There it was again, that tension he felt when he looked into Reid's eyes; his stomach clenched. The hotel room was the perfect setting for that nervous anticipation to set in again.

Reid smiled. Luke blushed instinctively. He knew what the other man was going to say, had been fearing and hoping for those words for months. The question was, what would be his ultimate choice?

"I'm saying that you and I are alone. We should take advantage of that."

Luke turned away, his face flushed. When he felt the touch on his shoulder, he turned back; his breath caught. Reid looked so beautiful then. Wanting him, yes, but vulnerable, needing him. Needing the reassurance that only a 'yes' to the still unasked question could give. Could Luke finally let go of all Noah had meant to him, the love they'd shared that was reduced to nothing but memories glossed over with the warm glow of the past? It was heady, the thought of giving up those memories for something new, something real, someone who could replace and expand them into places he'd only imagined.

When Reid stepped closer, Luke leaned in. It was a reflex now, wanting to be close to him. Even the slight brush of hand over wrist before their fingers locked had become like a drug, luring him in for another hit every time they were in the same room. The corner of Reid's mouth lifted in a small smile. The vulnerability was still in his eyes, but there was something more. An awareness. A question he knew was closer to being answered when Luke moved closer and their lips touched. Seconds later, Luke pulled away. He turned to avoid the disappointed frown that resulted.

"Really? Again?" His voice was resigned, tired. "Luke, please don't..." Don't pull away. Don't stop what we both want. Don't make me beg.

Luke heard the arguments in his head as surely as if Reid had stated them aloud. He'd said them to himself more times than he cared to remember over the past few weeks. He bit his bottom lip when Reid first touched his shoulder and then pulled him close, wrapping his arms around his waist from behind. "I know this is hard for you." He paused. Luke took a deep breath. "He was your first and you wouldn't be you if some of that...romantic nature of yours didn't figure into the decision. But I care about you, a lot," Reid whispered. He cleared his throat a couple of times.

Luke knew Reid having to share his feelings was difficult. That he would do it today, now, was a testament to how strongly he felt. And it also made this decision that much harder.

His arms around Luke tightened. He felt Reid take a deep breath. "I want to make love to you. Here. Now." He kissed the back of Luke's neck. The younger man shivered and leaned back into the soft, inviting touch. One of Reid's hands moved lower, to touch the side of his hip. "I'm willing to wait as long as you need to, but I think you're ready and have been for a while now. You don't have to be afraid that I'm going to hurt you the way he did. But you do have to let go sometime. Completely." His lips met the back of Luke's neck again. He sighed. "If not now, when?"

The question carried on the barest of whispers, but Luke felt the weight of Reid's words through his entire body. It was now or never. There was no other way to look at it. Noah had been his first relationship as a boy still trying to find himself. Reid was his first chance at love with a man, when he knew what he wanted and had the confidence to go after it. The difference between them had been apparent from the beginning, though it had taken Luke a while to recognize it. While Noah loved him, there were always questions—doubts about his feelings, surety that the world was working against them at times, that niggling feeling that they were always one step away from falling apart at the seams. Luke had grown tired of trying to hold things together with sweat, tears and a heart that was too easily broken.

With Reid, the assurance of his feelings was the most dominant part of their relationship. Through the drama of Noah's surgery, their relationship being outed and the threat from Invictus, the strength of what he felt was rarely questionable. Luke needed that safety; he needed to know he could be vulnerable and trust that he wouldn't be hurt again, not on purpose. He needed to know that this time, when he gave himself, the other person would give just as much.

This time, when he felt the pressure of Reid's arm, Luke turned. Their eyes met. He leaned up just enough for their lips to touch. He didn't breathe. From the moment the first gentle kiss turned passionate until they were sprawled half-dressed across the bed, the air in the room became still around them. He became aware of nothing but the touch of Reid's hands, the smooth, hard weight of his body pressing Luke into the mattress, the feather-soft movement of his hair between Luke's fingers. When their clothes were tossed aside and they came together, slow and rough and white hot, Luke cried out. It was different, this feeling, this knowing that every movement, every touch and kiss brought their hearts closer.

They were finally we, us, a together he'd only imagined could be before. And as he lay in Reid's arms that night and fell asleep listening to his heartbeat, Luke knew his world would never be the same. This was the love he'd been waiting for.