So this is the thing, right?
Klaus doesn't know how to drive.
And, honestly, like, why would he? He was raised by a billionaire sociopath with a taxidermy fetish. He spent his childhood being shuttled to and from active crime scenes in the backseat of a 2004 Chevy Suburban, and then spent the time after that playing footsie with a tasteful assortment of illicit substances.
While other teenagers were getting their licenses, he was busy discovering what happens when you mix your sister's benzos with half a liter of peppermint schnapps.
Spoiler alert: minty shits. For at least a week, max.
Klaus can speak French and German and he knows at least three different ways to seriously injure someone with a ballpoint pen. He can make a bong out of pretty much anything; can take apart a nine-milimeter in twenty seconds flat. He can tell the difference between a Delacroix and a Géricault on sight, courtesy of a robust, yet wholly useless bourgeois education.
He's fought in a war, saved the world in the most roundabout way possible, and only died like a few times in the process. Klaus is a man of many talents.
And, yet, he can't fucking drive.
That, he decides, changes today.
He starts with Diego, because Diego has a car. It's a piece of shit car, a Honda Civic with bullet holes in the bumper and only one working window, but it has four wheels and an engine and that suits his purposes just fine.
He would ask Ben, but Ben kicked the bucket before getting his grubby little hands on a permit.
"Remind me, exactly, why I'm here?"
Diego's slouched in the passenger seat, picking idly at his nails with a knife he's pulled from god knows where. He looks annoyed, but that might just be his face.
Klaus gives him a winning smile. "Because you, my darling Diego, are a good person. A great person. When I, your poor, helpless brother, came to you in my hour of need, you dropped everything to come to my rescue-"
"You blackmailed him into helping," Ben pipes up.
"And blackmail," Klaus acknowledges. "Also that."
Diego groans, thumping his head back. "You're gonna' get us killed."
"Relax, mein bruder. I've driven before."
He's also, you know, died before, but everyone gets kind of weird when he brings that up.
"Once, Klaus. You drove an ice cream truck once, and that was after chugging an entire bottle of bottom shelf vodka."
"And it was fine!"
"You hit two people."
"And a mailbox," Ben adds, just because he's an asshole.
Klaus flaps a hand at the two of them. "Details, details. The point is that I'm here, I'm sober, and I'm ready to learn. C'mon, Number Two, help a guy out."
His voice is dangerously close to a whine, but Diego, the big softie, only makes a big show out of looking aggravated before throwing in the towel.
"Jesus Christ. Fine," he relents. "Accelerator's on the left, brake's on the right. First rule of driving: don't fucking hit anyone."
Klaus flips him a mock salute and turns the key in the ignition. The car wheezes once, twice, before coming to life with an asthmatic rattle.
The whole thing really is, like, incredibly on brand. Klaus takes his metaphorical hat off to his brother's dedication to the beat-down vigilante aesthetic.
"Well, that went well!"
Still in the seat next to him, Diego has the Oh Shit handle in a white-knuckled grip. He looks a little like he wants to kill something and a little like he wants to throw up.
It is, in Klaus' humble opinion, not a good look.
"Get out," Diego rasps.
Klaus makes a wounded sort of noise. "Don't be like that, bro. If you ask me, the trashcan had it coming. Thank god that inanimate objects don't leave ghosts, could you even imagine?"
"That would be fun," Ben muses. "I could read more."
There's a quiet thunk as a knife embeds itself in the headrest, a scant two inches above his left ear.
Klaus doesn't even flinch.
This is, he thinks, mostly a product of his bananas-crazy black ops upbringing.
Fast reflexes and shit. An alarmingly high pain tolerance and a blatant disregard for projectile-oriented danger.
These are points of pride in the Hargreeves family.
Still, Diego's got that look in his eye, like maybe he regrets missing on purpose, and Klaus is trying to be better about this whole self-preservation thing.
"Alright, alright! Jesus," he says, scrambling out of the car as Ben straight up cackles from the backseat. "You were more fun when we were getting shot at."
A second knife whizzes over his head, curving mid-air to clatter in between his feet.
"I'm billing you for the repairs, asshole!"
Joke's on him. Klaus doesn't have a goddamn cent to his name.
"I haven't driven in a while," Vanya says again. "Are you sure you don't want to ask one of the others?"
Vanya is his second choice, because Vanya has, y'know, actual teaching experience.
Vanya also doesn't carry a completely unreasonable amount of knives on her person.
"Nonsense, dear sister," Klaus says as he turns the key in the ignition. The car seems to resent this immensely. "You're gonna' do great."
"And Diego won't mind us using his car?"
Diego will absolutely mind, but Diego is at work and therefore cannot be reached for comment.
"Nah," he says.
There's a pause.
"You're dealing with the tantrum when he finds out," she says flatly. "Try not to kill us."
"Why do people keep saying that?"
Ben lets out a snicker.
This is the thing: Klaus has never been a great person.
He's never even been, like, a particularly good person.
The whole glitterati, heroin-chic lifestyle isn't exactly conducive to a lot of soul-searching, okay? Deep thinking absolutely tanks a good high.
Aside from an 8-ball of the good shit, selfishness is every addict's Achilles heel, and he's spent the past fifteen years (give or take ten months that may or may not have actually happened) under a cozy blanket of booze and drugs, chronically adverse to any form of introspection.
But, hey. That was the past. These days, Klaus is riding the fucking express train to Self Improvement City, sipping virgin piña coladas and mucking his way through a lifetime of poor decisions and worse coping mechanisms.
Turns out that travelling a week into the past in order to prevent your five-foot-nothing little sister from going all Super Saiyan and kick-starting the apocalypse is a spectacular incentive for personal growth.
It's been weird, regaining their footing, carving out a place in this new world that hasn't actually changed at all.
They're, like, trying, though, and Klaus thinks that has to count for something.
Klaus has this shitty part-time job at a center for at-risk kids, which he likes way more than he pretends to.
Luther's travelling, keeps sending back these hideous postcards and stupid magnets; Allison's ironing out custody and thinking about going into the non-profit sector. Diego's testing for re-entry into the Academy in a month. Five's making a goddamn killing in the stock market, pun absolutely intended.
And Vanya is- well. She's living.
Klaus is proud of her in the way that some people are proud of, like, houseplants or something.
Nearly a year off her meds, and it's almost like she's a real person- she's got feelings and opinions and this wicked dry sense of humor that goes way over Luther's head. She landed this sweet gig at the city philharmonic last month and just started night classes to get her Master's in Music Education.
Really, it's a miracle what a little water, sunshine, and exhaustive outpatient therapy will do for the soul.
"Hey, jackass," Ben says, right by his ear, and Klaus startles. Ghosts, honestly. No sense of personal space. "Pay attention."
"-need to slow down as you approach the turn. Oh! And try to signal, uh, maybe twenty seconds beforehand. Got that?"
Vanya looks apprehensive, like maybe she's waiting for him to slap her on the wrist or lock her in a soundproof vault.
Ah, trauma. Another Hargreeves specialty.
"Got it! Signal, brake, don't hit anything. Easy-peasy."
"Okay, good. Now: how do you signal, Klaus?"
"It's, uh." He looks at Ben, who shrugs, and then peers at the wheel. There are two levers on either side, and it's definitely one or the other. Fifty-fifty. He's always been a gambling man. "That one?"
She considers this for a long moment, closes her eyes, and then heaves the longest fucking sigh he's ever heard in his life.
"Let's take it from the top."
Allison beautiful, she's always been beautiful, all dark eyes and polish and Chanel perfume.
The two of them had never been close, per se. As a kid, she'd been as haughty and desperate to please as the rest of them, but Klaus can remember a handful of moments, fragmented and precious; nights spent up late with contraband wine coolers and trashy teen magazines, nights when he'd clumsily box-braid her hair while she painted his toenails.
God, they'd been so young then, so fragile, insecurities still buried under a mountain of holier-than-thou scorn and vacant smiles.
Twenty years later, Allison now carries herself with that scary-easy kind of confidence that only comes from two Academy Awards and a professional stylist.
She looks comically out of place in Diego's car.
"Could you put that out?" She asks, wrinkling her nose delicately.
Klaus looks at her innocently, all who, moi, like he doesn't have a cigarette dangling from his lips.
He debates ignoring the ridiculously maternal note in her voice for a whole thirty seconds before heaving a sigh and flicking his smoke out the window.
"You're no fun, sis."
"And you're going to die of lung cancer."
Hah. Lung cancer. Wouldn't that be a trip?
"Your concern is, as always, noted," he says brightly, drumming a staccato beat on the wheel. "Now, c'mon, little sis- I got places to be, things to do, cars to drive."
Allison politely refrains from pointing out that he does not, in fact, have anything else to be doing right now. He appreciates the show of tact.
"Start the car. I have a manicure scheduled at three."
"He's definitely gonna notice."
"He's not gonna notice."
They're outside the nail salon, peering at the impressive dent on the front bumper.
The car gives an exhausted kind of wheeze, like it hadn't signed up for this shit and was really not in the mood, before the bumper gives up completely and clatters to the ground in defeat.
A brief pause, and then-
And then Allison's laughing, ugly-laughing, the kind that's all throat and no posture whatsoever, and Klaus starts laughing too, breathless and high, like this shitty, beat-up car is the punch line to the funniest joke ever told.
It's early March, and Luther's back from fucking Peru or Bolivia or somewhere with a lot of sun and way too many mosquitoes.
His brother takes up too much space, always has, and it's a stark contrast to the way Klaus tends to occupy the world in halves. Crammed in the front seat of Diego's car, this has never has this been more obvious.
Luther clears his throat and casts a sidelong look at Klaus.
"So, uh." He says. It sounds like a question. "How are things?"
Ben snickers, which is, like, super unhelpful. Klaus gestures vaguely, in sort of a well-you-know motion. "Things are good. Got a job. Taking a cooking class."
Still not doing drugs is what he's really saying, and Luther seems to take the hint.
The silence is awkward, almost painfully so, and it makes Klaus itchy for a cigarette. Ben's alternating between whistling the Jeopardy theme song and giving Luther ghostly wet-willies, which is, again, very unhelpful.
Okay, so, Klaus knows Luther isn't a bad guy. Despite everything, despite Ben's death and Vanya causing-then-not-causing the fucking Apocalypse, he's not, like, evil or anything.
Self-righteous and a little dense? Sure. But Luther's also naïve as hell, and he tries harder than pretty much anyone Klaus has ever met.
It's half endearing, half sad. Actually, scratch that. It's mostly sad.
Klaus doesn't even know what he's trying to fix here, because Luther's never done him any fucking favors, has always looked down on him, hell-bent on clinging to the legacy of a dead man well into adulthood.
The tension between them is historic, organic, practically etched into their bones. One and Four, polar opposites, weren't built to be brothers.
This is the thing: Luther reminds Klaus of their father, and he hates it.
He thinks, though, that Luther might hate it more.
"You look, uh. Tan?" He offers, jumping a little when Luther barks out a laugh.
"Yeah. Helped clean up some beaches in Guanabara Bay a few weeks ago," he says.
Klaus nods, like he has any idea where that is. "Ve-ry interesting."
Ben has moved on to making jerk-off motions in the rear-view mirror, and Luther looks like he's about five seconds away from launching himself through the front windscreen.
Klaus does the only sensible thing he can think of, and puts the car in gear.
"I would like it on the record that this isn't my fault."
He'd run a stop sign. More specifically, he'd run a stop sign after swerving to avoid the ghost of some inconsiderate asshole who'd gotten himself run over by what looks like a semi.
Jesus. Car accident victims are always super gross.
"There is absolutely no conceivable way that this isn't your fault, Klaus."
Luther's tone is flat with barely concealed outrage, but otherwise he's handling being pulled over with all the stoicism befitting of the Umbrella Academy's finest (read: only) graduate. Klaus is briefly envious of his calm, because he's, like, really sweaty right now.
Cops make him sweaty. The prospect of jail makes him sweatier.
Fuck, he really does not want to go to jail.
Ben floats back into his periphery. "They're running your ID right now," he says, and there's an undercurrent of sympathy in his hollow voice. "Not looking great, bro."
Klaus huffs out a humorless laugh and scrubs a hand through his hair. Fantastic.
And, yeah, this was bound to happen at some point- he has a veritable laundry list of priors that makes his shiny one-year chip like a goddamn participation trophy- but Luther is fuming silently in the seat next to him and there's a lump in his throat and it tastes like shame.
"Klaus Hargreeves?" Klaus looks up and gives a little wave, like yup, that's me. Cop Number One does not look thrilled. "Could you step out of the car, please?"
He's already halfway out the door, dutifully ignoring Ben's mournful gaze, when a sharp voice cuts in.
"Are you arresting him?"
Cop Number Two, who's maybe a head shorter and at least fifty pounds heavier than Klaus himself, blinks. "Um. Yessir. He has two outstanding warrants for his arrest."
Luther steps out of the car and rounds the hood, ignoring the bewildered glance Klaus sends his way. "What are the charges? He has a right to that information, correct?"
And oh no, absolutely not, because Klaus knows what those charges are and really doesn't need a reminder, thanks. He scrambles, the sudden movement making Cop Number One startle. "Luther, it's fine, really, don't-"
"Possession and, er. Solicitation."
And between the startled pain in his brother eyes and the muffled snicker of Cop Number One, Klaus wants to die now, actually die, not just that half-assed crap he generally pulls-
"I see." Luther's voice is chilly. "Unless I'm mistaken, those are misdemeanors."
"Yessir?" Cop Number Two looks a little confused, like he might be somewhere between 'why is this emaciated junkie wearing a bedazzled halter top with the words 'BABY SLUT' across the chest' and 'holy shit that is one Very Large Man'.
Both reactions are, understandably, quite common.
"And under state law, arrest warrants for misdemeanors expire after 180 days, do they not?"
Klaus gapes. Cop Number Two also gapes.
"My brother," and there's something about the way he stresses the word that makes Klaus' chest tighten. "Is learning how to drive. Surely a little traffic violation doesn't merit all of this, does it?"
And if Klaus knows one thing about Luther, it's that the man has the act of looming down to a fucking art. He doesn't say another word, just stands there like the goddamn mountain of a man he is until Cop Number One looks ready to faint on the spot.
Gingerly, Klaus inches away, and Luther gives the cops a cheery smile.
"Thought so. Have a nice day, gentlemen."
"Hey, Five! You look blessedly un-busy at the moment, how would you like to-"
Two days later, Klaus nearly trips over a book that's been crammed under his door.
Official DMV Licensure Handbook, 2019.
Well, there's an idea.
"Rise n' shine, little bro. You got mail."
Klaus jerks into consciousness as the corner of a thick envelope nails him in the forehead, dead center. The veil separating the real world from the in-between tends to thin when he sleeps, and he can see a few ghosts loitering in the den of the mansion.
There's the creepy girl in the Victorian nightgown that likes to hang out in the corner, a hysterical middle-aged woman dressed in a cleaner's uniform. He thinks the old man with a gory and sizeable chunk missing from his forehead might be one of Five's.
Klaus gives the wailing lady a half-hearted thumbs-up before blinking again. Solidifying that boundary between dead and alive, he's learned, is a matter of practice.
And, y'know, sobriety.
The spirits dissipate between one breath and the next, leaving only Ben hanging upside down on the couch.
Klaus heaves a sigh and fumbles for the envelope, scowling as he does. "It's already open, you asshole."
"Is it?" Diego's wearing a shit-eating grin, which means that whatever's in the envelope probably isn't, like, a court summons or something. "Weird how that happens."
Five's arrival is heralded by a telltale pop and flash of blue light.
"Opening other people's mail is a federal crime, Diego," he drawls. "Should I tell Luther?"
"Tell me what?" Luther asks, and Christ, did Klaus miss the memo for a family pow-wow or something?
"So's insider trading, you little shit, don't give me that- hey! That's my sandwich!"
Five leers around a mouthful of bread as he materializes at the other end of the room. "You gonna' arrest me or somethin'? God, what would Mom say-"
"Diego-" A thump. "Ow, what the hell-"
Klaus tunes out the rest of the ensuing squabble and scans through the contents of the envelope. A square of plastic falls out, and oh. He'd almost forgotten.
Klaus Hargreeves, it reads next to a picture of him from a few weeks ago. Driver's License.