For a change of place, after dinner, the two go back to Reid's place. Katie is on a single mothers' retreat with Jacob in Chicago for the weekend.

I guess I knew in my heart I wasn't really leaving Luke for the award, Reid thought, looking around the apartment. I went a little overboard with the cleaning. It's an apartment, not an operating room. No need to be perfect. The counters shine, pristine and scrubbed free of mustard and other sandwich-making smudges. Reid pats the counter, admiring his work. There's no need, but I want it to be perfect, anyway.

Luke makes a beeline for the back bedroom. Reid trails behind reluctantly, wondering if he went over the top.

Inside, what was once a small, depersonalized stock bedroom is Reid's haven. An ebony desk adjacent to the door, normally with medical paperwork strewn across it, is now covered with a white linen tablecloth. Photos of Luke and Reid—serious ones, goofy ones taken in a photo booth, and some of just Luke with a huge grin plastered on his face. When he was with Reid, hardly anything could prevent that smile from creeping across his face.

"Wow." Luke runs his fingers along the photo frames. "I didn't know you'd kept all these." He moves onto the bureau by the bedside, where there are unlit candlesticks and a lighter. Reid steps over and lights them carefully, cupping the flickering flame with his hand to protect it from the light breeze. He flicked the ceiling fan on as he walked in. He dims the lights and walks back to Luke, almost swaggering. Luke meets his intense gaze and leans forward, almost tipping onto his toes. Their collision means lips tenderly meeting each other, hands on cheeks, then hair, then waist, and then they're unbuttoning each other out of the formal clothing. Cotton slides to the floor eagerly, morphing into pools of fabric. The escape from stiff cloth is a giddy one, and they pile into the bed to savor Valentine's Day.

Luke is kissing, tracing a line down Reid's torso, as exact as a surgical incision. He caresses Reid's chest and leans his forehead gently against it as he moves further below. This is the most intimate they have ever been, and although Luke expected to be nervous, he is completely calm. He feels completely warm and safe against Reid, and somehow he knew it would be like this. His heart pounds in his chest so hard he feels it might break through with this huge happiness welling up inside of him.

The phone rings. The blaring tone sends Luke veering away from his perfect kissing line.

"We'll let the machine get it."

"'S okay. Mmmmmm." Luke reached Reid's belly button and traced it.

"You monster, that tickles."

The ringing ceases, but less than ten seconds later, it starts up again. Luke's lips are smooth over Reid's torso again. "Your skin is so soft."

"So's yours." Reid strokes Luke's hair. He runs his fingers along his scalp, and Luke feels every nerve on his head tingle. Is this what touching happiness feels like?

The phone finally—finally—stops ringing. "Thank god. I was about to go unplug it myself."

"Go? Noooo," Luke says, mishearing him. "We've barely started."

"Your turn," Reid says, leaning forward. He kisses Luke's forehead, wraps his arms around his waist, and pulls him close and kisses his neck. He skims Luke's torso and sails downward until—

The doorbell rings. "Nnngh," Reid groans. "I ought to live in a cave for all the privacy this apartment gives me."

"Don't stop," Luke says. For once in his life, he's thinking only of himself, and how wonderful this is. How wonderful he's feeling right now, better than he has in a long time.

Reid moves onto Luke's thighs, crouching on his knees, now on the bed. The doorbell shrilly rings again, once, twice, three times. Reid banishes the sound to the recesses of his mind. He's used to shutting out chattering nurses at the hospital. This isn't any different. Luke is a little more concerned.

"Maybe Katie forgot her keys?"

"She's not due back till Sunday."

"As much as I hate to say it—"

"Don't say it, then." Reid pulls Luke even closer and whispers in his ear. "Let's be quiet and pretend we're not home." He nuzzles his ear and Luke leans into him, sighing.
"Reid, don't be difficult." Luke begins to untangle himself from Reid.

Reid sighs, pulling away. He yanks on his pants and pecks Luke with another kiss before heading out into the hallway. "You're too damned considerate. This had better not be UPS."

"Reid Oliver?" A man in a suit stands in the doorway. He's not from Oakdale—Reid would have seen him in this claustrophobia-inducing little town. If this had been any other day, he might like to commiserate with the man for visiting Oakhell. He might even had offered him a consolatory cup of coffee. Nah, probably not. Reid likes keeping his coffee time brief and as a means to an end, not as his time to socialize. Who was he kidding? He didn't have time to socialize.

"I'd like a word, if you don't mind." The man scuffs his shoes on the doormat.

"I do mind, in fact. It's Valentine's Day. Hey—what—oh my god, you're coming inside?"

"I'm ever so sorry for interrupting your evening, Mr. Oliver. But I'd really like to come inside."

Reid clears his throat. "It's Dr. Oliver. Who are you, exactly?"

"I'm a friend of your father's."

Reid swings the door wide open, slamming it against the wall. "Get the hell out right now."

"Reid?" Luke appears in the hallway, and he's slipped his boxers on. "What's going on?"

"This man was just leaving."

"But what does he want?"

"He's friends with my father, and that's reason enough for me for him to leave."

"Please, I came all the way from Dallas because no one could reach you by phone."

Luke steps closer to Reid protectively, but he feels a little unguarded in just boxers. He feels like he might have to work extra hard to protect him when only silk comes between himself and the man. Luke stares questioningly at the man, sizing him up. He's middle-aged, sure, but he's already balding at the crown of his head. His suit is designer, but worn and has seen better days. And he knows that look in his eyes. That all too sad, desperate look. "Let him speak."

"I think you should sit down."

"I can take it," Reid says.

The man tilts his head slightly forward, keeping his gaze steady. "Your mother is in a coma."

"It's about time that bastard died—wait, what?" All color, or what little color he had before, drains from his face. "Mom? What happened?"

"Drunk driver," the man says. "Her vitals don't look good." Reid rubs his forehead, brushes past Luke, and collapses on the couch. The soft leather whooshes out its extra air, and the couch molds around Reid like an extra shield. "No, that's crazy. She—she hates cars, avoids them no matter what."

"I have a reserved ticket on the next flight back to Dallas, and a car booked to Medical City. So do you. I suggest you go now, while you can."

"While I can?" Reid echoes. His voice cracks. Luke rests a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it. Reid swallows his fear, realizing where he is. "Don't leave me. Please, I can't be alone right now."

"I only have one extra ticket," the man says.

"I'll take care of it. We'll take the jet and meet you at Medical City." Luke doesn't tell Reid everything's going to be fine. Sometimes life doesn't work out that way. He knows not everyone is as lucky as his mother was.

Reid has never felt so helpless before. He feels like a shell of his old shelf, clinging to Luke and watching the man dial the cab service. He snuffs out the candles, tosses some clothes into a duffle bag, and scrawls a post-it to Katie, tacking it on Jacob's high chair. Luke guides him out to the car and he slides into the passenger's seat without thinking. The lights on the vacant road seem too bright to him, and he shuts his eyes. Only a little while ago, this was the best night of his life. Now he's just hoping for a happy ending.

Statistics whirl in Reid's head. Only a small percentage of coma patients wake lucid. Strokes and body paralysis, as well as brain damage, are common. Reid leans his head against the window. The cool seeps through to his forehead, but does nothing to ease his headache.

Luke practically has to drag Reid up to the jet because he's so out of it. "Don't worry, I've got you."