Author's Notes: Wow, these updates are getting even further and further between. Apologies to everyone who has been wondering what's happening to these guys, and many, many thanks to anyone who has checked in, posted encouragement, or read a chapter or two here and there. Still more to come...
Henry, having known Katie for half a lifetime, immediately knew he had only one hope – he changed the subject. "So, Reid," he began. "Any interesting cases you're working on these days?" He leaned back behind Katie's back and gave Reid an exaggerated wink.
"What the hell is wrong with your eye Henry?" Reid barked. "If you give me a stye, Coleman, I swear to god I'll personally strap you to a bed and have that newbie nurse come and drain it. Slowly. With a rusty needle."
"Why, my eye is fine, thank you, Reid," Henry replied, forcing out each syllable. "I'm fine. Thanks for asking. How…are…you? I'd really like to hear about what you're working on these days." He reached an arm behind Katie's back and flicked at Reid's elbow with his finger.
"Ouch!" Reid yelped. "Have you lost your freaking mi— ?"
Henry leaned his head behind Katie's and silently mouthed, "Change the subject!" Katie couldn't see Henry's side of the conversation and turned to find Reid staring back at Henry as if he were speaking Swahili. "NO WEDDING!" Henry mouthed.
Katie snapped her head back and again only saw Henry sporting an innocent blank expression, his hand once again resting in his lap. Reid scowled quizzically before he finally understood Henry's underlying message.
"Oh, um, I'm fine?" Reid replied in a monotone. Katie turned back and frowned at him in bewilderment.
"That's great, Reid!" Henry said, with artificial enthusiasm. "So, isn't there something at work you're dying to tell me about?"
"Um, yeah?" Reid replied, uncertainly.
"Yeah, my foot!" Katie declared. "Stop trying to avoid the subject. We're here to talk about my wedding plans."
Reid shook his head vigorously, while Henry replied, "But Bubbles, sweetie, look! We're getting along! We're making conversation. Right, Reid?" Reid nodded his head dutifully. "And he was just about to tell me all about his latest case at work. We're bonding. Right, Reid?"
Reid cleared his throat. "Yeah, right, Henry. Bonding," Reid said, before muttering, "…like the van der Waals interactions between a couple of heptane molecules."
"I heard that!" Henry sing-songed.
"Like you have any clue what that means," Reid mimicked Henry's tune.
"Start talking about your case, Doc McSmartypants," Henry refrained through gritted teeth.
Katie threw up her arms in frustration. "You two are hopeless!" But even she couldn't destroy the momentary détente, and so she allowed Reid to drone on about his latest case for the next 20 minutes while she and Henry dumbly nodded and sipped their wine.
By the time the oven timer started buzzing, all three were likewise buzzed. Katie were eventually able to shift the topic of conversation, leading to a surprisingly pleasant (and tasty, even Henry admitted) dinner. Katie kept both men entertained with her slightly alcohol-tinged recollections of holiday gatherings with her family while growing up. Her imitation of Lyla's lounge act, with amusing little-girl word substitutions sprinkled throughout had even Reid smiling in spite of himself throughout the meal.
"No reply yet?" Tessa asked, closing the distance between their adjoining seats at the bar.
Luke shook his head, shaking the last of ice in his club soda.
"Maybe he hasn't gotten it yet?" she suggested hopefully.
"Maybe," Luke replied, unconvinced. "I emailed the file and texted him. The text is showing as received. I can't tell if he opened the email."
"Luke, you're starting to sound like stalker," Tessa counseled. "It's Saturday night. Maybe he has plans."
Luke stared back blankly as if not understanding. "Reid? Plans?"
"Oh yeah," she replied. "Scratch that. Maybe he's in surgery?"
"Yeah, that's probably it," Luke agreed, uncertainly.
"You guys want anything?" Trevor asked from across the table.
"Who's up for Rocky Horror Picture Show?" William asked gleefully.
"Oh, me, me!" Tessa replied cheerfully.
"The movie?" Luke asked, surprised. "I thought that was just something from back in the dark ages when our parents thought they were cool."
"Not just 'the movie'!" Trevor replied. "And not just our parents! There's a midnight showing at the Nickelodeon."
"Midnight showing?" Luke echoed.
"Oh my god," Melissa gasped. "Luke, you're a virgin!"
Luke blushed furiously. "Melissa!"
"Oh, Luke," Tessa said sympathetically. "Not that kind of virgin!"
"What?" Luke whispered, "How many kinds of virgins are there?"
"Don't worry," said Trevor, putting an arm around Luke's shoulder and steering him towards the door. "You'll find out soon enough…"
"Wow, that's good stuff," Reid admitted, enjoying the rich, intensely red liquid as it slid down his throat. After the better part of a year largely devoid of alcohol, he had forgotten how much he enjoyed a good vintage.
After dinner, they'd retired to the living room for dessert and coffee, followed by digestifs.
"Yeah, well, Daddy Dear left a lot to be desired," Henry noted, "But not in his wine cellar. The old man had great taste in wine…and women, of course." Henry smiled a lascivious grin.
Reid scowled. "Ew. You're gonna make me lose my dinner. Besides, doesn't it creep you out to be married to your old man's ex-wife?"
"Well it's not like she's my mom or anything," Henry replied.
"Okay," Reid said. "And that just makes it perfectly normal."
"Ladies," Katie cautioned. "Play nice. I can't have my wedding party tearing each other to shreds."
"Yeah, speaking of which," Reid said, "Remind me again how it is that we got stuck being the wedding party? Why don't you just have big sister Margo be the maid of honor and call it a day?"
"Hello, remember? I've only told you about a million times!" Katie waved her hands in front of his face, waiting for a sign of recognition. When none was forthcoming, she added, "Because Margo's walking me down the aisle and giving me away? Remember?"
"You've been married so many times already, shouldn't it be considered re-gifting away?" Reid muttered with a straight face.
Henry stifled a laugh and resisted the urge to offer Reid a fist-bump. Katie slugged him on the shoulder while glaring at Reid.
"Reid!" she scolded.
"Don't you have a brother who could give you away so that Margo could do the girlie stuff?" he asked.
"Craig?" Katie asked. "Really?" Henry rolled his eyes in support.
"How about just doing whatever you did at your last wedding?"
"Oh, lord," Katie groaned. "Just shoot me now."
"If it would prevent me from standing by you while you promise to spend eternity Doogie, I'd offer to," Reid suggested. "How bad could it have been?"
"Well, let's start with the fact that I was the officiant — " Henry began, before being interrupted.
"— Speaking of quacks…" Reid quipped, flapping his arms like a duck.
Henry stuck his tongue out while Katie continued. "…Then Margo was late for the service, and Brad ended up having both Jack and Mike as best men."
"Who's Mike?" Reid asked.
"Kasnoff," Katie and Henry replied in unison.
"Kasnoff," Reid repeated, trying to place the name. His eyes opened wide as he realized why it sounded familiar. "As in Katie Peretti Frasier Coleman Kasnoff Synder?"
It was Katie's turn to look up in surprise – Reid actually had been paying attention during their commiseration-fest at WOAK.
"Two ex-husbands in the wedding party?" Reid asked incredulously.
"Well," Katie admitted sheepishly, "three – if you count Henry."
"Hey, what do you mean if you count Henry?" Henry protested as Reid sniggered.
"What, the Frasier guy was unavoidably detained?" Reid asked. "You could have had four of a kind."
Katie ignored him and continued, "Plus, Kim convinced us to televise the whole thing live on Oakdale Now."
"That should have been entertaining," Reid mumbled to himself.
"Aw, c'mon, Bubbles," Henry said. "It wasn't that bad. You married the love of your life and ended up with a beautiful baby boy, right?"
"Yeah, I did, didn't I?" Katie agreed, smiling wistfully. "But do you remember…."
Reid was actually grateful when his phone began chirping from across the room, giving him an excuse to avoid yet another recap of the past with Henry and Katie. He bolted behind the couch to pull it out of his bag and briefly contemplated letting the call go to voicemail when he saw Luke's name flash across the screen. What if he wants to know what I thought of his piece? I still haven't read it. Is he going to freak because I haven't read it? What if he reads something into it? What if….
Man up, Oliver, he scolded himself, answering, "Hey," in as neutral a voice as he could muster as he ducked into the kitchen.
"Hey!" Luke beamed at the other end of the phone, while Tessa mimed I told you everything's fine gestures at him. "I've been trying to reach you. Have you been out?"
Reid was hoping to make his welcome home dinner a surprise, and telling Luke about a trial run seemed like it would defeat the cause. He dodged the question. "Uh, no," he replied. "Just busy catching up on some stuff I wanted to get done before you get back."
Luke smiled to himself. "So you're doing about a month's worth of laundry, huh?"
"Uh, yeah," Reid agreed. "What's up with you?"
"Just hanging out with some of the gang – they're dragging me to see the midnight showing of Rocky Horror. Apparently I'm a virgin," Luke grinned, hoping Reid would catch the not-so-subtle double entendre.
"Uh, yeah, right" Reid agreed, barely hearing Luke as he shut the door and put his hand over the mouthpiece to keep Luke from hearing Katie's giggling.
Luke frowned to himself. Uh, yeah, right? I tell him I'm a virgin and I get an, "Uh, yeah?" "So, yeah. We've been on this scavenger hunt all around town. We stopped at the commissary and got toast and hot dogs. William nabbed some rubber gloves from the food service workers and Melissa ran home to get her flashlight. Now we're at the Walgreens stocking up on toilet paper! Can you believe it?"
"Toilet paper?" Reid asked, still distracted. "The University isn't keeping your cottage stocked? You should complain. For the amount of money I'm paying, I should complain."
"What?" replied Luke surprised and somewhat confused by Reid's disjointed response. He read it and he thinks it sucks and this has been a monumental four-week waste of money? "No, that's not the proble —"
"Hey, Reid, honey!" Katie called, "bring out some more crackers while you're in there, will ya?"
Reid poked his head out the door and made a vigorous shushing motion. He pointed vigorously to the phone and made an "L" with his hand, hoping she would get the message.
"Oh, it's Luke!" Katie stage-whispered, giggling loudly again.
"Hey, can you get some more cheese, too?" Henry added. Reid stared daggers back, holding the phone to his chest, and hoping that looks could kill.
"Uh, is someone there?" Luke asked, hearing the tenor voice in the background.
"Oh, uh," Reid stuttered, "Um, Katie stopped by earlier."
Luke couldn't shake the feeling that Reid wasn't being straight with him, yet he couldn't get himself to insist that Reid put her on. I trust him, Luke thought. But why wouldn't he have mentioned that Katie is there? And why does her voice sound so funny?
"Hey, Frankendoc!" Henry yelled, "I'm dying of thirst out here!"
Reid rested his forehead in his hand. Maybe I should just put up a billboard at the Des Moines airport saying 'Oakdale surgeon hosts practice dinner with former best friend and her dead other best friend.'"
"Listen, Luke…" Reid began, unsure what to say.
"Oh, yeah," Luke interrupted. "Of course. If Katie's there, I shouldn't be keeping you."
"Right," Reid agreed unconvincingly. "I should, uh…"
"…get going. I get it," Luke said, taking a deep breath before continuing. "Just one quick question before I go…"
Oh boy, here it comes, Reid thought.
"Have-you-done-anything-interesting-today? Did-you-go-into-the-office? Eat-out? Read-anything-interesting?" The words came out as one long sentence and Luke paused to catch his breath at the end.
"Um, no," Reid replied. "Only some journals. I've got this tough new case…." He trailed off uncertainly.
"Right," Luke replied, unable to keep the disappointment out of his voice. Tessa, seeing him, tugged gently on his arm to encourage him to go. "Well, the guys are waiting, so I'd better get going."
"Have fun," Reid replied as cheerfully as he could.
"Uh, thanks," Luke replied. "You, too. Say 'hi' to Katie for me."
"Yeah, sure. Will do," Reid replied. "And hey," he added, hoping to catch Luke before he hung up.
"I love you, Mr. Snyder."
"I love you too, Dr. Oliver," Luke replied. "Bye."
Luke hung up. As Tessa led him down the street, he still found himself feeling unsettled.
"What's wrong, Luke?" Tessa asked. "He's only had it for a few hours. Maybe he's busy."
"Yeah, I guess," said Luke. "I just can't shake the feeling that he's holding something back."
"I hate you two," Reid announced returning into the living room. "Are you two trying to make my life miserable? This was supposed to be a surprise! How the hell am I supposed to explain to Luke why I have Henry in my house when he can clearly hear Hank in the background but knows that I would rather feed myself to crocodiles than spend an hour with him as a houseguest?"
"Hey!" Henry protested, "I heard that!"
"What did you tell him?" Katie asked, ignoring him.
"I told him you stopped by," Reid retorted.
"Awwww," Katie grinned at Reid, and then turned to Henry. "Wittle Weid is not vewy good at being deceptive, is he?"
Henry nodded vigorously, and added, "You said it, sister."
"It's so cute!" Katie squeaked getting up and pinching Reid's cheeks.
"It's not cute," Reid disagreed, slapping her hands away. "I just lied to my boyfriend!"
"It wasn't really lying," Katie protested. "I'm here. Besides, it's for a good cause!"
"Then why do I feel like a cheating son of a bitch?"
"Reid, honey, when it comes to deceiving your loved ones, you've got nothing to feel guilty about," Katie consoled. "Now me, on the other hand…"
"You got dat right, girlfriend," Henry agreed, leaning to the side and pulling another bottle of wine out of the bag he'd stashed next to the couch. He grabbed the corkscrew off the table and deftly removed the cork. "Now you and I, on the other hand…"
As Katie and Henry launched into yet another interminably long walk down memory lane, Reid sipped slowly from his glass, feeling oddly out of place in his own home.
Usually, when Reid crossed paths with Henry, he fired a few zingers across the bow, and then smugly turned away while a gape-mouthed Henry stumbled for a retort. When he was particularly lucky, Reid simply let Luke make all the small-talk and avoided acknowledging Henry's existence entirely. This evening, however, as the conversation continued from the couch to the dinner table and then back again, he couldn't escape listening to Katie and Henry, Henry and Katie, a lot of Katie, and far too much Henry.
As possessive as Reid felt about his relationship with Katie, he finally understood that there were things that Hank knew about Bubbles that he would never have found out about his Goldilocks – not only because it never would have occurred to him to ask, but because even if Katie had volunteered the information, he probably wouldn't have bothered to listen…or remember. Then again, for all he knew, perhaps Katie had indeed already shared the same intimacies with him one late night…while he only half-listened to her.
Now, as Henry and Katie cheerfully chatted on, catching up on Henry's sex life and Jacob's latest accomplishments – couch-cruising and making brown, lumpy, smelly poop, instead of the yellow runny stuff – Reid observed them finishing each other sentences, knowing exactly what the other was feeling and about to say.
Katie had told him a million and six times that she loved Henry unconditionally since he had always been and would always be there for her. But Reid had long thought that Henry's alleged "care" was nothing more than a misguided (and one-sided) crush. But tonight, as he listened, he began to realize that amidst the nauseating descriptions of exotic sex romps, Henry really was in love with Barbara, that his schoolboy crush had indeed been squelched, and that his current affection for Katie indeed was founded in their long-standing, unconditional, and oh-so-obviously mutual friendship.
Damn. Not only did Reid hate being wrong, but for once, he hated being on the outside of the conversation. And even more so, he hated being one-upped by Henry. After all, he, Reid, had been the one who endured with Jacob's incessant wailing on bad nights, along with Katie's late-night crying jags. He had been there for her, not Henry – albeit only because of proximity and his need for temporary housing. Had she called him from across town at two in the morning for a shoulder to cry on, he reluctantly admitted to himself, that he would have told her (in less pleasant words) to go find a teddy bear to hug….and hung up.
Yet this last week, she had put up with his numerous and frequently ill-timed phone calls. She'd taken him to the movies, let him lean (not cry) on her shoulder at the studio, and now had taken a full day (more, counting the time it took to pack that seemingly bottomless bag of hers) to help him prepare for Luke's return. She had been there for him.
"All right, I'm in," Reid announced mid-conversation.
Two animated voices abruptly veered to a halt and four eyes stared at him in surprise.
"In what?" Katie asked. "Reid, are you feeling all right?"
"I'm fine," Reid replied, annoyed. "But whatever you want, I'm in."
"What's the catch?" asked Henry suspiciously.
"No catch," Reid said. "Katie's always been there for me, especially these past few weeks. And now I want to do my part."
"Aw, Reid, sweetie," Katie gushed. "There is a little bit of humanity in that cold, scientific heart of yours."
"But…" Reid began.
"A-ha!" Henry interjected, triumphantly. "I knew there was a but in there!"
Katie raised a skeptical eyebrow.
"But," Reid continued, frowning at Henry, "I just need you to look me in the eye and tell me that you are 100 percent sure that this marriage is what you want."
"Of course, it's what I want," Katie said dismissively, looking down at her knee and playing with the edge of her skirt.
"Really?" Reid replied sarcastically, pointing towards his face. "Because last time I checked, my eyes are up here."
"I'm sure," Katie replied, focusing on a spot just above Reid's left ear.
"Is that why you are deliberately looking everywhere in the room but at me?"
"I'm not," Katie claimed, shifting her gaze to a point just below his nose.
"Katie?" Reid reminded her, staring pointedly at her forehead, as close to her eyes as he could manage with her head tilted downwards.
Katie's eyes slowly wandered to meet his before she quickly broke the gaze.
"Let me ask you something," Reid said. "What was the first thing you thought about this morning?"
"What? Like you, Surgeon 24/7, didn't wake up thinking about your first case?" she challenged.
"No, actually, I didn't," Reid replied. "I woke up thinking I'd heard Luke talk in his sleep, which he is prone to do. Then I noticed the wet towel I'd left on his side of the bed the night before, and actually wished that he were around to tell me to get my ass in gear and pick it up….And then I thought about my first case." Reid turned to Henry, who had been watching the exchange with interest. "How 'bout you, Hank?"
"Oh, well that's easy. I was awakened by Barbara's tongue in my ear," he grinned in a self-contented way. "It was hard not to think of anything else. She did that thing she does with a warm cup of tea. Much better than when she has grapefruit juice first thing in the morning. She had on a red silk — "
Reid shuddered at the mental image.
"Eeee," Katie squealed. "Henry, I love you to bits, but even I don't need thatmuchinformation."
"Halleluiah," deadpanned Reid.
Henry frowned, insulted. "Look, just because I happen to adore my wife, and we enjoy each other's company…"
"Okay, Goldilocks," Reid said, cutting him off. "Your turn."
Feeling defensive, Katie began, " I'm a mom. I woke up worrying about Jacob's cough..."
"That's understandable," Henry said supportively.
"And?" Reid asked.
"And then I mentally walked through my to-do list for the weekend, starting with plans for your dinner party…."
"Okay…" prompted Henry, starting to get Reid's point.
"And then I checked messages to make sure the babysitter hadn't called to cancel for tonight…"
"And?" Reid asked.
"Well then I walked into Jacob's room to make sure he was alright, pulled up his blanket, and picked up Mr. Snuffles from the floor and handed it to him…"
"And?" Reid and Henry asked in unison.
"And then I got downstairs and saw that Chris left his cereal bowl on the table and the milk out on the counter."
"Bingo," said Reid.
"A-ha!" said Henry, half a beat slower.
"What, 'bingo?'" protested Katie.
"Aw c'mon, Katie. It took you 45 minutes before you thought about the love of your life? The man you're going to marry and spend the rest of your life with. And then it was only because he was too lazy to put his dishes in the dishwasher? Who are you kidding, Katie?"
"Reid!" exclaimed Katie. "You're not being fair." She turned to her other side and sternly frowned at her long-time partner in crime. "He's busy and was probably distracted. Besides, it's not like you ever put your dishes in the dishwasher either! Maybe it's an occupational requirement."
"You're deflecting," Reid cautioned, looking her square in the eyes. "It's not about the dishes, it's about Chris. You know I'm right."
"Well…" Katie replied, breaking eye contact and turning towards Henry.
"Oh, no," said Henry. "Don't look at me. I'm with Reid on this one." Then pausing, he added, "Did I really just say that? Somebody pinch me, I think I'm going nuts."
"Going?" Reid muttered under his breath, and rolling his eyes before returning his gaze to Katie.
Katie looked at one and then the other of her best friends, each of them staring at her intently, waiting for her next reply.
"Oh god," she cried. "What if I am making a big mistake?" She intuitively leaned towards Reid's shoulder when Henry loudly cleared his throat, insulted.
Katie looked at Henry and then back to Reid, who again rolled his eyes. Exasperated, she slumped forward, with her head on her arms.
Katie sat up defiantly. She turned to Henry, stuck a finger in his chest, and said, "Right now, I am not your Bubbles." Reid smirked. She turned to Reid and her stern expression quickly wiped the smugness from his face. "And I'm not your Goldilocks, either, mister."
Duly chastised, they both intuitively folded their hands in their laps, looked down, and waited for Katie's next comment.
"I'm having a crisis, here! I do not need you two going all Alpha male on me and having a whizzing contest over me. All I need is for my two besties to be here for me! Do you think you can manage that?"
Without looking up, Reid and Henry both nodded obediently in acknowledgement. Each stole a glance sidewise to make sure Katie was finished with her rant and not in danger of hyperventilating.
Finally, it was Henry who broke the silence. "Okay, Katie. Tell us what you want us to do. How do we help?" he asked softly.
"I dunno," Katie replied. "Talk to me, boys. Remind me how you know you're in love. How do you know when it's right?"
"Well," Henry began authoritatively, as Reid sank down in his seat and rested his forearm across his head. Henry continued, "You know I thought I was going to live happily ever after with Vienna…"
After gratefully avoiding the virgin hazing rituals, Luke found himself going through the motions, tossing rice, ducking under Tessa's Des Moines Register, and stepping through the Time Warp. But throughout, he couldn't stop thinking about Reid. Whether he would be there comparing Denton, Ohio, to Oakdale. Whether he would be cringing at the mold spores that were probably lining the insides of the many squirt guns in the audience. What he would look like in boxy white boxer shorts. Or gold lamé booty shorts….Or a black lace bustier, fishnet stockings, and heels.
"You okay?" Tessa asked as they left the theatre, dropping several steps behind their friends, who were raucously singing, 'Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me' to each other as they marched through the now-empty city streets.
"Yeah," Luke replied. "I'm fine."
"You didn't like it, did you?" she asked.
"No, it was fine," Luke said ambivalently. "I just…"
"You just were thinking about Reid."
"Yeah," Luke admitted. "I kinda wish he were here."
"You know he would have hated that, don't you?" Tessa teased.
Luke laughed in spite of himself. "Now that, you are definitely right about. He would have run from the theatre when the squirt guns came out." He smiled at the image.
"Ah, now there's the Luke I know," Tessa beamed in return. "And lemme guess. He would have started lecturing about how if there were aliens from the planet Transsexual, that the statistical odds of them looking and dressing like Frank would be…."
"Non-existent," Luke chuckled, feeling a little better, thinking about Reid and not his paper. "And you know…."
Reid waited impatiently while Henry regaled Katie with a recap of the Tales of Vienna, but stood gape-mouthed, like a deer in headlights when Katie abruptly turned to him and asked, "So, what about you, Reid? How did you know?"
Me? Reid silently mouthed, pointing to his chest. A series of images of Luke flashed by his eyes in full bit his lip as he recalled how much it pained him to even be in the room while Luke hovered at Noah's bedside. How his heart started to melt when Luke declared that he wasn't letting him go through his hearing alone. How it took every ounce of strength not to rip the towel from Luke's waist in that Dallas hotel room. How vulnerable Luke was the night before Noah's surgery – and how all he wanted to do was to kiss his fears away and make sure another tear never slid down those beautiful pale cheeks. How Luke being Luke could make him babble like an idiot. How he wanted to personally dismember Winston Mayer in as painful a manner as humanly possible. How nothing could ever outshine Luke in a tux.
Finally, with four expectant eyes still starting at him, Reid finally replied, "It's personal."
"Hey!" Henry declared, "We've shared our stories!"
"Hell if that was my idea," Reid said. "Look, all I know is that when I think about Luke having a history with anyone else, or ever spending a minute in someone else's arms, it makes my skin crawl. He makes me want to always be there, and to be a better man, so I can be the kind of guy he deserves."
"Yeah, be all noble, why don't you?" Henry snarked.
"He's got a point, Henry," Katie said. "It's hard to find someone who will love you for who you are, who will live with your mistakes, respect your choices, your past, your future. Someone you want to wake up with every morning, share every tragedy and victory with. When you find that someone, don't you just want to get up in front of all the people you care most about in the world and declare your undying love for them?"
"It's all a bunch of pomp and circumstance crap," Reid declared.
"Been there, done that," Henry said. "But it's not pomp and circumstance. The people you love doesn't have to be a cast of thousands. It's just the people you really care about. Or really, just the one person you care about. That's the only one who really matters. Well that person, plus an officiant and a couple of witnesses."
"Reid, you just delivered what would arguably be a classic wedding vow," Katie noted.
"In your dreams!" Reid protested.
"You know," Henry added, surprised, "She's right. Those wouldn't be bad wedding vows."
"Wait a minute. I am not getting married. You are," Reid said, turning to Katie. "When you talk about the guy you wake up with every morning and share every tragedy with, are you talking about Chris? Or Brad?"
Katie looked from one to the other and finally replied helplessly, "I don't know." She wrapped her arms around her knees and shaking her head into her arms.
Reid and Henry glanced at each other unsure what to do, each eventually settled back in their seats and sipped their wine in silence.
Luke stopped in Tessa's doorway, watching as she tried to fumbling with her keys with frozen fingers under dim light, the last two beers she'd had not helping matters any. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore and gently took the keys away. "Here, let me," he offered.
"Thanks," she giggled back at him as he easily got the key to turn. He opened the door and she stumbled in the empty room, dumping her handbag on the ground and tossing her jacket on the bed.
"You always worry about what you write," she said, turning back to Luke as he stood watching in the doorway. "And you always turn in one of the most solid pieces in the class. Stop worrying. He's gonna love it."
Luke smiled weakly and shrugged his shoulders.
"Besides," she beamed, pulling a concealed squirt gun out of her pocket and shooting him mercilessly. ""You're not a virgin anymore!"
"Damn, Tessa!" he laughed, doing a quick 180 and running out the door "I'm gonna get you for this!" He slammed the door shut on his way out and sprinted alongside the cottage exterior without looking back, finally peering back around the corner to make sure she was not following in pursuit.
He leaned back against the wall, catching his breath and smiling to himself. He took a deep breath and exhaled, watching the steam from his breath rise in the cold air. You have nothing to worry about, Luke Snyder, he told himself. So why am I worried?
After Katie had wrapped herself in a fetal ball to think about her future, Henry and Reid had quickly drained the last bottle of wine. With the cloak of insobriety wearing off, all three sat in silence, lost in their own thoughts.
When Katie started to drift off, Henry gently nudged her on the shoulder, wrapped her coat around her shoulders to carry her down to their waiting cab.
With Henry's arms full, Reid found himself jumping up to open the door for them, and was surprised to hear himself saying, "Thanks for taking her home, Henry."
Without thinking, Henry comfortably replied, "Any time, Reid. Thanks for dinner – Luke's gonna love it."
Henry briefly caught Reid's eyes as he left, his eyes smiling, as Reid nodded in reply, before feeling the smile behind his own eyes and quickly looking away.