"I thought you were dead," Klaus tells her with surprising vulnerability. "I thought I was the only one left."
Allison winches, her stomach dropping as she feels her hope dissipate. On her cab ride over to Klaus's mansion (A MANSION?!), she had begun to wonder if finding Klaus would immediately lead her to a family reunion of all the Hargreeves siblings. Perhaps Klaus had heard from the others — maybe even arrived in Dallas with them.
Yup, in the ride over, Allison had allowed herself to envision arriving at the mansion to five delighted faces (or ok, more realistically, a mix of delighted and annoyed faces) — her siblings all hanging out together, awaiting her arrival over the past two years. And even though Allison would have felt tremendously envious to have been left out, the only one displaced from the group, she didn't wish the stifling feelings of uncertainty and survivor's guilt that had threatened to destroy her on anyone else.
But nope, looks like it's Klaus and Klaus alone. She's glad to see him — thrilled in fact! But… still; the Hargreeves aren't complete. She doesn't feel complete.
"Me too," she tells Klaus. "I didn't know where… or I guess, when, you all were. Gosh, I ran through so many theories — calculations even. I started to feel like Five."
Klaus nods, bottom lip quivering a bit.
But then, something dawns on Allison — lingering from the last time she'd seen Klaus.
"Wait, Ben! Did he come with you?!" She asks, her heart elevating again.
Klaus sighs. "No, unfortunately, ghosts can't time tra—"
He freezes. "Shuuuuuuu… SHUT UP!" He grits his teeth, seemingly threatening her with his fist, though oddly, his gaze is several inches to her right. "Will you just be quiet for one god-damn sec —"
"Ok, ok, ok," Allison puts her arms up, defensively. "What the hell, Klaus?! I'm sorry. Gosh, I'm sorry Ben's didn't make it. That sucks. But you can't fault me for asking. I didn't know."
When Ben had appeared that day in the Icarus Theatre two years ago (or rather, 56-ish years in the future), Allison had been so excited — though only fleetingly. She couldn't exactly dwell on the feeling, no matter how huge the revelation was. They were all rather busy dealing with a little thing called The End of the World.
But, maybe now she can could see Ben! Wouldn't that be amazing?
Unfortunately, Klaus doesn't appear to be listening to her anymore. Or maybe he's constipated? He's pursing his lips and shaking his head back and forth vigorously. He even shushes the air a few times.
"So, I guess you haven't managed to say sober then, huh?" Allison says, attempting to move the conversation on to a uh… lighter subject (Well, lighter than their brother's violent teenage death at least.)
Klaus groans, still not quite meeting her eyes. "Will you quit being such a little bug-a-boo! Arrrrrrrgh. Fi-iiiiiine! FINE."
Then Klaus does something even stranger. He clenches his fists as his hands glow blue. "You happy?"
Allison glares at him. He's powering up?! "What the hell are you doing?" she asks. "Trying to prove that you're sober? Klaus, I don't need —"
The voice isn't Klaus's. It's shy, tentative. And maybe even familiar? Like a song she had heard long ago, but remixed.
She turns to her left, towards the sound, and lets out a gasp.
A man is sitting there, right on the edge of the pool just like her. He's wearing a black leather jacket, a black hoodie, black jeans, and even black boots, which are sticking into the water.
Her first thought? That isn't proper poolside wear.
Her second thought? She knows him. Wait, no — it's more than that. This is someone she loves — even though his features are different... older... than she's ever had the joy of getting to see for herself.
"BEN!" It's a cry, a gasp, and hallelujah all in one.
"Oh my gosh, Ben!" She throws herself at him, not caring as her knees scrap the granite.
Ben clings back, completely solid against Allison's skin. He's so so real.
She wraps her arms more tightly around his shoulders, half-worried that if she loosens her grip even the slightest, he'll vanish. Or worse yet, he'll reveal himself to be just a desperate, sleep-deprived illusion.
"Ben, Ben, Ben." She whispers, not sure if the words are meant for him or just for herself.
"Allison," he sighs deeply, relaxing further into the hug.
They stay there for several seconds, simply savoring each other's warmth.
"You're here. You're really here!" Allison says.
"Yes, I got you."
"Alright, alright, alright," comes Klaus's voice — and a heavy splash, drenching the hugging duo, along with it. "No need to hump our dear poor Ben-y boy, Allison. He's not Luther."
Allison lets go of Ben for one highly motivating reason: to kick all the water she possibly can at her very-much-alive-but-oh-so-perverted brother.
Ben follows suit, managing an even bigger splash thanks to his boots, and Klaus gets knocked off the pool float.
Klaus walks over to his siblings, purposely flicking water directly into Ben's crotch with each step. "Hey, watch it, Casper. I manifested you into this realm and I can manifest you right out of it!"
Ben just rolls his eyes, clearly used to Klaus's bullying.
Allison watches with awe, marveling at this older version of her long-dead brother. "You look good, Ben. Told you your acne would clear up."
"Ah yes, our young Benjamin is a full-grown man now," comments Klaus. "Well, a full-grown ghost-man."
Ben blushes. "Thanks, Allie."
Ghosts can blush?! There's a lot Allison wants to learn about how this whole ~spirit thing works. But she'll get caught up on Ben's life — or, erm, existence — since his death later. First, she needs to get the lowdown on just the last two years.
"Can you two catch me up on how you ended up in a place like this?", she asks.
"What? The physical realm?" says Ben.
"The mansion?" says Klaus.
Allison points at Klaus. Bingo. "The mansion first."
"Oh, you know, dicks, drugs, debutantes," Klaus says smugly, settling back into the pool float. "My holy trinity."
"More like your destructive vices," Ben corrects.
Allison snorts in agreement and Klaus hisses at Ben, appearing to forget that Allison can see him, too.
"Klaus, you started a cult," Allison chides, before rounding on Ben, a bizarre fact percolating in her mind. "And you — you let him! Unbelievable!"
"Cult is a very negative word, Allison," Klaus says. He points between Ben and himself, "We prefer to call it an 'alternative spiritual community.'"
"Nope, not we," says Ben. "Allison's bang on."
He turns directly to his sister, placing an arm on her elbow just because. "We didn't mean for it to happen either. It just… spiraled out of control. But it's not all Charles Manson-y. Wannabe GQ Jesus over here isn't smart enough to pull that off."
Klaus pelts water at Ben again. "Heyyy, you're MY ghost bitch. You're supposed to be on my side. Literally."
"Well, enough about us," Ben says, unfazed. "What about you, Allison? What have you been up to?" He gives her elbow a soft squeeze. "I know the 60s can't be easy for you."
"No, they're not," Allison acknowledges. "But I've managed. I'm living in South Dallas, working as a civil rights organizer."
"Wow," Klaus says. Ben just beams.
"...With my husband," Allison adds.
Klaus and Ben simultaneously gasp.
"Congratulations!" Says Ben. "Who is this —"
"Lunatic?" interrupts Klaus.
"Lucky man whom we'd love to meet?" finishes Ben.
Allison giggles, delighted to finally be able to tell people who know her — not just the 1960s half-truth version of her but the real her – about new life and love.
"His name is Raymond Chestnut." She fiddles with her wedding ring as Ben grabs her hand to examine it. "Ray."
Ben and Klaus don't react to that — at least not to her. They look to each other instead, some understanding seeming to pass between them.
"Ray Chestnut? Sorry to ask, Allie," says Ben. "But is he… is your husband locked up right now?"
Allison leans back. That's just about the last thing she expected to hear. "Yeah." She looks between her two brothers, "How do you two know that?!"
Ben sighs and angles his head towards Klaus, accusatorily.
"Yeah, yeah, we did time together," admits Klaus. "Wow, it's a small world after all. Hey -" He looks towards Ben. "Note that, mon assistant. 'It's a small world after all.' That would make good scripture for my cul — for, uh, Destiny's Children."
Ben stays focused on Allison. "Why is your husband in prison? Everything OK?"
"Yeah, yeah," Allison reassures him. "He's a good guy. A great one actually." She doesn't want Klaus (or Ben, now - ahhh Ben!) worrying about Ray's treatment of her like her siblings understandably did with her first husband, Patrick. "It's some bullshit charge and I can't get him out."
"Hellooo? Why don't you just rumor him out?" Klaus responds immediately, like her massive problem isn't, well, even a problem.
Ben nods, clearly thinking the same thing.
Allison inwardly groans, disappointed to see that neither of them get it — not even Ben, the naturally most initiative and emphatic of the six siblings... or at least that's how Allison remembers him being. (Maybe he's changed?)
"I haven't used my power since…" She points to her throat. "I couldn't speak for a year."
Then, finally, understanding appears in both her brothers' eyes.
"Oh," says Ben. "Allison, I'm so —" he reaches out to give her yet another hug.
… but poof! His arms don't reach her. Ben is gone. No slow fade out, just a sudden disappearance, without even the courtesy of a goodbye whooshing sound.
Allison looks around. Maybe ghosts aren't held to the usual rules of human physics? Maybe they can teleport like Five?!
But nope, no Ben anywhere.
"KLAUS!" Allison smacks her hands down. "WHAT THE —"
"I'm sorry!" He says, looking at her, the sincerity in his eyes so intense that it's almost painful. "I'm sorry," he repeats again, now looking a few inches to her right.
"Oh? He's… still here?" Allison hovers her hand to where she saw Ben a moment ago.
"Yup, clear as day to my eyes and ugly as ever," says Klaus. "I just… I ran out of juice. Unlike something else of mine that I can keep up for many hours at a time, thank you very much, my power needs frequent breaks."
"Gross," says Allison.
"Yeah, yeah. That's what he said, too."
Allison smiles at the now empty spot, miming a high-five, and wondering if Ben — unbeknownst to her — high fived back.
"But you'll bring him back, right? You'll make him corporeal again?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'll bring him back," Klaus promises. "I'll bring him back."
"Good, because you have no idea how much I've missed him," Allison says, before adding. "Hope you heard that, Ben."
"He heard," Klaus confirms. "But hey-ah! What about me?!"
"Missed you too, Klaus," she says, splashing him once more for good measure.
"Good." He smiles. "Good. And oh —" He listens for a moment. "Yeah, that could work. Allison? Ben and I may have a way to get Ray out. Just give me an hour or two to power back up."