To be honest, I have no idea what brought this fic on, though I do know it was inspired, kind of, by Adam Lambert's song "Sleepwalker" so I suggest you have that on repeat while you read this! It takes place after Luke and Reid get stuck on an elevator, so spoilers for everything up until then! It is a Luke/Reid story, so if you don't like then don't read it! Please do not flame me for this pairing.
I've been a Nuke fan since the beginning, but have been growing tired of Noah and the way he's treated Luke since just before the Mason storyline started so Luke/Reid is like a breath of fresh air! Reid is such an original character and I think he will do a lot of good for Luke. However, if they do end up with Nuke at the end, I will be sad but not completely devastated.
A huge thanks to my betas: ditzybea (go check out her story, "Time to Say Goodbye," it's brilliant!) and laurahellomoto from LiveJournal. Without them, I probably would still be worrying this fic really sucks. You're both amazing!
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Proctor and Gamble own ATWT as well as all the characters. No copyright infringement intended and I am making no money off this!
Noah didn't believe his therapist when she first told him that yes, his other senses would in fact become heightened after time. But then he realized he knew Allison by her perfume and could tell when Luke was lying when Noah asked how he was doing. And it was how he found himself here, sitting alone in his hospital room waiting for his surgery, listening to a muffled conversation not meant for his ears.
"Why don't you go in?" Allison sounded tired. Whoever she was addressing must have made some nonverbal response because she followed with, "I know he'd love to talk to you before he goes for surgery."
"It's not a good idea. He wanted his space, I'm giving it to him." Noah would recognize that voice anywhere. Luke. "I don't want to upset him just before he goes under."
"Then why are you here?"
"I can't stop caring about him, Allison. We may have broken up but we still shared two years of a life together; it's not so easy to just walk away from that." Silence followed and Noah counted the seconds anxiously. "Could you do me a favor?" Luke asked after fifteen had passed. "Could you call me when he's out of surgery, let me know how he is?" Another pause. "And don't tell him about this, okay?"
"Please, Allison. I don't want him to know I was here, that I'm asking for updates. He'll think I'm just being the same old me, too stubborn to listen to anyone's wishes." The defeat and bitterness in his voice coupled with that harsh view of what Luke believed Noah thought of him, broke Noah's heart more than it already was. Didn't Luke understand, even now? This was what Noah needed to recover, both physically and mentally, but it wasn't want he wanted.
Allison sighed. "Fine. I'll give you a call once the anesthesia wears off. But Luke, I really think-"
"No, Ally. This problem you and Casey can't help fix, okay? Only Noah and I can, if we even want to try to fix it." Silence followed briefly before a set of heavy footsteps faded away. Lighter footsteps soon followed. Noah sat in his silent hospital room, feeling lonelier than he had in months terrified that he had ruined his future with Luke.
The warm weather and longer days had brought a lot of people to Oldtown, making it even harder for Luke to find some breathing space. He had left the house to get away from the stress of the past weeks, namely his break up with Noah. Every inch of his mom's house and the farm had memories of them. Even Oldtown was full of memories. It had taken Luke forever to find a bench here that didn't remind him of them: the one near the shops they frequented all too often, the one outside the club they had used to make out more than once, that one they talked about the future….the list went on.
Never had Luke hated living in a small town before now and he suddenly understood Dr. Oliver's aversion of this place. Groaning to himself, Luke slumped down further onto the bench he managed to find in a somewhat deserted part of Oakdale's busiest spot. The conundrum known as Reid Oliver had crept into Luke's thoughts more often than he would like to admit since the day he revealed a bit of his past to Luke. It was even more frustrating to realize the more he knew of the doctor the more he wanted to understand.
And last week, in the elevator, Luke knew he was in trouble. Listening to the doctor describe the human brain as one of the most beautiful things in the world, Luke could feel himself beginning to fall. What was wrong with him? By then it had only been a week since his break up with Noah, how could he turn his back on two years in such a short amount of time? And yet, even yesterday when he saw Noah through the glass of the hospital window his heart didn't beat wildly like it used to and his stomach didn't erupt in butterflies. He didn't feel the same around the man he knew he still loved, would always love and it terrified him.
A chill swept through Luke, bringing his thoughts to a halt as he looked at his watch. He had been sitting out here much longer than he intended and the streetlamps were starting to turn on. His mother somehow roped Faith into a movie night with the two "Twilight" movies and Luke hadn't really been in the mood for teen flicks about ever-lasting love, even if the vampires did sparkle. He didn't know how long the films ran, but he guessed he still had time to kill.
Luke began to walk, his mind going over everything that had happened recently: Damian, Faith's drug problem (another reason for the movie night, he was sure his mother was going to try and get her to open up about it), his father's release, Luke's failed attempts to stop his grandmother from meddling with his parents (as well as his own love life), Dr. Oliver, Noah…he paused, taking a deep breath. It still physically hurt to think he had lost his best friend, the one person he would go to in times like these. He desperately needed someone to just share the burden of his life, if even for a moment, and he didn't have that anymore. Allison and Casey had their own problems and though Maddie had been his friend first, Luke didn't like putting her in the middle.
Anyone in his family was out merely because it was his family he wanted to talk about. Heaving a sigh, Luke threw himself into a café table not far from Java. He didn't raise his eyes to the warm light of the coffee house for fear of seeing the ghosts of the times he spent happily with Noah as well as the sight of Ameera and Mason. Instead, he pulled the battered leather-bound notepad from his pocket and flipped open to the most recent entry. His eyes skimmed the words he wrote not long after his break-up with Noah and that moment with Reid. Words he would never be brave enough to say, no matter how much they needed to be said.
You say you need your space, you need to learn how to be independent. Well, you aren't the only one trying to start over. I have spent two amazing, perfect years with you and now I need to learn how to be on my own again. I need to know I can be independent too. You can't just expect me to drop everything and come running back to you whenever you are feeling lonely or upset. We were never friends first, we have always been lovers and that's not going to lend itself to having a friendship now. It is and always will be all or nothing with us and right now it's nothing. You are the love of my life, you will always be the love of my life, and maybe we will be together again someday. But right now, in this moment, I can't be with you. I need to know I can stand on my own two feet. I'm done fighting, done with being the only one fighting for this relationship since, well since Brian. You gave up on us long before either of us realized it and I'm now finally seeing that I can't force us together. You want to be on your own? That's fine, just don't expect me to come running back into your arms when you can see again. If you want me, and if I want you, you have to work for me. Fight for me. I haven't felt desired or wanted in so long, I need someone who can make me feel that way, and I hope someday soon I will be okay if that person isn't you.
Something was scribbled out a few lines down, but Luke could remember exactly what it read: I think I'd be okay if that person was Reid. He had written that down just after Reid finished surgery on Dusty and he was served with the lawsuit. Luke had stared at the line for a long time until the guilt building up inside of him was too much and he hurriedly scratched it out.
Luke shut the book gently, his mind wandering back to the moments he had with Reid the past weeks. How, in Java, they had both leaned into each other, unable to resist whatever pull brought them here in the first place. And he recalled the unreadable expressions that passed over the doctor's face when he insisted nothing had happened between them and the sinking feeling in Luke's chest when he stumbled over an excuse. Luke couldn't have been the only one who felt the spark between them at the house, could he? It was so sharp, so real that it couldn't have just been his loneliness looking for someone to latch on to.
No, somehow, and Luke still didn't know how, between the insults and the small moments of truth he had started to fall for Reid. He hadn't quite fallen yet, it was like leaning over a cliff and having your heart beat wildly at the length of the drop below you, but he knew sooner or later he was going to fall. Whether he would jump or be pushed, he wasn't quite sure yet.
Sighing, Luke leaned back in his chair and squinted up at the night sky, the bright stars he was accustomed to seeing out at the farm obliterated here by Oakdale's lights. He scrubbed his face tiredly. The only problem with falling for someone new was that Luke wasn't sure he had anything left in him to give. Noah had drained him, though he didn't feel it at the time because Noah had poured all he had into Luke, filling him with affection and love. Now, though, Luke only felt hollow and empty. He didn't have anything to offer to someone new, especially if that person needed a lot of coaxing to open up, like Dr. Oliver.
A shadow fell over him and Luke slowly looked up. As much as he tried to keep his face neutral, Luke could feel his mouth twist into a frown as he took in a tired-looking Reid Oliver. His heart skipped a beat as the older man continued to stand there and Luke's frown deepened. He would not let himself fall for the doctor. It would break Noah's heart and when Reid leaves, because Luke was certain he would, it would break Luke's.
"Mr. Snyder. Can I join you?" The red-head asked. "I wouldn't bother but this place is packed." He gestured around them and for the first time Luke realized the other tables were full. He nodded and Reid sunk into the chair with a weary sigh.
"How are you?" Luke asked, unable to stop himself. "Have you talked to Tom about the suit?" He shouldn't care, but he did, God help him. At least he didn't ask how Noah's surgery went yesterday.
Reid stared at him, an intense look that made Luke itch for his touch, before something else replaced it, some emotion that Luke had never seen on the doctor before. "Listen, Luke," Reid began, only to pause and clear his throat nervously. Luke tried to ignore the meaning behind the use of his first name as well as the way he liked the way it sounded off Reid's tongue. "I know that according to most people, bedside manner as you called it, isn't the most popular, even though I really couldn't care less. I am a damn good doctor and it's not because I give crying mothers tissues."
Luke rolled his eyes. Yes, Reid was an amazing doctor and yes, Luke had defended him more than once by now, but he still felt Reid should work on his people skills.
"Emotions get in the way," Reid plowed on, staring at the tabletop. "If I went into every surgery worrying about the people in the waiting room, I wouldn't be able to give the patient the best care possible." He looked up and finally met Luke's gaze. "That's why I insisted you came nowhere near Noah while I was looking after him." Luke sucked in a breath at the mention of the one person he really didn't want to talk about, especially not with Reid, but the older man ignored it "I already knew the lengths you would go for him and it was becoming clear how much of a distraction you would be. To Noah," he added a bit hastily. Luke bit the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning. Dangerous as this was, it thrilled him to think perhaps this growing attraction went both ways. "However, it has been brought to my attention by, shall we say, some interested parties, that perhaps I was the wedge that finally split you and Noah up-"
"No," Luke said, leaning forward. But Reid continued, ignoring his interruption.
"You have to know that it was never my…desire to end something apparently so wonderful that its absence would affect not only you, but the people around you." Here Reid's tone turned cynical and he rolled his eyes to the sky for a moment before dropping his gaze back to Luke, who realized something was off, but he couldn't place it. "Honestly, I never meant to break you two up. I just, needed you out of the way, temporarily." He leaned forward and reached his hand out, as though to grab Luke's resting on the table but halfway there thought better of it and pulled it back into his lap.
The younger man didn't acknowledge the disappointment that flooded through him at this failed contact before he realized something. "My grandmother got to you, didn't she?" He asked with a bit of a laugh to his voice. Reid just squirmed again and Luke shook his head. "I told her to stay out of all this. Listen, I am really sorry about that, she's just a bit protective of me, and Noah."
"You can say that again," the redhead muttered under his breath. Then added, "She cornered me while I was trying to do my rounds!"
"I'm really sorry," Luke repeated. "But I'll have you know you didn't break me and Noah up. The longer I'm away from him, from us, the more I realize just how unhealthy our relationship had become. We had-" Luke stopped himself. "You probably don't want to hear this, do you?"
"My social skills may suck, but I actually do care about people. Some people, at least. And if you tell anyone that I'll deny it."
Luke wasn't sure if Reid was joking or not, but he laughed anyway. "I don't think anyone would believe me if I did."
Reid shot him a rueful smile. "You were good enough to keep quiet about that whole Judd business and my breakdown in the elevator. You even managed to stay out of the hospital yesterday. I kept expecting you to pop up at any moment."
"You were looking for me?" Luke asked with a smile that he tried to convince himself wasn't flirty.
"I owe you," Reid answered with an equally non-flirty grin as he kept his gaze locked with Luke's, who tried not to shiver at the intensity of it. Suddenly Reid broke contact, sliding his eyes down to the tabletop briefly. He lifted it again only to have slid on the impassive mask once more. "I'll admit the more I hear snippets about the phenomenon that is Luke And Noah, the more my curiosity is peaked."
Luke glanced at Reid, judging the other man for a moment and wondering if he should give in. Kevin, Noah and Damian flashed in his mind and he sighed. As much as he wanted to, Luke wouldn't let Reid in so easily, not after everything he'd gone through. "I can't," he said finally. Reid looked almost disappointed. "If I do, it will be yet another person I open up to and let myself get hurt."
Reid leaned in closer, practically stretching himself across the cold metal table. "I trusted you with more than I've trusted anyone with in a long time. And for the life of me I can't figure out why. The least you can do is show me the same trust." His eyes burned with indignation and Luke found himself drawn in as he also leaned forward, wanting nothing more than to tell Reid everything. But he couldn't, he had to protect himself this time.
"Okay," he heard himself say. "But it's a long story and most of it you could get from my medical records." Heaving a sigh he settled back and began to tell everything. He told Reid, briefly, about his alcoholism and kidney transplant, about Damian wanting to send him to that camp, his mother's coma and about Kevin. He then went into more detail about Noah and his father, about being paralyzed, about Ameera and Noah's marriage, about roping Casey into the scam and the drunk frat boys who beat them up on the side of the road, about the elections and Kevin again, about Reg and the drugs, about Brian and his drinking, about the pain in his kidneys that now flared up every once in a while and the fear that he had destroyed his second chance at life with his weakness. A fear he hadn't admitted to anyone but himself.
The crowd thinned and the night grew darker but neither man noticed as Luke spoke about Damian's return, Mason and finally the accident that led them here. Reid said nothing during the entire time, letting Luke say everything he needed without probing him with questions. Finally Luke trailed off, his throat raw and his eyes stinging from the tears he couldn't stop. He scrubbed his face and waited for Reid to say something, anything, but the doctor just stared at him with an indescribable look on his face.
Finally, he spoke. "Perhaps our levels of trust differ."
Luke's heart sank. He had done it again and he had willingly walked right into it this time. He knew he could get himself hurt and yet he laid everything out anyway. Would he never learn?
"Now that I know what you've been through I understand how hard it was for you open yourself to me like that. I'm..." he trailed off, his voice softer than Luke had ever heard it. "I'm honored that you trusted me, I'm just not sure I could ever reveal that much about me."
Luke tried to shrug it off. "I always tell people with more than I should, even when I don't trust them at all. My grandma Emma says I wear my emotions too easily. People can, and have, used that against me." He looked up at Reid, who was staring at him with that look again. On anyone else Luke would have called it sympathy, but he wouldn't let himself think that of Reid. It would only destroy what little resistance Luke had left. "But I think you're too good a person to do that to me."
Reid started with surprise at that and before either knew what was happening, Reid leaned forward and kissed him. It wasn't the passionate, argument-filled kiss Luke had expected between them (not that he had been imagining it), but it was gentle and full of gratitude.
Suddenly Luke pulled back, remembering his earlier conviction to not go down this road. "No," he said a little breathless. "We can't."
"Because of Noah," Reid stated in defeat as he slumped back into his chair. "I understand."
"Haven't you been listening?" Luke exclaimed. "My history with men has only lead to me getting hurt and I know it will happen this time. I just can't go through that again."
"Then don't," Reid stated simply. "Luke, you've had two romantic relationships so far: one was a high school crush that was destined to fail without actually starting and the other crumbled under the pressure to be a happy and perfect relationship, which don't exist, by the way.
"I'm not looking for forever, to be honest until I met you I wasn't looking at all. But somehow you are the person I'm finding myself willing to confide in, even if it does take some time to reveal it all. I never thought I'd tell anyone about Amy, and yet here you are knee-deep in that mess. And even when I leave, it will stay the same. The physical side we can take or leave, but the foundation is trust. There won't be any jealousy or lies, no labels to confine ourselves in. Just us." He stood, Luke unable to find a response to Reid's speech. "Think about it," the doctor said as he pushed in his chair before walking away.
Luke sat back in his chair, unconsciously rubbing his fingers over the lips that had just kissed Reid's. He had no basis for what the doctor had proposed. He had only known one kind of relationship: one that failed to live up to the happily ever after. He had seen it in others and experienced it himself. He never thought a couple could exist without that pressure. Mind whirling, Luke eventually left for home, ignored the concerned look from his mother and went straight to his room. Somehow he managed to fall asleep with one final thought: things just got very complicated.
The next three weeks went by fairly quickly and while Luke and Reid did not have another heart-to-heart like that night, nor did they talk about the kiss, they did come to an unspoken agreement that something had changed between them. Neither quite knew what it meant, but they accepted it anyway. Which was why the doctor felt comfortable enough to barge into Luke's office at Grimaldi, lock the door, sit down and say, "Noah's bandages are coming off today."
Silence filled the room as Luke sat stock still, his eyes glued unseeing to the paper on his desk, his pen hovering above a line. Finally he set the pen down, folded his hands together and looked up at Reid. "Okay," he said in an even tone and nothing more.
Reid looked stunned. Clearly he had expected some sort of emotion. "Are you going to see him?"
"Is he asking for me?" Luke countered as his hands nervously shuffled the papers and files on his desk, betraying the anxiousness he felt inside.
"Yeah, actually. I don't appreciate being treated like a messenger boy, by the way."
"Well then you have Noah to blame for that because I'm not going." Luke couldn't meet the other man's eyes so he missed the look of pure confusion on Reid's face.
"But he's asking for you to come down there."
"I know, that's why I'm not going." He couldn't seem to find anything else to occupy his hands, so Luke clasped them together again.
"So…if he hadn't asked to see you, you would have just shown up?" Reid asked in a sarcastic tone. Luke scoffed, though he inwardly thanked God Allison hadn't told anyone he had seen Noah just before the surgery.
"No, but he couldn't make up his mind what he wanted from us, from me, so he can't expect me to just come back running now. He was willing to just throw away two years of our lives because he was unsure. And if he thinks everything will go back to normal if he gets his eyesight back, he is sorely mistaken."
"So you're willing to throw away those years for your pride?" Reid asked in the smug and sarcastic tone that was, Luke had discovered, uniquely him. "That's pretty callous. I'm impressed." It was times like this Luke wondered why he felt any sort of attraction toward the doctor.
"No! You don't-" Luke broke off, shoving himself out of the chair and turning to stare out the full-length windows at the shipping yard below as he gathered his thoughts. He had been doing better keeping his emotions in check, yet Reid was able to throw him so off-balance. How could he not understand how hard this was for Luke, especially after everything Luke told him about his relationship with Noah?
He heard Reid walk up behind him, felt his presence without having to see him there in the window's reflection. Luke took a deep breath and reveled in the scent of Reid's musky aftershave mingled in with the stale office air. "It's not a matter of pride," Luke started, his voice soft. " I would have loved nothing more than to have not broken up with Noah and this is the hardest thing I've had to do since then. But I've realized that even though we loved each other, will always love each other, he couldn't see past his pain and I couldn't get past my desperation to find that we had lost respect for one another along the way.
"He blamed me for ruining everything and I blamed him of not trying hard enough to reconcile us. It would destroy all the independence he has gained and will gain and any respect I have built up for myself if I go to him now, when it would be so easy." He turned toward Reid. "You know how you said you trusted me but weren't sure why?" Reid nodded, confused. "I think that if I have this instinctive trust in you, to say things I can't say to anyone else, then you're worthy of it. I don't remember if I trusted him right away. I did eventually, but not like with you. Even though I hated you and even though I tried to deny it, I knew I could trust you with Noah's life."
Reid said nothing, Luke turned back toward the window and they stood in silence for several moments. Then, as Luke turned to go back to his desk, Reid pulled him close and Luke thought they might kiss again but Reid just stared at him for a long, intense moment. "If you need anything," Reid said, his voice husky, "you can come to me." He held their gaze a moment longer before quickly exiting, leaving a slightly stunned and very confused Luke in his wake.
Noah sat on the edge of his hospital bed, legs swinging restlessly. The bandages itched his eyelids and he wanted nothing more than to rip them off. He wanted to open his eyes, wanted to see again. He was tired of waiting and wanted nothing more than to move on from this very dark part of his life. Literally. He never thought he'd miss a blue sky or even his own hands. It was true: you don't know what you have until it's gone. And that applied especially to Luke. Noah had spent so much time wanting to get away from Luke he thought he'd feel relief to have the solitude and independence he had craved since long before the accident, but now he felt nothing but regret.
He missed the timbre of Luke's voice, the smile that he saved only for Noah and the laughter that rang boisterously when with his family. Noah just missed Luke. The conversation he overheard between his ex-boyfriend (that hurt more than Noah was willing to admit) and Allison had been playing in his head for nearly a month. It scared him to think Luke might not want him back.
The door opened loudly and Noah caught the scent of antiseptic hand wash and expensive cologne. "Doctor Oliver," he said and sat up a bit straighter.
"You know, Noah, that's not going to be so impressive when you can see again."
The brunette chuckled, still trying to get used to this lighter version of his doctor that started about three weeks ago. "Well, I think I'd rather have my eyesight back than become some sort of parlor trick."
The hard cover of Noah's chart hit the small tabletop with a light tap and the rolling chair squeaked as Reid settled in to look over Noah's results. "Well," he drawled after some papers rustled, "you've been healing very quickly, so I think it's about time I prove to you just how good of a surgeon I am and take off those bandages. Ready?"
Noah took a deep breath as the doctor walked up to him. "Let's do this."
Luke's eyes scanned the same page he had been trying to read about another grant request for the Foundation for the past hour. After Reid left, Luke found he couldn't concentrate in the office so he came to the foundation. However, it seemed not to be the venue that caused distractions, but his own mind.
The longer the day dragged on, the more often Luke glanced over at his cell. He had somehow managed to convince Ally to call with Noah's status and as time slowly went on, he was starting to reconsider his decision not to see Noah. This led to thinking about Reid coming into his office yesterday, which led to thinking about the proposition he made and the kiss they shared three weeks before. But Noah was going to have his eyesight back, Luke was confidant enough in Reid's abilities as a surgeon, so what was the harm in trying to patch things up?
No, he told himself firmly. Noah's blindness wasn't the problem in their relationship, though Noah thought it was. Luke's eyes slid back to the silent cell phone and he sighed, his leg jiggling up and down the longer it stayed that way. Luke made one more effort to read the grant proposal before finally giving up and leaving. A walk would be a good way to expel some of this nervous energy and just as he stepped outside Luke's phone finally buzzed.
"Ally?" He said hurriedly, stopping just outside the shadow of the Foundation building.
"He can see, Luke!" Ally's voice was bright with excitement. "Dr. Oliver just ended his shift and I'm the team watching out for Noah, but so far the diagnosis is good. He can recognize people, but he says they're blurry. The doctor said that would clear up soon enough and…" She trailed off and Luke could see her biting her lip in hesitation.
"What is it? Did something happen?"
"No, it's just…he's been asking for you, Luke. He wants to see you. To really see you again."
"Luke, he wants you to come down here. Doesn't that count for something?" She said stubbornly.
I don't know anymore. "I've got to go. Thanks, Ally. For everything." Luke let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding as he hung up the phone and ran his hand through his hair. It had been one thing when Reid told him Noah had asked to see Luke. He could have passed it off as simply nerves before his life would change forever. But this….Noah really wanted him back, didn't he? Luke just couldn't be sure he wanted to go back. Not yet.
Luke's feet carried him as his mind wandered though everything that had happened since last fall and suddenly he found himself in the lobby at the Lakeview. Reid had decided to get a room here a few weeks ago because he didn't want to see "the mating habits of Katie and Doogie Hughes." Luke suspected he could no longer stand living on someone else's charity, his pride allowed it for only so long.
And that was how Luke found himself standing outside Reid's door, debating what to do. Before he could even make a decision he knocked on the door and waited. It soon flung open to reveal Reid looking casual in a dark blue t-shirt and jeans. Luke's body immediately relaxed and for the first time in weeks felt sure of what he was doing.
"Hi," he said with a smile. "Can I come in?" Reid studied him a moment before stepping aside and allowing Luke to slowly walk in, shutting the door firmly behind him.
Before you start spamming me with the "OMG, that's the end?" reviews, I wanted to say that the last few paragraphs (starting with Noah and Reid until the end) are how I think the show should end an episode sometime soon. They love the montage-with-pop-music-playing endings and I think that they should use this ending with "Sleepwalker" playing over it and it would be magical. This ending also leaves room for a sequel, if y'all want one!
One last thing: if you happen to have a LiveJournal account, you should check out the LuRe community I created: lure _ atwt!