"What is he doing here?" Reid asked as calmly as he could manage.
"He was invited, Reid, you know that," Luke said smoothly, trying not to show how nervous he was.
"Yes, I get that, but last I heard he wasn't going to be able to pull himself away from some silly festival to be here," Reid reminded Luke seriously, standing close to the blond but unable to pull his narrowed eyes from the tall brunette chatting with Casey and Allison by the bar.
"He was able to change the day his film was showing so he could be here, it was a last minute thing," Luke sighed, squeezing Reid's hand and trying to steal his attention away from Noah.
"Wait, you knew about this? You knew before he showed up that he would be here and you didn't say a thing?" Reid said harshly, behaving enough to keep his voice quiet but not bothering to hide how upset he was. Luke frowned, his puppy dog eyes coming into play. Reid rolled his eyes, he refused to fall for it this time.
"I just found out last night. He called my mom and told her, and she told me," said Luke.
"So I was just left out of the game of telephone, huh?" Reid snapped.
Luke gave Reid a look, which only made the man roll his eyes again. "I'm sorry, I should have told you, I just wasn't sure how you'd handle it," Luke admitted.
"And you thought surprising me with his presence here and now was a smarter idea than telling me when I could have a meltdown or whatever you thought I would do from the privacy of our room?"
As much as he hated to admit it, Luke knew that Reid had a point. Luke said nothing, which was not the answer Reid was looking for. He dropped Luke's hand and let out a frustrated sigh, running his other hand through his hair.
"I need a drink," Reid said with tightly pressed lips, stepping away from Luke nonchalantly and wandering toward the bar, being sure to steer toward the opposite end of Luke's giggling friends. Luke watched him go and knew he was going to be angry for a while. Luke straightened his tie, grateful that this was a semi-casual event in terms of dress and jackets were not required, otherwise he knew he'd be overheating to the point that jumping into the Snyder Pond, which was within his sight from the outdoor setup, would certainly be tempting.
Today was supposed to be perfect. Lily and Holden were finally tying the knot, again, and were having the ceremony outside at the Snyder Farm. Everyone had come out for the event. Literally, everyone, as they now knew. Luke sighed. He was worried, of course, but he tried to hold on to the fact that he and Reid had been together for over a year now. They'd gone through plenty of small trials like this since that time, since last August when things had become official between them. Luke knew that this was just another bump in the road. Still, that didn't make it any easier to watch his boyfriend scowling with a glass of champagne in his hands, no doubt wishing it was something stronger. Luke almost went after him but he caught Casey and Allison waving him over. Noah looked up, an awkward but friendly smile on his face. Luke smiled back but then looked to Reid again. Katie was now standing with him. With a sigh he headed toward his group of friends, knowing that if anyone could calm Reid down, it was his best friend Katie.
"There you are! Excited?" Allison asked happily. She had a glass in her hand as well. Casey stood behind her, his arm casually around her shoulders. They had gotten back together a few months back, to no one's surprise but their own, and Luke was use to seeing them joined at the hip. It was a sight he had missed and was glad to see again.
"Very," Luke smiled brightly. There was no denying how happy he was that his parents were finally coming to their senses. "Let's just hope it sticks this time," he laughed with a shrug. Everyone laughed along.
"Noah was just telling us about his new film," Casey said, gesturing to Noah and obviously trying to break the ice for the two ex-lovers. Luke looked up at him.
"Yeah, my mom said you managed to reschedule for the end of the festival?" Luke asked. Noah nodded.
"Yeah. I was suppose to show it this afternoon but I managed to switch spots with someone. It doesn't premier til Tuesday now," he explained with a wide smile. Luke loved the way Noah's face lit up when he talked about his films, there was a glow about him that nothing else could bring to the brunette's face except his movies.
"That's great. I know everyone is going to love it," said Luke.
"I hope so," Noah laughed nervously. "By the way, I brought a copy with me… I thought maybe you guys would all want to see it? A sneak peak private screening," he laughed.
"That sounds awesome, man! Yeah, I'd love to see it," Casey beamed. Allison agreed.
"How about you, Luke?" Noah asked hopefully. Luke looked up at him, but his thoughts were on Reid. He considered for a moment, glancing he hoped not too obviously at Reid and Katie.
"Sounds fun," was all Luke could manage and still sound sincere. Noah seemed pleased with the answer, unable to stop smiling from that point on. The four of them continued to chat, though Luke mostly listened. He would look up and watch Reid and Katie conversing, knowing instantly that it was a tense conversation. Luke still kept himself from moving, that is, until he watched Reid storm away from Katie. Katie looked up and caught Luke's eyes, frowning and shaking her head. Reid frowned, too.
"Excuse me, I got to go… take care of something," Luke said, his eyes fixed on Reid. He stepped away without another word, leaving the other three confused as they watched him walk away. Allison and Casey shrugged it off, going back to talking. Noah, though, frowned, watching his ex stalk off on the heels of his former doctor.
"Reid," Luke called as the stubborn man walked briskly out of sight from the main crowd, around some trees and in the direction of the pond. Reid didn't even stutter. If anything, he sped up. "Reid!" Luke shouted louder, jogging after him now. When he came around the trees he found Reid standing on the small wooden dock Holden and Jack had built as kids. It stuck out about ten feet into the pond. Luke watched him standing there, remembering when he was a kid and would play here, jumping off that some dock. It had always held such happy memories for him, making it hard to see the man he was with standing there now with anything but happiness on his face.
Once he realized that Reid wasn't going any further Luke slowed to a walk, carefully coming up next to Reid. He couldn't help but take in how handsome Reid was, especially when he took the time to dress nice. He had on dark slacks, a dark blue dress shirt and a silver tie that Luke had bought for him for his birthday a few months back.
"I was calling for you," Luke said sadly, stepping around in front of Reid.
"I heard you," Reid said simply, dark eyes staring back at Luke. Reid's mouth twisted into a grimace that made Luke want to flinch. He hated that look.
"Then why didn't you stop?" Luke insisted.
"Let's see, because I didn't want to?"
Luke frowned, his shoulders falling. Reid sighed, not bothering to hide his aggravation.
"What do you want, Luke?" asked Reid.
"I want you to talk to me," Luke said desperately, stepping close and taking Reid's hand. "I want you to tell me why you're so upset."
"I thought we already went over that," Reid said with a slight scowl.
"No, you got mad at me for not telling you about Noah and then you just took off. And then you even got mad at Katie."
"Hold on, I only walked away from Katie because she was starting to cross a line. It's not my fault she feels the need to poke and prod at every little piece of my life!" Reid said defensively, pulling away from Luke, leaving the blond feeling suddenly very empty.
"She cares about you, give her a break," Luke sighed. "And so do I, that's why I wish you would just talk to me."
"What is there to talk about, Luke? You knew your ex was coming, you didn't tell me, and I'm annoyed. Simple. You don't need to dissect every little thing I do."
"You're more than annoyed, Reid, you're angry at me. I told you I was sorry, it was stupid of me not to tell you," Luke began.
"Yeah, that's for damn sure," said Reid.
"This is ridiculous," said Luke in a low voice. Reid turned to him, glaring again. "You can say you're just pissed because I didn't tell you about Noah all you want, but I know you, Reid. It's more than that. Why is it bothering you that much?"
Reid didn't say anything at first, staring at Luke for a moment before averting his eyes. Luke could see right through him sometimes and damn it, he wasn't going to let him use his little super power on him now. They continued to just stand there, the only sound being that of the woods around them and the distant sound of voices and music from the wedding.
Just then Luke heard the cracking of twigs along the path. He looked up to see Aaron, wearing the same tan dress shirt, matching pants, and gold tie that Luke was wearing.
"They're lining us up," Aaron said, pointing over his shoulder. He knew well that he was interrupting something but he also knew he didn't have a choice.
"Alright, we'll be right there," Luke called. Aaron nodded sympathetically before turning back and disappearing down the path.
Reid and Luke continued to stand there in silence. Luke finally sighed, putting his hands in his pockets. "We should get going," he said. Reid nodded, and they walked back in silence.
Reid could tell that Luke was unsettled by the silence between them. He was still angry and while he didn't want to talk now he did understand that they would eventually have to talk this out. Still, he didn't want Luke to go up there feeling shaken. Regardless of his own feelings, Reid wanted Luke to be in a good mood today, or at least in a good enough mood to enjoy his parents wedding. Reid could be a child sometimes and he knew it as well as anyone else, which meant that he could turn it off, assuming he wanted to. Right now was one of those times. Just as he and Luke were about turn step off the path and back into the clearing with everyone else, he reached out and took a hold of Luke's arm to stop him.
"Luke," he began to get the blonde's attention. Luke stopped abruptly, turning back with wide, sad eyes that made Reid's chest constrict with agony. He hated seeing Luke in distress, especially when he knew he was the cause. Reid didn't smile but his face did lighten, stepping closer to Luke cupping his face tenderly between his worn hands. "Enjoy this. Go up there and smile and show your family just how happy you are that things are falling into place again," Reid began, searching Luke's face for a reaction. "Don't let my stupid attitude ruin this for you."
Luke watched him, trying to push a smile onto his lips. Reid noticed his struggle.
"I mean it. Don't make me resort to making faces at you during the ceremony, because you know I will," Reid said with a grin. Luke finally laughed and nodded. That smile… it drove Reid absolutely crazy. He kissed Luke briefly, stepping back and adjusting Luke's tie for him. "You know, it's considered disrespectful to draw attention from the bride and groom," Reid smirked. Luke shook his head, wiping his eyes that had started to water as he laughed.
"Thank you," Luke said. He knew that things weren't settled between them, but he was grateful to Reid nonetheless. They held hands as they came toward the main setup of the wedding. Most people were seat and Luke smiled at Reid as they parted. Luke of course was in the wedding party and stayed in the back with his parents, Aaron, and a few other family members. Reid walked down the aisle and took his seat in the second row. He refused to look around too much, being perfectly aware that Noah was just across the aisle from him.
A few minutes later and the music started. Holden was already standing at the alter and he was positively beaming. Even Reid had to admit he was thrilled for the man, even if he and Lily still didn't get along much. Lucinda was escorted by Jack, which was certainly entertaining to watch. Next came Meg and Aaron. Faith was next with Parker. Ethan and Natalie were the last two, being the ring bearer and flower girl respectively. Then came the sound of the wedding march.
Everyone stood up and watched down the aisle as Lily, arm linked with Luke's, appeared from behind the decorations. She was glowing just like Holden and looked radiant in her simple but elegant white dress. Every pair of eyes was glued to her; save one. Reid was unable to look away from the pure joy on Luke's face as he began to escort his mother down the aisle. As they grew near, Luke's eyes drifted to Reid, his smile brightening. Reid could feel his anger slowly subsiding. It was impossible for him to be angry with Luke when he smiled like that.
The ceremony was simple and beautiful and this time no presumed dead ex husbands burst in at the last minute. In fact, things had gone rather perfectly. The reception was also at the Snyder Farm. While the ceremony had been taking place, the caterers and other workers had been busy bees, setting up tables and a temporary dance floor. It was going on 2pm when the guests began to follow the smell of food and the sound of music toward their tables.
Luke and Reid were seated at the table beside Lily and Holden's along with Aaron, his girlfriend Marnie, Casey, Allison, and, much to Reid's displeasure, Noah. Luke made sure to arrange the seats so that Reid and Noah were neither too close, nor seated directly across from each other. He was surprised, though, when Reid made the gesture of saying hello to Noah and even offered his hand. They shook awkwardly before sitting down. Aaron was quick to toss a scrap of conversation into the mix, which Luke would later thank him for.
A few speeches and toasts were made before Jack insisted that the best man give his speech. Luke turned red and shook his head, glaring at Jack with a grin as if promising pay back. After a few pokes and prods [literally from Reid's end], Luke finally stood up and was handed the microphone. He scratched the back of his ear and laughed nervously.
"Well, I guess first I should thank you all for being here at my parent's wedding, again," he joked and everyone of course laughed. "Seriously, though; we tease my mom and dad all the time about breaking up and getting back together, but we don't always see how much that says about their love for each other. When things get hard, they might fall apart for a time, just like any couple would, but they always find their way back to one another. I've never seen two people more in love than my parents. They taught me what love is and how to love, and I just hope that I'm lucky enough to hang onto love the way they do; with everything they have, and with such passion that even when things get hard, there's never any doubt that things will work out in the end. Mom, dad, I love you both, and I couldn't be happier to you. Let's just make this the last wedding," he laughed again, the small crowd laughing with him as before. "To Lily and Holden Snyder." Luke raised his glass, filled with sparkling water instead of champagne, and smiled at his parents.
"To Lily and Holden Snyder," everyone repeated, raising their glassing to the couple as well.
Back at his table, two men were slowly processing the words that had just fallen from Luke's lips. Reid was staring at his drink as though it were speaking to him, trying to convince himself that there was no hidden meaning in Luke's words. Noah was doing the same. Both men looked up and caught each other's eye. This strangely made Reid want to smile, but he resisted.
Luke wandered back over a moment later, slipping into his seat. Reid reached for his hand beneath the table, causing Luke to turn to him happily. They exchanged looks, complete with knowing eyes and cheeky grins.
This one is on the shorter side, but I promise it's leading up to something! Chapter 4 should be up shortly. 3
Luke should have realized right away that Reid was being far too calm, especially compared to his small tantrum earlier in the afternoon. When it came time for food Reid of course was one of the first people to stand up, even cutting off Luke in line to get to the food first.
"I see how it is," Luke grinned. Reid looked at him questioningly. "Once again choosing food over me. I should have known," he said with a fake sigh.
Reid shrugged. "You don't actually think I spend so much time here for you, do you?"
Luke laughed. "Oh trust me, I figured out that you were just after Emma's cooking a long time ago."
"Smart man," Reid said with a flashy smile before piling more food onto his plate.
By 4 o'clock the dancing had begun. Lily and Holden of course kicked things off. Jack and Carly were the next to step onto the floor, followed by Aaron and Marnie. One by one more and more couples stepped up to dance. Luke and Reid were not one of those couples. Luke wasn't disappointed, he hadn't even considered dancing. Reid didn't dance.
Natalie wandered over a few songs in and asked Luke to dance with her. Reid laughed at the thought, but Luke just crinkled his nose at him, walking his younger sister out onto the dance floor. A few minutes later, Katie wandered over to Reid's table.
"Care to dance?" she said with a smile.
"I don't think Doogie would approve," Reid said simply. "Where is your boy toy anyway?"
"My fiancé is talking to his brother at the moment. And he might, but I think I'm entitled to dance with my former room mate if I want to," said Katie.
"Luke would get jealous," he said matter-of-factly. Katie knew that she could keep trying, but Reid wasn't going to budge. She gave in, taking a seat beside him and watching the dance floor.
"So, feeling any better?" asked Katie.
"Better?" Reid repeated.
"You know, compared to earlier. I saw Luke go after you."
Reid hesitated. "Yeah, well, not much was accomplished," he sighed. Katie frowned.
"Wow. No witty comeback," she noted. "This Noah thing is really bothering you, isn't it?"
Reid turned to her quickly, taken aback. "I'm not jealous, Katie," he declared. Katie clearly didn't believe him. "I'm not," he repeated firmly.
"Then why did you flip out the moment he got here?" she asked.
"I," Reid stuttered, "I don't know. I just wasn't expecting it I guess."
"You should talk to Luke, you know. He loves you. Noah being here isn't going to change that."
Reid frowned, casting his eyes onto the dance floor. Luke was spinning his small sister around. Noah was standing with them. They each took one of Natalie's arms and began to swing her, laughing in unison. Reid could feel his face begin with burn. Katie put a hand on Reid's shoulder, but he didn't notice.
"How did I not know about this earlier?" Katie exclaimed. Reid cast her a threatening look.
"Shush, will you? I don't need the whole damn place to hear you," he said. Katie was smiling though.
"That explains everything," she laughed.
"How is this funny?" Reid asked seriously. Katie shook her head.
"Sorry. It's not funny, not at all," she said, failing to hide her smile. She covered her mouth with both hands, shaking her head.
"Don't you dare say a thing to anyone," Reid demanded.
"I'm not going to say a thing, Reid. Where would the fun be in that?"
Katie and Reid had stepped aside to talk in private, standing just outside the pavilion that had been set up for the reception. Read leaned against one of the sturdy beams while Katie bombarded him with questions, trying to determine if she believed him on the jealousy issue. In the end she had to admit that when it came down to it, jealousy wasn't the problem; the problem was Noah's lousy timing.
"You can't be mad at him for wanting to be here, Reid. Lily and Holden are like parents to him," Katie reminded him. Reid flinched.
"Yes, thank you Katie, remind me how my boyfriend's ex is practically family while I can't even get Lily to give me a genuine smile without Luke standing next to me," he frowned. Katie smiled sympathetically.
"Oh, she likes you fine, she's just not use to you yet," said Katie.
"Luke and I have been dating for a year. She's known about us for longer than that. How much more time could she need?"
"Holden likes you," Katie insisted. "He wouldn't have let you help carve the squash at Thanksgiving if he didn't," she teased.
"The highlight of my holidays," Reid groaned. It had been one of the most awkward moments in his life, helping Luke and Aaron to hold down the giant thing while Holden started in with a saw. Reid made sure to tell everyone how shocked he was that he walked away with all ten fingers.
"You really want them to like you, don't you?" Katie said admiringly.
"I don't care what they think," he said unconvincingly. Katie crossed her arms. "Alright, fine. I really don't care, at least not for my sake, what they think of me, but they're Luke's parents. I don't want him to feel torn between me and them," he frowned.
"You're tired of being compared to Noah," Katie said quickly. Reid nodded, realized what she had said, and looked up with a shocked expression. He may not have verbally answered but Katie was already pointing in victory. Reid rolled his eyes, hanging his head.
"I don't like being compared to my boyfriend's ex in general, Katie. That's a perfectly normal reaction," Reid insisted.
"Since when were you normal?"
When they rejoined the gaggle of wedding goers Katie was the first to spy Luke and Noah sitting together at the table. She cast a worried glance at Reid. He seemed fine, but that changed very quickly. Katie watched in horror, immediately knowing that things were about to get messy, as Noah reached forward, placing a hand tendering on Luke's arm.
The two younger men were laughing. Luke didn't seem to even notice Noah's small show of affection. Katie instinctively reached for Reid but he pulled away before she even got a good grip. He marched up to the table, standing behind Noah and nearly glaring at Luke.
"I need to talk to you," Reid said firmly. Noah looked back at Reid, immediately pulling his hand away from Luke and clearing his throat. Luke looked completely startled. He nodded and nervously stood up. Reid started to walk away, keeping his back to Luke who followed unsurely. He glanced back at Noah apologetically, before quickly catching up to Reid and walking on his heels.
They were nearing the barn, well out of sight of anyone else, when Reid stopped. Luke nearly walked into him, catching his step at the last moment. Turning to face him, Reid was obviously angry again. Luke stared at him, bewildered by the bitterness on his lover's face.
"Why are you so upset? Noah and I were just talking!" Luke began.
"That you even assume that I'm angry about Noah says it all, Luke," Reid said darkly. Luke's face fell. "And just talking my ass, it's obvious he wants more than to just talk," Reid whined.
"And you think what? That I'm just suddenly going to fall into his arms? After everything, Reid, how can you think that?" Luke asked, disappointed.
"I don't think you're going to go crawling back to him, Luke," Reid sighed, running a hand through his hair.
"Then what is it, Reid?" Luke said, stepping close and taking Reid by the shoulders. "You're so angry that Noah is here but you claim it's not because of jealousy. Then what is it?"
Pause. Reid stared at Luke's beautiful face, wishing he could explain better. "It's nothing," he lied. Luke gave him a doubtful look. "Fine, fine, if you want to 'talk about our feeling'," he started. "I don't like being caught off guard. And I'm still trying to figure out what the hell you were thinking when you didn't tell me."
"I already told, you Reid!"
"That's crap and you know it," Reid spat.
"Excuse me?" Luke said, offended.
"You heard me. If you were afraid of how I would react, you still would have told me, or at least had Katie corner me and tell me for you."
"You're reading way too into this," Luke insisted.
"Am I, Luke?"
"Yes! You are!" shouted Luke. "You keep saying you're not jealous, but you are, Reid. Just admit it!"
"Fine! I'm jealous of Noah. Happy?" he shouted back. Luke couldn't tell if he was being serious or sarcastic.
They stood in silence, staring each other down with clenched jaws and narrowed eyes. Finally, Luke sighed, shaking his head and pinching the bridge of his nose.
"I can't do this right now, Reid," he said wearily. "I need to get back to the wedding."
Without another word he turned away and started back toward the reception. Reid stood there, shocked that he was actually walking away. He finally started back as well when Luke turned out of sight.
He took his time, finally stumbling in a few minutes later to see Luke sitting with Allison, Casey and Noah, chatting again and laughing together. Luke looked happy. Reid tried to remember the last time Luke had just hung out with his friends. Reid couldn't remember ever hanging out with Luke and his friends, and Reid's only friend was Katie. He sighed, walking around the outside of the room and finding an empty table near the bar. He grabbed himself a beer, thankful that the Snyders the down-to-earth kind of classy, and sat back, enjoying the kick as the alcohol slid down his throat. He had no intention of getting drunk, but a slight buzz would probably do him some good.
"Alright, everyone, it's time to toss the bouquet!" the DJ announced. Reid groaned at the sound of every woman, single and taken alike, squealing, flocking around Lily who was standing on a chair before the growing sea, bouquet in hand.
"Come on, Luke, you might as well be a single lady," Allison laughed. Reid looked up at those words to see Allison standing before Luke, who was now alone he noticed. Luke looked across the room at him, his eyes full of exhaustion and pain. Reid frowned, and Luke frowned back.
"That's alright, Allison, you go head," Luke said quietly. Reid couldn't hear him but he could see Allison walking toward the front alone, Luke standing uncomfortably and moving in the opposite direction. Reid straightened up, craning his neck to follow Luke through the crowd. He finally lost him and instead of standing up or going after him, he turned his attention toward the annoying gathering of women, trying his hardest not to think of Luke.
He would regret this decision later when he learned that in that moment of neglect, Luke was hovering in front of the bar. Everyone was watching the front of the pavilion and the workers keeping the buffet and bar clean didn't know enough to bat an eye at the twenty-something Snyder who was now pouring himself a glass of champagne. Luke knew this was a stupid idea for many reasons. For one, his remaining kidney wasn't as healthy as it might have once been. On top of that, Luke was an alcoholic who knew what one drink would do to him. It was sad to admit, but it was true. He stared at that glass for a good five minutes before finally bringing it to his lips and downing it quickly.
The partying continued. Allison was hanging on Casey on the dance floor, the bouquet of delicate white flowers practically glued to her hand. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Even Noah was preoccupied, catching up with old friends and paying little mind to his ex boyfriend or his ex doctor. The only two who seemed to not be enjoying themselves were Reid and Luke, and their misery did not require any company.
By 6 o'clock people were beginning to leave. Reid had retreated to the farm house at this point, sipping at his second beer for nearly an hour in the Snyder kitchen, miserable but undisturbed. Luke sat at the dock on the pond, tossing stones into the water with two empty beer bottles beside him and a third half-empty bottle in his hand.
"Please tell me those were filled with water," came a concerned voice from behind Luke. The blonde looked up, already looking plenty wasted, to see Noah standing behind him. The look of disappointment on his face made Luke want to cry. He suddenly felt angry, pushing the empty bottles off the edge of the dock and into the water. Noah frowned and walked toward him. "Give that to me," he demanded carefully. Luke stared at him before bringing the bottle to his lips. Noah grabbed at it, pulling it away and tossing it into the water with the others.
"What the hell, Noah?" Luke said angrily.
"I'm not going to watch you kill yourself, Luke," Noah frowned.
"Don't be so dramatic," the blond groaned. Noah stood over him, hands in his pockets, and sighed.
"Why the hell are you drinking, anyway?" he asked. Luke shrugged.
"That's what you're suppose to do when things are falling apart, right?"
"What are you talking about?" asked Noah, seeming to take Luke as being the dramatic one. "You're parents just got married, your foundation is doing great, you and Reid…" he said, trailing off. He couldn't bring himself to say it out loud.
Luke looked down, shaking his head.
"Wait, is this about Reid?" Noah asked, still feeling strange calling Dr. Oliver by his first name. Again, Luke said nothing, but his silence told Noah he was right. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Luke laughed sarcastically. "Yes, Noah. That's exactly what I want, to talk to my ex about how my current relationship is falling apart." Noah flinched.
"Luke, you know you can always talk to me," he said, coming to sit beside Luke.
"No offense, Noah, but talking to you would only make things worse," Luke said coolly. Noah tried not to look offended.
"How would that make things worse?" he dared to ask.
"Do you really have to ask? Reid is already furious that you're here, especially since I was stupid enough not to tell him," said Luke.
"Wait, you didn't tell him I was coming? Why?"
"Why do you think, Noah?"
Noah said nothing.
"It doesn't matter what I say or do, he's never going to forget how things started with me and him, how they ended with us," Luke started to explain carefully. A part of him knew that if he were sober he never would have offered up any of this. "He's jealous of you, Noah."
Noah laughed nervously. "He's jealous of me? Why?" Luke shot him a look. "Stupid question," Noah sighed. "Well, I don't know if it will help, but he shouldn't be jealous of me."
Luke eyed him curiously. "What do you mean?"
"Well, he's the one with you now, not me. You two have been together for a long time. I've been in California most of that time. I have my own life now, too. I mean, don't get me wrong, Luke, there's a part of me that still loves you, I can't change that, but I didn't come here to try and win you back. I'm sorry if he saw it that way," said Noah sadly.
Luke shook his head. "Even if I explained that to him, it wouldn't help."
Luke turned his eyes to the sky, which was now filling with beautiful shades of red and pink. "We've been having trouble for weeks, even before you showed up today. I don't know, he just always on edge, always acting paranoid," Luke sighed. Noah remained quiet, which encouraged Luke to go on. "Whenever I try to talk about him about our relationship, about our future, he just shuts down. I know he loves me, and I get that he has trouble showing it sometimes, but it's never been like this. I… I feel like he's slipping away."
Noah took a deep breath, letting the silence linger a moment longer before responding.
"I always knew he was an idiot," Noah sighed. They both laughed without meaning to. The sound didn't last long, but helped to ease things. "He's making the same mistake I made," said Noah. Luke turned to him suddenly, frowning sympathetically.
"Noah, you didn't…" Luke began, but Noah shook his head.
"Let me finish. I pushed you away, over and over again, when all you were trying to do was keep our relationship strong. He was there to see that, hell, he even talked down about me for it," Noah said, and Luke grimaced a little, "so for him to do the same thing, it just makes no sense."
Luke said nothing.
Reid never did finish his second beer. In the end he wandered into the living room he'd been in more times than he could count, but he couldn't remember taking the time to actually look around. On the mantel about the fireplace were an assortment of pictures, all crammed together in Emma's obvious attempt to never take one down once she'd put it up. He laughed a little at the pictures of Lily and Holden as teenagers and Luke as a little kid covered in mud. A picture in the back caught his eye and his hand paused over it before finally picking it up and holding it before him. It was of Thanksgiving, probably four years ago, Reid guessed. The Snyder family was gathered around the table. Luke sat near the front of the image. He looked so young, Reid thought, so carefree and happy. Beside him was Noah, their hands tightly linked together on the table. Reid felt his stomach turn and quickly put the picture back.
His eyes grazed the rest of the photos as he started to turn away, intent on leaving, when another picture managed to grab his attention. It was at the far end of the mantel but at the front. The frame was rustic, just like the rest, but it was obviously a newer picture. The picture quality was better, for one, but the thing that really gave it away was the fact that Reid was in it.
He stared at it for a few minutes, dropping down into one of the chairs. It was a picture from Christmas. He couldn't remember this being taken, he realized, though that wasn't surprising. The picture was slightly crooked and taken from a low angle. He assumed it was probably taken by Ethan, who had been snapping pictures on his new Disney camera all evening. The main focus of the picture was Lily and Faith, who were laughing at something, apparently Holden, who looked confused but in a good way. Reid didn't pay attention to any of that, though, instead staring at the background of the picture. Luke was sitting on the couch, looking in on the scene and laughing along. Reid sat beside him, legs casually crossed and their hands slung lazily together. Reid was staring at Luke with complete awe, drinking in the beauty of his smile.
Reid suddenly felt like he'd been punched in the gut. He realized painfully that things had changed more than he cared to admit. He couldn't remember the last time he'd looked at Luke that way. He knew he'd stared in awe at Luke's happiness earlier, but he remembered the pain that was strung alongside that bliss. He also couldn't remember the last time they'd held hands just because they felt like it and not because one of them was trying to literally hold onto the other.
Life with Luke had been one hell of the roller coaster the past year, but Reid didn't regret a moment of it. They'd started dating in early August after more drama and chaos that Reid cared to remember. Noah left for California around that time, giving Luke and Reid the chance they needed to truly fall for each other. Reid could remember perfectly the day they moved into their own apartment. It was late November, just before Thanksgiving. They were eating takeout on the floor of their empty living room, talking and laughing the night away. Luke had thrown a roll at him after a rather crude comment, which had led to a minor food fight and cascaded into Reid chasing the amazingly quick Luke around the apartment for almost ten minute before he finally managed to tackle him to the floor. Reid could remember Luke's flushed cheeks, his chest rising and falling rapidly beneath him as Reid pinned him to the floor. They'd stayed like that for a minute, just staring and smiling, before Reid finally rolled over and laid beside Luke on the carpet.
"I think I'm falling in love with you, Dr. Oliver," Luke had said with a smile, reaching out to tenderly run his hands through Reid's hair. Reid hadn't expected that at all. They'd been together for a few months, and yes, they now lived together as well, but they had never really talked about love. He knew he'd worried Luke with his startled expression when the blond pulled his hand away. Reid laughed softly, grabbing his hand quickly and pulling it to his face, kissing it gently.
"I think I'm falling in love with you, too, Mr. Snyder," Reid had admitted. He'd been nervous at first, but the look on Luke's face made him feel more confident than he'd ever been in his life. They laid like that for hours, kissing and holding each other close before falling asleep. It wasn't quite the way either of them had imagined spending their first night alone in their own place, but Reid wouldn't change it for anything.
Back in the present, Reid sighed, slowly rising to his feet and replacing the photo on the mantel.
"I'm sorry, I just, I can't do this right now," Luke declared, staggering to his feet.
"Luke, wait, at least let me walk you back," Noah insisted, standing up and moving after him.
"It's alright, I'll be fine."
"C'mon, Luke. Did I say something wrong?" Noah called. Luke stopped and looked back at Noah, trying to smile but failing miserably.
"No, it's nothing you said. I just think I need to work this out with Reid, or on my own," Luke began, searching for the right words.
"Just not with me," Noah said for him. He was frowning, hands finding his pockets again.
Luke frowned as well, hesitating to answer. "Yeah, not with you," he finally said.
"I get it, Luke. Really, I do," said Noah. "Just promise me something," he said. Luke paused. "Don't let yourself be miserable, one way or another."
Luke made his way up to the house with little trouble. His vision was a little off and he stumbled more than once, but he knew this property better than anywhere else on earth and was able to manage his way back without any real difficulty. He stumbled into the kitchen, feeling more depressed than when he'd left Noah. The entire walk back he kept going over the events of the day, the events of the past few weeks, trying to pinpoint when things had changed between them. He couldn't find a specific moment but he knew it was recent. The tension had been building for a few weeks now and Luke couldn't deny it any longer. He'd come home to the apartment to find that Reid wasn't there and he'd wake the following morning to the same thing. The first few times he'd at least found a note on the pillow or had a text from Reid telling him he'd be late. Now he awoke to nothing and come home to nothing.
Once in the kitchen Luke didn't hesitate to rummage through the fridge, pulling out two more beers and bringing them with him to the table. He stared at them for the longest time. Finally he gave up on the staring match and grabbed up both beers, returning them to the fridge and pouring himself a large glass of water. He was only a little tipsy and knew that a few glasses of water and a bit of time would have him feeling good as new. He dropped into the chair again, leaning on the table with a staggered sigh. His eyes fell shut, face twisting in pain, too frustrated and equally exhausted to deal with any of this.
Down the hall, Reid sat on the couch in the family room, remembering that evening and wishing more than anything that he could go back to that evening and the way things had one been.
It was seven o'clock and the sky had taken on more red than blue. It was beautiful outside, the breeze was warm, and everything was going seemingly perfectly for Lily and Holden. Little did they know that up at the house their son, with alcohol in his system and torment etched onto his face, was slowly falling apart.
The majority of the guests had left by now, mostly family members and those actually living at the house still lingering around, enjoying a few more drinks and dancing carelessly as the sun went down. Aaron and Marnie said goodbye to the newly remarried couple, promising to be back in the morning for breakfast before Lily and Holden left for their honeymoon.
"I just have to grab something from the house," Aaron told Marnie as they approached the gravel lot still filled with cars. He kissed her cheek and sent her off to the car while he jogged up to the house, welcoming himself into the kitchen as he had done a million times.
Inside he found his blond haired brother, slumped over and supporting his head with his arm, eyes closed. For a moment Aaron wasn't even sure he was conscious.
Luke looked up, his eyes so red and his lips turned so sharply into a frown that Aaron knew immediately that he'd been crying. Luke didn't even bother trying to hide it, either. Aaron came over immediately, crouching down beside his younger brother and putting a hand on his back.
"Hey, are you alright?" he asked. Luke sighed, and Aaron got a whiff of his breath. "Have you been drinking?" he asked loudly, staring at Luke in disbelief. Luke looked away, neither admitting nor denying the accusation. Aaron frowned, watching his brother with concern. "What were you thinking, Luke?" he asked carefully.
"I was thinking that everything is falling to pieces and that I deserved a few damn beers," Luke said bitterly, pulling away from his brother and standing abruptly. Aaron stood as well, following Luke across the room.
"Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds? Especially from you?" said Aaron, not caring right now if he hurt his brother's feelings; he was still too concerned with Luke's medical health to focus on his mental health.
"Yes, Aaron, I know how stupid it was. I have one kidney and a crappy one at that. I already got this lecture from Noah, I don't need it from you, too," Luke shouted.
"Never thought I'd say this but maybe Mr. Mayer has a point," came a third voice. Luke turned, eyes wildly hurt to see Reid standing in the doorway of the kitchen from the hall. He looked worried and angry but most of all, he looked disappointed. Luke's face fell further and he wasn't sure he could handle it anymore.
"I'll let you two talk," Aaron said simply, skirting around them both and heading up the stairs, already planning to find a different way out of the house.
Reid stood quietly, weary eyes focused on Luke who was staring back with just as much pain and exhaustion.
"Go ahead, say it," Luke said, obviously feeling defeated.
"Say what?" asked Reid.
"You know what! You know you want to rip into me just like everyone else," Luke shouted. Reid said nothing at first, mouth hanging open a little in shock.
"Is that what you want? For me to start yelling at you?"
Luke stared at him for a moment before dropping his eyes.
"I was in the other room and I heard Aaron come in and start talking to you. I wasn't going to come in, but when I heard him say that you'd been drinking…" Reid trailed off, shaking his head. "I knew I had to come and make sure you were alright. That's why I'm standing here, Luke. Not to yell at your or to put you down. Noah and your brother have already done that enough for one day. I just needed to see that you were okay."
Luke stared at Reid, completely surprised by his words. He'd truly been expecting Reid to be furious with him and to start explaining all the medical reasons that drinking was a boneheaded move for him. Guilt suddenly crept inside him, hating that he hadn't had more faith in Reid.
"Come on, let me take you home before your parents see you like that," said Reid, his voice tired. He pursed his lips together and dug in his pocket for the keys. Luke said nothing, silently following him out the back door.
"Yeah, I found him nearly passed out at the house, it's been a long day for him, so I figured I'd just get him home. He'll be there for breakfast tomorrow, though," Reid was saying into his cell phone as they turned off the gravel drive onto the main road. Luke could hear his father's voice on the other end. "We'll see, depends on if I get called in or not," Reid continued and Luke knew that Holden was asking if he'd be there too. "Alright, sounds good. Congrats again, by the way," Reid concluded. A moment later he was hanging up the phone and dropping it into the cup holder beside him.
"I could have talked to them myself," said Luke.
"You're not exactly a good liar, Luke, especially when you're under the influence," Reid said as gently as he could. It still hit a nerve with Luke. Reid turned to him, frowning to see his boyfriend leaning on the door and staring out the window. He looked back to the road.
"Why were you drinking, Luke?" he asked in as flat of a tone as he could manage. Luke barely stirred.
"Seemed like a pretty good option at the time," the blond said quietly. Reid frowned.
"Talk to me, Luke."
"Why should I, Reid? I tried to talk to you before and you just kept blowing me off. Hell, I've tried talking to you for weeks and every time I try to talk about our future and our relationship you change the subject," Luke said loudly, making Reid flinch.
"I'm sorry. I know, I haven't been the most cooperative person lately," began Reid.
"That's for damn sure," Luke said bitterly. Reid flinched again.
Reid took a deep breath, trying to keep his famous temper under wraps.
"Did you ever think that maybe it's because I wasn't ready to talk about that yet? To discuss what we'd be doing in a year let alone in five or ten? Or that I've been just as confused these past few weeks about where we stand as you've been?" asked Reid as they pulled up to a red light. He took the opportunity to look at Luke, the seriousness of his question evident in his face. "I can't explain why we've been off the past few weeks any more than you can, Luke."
"Maybe if you would just talk to me we could figure it out," Luke began. Reid shook his head, his face twisting in disbelief.
"Since when have you known me to be the talking type?" he asked first. "And when the hell were we suppose to talk about it, Luke? Over the ten minutes we get at breakfast, or at night when we're both exhausted, assuming we're both home at the same time at all? I'm not blaming anyone here, but we're both been busy as hell lately; you with the foundation's latest projects and me with getting this neurology wing off the ground. We never take the same day off or take lunch breaks together or set aside an evening just for us anymore, which, by the way, is half our problem," Reid pointed out matter-of-factly, just as the light changed.
"How is that our problem?" asked Luke.
"Really?" Reid asked, casting a glance at Luke that clearly explained how stupid that questions had been. "We've been struggling for months, Luke. You really think that having no time for each other didn't put an even tougher strain on things?"
A sigh fell from Luke's quivering lips and he looked away.
"We're both screwed up, so it's not like I ever expected this relationship to be perfect," Reid explained plainly. "But I didn't expect us to just let it fall apart, either."
"That's not what we're doing!" Luke said defensively.
"Really? Because most days it sure feels that way. Hell, we can't even handle your ex coming to town with completely falling apart!"
"What does Noah have to do with any of this, Reid?" Luke said sharply.
"Again with the stupid questions," Reid said, rolling his eyes. "When Noah was here for Thanksgiving, we were fine. We didn't fight about it and the only thing we worried about was trying to arrange the seating order so that stupid squash would hide me from his view. We knew it would be awkward but we never even considered that it would affect our relationship, and we'd only been together for a few months. Now, after a year together, Wonder Boy shows up while we're in the middle of this…hurdle, or whatever the hell you want to call it, and just like that we fall back into the way things were before we first got together. You're torn between spending time with him and being with me, I'm trapped in this obnoxious cycle of anger and jealousy, which I'm not admitting to by the way," Reid said boldly. "And the sad thing is, this has nothing to do with Noah," he added, making Luke look up.
"What are you talking about?"
Reid decided not to make fun of his question this time, knowing it wasn't worth it. He took a deep breath, trying to organize his thoughts before jumping into the meat of things.
"I'm not afraid that you're going to go running off to Noah," said Reid. He paused and then let out a shaky sigh. "Honestly, Luke? I'm just waiting for the morning that I wake up and find that you've left for good."
His words hung like daggers threatening to fall. Luke's eyes were wide with shock, his breath catching in his throat. Reid's lips were tightly pressed together and he, too, was struggling to breathe.
A moment later they pulled up to their apartment building.
They went inside and began to turn on the lights without speaking. Luke pulled off his tie as he walked in, passing the bedroom and tossing it onto the bed before turning back and coming toward the couch. Reid lingered in the doorway, watching Luke carefully. It was obvious that Luke didn't want to talk, and Reid was in no mood to force a conversation. His head hung sadly. He dropped his keys into the dish on the table beside the door, silently wandering into the bedroom and shutting the door behind him.
It was getting late and when Reid never did come back out of his room, Luke knew he couldn't just sit there. Reid's last words before they arrived home rang through his head over and over again and each time, he realized, they became more and more painful to hear. Still exhausted, though no longer feeling the effects of his earlier stunt, he took a deep breath to steady himself, walking quietly to their bedroom door.
Luke had never been nervous about walking into his own bedroom. He carefully pushed the door open, unsure what he would find. The light on the dresser was on but the rest of the lights were off, casting the room in a dim glow. His eyes adjusted quickly and he looked over to see Reid, still in his dress shirt and pants, lying on his side on the bed, asleep. As Luke came closer he realized that Reid was still wearing his shoes even. He frowned, cautiously approaching the bed and come to sit down on the edge, staring down.
His weight shifted the bed a bit and it was enough to wake Reid from his very light sleep. When he saw look, he took a deep breath, loving the sight of him in the soft light but hating the sadness in his face. He reached out and took one of Luke's hands. Luke clung to Reid's hand desperately, and Reid could tell he was struggling to hold back tears. He knew this partly by the tell-tale quiver of Luke's lips, but also because he was doing the exact same thing.
"I'm sorry," Luke whispered, frowning down at Reid with those doe-like Snyder eyes the other man loved so much.
Reid sat up, scooting to sit next to Luke on the edge of the bed. Their bed. He sat close, putting an arm around Luke and holding the blond to him gently. Luke leaned into him, his head resting against the crook of Reid's shoulder, molding into him as though they were both designed to fit together just like this. A sad sigh escaped Reid's lips and he rubbed Luke's back. For a while they said nothing, just dwelling in the bittersweet moment for as long as they could handle the silence.
"I'm sorry, too, Luke," Reid began, not letting go of him. He took another deep breath. "I shouldn't have said that before."
Luke sat up a so he could see Reid's face. "You don't have to apologize for that," he said sadly. "I'm glad you said it actually," he went on and Reid watched his curiously, "it was sort of a wake up call for me."
Reid frowned. "Me, too."
A heavy sigh fell from Luke's lips, which were still shaking with the threat of tears. "I just wish we didn't need a wake up call." Reid could only nod in agreement.
Luke fell against Reid again and Reid could feel the desire to sleep tugging at them both. He knew they were understandably exhausted, but he also knew that they had to do this now. He wasn't sure if he could handle putting things off with Luke again, not after the day they'd had.
"Let's get some coffee, I think we both could use some," he suggested. Luke nodded and they slowly got up from the bed. Reid wanted to stop Luke as they stepped out of the room, to grab him and kiss him and tell him just how much he loved him, but he couldn't do it. He was afraid it would sound like the words of a desperate man, and the thought that he was nearing that place terrified him.
They went into their modest kitchen and Reid went to work on the coffee. Luke sat at the table silently, just watching his boyfriend move through the kitchen. A few minutes later the timer went off and Reid pulled two mugs from the cupboard, filling them both with the fresh coffee that filled the room with its aroma and adding the right amount of cream and sugar to both.
He handed Luke his mug and then sat down in the chair beside him, already taking a careful sip of the hot beverage. The smell alone was helping him to feel more awake and he hoped this was just what they both needed to calm them down.
"Good?" Reid asked after Luke had taken a sip. Luke nodded.
"Perfect, as always," he said, managing a weary smile. Reid smiled as well, silently hating that even the little bit of laughter between them felt forced and hopeless.
After a few minutes of silence and allowing the caffeine to set in, Luke was the first to speak.
"About, earlier, Reid, what you said in the car," he began nervously, "you were right. About how we've been going downhill for months and that we can't blame today on Noah or anything but ourselves. I don't know what happened to us. I feel like, one minute we're just fine and everything is perfect, but then we just, took a wrong turn, and headed right into a wall. And I don't know when we took that wrong turn, either, and that's what scares me, because I can't try to just go back and fix whatever it was that brought us here. I don't know how because I don't even know where the problem began."
Reid could see Luke's eyes watering and it took all he had to keep himself from reaching for Luke's hand.
"I don't know either, Luke. Sometimes these things just happen, couples hit a rut and there's no simple explanation or exact moment that caused it," said Reid. "I owe you an apology, Luke. We've both known that things have been off for a while and I know that you've been doing everything you can to figure out why and to fix things, and all I've done is make it impossible for us to get anywhere. I know I stalled out on you and that most of this mess is my fault."
Luke began to protest, but Reid held up a hand and shook his head. "Just let me finish," he insisted, and Luke sank into his chair a bit more.
"I know I've been distant lately, and I've been blaming that on work but we both know that isn't the problem. We've talked about this before, but I'm still new to this, Luke. My last real relationship was just after college, and it was hardly the world's greatest relationship. I know that's not an excuse," he trailed off with a sigh. He gripped his coffee mug tightly, wishing it were Luke's hand instead. As if reading his mind, Luke reached out and pulled Reid's hands from his mug, taking them in his own. Reid felt those tears he was so desperate to hide slowly filling his eyes. He cleared his throat. "I should have talked to you when he wanted me to, but I was afraid that when and if we did sit down and put all out cards on the table, neither of us would win. I was afraid that we'd end up fighting, that one of us would walk out, and I had a feeling that I'd end up being the one stupid enough to do that."
Beside him, Luke found he wasn't as strong as Reid when it came to suppressing his tears. They were falling freely down his face.
"I'm sorry that I didn't trust you to be patient with me," Reid said sadly, taking Luke's face in his hand and willing his tears to stop.
"I'm sorry that I made you feel like you couldn't," replied Luke with just as much sadness. He finally broke and Reid moved his chair closer, holding Luke tightly against him and refusing to let go. Luke cried into Reid's chest, and Reid cried silently into Luke's shoulder.
They held each other just like that for nearly twenty minutes, refusing to let go or loosen up even a little, afraid that if they let go it would be in more ways than one. The wave of emotions slowly began to calm, though, and Luke found himself sitting up, snuffling and wiping his face on his sleeve. Reid cupped his face, smiling weakly at him, and gently kissed him.
"I feel like I'm kissing a dog," he whispered, and the joke managed to get a weak laugh out of Luke. Reid smiled, standing up and getting some napkins for him. When he turned around Luke was standing up, wiping away the tears. Reid walked up to him and handed him the napkins. He stood silently while Luke cleaned up, gazing out over their apartment and looking back on every memory he could pull. He felt Luke come up beside him just as an earlier memory hit him again.
Reid looked at Luke and saw the same weariness from earlier was back. He locked his arm around Luke's waist possessively but tenderly.
"Come on, you need to sleep," Reid insisted. Luke didn't argue and followed him to the bedroom.
They dressed in silence, Luke wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt that Reid recognized as one of his, and Reid wore flannel pants, no shirt as always. Luke was ready to crawl into bed when he saw Reid pull the blanket that was folded at the end and walk out of the room. For a moment he panicked, thinking that Reid was planning to sleep on the couch. He followed him quickly out into the living room, confused when he saw him pulling the coffee table out of the way and laying the blanket down on the floor.
Reid looked up, smiling at little at the confused look on Luke's face. He said nothing, though, walking past Luke and back into the bedroom, grabbing each of their pillows and coming back out, dropping them side by side onto the floor. It was a warm night and they probably wouldn't have even covered with sheets anyway, so he didn't bother grabbing anything else.
"What are you doing?" asked Luke, watching as Reid now took to turning off most of the lights save the one beside the couch. Once he was done, Reid came up to Luke and took both of his hands.
"I know we can't pretend that nothing has happened, or go back to how it was before, but I do think we can try to start over. It know it won't solve everything and we still have a lot to work out, Luke, but I'm willing to do that. I have to do that. I can't fathom a life without you anymore. Somehow you wormed your way in, and now you're just stuck with me," he said softly, and Luke smiled. "So let's start over, even if only for tonight."
That's when it hit Luke what Reid was doing. He glanced down at the makeshift bed and Reid could see the realization sinking in. Luke closed his eyes, and laughed. "Our first night here," he said breathlessly, gazing up at Reid with immense admiration. Reid smiled and leaned forward to gently kiss him.
"Except this time I'm not chasing you around first," Reid laughed. They parted long enough for Reid to turn off the light. Luke laid down first and Reid lowered himself beside him. Immediately they fell into place. Reid laid on his back and Luke curled up beside him, resting his head against Reid's warm chest, their legs lazily draped together.
"Who knew you could be sentimental," Luke whispered. Reid smiled to himself, stroking Luke's hair.
"I have my moments."
They both sensed that their problems were far from being fixed, but at that moment, neither of them cared. They were too caught up in the moment, happy to be falling asleep together, especially when hours ago neither of them was even sure if they'd end up under the same roof for the night.
"I love you, Reid," Luke whispered in a sleepy voice. Reid kissed the top of Luke's head.
"I love you, too, Luke."
Reid woke around 6am, as usual, when the sunlight began to trickle through the blinds, casting scattered lines of light over the living room. Even in his groggy state he knew enough to move as little as possible. He always woke before Luke and was accustomed to carefully crawling out of bed so that Luke could sleep a bit longer. Normally Reid had to leave for work first and so he would shower and get the coffee going while Luke slept in. Today, though, Reid didn't have to go in til later in the afternoon, meaning that this was one of those rare occasions when he was allowed to sleep in.
Opening his tired eyes Reid looked down to find Luke still curled up beside him. They were facing the same way now, Luke's back pressed comfortably against Reid's chest, and Reid's arms were wrapped securely around him. Their fingers were tangled together, as were their legs. Reid smiled, kissing the crook of Luke's neck. Luke's scent filled his nose as he took a deep breath, willing his muscles to relax as he held his sleeping lover close, wishing every morning started off this wonderfully. He stroked Luke's hair, pulling some of the longer bangs out of his face and tucking it behind his ear. Luke's mouth was slightly open and Reid did his best not to laugh. He always enjoyed watching Luke sleep, the boy always seemed to peaceful, and he could sleep through anything. Reid held him a while longer before finally willing himself to pull away, peeling himself with precision from the sleeping beauty and quietly raising to his feet. Breakfast with Luke's family was at 10am and Reid knew that Luke would want to be up by 9am at the latest, giving him only a few hours to do everything he needed to before then.
By 7o'clock Reid was at the hospital. He'd left a note for Luke on the pillow telling him he'd been called in but would be back in time for breakfast. Since it was a Sunday he knew that Luke would probably sleep until Reid woke him, but the last thing he needed to risk was Luke waking up alone with no explanation as to why Reid had left. Reid pictured Luke sleeping on the living room floor as he waited outside of Bob's office, dressed in jeans and a polo shirt he'd stolen from Luke. He hadn't done laundry in days and so nothing was clean, or maybe that was simply an excuse. Reid wasn't waiting long before Bob arrived and the two stepped into his office. Bob was amused by Reid's impatience, just smiling at him from across the desk as the young doctor spoke.
"I think I we can handle that, Dr. Oliver," said Bob with a knowing smile. "We managed to get along just fine before you came around, I'm sure we can do it again for a few days."
"Good. And remember what I said; no calling, no paging, no anything until I'm back. Not that trying would do you any good," Reid shrugged. Bob laughed.
"Don't worry, Dr. Oliver, no one is going to bother you, I guarantee it."
By 8o'clock Reid was in Old Town, sitting at Java with an untouched coffee in front of him, his phone to his hear.
" I know it's your wedding night, but c'mon, answer the damn phone," Reid grumbled after dialing the number for the third time. When he reached the answering machine, again, he hung up and dialed a fourth time. Finally someone answered.
"Hello?" came the tired voice of Holden Snyder.
"Finally," sighed Reid. On the other end Holden let out a tired laugh.
"Not all of us are morning people, Reid," said Holden. Reid grinned.
"Yeah, well, not all of us can be so perfect."
The two friends talked for a few minutes, Reid speaking with the same enthusiasm and urgency as he had with Bob, but with a bit more hesitation. Once he was done he sat quietly, listening for a response from Holden. He wasn't sure what to expect, holding his breath until Holden began to speak.
"I'm in," said Holden, and Reid sighed in relief, a smile positively glowing on his face.
"Thank you, Holden. And thank Lily for me, too," he said.
"I will. We're still going to see you both at breakfast, right?" asked Holden.
"That's the plan," said Reid, resisting the urge to add, 'unless of course Luke would rather stay home…'
They hung up and Reid began the short journey home. He walked in at 8:30 to find Luke was still asleep and took the opportunity to shower before he could wake up. By 9o'clock, Reid was dressed again, his hair still damp but neatly brushed out. He was in jeans again and another one of Luke's shirts [though this time he didn't bother denying why he'd chosen the shirt]. Coming across the room he knelt down in front of Luke, gently rubbing his arms to wake him. Luke stirred, letting out a weary groan, making Reid laugh a little.
"Morning," Reid chimed simply. Luke blinked a few times before focusing on Reid's face. He relaxed into the pillow again smiling up at the man he loved.
"Good morning," he said back. Reid leaned down and kissed him gently. Luke sighed happily.
"C'mon, we have to be at Al's in an hour," said Reid. Luke protested only once before Reid managed to convince him to get up. Luke took a shower while Reid sat in the kitchen, nervously tapping his foot and drinking his second cup of coffee. Luke didn't take long showers, fortunately, especially when they were on a schedule, so fifteen minutes later he was walking in a towel to the bedroom, and Reid smiled, unable to help himself as he stared at the blond. Luke saw him and grinned before shutting the door. Reid shook his head and laughed.
The previous evening's conversation flooded his thoughts again and Reid found himself reliving that depression and pain he'd felt. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, hoping that things would soon get better. He knew that there was no easy-fix for what was happening between them but he refused to let them become just another couple that simply "didn't work out." In the bedroom Luke was going through about the same thing, convincing himself as he dressed that things would be alright. They had to be.
Luke came out of the room just around 9:30 to find Reid standing by the couch, his jacket already on.
"What's the rush?" asked Luke.
"Katie just called. Apparently she wants us to get there a little early so help hand a banner or some other stupid thing. I don't know, but I told her we'd be there, so let's go," he explained. Luke rolled his eyes with a laugh.
"Sometimes I think you listen to her more than you listen to me," Luke joked, moving across the room to grab his own jacket. Reid didn't respond to Luke's bait, just smiling innocently at him. Luke laughed as he started to pull on his jacket. He was adjusting it and pushing his hands into the pockets to help straighten it out, when his fingers collided with something.
He looked down suspiciously. Reid seemed to tense, but Luke didn't notice. He gripped the object in his pocket and pulled it out, staring at it with intense interest and obvious confusion.
It was an envelope.
Luke looked up at Reid. The look on Reid's face immediately gave it away that whatever this was, it was his doing, and a smile began to spread over his lips as he ripped into the envelope, pulling out a piece of notebook paper. He unfolded the paper and began to read the words he recognized to be in Reid's handwriting out loud.
"This coupon is good for two tickets on an Alaskan Cruise."
Luke stopped and stared at the words, rereading them two more times before staring up at Reid, who was grinning from ear to ear.
"Is this for real?" Luke asked excitedly. Reid nodded.
"I didn't have time to actually buy the tickets yet, hence the homemade IOU," he laughed. "But I'm going to go make the arrangements this afternoon, if you want me to."
Luke felt like he might cry again.
"Are you sure we can do this? I mean, what about work? And the foundation?" Luke began rambling a bit and Reid shushed him, stepping close and laughing at his boyfriend's endless worrying.
"I already talked to Bob and he's guaranteed me the time off. And I talked to Holden earlier and he and your mom can handle things just fine while you're gone. Don't worry so much," Reid teased. Luke let himself relax, still gazing up at Reid with absolutely awe. Holding the paper tightly in his hand he threw his arms around Reid, holding him tightly. Reid wrapped his arms around Luke's waist, laughing at his enthusiasm.
"So I take it that's a yes?" he asked. Luke pulled back, still hanging onto Reid's neck.
"That's a hell yes," he laughed, and they kissed.
"I know this won't solve everything, but I figure we both need the break, and maybe some time alone would do us some good. I know we were planning to save this trip for Christmas, but sometimes tells me we could use it now," Reid said breathlessly, still smiling at Luke, taking in that perfect face of his.
Luke bit his lip. "Now sounds perfect." They kissed again, only stopping when Luke remembered that they had to get going. "We should go before Katie has a heart attack," Luke laughed into the kiss. Reid let out a sarcastic chuckle at the comment, just grinning. It took Luke only a moment to interpret that laugh, leaning back with a look of mock surprise, hitting Reid playfully. "Katie never called, did she?" Once more Reid said nothing, just grinning before greedily capturing Luke's lips.
Even though they didn't have to be there early they still knew they had to get going and barely resisted the urge to wander off to the bedroom. They held hands the entire drive to Al's and walked in the same way, which brought a smile to just about everyone's face. Even though Katie was the only one present that knew any details about their blow out the day before, Luke's parents and family hadn't been blind to the fact that something was going on. While no one really mentioned it, they were still very happy to see Luke and Reid seemed to be patching things up.
"If he tries to call us even once while you're gone, throw his phone overboard," joked Holden from across the table, speaking to Reid. Luke stared down his dad with a grin and Reid insisted that both of their phones were being left behind on this trip. The table was packed with people the Luke had loved all his life, people that Reid had learned to call his family as well. As he looked around the table he thought back to that picture at Emma's, he realized just how true that was. Luke had given him more than just a lover and a friend, he'd introduced him to a group of people that, although sometimes drove Reid insane, also reminded him of what a family was supposed to be and that it was alright to depend on other people.
"Alright! I have presents for the Newly Weds before they talk off, so just sit tight. Reid, can you help me with them?" asked Katie. Everyone was so busy chatting that they simply nodded, but Reid knew instantly that Katie was up to something. He pushed out his chair and gave Luke's shoulder a squeeze before following his best friend out into the parking lot.
Reid crossed his arms, grinning as Katie unlocked the trunk. He saw a single small bag sitting there on top of some of Jacob's toys. "C'mon, Katie. I know you're a woman and all, but even you can handle that much on your own," he teased. Katie smirked at him, pulling the bag out and closing the trunk.
"Don't try to avoid the subject," said Katie happily.
"What subject? We weren't talking about anything."
"Don't be a smart ass, you know what I mean. That cruise is sweet, and I think it will do you two a lot of good, but don't think that means you can get away with dropping the original plan," she said, hitting him in the arm.
"Ouch," faked Reid, rubbing the spot where Katie had hit him as though it actually hurt. Katie just stared at him.
"Alright, alright," Reid sighed. "But I'm not doing it now. We haven't even had a chance to go out…" he began, but Katie cut him off.
"I don't care! We'll go out tomorrow, or maybe you two can go out together, but you're not using that as an excuse, Reid."
"His whole family is in there, Katie!" exclaimed Reid.
"Exactly," smiled Katie. Reid narrowed his eyes.
"You're a monster," he said, only half-joking, and Katie smiled innocently.
"Yeah, well, someone's gotta be tough enough to force your butt into gear."
Katie and Reid returned a few minutes later and Katie handed Lily and Holden their gift. She sat back down between Jack and Chris while everyone watched with amusement as the couple opened the bag. They pulled off the tissue paper that covered whatever was sticking out of the top and the first thing everyone saw was something red and lacey. Lily blushed and Holden laughed as his wife covered the bag back up with the tissue paper. A few people clapped and laughed as well. Katie managed to calm down long enough to talk.
"It's not what you think! Open it!" she cried. Lily was smiling, completely red in the face. Luke and Reid laughed along with everyone as they pulled the entire gift out of the bag. It was a bottle of wine wrapped in a mini version of a red lacey teddy bear gown. The newly weds immediately realized that it was designed to cause exactly the sort of commotion that was obnoxiously filling the room and laughed along.
"That's genius, Katie," laughed Jack beside her. The jokes continued for a while, loud chatter and laughing filling the table, and the entire establishment for that matter. Katie eyed Reid from across the table. He gulped a little, before turning to Luke. He knew that Katie would kill him for not waiting for things to die down, but he refused to do this with everyone watching. So, he took advantage of the fact that everyone was too distracted by their own conversations to reach for Luke's hands, pulling them into their own little world and drowning out everyone else.
He began talking quietly. Katie strained to hear, but it was to no avail. She was shushing Jack and Holden when Luke suddenly gasped.
"What?" he said loudly, his voice completely breathless. This seemed to do the trick and everyone was suddenly staring at the couple, listening in. Reid gulped again, but tried to ignore their stares. He took a deep breath, squeezing Luke's hands.
"I said, marry me. I don't have a box with a ring in it or some… corny line about true love, but I know what I want, Luke. I want you to marry me."
A few more gasps filled the air. Lily, Emma and Meg were all covering their mouths in shock. The men were all smiling like fools.
"I know that this is just a speed bump for us, I don't have a single doubt that we can make this work. I was going to do this later, after I had a chance to go ring shopping with Katie," he said, glaring at Katie for a moment, who just smiled even brighter in return, "but I can't wait."
Luke was staring with glazed eyes at Reid, completely unaware of everyone else at the table. He was choking on air and couldn't seem to find words.
"This is when you say yes," whispered Chris, leaning across the table.
"For once I agree with Doogie Hughes," Reid laughed nervously, wishing Luke would hurry up and say something.
Luke shook his head, blinking a few times as reality hit him and he bounced back. His smile grew and he wasn't sure he could contain his happiness much longer.
"Yes!" he shouted. "God, yes," he said breathlessly, practically collapsing against Reid, his arms desperately clinging to him. Everyone started clapping and Jack let out a loud whistle. Lily started to cry and Holden hugged her, beaming at his son. Luke and Reid sat back a bit, staring at each other with pure bliss. Luke cupped Reid's face, just staring with smiling eyes at him before kissing him hard on the mouth. Meg and Katie at about the same time gave a teasing cat call, which caused laughter to erupt again. Luke and Reid pulled away, laughing along. Luke was biting down on his lip, hand tightly locked with Reid's.
The large group continued to celebrate, toasting with orange juice and coffee to the newly weds and the newly engaged. Al's was filled with hope and anticipation, love and laughter. A true sense of belonging and family fell over them all as the past was set aside, looking only to the promise of love and happiness in the future.