This fic is for the wonderful ealeczander on tumblr who made the post "You cannot convince me that Diego's heart doesn't stop every time they announce on the police radio that they've found a dead junkie" and slam dunked some inspiration into my writer heart. And thank you to the lovely alchemist-rising also on tumblr for editing this and helping!
just as a disclaimer, I'm a new zelander so I don't know American streets and stuff and everything I learnt about police is from b99 and a brief research into police codes so if any of this is inaccurate I apologize. I hope you like it!
One of the few things Diego took away from the police academy he dropped out of was the codes. He had them all memorized, each string of numbers and their meaning stored away in his brain. It was great for finding trouble late at night, or for avoiding it, and he often sat in front of his little radio for hours just listening to everything going on. Sometimes, more pathetically he would admit, he would listen to it just to hear her voice again. Patch.
He liked feeling closer to her, hearing what she was up to and sometimes following her out on her shifts, making sure she was okay.
Some days the voices on the radio were his only company. But sometimes he hated it.
"-aniels, what's your status?"
Usually, he could tune it out, while he trained or slept, mind processing the codes and deciding which ones he could ignore. But there were some he couldn't.
"Yeah, I got a 10-54."
Diego's ears pricked up metaphorically at the code for a possible dead body, but he didn't direct his full attention to the radio until the next words came.
"Looks like a drug overdose."
That got his attention. It always did. It's not like he stayed in contact with his siblings but that didn't mean he didn't care about them and Klaus got into trouble practically every week. It wasn't hard to keep track of him.
"Caucasian, male, approximately twenty-five years of age, six foot-"
He would have liked to listen to the rest but his heart suddenly dropped into his stomach and he couldn't hear anything but the blood rushing through his skull. He made his way to the radio, grabbing the small black box and holding onto it for dear life, silently begging Klaus not to be dead.
"What's your 10-20? We're sending someone now."
10-20, that was the location. Diego paid close attention to that, memorizing it as he put the radio down and shoved on his boots.
The officer on the other end of the radio sighed. "10-4. Keep me updated."
Fuck, if Klaus had overdosed in some alley again Diego was going to kick his ass. He shoved the radio into his belt and bolted out the door, stomach leaping up into his throat as he made his way to whoever it was that had OD'd.
He was careful to avoid the officers milling around, keeping civilians back, and made his way close enough to see the body. Not his body, please don't be him.
"Hey man, you gotta stay back."
A hand pressed against his shoulder as he tried to get a good look, tried to peer around the trash bags surrounding the body. All he could see was two splayed skinny legs.
Fuck, please don't be him.
The officer pushed him back but Diego was faster, stepping to the side too quick to catch and running close enough to see the bright orange hair atop the dead boys head. Not Klaus.
Diego sighed, stomach bouncing back up from where it had been resting down by his toes, and he raised his hands, backing away as the now pissed off officer threatened to arrest him.
"Sorry, my bad. I'll go."
He wasn't really sure why he kept an ear out for his brother. They hadn't spoken in years and they weren't exactly an ordinary family. They didn't call on birthdays, they didn't email or text or even friend each other on facebook.
But still, he heard something about an overdose or a junkie on the police radio, Diego felt sick until he knew it wasn't Klaus. And every time he tried to ignore it he was blinded by the image of Klaus at sixteen, sick from withdrawal and sobbing in his room, begging for someone to help him.
No matter how much Diego despised his childhood and his father, he couldn't deny that he loved his siblings. Deep down, somewhere past the hurt and the anger, he loved them.
Which made it really hard to sleep.
"I got another junkie down. Can I get some backup? This rave has them dropping like flies."
Diego rubbed a hand over his face, exhausted from staying up all night listening to the radio. The last he heard, two days ago, Klaus had broken out of a rehabilitation centre and now every overdose reported could be him.
"I'd say so. These guys are practically foaming at the mouth. Shit."
"Ambulance is on route, I'll send back up now."
The radio crackled again and the first voice returned, sighing. "Send the coroner too, this one just gave out on me."
"10-4, stand by."
Diego debated with himself, whether he should bother going to check if his brother was there. He couldn't go every time; he'd get himself arrested sooner or later.
"Patch is five minutes away, I'll send her in."
Patch. Diego couldn't help himself. He waited until he heard her confirm her location through the radio before calling her, feeling stupid but unable to stop himself.
"Patch, I need a favour."
"Diego, I'm busy-"
"Just tell me if my brother is there."
She paused, and Diego paced his room as her voice came back, confused. "Your brother? Have you been listening to the police scanner again? Diego-"
"I know you're at the rave down on fifth, just tell me if any of the bodies have umbrella tattoos on their wrists."
She paused again and Diego wasn't sure if he was going to be able to breathe until she answered. Finally, her voice came back, tired and worried.
"No, he's not here. The party's cleared out now. Why don't you just call him?"
Diego sighed, relief pouring into every cell as he slumped down onto his bed. "You know he won't pick up."
With the flood of relief also came dread and then guilt because his brother wasn't among the dead from that rave but Diego still had no idea where Klaus was. He could be anywhere, he could be dead in some gutter and Diego wouldn't know until it came over the radio.
Patch could hear the weight in his voice and knew him well enough to know where it came from. "I'm sorry. If I come across anything I'll call you."
Diego sniffed, trying to pull himself back together. He hadn't even seen his messed up, addict brother in years. He shouldn't care so much. "Thanks."
He was sure she had more to say, probably something like 'stay off the radio' but he didn't give her a chance, hanging up before she could say anything more.
It was stupid, trying to keep track of his brother, but he couldn't help it. No matter how many times Diego tried to leave his past behind, no matter how many times he tried not to care, he got pulled back in.
Pretty soon it happened again.
"10-52 down at Riverton Avenue. Possible overdose."
Diego shook his head as he threw another fist towards his punching bag, revelling in the satisfying smack of impact. 10-52 meant an ambulance was needed. He ignored it.
"It's on its way. What's your 10-45?" Condition of patient. Diego threw another punch, convincing himself he didn't care about the answer.
"10-45C," Critical. "His hearts stopped, starting compressions."
Diego's mind assaulted him with the sudden image of Klaus lying on the street under some stranger's hands as they tried to revive him. It wouldn't be the first time he'd seen it. He shook his head, chasing the image away.
Not every drug addict was Klaus. He shouldn't care either way. What Klaus did was his own problem. It's not like he checked up on Allison when the papers announced her divorce or losing custody of her daughter. Why should he care what his siblings were doing?
"Diego, can I sleep in your room tonight?" He threw his fist against the bag again, trying to shut out the memory but it came anyway, eleven-year-old Klaus in the doorway of his bedroom.
"What's w-wrong with your r-r-room?"
Diego remembered the tear tracks stained over Klaus' face and the way he shivered in the doorway, his hands rubbing over his eyes as he sniffled.
"It's too crowded in there."
Diego knew what he had meant. The people Ben killed during missions liked to come back and haunt Klaus for his brother's transgressions. Diego had nodded and pulled back his covers, letting his brother crawl in beside him. Ghosts were easier to face with someone by your side.
He growled, throwing his fist forward again, trying to dislodge the memory, but it was too late. He was worried about his brother, alone and dealing with his demons by himself.
The radio crackled again and he heard Patches voice come through, talking to another officer on the scene.
"Ramerez, do me a favour? I've been looking for someone and I think you might have him. The one that overdosed, he Caucasian, about twenty-five with tattoos by any chance?"
Diego lowered his hands, turning back to the radio and held his breath waiting for the answer to come back.
The officer sounded mildly bored. "Yeah, six foot, one hundred and, maybe sixty, seventy pounds, dark hair?"
Diego felt dizzy, stumbling over to the radio and dropping into his knees beside it, begging Patch to ask for a name.
"This is going to sound weird, but does he have a tattoo of an umbrella on his wrist?"
Diego gripped his own as if it could physically connect him to his brother's, as if he could feel Klaus' pulse through his tattoo.
"Yeah, he does. You need him alive? Cause he doesn't look like he's coming back. Hold on, paramedics are here."
Diego felt his heart pound against his ribcage and he almost gagged, closing his eyes as he pressed his hands to the table the radio was resting on. He wanted to bolt, to go and find Klaus and drag him back to the land of the living by the scruff of his neck, but he couldn't leave, couldn't move away from the radio.
It was quiet for a full minute and Diego counted every second, waiting for the announcement of his brother's death.
"They got him back, taking him to the general hospital now."
Diego didn't need to wait for Patch to reply, grabbing the radio and shoving it into his belt as he bolted from his room and made his way to the hospital.
He'd been taken off Klaus's emergency contact list years ago, once he told the idiot that he wouldn't give him money to feed his habit, and he knew Klaus might not be so happy to see him there but that didn't stop him.
Patch called to tell him about his brother, but he ignored it in favour of getting there faster, no clue as to what condition Klaus would be in.
"Diego, hey, stop."
He'd been zeroed-in on the ER doors, too focused on getting through and seeing his brother to notice Patch had been there until she grabbed his shoulders. "Hey, I tried calling you."
He nodded, eyes glued on the doors, everything in him aching to see his brother, to make sure he was okay.
"I know. I need to get to him. Is he-?"
She sighed, concerned expression tugging on his concentration. "He flatlined again in the ambulance but they got him back. He left rehab three weeks ago. They filed a missing persons report."
Diego rubbed a hand over his face, only just realising his fists were still wrapped up from the boxing he'd been doing when he left. He sighed, irritated as he ripped the tape and wraps from his hands, Patch catching his fingers in her own.
"Hey, it'll be okay. They'll take him back and they'll take care of him. He can get better-"
Diego threw off her touch, turning away from the ER doors. He wasn't sure he wanted to face his brother after all. "He never gets better. He never will."
They all knew why Klaus did what he did. Ever since they were kids, from that fateful day Klaus stole their fathers bottle of merlot and realised the ghosts went away when he drank. It had been the beginning of a lifetime of alcohol and drugs and anything else to numb his mind enough to keep the demons at bay.
They'd never gotten Klaus back after that and Diego had long since given up on the idea that they ever would.
Patch tried to be kind while Diego tried not to lose it. "You don't know that."
"I do. He doesn't want to get better. He can't." Diego shook his head, taking a breath and shoving it out. "I need to see him."
Patch didn't stop him this time, watching him push past the doors and make a beeline for the patient making the most noise.
"You can't keep me here! I am a citizen! I have rights!" There was no mistaking whose voice that was. Diego made his way over, Patch moving ahead to talk to the two officers gathered around the bed and let Diego through.
"I demand a fair trial!" Klaus was sitting up in a bed, pale and sweaty and skinny as always, with monitors and leads trailing off the bed every which way. His eyes were hazy, spinning around the room as he laughed, continuing to make a racket until he spotted Diego.
His rant cut off mid-dick joke and he smiled, heavy head dropping back to his pillows as he held out a hand to his brother.
Diego? Is that you? I haven't seen you in ages. Love the outfit; very dominatrix of you."
Klaus looped a finger around the straps pulled across his brother's chest, hand being smacked away in a second.
Diego looked down at his brother with disgust, noting the new tattoos on his palms and the track marks on the inside of his elbows.
"Trading in your pills for heroin I see."
Klaus shrugged, eyes rolling up to the ceiling. "I like a little variation."
Diego regretted coming. What had he thought was going to happen? There was no happy reunion, no tearful speeches. Klaus was the same as he always was. A drug-addicted asshole who'd rather be numb and half dead than use his powers.
"You're a mess." He flicked one of Klaus's palms where it rested up on the bed, fingers twitching at the sharp contact, handcuff rattling where it kept his wrist chained to the side rail.
"Thank you. I try."
Klaus lifted his hands, pulling his cuffed one as high as he could and waving them both as he giggled. "Hellooo. Goodbyeeee."
Diego didn't lose his glare and Klaus sighed, lifting the hand that wasn't handcuffed to the bed to scratch at the monitors stuck to his chest.
"What are you doing here, Diego?"
His voice was hard and angry. "You overdosed. Again."
Klaus waved a hand like he was talking about the weather like it had nothing to do with him and what a shame it was raining. "Well, you know how it goes. You take a couple and you can't remember why you shouldn't take five and then whoops back in the ambulance you go. You know, I've almost filled out my punch card. One more overdose and I get a free ambulance ride, how fun is that?"
Diego slapped the hand away, furious. " not funny! You almost died! Again!" He sighed and rubbed a hand over his face, trying to calm down.
"Why did you leave rehab?"
Klaus' eyes widened a fraction before he smiled, pleased as if he'd discovered a secret. "I di- How did you know I was in rehab?"
"You're always in rehab." Diego rolled his eyes but Klaus found it amusing apparently.
"No, you've been stalking me! How sweet, you really do care."
"Of course I care! You have to stop this, Klaus!"
If only it were that simple. Klaus lost the humour he'd plastered onto his face and turned away suddenly sombre. "I can't. You know I can't."
Diego hated pleading but it was his brother and he'd already lost two, he wasn't gunning for a third. "Yes, you can. Look, I know its hard-"
Klaus frowned, legs curling up on the bed as he grew agitated, pulling at his handcuff as he argued. "No, you don't know. Your gift is throwing knives, you have to aim and throw to use it. I don't get a choice whether the ghosts scream at me or not they're just always there and they don't shut up. I just want it to be quiet."
He closed his eyes and let out a long breath, voice coming back shaky and thin.
"I'm so tired Diego."
Something heavy and rotten coiled up in Diego's stomach. A thought. If he gives up, we'll have two statues in the courtyard. He couldn't let that happen.
Klaus looked so small for someone that seemed so big and Diego put a hand on his brother's knee. "You're going back to rehab. There's this place-"
Klaus shook his head, eyes still closed. "No"
"I talked to them, they have a waiting list but-"
Klaus' voice came as a half sob, eyebrows pressing down over his eyes. "No."
"If we just-"
Klaus' eyes snapped open and he thumped his fist down on the bed, voice loud. "I'm not going back there!"
He dropped his head back again, eyes narrowing at his brother as he sighed.
"Why are you even here, Diego? I thought you'd given up on this little lost cause of yours."
That stung. Diego clenched his hands at his sides as he grit his teeth through his words. "You're the one that refused to grow up and get help! Every time we got you in somewhere that could help you-"
Klaus laughed without humour, voice raising again. "Help me? You wanted me to sober up and face my fears! Well, you can forget it!"
Diego turned back to him, voice deep and angry. "You don't get to laugh at this, Klaus. You almost died!"
Klaus blinked up at the ceiling, losing his smile and jaunty facade for just a moment. He suddenly looked empty without it, lost and scared and drowning on the inside. His voice was so quiet it didn't sound like him at all.
"What would you care?"
That was the last straw. "You don't think I care? You don't think I listen to the police scanner, praying that whatever junkie they find dead in a gutter isn't you? You don't think I lie awake at night hoping you're okay, wondering if you even remember your own name? You don't think I've tried to stop caring?!"
Klaus swivelled his glassy eyes to his brother, skinny, bare chest rising and falling in aching breaths, bruises stained across his skin where he'd been revived.
Diego took a step back. He knew Klaus was being cruel only to cover up his own hurts, but it didn't make it any easier to hear.
Patch came back then, hand taking Diego's arm and pulling him away. "Let's go."
Klaus watched them leave, eyes watching Patch's hand on his brother's arm with something almost like longing before he turned away, a tear slipping down his dirty cheek.
She pulled him away, out into the waiting room where they could have some privacy. "Hey, take a deep breath."
Diego breathed deep, trying to keep each one even and regulated, but his hands still curled into fists that he wanted so badly to throw at the wall. He wanted to break something, to make someone pay for his pain. But there was nothing, so... he breathed.
"I shouldn't have come here. He's right, I should stop caring."
Patch rubbed at his arm, trying to soothe. "No, he isn't right. Diego, the people that push us away the hardest often need us the most. He needs you."
Diego shook his head. "No, he needs drugs and that's what he'll get. I should be used to the idea of finding him in a gutter someday because that's what's going to happen, and there isn't anything I can do to stop it. I'm sorry for bothering you."
He walked away, leaving his brother behind and leaving Patch standing there.
He was stupid for thinking that it would be any different but he couldn't help but hope for something to change, for him to have his brother back. His real brother. The seven-year old that held his hand when Dad told them off, who took the blame for something that Diego had done.
When Diego went back home to the back room of the boxing gym, he tried to turn the stupid radio off. He really did but he kept getting pulled back to it. Stupidly, stubbornly.
So, he left it on and he kept an ear out for Klaus. He hated every moment of it and he knew he shouldn't keep listening, but he couldn't turn away and forget him, even if he wanted to.
Diego was sure that one day what he said to Patch would be true, and that he would find Klaus dead in the street. But until then, he'd listen out for him, and he wouldn't stop giving a shit about the scrawny kid who didn't give a shit about himself.
(I hope you liked it! I haven't ever written for this fandom before but I looove the show also I reworked this during breaks at work so if there are mistakes I'm sorry. please let me know what you think)