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your hands protect the flames from the wild winds around you

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Five sighed and rubbed his eyes, the paper in front of him blurring strangely. Maybe he should go to sleep. But no, he didn’t want too. He’d been sleeping so much lately. Sure, he could because the apocalypse was... was well and truly over. They’d stopped it and now his family remained, finally able to live on. There was nothing he needed to worry about anymore.

Except, of course, the mandatory family time Allison has set out. Five had suggested it because it seemed that it was needed to protect the world from his sibling's personal problems. Allison, however, wasn’t here at the moment. She was out, shopping supposedly. Vanya was with her. She’d called it sister bonding time. Which, fair.

Luther and Diego were probably off doing things together. They’d become particularly buddy buddy after the second apocalypse, which still confused him. They were probably at the boxing ring. Luther had stuff he’d been talking about showing to Diego.

Five sighed and flipped the page in his book, words blurring.

Yeah, he hadn’t gotten much sleep last night, and he heard the voice of Klaus in the back of his head, muttering about addictions. Five rolled his eyes, speaking aloud on reflex, "Yeah but this isn’t because of an obsession ."

Imaginary Klaus scoffed, waving his hands, " Keep telling yourself that, little Number Five. "

Five huffed, fingers itching to pick up his pencil, but he didn’t, "I’m not lying to myself. I know what I’m doing. This is fine, I can take it." 

Imaginary Klaus sat down next to him, " But you don’t have too. That’s all I’m saying. You can ask for help. "

Five scoffed, turning to face him lounging on the bed, umbrella academy uniform spotless, "Really, Klaus? That’s a bit hypocritical, isn’t it?" 

Klaus shrugged, holding up a hand, " You’re the one hallucinating me. "

Five shook his head, mouth working, "No, you don’t get to say that."

Klaus bobbed, crossing his socked ankles, " You really need to let go of the apocalypse, Five. Really, as your favorite sibling, you need to let go. "

Five glared, "You’re not my favorite sibling. Vanya is. Clearly. And I have let it go. Here, I’ll stop talking to you, would that make you feel better?"

Klaus spoke in a soft sing-song, wagging a finger at him, " You’re talking to a coping mechanism, Five, old boy. "

Five sat back, opening his book again, "Go away, Klaus, I’m ignoring you."

"Well that’s a little rude, don't you think?"

Five scoffed, turning the pages, "Yes it is. Now go away, I don’t have time for imaginary people. Not anymore."

There was a quiet snort from Klaus, " Oops. You’ve really done it now, Five. "

There was a soft laugh at nearly the same time, "Five, I think we need to talk."

Five froze, eyes widening, as he turned again in his chair. Klaus, the fictional Klaus, still thirteen and young lounged on his bed. Klaus, his Klaus, stood in the doorway, an eyebrow raised.

Five closed his eyes, " Fuck. "

Little Klaus chuckled, " You can say that again. "

Klaus carefully strolled into the room, eyeing him, "You uh, you wanna tell me why you were talking to your bed?"

Five grit his teeth, "I wasn’t. You’re mishearing things Klaus."

Klaus sat down on the bed, watching Five's eyes drift over his face and then to his left of him as he did, "Uh-uh. Wanna tell a better lie, little brother?"

Five's lips twisted, "I don’t see why you’re making such a big deal about this. You talk to nothing all the time."

Klaus held up a finger, "Well I can talk to dead people. So that at least, makes sense. You however, less. Besides, I’m not the one refusing to answer your favorite brother's question."

Little Klaus snickered, giving him a look, eyebrows raised, chin titled, " Yeah? Why aren’t you answering your favorite brother's question? "

Five spat, "You're not my favorite brother, either. Ben is."

Klaus waved a hand airily, watching as Five flinched as his hand cut through the air where little Klaus sat. Klaus grinned, "Ha! You do think there’s something there!"

Five scowled warningly, " Klaus ..."

Klaus leaned forward, "Is it me? Tell me you’re hallucinating me!"

Five sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, admitting defeat. His brother laughed, throwing up his arms, crowing with victory, "Ha! I knew it was me! Why are you hallucinating me? Is it because you miss me so much?"

Little Klaus laughed wryly, wiggling his eyebrows, " Tell him, Five. Tell him what drove you to talk to us. "

Five sighed, “I don’t have time for this."

Both of his brothers, real and not, shouted, " Coward! "

Five winced and then turned back around, feeling his annoyance coming to a head, "Okay. Fine. I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d lord it over me about it being an addiction or some shit."

Klaus leaned forward excitedly, chin in his hands, "Probably right. But go on."

Five rubbed his cheeks, taking a moment to mentally regret everything that he’d ever said and done for him to end up in this position, "In the apocalypse. I spent forty-five years on my own. That can do... odd things to the mind. I had Delores and that helped, but..."

Five huffed, glaring at the little Klaus grinning manically on his bed and the real older Klaus suddenly unreadable beside him, "It helped to have someone to bounce ideas off of. And it’s been so long that sometimes it’s just a force of habit."

Five rubbed his eyes, "Delores always said I was going to run into trouble talking to myself like that all the time." He sighed, "I guess she was right. She usually is." He chewed on his lower lip, muttering quietly, "I guess I just.... missed you guys."

Klaus licked his lips. Little Klaus sat up, " Oh this outta be good. "

Klaus began slowly, hesitantly, "You... you don’t have to talk to hallucinations, Five. We're here now. You don’t have to be alone anymore." 

Five stared.

Little Klaus leaned back, impressed, " Good. I’m glad someone finally said it. "

Five opened his mouth and closed it.

Klaus ran a hand through his hair, "We all love you, Five. And I can’t imagine how awful that loneliness was. But you’re not alone anymore, okay, buddy?"

Five nodded stiffly, "Okay."

Little Klaus smiled, fading as he gave one last satisfied smirk, " You don’t need me, anymore little Number Five. Go on and get out there. "

Five blinked and he was gone.

Klaus, the real Klaus- his Klaus, reached forward, "It’s hugging time, now."

Five backed up, "Wait- no- no hugging-“ Klaus grabbed and pulled him into his embrace and Five slumped, boneless. He was too tired to warp away. However, he wasn’t too tired to pinch the soft part of his brother’s skin between thumb and forefinger with a petulant, "Fuck you, Klaus."

Klaus flinched, sputtering, "Ow! Geez, Five, you’re really vicious, you know that? Like an angry piranha."

Five snorted, "Be quiet or I'll gnaw on your ankles."

Klaus choked on a laugh.

Five smiled.