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He knew something was wrong when he was approximately halfway through the cup. 

And really, at this point, he wasn’t surprised. 

The day had started off so well; he woke up before the alarm, and he’d even managed to get some equations done before he got showered. But then things went downhill when he blinked downstairs to find Diego, perched on one of the kitchen stools and pouring an obscene amount of creamer into his morning brew. 

“What are you doing here?” 

“Morning Diego, how are you? Oh, I’m glad to hear that! I’m happy to see you too,” Diego mocked, slurping at his coffee and raising an eyebrow at him. “Yeah, thanks for the warm welcome bro.”

Five rolled his eyes. “You have your own house.”

“I’m not sure I would use the word ‘house’ for that shithole of a boiler room,” his brother muttered. “But if you wanted to know, I’m here for breakfast.” 

“What? Tired of cracking raw eggs into your mouth,” he said, snorting at the withering glare Diego gave him. “Luther told us, pretty gross if you ask me.” 

“Says the man that munched down on cockroaches.” 

Five paused and then offered him a shrug. “Huh, got me there.”

Diego waggled his eyebrows while Five pointedly ignored him, opening the cupboard and frowning when he was only greeted with tinned vegetables and a sad protein bar tucked up the corner. “Where’s the coffee?” 

“I finished it off, but there’s more in the pressy thing,” Diego replied with a nonchalant wave of his hand. Five reached down a mug and tilted the French press, which let out a rather pathetic dribble that petered off into the occasional sad drip. 

“Oh,” Diego hummed after a beat of awkward silence. “Maybe not.” 

Five ground the heels of his palms hard against his eyes. “It’s fine, I can deal with instant.” 

“Oh yeah sorry bro, I finished that off yesterday.” 

“What the hell? You don’t even live here, go eat your own damn food.” 

“I don’t have any food.” 

“Well what I’m going to say next will blow your mind, but there are these funny little places called supermarkets that sell food. You might want to consider that.” 

“But you have food here.”

“The academy isn’t your personal supermarket you stup-”

“Whoa, hey, relax,” Diego placed his hands up placatingly. “You can have mine.” 

Five stared for a few moments at the swirling concoction of coffee and creamer in the offered mug. “Yeah, that's a hard pass from me. I’ll just go to Griddy’s. Tell the others I’ll be back by ten.” 

But of course Griddy’s would be closed for a refit, that was just his shitty luck. So instead he blinked a couple of streets away to the next nearest coffee shop, which was more of a greasy breakfast joint than anything. But that in turn led him to now, staring down into the last half of his mediocre coffee as a sense of numbness spread down his body. 

Something was wrong. 

Something was seriously wrong. 

He put his newspaper down and cast a quick eye across the room. There was an elderly woman in the corner, a young man hunched over his laptop near the window, and an exhausted-looking man wearing mechanic overalls near the counter. None of them raised any alarms, but clearly, something had happened to his drink the short time he took to grab a newspaper off the display stand. 

Whoever it was, they were brazen; he’d been shot at multiple times, and there was a time only two months into his job at the Commission where he’d been tortured by a particularly vengeful target. But he’d never been poisoned before, he supposed that was one to tick off his assassination bingo. 

He placed the cup down calmly and made his way over to the toilets as steadily as he could, trying not to attract attention. His movements were somewhat uncoordinated and he couldn’t feel his mouth anymore, which indicated that whatever he’d ingested was taking effect. He barely made it into the stall before he was hunched over the toilet and expelling the contents of his stomach. It burned, but it was better out where the effects of the toxin would be slowed. 

“Hello Five,” came a voice from behind him. “Remember me?” 

He was rather impressed with the way he managed to compose himself considering the situation. The man behind him was short and unassuming, wearing nondescript slacks and a white button-up, probably around his late thirties if the faint wrinkling around his eyes was anything to go by. 

“I can’t say I have,” he said truthfully. 

“Come on now, maybe think harder? Timeline department, section 38A,” the man cocked his head to one side, a smile curling at his lips. “I have to give you credit, I gave you the strong stuff. And yet here you are, managing to stay upright even when you're in a child’s body.” 

“You know agents undergo poison training, it helps build up a resistance,” he swallowed thickly, trying to calm his nerves at how constricted his throat felt. “I have to admit it’s rather ballsy of you to target one of their best, you know I could easily take you.” 

“Can you? In your state?” The man grinned, and then lunged. The punch that struck him across the cheek made him see stars, and he fell backwards, striking his head hard against the toilet roll holder on the way down. 

“I might as well get some enjoyment out of this in the meantime before you die. You won’t believe how long I’ve wanted to do that, I have to admit It was rather cathartic.”

Five kicked a leg up, managing to get him in the abdomen and push him out of the stall. He stumbled back up to his feet and ignored the trickle of wetness running down from his scalp. 

“Who sent you?” 

“Me? Oh, I came of my own accord,” he grappled at him again and curled a hand into the fabric of his sweater vest, pressing him back hard against the dividers between the stalls. Five felt something crack from within his chest, and he wheezed out a pained noise that only made the man grin wider. 

“You really couldn’t do anything wrong in the Handler’s eyes. She paraded you around headquarters like her prized pet; people were fawning over you, gossiping about you in the halls,” the hand moved higher and curled loosely around his neck, just testing the waters. “I really thought that with her death they would clear out the dirty laundry, as it were, dispose of anything relating to her rein. But instead, Herb let you off scot-free, while we have to pick through the destruction you caused with the death of the board.” 

“I was following orders,” he hissed lowly. “So you’re really going to kill me just because of a personal dislike? That’s rather petty, don’t you think? I don’t even know who you are.” 

He supposed he should have expected the fist to the jaw. He spat blood aside and grinned, trying not to let the pain register on his face. 

“You really are a mouthy little shit, aren’t you?” 

“People have commented on that, yes.” 

He threw his body forwards, grabbing blinding in front of him. And oh boy, his limbs were definitely getting numb now. But he clearly did something right, because the man let out a gasp as he was pushed back hard against the sink. 

“You litt-”

Five slammed his fist into the side of his head, just at his temple, and watched as the man slumped heavily into a tangle of limbs on the floor. He observed him for a few moments; his chest was rising and falling steadily but the rest of him was limp and still. It was kind of offensive in a way, that a timeline worker who had clearly never seen a day of training thought he could take him out. 

A creak of the door cut him out of his musings, and the mechanic from earlier walked him. He froze, looked at him, looked at the man on the floor, and then back up at him again. Five would have been tempted to laugh at the expression, if not for the radiating pain across his chest and the nauseous churning of his stomach. 

“Err…” 

“This man attacked me,” he coughed out, swaying on his feet. “Call for police.” 

“Wait wait wait, hang on, you’re hurt. Wait, stop!”

Five ignored him, pushing his way through the door and past the tables, stumbling out onto the street and very nearly tripping over his feet in the process. People paused and whispered as he passed by, and he didn’t need a mirror to know that he looked like a punching bag.

He ducked down the alley to his left, out of sight from curious and nosy strangers, and leant against the brickwork as exhaustion hit him like a truck. His legs felt weak and he slowly slid down, tilting his head back to rest against the wall behind him. Poisoning was rarely done at the Commission, they usually liked things quick and precise, the pull of a trigger or a twist of a neck. Nevertheless, toxins weren't unheard of, and he tried to rack his brain for what they had a liking for. 

The effects were too light for paraquat dichloride, where death was almost instantaneous. The same with ethylene glycol. No, he was looking at something that caused muscle paralysis, something slow and breathtakingly painful.

The exhaustion and numbness of his body was now crawling upwards, trickling into his head and making his vision swim, and he closed his eyes to try and fight it off.

You need to get home, an urgent voice in his head said, you need to keep your eyes open and get home, go find mom. 

Frankly, that little voice in his head could go fuck itself. And if he was being honest, a little sleep would help things; he’d never felt so exhausted before. 

 


 

“-ey?”

Hmm? 

“Hey?”

A hand touched his shoulder and he recoiled awake, sucking air shakily through his teeth. 

“Yeah, uh-huh, yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s him. Hey kid, you’re okay.” 

Five opened his eyes, the sudden light spreading stars across his vision. There was a man in front of him, dressed head to toe in black with a kind face. He was clutching a radio tightly in his right hand, which let out a faint hiss of static followed by a curt “We’re just taking the attacker into custody”. 

The man pressed a button on the side. “Fantastic. I’ll catch up with you later, I want to stay with the kid until the ambulance arrives.” 

“No ambulance,” he somehow managed to get out. His throat felt raw and his voice was audibly husky to his own ears; the spiked coffee from earlier had clearly done some damage there. 

“I’m sorry, but I’m not happy leaving you like this,” the man said, lips pressed into a tight line. “I’m Detective Beaman by the way. Can you tell me what happened in there?”

Five swallowed thickly, trying to organise his thoughts.

“It’s okay if you can’t remember, you’ve been out for a little while, so some confusion is understandable.” 

Five blinked with shock. “What?” 

“It’s only been ten minutes, which may not seem like a long time, but you’ve probably got a nasty concussion,” Beaman’s gaze slipped down to the crest on his blazer. “Hey, you’re from that Umbrella Academy, aren’t you?”

“Ten minutes?” He murmured, consciousness coming back to him slowly. He was sure he’d only shut his eyes for a second, just to have a little breather before he made his way back home. The radio said they’d caught the man, but what if there were more? What if they were at the academy? 

“Do you know Diego?” Beaman questioned.

“He’s my brother, can you call him?”

“I’ll give him a call once we’ve got you to hospital. We don’t want to alarm him, the last thing we need is him getting in a car accident on top of this.” 

“Please,” he hated how whiny his voice sounded. “You have to call him now.”

“Later,” Beaman reassured, “Let’s just stay nice and calm okay, you’re going to be fine.” 

He curled his fingers into fists and pulled at his powers gently, which spluttered weakly in his deteriorating state. He’d been put off using them earlier, blinking when he was drugged was dangerous, lest he make an error in his confused state. 

But now, all he wanted was to be home, to ensure that his siblings were safe and well and weren’t under threat.

He grasped at his powers and pulled, pouring the dregs of his energy into the tear and throwing himself through. He heard a noise, but he wasn’t sure if it was one of surprise from Beaman, or one of pain from himself. 

And the first thing that came to mind when he stumbled out of the jump was a definite oh fuck. His mind was hazy and his stomach still churning, and he barely managed to stumble over to the wall. His tongue felt too thick for his mouth. His bones like jelly. 

He tried to orientate himself, which was easier said than done when it felt like someone had stuffed his whole body with cotton wool. Eventually, his vision stopped swimming enough for him to determine that he was currently in the alley down the side of the academy, not too far from the fire escape. 

Okay, so he needed to get down the end and then turn right, and then another right and he’d be back at the academy. Easy, so easy, he could do this. He grabbed at the brickwork of the wall and tried to drag a foot in front of him, followed by the other. His feet were numb by this point, and he couldn’t feel the ground beneath them, but he took the steps as carefully as he could.

“Luther!” he croaked, his chest flaring with pain at the effort. “Luther! Klaus! Diego!”

All that met him was the sound of chatter and cars from the street at the end of the alley, which at this point were starting to sound alarmingly muffled. He blinked back the haziness creeping in, trying to breathe through the pain. 

His foot caught on the corner of the dumpster to his right and he went down like a rock in water, his side colliding with the metal on the way down. He was aware he made a noise, but he couldn’t hear it through the shrill whistling in his head. 

“Five?” 

He tried to breathe but his chest was screaming, and the haziness was definitely creeping in now. The temptation to keep his eyes shut was strong, but instead, he forced them open and was instead met with the sight of a dirty floor and a crumbled hamburger box. 

“Holy shit Five? Guys, GUYS!” 

“Wha..” he managed out, the thumping of fast approaching footsteps sounding distorted to his ears.

“Fucking hell, why are they never here when you want them to be?” Someone grabbed him by the biceps and pulled him up into a seated position, and a blurry figure came into view in front of him. “What on earth happened? Are you okay? You said you’d be back by ten.” 

“Poisoned,” he tried to get out, but judging by the puzzled silence that followed he clearly wasn’t as coherent as he hoped. 

“Dude, are you like...drunk? It’s only noon.” 

His stomach protested again and he barely managed to flop to the side before he threw up, but alarmingly, all he could taste was blood.  

“Oh shit, that’s not good,” they hooked their arms under this and slowly manoeuvred him up onto his feet, and Five slumped bonelessly against their support.

“I...it…”

“Shh, it’s okay,” the voice said, syrupy and slurred to his ears. The hands clutching at him tightened, and they pulled him further up against their body. “Don’t you dare close your eyes on me.”

Five hadn’t even realised he’d closed them in the first place. He tried to peel them apart, but everything felt like a monumental effort at this point. His whole body felt heavy and his actions were uncoordinated, his legs moving as if he were trying to walk through treacle.

“For such a skinny little shit you sure are heavy,” the other person muttered under their breath, and then called out a frantic, “Luther! LUTHER! Get your ass out here bro. Hey, you still with me, Five? Come on, talk to me.”

He tried to talk, he really did, but the words sounded indistinguishable to his own ears. Everything around him was tilted, a blurred kaleidoscope of colours and hazy lights.

“Five,” the person said, a hint of panic seeping into his voice. 

The black at the edges of his vision was crawling in now, swallowing the world around him and leaving behind an empty abyss. He felt rather than saw a hand releasing his torso to cup the side of his face, their fingers cool against his flushed skin. “Shit! LUTHER! HURRY UP”

“Diego, what-”

“No time to chat, just get him inside. He’s too much of a dead weight by myself.”

“Bu-”

“No time.”

Someone else came into view, a bulky figure that flashed a pang of recognition within his brain, and they were the last thing he saw before the darkness swallowed him whole.

 


 

“Oh, he’s waking up again,” was the first thing he heard when he started coming around.

“Think I should get mom?” the voice continued. Luther , his mind supplied, the voice belonged to his brother.

“Probably for the best, she’ll need to replace his liquid bag thingy again anyway,” Diego’s voice joined in.

“Saline drip.”

“What?”

“It’s called a saline drip.”

“Just get mom.”

“I’m jus-”

“Shut up,” Five interrupted sleepily, although the words came out strained due to his parched mouth. The other occupants of the room fell silent, and with a huff of frustration he managed to crack his eyelids apart, slowly letting them adjust to the sunlight filtering in through the window. A figure appeared above him, and he blinked to try and settle his vision.

“Hey,” Luther said softly, looming over him and blocking the light like some sort of solar eclipse. “You with us? You know, like actually with us this time?”

“You always fighting,” he slurred, letting his head fall lethargically to the side. Diego was perched on a chair pulled up to his bedside, posture tense and gaze fixed on the side of his head. He could feel that there was something pressed against his temple, but when he raised a hand to investigate something tugged at his hand.

“Huh?”

“Whoa, hey, don’t move too much, you cracked a rib,” Luther eased, taking hold of his hand and moving it back down to the bed. “Are you with us? Can you understand what I’m saying?”

“Yeah,” he muttered, eyeing the swinging saline bag hanging from the stand next to him. The tubing was taped along his forearm until it eventually reached a needle, which disappeared under the thin skin on the back of his hand. “I’m not an idiot.”

“Sounds like he’s more coherent than last time,” Diego commented mildly.

“I am here you know,”

Diego shot him a sour look, and he would have felt somewhat offended, if not for the underlying hint of worry he could see on his face. “Just go get mom Luther, and maybe call Vanya too.”

“Yeah, she’ll be glad to know he’s properly awake this time,” Luther nodded as he unfurled himself out of the chair, which looked comically small against his frame. He gave him one last once-over before lumbering out of the room, his footsteps quietening slowly until they eased away into nothing but awkward silence.

Eventually, Diego sighed, turning back towards him and pursing his lips together thoughtfully. “You good to sit up?”  

“I think so,” he winced and tried to adjust his position, which was easier said than done when his chest throbbed dully at the action. Diego shuffled over, using one arm to hold him upright and his free hand to adjust the head of the bed behind him. And he couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief as he laid back down against it.

“You good?”

“Yeah,” he exhaled, breathing slowly through the pain. “Thanks.”

“No problem, take it easy though, you’re going to be stiff from all that lounging around,” Diego said, retrieving a water bottle from the table beside him and uncapping the top, passing it over. Five shot him a curious look as he sipped slowly, the water inside helping to ease the rawness of his throat.

“Dude, you’ve been out for like four days.”

“Four days?” he asked numbly, wiping a hand across his mouth.

“Well…” Diego shrugged and leant back in the chair, crossing his arms in front of him with feigned nonchalance. “You’ve been awake briefly, enough to persuade a slice of toast down you or get you to the bathroom, but you haven’t exactly been coherent.”

“Fantastic,” he breathed out, hating the way his cheeks flushed with embarrassment. He couldn’t remember a single moment of that, and the thought they’d been taking care of him in such a vulnerable state was mortifying.

“You also said a few things too,” Diego continued in a lower tone of voice, drumming his fingers restlessly against his knee with unease. “Things that we are going to have to talk about once the whole family is here.”

“A family meeting, I couldn’t imagine anything better. Or is this going to be more of a family intervention?”

“Can you stop being so sarcastic for one fucking moment” Diego bit out, face scrunching up with annoyance. “You told us things about the apocalypse, about the sandstorms, about how you’d go weeks surviving on nothing but tinned lentils of all things.”

“People obviously don’t like lentils that much.”

Diego shot him a withering look, and Five shrunk back against the bed from the intensity of it.

“You also told Klaus about how you nearly…” he swallowed thickly and rubbed a hand over his face, and it was only then that Five noticed his stubble was longer than usual, and that there were blurs of sleeplessness under his eyes. Guilt pooled in the pit of his stomach. “You told him about how sometimes you’d nearly turn the gun on yourself, that you would…”

“Kill myself?” he finished for him, and the haunted look on his brother’s face made his heart clench uncomfortably. “Look, I don’t even remember anything I said. I’m guessing that mom’s got me hooked up to some pain relief anyway.”

“But you wanted to, right?”

“I hated every second I was there, so of course the thought would cross my mind. But then I’d remember you idiots and that would be enough.”

Diego pressed his face into his hands, and when he spoke, his words came out muffled. “You can’t just brush this off Five.”

“I’m not brushing it off, it’s just another thing I went through, and something of the past I might add,” he sipped at the bottle and frowned when he realised he’d nearly drunk all of it. “And I don’t get why you of all people are worked up over this?”

“Excuse me?” Diego hissed, recoiling as if he’d been punched.

“I don’t get why you’re getting worked up,” he repeated. “I mean it’s evident that you don’t view me as closely as the others. Back at the barn? Remember? The lovely heart-warming speech including very pointed looks at the others. I get it, I mean we weren’t exactly close when we were younger, and I made it clear that Lila wasn’t-”

“I don’t dislike you,” Diego interrupted, face twisted into an expression of both irritation and shock. “I…I don’t. You’re an asshole, you know that right?”

“People have said that to me before, correct,” he said.

“I thought you were going to die you dick,” Diego choked out. “I thought you were going to die right there in my arms. And you probably wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t got you to mom so quickly.”

Five swallowed thickly.

“And then you had these moments where you’d almost wake up, but you were too drugged up to make much sense. And then you start talking about the apocalypse and scaring Klaus half to death. And do you know what the cherry on top was?” he gave him a pointed look and didn’t wait for an answer. “You also spilt the beans to Luther that you may have turned back time in the barn, without even telling us.”

“And what would have been the point in that?” Five said, glancing at the door desperately How long was Luther going to take?

“Because we’re family and because it’s an incredibly dangerous thing for you to do. I’m sorry to say this but your track record hasn’t exactly been wonderous now, has it?”

“Shut up. And while I might have flung us over to Dallas, at least you were all still adults by the end of it,” Five ground out, anger flaring in his chest.

“You also told him that we’d all been shot dead too”

“Well yeah,” he threw his arms up incuriously and immediately regretted it when the IV pulled at his hand, but he soldiered on, too agitated and too frustrated to let go at this point. “She shot us all, and thankfully I was just dying a little more slowly than the rest of you. I didn’t exactly have time to think over a plan and consult you all beforehand. It was a Hail Mary kind of situation.”

“You should have told us” Diego breathed, leaning forward in his chair. “We’ve been back here for nearly a month and it never crossed your mind to at least raise the issue with us?”

“It wasn’t exactly an issue to begin with. We were shot. I turned back time. We’re alive. Capeesh.”

“And the stuff about the apocalypse either.”

“And what good will talking about it do, huh? It’s happened, it’s in the past, I don’t see how mulling over what might have happened during the apocalypse will help things now.”

“Because it still affects you,” Diego snapped. They stared at each other wordlessly for a few moments, and Five so desperately wanted this conversation to be over at this point. But just as he opened his mouth, Diego sighed and slumped back in the chair.

“I’m worried about you,” Diego said softly, staring into space. “And I don’t know how you’ve got that idea in your head, but I don’t hate you either. I didn’t look at you because frankly you were pretty highly strung at that moment, and I was scared that anything I’d do would set you off, and you’d go after Lila like a rabid chihuahua. Plus you were kinda standing behind her dude."

“A rabid chihuahua,” Five echoed.

“I was scared, you little twerp! I get a call from Beaman saying that you were involved in some sort of fight and then vanished into thin air. The next thing I know, I find you barely conscious and bleeding out in the alley. If mom hadn’t got you as quickly as she had, you probably-”

“Could have died,” Luther finished as he walked into the room with mom hot on his heels.

“I was fine,” he said.

“You were dying,”

“Okay…uh…maybe we should all calm down,” Luther cast them both an apprehensive look as he deposited a tray on the bed, and Five couldn’t help but feel disappointed at the measly banana and slice of toast on the plate sat on top.

“Well I’m alive, so there’s no need to worry,” he snagged the toast and nibbled on the crust, his stomach letting out a pathetic rumble at the taste.

“You’re such a little-”

“Now now children, please do not fight,” Mom interjected with practised ease, busy replacing the bag of saline solution for a fresh one. Once finished, she cast an assessing eye over the wadding taped to his temple, before slowly brushing the hair off his forehead gently. “You really need to rest sweetheart, especially with your concussion. And that includes no bickering.”

Diego gave him a triumphant look.

“And Diego dear, please refrain from provoking your brother,” she added.

Five snickered at the way the look swiftly fell off Diego’s face.

The atmosphere of the room was then abruptly interrupted by the sound of heavy footsteps on the wooden floor of the corridor, swiftly followed by a breathless Klaus rounding the doorframe.

“So guys, there’s been a minor-” he paused and then did a double-take, a wide grin erupting across his face. “Oh hey Fivey, you’re awake. How are you feeling kiddo?”

“I’ve felt worse,” he said around a mouthful of toast, and then added with narrowed eyes, “Not a kid.”

“You look better ya know, less corpsey.”

“Thanks.”

“So what did you do to piss someone off this time?” 

“Apparently existing.” 

“Ah yeah, that’ll do it.” Klaus nodded. 

“Not that this isn’t nice and all, but why are you here? Did you need something?” Diego asked.

“Oh, yes, that,” Klaus glanced down the corridor behind him and winced. “There may be a minor fire in the kitchen, just a little mishap regarding some pancakes.”

“A fire?!” Luther hissed, jerking into action.

“A minor fire,” Klaus stressed, his words swiftly followed by the shrill blaring of the fire alarm. “Although it might be moving into major territory now.”

“You children do keep me on my toes,” Mom said with a wistful sigh, giving Klaus an affectionate shake of her head. “Luther dear, could you perhaps get me the fire extinguisher.”

“Sure thing!” He said, scrambling out of the room with Klaus stumbling after him, the two of them nearly tripping over the threshold of the door in the process.

“Don’t worry, I’ll turn the alarm off sweetie,” Mom said, squeezing his shoulder comfortingly as she walked past him. “Diego, could you keep an eye on your brother for me?”

“Of course,” he nodded, and Five sighed in relief when she closed the door behind her, a barrier between them and the alarm outside which helped to lessen the noise.

“They’re idiots,” Diego commented, propping his feet up on the bed. “The other day Luther tried to cook us pasta and somehow managed to burn that. We need to ban them both from the kitchen.”

“You’re all idiots, you drive me crazy.”

“Hey!” Diego nudged his thigh with his foot, and Five pushed it off the bed with a scowl. Diego regarded him coolly for a few seconds, eyebrows drawn together with thought. “You’re fucked up, you know that right.”

“Oh, gee thanks, what a ringing endorsement from my own brother. I’ll contact Herb and get him to put it on my records under the specialities section.”

Diego rolled his eyes. “We’re all fucked up, but you especially. What you’ve been through wasn’t normal and you’ve seen things you shouldn’t have, and from such a young age too.”

“It’s okay,” he shrugged.

“It’s not,” Diego swallowed thickly. “It’s not okay Five, and that’s the thing, you need to talk about these things. You’re not alone anymore, and it’s okay for you to open up to us. In fact, we all need to make a habit of doing that.”

The shrill ringing of the alarm stopped, leaving behind the distant clattering of crockery and Klaus shrieking.

“I should go check on them,” Diego said as he rose from the chair, stretching his arms above his head and yawning. “You good on your own for a few minutes?”

“I don’t need a minder.”

“I’m asking because I want to make sure you’re okay, you emotionally constipated manchild,” Diego said as he opened the door. The smell of burnt food wafted in, and Five wrinkled his nose at the aroma.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he said, fanning a hand in front of his face.

“Good,” Diego said quietly to himself. He glanced over his shoulder at him and pulled a face that he couldn’t quite decipher. “I’m glad that you’re okay, we were all worried.”

“It’s going to take more than a bitter agent to take me out. But thank you for your help, I really do appreciate it.”

“Right,” Diego said awkwardly, shifting from foot to foot on the spot, his mental conflict showing on his face. Five raised his eyebrows expectantly, enjoying seeing his brother squirm.

“Thank you,” Diego breathed out in a rush, looking everywhere but him with embarrassment. “Thank you for saving us back in the barn. And thank you for coming back to us too, I don’t think that any of us have said that yet. And I’m sorry that we didn’t say it to you sooner, but we really do love you, you annoying little shit.”

And then he was gone, closing the door behind him before the words had fully sunk in. Five sunk back against the cushions, brain still comprehending what he said while his chests tightened with affection.

His siblings may be idiots.

But they were his idiots.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.