vietnam.
“Who’s Dave?” Vanya asked.
Klaus had nearly missed her, folded up in his chair. God she was tiny.
“Was I yelling in my sleep again?”
Vanya paused. “More… pleading.”
“Oh.” Tears sprung to his eyes. And if anyone asked, he was definitely blaming it on the withdrawal.
Vanya pushed the box of tissues closer to him, but didn’t say anything.
“After the attack on the house, you know, Hazel and Cha Cha, that fun time where they tortured me, etcetera, I stole their briefcase. You know, junkie Klaus, figured I could pawn whatever was in it.”
He sighed. “Instead I found myself in 1968, in Vietnam.”
Vanya’s eyes widened almost comically, even in the dim light of the room.
“I was there for ten months. I probably could have come back at any time, if I’d opened the case again, but…” He shrugged. “I guess I thought there wasn’t a lot to come back to. I’d been missing for days and no one had noticed. No one came for me. Which I deserved, I guess. I had a track record of disappearing.”
He shrugged again. “But what I really stayed for was Dave.” Something in Klaus’s chest swelled with the thought of him. “I loved him,” Klaus told Vanya. “I thought we were going to be together forever. I would have done it, you know, lived in 1968, 1969, suffered through the fashion of the 70s, all for him. I would have done anything for him.”
Vanya smiled at him. Her eyes looked wet too, but maybe that was just because Klaus’s were full of tears.
“But the war couldn’t get enough bodies. Hell, it’s why they took me. I had nothing, no paperwork, no ID. Hell, all I was wearing was a towel and a jacket. There was no proof I existed, let alone should have been there, but they pushed a gun into my hands and a helmet on my head and whisked me to the front lines.”
He sighed. “Those were the best ten months of my life. But like most good things, it came to an end, because why wouldn’t it?” He attempted to grin. It fell flat.
“The war couldn’t get enough bodies, and it took his. He died in my arms. It was…” He sighed. “You know. The fucking worst. So I came back, because it wasn’t like this could be any worse, right?” He laughed a little. “Save the world and whatever.”
He looked down at his blanket and traced the pattern out with his fingers instead of looking at Vanya.
“It was the anniversary of the day he died,” he said finally. “That’s why.”
He looked up to gauge Vanya’s reaction, and instead he only managed to see a flash of her as she threw herself at him.
“God Klaus,” she said, wrapping him in a hug. “I can’t imagine. And you went through that all alone. Do any of the others know?”
“Uh, Ben knows a bit. Diego and Five even less.” He relaxed slightly in the hug.
“Thank you for telling me.” She let go of him and stepped back a bit. “Do you want to tell me about Dave some more?”
“Yeah,” Klaus said, surprising himself a bit. “Yeah, I’d love that.”
Vanya beamed at him.
At some point, Vanya ran downstairs to grab a container of ice cream and two spoons, and Klaus dug out some of the nail polish he’d stolen from Allison years ago. With dad dead, he could get his own, but this one had special meaning.
The ate ice cream and painted each other’s nails and Klaus told her all about meeting Dave, falling for him, and finding out it was requited.
“I mean, it was the 60s, so the army wasn’t super into it, but like I said before, they were desperate for people,” Klaus told her as he painted his little sister’s pinky bright blue.
“The first time we kissed was in town on leave,” he sighed, as Vanya painted his index finger a shimmery purple. “And I knew that if I never kissed anyone else, I’d die happily.”
The ice cream was a mostly melted soup by the time Klaus was openly sobbing as he recounted how he had to hold Dave as he died, how he pleaded for him to just stay.
And when Klaus couldn’t fall asleep, long after their nails were dry, and the ice cream had been dumped in the sink, Vanya brought in her violin, and played soft, sad songs until Klaus drifted off.
The worst of it was over by the time Allison flew back for their weekly family dinner. Klaus knew that someone had told her, just by the way she looked at him, but couldn’t find it in him to be upset.
“How are you doing?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Better than yesterday.” It was the truth, which was more than he could say for a lot of the other possible responses to that question.
She smiled fondly at him.
Klaus had helped Mom make the dinner. It was Vietnamese, at his request. He was waiting for someone, Luther, to comment on it, but no one did. Maybe they knew he was itching for a fight.
The conversation was boring, for the most part. Diego was civil towards Luther. Five remained at the table for the whole meal. Allison told them about seeing Claire that week. And Klaus managed to manifest Ben for dinner. He wasn’t corporeal, but it was still impressive. Or he thought so at least.
After the meal, Mom refused all offers to help clean up, and sent them into the living room, where there was a horrifying surprise waiting for them. Well. To the others. Klaus was the one who prepared it, and was delighted by everyone’s reactions.
“I am not a child. I’m not playing a game,” Five hissed.
“Ah, but this game is for adults,” Klaus assured him.
“I don’t know about this,” Luther said.
“Oh, it’ll be fun,” Allison said.
Klaus wasn’t sure if it was funnier if she knew the game or not.
“I’m going first,” he announced.
It turned out Allison did know the game, and she gave the others a brief rundown while Klaus handed out cards, before grabbing the top card from the black deck.
“What’s my anti-drug?” he read.
Ben, hovering behind him, invisible to the others, snickered. “This oughta be good.”
Klaus read the cards with delight. He had to choose between hot people, a homoerotic volleyball montage, sex with Patrick Stewart, daddy issues, and alcoholism.
“You all know me so well,” he sighed, holding a hand to his chest. “I’m going to have to go with hot people, although a homoerotic volleyball montage was close behind.”
Vanya took the black card, grinning, and then it was Five’s turn. “I get by with a little help from…”
A balanced breakfast, the heart of a child, pretending to care, a time travel paradox, and mutually assured destruction.
“Okay, who said a balanced breakfast?” Klaus asked. “I doubt he’s had a balanced breakfast since the day he disappeared. Now he just drinks coffee.
Allison shrugged. “None of my other cards fit.”
“It’s pretending to care. Obviously.”
Luther smiled a little and accepted the card.
“Damn, I thought I was going to get it with a time travel paradox,” Vanya said. She read her card out. “Coming to Broadway this season: blank: The Musical.”
Klaus grinned. He had a very good chance of winning this round.
She turned the cards over thoughtfully, and after a moment, laid them out on the table for all of them to see.
Sexual tension, The Holy Bible, German dungeon porn, Aaron Burr, and The Great Depression.
Vanya handed the card to Klaus.
“How do you know he won?” Luther protested.
“Because he’s the one who went with me to see Hamilton,” she replied.
“Immigrants. We get the job done,” Klaus replied, giving her a fist bump.
“How do you know you’re immigrants?” Luther asked, confused.
Klaus rolled his eyes. “Because Mom named us based on our countries of origin. Duh.”
Luther considered that, but picked up a black card instead of responding. “Blank. It’s a trap!”
They all shoved cards at him, and he picked up the stack.
He looked a bit confused, but finally set down the card that read natural male enhancement.
“Thank you,” Allison said, grabbing the black card from him.
“Let’s see the others,” Klaus whined, and Luther splayed the other cards out on the table.
A Bop It, world peace, cuddling, and white privilege were the other options. Klaus didn’t think Luther knew exactly what white privilege was, but he appreciated whoever played that card.
Diego grabbed for a black card. He frowned. “This one has two blanks.”
“So we choose two cards.”
“Step 1: blank. Step 2: blank. Step 3: profit.”
Diego didn’t even try to juggle the five sets of cards, just flipped them over and let everyone look at them while he made his decision.
Black people and the KKK.
Poor people and being rich.
William Shatner and giving 110%.
A defective condom and pulling out.
Assless chaps and friction.
Klaus was pretty happy with his assless chaps. The KKK one might have been insensitive, but he supposed that was how the game worked. The condom one seemed like something Vanya would never say, so it was probably hers.
Diego snickered. “Okay, it’s the Shatner one.”
Five had his hand out before Diego even finished saying his favourite.
He shook his head. “I should have known.”
“You’re predictable,” Five told him. “Makes it easy to be assassinated, and also to beat you in games like these.”
Diego rolled his eyes.
Allison grinned, and then read out her card. “White people like…”
Klaus grinned as he slapped his card down near Allison.
She took a moment to consider them before laying them flat for them to see.
Former president George W Bush, a micropig wearing a tiny raincoat and booties, her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Lunchables, and hot cheese.
“Oh my god,” Klaus whispered. “I’m just imagining that pig right now. I’m a white people and I love it.”
Allison laughed. “Yeah, but I love it too. Whose card was hot cheese?”
Diego waved at her.
“Should have known,” Allison grinned.
“We do love our cheese,” Klaus agreed.
At the end of the first round, they were tied. Klaus vowed to do better in the second round, even if it meant making Luther blush. Actually, he should get bonus points if he made Luther blush. He’d see about adding that into the rules for next time.
Klaus looked at the card. “Blank. That’s how I want to die.”
“Are you okay?” Ben whispered over his shoulder.
Klaus ignored him.
He flipped the cards over one at a time.
A murder most foul. Okay. This was going fine. Saying ‘I love you’. Yup, that would do it. Doin’ it in the butt. Klaus snickered. If that killed him… well he’d have died a long time ago. A sad handjob. Uh, no, that was one of the ways he least wanted to die. It should at least be a good handjob if it was going to kill him. Friendly fire.
“Please, please... Please stay with me, Dave. Stay with me. No, no, no.”
There was blood all over his hands and he was crying. Bullets filled the air around him but he didn’t care. They all missed him anyway.
He screamed for a medic, but it was no use. Dave stopped breathing. Klaus stopped breathing. Or at least it felt like he did. His chest ached, and his vision was spotty.
“Come on Klaus, breathe,” someone urged. “Your hand is on my chest. Can you feel me breathing?”
No, he couldn’t. He didn’t feel anything, just the warm blood between his fingers, and Dave’s cooling body under his hands.
But Dave stopped breathing. Why was the person he was touching breathing?
He wasn’t in the jungle of Vietnam, he was underneath the table in the living room. He wasn’t holding Dave, but instead Five was clutching Klaus’s hand to his chest, breathing in a very exaggerated way.
“That’s good Klaus,” he said.
“Shit,” he breathed. No, this was very very bad. He’d just had a fucking flashback, panic attack, whatever, in front of everyone. They were never going to leave him alone now. He was never going to get a moment of peace.
He scrambled back across the floor, narrowly missing the edge of the table with his head, and half crawled to his feet. Five was the only one left in the room. Maybe they figured he’d respond better if he wasn’t crowded? Klaus didn’t care. He stumbled out of the room without looking back, and into the nearest bathroom, where he threw up until there was nothing left in his stomach.
“Klaus?” Ben asked softly.
Klaus just closed his eyes, leaning against the cool tiles, and didn’t respond.
He managed to manifest Ben enough that he could explain to the others that he was mostly fine, just needed a bit of time alone.
After Ben told him they’d stopped hovering outside the bathroom, Klaus got shakily to his feet, and tried to make himself look less like a mess, which really was a fruitless endeavor.
But when he opened the door Vanya was still there, hovering. Klaus glared at Ben.
“Do you need some help getting back to your room?” she asked, eyeing his shaky legs.
“You’re so small,” he protested, even as she took his arm and draped it over her shoulder. She was deceptively strong though, which might also have been attributed to the song she was humming and the slight sway of the air around them.
“You know, I think I was winning,” he said thoughtfully as she helped him into bed.
“Well, it is the kind of game you’re good at.”
“Better than Luther anyway, like that’s hard. God, did you see his face when he was reading the ‘white privilege’ card. I bet he has no idea what it means.”
Vanya smiled at him. “Did you… Do you want to be alone for a bit or do you think…” She bit her lip.
“Could you teach me to knit? I’d like to be able to make hats.”
“Oh, sure! I’ll probably teach you a scarf first, but you’ll be making hats soon enough, no problem.” He hopped to his feet. “Just let me find another pair of knitting needles.”
Of course, that took twenty minutes of digging through the closet, Ben being of no help, and Klaus repeatedly making closet jokes, before he managed to find two needles that matched more or less, and a ball of yarn that wasn’t hideous.
Vanya sat next to him on the bed as Klaus stared at his knitting and realized this was going to be very difficult.
“Okay, casting on. Uh.”
Vanya and Klaus ended up tied together for a good ten minutes before Vanya managed to get a single stitch cast on. But that was the worst part, and soon enough she was knitting stitches like a pro. Certainly better than Klaus, who was still experiencing withdrawal tremors that were making it difficult to do anything with fine motor skills. He didn’t mind so much, because Vanya kept chatting about the hats she would make once she learned how to do more stitches, and the neighbor in her apartment who’d recently had a baby, and maybe making socks to donate to the homeless shelter.
Vanya’s constant quiet chatter and the warm sun that was crawling across his back both were so soothing that at some point, in the middle of a row, Klaus fell asleep.
He had a vague sense that Vanya took his knitting, and tucked him in, but he might have just imagined that.
He awoke the next morning extremely confused and feeling as though there was a desert that had taken up residence in his throat. It was nearly noon.
Ben poked his head through the closed door. “Oh good you’re awake. I think the others were getting concerned you were comatose.”
“I mean, almost,” Klaus mumbled, rubbing his face. Eyeliner from like three days ago came off on his hands. “Do you think I’ll be able to take a bath without them barging in assuming I’ve drowned?”
“No more than half an hour.”
Klaus sighed. “I’ll keep it short then.”
He didn’t play music while in the bath, not after the whole getting kidnapped thing. Turned out war was great for a few things, like hypervigilance. Thanks PTSD!
He washed off the makeup from whenever the fuck he last put it on, and the gross film from the flashback and resulting panic attack, and then spent twenty minutes after he got out of the tub trying to paint his toenails with shaky hands.
He finally just gave up when Luther knocked on the door to make sure he was okay and still breathing. Klaus definitely did not want his help.
He ended up in his room, staring at his knitting. He got maybe a row done. He wasn’t sure what happened in between that and looking up to find it was after 4pm. Which wasn’t the first time something like that had happened, but to be fair he was usually high when it happened.
He couldn’t bring himself to be concerned.
He wandered downstairs after that. Ben had said something about leaving, although Klaus hadn’t listened and also didn’t remember what exactly he said. But he figured someone else was bound to be there, even if it was just Mom.
And she was the first person he ran into as he poked his head into the kitchen. She was wearing one of the aprons she’d gotten in the last few months, something with a stylish print that didn’t look like it was from the fifties. There were measuring cups and spoons on the counter, and she was holding a large bowl as she stirred whatever was in it.
“Hey Mom,” Klaus said.
“Oh, hello dear,” Mom greeted him. “We’re having waffles for dinner. Will you be joining us?”
Klaus blinked. He couldn’t remember Mom ever making waffles before. “Why?”
She turned and looked at him. “Because they’re your favourite, silly. Vanya told me that you were sad, and Diego had told me before that waffles were your favourite, so I figured, why not. They won’t be ready for a bit, so you go and talk with the others before then.”
She turned back to her mixing bowl. Klaus really hoped it wasn’t the one he’d thrown up in.
He wandered to the living room, where the card game from yesterday showed no signs of ever having been there. For all that it was called a living room, they rarely seemed to do much living in it. Maybe it had something to do with the taxidermied animals and the giant portrait of Five.
God, he couldn’t believe that was still hanging. He’d have thought Five would have burned it. Or that it would have somehow disappeared with changing the timeline. Thinking about it just made Klaus’s head hurt, so instead of wondering, he shoved a table over and grabbed the whole frame from the wall. He tossed it to the ground. He’d let Five decide what he wanted to do with it. Burn it maybe? Use it as target practice? Who knew.
While he was up there, he also grabbed down the nearest taxidermied animal, which happened to be a moose that Reginald had shot on a hunting trip a million years ago or whatever. Maybe Klaus would bury it in the courtyard, one more fuck you to dear old dad.
And wasn’t that a delicious idea. Klaus was suddenly burning with nervous energy, and he couldn’t think of a better way to use it than to bury some memento of their shitty adoptive father in his favourite spot.
He grabbed the head, shoved his feet into a pair of shoes, and went to find a shovel.
On reflection, Klaus overestimated his abilities. He had a tendency to do that. The ground was hard, and it wasn’t like Klaus was proficient with using a shovel. He dug maybe a foot deep, another foot and a half wide before he had to take a break on the bench. He was filthy, covered in mud and sweat, and he didn’t even realize he was crying until something dripped onto his hand and he realized he was sobbing.
He pulled his knees to his chest, wrapped his arms around them, and cried.
Diego was the one who found him. Klaus had no idea how long it had been. He wasn’t sure where Ben was either.
Diego didn’t say anything when he came across Klaus sobbing outside, moose head thrown nearby, shovel set down next to a hole and pile of dirt. He just surveyed the scene and picked up the shovel, digging without a word.
By the time the hole was big enough, Klaus had stopped crying. He picked up the moose head, stared into its dead eyes, sending a quick thanks to a god he still wasn’t certain of that he’d never seen the ghost of it around, and set it into the grave with more love that it had likely seen during any of its time in the Hargreeves house.
Diego helped him pack the soil back into the hole.
“Dinner should be soon,” Diego said. “You coming?”
Klaus nodded, standing up and brushing the dirt from his coat, as if that would help. “Mom said waffles. Wonder who told her I liked those.”
Diego shrugged and didn’t look at Klaus.
Klaus hummed. “Right.”
Despite the siren song of waffles inside, they both stood there for another minute, staring at the grave.
“His name was Dave,” Klaus said suddenly, surprising himself.
“The one you lost?”
“Sounds like he was really special to put up with your weird ass shit,” Diego said, smiling a bit. “If you wanted to talk more about him, I’d love to hear it.”
Klaus’s eyes welled up with tears again.
“Yeah,” he breathed. “Yeah, I think I’d like that.”
They both started shuffling inside. Surely Mom would have a scolding for them being covered in dirt, and Luther might have a few choice words to say about the moose Klaus had buried, but despite the amount Klaus had cried that day, and in the past week, he finally felt like things were not suffocating. That speaking Dave’s name out loud had lifted something from his chest he hadn’t realized was there, pressing on his lungs and keeping him from breathing deep to get enough air.
Because Diego was looking at him with something like genuine interest on his face, and Klaus felt the words start spilling from him, even as he sobbed, and he thought that yes, something was loosening. Maybe it was pain. Maybe it was just loneliness.
By the time they made it to the kitchen with their slow shuffle of muddy boots, Klaus had gotten to the part where Dave had died and he came back to the future hollow and empty.
The rest of his siblings were in the kitchen, already at the table, and Mom took one look at them and didn’t even comment on the mud, just made sure they washed their hands before sitting down, and in front of each of them she set down a plate of waffles with smiley faces.
And Klaus took a deeper breath than he could remember in ages.
Me: for some reason klaus ends up burying a taxidermied moose head in the courtyard
LiveDragons: Sometimes you just gotta bury something
Me: it's a METAPHOR, probably