i. brellies' burden

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C H A P T E R   O N E

There was nothing scarier than relief and its magnetic lull into a sense of security false security. Two sentences and eight words spread that very feeling throughout the group.

"April 2nd, 2019. A day after the apocalypse." Five read the newspaper aloud. A brief silence swept the room as the Umbrellas processed the information.

"The house is still standing and," Celeste paused to look out the window. "There are people on the streets, roads busy as ever."

Allison paused. "Wait, so we actually stopped it?"

The others' eyes widened, each giving their own cry of delight, laughing a little.

"Did we actually succeed at something? That's incredible!" Klaus grinned, raising his hand to give a high-five to Five, who begrudgingly gave one.

"We're all drinking our asses off tonight. That is an order." Celeste yelled, raising her hands up in the air. "To the living room dear brellies!"

"I should go find Claire." Allison remarked, but Celeste tugged on her arm, shaking her head while mouthing 'later'.

The eight, in risen spirits, collectively made way to the living room. They squeezed themselves through the doorway to get inside all at once, but never complained. A skip in their steps were evident, until all eyes fell on the portrait on the mantle.

Celeste halted, while Diego spoke up. "Why is there a painting of Celeste over the mantelpiece?"

Before anyone could reply, or Celeste could make a feeble attempt at a light-hearted joke, Reginald Hargreeves came into view. "I knew you'd all show up eventually."

Relief. A traitorous feeling. Bit by bit, the euphoric comfort that washed over them mere minutes ago slowly faded as this timeline presented more details that weren't comforting at all.

". . . Dad." Diego said plainly.

"You're alive." Luther added, stating the obvious.

The old Hargreeves raised his eyebrows. "Why shouldn't I be?"

At this point, Five got the feeling of his stomach churning uneasily. He didn't know what it was this time, but whatever it is, something wasn't right. Again.

"Yeah, y-yeah," Luther stuttered nervously. "I'm just happy that we're home and together again."

"Love what you've done with the mantel, by the way. My face looks positively better than Five's. Why, I dare say, this portrait just lightens up the somber atmosphere this entire house reeks of." Celeste clapped her hands together nervously, feet starting to point towards the door. "Since you're. . . here again, it would be best of me to leave, wouldn't it?"

"Very well. Bring the whole lot with you."

Celeste's brows knitted in confusion. "They get to stay since this is their home."

"Wrong." Reginald objected, giving no further explanation.

"Listen, I don't know what game you're playing, Reggie," Celeste spat. "But this is the Umbrella Academy, and those are the Umbrellas. So unless all seven of them magically severed their ties with you and changed their surnames like I did, without my knowledge, then this is their home and they will raid your liquor cabinets."

Reginald clicked his tongue. "Wrong again, Number Eight. A quite unpleasant version of you, might I add." He motioned to the balcony as confusion spread over Celeste's face. "This is the Sparrow Academy."

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