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We Band of Brothers

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The air was freezing when he woke up, biting at his skin. He felt as though he’d been asleep for hours, and his head was pounding so hard his vision was fuzzy. He racked his mind, trying to remember what had happened. He’d been talking...no, answering. He’d been answering questions from the two in the masks. Hazel and Cha Cha. But they hadn’t liked his answers, and Cha Cha had hit him in the head with her handgun. That must’ve been when he blacked out. That explained why his head felt as though it had been cracked open, and he could feel a trail of blood oozing sluggishly from his temple.

Slowly, he felt the room come into focus. His hands and feet were numb from sitting, and his face was raw where he’d had duct tape applied and removed for 3 days. At least he thought it was 3 days, it was hard to tell when he spent so much of his time knocked out or in the dark.

He tried his best to gain back some of the feeling in his limbs, slowly turning his head to look around, ignoring his body’s protests. He sighed as the familiar French doors of the closet came into view, feeling claustrophobia creep back in. He had always hated small spaces, since he was a kid, though the only person he’d ever told was Ben. He wished he was here now, though it looked as though he had no such luck. Ben always knew what to say when he was drunk or high or had been kicked to shit and left in an alleyway somewhere. And he could always tell when he was scared.

Though he couldn’t let it show to Hazel and Cha Cha, he truly was. Withdrawal was getting more intense, and he could almost feel the ghosts lurking behind him, waiting until he was sober enough to torment again. His entire body hurt, and he felt as though he had been either barely lucid or painfully wide awake for the past two days, Hazel and Cha Cha sometimes refusing to let him sleep. Those nights were the worst. He didn’t need Ben to tell him how awful he looked, though he imagined it was even worse than he felt.

His hair was damp with water and blood, and he was covered in bruises and scratch marks from hours of questioning. His neck had been smarting for what felt like days, the cord Cha Cha had used having bitten into his skin, leaving it red and irritated. He feared her more than he did Hazel, not that Hazel had held back either. When he hit, he meant it.

Suddenly, the doors swung open, one of them running painfully into his foot. He let his head roll backwards as his chair was pulled back into the main part of the hotel room, bracing himself for the hit he knew was coming. Sure enough, Cha Cha’s hand cracked against the left side of his jaw, and he bit back a yelp. Keeping up a hard ass persona was much harder sober, and he was so fucking tired that he barely had the energy to care anymore.

“Wake up asshole.” Cha Cha snapped, settling his chair in the center of the room. He swore as she ripped the tape off of his mouth.

“I’m awake.” he slurred, slowly lifting his head. His eyes swam at the sudden light fighting its way through the curtain, and he winced as another beam of pain racked through his head. He shifted in his bonds as Hazels form stepped in front of him, lowering until they were face to face.

“You still don’t want to tell us anything?” he glowered. Klaus did his best to glower back, though he imagined he only looked stupid. Even so, he knew this game by now. Hazel rose quickly, shoving both of Klaus’ shoulders back. He cursed as the chair tipped backwards, slamming into the ground.

“I’ll be back.” he muttered. “Don’t go anywhere.”

Klaus smiled lazily, letting his head rest on the shag carpet. He could feel his vision clouding around the edges, and it was then that he realized he hadn’t eaten in days. He turned his head as best as he could, hearing Hazel slam the door that led out of the room. He wished he wouldn’t be so loud.

He could faintly hear another voice, and he tensed as he realized it didn’t sound like Hazel or Cha Cha. He hoped it was just someone outside. The voice was joined by another, the both of them growing louder, and undeniably angrier. His chest tightened as he tried to shut them out, breath rising and falling out of tempo.

“No, no, no…” he moaned, shaking his head as though he could silence the voices. “Please go away, I can’t…”

“It’s withdrawal, isn’t it?” Ben’s voice cut through the air, making Klaus jump. “It must be.”

“Shut up.” Klaus muttered. “Just leave me alone.”

“You can hear them all now, can’t you?” He crouched down next to Klaus’ form, looking him in the eyes.

“I don’t want to talk to them.“ His throat felt thick. “I just want them to go away. For once, just please go away…”

If he had had the strength, he probably would have cried, but instead he simply closed his eyes, feeling consciousness slipping away. He could hear footsteps, though whether they were Ben’s or his captors or a pissed off ghosts he didn’t know.

“Check his coat.” someone snapped. He could hear the sound of something being shuffled around, but it sounded far away, as if he was behind a sheet of glass.

“Klaus.”

“What, Ben?” he snapped, his head still sinking into the ratty carpet.

“Look.”

Wearily, he opened his eyes, and he could see Hazel and Cha Cha were both back, and looking through some sort of coat. His coat. Maybe they thought they’d missed some of his drugs. They were probably right.

“Hey!” he cried out softly. “Put that down, that’s… thats my personal stuff! Don’t touch that!”

“Shut up!” Cha Cha snapped, still looking through his pockets. After a moment, she seemed to have found what she was looking for, smirking as she advanced on him.

“Look Hazel!” she cried. “Looks like our junkie here has a boyfriend!”

She brandished the item in front of her, Hazel grabbing it from her hands to look. Klaus strained to see from his vantage point on the floor. He couldn’t make it out at first, but after a moment realized Hazel was holding a photograph, wrinkled from being in his pocket for months. It was a still of him and Ben from a few years ago, sitting on a park bench somewhere, their cheeks red from the cold. He remembered the day vaguely through his addled mind. It was one of the only times their father had let them out of the house, and they’d chosen to go to a park just down the street.

Before he could come up with any smart ass remarks, Hazel was lifting his chair off of the ground, setting him back upright. He held the picture in front of his face, so close it was almost touching his nose.

“Who’s this?” Hazel asked, wiggling the photograph and making Klaus go cross-eyed.

“What’s it to you?” Klaus snapped back. This time he couldn’t hold in a curse as Hazel struck him across the face, making his head snap backwards with the force of it.

“You’re not giving us any information about your brother, and we’re here anyway.” Hazel said, pulling up a chair opposite Klaus as he gingerly moved his head back to where it had been. “Cha Cha is going out, and I’m bored. So I’ll give you another chance to answer my question.”

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Klaus deadpanned.

“Elaborate.”

“He’s my brother.”

“You have another one?” Hazel seemed genuinely surprised.

“Yeah.” Klaus sighed. “He died.”

“Is that why you’re like this?” Hazel asked, absently inspecting the photograph.

“Yeah.” Klaus snickered. “Yeah, I guess so. He hates it.”

Hazel raised an eyebrow, finally giving Klaus his full attention. He didn’t offer anymore information, instead letting his head roll to the side, eyes glazed over as he seemingly studied the wall behind his captor.

“You can… see him?” Hazel asked after a moment.

“Yeah, I can see him.” he sighed. “You don’t want to know the shit he’s said about you.” He was expecting Hazel to hit him again, but instead he simply sat back in his chair, looking at the tiny photo.

“He was nice to me.” Klaus said, looking as though he were somewhere else entirely. “None of the others were, but he always made it seem like he wanted me around, you know?”

“The others?”

“Yeah, I have a big family. Lots of bullshit.” he laughed quietly. He was sure that the personal information would be used against him. He wasn’t sure he cared.

“Can I ask you a personal question?” Hazel ventured, tucking the photograph into his pocket. Klaus laughed again, loudly this time, amused by the absurdity of the question.

“I expect you’ll beat the answer out of me if I say no, so why not?” He strained his neck to either side, trying to get more comfortable. He was still freezing.

“Why hasn’t anyone come for you?”

“They think I’ve run away again.” he answered truthfully,hearing how childish it was even as he said it. “Or they just don’t want to look for me.”

“Your family?”

“Yeah, my family. They’re a bunch of assholes.”

“So you run off… often?”

“Yeah.” he replied. “Something like that.”

“Don’t tell him.” Ben warned. “He’s just going to use it against you.”

“Shut up!” Klaus snapped. “I wasn’t going to tell him anything.”

“Tell me what?” Hazel asked.

“Nothing.” Klaus shook his head. “It’s nothing, I just… look, I don’t even know why I’m talking to you, okay?”

“It’s not like you’re going anywhere else.” Hazel chuckled. He sat for a minute, gazing once again at the tiny picture. It was slightly ripped, Klaus noticed, though he didn’t know if it was from his own hands or from Cha Cha’s manhandling of his coat.

“But you’re right,” he rose, shoving the photo in his pocket. “we shouldn’t do too much talking until Cha Cha comes back.”

Klaus tensed as he grabbed the back of his chair, dragging him back towards the closet. Ben was watching him from the corner, looking as though he wished he hadn’t spoken. Klaus really had to stop responding to him out loud.

“Hey! Hey, wait, I need that photo back!” he struggled against the tape, his movements weak. Hazel didn’t reply, simply letting out a laugh. It made Klaus’ blood boil.

“You know what my family is!” his voice was heavy with panic. “Your days are numbered.”

It was an empty threat, and he suspected Hazel knew it, but he didn’t have much else. He could feel his stomach drop at the thought of another night in the tiny closet, claustrophobia creeping down his spine. He grimaced at how pathetic he probably looked, his hands scrabbling at the arms of his chair as though it would do anything.

“Don’t count on it.” Hazel replied, pushing him into the the closet. “No one’s coming for you, remember?”

Klaus dropped his head against the back wall as the door slammed closed, a small noise something like a sob escaping him. When sleep finally claimed him, there were still tears running down his face.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

He didn’t know how much time had passed when he woke up, only that he was hungry and everything hurt. Through the faint light coming through the slats of the doors, he could see Ben sitting in the corner, as if waiting for him to wake up. He stirred slightly, and his brothers head snapped upwards.

“You okay?” he asked gently. He fidgeted slightly, as if he wanted to put a hand on his shoulder but didn’t quite know how to go about it.

“Fantastic, thank you for asking.” Klaus twisted his head to the side, cracking his neck.

“Don’t give me that.”

Klaus sat for a moment, leaning heavily back in his chair. His head was pounding again, and he couldn’t recall a specific instance that would have caused it, he’d taken so many knocks to the head.

“Hey Ben.” he breathed out softly, looking as though speaking pained him. “I ever tell you about the time I went to jail?”

“I was there, Klaus.”

“This is worse.”

He didn’t know if that was entirely the truth or not, but it didn’t seem far off. Then again, the last few days were such a blur that he wasn’t sure he would even remember them. Maybe that was a good thing.

He felt a pang in his chest looking at Ben. He had tried so hard to keep him safe. There was only so much you could do when you were dead.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“We the jury find the defendant guilty of 3 charges of drug possession, 7 counts of reckless driving, and 1 count of attempted arson.”

The courtroom was immediately abuzz, whispering like wildfire amongst the long bench seats. Klaus sighed, leaning back in his chair. He didn’t want to look at Ben.

“You are hereby sentenced to 9 months in Hamilton Ontario prison.” The judge deadpanned. His attitude was incredibly prickish, making Klaus clench his fists. Even with an audience in front of him, he drawled out the sentence lazily, as if it was somehow inconveniencing him.

“Asshole.” Klaus thought, and wondered whether or not he should warn him that there was a particularly pissed off looking inmate standing behind him, cursing so fouly it would have made Five blush. He decided to just flip him off instead.

He yelped as he felt two cops grab him from behind, dragging him out of his chair in front of everyone. One pinned his arms behind him , the other reached for their cuffs.

“Hey, hold on!” he shouted. “What did I do?”

The whole courtroom seemed to be shouting now, both those alive and those dead gossiping as if he wasn’t even there. How much family did these people have? He hadn’t even actually started à fire!

He glanced furtively out into the crowd, looking for any members of his family. None of them were there. Typical. He wondered how long it would take them to even realize he’d been locked up.

He cursed as they slapped the handcuffs on his wrists, way too tight for comfort. When they finally managed to get him out of the courtroom, they were breathing so heavily it looked as though one of them might keel over. He couldn’t help but be slightly proud of himself, and besides, he was used to people being pissed at him by now. He laughed as one of the cops reached for the stun gun at his belt, red in the face.

“Do it!” Klaus snapped, trying to wrench his elbows away from the one holding him. “I know you’re just dying to…”

He was cut off as the cop jammed the stun gun into his side, electricity coursing through his body. He yelled a barrage of curse words, the cop finally letting him go as he slumped to the ground. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a figure approaching, a stab of guilt running through him when he realized who it was.

“Klaus!” Ben yelled, dropping to his knees beside him. “Klaus! Are you okay?”

The officers simply looked on, one of them even daring to chuckle slightly. Ben looked panicked, his face falling as he tried to lay his hand on Klaus’ shoulder, only for it to pass through. He wished he could do something to tell him he was going to be okay, but none of his muscles would listen to him.

After watching him a moment more, the officers forced him back to his feet, his body going limp in their arms. He could sense Ben watching him, and he wished that they had just left him on the floor. At least then he could have apologized. Of all the people he owed an apology to, Ben was at the top of the list. And it was an incredibly long list.

When he finally regained control of his muscles, they were already leading him through the doors of the prison. He stood, mute, as they took his fingerprints and mugshot. There was no point in fighting, he was outnumbered now. Instead, he tried to put his hands in his pockets, then settled for letting them hang limply when he realized his cuffs were too short.

“Name?” snapped the officer taking his prints, the ink smearing up his wrists as he attempted to move his stiffening fingers.

“Klaus Hargreeves.”

The lady paused, looking at him with a mix of fascination and fear. He knew that look. He knew the question that came next.

“Ain’t you one of them Umbrella kids?” she asked, turning to à large cupboard and pulling it open.

“No.” Klaus deadpanned. “Not anymore.”

“Shame.” she sighed, looking as though she might actually mean it. “They did some good back in the day.”

“Yeah.” he replied. “That was a long time ago.”

“Here.” the officer was all business once more, placing à large orange bundle on the table separating them. “Bathroom is through that door, put these on.”

He tried not to think too much as he peeled off his own clothes, moving them into a pile on the counter. The orange jumpsuit was far too big on his scrawny frame, and not for the first time he wished he was stronger. Not knowing what to do with his shoes he put them back on, lacing them quickly as another cop banged on the door.

He took a short look at himself in the cracked mirror, face falling. He barely looked like himself anymore. He didn’t know what he’d expected.

He only began to truly feel scared when they led him to his cell.

The noise was deafening, all the inmates shouting obscenities at him so terrible that for a moment his fake confidence faltered, and he put his head down, walking alongside the cop with him obediently. He somehow felt more visible and exposed in the bright orange jumpsuit than he had in his own tight fitting clothes.

They had almost made it when one of the inmates snaked their arms through the opening of their own cell, grabbing the front of his jumpsuit and slamming him against the bars.

“Hey there sweetheart.” The man growled. Klaus tried not to grimace at the overpowering smell of cigarettes. He let out a small noise of protest as the bigger man grabbed his wrist, turning it over to expose his arm. “Looks like you’re a druggy too, huh? I think you and I are going to get along just fine…”

He yelped as the horrible man tightened his grip, dragging him even closer. Finally, the officer stepped in, shoving the inmate backwards.

“You know the rules!” he barked as Klaus massaged his wrist, which felt somehow dirtier than it had a moment ago. He quickly moved on, keeping his head low, and feeling almost relieved when his own cell door closed behind him, signalling some small semblance of safety.

Once the officer left, he sank onto his bed, head in his hands. He wasn’t going to make it through nine months of this. Not with withdrawal already creeping in, making the ghosts around him even more acute. He looked to the side, going to grab his blanket, when he realized Ben was right next to him.

“Shit!” he cried, jumping onto his feet and stumbling back a few steps. “Don’t do that, Ben!”

He gathered himself for a moment, surprised when he realized that Ben wasn’t speaking. He was simply staring at him coldly, his jaw set. If he had been able, he probably would’ve punched him. He wasn’t upset anymore, he was pissed.

“Ben…” Klaus started.

“You idiot.” Ben snapped. “You absolute fucking idiot.”

Klaus fell silent, staring down at his battered leather boots. Ben hardly ever cursed. Hell, he hardly ever even got angry, especially not with Klaus. This was worse than any lecture he had ever received.

“You promised you would stop this!” Ben shouted. “You said you weren’t going to do shit like this anymore! And I warned you. I warned you this is where you’d end up. Think about everyone this affects! The team, your family…”

“They don’t even know I’m here!” Klaus snapped back, attempting to keep his voice low. The last thing he needed was these monsters to see him seemingly talking to himself. “They didn’t even bother to show up to the court hearing!”

“And why would they?” Ben was quiet again. “They’re not going to be surprised, Klaus. And besides, there’s nothing they could have done.”

“They could’ve come anyway.” Klaus muttered, sinking onto the floor, back against the bars of his cell.

“I put up with a lot of your bullshit, Klaus.” Ben sighed. “Because I worry. And the others do too. But this one’s all on you.”

Klaus was surprised to feel hot tears hitting his hands, his vision blurry. Ben was right to be angry. He’d fucked up, big time. By the time he looked up again, he was alone.

He sighed, leaning back heavily, the bars biting into his back. It was freezing, and loud. He didn’t know he’d dozed off until he felt someone grab the collar of his shirt, pulling back and slamming his head on the bars.

“Hey there, gorgeous.” someone crooned in his ear. He startled, trying to pull away, but his shirt only tightened around his throat. “What’s your name?”

“Fuck off.” Klaus gasped, clawing at the fabric that was crushing his windpipe. The man grabbed a fistul of his hair, wrenching his head backwards painfully.

“I asked you a question, sweetheart.”

“Klaus.” he choked out, panicking at how dizzy he was starting to feel.

“Klaus what?”

“Hargreeves!” he shouted, trying to rip the man’s hands off. Finally, the hand around his neck relaxed, and he sucked in air, letting out a yell of protest as the man reached around and grabbed the front of his shirt, pulling him until they were face to face.

He was about a head taller than Klaus, and twice as broad. Unlike most of the others, he only had one tattoo, a rose covered in thorns snaking up his arm, disappearing under the sleeve of his orange jumpsuit. He looked like he hadn’t seen the light of day in a while, and was giving a hideous grin.

“That’s beautiful.” he smirked. “I’m Andy.”

“Never heard of you.” Klaus snapped, regretting it as the man landed a punch to his stomach, making his legs crumble from underneath him.

He coughed violently as he tried to squirm farther away, letting out a curse as the man grabbed his hair once more, exposing his neck. His breathing quickened, and Andy laughed.

“I’m in charge, pretty boy, that’s all you need to know.” Andy growled. “And if anyone challenges that, I’ll bust their nose in. I’m not afraid to make sure you’re not quite à pretty anymore. Got it?”

“You think I’m a threat?” Klaus coughed, torso aching from being pulled into the bars.

“Nope.” he deadpanned, landing another hit to Klaus’ stomach. “I just want you to know that I am.”

Klaus couldn’t manage anything else through his fit of coughing.

Andy looked disgusted, finally dropping him, where he slumped to the floor and tried to regain his oxygen. He gasped at à hard kick to his side, cursing and scrambling to the back wall of his cell. He could hear Andy leaving as curled into a ball against the hard brick, wrapping his arms around himself.

He wished Ben would come back. Hell, he would’ve been happy to see any of his family members, even Luther. With Ben pissed at him, he could add lonely to the list of terrible things he was feeling. This time, when he fell asleep, he dreamed of the Academy.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The next time he was allowed out of his tiny closet cell, it was the middle of the night, and Cha Cha was pissed. She looked as though she hadn’t slept either, and wasn’t any better for it. Hazel simply stood back and watched as she tore into Klaus, landing a few good hits before he was even able to process what was happening.

“Alright, junkie.” she was breathing heavily. “One last chance. That’s all I’m giving you. One.”

“Works for me.” Klaus tried to manage a smile, which he imagined looked terrifying with his face coated in blood from his nose. “I told you, I don’t know anything.”

“Bullshit.”

“I already told you about my brother, didn’t I?” he laughed. “That’s all I know! And besides, you assholes have no more leverage!”

“You have no idea what we have, watch yourself.” Cha Cha warned.

“Don’t I?” he spat back. “You have my photo, you know that whatever bullshit you’re putting me through isn’t making me any more honest because I’ve told you everything, and, most importantly, you destroyed all of my drugs!”

Cha Cha stopped for a moment, weighing her options. Klaus hated the way she looked at him , as though he were nothing more than some sort of experiment. It reminded him of his dad. After a moment, she smiled, her dark eyes meeting his.

“You’re sure we’ve got everything you know?” she asked.

“Everything.” Klaus said, as confidently as he could while trying to ignore his newest headache.

“So what I’m hearing is that you’re completely useless to us?” She was circling now, like a cat.

“Completely useless. My family doesn’t tell me anything, I told you that. I’m the least likely person to know where Five is.”

He didn’t know what she was playing at, and he was too tired to try and guess. Maybe if he could really make them believe that he knew nothing they would let him go. He could catch whatever cab would take him from the hotel parking lot, and book it… well he didn’t really know where.

“Well if you’re not going to tell us anything, I guess there’s no reason to let you go then.”

The words took longer than he wanted to process. He shook his head for a moment, as if he was trying to physically make the statement clearer.

“Wait, wait, hold on… what do you mean?” he muttered, his eyes darting between her and Hazel.

“You heard me, asshole. You can’t tell us where your brother is then you don’t mean anything to us.”

“So… so I-”

“Disappear.” Hazel deadpanned. He’d done this before.

“Wait, but I told you everything I know!” he cried. “Please, guys, we’re adults, right? We can talk about this!”

“You had your chance to talk.” Cha Cha deadpanned, grabbing the back of his chair. Despite his hunger and weak limbs, he thrashed about underneath the tape. If he died here, he was going to haunt their asses to the end of time.

“No!” he tried to kick out at Cha Cha as she shoved him back into the closet.

“Hazel, get the tape!” she yelled. “Someone’s going to hear him.”

Klaus briefly wondered if he would be able to bite her hand, but figured it wouldn’t even be worth it. Instead he just growled as she silenced him and slammed the closet doors closed. He sat for a moment, breathing heavily, and felt a wave of relief wash over him as he finally heard their footsteps retreating, and the hotel door slamming behind him.

THe relief quickly dissipated however, replaced by a wave of dread. He was shivering violently, partly from cold and partly from fear. He didn’t want to know what Hazel and Cha Cha had in store for, now that they had apparently decided he had no purpose. He briefly wondered if anyone had even noticed that he’d vanished. He doubted it.

Finding that Ben was nowhere to be seen, he tried his best to settle into the chair, feeling exhaustion come over him once again.

He had only been dozing for about ten minutes, or what felt like it anyway, when he heard someone banging on the hotel room door. He tensed, straining to look through the slats of the doors. There was no way Hazel and Cha Cha were back already. The banging intensified, until he suddenly heard a shattering noise coming from the main room.

Without even really stopping to think, he began yelling as loud as he could through the tape, banging his chair against the floor. There was a small chance that it was someone else from Hazel and Cha Cha’s organization, but he was too delirious to care. He made as much noise as he could, screaming until his throat burned. He jumped when the doors suddenly flung open, bathing him in light. He could’ve cried with relief.

“Diego!” he cried as his brother ripped off the tape, almost giddy with happiness. “Holy shit you’re here!”

“Are you okay? Can you walk?” Diego looked almost sick to his stomach looking at him, Klaus couldn’t even imagine how terrible he looked.

“I think so.” he replied, massaging feeling back into his limbs as Diego cut them free. Slowly, he rose to his feet, his legs numb from sitting for four days.

“We have to go, now.” Diego urged, already heading back to the door.

“How did you find me?” Klaus grabbed his coat from the nightstand and shrugged it on, feeling his chest ache slightly when he realized Hazel still had his picture.

“Even you wouldn’t just disappear for that long.” Diego replied. “I checked all the usual places, then I realized that you disappeared right after those maniacs broke in. It took me longer than I thought it would to track them down. Sorry.”

“S’fine.” Klaus muttered, waving a casual hand through the air as he checked all of his coat pockets for anything left behind. “Let’s get out of here.”

He shoved his hands into his pockets as Diego led him down the stairs, knife in hand. It was dark outside, the street lights flickering in the dingey parking lot. Diego’s car seemed like it was actually one of the nicest there, which wasn’t saying much.

Diego was trailing him a little too closely as he slid into the passenger seat, as if he was worried that he would collapse at any moment. And really might have, he didn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He gave a long sigh as he settled back into the fake leather, revelling in the feeling of something even remotely soft beneath him. His vision blurred as he stared at the lights outside of the car, and for the first time in several days, he fell into a mostly peaceful sleep.

____________________________________________________________________________

Diego was still driving when Klaus awoke, his eyes bleary from a deep sleep. He tried to still his trembling hands, balling them up into the fabric of his jacket. He was still in pain all over, though now at least a bit less exhausted. Diego tried to keep his eyes on the road, wishing he knew what to say. Sadly, he was better with knives then he was with words.

“So.” he ventured after 15 minutes of silent driving, his fingers drumming on the wheel. “Are you okay?” It was an idiotic question.

“Fantastic.” Klaus deadpanned, his fingers twitching the way they did when he needed to smoke. Diego sighed, shifting in his seat. He figured it might be best to drop the subject, he could get to the bottom of what had happened later.

Klaus looked up slightly as the car rolled to a stop, eyes going wide when he realized they were back at The Academy.

“Sorry.” Diego muttered. “I don’t have anywhere else to go right now. Most of the others are gone, if that helps.”

Klaus didn’t reply, staring straight ahead once more. Diego jumped out of the car, trying to close the door quietly so as not to startle his brother, and ran around to open the passenger side door. He helped Klaus out of the car as gently as he could, every movement seeming to pain him. Eventually they made it to the front door, up the stairs, and into Diego’s room, where Klaus sat down on the bed. He was still shaking, so Diego wrapped a blanket around his shoulders. Klaus flinched when Diego brought his hands close to him, and it made his chest hurt to see him so scared.

“I’m going to start the shower, okay?” he said, trying to keep his tone even. “That way you can get cleaned up.”

Klaus nodded, muttering his thanks, and Diego made his way to the bathroom, letting steam fill the room as he started the shower. He tried not to think about the bruises he had seen around his brothers neck, taking a deep breath as he stepped back into the bedroom.

“Go on.” he said gently as he walked back into the hallway, fiddling with one of the knives at his belt. Klaus stood slowly, hugging his coat around himself, and shut the door.

Diego didn’t quite know what to do with himself while he waited, so he settled on pacing up and down the halls of the Academy, staying close to his room. Whatever shit Klaus had been through, it had messed him up. He kept glancing to the windows, as if Hazel and Cha Cha were going to ambush them at any moment. He would have to find a different place to stay with his brother, because they couldn’t be far behind.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As soon as Klaus looked in the mirror, he cried. He hadn’t truly been able to see what he looked like inside the hotel, and now that he could he was glad for it. Ben stood behind him as he looked in the mirror, looking as though he wished to help. Klaus was covered in bruises, scratches, and a few burn marks, all of which looked as though they needed to be treated. His face was covered in dry blood, and his nose was swollen from the hits it had taken. There was an angry red line around his neck from Cha Cha, who had been stronger than he realized.

He didn’t know what was worse, the memories of Hazel and Cha Cha or the constant barrage of ghosts attacking him at every moment, screaming his name as though he could help them. Sobriety was terrifying. He shuddered as he looked around, feeling a million eyes watching him. The only thought that comforted him was that Hargreeves would’ve been disappointed.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It was dark outside his bay window when he heard his door creak open, bringing a draft with it. He shivered slightly, but kept his eyes closed. Father would yell at him if he was caught awake past lights out. He tensed as someone approached him, shoes clicking on the wood floor.

“Klaus…” came the lilting whisper. “Wake up, my love.”

He fluttered his eyes open slowly as his mother ran a cold hand over his forehead. She smiled at him gently, coaxing him out of bed.

“Where are we going?” he muttered, rubbing his eyes.

“I have a surprise for you.” Mom whispered, her hand on his back as she led him towards the door.

“What kind of surprise?”

“You’ll see.”

Slowly, he shuffled out of his bedroom, pajama bottoms dragging on the floor. Even though he was nearly 15, he was still short for his age. He startled slightly as he almost ran right into Pogo, who was standing next to his father right outside his door.

“Good evening, Number 4.” his father greeted him, overly formal as always. “Follow me.”

Klaus’ eyes widened as he realized what was happening, and he shrunk into his mother, grabbing her hand.

“No.” his voice was nearly a whisper. “No, Dad, I don’t want to go back!”

“Quiet, Number 4, you’ll wake the others.” Hargreeves snapped. Klaus let out a cry as Pogo grabbed one of his arms.

“It’s just some training, nothing to worry about Master Klaus.” Pogo tried to give him a comforting smile. Klaus pulled away, tripping over his own feet and stumbling into his father.

“Number 4, if you don’t improve your behavior immediately there will be consequences.” His father warned.

“I don’t want to go back!” Klaus was screaming now, hoping he woke one of the others.

“It is imperative to your training that you learn to master your power.” Hargreeves stated, his demeanor ice cold. Klaus felt his eyes welling up with tears as Hargreeves grabbed his arm roughly, his fingers digging into the skin.

He nodded at Pogo, who grimaced as he pulled out a needle. He reached up a hand and tilted Klaus’ head to the side, jabbing it into his neck. Almost immediately, Klaus’ cry was silenced as his body went slack, feeling as though his limbs had gone to sleep of their own accord. His head rolled forward as his mother grabbed his other arm, as if on cue, and began helping Hargreeves drag him down the hallway.

He couldn’t move, but his breathing was sharp and panicked, making his chest ache. He could see the tiles of the hallway flying by, his father urging Pogo and his mother on.

“The sedative will only last for 15 minutes.” he cautioned them. “I have to hurry.”

Klaus felt some of his tears spill over as Pogo opened the front door. Hargreeves hoisted his slight frame into his arms, carrying him down the front steps of the house and laying him in the backseat of a car. Reginald was silent as he sat in the passenger seat, Pogo driving them down the empty dark roads off of the Academy grounds.

When Klaus regained feeling in his limbs, he realized he was trembling. He sat up slowly, drawing his knees into his chest. Small sobs escaped him, but he didn’t care anymore, only able to look out the window in terror as they drew nearer. He felt sick when they finally came to a stop in front of the mausoleum, his father ordering him out of the car.

He said nothing, only continued crying as his father grabbed him by the arm, leading him to the door of the great stone building. He could already hear the voices, calling out his name. He didn’t know how they knew it.

“I shall be back for you in three hours time.” his father snapped. He then gave him a hard shove, sending him stumbling down the stairs into the main room. He screamed as his father shut the door.

He didn’t come back after three hours. He didn’t even come back in five. And when he finally did come back, it was only to open the door, see his tears, and slam it shut once more. By the time he was actually let out, Klaus felt as though it had been days.

He sat silently at the breakfast table, not eating. Five was up to his usual antics, yelling at Father, while Diego carved a small design into the table. He looked around furtively, trying to ignore the ghosts that he could still hear.

Ben looked across the table worriedly, though he didn’t dare speak. Klaus was holding his fork in a death grip, his eyes darting around the room. Only Ben knew why.

That night, when he went to sleep, Klaus was too exhausted to cry. Instead he simply lay there, numb to the world, hoping his father wouldn’t come back for him. He could still hear the screaming, imprinted on his mind like a dream he couldn’t shake. He was alone that night, and glad for it.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

He was grateful when the mirror fogged up, bringing him back to the present. He slowly turned and stepped into the shower, happy to finally clean himself off, as though he could wash away the memories of what had happened as well. When he had finally scrubbed himself clean of all blood and dirt, he stepped out, surprised to actually feel more human. He realized all of his own clothes were in his room, so instead rifled through Diego’s drawers until he found a black T-shirt and jeans. Both were huge on his scrawny frame, but he didn’t suppose it mattered, as he was technically in hiding until further notice.

When he opened the door, Diego jumped slightly, as though he’d been caught eavesdropping. He had been waiting right outside of the door for nearly 45 minutes, anxiously hoping to hear something from within.

“Hey.” Diego said, taking a few awkward steps back. “You look… better.”

“Thanks.” Klaus let out a humorless laugh. “Why do I feel like shit?”

“We need to get some of those cuts looked at.” Diego pressed on, ignoring his comment. “And you must be starving, did they… did they feed you?”

Klaus shook his head, seeing no point in lying. That was the problem with Diego, he had spent his whole life saving face for the sake of others, and he could read everyone else like a book.

“I’ll go get mom.” Diego said, voice cracking slightly. “She can get you food… and the first aid kit.”

Klaus nodded, making his way towards the stairs. He hadn’t slept, not comfortably anyway, in days. Diego watched as he collapsed on the couch, curling into himself. He felt himself breathe in relief as his brother finally closed his eyes. He was almost out of the large room when he heard him call out.

“Diego?” he said, his voice foggy with sleep.

“Yeah?” He tried to keep his voice steady.

“Can you just… sit with me for a minute?”

Diego stood for a moment, trying to figure out if Klaus was serious or not. He’d been through hell, but even so, this was out of character. The drugs often heightened his senses to uncomfortable levels, sometimes making him anxious to be anywhere close to other people. He shook out his jitters, realizing he’d been too quiet, probably making Klaus think the worst.

“Yeah. Yeah, of course.”

He made his way over to the couch as Klaus sat up slightly, awkwardly sitting down next to him. Klaus had his face buried in his knees, and though he wasn’t shivering anymore, his hands still shook. Slowly, hoping he wasn’t overstepping, he placed an arm around his shoulders. To his surprise, Klaus stiffened for a moment, then leaned into him. He sat for a moment before he realized that his brother was crying again, his shoulders shaking under his arm.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” he whispered. “They’re not here.”

“I thought… I thought no one was coming for me.”

“I know, I’m sorry.” Diego rubbed his hand in circles on Klaus’ shoulder. “I was trying to find you, I promise.”

“You were the only one?” Klaus asked, even though he knew the answer.

“Yeah.” Diego sighed. “Yeah, I was.”

Klaus sighed heavily, sinking lower into the couch as though his head was suddenly too heavy for his body.

“Thank you.”

“What for?” Diego asked. “You’re my brother, man.”

“For wanting me around.” Klaus replied, wiping his tears on his hand.

Diego sighed again, pulling Klaus in closer. He wished that he could’ve stopped it. Truth be told, he wished he’d paid more attention before. All his training, and yet he’d completely missed his own brother spiraling out of control. He squeezed him around the shoulders again, trying to force some unspoken meaning into the action. Promises that he actually intended to keep. He didn’t know where they were going to go, and honestly it didn’t matter. What did matter is that he wasn’t going to let his brother be taken. He wasn’t going to leave him. Not again.

And for a brief moment, as they both sat in the somewhat silence of the living room they’d known all their lives, it seemed they finally had each other, if no one else. And maybe, just maybe, that would be enough.