Title: Now and Again
Rating: PG-13 up to NC-17
Characters/Pairings: Luke/Reid, Noah, other Oakdale characters and an OC here or there.
Category: Fix it-fic, AU
Summary: “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”- W.I. Thomas
Warnings: Angsty Angst, some mindfuckery
Disclaimer: Do not own. Wish I did, though. I could make them do all sorts of kinky stuff.
A/N: Keywords for this fic are ‘patience’ and ‘payoff’. Title credit goes to my epically awesome beta slayerkitty, who deserves a round of applause for sitting through my long rants, freak outs, smut-related giggles and posting hesitation.
Prologue / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 31 / 32 / 33 / 34 / 35 / 36 / 37 / 38 / 39 /
Chapter 40: Tick, tick, tick, boom
“Dr. Oliver!” Reid stopped dead in his tracks, cursing inwardly to himself. So close, he thought. So close to the locker room and so close to escaping this abomination that carried the name of Memorial Hospital for the rest of the day, and getting ready for his date with Luke.
He turned around, facing Bob with a sneer and he mustered up –or, well, grumbled- some sort of greeting. His feet hurt as he did, making him wince at the sting he felt as a result of the six hour lasting surgery on Mr. Avery. The surgery had been trying and stressful, as Charles had crashed twice, but successful in the end. Despite his exhaustion, he felt high, overwhelmed by the rush of surgery and pleased and satisfied with the achievement and the confirmation of his own abilities. He liked knowing he was the best surgeon out there and every accomplishment proved that the only match for him was himself.
“Congratulations! I heard Mr. Avery will probably make a full recovery.”
“Of course he will, he had me as his surgeon.” Reid stated as if it was the most obvious truth. In a way he believed that it was.
Bob’s face lit up, his blue eyes sparkling with amusement. It made him look much younger. “Always so humble, doctor. Is your shift over now?”
“I am on my way out. Dr. Hughes, about the other day… Me blowing up at you like that was uncalled for, I can admit that-”
“Dr. Oliver, you don’t have to apologize-”
“I’m not apologizing for anything. But Luke Snyder and I talked and he explained the situation. And I understand why you didn’t tell me. But, one thing… No more calls behind my back. None. I don’t care if it’s the president or the Pope asking you personally not to tell me. Treat me like I’m in charge or don’t bother including me at all.”
Dr. Hughes stared at him for a long moment, taking in Reid’s words as if he couldn’t decide whether or not he wanted to bow down in front of Reid or punch him in the face. For a split second, Reid faltered and considered taking back his words, but the split second thought was overruled by his better judgment. Because when had he ever backed down from a fight? When had he started compromising in favor or taking what was his?
“Alright, Reid, fair enough.” Bob answered after a while. Reid felt a bit of relief course through him, as sure as he’d been that Bob would give in. But with Luke and Bob, Reid didn’t know what to expect. Somehow, they could both read him like an open book or play him like an instrument, and he knew the stakes were high, life-changing even.
The neuro wing could be another highlight in his career, maybe the biggest yet, and it felt as though Bob and Luke could take it away from him if he so much as ate the wrong kind of breakfast. The amount of control they both seemed to have over him, the feelings and the empathy they were forcing on him made him feel so uneven, so unlike the way he’d been living his life before meeting them.
“But you’re going to have to run that by Luke Snyder, too. He was very adamant about being part of the decision making process. And with a sizeable donation like his, I think listening to him would be a very good idea.”
“I’m fine with that, with him being a part of it. He explained his reasons for wanting to be involved and that’s good enough for me.” Reid replied. His entire body ached, and he had to repress the urge to frantically seek out the doorknob behind him.
“Oh, really? So you two worked everything out? It seemed to really get to you that he was funding the wing.”
“We had a good, long chat about it, yes. Look, Dr. Hughes, I really want to get out of here, as much as I’m enjoying this inane bit of chit chat.”
Bob held up his hand. “Just one more thing and then I’ll get out of your way, Reid… From my talk with Luke, I kind of got the impression that there’s more going on between the two of you. Am I right?”
“Whatever is going on between myself and Luke isn’t anyone’s business, but mine and Luke’s.”
“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong. If you and Luke Snyder are involved in some way, then it might affect the neurological wing and I should know about it.”
“Luke and I…” Reid rolled his eyes as if he couldn’t even believe himself for saying what he was about to say. “I’m only going to say this once. I like him, he likes me and we want to spend time together. It’s as simple as that.”
“You’ve actually found someone you want to spend time with? My, my, Reid, there’s hope for you yet.” It started out as a simple chuckle, as Bob patted Reid’s shoulder, but it became a laugh, boisterous and loud, as he saw the thin line Reid’s lips were forming, a smile nowhere in sight.
“What the hell does that mean?” Reid muttered, as soon as Bob had calmed down.
“What it means, is that since we’ve met, all I’ve ever heard you talk about is medicine.”
“We’re doctors, why is that bad?”
“Because you need more in your life than that. Loving what you do is nice, but this job is so much harder if you don’t have anyone to come home to.”
“Thanks for that wise lesson, Dumbledore. But I think I’ll stick to what I know best, and you can do the same.”
“Being 600 years old.”
“All I’m saying, is that if you think Luke could be someone you’d want to come home to, you should hold on to it. It’s that simple.”
Luke felt his heart beating all the way into his throat. His hand slightly trembled as he undid the last button of his dress shirt, the fabric feeling like a prison or a cage and the plastic buttons being too much to bear. He picked out another shirt, one that felt less like a prison. It was dark blue, so dark it was almost black.
A part of him felt like cancelling, like calling Reid and cancelling their date and then hiding under the covers until he felt like himself again. The rest of him, however, the hungry, horny and aching part of him, screamed for Reid as if only he could set Luke free from the captivity his shirt offered.
Their first date was in an hour, and he was so nervous he felt like one touch could unravel him completely. He’d been like this all day, or, if he were honest with himself, since Reid had left on Sunday night.
Luke smiled to himself, fondly remembering that evening. After he had invited Reid in, they’d played chess, and Reid had won every single time. No matter what Luke did, Reid had kept the upper hand, always at least three moves ahead of him. And yet, Luke had enjoyed every minute of losing to Reid. Reid had told him about his childhood, about playing competitive chess until he’d decided it was enough one day. He’d learned so much about Reid and from him just by watching him.
Luke had relished in it, in watching Reid focus solely on their chess match. Reid’s moves had seemed effortless and without a single ounce of hesitation, as he beat Luke without batting an eye. Luke had studied his hands throughout the matches, enthralled by the way Reid handled the chess pieces. It had somehow made him even more attractive.
Luke could only imagine those hands on his body, exploring every inch of him with such great detail and attention. He loved the way Reid’s hands felt whenever they kissed, how he would run his hands through Luke’s hair or bring Luke closer to him by pressing on the small of his back. Reid’s fingers were skilled, so, so skilled and lean and long and a part of his steady, surgeon hands and Luke wanted those hands on him, all over him, teasing and luring him to give in completely.
“Looks like someone’s hoping to get some tonight…” Luke turned around, startled by his little sister interrupting his thoughts. She stood in the doorway, leaning against it with a mischievous smirk on her face, as Luke frowned at her.
“Faith!” His mother stood behind her, throwing her a scolding glance, but smiling at the sight of Luke. “You look so handsome, honey!”
Faith rolled her eyes, more similar to her mother than she’d ever want to know, and walked into Luke’s room, as Lily followed. Sitting down on Luke’s bed, she took one long look at him, from top to bottom, and plastered a much too wide grin on her face. It almost looked sincere. Once you can fake that, you can fake anything.
“I’m just stating a fact. Just look at him, Mom! Tight jeans, a shirt that shows off just the right amount of chest hair… He wants to get inside Noah’s doctor’s pants!” Both Luke and Lily began to protest, but Faith went on. “We’re all adults- fine, almost all adults here, no need to pretend all they’re gonna do is hold hands…” She turned to Luke, looking at him as if she was much older and wiser than everyone gave her credit for. “So, am I right, Luke?”
“None of your business,” Luke said, narrowing his eyes at her, as he straightened his shirt. His fingers still trembled. “And please don’t call him ‘Noah’s doctor’… You can call him Reid. It’s just a date, that’s it. Really.”
“Then why did you cut your hair?” Faith asked, smirking at him as if she’d caught him red-handed, doing something he shouldn’t.
Luke ran his hand through his hair, still trying to get used to the shorter hairdo. He’d gotten a haircut the day before, needing a change, something drastic to go along with this new step toward being with Reid. “It was getting too long. It has nothing to do with Reid. Really. Tonight is just me and Reid and good food. Just us, alone- together, having dinner. Eating food. That’s it.”
This time, it was Lily who smirked, to Faith’s delight. “Who are you trying to convince?”
“You are not wearing that, Reid Oliver!” Katie shrieked, as Reid walked into the living room in his black sweater and matching dark jeans. Katie shook her head fiercely, shooting Reid a disapproving look. “Turn around and take it off!”
Reid groaned audibly. Katie was getting on his nerves more than usual, and even though he mostly –secretly- liked that aspect of her personality, he couldn’t see the irony or humor in it tonight. “This is the third time you’ve said that and I’m starting to run low on patience. Screw this, I look good in this and I’m wearing it.”
“You don’t want to look good, Reid.”
“Oh, really? I don’t?” Reid’s voice was drenched in disbelief and annoyance. Not for the first time since they had met, he questioned their friendship.
“No, this is a date. You want to look better than just good. You should wear the grey one.”
“The grey one? No, I’m not-” Reid paused mid sentence, rolling his eyes. “Fine. Why that one? Is this part of another one of your conspiracy theories? Something other than the ‘Luke-is-Reid’s-lobster’-theory?”
“Nope. The grey one brings out the color of your eyes. Hugs you in all the right places. And, most importantly, it’s easy to undo.” She grinned, brightly, as she wiggled her eyebrows at him. It was as though she was about to break out into song. It was creepy and unsettling and much too filled with glee and other things that made him uncomfortable.
“There will be none of that. No undoing of anything. Luke’s not ready for that. Just me and Luke and food. Good food.”
“Good food and an apartment all to yourself.”
“We’re just going to talk, get to know each other, whatever people do on first dates. Get your mind out of the gutter, Goldilocks.” Reid said, as his hand tapped against his leg repeatedly, tapping an unsteady rhythm. He thought of Sunday night, of how he’d caught Luke staring at him once or twice, lingering on his hands every single time. He’d seen the heat in Luke’s eyes, the glint of darkness as his eyes swept over Reid’s features, and the eagerness and hunger after they’d kissed goodnight.
He knew Luke was still considering, still unsure of everything. Like a ticking time bomb. Tick, tick, tick, boom. What he’d seen in Luke’s eyes had spoken volumes. Luke didn’t have much of a poker face. He seemed to wear his heart on his sleeve and Reid wondered if that was why meeting Luke for the first time had hit him so hard. Everything Luke had been feeling in that moment, all traces of desire and want and longing and hunger and all consuming thirst had been out there, written all over his face and transferring onto and into Reid like a parasite. Reid had recognized the parasitic feeling as hunger at first, this need to take Luke and devour him, but he now saw it as so much more. Love was a parasite of some sort, after all.
And Luke wanted him. His stance on being with Reid was that time bomb. It ticked and ticked on, but Luke wanted him. Maybe –probably- as much as Reid wanted him back. He’d seen it in Luke’s eyes, how every second of being near Reid changed his stance, changed whatever he still needed to consider.
“Oh, my God... Reid, are you nervous?” His head snapped up at the sound of Katie’s voice. She looked at him as if she was analyzing his every move, his every breath, and was hanging on his every word just to catch him doing something, anything, to prove herself right. She needed proof for her theory, proof to confirm the idea she’d already constructed in her mind, and Reid knew nothing he would do or say would convince her otherwise.
“I’m a genius, geniuses don’t get nervous. Why would I be nervous?”
“Because it’s Luke.” She mentioned Luke’s name as though Reid didn’t know who he was dating. Of course Reid knew it was Luke. He was so aware of it being Luke that he the thought of Luke made his stomach flip and his palms sweat and completely covered him from head to toe like a dangerous security blanket. He hadn’t let himself think about it until after Mr. Avery’s surgery, and now that he’d made it through the surgery successfully, his nerves were finally catching up with him.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know what I mean… Look, Reid, stop twitching and change into a different shirt, any shirt, and Jacob and I will wait for you. But don’t take too long, we have to get going as well.”
“Oh, right. Your date with Doogie Hughes.”
“It’s not a date. Jacob will be right there with us.”
“All Doogie will be thinking of, is what inappropriate things he wants to do to the kid’s mommy. Trust me, it’s a date.”
“Chris and I are just friends. He’s in the ‘friend zone’ and he knows that. I like him, but I’m not ready.”
“And if he tries to put the moves on you?”
“Then Jacob will suddenly be in need of a diaper change. It’s that simple.” Katie answered, clasping her hands together. She glanced at her watch, pursing her lips together in an attempt not to let her face break out into a grin again. She failed. “Now get dressed, doc, Luke should be here any minute now.”
Reid sighed, walking toward his bedroom to change into something else. Just as Reid turned the corner, the doorbell rang, and Katie quickly made her way to the door before Reid could notice. She opened the door, only to be met with the sight of Luke, who looked like as much of a wreck as her roommate. But a good wreck. In fact, Katie had never found Luke so attractive. His hair was shorter and styled perfectly, and his dark shirt clung to his chest and broad muscles like a second layer of skin.
“Luke, you’re early! Come in, make yourself at home. Reid is just getting ready. Would you like something to drink?” Katie rattled on, and on, as Luke just stared at her wordlessly. His throat was dry, and he could only nod. He plopped down on Katie and Reid’s white couch, trying to listen to whatever was coming out of Katie’s mouth, but finding himself unable to pay attention to anything but the thought of Reid in his bedroom.
“Luke… Luke?!” It took Katie four times to get his attention. She snapped her fingers and he finally looked at her, blushing as he did.
“I’m sorry, Katie- It’s not that I’m not paying attention, it’s just that-“
“I’m not Reid.”
“No, no, that’s not it. I guess I’m a little nervous, that’s all. I’ve never done this, the whole dating thing. Noah and I never had a real first date, not like this. And Reid seems so different. It feels different.”
“Reid is… More. I know that, in theory, I’ve only known him for a short time, and I really don’t know that much about him- Although I guess that’s what first dates are for. But it’s weird, too, you know? It feels like I’ve known him much longer, and calling this a first date seems wrong.”
“I know, I know- I’m over thinking this.”
Katie sighed and smiled, covering Luke’s hands with her own to stop his from tapping on his knee. “ I can’t help it- I don’t know how to approach him, this thing between us.”
“I don’t think Reid knows that either. He’s clueless when it comes to you.”
Luke laughed. “Well, the feeling’s mutual. I don’t even know what to do around him. I want to ask him a million questions and just get to know him, take things slow, but whenever I kiss him, I completely forget about that and-”
Reid entered the living room, interrupting Luke and Katie, as his hands fidgeted with the buttons of his shirt. “Katie, these damned buttons…” Reid looked up from his shirt and noticed Luke on the couch, staring at him with the same intensity he’d seen on Sunday. “Luke. You’re early.”
Reid’s words didn’t reach Luke. What did reach him, though, was the amount of skin and muscles he could see from where he was sitting. Reid’s shirt wasn’t buttoned at all, exposing his chest as the grey shirt hung loosely on his shoulders. He let his eyes explore Reid’s chest, lingering on the downward trail of light, auburn hair.
Reid looked down at his chest and back up at Luke. Any doubts he’d had before that about Luke wanting him or not, flew out the window. He swore he could hear the ticking of that time bomb becoming louder and louder.
Tick, tick, tick, boom.