Author's Note: I'm alive! Sorta. Kinda. But I'm trying to get back into writing again. No promises, honestly. It'll probably just be more of these little one shots until the summer hits. I mean, hopefully I'll be able to write more than three chapters this semester, but we'll see. Anyways, this is my first Umbrella Academy fic, so here goes nothing! Read, review, and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Umbrella Academy or Marvel
Sam sighed in relief as he swept away from the Tower, dipping over and through the skyscrapers of NYC. Don't get him wrong, he loved being an Avenger. The work was thrilling, the teammates were amazing (when they could get along), and the pay was unreal, but there came a point where he was spending too much time with the rest of the Avengers. They all practically lived in that Tower or on the road together on missions. He needed a break. He needed several breaks.
Besides, who could say no to flying, especially at night? Just you and the wind. No matter how many times he did this, Sam would never be able to let it go. He'd thought he could after the military program dissolved and Riley… Riley didn't make it, but he'd been lying to himself. The moment he put those wings on to help Steve, his love for them came rushing back. He'd never give these up again. Never.
Eyes slipping mostly closed in bliss, Sam fell into a small barrel roll, laughing as he came out of it. Yeah, this was the life. Was this how pilots felt? They were paid to fly. What a life.
Of course, Sam wished he had a little bit more time to work with the veteran's program he'd been running before, but he was still being a hero. Just, a little more hands on than before. And he still made it back there sometimes. He ran as many sessions as he could and when he couldn't make it there, he practiced his skills on his teammates (with varying success – he'd only tried on Natasha once and had instantly regretted that decision).
Sam blinked and swung out of the way of an oncoming building. He should probably pay more attention to his surroundings instead of getting lost in the past. Eyes sharpening in concentration, Sam tilted himself towards the water, intending to glide as close to the water as he dared, maybe kick some up towards him for fun.
A small, lonely figure made him change course.
Sam's heart was in his throat the moment he saw the thin figure on the top of the bridge, leaning ever so slightly over the edge. No, no, no. Tonight was supposed to be a good night. Tonight was not supposed to be the night he had to grab a jumper. Heart in his throat, Sam glided to a stop next to the person – a pale teenager from what Sam could tell. He made sure to make as much noise as possible as he came to a stop. He didn't want to startle the kid into jumping accidentally. Sam would be able to catch him but he'd like to avoid that situation if at all possible.
It didn't seem to matter because the kid didn't even look over at him when he landed. The kid was arguing with thin air, voice slurred and reedy, "- shouldn't I? It'll be fun! Like parachuting! Or, uh, I haven't gone parachuting, have I? Oh! No, we went on that one mission, remember? Ah, Nevada. What an awful place."
Sam cleared his throat, "I don't know, I've got some friends from Nevada. And you can't say no to Vegas when you've got some cash to spare."
The kid swung his head over towards him and Sam had to hold in a curse. The kid was clearly high, eyes unfocused and bloodshot. He was unnaturally pale with smeared eyeliner and a smudge of dark eyeshadow trailing up towards his brow ridges. There was a little tilt to his lips that spoke of sardonic humor. Sam's jaw clenched when he looked the kid over further and saw that he was barefoot, wearing nothing but a tight leather skirt and a black sequined crop top. He had to be freezing. There were tattoos all over the kid's arms. He didn't get a good look at them before the kid waved on hand at Sam, the word 'Hello' scrawled across the palm, "Well hello there, sir. How are you this fine evening?"
Sam swallowed away his nerves, giving the kid as charming of a smile as he could manage, "Pretty good. Probably warmer than you."
The kid laughed, high and breathy, "Don't worry, don't worry. I can take the cold."
"You sure?" Sam asked, "I've got an emergency blanket in one of these pockets."
"I'm sure," the kid smiled vaguely. His eyes darted to the side, towards the spot of air he'd been arguing with earlier. Sam winced. He wasn't sure what to do if this kid was schizophrenic.
Sam slowly bent his knees, settling down on the ground with his back against a metal pole. He patted the spot next to him, "Why don't you sit with me for a while? Tell me why you're up here all alone?"
The kid smiled bitterly, muttering to himself, "Oh, I'm never alone." He sat down, though, which was all that mattered. The way he'd been leaning over the edge made Sam nervous, wings or not.
When the silence stretched between them for a beat too long, Sam sent the kid another smile and asked as casually as he could manage, "So? What brought you here tonight?"
The kid sent him back a vague, dopey smile, "The view, of course."
Sam resisted the urge to sigh, "Of course. You could get this view from other places, though. Safer places. Ones that are probably easier to get to as well."
The kid shrugged one bony shoulder, "Ben likes high places."
Ben? Was he talking in third person? Carefully, Sam asked, "Is that your name?"
"No, it's my brother's name," the kid answered. He scowled at the air next to him, "Alright, alright!" He looked back at Sam, "My name's Klaus. Nice to meet you." He stuck out his hand and everything.
Sam smiled back, charmed despite himself, "Nice to meet you too, Klaus. I'm Sam."
Klaus hummed vaguely to himself, "Sam Wilson, right? The Falcon?"
"That's right. I'm an Avenger," Sam answered. Maybe Klaus was a fan? He hadn't seemed too excited when he said the name. Then again, he was clearly high enough that he wasn't thinking straight.
Klaus's eyes flickered to that spot again, "Do you like working with the Avengers?"
"Sure," Sam answered easily, "I love it, actually. I'm doing a lot of good work. Saving a lot of good people. The rest of the Avengers make it fun, too. They're good people. I enjoy working with them. Why? Looking to go into heroics, kid?" He'd meant the question to be teasing, but the disconnected smile that Klaus had been wearing through the whole interaction slipped off his face at Sam's question. He wanted to curse. What had he done to set that off?
Klaus shook his head slowly, "No, I don't think I am." He paused for a moment, letting that sink in, before he asked, "Do you ever think about the people you kill?"
Sam winced. Yeah, yeah, he thought about it a lot. More than he should probably. Of course, his thoughts normally strayed towards the people who died because he failed to save them. In his mind, he might as well have killed them. He knew it wasn't his fault, knew that it was irrational and hurtful to think that way, but he couldn't quite stop himself from thinking it sometimes. He swallowed around the emotions rising in his throat and answered slowly, "Sometimes. That's only natural. But I know that I was protecting people or protecting myself when I killed. It was self-defense."
"They wouldn't think that," Klaus muttered.
Sam frowned, "No, probably not. But they're also hurting people so they don't really have room to talk."
The kid seemed to ignore him, muttering more to the thin air next to him, "What? They do! They always blame people for stuff like that. If he could see them, he wouldn't think that. I – I know. I know…" He trailed off, head tilted towards that spot again, looking for all the world like he was listening to something. After a moment, he shook his head like a dog, springing to his feet fast enough that Sam almost didn't have a chance to mirror the action before Klaus took a huge step off the bridge.
Sam cursed, loudly and emphatically, as he wrapped an arm around Klaus's (too skinny) waist and dragged him back onto the relatively safety of the bridge. Klaus sighed, stick thin body slumping in Sam's grip, "Yeah, figured that wouldn't work."
"What was that?" Sam asked sharply, regretting his tone almost as soon as the words left his mouth.
Klaus plopped back down onto the metal shelf and let his head fall against the metal pole behind them. He didn't answer, choosing instead to just shrug and look up at what few stars were visible in the sky.
Sam blew out a shaky breath and sat back down next to him, keeping a much warier eye on the teenager. He did not want a repeat of that. He'd nearly had a heart attack. He almost hadn't been quick enough to catch him. Rubbing a hand over the back of his neck, Sam gentled his tone and asked, "Why are you doing this, Klaus? Please give me a real answer this time."
Klaus looked at the air next to him before staring over at Sam. Sam had to stop himself from shivering. The kid looked like a bedraggled pole playing at being a hooker. It should have looked ridiculous. Instead, there was something deep in Klaus's eyes that made Sam's breath catch in his throat. It was ancient, waiting. That wasn't the look of a street kid who had seen too much, although there was a hint of that in the corners of his eyes as well. No, there was something in the kid's eyes that spoke of a darkness deeper than the soul, a curse heavier than Atlas's burden. Sam's stayed perfectly still, feeling somewhat like a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching car.
He only relaxed when Klaus looked back over the water again. He spoke after a second, words slightly less slurred than they'd been at the beginning of the conversation, "Why not? No one's going to miss me. Honestly, the family will probably be glad. No more annoying Klaus bothering them. No more Klaus stealing his sisters' clothing. No more Klaus pawning their dad's stuff to buy more drugs. No more smell of joints and alcohol at dinner. Besides, at least it'll be quiet once I die."
"Klaus," Sam started, already tensing in preparation in case Klaus decided to jump again, "I'm going to ask a question and I swear it's not meant to be insulting, okay? But I have to ask: are you schizophrenic?"
Klaus laughed, a hysterical edge to it that made Sam's shoulders tense, "Schizophrenic? Maybe I am! Ben, did you ever think about that? I could just be schizophrenic! This could all be one bad trip! How about that? You'd be a hallucination, then. Well, that's what a hallucination would say." He was looking back over at that spot of empty air again, eyes wide and manic.
Sam didn't know what he would have done if he hadn't made the connection, but as it was, several things fell into place at once. Klaus had said that his brother was named Ben. Klaus also had a tattoo on his arm of an umbrella inside of a circle. That image was the symbol of the Umbrella Academy, a group that had caused a whole lot of dissension among the Avengers. One of the Umbrella Academy members could see the dead. There was at least one dead member of the Umbrella Academy. So, instead of flying Klaus to the nearest insane asylum, Sam let out a shaky breath and practically whispered, "You're the Séance."
Klaus's shoulders came up around his shoulders at Sam's words, his jaw clenching, "Yeah."
"That's what you meant when you said that you'd never be alone. What you meant when you said that you just wanted it to be quiet. And that person you're talking to, that's your brother Ben. He was the Horror, right?" Sam asked, several realizations rushing through him at once.
He'd never thought much about what the Séance's powers entailed. The kid could see dead people. Big whoop. He hadn't considered the ramifications of that. From the rough appearance of the kid in front of him, Sam was willing to bet that those powers weren't as simple and innocent as they might have sounded previously.
Klaus stared at him, that terribly ancient look in his eyes again. Sam swallowed and tried again, gentler and more understanding this time, "The ghosts might be bad but I really don't think this is the answer."
"Shut up, Ben," Klaus hissed at the air – no, the ghost – next to him. When Sam raised an eyebrow inquiringly, Klaus rolled his eyes and waved his hand, "Ben was just complaining about something that can't be changed anyways."
"And what's that?" Sam pressed.
Klaus looked at him from the corner of his eye for a long moment before he gave in, "Oh, alright. If you insist! Ben was just complaining about our tragic backstory. Sold to a billionaire at birth. Weird powers. A ranking system instead of names. Training every moment of every day. Silent dinners. Robot mom. The bad training. Evil father. Disinterested siblings. A life on the streets. Drugs, alcohols, prostitution! The whole tired shebang."
"There's a whole lot of things on that list I want to address," Sam admitted. He could see Klaus tensing up again, though, and figured that the only way he was going to get something out of the kid was to go with humor first, "Starting with the robot mom."
Klaus let out a delighted little laugh. It was the nicest laugh he'd given in the time they'd been sitting there, light and airy like delicate bells. Sam smiled at the sound. Klaus gave a tentative smile back, "Yeah, the nannies didn't work out so well. We were all little kids born with our powers and we, uh, weren't so great at control back then. So, dad decided that building a super strong robot with incredibly advanced AI capabilities was the best bet. Once she stuck around for long enough, we kind of adopted her as our mom." He paused for a moment before admitting shyly, "I think she actually loves us. I know that's not part of her programming because there's no way dad even knows enough about love to program it, but I think she – she evolved or something to be able to care about us. I know it sounds stupid."
"It doesn't," Sam interjected confidently, "You're talking to a guy who lives part time with Tony Stark. You cannot convince me that that man's AI's aren't alive. His little robot buddies, too. I'm pretty sure they're all his actual children." Sam still remembered JARVIS from the few times he met him. Sam hadn't been around that often back then, but JARVIS had made an impression on him during those brief times. The AI was sentient. You could fight Sam on that. And the way Tony cried at JARVIS's death said a whole lot about the sentience, too, but Sam didn't want to think about that ever again.
Klaus gave a small little unsure smile, "Yeah?"
"Yeah," Sam said warmly, trying to force the thoughts of JARVIS's death away by remembering some of FRIDAY's snarkier moments. He shook his head and chuckled, "Alright, what's next? What all are your powers? You can see ghosts? How does that work?"
Klaus shrugged, glancing over at Ben again, "Nothing special. The ghosts are loud and mean and ugly – they look just like they looked when they died. Not the prettiest of sights. Then again, none of them can compare to my prettiness!" It was a weak joke, but Sam cracked a smile just to get Klaus to relax a little more. It worked and Klaus sounded a little more animated when he continued, "There's a lot of blood and gore and all that nasty stuff. And they really like hanging around me. I guess they can tell that I can see them or whatever because they're always moaning at me – Klaus this and Klaus that and help me and I'll kill you and all sorts of nasty threats. Did you know I learned all of my swear words from ghosts? I guess being dead, there's nothing better to do than get creative with your insults." Klaus shrugged again, some of the forced cheerfulness slipping from his voice, "The drugs make them alllllll go away, though! Except Benny Boy, of course. He sticks around. How sweet!" Klaus made little pinching motions at Ben.
Sam forced him to laugh past the horror at what he'd heard, "You're pretty loyal, Ben. How do your powers work then?" Sam was almost too caught up on the thought of all the awful things the murderers and murdered that surrounded Klaus could say to him when he was just a young, scared thing to notice the way Klaus's jaw dropped in surprise. Sam dragged his attention back to Klaus, "What?"
"You – were you talking to Ben?" Klaus asked incredulously.
Sam frowned, "He is over there, right? That's where you had been looking when you were talking to him, so I just assumed."
"No, no, he's over there. I just – you believe me?" Klaus asked, eyes incredibly wide in his thin face.
Sam nodded slowly, "Of course I believe you. I'm pretty sure most of the country knows that the Séance can see ghosts."
"No, I mean, about Ben. You believe me about Ben. You believe that I can still see him even though I'm high," Klaus clarified. There was a faint, flickering hope in the back of his eyes. Sam hadn't even noticed it was missing until it flickered to life.
Sam smiled reassuringly, "Of course I do, kid. Now what'd he say about his powers?"
Klaus exchanged what was probably supposed to be a discrete look of awe with Ben before he turned back to Sam to translate, "Ben says that he's got a portal to another dimension in his stomach where the tentacles of eldritch monsters come out of."
"That's… different," Sam said slowly.
"It's a hot mess," Klaus added cheerfully. He grinned over at Ben, "Ben says that it's a challenge but not one that he has as much of an issue with now that he's dead. He can still feel Them in there, though."
"Interesting," Sam settled on, not quite sure what to say in response to that. He was kind of glad that the powers of the Avengers weren't that odd. Then again, Vision and Wanda weren't exactly normal. Sam internally shook his head and focused back on the conversation, "How about your father? What's the situation there?" The smile dropped off of Klaus's face again and he mulishly looked in the other direction. Sam's own slight smile dropped off as he leaned forward earnestly, "Klaus, you can tell me. If you do, I can get you some help. I promise. The Avengers have power. We can bring an investigation in on your dad if he's mistreating you. Especially since he's claiming you all as a superhero team as well. As the oldest superhero team despite the fact that you're all a whole lot younger than we are. You know, we could probably get an inquiry just on child endangerment."
"No," Klaus sighed, leaning his head back against the pole again, "There's no point. Dad's too rich."
"Tony's pretty rich too, kid," Sam tried.
Klaus shook his head, "Not like dad. Daddy dearest has connections everywhere, as high as he can get them. You won't be able to do anything. We've tried reporting him before. It never goes anywhere and only makes things worse. Besides, we're all almost 18 at this point. Ben's dead. Five is missing. Allison's practically moved out already with all of the movies she does. I know Vanya's got a scholarship to a really cool music school and Diego's scraped together what he needs to join the police academy. We're mostly out the door already. No use making our last year even more miserable."
"What about you?" Sam asked softly.
Klaus gave him a lopsided grin, "Why, I've got the streets. They call my name, you know? Besides, where else would I get all the drugs I need to keep things quiet and peaceful?"
Sam frowned, "Don't hit the streets. Please Klaus. The Avengers can help you. We've got resources. We're working on training Scarlet Witch's powers as well. We can help train yours as well. You wouldn't need to do any Avengers work. We can just help you train."
Klaus snorted, "Training to handle the dead while surrounded by two assassins, two former soldiers, the Hulk, and the rest of the assorted menagerie? Yeah, that sounds like a great idea."
"I can't imagine it's much better back at your house," Sam pointed out, thinking about the normal death tolls of the Umbrella Academy missions. He'd been appalled when he found out that small children had been wracking up death tolls like that.
Klaus gave him a small grin, "Hence the streets." Sam opened his mouth to say something, to say anything to let Klaus let them help him, but Klaus beat him to it, "Thanks but no thanks, man. Ben says thanks also, by the way. Partially for acknowledging him and partially for listening and partially for talking me down."
"Are you talked down?" Sam asked carefully, "I'm not leaving you up here, you know? I'm not leaving you anywhere without a responsible adult, actually. No offense kid, but you don't really seem to be in the right headspace to be alone right now."
Klaus sighed, "I guess I better start going home, then."
"You don't have to," Sam offered one more time, "You can crash at my place for tonight. We'd figure everything out in the morning when we were less tired and you were less high and we weren't very, very high up."
For a long moment, the two of them stared at each other. Sam wasn't sure what Klaus was looking for or what he was seeing, but he tried to show how earnest and sincere he was. He tried to show how much he wanted Klaus to listen to him, to accept his help. Sam knew he only had the smallest fraction of Klaus's story, knew that there were traumas hidden behind those ancient eyes that Sam couldn't even guess at. He didn't feel right sending Klaus back home. He didn't feel right thinking about that man (Reginald Hargrove or something, right? Something like that) standing over Klaus when Klaus walked back inside at almost midnight.
In the end, though, Klaus gave him one more soft smile before saying, "I'm going to head home now."
Sam sighed, shoulders slumping. He pulled a piece of paper and a pen out of his pockets, scribbling an address, an email, and a phone number on it. He handed the paper to Klaus, expression as serious as he could make it, "If you need help, you come to me, alright? I promise I will help you. And if you can't reach me through any of these means, then go to the Avengers Tower. Tell them that you won't leave without talking to me. Make a scene if you have to. I'll make sure you're taken care of until I can come help, okay?"
"Okay," Klaus agreed quietly. Sam watched with sullen despair as the hopeful light that had been flickering in Klaus's eyes sputtered and died.
Sam closed his eyes before mustering up as much of a smile as he could produce after that sight, "Come on, why don't I fly you home? I promise you'll like it. Nothing in this world is better than flying."
"Okay," Klaus said quietly. Sam despaired at the sound.
Pulling his emotions in and hating that he couldn't do anything else, Sam grabbed Klaus and attached a simple harness to him before tilting sideways off the side of the bridge. Klaus made a small gasping noise before laughing breathlessly. Sam's lips tipped up at the sound, straightening out and heading towards the address that Klaus told him over the wind.
As they flew, Sam made a promise to himself. He might not be able to abscond with Klaus at this moment without it being kidnapping, but he wouldn't let that stop him from helping. First thing the next day, he was going to talk to the highest authority he could and report Klaus's father for negligence, child endangerment, and abuse. It was a calculated risk. Sam knew that there was a potential for this to go absolutely nowhere and simply make things worse like what had happened before. But if there was a chance that this would work out and Klaus could escape this situation and get help? Then Sam was going to take it. He had to. He had to.
Sam's breath shuddered when he finally let Klaus down on the stairs going into his house. The home was a monstrosity with an imposing front. Klaus looked completely out of place in his clubbing outfit, hair mussed, and makeup smudged. He looked up at the house as if it were going to come alive and eat him. Sam's heart clenched again. He tried one last time, "We can still leave, Klaus. You don't have to do this. I promise."
Klaus smiled at him, small and so sad that Sam felt tears well up in his own eyes, "It's okay, Sam. It's just my lot in life."
He swept into the house before Sam could say anything else, the door closing behind him with a finality that almost sent Sam crashing to his knees. For a long moment, he stood there, listening. He couldn't hear anything, though.
With a sigh, Sam closed his eyes and turned away, trudging away from the house and towards the Tower. He would fly back. Just… not now. Not when he felt like that. The freedom of flying didn't feel right after watching Klaus walk himself back into the place that had led him to almost taking his own life.
Yeah. He probably wouldn't be flying at all that night.
When Sam reached the corner, he sent one last look at the hulking monstrosity of a house. He knew Klaus couldn't hear him, but he still spoke to him one last time, "I'm going to get you help, kid. No matter what. If it's the last thing I do. You don't deserve this. I promise you that. Just – just hold on. I'll save you." He turned and walked away.
(After a screaming match and a promise of the mausoleum in his future, Klaus flopped onto his bed and just shook. A chill passed through his shoulder, indicating that Ben had just tried to put a comforting hand on his shoulder. When Klaus rolled to look over at him, Ben smiled reassuringly and repeated the words that Sam had said on that street corner. Klaus cried, but he also smiled. He didn't believe Sam, but… maybe it was alright to hope. Just this once.)
Author's Note: Not my best work but I needed something to break my writer's block, haha. We're just going to pretend that the Umbrella Academy is in NYC because I don't think they ever actually name the city they live in, so… whatever I guess :P Thanks for taking the time to read this!