Some things, the mind just couldn't explain. Like Nessie or Big Foot or the Nazca Lines. Klaus Hargreeves was, in a way, an expert in all things unexplainable because the unexplainable followed him around ever since some random German woman plopped him out one fateful October day in 1989. It came with the terrain of being a miracle baby. Sure, he was not necessarily an expert when it came to weird mythical creatures that were probably just some elaborate hoax anyway but he wouldn't be surprised either if the ghost of Nessie would soon follow him around as well.
To him, something like a ghost was a completely normal thing. In fact, he had a ghost trailing after him almost all the time giving snarky comments and reminding him to not be too much of a disaster on a daily basis. It was, so to say, his personal Jiminy Cricket. There was one thing, however, that even Klaus Hargreeves couldn't explain even as he stared right down at it.
Luther had sent him up to find Diego after Klaus had given up on his own training session with their leader. The non-apocalypse lay now 8 months or so behind them and his last relapse had occurred 7 months ago after he had spiraled out of control in his grief and the general feeling of being completely useless. After that, Luther had decided to get his brother back on track by forcing him through daily workouts with him. As his body started to heal from the almost two decades of drug abuse and everything that came with it, Klaus started to get better and better in his daily training routine as well. It was a slow process, however, and not everyone was as patient with him as Luther was.
In fact, he was standing in front of the bed of the most impatient member of this family right now. Yes, even more impatient than Five. Diego was still asleep. It was almost noon and Diego was still fast asleep.
Klaus, even after all this time, would go as far as to say that he had never seen his brother like this. 30 years on this world together and he had never seen him like this. Bloody and cut up? Sure. Bruised all over? Even more times. But never like this. Never tossing and turning tangled up in his sheets, his whole body drenched in sweat. Much unlike Klaus, Diego was not known to sleep in. Never. He had always been an early riser. The man was almost religious about his morning routine. Now, it was Klaus’ task to wake him up and he felt like he was about to steal the golden egg from a dragon. It was true that Diego was an early riser but it was also true that he generally didn't like to be roused from his slumber.
»Diego … Hey, man…« He opted for gently shaking his shoulder which turned out to be quite nasty. Diego, much like Klaus himself, usually slept only in his underwear no matter the time of year. Now, his skin was slick with sweat but at least he could draw a grunt from his brother. It worried him though how hot Diego felt to the touch. Then again Diego's skin had always been hot while Klaus had always been ice cold. To others, he would probably feel normal but to Klaus, he felt like he was boiling up inside.
»Go away…« Diego groaned as Klaus repeated the action a bit more forceful.
»Luther’s waiting for you - You were supposed to train together today, remember? He asked me to find you.« As if a spell had been broken, Diego suddenly shot upright in his bed. Well, that was not a big surprise either. Diego never missed training - especially not with Luther. Not because he liked training or sparring with Luther but because he didn't want to appear weak in front of their brother - even after all this time. No matter how old they would get, Klaus feared that Diego would never be able to quite beat his inferiority complex that their father had instilled in poor Number Two. Diego would never admit that something might be wrong or give up before Luther would give up.
In fact, he remembered a camping trip (more like survival training) in the Rocky Mountains when they were ten years old. Diego had twisted his left ankle right at the start of their hike but he refused to take a break and soldier on until Luther took a break. Needless to say, the trip had been cut short after that because as soon as Diego had stopped and allowed the pain to settle in, he had puked his guts out - all over Reginald’s shoes.
Now that Diego’s eyes were open, Klaus realized that they were red-rimmed and glossy - almost a bit feverish. But that couldn't be true, right? Diego had never had a fever. Like … ever. At least not a serious one. Sure, he had been down with a cold one or two times but, much like Luther, Diego's immune system had always been impeccable. He probably just hadn't slept very well.
»Fuck … I overslept.« Diego mumbled groggily. His movements were sluggish as he pushed Klaus out of the way to get up slowly. Of course, Diego had just woken up. He was allowed to be a bit sluggish. Nothing to worry about. Klaus paused and watched how Diego got into his sweatpants and a simple tank top without saying anything more at first.
»You look like shit.« He finally commented after he had no longer been able to swallow the worry that was creeping up on him from the pit of his stomach. »You alright?«
»I am feeling a bit under the weather, no big deal.« Who was he to argue with that? Oh, right.
»You? The great Diego Hargreeves?« Klaus mocked as he took in the weird and oddly controlled way his brother seemed to be holding himself. He knew Diego well. They had always been close. In fact, Klaus would go as far as to say that he had always been the closest with Diego. Ben and he had only gotten close after Ben’s premature death. »Sure about that, brother dear?«
»Yeah-yeah.« Diego sighed and dragged a hand over his face. »I just didn't sleep very well - got to bed late and ate too heavily last night. I’m just … taking it slow today. Taking a break after this session and go to bed earlier.«
»You are a right party animal, Sunshine!« Klaus laughed but ignored the sharp glare his brother gave him. Geez, someone isn't in the mood for brotherly squabbling! »Odd though … I mean, we all had dinner together last night, didn't we? You barely ate anything as far as I recall. Did you go out afterward? I didn't hear you leave. The least you could’ve done was tell me and allow me to accompany you! You know it's not a real party until your favorite little brother arrives!«
»Klaus.« Diego muttered. Jesus Christ, his voice was even more gravely and raspy than usual - more so than seconds ago. »Shut your trap, okay?«
Instead of arguing, Klaus just saluted his brother and stepped aside as Diego walked out of the room at last. Sometimes it really was best not to poke the bear. He hovered for a second there and watched his brother’s retreating form absentmindedly. He couldn't quite shake off the feeling that Diego was not feeling too hot and was too proud to say anything. However, even if that was true, what was he supposed to do about it?
Usually, he would go and ask Grace for help but, as fate had it, his mom and his sisters were gone on a trip to L.A. As he now stood in his brother’s room and breathed the kinda hot and humid air inside, smelled the distinct odor of sickness lingering in the fabrics of his bed linen that he only came to associate with the ghosts of deadly sick people, Klaus Hargreeves suddenly kinda wished his mother would be here right now.
-End of Chapter 1-
Something was off about Diego. He didn't see it at first but the longer they continued their sparring session, the clearer it became to Luther that his brother was not up to his usual self. His movements that were usually very agile and catlike were now slow and almost a bit unfocused and sluggish - clumsy, perhaps. Which was odd because Diego had never been clumsy. In fact, Diego had always been the most dexterous of the seven of them and had picked up new fighting styles easily and quickly while Luther had struggled to keep up.
After not even half an hour, Diego was messing up almost every single one of his punches and even more of the dodging. Diego and he had never seen eye to eye - or at least, not very often. However, Luther had always had great respect for his brother and his work ethic. Diego was determined and strong-willed where Luther was often faltering. Where Luther had been unable to talk back to their father, Diego had found the courage to do exactly that. Also, Diego had always put his all into whatever he was doing whether it was his training, missions or his music back in the days when he and Klaus still had this band. They hadn't been very good at it but especially Diego had given it his all and thus inspired Klaus to work hard as well.
He was not given it his all right now, though.
»Hey … Is everything okay?« Luther finally addressed his brother as they were taking a break. Luther was not in need of a break but Diego sure was - judging by how quickly he was draining his water bottle - and he knew his brother well enough by now to know that Diego would only take a break if he would demand one.
»Sure.« His brother deflected like he was so prone to do with a nonchalant shrug of his broad shoulders. »Why?«
»You look awful.« Luther explained with a shrug of his own. The two of them had never been good at communicating with each other.
Diego was not exactly the type to go to bed at 8 PM after dinner and he wasn't the type to run around the city and go to parties or bars either. He followed a strict routine that came probably from his days at the police academy and he would go to bed at a reasonable time after doing his thing for a while - sometimes that meant he would hang out with Klaus or just read a book or a comic or he would help Mom around the house. Diego, despite his tendency to be rebellious and wild, was a very domestic person. He didn't seem to need much else besides his home and his family. In fact, Luther would go as far as to say that his presence here at the house was largely responsible for the fact that their brother Klaus was still clean now that Christmas was just around the corner.
»So Allison called earlier.« Luther decided to change the topic as it was clear that Diego didn't want to discuss anything about his health - or lack thereof.
»Yeah … The girls arrived safely in L.A. So … We have the house all to ourselves for the next week. Allison said that we should try not to burn it down in the meantime.«
»Klaus’ won't like to hear that.«
»As long as it comes from you, he’ll manage.«
»What do you mean?« Diego always sounded so defensive even when Luther clearly meant it as a compliment. Sometimes it was as if his brother wanted to misunderstand him.
»Nothing … It's just that you guys are close, right?« Luther tried saving the situation quickly before Diego would get angry. Lately, his fuse seemed even shorter than usual. »He never listens to anything I tell him but as long as it comes from you he’ll do anything.«
»I wouldn't say anything.« Diego rolled his eyes before quickly stifling a cough in the crook of his elbow. »But he is more cooperative.«
»So … In other words, I was that bad of a brother to him, huh?« He had thought about that a lot actually during those past months living together with his siblings again. He had had time to reevaluate everything he had done in the past and how he has treated every single one of his siblings. Somehow Klaus had always gotten the short end of the stick. He had treated him the worst because of Klaus’ insistence of garnering attention. Now he understood, of course, that Klaus had just needed to drown out the ghosts and wanted his siblings to help him in any way they could.
»I think … I think Klaus thinks that you were not much of anything to him these last years.« It stung. »Don't get me wrong - I feel you. He can be annoying and quite a handful. But … Well, growing up, you never really gave him the time of day. Then again … you treated most of us like minor background noise. Except for Allison, of course. So … If he is a little hesitant to come to you or listen to you these days it's just because he doesn’t know what you think about him or if you are going to belittle him again like you did before Vanya almost blew up the moon.«
It wasn’t like all of this would be new to Luther. He was not blind to his own shortcomings and his mistakes when it came to being a good brother. He could recognize that he had been a bad brother and a bad leader. Klaus had been out in the streets for years and he had not once spared him a second thought, not once deemed it necessary to worry about his brother. Or any of his siblings that were not Allison.
He had given up after Ben’s death. Of course, that was weak and the action of a coward but he had been beaten down by Ben’s death. The feeling of utter betrayal as first Allison, then Diego and then Vanya left him behind heavy on his mind even before Klaus had been kicked out by their father. He had hated Diego for leaving him behind like this. He was his Number Two, after all, his right-hand man, his second in command. But Diego had left to become a policeman and yet failed to do so because his temper had gotten the better of him.
As Diego walked back to the training ring, Luther noticed how much he was staggering. »You sure you’re okay?«
»Peachy.« Diego muttered. »Just peachy.«
-End of Chapter 2-
There was blood on the kitchen floor when Five walked in. Not that it would be that odd of an occurrence in their family or household. Only the source of it seemed off, all things considered.
As Five’s eyes followed the blood he found his brother Diego standing by the sink and holding his left hand under the running water of the faucet. A few colorful curses ran out of his mouth and right next to him on the counter lay the offending knife - blood still on it. It didn't need Sherlock Holmes to gather that Diego hurt himself with that knife.
»And what the hell happened here?« Five greeted his brother who whirled around in alarm immediately.
»Nothing.« He sounded raspy and a little off, the answer coming too quickly to be believable. It was not the usual Diego Hargreeves gravel either that he heard on his voice. And, now that Five was able to look at his face, his brother looked pale and sick and as if he was about to throw up his lungs. Not that he needed them anyway, right?
»Yeah, sure looks like nothing. Why did you try to cut off your hand?« Because that was what it looked like. His left hand was bloody and he could only assume that his brother was hiding a gush in his flesh from his smarter older brother.
Speaking to Diego sometimes was like pulling teeth. One would expect that kind of behavior from Klaus but Number Four was usually more talkative - except when it concerned his emotional state of being. Diego, however, was always evasive and fond of acting like the toughest macho bitch in town. He could literally cut off a finger or two and ask for a plaster instead of a ride to the hospital. Being hurt or injured was like showing weakness to the enemy and Reginald had done his damnedest to beat the weakness out of Number Two who had always been so sensitive.
»Then what did you do?« He allowed a sigh to escape his mouth as he walked closer and took hold of Diego's injured hand without his permission before he could protest.
»Was trying to cut an apple.«
»I would say you failed.« As Diego did not respond to this right away, Five just furrowed his brows. »You look like shit. Are you sick?«
»Have I ever been sick ever in my life?«
»Oh, now he is delusional. I better get you to the infirmary.«
»Come on. I’m never sick. What's with you guys today? Everyone’s in my ass all day!« Diego threw up his hands. »Jesus Christ! I am fine, okay? Geez! First Klaus acting like a concerned mother-hen all of the sudden, then Luther and now you? Give it a break, I just had a rough night and am a little distracted!«
Diego ripped his injured hand from Five and took a step back and then another.
»You distracted?« Klaus’ voice suddenly came from the doorway. The Séance had always been silent on his feet and so it was no wonder that he hadn't heard him approach. Seeing his brother standing there in only a very colorful little speedo that barely hid his junk, was certainly not the weirdest thing that Five had ever seen. Whirling around for a second time just to have a look at Klaus, however, proofed to be a bit much as Diego started to sway on the spot before passing out cold on the kitchen tiles.
»Congratulations.« Five sighed. »You just killed our brother.«
»Well, is it my fault that I am this stunningly beautiful?« Klaus mocked as he hurried over. By some miracle, his junk stayed where it was supposed to stay and was not flip-flopping around. Maybe he should stop focussing on Klaus’ nether regions and instead concentrate on the unconscious family member on the ground. Then again, it was hard not to focus on Klaus’ genitalia when it was clad in neon pink and green. He watched Klaus crouch down next to his brother on the ground and feel for his pulse expertly. Well, their father had forced them all through the same education especially concerning first aid. Klaus was not completely useless in this field considering his general un-squeamishness. Unlike Diego who would pass out at the sight of needles or start gagging when someone would squeeze a glass eyeball into a dead man’s eye socket. Pussy.
»His pulse is racing.« Klaus frowned. »And he’s hot !«
»Klaus, now is not the time-«
»No, I mean, literally. Feel his skin!« Five gave another sigh as he placed his hand on Diego’s forehead. His brother was literally burning up underneath the tips of his fingers. Diego’s skin being hot was not unusual. Klaus was always cold to the touch but Diego had always been warmer than normal. This, however, was no longer normal and definitely not explainable by his ‘hot Mexican blood’ as Klaus so poetically called it once.
»He has a fever.« Five determined and got back to his feet. »He needs medical help A.S.A.P.«
»Sure but I can't carry him! Dude’s heavy!«
With a roll of his eyes and without further ado, Five blinked out of the room only to appear where he had last seen Luther lounging on a chair in the library. He bit down on his comment about Luther’s reading abilities and instead walked over to him and grabbed him by the arm.
»What the hell?« Luther started.
»We need your help.« Oh, and how he always hated to admit something like that. »Diego just passed out. Kitchen. You need to carry him to his room.« Before Luther could ask more stupid questions - and really every question in this situation would be stupid - he blinked away again. Not to the kitchen but to the infirmary instead where he gathered everything they might need to get their brother back on track.
-End of Chapter 3-
Pneumonia. That was what Pogo determined after checking the unconscious mythical beast over. Of course, none of them could quite explain how their brother might have caught pneumonia but Pogo knew what he was doing, after all.
It was just odd to see Diego so sick. By now he had stopped twisting and turning in his bed. Two hours had passed since Diego passed out on the kitchen floor. By now, Five had taken care of the wound in his hand, stitching it back together expertly and bandaging it. It was probably for the best that Diego had been unconscious for this process as he would have passed ou anyway at the sight of the needle in Five’s hand. And really, who wouldn't? Nobody wanted to see Five with a needle about to poke them with it. He had not woken up yet, not really, at least. Once or twice he had opened his eyes and looked around but it had been very clear immediately that he was disorientated and had no clue what was going on around him.
His fever sat comfortably at 104°F as Klaus took the thermometer out of Diego’s mouth and leaned back in the chair he had pulled beside his brother’s bed. He put the thermometer aside and instead grabbed the wet cloth on Diego’s forehead, washed it out in the glass container beside the bed and put it back on his forehead. Diego was already sweating through his comfortable workout clothes and soon Klaus would need Luther’s help to change Diego into dry clothes. Sure, he would be able to do it himself but right now his brother had more in common with a sack of potatoes and moving him around was not easy. Maybe his sheets would need a change too.
»You shouldn't be here.« Ben sighed from where he was sitting at the foot of their brother’s bed. It was a shame that the others couldn't feel Ben at all, otherwise his presence might have a cooling effect on Diego. »I mean you will probably catch what he has.«
»I doubt that.« Klaus shrugged. »I would have already caught it. You know how Diego’s body works. he gets sick and spreads it everywhere but, whatever it is, lays dormant in him until it breaks through. He is like … like a pest-infected rat.«
»That … Does make no sense.«
»No.« Klaus agreed. »It's Diego we’re talking about.«
»Ben, seriously.« He replied with a frown. »I just want … Let me mother him a bit, okay? I just want to give back a little. I mean … how many times did he take care of me when I was this sick, right? Just remember my last detox after Vanya almost blew up the moon. Who was there to get me through the thick of it? Diego. He even cleaned up my vomit.«
»Because you wouldn't let anyone else come near you.«
»Yeah because I trust him the most of all my living siblings. I mean can you imagine Five having to clean up my puke? Or Luther? Can you imagine one of the others holding me down when I was in the worst of withdrawal?« He remembered lying on the cold bathroom tiles only in his underwear because his skin was burning off, crying his eyes out in pain with Diego sitting beside him - just being there.
It was not just that he had not trusted his siblings back then. It was just that Diego had been the only one who understood that silence was sometimes exactly what was needed. Diego had understood that just being there within arm’s reach in companionable silence had been what Klaus had needed the most. The others had always wanted to ask questions or touch him in reassurance.
Now that their roles were swapped, he wanted to repay the favor in companionable silence. Even though he hated seeing his brother like this. Ben was silent after this and just sat there at the foot of Diego’s bed to grab one of his weird-ass mystery books out of nowhere and start reading. He knew that soon one of his brothers would come to take over from him in his watchdog duty but until then, he might as well hold Diego’s good hand and just wait.
-End of Chapter 4-
Luther Hargreeves was not good at taking care of other people. He was good at protecting others from harm, yes. At least that was what he thought he was good at because he was supposed to be good at that. His siblings might beg to differ, of course. After all, he hadn't been able to protect Ben from dying and he hadn't been able to protect Klaus from falling into an addiction that would not let go of his brother for almost seventeen years of his young life. He had not even been able to protect Vanya from falling for some random psycho preying on her vulnerability. A vulnerability she only had because of the way that her siblings and her father had treated her all her life.
In short, he was not good at taking care of his siblings. He was especially not good at nursing someone back to health. And so, when Klaus called out for him in the middle of the night, he didn't know at first what he should do. His first instinct was to call for Mom but she was not here so it was his job to make sure everything was okay.
He got out of his bed reluctantly but then he barrelled down the hallway as Klaus screamed out again. »Luther! Luther, help!«
Five flashed into the room before Luther even reached it but as he did, he found his brother Diego on the floor, Klaus’ chair toppled over on the side and his brother helplessly trying to hold Diego still on the ground as Diego was flailing like a fish on land. His breathing shallow and yet quick as if he had trouble getting air in.
Seeing his brother like this on the ground, his body caught in a riptide of spasms underneath the helpless fingers of Klaus, his fingers and toes curling unnaturally into the carpet on the ground, filled him to the brim with absolute and utter terror. Nothing made sense. This was not supposed to happen. Diego had just pneumonia, right? It was not supposed to be this bad! Diego was not supposed to be this sick!
»What the hell happened?« He all but bellowed, his own voice still scratchy from lack of use.
»I don't know!« Klaus shrieked, his panic clearly visible on his pale face.
»He’s having a seizure!« Five quickly informed.
»Jesus Christ! A seizure! His temperature is probably through the roof! Luther, hold him down so that we can read it!« Seconds after, Five had successfully lodged the thermometer underneath Diego’s tongue and held it there until it beeped. »106.1°F.« Five informed quickly with that same no-nonsense attitude he was so well-known for. Looking at Five now who was the only one of the three brothers who was not panicking, Luther had once again to admit that nearly everyone in this family would make a better leader than he. »We need to get his fever down quickly. Klaus help me prepare an ice bath. Luther, you’ll get him into the bathtub.«
Five was gone before he could say anything. Luckily for them, their mother always stored a few extra bags of ice in the freezer in the basement just in case - whatever that scenario might be. Perhaps she had thought of something like this. Klaus gave Diego one more panicked look before he managed to get around Luther and run towards the bathroom.
Getting a firm grasp on his brother was not easy the way he was thrashing and his limbs were flailing all over the place. He managed to lift him up, though and hold him close against his own body as he made his way into the corridor. He had never expected Diego to be so light. He probably wasn't. Just to Luther, he seemed to weigh nothing right now. Then again, everyone was light to him. And Diego … Well, his brother was tall and muscular, sure but Luther had never had a real inkling of how heavy he might be or not. More often than not he had carried Klaus around while growing up. Either because he had been hurt or passed out or for fun. But Diego … Now that he thought about it, he could not remember ever being this close to Diego in his life without having aggression as the motivator behind it.
As he reached the bathroom the water in the tub was already running as Five and Klaus were dumping all the ice that Mom had stored in the basement into the water. He didn't need Five to yell at him again as he carefully maneuvered Diego into a sitting position on the closed toilet lid and leaned him against the wall so that he would be able to undress him.
»Five, when the bath is done please change his sheets and bring us something fresh for him to wear. I need Klaus to help me here.« Even though he had panicked before, now that the first moment of shock was over, taking charge seemed natural to him again. Now that Diego had stopped seizing and convulsing, he could better make a mental list of what was to do. At least Five only gave an agreeing grunt instead of arguing with him now. He needed Klaus mostly because Four was much closer with Diego and had the least qualms with any of his siblings being naked around him. Luther, on the other hand, was uncomfortable undressing Diego.
As if reading his mind, Klaus walked over to where Luther was holding Diego in place and helped him to get rid of his shirt first before he pulled down Diego’s pants and boxers. Even Five gave a strangled noise of discomfort and Klaus rolled his eyes at that. »Geez, you guys.« He mocked. »We are all boys here, aren’t we? Nothing we wouldn't see every day when looking in the mirror right? Stop being little schoolgirls about it.«
He had a point, of course. If he would go to the local YMCA or gym he would see a ton more naked men than he would usually do in his day to day life. And Diego was his brother. It shouldn't be a big deal. He shouldn't be ashamed. Klaus definitely wasn't as he took charge. When the bath was full, Five turned the faucet off and was out of the room in a flash so that Luther could carry Diego over to the tub.
»Be ready to hold him down. He’ll freak out now. Trust me, I’ve been there.« Klaus directed at Luther as he walked over to the tub and decided to kneel down on the ground at the headpiece of the tub - probably getting ready to hold Diego down himself as much as he could.
Sure, Klaus was still all flailing limbs and wiry body, still thin and not nearly as strong as he could be but he was making progress. Klaus would never be able to hold a candle to Diego or Luther, even Allison would probably be able to knock him out cold, but he was taking this new training regime seriously. It helped him, Klaus had once told Luther. It helped him clear his head from the urges he still got. And Luther couldn't help but be proud of the progress he was making. Still, this right here would be a wild ride.
Luther took a moment to brace himself as he picked Diego up again and moved him to the tub. He lowered him into the water slowly but as soon as he was submerged, his brother’s eyes flew open and just as Klaus predicted, he started thrashing around like a wild animal. However, as he held him down as best as he could he quickly realized that Diego, though his eyes were open, was completely disoriented and confused - and probably shocked by the cold water. Klaus had, naturally, a much harder time keeping Diego in the tub as he dug his fingers into his shoulders to keep him down and his back pressed into the tub.
»Everything is okay.« Klaus muttered close to Diego’s ear as if he was talking to a spooked animal. »Calm down, you are fine, Dee-Dee. Everything’s okay. We just need to get your fever down.«
It seemed almost like a miracle that Diego seemed to actually hear his brother and even more so that Klaus managed to calm him just enough that he stopped thrashing. Or maybe it was just his energy waning off slowly from exhaustion. No matter what it was, Diego finally slumped back and his head fell with a thud against the rim of the tub. He was trembling from head to toe from the cold and his eyes were still unfocused and glassy as he tried to look around.
»Poor thing.« Klaus hummed as he carded his fingers through Diego’s short hair. This gesture alone seemed to calm Diego a little. His breath was still going ragged and he could almost hear his heart race in his chest.
»How long do we need to leave him in here?« Luther finally turned to Klaus again but his brother only shrugged his shoulders.
»How would I know?«
»Didn't you say you’ve been through something like this before?« “When?” really was the question Luther wanted to ask. And “why?”. He felt terrible not knowing something like this about his own brother- Had Klaus been at someone's mercy in a similar situation? Had strangers taken care of his brother like this?
»Yeah ... during one detox a few years ago.« He shrugged. »That was when I had this boyfriend … Grant.« He gave a mock little chuckle. »He told me pretty early on ‘Klaus, if you want to stay with me you’ll have to get clean’ - So I got clean.«
»For him?« Luther asked surprised. Maybe he shouldn't be this surprised. Yet, he and Klaus had never had this kind of relationship where they would talk about Klaus’ lovelife too much. He had talked about Dave once or twice. He had told his siblings during a quiet night how he had met him during his time travel and how he died. Until that point, Luther had never quite registered that his brother was into men. Sure, it was obvious in retrospect but it was never something he had thought about much. Thinking about it now, it filled him with anger at himself that he had never been interested in this aspect of his siblings’ lives. He needn’t worry about Allison, Luther or Five in that regard. But Vanya and Klaus? He should have been a big brother to them. Meaning: Scaring everyone away who wasn’t worthy. »This Grant-dude? You loved him?«
»I wouldn't call it love .« Klaus then hummed. He still held onto Diego, one hand relaxed on his shoulder and the other brushing through his hair while Diego was trembling like a leaf during a hurricane. It was a weird sight to behold. »He always made me an awesome osso bucco … I mean not that I hadn't liked him or something but love is such a big word, you know?« There was this bitter little voice in the back of his mind that wondered why his brother had gotten clean for a stranger he didn't even love but not for any of his siblings. »No, I got clean because I was tired of sleeping somewhere else every night. I was tired of not knowing what I was gonna eat the next day or if I would make enough money for my next hit. I was tired of getting on my knees all the time for other guys in shady alleys or motels or toilets. Grant was nothing special, he was just an idiot.«
»Idiot…« Diego suddenly rasped, apparently in agreement, and startled them both with it. »F’cking Grant … hate him.« He slurred his words pretty badly and Luther doubted that Diego was even lucid right now.
»Wait, did he know the guy?« Luther pointed at their sick brother, trying not to sound too accusatory right now. Still, it stung a little that Diego knew about this part of Klaus’ life and he didn't. Maybe he was behaving a little too entitled here. All Klaus gave him was a lopsided little grin in return.
»Knowing is a bit much. He beat him up and broke his jaw for me.«
»What?« Somehow he had the distinct feeling that he was missing a huge piece of the puzzle that was his brother Klaus’ life of the last thirteen years. Then again … what did he really know about that time anyway? Same with Diego or Vanya.
»You see Grant was okay for the first three weeks. Made me go through detox, cooked for me, cared for me, let me live with him. Awesome guy, really.« He shrugged and made it sound as if he was not even talking about his own life. »Until he wasn't. I should’ve expected it, of course. Nice guys always turn into assholes sooner or later. Anyway, he started getting a bit too aggressive if you catch my drift and Diego met us at some point somewhere in the city and saw how Grant was with me. Let’s just say our brother was not a fan of how Grant was treating me so he beat him up and took me in for a little while.«
»Wait, wait, wait!« Luther held up a hand. »That guy beat you?«
»Wasn't the first one to overstep the few boundaries that I have. And he certainly wasn't the last either. Life on the street is tough, big guy.« He even winked at Luther at this and Luther felt his stomach turn. Sure, they had all known that Klaus had probably done awful things on the street just to survive. They wouldn't talk about it but they could all tell. Hearing stuff like this now just … hurt. He hadn't been there when Klaus had needed him. Then again … Had he needed him? It sounded like Diego had been there for Klaus - like he had always been there for Klaus.
It was an unspoken truth that Number One and Number Two had early on decided that the others were their little siblings that needed their protection. A fine job at protecting he had done here.
»I hope Diego beat the crap out of him.« He grunted. Despite his anger towards his own inaction and care, he was glad that at least Diego had been there to help him. They fell into silence again with just the sound of Diego’s chattering teeth to fill the room for a few minutes. And it was their brother who broke the silence again after a while.
»Mom…« He muttered quietly. »I want Mom … Where’s Mommy?«
His voice was so small and soft that it almost broke Luther’s heart. He exchanged a look with Klaus at this and his brother quickly came to his rescue as Luther was at a loss for words right now. »Mom is coming back in a few minutes.« He told Diego calmly. »You are sick, Dee. She told us to watch over you while she grabs some more medicine, okay?«
The low whine that escaped Diego was not at all a sign that he was okay with this. Well, Diego had always been a mama’s boy. No wonder he would want her here with him now when he was in pain and cold and probably scared. He continued asking for Grace until they finally got him out of the bath just as Five returned with dry clothes. Together the brothers wrapped him up in soft towels and got him dressed again before maneuvering him back into his freshly made bed. His temperature had fallen back on an almost safe 104°F and after Five managed to administer the medicine Pogo gave them, Diego fell back asleep again.
»Maybe we should get Mom.« Luther sighed as the three brothers had all taken seats somewhere in Diego’s room. »I mean, Five, you could just jump over to L.A. and grab her, right?«
»I could, yes.«
»No … Guys. Come on.« Klaus sighed from his position on the bed. He had Diego’s feet on his lap and leaned with his back against the wall. »Mom is on holiday with the girls and we are thirty years old. I think we can handle this just fine without her, okay?«
»What if we can't?«
»Then we’ll get our brother to the nearest hospital.«
»No, we can't always call for Mom when we don't know what to do.« Klaus shrugged. »I think Five and I needed to learn that the hard way.« A part of him was afraid to learn even more about Klaus’ time on the streets now. He didn't know how much more of this he would be able to stomach now.
»I hate to agree with Number Four here but he’s right.« Five replied with a yawn. »It's just a little pneumonia, right? We can totally kick this in the butt.« He really didn't know if it would be as easy as his brothers thought it was. He had no idea how to treat something like this. But his brothers were right. They couldn't always run to their mother. »And Diego is strong as a horse anyway. He always gets back up quick.«
-End of Chapter 5-
As it turned out the next night, his brother Five was full of shit. They had managed to get Diego’s fever back down to 104°F after his ice bath. It had stayed there the entire morning following last night’s events while the brothers were hovering and administering medicine or waking Diego up long enough to drink something. At noon it had spiked again to 105°F and then fallen back to 103°F until nightfall. So, as the next night approached, at last, Klaus declared that he would take over the nightshift again. What worse than last time could happen anyway? And, as Five had said the night before, Diego tended to get back up from an illness quickly, right?
At some point in the night, Klaus fell asleep watching his brother and was startled awake by the sound of someone throwing up their lungs. Well, that answered the question, he assumed. He jolted awake as he realized how his brother was throwing up on the ground between them, the stench of sick sharp and sour in his nose, the sound of the vomit hitting the ground nauseating.
»Oh, shit!« He gasped as he jumped from his chair out of reflex and almost stepped into the puddle on the floor. It was dark inside the room except for the dim light of the old lamp on the bedside table. His first instinct was to grab a bucket but … well, the floor was already soiled. Where would be the point in that? Instead, he sat down on the edge of the bed and rubbed Diego’s back comfortingly. His brother’s eyes were screwed shut in pain and exhaustion. »Let it all out, Dee.« He murmured. »You’ll feel better later.«
Diego's body was convulsing so heavily that Klaus was sure he was in pain but there was nothing he could do about it. The only remedy for his ailment right now was to rub his back and feel his forehead. He was still burning up but it was not nearly as bad as before. At least that. When Diego finally didn't have anything left to give, he slumped down in his bed again.
»Sorry…« His brother muttered breathlessly. At least he was awake, right?
»Don't worry about it. It's okay.« Klaus hummed. »After all the times you had to clean up my vomit, I probably deserve this.« Was this a smile on his brother’s tired face? He wasn't even sure that Diego knew what was really going on right now. He had been there before - in this confusing dark wonderland that his brother was now experiencing. »Just relax. Let me take care of you. I’m gonna clean this up.«
Diego gave a sound that was almost a protest but Klaus chose to ignore it as he got up again to leave his brother shortly. The bathroom was luckily not too far away and so he was rather quick in grabbing a wet washcloth to clean up Diego’s face first and also get him a glass of water. Diego actually allowed him to clean his face without much grumbling or protest too.
»You don't have to do this.« He mumbled but his eyes were still glassy as he looked at Klaus.
»Oh, shush, you big baby.« He smiled in response as he dragged the washcloths over his mouth one last time to clean off the rest of the sick clinging to Diego’s stubbles. »Here, drink this and then right back to sleep, okay?«
»You’re gonna stay with me … right?«
»Sure. Let me just clean up the mess before someone steps in it.« Diego hummed in response. It was quiet and sounded as if he was dozing off again already. Klaus then quickly left to get rid of the soiled washcloth before grabbing the mop and a bucket from the closet down the corridor. The house was completely silent so late at night with Five and Luther sleeping in their own rooms. He was glad that they didn't see this. The last thing he needed now was an overbearing Luther taking this duty away from him or Five making rude comments at his expense.
His siblings often thought that Klaus wasn't self-reliant at all, that he didn't know how to take care of things. They probably thought even that Klaus wasn't able to clean up something as messy as this. He wouldn't be surprised if they thought he didn't know what a mop looked like. Well, they didn't know a great many things about him, he assumed. So, he went back to Diego’s room with the cleaning utensils and got to work. He found his brother’s eyes still open, watching him through half-lidded tired slits.
»Sorry…« Diego murmured again. »Sorry, Mousey…« He almost flinched hearing this old and long-forgotten little pet name. It seemed a lifetime ago that he had last heard it. Klausie-Mousey. They had been nothing but little children when he had last heard it. Dad had made Diego stop saying it at one point. »Dad will be so mad … Please don't go bother him … or Mommy.«
»I told you not to worry about it, Dee-Dee.« He smiled and only briefly stopped in his work to brush his fingers through Diego’s greasy hair. Poor guy. He was already half asleep and didn't even know what he was saying anymore. So, Klaus made haste as he cleaned up the vomit on the floor. When he was done, he put the bucket and the mop right outside the door - just in case, before he ventured back inside and pulled the waste bin under Diego’s old desk to the side of his bed. »For next time.«
Again, Diego gave a hum but Klaus doubted that he even realized what his brother had said or done just now. So, Klaus sat down on the edge of the bed and felt his forehead and cheeks again, only for his fingers to wander to the back of Diego's neck.
»Cool…« Diego murmured. »Nice…«
»You’re still too hot.« Klaus sighed before grabbing something of the medication of the bedside table. Five had expressed his concerns to leave those here with Klaus - unsupervised. Sure, maybe he felt a bit affronted by that but he couldn't deny that it urged him a little to drink that bottle of Nyquil. Instead, he opened it and gave a bit of it to Diego who swallowed it without protest. »Geez, I really shouldn't get used to you being so compliant, huh?« He snickered and got up to tidy everything up again.
The second he rose to his feet, however, Diego grabbed his wrist. His grip was surprisingly strong for someone who was half asleep so Klaus looked down on him again. »Stay, please.«
»You mean in your bed?« He gave the tiniest nod at that. »It's too small. We are no children anymore.« Not that Diego seemed to realize that right now.
»Cuddle.« How was he supposed to turn his poor ailing brother down? Seeing Diego Hargreeves so vulnerable was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was like seeing the Monster of Loch Ness or Bigfoot. His poor brother deserved his pity and so, Klaus gave in with a small sigh and slowly climbed into Diego’s bed.
»That's a really bad idea.« Ben, who finally popped into the room just to annoy him and give unnecessary commentary to an already awkward situation, chimed in. »You know how easy you get sick, Klaus!«
»Shush, Ben.« He sighed and tried to get comfortable at his brother’s side. Two grown men didn't easily fit into Diego’s bed from his teenage years. Which only reminded Klaus that they should all probably go shopping for furniture soon and refurbish their rooms. That angsty-teen-bedroom-style was so 2000’s. Diego didn't even react to him talking to Ben. He just turned over in his bed and moved closer until his head was resting on Klaus’ chest. Diego was normally not a cuddly type. He was s knife-wielding psycho. Well, right now he wasn't.
»I’m just saying! Don't come to me when he got you sick as well.« Ben huffed and disappeared again to leave the brothers alone in comfortable silence for a little while. That was until Klaus opened his mouth again just to fill the quiet inside the room.
»Hey, did I ever tell you about the time when I worked as a cleaner in a nursing home?«
-End of Chapter 6-
Luther had not reacted favorably to finding Klaus in Diego’s bed in the morning. It was not so much the fact that he might take too much space in the bed and make their patient uncomfortable but the genuine fear that Diego would infect Klaus. Klaus’ immune system - or lack thereof - was legendary bad, after all. As children, Klaus had been the most sick out of the seven children. Not one winter had gone by without their brother catching a serious cold bordering on pneumonia. The worst had probably been the winter when he had been down with a strep throat. Their father had isolated Klaus from the rest of them pretty much in the infirmary with no one allowed in or out. They had been eight at the time and Five remembered how they had taken turns talking to Klaus through the locked door of his sickroom. Needless to say, years and years of drug abuse had not helped his already poor immune system.
During the rest of the day, Diego had woken up twice to eat or drink tea and it had started to look as if he was slowly getting better now. His temperature had fallen a bit at last and, as Five took over from Luther in the afternoon, it sat nice and snug at 103°F. Not ideal but not as bad as before either. All in all, it promised to be a rather uneventful afternoon for Five. So much in fact that he had taken the book he was currently reading and leaned back comfortably in the bean bag he had snuck out of Klaus’ room next door while the Séance was fast asleep and hadn't noticed a thing. Hopefully, Ben would not tell on him.
The last day and night had taken a lot out of Number Four as it seemed. Of course, Luther had checked Klaus over after he had fallen asleep - just in case. However, his temperature was pretty much normal, even if a bit low. Then again, Klaus had always had a colder base temperature than the rest of them. Turned out, he was just exhausted and nothing more than this for now. Hopefully, it would stay this way too.
Five was not known to be a good caretaker, after all. No, that was more Klaus’ and Diego’s stick, he guessed. Those two were mother-hens if they wanted to be. Kind and caring and nurturing - even though Patient Zero over there liked to act all tough and hard to hide his marshmallow core behind his leather-clad macho facade. Well, the old man had really done a number on the Kraken, he guessed. And while Diego had decided to fight his own softness, Klaus had succumbed to it and suffered accordingly in this house where a gentle heart was seen as weakness.
Sometimes, in quieter moments like these, Five found himself looking back in anger at the old man as he kept wondering what might have become of his siblings if Reginald had not been a cold-hearted bitch to them. They might have been destined to be great, every single one of them but their father, in his desire to make them achieve greatness, had instead stunted their development and crushed their true potential instead of building on it.
Who knew? Perhaps Ben would have never died. Perhaps he would have never jumped into the future. Perhaps Vanya would have learned to control her powers with them and not almost had blown up the moon. Perhaps they would all be successful adults now. Well, as long as Five would not manage to jump into a parallel universe where everything went down differently, he would never know, he assumed. That was just life.
A soft knock at the open door took his attention off of his musings and as he followed the sound he found Luther standing awkwardly in the door. Number One and Two had a lot of baggage between them which they simply didn't seem able to sort out. And yet, Luther seemed to care a great deal about Diego. It was just that he couldn't express it for the most part.
»Hey, is everything alright in here?«
»Sure.« Five shrugged. »His temperature is still down at a 103°F and he is due to take his medicine in about an hour.«
»Great.« Luther nodded. »I mean … we still need to get his fever down but … that it hadn't risen again is a start, I guess.«
Five simply nodded to confirm Luther’s words as there really was nothing else to do or to say in this situation. He had the feeling, though, that Luther wanted to say something else now. And so, as a silent invitation for his brother to continue talking, Five casually raised his brows at Luther.
»Well … I wanted to quickly head out for the grocery store. Klaus still sleeps and I guess it's better to let him sleep too. He hardly got any sleep since Diego got ill, after all. You need anything?«
»No.« Five hummed. »But you could bring more cookies. Klaus ate them all. He’s a stress eater.«
»Don't I know it.« Luther huffed and with a nod, he detached himself from the doorframe again. »Okay … I try to be quick. Just call me when you need help or something, okay?«
»I think I can manage alone for an hour or so.«
»Of course.« Luther seemed honestly a bit embarrassed as he finally left him alone now.
Being alone in the house without the girls and Mom was odd for some reason. The house felt emptier, quieter, bleaker almost. Mom’s sunny smiles didn't light up the place anymore. Vanya’s violin didn't fill the halls. Allison’s laughter wasn't echoing through the rooms. Until this moment as he was alone with Diego, watching over his sleeping brother, he hadn't felt their absence as heavily as he did now. He was catapulted back into the endless years in the apocalypse, all by himself with no one to talk to except for Dolores. He was back with the heavy feeling of grief over his family and nothing to put his energy into except trying to figure out what had happened that led to this catastrophe.
He remembered sitting in the ruins of the mansion for the longest time after he had first arrived. He remembered just sitting there in the dust and dirt, staring at the corpses of his dead siblings as if it wasn't even real. Oh, how much he had wished that it hadn't been real! And then, after the truth had time to settle into his heart, he had started digging them out one after the other. He had dug them all out and pulled them to a spot where there was not as much rubble lying around. He had dug with his bare hands for hours in the rubble of the academy in his search for Vanya and Ben, certain that they had to be there as well until he had given up. He hadn't found much of Pogo and his mom either. Only an arm that was undeniable Grace’s and when he caught a glimpse of the back of Pogo’s crushed skull, he had not dug any further. Instead, he had gone back to his siblings and buried them side by side so that neither of them would be alone.
He still tasted the ash on his tongue.
There was no telling how long he had been lost in his own head again as Diego produced a moan followed by a low whine. As he looked at his brother, he saw sweat dripping off his brows and his first instinct was to check his temperature. When Diego was asleep it was easy to shove it underneath his tongue, otherwise, he was like a cat that was unwilling to cooperate. 106.5°F. What? It had been down to 103°F! How the hell had it jumped up so high again in just a few minutes? This was fucking hyperpyrexia!
»Shit!« He breathed out. »Fuck!«
He couldn't possibly get Diego’s fever under control by himself now, could he? He needed help! He needed Luther or Klaus! He needed Pogo! He needed … No, Diego needed professional help. This had gone on long enough now!
»Klaus!« He yelled before thinking twice about it. »Klaus, fuck come here!« He could teleport into Klaus’ room next door or even run over and fetch him but suddenly, Five was rooted to the spot in panic. He couldn't leave his brother alone.
He was back standing in an endless desert of rubble. He was back standing over the lifeless body of his brother Diego, buried under the stones of their childhood home. »Klaus!« He almost didn't recognize his own voice as he grabbed Diego’s wrist. His pulse was racing under the tips of his fingers, hammering against his skin so quickly as if his heart was going to give out - or was that Five’s own heart threatening to give out?
Klaus rushed into the room followed by Ben, his hair ruffled from sleep and his face grey. »What's wrong?«
»We need an ambulance!« Five all but shrieked. He would feel embarrassed under different circumstances, he assumed. »His fever spiked! That's hyperpyrexia! He could die if we don't get him to the hospital!«
Klaus didn't waste any second now as he hurried over to Five and took his hand before he grabbed Diego’s car keys from the nightstand. »Well, come on then!« It took Five what seemed to be hours until he realized what Klaus meant. For a second, he wanted to protest and say that it was too dangerous to teleport Diego out of the room but then he took Diego’s hand instead and the next thing they knew, they were in the alley beside the house where Diego’s car was parked. They quickly got Diego into the backseat before Klaus hopped behind the wheel and Five into the passenger's seat without any protest. There was no time to question Klaus’ ability to drive now. Frankly, he didn't care.
Klaus floored it as soon as they were all inside the car, not caring in the slightest to put on his seatbelt. He should have expected Klaus to drive like a crazy person and he didn't care at all at the moment. He had never been much of a scaredy-cat anyway.
»Where did you learn to drive?«
»Diego.« Klaus huffed as he forced the old car down the busy main street. At least Klaus sense of orientation was impeccable after over a decade of living on the streets. »He showed me when I stole that ice cream truck first but he taught me for real after the non-apocalypse. He said I should know how to drive so that he wouldn't need to play taxi all the time.«
»He still did, though.«
»Of course, I am his favorite.«
He couldn't even argue with that. Fuck, Klaus would have noticed sooner that Diego’s fever had spiked again! Klaus wouldn't have been sitting around reading and getting lost in his own head! He would have known that something was wrong way before Five had! A fine brother he was…
»He’ll get through this.« Klaus mumbled with his eyes focused on the street ahead. In fact, Five hadn't ever seen him so focused on everything in his life. »He’ll get through this.« And now he realized that Klaus was not talking to him but reassuring himself. It was a mantra. He was just as scared as Five was.
They arrived at the hospital by some miracle all in one piece. Klaus pulled his brother out of the backseat by his shoulders and somehow managed to drag the unconscious man close enough to the entrance for a nurse on a smoke break to notice the trio and hurry over with a wheelchair. Everything after that was a blur.
Luther arrived at some point after Klaus called the house and told Pogo. Suddenly, it seemed completely natural that Number Four was taking over the reins and Five couldn't help but imagine all the times that Diego had been in Klaus’ position before. How many times had Diego been sitting in those chairs, waiting for news about his brother after yet another overdose or run-in with the wrong crowd?
»He was always my emergency contact.« Klaus mumbled after a while that they sat in the waiting room together. Hours seemed to have passed by now. The nurses had taken Diego somewhere else to take care of him. Their brother’s well-being was now out of their control and Five hated it. He wanted to be there. He wanted to watch over his brother and make sure that the doctors were doing their best. Fuck, what if they weren’t? What if Diego died?
»He was?« Luther replied quietly. His voice was oddly hoarse and hollow. Maybe he even sounded a bit hurt that it was not he who had been Klaus’ emergency contact.
»Yeah … After we all left and when I first OD’ed and had no one to come take care of me, I’ve put his name down as my emergency contact. I don't know why it seemed natural … even though we had this big fucking fight before he left home … I … I think I just trusted him the most to not drag me back home where Dad would torture me again.« Klaus shrugged with an apologetic little smile at Luther. »I was … Just so afraid of Dad back then. And Dee … He understood. He was the only one who really got it. Even Ben … Fuck, Ben needed to die and start haunting my sorry ass before he got it. But Dee was always there for me. I could always count on him. And now that he was counting on me I did such a shit job…«
»You didn't.« Luther mumbled and patted his back but Klaus just snorted.
»You didn't.« Five agreed. »You did amazing. You took over when we were panicking. You stayed calm and took care of him and everything else. You didn't behave like a pussy when it came to getting him naked and in the tub or when it came to holding him down. You just did it. You were much braver than the both of us these past days. It's me who did a bad job. I didn't realize how bad he got all of a sudden. He just started deteriorating and I didn't notice until it was too late.«
»But you called for help.« Klaus smiled. »You didn't try to solve this problem by yourself like you usually would have. You called for help. You did good, Five-y.«
Silence settled over them for a few moments until Luther spoke up again. »Mom will kill us when she comes back - for not calling her.«
Klaus breathed out a small laugh and sunk back in his chair. »That she will.«
-End of Chapter 7-
He was not in his own room or his home as he woke up. That was the first thing that he realized as he opened his eyes. He was in a sterile white room that was very clearly a hospital room. As this revelation sunk in, his first reaction was one of anger. Well, anger was always his natural reaction to anything but even more so now that he found himself in a fucking hospital room for no apparent reason.
»What the hell did you dumbasses do now?« He mumbled into the void of the room. The last thing he knew was cutting this stupid apple and then seeing Klaus in this god-awful speedo. The picture would forever be burned into his retina. Something huge had happened since - otherwise why would he be here now? His brothers had done something incredibly stupid that catapulted Diego in the hospital and probably also the rest of them as well. Shit.
Maybe the house had been attacked again. They had more than enough enemies besides Hazel and Cha-Cha or The Commission, he assumed.
»Oh, hey you’re awake.« Klaus. He was okay. Whatever that meant in Klaus’ case. Still, as Diego turned his head to his right-hand side, he found his brother sitting in a plastic chair, dressed in loose-fitting sweatpants and an oversized ACDC shirt that he clearly stole out of Diego’s closet. He was too exhausted to be angry about that. Klaus too looked exhausted. There was a bit of smudged eyeliner caked under his eyes, looking as if he hadn't washed it off for a few days almost and his hair was tousled as if a bird had nested in it.
»What did you do?« He repeated hoarsely. His throat was almost unbearably scratchy.
»What do you mean?«
»Why am I in the hospital? What did you do?«
»What do you remember?«
»You need to throw this fugly speedo away, please. I beg of you. If not for me than for humanity’s sake.«
Klaus actually laughed at that. »So for the record that speedo is beautiful - a work of art I would say. And we didn't do anything! You had pneumonia and ran around with it like a fucking child without telling anyone that you didn't feel too hot. We took care of you until your fever got deadly high because Monsieur Diego Hargreeves didn't say anything just to act tough.«
»I didn't have pneumonia.« Diego argued out of instinct more than anything.
»Yes, you did. So who’s the dumbass now?« Klaus huffed. »Remember? ‘My body is a temple’. My body is a temple my ass, Dee!«
He was silent for just a moment. Perhaps even out of embarrassment. If it was true what Klaus was saying then he had every reason to be ashamed right now. Fuck. »And you decided to bring me here because you idiots were not capable of treating me yourself?«
»Oh, slow down, you Dingus, would you? We took care of you for three - almost four days, okay? You almost died on us.« Klaus replied with a roll of his eyes. »After you puked all over your floor, of course, and after Luther and I had to put you into an ice bath to get your fever down. Well, I have to give props to you, though. You managed to freak out Five more than anything ever before - perhaps more than the apocalypse.«
»Now you are just making shit up.« Diego sighed and closed his eyes for just a moment. He could not quite believe what nonsense his brother was spouting again - then again what reason had he to lie to Diego now of all times? And since Klaus was not hurt himself - or didn't seem to be hurt at least - he might actually be telling the truth. »How long have I been here?«
»Hmmm … two days.« Klaus shrugged. »Luther is picking up the girls from the airport.«
»They are already coming back?«
»Yeah … It's Christmas, after all.«
»Fuck.« He groaned out and slumped even more in on himself. »Wait … You guys gave me a bath?«
»There was no other way.« Klaus chuckled. »You should have seen Luther’s face! That poor guy was completely overwhelmed with the situation!«
»So … you took care of me?«
»The least I could do, Brother.« Klaus smiled as he looked at him again. »After everything you’ve done for me in the past … I mean … How often have you cleaned up after me and helped me when I was sick while living on the street? Don't answer that. It's just … I wanted to help you this time around, that's all.«
He was speechless as he looked at Klaus now and Klaus himself was clearly uncomfortable with this silence and the way Diego looked at him. He could tell by the way his brother was touching his neck before he sent the chair scraping over linoleum to stand up.
»Anyway, I’m gonna find your doctor. Maybe we can take you home before Santa comes and leaves coal in your stocking. Otherwise, Mom might just kill me.« He was actually a bit glad that Klaus fled the room.
He felt almost a bit overwhelmed by what just happened and by what he had just heard. His brothers had taken care of him and while this shouldn't be that big of a deal, it kinda was in their family. He couldn't remember that there had ever been a person except for his mother - who had been programmed to do so - who had taken care of him. He, on the other hand, was always the one helping his siblings and watching out for them.
And it was true what Klaus said. He had taken care of his baby brother so often in their shared past. He had always been there when Klaus had needed him. To see now that his brother was repaying the favor was … it was overwhelming for the Kraken. And not just Klaus but the other two boys as well. He had been sick out of his mind, delirious perhaps and they had taken care of him. They had cleaned up his sick, gave him medicine, sat by his side to check on him, probably fed him and gave him something to drink.
He would have never had expected that something that was so little for other people would have such a big effect on him but it had. He was speechless and the only reason why he refused to show tears was that he already heard Klaus coming back to the room. So, he just cleared his throat instead and slowly sat up in his bed - and just in time for the door opening again to reveal the doctor and his brother. The doctor was a man probably in his late fifties with a prominent stomach and thin grey hair. He looked nice enough, he assumed but Klaus knew well that Diego had always had a problem with doctors and hospitals. Sure, it had never been necessary for him to visit the hospital - not with Mom around. Being at the hospital now as an adult was a little unnerving. Perhaps more so than it actually should be.
The doctor made quick work of checking him over under Klaus’ supervision and Diego answered every little question the man had for him diligently before the doctor took a step back from the bed again.
»I think it's safe to release you, young man. But I have to implore you to keep strict rest for at least another week. No physical activities for at least two weeks. And next time« He turned his attention to Klaus. »don't only come to the hospital when your brother is already knocking on death’s door.«
The doctor left the brothers with the promise of getting the discharge papers ready and filling out a few prescriptions for the medication Diego would need for the next week. Of course, he didn't like the prospect of not being able to do anything for two more weeks but he had the feeling that Klaus and the other two boys would watch him like hawks. Where this feeling would have normally annoyed him, it now filled him with a warmth that he couldn't quite explain.
Klaus helped him out of the bed and into the clothes that he said Luther had brought over after he had first gotten to the hospital. As he stood upright for once, he first realized how exhausted and weak he truly was. His knees felt shaky and Klaus was quick to support his weight. They left the room and minutes later, Diego signed his discharge papers and received the prescription. One quick trip to the inhouse pharmacy later and Diego was all set up.
Outside, the December air was crisp and dry and made him cough in reaction to the sudden shift in temperature. Inside the hospital, the air had been stuffy and muggy. It was actually a relief to be out here even if it was freezing cold and he could already sense the first snow of the year to fall soon. Klaus guided him towards the parking lot but he only realized that as all the cars came in sight. In fact, until now he hadn't even gathered that there was no one to pick them up at the hospital and that Klaus had not called anyone either.
»Where are we going?«
»Home.« He said it as if it was the most obvious thing. It probably was. Diego still felt a little slow and his confusion did not clear when he found his car in the parking lot of the hospital. It was instinct that caused him to search his pockets even though he knew that he clearly didn't have the keys. Instead, Klaus pulled his car keys out of his own coat pocket.
»Who’s gonna drive? I don't think I can drive right now. Shouldn't we call someone?« Like Five perhaps.
»I’m gonna drive, of course.« Klaus huffed and walked towards the passenger's seat door with him to unlock this side first and help him inside. He did all of this with such confidence as if he had done it a million times before. Then, Diego just watched his brother get into the driver’s seat and start the car. Once more, he was speechless and Klaus gave him a small crooked grin. »You taught me how to drive. Remember?«
He gave a small nod and watched how his brother started the car and expertly pulled out of the parking spot. Expertly might be a bit much but … for someone who didn't have a license and had only had a tiny bit of practice with their brother Klaus did an amazing job. The entire time, Diego could hardly take his eyes off of his brother, a certain sense of pride swelling in his chest. Perhaps it was the fever returning.
The drive through the busy streets of the city seemed to go by in a blink and before he knew it, he was back home and Klaus was leading him through the kitchen door into the house. Inside the house, it was warm and cozy but Klaus didn't hesitate to guide Diego into the living room first. The large Christmas tree in one corner of the room was new. As children, they never got one. Their father had not cared about Christmas. A fire was crackling in the fireplace and Klaus carefully helped him onto the sofa and pulled off his leather boots before making sure he was tucked in neatly with that knitted blanket.
»Luther got the tree yesterday.« Klaus explained as he sat down on the edge of the sofa and placed a cool hand on Diego’s forehead. He found himself leaning into the touch slightly more than he usually would. It was such an alien feeling. Knowing that his brother was worried for him, that his brother was taking care of him and making sure he was okay. »We thought … Well, it's our first Christmas together after everything. We wanted to do it properly.«
»Do you even know how that works?«
»Do you?« Klaus laughed. »Maybe you can critique us all later when we are decorating it.«
Klaus laughed again and patted his arm gently before he got to his feet again. »Let's see if I can make tea for you, okay? The others should be back soon. I’m sure Mom will be all over you. Luther probably told her what happened. Well, at least now with her back you are finally in good hands. I mean … we probably made everything worse when we took care of you. None of us seems to be particularly skilled as a nurse.« He took a few steps away from Diego with that same awkward scratching at his neck. »Anyway, I’m happy you are better now … You had me worried. All of us.«
His brother turned around once more to look at him. »Yeah?«
-End of Chapter 8-