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Settling In

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It smelled like carpet glue in here... Oliver didn't like the smell of carpet glue, especially not when it was mingling with the scent of fresh paint as well. He wrinkled his nose to show his displeasure, only to be ignored as Luka brushed past him, his arms laden with several securely taped boxes.

Oliver sneered even more when a pair of moving men nearly ran into him, their hands occupied with a couch that apparently had somewhere to be. Eventually Oliver found himself sitting on that same couch, his hands clutching a game tablet though he did not play with it. It wasn't even on. Instead he just glowered and scoffed and scowled at every person who went by, refusing to move even when Luka requested the couch be a little closer to the lilac colored wall.

If Luka noticed his behavior he said nothing, leaving Oliver to sulk and pout to his heart's content. But, there was a lot of furniture to move and shelves to hang and boxes to unpack... Oliver couldn't help it when his eyelids grew heavy, his head lolling back against the armrest of the couch as he fell asleep.

~*~

Oliver didn't wake up until Luka's arms were pulling him off the couch, picking him up to cradle him and move him to the bedroom. Oliver buried his face against Luka's chest, his eyes squeezing shut as he sniffed. His head hurt.

Luka was gentle in setting him down on the edge of the bed—Oliver briefly glanced around the room. It was so much larger than their bedroom at the old house; it seemed very empty.... His fingers brushed the yellow comforter that adorned the bed. It matched the one bright yellow wall in the room. He liked it.

“The movers are gone,” Luka said quietly as he knelt before Oliver and informed him that they were finished moving in. Sure, it would take some time before their new home felt truly lived in, but at least everything was now in its place. There were a lot of new things, and, though Oliver had helped pick out much of it, it would still take time to adapt to all the change happening around him.

“What time is it?” Oliver asked groggily.

“Late. Very late,” Luka replied. “Do you want to go back to sleep?”

Oliver leaned forward and rubbed his aching temples instead of responding. Why did he always get headaches like this? Luka took note of his behavior, rising from the ground and padding quietly into the bathroom. He returned within seconds, fingers wrapped around a small bottle of pills.

Oliver looked at them warily. Even if they did help, he didn't like taking pills. He didn't like the feeling of them sticking to his tongue or how it was always hard to swallow them, no matter how small.

Luka held out the hand holding the pill bottle, then held out his empty hand as well. “Choose,” he urged, Oliver smiling a little and putting his own hand in Luka's empty palm.

“Okay,” Luka replied. He set the pill bottle on the bedside table, withdrawing his hand from Oliver's as he did. Oliver didn't fuss when Luka pushed the fabric of his over-sized sweater off his shoulders, allowing Luka to slowly but steadily undress him. Oliver watched his steely grey eyes as they focused on undoing Oliver's pants.

Oliver suddenly grabbed at Luka's own clothing, clumsily pulling the thick material up and over Luka's head. His pale fingers looked almost white against Luka's own dark flesh. Luka let him help with the undressing, eventually crawling onto the bed as well and pulling Oliver close to him.

His hands found Oliver's under the blankets, his thumbs pressing into Oliver's palms and rubbing slow, small circles within them. Oliver's eyes closed as Luka massaged his hands, some of the pain in his head dissipating as he relaxed.

Luka had not known Oliver was sick when they began dating. Sure, there had been signs... odd outbursts, sudden panics, and occasional words spoken to no one.... But, Luka had attributed each of these to simply quirky behavior. It hadn't been until Oliver moved in, shortly after they'd become engaged, that it became apparent Oliver was more than just... quirky.

It had been frustrating. Luka hadn't known what was going on, or how to deal with it. Harder yet, Oliver had no idea himself. They'd gone to dinner, supposedly celebrating Luka's promotion at work. There had been a guest there, a doctor... Luka knew this. Oliver did not. She spent much of the evening watching Oliver, occasionally interacting with him, and secretly discussing him with Luka throughout the night.

She'd confirmed Luka's suspicions, and said, in the end, all that Luka could honestly do was be patient with Oliver. Be gentle with him, and remember Oliver was unaware.

Luka sighed and looked at Oliver. He'd fallen asleep again while Luka was rubbing his palms, exactly as Luka had hoped he would. Today had been long and difficult. It was hard to change Oliver's environment, even with plenty of preparation. This was for the best, though. Oliver would be happier here.

~*~

Oliver had work the next day, refusing to take even one day off to adapt to his new surroundings. Luka had been fortunate enough to have the day off due to his promotion altering his work schedule. He still shared his weekends off with Oliver, but was able to enjoy a third day off in the middle of his week.

He spent much of the morning attending to Oliver's garden—it had been a nuisance to uproot and move the plants, but Oliver loved his garden and Luka would never deny him his prized plants. After ensuring every plant was sufficiently watered, Luka moved indoors to begin pulling the less “needed” pieces of their furnishings from box after box. He started with the paintings, many of them borne of Oliver's own hand. The walls looked considerably less bare when he was done. Knick-knacks and fake flowers soon adorned the cabinets and shelves, Luka continuing to decorate their new home until the empty feeling it possessed began to vanish.

He took an occasional break to play on the baby grand. It would have been more fun if Oliver had been home to sing along—Oliver was a wonderful singer. Luka had watched him win more than one karaoke contest with his angelic voice, and had learned a little from the man.

By the time seven o'clock had rolled around, Luka had dinner prepared and waiting for Oliver. Oliver's workplace only had a vending machine, and Luka knew Oliver had not taken the time to prepare a lunch that morning—he would be hungry.

The front door shutting was all Luka heard to alert him to Oliver being home, Luka popping his head around the corner to see Oliver standing in the doorway. He looked tense. Black rubber gloves covered from his hands up to his elbows, and he was fussing with a pair of goggles. Somehow, the strap had become tangled in his hair.

“Welcome home,” Luka greeted as he hurried over to help his struggling husband.

“I suppose that's what it is,” Oliver replied, dropping his hands to allow Luka to remove the goggles for him. He winced when Luka pulled on them a little, but they were soon free and he sighed in relief before pulling off his gloves.

“How is my mad scientist?” Luka teased, poking fun at Oliver's work attire but also at his current attitude.

Their careers were wildly different, but both did involve a bit of chemistry. Luka's mother, Norah, was once a world-renowned chef. From her, Luka had learned the art of cooking and had become a food critic in his adulthood. Oliver, on the other hand, was a scientist who worked primarily on creating serums. In his spare time, however, Oliver enjoyed tinkering and had been known to make some pretty... strange devices.

“Later,” Oliver responded. “What did the culinary expert make today? It smells good.”

“Nothing fancy, just some butternut gnocchi,” Luka answered.

Oliver paused. He eventually gave a nod and wandered towards the kitchen, immediately choosing the breakfast nook table over the dining room. “I would guess to commemorate our first meal in the new house, similar to its presence as the meal for our first date and our first meal as a married couple,” Oliver spoke.

Luka smiled. “You smarty-pants,” he stated, following Oliver to prepare a plate for each of them. Oliver was rubbing his temples again as he sat, Luka wondering whether he'd choose medication or a massage tonight.

“So, I am correct?”

“You are correct,” Luka agreed. “The garden looks alright, but I'm sure your expert eye would be better at ascertaining its status.”

“Undoubtedly....” Oliver didn't bother to look at him as he spoke, Luka setting a plate of food before him and joining him at the small table. Luka bit his lip but did not comment on Oliver's condescending words. It was just one of those days for Oliver, he supposed.

“I went for a jog today. The neighborhood is lovely—there is a greenbelt, and a small park, and I found a nice pond for fishing as well,” Luka informed him, Oliver staring out the window where the sun was setting.

“... A lot more trees around here then there were in Willow Creek....” Oliver commented.

“Yes! Windenberg does boast a large amount of vegetation in comparison to Willow Creek!”

“Considerably more than Oasis Springs,” Oliver added, a short laugh punctuating his statement.

There it was—the turn. It was so subtle, but Luka knew the signs of a shift in emotion. It would seem sudden, irrationally abrupt, but... there were, and always had been, indicators. He needed to be careful; the wrong words could snap Oliver's emotions further towards displeasure, or even instant melancholy.

“I quit my job today.”

Luka almost dropped his fork. “What?”

“I quit my job today,” Oliver repeated.

“Ah... ehm... why?” Luka asked.

“I was tired of it.”

“Don't... don't you think this is something you should've discussed with me first?”

Oliver set down his fork, and Luka knew he had chosen the wrong words. “Discussed?” Oliver echoed. “I didn't require your input when I started my career, I see no reason why I would need it to end my career.”

“Because we're married now!” Luka blurted out. “Married people tell each other these things!”

“What for? It won't affect us financially.”

He was right. Even being unemployed, Oliver frequently was working on side projects that contributed to their income.

“That's not why I'm upset,” Luka said, setting his jaw. He wasn't very hungry anymore.

“Well then, I don't know what you're upset about,” Oliver replied.

“I'm upset because you didn't even think to include me in your decision! At least give me the chance to support you, rather than blindsiding me like this!” Luka insisted. The freckles on his dark skin stood out considerably more when he was flushed, and now his cheeks were burning with frustration.

“Oh.” Oliver tapped his fork against the edge of his plate, the plate emitting a delicate high pitched clink in response. “You're right. I apologize.”

Luka huffed and looked down at his plate. Though it was hardly comforting, at least Oliver had apologized. “What... what do you think you'll do now?”

Oliver shrugged. “I haven't given it any thought, to be honest.”

Unsurprising. Oliver did what Oliver wanted.

“Did you give quitting any thought?”

“Not really. I just went in and decided I was done. I used the freeze ray on some of my coworkers on the way out,” Oliver admitted. He did not sound guilty in the slightest.

“... Annabeth?”

“For certain.”

Luka couldn't suppress a small smile. Annabeth had never been very kind to Oliver, especially not after she'd divorced Oliver's best friend, Aaron. “With the amount of hairspray she uses, I'm surprised there was anything left to freeze....”

Oliver laughed in reply, his hand moving across the table to find Luka's. Luka took it, in his mind already writing the day off as rather successful despite some of the curve balls it had thrown.