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Running is a Victory

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Five appeared in the darkened bookshop with a blue flash, crouching down behind the counter so he wouldn’t trip the security alarms. He peeked over the top of the counter, breathing a sigh of relief when no alarms started going off. 

 

Logically, Five knew he probably could’ve asked Pogo to get this for him, or even steal one of his father’s, but he wanted his own. If he was going to cut all ties with the Umbrella Academy, he wanted it to be a clean cut. Take nothing that came from the Academy, bring everything that he had forged for himself.

 

Digging into his pocket, Five pulled out some rumpled bills and tried to smooth them out before leaving them on the counter for the owner to find the next morning. He crept out onto the main floor of the bookshop, pausing when he heard movement. A couple walked past the bookstore windows, once they were out of sight Five continued on, wandering through the aisles until he found what he was looking for. 

 

He stood in front of the shelf overstuffed with blank books, styles ranging from grade school notebooks to cartographer’s journals. The shelf loomed at least five feet above Five’s head with a ladder at the end of the row to access the higher shelves. Five scanned the shelf, wrinkling his nose when he saw a light purple diary claiming it would keep all his secret crushes safe. 

 

Five jumped over to the ladder, dragging it along the floor and then jumping to one of the top rungs. He leaned over and rifled through the higher shelves, his hand pausing when he came to a simple black leather notebook. It was unobtrusive enough to not attract suspicion, but elegant enough to satisfy Five’s self admitted vanity. 

 

It would do. 

 

Five turned on his heel and let himself fall from the ladder, vanishing in a flash of blue.

 

-

 

“Hey.” Five heard a soft voice come from his room behind him, and he looked over his shoulder to see Vanya standing at his window. “You missed dinner so I brought you a sandwich.”

 

“Thanks.” He forced a smile, quickly folding up the paper he had been clutching for the past- well if he had missed dinner, then at least an hour- and shoving it into his breast pocket, and turned and hopped off the fire escape railing. “How pissed was Dad?”

 

“He didn’t say anything about it, I think you’ll have to worry about Luther the most, his face matched the tomato sauce Mom made for dinner.” Vanya said wryly, stepping aside so Five could climb back into his room. “What were you doing?”

 

Five took the plate from her and smirked at the contents. “You know I do eat things other than peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches, right?” 

 

“It’s easy to make and it’s the one thing I know you’re guaranteed to eat.” Vanya shrugged, crossing in front of Five to go sit on his bed. “Pogo said as long as we’d finished our lessons we could have free time until lights out. Ben’s helping Klaus finish his lessons so he probably won’t be up until much later.”

 

“That’s fine. Did you bring your violin? I’m working on trying to integrate chaos theory into my calculations on time travel and it’s being a complete bitch.” Five looked up at the equations over his bed nearly encroaching on the ceiling and took a bite of his sandwich.

 

Yeah, Vanya was right. It would be criminal of him to let one of these go to waste.

 

“It’s in my room, I can go get it if you want. But I actually wanted to talk to you.” Vanya tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and Five’s full attention was immediately on Vanya. 

 

“Dad said your public debut is coming up soon.” She began, and Five’s wrist twinged with the reminder. The stupid goddamn tattoo- brand- on his right wrist was an all too unpleasant reminder of that fact. Thank god he was left handed, his siblings (save Diego, the ambidextrous bastard,) hadn’t been able to write without pain for days afterwards. 

 

“He makes it sound like we’re southern belles about to present to the public for the first time.” Five’s lips twisted up in a wry smile, trying to lend some sort of levity to the conversation. “Klaus at least would love the dress.”

 

“Just- please be careful.” Vanya blurted out, ignoring Five’s tangent. 

 

Five set his sandwich down on the desk and jumped to sit next to Vanya on his bed. Vanya didn’t startle, just glanced over at him and fuck, there were tears in her eyes.

 

“I can’t promise I won’t get hurt.” He began carefully, placing his hand over Vanya’s. “And you know I won’t just watch if someone else is in trouble and I can do something about it.”

 

“I know, and I know you and I knew you’d say that because you’re stupid and self sacrificing, but just- don’t die.” Vanya pleaded. The tears were threatening to overflow so Five retracted his hand from Vanya’s to wrap his arm around her shoulders.

 

“I won’t. Like hell I’m leaving you here alone with only Klaus for company, you’d go crazy within a week.” Five teased, and Vanya let out a shaky laugh and leaned her head on Five’s shoulder. 

 

“Promise?” 

 

“I’ll always come back. Promise.”

 

-

 

“Why won’t you let me time travel? I’m ready, I’ve been practicing my spacial jumps.” Five questioned furiously, two seconds away from grabbing the nearest vase and chucking it at Reginald’s face.

 

“You are simply not ready, your mind could not possibly comprehend the disastrous effects time travel would have on your mind, and the world at large. Selfishness and ambition have blinded you, leaving you unaware of everything except your own wants.” Reginald said airily, not looking up from his journal. 

 

“The same ambition you praise me for in training? You’re just scared you won’t be able to control me anymore.” Five snarled, fists clenching. 

 

He knew this was a ruse, he knew he could time travel, but Reginald’s insistence that he wasn’t capable was more infuriating than his actual inability to time travel without utilizing an external electric input.

 

Reginald snapped his journal shut, finally looking up at Five. “Number Five, we will not discuss this any further. Now, since you wasted seven minutes of your private training arguing with me in such a childish manner, you have lost your recreational privileges for the rest of the month.”

 

Five had to bite down on his tongue to keep himself from arguing further. He had made his point. Reginald still thought he wasn’t capable of time travel, and he still thought Five was under his thumb. 

 

“Fine.” He spat, then glanced behind him, resigned to the fact that the rest of this training session was going to be hell. “Do you want to do the honors of putting me in the straightjacket or should we call Pogo?”

 

-

 

“Hold still, you’re not making this any easier for either of us.” Five hissed, pausing in his ministrations and glaring up at Ben. 

 

“Well I’m sorry you have the bedside manner of a grizzly bear.” Ben snapped back, snatching the washcloth from Five and viciously started scrubbing his own face. “Just go find Diego or someone and stop bothering me.”

 

“Please, like any of them would be better company.” Five rolled his eyes, sitting back on his heels. He was kneeling on a desk chair in a back office of the bank they had just successfully thwarted a robbery in, the first of many if Reginald was to be believed. Ben was sitting on the desk in front of him, attempting to get all the blood off his person before the cameras arrived.

 

For their first mission, it had gone surprisingly well. Everyone stuck to the plan and all the robbers had either been successfully apprehended or torn to pieces by an eldritch monster. Five had fought Luther tooth and nail to let Five take care of the guys in the vault and not make Ben do it, but Luther was adamant that they stick to Reginald’s orders and use the Eldritch to ‘display the full force of the Umbrella Academy.’ 

 

“Ben, stop, you’re going to tear your skin off.” Five grabbed the washcloth and held it out of arm’s reach, glaring at Ben. “What is going on with you?”

 

“What is going- did you seriously just ask what was going on with me?” Ben’s voice had taken a slightly hysterical tone, and Five winced. 

 

“I just killed people . I opened a portal in my fucking chest and let out a literal monster to rip human beings to pieces. I didn’t even give them a chance to surrender, I just opened the portal and killed them. Tell me Five, how does that make me any better than them?!” Ben dropped his head into his hands and dug his fingers into his scalp. Five froze for a second before dropping the washcloth and jumping so he was sitting next to Ben on the desk. 

 

“Stop, you’re hurting yourself.” He said quietly, tugging Ben’s hands away from his scalp. “And anyways, you are better than them. First off, you didn’t decide to rob a bank and take innocent people hostage. At any moment one of them could have hurt or killed hostages, you did the best you could in a shitty situation. And the fact that you’re beating yourself up about it now just proves you’re a good person, I would be more worried if you weren’t affected at all.” Five reasoned, looking past Ben out the window to try and see if the reporters had started approaching the bank yet. 

 

“It’s not just that.” Ben admitted in a whisper, and Five quickly glanced at him. 

 

“What is it then? If it’s the legality of our whole operation I’m slightly concerned about that too, vigilante justice typically isn’t smiled upon by law enforcement.” He had checked out some legal books a few weeks ago and technically since they were minors they couldn’t be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but there could still be some serious repercussions. Although, Reginald could probably pay off every law enforcement officer and prosecutor in the city and still be rolling in dough, so maybe that wouldn’t be a problem. 

 

Ben huffed out a short laugh, then quickly sobered. “It’s just…” He trailed off, hands moving from his head to hugging his abdomen. “It liked it.”

 

“The Horror?” Five asked, then mentally smacked himself for the idiotic question.

 

“Yeah.” Ben’s voice was barely audible. “It hasn’t calmed down since I let it out. It’s riled up, usually by now it calms down but now it’s... excited.”

 

“Can you keep it under control?” Five asked quickly, hands hovering anxiously around Ben’s shoulders, unsure if the contact would make things worse.

 

“Yeah. Yeah I can keep it in.” Five wasn’t sure if Ben was reassuring Five or himself, but he trusted Ben to know his limits. 

 

“Can I do anything to help? I can jump to a convenience store and grab you something, I’ll take literally two minutes, no one will know I’m gone.” Five offered, already picturing the layout of the city in his mind. There was a convenience store two blocks south that had the yogurt cups Ben liked.

 

“No, I’m fine.” Ben breathed in deeply, then straightened up and smiled thinly at Five. “I’ll use the breathing techniques Mom gave Klaus to use whenever he feels the need to light things on fire.” 

 

“Alright.” Five agreed, nudging Ben’s shoulder with his own. “Hey, before the cameras come do you want to-”

 

“Reporters are here, Luther said get your butts to the front of the bank pronto.” The office door slammed open and Allison looked at the two brothers curiously. “What were you guys doing back here anyway?”

 

“None of your business.” Five snapped back, jumping so he was standing in front of Allison and blocking her view of Ben. “We’ll be there in a minute.”

 

“Fine, just don’t take too long.” Allison shrugged, turning on her heel and walking back down the hallway. Five slammed the door shut again, and turned to face Ben, who had hunched in on himself again. 

 

“Are you up to this? I can jump us home if you need to go.” Five offered, but Ben just shook his head and slowly slid off the desk. 

 

“No, that’ll just make things worse. I’ll be fine, let’s get this over with.” He slowly walked past Five and opened the door, pausing in the doorway. “You coming?”

 

Five was focused on the spot of blood in Ben’s chin that they had missed, but there wasn’t time to fix it now. He nodded and walked besides Ben down the hallway, keeping his eyes straight forward to avoid staring at the bloodstains adorning the walls. 

 

“Masks on.” Diego said as soon as he saw them coming, and Five and Ben exchanged apprehensive glances before donning the domino masks. 

 

“Alright, here we go.” Luther said, and he pushed open the bank doors. 

 

The flash of the cameras was blinding. 

 

-

 

“And good riddance.” Five muttered, kicking the corpse into the lake with vengeance. It landed with a splash, and Five jumped backwards to avoid getting wet. 

 

“God that one smelled terrible.” Ben’s voice was muffled and Five realized he was probably talking through his sleeve. “Dead people are the worst.”

 

Five just shook his head, glancing back in the direction of the mausoleum. “Lucky for you, what was the last one. Did you leave the crowbar in there?”

 

“Yeah. It’s alright to leave it there, right? I don’t want to go back in there tonight. ” Ben pleaded, and Five nodded, then realized Ben couldn't see him. 

 

“Yeah alright, I’ll get it later. Klaus better appreciate this.” Five muttered, twisting his wrists to create a faint blue glow so he could actually see Ben. “How’s it going with him?”

 

“Getting Klaus to do anything he doesn’t want to do is akin to getting you to stop bitching about Dad. I’m trying.” Ben’s frown was illuminated by the blue glow as he walked over to Five. “This should help.”

 

“I do not bitch.” Five muttered sullenly, but conceded the point.

 

“I think telling him about our plan would help, give him a reason to get clean.” Ben suggested, but Five was already shaking his head. 

 

“No. Ben, he can’t keep his mouth shut. Remember when I spent the night in the mausoleum with him? The next morning he yelled it for the world to hear. I know you want to tell him, I get it, but it would ultimately just screw the rest of us over.” 

 

Ben frowned, but begrudgingly accepted it with a nod. “Fine. Hey, before we go back to the academy do you have enough energy to stop at the library? I wanna get a copy of Catcher in the Rye. ” He requested, and Five rolled his eyes. 

 

“I will never understand why you keep reading books that leave you depressed for days on end, our lives are depressing enough.” Honestly. Recently Ben had gotten a hold of The Bell Jar , and he moped around the house for the rest of the week refusing to talk to anyone. 

 

“Is that a no?” Ben honest to god drooped , shoulder slumping and feet shuffling on the dirt. 

 

Jesus Christ. 

 

“Just grab my hand.” Five sighed, letting the blue light vanish and adamantly not looking at Ben. “You have ten minutes to find it, and I’m only doing this because I need books on genealogy.” 

 

“You big softie, you.” Ben teased, grabbing Five’s hand. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell.”

 

“Shut your whore mouth.” Five muttered, hiding his smile. He yanked on the fabric of space, focusing on the public library, and then they were gone. 

 

-

 

Five was a planner. He always had been. He played the long game, manipulating variables and calculating percentages until he achieved the desired outcome. It’s how he utilized his power, and how he survived the hell that was the Umbrella Academy. 

 

Running away, on the surface, seemed illogical. He was twelve years old, no means to support himself, it just seemed like a desperate dream of a child trying to escape- comforting, but ultimately impossible.

 

But Five wasn’t a child. Reginald had made sure of that. 

 

So Five had a plan. 

 

“C’mon, where is it?” He hissed to himself, yanking open another one of Reginald’s filing drawers and rifling through it.

 

Commission contacts, contractual media obligations, contingent fund- actually that would be useful. Five pulled the file and tossed it into a warp to his room and continued on. 

 

He had- he checked the grandfather clock in the corner- twelve more minutes before his siblings and Reginald got home from the mission, Grace and Pogo didn’t know he was home so he didn’t have to worry about them, he disabled the security cameras, everything would be fine if he could just find the goddamn bank statements

 

While nicking fifty bucks at a time from Reginald’s cash storage was easy for petty cash, he needed to build up a bigger stash for when they left; Five hadn’t realized how quickly money could run out until he started going clothes shopping for his siblings. 

 

Why the hell did clothes cost so much?

 

Five shoved the drawer closed and groaned through his teeth. He had ransacked every filing cabinet and drawer in the goddamn office, nothing. Either Reginald had a secret vault somewhere where he kept all the super-sensitive information, which Five wouldn’t put past him, the paranoid bastard, or Five was just missing something. He needed to find them today, there was no way he’d get another chance like this anytime soon, Reginald was already going to have his head as it was for jumping straight home by himself from the mission. 

 

Ten minutes left.

 

Five turned and started rifling through the books on the shelves, trying to ignore Reginald’s gaze glaring down at him from the painting above the mantle. He was getting desperate, he didn’t know when the next mission would be and he needed to get a move on with creating his own bank account, and to do that he needed money for a fake ID and-

 

“What have we here.” Five whispered to himself, pulling some books from the shelf and letting them fall to the floor, revealing small safe tucked into the wall. 

 

Alright, four digit code. Exactly 10,000 possible combinations. Significant dates, what would be significant to Reginald? Not their birthdays, when did Reginald purchase the academy building? 

 

No, too obvious. Reginald wouldn’t go for dates. Five glanced behind him at the clock, then began swearing viciously under his breath.

 

Five minutes. 

 

Five took a step back and took a deep breath. There was no way he’d be able to figure out the passcode in five minutes, so he had to figure something else out. 

 

He was able to ‘swap’ two objects easily if he had one in his hand, one of the only useful things Reginald taught him. If he knew the contents of the safe he could easily switch them with some random item in the office, but Five had no idea what was in there. 

 

Five heard an engine rev outside, and his heart stuttered to a stop. 

 

Shit. They were early. Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. 

 

Ok. The dimensions of the safe were approximately eight by twelve and a half, he couldn’t determine the depth because it was built into the wall. He’d have to make assumptions. 

 

Five squeezed his eyes shut and yanked. Simultaneously he folded the fabric of space around itself, creating an air pocket that he shoved into the safe so it wouldn't collapse in on itself, praying he got the dimensions right. He heard a loud pop as the air pocket from inside the safe filled the void left by the pocket Five had created, and a stack of files appeared in his hands. The front of the safe caved in a little, but it was barely noticeable, you’d have to be looking for it to notice. 

 

“Aright.” Five breathed, turning the files to read the labels on the edges. “Hello you beautiful financial…” 

 

Five trailed off, eyes fixated on the label on the edge of the file. 

 

This was- this-

 

Five nearly tore the file in half ripping it open, eyes frantically scanning the documents. Cut the fucking legal jargon he needs a fucking address-

 

There.

 

Five dropped the files and jumped to his room, grabbing his journal and jumping back before the file hit the ground. Five frantically uncapped his pen, flipping through his journal until he found a black page, and knelt on the floor, leaning over and copying down names and addresses with shaking hands. 

 

It took what felt like an eternity to write all the addresses, but Five finally finished, hastily capping the pen and tossing it and his journal through a rift into his room and reshuffled the papers so they were in their original order. He focused and the files vanished from his hand, hopefully back into the safe. Five didn’t have any way of confirming that, but he was out of time. He hurriedly shoved the books back on the shelf, heart nearly beating out of his chest as he tried to remember what order the books had been in. 

 

Voices from the end of the hallway.

 

Five jumped back to his room and collapsed on his bed, slowly exhaling into his hands.

 

This changed things. 

 

-

 

“Five, can I ask you something?” Vanya stopped playing in the middle of her piece and set her bow down.

 

“Give me a minute.” Five muttered, furiously scribbling the rest of his modifications on the Lorentz equation . If he could determine a way to maintain constant velocity throughout the duration of his jump, theoretically he’d be able to create a different frame throughout space time with which he could actively transport himself through-

 

“Sorry, what?” Five pulled himself out of his thoughts, abruptly realizing he had no idea how much time had passed since Vanya had spoken up.

 

“I just had a question about your powers, I can wait until you’re not busy.” Vanya reassured him hastily, but Five ignored her and jumped so he was sitting on his bed. He patted the space besides him, and Vanya sat down next to him.

 

“How… how do you know how your powers work?” Vanya asked, then quickly amended her question. “Like, why do you know you need to do math to figure them out? The others don’t seem to need to use calculations, what’s different about your powers?”

 

Five considered the question. Vanya’s questions always seemed deceptively simple, but she had pushed him to his biggest breakthrough so he would never discredit her line of thought. He couldn’t really speak for the rest of his siblings, but from what they told him and what he himself observed, the answer was far from simple. 

 

“I don’t… It’s hard to describe.” Five began, then mentally smacked himself for the vague answer. “My first intentional jump was when I was what, four? I wanted something on the top shelf, and next thing I knew I was in the air in front of the shelf. I promptly crashed to the ground and broke my arm.”

 

“I don’t remember that.” Vanya frowned, and Five shrugged. 

 

“I think it happened when you were quarantined with the flu. But back to your question. I can jump without calculations. I can also time travel without calculations. But when I do so, I have little to no control over the outcome. It would be like if I picked up your violin and tried to play it. Yes, sound may come out, but it’s sure as hell not the sound I want.” Five tried to put it into a context Vanya would understand, and from her smile, it worked.

 

“I think I get it. So then what exactly do your calculations do? And how do you even know what to calculate?” Vanya plucked the chalk from Five’s hands. “I guess I’m just wondering why you’re always writing on your walls.”

 

“Because I run out of paper.” Five smirked, then cleared his throat and answered seriously. “Ok, so my spatial jumps. On the surface level, and what the media sees, is me just disappearing and reappearing in a different location. I tell them I just think about where I want to go, and I appear there. And that is true, to an extent, but there are other factors I have to consider.”

 

“Like what?” Vanya prodded when Five paused, and Five stood up and walked over to a set of equations near the baseboard of his bookshelf.

 

“This is the first fundamental equation of motion. Well, one dimensional motion. It’s the most basic equation in physics, and it’s where I started back when I was seven and started researching how to jump further distances than a few feet at a time. I was worried that because of the Earth’s rotation and movement through space when I tried to teleport long distances I would either appear in space or have to compensate for the velocity of the earth. Luckily, I realized before too long that I’m essentially just opening up a hole in space, so my teleportation is instantaneous and the Earth hasn’t moved.” Five walked back over to Vanya. “But that lead to a whole shitload of other questions that I’ve been trying to answer ever since.”

 

Vanya’s mouth had dropped open. “I hadn’t even thought of anything like that.” She admitted, and Five shrugged.

 

“You had no reason to. Once I realized that I was opening up a hole in space, then I started theorizing on how exactly I did it. To be honest, I still don’t have a solid answer. I’ve currently settled on I generate enough energy to access some sort of black hole, which is tentative at best but I’ve had to more on to other inquiries, i.e. time travel.” Five slowly exhaled, rubbing his temples to try and slow the headache he could feel forming. 

 

“The thing with my spatial jumps is I had a starting point. There is an almost infinite well of research and equations on motion, which made figuring out how to apply math to make my spatial jumps more precise eas- well, not easy, but more straightforward.”

 

“Maybe for you, I never understood physics.” Vanya rolled her eyes, then stood up and wandered over to the section of the wall that contained Five’s calculations on how he converted energy into his spatial jumps.

 

“You’re better at Literature than I am. Anyway. With time travel, I have nothing to go on. There’s some theories, but they don’t extend beyond how it could technically be possible. I’ve already proved that it’s possible by time traveling, but I don’t know how to control it. So that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I’m taking my calculations from spatial jumps and trying to incorporate an electrical and possibly magnetic charge. I know, from practical experience, that somehow it transforms my spatial jumps into time jumps. But why does electrical charge make going through what is presumably a black hole deposit me in another time?” Five joined Vanya in looking at his old equations. Vanya glanced over at him, a faint smile on her lips.

 

“You lost me around magnetic charge, but I think I get it now. Well, not get it, but I see what you’re trying to do.” Vanya traced some of the numbers with her finger, then dropped her hand and turned to Five. “I’ll make some more sandwiches.” 

 

-

 

Five and Ben walked out of the movie theater in a daze, bumping into each other as they emerged into the cool spring air.

 

“Oh my god.” Ben broke the silence, staggering to a halt. Five ran into his back and stumbled to a stop as well. “That was…”

 

“Epic.” Five finished his sentence. “That was so fucking epic, oh my god.” 

 

He was well aware that he was grinning like a moron, but dude . That movie was the fucking coolest thing he’d ever seen. 

 

“When that water monster came out and Frodo solved the riddle just in time?” Ben gushed, and Five nodded frantically.

 

“And when Arwen escaped the Ring Wraiths-”

 

“And The Ring Wraiths shredded the dummies of the hobbits-”

 

“And when the hobbits had to hide off the side of the road and the Ring Wraiths were right there-”

 

“And Borormir’s death-”

 

“And the balrog-”

 

“YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” Both boys finished together, and Five felt lighter than he had in a long time.

 

“I take it you boys just saw Fellowship of the Ring?” A passing man laughed, stopping to talk to the boys. “I remember when I read the book for the first time, it was the book that made me fall in love with reading.”

 

“I read the book a few months ago, the movie was really different but awesome in a different way.” Ben responded, eagerly opening up to the man. “Five didn’t read the books-”

 

“I didn’t even know I’d be seeing the movie until five minutes before we left, Ben just kidnapped me and brought me here.” Five retorted, and it was kind of nice letting his guard down. The man wasn’t a threat, he didn’t know who he and Ben were, he and Ben were just normal kids excited about a movie.

 

“Well I highly recommend reading them before the next movie comes out, they’re great books.” The man smiled, and before either boy could reply, there was a gasp from somewhere to their gasp and Five’s heart sank. 

 

“Oh my god, is that The Umbrella Academy?” A girl practically shouted, and Ben stiffened besides him. A camera flashed and Five froze, unable to comprehend what was happening. 

 

This wasn’t a mission- why were people here? What did they want-

 

“You boys get going now, I’ll see if I can clear up that confusion.” The old man said genially, as if he didn’t realize who they were and what the cameras meant. “Make sure you read the rest of the books, you won’t regret it.” 

 

“Alright.” Ben said faintly, and as the camera flashed again Five grabbed Ben’s arm and jumped them to the theater lobby. It was practically deserted, probably due to it being three in the morning. The cashier behind the counter didn’t even look up, just kept doing his crossword puzzle. Five squeezed his eyes shut as a wave of vertigo rushed through him, and shook his head to clear it. 

 

He really needed to sleep more. 

 

“Well, it was nice while it lasted.” Ben sighed, scuffing his feet on the filthy carpet. “At least we got to get through the movie without being recognized.”

 

“We’d better get home, we’re going to be in enough trouble as it is if those photos get printed.” Five said grimly, offering his hand to Ben. “But for what it’s worth, it was totally worth it.”

 

“Yeah.” Ben agreed, a small smile appearing on his face. “It was.”

 

-

 

Five appeared at the post office about ten minutes before dawn. The office was already swarming with activity, postmen walking in and out of the back entrance and mail trucks revving up to begin their routes. 

 

Pulling the stack of letters from his pocket, Five approached the front of the building and pulled open the mail chute, depositing them inside. He watched them disappear into the darkness with practiced indifference, tamping down his nerves.

 

It was a shot in the dark. He refused to get his hopes up.  

 

Five turned to leave but as he turned someone ran into Five from behind, slamming him against the wall. He pivoted with a snarl, ready to defend himself, but all he saw was a woman with meticulously coiffed blonde hair carrying a briefcase walking away, her heels clicking on the pavement. 

 

Something about her seemed off , but Five didn’t have time to chase her down and figure it out. He had to get back before Reginald reviewed the security footage and he had a lot of work to do before breakfast. 

 

He turned on his heel and jumped back into his bedroom, landing neatly in one of the camera’s blindspots.

 

-

 

“Put your shoulder into it. Punch through me, don’t stop once you connect.” Five instructed tersely, rolling his shoulder to shrug off Vanya’s hit. “Again.”

 

Vanya shifted on her feet and Five saw the punch coming. He grabbed her fist, ducking and pulling her arm over his back so he could elbow her stomach, then shoved her to the ground. 

 

“Don’t broadcast your next move. Always retain the element of surprise.” He said, crossing his arms and watching Vanya struggle to stand, clutching her abdomen. “Again.”

 

“Five just give me a minute.” Vanya begged, looking up at him through her bangs, which were matted to her forehead with sweat. 

 

“You have until four thirty.” Five snapped, glancing at the clock on her wall. The sun would be coming up about an hour, that meant they had about forty more minutes to train. He could feel sweat dripping down the back of his t-shirt, and his sweatpants had a tear from catching on a splinter in Vanya’s floorboards. Vanya was clad in a matching outfit, but her clothes were caked in dust and grime from hitting the floor. 

 

“Alright.” Vanya agreed quietly, pulling herself up so she was leaned against her bed. She fiddled with the wrapping around her fists, readjusting the bandaging. Five sighed and turned to look out the window, scowling at the cardboard duct taped over the broken glass. 

 

This was their fourteenth combat lesson over as many nights. He and Ben had been going over simple self defense with Vanya for months, but they had never taken it seriously, instead seeing it as a game they could use to wrestle until someone got pinned. 

 

That changed two weeks ago. 

 

Someone broke into the Academy. Five had heard the glass shattering in the middle of the night while he was working on distilling certain elements of chaos theory. It had been two thirty seven in the morning, no storms, so that eliminated the possibility of a tree branch through the window. Five himself was the most likely to be breaking windows with his experiments, followed by Diego whose aim, while better than most, was still susceptible to error when he was distracted. 

 

Or tired. 

 

What Diego was doing up throwing things around at two in the morning was beyond Five, and to be perfectly honest, he didn’t care. He would find out tomorrow morning, and if Reginald was too angry then Five would interfere and try to split some of his fury between him and Diego so Diego wouldn’t be pushed too hard. 

 

Then he heard Vanya scream. 

 

Without thinking, Five grabbed a knife from his bedside and jumped down to Vanya’s room, freezing as he took in the scene before him. 

 

A man was crouched in front of Vanya’s shattered window, gun glinting in the moonlight. Vanya was frozen in her bed, eyes wide as she stared at the intruder. 

 

“Don’t move or the girl gets it.” The man threatened, turning and pointing the gun at Vanya’s head. 

 

“Ok, let’s just calm-” Five jumped in the middle of his sentence, appearing on Vanya’s bed and putting himself between her and the gun. Five watched the man’s finger tighten on the trigger as he grabbed Vanya’s arm, yanking her through a jump and depositing her on Ben’s bed. He heard the gunshot from a floor below and inhaled sharply, tightening his grip on his gun. 

 

“What?” Ben muttered groggily, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “What’s happening?”

 

“Watch her.” Five snapped, not waiting for Ben to reply before jumping back down to Vanya’s room, then stopping and sighing with relief. 

 

The man was lying on the floor, dead, courtesy of five knives in his chest. Five nodded curtly at Diego, who was standing in his doorway wide eyed and clutching three more knives. Five stabbed the man one more time in the eye for good measure, then stood back as Pogo and Grace hurried into the room. 

 

The rest of the night was a blur. Pogo sent them all to bed, forbidding them from leaving their rooms. Vanya stayed in Ben’s room and after Five joined them, Vanya’s combat lessons began. They lined Ben’s floor with all of their clothing to create a mat of sorts, and the first thing Five taught her was how to break the wrist of someone who had you at gunpoint. 

 

The lessons helped, but the fear would always be there. 

 

If Five had been a second slower, or if he had been sleeping and hadn’t heard Vanya, or if Diego hadn’t woken up in time, it all could have gone so much worse.

 

It was fun playing superhero, but now it didn’t cease once they stopped the robbery. 

 

The Umbrella Academy was in the public eye now, and it wasn’t all cheering fans and magazine interviews. 

 

“Alright, get up. Let’s go again.” Five ordered, crossing his arms and looking down at Vanya. “Set position.”

 

Vanya stood silently, tightening her ponytail. She raised her fists, rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet. 

 

Five threw the first punch. Vanya dodged, and their dance began. 

 

“If you have the option of fight or flight, always choose flight.” Five instructed as he blocked Vanya’s elbow with his forearm, then grabbed her arm and twisted it behind her back. “I broke your arm.” He held her there for a second before releasing and resuming their set position. “People may call you cowardly, or fighting might seem like the honorable option. That’s bullshit. You do whatever the hell you need to survive.”

 

Vanya threw the first punch this time, catching Five by surprise as it landed on his jaw. He snarled and grabbed her wrist, twisting her arm until Vanya had to twist around to keep the pressure from snapping her arm. “If you can’t run, or can’t hide, you fight. Now, in a real fight there is no such thing as playing dirty, no such thing as honor or fighting fair or whatever bullshit Luther may spew. There’s only winning, or dying. So fight dirty if it means you survive.” Vanya tried to kick his knee out, but Five pivoted and grabbed Vanya’s ponytail, yanking her head back. “Like so. Next time put your hair in a bun.”

 

Vanya glared at him and suddenly Five felt a pressure on the back of his knee and he hit the floor as his knee gave out. He gritted his teeth and kept his hold on Vanya’s ponytail and dragged her down with him, landing hard on the wooden floor. She hit the floor with a thud, and Five swung himself up and around until he was seated on Vanya’s abdomen, forearm on her throat. “Better.”

 

Vanya sighed, swallowing shallowly. “Let me up.”

 

Five’s eyes narrowed. “Are you going to say that in a real fight? Rapists won’t let you go just because you asked nicely. Both your arms are still free, use them .”

 

Vanya grabbed Five’s arm and dug her nails in, dragging him down until Five was unbalanced enough for her to surge up, unseating Five. They both sprang apart and scrambled to their feet, Five rubbing his forearm where he felt blood welling up in the shape of small crescents, and Vanya wound her hair up into a bun. 

 

“Remember, you are not going to be able to rely on pure strength. We’re both small and not Luther,” Vanya huffed out a short laugh, “so we have to be fast. You will never be the strongest, so that means you have to fight the smartest.” 

 

Five’s first shot out and connected with Vanya’s sternum, making her gasp and reel back. “Strike in weak areas. Don’t go for the jaw, go for the throat or the eyes. Don’t try to hit the stomach, hit the groin. Do whatever it takes to win.” 

 

Vanya tried for a high kick but Five caught her ankle and twisted, knocking Vanya to the ground. He stood over her, and crossed his arms as he stared down at her. 

 

“Above all, remember this. You may be ordinary, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to not become extraordinary.” Five finished, offering her a hand. Vanya grasped it, pulling herself up until the siblings stood eye to eye, inches apart. 

 

“Let’s go again.” Vanya broke the silence, and Five smiled, stepping back and getting ready to fight.

 

-

 

“Something’s wrong.” Five paced back and forth outside the vault, wincing as he heard a particularly loud thud come from inside. “He should be done by now, we haven’t heard any screams in at least four minutes, what is he doing?”

 

“Well it’s not like we can do anything, he’ll be out when he gets the Horror back under control.” Luther said offhandedly, looking over from his conversation with Allison. 

 

Five didn’t bother responding, just turned on his heel and paced the length of the room again.

 

“What do you think is wrong?” Klaus sauntered over with his hands in his pockets, obviously trying for unconcerned but Five saw the way his shoulders were tensed up.

 

“Ben should be out by now. The men had to have been dead a while ago, this usually only takes a minute or two. The Horrors have been out for five.” Five didn’t pause in his pacing, and Klaus followed behind him.

 

“Is there anything we can do?” Klaus asked, and Five shook his head and turned on his heel again.

 

“Not without risking being torn limb from limb.” 

 

Another loud clang resounded from in the vault, and Five’s last nerve snapped.

 

“Klaus, in my room there’s a loose floorboard under my bed and a black journal in it. Give it to Vanya if I don’t come out.” He instructed, and Klaus paled.

 

“Five what are you going to-” 

 

Five jumped before Klaus could finish his sentence.

 

He appeared in the corner of the vault, crouched down near the floor to try and escape detection. Immediately, a tentacle whipped to where Five was and he flattened himself against the ground behind a corpse, the tentacle whooshing inches above his head.

 

Five peered up above the corpse and saw Ben standing in the center of the room, tentacles emerging from a faintly blue circle near his midsection. Ben’s face wasn’t visible from Five’s vantage point, but as Five watched, Ben dropped to his knees as a strangled scream ripped from his lips.

 

Five frantically scanned the room for something to knock Ben out, but as his eyes passed over Ben something caught his attention. 

 

Blue.

 

Ben’s chest was glowing with the same shade of blue that occurred whenever Five jumped. Five focused and summoned the spatial grid into view, eyes widening at what he saw.

 

The tentacles were emitting a bright blue light, nearly blinding him the longer Five stared at them. One of them took another swipe at him and Five jumped to the opposite corner of the room, taking refuge behind a stack of gold bars.

 

Ben himself looked as he usually did, but the spatial grid around his abdomen was torn to shreds, the lines shifting every time a tentacle moved. The grid seemed to be trying to repair itself, but every time the lines connected they were promptly torn apart by a writhing tentacle. 

 

If Five could repair the grid himself, close the portal, then there was a chance he could completely sever the tentacles and seal the entrance shut. He knew how to rip open the grid, it only made sense that he had the ability to repair it as well. 

 

The only problem was he would have to get close. Five wasn’t confident enough in his ability to manipulate the grid in a situation as delicate as this without doing it manually, which meant he needed to get close enough to be able to yank the strands back together himself. 

 

It was a sound theory, the only problem was Five had no idea how long it would take and how he would avoid getting ripped in half during the duration of the action. 

 

Wait.

 

The Eldritch tentacles glowed blue. Five blinked, then jumped so he was crouched atop the piles of gold bars. One of the tentacles immediately flew towards him, and Five narrowed his eyes and clenched his hand into a fist and threw it away from his body, and the tentacle followed the motion, slamming into the wall. 

 

Five nearly laughed out loud, but another scream from where Ben was kneeling immediately grabbed his attention and Five jumped to his side. 

 

“Alright Benjamin Franklin, let’s perform open heart surgery on an inter-dimensional portal.” Five muttered, eyes squinting in the bright blue light emitting from the portal. 

 

Another tentacle flew at his head and Five made a flicking motion with his hand and slammed it into the wall, completely focused on the task at hand. The portal in Ben’s chest was practically bleeding dimensional energy, slowly growing larger for every second it was left open.

 

Five didn’t want to know what would happen when it began to encompass Ben’s entire body.

 

Five took a deep breath and threw an arm across Ben’s front, grabbed a fistful of the fabric of space, and yanked it back across Ben’s body, making all the tentacles bunch to the side as Five pulled, trying to cover the portal completely. Ben had gone limp, back flat on the floor, and Five knelt at his side, holding on desperately to the strands bunched in his fists.

 

The Horror was not going without a fight. It lashed out at Five, forcing him to drop the tendrils with one of his hands to bat the tentacles away, and then Five had an idea.

 

Five tightened his grip on the space he had pulled across Ben with his left hand and balled his right into a fist, gathering the spatial tendrils connected to the tentacles into his fist. 

 

This was just like teleporting objects. He could do this. 

 

In one motion Five yanked , shoving the tentacles back into the portal with one hand and pulled the spatial fabric over Ben’s abdomen back into its rightful place. The grid immediately knitted itself back together and smoothed itself out, and then there was quiet. Five let the grid fade from his vision and the blood soaked room abruptly came back into focus, ceiling lights blinking on and off. 

 

Five gasped as the room spun around him, suddenly aware of the sweat drenching his body. He took a deep breath to steady himself, waiting for the dizziness to subside.

 

“Five?” Five’s eyes flew open and he looked down at Ben, covered in blood and slowly sitting up. “What happened? What are you-”

 

Ben’s eyes widened as he took in his surroundings. “FIVE! Why the hell are you here, you could’ve been killed, I could have hurt you, you shouldn’t have-”

 

“Chill out Benjamin Franklin, I had it under control. You’re welcome, by the way.” Five grinned, and Ben’s mouth dropped open.

 

“Did you-” He cut himself off as Five nodded. “You closed the portal.”

 

“The fabric of space is kind of my area of expertise.” Five shrugged, and then Ben’s arms were squeezing him in a vice-like hug, and Five tried not to think about the blood soaking into his uniform.

 

“I would’ve died. I skipped breakfast and I didn’t sleep and I tried to close the portal but they were stronger than me and they wouldn’t go back and it hurt .” Ben’s voice cracked, and Five returned the hug, hands bunching in the fabric of Ben’s sweater. 

 

“I got you.” He breathed, trying to banish the memory of Ben’s screams from his mind. “I won’t let it happen again.”

 

Five wasn’t sure how long they knelt on the vault floor, but eventually he heard the clanging of the vault being unlocked and they pushed away from each other, Ben wiping his eyes. Five handed him his domino mask from where it was laying on the floor, and Ben pressed it on just in time for Klaus to burst into the vault, limbs flailing.

 

“You’re alive! You’re both alive!” He yelped, throwing himself at Ben and draping himself across him. “Oh, you’re definitely alive, I can touch you, this is a blessed day.”

 

Five stood up as Ben comforted Klaus, taking a few steps back and trying to process the last- had it only been two minutes?

 

Ben’s powers and his own were more interlinked then Five previously thought. This added a whole new layer to consider with Five’s powers, and maybe now Five could help Ben understand his own. They had never really discussed Ben’s power before; Ben hated talking about it and Five didn’t push. 

 

But this changed things, and if Five’s suspicious were correct, things might be finally looking up.