A/N: It gets worse for Reid before it gets better...
Chapter 20: Who the Hell Are You?
"Listen," continued Noah's message, "When you get a chance, can you call me, please? It's kinda important. You have the number." After a long pause, it finished: "Um, thanks." Click. Press 7 to delete, 9 to save...
"Oh, fuck that," thought Reid, stabbing the 7 button on the phone. BEEEEEP sounded the phone, seemingly mocking him.
Reid ran his right hand through his hair and glanced at his watch: 11:58pm. "Damn. Too late to call tonight." He resigned himself to passing along the message the next morning, but then remembered he was subbing in surgery the next morning. "Great. Not only will I be tired, but I'll have to play secretary for Noah Mayer before heading out."
Reid angrily flipped the light switch in the living room and stalked into the bedroom. He carelessly dropped the contents of his pockets on his nightstand before haphazardly tossing his clothes in the corner. He sat down heavily on the bed and sorted through the messy jumble on the nightstand, pulling out his cell phone from the bottom of the pile. He briefly double-checked for messages, and finding done, dropped the phone in disgust, though he couldn't quite decide whether his bitterness was towards the empty message list, or towards himself for caring.
Sighing, he flopped back on the bed, laying an arm over his eyes. Since he'd been out all afternoon and evening, the heat had remained turned, but as a result, the sheets felt even colder and crisper than they had the last two weeks.
Reid peeled his arm up off his face, and glanced at the clock: 12:12pm. "Damn." Noah Mayer had been gone for nearly six months, and best as Reid knew he had been out of sight and out of mind. Reid reached over and picked up his blue glass, and unwrapped the increasingly tattered tissue paper that surrounded it. "Luke hasn't mentioned Noah in months. It's been nice, don't you think?" Reid said out loud to the glass.
But hearing Noah's voice again brought back all the doubts again, like a sea-salt scrub on an open wound. "Luke hasn't mentioned Noah in months. Probably not since Noah called before Hallowe'en trying to locate some footage from their WOAK intern days. Reid sighed loudly and told himself he was being ridiculous. "I must be fucking out of my mind," he groaned. "I'm talking to a piece of glass."
Noah probably just needed Lily's phone number, or another archival clip, or something. It was the "something" that kept him up for another hour before exhaustion finally overcame him and he fell into a restless sleep.
"Okay, I think we finally have all your contacts copied over. You want to take a quick look?" Tessa asked.
"Sure," Luke said, taking the phone from her.
"So, here," Tessa explained. "If you start from the main menu, you click on the address book icon, and then you scroll by dragging your finger across the screen like this." She demonstrated. "If you want, we can create a few voice dial entries for you."
"Are you for real, Luke?" Tessa asked. "I don't want to be driving on the road next to you when you're on the phone."
Luke scowled at her.
"We can take the numbers you call the most frequently, and then match them up with your voice so that you can dial by just saying their name," Tessa elaborated.
"Yes, really. So, you want to start with, say...Reid?" Tessa asked.
Luke tried to hide his grin.
"Okay, here's what you do," Tessa continued. "We'll start by finding his entry in your address book – I assume it's filed under R? Or should I be looking for it under some nickname?" Tessa waggled her eyebrows then gave him a huge mock wink.
"Yes, it's under R," Luke said, blushing because he had indeed contemplated leaving Reid filed under O for Oliver, among several other options.
"Okay – let's see... Red Cross, Redman comma Joanne, Regional Ambulance Authority comma Central Illinois, Rhonda C...oh, here it is, Reid," Tessa muttered, scrolling through the address list. "Once you find the listing, you touch here on the Options menu and scroll down until you see voice dial. Then you touch OK and when you're ready, touch Record and then say the person's name."
"Just say it, like 'Reid'? " Luke asked.
"Yeah. Just say it. But the way you would normally say it – not like a question or anything. And then touch Stop Recording when you're done. Ready?" Tessa asked.
"Okay," Luke said.
Tessa touched the Record button, and Luke said, "Reid." But as he spoke, his face broke into a grin and his voice cracked.
Tessa touched Stop Recording. "Luke!"
"Sorry," Luke said, turning even brighter red. "Let me try that again. I'll do better this time."
Tessa touched Record. Luke paused to put on a straight face and tried again. "Reid," he said, but again he found himself breaking into a laugh.
"Luke, it's already almost 1am! If you can't pull yourself together, we might as well give up now!"
After three more tries, Luke was finally able to manage a passable (and more importantly, repeatable rendition of "Reid") and followed up with entries for "Mom" and "Dad" before they both agreed he had the hang of it and could create the rest of the entries on his own.
"What next?" Tessa asked, "Photos, music, or apps?"
"Can we do photos?" Luke asked. "I only had one photo on my old phone, and it was one that someone sent me. I have tons on my laptop, though. Can we put some of them on there as well?"
"Piece of cake," Tessa reassured him. "Just show me where they are."
Tessa created a folder to store the ones he wanted to copy to his phone and then Luke navigated to the folder containing his photos. "Okay, let's start here," Luke said, pointing to a photo of Lily and Holden.
"Your mom and dad?" asked Tessa.
"Yup," Luke said, smiling proudly.
"They look so in love...and so young!" Tessa observed.
"Yeah, this photo is one of my favorites of them. It was taken not long after they first met and fell in love. They were still teenagers in that photo," Luke explained smiling.
"Wow," said Tessa. "Hard to believe they fell out of love – they look so happy together." She paged down to the next photo. "Who are they?"
"That's my half-brother Aaron," Luke said, "And that's my half-sister Abigail."
"Your parents have been busy, I see," said Tessa.
"Yeah, evidence of the falling out of love problem," said Luke.
Tessa flipped to the next picture. "Oh my god," she gasped. "Is that who I think it is?"
"Unfortunately," said Luke.
"So this is the infamous Damian Grimaldi," said Tessa. "I see good looks run in the family."
Luke felt the color rising to his cheeks, again.
"So, Luke," Tessa said, "Did Damian really do all those awful things Darien did in your story?"
"No," said Luke. "Not quite. I used some poetic license. A little bit of surfing on the COPS and Enquirer websites didn't hurt, either."
"Is he as crazy as he sounded in class?" she asked warily.
"I don't think he's crazy," said Luke. "And I do believe in his own perverse way he really always acted out of love for my mom...and me – whether or not it's real love, I'm still not sure, but I'm sure he believed it was love."
"Yikes," said Tessa, flipping to the next picture.
"Oh my god! Emma's kitchen!" she smiled. "And is that YOU in the orange plaid overalls?"
Luke rolled his eyes. "Oh, c'mon, I was two in that picture. You can't blame me for my choice in clothing!"
"There's the Hubbard squash!" exclaimed Tessa, looking more closely at the picture. "And the retro fridge with the magnets, the shelf full of mason jars, and...oh my god...there's the crockery cookie jar!"
"You remember all that?" asked Luke.
"Everyone in the class remembers all that, Luke," said Tessa. "We could practically taste Emma's pumpkin pie."
Luke smiled proudly, in spite of himself.
Tessa continued flipping through the pictures, "And is this must be the fabulous 'Aunt Lorinda' ?"
"That she is," said Luke.
"She looks a little intimidating to me," said Tessa. "I'm not sure I'd want to cross her."
"Trust me – you wouldn't," Luke replied.
Luke grabbed a pack of Oreos and poured them two glasses of milk as they continued to sort through the images.
"That one was taken two years ago," said Luke, pointing to a family portrait. "That's my sister Faith, and that's my other sister Nathalie, and that's my brother Ethan."
"Were your parents together when this picture was taken?" Tessa asked.
"Yeah – it was the last photo of the whole family before they broke up the most recent time."
"Everyone looks so happy in that photo. I can see why you'd want to stay near them," she said.
"Yeah. They're the most important thing in the world to me. Well, except for — "
"Except for Doctor Reid Oliver, world renowned neurosurgeon?"
Luke once found himself stifling a smile. "Yeah," he admitted softly.
"Do you want to just use your wallpaper, or are there others you'd like to add as well?" she asked.
"Well, to tell you the truth, that's just about the only decent photo I have of him...or us," said Luke.
"Why not – he's not part vampire is he? Or Amish? Aren't they the ones who believe cameras steal your soul?" asked Tessa.
"Reid's been called a lot of things," laughed Luke, "But I think it's safe to say that vampire and Amish are not on the list. He just hates being in photos. In fact, my favorite photo was one that was on my phone. Katie took it of us at a Labor Day picnic. I'd forgotten she'd taken it and hadn't even seen it until she sent it to my phone two weeks ago. Unfortunately, I think it became a lost cause when my phone died."
"Oh, that's too bad," said Tessa. "It was a nice photo."
"You saw it?"
"I couldn't miss it given how often you'd take it out and glance at it when you thought no one was looking," teased Tessa.
"Okay," Luke conceded, throwing up his hands and smiling. "Guilty as charged."
"Can you get another copy?"
"I guess so, I can email Katie about it in the morning," said Luke.
"Do you want to do that now, so you don't forget?" asked Tessa.
"Good idea," replied Luke. "Can you hand me my laptop?"
Luke quickly typed up an email to Katie: Hi Katie. You know that photo of Reid and me you sent to me a couple of weeks ago? Can you send me another copy? Luke stopped typing briefly. "Should I ask her to send it via phone message, or email?"
"Email," Tessa replied. "Then you'll have a copy on your computer, and you can make it into a new wallpaper if you like."
"Okay, makes sense," said Luke, before he corrected his previous sentence. Can you email me a copy when you get a chance? My phone died last week, so I'm reloading EVERYTHING onto it. Ugh. BTW, my new number is 309-555-2167. Say hi to Jacob for me. – Luke.
Luke hit send and said, "That's pretty much all the photos I really want to have with me all the time. If there's anything else, I can always add them at a later date."
"Okay," agreed Tessa. "Let me just set up the syncing program so it knows which directory has all the photos and click Sync...and...syncing, syncing, still syncing, and...voila. Here. Take a look. You touch this icon here, and then the pictures will either run as a slide show, or, here, you can flip through them – like that guy at Best Buy was demonstrating."
"That is so cool! Can I try?" asked Luke.
"It's your iPhone," said Tessa, handing it over. She smiled as she watched Luke happily flipping through the photos with a Minority Report-like flourish.
"Should we call it a night?" asked Luke, glancing at the clock. 3.27am.
"I'm actually doing pretty well," said Tessa. "Do you want to just keep going and get it over with?"
"That's great for me, but that's asking an awful lot of you," said Luke.
"I'm actually having a good time. Besides, the music is the fun part," said Tessa.
"Well, I'm game if you're game," said Luke cheerfully.
"Okay then. Let's start by getting you started with iTunes..."
Luke and Tessa spent the next three hours selecting and downloading music. The process was initially hampered by Luke's inability to remember which CDs he actually owned, though after a brief demo by Tessa, he had to agree that buying tracks was far easier than ripping them from CD. Together, they picked out nearly 300 tracks before the sun started to make its initial appearance behind the nighttime clouds.
"Yikes," said Tessa. "It's almost six. I'd better get back to take a shower."
"You want to just take one here?" asked Luke.
"Nah," said Tessa. "All my stuff is in my room. Tell you what. I'll start the tracks downloading before I go. When they finish, you can organize your playlists, and when I get back, we'll sync the songs and your apps to your phone before breakfast."
"Sounds like a plan," said Luke. Tessa started the tracks downloading and made her way back to her room. Luke created several playlists, and sorted the tracks as they downloaded. By the time Tessa returned, they were almost finished. Together, they watched the progress meter as the last few tracks downloaded. After Luke placed them in the appropriate playlists, Tessas entered the final settings and set the songs and apps syncing.
"You mind if I hop in the shower while they're syncing?" asked Luke.
"Go right ahead, be my guest, um, your guest. Um, you know what I mean," said Tessa, grabbing a copy of GQ off of Luke's bed.
Reid awoke, tired and grumpy. The alarm was ringing unusually early for a Monday morning. Oh crap, he thought. I have that damned spinal disc herniation this morning. If only Hendrickson hadn't broken his wrist bowling over the weekend, I could be enjoying another hour of desperately needed sleep.
Then he remembered what had kept him up so late the evening before. Damn. Noah. Reid glanced at the clock on his nightstand. 6.12am. Luke was never up that early. As much as misery loved company, he decided that waking Luke would serve no real purpose, so he put on a half-pot of coffee and got in the shower, willing the warm water to awaken his senses, not to mention his common sense.
After he emerged, it was still only 6.30am, so he got dressed, made himself breakfast, and read the morning paper to pass the time. Rather, he looked at the morning paper – though he tried to read the headlines, and words passed before his eyes, he would have been hard pressed to repeat back any of the morning's top stories.
At 6.45am, Reid decided he'd better call. He needed to leave by seven o'clock to make his pre-op check-in time, and this way he'd at least have 15 minutes to chat before he had to leave.
Reid hit the speed dial on his phone and was surprised when the phone rang and rang and rang. Reid frowned at the phone, and then vaguely remembered that Luke had mentioned that his cell phone died.
Drat, thought Reid. He knew he had written down the number for Luke's cottage but couldn't remember where he'd put the scrap of paper. Reid paced the kitchen briefly, trying to remember. He had wanted to keep it someplace safe, that would remind him of Luke...Then he remembered.
Walking over to the refrigerator, Reid opened the door and reached into the vegetable drawer. There, in the otherwise empty space, he saw the ripped out corner of Saturday's paper with Luke's number. Sitting back down at the table, he resumed his breakfast as he dialed the digits for the cottage phone.
"Hey, Luke," Tessa called over the sound of running water. "Your phone is ringing. Do you want me to answer it?"
"Sure, go ahead," Luke called back.
"Hello," said Tessa, "Luke Snyder's room."
Reid almost choked on his cereal when he heard a woman's voice answer. When he recovered enough to speak, his first thought was that he had dialed the wrong number. But then he vaguely recalled that she had answered the phone: "Luke Snyder's room."
"Who the hell are you?" he asked.
Taken aback, Tessa responded, "Um, Tessa. Can I help you?"
"I need to speak to Luke," Reid replied.
"Um, Luke's in the shower. Can I take a message?"
Luke's in the SHOWER? thought Reid. At 6.45 in the morning? With a girl in his room? What the hell is going on today? Reid realized the obvious, but somehow, the lack of sleep wasn't doing him any favors, and a variety of unwelcome images began bombarding his tired, addled brain.
When Reid finally found his voice again, he managed to spit out, "Just tell Luke that Noah called and asked him to return the call, and he said it was important." And without any additional pleasantries, he hung up.
Reid stared at his cereal bowl for nearly 10 minutes, aimlessly scooping the coloured circles and dropping them back into the milk. He recalled that Luke had mentioned several retreat mates that he was spending time with. He'd described one as a Katie-like blonde but he couldn't remember her name. To be honest, Reid hadn't paid all that much attention as Luke had droned on about his lunchtime chit-chats and study sessions. Jessie? Tessie? Tessa? Could be. Reid wished he'd paid closer attention and vowed to be more attentive in the future.
By the time he looked at his watch, it said 7.05am. Oh, hell, he thought. I'm late.
Leaving the bowl on the table, he grabbed his briefcase and jacket and headed off to work.
Luke wandered out of the bathroom, mostly wet, but with a towel wrapped around his waist, and drying his hair with a second one.
Tessa looked up, turned bright red and flung her arms across her face and turned away. "Damn, Luke! Are you TRYING to kill me?" she yelped. "For god's sake, Luke, go put something on, would ya? It is so NOT cool to be flaunting it when you are totally not available!"
Luke grinned sheepishly, "Oh, um, sorry." He made his towards his closet.
"Don't tell me - is this how you seduced Reid?" Tessa asked."'Cause if the poor boy knew you were gay, he did not stand a chance. Like a poor freakin' snowball stuck in hell." Luke stopped in front of the closet door as he remembered how he had answered his hotel door in Dallas to find Reid standing there, devastatingly handsome in his suit, but frozen in place. "Um, Luke...?"
"Oh, sorry," Luke muttered sheepishly, grabbing a clean shirt, jeans, and boxers from the closet and retreating into the bathroom.
Five minutes later, Luke emerged from the bathroom again, barefoot but dressed. "So, who called?"
"Take a guess."
"At this hour?" Luke asked, surprised.
Tessa nodded again, frowning pensively. "Mm hmm."
"What?" asked Luke, trying to decipher the look on her face.
"Well, it's just that he was kind of..." she searched for the right word.
"Rude?" asked Luke, raising a knowing eyebrow.
"I was going to say 'grumpy,' " laughed Tessa, "But rude covers it."
Luke laughed, "It's nothing personal. Reid's that way with everyone."
"Okee, dokie, if you say so," said Tessa.
"Why did he call at this hour?" asked Luke.
"He said Noah called."
"Yeah, Noah," said Tessa. "Maybe that's why he was so...grumpy."
"Did he say what Noah wanted?"
"No, only that he called, he wants you to call, and it's important."
"That's what he said," confirmed Tessa. "Why? What's up with Noah?"
"God, I haven't heard from Noah since Thanksgiving when my mom insisted we call him to make sure he wasn't spending the holiday alone. So, I have absolutely no clue why he's calling..."