It sickened him. Almost a year before, they were happy together, living together in their own apartment. They were deep in love. So how could this happen? It seemed impossible. Ridiculous what was it was to put it simply. But Noah Mayer knew that this was beyond simplicity. Everything was complicated. His life, his love life with Luke – that was now practically defunct all thanks to Reid Oliver, his own savior, proving that irony was indeed a curse at times – was a never-ending rollercoaster ride of emotions.
To see Luke move on with Reid filled his mouth up with bile. Glimpses of them walking through Old Town together, smiling, laughing, holding hands, and kissing each other had him feeling contempt. It went deeper than his father's judgment of him. It was betrayal from someone he knew was pure, innocent, and had love especially for him. Or used to anyway…
This had him thinking wild thoughts. What if I did this or what if I did that were questions that were over-the-top. Noah thought to incorporate them into his movies because it would be a good way to vent without getting arrested. On the other hand, once he had a script all done – one depicting a loose cannon who would do whatever it took to get what and whoever he wants – he found the idea appealing. The possibilities whirled in his mind just like it did when he was finding reasons to blame Luke for his shortcomings when in reality that was mere projection. Noah didn't think that he was worth the fuss that Luke made over him. He was too messed up what with his father killing his mother and his father coming close to killing Luke. There was so much to blame. There was so much to hate.
He wanted Luke to feel guilty for leaving him all alone, for leaving him for his own doctor. Noah found that his eyesight meant little when put beside his relationship with Luke. But he found that it was too little, too late.
These radical emotions he suppressed, keeping them from Richard even. He knew that he was going partially insane; he didn't need to be told.
The day that Luke and Reid promenaded into Java, Noah's suppressed thoughts came to the forefront of his mind.
"Oh," Luke said upon seeing Noah. He looked caught off guard like he wasn't expecting anything to ruin his perfect little day with Reid, whose smile became a stone cold expression – one that screamed of a protective boyfriend. He even had his arm around Luke's shoulder. "Hey, Noah, how's it going?"
"Well, thanks." Noah couldn't even recognize his own voice. He felt like it was too monotone to be human. "I know what you want. How about you?" His question towards Reid was rather snippy, but he couldn't hold back any longer. This man had taken his love away. It was the least he could do.
"Caramel latte with whip cream and extra shot." Luke answered as if he was retorting in the same snippy tone. That look Luke gave him had him rushing to get their coffee prepared. Silence ensued. In a way, he was glad to create such a tense atmosphere to replace the bonhomie one that he despised when it came to Luke and Reid being together.
"Here you go. Enjoy." Noah said, tautly. The money exchange was awkward, but quick, much to the alleviation of Luke.
"You didn't poison it, did you?" Reid inquired, flippantly.
"Reid," Luke chastised.
"Now why would I do that, Reid?" Noah replied, putting emphasis on the doctor's name. "Unlike you, I'm considerate to the people that I serve. I don't go behind their backs and steal their boyfriends."
Luke sighed, exasperated, rolling his eyes.
"Ouch, no, really. I feel so terribly guilty I think I'll need therapy for at least the next few months." Reid looked at Noah, hard. It wasn't hard to tell what he was referring to. Noah just stopped going to the therapist Reid had recommended to him months back.
"Guys, stop, I think we should go, Reid." Luke suggested, imploringly.
There was that glisten in Luke's eyes that set Noah off. That was the look that Luke used to give to him. It was trusting, loving, natural, as if they were already married. He rounded the desk and was about to deck Reid in the face a second time. Before he knew it, Luke was in Reid's arms, being led to a table.
"Luke," Reid was murmuring. He instructed Luke to pinch his nose and hold his head up high. "Someone, get me a paper towel or something, on the double."
A short, blonde-haired woman complied, rushing over to their table with a few napkins in hand.
"Thank you." Reid smiled at her for a scant moment.
"No problem; I always have napkins handy." The woman smiled back. Then she did a double take to Noah like he was some kind of monster to be feared.
All the while, he felt like he was not there. Noah felt like he was watching a movie, or caught up in a nightmare. What jolted him back to reality was a tap on his shoulder. He turned around in surprise to see that it was his boss. "We have to have a talk, Noah." Jessica led him outside to talk to him in private. Noah felt sheepish because he knew of the impending scolding. At the same time, he was irritated at the fact that he felt that way when Reid deserved to be punched. Then he backtracked. He had punched Reid once previous to this. But this time around, he had punched Luke.
That had him at a loss for words. He was beyond redemption now. Nothing could excuse him for physically hurting Luke, much less emotionally torturing him.
"You can't do that to a customer, Noah. I have no idea what's going on with you and I don't care to. What I do care about, though, is keeping a comfortable environment for people. One little screw-up can make them label you as the crazy guy who hits people. Hell, they probably already are."
"So in a nutshell, you're firing me."
"Yeah, turn in your uniform. You're out of here, buddy."
To his surprise, Noah had no problem doing just that. Java was a coffee haven that harbored many memories, good and bad. It was like he was leaving the past behind. It was like he was starting out fresh. He didn't need to cling to a job that he had in the past. Other places would take him.
Eventually he couldn't take it anymore. His film-making classes were helping him, and he was happy to be reunited with his friends. But that wasn't enough. He wanted Luke back. He had to have him back.
So one day, Noah texted Luke to come meet him at his studio. He had just recently obtained one with the money he garnered from his job as well as some of his buddies who'd agreed to help him with his movies.
It was a crazy plan. Noah knew it. That's what added to the excitement of it all. Luke would come. He never let Noah down. Why would he start by letting him down now?
"I don't know about this." Reid told Luke, uneasily. They were parked right in front of Noah's studio. There was an ominous aura about the place that had Reid on edge. "Doesn't it seem odd to you that he'd text you completely out of the blue like that? You know, about he's been giving you the cold shoulder for over a month now."
Judging by how Luke shrugged, he didn't seem too sure himself. All he could do was guess. "Maybe he wants to make up with me."
"Rather he wants to make out with you." Reid countered.
Luke huffed. "We've been over this, Reid. I'm in love with you, not him. Not anymore." He held Reid's face, reassuring him.
"That's not what I'm worrying about." Reid responded, putting his hand over Luke's.
"I'll be fine, ok? I'll patch things up with Noah and then we'll go out and…ride a bull or something." Luke chuckled a bit and so did Reid.
"Sounds good to me. Let's book a flight to Texas and show those mediocre cowboys how one really rides the bull." Reid joked back, adding onto the temporary levity.
"I'll be right back, cowboy." Luke gave Reid a quick peck before leaving the car.
Luke knocked on the door. It opened when his knuckles came into contact with it. This had him frantic. Noah wasn't so careless to have kept this door unlocked. Luke ran around inside. It might be a slip up. Or worse, maybe someone infiltrated Noah's studio; someone with a grudge.
"Noah!" Luke yelled. He opened up the door to the photo developing room. There was no one there. Just as he was about to exit, a strong arm grabbed him from behind. A hand covered his mouth. The grip was too vice-like to break free from. It made him freeze. This body he was pressed up against was familiar.
"If you keep shouting my name like that, I'm going to start thinking that you want me." Noah whispered in his ear. It chilled him to the bone. "Like really, want me." It was seductive. It was sadistic.
Luke couldn't shake off the shock. All he could do was react impulsively. He bit Noah's hand and elbowed him in the stomach. That had Noah reeling back into a chair, tumbling to the floor. Luke whirled around, trying to catch his breath. His mind was trying to piece together what just happened. For a moment, he was speechless. He gaped at this unbelievable scene. Noah wasn't like this.
Noah was laughing, almost off the brink of sanity. It scared Luke stiff. "What's the matter, Luke? You are a man of many words. Where are your words now?" Noah asked as if taunting him.
"Noah, what on Earth…? What…Why are you doing this?" Luke asked, lucky to even manage to say that much.
Instead of answering, Noah approached Luke and nabbed him. "Why wouldn't I do this? I love you, Luke. I want you to be mine." Noah was trying to kiss Luke, but was held back.
"Noah, that's not how it works…You can't just seduce me and expect me to fall in love with you again…"
"Why the hell not? That's what Reid did to you and it seemed to work."
"Stop, Noah, please."
"Oh, I love it when you beg, especially to me."
Strong arms crushed him against Noah's body. So much so he thought that he'd snap in half at the impact. He was helplessly restrained as Noah kissed him, silencing any protest that he had. All Luke was able to do was cry.
Suddenly he fell back. "Luke, are you all right?" It was Reid, hovering above him. He had a look of worry on his face.
"Reid, Noah is…"
"Yeah, I know. He's off his rocker. I thought so. I called the police. They're on their way here right now."
"What did you expect me to do, Luke; just let him hurt you even more than he already has? I'll be damned if I let that happen."
"You stay out of this!" Noah yelled, pointing a gun at them. They flinched in sync.
Slowly, Luke stood up. He put his hands out, urging Noah to calm down. "Noah, put the gun down. Don't shoot. If you do, there's no going back. You'll regret it."
"Shut up!" Noah screamed. "Who says I'll regret having Reid Oliver out of the picture for good? At least that way, I'd have you all to myself."
"Noah, stop being stupid! One mistake like this could ruin your life for good."
"It can't get any worse than this."
Reid stepped forward. "I didn't give you your eyesight back just so you could revert to a life of crime. I helped you because I wanted to. Luke was a part of the reason, but mostly it was because I devote my life to helping patients get better."
"Yeah, just so you could look like the glorious savior as a diversion to your real intentions."
"You know what your damn problem is, Noah? You won't listen to both sides of the argument. You're always too preoccupied with your thoughts that pretty much consist of I'm right all the time and everybody else is wrong. And guess what? We've all grown tired of it. I've only been here for 4 months or so and I'm through with your drivel. I can imagine its worse for Luke since he's been putting up with your stuck up attitude for 4 damn years."
"You're forgetting that I'm the one with the gun here."
"Noah, stop this! Please, I'm begging you!" Luke cried, tears streaming down his face.
"It's too late. I've already decided." Noah said, his voice shaking, his hands shaking as they held the gun. In a flash, he squeezed the trigger.
"Reid!" Luke pushed him out of the way, spotting Noah's movements faster. They fell onto the floor with a grunt, Luke on top of Reid, acting as his bulwark for that moment. Blood seeped out of his shoulder. The pain was excruciating, shooting up his arms, leaving his whole body paralyzed in shock.
With eyes as wide as saucers, Noah looked at the damage he did. He fell back onto his rear, wrapping his arms around his legs. He rocked himself.
"Luke," Reid looked at him. He saw the bleeding shoulder, and panicked. "Luke! Oh my God!" He wrapped an arm about his waist, cupping his hip, holding Luke's limp body against him. "Luke, please, speak to me. Say something. Anything."
The cops came in and detained Noah. They assisted Luke into the back of an ambulance with Reid in toll. For the first time in his life, Reid couldn't help a patient.
"Let us take care of Luke. Just wait and you'll see that the doctors here could do a pretty bang up job too." Bob reassured him, touching his shoulder.
He hated feeling powerless. He hated the possibilities weighing on his mind. What if a doctor was too obtuse to figure out how to remove a bullet and tend to the wound? What if they were too late? What if the wound was already infected? Reid decided to wash his face in the bathroom in an attempt to wash those thoughts away.
Returning back to his seat in the waiting room, Reid understood what Luke meant when he said that waiting for a loved one was hell. Not like he had admitted those feelings to Luke yet. They were both still getting used to the concept of dating, not to mention living together. But what had happened today made Reid realize that there was no time like the present to be honest. Be honest before it was too late to be. He folded his hands, praying, with his elbows propped against his thighs.
Once the doctor said his name, Reid was out of his seat in a heartbeat. "Is he going to be all right? If you tell me there's bad news, I'm going to hurl. Just a warning." He babbled.
"Can I talk now, doctor?"
"Yes, please do."
"OK, we were able to remove the bullet before his arm was infected. He's stable and conscious so if you want to go visit him…"
"I'm already ahead of you."
Reid practically slammed the door open before sitting on the hospital bed and bringing Luke meticulously into his arms. He ran his hands through those blonde strands of hair. He breathed in Luke's aftershave, beyond alleviated.
"I'm sorry to have worried you." Luke apologized, embracing Reid.
"Don't you dare apologize. That kind of generosity was what got you here in the first place. What were you thinking jumping in front of a gun? Are you out of your freaking mind?"
"I love you too much to let you get hurt because of me."
Luke's answer sucked the breath out of Reid. Time seemed to stop when Reid slowly pulled away to look Luke in the eyes. There was no deceit there. In those hazel eyes, there was honesty and affection. He stroked Luke's cheek. "You love me? That's why?"
Luke smiled, weakly. "Why else? I couldn't stand it if you got hurt under any circumstances. At that moment, all I was thinking was 'I need to protect Reid. I need to keep him safe. I love him so much that I'd give my very life for him.' As corny as that all sounds that was what I was thinking." He laughed and shrugged. To Reid, in that instant, Luke looked vulnerable. So vulnerable that Reid couldn't stand it.
He kissed Luke on the lips, gently sucking. "I love you too. And don't worry about being corny. What's life without some corn?" They chuckled together at the lame pun relating to food before cuddling.
"Are you upset?"
"Yeah and baffled. Noah was…"
"Completely bananas?" Reid supplied, offhandedly.
Luke leaned his head against Reid's shoulder. "Come on, be serious. I just don't get how he could've gotten this way."
"Me neither. I'd rather not know to be honest with you. But if you want to find out then by all means. Go visit his prison cell and find some closure. I don't want this to be the kind of thing you keep wondering for the rest of your life. Then I'll be stuck hearing at the most random times of the day 'You remember how psycho Noah got? It still eats away at my conscience.'" Reid's face scrunched up at that non-appealing thought.
Luke looked up at him with a cheeky grin. "Oh so you see us together in the future, huh?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't I?"
"No reason, I just find that incredibly sexy of you; the great Doctor Reid Oliver playing out future scenarios with Richie Rich, Luke Snyder.
"I should keep that in mind. The perfect way to seduce Luke Snyder into bed is to tell him what's going on in my head almost every second of every day."
"That'd take too long."
"Then I'd summarize."
Luke oscillated his head close enough to Reid's face that their noses were fanning against each other. Then he pecked Reid on the lips. "I love you. So much."
"And I love you too, Luke."
Weeks later, Luke was able to summon up enough guts to confront Noah. Reid waited for him outside, not wanting to stir up any unwanted drama. This was a matter that was between Noah and Luke. He tapped his foot and looked at his watch every five minutes. Patiently, he waited. He wanted to prove to Luke that he wasn't like Noah in any way. He'd wait forever for him. Luke was more than worth it.
Once Luke stepped outside with a smile brighter than the sun, Reid embraced him. "How'd it go?" He asked, anxiously. He was worried that they buried the hatchet to the point where Luke would go back to him.
"It went well." Luke nodded his head. Reid could tell that they weren't totally at peace, but it was eventually going to be. "He's just having some trouble adjusting to how much things have changed. He hates it, really. Noah practically begged for my forgiveness and I told him that I forgave him. He just needs time to forgive himself for what he's done."
"So where do you two stand right now?"
"I'm not sure to be honest with you. I said that I wanted to be friends with him. And he thought that was my form of revenge for him telling me that months ago. Hopefully he'll get things straightened out enough for us to work on building a friendship."
"So you don't want to go back to him?"
"No, Reid, I'm with you. There's nowhere else I'd rather be than with you."
Reid kissed Luke. It was a vow to love him and cherish him for as long as he lived. And to protect him and comfort him whenever it was called for.
A/N: I gotta say that this one was fun to type up. I hope everyone has enjoyed this! Thank you for reading and let me know what you think!