Mission going well, no danger to report. Did some experiments, exposing rock samples to different alkali solutions. Replicated the experiment five times, just to be certain. Included are my findings, as well as some test tubes of the samples.
Could you send off these other letters for me? This should arrive a week before my birthday and I want them to get to everyone in time. I wasn’t sure on some of the addresses, maybe Mom knows. Obviously leave Five’s and Ben’s at their respective spots.
Hope you’re well. Missing you.
PS: could do with more food a bit more regularly? If it’s not too much bother. Also antiseptic and bandages. Thanks.
I know I’m always the last person you’d want to see, but you’re still my brother.
It’s so quiet up here. I’d give anything to hear your dumb voice yelling across the hall again. I feel if I had to have anyone up here with me, it would be you. Biting back and forth would be a welcome distraction, and it would eventually force us to get along. I miss you, really. You were the only one who could spar on my level. Probably because you wanted to knock my teeth out. But it would be a fun way to unwind.
I heard about the police academy before I left. Hard luck. You would’ve been a good detective, I think. Are you still dating that girl you met there? (Mom told me about her)
Bet she’s great. Would have to be to put up with you.
Is that too formal? I’ve never written so many letters until I came up here. They’re usually just messages to Dad, but I thought I should send something for our birthday this year. I know I usually call you, but that’s hard up here. So weird to think how long I’ve been up here already. My mission is going well though, I think.
Happy birthday, by the way! Bet you’re spending it with Patrick. Hope he’s spoiling you, like you deserve, or he’ll have me to answer to!
Also, I heard about Claire. Can’t believe I’m an uncle! Bet she’s cute. Hope she’s well too.
Are you filming a new movie right now? I miss watching them. Not just yours, even though I did love them, just movies in general. I only have books up here, and some music, nothing like my collection back on Earth though. I’ve even started writing poems to pass the time. I included one. Call that my gift to you. I’m still teaching myself, so it might not be the best.
I realise I’m rambling here. I’ve asked you a bunch of questions and, well, you can’t really respond. ‘The moon’ isn’t exactly an address. Maybe if you send any reply back to the Academy, Dad can send it up with my next food supply package. Whenever that is.
Please. It would be really nice to hear from you again.
I hope this gets to you. Somehow. Hope Mom knows the address of wherever it is you’re staying.
Hope you’re safe. You used to worry me when we were kids, even if I didn’t show it. I’ve always been bad at expressing myself.
Last I heard, you’d just gotten out of jail. Won’t say I’m happy to hear that, but I also heard you went straight into a rehab.
I’m proud of you. We all are.
Hope you keep it up.
Happy birthday. I hope you’re spending it somewhere nice and safe. I have a camera up here and I know it’s not much, but I want you to have this photo I took. I think out of all of us, you’d appreciate it the most. You always had a more artistic mind than me. Think I have much talent as a photographer?
Your big brother LuLu (remember? the nickname you gave me when we were kids?)
I don’t know why I’m writing this. To make myself feel better? I never figured out why I stood in front of your portrait every year and wished you a happy birthday. Maybe it was like how Vanya left the light on for you.
Maybe I thought you’d just walk in and hear me, and know you were home safe.
I was so pissed the day you left.
Like I’d lost a part of myself.
This is fucking stupid. I should have done more.
Happy birthday. Wherever you are.
It’s been ten years.
You should have been turning twenty-seven today, like the rest of us.
You should have turned eighteen. Twenty-one. Maybe you would have had the same realisation I did at twenty-five that I was nearly thirty. I think that’s the first time how old I was ever really hit me. Like I finally realised time had passed and I wasn’t a boy anymore.
I should have done more. I know it doesn’t help to keep beating myself up over what happened to you, but I was Number One, I was the leader. I was there with you. I could have done so much more.
You should still be with us.
I’m so sorry.
I just hope you’re at peace.
You deserved better.
Hope the music thing is going well. I know you played close by...I should have come watched some time. Or listened? I don’t know how concerts really work. Which is funny, given how much I love music.
Last night, as I write this, I remembered our eleventh birthday. I ate your slice of cake. I felt bad, even at the time. I guess I didn’t think about it. I never did. I was just hungry.
You wrote about it in your book. Said how I just pushed you over when you yelled at me for it.
You said a lot of things. A lot of private things that I thought would never leave the house. Things I trusted you with.
Bet you’re glad you don’t have to share your cake with my dumb greedy ass anymore, huh? Have an extra slice on me. I won’t be able to have any this year.
Six of the seven Hargreeves siblings sat in the den, staring at the letters in front of each of them. Five of them had been confused when Diego of all people called them for a family meeting, without their Space Boy present. Despite them always making sure he knew he didn’t have to be by himself all the time anymore, Luther still wanted some ‘alone time’ to work on his hobbies, which they respected.
Diego started the meeting by handing out an envelope with their names written in that familiar blocky cursive and told them to read, before slumping back on the couch to look over his already opened note.
“Shit,” the five others breathed in unison once they’d finished.
“Where did you find these?” Vanya asked, staring at her letter with deep remorse. Her family had long forgiven her for her book, but this was a letter written barely a year after the fact, the emotions still raw in the words.
“Same place as the rest of Luther’s messages from the moon,” Diego said, face slumped on his palm, “I offered to clear them out for him, he wants to keep the research he did, compile it but...couldn’t bear to see the other stuff he wrote.”
“He never said he wrote poetry,” Allison said, her voice low as she read her gift over and over, “He’s pretty good. He rhymes star with itself about three times but…it’s intentional, I think.”
“This would’ve been wild to get at the time,” Klaus added, holding up a Polaroid with a weak smile. The photo was of a vast expanse of grey rock and ink black sky, the Earth visible and illuminated, the only bit of colour. “The sorta thing I’d keep in my wallet...if I had one.”
“Did he...really talk to my old portrait?” Five asked, voice uncharacteristically soft and quiet.
Nobody answered because they knew it was rhetorical, a musing of surprise more than anything else.
“Thirteen years he spent without us,” Diego growled, pinching the bridge of his nose, “Four of those years on the fucking moon. And he still wanted to keep in touch.”
He reached into his pocket and threw a crumpled-up letter in the middle – one addressed to their father. The others read it, expressing mutterings of disgust. How many of these kinds of messages had Reginald ignored?
“As if we couldn’t hate Dad even more,” Klaus said with a snort, going back to staring at the photo, “I’d have jumped at the chance to write a letter to space. Bet it would’ve helped keep him sane up there. Always wonder if he started to lose it a little.”
“He was probably used to his own company by then,” Vanya said quietly, rubbing the corners of her eyes in thought, “Even if he was Dad’s favourite, I can’t imagine them spending that much time together that wasn’t mission related.”
Ben was still quiet. One of the first things he did when they finally got some peace and quiet for once was made sure that none of his siblings still held any remorse over his death. What happened had been an accident. They were kids.
He thought of Luther, that tough as nails but soft at heart seventeen-year-old. Klaus told him how Luther carried his body all the way back home, had to be coaxed into letting him go to leave him in the infirmary.
“We need to talk to Luther about this,” Ben finally said, clenching his fist.
“Talk to me about what?”
The rest of the siblings yelled in surprise - Klaus stumbled backwards out of his chair, Diego grabbed the nearest throwable object (a Connect Four box), Ben briefly flickered out of existence, Five put his fists up and Vanya made a mock karate pose.
Luther blinked at them all, spooning more cereal into his mouth, one headphone bud in his ear as the other dangled over the paint stained shirt he was wearing.
“You are never so light on your feet,” Allison gasped, holding a hand to her chest.
“You guys seemed pretty deep in conversation, so I tried my best to not disturb it,” Luther said with a shrug, before pointing at his headphones, “I only caught the last part when the song changed.”
He sighed, heavy yet playful. “So, what have I done now? Because if it’s about the bathroom, I know I said I’d only use the third-floor ones to shower, but I was really tired after working out…”
He trailed off, noticing the letters they were all holding, his face going suddenly pale as he saw his own handwriting. “A-ah…”
“Sorry big guy,” Diego said quietly, staring blankly at the box he was still holding, “Found them and I…”
“I really like the photograph,” Klaus said, still on the floor, as he held it up, “It’s...nice to know you were thinking of me up there.”
“All I did was think of you...all of you.”
Luther turned his head away, draining the milk from his bowl before dumping it in the sink. Made as if he was going to leave but…
Ben jumped up and grabbed him around the middle, burying his head into Luther’s chest.
Luther stood there, arms out and eyes wide. “Ben…”
“Shut up and take it, you lump,” Ben said, voice muffled.
Klaus squeaked, scrambling to his feet and joining Ben with the hug. Luther shifted on the spot, looking at the others for some help...
Only for Five, of all people, to get up and latch onto his side, slumping his cheek against his ribs.
“Okay what the fuck-“
Very quickly Luther became engulfed by his remaining siblings' hold. Vanya took his other side, whilst Allison squeezed between Klaus and Five, leaving Diego to hug from behind.
“Guys, come on, it’s not-“
“You heard Ben,” Five snarled, “Shut up and take it.”
Luther huffed, starting to blush. “It’s just a very inconvenient way to hug, that’s all.”
Still, he lowered his arms and rested them around his two shortest siblings at his sides, chin ending up planted on top of Klaus’ curls. He couldn’t deny this felt...really nice. He was pretty touch starved, they all were, and the feeling of six bodies (one only partially corporeal) pressed against him was rather grounding.
“Luther gets to choose our birthday cake this year,” Ben said suddenly, voice still muffled as he hadn’t moved.
“Oh, but he likes too much frosting,” Diego whined, trying to reach his head over Luther’s shoulder but to no avail.
“Just scrape it off,” Klaus said without missing a beat, eyes closed as he nuzzled closer.
“He also likes plain ass vanilla cake-“
“Ooh, look at mister fancy fucker over here! Didn’t think you were into such luxury cakes! Vanilla not good enough for your tastebuds?”
“We can just have cupcakes!” Luther cried, managing to aim a gentle kick at both Diego and Klaus, “Then we can have whatever we want, as much as we want.”
He frowned, adding in a quieter voice, “Also, my favourite cake is funfetti with cream cheese. Not vanilla.”
“Oh, it’s the same thing-!”
“Cupcakes are a good idea,” Vanya said, cutting Diego off and giving Luther an encouraging smile.
Luther sighed heavily, his shoulders dropping. “Is that what this is all about? Because of some letters I wrote years ago?”
“We do have a few birthdays to catch up on together,” Allison said, patting his cheek gently, “Why not give you the best job this time around?”
Luther sighed again, but smiled this time, nuzzling against her palm. “Fine, fine. Guess I’ve got some bakeries to search around...hey, Di, get around here so I can hug you all properly. You know my arms can reach.”
With a grumble, Diego moved around and rested himself in the gap next to Vanya. Luther bent his knees slightly, then managed to wrap up his six siblings and pull them closer. The tips of his fingers barely reached Ben in the middle, but he was buried so close it didn’t matter.
Luther felt his throat clench a little, a tell-tale sign that he might tear up. He wouldn’t, it felt a little weird to do that over being told he could choose their damn birthday cake...but he thought of the nine birthdays he had alone in this house, the four he barely celebrated on the moon.
He didn’t have to be by himself any longer. None of them did.
The moment was broken by Klaus tilting his head back, letting out a gasp.
“Okay, I think I’m getting a little high off the paint on your shirt somehow, and I can’t go back to huffing that shit. Free me~!”
Luther rolled his eyes, raising his arms so each of his siblings could move off...aside from Ben, who still clung to him.
“...you wanna stay there for a bit longer?” Luther asked gently, patting his ghostly brother’s back.
“I just always forget how nice it is to be able to touch things again,” Ben said, rubbing his cheek against him with a whine, “You’re so…soft and warm…”
Luther glanced up at the others, smiling, before patting Ben’s back again. “Okay. Take as long as you need.”