I wrote this about a year ago, after hearing some rumors about the end of Luke and Reid's story on As the World Turns. SPOILERS if you have not seen the end. There were two rumors floating around at the time, one which turned out to be what happened on the show and the other that I can't now remember if was actually a rumor or just something my friend and I thought would be interesting to see. We though it might be a nice twist if Noah came back to Oakdate crazy because something happened in his brain due to the surgery and he would end up killing Reid. So I combined the two in this fic.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize and I'm not making money from this.
Rain poured from the night sky, drenching the lone figure standing motionless in a pool of lamplight in the frigid precipitation.
The figure stared at the house across the street, watching the shadows in the warm light dance behind the curtains, the sight slightly obscured by the fog of his own breath in the unnaturally cold autumn night air. They had married, bought a house and they had their happily ever after, but at a cost. At a great loss.
At his loss. A loss they seemed to forgotten in their blissful domestic bubble forged from stolen dreams.
Suddenly the gauzy curtain twitched and a woman's blonde head peeked out from behind it, staring into the darkness at the man beneath the lampost. He could feel the concern in the gaze though he could not see it, he held it, cold and steady. Then just as quickly as she came, she left.
He waited as rain dripped down his hands like blood and his bones itched inside his skin. Ever so slightly his fingers twitched, sending droplets flying into the dark. He'd wait for as long as it took for them to remember, for them to stop ignoring him and face what their happiness had created.
Inside the warmth of her home, slightly chilled by the knowledge of the hooded man standing across the street, Katie smiled softly as she watched Chris lay Jacob gently into his crib. He looked up and returned her smile, closing the door softly as he did so. Something in her face must have shifted because he sighed heavily.
"He's out there again, isn't he?" He asked and hesitantly she nodded. "I think I need to call Margo."
"What? No!" She cried, tugging at his arm as he walked toward the phone.
"It's been months, Katie! This has got to stop."
"How can you say that? He's lost everyone he's ever loved-"
"He has his family, his friends!"
"That's not the same and you know it!" She shouted before quickly glancing at Jacob's door. "You have the opportunity to help him, you know. If you just let him-
"We've already talked about this," he cut her off wearily as he dropped to the couch. "If I give in just once, he'll become attached. He won't be able to go on with his life, to try and make peace with what happened. He'll cling to the one piece that's left."
Katie joined him on the couch, their bodies touching but only barely. "He's been through more in the past five years than anyone should have to go through. And it seems to me he's not going to be able to heal from this if we don't help. You have the ability that no one else has to give him a little comfort, to give him that help. After everything that happened, everything that was taken from him so we could be here, so you could be here, why won't you do that?" Tears formed in her eyes as she thought of the young man outside, standing in the rain waiting and hoping, of his haunted gaze and Chris would turn them away from him in Oldtown, of the disappointment when she had to turn down another Synder family dinner.
"I've seen cases like his, Katie. If the donor's surviving relatives somehow find the recipient, more often than not it turns into a mess very quickly. We live in small town so it's hard enough to avoid him. If I give in it won't be hard for him to find me and ask me to do it again. And again and he won't be able to stop."
"Chris, even you have to admit this is different," Katie said angrily as she stood. Besides, we can tell him this will be the one and only time and if he tries to come to us for it again, we'll call Margo and have him charged. Please Chris," she knelt beside him, literally begging. "If you won't do it for me, do it for him." They both knew she didn't mean the man standing outside. "After everything he's given you, you owe him at least this."
Chris wiped a hand over his face and Katie was slightly surprised to see his eyes glittering with tears. "Because if I do, that makes it real. It will be final and there will be no denying it anymore. If I let him do this, he'll really be dead."
Katie laid a gentle hand on her husband's shoulder. "Chris," she admonished slightly. "You have his-"
"I know!" Chris interrupted sharply as he stood to face her. "I'm reminded with every breath exactly what it cost for me to be standing here. What he paid," he jabbed a finger toward the window, to where they both knew the lone figure still stood. "I know the sacrifices that went into my second chance at life and I do my best to live with them. But...I just can't face him, Katie." Guilt and fear flashed across his face as his voice cracked with emotion. "I can't even think about him without wanting to... I'd give anything to have our places switched-"
"Don't say that," Katie soothed gently. "Maybe, maybe you need this as much as he does."
Half an hour later Luke Snyder sat on Chris and Katie Hughes' living room couch in a pair of Chris' old scrubs, his hair still slightly damp with rainwater. His cold fingers gripped his knees as he seemed to focus solely on breathing slowly and deeply, in and out.
Katie sat beside him, wanting nothing more than to wrap him in her arms, but ever since the shooting he had let no one touch him.
Chris sat on the other side watching him carefully. It was the first time he had looked at Luke since the funeral and part of him was still afraid, but seeing the broken man in front of him silenced his fears almost completely.
"You ready?" He asked, surprised at the rough sound of his voice. He cleared his throat. "Remember, this is the only time." The young blonde nodded, though to which statement Chris wasn't sure. "Okay then."
Slowly Luke leaned toward him, lowering his head to Chris' chest, the weight of it pulling at the older man's shirt slightly, revealing the tip of the still-healing scar that split his body in two, another permanent reminder of the pain his life caused.
The trio sat in complete silence as Luke's eyes fluttered close and he concentrated on the steady thumps beneath his ear. If he closed them tight enough, he could imagine it was Reid laying beneath him, his hands tangled in Luke's hair as they held each other tight. If he breathed slowly enough he could smell the faintest whiff of Reid's cologne, a scent that had all but left his clothes and sheets.
If he concentrated hard enough he could forget the sight of Noah, his eyes wild as he raised a gun at them; he could forget the sound of the bullet sinking into Reid's body as he shoved Luke away from the projectile's dangerous path; could forget the mingle of shouts, his desperate and Noah's crazed, as they wheeled Reid into the ambulance and dragged Noah into a police car.
If he pretended well enough, he could forget that he was utterly and completely alone, his heart shattered into dust. A small sniff from behind him scattered the illusion and Luke's eyes snapped open, the dust evaporating into nothing.
Chris said nothing as a warm wetness spread across his chest and did nothing as sobs tore through the room from the man all but sprawling across him in a rather uncomfortable position on the couch. But when fingers tangled in the fabric of his shirt and the cries grew desperate, taking shape and sounding more like a name than wordless sorrow, he couldn't stop his arms from wrapping around the too-thin frame and pressing Luke closer to the familiar heart beating in an unfamiliar chest.
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