「 Dancing alone Left in shadows
I paint you in the corner of my mind
Forming colors from the rays of light 」
A syringe is placed on the table before him, slim and with a thin needle, one that he thinks he would snap given the right amount of force. He doesn’t move to touch it, green eyes focused on the object for longer than necessary, weighing the pros and cons of the situation. A solution to his age dilemma. Five never anticipated finding one, had all but resigned himself to aging naturally – again. He leans back in his seat, listens to the old wood creak under his small body.
A room offset from the rest, an office with furniture that was old and worn looking, hand me downs at best. Pogo’s space was tame compared to their father’s old office, a room that sat like a tomb to the man. Nothing touched, nothing moved. “No side effects?” It comes out as a sigh, resigned and if he were with anyone else Five would have his guard up. Pogo, and Grace by extension, where the few people he didn’t snap at, were the only ones he extended a modicum of patience towards.
“You’ll likely experience difficulties with your abilities, the repercussions unknown.” A straightforward response and Five is looking away from the syringe, away from Pogo who sat across from him. “If you choose to take it, there will need to be three shots over the course of three weeks.”
“So, I can’t teleport then.” A small span of time to have an adult form, to skip over a decade of awkward teen growth. He hated it the first time, hated how uncomfortable he felt at times, how despite being the only one alive he still worried about – everything.
“There’s no telling what might happen if you do. The serum is only an attempt at accelerating your growth for a short time, too much and you’ll continue to age without the formula waring off.” Pogo is being blunt about the possibilities, isn’t sugar coated his words and Five finds it refreshing. He’s begun to grow used to his siblings stepping around their words, trying to get their point out without being direct. It gives him a headache more often than not.
“Three shots, three weeks – no teleporting.” Five lets his leg drop from his other knee, polished oxford scrapping lightly against polished wood. “Anything else?” He inches towards the edge of his seat, a nonverbal cue to show he’s done with the conversation.
“Do you really want to go through with this?” A hint of worry seeps into the others voice, the barest note of concern and it isn’t lost on him, not after years of training with the commission. A slight tilt of the head and a saccharine smile forms on Five’s lips, a show to try and ease Pogo’s mind. He knows after what happened with Luther that offering an experimental serum to any of the siblings wasn’t to be taken lightly.
“It’s different this time.” He hasn’t leaned back, is still on the edge of his seat, ready to grab the needle and leave the room. Walk out rather than teleport. “I have a choice and I’ve made it.”
“I see.” Pogo pushes himself up from his seat, cane clacking against the wood as he moves around the desk. “Then let me get Grace and you can take the shot.” Soft shuffling sounds and if Five had any kind of doubt now would be the time to change his mind. He knows what the other is doing, knows that by seeking out Grace gives him a moment of silence, to contemplate, to mull over the possibilities in his mind.
A moment later Grace steps into the office, is followed by Pogo and the slow clack clack clack of his cane on the hardwood floors.
“Pogo said you needed your medicine?” A bright smile on the blonde android’s face and Five reciprocates it to the best of his ability, can feel it tug at his cheeks and make his dry lips stretch taught. He doesn’t think she understands the difference like the rest of his family, just sees a smile and accepts it at that.
Even if it never really reaches his eyes.
Grace picks the syringe up from the table, uncaps the lid and moves behind Five. “Now hold still dear.” Lukewarm synthetic skin is against his neck, nudging his head forward and somehow, he isn’t surprised that the shot is so close to his brain. There’s a pinch pulling the skin of his neck tight, “You’ll just feel a small pinch, breathe in – ah there we go, now that wasn’t so bad.” The pressure is gone, fingers pressed over the puncture followed by a childish band aid a moment later.
Head still tilted down and Five can feel the corner of his lips quirk up, nostalgia in the way Grace speaks, in how she’s forever embedded in his mind. “Thanks.” He’s pushing himself up, dark strands of hair sweeping into his eyes for a brief moment before he takes a step towards the door. “So next week, same time.” Not a question, never a question. A question left ambiguity, allowed for plans to change on a whim, allowed for people to double back on what they said.
Pogo gives a nod, doesn’t try to drag the moment on longer than it needs to be.
Five doesn’t know what he was expecting with the serum. The first few nights went by as if nothing happened, no change other than an itch in his throat and a sense of restlessness. He tried to occupy his time with reading long forgotten books, with rummaging through old papers and notes he’d made on time travel as a child. There was a sense of being locked up, confined to the manor with an unspoken set of rules. Five knows that it’s all in his head, that it’s his own choice not to leave.
An inability to teleport leaves him with a sense of vulnerability, a feeling he’d rather not admit.
The restlessness that came during the day extended well into the night, kept him awake while lying in bed. His old room is just as he left it, the only change coming in the form of mathematical scribbles along the walls. The equations stand out to him, like a lullaby or story one might read over and over again. For Five they served as a reminder, a constant recollection that it was his family that nearly caused the end of the world.
He rolls over in bed, annoyed with his own line of thoughts. Through the window he can see a faint flash of light in the sky, can hear a low and distant rumble of thunder. Late summer showers rolling in through the evening, making the air humid at best. It’s just after midnight and the sudden urge to move is consuming, has Five pulling himself from bed and slipping out of his room. Were it any other time he’d make his way to the donut shop, to a 24-hour diner nearby, would sip on some overheated coffee that’s been left on the burner to long.
Slow and silent steps as he wanders through the house, out into the living room where he remembers playing with his siblings before everything changed. Nostalgia and a sense of loss are pushed aside, are emotions Five doesn’t like to deal with. Not now, not ever. A sharp turn and he makes his way towards Reginald’s office, flicks on a small lamp perched on the man’s desk. Too many secrets left unsaid and without anything else to focus his energy on Five sets his mind to trying to read through the man’s notes. Papers are strewn about, a mess made by Klaus trying to pillage the room for treasures. Five can feel his mouth twitch at the thought, a sneer starting to form only to be wiped away a moment later.
A light shuffling sound, a tink of a lock being picked open.
Slim fingers reach for a letter opener and move towards the hall the sound came from. Silent steps and the movements come with ease, years of training imbedded in his brain, of a time when hunting was his only way to live, of being taught how to move without sound. Five watches as the window is pushed up, as a man starts to climb into the dark hallway.
One leg in, a boot hitting the floor with a soft thud and Five crouches, spring loaded and ready to jump.
He shoots up, has the advantage of speed with his slight frame ―
fingers curling in the man’s shirt
There’s a sharp pull, a hard yank
Five has to use more strength then he’d like to drag the figure inside.
A quick drop ―
feet swept out from under the other and he leans forward
letter opener to the man’s neck
knee shoved into his chest.
The problem with having the body of a child meant he had very little weight to hold his opponents down.
“Holy fuck – Five!” It comes out as a startled yelp, a blade pointed up out of instinct and Diego looks shocked, startled in a way the smaller male has never seen. He thinks this is the first time his brother has been on the receiving end of blows. They used to spar as children, a time that felt eons ago, a time when Five wasn’t hardened with the knowledge of kill or be killed.
He keeps the letter opener pressed to Diego’s neck. “Why are you crawling in through the window?” There’s annoyance seeping into his voice, the desire to roll his eyes because of course it’s Diego. “I could have killed you.”
“No shit – since when did you become so goddamn silent?”
“Always have been.” Five lingers there a moment longer, fully aware of the knife pointed back at him. Diego’s eyes are still surprised, still hold a look of startle – as if now is the first time he’s fully grasping how dangerous his brother really is. “Why didn’t you use the front door?” The pressure on Diego’s chest is gone, his back still plastered against the wooden floor as Five stands. “Or are you sneaking in just to sneak back out?”
“Why are you even up and lurking in the dark?”
A question in response pulls a knowing smirk to Five’s lips, amusement crossing his face for a moment. “Can’t sleep.” He looks down at the letter opener in his hand, thumb rubbing over the handle. A soft metal, something pliable and easily broken. “Luther gave you shit for not visiting now that the family is back together again.” Outside there’s another low rumble of thunder, the metallic scent of rain starting to seep into the house. There’s more that he can say, clipped remarks about how Diego hasn’t been around for over a week, how even Allison has flown in for a dinner since then. He keeps the comments to himself, knows that saying them would point out the fact that he’s noticed.
“I thought you’d be sleeping like the dead now that the world isn’t ending, and no one is hunting you.” Diego pushes himself up from the floor, knife spun around in his hand a moment before being holstered. He’s looking at five, amused with his too large sweatpants and plain white shirt. It’s a look that’s drastically different from his day attire, from the pressed uniform he still wears.
“Fifty years with next to no sleep creates a habit.” Five turns then, quiet steps as he starts down the hall. Behind him he can hear Diego pulling the window back shut, muffling the soft sound of rain starting. The man’s boots hit the wooden floor with soft thunks, a noise that would otherwise go unnoticed.
“Pretty sure it’s your coffee habit.” A teasing inflection is added in an it grates on Five’s nerves, has him pausing to look back at his brother with a sharp glare. The expression faulters as he opens his mouth, words dying on his tongue. His stomach twists, uncomfortable – nauseating.
Everything seems to go downhill from there.
He’s running through the house, towards the nearest bathroom. The door’s flung open, bouncing off of the wall in his rush, a loud bang that’s only muffled from a rumble of the slow-moving storm outside. He’s knelt in front of the toilet, lid held up with one hand as his stomach lurches. Bile rises up in the back of his throat, adds to the sense of nausea and Five can’t help but empty his stomach into the toilet. It’s all liquid and acid, makes his eyes water and his chest ache. Dimly he’s aware that he’s not alone, that Diego is hovering over him like a protective parent.
“Get out.” Broken words and they lack his usual venom.
“No – are you drunk?” Diego moves around the bathroom, pushing the door almost shut and dimming their light to the hall. The sink turns on, water running and Five is still bent over the toilet, is waiting for the wave of nausea to hit him again. He tilts his head just enough to see what his brother’s doing, watch him through strands of dark hair. A hand towel ran under the water for a moment, is held out to him a second later.
The facets shut off and it makes the small space feel even smaller.
Five hesitates a moment before grabbing – snatching – the towel from Diego. His stomach twists, an uncomfortable knot that leaves him feeling like the room is spinning. It takes more strength then he’d like to lean back from the toilet, to bring the damp towel to his face. A slight tremble to his hands and Five doesn’t look up at Diego.
“Do I look drunk to you?”
“You just puked in the toilet, so I’d say so.”
“I dropped your ass to the floor a moment ago too.”
Diego huffs, visibly annoyed and for a second Five thinks he’ll leave.
“Stop being an arrogant prick – seriously are you okay?”
Hair pushed back, fingers trailing through dark strands and Five looks back towards the toilet. He looks like a mess, a far cry from his usual polished self that everyone else sees. Shoulders slumped and it’s now that he’s feeling tired, drained and it’s waring on his mind. He can’t bring himself to say anything, can’t turn his eyes towards Diego.
“You’re such an asshole all the time.” Half muttered words and Diego is leaning over and pulling Five up by his forearm. “Come on, I’ll take you back to your room.” There’s still a harsh tone to his words yet it’s lost on Five. The movement causes his head to spin, to pull a low and pained whine from his chest. The sound is instantly muffled by the towel in his hand, his head turning to the side.
“What did you do to your neck?”
The question causes his anxiety to spike, instinct setting in and he balls his hands into tight fists. A faint blue light pulling around them and for a second Diego thinks Five is going to vanish from his grasp, run away like he always does when he wants to end a conversation.
The light fades and he goes still.
“Seriously, are you okay?” Genuine worry and it almost pains Five.
“You’re such an idiot.”
He’s deflecting and he knows it, hopes that Diego will get sidetracked at the insult. Instead he’s pulled forward by his arm, a tight grip that drags him back towards his room. “This idiot knows you tried to teleport away but couldn’t.”
“I chose not to.”
The floorboards in the hall creek under their combined weight, are loud in the silent house. Five waits until they’re in his room to pull his arm away from Diego, to walk over to his bed. He drops down onto it only to pull himself upright instantly. The nausea is there, consistent now and the change in elevation only increased the sensation.
“Pogo figured out how to help me age.” Five holds the damp towel up, is pressing it against his face in a vain attempt at chasing the queasiness away.
“Help you age?” There’s disbelief in Diego’s tone along with confusion, something that Five would find annoying at any other time.
“Grow up – look like a goddamn adult again.” A snapped response and sharp green eyes are peering over at the taller male, challenging him to say something more.
“And how is that making you puke your brains out?” A shift in weight and Diego is leaning against the door frame, arms crossed. To Five he looks like he’s about to give a lecture, like he’s ready to scold him for his choices. He isn’t having any of it.
“I’m just trying to help you.”
“Get the fuck out.” Hissed words and the nausea is making his stomach twist, pulls his attention away from Diego long enough to miss the way he rolls his eyes. The man’s gone a second later, heavy boots hitting the floor in his wake. There’s only a handful of seconds of silence before the steps come back, before Diego is shoving an empty plastic trash bin into Five’s hands.
“Be a little bitch all you want, but I am not letting mom clean up your puke.” Silence fills the room and Five tightens his grip on the bin. His lack of response pulls the smug look from Diego’s face, has him instinctively reaching for his brother’s forehead, checking for a temperature. His hand is caught a second later, is pulled back and he’s met with another piercing gaze. They both know it’s too late, that warm clammy skin had been registered.
“Don’t tell anyone.”
“You really that worried about looking weak?”
“I’m not looking weak – I can’t… Pogo said I can’t teleport, or it’ll mess with my already screwed DNA. I did the math, if I jump while the stuff is in my system, I might not stop aging.” Words spoken through a tight jaw, into the empty plastic bin and Diego doesn’t know what to do with himself, with the level of trust he’s just been given.
He thinks he might start sleeping in his old room again.