Ben bursts into Klaus’s room, the door banging loudly into the wall.
“Klaus, o’ brother o’ mine, time to wake up!” Klaus startles awake, nearly punching the wall. “What the hell, Ben?”
“Hi. It’s Mother’s Day.”
“What the hell is Mother’s Day?” Klaus asks, sitting up.
“It’s a day where we celebrate our mom. Just how hungover are you?”
“‘M not hungover,” he replies, pulling the covers over his head “Ow. Light.”
“Mm-hm, and we’re biological siblings. Anyway, it’s time for breakfast, so you might wanna head downstairs before dad figures out you’re not there, and uh… maybe thank mom. For taking care of you.”
“We don't even have a mo-” Klaus starts, but Ben cuts him off with a pointed glare.
“She’s as close as we can get. See you downstairs.” Ben walks downstairs, leaving the door to Klaus’s room open so that someone who might care can attempt to stop Klaus getting yelled at. Oh, who is he kidding. Klaus being yelled at is inevitable.
“Good morning,” Ben says to Five, who glares at him, mostly because he’s barely started his first cup of coffee. It usually takes about three before he can begin to form a coherent sentence.
“Good morning, Ben,” Vanya says quietly from her place, staring down at her oatmeal. He nods, acknowledging her presence, but doesn’t attempt to spur any further conversation.
Diego is sitting at the end of the table, across from Five. He’s fiddling with one of his many knives, and shaking his leg with anxiety. Ben knows what’s about to happen, and sure enough, within a few seconds it’s escalated so he’s shaking the table.
“Would you stop that?” Five says agitatedly. He’s glaring at Diego, who looks like the knife in his hand might just slip.
And it does. It lands right between Five’s fingers. He rolls his eyes and turns back to his coffee.
“Boys, stop that this instant,” Reginald says, arriving to sit at the head of the table. Klaus saunters in a few minutes after that, and is scolded, as he is every morning. Grace switches on the radio, and sits down between Vanya and Diego.
“H-happy m-m-mother’s d-day, Mom,” Diego manages.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” Grace says kindly, placing a robotic hand over Diego’s. He smiles briefly, before Allison steals his thunder.
“Yeah, Happy Mother’s Day!”
And soon enough everyone’s saying it. Well, everyone except Five and Klaus. But still, it’s not special anymore, and she’ll barely remember it’s his idea.
And now he’s mad at Allison, and her stupid hand in Luther’s, but more mad at Luther because isn't that fricking illegal? Seriously, come on -
“Diego, you’ve barely touched your food,” Grace says sweetly.
“O-oh, yeah. S-s-sorry.” He picks up his fork and begins to eat. They listen to that old radio talk about things they don't care about. Luther finishes first, as usual, and then he and Allison stare at each other for the rest of breakfast.
Klaus manages to keep his head up for the whole forty-five minutes, which surprises everyone. Five drinks another three cups of coffee, and Reginald doesn’t stop him, which is again, surprising. Usually he has something to say about the use of “dangerous stimulants”.
It probably has something to do with today’s training.
Yes, they still have training, even though it’s a holiday. It’s not their holiday. It’s Grace’s. But, honestly, they should just get the day off. Grace only has to work when they’re hurt, which almost always comes from training.
They finish eating, or, well, most of them finish. Vanya and Five barely touch their food, but that’s nothing unusual.
“Okay. You all know where to go for your training!” Reginald announces. “Numbers One, Two, Five, and Six will be working on physical combat today, Number Three and Number Four come with me, I have something special planned for you two.”
“What about me?” Vanya asks quietly.
Reginald ignores her.
“We’re going to have fun today, sweetie,” Grace says gently. “It’s Mother’s Day, remember? We get to celebrate.”
Vanya gives a small smile, and grabs on to Grace’s hand. They walk out of the room, leaving Reginald with the rest of the children. Sunday is combat training for Luther, Ben, Diego and Five. This week, Ben and Five have been paired with each other to work on tackling a new obstacle. For Ben, it’s catching Five before he jumps away, and for Five, it’s avoiding Ben. This leaves Diego to spar with Luther.
“Day of rest my ass,” mutters Ben, walking over to Five, who’s stretching on the other side of the training room.
“Y-you r-ready to g-go big guy?” Diego challenges. Out of all of his siblings, Luther is definitely his least favorite. The dude has no chill. Diego walks over to the wall and begins stretching. He slept weirdly the last few nights, and there’s an ache in his shoulder that won’t go away.
“When am I not?” Luther replies, leaning against the wall next to Diego. Too close , he thinks. “You gonna fling your arm around like a windmill all day, or are we gonna get down to business?”
“Let’s go.” Diego squares up on his end of the mat, and Reginald blows the whistle. Luther makes the first move, lunging for Diego’s face. Ametuer. As Luther falls forward, Diego pivots on one foot, kicking a leg up and around his shoulders. Luther drops to the mat with a grunt.
“Y-you goin’ d-down easy t-today big guy?” Diego drops into a squat, placing his hands on his knees and looking down at Luther. He’s still pissed from Allison’s stunt at breakfast, and Vanya getting to spend extra time with Grace isn’t helping. Luther stirs at his feet, rolling over with a grunt. Diego scoots backwards as he rises, not wanting to get caught unawares.
“In your dreams.” This time Luther doesn’t make the first move, so Diego whips a knife out of his belt, embedding it into the wall where Luther’s head had been a second before. “You’re getting slow Diego,” Luther taunts, “Maybe if you could talk as well as you could aim, we could rebrand you.”
“That’s a low blow, Luther,” Ben says, having heard this taunt from across the room. He then explodes into the Octopus, unable to speak.
“Even for you,” Five adds as he jumps, reappearing directly behind Ben, who is flailing his tentacles.
“Shut up,” Luther mumbles under his breath, getting even angrier.
This just eggs Diego on more. He pulls another knife from his belt, this time waiting for the perfect moment, and-
The knife whooshes right past Luther’s head, nicking his ear.
Reginald blows the whistle, calling time.
“That’s enough, that’s enough. Grace! Luther is injured. You four are done for the day.”
“Wait, really?” Ben asks, turning back into his fully human self.
Grace walks through the door calmly, Vanya trailing behind her.
That should be me , Diego thinks. He realizes Luther is hurt because of him, and now Grace has to patch him up.
Would he rather let his mom enjoy a free day or hurt Luther?
He honestly doesn’t know.
Five and Ben leave the room calmly, Five to go read or do math and Ben to find Klaus.
Diego watches Grace patch Luther up slowly.
“I-I-I’m sorry, Mommy.”
“It’s not your fault, sweetie,” she says, smiling. “There. All better.” She places a bandage on Luther’s ear and helps him up.
“Mom, I actually have a surprise for you,” Luther says, grinning.
“Oh?” she asks, as intrigued as a robot can be.
“Yeah. I’ll be right back.” Diego waits, because he has nowhere else to go, and Grace is here, and she’s probably the only person in this house who cares about him.
Luther comes back with a bunch of flowers. He hands them to Grace, who accepts them gratefully.
“Thank you, Luther. These are beautiful. Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome. Happy Mother’s Day.”
And then he’s gone. As he leaves, he spares another malicious glance at Diego, but smiles as soon as Grace turns around.
Diego decides to let it go. He finally gets quality time with Grace. It’s her day after all, so she might as well enjoy it.
After Reginald lets them out from training, Ben follows him through the halls. He’s not the best at stealth, but living with Diego for 14 years has taught him a thing or two. He lingers behind a corner as Reginald heads down to the dungeons. Shit. That means Klaus is in there. Oh no. Ben feels his stomach drop, and he’s not even the one who has to deal with all the ghosts.
All alone, locked up in a room with no one but the ghosts and his own thoughts, alone, alone, alone-
Ben stops himself before he runs into a wall.
He hears Klaus screaming, crying, and begging for mercy from his own father, who wouldn't even give him a hug if he asked.
“No, Number Four. Again. We are going to do this again and again until you get stronger.”
“I can’t get stronger! There’s no way. I can’t, I can’t! LET ME OUT! LET ME GO !”
“Yes, you can. Again.”
And Reginald Hargreeves locks him up yet again.
Ben must have been waiting outside that room for two hours before Klaus finally comes out.
“Are you… are you okay?” Ben asks tentatively. Klaus falls against the wall, sliding down into a sitting position with his head between his knees.
“No… but… I will be. Uh, just, ah -” Klaus pulls away when Ben reaches out to touch his shoulder. Ben winces.
“Okay. Let’s get you back to your room.”
After he’s done supervising Klaus’s training, Reginald goes back to his office. The TV on the wall displays the footage from the cameras monitoring Allison, who is on the street. She is supposed to be using her power on strangers, doing small things like telling them to change direction. Instead, she’s sitting on a bench at the bus station, apparently talking to a girl waiting for the bus.
“Stupid girl,” Reginald snarls, “I have to do everything in this damn house.” He stalks out of the office, heading down the stairs. He then walks out the back door, threading around people on the sidewalk until he gets to the bus station where Allison is.
Reginald sits down on the bench next to Allison, looking straight ahead. The girl she was talking to is long gone, and Allison looks toward him in horror.
“What is the meaning of this, Number 3?” he demands sternly. “Rumor that lady over there, right now. Tell her to walk into that lamp post.”
“Oh yeah?” Allison says defiantly, looking him straight in the eyes and starting to lean over.
Confusion flits across Reginald’s face, leaving disbelief in its wake. Allison wouldn’t dare.
“I heard a rumor…” she begins, “that you let us do whatever we want for the rest of the day.” She pauses, and then whispers again, “I also heard a rumor that you went back to the house, took a nice long nap, and forgot what happened this afternoon.” Her rumors echo until they hit his brain and change his thoughts, and then she runs along happily to get some ice cream, and also another bouquet of flowers for Mom. She knows Luther already got her some, but there’s two vases in the house, and Mom loves flowers so…
Allison rumors the ice cream lady into giving her two chocolate cones for free. One for her and one for Luther. She does the same with the florist, scoring herself a pretty bouquet of pink and white roses.
She walks back into the house, finding Grace and Luther at the kitchen table. She hands the flowers to Grace and gives her a quick hug. “Thanks, Mom,” she says, smiling. “You’re the best.”
“Of course, sweetie.”
And then, later, “I got this for you.” Allison gives Luther his ice cream. He smiles softly, looking up from his math worksheet. Grace homeschools each of them at different times throughout the day. Luckily, Allison didn’t have lessons today, and everybody else was mostly finished. Allison vaguely thought Grace should get a day off, but she can’t rumor her mother.
“Oh, did you get me anything, dear sister?” Klaus asks in that stupid tone of voice he always uses.
“Nope,” Allison shoots back.
His face falls briefly before he smiles again. The post-training drugs must be kicking in then , Allison thinks. Poor Klaus has always had it worse than the rest of us .
“D-d-don’t bother Allison, he’s long g-g-gone,” Diego comments, catching her worried glance. Klaus starts slipping down out of his chair, and Ben comes to the rescue, catching him by the armpits and pulling him back up.
“Lunchtime!” Grace announces cheerily, placing a plate of sandwiches on the table.
“Hey, where’s Five?” Luther inquires, just as he appears.
“Here.” Five walks into the room just as Klaus starts to nod off again.
This time, Grace sees Klaus slip out of his chair, and is naturally concerned. She places a hand on his forehead. “Oh no. It seems you have a fever.”
“Nah, I’m fine, Ma, really,” he says unconvincingly as a shiver racks his body. “But thanks for caring.”
“Hey!” says Ben.
Diego’s hands shake with quiet anger. Klaus is making Grace work even harder than she already is. He quickly eats his sandwich before he can crush it.
“Let’s get you up to bed, sweetheart,” Grace says sweetly.
“That’s what I said!” Ben exclaims exasperatedly.
“Hey, where’s dad?” Luther asks, always trying to please Reginald.
“Oh, he’s gone for the day. I took care of him,” Allison says.
“Sweet!” Five says.
“So what are we gonna do now?” says Ben.
“N-n-not fight, and b-b-be n-n-nice to Mom,” Diego replies immediately, glaring at Ben.
“I got her flowers,” Luther and Allison say at the same time. They smile stupidly at each other and Five and Diego resist the urge to run themselves over with a semi truck.
Eventually everyone finishes lunch, and they’re not all back together again until dinner. Nobody is that hungry, but they eat for Grace’s sake, and because Diego kicks them when they don't.
Then everyone slowly retreats to their rooms. Before going to sleep, each child hugs Grace goodnight, telling her one last happy Mother’s Day.
Diego asks her if she wants to watch a movie with him, and she of course obligues. He falls asleep on her lap as she runs her fingers through his hair soothingly.
Even though she’s a robot, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t know these kids, doesn’t know their personalities and their needs. In fact, she knows them better than any flesh and blood person.
“Hey, mom?” she hears a tentative voice from behind her. Ben. “Can you tuck me in?”
“Of course, sweetie. Just let me get your brother to bed.” She scoops up Diego and carries him bridal-style up the stairs. One of the perks of a robot mother - you never get too heavy for her to carry. After Grace tucks Diego in and kisses his cheek gently, she turns off the lights and tip-toes out of the room, shutting the door softly behind her. Ben, who had been lingering silently outside Diego’s room, now sticks to her side as he walks with her down the hallway to his room.
“Are you okay, sweetie?” Grace asks.
Ben nods, wiping at his eyes. “Just tired.”
Another thing about having a robot mother - she always knows when you’re lying.
“You’re upset,” Grace states, sitting down Ben on his bed. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s just, Klaus is on fricking drugs, and Five is so mean, and Dad makes us practice so hard every day, Luther and Diego are always fighting, I don't even know what’s going on with Allison, and sometimes I feel like- I don't know! I feel so selfish and… guilty… but sometimes I feel stuck in the middle, and… overlooked,” he trails off.
“Oh sweetie,” Grace says, putting a hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay. I know how easy it is for things to get crazy in this house. Just… remember what we practiced when you were little. Take a deep breath, and release all the bad emotions through that breath. Breathe in the positive ones.”
Ben does just that, starting to relax a little bit. Once his thoughts clear, he immediately feels guilty for basically forcing Grace to comfort him on her day, giving her another problem, that’s all he is, just a stupid, useless, problem child- his breathing starts to pick up again.
“Slowly, sweetie,” Grace says calmly, rubbing his back.
“‘M sorry for making you comfort me,” Ben mumbles.
“Don't be sorry. Don't feel bad. I just want you to calm down.”
Ben cries a few more relieved tears and then lies down, and she waits there at the foot of his bed, rubbing his back, whispering sweet nothings, and making sure he’s okay.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” he breathes, and is out like a light after that.
As quietly as possible, Grace stands and walks to the door, taking one last look back at Ben before she closes it. She walks down the hallway, cracking open each of the kids’ doors to check that they’re asleep and not in harm’s way. Most of them seem to be, with the exception of Vanya, who’s reading, so Grace goes back to her gallery. The charging port automatically plugs into her arm, and she sits there for the rest of the night, grateful that her kids are safe, relatively happy, and that… most of them acknowledged Mother’s Day. Five can be tough sometimes, but he never seems especially sad or hurt so she lets him be.
She knows she’s not their biological mother and she knows that’s hard for them. Regardless, she tries so hard to be the best mother she can be, even if she can’t… feel like a human can. She knows that sometimes her responses seem programmed, (they are) so she’s glad to know that they love her, because she loves them. And for one day, she feels like the proudest mother in the world.
Five blinks groggily, staring the clock down and wishing it would speed up. That’s irrational. It’s not gonna speed up just because he’s fucking staring at it-
And that’s the end of his sleep for the night. He stands and makes to open the door, but pauses when he hears footsteps from down the hallway. After waiting a few moments and hearing nothing, he opens the door slightly and looks around, spotting a slim figure standing at the top of the stairs.
“Vanya?” he asks quietly.
“Oh, uh… Five, hi…” she says, trailing off. “Sorry.”
He vaguely wonders what she’s sorry for before remembering that their bitch of a father has trained her to apologize for merely existing. “‘s okay.” Jeez. He must be more tired than he thought.
He continues on his path, ignoring her for the time being, and heading downstairs to get a drink. She doesn’t follow, so he grabs the nearest bottle and sits down on one of the bar stools. He opens it and hastily takes a swig, staring at the wall until he starts to feel the alcohol buzz in his veins, blurring reality. He’s startled out of his trance by a movement that turns out to be Vanya. She sits down on the stool next to him, looking at him pensively.
“Can I have some?” she asks tentatively, voice impossibly quiet.
He takes a look at the bottle in his hand - whisky, apparently - and resists the urge to double over laughing. “I don't think you can handle this shit.”
“Oh.” A pause. “Sorry.”
“Why do you keep saying that?” he asks harshly, but it’s really just his way of letting her know she doesn’t have to.
“I don't know. So- I don't know.” She looks down at her hands, which are twisted in her lap.
He drinks in silence for a few more minutes until the alcohol loosens his mind enough that he starts talking.
“Mother’s Day is so fucked,” he mumbles. Vanya looks up at him in surprise.
“Why? Training went okay, right?”
Five scoffs. As if she could understand what training was like. In his eyes, her “weakness” was a blessing in disguise.
“It didn’t?” she continues, something making her brave. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s 3 am, maybe it’s because Five seems so out of it, she doesn’t know. She likes this new feeling of bravery, though. It’s different.
“Fuck no,” he replies. “Training is always hell.”
“Well, I think Mother’s Day was fun,” Vanya says.
“For you. Mom loves you.”
Vanya looks taken aback. “She loves you, too. Probably even more than she loves me.”
“Well that’s just ‘cause you won’t let her love you,” Vanya says, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
Five rolls his eyes, taking another drink.
“Here. Gimme that,” Vanya says, taking the whisky out of his hands and taking a large sip. As soon as she swallows, she instantly starts coughing, the liquor burning her throat. Five eases the bottle out of her grip and sets it back on the bar, smiling knowingly.
“This is hard liquor, Vanya. I wouldn't recommend that. Even though that’s what I did on my first try, you might wanna start with something a little easier, like…” he stands and walks over to the beer fridge, grabbing her a bottle. “Beer.”
She takes it and drinks, grimacing, but manages to swallow this time.
“That’s disgusting,” she announces. “but you know what, it's the middle of the night, fuck it.” She takes another drink and winces significantly less.
“There you go,” Five says, shooting her a rare genuine smile.
She smiles back, but that smile is weak and fleeting. “Shit. Y’know what’s soon?”
“Mm?” he asks, not looking at her.
He doesn’t respond.
“Well, that sucks.”
“Yeah. Shit, Five. I don't know- I don't think I’ll be able to do Father’s Day. I think… I think I’m just gonna like leave… or something.”
“You’re drunk,” he says matter-of-factly.
“Mm-mm,” she says, shaking her head.
“Okay then. Where would you even go?”
“Somewhere pretty,” she says, staring off into space. “Somewhere where people aren’t watching me while I sleep, somewhere where I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. Five, I-I just don’t know what I’m gonna do anymore because I can’t keep doing this, I can’t, I-” she cuts herself off when she feels something cold slide down her wrist. Oh. She’s crying.
“Maybe Hawaii?” Five is looking at her with a weird expression on his face, but the tears and alcohol are making it too hard to read. “I mean, I know we all hate this shithole, but at least we have each other, right?”
Vanya snorts. “You did not just say that.”
Five seems to actually register what he just said. “Oh no, I sound like some shit from Disney Channel. Vanya, now might be the time to act on the desire to murder one of your siblings.”
“You’re drunk,” is all she says, repeating his words from earlier.
“No. I drink this shit all the time, it’s like… it’s like water,” he slurs.
They sit there for a few more minutes. Five sets the bottle of whisky down on the counter and puts his head in his arms.
“I think it’s time to go to bed,” Vanya says, simply thinking aloud.
“Yeah. Okay,” Five - surprisingly - agrees. The whisky makes his eyelids kinda heavy, and his bed is really warm.
They walk up the stairs together, leaning on each other for support, and through the drunken haze of her thoughts Vanya realizes this is the most physical contact he’s had all day.
His room is the first stop, and right before she leaves, he utters one last parting thought.
“I take it back,” he murmurs.
“Hm?” she asks, turning her head to look at him.
“I take it back. Mother’s Day isn't fucked after all.”
“Yeah, not at all.”
When they make eye contact the next morning at breakfast, both nursing nasty headaches, it’s not weird. They don't say anything, and nobody notices. Ben is too busy throwing toast at Luther, and everyone else is either laughing along or scolding them.
And maybe there’s some semblance of beauty in having a robot mom and a negligent, slightly creepy father.
Sure, Mother’s Day is a little different and Father’s Day is going to be hell, but Five was right, Vanya thinks. Even though he was thoroughly intoxicated, he was right. They’ll be fine.
They have each other.