After what had become a string of particularly annoying days at Oakdale Memorial, Reid now couldn't even enjoy his favourite drink in peace – because Luke Snyder had just walked into Java.
Reid hadn't seen him around for a while (not that he'd noticed his absence or thought about him at all, despite what Katie seemed to think), but he strongly doubted that, in that time period, Luke had somehow suffered a complete personality change.
Then again, this was Oakdale.
Nonetheless, Reid was proven right in his prediction that Luke would make a beeline for him the moment he saw him, as the man in question quickly walked towards him despite Reid's not-at-all desperate bid for the exit.
“Reid,” Luke greeted with hesitant grin.
Yeah, Reid wasn't doing this. He'd given it a shot, but even he was only human and he'd had more than enough of Luke's on-again off-again relationship with Noah. The operation had been a success, Noah's eyesight was slowly coming back and once this neurology wing had been built, maybe he could finally focus on that instead of Luke's ridiculous hair.
Which looked particularly good today.
He tightened the grip on his disposable cup. “Mr Snyder.”
Luke's face fell and Reid didn't allow himself to feel bad about it. They stared at each other awkwardly for a few moments, which Reid decided to use as an out.
“I should get going, I need to get back-”
“I'm meeting my Grandmother here,” Luke interrupted, drifting slowly towards an empty table.
The words were out before he could stop himself. “The nice grandmother or the rich one?”
“They're both nice, Reid,” Luke rebuked, folding his arms across his chest as he turned to face him again. “But...the rich one,” he conceded, though he didn't look happy about doing it. “There's a Grimaldi relative coming to town.”
Reid's eyebrows raised, remembering just the little he knew about Damian. “Bet your folks are gonna love that.”
“They don't know yet,” Luke admitted, making a face at Reid's you're an idiot expression. “I know, I know.” He held his hands out. “But that's why I'm meeting with Grandmother – we're strategising. Mom and Dad can never be...un-emotional where anything to do with Damian's concerned.”
“And you can?” Reid asked, disbelief evident, because he'd never seen Luke be un-emotional about anything.
“I can try,” Luke said decisively. “They said they want to...help heal the wounds that Damian made.”
After all this time? What the hell took them so long? “And you want to make sure that's not a load of baloney.”
“Everything's about food with you,” Luke pointed out and, well, he wasn't wrong.
Reid was about to say be careful, before realising he'd been pulled in again – it seemed to happen so damn easily – and that Luke wasn't his to worry about and never really had been. “I should go,” he announced suddenly, because if he didn't he knew he'd end up staying despite himself.
“Oh.” And, yeah, that was definitely disappointment. “Okay, Reid. Thanks for listening.”
He absolutely did not waver. “Bye,” he said and bolted for the exit.
Reid was a scientist. He knew that the full moon theory was just a theory with no basis in reality, that it actually had no effect whatsoever on patient admission.
After a night like tonight, it felt like hard scientific fact.
Exhausted, Reid was stripping out of his lab coat in the on-call room when he heard a knock on the door.
“Dr Oliver?” A voice asked. “You in there?”
Wonderful. Noah. Throwing his coat into the laundry, Reid turned to see Noah peering cautiously into the room. “Yes, Noah, I am in fact in the room marked Staff Only. Though,” he conceded, thinking of Noah's eyes, “you might have an excuse.” Noah grinned, which was disturbing for anyone at this time of night. “You're here late.”
If he were a nicer person, he might've asked if everything was okay.
Noah told him about it anyway. “Richard fractured his leg rescuing a kitten from a tree.”
Of course he had. Reid had only met the guy in passing when he accompanied Noah to his post-op appointments, but he seemed like the kind of guy who'd fall out of trees while trying to rescue kittens.
“I just thought, while I was here,” Noah continued, “I'd see if you were still here, too.”
“Well, as you – probably can't – see, here I am. Did you want something?”
“Just to say thank you, again,” Noah said gratefully. “My sight is definitely still a work in progress, but...every day it feels like I can see a little bit more.”
Noah Mayer was definitely a paradox. Here he was thanking Reid almost on bended knee, where Reid had seen him treat Luke like crap, over and over again, just for loving him.
“Just doing my job,” Reid said, because if he didn't he might start grinding his teeth. Then, probably because he was clearly a masochist, “Luke didn't come with you?”
Noah's face stuttered. “Oh. Uh, no, I didn't...we're not...”
Maybe, if he hadn't been barely standing after a difficult twelve-hour shift, he would've stopped there. He didn't. “Everything okay?”
Noah actually seemed to appreciate the opportunity to talk about it. “I...don't know, to be honest with you. Have you noticed that Luke's not been at my appointments lately?”
That he had. “Now that I think about it, I haven't seen him surgically attached to your side for a while. Have you not had the grand reunion you were hoping for?” Why did he do this to himself?
“Not quite,” Noah admitted, seemingly pleased to have someone to confess to. “I always thought that, after I could see again, we'd get back together.” Reid still didn't comprehend why Noah being blind had to change their relationship at all. “But we spoke and Luke said things had...changed for him.” Reid's heart most-assuredly did not jump into his throat – biologically or metaphorically. “He didn't go into detail, but it was clear we both needed some time. So, I asked him for some space.”
Of course he had.
“And he gave it to me,” Noah continued, “straight away. And now I don't know how I feel about it.”
Reid pinched the bridge of his nose. “Let me get this straight – you asked Luke for space.”
“And he gave it to you.”
“And now you're not happy about it.”
“I guess? I mean one thing about Luke is when he loves you, he loves you with everything he has – getting space from him is as rare as-”
Reid's head started throbbing. “Noah, it's entirely too late – or early – for this.” Opening his locker, Reid grabbed his keys and jacket and headed for the door, pulling it open further and causing Noah to step back. “I suggest you go back to Mr Kittens-”
“And then get some sleep because none of us are thinking clearly at this time in the morning.”
He heard Noah call out behind him, but Reid had one goal in mind and that was to get the hell out of there ASAP.
Reid had a car but that was really only for going out of town or to the local QuickMart. Almost everything in Oakdale was within reasonable walking distance, including his and Katie's apartment.
Shrugging his jacket on, Reid sighed, annoyed at himself. Noah wasn't the only one that Luke hadn't been around lately. Aside from bumping into each other at Java the other day, Luke hadn't been present at the hospital, either – which was impressive considering they were working on the neurology wing together.
Reid had been silently praising himself for avoiding Luke, for passing everything through intermediaries and email, but it'd only been so effective because Luke had probably been doing the same thing.
He knew it was a smart move on both their parts given the current situation – maybe they all needed 'time'. But it also couldn't last, Reid knew that much, not with a project as big as this. At some point he was just going to have to get over this thing he had for Luke Snyder-
Reid didn't see it coming. He didn't hear it coming. He didn't even know what the hell it was, but as he rounded a corner on the empty streets of Old Town, someone or something tackled him to the ground.
Reid tried to react, tried to fight it off but whoever – whatever – it was was so strong, he could do nothing but scream as it gouged his skin with its nails.
Fortunately for him, that was just about the time he passed out.
After what was, without a doubt, the worst night's 'rest' he had ever suffered in his entire life, Reid woke up gasping. He hadn't been awake for any of it, but he'd had vivid and disturbing dreams ever since passing out, and now that he'd woken up his entire body ached. It felt like his body had decided to run a marathon without sending a memo to his brain about its extremely energetic plans.
What the hell was that smell?
Facts and information started to trickle into his brain. He was still alive which, frankly, he hadn't expected. He was in a hospital room in Memorial. And Katie was snoring quietly in the chair next to his bed.
He soon realised the smell was Katie's perfume – it was much more overpowering than usual. Maybe he'd suffered some minor and hopefully temporary damage to his temporal lobes, though he didn't remember hitting his head. Although given the fact that he'd passed out, there was no telling what had happened to him afterwards.
Deciding it was best not to think about that, he cleared his throat. If he'd been feeling up to it he would've lobbed something at her head – a tissue, the empty cup on the table – but he settled for saying, “Hey, Blondie.”
The snoring ceased suddenly as she shifted in the chair, then realised what had woken her. “Reid!” Stumbling to his side, she patted his hand. “I was so worried, I'm so glad you're awake. How are feeling? I'll get Bob.”
Not waiting for an answer or any kind of response, she ran out of the room as quickly as she'd appeared next to him. It was all too much for Reid, who closed his eyes in exhaustion.
He must've dozed off again, because it was only the sound of Bob's voice that roused him an unknown amount of time later.
Blinking awake, Reid saw Bob next to the bed, Katie nowhere in sight. “Bob.”
“It's good to see you conscious and verbal,” Bob said with a fatherly smile. “Though some might say otherwise,” he added, the old coot. “You were found unconscious and bleeding in Old Town a few hours ago. Can you remember what happened?”
Reid had, perhaps, been trying not to think about exactly what had happened a little too closely. “Someone jumped me,” Reid shrugged, “that's about all I can tell you.”
Bob shook his head in disgust. “I'm sorry, Reid. Margo will want to speak with you when you feel up to it.”
Enough about that. Now that he was becoming more alert, Reid needed to know. “What's my condition?”
Bob sighed and gave his answer. “I won't lie to you, Reid, we were worried about you for a while. Your body temperature and pulse rate were incredibly high, but it didn't seem to be having any impact on your brain function. Your sleep was...disturbed. We considered putting you in restraints, but it seemed the worst of it passed quickly.”
Reid remembered having bad dreams, but... “Did I hurt anyone?”
“No,” Bob assured him with a smile. “And Katie wasn't permitted entry until we were sure you weren't a risk.”
“Good,” Reid said, relieved. The last thing he ever wanted to do was...
What the hell was that sound? “Is that...someone running?”
Bob frowned, likely taking this as a new symptom. “Can you hear something, Reid?”
It definitely sounded like shoes slapping against linoleum but it was loud enough that he should be seeing them right here, like they should be in the same room he was in right now. He shook his head at himself. What the hell was going on? “I must be going loco, Bob-”
The door banged open and Luke burst in, panting for breath.
Had that been Luke's shoes he'd heard hitting the floor?
“Luke,” Bob instructed, “if you want to speak to either of us you'll need to wait outside until we're finished. This is a private consultation.”
“Right,” Luke agreed, still breathing heavily as he stared at Reid in a way that Reid had to tell himself not to read into. “Sorry. I just...heard and...” Seemingly regaining his equilibrium, he cleared his throat and stepped back out of the room. “I'll give you some privacy.”
Once the door clicked shut, Bob turned and smiled down at Reid. “It's nice that he's come to care about you so much, though I suppose working on the neurology wing together has smoothed some of the rough edges. I vividly remember how often you two used to clash.”
“You and me both, Bob,” Reid retorted and wished for those days with the kind of rosy-tinged fondness he never would've expected for any of the time he'd spent in Oakdale. “Okay, old man, let's talk theories.”
He and Bob chatted for a while, Reid relating symptoms – his utter exhaustion, how every part of his body felt like it'd been through the washer, and that he either had bizarre increases in his ability to smell and hear, or he was suffering olfactory and auditory hallucinations.
Yeah. They were both stumped.
Bob did tell him at least that the only sign of outward physical injuries was a long gash on his left shoulder blade, which had been appropriately treated and dressed. Though he'd sure as hell felt it happening last night, Reid had almost forgotten about the likelihood of an injury being there. He couldn't feel anything wrong with his back in particular, though that was mostly due to the fact that he felt sore everywhere.
Even his fingernails hurt. What the hell was that about?
Eventually Bob left, to schedule further tests and let Margo know that Reid was available. Reid was just fiddling with the controls that raised the top half of the bed when there was an honest to God knock on the door.
He paused, because there was no way-
-but apparently there was a way, because that was in fact Luke's voice speaking to him through the door.
He should've just told Luke to leave, but Reid was honestly too tired even to argue with him right now. “Come in.”
Luke had been poised to pounce apparently, as the door opened immediately and he stepped inside.
“There is no way,” Reid began in on him, making Luke pause and frown, “that you can actually be Luke Snyder. Because the Luke Snyder I know would never even think of doing something as simple and polite as...knocking on a door.”
Having quickly caught up with the conversation, Luke made a face at him as he let the door swing shut. “I know, I know, I kind of have a history of barging into places-”
“Cut me some slack,” Luke told him, shoving his hands into his pockets as he drifted closer towards the bed. “I'd heard you'd been hurt. I was...you know...” he shrugged and looked off to one side. “Worried.”
Reid absorbed that information silently. “You ran all the way here just because I'd been hurt?”
“It wasn't all the way here,” Luke insisted awkwardly, “I was already in the hospital when I found out. But, anyway,” he continued defiantly, lifting his chin, “I have nothing to be ashamed off. I care about you. You know I care about you.”
Luke caring about him wasn't the problem. It just always seemed like, on any particular day, Luke couldn't decide if he cared more about Reid or Noah.
Fuck, listen to me, Reid thought. As if the only thing he had going on in his life were his concerns that the guy he liked might not like him back just as much. He'd just been attacked, for crying out loud. “Right,” Reid said, pressing his head further against what passed as a hospital pillow and closing his eyes. “Lucky me.”
Reid didn't say anything for a while and, surprisingly, neither did Luke.
As it turned out, it was probably because he was building up the courage to ask: “Is it serious?”
The question and tone of voice made Reid open his eyes. Luke was standing a little further way from the bed now, face a picture of concern.
Even Reid couldn't keep torturing him. “I don't think so,” he said honestly, because even though he didn't understand what the hell was going on with his body, he didn't feel sick at all. He was tired and sore, yes, but he didn't feel weak. If anything, just the opposite. “But then this is Oakdale, so who the hell knows?”
Smiling, obviously relieved, Luke moved towards the bed again. “Well, a man with a brain as large as yours usually knows what they're talking about, so I'll take your word for it.”
Reid responded to the teasing despite himself. “I recognise blatant flattery when I see it, Mr Snyder, no matter how accurate you are about the size of my-”
Perhaps fortunately for Reid, there was a knock at the door and Margo Hughes entered the room. “Dr Oliver?”
Luke took that as his cue and immediately started talking. “I'll get out of your hair. I should get going anyway, I'm meeting someone soon.”
“That...relative?” Reid asked, remembering their conversation at Java. When Luke nodded, Reid followed suit. “Remember: no baloney.”
“I remember,” Luke assured him, “and Reid.” He moved closer to give them the illusion of privacy. “I know things have been...weird. Between us. But if you need anything, anything at all, I'm always here for you.”
Luke looked so sincere, placing a hand on Reid's shoulder. He also smelled really good. Amazingly good, actually. Astoundingly, mouth-wateringly-
Literally mouth-wateringly good as Reid's mouth suddenly filled with saliva.
What the fuck?
Margo took his statement, for all the good it did – there wasn't much to it and they both knew it. There were no witnesses, there'd been no other attacks recently, and Reid couldn't give any details about his attacker besides the fact that they were built like a linebacker. And apparently had a set of nails that'd give Freddie Krueger a run for his money.
Bob discharged him in the early evening, after more tests that were all inconclusive. However, his body temperature and pulse had returned to normal and he was no longer agitated when he slept, so Bob saw no need for Reid to take up a much-needed and expensive hospital bed.
Bob was very clear, however, that Reid was to take the rest of the week off.
Reid was still too tired to even argue, happily clambering into the passenger seat of Katie's car as she drove them the short distance to their apartment.
“You need anything?” she asked, nodding to the approaching grocery store.
“Just a bed,” he retorted, staring out the window at the sun sitting low in the sky.
He got his request almost the moment they arrived home when he tugged off his shoes, face-planted into his bed and fell asleep.
Reid woke hours later feeling...sweaty. Katie had obviously come in and closed his curtains at some point as they were drawn and the room was cloaked in darkness.
Jacob was screaming his head off. Reid had learned to have remarkable patience with Jacob – he'd never been a people person and he'd certainly never been a kid person. Still, when you lived with a baby you had to adapt, he supposed, and Jacob was a cool little kid.
As far as little kids went.
Tonight, however, Jacob's screams were particularly loud; piercing, even. Not only that, but now that he was awake all Reid could smell was baby poop (he'd called it shit, once, in front of Katie, and had learned to never do that again). He knew better than to think that Katie hadn't changed Jacob recently, so why was the smell so fucking strong?
Add on to that that Reid felt strangely restless and like he was literally about to come out of his skin and...it was fair to say that he was not having a good day.
Or night. Because somehow Reid knew, with absolute conviction, that it was night time.
He knew he should go back to the hospital. He knew he should get Katie to drive him but all he really wanted to do was run and why did that make any sense at all?
Panting, trembling, Reid stumbled across the room, following the itch at the back of his mind that told him what he needed to do.
Yanking open the curtains, Reid stared at the moon, almost-full and bright in the sky, and though he didn't calm, didn't stop shaking – if anything, it got worse – he was happy.
What that might suggest...imply...finally sunk into his brain.
“Oh, you've got to be fucking kidding me.”
Reid was all instinct after that moment. He rushed out of the apartment, only realising later that he'd left the door open.
That didn't matter. Nothing mattered more than this feeling, than doing what the moon told him to do.
The moon felt warm, reassuring as it guided him, showed him where he needed to go, and he really wasn't surprised at all when he found himself, shoeless, standing outside Luke's townhouse.
Only all the lights were turned off. And Reid had no idea which room was Luke's. But he knew Luke's smell, didn't he, and it was easy after that, the easiest thing in the world to just leap up the side of the building, force Luke's bedroom window open and clamber smoothly inside.
Luke was awake almost immediately, flicking a lamp on as he sat up in bed, startled. “Reid?” Throwing the covers to one side, he practically jumped out of bed. He was wearing nothing but boxer shorts which did absolutely nothing to help with Reid's equilibrium. “What are you...?” He glanced at Reid's feet. “Where are your...?” And then finally settled on, “Did you climb in my window?”
“This is all your fault,” Reid accused, pointing at Luke, “you brought me here, forced me into this hellhole, never once thinking about the consequences.”
“What consequences?” Luke asked, looking utterly lost as he grabbed Reid's arms. “Reid, tell me what's going on.”
Reid's nostrils flared and his mouth watered again, which was really not the time. “Oh my God, you smell so fucking good.”
“Okay,” Luke said soothingly, like he wasn't listening to the ravings of a mad man. “Thanks?”
Reid clutched back at Luke. Focus. Focus. “You need to fix me. I know you can fix me.”
“Of course I can, Reid,” Luke promised urgently. “Just tell me what I need to do.”
Yes, good. Luke always gave his heart and soul when he promised to do something. Somehow they'd figure this out. “Either I've completely lost my mind, which really should've happened sooner living in this town, or – and this is so ludicrous I'm ashamed at myself for even saying it out loud – I've actually turned into a-”
“Werewolf?” a new voice interrupted, and they both turned to see a woman Reid sure as hell didn't know standing in the entrance to Luke's room, wrapped in a robe. “I'm afraid you have,” she told them in an accented voice. “And I'm also afraid,” she conceded, “that I'm the party responsible.”