Title: Searching

Fandom: The Umbrella Academy

Pairing: none
Rating: PG-13

Summary: In 1963, Klaus is desperate for something to help relieve his cold symptoms.

Notes: Written for day 4 of my 23 Ficlets project to celebrate my 23rd anniversary in the community

 

Searching

 

It isnít easy to find in 1963. Itís just come on the market, so it isnít widely distributed yet. But the tablets pharmacies have arenít cutting it. Heís been awake for two days straight with this cough, and awake is not Klausí happy place even on the best of days. Awake and sober means seeing the ghosts of people everywhere, nagging and crying and screaming and suffering. Add a stinking head cold to the mix and heís so fucking desperate for relief he takes a car and a tissue box and just starts driving. He stops at every pharmacy he passes.

 

Heís so tired of feeling sick and tired of feeling tired that he canít even count the number of times he almost spins the car off the road or drives it into something that isnít a street, though the worst he hits is a mailbox. There are no seatbelts or airbags, but Klaus has been to war, so the risks donít even enter his mind. Heís too focused on his current mission.

 

The moon is full and bright as he stumbles from the car toward the door of another drug store. He laughs up at it, thinking about Luther and that mission and wondering where the others are right now. Did they memorialize him the way they did after Ben died? Do they think heís lost forever the way they thought theyíd lost Five? Did they even notice he was gone the way they hadnít when Klaus found himself in Vietnam for years?

 

ďhahhÖ Hahkxxshhh!Ē Klaus sneezes into his shoulder as he reaches for the door. Scanning the shelves is quick and easy. Itís not there. Then heís back in the car, heading off to find a new place to check. He misses the internet. Google Maps. Cell phone GPS. Ordering off Amazon. Itís got to be somewhere, and even if it takes him weeks and heís already over this cold by the time he finds it, heís going to keep looking so heíll have some on hand for the next time.

 

When there are more tissues outside the tissue box than in it, Klaus buys a new box at one of the stores. He buys some oranges as well, because he canít find bottled juice, and he sits on the hood of the slightly dented car and unpeels the oranges, eating section after section and staring at the tattoos on his fingers, slick and sticky. He curls up in the back seat when it all gets too much and coughs and coughs, wishing he could feel Benís touch when his brotherís ghost tries to stroke his head.

 

ďhahhKxxx! HíKxxshhh!Ē The sneezes rock his whole body, making him flail then pull back in on himself. He curls into a fetal position and lets out a sob because heís left the tissue box in the front seat and suddenly itís all too much for him.

 

Ben tries to reason with him. Ben tells him to find a motel somewhere and bundle up in bed to wait this head cold out. Ben doesnít want him driving halfway across the country in search of something that might not even exist. Maybe Klaus got the dates wrong in his head? Maybe Klaus is feverish, delirious? Maybe both. Probably both. But Klaus keeps driving. And searching.

 

And sniffling and sneezing and coughing and aching. Heís driven, and so heís driving. And Ben has absolutely no way to stop him anyway. Those disapproving looks are fierce but his threats are empty. And Klaus is used to disapproval from his family, from everyone really.

 

ďKlaus, promise me, if itís not at this next place, youíll try to rest,Ē Ben pleads with him, following him into another pharmacy. Theyíve lost track of what state theyíre in, what day it is. But Klaus looks and sounds ten times worse than when he started. His nose is red from sandpaper-grade tissues scratching at it constantly for days on end. His dark eyes are red and the bags under them almost have their own bags by now.

 

ďSínot going to help!Ē He snorts with laughter. ďSnot,Ē he murmurs to himself. The laughter scratches his throat and makes him cough again, but that is a fine price to pay for a moment of levity. †

 

He stumbles around the store until he finds the right section, then stops dead in his tracks. There it is. He rubs at his eyes, blinks, rubs, and blinks again. ďBen? Ben, are you seeing this?Ē he asks, reaching over to hit Ben and get his attention, except his hand touches nothing. He overbalances to the side and catches himself, knocking a few boxes of medicine off the shelf in the process.

 

ďYeah, I see it,Ē Ben says as Klaus grabs the bottle of bright green liquid and hugs it to his chest as if it is his now his most precious possession.

 

In a flash, Klaus twists off the cap and chugs two mouthfuls of the stuff. Ben yells at him to go easy on it. And some store clerk yells at him that heíll have to pay for that. But the burn of pure Nyquil going down numbs him to everything for the moment. He closes his eyes and hums a few bars from a song that isnít going to be written for another thirty years.

 

He buys two bottles of the medicine, just to be safe, and thinks he might go back for a third when he feels better and has the money to splurge. Ben helps him spot a motel nearby. Itís a shady, pay-by-the-hour joint, but Klaus has slept in worse places. He sprawls face-down on the bed like a starfish, tissues in one hand and the green bottle in the other. The medicine is kicking in, and he can barely keep his eyes open.

 

ďhahhHmmphhh!Ē he sneezes into a pillow then turns his head the other direction so heís not resting his face in a wet spot. The pillowcase feels cool and soft against his cheek, and itís maybe the best thing heís felt in months.

 

He looks around for Ben, wanting to ask him to stick around and watch over him while he sleeps, even though Benís not some angel sent to do that, and Klaus is agnostic anyway. But Ben isnít anywhere. Maybe itís the alcohol in the medicine thatís dimmed his sťance powers again. Heís been sober for a relatively long time, at least for him, but he has no regrets about backsliding with Nyquil, apart from losing touch with his brother for a while. Thatís nothing new to him either, though. It was amazing how he and his brothers and sisters all grew up together, lived together, fought crime together, and still all managed to feel alone. The silence in the room is easy to get used to. Itís pleasant. Itís familiar.

 

Klaus wonders, briefly, if he should take just one more swallow of the medicine, but before he can even raise his head to look over at the bottle, heís out like a light.