Luke shifted onto his side for the hundredth time and winced in pain. He lay awkwardly on the couch in the lamp lit lounge and felt decidedly sorry for himself. His chest tightened every now and then with worry as the many causes of the pain he was feeling ran through his head. He knew he should tell someone but as the list of possible go-to people formed in his mind he felt a slight sadness as he realised each had so much more to worry about.
Dad, well he's newly engaged to Molly and then there's Silas. Not going there. Mum, Gabriel's her new project so there's no way I'm even going to compete for her attention. Grandma Emma, between caring for Aunt Meg and the drama with Emily and Paul I doubt she'd have any time for me right now. Grandmother, Lucinda Walsh was on a one woman mission to ensure Craig Montgomery got his just deserts so she was difficult to get a hold of. Noah...
Luke winced again but not through the pain in his side. He and Noah were over and Luke had felt resolve in that, except being caught kissing someone else wasn't the way he'd have liked it to truly come to an end. It'd been around a month since that day and Luke felt his throat tighten. Six months ago Noah would have been there with him now, no doubt stroking his hair and telling him he'd be fine or worrying and calling a doctor...
Reid. His name was last to appear in Luke's list but not due to preference. It'd also been around a month since he'd seen Reid and thinking about him only made that time seem longer and the ache in his stomach feel heavier. Luke, now lying on his side, wrapped his arm around his own waist and sighed. He wanted to see him. So much.
The last day he'd set eyes on Reid was one of the most confusing and painful days he'd ever experienced. The image of Reid playing chess drifted into Luke's mind and he smiled slightly. Luke had never seen him that way before, kind of domestic and normal and the moment he started to talk and the way he absent mindedly forgot himself had captured Luke's heart more than he ever thought possible. He felt excited at being the one to have the power to elicit such new sides to Reid's personality and felt giddiness wash over him as Reid talked of crushing on guys and his geeky chess tornaments. In those few hours, Luke could remember putting his stresses to one side and letting go. Reid fascinated him and every moment was spontaneous when they were alone. Luke had no idea if their encounter would end in a kiss or an argument but even in their most heated moments, their honesty fuelled their fight and both felt liberated and in amongst their words flowed a form of trust they'd never encountered before.
As Luke had melted into the kiss he'd begun, he remembered allowing himself to feel something he'd been keeping at bay for a long time. His heart ached in a sweet kind of agony and in that moment his lips had touched Reid's, Luke knew he never wanted to stop. He wanted this confident, smart and gorgeous guy to stay in his life and it hurt to realise he was messing it all up by failing to sort the situation between himself and Noah. Little did he know that Noah could see every touch and kiss through the window and the entire night would end with Reid nursing a black eye and Noah accusing Luke of cheating his heart. Luke knew that this was his only chance to put things right. He could remember Katie leaving his mother's party in shock at what she'd just witnessed. As she'd intervened to take Reid home, Luke felt his chest constrict with Reid's parting look. He knew he was very close to Reid walking away and as much as it hurt knowing that, it was what Luke admired about him. Reid wasn't a game player. Yes he was arrogant and ambitious, but he was not the kind of person to accept second best. What Reid didn't know is that Luke hadn't felt as happy as he had around Reid for a long long time and this made him anything but second best but it was circumstances that forced Luke's decisions. This being the case, Luke could remember his words to Noah that night and he way he'd let his anger and fear and bubbling emotions erupt into a tirade of tears and fury. He called Noah out on his accusations and reiterated for the hundredth time that they weren't together. As regret dawned on Noah, they'd spent the rest of the night talking and crying, hugging and resolving to the conclusion that they'd messed a lot of things up and acted stupidly for a long time. Luke remembered wishing those resolutions had come sooner.
Luke wiped his eyes and straightened his t-shirt as he stood at Katie's door. His stomach in knots, he rang the bell.
Luke could hear Jacob crying softly from inside and felt awful. In one night he's caused an assault, an emotional break down and now a restless baby. Someone, somewhere clearly hated him.
The door opened. "Luke? Hi, come in." Katie, Jacob on her hip, ushered him inside.
Luke felt suffocated and an immediate need to retreat and leave. He fought his fears and spoke.
"I'm sorry to come over so late. I just...I wanted... I mean, is Reid here?"
A slow smile spread across her face accompanied by a slight frown. "Don't worry about it, Jacob's having a restless night anyway. Reid's here, he's in his room."
Katie left with Jacob and as Luke passed her room he heard a muffled lullaby. He felt a strange sense of peace that Reid lived in such a warm and comforting home. Shaking that off, he found himself outside Reid's bedroom, his heart hammering against his chest as he knocked on the door.
"Katie, as if I haven't had enough for one night, you want me to sing to Jacob again...seriously, do you want a gay son? I've told you time and time again that Justin Timberlake is not a healthy addiction for an infant..."
Luke smiled and shook his head. He felt tearful for some reason.
"Um...Reid... it's no-"
The door opened quickly. "Luke what are you doing here?"
Stammering a little and in a quiet voice Luke muttered, "You sing Justin Timberlake to Jacob?"
He wanted Reid to smirk and shoot a sarcastic remark back at him so badly but instead Reid held his stoic expression causing Luke's heart to hurt.
"Look, if you've come to explain about tonight, there's really no need. Noah lashed out. To be honest it's the first sign of a real personality I've seen from him so in a way I was impressed."
Reid turned, unblocking the doorway, and began folding a small pile of sweatshirts that lay amongst a sea of other belongings on his bed. Luke's eyes stung and his throat thickened. His eyes fell on a suitcase in the centre of the floor.
"Reid?" Luke's voice was uncharacteristically quiet.
His back still to Luke, purposefully, Reid closed his eyes and stopped mid-fold. He knew that if he didn't keep a hold on himself now he'd never be able to leave.
As he began to move again, he spoke slowly.
"Look, we both know that tonight got way out of hand. I should have stopped this a long time ago and it's about time somebody did something to put an end to it." Reid's mind swam with images of Luke and Noah and each was interjected with a single bright image of himself with Luke. He suppressed a depressed laugh as he wondered how he could ever let himself believe he was capable of being in a couple, capable of opening his heart. He continued folding his clothes mechanically.
Luke could feel his heart beating against his t-shirt and clenched his hands in an attempt to stop himself from moving, crying and falling to the floor. He had never felt as exhausted as he did in this moment and he wanted one thing only- Reid. It'd taken him so long to get to this point and he knew he was just too late.
"I... I'm... sorry."
Reid was sure he could sense Luke choking back tears but couldn't turn around. In an instant he'd move to comfort him and that was counter productive. Reid was on a one man mission to get the hell out of Oakhell. This town really did have tentacles and he wouldn't let this cute, caring blonde one keep a hold any longer. If we wanted Noah, Reid was going to make it just that little bit easier for him, and then they'd all be happy. Yes, they'd be much happier.
"I'm sorry." Luke's voice sounded stronger.
Reid was folding jeans now. Luke could feel himself getting angry. His tears now compressed, he felt frustration wash over him and anger burn in his chest. Reid's guards were impenetrable now and this fact was enough to drive Luke mad. He could break them down. He had to.
"You think you're so noble and self righteous don't you?" Luke spat.
Reid frowned and turned around. "You really think that by insulting me you're going to make anything better?"
"No but it sure as hell will make me feel better."
"Mr Snyder, you need to leave."
"I can't believe you. You do this so easily don't you?"
Reid's heart ached knowing that this wasn't true at all. This was one of the most difficult things he'd ever had to do.
"Luke, go home."
"What? So you can pack up and just leave? Cos that's so simple isn't it? I thought you never gave up on a fight. You're the great Doctor Oliver. Oh go on, that's it, turn your back, you do it so well don't you. Things get tough and you leave."
Luke felt sick. He'd said something so similar to Noah in the past and this only angered him more.
Reid, back turned again, dug his fingers into the sweater he was holding and breathed a controlled sigh.
Luke continued, "You are such a coward. Everyone thinks you're this brave and strong doctor, capable of anything and look at you, you're running away scared."
Luke knew he was crossing a line but kept going. Fear fuelled his fight and he poured every emotion into his words. He was desperate; terrified. Terrified of seeing Reid leave through the door and so scared he'd never come back.
He still carried on, "I wish I'd never dragged you here. You could have stayed in Dallas with your perfect life and I could have carried on-"
"What? Carried on what Luke?" Reid turned in an instant.
Luke's face burned, his heart now beating in his ears.
"I could...I could have carried on with my life."
Reid short sarcastic laugh felt like a slap in the face.
"Well, now you can."
"So you're just going to leave and pretend like this all never happened. What about the new hospital wing? Katie? Jacob? Bob? Your patients? What about..."
"What? What about what Luke?" Reid took a step forward and kept his eyes resolute.
Luke couldn't do this anymore. He wanted to throw himself at Reid, to wrap his arms around his neck and break down those barriers he'd had so much fun seeing fall away earlier. Now, standing in front of Reid like this, hurt more than he could explain. Luke choked on his words and looked to the floor.