Ydriel has been kind enough to translate this fic into french, which you can find here: s /13263993/1/ Essaye-un-peu-de-tendresse (add onto the end of the ff url and remove spaces)

1

"You need to help me!"

"He killed me, no one believed me when I said he'd do it!"

"Why aren't you listening to me?"

"Listen to me!"

"Help us!"

"No, no, no, no, no," Klaus presses his hands against his ears so hard they hurt. "Please, dad, Number Two, Number Six, let me out…please!"

No one comes. No one's come for him for what feels like hours. Don't they care about him? Or do they hate him and that's why he's here, shivering, alone and scared out of his mind? He knows dad's been harsher on all of them about training but Ben, Allison…why won't they help him? He doesn't know how much more of this he can take. He just wants them all to shut. up.

"Leave me alone!" Klaus shrieks but the ghosts don't listen, they never do. "Go away!" Tears force their way out of Klaus' squeezed shut eyes, sobs emerging against his control. Dad said crying was for the weak but Klaus can't help himself, he is weak. He's not like the others, who are so confident with their powers, he doesn't even have a talent he can be proud of like Vanya…

Maybe someone will hear him crying and they'll take pity on him, maybe if he shouts long enough, wills them to come hard enough, his siblings will free him…

None of Klaus' siblings come for him and when dad finally shows up, the only thing Klaus gets from him is the knowledge he'll be in there for at least another 3 hours.

2

"Wait."

All the kids around the table freeze, before returning back to their seats. They share looks of confusion and wariness. Dad never keeps them behind dinner, not unless there's a new mission but even then he makes a point of sending Vanya away first. She's still here.

"It has come to my attention there is a thief at this table."

Everyone looks at each other in surprise, while Klaus' heart rate picks up a little.

"When I took you all in, I made sure you all had your individual belongings. I clothe you, feed you, make sure your needs are taken care of. Is what I give you children not suitable?"

Five looks like he's ready to speak up and Klaus silently begs him to. He's pretty sure he knows what dad's talking about and he'd thought dad hadn't cared, that he'd let Klaus do what he wanted so long as it didn't interfere with their training…

Five ultimately decides it's not worth the hassle and that's when dad's attention zeroes in on Klaus.

"Why have you been taking your sibling's clothes, Number Four? Even Number Three and Six's. Last I checked you are a boy."

Klaus tries not to reach as all eyes turn to him but even so, he feels heat rise to his cheeks. His fingers twitch uselessly at his side as he tries to think of a way out of this.

"They never minded?" Is what he comes up with and Klaus looks at his siblings. Beneath Allison's mask of neutrality, he thinks he can spy some pity. She caught it early on and never told him to stop. In fact, sometimes Klaus would find some clothes lying out that matched his complexion almost perfectly, just long enough to cover his knobbly knees. Luthor looks completely blank, but that's nothing new. His clothes were Klaus' second favourite, with his jumpers large and comfy. Apart from Five, who dresses like an old man, Klaus has borrowed something from everyone and if he sometimes forgot to give it back…they gave him the kind of warmth he otherwise never got from them.

"Is that so, children?" Dad waits for the others to answer and Klaus wills one of them, any of them, to speak up and come to his defence. It shouldn't come to his surprise that there's silence.

"As I thought," Dad says, with the air of smug superiority that always makes Klaus want to scream. "I will not have you taking your sibling's clothes Number Four, you shall return them immediately. We will discuss your punishment privately later. You are all dismissed."

Klaus is the first to leave. No one comes after him.

3

"Oooh yeah, that hits the spot," Klaus sighs, emptying the remaining contents of the syringe into his arm. It's difficult getting drugs into the academy and so he often has to sneak out to get his relief. Dad's been even more distant than usual, which helps, but it's not enough. Each time the high wears off, the ghosts seem to make up for lost time.

But that's a worry for later, right now he's on his way to becoming happy. Happy and free and alone…

Rather than stay hidden by the dumpster by his dealer, Klaus decides to go for a walk. It's a perfect night, clear and quiet, and he gets the chance to breathe fresh air instead of the mustiness that permeates the academy no matter how much mom cleans. Distracted by the moon that's now swirling with multi-coloured lines, Klaus trips over the kerb and starts giggling as tiny stones around him begin to hop closer. But wait! They're not just stones. Klaus' eyes widen. They're little stone bunnies.

"Come to Klaus, little guys. I'll protect you! I'm a super-hero you know. So, so, super. Except…," Klaus quickly glances around and leans in closer to the bunnies. "Except I don't even like my power! Crazy, right? But shhhh, don't tell dad. Dad's a big, big meanie but oh, don't you worry, I'll protect you all from-"

The kick comes from behind, catching Klaus completely unaware and sending him into the gravel. The bunnies disappear and Klaus' nose aches badly.

"Ouchie! That hurt!" He complains into the ground. Klaus pushes himself up and looks behind him to find three guys not much older than him standing there. Two are laughing and the other one is gazing at him with an expression of pure disgust.

"That's what you get, looking like you do, faggot."

"That's a mean word!" Klaus says, rubbing his sore nose. "And I look pretty, prettier than you. Did mommy forget to dress you this morning?" He has his own skirt now, not Allison's, and he even managed to get some make-up. It makes his eyes 'pop', if he says so himself. He's not about to let some ass-holes think they can get away with insulting him, high or not.

"What the fuck did you say to us?" Luther reject 1 and Luther reject 2 stop laughing, reject 3 advances on Klaus.

"Ooh big macho men come to pick on the poor, skinny bisexual. Whatever am I gonna do?" Klaus lightly bites on his finger, with a mock expression of sadness. "Oh, I know!" He perks up. "I could do this! Hi-yah!"

Diego always made his flying kicks look easy and Klaus had figured, how hard could it be? After all, fighting wasn't Diego's power which meant that Klaus should be able to pull it off too, right? As it turns out, there may have been a slight fault in his logic because it was definitely harder than it looked. For one, Klaus' foot doesn't quite end up in reject 3's gut like he'd hoped. Instead, it lands somewhere close to his abs which were harder than his stained hoody implied. The rebound also doesn't go as Klaus expects, and he ends up hopping on one foot and before he can decide that maybe this fight isn't for him, reject 1 grabs his arms, pulling them taut behind him. Thus begins a tragic sequence of events that leave Klaus bloody, gasping and way too sober for the situation. He also has an awful taste in his mouth from the multiple times he'd bitten the three ass-migos.

"Oh, not good, not good," Klaus mutters to himself as he attempts to pick himself up from the ground. The only reason they'd eventually left him was that Klaus made like a possum and played dead. Turns out you learn a few things being tormented by the dead. Every breathe hurts and now that he thinks about it, Klaus isn't actually sure where he is. He scans his swollen eyes around the area, before they hone in on a flickering street-light in the distance. Below it, like a gift from the Almighty, is a phone booth. He has enough change that he should be able to call home and ask for a ride.

"Ow. Ow. Ow." Every step sends painful spasms up Klaus' right leg and he all but falls into the booth, collapsing against the wall and finding his last few coins that are just enough to earn him one phone call. He places them in, and dials. Crossing, and then quickly uncrossing, his bruised, probably broken fingers, Klaus prays, "Please be Allison, please be Allison…"

"Hello?"

"Luther! Mi hermano, how are you? Well, never mind that. Say, are you busy? Because I know a guy really in need of a ride home right now and he's your loving brother-"

"Klaus, this isn't a good time. Dad needs me for a mission and I'm just about to head out. Call someone else."

"Wait, wait! I haven't got any more money and I'm in a lot of pain…," he moans.

"I don't have time Klaus," is all Luther says before he hangs up and Klaus drops the phone, watching as it dangles uselessly.

By this point, he shouldn't be surprised that Luther wouldn't even hear him out but it still hurts, almost as much as the ghosts who go back to screaming in his ear do.

It takes him a while, but eventually, Klaus makes it back to the house. Mom patches him up but apart from a few glances, no one asks what happened.

4

Torture isn't so bad when you're high. Not high? It really, really sucks. Klaus is tired, sober and still in his damn towel. Sure, his dick might be enjoying the freedom, but Klaus would appreciate it if the rest of him was free too. He can't even talk to Ben with the tape stuck to his mouth and isn't that going to be a bitch coming off.

"Mrphmph!" He shakes the chair again as much as he possibly can, taking deep breathes to stop the tears of frustration that threaten to pour when nothing changes. Ben is there, looking at him with weary pity and isn't that just the story of his life. Poor, helpless Klaus. Stupid, annoying Klaus. Never amazing, loveable Klaus. Never 'I want to be his friend' Klaus. Always the outcast. Always forgotten.

Klaus remembers a time when he was Number 2. Oh, he could never be Number 1, not with Luther's die-hard dedication to daddy's ideals, but dad had seen enough potential in him that he'd had that cherished second spot. Diego had even been Number 5. And then dad decided they were getting complacent, that he needed to push them harder so he created a little unfriendly competition to see if they were all deserving of his initial ranking.

Diego had impressed dad. Klaus, obviously, hadn't.

Maybe he deserves to be Number 6. Klaus bets Ben could have gotten himself out of this. He could have just whipped those assholes to death. See how they liked all that kinky shit. The truth was, any of his siblings could have gotten themselves free. Nothing can contain Luther, Diego has a butt-ton of training, Allison just needs to speak 3 fucking words and Five, well, Five's on a whole other level now despite his adorable stature. Vanya just wouldn't have gotten kidnapped in the first place. Maybe it was better this way, though, because Klaus had nothing to offer them. He also had no one coming for him either, which was the bigger problem.

"You need to get out of your head Klaus, they're coming back."

Ben's voice snaps Klaus back to the present and he glares at his brother. Had he never heard the phrase, 'ignorance is bliss?'

5

"I used to wonder what I was fighting for," Dave confides in him one night when everyone else is asleep and they can get away with huddling close in the darkness. "Seemed like I was just here because I had to be, because people expected it."

"Oh yeah? I know all about expectation," Klaus replies, tracing meaningless symbols on Dave's chest that sometimes become too meaningful. "So, you know now then?"

Dave captures his hand, interlacing their fingers, "I'm fighting for you. I'm fighting so that we can end this, so that we can go home and live our lives the way they should be lived. Happy, together."

Emotion clogs Klaus' throat and he aims for a breezy smile as he says, "Well aren't you making me blush all the way to my tippy toes."

"I'm serious Klaus," Dave says tenderly, drawing his free palm along Klaus' cheek. "This isn't just for here. This is for forever. We'll make it work."

Klaus laughs a little, hiding his smile in Dave's hand. "I'm fighting for you too, you know," he says, dropping a kiss onto the warm skin. "I'll follow you wherever you go."

"I know." Dave leans forward but just before their mouths can be put to even better use, he grows slack, his eyes losing focus and mouth falling open. He slumps onto a panicking Klaus. Around them, the scenery changes until Klaus is wearing far more clothes, covered in far more dirt, and cradling the dead body of the only man he's ever truly loved.

"Dave? Dave, no, you can't do this to me. You said we'd make it work, that it'd be forever. I need you. Dave? Dave!"

Klaus heaves in a huge gulp of air as he wakes, his body instinctively ready to fight an invisible threat. He stays tense for a few moments, eyes darting around to make sure it's safe, before he collapses back onto the mattress, throwing his sweaty duvet off him.

He looks to side but there's no one there.

Moisture clouds Klaus' vision but this time, no tears fall. He's done a lot of crying for Dave, a lot of shouting and cursing the world but it doesn't change anything. Dave is still dead, and Dave still hasn't come to him. Or he's not been strong enough to get Dave here. Either way, Dave is gone, gone, gone.

Klaus flips himself over in bed, screaming into his pillow. He's sober now! Sober! Why isn't Dave there? Klaus had thought he'd meant everything he said, that he really meant forever but what if…what if death really was it for them and what if Klaus was just being selfish wanting him back here. He'd never really talked about what came after with the ghosts so maybe Dave was in a place that was better than him watching Klaus make shitty life choices.

Maybe he'd feel better if he could just talk to someone. Diego had helped him in the bar, maybe he'd be willing to listen more about Dave. Allison always loved a good romance, even if hers hadn't turned out so well and Five…okay, maybe not Five.

Mind made up, Klaus ventures out into the rest of the mansion. He tries Diego first but there no answer to his knock and the door is locked. When Klaus reaches Allison's room he can hear murmured voices. It's her and Luther, as usual, and it's not something Klaus particularly wants to interrupt. He does end up going past Five's room but when he knocks he immediately hears the 'go away Klaus' that sounds just the same as when he was a kid.

He debates calling Vanya, who's been visiting more frequently these days, but he doesn't want to disturb her own healing with his baggage.

Sighing, Klaus makes his way back to his room. He's made it this far alone, why start trying to change things now?

+1

It's a bad, bad day for Klaus Hargreeves. At the heart of it, as always, is dad.

"This still isn't good enough Number Four. This is only the second time you've managed to bring me here. Then again, I suppose I should probably be happy you've even managed that."

As wake ups go, Klaus has had better. Dear old dad decides to follow Klaus through his morning routine and with every snipe, Klaus wishes his power went the other way so he could give dad what he deserves a second time.

"Oh, no drugs? Who knew all it would take was my death and the impending apocalypse to get you to stop your disgusting habit."

"Keep pushing old man and we'll see what happens," Klaus mutters darkly.

"What was that? Stop mumbling Number Four, you know how I hate it when you mumble."

Eventually, Klaus dives into the bath, submerging himself until he's lost dad, but has a killer headache and an itch for drugs he's proud to say he's not felt in a few weeks.

He distracts himself with a mission. Since the whole gangs back together again, they thought they'd try reliving the good old days again, minus the controlling dicktator. It turns out Allison and Vanya make a good team back at headquarters, coordinating them and making sure they don't kill each other. Well, most of the time they do. Klaus would say getting electrocuted does not equal a fun time and by the time he's regained consciousness and the random ticks are gone, he discovers the others have all left.

"We lost you, Klaus. We thought you'd gone back home, I'm sorry," is what Vanya tells him later and Klaus smiles, because if he doesn't smile, he might cry. He knows he's a pretty shitty track record being a willing team player, but he's been doing better. He's been helpful.

To top it all off, he gets into a fight with Ben. Now, being the only brother he can talk to, Ben's learnt to be pretty patient with Klaus and Klaus has got used to having a constantly judgemental figure in his periphery. Now, however, it looks like all Ben wants to do is test the new limits of his, their power. Of course, he wants to get away from Klaus as soon as possible.

"Focus Klaus, we may as well not bother training if your head's not in the game."

"Don't you go quoting High School Musical on me mister," Klaus says, pointing a finger. "I'm sorry I'm not doing good enough for you, I know you can't wait until you can be free of me."

"Stop twisting my words, Klaus. Hey! What are you doing?"

"Nothing!" Klaus starts throwing things around his room. He knows he has some somewhere. He'd thrown a lot of it out but he's sure there's some somewhere. At least, there'll be some money. He's sick of this. He's sick of dad's presence still lingering, of his sibling's forgetting him and wanting to be rid of him. He's done trying to be good.

"Klaus, stop it! Think about Dave."

"Dave, Dave, Dave," Klaus says mockingly. "Stop acting as if you knew him! He was my boyfriend, Ben. He'd understand, he'd understand this…"

"Would he?" Ben goes to grab Klaus' wrist but it passes straight through him. "You've been doing so well, you don't need it."

"How would you know what I need? How would any of you know what I need! It's always been 'oh look at poor, weird Klaus who talks to ghosts, he doesn't need any more friends, he's got the dead'! You always say Vanya was the forgotten one but at least she was allowed to make a name for herself! No-one helped me! No-one helps me!"

Instead of answering, Ben vanishes, and Klaus feels a fleeting feeling of victory before it's drowned out by hurt and the uncontrollable craving for his drugs. He searches with increased fervour, throwing things out of his wardrobe and desks until he hears a knock.

"Klaus? What's going on?"

"Oh, nothing," Klaus calls out to Diego with false cheer. "Just doing a bit of spring cleaning!"

"Ouch, hey, okay," Klaus hears muttered outside the door. "We're coming in, okay?"

"We? You really don't need to-" Just as Klaus finds the prized bag he's been looking for, Luther busts open his door and Klaus finds himself the subject off all his sibling's stares.

"What's that, Klaus?" Vanya asks softly and Klaus frowns, holding the little bag close to his chest, hiding it in his hand.

"Nothing. What are you all doing here?"

"I think someone thinks you need us," Diego says dryly and behind him, stands Ben.

"Traitor!" Klaus glares and Ben sighs, rolling his eyes. He passes through Diego to stand in front of him.

"I got you help, use it," he says and Klaus sniffs.

"I don't need help."

"Yes, you do!" Ben replies angrily. He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and suddenly, he's feeding off enough energy to be corporal enough to say to the others; "Klaus needs to talk, and you are going to listen to him. Got it?"

"I don't need to-"

"You," Ben says, pointing his finger at Klaus' chest, right over his fist, "Are going. To. Talk. And then you're going to have a cheesy bonding moment and maybe, just maybe, we can lose some of that dysfunction."

Klaus knows the moment Ben returns to ghost form as all eyes turn on him.

"Well, Klaus," Five begins. "The floor's yours."

They all settle around his room as Klaus starts to talk, looking like the world's strangest sleepover. Klaus doesn't really know what to start with, since he's been keeping everything bottled up for, well, since he can remember, but he finds that once the words start, they flow out easily afterwards. He tells them about the Mausoleum, which turns out to be the first time any of them had heard of it. He then goes onto the embarrassment he's felt his whole life as the disappointment of the family, and how everything has contributed to the real reason he's taken drugs for so long. He finishes on more recent events, starting, and ending, with Dave. By the time he's done, his voice has gone hoarse and the bag has fallen from his grip.

No one says anything for a moment and then, Klaus finds himself in what might be the tightest hug he's ever experienced.

"You know," Klaus wheezes, "I can see that you don't do this often, at least not to things you want to continue breathing, but please, continue to wrap me tight in those big, muscly, hairy arms…"

"I hate you," Luther says mildly but while he does loosen his grip, he keeps Klaus safely encompassed, making a little ball of warmth in Klaus' chest burn bright.

"I had no idea, Klaus," Vanya says, and Klaus offers her a small smile.

"No one did," he says.

"Well let's make this a proper bonding experience then," Diego says, "c'mon everyone."

"I think I'm good here-"

Diego drags Five into what becomes and extremely weird, extremely good, group hug with Klaus at the heart of it.

"Just because dad screwed us up doesn't mean we have to stay that way," Allison says roughly.

"It's true. Hell, we changed the timeline, we can change this," Diego confirms.

"Aw guys, you like me, you really like me!" Klaus cries.

"Yeah, don't ask me why," Five says dryly but Klaus spies the little upwards tilt of his lips.

"Now what do you say?" Ben asks cheekily. He's not quite corporal enough to join the hug, acts like a part of it anyway, curled around Luther's shoulder.

Klaus huffs. "Everyone, say thank you to Ben."

"Thank you, Ben," comes the chorus of siblings but it looks like Ben's not done. He catches Klaus' attention once more.

"Hey Klaus, look up."

Klaus does and through the mess of limbs that are his siblings, he sees something that makes his breath catch and a beaming grin grow on his face.

"Dave."