Perfection. That’s what Luther Hargreeves defines himself as. Well, used to define himself as that is. He was Sir Reginald Hargreeves perfectly crafted soldier: 6’5 in frame, blonde hair, blue eyes, washboard abs, strong arms, thick thighs, massive shoulders, unmatched super human strength. He was the spitting image of the dream boy next store.
Or Luther used to be said dream boy. Reginald defiled him, stripped him the agency he once had over his own body. He was no longer gorgeous, no, far from it. He was a monster. He turned into this hideous, heinous creature. His body, something he took so much pride in, something that quite literally defined him, was no longer what he knew. It was something he despised. After all, Reginald sent him away because he couldn’t stand to look at what he turned Luther into. So how could anyone stand to look at him? Look at this eyesore? Especially after he hurt them all so terribly. He was too blinded by his intense dedication to a man who could never be pleased. His siblings all learned that light years ago but it took quite literally the end of the world for him to realize.
So he just stopped. He stopped coming downstairs for breakfast with the rest of them. He could smell the bacon and french toast from his room, hear the light chatter and the sound of laughing fits, but he refused to budge. They would never want his company. He was doing them a favor - he was saving them from the inevitable pain he would cause to his siblings. Really they should be thanking him.
He was as content as could be with his cooler packed full of juice pouches thank you very much. This body, it demanded food. A lot of it. But he didn’t deserve food, didn’t deserve to be healthy. This body needed to suffer. His mirrors were no longer intact but in pieces scattering the floor. He didn’t bother wearing shoes; If he bled, he bled. He liked to bleed.
Sometimes though, like tonight, Luther would find himself in front of the fridge at the wee hours of the morning. 3:20 AM to be exact. His siblings aren’t opposed to being up at this hour themselves, but they don’t bother each other unless there’s a reason to be concerned. And this does not concern them.
He hadn’t left his room in a couple of days other than to restock his cooler earlier that day. He ran into Vanya, who started to shrink in on herself upon seeing him. Of course she would - he hurt her. He hurt his baby sister who needed him so desperately. He betrayed her just like he’s betrayed all of them.
He couldn’t handle it. He can’t live with himself. He can’t, he can’t he can’t.
So here he is, wearing four layers during the dead of summer, grabbing every single hot dog package he can possibly fit in his grotesque arms. He walks over to the pantry, grabbing the five packs of buns and rushing back to his room. His hands shook, the sound of the bun package crinkling in his arms. He can’t stop the way his arms tremble, he couldn’t quiet himself down. But Luther needed to do this in his own little personal solitary confinement he called a bedroom.
He quickened his pace as he made his way up the stairs and down the hall, beelining right to his cave. He closed the door behind him as softly as he could manage with his arms full. He drops the pile of food on the floor before turning on the lamp on his desk. His room is softly lit, the lamp being the only light source. He hadn’t really bothered to keep any lights on in his room anymore. The darkness was comforting - it helped him feel like he didn’t really exist.
He finally takes a seat on the ground, criss cross applesauce and inspects the pile in front of him. He knows what he’s doing - the empty ache in his stomach is growing more intense as each second passes. He wastes no time ripping the hot dogs packages open, placing each of the eight hot dogs in their respective buns until all five packages are in a crumpled mess beside him. The smell of hot dog juice on his fingers wafts through the room and his stomach tightens at the aroma. It’s been a while since he’s had anything solid.
He has 40 total hot dogs in front of him. He eyes each one, fully aware of what he is doing. Luther is about to eat each and every one of these hot dogs. Why? Because he needed this. He needed this fix. He needed to taste. He needed to suffer. He needed to repent.
He finally brings the first cold hot dog to his lips and carefully takes a bite. The flavor explodes in his mouth within a millisecond and his brain just shuts off. Well, at least the part of his brain that tells him he’s worthless does. All he can think about is the food in front of him. He hasn’t had anything other than the taste of fruit and water in almost two weeks. He finishes the hot dog in two bites, the next hot dog in one. He’s chewing loudly at this point. He’s established a comfortable rhythm now: pick up hot dog, take one to two enormous bites, swallow. And repeat. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.
This mindless, repetitive motion goes on for the next ten minutes. He doesn’t think about a thing. He doesn’t have a single anxiety, a single doubt in his mind. He can only process the taste and the feeling of food going into his body. But just as quick as it started, he’s on his last hot dog. He savors this one, taking it in three bites instead of one or two.
Luther takes a few moments before regaining his thoughts. He leans back against his bed, his ungloved hand resting lightly on his stomach. His stomach felt tight and hard and he found it was getting harder to fully take breaths in. He isn’t a stranger to this though, absolutely not. But it didn’t mean that this feeling was exactly comfortable or welcoming. But it didn’t matter anywho because he was going to get rid of it anyway. His body is already repulsive, so what’s a few extra pounds going to do? It’s not like he can get worse.
But it didn’t matter. Phase two is about to commence: Luther needed to expel the food from his body. He doesn’t deserve the nutrients or calories albeit his binge was few in nutrients and large in calorie. He gives himself five minutes before enforcing the next part of the process. He’s played this song and dance before.
He got up from the pile of wrappers and stumbled to the closest bathroom that was just a room over. He was thankful he turned out the lights. His feet padded against the wood floor as he walked the few short steps. Once in the bathroom, he locked the door behind him and fell to his knees within seconds. He pushed the toilet lid open and got in position, his large elbows leaning on the bowl.
He took a deep breath and shoved two fingers in his mouth, moving them up and down in haphazard, frantic motions. He felt the back of his throat, his fingers grazing at his epiglottis. It took a few more jabs before the the familiar feeling of nausea hit him like a wave. He promptly removed his fingers before he could vomit on them. This was a deep one. He hurled loudly, a seemingly never ending stream of contents escaped from his mouth. He tried his best to keep his volume down. Tears were flowing freely down his face and the front his skull was throbbing with intense pressure. It didn’t matter though - he certainly had more food left in his body that he needed to get rid of.
He shoved his fingers back in, gagging a few times but his body not cooperating with how he wanted it to. It never did. It took a few more valiant attempts before he was victorious and another round of food landed in the toilet. He couldn’t hear the hushed whisper shouting from outside the door over the sound of the contents of his stomach splashing against the water and his intense gagging filling the air.
In a sudden flash of blue light, Five appeared into the bathroom and he opened the door from the inside. The remaining five siblings were outside the door, all with varying degrees of concern on their face.
“Oh Luther…” Vanya gasped, her hands covering her mouth as a tear trailed down her face.
Luther’s head whipped up from the toilet bowl, his eyes meeting the six pairs staring back at him. His stomach dropped, this time not from his own doing.
They couldn’t see him like this. No, no, no. They couldn’t see him weak. They couldn’t see him vulnerable. Some number one he is. He’s a failure of a leader, incompetent. Some Number One he is.
He flushed the toilet before doing anything else, unsure of even what to do. He’s never felt so small before, a feeling he once thought would be welcoming.
“Luther? You..? Jesus christ, man I’m..” Klaus spoke up softly, being the first one to enter the bathroom. He fell to the floor next to his brother and wordlessly brought him into a hug, one arm around his wide shoulders and the other cradling his head into his neck.
Luther tensed at the contact, his arms hung loosely at his side. He doesn’t deserve their kindness. He doesn’t deserve Klaus’, not after he had his hands around his neck just a few months ago. Not after he flung him across the room, abusing his power once again. Not after Klaus quite literally died trying to look after his inept self. He wanted to shrug Klaus’ wiry arms off of him. He wanted to disappear.
“Lu, please.” Klaus’ voice shook, “It’s okay. Fuck, I promise it’s okay. You don’t have to do that shit, being strong and all that. You can let go...God knows we’re not going to judge you for it.”
And with that, his shoulders began to tremble and he let himself be held. He let himself break for the first time in god knows how long. Too long. Klaus rubbed circles along the man’s back as he felt his shirt dampen with tears, whispering soft affirmations as his brother sobbed.
The rest of the siblings watched the scene unfold in front of them. None of them had expected this. They just thought Luther was brooding. Processing. Needing time alone as that’s what he was used to and what they had assumed comfortable with. They had hashed out their apologies a few months back, so they thought that they were fine. He was fine. The Hargreeves couldn’t imagine anything like this.
After a minute or so Luther’s breathing started to even, his sobs subsiding. All that remained were just tears silently streaming down his face. He felt Klaus kiss the top of his head, his heart fluttering tightly in his chest.
“Ben told me...he saw your room and fuck.” Klaus breathed, after a few moments of silence.
“I’m sorry, for not realizing sooner. We just,” Klaus paused, thinking carefully on how to word the next part. “We didn’t think. Us Hargreeves are famous for that, ya know?”
Luther could hear the small smile in Klaus’ voice. He slowly lifted his head from his brothers shoulders and gulped. His throat was raw from both crying and the episode that they all had intercepted.
“Luther, we love you man. I’m sorry I called you a-a monster.” Diego affirmed, his tone without it’s usual defensive edge it tend to hold when talking to Luther. “You’re not, okay? We’re gonna do better this time, we promised that. That means you too.”
“I,” Luther cleared his throat, wincing slightly as he did so. “How can you be so kind? I’ve hurt you all. I’m...not good.” He said simply, refusing to meet any of their eyes.
“Luther, listen to me.” Five started, walking over to Luther and demanding he meet his eyes. “I’ve killed hundreds of people. People that you said were innocent. But do you remember what you told me? You said I was still a good person, that you could see that. I see that in you too. We all do. You don’t have to isolate yourself from us. We care about you. So let us.”
“You need help, Lu. Let us help you.” Allison strained, her voice still not fully recovered but she was adamant on making sure he heard her.
Vanya finally shoved her way into the bathroom and practically fell into Luther’s arms. She was unable to speak clearly, her soft cries becoming louder with each second.
“I’m not scared of you. I-I don’t hate you. I love you so much Luther, god I love you, I love you..” She sobbed. This sound, this scene, was all too familiar to Luther. But he hurt her then, and he’s hurting her now. He wrapped his little sister in his arms, her small frame shaking in his.
“I’m sorry, Van. Everyone. I just...I don’t know how to…” Luther trailed, unsure how to even begin to explain himself.
“You don’t need to know how to. We’ll help you through this, okay?” Ben said, finally corporeal from behind Klaus. Luther met his eyes and nodded, his mouth pursed in a thin line before he devoted his attention back to Vanya in his arms.
For the first time in years, he felt like things might be okay. He believed them. Things won’t be okay for a while, no. But it’s a start. It’s a goddamn start.