Reid Oliver was gone. He blinked the tears back that burned his eyes. He couldn't believe it had been two weeks since the accident. That fateful day where he'd lost Reid forever just hours after telling him he loved him. He had withdrawn from people, both physically and emotionally. He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.
He'd been avoiding her these past two weeks. He knew what she wanted. She wanted the key to her house back and to give him the few boxes of stuff she had cleared out of Reid's room. But he just couldn't face her. Not yet. Taking Reid's stuff and giving his key back would just make it too final.
Reid was dead.
It didn't help that Chris had moved in with Katie after getting out of the hospital. Luke wanted to hate Chris. For keeping this secret from his family, for being such an idiot (Reid) and refusing real medical care, and for being the reason Reid had been on that road in the first place, let alone in such a rush he couldn't wait for the train to pass. The problem was he couldn't hate Chris, not when Chris had Reid's heart. And of course, he wanted to be mad at Reid, for being so arrogantly stupid but he just couldn't he loved and missed Reid too much. And then there was….
The neurosurgical unit
That was Reid's baby. No. That was his and Reid's baby. And he and vowed that it would become everything Reid had planned for it and more. But he avoided the hospital as much as he could manage. The board wanted to talk to him about replacing Reid. They didn't understand. He couldn't think about who might possibly replace Reid because that would be more proof that Reid was never coming back. Luke would often walk around aimlessly and all the reminders of Reid astounded him. Reid had only been there nine months and already the town reeked of him.
Caramel lattes, chilli and cornbread from Al's, a flash of dark blue scrubs as a doctor went somewhere on their lunch break.
Finally he got up the nerve to go see Katie. He asked that she make sure Chris was not home when he came. He couldn't deal with him, in Reid's home, with Reid's stuff. She understood, she explained that she sometimes had the same trouble. When he got there, Katie already had Reid's stuff boxed up and sitting in the living room, saving him the pain of going inside Reid's bedroom
Scrubs, clothes, stethoscope, blackberry, ipod, books, dvds, and….
He picked something out of one of the boxes. He showed it to Katie, who shook her head. She didn't know what it was, she wanted to wait for Luke. He opened the small cherry wood box to find pictures of Reid's childhood, his acceptance letter from Harvard medical school, and a small blue box with a note attached to it. He picked it up and read the note.
Luke, I want you to know I love you more than I ever thought I could. I knew something was different with you from the beginning. And I know, you're shocked right now, reading this as I don't do the sentimental thing but this is just too important to leave to chance given my tendency to be an ass. So here goes. I love you and you are the best thing I could have ever imagined happening to me. I want forever with you even if that means an archaic ceremony full of promises I fully intend to keep. BTW I can't decide which sounds better – Luke Oliver or Reid Snyder.
Inside the box was a simple gold band, no diamond, no nothing just simple and to the point, like Reid. He put the entire thing down just before his knees gave out, the sobs coming at a pace he couldn't control anymore. He couldn't think, couldn't breathe. Reid had already been planning to ask him to marry him, the guy who thought weddings were foolish and archaic, had already planned to ask… before they'd even told each other they loved each other. Katie picked up the note and read it. She laughed. He looked up at her about to throw a fit, when he saw the tears streaming down her face and he understood. She had tried to laugh to keep from crying…again, but had failed miserably. She sunk down to her knees and put her arms around him.
Katie understood what he was going through, not only because she had lost Brad not long after finding him, but also because she, too, had been close to Reid too. Nobody else in town could understand it. How he could be so in love after only three months together. How the man they thought to have no soul had gotten under his skin so quickly. He always told himself that if there was one silver lining to come out of this mess is that this had forced people to see what Luke saw when he looked at Reid. Reid had atoned for every comment he'd ever made with that one gesture.
You can't fail him now
Reid hadn't been scared to die. He had known, somehow even without Bob confirming his suspicions, that there was nothing anybody could do.
Need a lawyer , not a –a doctor
Reid had looked at him, battered and broken but determined. He had set out to get a heart for Chris and he sure as hell wasn't going to let this stop him. Luke had seen the irony in the fact that Reid's heart was a perfect match for Chris. Reid was getting what he wanted even in death.
Who knew I had one to give.
Reid stared up at him with those brown eyes. It was Reid's way of letting Luke know that he was okay. His trademark sarcasm and as much of a smirk that he could muster. But all it did was make Luke sob. He didn't want Reid to accept his fate. He wanted the Reid Oliver who was to obnoxious to lay down and die even if his life depended on it. He smiled at the pun. It was the first time he'd smiled since Reid was wheeled into the ER.
I love you. There. I said it.
He thought back to standing by Reid's car. His words rang out in Luke's head
I love you. There. I said it.
He'd been so happy. Nothing could ruin that moment. But at this moment he' d give his soul for an interruption during that moment if it meant he'd have a whole life of moments with Reid.
Sometimes during a particular weak moment, he thought about taking Noah up on his offer. LA had to be better than Oakdale. Somewhere he had not been with Reid, no memories to battle with constantly. Nobody staring at him in pity and sympathy, he hated sympathy. He briefly remembered Reid saying sympathy was overrated. He hadn't known how true that was. Everybody wanted to be there for him and he wanted none of it. He wanted people to leave him alone. Ironically, he finally understood why Noah had felt the need to push him away and deal with his blindness alone. Not that he was forgiving Noah for everything. Needing to be alone was one thing, constantly blaming him for an accident was something else entirely, although it's not like he couldn't understand that either. The need to blame someone, it's the reason he couldn't look Chris in the eye, as irrational as it sounded. Like he said, a particularly weak moment, but then he'd realize that Noah expected something of him. Noah wanted him back, and to take him up on that offer, to move to LA , would be leading him on in the worst possible way. He couldn't do that. Just because he was hurting, didn't mean he needed to hurt those who were trying to help him.
Luke and Katie had stopped crying but were still sitting in the middle of the living room when Chris came in. Luke, had to give him credit, when Chris saw the engagement ring sitting in the box of Reid's stuff he turned around and walked right back out, knowing that after finding something like that there was no way Luke could stand to see him, alive and well only because Reid had died. Finally Katie stood up and started repacking the boxes. God bless her, she had even packed up the bedding from Reid's bed and her couch cushion Reid had always hugged to his chest when he was particularly upset about whether he had finally commited the screw—up that would cause Luke to realize he had absolutely no idea what he was doing. Katie kissed his cheek and gave him one finally hug. He realized that this was his cue to leave.
That night he got a room at the Lakeview, he just couldn't be near his family right now. Fresh out of the shower, he put a pair of Reid's scrubs on before changing the bedding to the ones that smelled like Reid and settled in with Katie's couch cushion. Finally he had one last thought before sleep took him
Gone But Never Forgotten