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The Life of Number Eight

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Zach… Zach had always been special. And not in the way where your parents told you you were special because that’s what all parents did. No, he was… different, always had been. He learned to blend in though, hide this part of himself, this so-called “gift” he had been given. Sometimes it was hard to hide it though when it was staring you right in the face.

 

From a young age, he was always sensitive. He used to tell his parents that he heard these voices in his head; they were always so loud. They would sometimes make him cry if he was around a lot of people. He just wanted it to stop, all he had wanted was for the voices to go away. He didn’t mean to wreak his entire bedroom during a Christmas party, even though he hadn’t touched anything.

 

When he was eight years old, his parents finally told him the truth. On October 1st, 1989, 43 women gave birth around the world. There was nothing unusual about these births, except for the fact that none of these women were pregnant before the day began. His mother was one of these women.

 

At the time, they had already had his sister but weren’t planning on having another child for a while. Even if they weren’t at all prepared for him, they played it off as a secret pregnancy in fear that people would take him away. When people questioned the day of his birth, they would always say it was a coincidence.

 

His parents told him that because of his unique birth, he was born with these powers. They had no idea why he had them, and they also had no idea how to control them. In fear of his and everyone else’s safety, his parents contacted Reginald Hargreeves, a man who had supposedly obtained seven children who were just like him. Reginald was all the more happy to take him in.

 

After some testing done by Reginald, it was found that Zach had an array of psychic powers, which included telekinesis, mind-reading, mental manipulation, telepathy, and empathy. It was then agreed that Zach would live with Reginald and the children for ten months of the year, and would go back to his family for two months in the summer. His parents said it would be just like a boarding school.

 

That was how Zach became Number Eight.

 

Being around the other children was interesting to say the least. He was like a lone wolf joining a new pack, not understanding any of the dynamics of how to act around them. The children were excited oddly enough. They had never been around a kid their own age that wasn’t themselves, let alone someone like them.

 

The Academy was nothing like Zach expected it to be. It was super strict and Zach wasn’t sure how he felt being around Reginald or being called Number Eight. Number One was nice to him, but he didn’t really spend that much time with him. He often liked to help Number Two with his stutter, which helped them become closer. He and Number Three liked talking about movies, specifically the hot actors and actresses starring in them.

 

Number Four was the person he spent the most time with, as they both had similar personalities. He didn’t really spend that much time with Number Five, as he mostly spent it with Number Six and Number Seven, but he did occasionally have a good conversation with him. Number Six was shy, but they bonded really well over books, especially the Harry Potter series; you can never go wrong with that.

 

He quite enjoyed spending time with Number Seven, although Reginald tried to make sure he spent as little time as possible with her; he did try to when he could though. Pogo and Grace were both very kind to him, treating him as if he had always been there.

 

Getting used to a whole new set of rules, a whole new environment, a whole new routine, and being without his parents was hard. Especially for an eight-year-old. But as time went by, it got a lot easier, especially the control of his powers.

 

He loved and hated being at the Academy. The benefits were being able to control his powers and being around kids who were just like him. The downsides were that Reginald was a sick bastard and the training he put them through should have been considered illegal. He never told his parents though, not really knowing what to say to them anyway. They thought their son was being taught how to control his powers in a safe environment, he wasn’t about to tell them otherwise.

 

The children eventually got used to Zach being able to leave as well as having parents, which was something that they all resented him for at first. But he shared the love his parents gave to him with them, hating the fact that they never got to have a childhood like him. He would tell them about all sorts of things kids their age did, and he promised that one day he would show them all.

 

Ah, simpler times.

 

Later, near their tenth birthday, the children found out that they were allowed to receive a name. Well, everyone except Number Seven. Zach found that unfair, and complained about it to Number Four during the nights leading up to their birthday. Apparently, his complaints were heard as Number Seven did end up receiving a name, which made Reginald fume. The only problem was, that because Number Seven got a name, Number Five did not.

 

When he asked Ben about it, Ben said that Five had traded his name for Vanya’s. Because Reginald had only told Grace to name six of the children, he had told her not to name him and give it to her. Grace had agreed, as that would mean she technically wasn’t breaking the rules. Five had learned what he would have been named, but he had only told Ben about it and he was sworn not to tell anyone what it was. Even Zach himself, which really bugged him.

 

That was the year that individual training started. Thinking back on what everyone had to go through made him mad. Luther would always be pushed to his limits so much that he could barely move. Deigo would always be emotionally and physically drained, and sometimes he would come back covered in blood. Allison would lock herself in her room, not even letting Luther in; he could only imagine what she was forced to do.

 

He would always have to comfort Klaus every night after his individual training. Five’s was… he didn’t like to think too much about what Five went through, he always looked dead after training. Ben was always shaky and panicky after his and he could always hear Five talking in Ben’s room, comforting him, helping him keep The Horror at bay; for some weird reason, The Horror always listened to Five.

 

This was around the time he also suspected that there was something more going on between Ben and Five, but it wasn’t his business so he didn’t say anything. Vanya started having violin lessons, and whenever he would get the chance, he would listen in and give advice and compliments when she needed it.

 

Life was going okay, he felt like he had a better grasp of his powers and he had a family that could relate to him. Until suddenly, everything changed.

 

When they were 12, Reginald told them they would start using their training and putting it too good use. Turns out, that meant that they would become a group of popular superheroes that fought crime.

 

No one ever knew the new names they had been given, and no one knew that he was actually Zach Kornfeld. Instead, Reginald called them by their numbers, but instead of Zach being Number Eight, he was Number Seven. Zach knew that this was another way that Reginald tried to isolate Vanya from the rest of them, and he didn’t give in to it, instead, spending more time with her because of it.

 

The Umbrella Academy was a hit, everyone loved them and what they did, and anyone who questioned the legalness of it was immediately shushed. It continued like that for a while, and after getting used to the craziness, it wasn’t so bad.

 

Everything was fine, until Five disappeared.

 

After that, it all went downhill from there. Everyone was heartbroken over Five’s disappearance from dinner one night, never to return again. Vanya and Ben were the most wreaked, and only a few years later would it finally catch up to Ben. Without Five to keep The Horror at bay, Ben couldn’t hold it in any longer and was killed on a mission. The funeral was awful, and after that, Zach decided that it was time he left The Umbrella Academy behind.

 

And thus the group of superheroes was no more.

 

Allison was the only one making a big name for herself, leaving the house just shortly after him to pursue a career in Hollywood. Zach decided to get an online High School education and was so quick at it, it only took a year for him to complete. By the time he was 18, he was at a college for Film Production. Vanya was the first to leave at 18, packing everything up and cutting contact with everyone. Well, everyone except him.

 

Deigo left shortly after, applying to a Police Academy. Klaus just wandered off one day, living on the streets and doing drugs. Zach had always tried to stop him from doing them, but Klaus never listened. He would never do them when he was there though, so Zach ended up getting an apartment and sharing it with him.

 

His parents had helped pay it off, knowing that he was trying to help Klaus become sober. It had worked for a while, and he would eventually learn that Ben had been haunting Klaus’ ass ever since he had died. It was nice having two roommates, even if he couldn’t see Ben. All three of them had a great time together!

 

And then he moved to LA.

 

Zach always knew he wanted to work in the film industry, not really in front of the camera like Allison, but more of behind it. He felt awful leaving Klaus behind, but Klaus understood that he needed to do this, and thus he was off.

 

Life was great for him there, he got a career at Buzzfeed, and he would have secret meetups with Allison all the time. He never hung out with her in public though as he didn’t want people to know that he used to be that mind kid from The Umbrella Academy. He actually was the only one invited to her wedding, and he was the only one there for the birth of her child. She even named him one of the godparents! He found out later that Luther had never bothered to leave, and he continued doing missions for Reginald.

 

He had finally made a good life for himself, and he tried to keep in contact with his siblings as much as possible. Especially Vanya, as he knew she had a tendency to isolate herself. He thought life couldn’t get any better! That was until he joined The Try Guys.

 

Life only got crazier from there, and it was so hectic that it was affecting his relationship with his siblings. He couldn’t talk to all of them as much anymore because of how busy he was. The only people he actively still talked to were Allison and Vanya. It was something he always regretted, allowing his relationships to get like this.

 

Even if he got super close with Eugene, Ned and Keith, he never told them his biggest secret. He had lied about his birthday to them, telling them it was on October 2nd instead of the 1st, as to prevent any suspicions. Weirdly enough, he actually grew closest to Eugene, having a bond that he didn’t have with Keith and Ned.

 

He loved all of them as friends, but Eugene was something different for him, more than a friend. He knew from a young age he was bisexual, something he never said out loud, but he would eventually confess it to them when he was drunk. After that, Eugene started to flirt with him, and weirdly enough he flirted back. It was so bad that their friends set them up on a date because neither of them were making a move.

 

It worked out great, and after dating Eugene for a while, he trusted him enough to tell him his secret. Eugene took it pretty well, he admitted that he never really got into The Umbrella Academy that much when he was a kid, but he said that it didn’t change how he felt about him.

 

It felt nice having someone else know about his powers. He would always go to him to complain about feeling everyone’s emotions and Eugene would sometimes get him to read people’s minds for fun. They would even have secret conversations in their heads, as well as Eugene would make Zach grab stuff for him with his mind when he was lazy.

 

He also got to meet his sister. Allison and Eugene bonded so well which was a relief. Besides their personalities, they were both very similar in a lot of ways, so it worked out quite nicely.

 

Then came Vanya’s book.

 

Zach completely freaked out when the book came out, not knowing that Vanya was going to be writing this. Turns out she didn’t tell him everything after all. Fortunately, she never mentioned his name in the book, saying that he knew he wanted his privacy and would never want people to know who he was. The world just got the basic story about him, and Vanya praised him really well in the book which was nice. He really couldn’t say the same for the rest of his siblings.

 

Also, turns out Ben and Five were dating. Vanya admitted to finding out by accident after she walked in on Ben over top of Five and them making out. They told her that it was one of the ways that helped keep The Horror at bay because it made “it” feel loved. But she also said that they had this special bond with each other, and if they were both alive, they probably would be married by now. Huh, guess he was right about them.

 

Unfortunately, someone hired a private investigator and figured out his identity. That was… a bad day. All of his siblings found out before him that someone was going to be publishing an article about his identity. They tried warning him, but he was on a Try Guys shoot when they called. Vanya and Deigo immediately flew down to LA and Allison went to pick them up from the Airport. Their mission was to take him out of his workplace before people found out.

 

They missed it though, and when he walking out of the shoot to find everyone watching the same news people, his mind went blank. Everyone just stared as he walked back to his desk to see what everyone was watching. Keith and Ned were the ones to react first, freaking out slightly that they had been lied to. They got even madder when they found out Eugene knew.

 

It was too much, the feeling of all the anger from them, and suddenly his block for reading people’s minds was released and all he could hear was people’s thoughts. Let’s just say… he accidentally trashed the entire Buzzfeed Headquarters. Eugene had tried to calm him down but failed miserably and everyone had to duck and cover from all the items in the room getting thrown around.

 

That was around the time Allison, Diego and Vanya came into the building. Allison did the same thing she used to do when he got like this: “I HEARD A RUMOUR THAT YOU WENT TO SLEEP.”

 

He doesn’t remember the next few months very much. He knows that after Eugene brought him and his siblings to his apartment that they stayed with him till it blew over. Vanya blamed herself, but Zach made sure that she knew it wasn’t her fault. He was eventually allowed to go back to work without any problems, and after having a long conversation with Keith and Ned, they forgave him for keeping it a secret and apologized for freaking out.

 

Even if they had only been doing videos for almost two years, and he and Eugene had only been dating for six months, he knew that this friendship and relationship was meant to last forever. Luther had texted him making sure he was okay, and they had small conversations before they stopped altogether. He would later learn that Reginald had sent him to the moon for a mission.

 

The next couple of years were rough working at Buzzfeed now that his co-workers knew. If it wasn’t for the guys, he doesn’t think he would have survived them. Then 2018 came and they finally went solo. It was also the year that Eugene proposed to him, and they finally came out to their fans as a couple. This was also around the time that he rarely talked to his siblings anymore because of the workload.

 

Looking back on his life, he knows it had its ups and downs, but he wouldn’t trade it for anything. If there was one thing he regretted though, it was letting his siblings fall apart. When he first met them, he considered them friends, but they later became his family. Even if none of them but Luther and Five were biologically related, it didn’t matter to them. It’s just like how he considered The Try Guys family, even if it is a bit different.

 

He wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.

 

And just when his life couldn’t get any crazier, Reginal Hargreeves was pronounced dead near the end of March 2019.

 

-=+=-

 

“Are you sure you should be going?” a deep male voice called from the bedroom doorway. Zach turned his head from packing to look at the face of his fiancé.

 

“Yeah, someone needs to prevent everyone from killing each other,” he said with a small laugh. Eugene rolled his eyes at him before walking over to him and pulling him into a hug.

 

Eugene was only ever affectionate with him.

 

Zach embraced the hug, sighing into Eugene’s chest. “I’ll be fine. You don’t have to worry about me,” Zach mumbled. Eugene kissed him on the head, “I always worry about you” he mumbled back.

 

They just stayed like that for a while, before Zach let go of the hug to continue packing. Eugene went to go sit on the bed, “So, when’s your flight with Allison tomorrow?”

 

After the divorce, Allison got an apartment near him, and they had decided that they would fly from LA to New York together. “It’s 7:30 AM. We have to leave here at around 5 AM” he replied, grabbing some more clothes to put into the luggage.

 

“Why so early?” Eugene asked, sitting up against the headboard of the bed. Zach walked over to Eugene and crawled into his lap, giving him a kiss on the lips. “The quicker I get there, the quicker I can come home to you,” he said giving him a loving smile.

 

Eugene rolled his eyes, “That’s so cheesy, even for you.” Zach kissed him on the lips again, “You know you love me” he said before crawling off his lap and continuing packing. “That’s what you like to think” Eugene replied, before getting out of their bed.

 

“Anyway, when you’re done packing, come and meet me in the living room and we’ll watch a movie together,” Eugene said before giving him a peck on the lips and walking away. Eugene knew just what to do to make him feel better.

 

It wasn’t really Reginald’s funeral he was more worried about, he never really considered him more than a teacher. It was his siblings seeing each other after the publishing of Vanya’s book he was more concerned about.

 

Even though he, Five and Ben got out of the fire free, Deigo, Allison, Luther and Klaus weren’t portrayed in a good light, and he had no idea how any of them were going to react around each other. If it wasn’t Five or Ben, it was usually him who was the peacekeeper amongst the siblings.

 

Zach… Zach was nervous. He didn’t think he would be, but he was. He just felt like something was going to happen. He couldn’t tell if it was good or bad or not. And that scared him. He’s been through so much in his life, both good and bad things.

 

He could only hope that his siblings and he would be able to rekindle their relationships together. He regrets being so busy and not spending enough time with them, but they’re adults now and have their own lives, and that’s what makes it harder.

 

He hears a beep come from his phone just as he finishes packing. It was a text from Allison.

 

To: Zach
From: Allison

Am I the only one freaking out about tomorrow?

 

Zach smiles at that.

 

To: Allison
From: Zach

Nope, completely terrified. There are so many things that could go wrong. Have you seen our family?

 

“BABE, YOU COMING?” Eugene’s voice called from the living room. “YEAH, JUST GIVE ME ONE SEC” he yells back. Zach quickly shuts his luggage and puts it on the floor before walking into the living room.

 

He puts his phone on the table and sits down on the couch, cuddling up to Eugene as the movie starts to play. He then hears a vibration from the table but he chooses to ignore it, favouring spending time with his boyfriend.

 

To: Zach
From: Allison

Yeah, you're right XD I’m sure it’ll be fine though. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

 

Little did he know the adventure that waited for him at The Academy.