Chapter 1: and the life you left behind
Luther held Vanya a little tighter, refusing to let her go. It changed the game and made all the difference.
many many many thanks to my discord friends who were a big help with creating and editing this
here on ao3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Luther swallowed harshly and curled around Vanya some more. He cursed Five out a little at the same time — couldn’t he have made this a more pleasant experience? Luther knew that this was a very last minute trip made with very little choice, but damn did it hurt something awful. And he couldn’t drop his sister — he made a new promise to himself, right then, to not hurt her anymore and to offer her any help that she would need.
As the blue light slowed, Vanya was almost yanked out of his grasp, but he gripped her tighter and refused to let her go. And with that, they were spat out and they landed hard. Vanya hit the ground and rolled quite harshly while Luther hit the closed lid of the dumpster, his head bouncing strongly.
Vanya jerked awake and scrambled backwards — away from Luther. She had to get away from him, she couldn’t stay close to him — the last couple of times he was that close to her, he had tried to trap her, to lock her away, to kill her. She stumbled to her feet, confused and disoriented. The last thing she remembered was seeing her brothers, dangling in the air, hanging because of her powers. Now she was in a dirty alleyway — one that she didn’t recognize. She moved, quickly, towards the road. It was in the opposite direction as Luther and maybe she could find some help and answers.
As she moved, a loud sound was quickly getting closer. She turned towards it and only barely caught a look at it — a car of some sort was barreling towards her. It was too late however — she couldn’t do anything before it hit her. The darkness swelled before the pain did.
Luther heaved himself from the dumpster, trying to get to Vanya before the car did but it was a pointless endeavor. The fog that was growing in his head prevented him from noticing the rocks on the ground — he tripped over the stupid bowling shoes and knew no more.
Sissy gasped when the biggest man she had ever seen followed the woman out from the alleyway. She didn’t know how she was going to get him up and into the car, but luckily there were other people on the street that were already moving to help her.
She didn’t know where they had come from. All she knew was that she had to help them — Lord knows she had injured one of them.
Vanya woke up slowly. She stretched in her bed and sat up enough to spot Luther still sleeping. She didn’t know how he slept through the alarm but it was a constant in her life that had few of them.
She leaned against the wall to their room and watched the sunrise through their window. They didn’t have to get up early today and she wasn’t going to wake her brother before she had to.
After the sun had almost completely risen, she followed suit and went to take a shower before starting breakfast for the 2 of them. When they had a day to sleep in, they generally took their meals by themselves instead of joining Sissy, Harlan, and Carl in the main house.
As she was finishing plating up their breakfast, she heard Luther coming down the stairs.
“Good morning,” Vanya greeted Luther as he stumbled into the room.
“Morning,” Luther mumbled back, sleep still clinging to him.
“Anything new last night?”
“Flashes. The same circle, the same people — a woman in the leather jacket, the young boy, the one in black—”
“A flash of someone colored blue, the man in the vest, and us,” Vanya cut him off and finished his sentence.
“You get anything new V?”
“Yeah, I did actually. It was a cabin? Maybe. Somewhere where there was a lot of woods, a lot of woodwork in the design. The woman in leather was there. She seemed both happy and sad and maybe frightened? Something happened and I was pulled from the building…I was crying, I think.”
“That’s a new one,” Luther seemed happy that more things were coming back to her.
“I think we were close to her.”
“Yeah. It felt painful to leave that place.”
“We’ll get everything back, someday.”
“I wish that someday was now,” Vanya tried not to sound too impatient but it was hard.
Luther chuckled and nodded. They were both in the same boat — they only had about 3 months of memories. Their lives started in a hospital room with only their names and the clothes on their back — a peculiar all-white suit for her and a set of clothes that covered Luther neck to toes and down his arms to his knuckles.
They didn’t know a lot about themselves — they knew their first names and that they were siblings, but they couldn’t tell anyone where they came from or what they were doing in that alley.
The Coopers were incredible people — after they came out of the hospital, they offered to open their home to them. They didn’t have room for both of them in the main house, but the Coopers helped them turn the upper levels of the barn into a place they could call home. They also kept putting ads out in the local papers with their descriptions, all with the hope that someone would recognize the two of them and help fix some holes in their memories.
The doctors had said that the two of them had suffered some head trauma recently — beyond the obvious of getting hit by a car and smashing their head against the ground — but they were hopeful that the memories would return. And the doctors were right — the memories had started to return, slowly. Piece by piece. They were disjointed and often blurry.
But it was always the same people.
The black woman with a leather jacket; The young boy in the school uniform; The scarred man in all black; The flicker of blue — what looked like a young man in another leather jacket, sometimes, or a mess of tentacles other times; A young man in make-up that had ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ tattooed on his hands; And themselves. Luther was wearing outfits similar to those that he was found in — ones that covered him head to toe — in most of their memories and almost never had a smile on his face. Vanya wore a lot of bland loose clothes and took a lot of medicine.
When Vanya had mentioned that to the doctors, they had put her under a lot of tests to make sure that nothing was wrong with her that would necessitate that kind of medication. They didn’t find anything, so they just shrugged and suggested that the head trauma had helped with whatever was wrong.
While they were still adjusting to their new lives, the Coopers were very welcoming to them. Luther and Vanya helped out all they could on the farm — Luther doing a lot of the physical repairs that had fallen to the wayside with Carl working so much in the city, and Harlan taking up a lot of Sissy’s attention. Vanya helped out a lot with Harlan — they had bonded very quickly in their first few days together, and he allowed her to take control of his day as only his mother could before.
They didn’t have much anymore — if they ever did — but Vanya was pretty happy with the lives they were now leading.
The 4 of them — Luther, Sissy, Harlan, and her — were having dinner when the call came in. They had waited for Carl to either call the house to let them know he wasn’t going to make it that night or for him to show up, but eventually, they had given up and sat down for dinner.
They were finishing up dessert when the phone started to ring. Harlan continued with eating but the 3 adults all sat up straighter and eyed each other. It wasn’t unusual for a call to come in this late, but they could all sense that something had happened.
Sissy stood up at last and went for the phone. As the person on the other end started to talk, Sissy grew paler and paler until the phone slipped from her hands entirely. Both Luther and Vanya stood up, but Luther was the one to make his way over to her. They spoke quietly to themselves before Sissy turned and made her way outside. Luther motioned her to come into the kitchen where he told her what had happened.
“Carl was in an accident. That was the hospital calling. It doesn’t — it doesn’t look good.”
Vanya gasped and had to silence the multitude of questions that she had. It wouldn’t do to excite Harlan this late at night.
“Are you going to take her then?”
“Yeah. If you’re okay with staying here with Harlan? Keep him to his routine?”
“Of course. No need to worry about us. Just make sure to keep yourselves safe.”
Luther nodded and made a move to follow Sissy outside. Vanya, completely on impulse, threw herself at him in a giant hug. She didn’t want him to leave without knowing that she loved him. He reciprocated the hug almost as desperately as she did and lifted her off her feet. It seemed like he felt the same as she did.
For all the fact that they couldn’t remember anything more than the last 6 months, she couldn’t imagine them not being close.
i had the thought - why did luther and vanya end up separated? he was holding on to her? thus this was born
title from the last goodbye by billy boyd and chapter title paraphrased from amnesia by 5sos
come talk to me at my tumblr dcksdrgsdebutantes to talk and to see my character moodboards. also I have a tua discord - give me a shout if you'd like to join
Chapter 2: cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Buildings are built, memories are coming back, and animals are bought
the alternate title for this chapter is How to Farm - from google to you
I apologize for all the farm stuff but I got excited and then I was 12 pages deep in different farming pages
again many many thanks to many many many thanks to my discord friends who were a big help with creating and editing this
@NightingaleComics @viridescentshade @cbuugdrama9 here on ao3
and @boardwalk-absurdist @3ternalslumber on tumblr
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was the worst outcome. Sissy and Luther had barely made it to the hospital before Carl passed. From what the doctors said, he had been beaten pretty badly but nobody was saying who had done it. Everyone was being suspiciously quiet.
Luther felt the urge to investigate what had happened, but Sissy and Harlan needed him more. He packed up that urge and made himself useful.
Only a few days after the funeral, they had gotten a large package in the mail — it was filled with loose money bills. The amount was enough that the 4 of them could live very comfortably for the rest of their lives. When they had reached out to Carl’s brother, he had told them to keep the money and had let them know that he was going to be looking for whoever had committed the crime. They hadn’t really heard anything new from him in a while.
As they were moving on, Luther and Vanya’s role in the household changed. Luther continued with the physical repairs across the property, but he was also building a new bedroom onto the house while also converting their apartment back into a barn. They had decided to get some animals for the household to help them make a profit — they didn’t want to rely on that mysterious money forever.
Vanya had moved more fully into being Harlan’s caretaker so that Sissy could start up a vegetable garden. With those vegetables and the goods the animals produced, they hoped they could make even a little profit selling them at a local store.
Luther and Vanya were the first ones up in the morning that day and they moved to continue their routine from before.
“Anything new from your dreams last night?”
“I remember a concert,” Vanya tried to bring the entire memory to mind.
“Yeah. I was first chair violin and I think I might have seen you and the others in the audience. I felt really confident but also kinda nervous? I think it might have been my first time playing the first chair.”
“Congratulations! And of course, I was there for you. You’re my sister — how could I be anything but supportive of you? And I think we can agree the others were also our siblings,” Luther sounded almost offended that she would doubt his support.
“It feels right to call them that.”
“It does. But now they need names…”
“Hopefully those come back to us, cause I don’t want to go through all the names we know just trying to get a feel for the right one.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t sound fun.”
They shared a laugh together as they sat on the porch steps. Vanya was leaning up against him, stealing the heat that always radiated off of him. She wanted to put her head on his shoulder but it ended up closer to his elbow. Their new normal was still shocking to her occasionally but this right here? With just Luther and her? She felt comfortable here.
The expansions were going well, and yesterday the four of them had headed out to trade the car in for a truck. They had borrowed a trailer from the wife that was part of the local church so they could bring home their new animals.
Today they were buying animals. Luther had finished patching up the barn and had checked on and replaced all the fencing with help from some of the local boys. The tentative plan was to get about a dozen hens and a rooster, 3 cows, a pair of goats, and 3 horses.
Luther had built lean-tos for them against the far side of the barn — which was ready for all the animals to shelter in during weather and winter. He had fixed up the old weathered chicken coop and built a new structure that had their nesting boxes and roosting perches.
They were getting all of their current animals from a couple on the far side of town — the Johnsons had grown too old to continue working the farm like they used to and their sons had moved away to the big cities. When Sissy had reached out to Mr. Johnson about the purchase, he had been overjoyed to sell the animals to them — he told them he liked that they were staying in the town and were going to a family that could use the help. Sissy, Luther, and Vanya were just happy Mr. Johnson was ok with selling them at a discount. Sissy gave them a standing invitation to Sunday night dinner in return.
Harlan enjoyed looking at the goats when they were transporting them. Vanya thought that it might be because they were mirror images of each other. One was pure black but for its completely white ears while the other was completely white with black ears.
The 3 horses were all American Cream Drafts — 2 males and a female. The female was named Star Trail for the almost silver hair she had. One of the males was named Fire Heart - he was a spirited one when free to run but knew enough to be calm around people. The last male was the newest addition to the Johnson's farm and had yet to be named. They had asked Harlan if he wanted to name him and Harlan had picked up an apple to eat. So they named the last male Apples.
Vanya couldn’t lie and say she wasn’t charmed by the difference in their names.
The cows they got were the traditional black and white, one a younger milk cow for them and 2 were to be meat cows. Sissy had fallen in love at first sight with them. Something about the look in their eyes, the soft fur of their face, they completely enchanted her.
Luther had been drawn to the chickens right from the start — and they were drawn to him. Currently, he was sat on the ground with about half of the chickens laying on or against him. It was an adorable sight and Vanya really wanted a picture to remember and memorialize it.
They all had their favorites, and Vanya was glad that it was going well so far.
Weeks after they had gotten the animals settled in, the small family was finally settling into a new routine.
Vanya, as the person easiest to wake up and with the natural tendency to rise early anyway, had volunteered to do the morning’s first chores. After she milked Betsy and stored the milk in their new refrigerator, she moved on to checking on the chickens and gathering the eggs. She used the basket that Sissy’s mom had made for her after she married Carl - it was a gorgeous thing, handmade with love. Afterwards, she’d move to wake up Luther and Sissy. While Luther moved the animals to the fields to graze for the day, Vanya and Sissy would handle breakfast and waking up Harlan.
After the four of them ate, Luther was back out to do the routine checks on the animals and fencing. Vanya stayed with Harlan while Sissy worked on their garden. They'd planted fruit trees with all types of fruit, like apples, oranges, peaches and pears — the wait for the fruit would be worth it. They also planted raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry bushes in the garden, but they knew those would take some time too; thankfully, they remembered to plant watermelon and cantaloupes too, so they'd still get to eat fruit while they waited. Plus, their vegetable garden was really taking off. Sissy was the one mostly caring for that, though once it started producing food, they’d all be helping out with packing it up or canning it for storage.
They were already starting to make a profit from it. The entire little town that they lived in had really banded together to help them in the wake of Carl’s death. In the immediate aftermath, people had started coming by with food for them. When the town had heard about how the three of them planned to still support themselves, they were given discounts on the tools and supplies needed for repairing and maintaining a farm. Some of the local boys had taken to dropping by and helping Luther with his daily chores, and the local church had run a yard sale and clothing drive to help.
The Coopers— Luther and Vanya had taken to calling themselves that after months of no last name appearing— were extremely grateful for all the help they’d been receiving. They had tentative plans on making jam for everyone when their fruit trees and bushes finally matured.
And to think, 9 months ago they were completely different people.
chapter title was from my favorite things by leslie odom, jr
come talk to me at my tumblr dcksdrgsdebutantes to talk and to see my character moodboards. also I have a tua discord - give me a shout if you'd like to join
Chapter 3: well life on the farm is kinda laid back
there's goats, memories, and a tractor but not in that order
thanks to @viridescentshade and @cbuugdrama9 for being amazing betas
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It had been a total accident. Luther had been walking the fence line when he heard one of the goats cry out. He rushed over to where the sound had come from and spotted one of the billies stuck under the tractor. He had been meaning to get it moved from the field but had put it off so far. Now that decision was biting him in the ass.
When he got to the tractor, his plan was to keep the billy calm and maybe see if he could shift it off it a little while shouting for help. Of course, when he single-handedly lifted the tractor off the billy and managed to fling it 20 feet away, shouting for help seemed a little pointless.
While the billy and its mother reunited, Luther stared at both his hands and the tractor. It didn’t — it wasn’t possible for a single person to toss a whole tractor but he had physical proof that he had. How was that possible?
He went to collect Vanya, alone in the house with Sissy and Harlan in town for a doctor's appointment, to show her what had happened. He had the strongest feeling — coming from every inch of himself — that he should keep what he had managed to do a secret.
But he had to tell Vanya — they didn’t keep secrets from each other and maybe she’d have an idea about what happened.
She was in the kitchen, making jam when he got to the house.
“What? Luther? What happened?” She sounded startled and concerned when he rushed through the door.
“I need your help.”
“My help? With what?”
“I uh...I lifted the tractor? And I threw it?” Luther cringed away from her incredulous look and shrugged a little, “Ok I know that sounds weird, but I really did. I want you to watch in case it was a fluke?”
Vanya slowly put down the spoon she had in her hand. Despite still looking doubtful, she followed him to the field where the tractor was making its new home. It was very obviously in a new spot — the old location was right there to their left and it was a large plot of crushed dirt and strange indentations.
“You did that?” Vanya sounded like the words shouldn’t be coming out of her mouth and Luther had to agree. Without being there and seeing it for yourself — and even being there and seeing it for yourself — it just seemed too much. But there it was. Complete with proof.
“One of the billies had gotten stuck underneath it somehow, and I wanted to see if I could either help it out or move the tractor, just enough that the billy would be okay. Instead, I sent the tractor flying 20 feet away.”
Vanya spent a moment rolling a thought around in her head and then, “Could you do it again?”
Luther stared at her before he shrugged and moved over the tractor. He placed his hands on the main body of the machine and with barely any effort, he lifted it above his head. After a moment, he gently set it down again. When he turned back to his sister, she was frowning at him in thought, but she didn’t look worried or discomforted.
Luther still wasn’t completely sure, however. “Well?”
“Well, I think you should place the tractor back in its original spot and smooth out the new holes. That is, unless you plan to share your new strength with Sissy?”
Luther…he blanked for a minute. Here he was, capable of lifting 5,300 pounds, and his sister was more worried about hiding the evidence of his ability.
“That’s all you’re worried about?”
“Well…are you worried about something else?”
“I just lifted 53 hundred pounds. That doesn’t concern you?”
Vanya pursed her lips and shrugged. “Well, did it hurt you?”
“Did it hurt you?” Vanya repeated her question, patiently.
“Well, you looked comfortable lifting that much weight. Maybe it has something to do with our memories? It’s been almost a year and we still don’t have much back. Maybe this is why.”
Luther blinked in shock. “You think someone did this to us?”
“I think the doctors said we appeared with more injuries than the car crash and tripping could account for. Maybe we knew something or were a part of something that led us to get hurt?”
Luther hummed in thought as he moved the loose dirt around, hiding the evidence that the tractor had moved, “That’s not a bad idea, honestly.”
“...I had a new dream last night.”
“Yeah. It was really chaotic. I’ve been thinking about it all morning — trying to make sense of it all. We were in a large house? And it was members of the circle — us, and both the man and woman in leather. And there were two? two other people there. And they were dressed in some sort of creepy mask, some weird childhood animal masks… then again, I’m not sure if that’s a real thing or something my memory added; And although I didn’t really see the young boy or the tattooed one, I feel like they were there?” Vanya could only shrug at his shocked look. She knew how all this sounded and she wasn’t even done yet.
“But anyway, the two in the creepy masks were shooting at us. Like a lot. I was mostly hiding but you and the other two were fighting back against them. You and the woman were fighting with your fists but the scarred man was throwing a lot of things.”
“It doesn’t sound real, does it? But the last thing I remember was seeing a large chandelier falling on top of you and you just... stood up. It didn’t even seem to phase you. So I think your strength is something you’ve had for a while.”
“Huh. What happened after the chandelier? Like, what was the actual end of the memory?”
“You're standing up. Your shirt and coat had ripped open and you were covered in hair.”
Luther leaned back against the fence near Vanya and stared out at the cows still grazing near them. He thought back to his night and tried to drag his dream back. He knew that it was something new but the doctors had been very clear — to let the memories come back to them on their own and to not force them. But he just knew that his dream last night was related to Vanya’s.
And it was slowly coming back to him.
“I...I think my dream was a new one as well. And I think mine happened right after yours? I was standing up in the middle of a room and when I looked down I saw my arms. But I was horrified to see them? I don’t know why but seeing the skin on my arms appalled me. The last of it was me rushing up the stairs.”
Vanya reached over the fence to grab his hand, “You know that doesn’t bother me right?”
Luther knew she was talking about how his torso and arms tended to grow hair at an alarming rate. She helped him shave it away every couple of days and Luther had acted ashamed of it the first few times that she saw it.
He squeezed her hand back, carefully, and let out a low sigh.
“And that does sound like it happened after mine. Which means something.”
“But what ? If we’re right and that place is our home, then why were people there shooting at us? And I don’t remember being shocked that it would happen. Does that mean that it happened more than once?”
Vanya was slow to respond and Luther let her ponder her thoughts.
“Well... maybe we were included in something bigger than us.”
“Something that would allow me to shrug off a chandelier and for you to think nothing of that level of violence in our home?”
“Well, it would have to be something big Luther. You just lifted 53 hundred pounds and didn’t blink.”
He gave her a droll look for repeating his words back to him in such a way. He was trying to have a serious conversation and she was mocking him.
She just grinned at him.
“I hope we can find our siblings soon though. Maybe they might be able to shed some light on what happened. Who we were,” Vanya sounded less hopeful about that statement then she had been in the past. And Luther couldn’t blame her — it was in October of 1961 when they left the hospital the Coopers had taken them to. It was now August of 1962, and no one had called to claim them.
“I think we might need to think about stopping the missing person report in the papers.” He could feel the betrayed look that Vanya was shooting him but he continued with his thoughts, “If we’re right and we were the type of people that were ok with armed attackers in our home, we might not want to advertise to the world that we’re here. Defenseless. With no memory. It would be leading them right back to Sissy and Harlan.”
It was only that last sentence — the thought that Sissy and Harlan could be put in harm’s way because of their presence — that swayed Vanya into agreement.
“Ok. When I get back to the house, I’ll start making the calls to remove the ad.”
“I know it isn’t ideal but I really don’t want our past to come back and harm them,” Luther reassured her as he swung himself back over the fence.
“I know. I guess I just wished…”
“That it would have worked before now?”
He stopped them from continuing and reached out to her, bringing her into his arms to give her a hug. He had to stop himself from squeezing too hard, warning himself that he now knew he could really harm her if he did.
He never wanted to imagine what would happen if he put all his strength into a hug with Vanya. She was so small.
“Everything will work out eventually. We just have to keep hoping it will.”
Of course, nothing was ever that simple.
title is from thank god i'm a country boy by john denver
come talk to me at my tumblr dcksdrgsdebutantes to talk and to see my character moodboards. also I have a tua discord - give me a shout if you'd like to join
Chapter 4: Flyby Encounters
Ways it almost happened
thanks to @viridescentshade and @cbuugdrama9 for being amazing betas. serious -- this wouldn't be what it is without you guys!
also I did some edits to chapter 3 -- nothing major though
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Allison finished laying out their breakfast, just a simple meal of toast and eggs she’d recently learned to make. It was nothing like Mom’s meals but it was the best she could do so far. Ray was already sitting down at their kitchen table and was reading the morning paper.
“...musta been found then…”
“What was that, hon?” Allison was only half paying attention, grabbing the needed utensils from the drawers.
“Ahhh a couple of white folks have been in the papers recently — they’ve been trying to find out who they were. Apparently, they were found together with no memory almost a year ago. The ad was saying that they came out of an alleyway already injured but then someone hit them with their car.”
“Interesting. The car accident caused amnesia?”
“Must have,” Ray’s voice was musing, interested despite himself in the lives of two random white people.
“And the ad is gone now?”
“Yeah, they must have been found - the ad’s been in the same place all year but now it’s gone. Musta been found.”
“What’s your interest in them?”
“None really, but they were right in front of the politics section.”
Allison hummed in agreement but didn’t respond beyond that. She was interested in anything he had to say of course, but she was also planning out her day, trying to organize her route through the city. She had a pretty long list of things she needed to buy today — she had put off shopping for a while and now she was paying for it.
When she was out later that day, she thought about her siblings. It was the only time she let herself think of them and all that she had lost. She couldn’t allow herself to cry for them — she had the faint hope that they were still alive but she knew if she started to cry she’d never stop. Maybe one day she’d give herself the opportunity to cry, but it wasn’t going to be today.
But this was a good compromise. She could think about her past, and whenever it started to overwhelm her, she’d be able to focus on what she should actually be doing — like shopping.
Today she was wondering what she would do if she ever found her siblings again. She was building a new life here, with dreams and goals and relationships. She had Ray and the ladies down at the shop. She had the fight for equality. She was finally making something for herself — but there were always going to be six holes in her life in the shape of her siblings and one in the shape of Claire. She didn’t know how she could move on without them, but she couldn’t stay in the past waiting for them.
She was just walking past an open doorway on 11th Street when she almost ran into a beautiful blonde woman. Allison jerked to a stop and backed up a step, not wanting to start anything right now. As she got some distance though, she almost started to cry. The woman was leaving a music store, carrying a violin.
It had been almost 2 years but she’d recognize the shape of a violin case for the rest of her life. She had many regrets from her life before, but Vanya was always going to be near the top of the list.
Both of them were silent as they regarded each other but eventually they parted ways with no words spoken.
Allison was glad. She could feel the tears starting to form in the back of her eyes and she knew that if she started to talk, there would be no stopping the tears from flowing. She couldn’t afford to start crying— not here in public.
Instead, she turned herself around and headed home. She was almost done with all the shopping that needed to be done anyway. And it was probably time she mourned for her past.
“And we’re going this way because...?”
“Oh my god do you ever shut up?” Klaus looked entirely done with him, but Ben kept up his questioning. He wanted to know why Klaus had the cult bus avoid Dallas only to go through this rinky-dinky town instead.
“But why not Dallas?
“Because why Klaus? You know I’m gonna keep bugging you until you tell me.”
“Beeeecausssssee...of the fruit!”
“Yes. The fresh fruit,” Klaus gestured out the window to a small wooden structure that was covered in fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Are you kidding me?”
“Hey hey hey, let's stop the bus shall we? I’d like some of that fruit.” As soon as Klaus started to talk, the bus had slowed down and at his words, it completely stopped on the opposite side of the road from the cute little fruit stand.
“You are going to pay for that right? With actual cash? It looks more like a little kid’s side project than some big-name place you can rip off,” Ben questioned Klaus, knowing his tendency to steal things.
“Will it get you to shut up?”
“For now. But I’m not done with the Dallas thing.”
“Oh my god, go away.”
Klaus might have been the first one off the bus but he wasn’t the only one. The rest of the group that had been chosen to travel in close quarters with the ‘Prophet’ had followed him intently. Ben wasn’t surprised. These people might have been intelligent by themselves but get them in close quarters with Klaus they lost all sense.
Klaus says he wants to stop for fruit, Ben wouldn’t be surprised if all the fruit was bought before the bus started back up. Ben wasn’t going to say anything though — he knew how to pick his battles and he wasn’t lying when he said the stand looked poorly put together.
Honestly, it reminded Ben of the tree fort Luther had built when they were young. Of course, Dad had it ripped down and set on fire when he got back, but the seven of them had had fun with it while it lasted. However, Luther wasn’t the best at building free-standing structures.
But this place looked like it could use all the business that the cult could bring them. It was manned by a lovely blonde woman and a young boy. The boy was very focused on the record player that was sitting on its own little table but the woman looked softly alarmed to be suddenly surrounded by an entire bus full of people. He couldn’t blame her — they could be a rowdy bunch and the bus had made a very sudden stop.
“Calm them down Klaus. Look at her,” Ben sped over to his brother and hissed into his ear. He looked annoyed briefly before he actually took a look at the woman they were approaching.
“Destiny’s Children! Peacefully!”
The members all slowed in their approach, waiting for Klaus to pick out a handful of baskets before they grabbed the rest of the fruit, vegetables, and baked goods that the woman was selling. Klaus had rushed his goodies back to the bus but he came back shortly with his wallet in hand.
After everything had been collected, Klaus approached the woman and offered her the contents of his wallet. “I hope this is enough for everything, Ma’am.”
She looked shocked as she counted out the cash, “I can’t take all this. It’s too much.”
“Nonsense! We came here, and we’re taking all your lovely goods! You can take the cash.” Klaus was being pushy but Ben guessed it had something to do with the music the boy was playing. It reminded him of the dance parties they used to have when they were kids and Dad was gone for the day. Luther always started with the song ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ and that was the signal.
Hearing that song meant they could relax, that they had a little more freedom, a little more choice in their lives. It was a reminder of happier times, hearing a record player again. But it was also a painful memory — they only had each other now. It had been almost three years. They had both given up on seeing any of their other siblings soon.
The woman, and Ben was trying not to think of Mom when looking at her, gave them a look he couldn’t describe but eventually put the money away. Ben was relieved — he very much wanted to leave.
They were just getting on the bus when the faint sounds of a violin reached their ears. It was coming from the house behind the fruit stand. As it reached their ears, Ben was suddenly very glad they were leaving now. They were already drowning in bad memories— adding violin music and Vanya to them wouldn’t do any good.
“God, I wish I could have a drink.” Ben wanted to argue but he understood. It almost made Ben wish he could drink too.
Neither of them did well when they were reminded about what they had lost.
Chapter 5: crossing all the lines
sissy takes a trip, makes a purchase, and has a revelation
as always,thanks to @viridescentshade and @cbuugdrama9 to being absolutely fantastic betas.
also thanks to Lulu on discord!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Vanya and Luther were on her mind during her trip through Dallas. Sissy had originally only gone to take Harlan to the doctor but had eventually come up with a list of things needed from the city. Near the end of that list was a violin for Vanya.
As the months had gone by, they were all starting to lose hope that Luther and Vanya would get all of their memories back. Small flashes were coming through; one of the last ones that Vanya had shared was a concert where she was playing the violin.
The siblings had something on their mind, something they weren’t telling her yet, something that was bothering them pretty badly. Sissy wanted to help somehow, wanted to take their minds off whatever was troubling them. Whatever was bothering them wasn’t the fact that Vanya was a musician. Sissy wanted to give Vanya something nice to have and she thought getting her a violin would be a good start. Maybe the simple act of playing again would help reveal hidden memories.
Yesterday, Luther and Vanya had taken Harlan out, walking amongst the animals. Sissy had taken that time to make some calls into various music stores in Dallas, trying to find one that had a violin for sale. She didn’t know exactly what she was looking for but she thought she had found one. Jones’ Music stone on 11th Street told her they had one in the price range she was looking to buy and reassured her that Sissy could bring back the violin if something was unsatisfactory with it.
Sissy was just coming out of the store with the violin in hand — lord was it heavier than she thought it was going to be — when she almost knocked someone over. It was a young black woman who looked devastated when she saw the violin that Sissy was carrying. Neither of them said anything but they eventually parted from one another. Sissy hurried back to her car, not wanting to leave Harlan alone longer than she already had.
Sissy enjoyed the drive home. She had taken this path enough times that she felt comfortable getting more lost in her thoughts than she should have. As they had many times before in the last few months, her thoughts turned again to Vanya and Luther. And how could they not? They had come into her life in such a shocking way and they continued to stupefy her nearly every day.
When she was a little girl, her plans had included things like being a salesgirl at one of the big department stores. She hadn’t planned on marrying and having a kid, and she most certainly did not plan on hitting someone with her car or taking in two amnesic siblings. Carl dying was just the cherry on top of her year.
As much as she didn’t plan on Vanya and Luther being in her life, she wouldn’t change it for anything. She didn’t know what she would have done without them these past few months. They had really stepped up and helped out since Carl had died. The farm wouldn’t have become what it was now without them.
And even beyond having them help around the farm, Sissy didn’t want to imagine a world where the two weren’t part of her life. Luther was slowly becoming the brother she didn’t have, the one Jerry wasn’t. She hadn’t talked to Jerry since Carl’s funeral. But Luther made sure to check in with her at least once a day if he wasn’t spending the day with her anyway. He was unexpectedly kind despite his large size, always moving about carefully, mindful of how he towered above others .
And Vanya…Sissy almost didn’t have the words to describe what Vanya meant to her. They had been having a lot of late-night conversations — even before Carl had died, she’d sneak out to the barn to share a cigarette with Vanya — and Sissy felt that she could tell Vanya anything, everything. Vanya, sweet gentle Vanya, made Sissy feel like everything she had to say was important, made her feel heard. It had been...too long since she had felt like that. And Sissy didn’t want to give that up, any of it.
She’d never tell a soul but maybe her pastor, but Sissy almost didn’t want their family to find them. It was an awful thought and Sissy felt horrible even thinking it, but those two had entrenched themselves so deeply into her life, into who she was as a person, that she couldn’t imagine them leaving. She knew it was probably going to happen, that people as kind and as wonderful as them couldn’t be forgotten by family, but it still hurt to think about.
It was only as she was pulling into her driveway that Sissy noticed she had been crying.
The next morning, Sissy was worried. Both Luther and Vanya were being extremely quiet, Vanya only moving her fingers and feet to tap on the table and floor in a restless rhythm . There had barely been any words exchanged but for the customary good mornings and neither of them looked like they actually meant them. It was more like the routine of it had them speaking. Neither of them looked particularly rested either, both sporting dark bags under their eyes.
Sissy waited until Harlan left the kitchen table before asking, “What happened? I’ve seen more movement at a funeral.”
That at least brought a faint smile to their lips but the mood was still too somber for her. Luther and Vanya exchanged looks and both seemed to shrug without moving their shoulders.
“A new memory last night,” Vanya muttered into her coffee. Luther nodded in agreement, frowning down at his plate.
“Not a particularly pleasant one, I take it?”
“It’s just... dark. Dark and quiet. I couldn’t hear anything. There was no sound but what I made. I was alone and terrified,” Vanya’s description was bringing goosebumps to Sissy’s arms. Vanya reached up a hand laying it against her throat, rubbing it gently. “I was screaming and screaming and screaming but nobody heard me, nobody was listening, nobody cared I was just shoved into that room and left, nobody loved me, I didn’t matter, I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry Allison I didn’t mean to please believe me I didn’t mean it let me out let me out let me out let me out let me ou- ”
Vanya’s awful ramble was cut off when both Sissy and Luther wrapped her in a hug. Sissy had stood up and gathered Vanya into her arms, running a hand through her hair, humming the first lullaby that came to mind. Luther had kneeled down before Vanya and Sissy and wrapped his long arms around their waists. It was quiet for a long time, the only sounds being Sissy’s humming and Vanya’s gentle tappings.
A chill went down Sissy's spine when she heard the heartbeat in Vanya's movements. After that horrifying memory, the sound of a heartbeat was going to haunt Sissy for a long while.
Harlan putting a record on broke the silence and the three of them broke apart, settling back into their seats. Sissy reached out and grabbed Vanya’s hand, cradling it in hers. Luther placed one of his on the back of Vanya’s neck, rubbing a thumb along her hairline.
They spent another moment in silence before Sissy turned to Luther, “what was your’s about, hun?”
Luther looked shocked at her question, shooting a quick glance at Vanya before he took a deep breath, “I was an astronaut?”
“What?” Sissy hated the way she sounded but, “an astronaut?”
“I know it doesn’t make sense but everything looked like I was on the moon. It was cold and dark. I remember getting up in the morning, watering my plant, and drinking my breakfast — the view was incredible. I could see the entire planet slowly spinning. The entire world, everything in it, all the people just living their lives and I was above them,” Luther’s tone was cold and lonely as he continued, “I was alone, left up there to continue our research. It was important work. I don’t know why but he was very sure it was going to save the world someday.”
“Who’s research, Luther?” Sissy questioned him softly.
“Our father’s, of course. He told me it was important that I stay up there to finish our research. He told me it was important.”
Everything that Luther was saying sounded crazy but she believed him. The tone he used, the way he said the words...he sounded so sure of himself, absolutely believing what he was saying. And that worried her even more. If he was speaking the truth, that meant he had been to the moon — something that no one had ever done. That meant that somebody had the means to secretly send someone to the moon...Sissy didn’t know where to begin thinking about it. That meant power and money and secrets, a lot of them. And the fact that he was certain it was his father that sent him to the moon…
Sissy gave a deep sigh and reached out one hand to him, squeezing it gently when it was placed in her hand. This morning had been a hard one and she had meant for it to be joyful.
“Well, both of those sound awful. Being alone, cut off from everything and everyone… it’s not like that anymore. Y’all have each other and me now. I’m not going to let you be locked up or shipped away or forgotten. It’s not gonna happen again. I promise.”
Sissy didn’t know if she could make that sort of promise but she gave it anyway. She loved them — she finally admitted it to herself. She loved them and she didn’t want them hurt. Not like they had apparently already been.
They both looked shocked but touched. Sissy felt what she was sure was rage, coming deep from her gut. They shouldn’t be shocked that someone was standing up for them, protecting them.
She didn’t feel bad about not wanting their family to not find them anymore. Not if this was how they were treated.
They both jerked their head ups and spoke in unison, “Allison?”
“Yeah. Vanya mentioned an Allison during her...well she mentioned an Allison and apologizing to her. Could that be your sister?”
They looked at each other in thought and Sissy could almost see them processing that before they nodded and Vanya spoke in a low rasp, “yeah. Allison is our sister.”
“Well, that’s one good thing! That’s one out of five, right?” Sissy was shocked to see the identical drastic jerks that they gave when she said ‘five’. “What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. But that name…”Luther was shaking his head but he was also starting to smile, slightly. Sissy would take what she could get—
“What name?” she really tried not to sound shocked but it was hard.
“That’s not a name, that’s a number.”
“That’s the name of our youngest brother,” Vanya was utterly certain of the name but she sounded unsure when she mentioned him being their youngest brother. Sissy just took a deep breath and decided to roll with it. Of course, that was a name given to a young boy. Why not? He apparently locked up one daughter in a soundproof room and isolated another son on a secret moon base. Why wouldn’t he name a child Five?
“Well then. That’s two out of five then!”
Both Luther and Vanya looked happier, more settled then they had this morning. Sissy was pleased.
“Stay where you are! I have a present for you two!” Sissy almost ran out the front door. She had left the presents in the trunk of the car, not wanting them to come across them before she was ready to give them out.
The violin had a very obvious shape that she tried to hide behind the bag with Luther’s present but she could see the pleased look on Vanya’s face growing as she got closer to the table. She told herself to ignore the warm feeling growing in her chest.
“A violin?” Vanya’s tone was delighted and the smile on her face was still growing larger.
“Something has been on your mind, even before this morning. And you both seemed to skip over the fact that Vanya was in a concert, playing first chair! I thought this might help — playing it might bring back some more memories. Better ones this time though. You sounded so happy when you first told me about it. I wanted to bring back that feeling for you.”
She handed Vanya the violin and Luther the bag. She watched them open their presents up and was very pleased with the looks on their faces. She had taken a guess with Luther’s gift but she felt pretty confident in the model planes she had chosen. Harlan had a couple and those were the ones that Luther tended to gravitate to when they were playing together.
“Planes?” Luther sounded confused but happy.
“You always go for them first at playtime.”
A small, shy ‘thank you’ was muttered in her direction from the area of the planes and Sissy gave a soft smile. She gave him an equally soft ‘you’re welcome’ but left him alone.
“Ohhh…” Vanya’s voice was low. “Oh, this is beautiful.”
Vanya slowly lifted the violin out of its case and Sissy watched as Vanya ran her hands down the neck to the body, reverently. She slowly plucked the strings, tuning the pegs as she went. Sissy knew then it was the right gift for her. She held it so familiarly, comfortably.
Looking at her, Sissy knew that Vanya was born to hold and play the violin. It just looked right.
Vanya lifted the violin into place on her shoulder, moved the bow into position, and started to play. It was rough and jerky, skipping notes and shrieking some, but it was beautiful.
Vanya was beautiful.
apologizes for how long I've been away -- i needed to take a step away from all my media accounts to take a break. i am working on both Charlie's chapter 3
title from girls like girls by hayley kiyoko
Chapter 6: at least i got you in my head
there's Gay Panic, chicken therapy, and The Apocalypse
Vanya felt out of breath. She stumbled her way through some sort of song on her new violin and managed to drop it on the table gently but then she had to run out of the house. It was all too much. She could hear Luther reassuring Sissy that Vanya had loved the gift — and she did. She really really did.
But between the thoughtful actions of Sissy and the lying that Vanya and Luther were doing…it was too much.
She didn’t go far, not even a couple of steps into the barn, but it was far enough from everything that Vanya felt like she could breathe again. She paced back and forth, back and forth, trying to settle her racing heart.
Vanya felt...awful. She felt completely awful. Sissy saw that something was wrong with them, knew that something was bothering them, and she went to do something for them. Sissy got them personal gifts that meant something and what were Vanya and Luther going to do? They were going to lie to her. Everyday. All the time.
Even worse, they were potentially putting both Sissy and Harlan in danger. And they were hiding it from them.
She was still pacing, although she had slowed down, when Sissy came to find her. Vanya stopped when Sissy slipped her arms around her waist. Vanya took the first deep breath of her night, a warm feeling growing within her. She released that breath and leaned back into that embrace.
“Thank you for the violin. It’s an amazing gift — just what I needed.”
“And yet you ran out of there like a bat outta hell,” Sissy’s voice wasn’t judgemental or blaming, but it was questioning.
“I know. I couldn’t… I just couldn’t-” Vanya couldn’t finish her thought but Sissy finally cut her off.
“I’m not lookin’ for an answer now, honey. I just want you to know that I know that something’s happening. I get there are some things that you can’t tell me — things you don’t remember, things that you don’t know, family secrets-”
Vanya spun around and made sure that Sissy was focused on her. “You are family. No matter what happens, no matter what we remember, no matter who comes for us — you are family. You and Harlan both. You’re not getting rid of us,” Vanya saw the tears that were starting to form in Sissy’s eyes and reached up to cradle her face. The tears sent a bolt of something sharp through her and Vanya didn’t care for it. “You’ve been so, so good to us. You thin-”
“I ran you over with my car.”
“And that was the best thing to ever happen to us, to me. Sissy, I might not remember the majority of my life but I’m absolutely positive that you’re the best thing to happen to me. And do you really think we’d stay here, building a farm and a life, with just anybody, Sissy?”
Sissy laughed a little, shaking her head as tears started to spill over and down her cheeks. Vanya was speechless. She had never seen anything so beautiful in her entire life as Sissy right then. The sunlight, streaming through the windows in the barn, gave her an angelic glow, setting her blonde hair alight with a golden sheen. Her tears sparkled as they rolled down her cheeks but her smile…
Vanya froze as that thought crossed her mind but routinely hugged Sissy back. She moved with memory motion only. Sissy’s smile…
She murmured in agreement when Sissy mentioned going back inside so they could plan their day but she didn’t hear much of what was said after that.
When they got back into the house, Luther took one look at her and knew something had happened. While Sissy and Luther spoke about the division of the day’s chores, Vanya only had one thought on her mind. Luther had to shake her a little to bring her mind back into the present.
“You’re on cleaning duty this morning. Sissy is taking Harlan out to the stand to start selling some of our farming gains and there’s a section of the fence I’ve been meaning to look at,” and here Luther crouched in front of her to look her in the eyes, the concern obvious, “but are you ok?”
“I’m fine.” Even Vanya didn’t believe her words. “I’ll be fine. Just a thought.”
Vanya finally finished her cleaning duties and left the barn for the chicken coop. It was there that the thoughts that had been swirling about her head finally escaped and Vanya... she crouched down and started screaming. It was muffled — she didn’t want anybody but the chickens to actually hear her but she had to let the emotions that were growing in her out. And the chickens weren’t going to tell anyone.
After a couple of solid minutes screaming into the palms of her hands, Vanya felt marginally better. Still not fit to talk to actual human beings but maybe the chickens could help her out.
“She’s so pretty,” Vanya probably looked ridiculous but even saying that felt better. “She was just standing there crying but smiling and I was completely struck dumb. I couldn’t say anything. Oh my god, I was just staring at her.”
Vanya saw that none of the hens were paying her the slightest bit of attention and weight started falling off her shoulders as she continued to ramble to them about how the sunlight made Sissy look like an angel and how Vanya thought the stars would be jealous of how the tears on Sissy’s cheeks shone and how Sissy’s smile stole the thoughts from Vanya’s head and the words from her tongue.
It was a good thirty minutes later by the time Vanya was done cleaning the coop but by then she knew.
Vanya was in love.
Vanya had moved from cleaning up the animals back to the house, first to take a shower, and then to make lunch for Luther and herself. She knew Sissy would have packed something for her and Harlan and Vanya wanted some time with Luther. She didn’t know if she wanted to tell anyone her revelation yet but there were other things she needed to talk to him about.
At the top of that list was how she didn’t feel comfortable lying to Sissy about what their memories were revealing about their family.
And Vanya thought she’d take her new violin out and see if she remembered how to play anything more then the piece from this morning.
She caught up with Luther on the far side of the property, close to where Sissy and Harlan were. He was just hammering some fencing back into the ground when he saw her coming. Luther placed everything he was carrying down and met her, taking the picnic basket from her hands, leading her towards a tree stump that they could use as a table.
It was as they were eating that Vanya brought up the topic, “I think we need to tell Sissy about all the memories.”
Vanya waited for Luther to catch his breath after choking on the bite of the sandwich he had just taken, handing him the bottle of juice she’d brought for him.
“What do you mean?”
“Luther...we both agreed that something is wrong with our past, that we were involved in some dangerous things. We even agreed to take our ads out of the paper so we couldn’t be found so easily. And I know I was the one that suggested that we hide this all from Sissy...but I don’t think we can do that anymore.”
Vanya felt seen as Luther gazed at her. He seemed to be mulling over her words but he was also staring pretty intently at her. Vanya knew then that Luther sensed something had changed for her, changed within her.
Vanya bit her lip and shrugged a little, “I can’t lie to her Luther. I...I just- After everything she’s done- she’s just so…” The words Vanya actually wanted to say weren’t coming to her and she struggled to get her thoughts in order. Luther was patient, slowing eating the slice of cherry pie Vanya had made last night.
After another deep breath, Vanya tried again. “She already knows that something’s been bothering us and she went out and bought me a violin and you some model planes. She was crying because she didn’t think we considered her family and…” Vanya paused, only continuing when she saw the love and trust in Luther’s eyes. “And…I think I might love her.”
She swallowed harshly, staring at the ground and hunching her shoulders up around her ears. She knew that Luther wouldn’t hurt her but she didn’t think she could handle seeing the disgust in his eyes. She knew what people thought of someone like her but she wasn’t going to change herself — not even for Luther. But with all the other secrets that they were carrying, Vanya felt like she should tell him everything. She had legitimate reasons for wanting to tell Sissy everything that was happening but there was also a selfish reason as well.
Vanya yelped when she felt herself being lifted off the ground. Luther had reached for her when she was staring at her feet. He had simply picked her from her spot and brought her into his lap. When she was focused on him instead of lost in her thoughts, he spoke.
“Vanya. I don’t want to sound mean or like I’m making fun of you but…that was kinda obvious. The way the two of you stare at each other? All those late-night conversations when we were still living in the barn? And if you could hear the way you talk about her. I had suspected something like this was happening a couple of months ago.” As he was speaking, Vanya felt something cold and hard within her chest crack open, and suddenly tears were spilling down her cheeks. She was silent in her relief but the way she clung to Luther should be enough to let him know how she felt. But he wasn’t done yet.
“And even if I didn’t have time to get used to it? Vanya, you’re my sister. My family. There is nothing you could do that would make me stop loving you. And there is nothing wrong with you. I don’t care what anyone thinks or says or implies. You’re just Vanya — first chair violinist somewhere, who can’t cook a steak at all but loves making cookies. You have at least one brother. You love living on a farm, love taking care of the animals and the plants and the people who stop by and the people who live here. And you love Sissy.” Luther had wrapped his arms around her during his speech, one pulling her tight and one hand lifting to run itself through her hair.
They spent the next few minutes in quiet. Vanya was still crying, trying to not spread snot all over Luther’s shirt but failing. Luther continued to run his hand through her hair, humming some sort of song, rocking slightly.
Eventually, Vanya pulled herself together, leaning back from Luther slightly. When he registered her movement he focused back on her, smiling slightly and wiping the tears from her face before handing her a napkin to blow her nose.
“And of course we should tell Sissy. It was a high-stress situation when we put the pieces together the first time but that’s only a small excuse. She deserves to know and make her own decision. We can tell her tonight?”
Vanya closed her eyes again and leaned her head back so she could stare at the sky. Luther seemed determined to make her cry today.
“Thanks.” It was all she could think to say right now.
“Was that all you wanted to talk about right now?”
She gave Luther a look but thought over his question. “Yeah. I think it was. Or at least, I don’t think I want to get started on anything else heavy.”
“Ok. Soooo...the violin?”
Vanya jerked, having honestly forgotten that she had brought the violin out with her. “Oh yeah! I wanted to start playing with it, see if I can remember any more songs.”
She got out of Luther’s lap, letting him clean up their lunch while she moved towards the violin case. Just like this morning when she first got it, she ran her hands across the beautiful instrument, still in awe that it was hers. She was so grateful that Sissy had gone through the trouble of finding it for her and she vowed she’d practice with it in all her free time. She didn’t want this precious gift to go to waste. She didn’t even care if no other memories can back when she was playing it.
Vanya decided she was determined to create new ones.
After Vanya finished fiddling with it, she stood from her spot on the ground, moving away from the impromptu lunch table and the fence that Luther had moved back to. Lifting the violin up to her shoulder was a very familiar action and she almost immediately started to run chords. It was pure muscle memory.
She spent probably the next half hour or so stumbling through songs she didn’t have names for, everything getting smoother and smoother. Her fingers and arms knew how to move, where to go but they were trying to teach her brain the information. Every time that Vanya stopped to think about what she was doing, questioning herself, she lost her rhythm. Eventually, she let all thoughts leave her mind and floated through the motions.
It was during this moment in time, when there were no thoughts running through her mind, that the memory came to her. Vanya didn’t even realize that it was a memory at first. She moved from playing a slower, mournful tone to one that had some power behind it.
It was taking her away. The bright sunshine slid into the moonlit darkness, her audience of Luther expanded into an auditorium full of shocked patrons. Vanya stood taller, straightening her spine, her shoulders pull back. She was the first chair violinist now. She had earned her spot. Her siblings didn’t matter here. Her father couldn’t hurt her anymore. There was only her and her music. Even the accompanying players faded into the background. Just her and her violin.
Vanya smiled. She saw Allison coming down the pathway — she was glad that her sister could come to see her perform. Vanya was happy that at least one sibling was here. It was as Allison was coming up to her that Vanya saw her brothers were also here, but they looked scared. Vanya didn’t understand why — it was just Vanya and her violin on stage. She wasn’t going to be like Pogo or Mom or Dad. She wasn’t going to hurt them because of powers she couldn’t control. Vanya was in control now. She knew . She wouldn’t hurt them.
She closed her eyes and continued her solo, getting louder and louder, playing over the short sharp bursts of gunshots. She was feeding her power into the violin, letting it out. It felt like stretching after being in one spot forever and it felt good. More and more she let her power grow. She wanted to show off for her siblings, show them what she could do now. She wanted them to be proud of her, to know that she was worthy of being their sister.
She opened her eyes and saw the determination in theirs. They rushed her from all directions, anger and pain in their eyes. Her body moved without thought, whipping her bow across her body, releasing a wave of pure power. When it encountered her brothers, it reached within them and lifted them up, draining them. If that’s how they wanted to do it, then fine. They wanted to act like their father and hurt her then she would show them what she could do.
She was four years old when her father determined her to be too powerful to be controlled. She was now almost thirty and she was not going to be locked away again. She would show them.
She poured more of herself into her music, drawing more and more from her brothers. She was coming up to the end of her solo and she wanted it to be spectacular. It was going to be her best performance yet.
The shot came from behind her and it was deafening. It rattled her from her core, letting her brothers drop. She fell as they did, her hold on her power gone. She left out one large gasp as the biggest wave of energy she’d ever felt expelled from her. The last thing she remembered was the concentrated beam heading towards the moon.
As her body hit the floor, Vanya woke again in the Texas sunlight. When the heat finally hit her, she jerked back and dropped the violin. When her eyes adjusted to the sunlight again, she was shocked. Surrounding her was a perfect circle of flattened grass, all leading away from her. As she slowly turned in a circle, Vanya felt...something. She didn’t think it was rage, not like old Vanya had felt, but it was something hurtful all the same.
When she saw Luther however, she forgot everything she just remembered and rushed over to him. He was laying on the ground, worryingly pale. Vanya dropped to her knees next to him, reaching out to find his pulse. She almost collapsed in relief when she found it — it was strong and steady, pounding away in his chest. She stayed where she was, half leaning over Luther until she felt him start to stir. She sat back on her knees and waited for him. When he first opened his eyes, he spent a few moments blinking up at the sky before scanning what he could see without moving.
Panic and worry entered his eyes when he saw her and he slowly and carefully reached out with one hand to cup her face.
“Are you ok?”
His honest concern for her was the last straw — she burst into tears and threw herself at him.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what I did but I’m sorry! I was just playing and a memory took over and it was awful and I’m sorry.” Vanya continued to wail and apologize into Luther’s chest. He stayed laying on the ground but enclosed her in his arms. He was letting her run out of steam before he tried to say anything.
When he sensed that her stream of words was losing steam, he shifted them so they could see each other’s eyes. When he was sure he had her attention, he spoke.
“What memory Vanya?” it was softly said, full of all the love he had for his sister. He was scared for her, about her. Never of her though. He had been focusing on finishing up the last section of fencing, trying his best to goat-proof it, enjoying listening to Vanya play. It had started out pretty jerky but soon smoothed out. There were moments where it bounced around but after the first couple of minutes, it was, in general, pretty amazing. He was so proud of her.
But then something happened, something changed. He was just about to yell over to her to change the song off of the mournful one she had settled on when it abruptly jumped in pace, speeding up significantly. Luther’s head flipped around to stare at Vanya, a bad feeling growing in his stomach. That song — it was setting all his nerves on fire, his teeth clenching, and spine straightening. Something didn’t feel right.
The song was...growing in power, louder and louder, spreading over the field they were in. He could see waves of energy emerging from Vanya, rippling out from her. It was affecting the landscape around them, pushing the grass down, flattening it out.
He was just getting ready to go to her when something grew out of her. It headed right for him and when it reached him, it connected to his chest and then there was just hurt . It was draining something from him and the pain was radiating from where the beam entered his chest. Soon, he slowly dropped to the ground, not having the strength to stand.
He was gasping for breath when he heard Vanya gasp. The next thing he was aware of was Vanya laying over him.
So yes — he was worried for her. Something had happened and she could see it in her eyes — she was afraid.
When it was obvious Vanya either didn’t hear him or wasn’t responding, he asked his question again. “What memory Vanya? What did you remember?”
“It was my concert. When I was the first chair. It started ok...but then you guys came. I saw Allison first and I was so happy! At least one of my siblings was there to see me perform. Then I saw the rest of you guys. You and our brothers — and you were scared. I didn’t understand why. I kept thinking that I wasn’t like Pogo or Mom or Father. But then…” Luther had to lean in closer, Vanya was talking so quietly. “But then there were gunshots again. I was ignoring it, playing louder to play over them. I was ignoring them because I wanted to show my siblings what my power could do, how I was finally one of you. Then the four of you rushed me and I didn’t like the look in your eyes. I just moved and something came over me. You guys were lifted in the air and I was somehow draining you? I don’t know what I was taking but I was taking something from you.”
Vanya stopped talking and Luther followed her lead. He sensed that she wasn’t done with her story and he was right when she raised her head again, tears brimming on the edge of eyes but not yet falling.
“Allison…she was, ah, behind me. And she shot a gun right next to me. That power? I had been gathering it throughout the entire concert and all of it burst out of me. I don’t remember what happened to it. I fell as it came out of me. As I was falling in the memory, I was leaving it, coming back into the present.”
Vanya fell silent and Luther didn’t have anything he could say. He didn’t really know where to start with what Vanya remembered. But how could he? How could he attack his sister like that?
The two of them sat together, at the edge of the circle Vanya made. Luther just didn’t know. He didn’t know what to do.
“What on God’s green earth happened here?”
this is both the largest chapter yet and the easiest to write. i had a fun conversation with a friend on discord and they said if I put in therapy chickens they might have to read it - thus screaming at chickens ; )
title is from sleepover by hayley kiyoko
Chapter 7: see what's become of me
the past comes knocking
“Uhhhhh.” Neither Vanya nor Luther knew how to answer Sissy. It was a mess.
“I just- are you ok? You can explain all this,” Sissy gestured to the field surrounding them, “later. But right now? Are you ok?”
The siblings shared a look, trying to find a way to explain the extreme land remodeling but they were coming up blank. Vanya took a deep breath, remembered that she wanted to stop lying to Sissy, and told the truth.
“I started to play my violin and it started out fine. But then…I started to play a new song. And a memory came back to me. It was the end of the concert dream from the other day. But it was wrong somehow. I hurt them. I hurt my siblings.” Vanya couldn’t look anyone in the eyes. To know that she was capable of something like that?
Vanya continued her explanation, trying to get it all out before anyone else tried to talk. For as much as she wanted to stop lying, Vanya didn’t realize how difficult it would be.
“And when I was playing, there was some sort of power growing in me. I was using that to hurt my siblings. I guess when I was hurting them in the memories, I was doing something similar here to Luther. At the end of the memory, I was shocked out of my trance and I accidentally released a beam of power. I think I did something like that to the landscape.”
The only sound that Vanya could hear was the wind moving through the forest to their left, the trees being outside the range of her destruction. The next thing she knew, Sissy was rushing them, joining their pile on the ground. Her breathing sounded panicked and she was fluttering her hands all around them, checking for Luther’s pulse, running one down Vanya’s back, pushing Luther’s hair back…
“Oh, Lord. Oh goodness. Oh, what do you mean? Are you ok? Does anything hurt? Oh, neither of you look too good, you’re both paler than a sinner in church. Come on, let’s get everyone up and at ‘em. Here, I can get the stuff you brought out, just help each other up. Come on — up, up. Let's get moving. You can do this,” Sissy continued to harass them into moving as she put away Vanya’s violin, picking up its case and the empty picnic basket.
Eventually, the three of them managed to get back to the house. Vanya and Luther moved to the living room, collapsing on the couch, Vanya on top of Luther — she didn’t want to move too far away from him.
Sissy joined them sometime later, sitting on the floor ahead of them. They sat in silence, Luther and Vanya slowly regaining the color they had lost and moving to actually sit on the couch instead of splayed out over it.
“Wanna start at the beginning then, y’all?” Sissy’s voice wasn’t demanding or judgmental, holding only honest curiosity. It was that fact — Sissy just wanted to know what was bothering them so maybe she could offer some help — that had Vanya slipping to the ground in front of Sissy and reaching for her hand. Sissy gripped it tightly, running a thumb soothingly across it.
“We’ve been keeping a secret from you, Sissy. And it’s a big one. I don’t...well I don’t know how to explain it, honestly.” Vanya started but Luther, who had planted his feet on the ground and was leaning over Vanya with his elbows on his knees, cut her off.
“A couple of days ago, I lifted that old tractor. Completely lifted it off the ground and then I managed to throw it. I was walking the fence line, doing checks on everything when I heard one of the billies cry out. I ran over to see that it had gotten stuck under the tractor somehow. I went to try to lift the machine, hoping maybe I could shift it a little and allow the billy to get free when the entire thing came off the ground. I was startled and I threw it. Afterward, I went to get Vanya and we put it back. We didn’t want to worry you. But we-”
“Why would I be worried?”
“Welllll...we’ve been having more dreams then what we’ve told you. And we didn’t want to worry you but we think we might have been involved in some bad shit a-”
“Watch your language! Not in this house!” Vanya hid a smile from them, not wanting to draw Sissy’s ire for encouraging Luther. He just gave them both a droll look and continued with his retelling.
“We might have been involved in something bad. Both of us have had dreams where we’ve been shot at and the like. Then we find out I can lift and throw a tractor? We panicked a little and hid it from you. Then today, well today Vanya did something,” here Luther squeezed her shoulders and stood up, moving to the kitchen — filling up Harlan’s juice and getting drinks for the three adults.
“I packed up a lunch for me and Luther, and I decided to take my violin with me. I wanted to play some more. When I was playing - a memory snuck up on me. It was the concert, where I was the first chair. But then...something was happening to me. Or with me. Or I was doing something, I don't know. But I was playing like I never had before. Then the shooters appeared again. I wasn’t worried about them — I was just playing louder to be heard over them. Then my brothers, Luther included, tried to rush me and I used the bow to literally blow them away. Then somehow I was using energy that came from me to lift them from the floor and drain them.”
“Drain them?” Vanya appreciated that Sissy was trying to sound normal and not completely shocked.
“I don’t know. It was just the feeling I was getting from the memory. But yes, drain them. I was determined to make that the best show I could. But a gunshot came from behind me, shocked me out of my trance. I fell. And as I fell, a beam of energy came from me and shot into the sky. I woke up here in Texas with all the damage done and Luther on the ground.”
Luther had moved back into the living room, handing out their drinks. “She was just playing different songs when she changed to one that rose the hair on the back of my neck. It was freaking me out a little. The song was gaining strength but when I went to go to her that beam hit me again. It hurt. I heard Vanya come out of the memory but then the next thing I remember was her leaning over me. We talked but then you came.”
Luther and Vanya were quiet then, letting Sissy have a chance to comprehend what they had told her. Instead, they watched as Harlan finished eating and moved over to the record player, picking out an album to listen too.
“So,” Sissy started but then she cut herself off but she now had their attention again. It seemed that helped gather her thoughts and she began again. “So you have superpowers?”
The siblings jerked, having not thought about it like that. They looked at each uncertainty but slowly nodded.
“Superpowered siblings. With enemies?” Luther and Vanya nodded again. “And you were going to keep it from me?”
Luther and Vanya nodded again. Sissy was getting mad and it was showing in her voice.
“You have superpowers and probably super enemies. You were going to hide it from me. And now you’re what? Going to bring all that trouble here? To my home! TO MY SON!”
Harlan cried out when Sissy yelled and she swept over to him, gathering him to her chest and picking him, leaving the room.
Vanya twitched, wanting to follow her but knew better. Sissy deserved to feel that anger and Vanya — and Luther, who had shrunk into himself — knew that Sissy would come to them when she was ready to talk.
Or to kick them out.
The two of them had waited in the living room for a while before they to the kitchen, making themselves a small and simple dinner. They also made Sissy and Harlan something but left it in the stove to keep warm.
Afterward, they gathered up some supplies and made their way outside. It was a beautiful clear night and they didn’t want to crowd Sissy with their presence, so Luther had suggested sleeping on the porch for the evening. Vanya wanted to argue but silenced herself and nodded in agreement.
They heard movement inside from time to time but were ignoring it, knowing it wasn’t for them.
The moon was full and heavy in the sky, hanging above them when Sissy finally opened the front door. She was in her pajamas with a blanket wrapped around her, carrying a tray with hot chocolate on it.
“Sorry for yelling.”
“Sorry for keeping dangerous secrets,” Vanya matched her low tone, shifting to make room for Sissy to sit between her and Luther on the stairs. Luther took the tray from her while Sissy made herself comfortable, handing out the drinks.
“Well. I knew y’all were keeping something from me but I wouldn’t have guessed it was...all that,” Sissy sounded tired.
“We didn’t- we weren’t-” Luther stopped, trying to find his thoughts. “We weren’t trying to hurt you. Or Harlan. It just happened so fast. And Vanya and I were going to tell you tonight — just without the new landscaping effort.”
“I- we wanted to stop lying to you,” Vanya caught Sissy’s eyes, trying to say without words how sincere she was being right now. “We hated lying and we didn’t want to hurt you and we were going to stop. But then that happened.”
Sissy looked into Vanya’s eyes intensely but moved, lifting the edge of her blanket and allowed Vanya to cuddle into her side trying to get warm.
Of course, Vanya felt warm now but it had little to do with the blanket over her shoulders and more to do with Sissy. But she was going to keep that to herself for a while.
“Well. Well, we’re in a pickle now aren’t we?”
Luther sounded small and sad but he still said, “We could leave. If it would make you feel better. Safer.”
"That’s like tryin’ to tame a wild bull with a brandin iron."
Sissy’s words shocked a laugh from both Vanya and Luther, which they had to stifle, not wanting to wake up Harlan.
“Ok. So no moving. What can we do?”
Sissy hummed, thinking. “No more lies. No more secrets. Vanya, you told me we were family. That means we go into all of this together. Now — you’re not leaving. But I do have the right to know if you being here is going to cause trouble for me and Harlan. I want to know everything. You understand me?”
Both Luther and Vanya nodded, taken aback from Sissy’s fierce tone.
“Good. Now catch me up on everything. And I do mean everything. ”
The three of them spent the night talking about everything that had happened since that day in October when a spirited blonde woman ran over Vanya but brought the siblings to the hospital.
They all said no more secrets. They meant it.
A month after that exciting day in the field and something changed for the Coopers. Luther and Vanya had headed into town, wanting to gather their presents for Harlan’s birthday. They left Sissy and Harlan at home, manning their fruit stand. Luther was driving into town when a newspaper blew from someones’ hands, landing open on the windshield. Luther slammed on the breaks, not wanting to drive with that covering his line of sight. But both he and Vanya gasped when they saw the page it had opened to and the man that was front and center.
It was the man from their dreams; the one that wore leather and threw knives. And he was apparently now housed in the crazy bin.
It only took one look at each for them to come to a conclusion. They were going to visit him. They were finally going to get some answers.
title is from a hazy shade of winter by gerard way
Chapter 8: who do you think you are?
enter diego, stage left
After they had signed all the paperwork, Vanya and Luther were shown to a bland room. It contained only a table and three chairs plus the guard that showed them in.
It was minutes later that the man was shoved through the door. He was turned toward the new guard, the one that escorted him in, and hadn’t yet seen them.
“Fuck you. When I get out of here, I'm coming for you. I’m-”
“Shut up or I'll put you in solitary.” The man finally turned around and the look on his face was...angry. There were other nuances to it but anger was the one most present.
“Son of a bitch. You two?”
“So you know us?” The words slipped out of Vanya’s mouth before she could stop them and it startled the man. He jerked back into his seat but the menace coming from him slowed.
“What do you mean?”
Vanya and Luther shared a look but eventually responded to the man, “We were in an accident over a year ago. Head trauma. We’re slowly gaining memories back but we still don’t know a lot.”
“You knew me.”
“We recognized you. One of the earliest memories we got back was of seven of us in a circle on a stage.”
“The three of us, a young boy in a school uniform, a woman in a leather jacket, a man with tattooed palms, and a blue man.”
“Yeah, that’s all of- A blue man?”
“He was wearing a leather jacket and pants but he was see-through and blue. Sometimes he has tentacles.”
“His name is Ben?”
“A man with tentacles coming out of his stomach? Yeah, that’s Ben.”
He paused thoughtfully, peering at them through hard eyes, but he nodded and introduced himself, “Diego Hargreeves. Number Two.”
“Number Two? Did he name us based on our age or something?”
Diego went to respond but slowed his words and whistled slightly through his teeth when he caught sight of the guards in the corner of the room.
“Something like that. Listen, we don’t have much time left. But I’m gonna get out soon.”
“We can give you our number? So you can call us when you get out.”
“You somewhere safe, then?”
“On a farm.”
A shocked laugh burst out of Diego’s chest but it cut off when he saw their faces, “oh you weren’t joking were you?”
“Ok — give me the number and I’ll call you. My first evaluation is coming up — and I’ll pass it.”
Vanya didn’t think it would be that easy but the look in his eyes told her Diego would pass. She and Luther stood up after Diego repeated the farm’s phone number back to them. She didn’t know if she should go for a hug or not so she just watched Diego strut out of the room.
She didn’t know what to think about Diego and based on the complicated look on Luther’s face, he thought the same.
It was as they were on their way home when Vanya realized that they never got the other names.
Diego hit the wall harshly. He was expecting it but he still bit his lip when he impacted. He knew the tone he had taken with the guards would come back to bite him but it still hurt. As the door slammed shut, Diego slid to the ground and stretched out his legs.
Luther and Vanya, huh. He didn’t know what to think about that. It sounded like — from their story — that they landed in the same alley he had but a year earlier. And his landing was better. At least he didn’t land and lose his memories. It was his actions that led Diego to be in this place.
He didn’t want to believe them but he felt like he had too. The way they interacted with each other? It was completely different. There was love and care between them. Before their foray into the past, Luther had been scared of Vanya and of what she could do, determined to follow dad’s lead and lock her up. Hell, the last time Luther and Vanya were alone together, Luther locked Vanya up and she decided to blow up the moon.
Granted, Diego felt like doing the same thing because of how often Luther brought it and his mission up. But now? Neither of them apparently remembered anything and they came for him for help.
He didn’t necessarily know what to do about that — the mighty Number One and the resident Family Traitor...only they didn’t remember those facts.
Diego wished he had had a couple of more minutes to talk to them. He didn’t get a chance to actually question them — but now he had some time to think of some questions. He had to come up with some that would prompt a reaction from one of them. Something that would break through their act — if they were lying. Diego knew that he could question Luther about his mutated body or their father. Those were topics that would break Luther’s silence. He didn’t know what type of topics to get Vanya with but based on what he saw back in the mansion on that last day — Diego might ask her about Pogo and what he had done to be killed in such a way.
Diego didn’t know what happened with either of those situations for them but he had seen the aftermath of even mentioning it so that was going to be his best bet on shocking them into dropping the act.
And in the unlikely occasion that they truly didn’t remember, Diego needed to know what memories they did have.
It had taken longer then Diego thought it would have, but a month after he first entered the hospital, Diego passed his evaluation and was able to call his siblings. During that month Diego had repeated the number to himself over and over again, both not wanting to forget it and as a reminder to himself about why he was putting genuine effort in talking it out with the doctors and staff.
He had spun a story about trying to find his siblings to explain the stalking behavior and semi-created a horrible ex for Vanya to explain why he had lied at first. Between those facts and the effort Diego showed in both group sessions and personal sessions, he passed the eval with flying colors. He had even seen some nurses drying their eyes — so amazed at the effort he was putting in to protect his family.
Diego hid the eye roll. Whatever got him out of here. He was told that he had a couple of minutes to make a phone call but after that, he had to vacate the premises. Letting the phone ring, Diego was making vague plans upon plans.
“Hello?” Diego was pleased that it was Vanya that answered the phone, not whoever they were living with.
“Vanya? It's Diego. I passed my eval and am being released from the hospital today. Do you-”
“Oh, that’s wonderful! I can come and get you? That is - if you want to stay with us?”
Diego swore to himself, in his head. He could see Vanya’s face, even over the phone. Big sad eyes, a hopeful smile that she was trying to stifle, shoulders hunched up, and she was probably curled up a little — making herself a smaller target for any sort of scorn or ridicule. He had seen that look a thousand times growing up, and it was even more effective now than they were adults. Diego swore it was the height difference. They might have been close to the same size growing up but now Diego towered over her.
He knew that even if he hadn’t planned on staying with them, he would have to now. Damn those stupid puppy dog eyes.
“Yeah. That would be nice — would it be possible for someone to get me tonight? I’ve only got a couple of minutes on the phone before they chase me out the door.”
“Of course! If I remember right there’s a little bookstore a couple of blocks from the hospital. I could meet you there? It would only take me about an hour to get there.”
“That sounds like a plan. You’ll be here in around an hour?” Diego wanted to be certain of Vanya’s arrival.
“Yup! Did you want me to bring you anything from the farm? I don’t think we have clothes that would fit you but I can bring some cash and we can stop somewhere.”
“I have the clothes I was wearing when I was admitted.” Diego didn’t want to go shopping with his sister — he remembered Allison and the many malls she dragged them to after their missions. He wasn’t doing that again.
“Oh...ok. You’re sure you don’t need anything?”
Damn those puppy dog eyes.
“...But I guess I could use a change. And maybe something to eat?”
“Oh! Oh yeah! I can bring some sandwiches and such!” Vanya sounded excited and Diego heaved a sigh, seeing his future. It involved shopping and talking about his feelings.
The things he did for his family.
“No provolone or mayonnaise. I’ll be in the bookstone. One hour.”
“Sounds like a plan!”
They hung up, then Diego completed the check out routine, getting back his uniform and harness but not his knives. He gave the guards the side eye he’d learnt from Five when they were preteens but knew he wasn’t going to be getting them back.
He was just walking out when he heard the doctors talking with the head guard, “Yeah we’re moving the new inmate in tonight — one miss Lila Pitts.”
title is from Crazy by Daniela Andrade
Chapter 9: i'm comin' home now, real soon
Three brothers, Four siblings, Five people, and Six makes an appearance too
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Weeks after that almost encounter with the blonde woman holding the violin, Allison was still feeling off-center. The reminder of her siblings, Vanya especially, was weighing heavy on her. She wasn’t sure why — she had had plenty of other things that brought her previous life back to the forefront of her mind but this time, she was having a hard time moving past it.
Every little thing she did now prompted an old memory to surface.
Allison was cutting some vegetables for dinner; she remembered missions where Diego was allowed to use his powers unlimitedly. There was an old bookstore she had to pass on her way to work that displayed a different collection of works in the windows every week; she was reminded of all the times she went to look for Ben only to find him curled up with some old, dry classic, enthralled with the story hidden in its pages. She would gaze out the window of her bedroom and see the moon perched up in the dark night sky; there was Luther, up there alone for four years, carrying out the will of a father that didn’t care. Every time she had to swallow down a smart, cutting remark that wanted to slip out in response to the overwhelming racism she now faced; Five was Jumping to higher ground, wanting to lord over them how he was right and they were wrong. Allison went out shopping and saw a particularly swirly skirt; she remembered Klaus dancing around the living room in her old, black, leather skirt. And every time anything even classical played on the radio she saw Vanya; standing shy and timid, scared of reaching out to her family; standing tall and proud, able to bring down the world.
Allison knew she was worrying Raymond but she didn’t even know where she would begin when trying to explain. How could she explain the crazy story of her life?
‘So Raymond, I was bought from my birth mom for a couple of thousand dollars by a man that should never have children. Yet he did, I was one of seven babies bought that day. Oh yeah, he bought all of us from our mothers because we were born in an unusual way. Our mothers weren’t pregnant the morning we were born. Yeah, we were all born on the same day. And before I forget, we all have superpowers and we used to fight crime in school uniforms. And the reason you’ve never heard of us? We time traveled from the year 2019 to get away from the literal end of the world. And the end of the world was caused by our sister who blew up the moon.’
Allison didn’t want to start on where any one of those could go wrong. She just had to pull herself together. And she was going to. Tomorrow. Allison had the day to herself, Raymond at the college for classes. As she was cleaning up after breakfast, Allison told herself that today was going to be the day she mourned and then let go. It was coming up on two years and she couldn’t hold onto those ties anymore. She was Allison Chesnut now and Allison Hargreeves was dead.
She finished putting away the dishes and made her way back to her bed. Her plan for the day was to cry the day away. She could already feel the tears collecting on the rims of her eyes. Allison was glad she hadn’t put on any of her make-up, knowing that it would have been an ugly look for her.
Today was going to be about mourning the past.
And tomorrow? It was going to be about the future. Just like every day after that.
Klaus woke up, disoriented. He wasn’t particularly worried. Klaus had been waking up disoriented since he discovered drugs and alcohol when he was a young boy.
Nowadays, he was disoriented less because of the drugs or drinks but because he didn’t recognize where he was when he woke. It was common for his cult to simply move him while they were traveling. He had tried to tell them to stop doing that but as time went on, he started losing control over the group.
As he finally opened his eyes, Klaus saw that he was in his California bedroom and gave a deep sigh.
He was growing tired of everything. It was day after day of the same thing, the same people, the same lying. Klaus was apparently the only living Hargreeves (baring the original Bastard) and it was getting harder to go on every day.
The only thing that kept him going was the thought of Dave. Klaus knew that Dave was working in his uncle’s hardware shop when Kennedy gets shot and Klaus was planning on being there to stop Dave from enlisting. He had to stop Dave from dying. He couldn’t live with himself if he let Dave die again when Klaus had a chance to save him.
He was just waiting out the days until he made his way east.
As Klaus made his way out of his bedroom, he started dodging all his followers. They were all so grabby and touchy-feely. He was getting hives just thinking about it.
Klaus was only occasionally watching where he was going, attempting to find Ben, when he was badly startled. One of the newest followers came up from behind him. Only he looked exactly like Diego from the corner of his eye. The follower had the same confident strut, the same knowing smirk that Diego had frequently spotted — like he knew a secret that you never would.
The follower’s sudden appearance sent a wave of grief roaring through Klaus and he jerked away from everyone, turning to sprint back towards his room. Thankfully, he managed to get there before anyone else and he slammed the door shut, throwing the lock so none but his dead brother could join him.
When he was safely ensconced in his room, Klaus wiggled his way out of his clothes and back into bed. Pulling the covers over his head, Klaus broke down. He did his best to muffle all the sounds he was making, not wanting the cult to break down the doors to check on him. He just needed a moment alone.
Later, the sun now heating his cocoon considerably, Klaus rolled over and stared over at Ben. He wasn’t sure when his brother appeared but he was glad. Even if Ben was a giant, nagging, annoyance — he was Klaus’ brother, his only family. It was a glad reminder that as much as he thought, Klaus didn’t want to be alone. And he wasn’t.
The two of them stared at each other, eyes rimmed in red.
“Coming up on three years, huh?”
They continued to stare at each, both ignoring how their cheeks weren’t drying off. Klaus eventually rolled over, folding his hands over his stomach.
Ben joined him, copying his posture. They were silent, watching the sun descent across the sky by the shadows across the ceiling.
“I miss them,” Ben whispered the secret, almost ashamed. Klaus, glowing blue, reached over to grab Ben’s hand. One of the best and worst parts of being sober for nearly three years was the ability to interact with Ben. Klaus had spent two decades with a ghost hovering over his shoulder, criticizing all of his decisions — now he had a ghost hovering over his shoulder, able to smack Klaus for his bad decisions.
On the other hand, Klaus could do things like this — hold Ben’s hand and offer physical comfort. Klaus turned his head toward his brother and saw he was already looking back. Closing his eyes, Klaus leaned forward a little, Ben matching him, until their foreheads were touching.
This was something the two of them had taken to doing, some little touches to remind each other that no matter the words spoken (or not spoken if they decided to freeze each other out) that they loved each other, that they still considered each other family, practically twin brothers.
Throughout the rest of the day, Ben and Klaus ignored the various people who knocked on the door wanting to speak to the Prophet. They ignored the pleas and the threats, the loud pounding on the door and the soft knocks on the windows.
They were mourning together; the lives they could no longer live, the family that they lost back in 2019, the family that they lost in the 1960s.
Five grit his teeth. This jump was more painful than any other he had ever tried before. He could feel himself losing the grip he had on his siblings’ hands. A particularly bad jerk almost spun him completely around.
Of course, he had never tried to jump with his entire family because they were running from the apocalypse before.
This jump was longer than his others as well, spinning him around and up and down and Five could feel the frustration growing within him. If only his family had listened to him. If only he was smarter and did better. He tried to stifle them, but the tears welled up.
His portal spat him out in a dirty, empty alley and he forced the tears away. He had to find his family. He had to fix this.
The Handler had been at this job for longer than most people were aware of. She had devoted her entire life to this organization. She had become this job, leaving everything (including her name) behind.
And they repaid her by bringing in Carmichael?
Who did they think they were?
Handler took a deep breath, aware that getting mad wasn’t going to help her. Instead, she focused on her plan. Her greatest plan, her greatest weapon.
It was time to send Lila in.
well i'm alive still! sorry about the break - I signed up for 2 umbrella academy big bangs and those works have captured my attention but fear not! paths is still one of my favorite works and I'm not leaving it before I finish it. i do have a vague plan on how I want to end it but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
title comes from Mel Torme - Comin' Home Baby