“Sorry, let’s just go back, all right?!” – Klaus begged. “This is Vanya we’re talking about. Our sister. The one who always cried when we stepped on ants as kids”.
“Look, I know it’s hard to accept…” – Luther started, but Klaus interrupted him, “It’s not hard to accept, it’s impossible to accept! Look, for all we know – she might be struggling with this new power. I mean, it must be scary. Terrifying, really”.
Later, when they all barely got out alive from their childhood home which Vanya destroyed, and gathered in a bowling alley, Luther suddenly asked, “So, Klaus! Since when do you care about Vanya so much?”
“Yeah, Klaus, what’s up with that? I don’t remember you guys ever being close” – Diego pitched in. – “Never!” – Allison wrote on her pad. Five just squinted at him.
“Screw you, guys, okay?! It’s all your fault, especially yours” – He pointed at Luther. “Vanya is a good person. You just drove her over the edge. Actually, she… well, she’s been kinder to me than any of you have ever been”.
Allison raised her brows. Luther and Diego both looked puzzled. “Elaborate” – Five said.
Klaus hesitated for a moment. He didn’t really want to talk about it. But who knows, maybe it could help Vanya, and help them solve this terrible, terrible mess… So he just told them.
At about 3 AM, patrolling officers found Klaus’s unconscious body lying on a snow behind recreation center. As there was no ID on him, they just dropped him off in the nearest hospital.
Tests showed signs of malnutrition and mild anemia, traces of alcohol and THC, Hepatitis B, Chlamydia and alarming levels of benzodiazepines. HIV-negative. X-ray confirmed a broken arm and acute pneumonia.
Klaus woke up to a white ceiling, distant beeping and hospital smells. His right arm was latched to an IV drip. Funny thing, he thought he might wake up with another sort of needle in his arm. Or maybe not wake up at all. He tried to move his left arm and discovered that it was clad in cast. Shit. Since he was a lefty, it was a major bummer.
His entire body felt like it was shuttered into thousand pieces and put together with some duct tape. His mouth felt completely dry, his throat was burning. While he was unconscious, someone has cleaned him up and dressed him in an embarrassing hospital gown. The pillow felt crinkly and papery, and really hot. His bed was near the window, but all he could see was the sky – dirty-white and completely empty.
Just like his life.
A grim nurse came by, checked his vitals, pricked his finger, scribbled something in the chart and left. A cute male orderly came to change his catheter. Any other day he’d gladly pin him to the wall and give him full physical, but now he just clenched his teeth and closed his eyes, wishing to dissolve into the mattress, to disappear. After some time another nurse came, changed the IV bag and took his temperature without even looking at him. She seemed tired.
He also felt tired – exhausted, actually. It was hard to keep his eyes open. He kept drifting in and out of it.
An intern tried to take medical history, but Klaus had no freaking idea where he came from and whether diabetes, schizophrenia and heart disease ran in the family. Another orderly brought him some food, but Klaus couldn’t even look at it.
It was almost Christmas time. There were decorations in the halls, and some of the staff were sporting Santa hats.
Christmas was never celebrated in Hargreeves residency, so as a kid, Klaus was always jealous of people celebrating. End even though now he knew it was all just commercialized crap, deep down Christmas represented for him all the things he always wanted but never really had: Home. Family. Love. Or at least someone who gives a fuck.
Dude, you’re so fucking cheesy, - He told himself.
Two days went by, or maybe even three – Klaus wasn’t sure, he was drowsy most of the time. Well, at least it kept the ghosts away. Liz, the intern, told him he’ll have to stay there for a while, due to his condition. Well, it’s not like he had anywhere to go anyway.
It seemed like everybody else were having visitors. Family members, friends, significant others, sometimes even co-workers. This guy next bed had his college buddies around him all day long, they were watching sports on the laptop, playing some stupid games and laughing a lot. Dude’s mom came in a flight from another city, with a crocheted blanket and homemade cookies. On his first day here Liz asked him if there was someone she could contact for him, and Klaus just shook his head. Whom he was going to call? Ben in the afterlife? Luther on the moon? Five, wherever he was? Dad?! Allison was a big Hollywood star, he could buy a movie ticket if he wanted to see her. And he had no idea what was going on with Vanya and Diego. Diego was in the police academy last time he heard, few years ago. Klaus had a bad history with cops.
So nobody knew he was in a hospital, and nobody cared. He could have died, and nobody would even notice. It wouldn’t matter at all. To absolutely nobody. Not even to him.
To tell the truth, he wouldn’t mind dying, especially now. Wouldn’t mind it at all. In fact, he’d much rather be dead.
Uh, heck. He really wished to die. Period.
He is just a useless, worthless bum nobody gives a shit about, with nobody to blame but himself. He overheard Liz consulting her attending about changing his antibiotics, referring to him as “the junkie”. And there he was, thinking she actually liked him. Well, honestly, he had it coming, but still it stung.
At the afternoon there was a music concert. Volunteers from the City orchestra came to spread some Christmas cheer.
Well, it’s not like he had anything better to do. Leaning heavily on his IV pole and resting every few yards, coughing and wheezing like a dying old dog, he managed to get to the auditorium downstairs. On the stage, a bespectacled guy was tuning a piano, another one was tampering with a cello. There also were two girls with violins – a tall, pretty Asian chick, and his sister Vanya.
She was even smaller than he remembered. Slumped shoulders, defeated posture. Suddenly she lifted her head, and their eyes crossed. Vanya’s eyes widened, her mouth opened a little bit. But then the pianist raised his hand, and the three of them lifted their bows. Another sign, and they began to play.
Klaus turned around and began inching awkwardly towards the door, bumping into people and wheelchairs. He could feel Vanya’s eyes burning holes in his back.
This little escapade totally drained him, so the moment his head touched the pillow he dozed off, as if sinking without a trace into ink-black water.
…there are monsters in this water. He can’t see them, but he knows they are here, with their white eyes and rotten faces, with their grave-cold bony fingers reaching out for him. And they have an advantage, because unlike him, they can see him just perfectly with their blind eyes in those pitch-black waters. They are getting closer, surrounding him. He can’t breathe. He should get to the surface, grab some air. But he can’t. Can’t breathe, can’t move. Their tenacious hands grabbing his legs, his arms, pulling him down. Air!..
Klaus felt something touching his cheek and woke up with a stifled cry.
First thing he saw was Vanya’s concerned face and her big brown eyes, wide with worry. The thing touching his face was her hand, she was probably trying to wake him up. He started coughing, still panting and wheezing, trying to draw some air. She pushed a button, propping the bed into a sitting position, and pulled an oxygen mask from the wall behind him, pressing it to his face. “Relax, Klaus. Just breathe. Slowly. In and out. That’s it”. She held his right hand in hers and breathed along with him – taking slow, deep breaths, while looking him in the eye.
“How do you know all this shit?” – He asked hoarsely, once he could speak again. Vanya fluffed his pillow and put it behind his back.
“I was taking care of a sick lady while putting myself through a music school” – She replied. “That’s it, just keep breathing. Are you okay?”
“Peachy”- He made a pathetic attempt at a smile. “Never better”.
Vanya looked at him. He was so thin and pale, chapped lips, dark circles around his bright green eyes. One of his collarbones showed through the opening of his hospital gown, and there was something so vulnerable about this, it almost made her cry. Her brother Klaus, always so giddy and flamboyant, frolicking around, making jokes, unable to stay still even for a minute.
“You’re shivering” – She noted, and touched her palm to his forehead; he was burning up. – “Ah, it’s just this new thing I’m trying” – Klaus muttered. She took off her large scarf, which turned out to be more of a shawl really, and wrapped it carefully around his shoulders. It was surprisingly soft, and still kept the warmth of Vanya’s body. Then she tucked the hospital blanket all around him.
This made him feel strangely protected.
“What about you?” – He asked. – “It’s okay, my coat is pretty warm. And the subway is near by”.
A nurse marched through the rooms, reminding everybody the visitation hours were over.
“I’ll be back tomorrow” – Vanya promised. She made an awkward gesture, as if considering to hug him, but ended up just lightly brushing his shoulder.