Disclaimer: As the World Turns and its subsequent characters do not belong to me. I make no profit from writing this.
Notes: Hello, all! This fic takes place a little into Luke and Noah's future. I realize that a lot of the details of their life in this fic are not explained too much, but I wanted to keep it that way so the story could have more focus on what actually does happen. This is just pure sappy fluffy goodness! Hope you enjoy. Nuke forever!
The room was dark, save for the dying light filtering in behind the shades that were drawn down to the sill. My comforter was pulled up to my chin, the soft material brushing gently against my face. I was in the same pajamas I had put on a week ago, and my hair was a mess. My demeanor, however, had changed in one week from anxious resistance to silent acceptance. I wasn't a prisoner and I had to stop feeling like one.
I rested my hands against my chest, sighing into my covers. I turned my head to the left and nuzzled my pillow, trying to calm myself into more sleep. It didn't work. I had already slept too much, and I could hear soft voices floating up the stairs from the living room below. I ached to get out of bed and be a functioning member of my family again.
I closed my eyes, trying to tune out the voices. Mom was easy, and the baby was easier than I thought she'd be, but tuning out Noah's voice was impossible. I'd listened to his deep baritone for five years now and it was permanently etched into my brain. I loved his voice on every level that existed.
I faced the ceiling again, sighing. Mom's voice came back at me from the living room, and the baby shrieked with delight. I grinned in spite of myself, in spite of my current situation, and heard Noah's voice follow his laugh. I loved how happy they all were. How happy we all were.
The voices faded then, and I closed my eyes again. I had just taken a deep breath through my nose when the bedroom door slowly clicked open.
His voice was soft. "You awake?"
The mattress dipped with Noah's weight as he carefully settled next to me, gazing down as I turned my face and smiled at him. His blue eyes shone in the darkness.
"Yeah," I mumbled sleepily. Despite all the rest, I could tell I was still tired. My medication hadn't worn off completely yet.
Noah reached his right hand out and smoothed my hair lovingly, his eyes not leaving mine. He grinned at me and asked, "How do you feel?"
I turned my face into his palm as it slid from my hair to my cheek, and I placed a kiss in the middle of his hand. "Tired, but better. Much better." Noah's thumb lightly touched my bottom lip and he smiled harder at me, seeming very pleased.
"Good. I have a surprise for you."
My heart fluttered at his words. "You do?" I asked hopefully.
Noah's eyes sparkled. "Yeah. Are you able to get out of bed?"
"Twist my arm!" I sat up slowly, careful not to make any jerky movements. Noah reached out with both hands and settled me into a sitting position before helping me to my feet. Once we were both standing on my side of the bed, he took my hand and gently led the way out of our bedroom.
He didn't turn towards the stairs; instead, he led me in the opposite direction, to the bathroom. He pushed the door open, which had been half-cracked, and led me inside. He gently maneuvered me to stand in front of him and clicked the door shut behind us. My eyes fell on the tub to my right.
A magnificent bubble bath stared back at me. The room was steamy and warm, the bubbles frothy on the surface of the water. Two lavender candles were perched at the bottom of the white tub, and a thick towel had been placed at the head of it, the cotton disappearing into the bubbly water below. I looked from the tub to Noah, my mouth open in delightful shock and confusion.
He smiled smugly back at me, proud of himself. "In honor of new doctor's orders," he explained, stepping closer to me, "I have drawn you a soothing bath. Your first since the surgery." He ran his hand through my unkempt hair, his blue eyes sparkling happily.
I was at a loss for words. I looked back to the tub and then up at Noah again, my mouth still open.
"Here," Noah said, his voice dropping to a sultry shade almost beneath his breath. "Let me help you get started." His hands grasped the bottom of my pajama top.
I turned toward him obediently, facing him fully. I managed to close my mouth as he undressed me slowly, smoothing my long-sleeved cotton shirt over my head and placing it on the closed toilet lid behind me. He kissed me gently then, soft but deep, and gently removed my pajama bottoms, which he also placed on the toilet lid. His face came back to mine and I held onto his upper arms, a grin taking over my mouth. He smiled back and kissed me again, his mouth warm and inviting. I slid my arms up to his shoulders, and our kiss deepened, but then Noah broke it, pulling back slowly.
"Not so fast," he said playfully. "You've got a bath to take, Snyder."
I sucked in a breath and let out a friendly groan, dropping his arms. "You've got me standing here naked and all riled up," I complained. "You really know how to drive a guy crazy, Mayer."
He chuckled in the back of his throat, the laugh that I had come to love from day one. "Sorry," he apologized sincerely. "It's just that I worked so hard on this…" He gestured to the bath. "Besides…you stink, Snyder." He scrunched his face at me.
"Oh, really?" I exclaimed lightly, gently slapping at his arm. "You'll excuse me if my major bout of surgery got in the way of bath time…?"
Noah laughed again, then took hold of my arm. Slowly, we walked towards the tub. Noah held me steady as I stepped in and then slunk down into the deliciously warm water. I relaxed my head against the thick cotton towel and took a deep breath through my nose as the water lapped at my skin. Wonderful, in comparison to the bed.
Noah settled himself on the floor outside the tub, his left elbow resting on the porcelain, his chin in his hand. He gazed at me steadily, observing my reaction to my surroundings.
"This is great," I praised him, flashing a smile. "Candles are a nice touch." I jerked my chin towards the small glass holders at the end of the tub.
Noah chuckled again. "Hope it's not too girly," he said sheepishly. "Lavender is supposed to be calming."
"Indeed, it is," I agreed, letting my eyes slip closed. I sunk a little lower in the water, the bubbles reaching my collarbone.
I felt Noah's fingers tangle into my hair then, and a smile drifted back onto my face. We sat in silence for a while, me enjoying the heat and Noah's touch.
I had the best husband on the face of the planet, of that I was sure. From the moment I had arrived back home, Noah had been there for me. Every meal, every glass of water, every slow trip to use the bathroom had been accompanied by him. Every night I'd fallen asleep to his touch, and every morning I'd awoken to his smiling face. Even though I'd been confined to the bed for the past week, my life was still so enthralling to me, because he was in it. His presence was a comfort and a reminder of our love that I carried with me every day.
After I had soaked for a decent amount of time, I dunked myself carefully at Noah's suggestion. I wanted to laugh as I did it; Noah didn't let go of me as I slid under the water, but instead he held me tightly with one hand under my arm, as though I was a little kid who was afraid of slipping into the depths of the tub. I knew he was just worried that I would accidentally hurt myself, but it was amazingly too cute. When I resurfaced, he gently wiped my face dry with a hand towel and then reached across me for the shampoo bottle resting on the tub's shelf.
I sat up straight then, letting him massage the shampoo into my hair. He started gently at first, smoothing the soap across my tangled locks on the top of my head, then dug in and started kneading my scalp with his fingertips. He had gone from the crown of my head to the back of my neck when I let out a contented moan.
"Be careful," I warned him, my head bobbing with his ministrations. "A guy could get used to this."
Noah laughed softly under his breath, then leaned closer to me, his fingers still rubbing the shampoo in melodic motions. "Your wish is my command," he whispered silkily, his blue eyes shining.
I laughed through my nose and then closed my eyes. Shampooing my hair was just about the sexiest thing Noah had ever done. The image of his upper arm muscles flexing with his movements stayed with me till I opened my eyes again, preparing for the rinse.
The water ran down my face in calming rivulets, dripping off my chin to rejoin the liquid below. I kept my eyes shut till Noah proclaimed my hair fully rinsed, then he patted my face dry with the same towel from before. It felt so good to finally have clean hair again, thanks to Noah.
"Want to soak some more?" Noah asked, resuming his watchful position with one elbow resting on the edge of the tub.
I turned to answer him, but a soft knock sounded on the door just then. "Boys?" My mother's muffled voice came from the other side of the door.
"Yeah, Mom?" I called, not moving from my position in the tub.
The door clicked open slightly. "Dinner's in fifteen," she informed, her voice coming clearly through the crack.
"Okay," Noah responded, sounding eager. I could relate.
"How's the baby?" I asked then.
On cue, baby Emma gurgled and my mom laughed. "Absolutely fine," mom assured us. "You're doing great, aren't you, baby girl?" she cooed. Emma gurgled again in response.
I laughed, my eyes locked with Noah's. I could see his love for our daughter written across his handsome features.
"See you downstairs," Mom said then. The door clicked closed again.
I smiled at Noah, reaching out from the water and taking his hand. He made no mention of my wet skin against his, just squeezed my hand back with his strong fingers and then leaned forward to kiss my forehead.
"I love you," I said.
Noah let out a deep sigh, his eyes focusing on mine again. "I love you, too," he replied softly.
"Thanks for taking care of me," I said, leaning towards him. I nestled my head on his shoulder, and his cheek came to rest against my forehead. "I know I scared you."
Noah took a second to answer. "Thank god it was your appendix and not anything else," he said, sounding relieved. I knew what he was implying; he had initially been worried that it had been either my kidney or my liver…or something worse that was entirely unrelated.
We stayed in that position for a few minutes, enjoying each other's warmth. My wet hair did not seem to bother him.
My stomach rumbled then, a deep grumbling from under the warm water, and Noah laughed wholeheartedly, his face lighting up.
"Time for dinner," he agreed.
Noah released me, stood up, and stuck his hand down into the water at the bottom of the tub, pulling the drain. As the water began to empty, he grabbed a thick blue towel from the rack on the wall and stood before the tub with it open towards me. Carefully, I climbed out of the tub into Noah's arms. He wrapped the towel around me and hugged me firmly to him. I lifted my face to his, feeling safe in the warm cotton cocoon of his arms, and Noah pressed his lips to mine. They felt cool in comparison to the temperature of my body.
Then I stood still on the bathmat as he began to towel me dry. He ran the towel gently over my face and through my hair, then down my collarbone and across my chest. I spun slowly as he dried my back and arms, then faced him again as he dried my waist. When he reached my new scar, which was still tender and pink, he dropped to his knee and patted it dry carefully, his face level with my hips. Then he buffed each of my legs in turn while I tried to get the image of him on his knees in front of my naked body out of my head before it caused noticeable problems.
Noah dressed me again, in fresh pajamas that had been stacked on the sink, which I hadn't noticed until he'd reached for them. I brushed my teeth as Noah slid his arms around me, then reached up to smooth my hair, which was sticking out in damp angles from my head. Noah took my hand after I finished and led me out of the bathroom to the stairs, the cool of the hallway washing over me like an ocean wave. We took the steps easy together, Noah steadying me with his strong grip.
We made our way into the kitchen, the smell of pasta filling the air. Mom was dancing around with baby Emma on her hip, humming and stirring a nice portion of sauce into a pot of spaghetti. She smiled at us over her shoulder as we came to the kitchen table. Noah helped me into my chair, making sure I was comfortable before he sat down next to me.
Mom served us then, passing the baby to Noah before loading our plates for us. Even though Noah had taken the best care of me possible from the day I'd arrived back home from the hospital, there was no feeling that compared with sitting down to dinner with my family. I realized then that this feeling had come from a lifetime of family dinners, and I was extremely lucky to be able to pass this tradition on. Even though Noah had come from a family that was completely opposite of mine, he'd yearned for the same things that I had when we'd first started our life together, and we delighted in sharing with one another. I couldn't ask for anything more. I had everything I could possibly want.
After I'd had a healthy first portion of Mom's spaghetti and an equally fulfilling second helping, I sat back in my chair and looked over at my husband. Without me so much as opening my mouth, he knew what I wanted. He placed baby Emma in my arms for the first time in a week and then settled back in his chair to watch her effect take hold of me. I melted into her baby blue eyes the second she looked up at me, and I said a silent thank you to whatever deity had decided that my life on Earth was going to be this amazing.