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Rtruffles and I once discussed this idea and some drabble happened for it
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Here is the rest of 9 (sorry for this!)
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OMG-I realized today Chapter 9 was missing from the story on my home page(smacks head)!!!!

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Title: Sticks and Stones
Author: Marsabi
Summary: Halloween fic
Warnings: Kink, Sexual, Hurt and Comfort
Rating: Nc-17

Continued here:

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Author: Marsabi
Title: Sticks and Stones
Pairing: Luke and Reid
Summary: Halloween
Rating: NC-17
Warning: Angst, Explicit Sex, Kink, Hurt/Comfort
A/N: This fic was written for [livejournal.com profile] lure_prompts
It was loosely inspired by Hawthorne’s story “The Birthmark,” and the song “Somebody’s Watching Me.” All the smut is a belated birthday gift for[livejournal.com profile] rhiannonhero Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] _alicesprings for the beta read!

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Title: Wake Me Up (Team Angst)
Author: Marsabi
Pairing: Zach/Shaun
Summary: Zach and Shaun are living together with Cody, when a misunderstanding threatens their happiness. Thanks to Rhiannonhero for looking it over for me
Rating : NC-17
Warning: Sexual Content and Angst

This fic was written for Team Angst for Shelter Diner. Please rate the fic here:
http://www.livejournal.com/poll/?id=1773049
Thank you!

Wake me up

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Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.



Chapter 13 (last)


It wasn’t going well. Reid tried to do it all quietly, but Bob refused to listen.

“I’m perfectly fine," he kept on insisting.

He wouldn’t take the test and Reid had to get Kim involved. She’d forced Bob to do it, all the while shooting looks of hatred at Reid. Kim turned her back on him and made some phone calls, and Reid just paced the hallway. They’d given each other space for a good hour. Kim kept the phone glued to her ear and made more calls, and Reid had fallen back into his old habit of doing math problems in his head. Every so often, Reid took out his own phone and checked for messages. None. Well, what had he expected? He had been pretty harsh at Java. He had no right to think Luke would call him. Even if he did, nothing had changed. Reid hugged his arms to his body. He walked the halls some more. His scrubs felt sweaty and Reid tugged at them, an unwanted image of following Bob around in his first pair of scrubs came to his mind like a painful flash. Reid turned, almost knocking his body into the wall, wanting to pound his hand into it or butt his head against it or do something, anything, to release all this feeling zeroing in on him. Reid squeezed his eyes shut. He would control himself. He picked up some stupid magazines and paged through them. Let me be wrong, Reid thought, let me be wrong.

Some more time passed. Suddenly, waiting, Reid understood what Luke had been trying to tell him about building a family wing. Waiting in a hospital sucked so much. Families needed a place to go, to grieve, pray, cry or whatever. Luke had been so right. Thinking about him, Reid held himself motionless, trying to ward off the wave of pain moving through him. Reid blinked hard, a burning feeling behind his eyes. Even if Luke hated him now, Reid just wanted him here. He wanted to hold him, to hear his name on Luke’s lips, and to be in Luke’s arms.

Finally, Bob came back and the results arrived. It was confirmed. Bob had senile dementia. It was still in the early stages, but seeing the results, Reid had to lean against the hospital wall. Bob took the news without expression, locking his office door, leaving Kim and Reid to face one another.

“Did you have to push all this so soon?” Kim said to him. “Why couldn’t we do the test without his knowledge? “

“Because I needed his consent,” Reid said, speaking to her like a dimwitted child. “And because Bob should know what’s going on.”

“And now he’s in his office devastated,” Kim snapped. She yanked off one of her earrings and glared at him. “You know, I think we should just slow all of this down and wait a moment. “ Kim ran her hand through her short hair. “I need to think.”

“Wait?” Reid replied. “Wait for what? Bob to start drooling? Incontinence?” Reid shook his head. “Bob needs treatment to begin right away.”

“This is a delicate matter,” Kim argued. “Bob is a proud man. “ She tightened her lips. “And frankly, Dr. Oliver, I question your motives.”

“My motives?” Reid gave her a look like she was certifiable.

Kim nodded emphatically at him. “Yes. You come to me, insisting on tests, making all kinds of assumptions about Bob.“

“I’m not assuming anything. We have the test results.”

“-And I’m not promising you anything,” Kim cut him off. “I want to take a long moment and examine the situation clearly.”

“Bob needs treatment,” Reid said again. "Right now. He can’t wait for you to go to high tea with the gals and mull it over. By the time you think about it, you’ll be pushing Bob in a wheelchair and chewing his food for him."

Kim gasped. “You're an awful man. I have no idea what Bob sees in you. You don’t know what Bob needs; I’m his wife. And I want another opinion. I’m going to call Christopher in Africa and –“

Reid groaned. “If you’re going to get a second opinion at least get an expert's,” Reid said. “Not some idiot relation’s bad advice.”

“Chris is not an idiot.”

“Sorry, was that not PC? Intellectually challenged,” Reid corrected himself.

“I ought to flatten you!” Kim exclaimed.

“Well, have at it,” Reid snapped back. “I’ve been hit for less important reasons –“

“Okay, that’s enough! Stop right now!” Luke was suddenly there, grabbing Reid, dragging him away from an irate Kim.

“Wait,“ Reid protested, but Luke shoved him down the hall and into his office.

Luke let him go and closed the door.

“You had no right to do that. You have no idea what was going on there.”

“Maybe not,” Luke agreed. “But I know that making Kim crazy isn’t the answer to any problem you might be having with her. Can you just calm down?” Luke took his shoulder.

“Can you just mind your own business?” Reid rolled his eyes. He broke away from Luke’s grip.

“Whatever it is can be worked out with Bob’s help -“

“Bob can’t help,” Reid barked out. “I need to help Bob. “

Luke’s eyes darkened with concern. He reached out to Reid again, attempting to calm him. Reid dodged the touch. He couldn’t bear it. He staggered farther away.

“What’re you doing here anyway?” Reid’s voice was raw.

Luke shrugged. “I have a board meeting about the new wing.” Luke puffed out his chest defensively. “I didn’t come to bother you.”

They faced each other, unable to avoid looking at each other any longer.

Reid couldn’t help the disappointment at Luke’s words, his heart skidding to a stop.

“But since I am here,“ Luke said. “Why don’t you tell me how bad is Bob?”

“I’ll give you the short version. Bob needs my help. Kim is an idiot. You pulled me away from a fist fight.”

“Reid,” Luke half-smiled. “I know you’d never physically fight with Kim.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” Reid grumbled. “I was prepared to clock her.”

Luke frowned. ”Then Bob must be showing symptoms already? ”

Reid shook his head, his eyes glistening a moment. “I can’t talk about it. It’s privileged.” Then he realized what Luke just said. “Wait, you know?”

Luke nodded. “This is Oakdale, Reid . The whole town knows. Kim called Barbara and Margo. That’s all it took. Margo called everybody else, including Casey. He got in touch with me. So you don’t need to keep quiet. Talk to me.“ Luke knitted his brows together. “How bad off he is. Reid?”

Reid stood silently, unable to speak, his fingers digging into his skin.

As usual, Luke easily understood what Reid couldn’t say out loud. Luke drew in a breath. “God. Can you help him?”

Reid threw up his hands. He began to pace the room. “Sort of. There are medications, memantine or donepezil. Vitamins.“ Reid swallowed hard. “He’ll need haloperidol too for his mood changes; things that might help for awhile, but only awhile.”

“Well,” Luke said. “That’s good. It’ll help him. Help his symptoms.”

“No it’s not,” Reid snapped. “It’s temporary. Do you understand? He can’t be fixed. I can’t cut open his brain and solve this. There isn’t a magic pill or a surgery to help him and over time his mind - “ Reid broke off.

He stumbled over to the wall, leaning against it for support, and ran his hands over his face.

“How is Bob taking it?” Luke asked gently, and took a small step in Reid’s direction.

“How do you think?” Reid rolled his eyes. “He doesn’t want to admit it’s happening.“ Reid frowned at Luke. “He’s a doctor, after all.”

“What does that mean?”

Reid let out an exasperated noise. “You can’t be a doctor and a patient. It doesn’t work that way. “ He paced back and forth again, pinching his nose. “We don’t have illnesses, we treat them.”

“That’s stupid,” Luke protested. “Doctors can get sick – they aren’t Gods.”

“You don’t get it,” Reid said, his voice cracking.

“Once a doctor is patient -” Reid just shook his head. "All the lines are blurred. And with Bob, it’s only a matter of time. I’ve been looking at the research, trying -“ Reid closed his eyes a moment. “I can’t figure out what to do.”

Reid put his hands to his temples and then slowly opened his eyes again. His eyes felt bloodshot. Reid felt a tug of desperation as he looked at Luke, his hands twitched, his insides contracted painfully. He’d always been so sure of what he wanted and where he was going, and now Reid felt like his life was somersaulting. He kept his eyes on Luke, not moving.

Catching his lip with his teeth, Luke came closer, making a sympathetic sound and giving Reid a tender glance. “Reid-“ Luke said quietly, his eyes soft, he tilted his head to one side. “You can’t fix everyone.”

“Why not?” Reid answered. He breathed deeply, his chest rising and falling.

Luke’s face was etched with compassion, and he started swiftly toward him again.

Reid jumped back, putting up a hand to stop Luke. “No, no, no,“ Reid mumbled to himself. He shook his head vigorously, banging his forehead with his hand. “This was all a mistake.” He looked at Luke. “Why did I let Bob bring me here? Reminding me of all the times he helped me out as a kid? The medicine he taught me.“ Reid swallowed hard, choking on his feelings. “Why did I ever come here and have to see him again?” He looked at Luke. “And see you-“

Reid stopped talking, unable to finish his sentence, his eyes lingering on Luke’s.

“Bob won’t be able to practice medicine soon. His entire identity as a doctor will be just gone.” Reid could barely push the words out of his mouth. Reid gazed at Luke, and he knew his face must be revealing too much by the way Luke was gazing back at him, starting again to come closer.

“But Bob isn’t just a doctor,” Luke said, running his tongue over his lips. “He’s a person too.” Moving slowly, his eyes fixed on Reid’s, Luke closed the distance between them. He reached out a hand and cupped Reid’s face, Luke’s fingers stroking gently. “Bob can hold onto his family. He can hold onto the people who love him.”

At Luke’s touch, a violent shudder ripped through Reid’s entire body, his ears rang, his skin felt feverish, and Reid opened his mouth, trying to gather his ragged thoughts. Luke wavered toward him, and it was pointless to resist.

Reid lunged forward, seeking solace in Luke, kissing him so hard their teeth clinked. Luke's hands were all over him now, and Reid couldn't get enough. They pulled and tugged, moving their shirts up and opening buttons, getting skin under their fingers. They kissed again and again, breathing heavily, struggling and grunting for more contact, more flesh.

Luke’s hands were at Reid’s zipper, yanking it down, and then his hand was there, firm, soft, warm, and stroking Reid’s dick frantically. They stumbled for a moment to get their pants all the way down, pushing their clothes off, and then Reid let out a growl, cupping Luke’s ass and lifting him onto the desk.

Luke’s hands sought out Reid’s skin, gliding over his chest, digging his thumbs at Reid’s nipples, pinching them. Reid groaned and pulled Luke’s body closer, biting his ear and his neck, tasting the saltiness of Luke’s skin. They scratched and grabbed at each other, wildly intertwining their limbs, needing more.

Luke bucked his hips up, as his hands reached around to grasp Reid’s lower back. Reid pushed his hand under Luke’s ass again, taking hold of it. With his other hand, Reid spat into his palm and his fingers found Luke’s dick, his balls, his hole. All Reid could think about was getting inside Luke’s body. He pumped his hand over Luke’s erection again, getting him ready, feeling it harden more, caressing the silken warmth.

Luke made a guttural sound low in his throat, and the hand at Reid’s back clawed into his skin. Reid ground his mouth against Luke’s one more time, tasting his lips and tongue. His fingers pushed in and everything inside of Reid felt unshackled. Luke whimpered at the rough finger fucking, but he spread his legs wider. Reid kissed him again, demandingly and thrust another finger inside Luke’s hole. Luke hit at Reid’s shoulders, pounding at Reid, and then Luke rose up his body and threw back his head, moaning, “Yes!” Reid increased the pressure of his fingers against Luke's prostate, and Luke’s hard dick began to leak.

Withdrawing his hand, Reid gave Luke’s cock one hard suck, and then he broke away, fumbling for his wallet and tearing the foil package with his teeth. With a low keening sound, Reid entered Luke quickly, almost falling into his body. All of Reid’s bottled feelings exploded into passion as he rutted in and out of Luke, and Luke scrabbled at his back, trying to drag him in tighter and harder. Reid’s body pinned Luke’s, and he pummeled into him. Reid charged on, knocking the breath from his own lungs, slapping his body at Luke’s. He couldn’t get enough of him; he needed all of him, every thrust, every inch. He could never be close enough. Reid clutched Luke to him, giving him everything, fucking him raw. Luke’s dick was trapped at Reid’s stomach, hot and pulsing, until finally Luke gasped and a shudder ripped through him, his cum streaking out at Reid’s belly, chest, and even his neck. Reid’s own orgasm followed quickly, rocking his entire body, and he burrowed his face in Luke's neck, riding out the aftershocks, trembling and feeling emotional in a way that hurt and scared him, until they both were still.

“Reid?” Luke asked, lifting his head, his expression vulnerable and disorientated.

Reid held him, both of their bodies slick with sweat, and rubbed his cheek against Luke’s. But Luke rolled out from under Reid, pulling their sticky bodies apart, and carefully climbed off the desk. He didn't look at Reid as he put on his underwear and pants.

“Luke-“ Reid stared at him, watching him dress. Reid sawed his finger up and down at his jaw. He wanted to touch him all over again, but gently this time. He had done it all wrong. He should have been tender and sweet, not rough and crazy. He wanted to worship Luke with his body, suck his cock, slowly, all night. He wanted to get down on his knees and grovel, if that’s what it took. Luke was standing right in front of him, but he could easily walk out the door and disappear, and if Luke left, he’d take all the important parts of Reid with him.

“What?” Luke said, and jammed his hands into his pockets. The room smelled of sex, the papers on Reid’s desk all fallen away. Luke’s hair was mussed, anger had tightened his lips.

Reid, still naked, and sweating with fear, exertion, and love, stared at him.

“I’m not a boy,” Luke said, his jaw clenched. “I knew what I was doing on the roof that day. I know what I’m doing now.”

Reid nodded, swallowing hard. He wasn’t looking into the eyes of a boy, but the face of a man.

“Sorry,” Reid voice was strained, the word awkwardly stumbling off of his tongue, but he met Luke’s gaze steadily.

Just the simple act of looking at Luke’s face again, the act of looking at his expressive mouth, looking into his eyes, so naked with their wistful expression, the act of looking at his hair all kicked up in deliberate spikes that begged to be played with, looking at his creamy skin that demanded to be licked, looking at Luke and seeing the hidden pieces inside of him, just looking at Luke, all of Luke ,the whole of him, filled Reid with a fierce need to acknowledge what was still between them, always there, and to make Luke forever, irrefutably, his.

Luke frowned and shifted his weight. “That’s all you have to say?”

“Why ruin a sincere apology with a lot of cheap excuses?”

Luke snorted at that and Reid offered him a glimmer of a smile.

“When are you going to admit that you need me?” Luke asked. ”Cause you do.” But there was a slight question in his voice.

Reid shook his head, smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe a little.”

They looked at each other. Luke rubbed his sleeve across his nose. He watched as Reid threw his clothes back on.

“You look terrible, by the way.” Luke told him.

“You don’t.” Reid answered. He let his gaze sweep over Luke’s body.

Luke sucked on his lips and just stared at Reid. Both of them grew still a moment. Luke’s expression was full of yearning but he remained motionless, and Reid knew it was up to him, and even though his legs were shaking, he didn’t take his eyes off of Luke.

Reid approached him slowly, his every step heavy, his heart hammering, his hand out. “I’m not good at all this. I’ll forget your birthday. I’ll work too much. I’m pretty much crap at romance. And if we do this thing, really do it…If I put myself out there, it’s got to be for good, for keeps. I can’t do it halfway because I’m just not that kind of guy and I don’t work like that. And the only thing I understand about relationships is they can’t be calculated like math problems, so I’ll probably- ”

“Reid.”

“What?”

“Breathe,” Luke advised.

Luke’s face softened as Reid neared. He opened his arms and Reid slipped in, nuzzling his lips at Luke’s collarbone, holding his waist.

“I know who you are,” Luke said. He ran his fingers through Reid’s hair and then down the nape of his neck. “And I don’t want halfway either.”

Reid looked into Luke’s eyes. Reid inhaled and then exhaled painfully.

Luke touched his cheek gently. “Trust me.” He leaned in and their foreheads touched.

“I’m trying,” Reid said.

Reid felt Luke’s hand snake around him firmly.

“I get that you’re afraid, “ Luke whispered. “But you have me, all of me.“

Reid’s body trembled. He managed a nod.

“All those years with Noah, it never felt right,“ Luke murmured, “and the moment you came back I figured it out.”

“What?” Reid asked, pulling back slightly, so that he could look into Luke’s eyes.

“That you stole my heart when I was just a kid,“ Luke answered, “and you never gave it back.”

His heart tightening in response, Reid kissed him softly, his mouth barely touching Luke’s at first, hovering. The kisses were light and sweet for a moment, then Luke opened his mouth wider and Reid pressed his lips to Luke’s, seeking the warm, true taste of Luke’s tongue. When he released Luke, Reid noticed Luke’s lips were swollen and wet, and his eyes were shining brilliantly at him. Reid traced a finger down Luke’s face.

“I love you,” Reid said simply.

“I know,” Luke said. “I’ve always known.”

They kissed again, capturing each other’s lips in a promise.

***



6 weeks later

“I should step down,” Bob said, waving Reid into his office. “It would be for the good of the hospital. Memorial has to come first.”

“Bullshit,” Reid retorted, closing the door. “This place would fall apart without you.” He went over to Bob’s desk, picked up his ham and cheese sandwich, and took a bite. “This isn’t bad. Is it from Al’s?“ Not waiting for Bob to answer, Reid ate some more. “And you’re not going to step down, not yet.“ Reid talked as he chewed. “Don’t let those old buzzards bother you. “

“Those old buzzards on the board are all younger than me,” Bob sighed. “And they have a right to question my ability to run the hospital.”

“Your medication is working, right?” Reid half-smiled at Bob’s nod. He had prescribed the combination himself, and it seemed to have Bob’s symptoms controlled. “Then forget them.”

Reid knew Bob faced difficulties in the future, such was the nature of his illness. Illness had no sentimental side, no sense of fairness, and it would pursue Bob with a steady detachment and a stubborn relentlessness for the rest of Bob’s life, but Reid was ready to fight back at every step, and he’d rather attend a thousand trustee dinners or kiss every phony ass in Oakdale than admit defeat. He would see Bob through this the best he could and he had to believe that the fight make some difference-might give Bob the one gift he could offer-more time.

“Reid,” Bob paused, stroking his jaw. “I am not sure how to say this, but I wanted to thank you for all that you did for me, son. I really –“

“Improve the food around here, keep the nurses off my back, and that’s thanks enough,” Reid waved his words away. Reid preferred not to have Bob speak, offer his gratitude, force Reid to acknowledge his own deep need to help Bob, or worse, force him to reveal the filial attachment he had for Bob in some schmaltzy moment of bonding.

Bob was about to reply, when Reid’s phone buzzed. He smiled down at the message from Luke requesting that Reid meet up with him as soon as Reid could get away.

Luke, on the other hand, could drop to his knees, show him some gratitude, and Reid wouldn’t object at all. Just last night, Reid had introduced Luke to a little light bondage, wrapping a tie around his eyes and another at his hands, and it been ridiculously hot having Luke at his mercy, writhing under his kisses, and helplessly ejaculating all over the sheets.

“Well?” Bob asked, and Reid blinked at him.

“What?” Reid said, tapping the side of his head with his fingers, clearing it.

“Nothing much,” Bob frowned at him sternly. “I was only asking you if you would perhaps consider being the next Chief of Staff here. Obviously, you have other important matters on your mind?”

“I thought we just agreed you’re not going anywhere.”

“Eventually, Reid, we both know the time will come.”

Reid said nothing to that, examining his hands a moment, thinking about how he would feel if they ever failed him.

“Memorial is a fine institution,” Bob said, ignoring Reid’s sudden smirk. “With you at the helm, it could be great.”

“I have to be honest, Bob. I don’t see myself pushing papers and calling meetings. Right now,” Reid finally answered. "Let’s just concentrate on your time as Chief. “

Bob nodded, a small smile on his face. “Fair enough, Doctor Oliver. While I am still Chief, it will give you time to hone those people skills of yours.”

Reid rolled his eyes. “Half the staff here are more qualified to serve coffee at Java or flip burgers at Al’s than be part of any hospital that I run.”

Bob shook his head and sighed at Reid. “I can see that this conversation is going nowhere. I guess I’d better stay healthy for a long time.”

“A very long time,” Reid agreed.


***

Reid arrived at the pond. As he got out of his car, he was still dressed in his blue scrubs, and the air had turned chilly, making Reid want a jacket. Hugging his body, Reid looked around. The water was surrounded by trees, vibrant with color, and there was Luke, sitting quietly, his knees pulled up to his chest, his cheek resting on his palm, eyes gazing worriedly out at the water.

“Hey,” Reid called, making Luke jump. “Got your text,” Reid said, walking over and kissing him hello. “What’s up?”

Luke kissed him back, but then sighed. He picked up a few pebbles and skipped them into the pond water. Reid waited patiently. He picked up a pebble too, feeling how smooth and cool it was in his fingers, and threw it across the water. They sat there awhile, shoulder-to shoulder. Finally, Luke stopped tossing in the pebbles and looked at him anxiously.

“Did you really get your last paycheck from the Mayo Clinic today?”

“Yep.” His old boss had been playing games, trying to make Reid reconsider. “Why?” Reid cocked his head at Luke. “Worried about my being able to wine and dine you in the style you’re accustomed to?”

Luke laughed at that, cuffing Reid on his head. “Idiot. And I pay for most of our dinners, which usually are cheeseburgers and shakes, hardly breaking my bank account.”

“I’m a cheap date,” Reid agreed.

“And you put out,” Luke teased, throwing back Reid’s old words at him. "That’s a plus.”

They laughed, but then Luke’s smile started to slip away again. He picked up another pebble and watched the ripples in the water. Reid watched him, his gut uneasily stirring. He reached out to touch Luke, massaging his arm, and Luke looked at him again, his eyes soft.

“What’s wrong?” Reid asked. He braced himself, trying to trust that Luke wasn’t disappointed in him somehow.

Luke shook his head. “I’m just thinking about all you gave up: leaving the Mayo Clinic, living at the hotel, your stuff in boxes, and working at Memorial, which you’ve told me a half dozen times is totally inadequate and not up to your standards at all. When you called and mentioned the paycheck, I realized,“ Luke paused, gulping hard. “I realized today that I’m being incredibly selfish.”

Reid merely raised his eyebrows. As far as he was concerned, the words selfish and Luke didn’t belong in the same sentence together.

Luke turned to him, his face full of guilt and doubt. “I never even discussed anything with you; I just assumed you’d be here with me. But I can move the foundation anywhere. You deserve to work and live in a place that makes you happy, Reid. “

“What’re you saying?” Reid narrowed his eyes. “That you’d leave here with me?”

Luke nodded. “I would. Or,“ he looked away, ducking his head. “If it’s too much too soon, I could visit you. Fly to wherever you are as much as you want.” Luke gave a wobbly smile. “As you’re always pointing out, I’m stinking rich.”

“Hell no!” Reid exclaimed. He gripped Luke by the shoulders. “I want you, all of you, “ he growled. “Twenty-four seven.”

Luke grinned at that, and he wiped some imaginary sweat from his brow. “Whew.“

He leaned into Reid, resting his head at Reid’s collarbone. “I don’t want to be apart from you either.” Luke eyes softened. “But I meant the rest. We can go, if you need to live and work elsewhere.”

Reid stared down at him. Luke, who loved this town and his family more than breathing, was offering to leave it all. For him.

Amazed and shocked, Reid said nothing. He stroked Luke’s hair and then rested his hand at the nape of Luke’s neck. Reid could feel the final resistance inside of him melting away. He slowly let the feeling of happiness, so new to him, wash over his body. Luke really did love him. Reid examined Luke’s tense face. Luke needed to be in Oakdale, and Reid would never force Luke to leave. He only wanted to give Luke what he needed, what he wanted.

“Reid?” Luke asked at his silence. “What are you, calculating math equations or something? This is the part where you talk back.”

Reid grunted, pretending he couldn’t speak. Luke nudged him, exasperated, making Reid give him a quick smile. Luke was so easy to rile up, and Reid liked to see his eyes flash, lips twist.

“What do you think about leaving?" Luke persisted.

“Well, I can’t just desert Memorial, even if the place is from the dark ages. My arrival did chase off the other neurosurgeon.”

“Oh.” Luke bit his lip. “That’s right.”

“As far as Memorial goes, you can bet your sweet ass that if I remain there, I plan to drag it into this century. After all, they now have a family wing being built, and they have the finest neurosurgeon in the country, so…”

“What modesty,” Luke said.

Reid ignored him. “When I’m through with it, other doctors will be begging to come and work in Podunk.”

“If anybody can get it to happen with sheer determination and huge ego, it would be you.”

Reid nodded emphatically. “And there’s Bob. He has a long road ahead. I should keep my eye on him. God knows, Kim will be of no use. She’s even calling Chris daily and I can’t let Doogie fly back to be in charge of Bob’s medication; he’s a complete moron.”

“Reid.” A small glimmer of hope was entering Luke’s eyes.

“What? “ Reid smiled quickly. “Kim stuck me on the phone with him the other day, and he hasn’t gotten any smarter. He approaches medicine like it’s an 8th grade history test- all memorization and no critical thinking. I don’t trust him.” Reid would have had a little more respect for Chris if he’d flown back to the States to be with Bob, or had even argued with Reid about Bob’s care. But Chris had been all false joviality on the phone, oozing charm, quoting medical statistics, and all that civility was sickening to Reid because in the end, Chris did nothing of use.

Luke just pursed his lips at him. “If he does visit, try and get along. “

Reid nodded. Since Chris was too selfish to actually get on a plane, it wouldn’t be a problem. Reid studied Luke. He had never expected to end up with him. He had never expected to have love in his life. He smiled at Luke wordlessly. His heart pounded just looking at him. Reid never wanted to do him wrong.

Reid scooped up Luke’s hand and held it firmly, Luke’s fingers threaded in his, palms together. “And let’s not forget the most important thing keeping me here.”

“What’s that?” Luke said eagerly, his eyes widening on Reid’s.

“Emma’s pies.”

Reid nearly laughed at Luke’s face. “Your cooking is pretty good too. And then there’s the crumb snatchers to consider.“ Reid shrugged. “I have to teach Natalie about blood and guts; I promised her.“ Reid looked out at the water. “And God knows we can’t leave Natalie and Ethan to the whims of your parents. “

“Reid,” Luke murmured. He hesitated, his face looked strained. “I admit I’d like to be here, and I’d miss my family. But I can’t let you do this just for me. You could be at Hopkins or Cleveland Clinic- anywhere.”

“And I can stay anywhere too,“ Reid argued, gazing at Luke steadily. “As long as I stay with you.”

Ignoring Luke’s startled gasp, Reid leaned in and kissed him, his lips coaxing Luke’s open, his tongue gentle in Luke’s mouth. Luke took a deep inhalation, and kissed him back, their arms holding each other, their bodies fitting, molding together. Reid could feel the steady beat of Luke’s heart at his own chest. He kissed Luke again; his fingers nestled at Luke’s face.

Luke pulled back slightly, searching Reid’s eyes. “I love you so much. And I love you for offering to stay here. But are you sure?” Luke chewed his lip.
Reid smiled, thinking that Luke looked pretty sexy when he bit down on that lower lip, his face hopeful.

“I know how much you hate Oakdale,” Luke added.

“I don’t hate it,” Reid finally admitted, rolling his eyes. “I mean, yeah, it’s a dump…But you know,” Reid shrugged at him. “ It’s the closest thing that I ever had to a home.”

Luke smiled then, that huge, blindingly beautiful smile of his, the one where his dimples appeared, his eyes lit up, and his face glowed, radiating joy; the one that was Reid’s favorite look of all. Reid put his fingers to the corner of Luke’s mouth and sucked in a shaky breath, and Reid knew beyond a doubt that Luke’s smile was all the welcome he’d ever need.


The End


Thank you for reading! I love this community lots and lots!
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.


Chapter 12

A third week began, and finally Reid was officially on vacation, free to spend all day and night with Luke. He teased Luke mercilessly about being stinking rich and able to make his own hours, but he was secretly happy to see Luke make time for him. Reid still attempted to downplay the vacation, and didn’t make a big deal out of it to Luke, because Reid wasn’t ready to examine his decision, or admit to himself what it might mean.

He tried to ignore the unexpected gurgle of weird happiness inside of him, whenever Luke smiled or kissed him or just came into the room. He tried to ignore how intoxicated he felt all the time being near him. Instead, Reid focused on each moment separately, refusing to look at it as a whole. The first day, they hung out watching baseball on television, arguing playfully over the better team, and after the game ended, Reid couldn’t resist wrapping his arms around Luke tightly, licking the hollow of his neck, driving him crazy, making Luke thrash and swear, and the unexpected profanity on Luke’s lips drove Reid crazy in return. He practically threw Luke onto the bed, stripped him naked, and began to furiously rim his sweet ass. The sex was fast and frantic and simply fantastic. They ordered pizza and stayed in bed the rest of the day, eating and arguing sports and screwing.

In bed and out, Luke continued to surprise Reid. Luke made the rest of the world seem far away, all his focus was on Reid, and when they were together like that, Reid felt like there was nothing else but them, and he tried not to think about how much he liked feeling that way.

The next day, Luke wanted a real “date.” So they went to a farmer’s market, wandering around with baskets, filling them with fresh fruit and cheese. They had a picnic under a gigantic tree, feeding each other fat, red grapes, and licking the juice off each other’s lips. It should have felt ridiculous, this romantic bull crap that Reid had always despised in romantic comedies and in the stories he overheard about other people's lives; instead it was fun and intimate, and Reid felt almost stupid that he'd never known.

Later, Luke insisted on apple picking, climbing up a tree and tossing apples down at Reid’s head, daring him to catch them all. Reid laughed at Luke’s face as he easily caught all the apples. When Luke climbed down, they shared one, crunching into it, passing it back and forth. After, they spent some time browsing in Old Town, all three stores, and then went to a movie. Reid had no idea what the film was about. Luke started kissing him, the moment the lights went out, and they didn't come up for air until the credits rolled.

The week flew by and each day was different. Time felt meaningless, elusive. It was so unlike Reid, but he hardly ever glanced at the clock or wore his watch the entire week. They made out by the pond for what seemed like hours, just kissing, causing a physical ache, that almost stung, all the way inside of Reid, from the roots of his hair down to his toes. That night, they’d delayed sex for awhile, just talking and laughing together. When they finally did embrace each other, it had been slow and sweet. They both tried to keep their eyes open, watching each other as long as possible, as their bodies moved against each other, connecting. Reid hated to say it, but it had been beautiful. He was sort of afraid it would always be that way, and he didn't know how he felt about that.

So he was relieved when on another night back at the hotel, they were so horny that they never made it to the bed and ended up fucking in a chair. Reid straddled Luke, grabbed at Luke’s chest hair, grinding up and down on him, with Luke’s cock up his ass. They screwed wildly until they both collapsed. As they stumbled from the chair to the bed, Luke immediately pressed his body into Reid’s for comfort, and then he fell into an exhausted sleep, tangled up in Reid’s arms.


***
Reid slept late the next day. He felt Luke nudging him a few times and calling his name, but Reid only swatted his hand away. He turned over and slept more. When he finally woke up, his hand immediately went to the pillow next to him. Luke wasn’t there.

Reid ran his fingers over the indented place where Luke’s head had been, and swallowed hard. He sat up, rubbing his eyes. There was a note propped on the dresser. Reid walked to it, reading Luke’s happy scrawl. He'd gone to the foundation to schedule some meetings for next week and wanted Reid to meet him at Java at nine.

Reid glanced at the clock; it was already 8:35.

Cursing, he hurried into the shower and got dressed. He hopped around on one foot, pulling on a sock, grabbing his jeans and zipping them up quickly, not bothering to do more than brush his teeth, slowing down for that despite his desire to rush. He combed his hair, ignoring the flyaway curls at his neck, and stuffed his wallet in his pocket. Reid felt a happy buzz inside of him at the thought of meeting Luke. He walked to his hotel door, and then winced. Damn it, if the little fucker hadn’t made him good and sore. An almost proud smile lit up Reid’s face, and he headed out.

As he entered Java, the place was packed. Of course, there really was only one coffee shop in the lousy town, and the coffee was merely second rate too. Reid scanned the line for Luke. Luke waved at him happily. He was already waiting for their coffee.

Reid felt his heart lift at the sight of him.

“Try to get a table,” Luke called out. “I’ll join you in a minute.”

Reid nodded, fighting off the crowd, and secured a table near the back. He picked up the morning Intruder off of the table, shaking his head over all of Oakdale’s nonsense, but reading it anyway.

“Hi there. We can’t find a table. May we join you?”

Reid glanced at the middle aged blonde in a tight little dress and her friend, a younger version of her.

“No. This table is taken.” Reid went back to the paper.

“It’s so crowded and you’re at a huge table," the women replied and then sat down. Reid’s mouth dropped open at her audacity.

“I said no.” He scowled. "Are you deaf or just stupid?”

They both ignored him, putting their purses on the one empty chair.

“Emily Stewart,“ she introduced herself. “And my sister, Ali.”

“We’re having a girls' morning,” the younger one, Ali, said chirpily.

“Doctor Reid Oliver.” He looked over at Luke, placing their order. “Find your own table.”

Emily scooted closer. “I like doctors just fine, especially handsome ones.”

“I’m gay,” Reid told her flatly.

Emily shrugged. “I’ve had worse challenges.”

“She really has.” Ali agreed. She took a sip of her coffee. “But hands off, Emily.”

“Why?” Emily pouted at her sister.

“He’s Luke’s.”

“Oh,” Emily looked over to Luke, who was paying for their coffees.

Reid frowned. “How did you know that?”

Ali shrugged, waving a hand at him. “Please it’s all over the hospital. I’m a nurse there. Don’t you remember the day I assisted you with that motorcycle accident?”

“Not really. All the nurses’ look alike to me.”

“Well, the nurses all know you. Everybody knows all about you and Luke. Why are you surprised? It's a small town. It’s like when mom hooked up with Bob that time, remember Emily? Everybody at Memorial knew.”

“Your mom?”

“Dr. Susan Stewart. She and Bob had this thing. I mean, it’s ancient history, but they were working the late shift together and-“

“Please,” Reid stopped her. “I can’t hear about your mother and Bob doing the horizontal mambo.”

Emily shrugged. “I thought you’d like to hear the dirt." She waved a hand at the Intruder. “You are reading my newspaper.”

“I’m not reading it,” Reid replied. “I was saving it for my cat’s litter box.” He handed it to Emily. “You should put some real articles into that trash.”

“Like what?”

Reid thought a moment. “Luke’s been wanting to write some articles on Oakdale’s blossoming gay community, how about giving him a shot?”

“What gay community?” Ali laughed.

Emily, however, looked interested. “I could use giving the Intruder some legitimacy; I’ll talk to him about it.”

“Hey!” Luke called out as if on cue, walking to them, balancing the coffees on a cardboard tray. “What are you guys doing here?”

“Just a sisters’ morning out,” Emily said. “And we’re checking out your new boyfriend too.”

Luke startled; he darted his eyes over to Reid.

Reid shrugged and took the coffee from him so that Luke could sit down.

“It’s all over the hospital,“ Ali said again, turning to Luke and stealing a few packets of sugar from Reid’s tray. “Liberty was telling everybody. She’s working there as a candy striper, you know.” Ali dumped two packets of sugar into her already light coffee and stirred.

“Liberty?” Luke said, scratching his ear. “How would she- “ Then his eyes widened. “Oh.” Luke made a face. “She’s my sort of cousin,” he told Reid.

“Of course she is.” Reid snorted. “Isn’t everybody?”

“And she lives with my Uncle Jack,” Luke continued.

“Oh,” Reid nodded, remembering the car incident.

“Yeah,” Luke said, ducking his head.

“Now that you mention it,” Emily said. “I did overhear Lily at Fashions whining about how Luke had a new boyfriend and she would soon be abandoned with no kids left in the nest. She was spending a bundle of cash to cheer herself up.”

“I’m not abandoning her -“ Luke exclaimed.

“Mom said she saw you guys making out at the movies, too,” Ali added. “I hope it was at least R rated.”

Luke and Reid met each other’s stunned faces. They’d been in some kind of dream world the past few weeks, oblivious to anybody but each other, but of course, all of Oakdale knew about them. Reid sighed. The week was coming to an end and he was already struggling with that, now whatever happened between him and Luke would be fodder for the gossiping morons of this one horse town. If this were a normal place, nobody would care about them at all. Why couldn’t they all just watch YouTube porn for kicks like everybody else?

Reid took a sip of his coffee; Luke had remembered to get him caramel flavoring. Reid snuck a glance at Luke and found he was already staring at him, a sweet smile across his face. Reid swallowed more coffee, unable to stop looking at Luke. Watching him, Luke licked his lips and Reid’s body clenched with desire. He stared intensely at Luke’s mouth and then met his eyes again.

“Whew,” Emily pretended to drag her palm across her forehead. “You two are hotter than my latte.”

“Totally steaming." Ali giggled in approval.

“Sorry,” Luke dropped his gaze. “We’re being rude.”

“No worries.” Ali grinned, she stood up and motioned for Emily to get up too. “But that’s our cue to leave.”

“No -“ Luke started," We don’t mind-“

“Yeah, we do. Go ahead and leave anytime,” Reid said to them.

Luke cuffed him on the side of the head. “He doesn’t mean it. Stay.”

Reid shot him an annoyed look. Luke wrinkled up his nose at Reid, trying to appear irritated, but looking amused instead.

“Ever since Casey left me, I’ve been so glad Emily is around,” Ali sighed.

“Well, I remember how devastated I was when he left me,” Emily replied.

“That must have been hard for you.” Luke nodded, his eyes wide and sympathetic, as if it were normal for two sisters to have dated the same guy.

"I'm feeling left out," Reid grumbled. "Everyone at this table has dated Casey but me. And he's pretty cute, if I recall correctly. Though, it was kind of dark out when I met him."

"Reid," Luke muttered, covering his smile with coffee. "He's joking. Forget it."

"Oh, well, you were just pretending to date Casey, Luke. Everyone knew that."

Reid narrowly avoided asking what the point had been of the whole charade then, and instead focused on grumpily drinking his coffee, and watching Luke’s charm bubble out of him easily, and the sisters lapped it up.

Now those two would never go. As if Luke sensed Reid’s mood, he slipped a hand underneath the table and rubbed up and down on Reid’s thigh. Reid turned to him, ignoring the conversation about Casey, and leaning in to nibble Luke’s ear. He gave Luke a hungry look, wanting to bed him right then and there.

“Reid!” Luke admonished, blushing. The hand on Reid’s leg, however, didn’t stop rubbing. Reid kissed the slope of Luke’s neck, letting his lips linger on his musky skin, letting Luke feel the force of his want.

“What?” Reid asked, looking only at Luke’s deep, sweet eyes.

Luke waved a hand toward Ali and Emily.

“Don’t mind us,“ Emily said. “I am all about a bitching make out session.” Emily leered.

“She is.“ Ali nodded. “Ask anybody in town. She’d join you if she could.“

Emily turned to her sister, a hand on her hip. “Oh, don’t act innocent - Miss Cheat on every potential fiancée in Oakdale. You’d grab these two and have a three-way in a minute.”

“At least I wasn’t hooking at the Lakeview,” Ali argued back.

“No, you were just the porn star.”

The two sisters broke into a cat fight, spewing insults for a moment. Reid and Luke just sat there watching. Reid took another sip of coffee, wishing he’d asked Luke for some muffins to go with the drama. Despite himself, he was kind of curious about Ali’s meth habits and Emily’s boy-toy lovers, but the sisters were already making up.

“Sorry, Em,” Ali finally said, giving her sister a hug. “You know I love you.”

“Aww, Ali, me too!” They hugged some more.

“I’ve never been so glad to be an only child,“ Reid mumbled and drank his coffee.

“Well, um,” Luke was clearly disconcerted from their fight. “You guys can stay.”

“Naw. We’re out of here,” Emily said to Luke, tapping his shoulder with a manicured finger. “Oh, and by the way, I want to talk to you about writing some serious pieces for the Intruder.”

“What? Me?”

“Don’t you write? Reid said you did.”

Luke’s mouth gaped, he looked at Reid.

“You haven’t read anything of mine since I was eight.”

“Not true. I peeked at your diary at Lily’s.”

Luke flushed. “He’s joking. I don’t have a diary.”

Reid gave a small smile. Luke so had a diary; he’d have to really search for it now.

“Well, consider sending me some of your thoughts on articles,” Emily said.

“I could do that now…?”

“No,” Reid interrupted. "You can’t.” He’d be damned if Intruder chatter would interrupt more of his time with Luke. “Please excuse us, as you pointed out earlier, we have the hots for each other and I need to do something about that right now.”

“Reid,” Luke bopped him on the shoulder. “Stop joking.”

“Stop trying to beat me up in public, save your S& M tendencies for the privacy of my hotel room,” Reid replied, enjoying Luke’s crimson face. “And you’ll know when I’m joking. “

He cupped Luke’s face and went in for a kiss. Luke flailed a moment and then opened his mouth. He let his mouth move on Luke’s slowly.

Reid knew Ali and Emily had gotten up and were headed out, but he still kissed Luke's mouth; the rest of the world could gossip about them or just go away. Reid didn’t care. Luke kissed him back, his hands circling Reid’s neck.

“That was rude,” Luke scolded in a husky voice, after the sisters left and the kiss ended. He held a finger to his swollen mouth a moment.

Reid shrugged. “You liked it.” Luke didn’t reply to that, he merely pursed his lips together, but his eyes sparkled. Reid leaned in closer to Luke, staring at him, “And I want to be alone with you.”

“You were alone with me all night.” Luke gave him a grin and he reached for Reid’s fingers.

A warmth uncoiled in Reid’s gut. He needed the day to be special for them both; they had so little time left. Maybe a trip out to the farm and a picnic at the pond again? More sex outside? Or maybe, a romantic night that Luke would appreciate? Reid pictured some future sex by that great fireplace at the farm on some really cold night. Where had that thought come from? Reid scowled- there would be no sex by a fireplace. What was wrong with him? This was almost over. His vacation time was almost up and then…. Luke was playing with his fingers, raising them up and kissing them one-by-one. He was looking at Reid like he was the only person in the room, and Reid felt that clawing inside his guts because he wanted to be here on some cold night to warm Luke’s chilled skin, kiss his lips, make a fire for them, drink hot chocolate with Luke, and then fuck him all night long on Emma’s giant rug.

“Luke.” Reid savored the taste of his name in his mouth.

He just kept staring at Luke, not at all certain of what he wanted to tell him. His brown eyes were so warm, lit up with joy, and part of Reid wanted to do or say anything to keep Luke looking at him that way, but another part of him wanted to run. Reid wanted to do the right thing, but he wasn’t sure what the right thing was anymore.

A few more days, Reid thought. After that, he’d explain that he needed to return to the Mayo Clinic. He’d be logical and lay it all out for Luke. Luke wouldn’t like it. Luke didn’t exactly run on logic. Reid didn’t want to be a selfish jerk, though, and now, with the whole town now in their business, leaving Luke would be even harder for him. Everyone would talk. Maybe he could extend his time? Maybe he should? God, he had no idea anymore; all of these conflicting feeling were battling inside of him and he couldn’t seem to control any of them.

“I know what you’re doing.”

Reid stiffened at the voice. Luke froze for a second too.

Noah towered over them, his face pinched, his hands curled into fists.

Reid let out an audible sigh. This day just kept going downhill fast.

“I know why you’re here with him, Luke. You can just quit it now.”

“Quit what? I’m with Reid,” Luke said quietly.

Noah’s head bopped up and down. “Yeah, that’s what I heard. It’s all over town. But you can stop the charade now Luke, okay? You have my attention.”

Reid’s jaw clenched. He forced himself to appear unconcerned. He sipped his coffee.

“I’m with Reid,” Luke said again. Luke glanced at him and his face softened.

“Please!” Noah scoffed. “You're just trying to make me jealous. It's not working."

"Noah, I'm not."

"Sure you are. You know that, in the end, we always get back together. “

“That was true in the past, but-“

Noah put a heavy hand on Luke’s shoulder. He squinted at him, his eyes beady and small. He shot Reid a hostile glare too. "You're just saying that to try to hurt me. Besides, you don't even know this guy, Luke. He’s been in town for what? Three weeks? And you expect me to believe you're leaving me for him?”

“Noah-“

“I know you. I know what you're like. I’m your first love, right? I’m your first kiss. And a guy can’t just forget his first kiss.”

Luke and Reid looked at each other then, remembering that innocent kiss so long ago. They smiled, with a look of heat that even a guy as thickheaded as Noah probably could comprehend.

“Luke!” Noah demanded. “What’s wrong with you?“

When Luke seemed unable to answer, Noah turned to Reid. “He doesn’t know you and you don’t him. Did Luke tell you he’s an alcoholic? That he got kicked out of school and- “

“Noah,” Luke interrupted, his cheeks flushed. “Please don’t-“

“I’m just saying that I know you and forgave you for all of that. But Dr. Oliver doesn’t know anything about you, and if he did –“

“Listen,” Reid said. That was it. He stood up to take Noah on, ready to blister the skin off of Noah’s pompous ass with some choice words.

Luke’s hand on his stopped him.

“No,” Luke said simply, looking at Noah, and slowly getting to his feet.

“I do know, Reid. Noah, you are so wrong about that. I know him very well.“ Luke paused to give Reid a look.

“You can’t just expect me to believe that you’re over me so fast?” Noah exclaimed. “You wouldn’t be with somebody else so easily.”

Luke nodded at Noah slowly. “That might be true if this were just some guy. But this is Reid.” Luke glanced at Reid. “I don’t expect you to understand this, Noah. But it’s Reid. “ Luke sighed deeply. “It’s always been Reid.”

At Luke’s words and his face, all the blood rushed to Reid’s head. What the hell did that mean?

“Luke-“ Noah whined.

“All you need to get here, Noah, is that we’re over.” Luke said. He spoke calmly, with no anger in his voice. In fact, Luke’s voice almost held a slight hint of compassion. “We’re over. The truth is that the moment Reid came to town - the moment I saw him- “ Luke almost smiled gently at Noah. “I couldn’t break up with you fast enough.”

Noah’s mouth dropped open like a fish. He gasped.

Reid jumped too. His stomach fell to his knees at Luke’s soft words.

“I don’t want to hurt you, but I have real feelings for Reid. I do. ” Luke swallowed hard. He paused a moment, clearing his throat, shaking his head a little, a small smile touching his face. Luke looked at Noah once more. “Noah, I think you should just go now.”

“You can’t mean- you don’t really- “ Noah sputtered, and he looked at Reid.

Noah stood there, looking like he might turn violent. Reid could see in Noah’s eyes that he wanted to punch him. Luke must have seen it too. He stepped a little in front of Reid.

“Seriously, just go, Noah.” Luke repeated, his voice less gentle now. “I don't want to see you embarrass yourself.”

Without another word, Noah stomped away.

Luke sat back down. Reid sat down too, more than a little shocked. He stared at Luke.

“You almost had me convinced there, too.”

Luke gazed deeply into Reid’s eyes. He was quiet a second and then Luke took a huge breath. “I hope you’re convinced because that was the truth. It’s how I feel.“ Luke leaned in toward him, his face set and determined. “Reid , I love you.”

For a moment Reid couldn’t react. Then he swallowed hard, his heart accelerating.

“No, you don’t. It’s just sex, Luke. You’re grateful to me. You like fucking me.”

Luke inhaled sharply. “You think that’s all this is?” His face was pained. He tried to take Reid’s hand. “I’m in love with you. We belong –“

Reid pulled his hand away.

“A month ago you loved Noah. You don’t know anything. It’s sex, not love. We’re having sex, Luke, not running off to get married.”

“It’s so much more than that,” Luke said softly. ”I love you, Reid, and I know you. You’re rude and egotistical and rude," Luke smile grew wobbly. “And you hide your feeling with jokes. But underneath that you're honest and sweet and make me feel like I can do anything.” Luke bit his lip. “I know it seems fast on the outside, but inside- my heart just knows yours. And I feel like I was just sleepwalking through my life until you came back into it, and now I’m awake and alive…and I love you. I’m in love with you. I am.”

Reid wanted to sink down and draw his knees up to his chest. He wanted to stop his heart from leaping crazily at Luke’s words. Love doesn’t happen for him. He was the one who could do it all alone. Love couldn’t happen, not now. He’d been wrong to think this situation could be contained, that he could control it. The whole room swayed, and Reid put his hand to his forehead. He had to get out of here now.

“That’s a pretty speech.” Reid deliberately made his voice cold.

Luke flinched. “It’s the truth. How can I make you believe me?”

“You can’t.” He stood up and tossed some money on the table. Making Luke flinch, hurting him, was like a knife in his own guts. Reid pressed a hand to his abdomen, almost expecting blood.

Luke opened his mouth to speak again, but then abruptly closed it.

Reid started to flee, stumbling over his feet, a sick film of sweat breaking out all over his body. He felt physically ill, like he was about to crawl out of his skin

“You were wrong,” Luke called out suddenly, a new heat in his voice. His jaw quivered for a moment, but then he controlled it, his face determined.

“About what?” Bile rose up in Reid’s throat, his palms itched and his head swam; he could barely hear Luke through the wave of nausea hitting him.

Luke smiled, but his eyes mirrored his pain. “About that first time. Back when we were kids, you left and told me that we’d never see each other again, remember?“ Luke gave a hard laugh. “And you were wrong then, and you’re wrong now. We do love each other.” Luke stood up, jamming his hands into his pockets. “Right?”

Of course he loved Luke. Luke was the only person in the world he’d ever loved.

His stomach clutched and Reid’s head whirled. Luke waited, his eyes huge, his face brave. Reid felt like he was crumpling. Luke only thought he loved Reid; he was blinded by the sex. It wouldn’t last. Luke would end up breaking it off, gently like he had with Noah, trying not to hurt Reid’s feelings because Luke would never want to hurt anybody, but Reid wasn’t going to do it; he wasn’t going to wait around for that day to happen and for Luke to toss him aside like trash. He couldn't be that person again.

“Reid, please? Don't lie to me. We've never lied to each other.” Luke said. He stood there, full of life and hope and vitality.

Reid backed away, shaking his head. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, feeling the bile creeping up again.

“I just can’t do this with you,” Reid said, and he walked out.


***

Reid found himself knocking on Bob’s office door. He couldn’t even remember driving to Memorial; it was like his brain had switched onto automatic and there he was at the hospital. Luke’s face was all Reid could see right now. That face. Luke. Reid closed his eyes.

He should never had stayed so long. He should have left Luke after that first night. What had he done now? To both of them? Reid inhaled big gulps of air, the smell of antiseptics and sickness calming him a little, though his heart still pounded too quickly. He was leaving. Today. He would jump on the first flight back to Minnesota. He was leaving and he wouldn’t look back. He knocked again, louder, wanting in. He heard Bob's voice, worn and yet patient, telling him to enter. He swung it open and found Bob on the phone; within moments Reid knew it was a conversation with some big shot drug company, and when Bob motioned for Reid to take a chair, he did, listening impatiently to Bob talk. He rolled his eyes at Bob as the suit at the company tried to give Bob the run-around. He took deep breaths and listened to Bob's paternal, easy tone as he didn't back down. It was easier to listen to Bob's conversation and think about hospital bullshit than to think about what had just happened at Java

“I don’t like the hospital politics any more than you do, Reid, “ Bob said as he hung up. “But it is necessary sometimes, so that I can do the real work of the hospital, the work I do believe in. “ Bob cocked an eyebrow at him. “It’s like anything you care about, really. You have to work hard at it. Whether it's a job or a relationship; there’s work involved.”

Reid scowled. Bob could babble all he wanted about home, family, and relationships; he had that privilege. When he'd been abandoned by the side of the road and sent to live with an insane family on a farm, then Reid would consider whether or not Bob had any authority to tell Reid about the work of life. At the moment, he was glad for the nonsense, though, it kept his mind away from wondering where Luke was and how he was doing. The thought of Luke's face when Reid had told him that he couldn't do whatever they'd been doing anymore made him feel like throwing up again. He wiped a hand at the back of his neck, sweating profusely.

“Well, enough talk about Memorial,“ Bob said. “I heard your news.”

“About Ameera Mayor’s rehabilitation?” Reid took out a handkerchief and mopped at his face.

“Well, that, and thank you for finding her such an excellent facility.” Bob looked at him a second. "But actually, I was referring to the news about you and Luke?”

Reid jumped up out of his seat. “Never pegged you as one for wallowing in the gossip troughs, Bob,” he snapped. Reid felt like something inside of him was unraveling. He tried to school his features into an indifferent mask.

“Casey was visiting me earlier and he told me about you and Luke. I’m happy you found some love in your life, son. It is good news.“ Bob narrowed his eyes. “Isn’t it?”

“Love?” Reid sputtered, he’d heard enough of that word today. “Wh- what…Luke and I are not in love.”

Even as he denied it to Bob, Reid felt all the air squeezing out of his lungs. Reid drew in a shaky breath; he felt incredibly sick. He was in love, God help him, yes, he absolutely was in love - but Luke…Luke was just confused.

“He cooked for me, and we played some chess,” Reid crossed his arms at his chest. "And we spent some time together.” Reid felt like he’d just tossed a breakable object into the air and his hands twitched waiting for it to hit ground and smash everywhere.

“Right.“ Bob studied him. “You look flushed, Reid. Have some water.“

“And maybe there was some more to it,” Reid added, shutting his eyes. “Some feelings, but it was a mistake. “ Reid’s eyes opened and he looked into Bob’s steady gaze.

Bob came over to him and patted his shoulder. “Don’t look so stricken, son.” Bob smiled at him fondly. “I’m sure Luke feels the same way. It was meant to be from the time you were boys, even.”

Reid felt his heart knock against his ribs. “I’m not some damsel in distress. I'm not stricken. I just don't…do love. That's all.“ Reid cleared his throat noisily.

Bob gently handed him a glass of water.

Reid gulped it down, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He looked at Bob. “I’m leaving town. Immediately. I just came to tell you goodbye.”

Bob frowned in disapproval. “Reid, normally I don’t give people unsolicited advice. “ Bob ignored Reid’s snort. “But I feel compelled to try with you here. If Luke does love you and you love him, then don’t turn your back on that. Don’t run away because it’s uncomfortable for you.”

“Uncomfortable? That sounds like what we tell patents before inserting a large needle into their chests. This will be uncomfortable; you might feel a little pressure.“ And then we jab a needle into their hearts.” Reid shook his head. “No. I refuse. And for the record?” Reid swallowed, and said quickly. “I’m leaving, not running. I’m going back to my job.”

“I notice you didn’t say back to where you belong. “ Bob examined Reid a moment. "I believe that people can’t ignore their true feelings, not really, but it seems to me that you’ve made a habit out it. I remember the day you started working here-“

“I don’t need a trip down memory lane-“ Reid motioned to go. “Spare me this Father Knows Best lecture.”

Bob shook his head at him. “I think perhaps you do. As a young man, you were already one of the smartest people I’d ever encountered, your mind was so inquisitive. I was confident that you’d make a fine surgeon. And I was right.” Bob put a hand on his shoulder. “But emotionally? You were so wounded. I watched you that summer build up your walls. You pushed everybody away.“

“It’s called a defense mechanism, Bob. It worked for me.”

“Really? Is it working for you now?” Bob raised his eyebrows at him

Reid didn’t answer.

Bob was about to say more, when Nurse Gretchen opened the office door. "Pardon me, Gretchen, but we’re in the middle of something-“ Bob began to tell her.

“Sorry, Dr. Hughes,” she said. “But they’re all waiting for you.”

“Waiting for me?” Bob said blankly.

“The meeting?” Gretchen scrunched up her nose at him. “Don’t you remember? It was your idea this morning to meet with the pediatric staff?”

Bob blinked at her, and then stroked his chin a moment.

“Ahh, yes. I took some notes on it earlier and I have some valuable ideas to share with them.” Bob made a point of rummaging around at his desk. He tried to appear like he was contemplating something about the staff or the meeting, but Reid could tell he was faking it. Bob wasn’t contemplating anything; Bob was bewildered.

“Excuse me, Dr. Oliver.“ Bob nodded to Gretchen. “I need to go.”

Reid frowned. Something here was just not right. Bob had been annoyingly fine a moment ago, dissecting Reid’s life, but now he seemed harried, discombobulated, and unsure. He’d clearly forgotten his meeting and was unnerved by it.

Reid stared after Bob, a sinking feeling in his gut. He’d seen that confused look on patients' faces, like they were coming out of a deep fog. He thought back over his stay in Oakdale, and how Bob was always exhausted, how he stayed at work so much. Was he covering up little mistakes? Reid remembered how for a second Bob had mixed up his motorcycle victim with Ameera Mayer.

There was a knock on the door, and another doctor came in. “Oh, hello there. I was just looking for Bob.” The doctor pulled at his white jacket. “Have you seen him?”

Reid nodded absently. He remembered him. Dr. Stevens - he was the doctor who’d stopped Bob in the hallway the other day, the doctor who couldn’t seem to take a leak without asking Bob to hold his hand.

"I have an open heart in an hour,” Dr. Stevens told Reid, "I wanted to discuss the case with the Chief.”

“You’re the cardio surgeon?” Reid frowned at his nod. “Where’s John Dixon?”

“Dixon?“ Dr. Stevens said “Never heard of him.”

Reid's blood ran cold. He swallowed hard, and snapped, "Well Bob’s not here. Why don’t you go handle things by yourself? That's what they pay you to do, you realize.“

“No need to be snotty,” Dr. Stevens huffed. “You can’t have Bob to yourself all the time.”

Reid snorted. Dr. Stevens sound like Chris. Bob always did baby people too much.

Dr. Stevens left the office and Reid hurried over to Bob’s desk. Reid sat down at the computer and typed into the staff records. He sat back with a heavy heart. John Dixon had left town years ago.

Reid sucked in a breath. For the first time in his medical career, Reid fervently hoped to be wrong.

***
Despite Reid's proclamation to Bob that he was leaving immediately, Reid didn’t go. He stumbled his way to the roof of Memorial, gasping for some air. He felt like he was in the middle of a disaster and didn’t know who to save first. He never felt like that. He thrived on emergencies. He was Reid fucking Oliver, best neurosurgeon in the whole damn country, just as he’d always bragged he would be. Reid gazed at the space between the buildings, gulping in air. The roof was deserted, and Reid felt a sudden stab of loneliness hit him and he sank down to his knees. A blast of cold wind swept over his body, making him shake. Below him, he could hear the insistent rush of cars and he nearly covered his ears to block out that noise. That noise only reminded him of the past and that day that had led him down the road and into this town, where everything changed. Reid felt like the world wanted to rip off his skin. He looked at the door, waiting for Luke, not sure what he’d do or say if Luke appeared. But nobody came. Luke was probably at his home with his family, surrounded by their love. He didn’t need Reid. Reid wanted to follow through with his plan and get the hell out of town. Instead, he rubbed his hand at his chest and sat there. Bob. Shutting his eyes a moment, Reid exhaled. Luke. Slowly, he stood up, turned and went back inside.

He spent the rest of the day hiding out in his tiny office, researching everything he could on dementia and making phone calls to experts in the field. He didn’t want to voice his suspicions until he was certain, but the more Reid researched, the more it made sense.

Why hadn’t he seen it before? Reid shook his head, opening up his hotel door. He dumped his research and his snacks on the bed, and sank down onto it, cradling his head. He always thought he knew everything, but he had almost left town and missed this completely.

Reid could almost hear Bob’s lecture: “Doctors aren’t infallible, Reid. We assess the situation the best that we can and proceed cautiously from there.“

Reid ran a hand over his eyes, beyond exhausted. Between the morning with Luke and the afternoon concerned about Bob, he felt like somebody had kicked the shit out of him.

He should shower and shave. He picked up the papers and his chips instead. There must be a treatment he was overlooking, something. Why couldn’t he concentrate? Reid pinched the bridge of his nose, and he tried to keep reading, but his head throbbed. He rubbed at his temples. He wished he could talk to Luke about it because he’d know how to handle telling Bob; Luke was so good with people and their feelings, both of which Reid sucked at.

Reid’s heart lurched painfully. He’d put Luke out of his mind for the last few hours, worrying about Bob. But now, being in his hotel room, it wasn’t so easy. Reid threw the papers down on his dresser and then he threw the bag of chips down too; he wasn’t hungry at all.

Reid went over to the bed and ran his hand along the sheets. He picked up Luke’s pillow and brought it to his face; inhaling deeply. Reid stared at the bed, remembering Luke naked and gazing up at him with a bashful smile as he held out his arms for Reid. He shuddered and tried to shake the image from his mind. He needed to stop being a complete idiot.

Reid inhaled the pillow again, inhaling the scent, pressing the pillow to his chest. He curled up on the bed. And then Reid noticed Luke’s things were still scattered around the room.

For a moment, his heart jumped to his throat, and he got up and peeked into the bathroom to see if Luke was there. Of course, he wasn’t. Either Luke had simply forgotten his stuff or he didn’t want to chance seeing Reid again. Reid looked at Luke’s robe hanging on the bathroom hook, and Luke’s razor, and Luke’s toothbrush. He walked over to it and gently ran his finger across the bristles; it was still a little damp. He could return the stuff, bring it over to Lily’s; that would be the mature thing to do. Reid tightened his hold on the toothbrush. Luke’s mouth. Luke’s smile. Carefully, Reid put Luke’s toothbrush back into its designated slot, on the right side, next to Reid’s own.

A muscle pulsed in Reid’s cheek. He turned abruptly from the bathroom. He had to get back to his research and Bob. In the morning, he would need to convince Bob that he should get some tests done. He didn’t expect Bob to react well to it, but it had to be done. And Reid was the one who had to do it.

He nodded firmly, and told himself that Bob was the only reason he was still in town.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.



Chapter 11

Less than two hours later, Reid was back at the Lakeview. Ameera was lucid and all of her tests were excellent. Reid had updated a tired-looking Bob at record speed, left strict orders with the nurses, and hurried back to Luke.

He felt a little ridiculous, he'd never rushed out of work before to get back to somebody, and part of him felt a stab of anxiety forming in his belly, but a bigger part of him was just missing Luke. He tried to call him on the drive back, but Luke didn’t answer his phone. Reid had to remind himself not to speed as he pulled up to the valet and dashed into the Lakeview. When he opened his suite, the room appeared empty and for a second, Reid felt a sense of dread, until he saw Luke’s laptop open on the bed and his stuff scattered around the room. Reid tossed his keys down and called Luke’s name.

“In here,” Luke called.

Following his voice, Reid headed for the bathroom, and pushed open the door. Steam greeted his eyes.

“Good to see you no longer hate these,” Reid drawled, looking at him hungrily.

“Hate what?” Luke said, sounding a bit drowsy, his eyes closed.

“Baths,” Reid replied. “You weren’t a big fan as a kid.”

Seeing Luke in the tub, bubbles up to his chest, his arm thrown back behind his head, desire and a strong wave of affection overwhelmed Reid. He swallowed hard and crossed his arms at his chest.

Luke opened his eyes and grinned, “In classic romance novel form, my dislike has turned to love now. I love baths. If I ever buy a place of my own, I’ll have a Roman tub.”

“I approve, of both your Roman tub and improved hygiene.” Reid sat on the tub’s edge. “Turn around. I’ll wash your back.”

Luke did so happily. Reid picked up the washcloth and began to move it along Luke’s spine.

“Ahh,” Luke said. “S’nice.”

Reid rubbed in lazy circles, moving the washcloth over Luke’s shoulders and then back down to his hip. Reid could just see the curve of his ass through the bubbles.

“Ameera’s good?”

“Thanks to my brilliance, yes.”

“So modest,” Luke laughed and splashed some water at him.

“Hey,” Reid protested. “Watch the shirt.”

Luke’s eyes danced with mirth. “Then take your clothes off and they won’t get wet,” he suggested, grinning.

Reid stripped and got into the tub, sloshing the water over the edge. Reid sank farther down into the tubful of warm, suds and maneuvered his body to fit alongside Luke’s.

Luke turned and took the soap; he ran the bar in a line from Reid’s nipples to his abdomen, before scooping up some water in his hand and letting it drip down Reid’s chest.

Luke smiled suddenly. “By the way, I got some work done. While you were gone, I got the ball rolling on the family wing for Memorial.”

Reid nodded. “I knew you would, but this fast? That’s great. “

Luke’s face beamed at his words. “Thanks,” Luke said.

“Welcome.” Reid wrapped his arms at Luke’s hips and pulled him in for a kiss.

Luke came alive in his arms, squirming and rolling his wet body at Reid’s. Luke’s fingers grabbed Reid’s back, and his desire triggered a response inside of Reid and soon he was pushing Luke down into the water, climbing on him, still kissing his full lips. Lust tightened around him, both curled and waiting for more and pushing him along, as Reid forced his tongue deeper into Luke’s mouth, craving him. Luke groaned, almost under the soapy water completely, except for his face, his hands on the sides of Reid’s cheeks, his legs restlessly tangling up with Reid’s own.

“Let’s get to the bed,” Reid panted out, the kiss ending. He let Luke up a little. “I might drown you in here.”

As he said it, Reid absently let his fingers caress Luke’s wet skin, his palms gliding over Luke’s torso and then circling his back. Reid’s hand slid around, stopping at the slightly raised tissue of Luke’s scar, and Reid pressed at it curiously, but gently. He probed it with his finger, more doctor-like than lover-like, examining it and thinking that Luke’s surgeon could have done a better job.

Luke looked at him, and covered Reid’s hand with his own, both of their hands now over the scar.

Long moments ticked away.

“You didn’t get this from milking a cow,” Reid said finally.

Luke sucked his lips in, and then bit at the lower one. He yanked his hand off of Reid’s, who still held his fingers on the scar. Luke rubbed his palms up and down his thighs, and Reid imagined he’d like to jam those hands into some pockets right now. Luke sucked at his lips another moment, his body tense.

“I made a lot of mistakes over the years.” Luke pushed Reid’s hand away from his scar.

Luke didn’t continue. He fell stubbornly silent, his eyes down toward the tub’s drain. “I can’t,” Luke finally said. “You’ll hate what I’ve done.”

“Okay.” Reid let his hands drop into the warm water; he massaged Luke’s thighs. “I don’t think anything you say will shock me, but it’s up to you. “ Reid caressed him back and forth. “You know what I do hate though?”


Luke exhaled with a nervous laugh and wrinkled up his nose. “I’m sure there’s a list.”

“True,” Reid smiled slightly at that. “Weepy nurses, empty refrigerators, and towns in Illinois are at the top. “ Reid cocked his head to one side. “You haven’t raided my stash of snacks while I’ve been gone? “ Luke shook his head at him. “You didn’t invite the nurses over for a surprise intervention?”

Luke let out a sound like a half-laugh and half-sigh. “Stop being cute,” Luke gave him a push with the heel of his hand. “I’m really upset. “ Luke gave a small smile. “And I was about to bare my soul. “

“You just named the top of my hate list.” Reid made a sour face. “Soul baring.”

Another bubble of laughter came out of Luke’s mouth and Reid smiled at him.

“Can’t you just bare something else for me? “ Reid said. He looked at Luke suggestively, eyeing the glimpses of his skin just below the soapy water. “I can think of lots of other parts of you I’d like to see bare.”

“Enough,” Luke said. “Stop being funny.” He swished some water at him.

“I’ll stop,” Reid said straight-faced. “Because I know that this is Oakdale, and if I refuse to let you bare your soul, then a swarm of angry townspeople with picks and axes might burst through my hotel door. “

“A lot of them have reasons to be mad at me,” Luke said suddenly, his smile fading slightly. He ducked his head away.

This was the thing about Luke, Reid thought, he never stopped being truly concerned about other people. Normally, it was a quality that Reid secretly admired about him, but sometimes it got in the way of Luke’s common sense.

Reid glided his hand from Luke’s legs up to his chest. He grabbed at some hairs and tugged.

“Ouch,” Luke said.

“Toughen up.” Reid replied.

“Trying,” Luke answered. He nibbled at his lower lip. His eyes turned serious. “I just wish I could go back, and change all the times I hurt people, you know?“ A flicker of remorse touched his face.

“You can’t.“ Reid shrugged, bluntly.

Luke snorted at that. “I know that, Reid.” Luke moved his hands back and forth in the bathwater, a slight touch of heat at his cheeks. “But I still regret it. “ He tilted his head and looked at him. “I guess you have nothing in your personal life you regret?”

“I choose not to regret it. There’s the difference. And who says I have a personal life?”

Reid soothed the chest hairs that he’d just pulled. “Whatever is in your past, use it. Let it make you stronger. And as for telling me, it doesn’t matter, okay? Share it or don’t.“ Reid rubbed his hand in a circle at Luke’s chest, warming the wet skin there.

They gazed at each other. Reid felt that strong sense of recognition that he always felt with Luke.

Luke caught his breathe a moment. He stiffened his entire body, like he was bracing himself for a sudden blow.

“I cheated in a college election,“ Luke said in a low voice, his words rushing out. ”So, I got kicked out of school. The other guy was this homophobic jerk and I just - I wanted him to lose so much.”

“Okay.”

“And I also drank. I’m an alcoholic. It started out because I wanted to feel normal, you know? So I drank. But things only got harder and then I drank more to feel nothing. I kept trying to give it up, but by then I…couldn’t. The more I tried to stop it, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. I hurt everybody around me and still I didn’t stop; that’s how much I wanted to drink. Then I had to get a new kidney and -” Luke seemed incapable of going on. Luke flushed. “I know. It’s bad, right? I’m sorry-“

Reid cut him off. “Stop it. It’s a mistake to cheat, but it seems to me you’ve paid for it plenty. And everything you’re doing now? The foundation? Doesn’t that count?”

Luke made a frustrated motion, like he was about to argue, and the water swirled around. “Don’t be so nice to me.“

“Alcoholism is a disease.” Reid kept his voice matter of fact. “I’m never nice, you know that. I’m just telling you the truth. “

Luke hung his head down. “I screwed up a lot and –“

Reid rolled his eyes. “Just stop that. Self loathing is not an attractive quality on you.” He put his hand under Luke’s chin and forced their eyes to meet. “How long have you been sober?”

“Two years and five months.”

“So you’re managing your problem, taking care of it. “

Luke gulped, his throat moving convulsively, but no words came out. He could only nod.

“So then? That’s a long time.” Reid released his chin.

Luke kept his head lifted, his eyes on Reid’s. “It has been a long time. You’re right.” Luke gave him a smile and lifted his chin up even higher. Reid thought he looked heartbreakingly determined. “And I go day by day. I make no promises. “

Reid listened and nodded. He waited for Luke to get out whatever he needed to say.

“I only know that right now, today, I don’t want a drink. I want to focus on what’s good.”

Luke exhaled. Lightly, he touched Reid’s arm. “I’m glad that I told you. “ Luke smiled wobbled a little. “But I don’t think I want to say more.”

“You don’t have to.“ Reid lifted a hand to Luke’s cheek. “I’m proud of you.”

A startled sound escaped Luke’s lips, and he buried his head on Reid’s shoulder and grabbed the nape of Reid’s neck; he folded Reid into his arms and squeezed.

“Hey I said I was proud of you, “ Reid protested. “ I didn’t say to hug me.” Reid gave a pretend shudder. “You know I’m not a hugger.”

“Then toughen up,” Luke joked, throwing Reid’s words back in his face. Luke’s voice was thick, and he just hugged him harder. “Not only do I plan to hug you a lot, I might even force you to admit that you’re human once in awhile. “

“Don’t get carried away. “ Reid made a face at him.

In answer, Luke grabbed Reid’s head with his hands and planted a hard kiss on him, mashing their lips together. Luke thrust his tongue inside Reid’s mouth, desperately. He wriggled closer to Reid in the water, wrapping his legs around Reid’s waist and he deepened the kiss. Reid kissed him back, touching Luke’s back lightly and then threading his fingers into Luke’s hair. They rocked together, the water lapping at them, their mouths grasping hungrily for more contact. Reid felt like he was starving for Luke; his body demanding more.

Reid pulled back and climbed out of the tub, holding out a towel for Luke. They fumbled out of the bathroom, kissing again, and fell onto the edge of the bed. Luke knotted his legs at Reid’s hips and lifted his ass up toward Reid’s arousal. He grinded his body against Reid’s.

“Wait,” Reid rasped out, pulling back.

“What?” Luke asked.

“If memory serves, you were going to try something new.”

“Oh,” Luke’s eyes widened. He seemed suddenly paralyzed.

Reid touched him on the arm.

“You’ve asked for it and I’ve agreed. You’ve got me here.” Reid flashed him a smile. “What are you going to do to me now?”

In answer, Luke tore off Reid’s towel and threw it across the bed. With the towel gone, the cold air sent a shiver up Reid’s backside. He climbed farther up onto the bed, and Luke did too, gesturing for Reid to lean against the bed’s headboard, his arms spread, his head resting at the wall. Luke wriggled his body underneath Reid, so that his face was just under him, and Reid was straddling Luke’s chest, his erection at Luke’s eager lips. Luke clamped his mouth down on Reid’s dick, and Reid’s fingers dug into the headboard, which banged at the wall. From this angle, Luke deep-throated him, his mouth hot and wet, taking Reid almost down to the base of his cock, and giving him fierce, noisy sucks. Reid made a startled noise, a shudder ripping through his body.

“My God, Luke,“ he rasped.

Luke sucked harder, his hands kneading the flesh of Reid’s ass, one finger giving little touches at Reid’s hole. The finger pressed and teased, and Luke’s lips slid up and down on Reid’s wet dick. Reid groaned and pushed himself down, sinking into Luke’s mouth. His hands held the headboard and his body began to spasm, until Reid cried out, coming strongly into Luke’s mouth, and Luke was gulping and almost mewling with pleasure. Small quakes rocked Reid’s frame; he felt helpless to stop them. Reid folded in against the headboard, and he felt Luke moving underneath him.

Luke pulled him down and turned him around, kissing Reid’s mouth, tasting like Reid’s cum.

Reid wrapped his arms at Luke’s waist, getting closer to him, feeling Luke’s own erection at his stomach. Reid captured Luke’s tongue, suckling it deeply into his own mouth, as he let his fingers wander down to Luke’s hardness and close over it, jerking at him roughly. Luke moaned and bucked at the invasion, and Reid could feel his cock had twitched back to life in response. Luke buried his hands in Reid’s hair, sliding to the nape of his neck. He kissed Reid again, and they sank down into the mattress, rolling this way and that, kissing more.

Luke pushed him to his stomach, and Reid quickly spread his legs, raising his ass up. Luke paused and Reid glanced back to look at him. Luke rested a trembling hand on Reid’s ass and he gazed at Reid hungrily. Reid half-growled in answer, raising himself up more, opening his legs up, holding the bed for support, encouraging Luke to go on.

Luke trembled against him, hugging him from behind. Then he grabbed Reid’s butt tightly. He nibbled at Reid’s firm cheeks, and then finally parted his mounds and licked directly at his hole. Luke made greedy noises of pleasure as he sucked it, his mouth hot and clinging.

Reid wondered how he was still breathing, his fingers clutching the bed, a loud moan coming out from deep inside of him. Reid looked back, seeing Luke’s nose and mouth buried at his crack, and Luke’s hands firmly pulling his ass cheeks apart. Luke was making deep, approving grunts, appearing to find Reid’s taste rich and decadent on his tongue. Reid could feel Luke shaking with desire as he licked and kissed him there. Reid turned away, facing the bed again; the sight of Luke at his ass enough to make his dick leak.

Luke sucked harder, pushing his tongue all the way in to Reid’s tight hole, causing Reid to fall down onto the bed, shaking. Luke climbed after him, making his way up, hugging Reid’s back, his body sweat-soaked. Luke kissed his way back down to Reid’s ass, and Reid felt Luke’s breathe at his puckered flesh, and then Luke gave another, agonizing lick. Luke’s tongue made a ring-shaped movement, circling the very outside of Reid’s hole. Luke licked again, gliding up and down this time, teasingly.

“It’s so sweet and dirty,” Luke whispered, wonder coloring his voice. Reid’s body jolted at his words, and he opened his mouth to answer, but only panting sounds came out. Luke tongued him again, pushing in more, his teeth nipping a little, and then he began to rim Reid in earnest. Luke’s entire mouth was at his asshole, Luke’s nose in his crack, he licked, bite, and thrust. Both of them were moaning. Luke was holding Reid’s hips, his mouth kissing his hole now, those amazing lips of Luke’s clamped down on him. Reid’s moans were more desperate, he jerked and pulled right and left; the pressure of Luke’s mouth on him almost too much, too intense.

“Fuck me already!” Reid shouted out. He grabbed his own dick in his hands and yanked it desperately.

Luke drew in a quick breath, and Reid heard him fumble for the condom; it took his too damn long to roll it on, and Reid growled with impatience, jerking his own cock again, making some pre-cum start. Luke, meanwhile, had found the lube and was smearing it along Reid’s hole. Reid buried his face in a pillow and tried to have patience. He almost snapped at Luke that he was wet enough from his mouth, but he swallowed it back, trying to let Luke lead.

Luke mounted him slowly, his fingers still moving in and out of Reid’s lubed hole. They were both breathing heavily, and Reid felt Luke’s cock hard and ready, waiting for entrance. Reid willed himself to relax. He could feel Luke hesitating, and Reid reached around to reassure him with a gentle touch on Luke’s hip. He reached back more and stroked Luke’s arousal. Luke gasped, allowing Reid to play with him, flicking Luke’s cock back and forth at Reid’s opening, making them both shudder. Reid let go of him and bent his body lower in invitation. Luke wrapped an arm around his waist. He was positioning himself and then plunging in. Reid inhaled quickly, because Luke has come inside a little too fast and there was a slow burning now.

“Sorry.” Reid could feel that Luke was about to withdraw, and he squeezed his muscles together, holding Luke to him.

“Go,” Reid said, his voice hoarse. ”Please,” he added. He needed Luke inside of him.

Luke pushed in another inch, then another, until he was all the way. Luke made a noise at his success, and trembled slightly.

Reid knew he would be tight and Luke’s cock was completely overwhelming to him, filling him. Reid squeezed hard with his ass muscles again. He turned back to Luke and smiled at him. Luke looked dazed, but a ready smile formed quickly enough. Excitement shone in Luke’s eyes, turning Reid on even more. Reid nodded at him, and Luke started to really move.

Luke thrust hard into him, his chest smacking at Reid’s back. Reid’s knees and wrists were throbbing now, Reid pushed back at Luke with his body, causing Luke to go in deeper. Luke grunted, putting his hand at Reid’s lower back, and rutting into Reid’s hole. Reid inhaled sharply, like he’d been stuck with a pin, and he bit down on his lips. Luke pumped excitedly, thrilled with the response, his slick cock moving in and out.

Reid could feel his body giving more, opening for Luke. Luke gave a high sounding moan, and rode him wildly, changing the leverage and finding the exact right spot. Now it was Reid who cried out. He fell forward a little, and Luke pulled him back, grabbing his hair and yanking his head, fucking him deeper, and it was better than Reid ever had known. He twisted under Luke’s assault, his ass slammed back and forth with the force of Luke’s thrusts, and his cock twitching helplessly, his body a sweaty mess of need. Pumping crazily now, Luke rutted his whole body, grinding his hips and pushing in a way that built pressure. Reid couldn’t help the small noises escaping his lips, as he took it. A wave of heat flooded Reid’s entire body. He wanted to hold off, Luke wasn’t done ramming in and out of him, but then Reid felt Luke reach around and grasp his cock, milking it with his fist.

Reid fell over the edge of the most intense orgasm of his life, and he came in several breathtaking shots, coating his own stomach and chest with his sticky seed.

Luke rocked into him, murmuring words in a sweet voice, over and over in a chant, and then he convulsed too, releasing into Reid in a mix of passion and heat.

Luke collapsed on top of him, breathing heavily. He was sweaty and heavy and felt wonderful.
They lay there a long time, just lingering together.

Luke kissed the side of Reid's face again, and caressed the nape of his neck. Then he pulled out and rolled off of him and they smiled at each other.

“See?” Luke said sweetly, tracing a lone finger down the side of Reid’s face. “It is okay to be human.”

Reid’s smile faded. He stared into Luke’s soft eyes. Being with Luke, Reid felt more than human. He felt exposed.

Luke snuggled into him, eyes closed, completely at peace. Reid’s own heart started to speed up. He cared about Luke. He couldn’t keep denying it. Reid’s hand trembled slightly as he pinched the bridge of his nose, and a trickle of sweat ran down his face. Things were getting way out of control. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want to care. He shouldn’t be here, doing this. He’d thought he could keep a lid on his own feelings, keep in control of it all, but his desire for Luke was spinning away from him, and Reid never had feelings like this. Reid gazed at Luke, looking at his sweet smile and shuddered.

Reid crossed his arms over his chest. Luke was snoring those cute snores. He still had the condom on his now flaccid dick. The smell of sex permeated the air. A muscle jumped in Reid’s cheek. He’d always been in control of his life, the greater the control the less likely the pain. He was a fool; he was kidding himself. He’d been an idiot to imagine he could keep this simple and clear and that they could just be fuck- buddies or whatever. Reid didn’t know much about human relationships, but he did know that whatever he felt for Luke, it was starting to feel anything but temporary.

Reid sat up gingerly, and slipped out of the covers. He headed into the bathroom to clean himself up; his cum was dried on his chest and stomach. He inhaled deeply, gazing at his own shocked face in the mirror. This was a mess - a complicated, painful mess. But for once in his life, Reid didn’t want to return to neat and orderly. Neat and orderly suddenly sounded lonely as hell. Reid exhaled slowly. He could hide that small piece of his heart being affected by Luke. Luke would never have to know, and when Luke was ready to move on, then he could, and Reid would walk away without protest. Reid gave his reflection a determined nod. It might hurt, but he was an adult; he could handle it.

He climbed back into the bed with Luke. Resting his head on his elbow, Reid watched him sleep. Luke deserved somebody who would put it all out there, risk it all for him, and know how to love him. Reid let his thumb graze Luke’s lower lip a moment. He wasn’t that person, but he could have just a little longer with him, and Reid would enjoy it until he had to go. He’d give Luke a beautiful time to remember. He gently bent down and kissed Luke’s cheek.

Reid lay back on his own pillow and tried to sleep, trying to ignore that he still felt uneasy.

***
Two weeks passed in a haze of Reid’s favorite non-medical things: Luke and food. They fell into a pattern. Reid worked at Memorial during the day, finishing up the Mayer case and handling a few other neuro-incidents that arose, and spent every other moment with Luke.

Ameera would be discharged soon and Reid was merely checking on her now. He only saw Noah by her bedside once, and the look of longing in the poor girls’ eyes made Reid want to throttle him. It seemed like Noah needed people to adore him, and didn’t think much beyond that. Other than that, Reid didn’t bother dwelling on him. Noah had been the biggest fool on the planet not to appreciate Luke’s sweetness, so it didn’t surprise him that Noah didn’t appreciate his wife either.

Reid was concerned for Ameera, though, and her plans once she was released. He made a note to check into really good rehabilitation facilities for her - one far away from Oakdale.

As she recovered, Reid contacted his boss at The Mayo Clinic, who had fumed at him over the phone, threatening to replace him, but he really had no choice but to accept Reid’s request for some personal time, and his official vacation started the following week. When he told Luke about it, Reid tried to downplay it all. “Rome, Paris, or Oakdale,” he’d joked, pretending to juggle his vacation options in the air. Luke’s eyes had widened and he’d just leaped on Reid, peppering him with kisses. Reid was still getting use to the idea of being at leisure soon.

Luke, meanwhile, began to focus on organizing his plans for a family wing. In the evenings, they’d meet, and Reid always felt a bubble of delirious pleasure when Luke came over. He usually brought Reid food, take out from various places around town, or little treats he’d cooked for him. They’d eat and talk, sometimes for hours. Reid talked more to Luke than he’d ever talked to anybody in his life, and Luke listened to every word. Reid told him about medical school and his residency and the different places he’d lived. He shared his ideas for the perfect neurological facility.

Luke, in turn, talked about his family, all his siblings, and his love for them. He told Reid about the magazine he dreamed of starting and editing, something like The Advocate, and his hopes for doing good work with the foundation.

After eating, sometimes feeding each other, they’d begin to have sex. The positions varied every night; Luke was willing to go wherever Reid would lead him. Reid might be on top, standing over Luke as he lay on the bed, his legs encircled at Reid’s waist, or Reid might mount him from behind, and pound into him on and on, until they were both spent.

Other nights, Luke topped, entering Reid slowly, making sure to give Reid foreplay like sucking Reid’s neck, or massaging his balls, and Luke’s earnest attention to his body always sent Reid into a paroxysm of pleasure. They would roll around, changing it, switching it up. Some nights, they jerked each other off, or sucked fervently on each other, tasting the salty cum in their mouths.

They spent every moment outside of work in each other’s company. A few times, they drove out to the farm and ate with Emma. She didn’t seem to bat an eye at their new relationship. She just fed them, and let them go. They walked around the farm, hand in hand, the leaves crunching under their feet, the air crisp and pungent, completely comfortable with each other.

On the days Emma was out, Reid made good on a few of his fantasies, taking Luke roughly in the hayloft, mouth-fucking him first, impaling Luke’s eager face at his dick, and then wrestling Luke backwards, entering him with the smell of earth and sweat and hay all around them, as Reid pounded into Luke furiously.

They did it near the pond too. Luke just played along the water at first, rolling up his pants and wading up to his knees. Reid waded in too, surprising himself, and their feet groped along the rocks and mud. They held onto each other, the water enveloping their legs, grasping each other’s arms for support, until Reid threatened that the chilly water might make his balls shrivel up, and Luke gasped in mock alarm.

“Good golly, we can’t have that!” He pressed his hand to his heart, making Reid grin.

They stumbled back to the grass, laughing, and Luke leaned against Reid for warmth, nuzzling his neck and resting his head on him. Luke had brought a blanket and some music, and they kissed for hours, before and after, just aching for the taste of each other’s lips. Reid sucked Luke to hardness slowly, savoring Luke’s dick in his mouth, forcing Luke to just lie back and take it. Reid wanted nothing more than to pleasure Luke, doing everything he liked. Reid made his way from Luke’s arousal to his ass, taking his time rimming him, while Luke helplessly twisted, his fingers pulling out clumps of grass. Reid’s hand found Luke’s erection, sliding a thumb over the slit, and his mouth ate at Luke’s musk, licking him endlessly. Crying out, Luke exploded, and Reid let his tongue taste that too, sucking up the sticky cum from his hand and Luke’s stomach, and then kissing Luke some more. They did it slowly, a cold breeze on their skin, their bodies so engaged in their primal dance, their drumming rhythm, matching each other perfectly, that the heat between them blocked the chill.

If other people knew about them, Reid wasn’t confronted about it at the hospital. He did feel nurses looking at him sometimes, twittering to each other likes birds, but they’d scatter the moment he looked their way. And other than his immediate family, Reid didn’t think Luke saw anybody as he worked steadily on the foundation all day long. Their bubble of togetherness remained untouched, and Reid wasn't eager for it to be broken, dreading the end of his vacation, and his return to a lonely, Luke-less life in Minnesota.

Luke was affectionate too, making good on his promise to hug Reid frequently, but every hug still surprised Reid and made his heart buck wildly. He learned to accept it, even return them, but it still surprised him. He’d been hugged more in the past two weeks than in his entire life. When Luke wasn’t hugging him, he was letting his eyes just linger on Reid, a secretive smile on his face. Reid found himself touching Luke’s cheek or grazing his arm, or holding Luke’s hand, making excuses to himself for all these casual touches. Reid allowed their bodies to be pressed close without any space between them. At those moments, Reid would stare at Luke intently, and there were no words to describe how connected he felt, and Luke would stare right back, almost imploringly, never taking his eyes away from Reid’s, and it made Reid want to plummet deep inside of Luke’s body so much that Reid would have to turn away.

Luke also loved to cuddle, which was expected. He liked to kiss Reid all over, small kisses, and then simply rest his head at Reid’s collarbone or nuzzle his neck. Reid was becoming used to that too. It began to feel natural to hold Luke all night, pressing their bodies close, sharing warmth. Cuddling him, Reid began to notice tiny parts of Luke, like the curve of his earlobe, the shape of his chin, and sometimes he would stay up late and just watch Luke sleep, appreciating every piece of him.

Other nights, he’d watch him just to hear him breathing steadily, and Reid would have to curl his hands into fists to stop himself from touching him, because on those nights he felt like waking Luke and asking him questions about their relationship – what they were to each other, and where this was going -- and Reid never did that sort of thing; he'd never even wanted to. Besides, it wasn’t going anywhere. They both knew that. It was a few weeks of pleasure and companionship, nothing more. But Luke seemed to feel Reid's longing, even in sleep, and he would inevitably nestle his body closer, and Reid would feel reassured in some unspoken way.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.

Chapter 10

After leaving the farm, they headed to Lily’s to get some of Luke’s belongings. The car ride was silent, but a nice type of silent, like they had no need for words. Reid felt more relaxed than he had in years. They drove on, the sun starting to set now, warm colors of pink and orange spreading across the sky.

“Do you mind some music?” Luke asked softly.

“Sure.”

Luke smiled and fiddled with the radio a moment and then took Reid’s hand in his.

Giving him a quick look, Reid thought again about his vacation time. He had some due to him, lots and lots actually. The Mayo Clinic couldn’t refuse him. He wouldn’t tell Luke about it just yet, not until he was officially on a break, but he made a mental note to get in touch with his boss there.

As they pulled up to Lily’s house, Reid’s relaxed feeling began to fade. He knew he should keep it all casual and easy, but he was feeling anything but that at the moment. He felt proprietary toward Luke; he didn’t want to have Luke go inside his house, feeling suddenly certain that seeing other people might make their new closeness vanish. He wanted Luke for himself - if only for a little longer.

Reid glanced at the house; it was smaller than he’d pictured but still impressive looking. Lily was probably home and Reid would need to make small talk with her. And while he didn’t dislike Lily, she had a way of making him feel like a really bad guest. She never wanted him at the farm that summer, not really, and Reid could imagine that she didn’t want him here now, much less want him inside her son, which of course she didn’t know about, but he could imagine her horror all the same.

Seeing the house, a wave of irritation went through him. This was Luke’s world, his family. Reid could pretend it was just him and Luke at the hotel or even back at the empty farm, but here Reid could almost feel the Snyder clan roping Luke off and pulling him in.

Well, at least it was just Lily and Luke’s immediate family he might have to face inside. It could be worse. It could be the entire town. Reid could still see the adoration on their faces at Luke’s birthday as he rode around on a pony, waving to them all. Luke belonged here; he was rooted here.

For Reid, this town just reminded him of the endless days as an insecure, scrawny nobody, trying desperately to follow his ambitions, refusing to be sidetracked. But Reid understood that for Luke this place was everything that mattered. It was family and it was home. Not that he cared what any of these idiots thought, but Reid could imagine the gasps of outrage as the town learned that Reid was screwing the unofficial prince of Oakdale.

He swallowed hard and turned off the ignition, making no move to leave the car.

Luke turned to him suddenly, un-clicking his seat belt and scooting close to him. Gently, Luke ran his thumb over Reid’s lips and then held the side of his neck. Tilting his head, Luke smiled slightly.

“What?” Reid asked, feeling the skinny kid he used to be chafe under scrutiny. Reid knew what most people thought of him when he entered a room; he knew he wasn’t an easy person.

“Nothing. Just….” Luke slid his gaze away. “There’s still so much about you that I want to know. “

Reid said nothing. His mouth turned down. Great. Just great. Luke wanted to know about him. Of course he did, but what was there to tell? His past was a prickly, painful thing and he hated thinking about it. Why couldn’t they just enjoy each other? Reid should have taken Luke straight back to the hotel and continued to screw his brains out. Then he wouldn’t be sitting here in the car sweating out old memories of being alone. Besides, no one ever died from wearing the same clothes two days in a row.

“Like…before coming here, were you involved with anybody recently? “ Luke peeked at him from beneath his eyelashes.

“Not really. Let’s go inside.”

Why did it keep coming up, the constant reminders of how alone he’s been his whole life? This thing with Luke was just temporary, too. He shouldn’t be thinking of extending his stay. He should be trying to find a way to cut it even shorter. If he was smart, and he had it on good authority that he was very smart, then he’d be getting the hell out of Dodge, not getting his dick further and further in Luke.

Reid opened up his door and started for Lily’s house, while Luke hurried to catch him. Reid swallowed a muffled curse. Of course, he should have realized that Luke, being Luke, would feel a compulsion to analyze him. He probably read self-help magazines at his dentist’s office. For that matter, Oakdale probably offered a college course on how to get your boyfriend to be a star-crossed lover.

Not that Luke couldn’t ask about his past, but why should they go there? He’d done lots of things with lots of people, but none of it had anything to do with Luke.

“So it has been a long time? Or it hasn’t been? What’s not really mean?”

“It hasn’t been that long, okay?“ Reid snapped. “But it’s just sex, Luke. I enjoy sex, but I just don’t think about them afterwards. I’m not putting notches on my bedpost; I’m too busy for that nonsense.“

“That’s it?’ Luke pursed his lips together. “That’s all the men you’ve slept with mean to you?”

“That’s it. “ Reid nodded. “My personal life can’t compete with medicine. Never has and never will.”

Bob was wrong all those years ago, some people couldn’t have both a home life and a medical career. Reid grimaced, remembering how Bob seemed to have it all. He could see Bob leaving with Kim and Chris for the day, as Reid had stood alone waiting for Holden to pick him up, acting like he hadn’t wished it was Bob’s hand on his arm instead of Chris’s.

Luke clicked his tongue at him. “That explains a lot.” He jammed his hands in his pockets. “What’s the matter with you?”

Reid frowned. “Me? Nothing. What’s the matter with you?”

Luke didn’t answer, but he gave Reid a piercing, injured look.

“Don’t overreact,” Reid said, pushing the memory away. He felt an impulse to wrap his arms around Luke.

“Why do you say I’m overreacting, whenever I want to know about your life? “ He tossed his head back. “And I hardly ever overreact. I’m interested, making conversation. It’s what people do, you know, talk.” Luke’s lip jutted out again. “I told you about my past.”

“You don’t have a past,“ Reid said. He pinched his nose. “Look, there’s nothing else to tell. I never cared about them. I’m a doctor; that’s what I care about. Stop looking at me for things that aren’t there. Leave it alone, will you?” Reid grunted at his own words, aimed more at himself than at Luke; he was the one thinking about being a 15 year old screw-up again, longing for a father figure, hoping for a family that would never be there, wanting too much from the past, from the present.

A myriad of expressions crossed Luke’s face. He shrugged, “Sure, okay.”

Reid opened his mouth, tempted to apologize for his abrupt tone, then he shut it. Reid rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t mean to hurt you-“

“I’m not hurt,” Luke said quickly, feigning disinterest. “You don’t have relationships; you have medicine. Got it.” Luke started to walk up the front steps, but Reid grabbed his shoulder.

“Hold on, hold on,” Reid said.

“What?” Luke folded his arms at his chest.

Reid let out a long breath. “You know I’m an ass. But when I said they never matter… I don’t mean you, alright?” Reid took his hands on both sides of Luke’s face and held them there. ”You’re more than those other men and all of that,“ he added, unable to stop . Christ, he was babbling like an imbecile and Luke knew it.

“What am I?’ Luke asked softly, searching Reid’s face.

Reid swallowed hard, his lungs tightening painfully, making it hard to breathe. “I don’t know…” He gazed a moment a Luke. He could feel the softness of Luke’s skin under his hands, and see the wistful hope in his eyes. Reid remembered Holden pulling up in the truck outside of the hospital, Luke in the front seat with him, a grin on his face, excited to see Reid, and the way even then, Reid’s stomach would warm with affection for the kid.

Reid took a deep inhale, squeezing the air in. “You’re-“ Reid paused, then he shrugged. “You’re … Luke” he finally said and kissed Luke’s mouth to stop any more questions.

Luke wrapped an arm at Reid’s waist and kissed him back, hard. Luke pressed his forehead against him, and Reid closed his eyes briefly. Then, with a pat on Luke’s cheek, Reid stepped back.

“Now let’s get your stuff and go back to the hotel,” Reid said, feeling relieved the conversation was over and glad to have cast off the bad memory for a good one. Luke nodded and took Reid’s hand in his own. They marched up the steps of the house.

“And don’t forget your toothbrush," Reid instructed. “You’re not using mine.”

“Oh, you mean the one I scrubbed the toilet with this morning?” Luke grinned. He opened up his front door and they went to the stairs.

Reid was about to joke back with him, when Lily’s voice rang out.

“Who‘s there?” Lily called, coming up the stairs.

“Me, Mom,” Luke said.

“I didn’t know you’d be around today.” Lily said, coming up to them, looked like she’s been crying, her face was splotchy, her eyes looked pinched.

Luke immediately went to his mother and embraced her. “Are you okay?” he asked.

She patted him. “Of course, baby. Just tired.“ Lily smiled at Reid. “I don’t know if I’ll see you after today. I have to pack for Paris. I go in a few days to see some perfume factories.”

Reid nodded, thinking Lily’s fragrance must be desperation with a splash of self-pity.

“Mom,” Luke said, still frowning at her. “If you want me to come-“

“Oh, no. You have so much going on here.” Lily squared her shoulders. “I’ll do it alone.” Then she sniffed and said, “Do you boys want a snack? It’s so nice to have you visiting Luke, Reid.”

“We’re good,” Luke said. “Um, we’ll be in my room.”

Lily just nodded and went downstairs.

“She okay?” Reid asked.

Luke sighed. “Not really.”

They went up to Luke’s room. Reid took in the narrow bed, collection of basketball trophies, and goofy pictures his siblings had drawn for him tacked onto the walls.

“Excuse me,” Reid said to Luke, who was busy putting some things in an overnight bag. “Have you decided to stay seven years old? All that’s missing is your stuffed bear collection. “

“Shut up,” Luke laughed and pushed at Reid. Reid smiled at him and sat down on Luke’s small bed.

“Just saying-time to put the toys away.”

“Can you be nice to me for like five minutes?” Luke made a face at him.

“I thought I was very nice to you earlier,” Reid pointed out. “Say the word and I’ll very nicely introduce you to some grownup toys.” Reid waggled his eyebrows at Luke.

Luke grunted in reply. He threw some pants into his suitcase. Reid stood up a moment, and opened up his other drawer and tossed him a few t-shirts. Luke caught them in one hand, and then smiled at Reid, as Reid flopped back down on Luke’s bed.

“That was it? “ Reid said. “Not gonna continue your lecture on making me a better person?”

“Nope,” Luke started to put some toiletries into his bag. “And I never said you weren’t a good person. In fact, I kind of like the person you are.” Luke walked over to him. He ran a finger down Reid’s chest.

“Good,” Reid replied huskily. “’Cause I was just about to comment on all your copious hair products. Are they all necessary to bring? I feel like I just invited Cher back to my hotel.”

Luke laughed, shaking his head. He dropped his hand away.

Reid picked off some lint form the blue bedspread. “Just so we’re clear? I’m never having sex with you in Lily’s house, no matter how magnificent looking you might be. I have real issues with the idea of mommy walking in. I can just imagine Lily calling you baby and wanting to powder your ass.”

Luke leaned back against his wall and looked at Reid, a small smile on his mouth. “You think I’m magnificent looking?”

Reid rolled his eyes. “Don’t be all coy - you own a mirror.”

“No, I’m not trying to be coy,” Luke looked self-conscious and rubbed at the back of his neck. “It’s just kind of nice to hear…You’re the first person to- Noah never – he didn’t like to talk or anything. I always had to work really hard to know what he thought about me.” Luke caught his bottom lip on his teeth.

“So, you never talked or had sex. And you were unhappy? Shocking.”

Reid glanced at the picture of Noah with Luke. They were a good two inches apart, not touching each other. It looked like a picture of two friends on their way to school.

“So why did you stay with him so long?”

“I guess…. I don’t know.” Luke looked at him helplessly. “I mean I thought he loved me, and I’d waited for somebody to say that they loved me for a long time, so - I don’t know. I just kept trying to make it work. But we never fit, not easily.” Luke ducked his head.

Reid got off the bed and went to him. He walked over to where Luke stood and he grabbed Luke, pulling his body in tightly to his own. Reid pushed him back against the wall, capturing his hands, and held them high above Luke’s head. Luke gasped in surprise as Reid smiled at him until Luke slowly smiled back, their eyes gripped in passion. Reid began to kiss Luke’s lips.

The door opened suddenly and they moved apart.

“Oh!” Lily inhaled a sharp breath. “Oh.”

“Mom!”

“Hey Lily,” Reid said.

Lily’s eyes darted back and forth at them. “Are you- are you?” Lily floundered.

“Mom-“ Luke said and then stopped in confusion.

Reid took his hand. “Let’s make this simple. “ Reid looked at Lily. “Luke and I are spending some time together.”

Luke blushed, but he smiled down at their linked fingers.

“Reid,” Lily said. “Please excuse us a moment?” Lily gestured for Luke to step into the hallway.

Reluctantly, Luke let go of Reid’s hand and followed his mother. Neither of them probably realized that their voices carried, and Reid could hear every word.

“Luke,” Lily said. “I don’t understand, baby. You and Reid? You’re so different.”

“We understand each other, Mom. We aren’t so different really. Not in the important ways.”

Reid felt his heart bang against his chest and he flushed. He just stood there, listening.

“I’m trying to stop you from a mistake. Listen to me-“

“It’s not a mistake. You have no idea what it is.”

“Luke--”

“Mom, it isn't your business. Look, I’m going back in to Reid.”

Reid tried to appear indifferent as they both came back into the room, but he couldn’t help peering over at Luke. Luke smiled at him. He came over and picked up Reid’s hand again and Lily frowned, her brows knitted together. She turned her attention to Reid.

Lily shook her head. “I know you’re a good doctor and not a bad man,” she told Reid stiffly. “But surely you must see how odd this is? Luke is much younger than you.”

Reid tried to be indifferent to Lily’s cold statement. He just shrugged at her. “Luke’s a grown man, able to make up his own mind.”

The whole thing was a little crazy, considering they weren’t even a couple really, that it was a sex thing or a friend thing or…Reid scowled. Whatever it was, Luke was right, it wasn’t any of Lily’s damn business.

“Mom!” Luke said. “Reid is a good man, and I am old enough to decide that for myself.”

“And what about Noah?”

Luke’s entire body tensed. “Mom, we broke up. You know that.”

“Luke,” Lily said, ignoring Reid completely now. “You just broke up with Noah; you can’t possibly be ready for another relationship.”

There was a silence, and then Reid felt Luke squeeze his fingers. Luke nodded at Lily slowly. “I appreciate you worrying about me, but I’m fine. Really. Go on your trip and enjoy yourself, okay?”

“But Noah-“

“Is a grown man, too, Mom, and, like I said, so am I.“ Luke went on, ignoring Lily’s growing frown. “And you know how it was with Noah. We broke up more times than I can count. We’ve barely seen each other all these months, especially since Ameera came into the picture.” Luke shook his head. “Even before she came, we weren’t happy. You remember the election and all of that, right? It should have been over then. It was over. I just didn’t want to admit it. You know how sad I was with him, how alone I felt.”

Lily was about to reply, when they all heard the door bang open.

“We’re home, mommy,” shouted Natalie.

“Go make a snack, honey,” Lily shouted out. “I’ll be right there.”

“Lily?” Holden called. They heard him come up the steps. Holden walked into the room, a sleeping
Ethan in his arms, and seeing Luke, Reid, and Lily's expressions, he asked, “What’s going on?”

Reaching out his other hand to touch Holden’s shoulder, Luke shrugged. “I was just telling Mom that Reid and I are involved.” Luke moved his hand to Ethan’s small frame. “Shouldn’t you put him to bed?”

“You and Reid….” Holden said, perplexed.

“Can you believe it?” Lily said. “Just after breaking up with Noah, Luke says he’s with Reid now. “

Holden made a face at Lily. “Well, if that’s what Luke wants-“

“For God sake’s, Holden, Luke can’t know what he wants right now.“ She glared at him. “And of course, that’s what you’d say!”

They began to fight bitterly, in hushed voices so as not wake up Ethan, and Reid was amazed that even now, Holden and Lily could find a way to turn Luke’s life into their own drama. It was still all about them.

This time, Reid squeezed Luke’s hand. They turned to one another, shutting Lily and Holden out, and exchanged a smile. Luke’s eyes held a sadness though, and it made Reid want to drag him down the hallway. Reid knew that Luke would always care deeply about his home and his family; he wouldn’t want Luke to be any other way, but neither did he want Luke to needlessly listen to them.

“Look, we gotta go,” Reid told Holden and Lily abruptly. Luke eyed his still fighting parents.

“I’ll call you both,” Luke said, lovingly, and it jolted Reid to realize that Luke’s heart truly had no limits, and his own heart lurched in reaction. Holden and Lily only nodded, their hostile glares focused on each other. They had always been that way; their children always second behind their own drama.

As if Luke were thinking the same thing, he reached out protectively to stroke his little brother’s silky hair once more.

“I’ll take him, Dad,” Luke offered.

Holden nodded, barely looking at Luke as he dumped Ethan into his arms. Holden’s attention was on Lily, the air between them turning even uglier. Reid was glad to help Luke take Ethan, even asleep, away from them, and he was glad to have Luke leave the room too.

Reid picked up Luke’s bag and followed him down the hallway. Carefully, Luke carried his brother to his room and laid him on the bed. He took off Ethan’s shoes and socks, and rubbed Ethan’s small feet. Reid handed Luke a cover, and Luke spread it across his brother, tucking him in.

Reid motioned toward the door.

Luke hesitated a moment, looking down at Ethan again, and giving him a kiss on his forehead. Ethan stirred a moment and then was silent. Luke walked to the door, and still paused, chewing his lip. Reid waited for him to be ready, his hand resting at Luke’s waist.

Luke sucked in a breath. “They’re good parents, and they do love us. Really. But sometimes…” He shook his head. Reid moved his hand up from Luke’s waist and then wrapped both his arms around Luke’s chest, not speaking. Luke looked back at him, smiled slightly, and then rested against Reid. They both looked down at Ethan’s sleeping form.

“He’s got you,” Reid whispered into Luke’s ear. Reid could feel a deep sigh move through Luke’s body, before he looked at Reid again and nodded.

“I try,” Luke smiled. “We can go. I’ll call them in the morning.”

“Sure?”

Luke nodded.

With his free arm, Reid picked up Luke’s small overnight bag, and they went downstairs, hand in hand, leaving Luke’s home behind them.

As they got to the car, Reid stopped Luke from opening his door. He put a hand on Luke’s neck and searched his eyes.

“What?” Luke asked. He already seemed more at ease away from his parents. He jammed his hands into his pockets, looking inquisitively at Reid, ready to be there for him too. For a moment, it made the words Reid wanted to say stick in his throat.

Reid stared at Luke intensely, devouring his face, fervently glad that he had a photographic memory, and that he would forever be able to summon it up. Reid put his hand to Luke’s smiling mouth and ran his fingers over their shape.

“No matter what, do me one favor okay? Don’t go back to a guy like Noah. You deserve better than that. You deserve somebody who doesn’t play games. Who treats you right. Noah’s not that guy.” Reid tenderly cupped the side of Luke’s face.

Luke blinked at him slowly. “Okay,” he said in a soft voice.

Reid kissed him, still keeping his fingers on Luke’s cheek.

Luke smiled, and covered Reid’s hand with his own, letting it rest on the side of his face a moment longer.

“Good, now that we’ve settled that,“ Reid said briskly, giving him a fast smile. “Let’s go back to the hotel and we can try out some of those positions you’re so curious about.” Reid put his mouth to Luke’s ear. ”How about you do me?”

Luke gaped at him, “Seriously? Now?”

Reid shrugged. “Got something more important to do? Somewhere else to be?”

“No,” Luke shook his head vigorously. “I’m ready to go. I won’t let you down,” he told Reid with an earnest look.

Reid patted him once more. “Then you’ve got the job.”


***
The drive back to the hotel, Luke never stopped talking. He seemed full of excitement, even more than normal, he rocked in his seat, waving his hands around as he spoke.

“I’m going to call a few favors in and start on that family wing, and then maybe build a brand new Peds wing too. A neuro wing?” He shot Reid a sly look. “There is so much I can do for Memorial. ” Luke drummed his fingers at his knee. “And I have other ideas. I think I can make them happen,” he said. “Like maybe I’ll look into buying a small newspaper here too. I wanted to have a gay magazine focusing on issues of gay rights. Another idea I had is -”

“Maybe focus on one idea at a time, Trust Fund,“ Reid teased.

Luke shrugged, smiling widely. “I know, you’re right. I’m just excited. I put all these ideas on hold, doubting I could make them really happen, but now. I dunno. I feel so energized!”

Reid nodded. He enjoyed listening to all of Luke’s ideas. Reid knew why he felt energized; he felt that way too. It was all the mind blowing sex. He looked at Luke’s animated face and smiled again.

Luke could do anything he wanted with his life. Reid has always believed that about him. Whatever dreams he had stored up in his heart, Luke could make them happen. Reid’s smile faded a little. He would like to see them come to fruition. It was only now that Luke seemed ready to start down a path of self discovery, and Reid would have liked to watch him take on the world with his eyes open and heart aimed so high, but Reid would be long gone by then.

“Hey,” Luke tugged at his arm. “Where are you?”

Reid forced a smile. “I’m right here.”

Luke narrowed his eyes at him, his head tilted. “Are you sure?” His face filled with concern.

“I’m fine,” Reid replied, rolling his eyes.

“Okay,” Luke answered, wrinkling his nose up, and then rolling his eyes right back at him. “Be all strong and silent.” Luke took his hand. “But I’m here if you want to talk to me.”

Reid’s mouth kicked up at the corners. “I’m fine,” he said again, but in a softer voice. Reid shook off his worries and smiled at Luke. “Tell me more about your magazine idea.”


A huge grin swept over Luke’s face. “Really? You wanna hear? ” At Reid’s nod, Luke beamed. Eagerly, Luke launched into detail about his plans. Luke was so damn excited. Clearly, all the sex had agreed with him. Maybe spending time together hadn’t hurt Luke’s confidence either.

Suddenly it occurred to Reid that if Luke were this upbeat now, what would Luke be like after he topped him? Reid felt an ache in his groin. He drove a little faster toward the hotel. Reid had only bottomed a few times. He preferred to be the one in control, but the idea of teaching Luke how to do it? Showing him how to make a man ready for his cock, and move inside of him? A thrill of anticipation ran down Reid’s spine.

Reid quickly pulled up to the building and parked the car. He and Luke both laughed as they practically leaped out of the car, and rushed inside and over to the elevator. For once, Reid was eager to ride in it. He kissed Luke a few times on the way up to his suite. Luke took off Reid’s jacket, running his hands over Reid’s back. Then the elevator doors opened and they hurried to the room, still stopping to kiss and grab at each other, and then hurrying some more. Reid fumbled, unusually klutzy, nearly dropping his key.

As they banged open the hotel door, kissing some more, Reid’s pager went off. Both he and Luke glared at it.

Reid read the message from Bob.

“Work. I gotta leave,” Reid said.

“Right now?” Luke pouted.

“Ameera’s awake,“ he told Luke. “A bit sooner than expected, but it’s good news.“

“Oh,” Luke’s face cleared. He nodded. “That’s wonderful! I’m happy for her.”

“Yeah, but I do need to run over there now.” Reid still held Luke’s waist. He knew that it was odd that he didn’t really want to leave.

“Well, I’ll just work on some foundation business on my laptop.” Luke clasped his shoulder. “I can wait for you.” He made no move to release Reid either.

Reid kissed him once more, urgently needing to taste his mouth, feel his lips. Luke moaned slightly and kissed him back. Cursing, Reid broke it off and stepped away.

“I’ll be as fast as I can.”

Luke nodded once more. He went to Reid, inhaling sharply. Luke put his lips on the side of Reid’s neck and sucked at the sensitive skin, making Reid twist his head in response. Then Luke released him, smiling at him.

“I’ll be here,” Luke promised.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.

Chapter 9

As they drove towards the farm, a crackle of thunder sounded, and Reid glanced up at the darkening clouds. The storms in the Midwest could be strong and sudden. One time, when he and Luke had been swimming in the pond, a storm filled the sky without warning, and lightening struck, just as Reid had pulled Luke out. Luke had protested, wanting to wait it out and get back in the pond, and Reid had totally become a first class nerd, lecturing Luke about water safety. Luke had given in, and they’d run barefoot and shivering back to the house.

“Oh, great.” Luke frowned. “I guess you don’t an umbrella in this rental car?”

Reid shrugged.

“The minute we get out at the farm, we’ll get all wet,” Luke added.

An image of Luke wet from the rain entered Reid’s brain. He pictured Luke’s shirt soaked to his skin.

“I don’t mind getting wet,” Reid said.

He imagined Luke with rain on his lips, and Reid licking off the drops. Then he imagined that Luke was stripping off his clothes and getting goose bumps, and Reid needed to rub his chilled skin with his hands. Luke would be naked, rain-soaked, begging Reid to hold him. What was wrong with him? Imagining such tripe? Besides, he should be more than satisfied; they’d had plenty of sex already, but Reid wanted him still; he felt like he could be inside of Luke all day and not be done with him.

The sky grew dark and thunder boomed again.

“I predict another minute before the rain hits,” Reid mumbled, tapping his fingers at the wheel. He pictured kissing Luke’s wet skin, pressing his body close, devouring his cock and ass. His own cock was ridiculously interested in that image.

Luke peered up toward the clouds. He was smiling just a little, his eyes soft. Reid swallowed with difficulty and tried not to look at him. He couldn’t help it; he stole another quick glance. Luke had cracked the window a little bit and stuck out his hand. The wind lifted up his hair. The curve of his ear lobe was visible and Reid could imagine sucking at it, making Luke shiver.

Just then, the rain fell.

“Yep. It’s raining.“ Luke laughed and cranked up the window. “Must be hard to always be right,“ Luke joked, his eyes still looking up at the storm.

“It’s a burden, but better me than anyone else in the world.” He grinned quickly at Luke, and Luke wrinkled up his nose and rolled his eyes at him, and even that gesture, turned Reid on. Brooding now, Reid tried to focus on the road, but his gut twisted up, his cock ached. He wanted Luke, again. Reid imagined whamming him hard from behind.

Luke was silent, but his knee was bouncing up and down. The rain was pouring now, smacking at the windshield and Reid turned the wipers on to the highest switch.

“After we eat at the farm, I should swing by home and pick up some things. That is,” Luke said. “If – if you want me. To come back to the hotel, I mean.”

“What?” As the storm turned treacherous, Reid’s eyes had to stay on the road.

“Well,” Luke said shyly. “Do you want me back at the hotel? I mean to go with you?“ Luke exhaled suddenly. “We never discussed beyond the first time. Now that I’m not a virgin…”

“Oh.” Reid gripped his hands on the wheel. “I still think you could learn a few things.” Reid hoped for a casual tone.

“Yeah,” Luke agreed quickly, his knee bouncing wildly now. “One time doesn’t make a guy an expert. If I meet somebody down the road, I want to seem like I know what I’m doing.”

Reid’s shoulders stiffened, thinking about some faceless man being with Luke, licking Luke’s nipples or biting his neck or coming inside of him. He blinked his eyes rapidly, trying to push the image away. Bullshit that Luke was ready soon for another man; he’d be the one to give it to Luke, every throbbing inch of him.

“And you don’t know what you’re doing,” Reid insisted, his fingers rigidly gripping the wheel. “Not yet. I better teach you some more.”

Luke snuck a glance at him. “I guess you have some things in mind? To still do to me? ” Luke’s voice grew low. “I hope so,” he added breathlessly, shifting his body toward Reid’s.

Reid felt the knot of tension leave him. Luke wanted him, nobody else. He could see it on his face.

“That’s right,” Reid teased, relaxing. “I took it easy on you, grasshopper. I still have many moves to demonstrate.”

“And I have much to learn from the master,” Luke replied, picking up on his joke. “And his vast Ninja skills.”

Reid spared him a fast glance and they smiled at each other and Reid’s heart speeded up a little at Luke’s smile.

“I really do,” Luke said, his knee bouncing again. “I mean if you’re okay with…I haven’t tried certain things. I would like to –are you open to other positions?”

Reid’s body jolted.

“Do you like,” Luke was stumbling now over his words. “I know some guys don’t…But do you like when a guy…I mean I’d like to put my tongue- “ Luke trailed off, sounding mortified. “Maybe we don’t need to discuss this,” he said in a small voice.

With a muffled curse, Reid slowed down and pulled way off to the side of the country road.

“What’s wrong?” Luke said smiling, and then at Reid’s hungry look, Luke’s smile disappeared.

“I can’t see much in this damn rain,“ Reid said. “And I can’t concentrate even if I could. Don’t you know how horny you’re making me?” It came out almost like an accusation. Reid released his seatbelt and moved into the back of the car.

“Oh,” Luke said, his eyes wide. “I am?” He looked positively giddy at that news.

“Give me five minutes,” Reid said hoarsely.

“For what?” Luke was asking, but Reid didn’t reply.

Reid couldn’t answer. His dick was throbbing, a wet spot already coating his underwear. Since Luke’s fumbling words, the need for release had consumed him. Reid was shaking as he zipped open his jeans. He couldn’t drive or think or do anything right now, but this. Reid started to rut into his own hand, thrusting up and grunting.

Luke made a stunned noise. Reid felt his eyes watching his movements, and Reid looked at Luke,still stroking himself. Luke’s mouth was open, his eyes big. Reid would stop if Luke asked. But Reid could tell Luke wasn’t going to do that. Luke was licking his lips and gazing at Reid’s lean fingers. Reid grunted, some sweat trickling down his back, his hand at the base of his cock and then moving forward. Having Luke watch, made Reid groan. He’d already come twice today, but his cock was aching so badly, he couldn’t get himself off fast enough.

Outside, the storm was raging. Rain hammered the car.

Reid held his cock in a fist and jerked it. Still watching, Luke’s hand went to his own pants and unzipped. Reid’s breathing was getting ragged, as he watched Luke begin to masturbate, too. Luke’s neck arched back, and he bit his lip, glancing back at Reid as he worked, staring at Reid’s fingers rhythmically working on his own engorged cock.

He and Luke jerked themselves faster now, eyes still on each other, hot with lust.

Luke’s penis pointed upward toward his stomach, and Luke put his finger into his mouth a moment, to soak it with his own salvia, before reaching down to touch himself more. Reid gazed at Luke and his hips bucked hard seeing Luke so hot and unguarded. A small jolt of precome spurted from Reid at Luke’s eagerness. Luke’s face was intense in concentration, his tongue poking out, as his hands rubbed up and down his own cock. Urgently, Reid pinched his dick with his fingers. He felt moments away from release.

“To hell with this,” Reid said with a growl. “I want you; I need you, Luke.“

Luke’s entire body seemed to react to Reid’s words, and he kicked off his shoes, and immediately climbed into the back, bumping his head against the top, but seeming oblivious to it, as he hurried, knocking his elbows against the back of the seats, and cramming his knees into the floor space, as Reid tried to scoot down. Luke awkwardly climbed on top of Reid, almost kneeing him in the groin, and Reid cursed at the size of the car. If he had Luke in his bedroom, he’d have him face down on the sheets right now, with his ass up. As it was, they’d have to improvise. Reid’s elbows slammed against the window as he yanked at Luke’s pants, both of them squirming and rutting against each other as they worked to get them down and off in the small space.

Frantically, Luke fell across Reid’s chest, seeking his mouth, pulling at Reid’s jeans with shaking hands. Luke bucked his body at him, desperately grunting as he banged his head again. Reid’s elbow slammed into something hard, as he hauled Luke’s body around trying to get room to toe off his shoes, and lift his own hips to get his jeans completely off. Bumps and bruises later, and in between kisses that seared his mouth, their jeans were on the floorboards, and their cocks were pressed together, as they grunted and rutted at each other in the car. Gasping, Reid pulled his mouth from Luke’s, and keeping one hand protectively at Luke’s shoulder in hopes of preventing any more injuries as he directed Luke in what to do, he gestured for him to turn around.

“W-what?” Luke asked, confused. “What do you want?”

“Turn around.”

“Why?”

“Do it.”

Still breathing heavily, Luke turned, and nearly planted his knee in Reid’s face, but it was worth it once he was hovering just above Reid, his mouth near Reid’s erection.

“69 me,” Reid said in a low voice.

“Reid,” Luke pleaded, his hand grazed over Reid’s cock, causing Reid to jump. He dug his fingers into Luke’s round ass.

A shudder went through Luke’s body, and Reid palmed Luke’s hardness, pressing at it with the heel of his hand.

Luke let out an astonished cry, his mouth getting closer to Reid’s erection; Luke’s breath was so near it was sweet agony.

Reid lifted his swollen cock up to Luke’s lips. He almost came right then, at that first contact with Luke’s slick mouth. Luke’s tongue was hot and probing. He licked Reid’s cock head in a playful circle, and then attempted to deep- throat. Reid bucked his hips up, and Luke gagged a little and tried harder, but Reid controlled himself and pulled back. “It’s okay,” Reid rasped out. “We don’t have to force it. Sucking feels good too.” Luke panted, his mouth loosening slightly, and he gave some sucks on Reid’s crown.

Reid’s hips flared up, seeking more, as he dug his fingers into Luke’s backside, kneading the flesh there, finally taking Luke’s own dangling cock into his mouth, grinding Luke’s shaft, mashing it, using his tongue, causing Luke to writhe. Trembling, Luke fought for control. He breathed out, with Reid still fully in his mouth, and Luke’s breath all around his aching cock only made Reid suck on Luke harder.

Luke moaned, delicious half-whimpers and half-grunts. Reid’s cock slipped from his mouth, and Luke panted. Then he put it back between his lips. Luke sucked like nobody else; deep, penetrating sucks, with those full lips tightly around Reid. Reid closed his eyes. He was addicted to Luke’s blowjobs already. He was addicted to Luke.

Reid coated his fingers with some spit. He reached up to the cleft of Luke’s ass, and teased one finger at his hole, before returning his mouth to Luke’s erection. His nose was buried in Luke’s nest of golden hairs, and Luke’s scent drove him on. Reid allowed his finger to push a little further, his mouth to press down harder, and his tongue to find Luke’s slit.

Luke convulsed, his body in spasms, his cum spraying out. Reid lapped it up, sucking it in, his finger still teasing Luke’s tight hole. Luke groaned and nearly bit down on Reid’s dick in response, and then Reid’s own orgasm was ignited, his semen going down Luke’s throat. Luke was making drinking noises. It made Reid’s entire body shake as he listened.

Sated, they both collapsed. Luke curled up into a ball, his head rested on Reid’s thighs. Reid ran a hand down the line of Luke’s hip, gently, and back up again.

A few moments later, Reid helped Luke upright against him. They both still drew ragged breathes of air, gulping oxygen into their raw lungs.

“That was-“ Luke shuddered.

“Yeah.” Reid, too, was still having tiny after-shocks of pleasure throughout his body, making his leg quake a little.

Luke gave him a small smile and then exhaled, his hair blowing away from his face. Reid leaned against him, pressing their foreheads to each other’s.

Suddenly, a car’s engine sounded behind them. Reid glanced into the rearview mirror.

Luke jumped like an electrical wire had just touched him. “Oh God!” Luke scrambled trying to get to his pants, elbowing Reid in the gut in the process. “It’s the cops.“

Reid grabbed him, trying to prevent a flying elbow from hitting him in the nose while Luke wriggled, and banged everywhere getting his pants back on. “Relax.” Reid gave flashed him a quick grin. “We swallowed all the evidence.”

“Oh no,” Luke groaned, ignoring that. He looked back again. “It’s my Uncle Jack’s squad car.”

“Appropriate name, considering we just jacked off.”

“Reid, stop making dumb jokes and grab your pants.” Luke said, hitting his head against the top of the car as he climbed back to the front. “This is serious.“

“Yes sir, Mr. Snyder!” Reid mocked, but he pulled on his underwear and jeans as quickly as he could in the small space. It wasn’t like he was an exhibitionist, but he didn’t see any reason for Luke’s panic either.

Reid asked, as he calmly buttoned up, “Why so nervous? He couldn’t see into a car with tinted windows in a rain storm, right? Besides, your uncle isn’t going to arrest you for exposure or anything.”

He climbed to the front with some effort. It seemed harder now that he wasn’t so horny that he couldn’t think straight.

“No,” Luke said, red-faced. “Just take my dad aside for a heart to heart about me.“Luke was desperately spraying the car with the free sample freshener the car rental agency had provided.

“Now it smells like sex and coconut car spray,” Reid laughed. Then he relented and gently touched Luke’s chest. “Do you want me to handle it?”

“You?” Luke groaned. “You suck with people, remember? I don’t want you talking unless Jack is suddenly sedated on a stretcher.”

Jack came over to their car. Jack bent down and rapped on the tinted window.

“Howdy officer,” Reid said. He offered Luke’s uncle his best, fake smile.

Luke just buried his hands in his face.

***

“See? No problem,” Reid told Luke as they reached the front steps of Emma’s house about twenty minutes later. “Oakdale cops have rocks for brains.”

“No, we got lucky,” Luke argued. “And I managed to distract him with talk of Parker’s basketball game.”

“Just feed me,” Reid ordered. But he had to admit, Luke did know how to turn on that charm.

“I can’t believe what just happened,“ Luke said, he paused to get out a key for the front door, “Do you think Jack really didn’t know?” Not waiting for an answer, Luke walked into the large kitchen and threw the keys down on the table.

Reid followed him.

“Why do you care if he did?” Reid shrugged. He was bothered by the idea that Luke might want to hide that he was sleeping with Reid or something. Reid didn’t like that one bit.

Luke started to pull out a few ingredients from the pantry, when Reid just grabbed him. “Why shouldn’t we just do this whenever we want?”

He looked into Luke’s startled gaze and then he nibbled at the delicate flesh of Luke’s ear. Luke gave an involuntary tremble.

“Because-“ Luke floundered, looked blank a moment. “Umm,” Luke almost moaned as Reid took another suck. “Because - because this is Oakdale. People here …well. “

Reid gave Luke’s ear a punishing nip. Then he soothed it away with a kiss.

A stain of red was climbing up Luke’s neck and Reid could see Luke’s pulse pounding. Reid let his warm breath caress Luke’s skin a moment longer, his tongue flicked in and out teasingly. Then he released Luke’s ear. Luke’s hand went to the lobe and he just held his ear and looked at Reid, dazed.

“Oakdale?” Reid scoffed. “That’s really a concern? I told you already people here are hardly saints. “

With shaking hands, Luke took out a few more ingredients, but remained silent, though Reid could see that his pants were a bit distorted, getting hard again already from so little.

Curiously, Reid opened the bag of sundried tomatoes and sniffed. Luke snatched the bag back.

“What?” Reid said.

“Just go!” Luke waved at him to leave the kitchen. “The storm’s over, so take a walk. Get some air. Come back in awhile.”

Luke held the bag protectively to his chest. Reid took a step closer, deliberately putting his face close to Luke’s, and he smiled at Luke’s telltale flush.

“What? I’m bothering you?”

“It’s hard to concentrate around you, okay?” Luke stuck out his lower lip, “Stop smirking at me and take a walk. Come back when I at least have gotten started with all this.”

“Fine. I’ll go wander through the fields and tip some cows.”

“Do that. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Blowing him a kiss that made Luke’s eyes widen with surprise, Reid flashed him a grin and then sauntered out the front door.

The afternoon rain had left the ground muddy, and Reid got some dirt on his sneakers as he walked around the farm. Luke was horny for him, that was why he’d kicked him out, and that thought alone was enough to make Reid’s dick harden, lengthen.

He remembered losing his own virginity to Seth Cohen his third year at Harvard. He’d been eighteen and still a skinny science nerd, but Seth hadn’t seemed to mind, bending him over the table in the biochemistry lab where Reid had been tutoring him for some extra cash. Reid wiped a hand over his face remembering how afterward he’d wanted to hump everything in sight, and if he’d thought it was tough being a horny virgin, being a horny ex-virgin who knew exactly what he was missing had been even harder.

The risks he’d taken to get laid after that had almost been out of character for him, but there was no denying a guy’s awakened sexual drive, the urges had been almost maddening. He’d hate to see Luke fall into risky behavior or start tricking; Luke was far too sensitive to handle that, but he would need to get laid. He couldn’t just go back a sexless existence. Maybe Reid should stick around a few days longer, just to make sure that Luke got what he needed, take the edge off it all for him.

When Reid left, Luke would be alone and he was so trusting. He was all raging libido now, and what if he bounced right into the arms of the wrong man? Reid crossed his arms over his chest, scowling. He’d have to stay around for a little bit longer for Luke’s sake, until he was at the point where he had a thicker skin, and wasn’t so ready to bend over without any thought of consequences. Reid could show Luke how to protect his heart, and after Luke was more resilient, and then he could go.

Reid rubbed a hand over his face as he walked toward the barn. He had vacation time coming. It wasn’t as though he didn’t deserve to take a little time for himself, too. And when was the last time he’d gotten laid so much or so well? It would be a shame to cut it too short, for both of their sakes, really. And he wouldn’t be completely on vacation; he’d still be helping out Bob, but he could have some down time for a few weeks, indulge a little, and go back to The Mayo Clinic refreshed and fucked-out, ready to focus on his work again.

Reid went into the barn and sat down, scraping off the dirt and leaves from his heels. He looked up at the hayloft, remembering that first dinner, and their conversation up there. He’d wanted Luke badly that night; he could imagine Luke naked and on his knees in the hay, or pushed over that saddle moaning and writhing with a leather bit in his mouth as Reid took him from behind.

Reid shook the fantasy away; Luke probably wasn’t quite ready for that. That was exactly why he still needed Reid to guide him, to take things naturally and not rush into anything that might be uncomfortable for Luke. Later, if he was willing, they could explore the kinkier side of sex.

Reid massaged his temples a moment. He was getting way too far ahead of things. Later he’d be back at The Mayo Clinic. What was he thinking? That Luke would fly in to screw him on weekends? That they’d troll the sex shops together, picking out toys? That all this would continue? Reid shook his head at his own stupidity. He stood up and brushed his hands at his pants, his stomach rumbling loudly. Food he could deal with. Reid left the barn and headed back to the house to wash up.

***
Not much time later, Reid sat back in his chair and watched Luke as he rustled around the kitchen, whistling now while he chopped the garlic and onions and took out bread crumbs. Luke obviously felt more relaxed and in control. He made a homey sight, with his sleeves rolled up, and Reid felt something deep inside him twist.

Reid gazed out the window a moment, staring at the line of the horizon. Everything about being at the farm this time felt familiar, yet strangely new, too. He turned back to Luke; Reid noticed Luke had kicked off his shoes and was barefoot. Reid folded his arms at his chest, a muscle leaping in his jaw, just at the sight of Luke’s feet. It was ridiculous, but his feet made Reid ‘s mouth water with an intense craving; it made him think about Luke’s legs with their light golden hair, wrapping around Reid’s hips, and his thick strong cock pressing at Reid’s stomach. It made Reid think about Luke’s fresh smell, his broad chest, and snug ass.

“I always wanted a man to cook for me,” Reid teased, trying to distance the images from his mind.

“And now you found one,” Luke replied, bending over to get some tomatoes.

“And you put out too, always a plus.” Reid stared at Luke’s ass again and blinked.

Luke laughed, pausing in his chopping to give Reid a big grin.

Reid watched him make the sauce from scratch. The kitchen soon smelled ripe and good, succulent flavors filling the room. Oddly, there was no awkwardness between them; sitting in the Snyder kitchen, teasing each other back and forth, spending time together – it all felt so easy. Earlier, they’d woken up in silence, the air sweet and musky, their bodies slightly sticky, and it had felt right then too. Reid watched Luke continue chopping, admiring his strong, muscular forearms.

“I can’t wait to eat,” Reid told him enthusiastically. He just couldn’t stop looking at different parts of Luke’s body; it was like Reid had a wild fever or something. He pulled at the collar of his shirt.

“I just hope you like it. I’ve built it up so much; I don’t want to disappoint you.” Luke was breading the chicken in egg and flour now. He had an adorable dot of flour on the side of his nose. His body was half turned toward the stove, as Reid quietly got out of his chair. He approached Luke slowly, almost without time to think, and he wiped the smudge of flour off with a finger. Luke startled and then stood in Reid’s arms, letting him wipe the smudge a little more.

“You can’t ever disappoint me,” Reid said, and his voice came out heavier than he intended, and Reid could feel his heart slam up against his rib cage at his own careless words.

Luke’s mouth parted, his eyes grew worried.

Reid stepped back. “I think you’re burning the sauce though.” Reid tried to walk nonchalantly over to the burner and lower the heat.

“Thanks,” Luke said huskily. He watched Reid a moment and then went back to rolling the chicken in the bread crumb mixture. “I plan to raid grandma’s fridge for our side dishes, okay? Otherwise, I’ll be cooking our lunch all day. But I am going to handle the dessert myself.”

“What is it?” Reid asked, his mind already contemplating all kinds of goodies.

“Wait and see,” Luke grinned. He walked over to the stove and mixed his sauce.

“How about a drink then? Since I have to wait on the rest?” Reid asked.

“Sure. Do you want soda, water? Beer?”

“Whatever you have. I’ll have a beer if you’re having one, I guess.”

Luke hesitated. “Well I don’t drink.“

Reid shrugged. “Soda’s fine.”

Luke nodded, getting two Cokes. Reid watched him. He thought briefly about the scar at Luke’s kidney. Luke didn’t drink. Reid narrowed his eyes; it didn’t take a medical degree to put the pieces together. Frowning, Reid felt a wave of anger grip him. What the hell had happened to Luke over the years?

Since Reid left, there must have been a lot of bad times. He could only imagine Luke’s life in Oakdale with his insane family. The crap they probably put Luke through, the way Emma described Luke’s coming out, the endless drama of Holden and Lily, it was no mystery why Luke might have turned to alcohol. But the kidney? Had he drank that much? How could all these people who claimed to love Luke let it get that far? Reid closed his eyes briefly. I should never have left Luke alone in this crazy town.

Reid decided not to ask Luke about it. Not right before they ate the meal Luke had worked so hard to make. Besides, it was Luke’s private business, Maybe it was better to just wait until Luke felt comfortable coming to him? He ran his hand over the nape of his neck. Reid glanced at him, cursing softly under his breath. Luke was so happy, giving him such big smiles, that Reid, usually so forthright, didn’t have the heart to broach the subject. It could wait until Luke wanted to talk about it. When he was ready to confide in Reid, he could be there to support him.

Lunch was really good. Both he and Luke ate with gusto. Reid liked that they could sit next to each other and eat together, elbows touching, heads bent over their plates. Between bites of his chicken, Luke smiled at him, like they shared a secret. It was the smile of a lover, and at that thought, Reid’s stomach flipped over a little.

Reid ate until he was beyond stuffed. Luke was still eating too, but he’d slowed down and was mostly looking at Reid eating, watching cheerfully as Reid had seconds. He kept handing Reid more food- garlic rolls and corn on the cob and chicken. Happily, Reid patted his stomach and sighed.

“And now for my dessert,“ Luke said, bringing out the chocolate mousse he’d made. “Ta Da.”

“Ahh,” Reid groaned. “I can’t.“

“Oh you will,” Luke ordered playfully. He picked up a spoon and dug it into the chocolate. “Now lick.”

Obediently, Reid stuck out his tongue and licked up the chocolate from the spoon Luke held out. Luke gazed at him, looking at Reid’s tongue as it swirled the chocolate up and into his mouth. Reid quickly ate three more spoonfuls, making sounds of pleasure. Luke took the spoon from him, licked it once, and then gave Reid a quick kiss. Reid savored the taste of chocolate and Luke together.

“You might give Emma a run for her money one of these days,” he said to Luke. “This was delicious, thanks.”

Luke lit up, his smile big and blinding. “That’s the ultimate praise.” He laughed. “But I hardly think so. “ Luke began to gather up the dishes. “I guess I was paying attention to grandma’s cooking all these years, and her theories on the way to a man’s heart.”

At the word heart, they both paused a second. Then Luke turned and piled the dishes into the sink.

Drying his hands on a kitchen towel, Luke came back over. He looked at Reid.

“I have something else I wanted to show you,” Luke said softly.

“What’s that?” Reid gave a glimmer of a smile. He held back a bunch of dirty jokes that came to mind at Luke’s innocent remark, instead, shifting his body weight to make room for Luke to come closer, until the space between them was nonexistent. Luke rubbed his face adoringly at Reid’s, and then pulled back. Reid raised his eyebrows in question at him.

Luke merely took his hand, and they went up the stairs to Luke’s old bedroom. Reid couldn’t help remembering Luke as a boy, bouncing around the room with exuberant energy, his life still all ahead of him and full of wonder. Reid let his mind wander to his own days out on the farm, listening to the crickets and birds’, smelling Emma’s cooling pies, and the windows always open letting in the air and sunlight. It really hadn’t been so bad, not at all.

Luke rummaged around his old room and then opened up the closet. “Here we go.”

“What is it-“ Reid started to ask, and then Reid inhaled sharply as Luke turned around to face him.

It was an expensive chess board and just looking at it made Reid’s fingers itch to play.

“That’s exquisite,” Reid murmured. He ran his hand lightly over the jade pieces of the chess set.

“You did once tell me to get a decent board. “Luke looked pleased by his reaction. He put the board carefully down on the bed. “Wanna play? I should warn you though,“ Luke clapped his hands together. “I’ve been practicing all these years.”

Reid sat down opposite him.

“Okay,” Reid waggled a finger at Luke. “But if we’re playing, we play seriously. I know I’m irresistible to you, but try and keep your paws off of me during the game.”

“I’ll try,” Luke vowed solemnly and then snickered.

A small,answering laugh escaped Reid’s lips.

“Wait,” Luke put a hand on Reid’s chest. “Have you been practicing all these years too?”

Reid’s mouth lifted up. “Maybe a little.”

“Oh boy.“ Then Luke just sighed. “Okay, let’s play anyhow.”

A little while later, Reid put Luke into checkmate for the fifth time.

“Rematch,” Luke begged.

“I gave you four rematches already,” Reid laughed.

“Err-ah,” Luke made a frustrated noise. “But I almost had you that last time.”

Actually, he was several moves too late to catch Reid.

“Ahh-mm,” Luke said again, still studying the board. He had one finger resting on his lower lip. His noise of frustration was too cute to resist. Reid leaned in, grabbed the finger and gave it a suck of his own. Then he kissed Luke’s surprised lips.

“I thought we were keeping our hands off of each other?” Luke said, but his eyes were sparkling.

Looking into them, Reid suddenly felt like everything heavy that had tethered him to the world was suddenly lifted away. He felt a bit like he was floating. He leaned in and kissed Luke once more, until they were both breathless.

Reid pulled back and gave Luke a curt nod.

“Kisses out of the way now.” Reid said. “Rematch. Back to kicking your butt at chess one more time.”

“Prepare to lose,” Luke grinned. “I think this one will be mine.”

“I admire your ill-placed optimism,” Reid told him, also smiling.

“Wait a minute,“ Luke said, standing up. “I know why I haven’t won yet.”

“You’re terrible at chess?” Reid suggested.

“No wise-ass. I was missing something.” Luke went back to the closet and dug around. He came over with something wrapped up in an old handkerchief.

Reid watched curiously as Luke opened it up. Then he jerked in surprise. It was the white Queen, his old lucky piece.

“Why’d you keep this?” Reid said, shocked. “It’s nothing compared to that jade set. It’s just a cheap piece of plastic.”

“Not to me,” Luke answered, his eyes directly on Reid’s.

Reid’s entire body flushed with warmth.

Luke’s whole expression seemed brave to Reid all of sudden, as if Luke were willing to go someplace new and perilous. Lacking courage was not normally a problem for Reid, but gazing at Luke’s face he felt a stab of fear in his belly. He fingered the queen a second, his hands slightly shaking.

“Well, since you’re easy to please, I’ve already decided what to give you for your next birthday,“ Reid said, falling back on humor to cover up his feelings. “How about some knee pads to go along with the phenomenal blowjobs you plan to give me?”

Reid waited for Luke to laugh as he normally would, but he was just staring at him.

“Planning to be around?” Luke said, tilting his head. “My birthday’s not for awhile.”

Clearly, Luke wasn’t letting him off the hook. Luke was probably the type who baked cookies on birthdays and made his own disgustingly cute cards.

“I could mail them to you,” Reid muttered.

“Kind of hard to blow you that way,” Luke replied. “Look. Don’t worry. We said no strings , right?“ Then Luke thrust his chin out determinedly. “But just know that I wouldn’t mind, if you were at my next birthday. I wouldn’t mind one bit.”

Reid’s heart clenched in his chest, and he averted Luke’s eyes. The truth was that Reid wouldn’t mind being around either. Suddenly, Luke’s fingers were grasping his own. He looked back at Luke, finding Luke’s eyes on him steadily, his face hopeful; Luke gave his hand a gentle squeeze. Unable to speak, Reid reached out and caressed Luke’s cheek. He leaned in and kissed him softly. Their hands remained linked, the chess piece between them.

The trouble was that Reid simply couldn’t avoid being happy with Luke; it was impossible. First, when he looked at Reid, Luke had to wear that same eager, sweet expression – the one he’d had as a child too - and then he’d smile like he could see right into Reid’s heart. It was annoying. And effective. Luke was practically sitting on his lap; he never did understand the concept of breathing room. Not that Reid minded Luke on his lap, or in his bed again, or up his ass soon, with any luck. Jesus. Reid shook his head. He had to keep this whole thing in perspective. He had affection for Luke, he would never deny that, but they were just friends, and the rest was only temporary desire, nothing more. All this talk of future birthdays was only talk, and Reid knew he wasn’t built for permanence.

“One more game?” Reid asked, removing his hand from Luke’s. “You can use my queen for luck.”

Luke smiled and nodded. “One more game.”

As they set up the board again, Luke gave him a considering look.

“I never asked you where you learned to play so well?”

“My Uncle Angus taught me,” Reid replied absently, as he put the pieces down.

“Oh? Did you live with him? Were you close?” Luke said curiously. “I never really knew anything about your background before you lived with us.”

“If you consider ‘close’ forcing somebody to play competition after competition, like a trained seal, and then profiting off of it, sure.”

“He did what?” Luke appeared upset.

Reid shook his head. “I was a way to make money and so he tolerated me. We traveled everywhere playing. I didn’t hate it. Don’t look at me like that. It wasn’t so bad. I liked winning. “

“That’s no surprise,” Luke smiled sweetly, but his eyes were concerned.

Reid ran a quick hand over his face. “You can move,” he told Luke gruffly. “Go ahead.” He waited for Luke to start the game. Luke wasn’t budging. “Will you start the damn game?” Reid snapped.

Luke ignored him completely. He reached out for Reid’s hand again.

“Did he die? Is that why you ended up here?”

“No,” Reid said. “He abandoned me on the side of the road. He wanted me to throw the game. And I wouldn’t do it.“ Reid could see Angus with him at the chess tournaments, standing over him, squeezing his shoulders too hard as the bets started to sour. “There was no more money in my winning. I was too popular, and the odds were no longer good.” Reid paused, a muscle jumping wildly in his cheek. “But I never cared about the stupid money, and I refused to do it. One day, driving right outside of town here, we had a fight, and he pulled over to the side of the road…and that was it.”

Reid could still see Angus that day. He could still see the cars whizzing by him. Worst of all, he never forgot the feeling of being unwanted, of being like trash tossed aside. For a moment, Reid was lost in the memory, and then Reid felt Luke’s eyes boring holes into him, so he looked up.

Luke’s face was full of shock.

“Don’t worry about it.” Reid waved a hand at him. “It was a long time ago. “ Luke had such a soft heart; Reid should have kept the story to himself.

“No, I know.” Luke attempted to smile at him, but his mouth wobbled.

“And it doesn’t really bother me anymore,” Reid said quickly.

Luke caught his lip with his teeth and nodded.

At Luke’s expression, Reid swallowed hard. “Maybe it even made me stronger. “ Reid knew his voice didn’t sound convincing. He cleared his throat and tried again. “I’ve always seen myself as able to go it all alone.”

Reid paused awkwardly; he didn’t know what else to do or say.

“It’s okay, Reid.“ Luke said. “I get it.“

Luke leaned in and wrapped his arms gently around him, their foreheads pressed together. Reid felt Luke’s breathe exhale near his cheek, felt Luke seeking out his lips. Reid’s entire face tightened in an anticipation that was almost painful. But Luke just smiled at him, his eyes kind, and gave him the softest kiss imaginable.

His heart felt another painful knock inside, and Reid just couldn’t pull away, not from Luke and all that he was offering. He kissed him back a moment. Luke tightened his hold. The kiss deepened. They explored each other’s mouths tenderly. Luke buried his hands in Reid’s hair. Luke’s tongue touched Reid’s; he traced Reid’s lips with it in a caress, moving next to suck at Reid’s jaw and neck. The blood rushed to Reid’s head. He felt a light pressure stirring at every kiss, every touch of Luke’s lips.

When it ended, Luke stared at him a long moment. Unable to do anything else, Reid stared back. It was like his brain had melted.

“And then you came here,” Luke whispered.

“Then I came here,” Reid said in agreement, also in a whisper. He reached out and touched the side of Luke’s face. “And I met you.”

Luke smiled at him. “And I met you too.”

Reid sighed. “You were a relentless brat,” he told Luke.

Luke laughed. “You’re so generous with those compliments. Thanks.”

“Anytime.”

They both smiled a little at each other. Reid looked at him, yearning for him, feeling pulled to him, and Luke seemed to sense it, his face changed. He kissed Reid again tenderly, lips binding together like a key on a lock.

When they finally separated, Reid gazed at Luke.

Luke studied him and then smiled once more.

“Let’s just play,” Luke said. “Okay?”

Reid nodded, feeling like somebody had come along and gutted him. He shivered and brushed his hands at his sides.

They sat Indian-style now, across from each other, and played.

But after only a few minutes, Luke stopped the game, not moving his pawn. He just stared at Reid, his gaze moving over Reid’s body piece by piece, the intensity of his eyes making Reid’s freeze. Slowly, Luke reached out his hand, splaying open his fingers, waiting for Reid to take his hand. If emotions were like organs, Reid’s were being scooped out and examined under Luke’s eyes. Unable to refuse, Reid held his hand up to Luke’s like a mirror, and Luke folded their fingers together and then kissed the back of Reid’s hand.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” Luke said thickly. “Every time I took this board out and played with somebody else…” He shrugged. “I missed you.”

Reid swallowed hard, devouring Luke with his eyes. Luke pushed aside the board and scooted closer to Reid. He nuzzled Reid’s neck with his mouth, his breath hot. Luke put his hands on Reid’s face a second and then slowly began to unbutton his shirt; their eyes locked. Luke undressed him and then began to kiss his shoulders and chest, and Reid buried his hand in Luke’s hair, caressing his head, holding Luke’s lips closer to his body as Luke kissed his way down.

Luke paused at Reid’s navel, thrusting his tongue at it and then just resting his head there, rubbing his face at Reid’s stomach.

“Reid,” he whispered, “I want to taste you all over. “

Reid’s heart jumped furiously. He could only nod and make a murmur of agreement as Luke slid back up his body and began to lick his nipples, making noises deep in his throat. Luke bit down hard and unexpectedly on the nipple, making Reid gasp out loud and causing a surge of adrenaline to rush through his body. Luke licked the spot he’d just bitten, kissing all around it, leaving some dots of salvia at Reid’s chest. They both threw off the rest of their clothes in a hurry, and then Luke returned to kissing Reid. Luke went lower, his hands at Reid’s hips. Near Reid’s abdomen, Luke stopped to take in some frantic little gulps of air. His mouth returned to Reid’s skin, sucking slightly at Reid’s flesh. Luke’s hands were under Reid’s ass now, kneading and pressing as Reid’s body shook and responded instinctively, making automatic adjustments, raising up, offering Luke a better leverage. Luke’s face hovered just above his dick and the anticipation had Reid’s toes curling, his hands fisting into the sheets. Luke moved to the left, teasing him, nibbling his inner thighs, kissing Reid’s hipbone lightly.

Finally, Luke bent down and gave his cock a hard suck, and Reid bucked into his mouth. His entire body burned, making Reid grab at Luke’s head and push at it. Reid’s heart pounded like it might burst or fly out of his chest. Luke sucked harder, and the pressure was sweet torture building and building. Reid grunted loudly, as his dick swelled, and he was going to shoot any second.

Cursing and moaning, Reid pulled back, not wanting to come anywhere but inside of Luke. Luke moved up Reid’s body, reached his arms out and circled them at Reid’s neck, and they kissed fiercely. Luke twisted his body against Reid’s, his eyes pleading. Reid shoved against him hard, so that their dicks mashed together. He dug his hands into Luke’s ass, and bit Luke’s ear. Luke whimpered and rolled his hips up at him.

Reid cradled Luke in his arms a second, and then his pushed back Luke’s thighs, and it was his turn to go down on Luke. He worshipped Luke’s body with his tongue, teeth and hands, until Luke was a quivering uncontrollably.

Finally, when Luke was panting and his hands were curled into balls, Reid flipped him around, turning his attention to Luke’s ass, spreading Luke’s cheeks in one quick move. Reid rubbed his scratchy face over Luke’s skin, back and forth, back and forth. Reid could see small, red scratches where his face touched. He gently licked them with his tongue, and then let his stubble scratch Luke’s ass again.

Luke cried out, trying to pull away and then, groaning, he would back up for more. Reid ate him hard, sucking and biting, while Luke squirmed, kicked his feet, and pulled a pillow to his mouth to muffle his groans.

Releasing him, Reid grabbed at his wallet and ripped open the foil package with his teeth. Luke was holding his stomach, breathing hard, his cock dripping, his eyes on Reid’s hands as he positioned the condom.

“Climb on me,” Reid demanded, and he rolled the condom on, “I want you to ride me.”

Luke visibly shook at his words, but when Reid flopped down on his back, Luke quickly straddled Reid.

Neither of them held back too long. Luke’s erection bounced near Reid’s stomach, smearing pre-come across both of their bellies, and Reid took it roughly in his hand. His other hand gripped Luke’s hip as Luke rode him faster, harder, slamming up and down on his cock with a desperate rhythm, and Reid tensed, the strength of the pleasure lifting his ass up off the bed as Reid felt the orgasm rocket through his body. Luke moaned, said his name, and rode him even harder, as Reid convulsed inside of him. Reid’s fingers tightened on Luke as the orgasm drew out almost unbearably long, and they both moaned in unison, the sound hot and desperate. A second later, Reid’s eyes still rolled up in his head, he felt Luke come in his fist, and Reid forced his eyes to open so that he could look up at Luke’s face and watch him explode.

Panting, the whole room spinning, they slowly recovered. Luke remained on top with Reid buried inside of him, and Reid ached when Luke smiled with lazy satisfaction at him, making Reid suck in a breath at his sheer beauty. Luke ran a loving hand over Reid’s body, and then reaching down behind himself to touch where they were still joined, rubbing there a moment, an expression of wonder on his face.

Absently stroking him, Luke’s fingers grazed down over Reid’s balls toward Reid’s hole. Reid gasped suddenly, he jerked to one side as Luke’s fingers touched again just behind his balls. His nerve endings were raw. Reid laughed helplessly. Luke probed the spot again, delighted. Reid thrashed his head.

“Stop!” He cursed and tried to dislodge Luke, but all those years riding horses made Luke tough to shake. Reid’s spent cock throbbed again in Luke’s tight hole, as Luke clamped his thighs against Reid’s and grinned wickedly.

“Dr. Oliver?” Luke said mockingly, “Are you perhaps ticklish there?”

“No!” Reid said, trying to get some dignity back, only to have Luke attack him again with his hands. “I’m not ticklish,” Reid groaned, “I’ve never been ticklish in my life.”

But Luke had found some power and was without mercy. He returned to Reid’s anus, trailing teasing fingers around it and sure enough, Reid’s body reacted again.

Reid nearly choked on his laughter. Everywhere suddenly felt ticklish. He tried to escape Luke’s fingers, but it was no use. Luke relentless teased his thighs, his ass, his stomach. Every part of Reid was suddenly sensitive, his nerves humming, his aching cock jerking with almost painful aftershocks where it was still lodged in Luke’s ass.

“I hate you,” Reid managed, writhing around, snorting out another laugh.

“I hate you, too,” Luke laughed as he played with Reid’s balls again.

Reid grabbed at Luke’s hand to stop him. They wrestled a moment. Then Luke relented, bending down to kiss Reid’s lips gently, before climbing off of him.

Reid let out a long breathe and covered his hand over his eyes. His whole body still felt fired up still. Reid really had never been tickled in bed before; he’d no idea he’d react so much to an after-sex teasing. Most of his other lovers hadn’t stayed the night, much less wanted to touch him right after sex. Reid got up and headed to the bathroom to toss the condom and clean up. A few spurts of Luke’s cum had gotten past his hand and were now drying on his chest. When he returned to the bed, Luke was just resting on his stomach, his hands pillowed at his face. Reid slipped back into the bed and ran a gentle hand up Luke’s ass and over his back, and then Reid rested too. Luke turned to him and snuggled close.

Resting his elbows on Reid’s bare chest, Luke cupped his face in his hands and gazed at him.
Reid touched Luke’s mouth gently, reverently. They curled up, side-by side, hands loosely at each other’s waists. Luke’s face was soft, his eyes gleaming with happiness, and he ran his fingers up and down Reid’s body. Reid’s eyes stayed glued on Luke’s and he felt lost in Luke’s shy smile. Reid gripped Luke’s body tighter to him, and slowly he smiled back.

***
Awhile later, after giving Reid some kisses and sighing deeply, Luke had reluctantly gotten up and showered, going down to clean up the kitchen before they left. Reid took a bit more time. He’d lingered in the bed awhile, not wanting to move yet, feeling lazy and satisfied, before heading to take his own shower.

Reid whistled absently, water running down his body. Every part of him felt sated. He’d eaten an amazing lunch, had amazing sex three times in the last day - and when was the last time that had happened? – and he had good company in Luke. His mind strayed to Luke’s mouth, and his throat, the way his skin tasted, and how eager he was in bed, the way his body seemed to fit with Reid’s so well, and it made him smirk to remember Luke’s breathless, wordless cries when he came. It always felt like an accomplishment to make any man come like that, but somehow it filled him with even more pride that it was Luke.

He scrubbed his hair and whistled louder, reaching for some soap. It had been some day all right. Reid let the soap glide over his chest and abs and relaxed cock. It had been a day like no other.

The shower door flung open.

“What?” Reid startled, he looked at Luke. “Not again! I’ve created a monster. I hate to disappoint you, but I think my dick is down for the count. At least for a few hours.”

He really wasn’t sure he could give Luke shower sex right now, but Reid felt a stab of ego at Luke’s boundless desire for him. Luke was such an avid pupil. It crossed Reid’s mind that Luke might graduate from him to somebody younger, some dumb twink who could fuck all night.

“On second thought, why don’t you come on in?” Reid said.

His cock would get hard by humping up and down on Luke’s slick body, Reid would make sure of it. He was tired, but he wasn’t dead, and Luke didn’t need anybody but him. Eventually, once he left town, Luke would move on and that would be the way it should go. Reid frowned and shifted his weight. But he damn well wasn’t going anywhere right now, and Reid tugged at Luke’s arm to bring him into the shower, clothes and all.

Luke shook his head, a huge, dopey grin on his face. “Just wanted to do this,” he said, grabbing Reid’s face, pulling him to the shower door, and kissing him passionately.

Luke’s dimples flashed, and he patted Reid’s wet cheek. “Go ahead back to your shower.”

Luke’s eyes were shining, and he still had the strangest expression on his face, but before Reid could press him further, he closed the shower door. “See you downstairs,” he said, disappearing as quickly as he’d come.

Reid narrowed his eyes. He had no idea what possessed Luke to do that.

Shrugging, Reid tipped his head back and let the water wash away his shampoo. It was only as he began to whistle again that Reid froze. He was whistling “Mr. Sandman,” the song he’d sang to Luke every time he’d had a nightmare.

Reid shook his head. It didn’t mean anything; Reid was hardly the sentimental type, but clearly, Luke was feeling all mushy inside now, overhearing the song. Reid could tell him that the brain often had memories triggered by familiar surroundings, and being back at the farm had probably done just that, bringing the song into his mind again, explain it away with science. Stepping out of the shower, Reid smiled ruefully. He doubted Luke would want to accept that explanation.

Well, it couldn’t hurt to let Luke think that he was being romantic. It might even get Reid another round of sex tonight. Maybe he could whistle the song as Luke gratefully sucked him off.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere, USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to stay at the Snyder farm. He meets Luke again as an adult
Rating: NC-17


Warning: Sexually Explicit NC-17

Chapter 8

Despite advising Luke to sleep on it, Reid was unable to shut his eyes that night. He almost called Luke a half a dozen times or so, to tell him he’d changed his mind, but Reid just kept hanging up his phone. He brooded instead, feeling a strange mix of fear and triumph. His cock was at full attention, doing a primal cheer, while his heart peeked out of its shell for signs of danger. Reid wrestled back and forth with it all. He spent the night fighting his passion, and he jerked off a few times, hoping that would calm him down and clear his mind, but the momentary release did nothing to cure his nerves.

Morning came. Luke didn’t call and didn’t come to his room.

Well, it was early. Reid remembered that even as a kid, Luke liked to sleep in. More than once, Reid had to pull the covers off of a grumpy Luke and help get him ready for school. The memory caused Reid to smile- and to panic. This was a mistake. Reid again picked up his phone.

“Just call him, bonehead.” Reid hit himself with his phone on the side of his head. “You’re not made for virgins and moonlit strolls. Stop it now.”

Reid stared at the phone, but he didn’t dial the number. Luke said Reid would be helping him out, right? That he needed Reid as a friend to help him. Reid held the phone a moment, still uncertain.

And where the hell was Luke? Why wasn’t he here?

To take his mind off of it, Reid called the hospital. Both of his patients were doing well and both were stable. He wasn’t needed right now. He almost wished he was paged; then it wouldn’t matter if Luke showed or not, it would be out of Reid’s hands, and he wanted an excuse. Cursing, Reid went and took a shower. He shaved. He pulled on a pair of black jeans and a maroon colored shirt. He ate a bowl of cereal. He laid out the new sheets he’d bought. If he had to sleep in a hotel, Reid had wanted his own set; now he was glad he’d splurged on the soft, 400 count sheets. He ate a second bowl of cereal nervously. He eyed the clock.

Luke must have changed his mind after all, despite his pleas on the roof. Maybe he’d even crawled back to Noah. Reid’s mouth turned bitter. He could accept that Luke had decided to wait for sex, wait to fall in love, or whatever. But if Luke had decided to go back to that dirt bag of an ex boyfriend, that married ex boyfriend, he’d damn well go and shake some sense into him.

Like magic, there was a strong knock on the door. Reid jumped to answer it. As he swung open the door, Reid’s pulse leaped and his mouth went dry.

“Hi,” Luke said, leaning against the door, a huge plastic bag was at his feet. He had two coffees in his hands.

“Come on in,” Reid answered.

“I’m not too early?” Luke frowned, and handed Reid a coffee.

“I just got up like two minutes ago,” Reid replied, pretending to stretch his muscles. He glanced at the coffee and took a casual sip. “This is good.”

“Caramel lattes. I got some cookies too.”

Dressed casually in a green shirt, red jacket and tight jeans, Luke tempted Reid more than the word cookies, but as Luke opened up his bag, Reid glanced at the contents. There was a bag of Chips A’Hoy at the top, but there were also several boxes of condoms: extra sensitive, warming , for his pleasure. Reid spotted more than one bottle of lubricant too.

Reid looked at Luke.

“I’m flattered, but I don’t know if we need all those boxes.”

Luke began to rummage around the bag, not meeting his eyes. “Well, I wasn’t sure what style you preferred. There are so many . I stood at the drug store so long, I think the guy thinks I’m a huge pervert.” Luke laughed nervously. He took a huge breath. “ Then I just figured, why not bring them all? Let all of Oakdale know I’m about to have lots and lots of sex. “

Luke’s laugh became more high-pitched. “Besides, if I buy them all, then you can tell me what you want. I never knew lubes could be plain or flavors like cherry and banana too. Maybe you like that?”

“Nope. I like my lube plain, so I can taste just my man,” Reid replied.

Luke jumped back, his eyes wide, skin flushed. The bag knocked over.

“Luke,” Reid said. He bent down and put the contents back. Then he came over to Luke, who’d backed himself into a corner near the door. “You can still change your mind?”

“N-no,” Luke shook his head firmly. “No.”

Reid gently took the edges of Luke’s jacket with both hands.

“Then listen,” Reid said, absently playing with the jacket’s zipper, moving it up and down , up and down. “If I do anything you don’t like as we go on, just tell me and we’ll stop, okay?”

Luke nodded. “And if I do anything you don’t like,” Luke said earnestly. “Tell me.”

Reid’s mouth twitched, “Alright.”

Luke groaned suddenly. “Oh God, I sound like an idiot, don’t I?” He buried face hands in his hands.

An incredible desire to just hug him swept over Reid and he fought it a moment. The sweetness that Luke brought out in him was troubling. Reid sighed. He gently removed Luke’s fingers from his eyes. He patted the side of Luke’s cheek.

“No,” Reid assured him. “You don’t sound like an idiot.”

Luke peeked at him through his eyelashes. He smiled slowly at Reid. “Really? That’s it? No sarcastic remark?”

“I’m just hoping to get lucky,“ Reid told him solemnly. “I figured I should make nice.”

They looked at each other and both burst out laughing.

“See? “ Luke said. He tipped his head forward until it rested on Reid’s chest. “That’s why it has to be you. Anybody else would have me running in embarrassment right now.”

Reid gently stroked his hair. Luke lifted up his face. Their mouths were near each other. Luke stared into Reid’s eyes.

Reid no longer felt like giving Luke a hug. A thousand sexual thoughts rushed through his mind. Luke wasn’t a child. His body, pressing so close to Reid’s own now, was a man’s. Reid put a hand on Luke’s broad shoulders. He ran his fingers down his arm.

Still, Reid hesitated. He could feel his cock harden, and God knows he wanted to take Luke and show him everything, but he was frozen.

“Are you really sure?” Reid found himself asking. He wondered if he was talking to himself. What was he getting into here? How could he do this with Luke and then just walk away?

Luke’s face seemed to soften at his concern.

Reid still did not move.

Suddenly, he could read in Luke’s eyes that he was about to kiss him. Luke was about to kiss him . Reid’s breath intensified. He watched Luke moving closer to him. It felt like slow motion. Like time was stopping.

Tenderly, Luke held Reid’s jaw in his fingers first, just touching his skin there. Then Luke’s eyes fell on Reid’s mouth. He inched closer to it. Reid could still see a small doubt of nerves flickering in Luke’s eyes. Luke wet his own lips and hovered a second right at Reid’s.

Reid opened his mouth, letting Luke’s tongue thrust forward and take his own. He wasn’t sure what was happening to him; he felt like he had no choice but to open his lips, to allow Luke inside. Reid was shaking with need. He was the one who should be running.

Instead, he opened his mouth more for Luke. Groaning slightly, Reid pulled Luke to the couch and they sank down on it, their lips still pressed together. Reid pecked at Luke’s eager lips teasingly, then thrust his tongue inside. He explored and nibbled and sucked.

Trembling, Luke pulled back. He ran his hands over Reid’s body in wonder. Luke took a deep breath and Reid braced himself for some romantic confession. ”I can’t believe you used to be this nerdy, egg-head ,” Luke said instead.

“Excuse me?” Reid said, drawing back, slightly insulted. “Is this supposed to be your foreplay?”

Luke laughed nervously. ”No- sorry. I just mean, even though when we first met you were all skinny and brainy and weird –“

“This just gets better and better,” Reid drawled.

“Even though you were like that,” Luke persisted, “I thought – to me- “ He gave Reid a huge, slightly bashful smile. “I had a huge crush on you. Couldn’t you tell?”

Reid just stared at him now.

“And now, you’re still the same only….” Luke gazed up and down Reid’s body yearningly. “You’re so-“ He was now blushing furiously.

“I’m so what?” Reid said in a low voice.

Luke gulped and rocked from side to side a little. He just shook his head.

“I’m what?” Reid asked again, stroking Luke’s hair.

“S-Sexy,” Luke’s voice was so faint that Reid almost couldn’t hear him.

Reid’s pulse leaped. He leaned in and nuzzled Luke’s neck. He licked a hot trail up and down the delicate skin and then sucked deeply at the vulnerable flesh. Luke moaned and jerked. That response broke through all of Reid’s hesitation. Reid’s hands caressed Luke everywhere now. Damn the consequences. Reid wanted to touch him, kiss him, fuck him. He couldn’t think about what would happen next.

With fast-moving, nimble fingers, Reid unzipped Luke’s jacket all the way and tossed it off, shoved Luke’s shirt up, and wrestled it off of him between frantic kisses to Luke’s mouth, neck, chest, everywhere he could press kisses, wanting to taste each part of Luke’s revealed skin; pressing kisses as he went, he savored each spot. Every time Reid kissed a new area, Luke gasped. His hips jerked at Reid. He panted already like he was in the middle of a desperate race.

“Shh,” Reid hushed him. “Relax.”

He continued to undress Luke, sliding his belt buckle loose, and unsnapping his jeans.

“I-I am,” Luke croaked out, helping pull the belt out of its loops with shaking fingers. “But it’s- you’re going so fast.”

“Then I’ll slow down.” Reid released his grip on Luke’s jeans.

Reid gave him an appreciative smile, and ran his fingers up and down Luke’s torso. He bent his head to Luke’s flat nipple and nipped at it with his teeth. As Reid sought out his other nipple, Luke moaned, his hands fluttering around a second and then settling at Reid’s hips. Glancing at him, Reid saw Luke was already in a state of hazy pleasure, his eyes slightly glazed, with an unspoken question still on his face.

Reid wanted to tell him he was incredibly beautiful, that his skin was creamy and glowing, and that his muscles and the tiny golden hairs of his belly were perfect. Instead, Reid put his mouth on him, licking his chest and navel. He wrapped Luke tightly to him.

“I want you,” he whispered into Luke’s ear. Luke trembled.

“You do?” Doubt colored Luke’s voice.

Reid pulled back and cupped Luke’s face. He stared intently into his eyes. Then Reid took Luke’s hand and lowered it to his bulge. He rubbed Luke’s fingers against his hard arousal. “I do.”

Luke smiled then. He looked down at where his hand was. He began to stroke Reid there, through his pants. Groaning, Reid moved his hand away a second, unzipped and let his cock spring free. Then he put Luke’s hand back. As Luke stroked him, up and down his shaft, Reid let out an indecipherable noise of pleasure.

The noise seemed to ignite Luke.

He got off the couch and dropped to his knees. Reid stood up, and Luke grabbed at his ass massaging it, gliding his fingers up and down Reid’s swollen cock. Lightly, Luke let his thumb graze Reid’s slit.

Will power, Reid told himself sternly, make this last for him.

“Is it okay?” Luke whispered, reverently, still stroking Reid with his hand.

“You have to ask me?” Reid managed, and thrust forward a little more.

Luke tenderly gave his swollen member a soft, butterfly kiss, making Reid inhale quickly. Another kiss was gently given, and Luke looked up shyly to see Reid’s reaction. Reid yanked off his pants and briefs and kicked them away, pulling Luke to his crotch.

Luke picked up the weight of Reid’s cock and just held it in his hands with a dreamy expression on his face. Luke ran his tongue over the ridges, his mouth unskilled but enthusiastic, and licked Reid’s cockhead; he tasted it, moaning like Reid’s cock was the most delicious thing in the world. Reid thought he might explode right then and had to take a deep breath, forcing himself to relax.

Luke nibbled at the underside of Reid’s dick and then down to his base. Reid pumped himself forward, and felt an electric jolt throughout his body at Luke’s mouth on his cock. Reid’s dick felt slick from Luke’s saliva, as Luke pushed it in and out of his lips. A heat curled in Reid’s lower body and he dug his fingers into his palms. Luke’s lips clamped down on him and sucked again, taking him deeper. Reid groaned loudly as Luke’s soft lips released him. He gave small kisses up and down Reid’s cock; their eyes met as Luke stared up at him, slowly taking Reid back into his mouth. Reid put his hand at the nape of Luke’s neck and pushed him gently forward, as Reid thrashed his hips a little, and Luke parted his lips wider. He mouth-fucked Luke, until the pressure became too intense. He wasn’t going to shoot, not until he had buried his dick inside of Luke’s ass. Shuddering, Reid gently pulled out of Luke’s mouth with a popping noise. He hauled Luke to his feet and into the bedroom.

He slid off Luke’s remaining clothes, drinking him in, inhaling Luke’s clean scent and then kissed his neck hard, suckling the tender skin. Luke cried out and flung his arms around Reid and held him. Luke whimpered, sounding in pain, and he humped his body against Reid’s leg. Clinging desperately to him, Luke latched his mouth onto Reid’s ear and tugged at the skin there. “Please,” he whispered, “now.”

Reid covered his face with kisses and then pushed him gently onto the bed. Panting, Luke eagerly inched his way up the sheets to the top of the bed and looked at Reid. Luke gazed up at him, his eyes hot, his lips swollen from Reid’s kisses, his cock flexing at his stomach, a small bead of precome dripping there. Luke’s face was all need, his body trembling. Reid climbed on top of him, grabbing Luke’s face and kissing him again, possessively, allowing their mouths to cling. Luke dug his fingers into Reid’s shoulders, moaning loudly. Reid released his swollen lips began to move down Luke’s body, paying attention to every writhing motion, every gasp that Luke made. Reid was determined to learn exactly what sent Luke skyrocketing and he pushed down on those spots harder and longer. Reid paused at the only scar on Luke’s otherwise perfect skin, and he put his mouth on that too. Luke froze a second, tensing, and Reid moved on, even as his brain noted the location of the scar. He didn’t want anything to upset Luke right now, and it wasn’t the time or place to ask about it, but a surge of protectiveness went through Reid; it was all he could do not to gently kiss the scar again. The idea of Luke in distress or physical pain hurt Reid’s own heart. He focused back on Luke’s pleasure. He could tell Luke’s body was peaking under his fingers and mouth; Luke’s pulse was beating rapidly, his cheeks were flushed.

Reid’s own pleasure was mounting ; he felt a jolt of it in his lower belly, he would take everything soon. Luke would be unable to hold back his orgasm for long, and then Reid would flood Luke. He kissed Luke’s body all over, his whole body aching as he thought about taking Luke soon. Luke moved against his body, causing a friction that was begging to drive Reid wild.

Traveling over Luke’s skin, Reid licked over his nipples and then paused to tease and taste. Luke whimpered, thrashing his head around as Reid moved down, dipped his tongue into Luke’s navel, and plunged in and out. He nibbled his way lower, and Luke made an animal-like sound , lifting his head to look down at Reid, his eyes gleaming ,and his mouth parted and wet. Reid flashed him a smile and then took Luke’s cock in his hand. It was thick and strong-looking. Reid swirled his tongue around it, flicked over the slit , tasted the shaft. He used his hand to squeeze the leaking head, then bent and licked the salty drops of juice there.

Luke gasped; he instinctively attempted to push Reid away.

Reid planted his firm lips at Luke’s shaft, kissing it all over, until Luke’s hands fell away. Reid opened his mouth and slowly sucked Luke’s cock . He teased him, giving small sucks, putting pressure with his tongue on Luke’s tip.

”I- I – can’t!” But Luke’s actions told another story as he wriggled his hips desperately, wanting more contact. Reid could hear the broken cries coming from Luke, and Reid put a hand on Luke’s chest, feeling his rapid breath. He gave Luke’s dick another long suck.

“I can’t stop,” Luke groaned, an apology in his voice.

In answer, Reid took Luke’s swollen cock all the way down his throat. He sucked expertly as Luke babbled incoherently now and his body lifting off the bed. Semen burst from him and Reid gulped it down and then licked his lips at the taste.

Reid went back up Luke’s body. He rested his head on the pillow next to Luke. Luke had his eyes shut tightly, and Reid gently took his hand.

“God, I wanted to- I’m sorry,” Luke was saying, his body trembling.

“Why?”

“I got too excited, too fast.”

Reid kissed him, letting Luke taste himself on Reid’s tongue. “Don’t ever apologize for that. “

“But-“

“There’s nothing wrong with letting go, Luke. I want you to let go. I want you to do whatever feels good, okay?”

Luke gestured to Reid’s arousal. “What about you?”

Reid laughed. “We’ll get to me. I’ve only just started.” Reid squeezed his fingers.

“Oh,” Luke‘s eyes widened and Reid swore Luke’s entire body blushed.

Reid took Luke and turned him to get on all fours. Briefly, Reid wondered just how little Luke must have done with Noah. He was so innocent; it was pretty clear Noah never went down on him. Reid ran his fingers lightly down Luke’s back. It just confirmed for Reid what a selfish lover Noah would’ve been and how fortunate Luke was that he hadn’t gone too far with him. Reid gently cupped Luke’s ass with his palms; there was a whole world of pleasure waiting for Luke. He kissed one of Luke’s cheeks softly, and Reid smiled as he felt Luke shudder. Reid’s fixation on this particular part of Luke’s anatomy had been well deserved – Luke had one hell of an ass. It was high and rounded, and milky white. Admiring it still, Reid pulled Luke’s ass closer to his mouth. He took the mounds of flesh there, massaging them. Reid nipped at them and, at the same time, he reached in front and found Luke’s slick cock. He rubbed that too, seductively, working the shaft with his fingers and fist. Luke was breathing faster, his back hunched, his head bowed. Noises were coming from him, deep, guttural sounds, and Luke thrust into Reid’s hand.

When Luke was getting hard again, Reid opened him up from behind and inhaled his scent. Luke’s skin had an amazing sweetness to it, and that, mixed with the smell of his ass and his manhood, was intoxicating, and Reid breathed it in, his own cock stiff and aching.

Cupping Luke’s butt cheeks in his hands again, Reid kissed the tiny cleft between the flesh. Finally, Reid spread him wide and looked at the puckered hole. He gave the smallest of licks and Luke jerked like he was on fire. Reid held him open again, and licked more. He let his tongue press against the hole.

Luke cried out and jerked forward. Reid gave Luke’s backside a playful swat.

“C’mere,” he ordered gently, and pulled Luke back into place.

Reid dove in for a bigger taste of Luke’s ass. He devoured it. A rush of pure heat went up Reid’s spine as he rimmed Luke harder.

Luke shouted and begged and then shouted again. He pushed his ass back at Reid. Reid, eager to oblige, went for the lube. He teased Luke with a wet finger, as Luke’s hole squirmed before him, opening and shutting.

Reid gave Luke a reassuring kiss on the curve of his buttock. He took a moment to kiss the back of Luke’s shaking thighs and then Reid lubed a second finger. He returned to Luke’s center. He smeared the hole with lube too, and slid the two fingers inside, hooking them down in just the right spot.

Luke helplessly bucked, his hands grabbing at the sheets. Reid soothed him with his other hand, rubbing his lower back and hip, as he thrust his fingers in and out. Luke moaned and begged as Reid readied him for a long time, using his fingers and tongue.

“Please,” Luke was whimpering.

Reid rolled a condom on. He crawled up Luke’s sweaty, hot back, to turn Luke’s head and kiss him fully on his mouth.

“Please, Reid,” Luke said when the kiss ended, his voice thick, lips swollen.

Reid held Luke’s dazed face in his hands for a second and kissed him again. Luke kissed back, his mouth hot and urgent.

“Sure?” Reid said, but Luke seemed beyond speaking, and so Reid turned Luke back again. He rested his hand on the middle of Luke’s back and the other hand worked Luke’s dick a moment. Luke felt more than ready. Reid released Luke’s cock and made his way back to his asshole. He massaged his hole one more time, it felt tight and hot. Then Reid replaced his finger.

He entered slowly, making certain that Luke adjusted to his cock being inside. Grunting, Luke clenched up a moment, tensing his muscles. Reid murmured to him soothingly, and he let his hands stroke up and down Luke’s body. He felt Luke start to relax again. Sweat broke out across Reid’s forehead and neck as he waited. As Reid pushed forward again, Luke was quiet and shaking. He was inside of Luke, joined with him, and it felt incredibly natural to Reid, but he would make certain it felt good to Luke too. So he waited and put his hand around Luke’s erection, gently caressing him another moment.

“Breathe,” he told Luke and listened to him exhale.

Reid pushed forward. God, Luke’s ass seemed made for him. He felt so right, as he made his way deeper inside, Luke’s muscles clamped around him instinctively, a keening sound was coming from Luke’s mouth. “Oh, God, Reid,” Luke said in a high pitched voice, “so good.” An answering growl came from deep within Reid’s chest and he thrust deeper inside of him. They fit.

Again, Reid almost exploded. Willpower, he cautioned. He moved just a little more. Sweat was dripping from Reid’s back now. His entire body was tense. He slid further in, using all of his control and care. He could feel Luke’s ass opening to him, accommodating his size.

Reid thrust carefully, in small strokes. He was slow and gentle. He pushed a little and retreated. But Luke didn’t want that. He tried to reach around for Reid.

“Give it to me,” Luke said. ”Don’t hold back.”

“Luke-“ Reid groaned.

“Give it to me,” Luke commanded. He knocked his ass back at Reid insistently.

Reid lost it. His control finally gone, his own cock crying out for more, he began to really pound into Luke, drilling his hole. He wrapped his arm at Luke’s torso. His cock was a hammer; he pounded again and again, his movements strong and fast now. Luke was letting out intense sounds of pleasure, driving Reid crazy. He wanted him even more. Pushing in deeper, he was close, his orgasm building. Luke was close too, quivering for release.

But this was Luke and suddenly Reid wanted to see him; he wanted to see his face. He didn’t want just finish with Luke from behind.

Reid rolled them over, on top of Luke now, one hand firmly at Luke’s hips, and his other hand touching the side of Luke’s face. Luke smiled up at him and turned, kissing his palm. Luke’s hair was messy; his cheeks were stained with color, his lips parted. Luke was lovely, staring up at him. Lovely. Reid could never tell him that. He couldn’t believe he was even thinking it. No, he could only give Luke what he’d asked for- give him this moment- his body.

Reid thrust into him, riding Luke firmly, and Luke soon met his movements instinctively, rising and falling with him. They rocked together. Heat building between their bodies. Strange panting noises were coming from Reid’s own mouth, and his thrusts grew faster and more furious.

“Oh oh oh ,” Luke cried out. Reid held nothing back. He bucked into Luke, cupped his ass higher, he threw Luke’s feet up by his ears, making Luke give a yell of pure surprise as the angle drove Reid’s cock directly over Luke’s prostate. It made Reid smile, and he ran a protective hand across Luke’s stunned face. With Luke’s feet over Reid’s shoulders, Reid pushed his cock in deeper. Reid gave another powerful thrust, and as he moved, he looked down into Luke’s eyes.

Luke’s face was wild and uninhibited and Luke’s cum shot out against Reid’s lower stomach, making Reid clutch at him and come too, a nearly primal urge requiring him to come as far inside of Luke as possible.

***

They lay together, sweat-soaked and exhausted. Reid leaned over and touched their lips. Then he held his fingers at the side of Luke’s face.

“Thank you,” Luke whispered shyly.

Reid’s heart thudded helplessly in answer, his mouth went dry. He just nodded at Luke. Luke smiled again dreamily, resting his head on Reid’s chest and snuggled into him, nuzzling the crook of Reid’s neck. Their breath began to slow down finally, and soon they were breathing in unison, their chests rising and falling together.

Reid put his hands up behind his head and turned to Luke; they stared into each other’s eyes affectionately. Luke slowly took a finger and traced a line from Reid’s elbow down the sensitive underside of his arm. Reid smiled, not bothering to move, and Luke beamed in response as he realized he could continue to caress Reid, and his hand started back up again.

Reid was aroused at the touch only slightly; as he faced Luke in the bed, both of them naked, the covers thrown back, it was a warmth that Reid was feeling mostly, a warm satisfaction spreading throughout his entire body. Luke’s eyes were moist and his gaze made Reid’s heart lurch painfully. Luke touched him again, gliding his fingers up to Reid’s shoulders now, pressing on him and then releasing, and although it felt wonderful, Reid didn’t want to think about it too much or examine what they’d done.

He was glad when Luke distracted him from all thoughts, kissing Reid’s mouth softly, sighing with pleasure, as Reid gave him his tongue. Luke moved on to kiss Reid’s face and hair and the tip of Reid’s ear. Finally, Luke seemed satisfied, rolling to his side, and pulling his knees into his chest, his body curled close to Reid’s. He wrapped his arms around Reid tightly, and let out a little sigh.

Luke was cuddling now, and Reid never did that with his other lovers. Truthfully, Reid didn’t have lovers; he fucked men. But nothing with Luke felt like that to him, so Reid held a hand at the nape of Luke’s neck and accepted the embrace, closing his eyes.

But sleep wouldn’t come because Reid could feel Luke’s eyes still on him; he could sense Luke’s gaze, as if it were giving off heat. Reluctantly, Reid opened one eye, and sure enough, Luke was leaning over him.

“Hey,” Luke said, his eyes resting on Reid’s face.

“Hey.” Reid’s mind raced with all the things he should say to Luke, words of concern and words of praise, but his tongue felt thick and useless suddenly, and the best Reid could manage was to hold Luke’s hand a moment. Luke glanced down at their laced fingers and then a giant smile lit up his face.

“So,“ Luke shrugged, his eyes dancing. “Not a virgin anymore.” He blushed and pressed his cheek to Reid’s. “I was convinced I would be one of those forty year old guys still dreaming about their first time.”

“That might have been your fate,” Reid nodded. “Considering you live with mommy and were trying to have a love life in this town. “ Reid pulled back to give Luke a smirk.

“Shut up!” Luke laughed, jamming him in the ribs.

They wrestled around a moment together, both tickling and kissing each other, and Reid liked playing with him in bed; it was a first for Reid. He nipped at Luke’s jaw and neck, and Luke’s hands found his waist and squeezed him back. Reid laughed, the sound filling the room, and Luke let out a chuckle of his own.

“I guess even in Oakdale you would have gotten laid eventually, “ Reid continued, a teasing light in his eyes, “Your ass is smoking hot; somebody would have come to this crazy town sooner or later and tapped it before too long. “ He reached for Luke’s butt and rubbed his palms across it.

“Such a poet, “ Luke grinned, clutching his heart. He reached across to the nightstand for Reid’s water bottle. “ Thirsty, “ Luke declared, “And by the way, I like living with my family; I like Oakdale too.” He gave Reid a little salute with the water bottle and drank.

“It has its attractions,” Reid said, looking Luke’s body up and down.

Luke gave him a disarming smile. “Ahh, I knew it! You secretly love Oakdale. If you stay here long enough, you might end up thinking Oakdale is paradise, “Luke taunted him.

He took another big sip.

“Sure Oakdale is a regular Garden of Eden ,” Reid said slowly, not about to let Luke best him. “And the banana is really the forbidden fruit.”

Luke choked on his water.

“Well, it would have been,” Reid smiled. “If Adam had been smarter.”

Luke sputtered and then began to laugh. Reid watched him, pleased.

Almost better than making Luke blush was making him laugh, Reid knew, but making Luke both blush and laugh together- that was the best of all. Reid could feel his own mouth tugging into an even bigger smile, and his eyes softening on Luke.

“You’re so full of it,” Luke grinned as he climbed out of the bed. “And I’m on to you. I think the great doctor protests a little too much.”

Reid only grunted in answer, and Luke shot him a silly smile as he headed to the bathroom. Luke took a few steps and then he paused, wincing and rubbing at his ass. Watching him, Reid sat up, scratching at his chest, and taking in the sheer beauty of Luke’s body. Luke took one more step and then stopped again.

“Sore?” Reid guessed. He got up from the bed.

“Guess so,” Luke admitted ruefully.

Reid felt a flash of remorse ; he’d hammered Luke’s ass pretty hard.

“Come with me, ” Reid commanded and he took Luke’s hand. Reid tugged at him, leading the way to the shower. Reid rubbed Luke’s shoulders, while they waited for the water to warm up. Neither of them spoke, and Reid wondered what Luke might be thinking; he was relieved that Luke didn’t appear to have any regrets, at least outwardly, and Luke’s smile reassured him. Luke didn’t have much of a poker face; Reid would have seen his doubt.

Inside the shower, Reid gently soaped Luke’s backside. He rinsed it with the shower head, letting the warm water massage into him.

Luke closed his eyes and groaned.

Reid took a washcloth and applied some light pressure to his hole.

Luke sighed. “That feels good.”

“Good,” Reid said gruffly, kissing the nape of Luke’s neck.

Luke turned around and kissed him back. They took turns then, washing each other. Between playful kisses, they shared shampoo and soap. Reid’s eyes fell again on Luke’s scar, and he frowned, running his hands over it. It was right at his kidney. He was about to question Luke, when Luke kissed him again. Reid almost wondered if Luke knew he was about to question him; the timing of his kiss was too perfect. But Luke’s mouth was hot, and the water was steamy now. Moaning, Reid gave into the kiss.

Reid has never liked kissing so much. Before, he was always eager to just get to the main event. Sex was quick and dirty and enjoyable, but nothing more. Luke’s kisses, however, could go on forever and still not be enough. Maybe it was because Luke had amazing lips, full and slightly moist. Maybe it was the way he instinctively used his mouth, opening it at just the right angle. Maybe it was the taste- like something stronger than honey or spice. Whatever it was, Reid just wanted to linger there.

Suddenly, Luke became frantic, grabbing Reid by the shoulders and rubbing his groin at Reid’s hips. Luke bucked against Reid’s body, digging his already hard cock into Reid. Reid gave a little smile, before diving back into the kiss.

Of course Luke was horny again already. Now that he’d gotten some sex, and fantastic sex too, Reid thought smugly, of course he’d want more. Water was sluicing down Luke’s chest, his hair wet, and he started to come at Reid, moaning a little and undulating his hips at him. Reid turned Luke around , kissing him on his back and biting his neck hard enough that Luke cried out; Luke tried to turn back, but Reid pushed him spread eagle against the shower wall. It was too soon to plow his ass; Reid didn’t want Luke to be sore beyond reason, but there were plenty of other things to do. Reid slid down to the floor, the water spraying his body, and he reached his hand around. He jerked Luke’s cock quickly. At the same time, Reid put his tongue at Luke’s crack, licking him gently, in complete contrast to his merciless hand on Luke’s dick.

Reid let his tongue push into Luke’s hole and then circle around in a sweet , soothing, touch, while his hand fisted Luke roughly, squeezing at the crown. Luke pounded his fist softly on the wall, moaning, and whispering, “I never…never knew…God, never ahhh,” and finally crying out, “God! Reid!” as he exploded with a shocked moan.

Reid stood unsteadily back to his feet, a feeling of triumph welling inside, as he supported Luke, who slumped against the shower wall, breathing raggedly, his eyes closed. Luke had never known, he’d never done any of this before, and Reid wrapped his arms protectively around Luke’s body and held him. He buried his face in the crook of Luke’s neck, mouthed Luke’s earlobe, torn between wanting to be gentle and loving and wanting to release the building pressure in his own cock.

Luke turned and faced him, still hungry despite his orgasm, kissing Reid eagerly. Luke must have felt Reid’s erection at his stomach, because he jumped a little and looked down. Taking his thumb, Luke stroked Reid boldly, as Reid thrust forward and groaned. With a smile, it was Luke’s turn to drop down at Reid’s feet. Reid wasted no time; he wanted him so much. Luke opened his mouth widely, encouragingly. In answer, Reid mouth-fucked Luke hard, seeking his own release, pumping himself into Luke’s open lips. When Reid reached his orgasm, shooting out in a furious jet of cum, Luke did his best to swallow, but some dripped down his chin and onto his chest. Before the water got to it, Reid sank back down to Luke’s level and licked his own cum from Luke’s body.

It was the best shower of Reid’s life.

Afterwards, Luke collapsed on the bed, draping the towel modestly over himself. Reid had to smile at that.

“I know it’s daytime,” Luke confided., “But I’m drained.”

“So let’s sleep.” Reid walked naked over to the bed.

“Um,” Luke mumbled, his eyes on Reid’s body. “Do you have a side?” He gestured to the bed.

“Yeah, the left. “

“Oh, me too.”

Reid raised an eyebrow at him.

Luke grinned . “Fine,” he said, shaking his head.“I’m flexible,” Luke added sweetly, scooting over to the right. “You have some weird obsession with everything left. I’d forgotten. Your toothbrush, your comb, your body –all to the left.“ Luke tilted his head, “Why is that?”

“What can I say? I’m a man of mystery.” Reid shrugged, tossing back the covers.

“With anal tendencies,” Luke teased; he fluffed up Reid’s pillow for him.

Reid glanced at him, smirking, and reached out to pat Luke’s ass.

“You’re right about that,” Reid said dryly, enjoying the way Luke grinned shyly. He kissed Luke, their lips smacked together, and Reid held Luke’s face in his hands. When the kiss ended, Luke took a deep breath.

“I guess you can have your side.”

“Thanks,” Reid smiled at him. “I am a little methodical,” he admitted. “Organization comforts me.”

Luke tilted his head at that. His eyes went all soft. They kissed again, Luke initiating the kiss this time, stroking Reid’s jaw gently.

“But if you get to pick the side,“ Luke added. “Then I want covers. I like to be warm.” He yanked the covers back up.

He waited for Reid to protest, his lips pursed together determinedly.

“I could keep you warm.” Reid gestured to his body. “But covered is fine,” Reid said, taking Luke into his arms. Reid didn’t care; he just wanted to kiss Luke some more. Besides, Reid secretly found Luke’s asserting himself adorable, not that Luke would ever know what sap was running through Reid’s mind.

“Agreed then,” Luke nodded, pleased, beaming at Reid like they’d just settled something important. He spooned his body into Reid’s, gave him a quick kiss, and closed his eyes.

Reid held him, letting his hands move once move over Luke’s body. He touched the scar again. Reid called his name softly, wanting to finally ask him about it, but there was no response.

“Luke?” Reid couldn’t believe that he’d fallen asleep in record time.

Reid gave him a tiny shake, half-hoping he’d wake up, but Luke didn’t budge. Reid sighed and softly stroked Luke’s hair; he liked the way it felt under his fingers, silky and smooth. Luke’s hand was tucked under his chin and he snored softly, making Reid smile.

Reid still couldn’t understand how this had happened. Why would Luke turn his shining eyes to Reid to be his first? Reid was closed-off and cynical and not anybody’s idea of romantic. Yet they had fit so well together, with a natural rhythm between them, and not just in the heat of sex.

Reid studied Luke silently, and then he kissed him gently. Luke’s lips were very soft. Reid put his face close to Luke’s and slept too.

***
Hours later, they woke up in each other’s grip. Reid’s arm was snaked securely around Luke’s waist, his head on Luke’s shoulder. He took a moment and buried himself in Luke’s hair. Luke moved a little and nestled closer to him.

“Luke,” Reid said softly, he kissed the curve of his neck.

“Hmm?”

“I have no idea what time it is, but I’m starving.”

Luke laughed and turned. “I’m not surprised. I know how you love to eat.”

They dressed, exchanging quick smiles with each other. Reid went over to the mini fridge and grabbed some candy bars and a Coke. As he crunched down on a Twix, he offered a bite to Luke, who shook his head. Luke’s face looked relaxed, luminous even, and Reid felt reassured by it. Luke looked happy; he didn’t seem to have any regrets.

“Where do you want to go?” Luke asked. “My treat.“

“Damn right it is,” Reid replied, lacing up his sneakers.

Luke clicked his tongue. “What do you mean?”

“After taking your virginity, the least you can do is feed me,” Reid replied. “After all, the pleasure was all yours.”

“No, it wasn’t.” Luke pursed his lips, “You weren’t exactly bored.” A gleaming light appeared in Luke’s eyes and he gave Reid a smile. Reid smiled back at Luke’s confident face; since coming back to Oakdale, Reid hadn’t seen that look on Luke’s face much and it pleased him.

“Fine,” Reid rolled his eyes. He munched on another piece of chocolate. “You’re a stud. Now can we get some real food?”

Luke shrugged good-naturedly. “Where do you want to eat?”

“Al’s,” Reid declared. “Chili and cornbread and chocolate cake.”

“Al’s it is,” Luke replied.

Reid walked over to him, grabbed him, and kissed Luke with a loud, satisfied smack on his lips.

“What was that for?” Luke asked, grinning in delight.

“For asking me to be your first, Einstein,“ Reid answered. “Now let’s go.”

Luke looked at him a moment, then he shook his head.

“What?” Reid asked, “You’re not gonna feed me? Want me to remain in this room forever, your starving sex slave?”

Luke blushed furiously.

“I’ll feed you, but not at Al’s. I have a better idea. My grandma is gone today to see my Aunt Meg. We could go to the farm and I could cook. That is if those candy bars can hold you over. I wouldn’t want you to starve to death before I can get a repeat performance.” Luke gently caressed Reid’s face a second, his hand rubbing at Reid’s stubble. “I want to do something nice for you.”

“You just did a whole lot of nice things for me,” Reid said, glancing down at his flaccid cock.

“Something else,” Luke replied, looking as though he was trying not to be embarrassed.

“Your chicken parm?” Reid said excitedly.

“Yep. Grandma has all the ingredients there. Sound good?” Luke asked .

“Sounds delicious.” Reid reached around and gave Luke’s ass a friendly pat. “And I’ve worked up an appetite.”

Reid smiled as Luke looked pleased with himself again. Then Luke stared at Reid, looking at him like he was the only person in the whole world. Reid inhaled sharply. He wanted Luke to always look at him in just that way.

Then Reid’s smile faded slightly. Always. Where had that thought come from? This was nothing, a few days of pleasure. That was what Luke had wanted, and what he’d agreed to, and all that he wanted, too.

“Let’s go,” he said to Luke, refusing to dwell on it. Chicken parmesan beckoned.

A/n:please note, nine is here! You can find it after 13...I had a major posting issue and only NOW realized it was missing! Sorry guys!
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.


a/n: Since I won't be home tonight, I thought I'd post 7 early. Hope you guys don't mind my posting it so fast here.

Chapter 7

Alone, in the operating room, Reid took a moment to breathe. Ameera’s tumor was lodged at the very center of her brain and he’d have to use extreme caution. Reid washed up and put his mask on. His adrenalin was starting now. There was no high like surgery. He waited as they brought Ameera into him, her body was open to his hands, ready for him to work and it made Reid let go of any other thoughts; there was no room for a personal life in the OR.

The operation went perfectly for the first few hours, but at the halfway point in the procedure Ameera’s heart rate became erratic, beating way too rapidly, and the inexperienced staff almost panicked, but Reid calmed them. He knew what to do. His hands never stopped working. His voice was sharp as he threw out orders, but his mind was steady, logically moving through the problem. He was in control and that feeling of power allowed Reid to never hesitate as he did what was necessary.

First, he brought her heart rate down by freezing her. Quickly, efficiently, with a firm belief in his decision, Reid injected the cool saline solution into her veins. The body would slow its metabolism down- preventing further damage. Reid then sent for a cardio specialist to assist and he went back into her brain. Now he worked to find the tumor. It was the size of a small peach pit, but a pit with its tentacles latched on to the nerves endings. Reid cut away at it, one piece at a time. His own thoughts were blank as he moved almost in a rhythm, a dance of sorts, his whole self entranced. There was nothing else but this brain, this moment, this cut.

***

Hours later, Reid stood in front of Noah and the Snyders. They were huddled in the waiting area.

“Well?” Noah rushed up.

Reid pulled down his mask and took a breath. He pinched the bridge of his nose a second. It had been an intense operation. Now that it was over, he could feel his exhaustion coming on.

Reid nodded at Noah. “She had a little trouble during the surgery, but she’s stable right now. The tumor is out - all of it.” Reid allowed himself a small smile of satisfaction.

A cheer went through the group.

Noah attempted to hug him, but Reid held up a hand. “No hugs. And you do need to understand, due to some complications, we had to cool her body down to prevent further brain injury. She’ll need to be in intensive care for awhile.”

Noah nodded eagerly. “Can I see her?”

“In a little while. I need to run some tests and then I’ll have her sent back to the room. We can talk more about it then. “

“But it looks good?” Noah said.

Reid nodded. “For now.” He never liked to be too optimistic.

Luke smiled, coming closer to Noah. “See?“ he said. “It’ll be alright.“ He tentatively put a hand on Noah’s shoulder, looking uncertain.

Reid had an odd feeling that Luke expected Noah to knock his hand away. Reid had almost forgotten how strange their friendship seemed to be. He narrowed his eyes on Luke’s hand and stared a moment at Luke’s uncomfortable face.

“After the tests, you’ll know more?” Noah asked Reid, not acknowledging Luke.

“We won’t know anything for sure until she wakes up,” Reid told Noah. “But as I said, the tumor is gone.“

“Thank you!” Noah said. “You're as amazing as Bob promised.”

“So I've heard,” Reid said. “But things can still go wrong. But, at this time, cautious optimism wouldn’t be going too far. There were some close moments in surgery.”

“Ahh, so you did need good luck.” Luke grinned at him, teasingly.

Reid held his hand up to indicate a half an inch of luck was all he needed.

Luke started to laugh, when Noah turned on him. “Luke! I’m sure the operation is a success due to his skill. Don’t insult him!”

“I wasn’t. I was just joking around -“

Noah bristled. “None of this has been easy. Not for me. I don’t see how making jokes helps at all.”

Luke hung his head a little.

Reid was about to defend Luke and give Noah a piece of his mind, when Holden and Lily came up to congratulate him. He had no choice but to turn to them. Bob was coming up now, too. Reid accepted all the warm wishes and handshakes. He felt caught between what he wanted to do and what he should do.

Apart from Bob, there was only one person he truly wanted to please with this operation’s success, only one person that Reid was eager to see happy. But when he had a second to look for him, Luke was already gone. Resigned, Reid turned back to the gathered group and allowed the praise to continue.

***

After another shower and change of clothes, all Reid wanted was some sleep. He didn’t even have the energy to consider looking for Luke. His eyeballs felt strained, his feet ached again and he could barely form a coherent thought. But he’d promised Noah another report about his wife’s condition, so he headed for her room, rubbing his eyes. Reid stopped at the loud voices coming from her room.

“Luke,” Noah said, “Are you drinking again?”

“No, I‘m not drunk, Noah. I’m just tired of this. Of you.”

Luke’s tone was bitchy, and Reid could picture his face. For some reason, bitchy was a good look on Luke. Really, he had no bad looks, Reid thought, although he would always prefer Luke to look happy.

Reid knew he should knock or leave, but, instead, he stood there with his eyes shut and listened.

“You don’t mean it,“ Noah said dismissively. “Not now. You heard the doctor; Ameera’s chance for recovery is good. It’s over.” Noah’s tone turned placating. “You can’t break up now that the worst is past.”

“I can!” Luke raised his voice. “I’m done. I won’t be treated like this anymore.”

Break up? Reid felt cold, like ice in his veins. Of course. Of course, how had he missed it? The guilt written all over Luke whenever he talked about Ameera, the way he was so solicitous of Noah, like a skittish colt approaching an unpredictable mare, afraid of being kicked, but needing something too. They were lovers. Or they had been? Still were?

“Look,” Reid could hear Noah’s lower, more reasonable voice. “I know I’ve been hard on you, blaming you, but, “ there was a shrug in the sound of the ‘but’ like it wasn’t important.

Blaming Luke. For Ameera. Right, Luke had said he'd been fighting with her when she collapsed, that he'd been saying horrible things to her. And Noah had blamed him. Had she discovered their affair? Was that what they'd been fighting about?

Reid tapped his pen against his leg, some pieces of the puzzle clicking together in his brain, others jamming and refusing to fit. What about Casey? Was Luke was cheating on him too? Or was that a ruse of some kind? It'd make more sense – there had been something not quite right there, some kind of disconnect that Reid had felt but been unable to understand. He'd written it off at the time as jealousy, anger that Luke was involved with someone so dumb, but maybe what he'd felt was something different. Was this all a knot of lies that Luke was afraid that Reid would untangle?

“Who cares now?” Luke said. “When it came to standing together, you chose to stand alone.”

"That's what I had to do, Luke! You know it was the right thing! Her life depended on me!"

"That's what you said. That's what you wanted me to believe, but it was always something, wasn't it, Noah? Always something that kept you from choosing me first."

"You make it sound like it was easy."

"Wasn't it? Easier at least than choosing to be with me?"

Reid couldn’t quite make out Noah’s mumbled reply. He swallowed the bitter taste in his mouth. He felt his whole body clench. What the hell was Luke involved with here? Noah was his cheating on his wife with Luke – that much seemed clear, now or in the past? Was it a current thing, or something that had come up after the fact? Break up – Noah had used the words 'break up' as something that Luke was doing currently, so it was ongoing then. Reid had a death grip on his chart.

Was this what Luke had become? Trapped in this small town with Lily and Holden as his parents? Had he become this kind of man?

Reid thought of Luke's eyes in the moonlight, the earnest, nervous expression in the hall as he'd looked at Reid earlier, and he couldn't reconcile this information, not with the little boy he'd known, and not with the man he wanted to believe existed. Reid shook his head to clear it.

“I asked you weeks ago. I told you all or nothing,“ Luke shouted. “You picked nothing.”

Luke sounded broken, wounded and hurt. It made Reid's stomach ache, and he wanted to make that sound go away.

"I know what I chose, Luke."

Noah had picked nothing? What did that mean – that Noah had ended things, chosen to stay with his wife? And he wanted to start up again now that it looked as though his wife might live? He'd said something about doing it to save her life? Doing what – marrying her? Breaking it off with Luke? But no…weeks ago, Ameera was perfectly healthy. It made no sense. Reid stood there, frozen, his brain frantically trying to connect all the pieces.

“Before she ever got sick, I begged you to end all this with her! To stop the lies!”

“And I told you, I couldn’t just walk away. She needed me. You know that!”

“I needed you,” Luke said. “Or didn’t that matter at all?”

”Ameera had to come first, okay? Back then and now, she had to come first. She’s my wife.”

“Believe me, I haven’t forgotten.” Luke said bitterly. “And I’m glad she’ll recover; I want that more than you know, but I won’t stand here and pretend to be happy about all the rest.”

How could Luke love a man who married somebody else, a woman, and who treated Luke like dirt? And why did Ameera need Noah so much? Clearly, the prick got off on seeing himself as some kind of hero. If it wasn’t about her illness and standing by her through that, what was the other situation that she needed protecting from? Reid rubbed a hand over his head. He felt chilled, like a block of ice was in his gut, solid and hard. Everything he’d ever known about Luke – his goodness, his need to help, his desire to do what was right – made him want to reject what he was hearing now.

The only part that rang true for Reid was the pain in Luke’s voice. Luke was being treated like second best, like crap, and he’d been taking it for a long time, that part Reid believed. Luke always had been so vulnerable that way, allowing people to use him, accepting their justifications.

“Luke, don’t leave like this. We’ll work it out; we always do.”

“No. Not this time. I can see myself now, Noah. I can see us. “

“What do you mean? We’re the same.”

“I just can’t do this anymore,” Luke’s voice dropped. “It’s over. “

Reid could hear a tremor in Luke’s voice. He wasn’t certain if Luke’s voice wavered from doubt or conviction, but Reid simply couldn’t stand there a moment longer. As he pushed open the door, Reid’s felt a twinge of nerves. He still didn’t understand why they were lovers, or how long it had been going on, or where Ameera fit into it all. He still didn’t understand why Luke would do any of this.

Reid stalked into the room, his gaze cold and hostile, and he held the chart to his chest, like protection. He had to see; he had to meet Luke’s eyes. The truth was slippery; it wasn’t like a scraped knee or a broken bone. You couldn’t measure it with a ruler or reason it out like a chess move, but he might see it in Luke’s face.

Noah and Luke both jumped.

“Dr. Oliver!” Noah called with false joviality. He walked over to Reid. “I just want to thank you again for helping Ameera.” Noah had his hand on Reid’s shoulder.

“It’s what I do,” Reid answered, staring over at Luke, glaring. “And I need to examine her. “

Luke wouldn’t look back at him, not even for a second. “Excuse me,” Luke said. Keeping his head down, Luke pushed past both Reid and Noah. Reid tried to catch his eye and failed, and with Luke’s hasty exit, the truth remained elusive.

Reid slowly faced Noah. “I need to examine your wife.”

Reid went over to her bed, and Noah followed him, his face squinted up.

“Dr Oliver, did you just hear any of that? Cause I can explain-“

"I don't know what's going on with you and Mr. Snyder, and I don't want to know, but I will tell you that any sudden stress could damage the already fragile health of my patient."

Reid began his exam, almost pushing Noah away.

"I understand.” Noah watched him begin the exam and then he rushed back up to Reid. “But I’m a really good husband and Ameera came into my life when –“

Reid put his stethoscope to his ears. “I have no time to play your Father Confessor. You’ll have to find someone else on whom to you unburden yourself, Mr. Mayer. I’m not interested in your skills as a husband or a boyfriend, or anything actually. I only care about Ameera’s health.

“My wife’s health should come first,” Noah bobbed his head in agreement.

"I'm sure it does."

"Luke is just --"

"I said I don't want to hear it, Mr. Mayer."

Ignoring Noah, Reid did his job.

Outwardly, he remained calm. He gave Ameera a thorough exam. Inwardly, it was another story; a wave of anger built up inside of Reid, anger he had no right to, but anger that filled him anyway.

Noah meant nothing to him at all, less than nothing. He was an asshole and not worth his brain power. But Luke? Reid wanted to knock him around, grab him by his cheating, idiotic head and thrash him. He was angry that he couldn’t understand the situation. He was angry that Luke had connected with him again, let him sit at his table, break bread, share his thoughts, and made Reid feel like Luke gave a damn about him.

Reid swallowed hard. Why did this hurt him? It wasn’t his concern, right? He was just here to do his job. He didn’t need to get sucked into this, and Luke was a grown man now, so what did it matter to Reid?

Reid continued to check Ameera’s vitals. She was his patient. She was what he needed to concentrate on. If Reid had questions, he needed to focus them on her care. What mess was this girl about to wake up to? Reid curled up his mouth. He hadn't saved her life just to have her wake up and go into some kind of traumatic shock. If Luke came back through that door, and Noah was certainly glancing over at it like he expected Luke any time, then Reid needed to be ready for the emotional impact this might have on Ameera. Reid nodded to himself. Okay, that made it his business. He needed to know, as her doctor of course, what the hell was really going on.

“Your wife is stable.“ Reid narrowed his eyes at Noah. "And when she wakes up, she’ll need your support, not drama.”

“Dr. Oliver,” Noah said, actually touching Reid’s arm. “I promise you that I’m good for Ameera. She’s my main concern. As for Luke, he and I just need a little time to work things out, and everything will be fine. I promise that I have good reasons for it all. I’m doing the right thing for everybody involved. I am."

“Good for you, but I have other patients to see.”

Removing Noah’s hand, Reid stepped back. Noah’s words gave him a strange pang. Holden always talked that way too. He never was wrong, even at Luke’s birthday, when he’d allowed Molly to wreck the party, Holden had seen himself as perfect. Reid stared at Noah thinking of Luke.

The boy he’d known hated his parents’ lies and his father’s cheating. The boy Reid remembered cried over it and had blamed himself for it, crawling into Reid’s bed for comfort. Reid might not get people, he might be slow to understand human emotions, but he couldn’t accept that what he’d heard in this room added up. Luke just couldn’t be this much of a prick.

The boy he’d known would never cheat with a married man on some helpless girl. Just today, when Holden had that phone call from his girlfriend, Luke’s face had been full of pain. Noah sounded so damn reasonable now and it chilled him that Luke’s boyfriend had the same tone of voice as Luke’s father. Reid remembered that Holden had been so nice when he was cheating on his family: his exterior had been calm and he’d dripped sincerity as he’d placed the blame at Lily’s feet and ran off into the night.

Suddenly, Reid felt the desire to find Luke. Lily had waited for Holden to return to her and he’d come back, only to hurt her again, and neither of his parents ever acknowledged the damage they did to Luke. He’d been a sensitive kid, not like Reid; Luke hadn’t a tough bone in his entire body, but he’d had a huge heart, and that just didn’t disappear, not unless it was ripped out.

Reid turned away from Noah, moving to the door, to Luke. He wanted to hear Luke’s side; Reid wanted to give the boy he knew a chance to still redeem himself. If he was wrong, if Luke truly had changed, well, Reid wanted to face that too. At the very least, he needed to make Luke aware of Ameera’s frail state and warn him to stay away from her. If he was planning to run back to Noah, the way Lily ran back to Holden, maybe Reid could help him see it. Maybe Luke was just stumbling around blindly making his parents mistakes? Reid wasn’t certain of anything. But, as he left the room, Reid hoped that once he had all the pieces to the puzzle, it would all at least make sense.

Luke was not in the hallway or by the elevator. He checked the break room, but Luke wasn’t there either. Then Reid went up the stairs, following his intuition.

Luke was on the roof. Reid approached him slowly, seeing the tears on Luke’s face.

When Reid was orphaned and living with Angus, he’d felt separated from the world. Reid might as well have been made of glass, for all Angus saw him. Reid did everything independently. Even as a young kid, he knew that that no one really wanted him. Until Luke. That first time Luke had smiled at him and called Reid his friend, his entire body had reacted. He’d reeled back stunned, heat flooding his skin, his knees nearly buckling. He’d gazed in Luke’s eyes, focused on him with such intensity, and a wave of relief had overtaken Reid. When Luke had looked at him, Reid wasn’t invisible after all.

Reid tentatively raised his hand up and held his fingers to Luke’s damp cheek. Reid would be damned if he’d allow Luke to be alone. He wanted Luke to know that he was here. He might not know what to say or do exactly, but he was here. Reid saw him.

“When we were kids, we were always honest with each other,” Reid said softly, “right?”

Luke nodded.

“Well then?” Reid said. “Can’t you be honest with me now?”

Luke shook his head. “It’s a long, crazy story. Are you sure you want to hear it?”

Reid hesitated. He knew the conversation was bound to make him uncomfortable; he’d spent his adulthood wrapped up in his own affairs, keeping his life focused on his career. Reid was a surgeon and nothing more. He wasn’t at all sure he would know how to help Luke with his troubles; he wasn’t at all sure that listening wouldn’t completely destroy his ideas of who Luke was as a person.

Gently, Reid stroked his thumb over another of Luke’s tears.

“Tell me,” Reid said, pushing his doubts aside.

Luke nodded. He drew in a shaky breath and began to talk.

***

“So let me get this right,” Reid paced the roof, a little while later. Luke was just sitting on the ground now, his face dry, knees pulled to his chest. “You and Noah were boyfriends, but Ameera was about to be deported and he married her.”

“Yes.” Luke shifted uneasily. “It sounds bad when you say it.”

Reid came over to Luke. He bent down by him, so that their faces were close. “And you approved? You agreed?”

“I wanted to help. And Noah said-“

Reid reached behind Luke’s left ear and flicked.

“Hey!” Luke said.

“That’s it, right? “ Reid said. “The switch for your brain? Obviously nobody has turned it on since I left.”

“I thought you’d be compassionate,” Luke protested, rubbing gingerly at the spot behind his ear.

Reid sat down next to him. “That is me being compassionate,” he replied.

“What should I’ve done?” Luke said defensively. “I’ve been with him for years. He wanted me to do this. He came to me, pleaded for Ameera, and-“

“Oh I don’t know,” Reid interrupted, “hired lawyers? Fought in court? Use your big bucks to make it all go away? But no, you let your boyfriend marry her instead. Smart.”

“When you put it like that,” Luke moaned and then hid his face behind his hands. “Maybe my brain has been turned off all these years.”

Reid snorted in agreement. “Well, we could just blame this town. I have a theory it turns everybody a little crazy.” Reid looked at him. “So Casey was just pretense.”

“Yeah. It was Noah’s idea. Casey was cool enough to agree. I – the whole thing got more and more messed up. I wasn’t happy. I fought with Noah, with Ameera. I hated it.” Luke sighed deeply. “I tried to reason with them. I did. But Noah has a way of making me feel just awful if I go against him-“

“I’ve noticed.”

Luke let out a shaky laugh, and Reid’s mouth hitched slightly up.

“He had me feeling bad all the time. Blaming me for being difficult about the marriage and not trusting him, and then really blaming me for her seizure the day we fought…. I just let him hurt me over and over.“ Luke looked at him with bottomless pain in his eyes. “Is love supposed to hurt like that?”

Anxiety fluttered in Reid’s stomach as he tried to answer; he opened his mouth, struggling to address the question of love, but no sound came out.

“I wouldn’t know,“ Reid finally replied. “Ask me something easier like all the elements in the periodic table.”

“It isn’t Noah’s fault, I guess. Everybody likes him. He’s so good.” Luke sounded like he was parroting someone’s words. “He’s a good person, and he married Ameera because it was the right thing to do.” Luke said nothing more, his face fallen.

“Sounds boring,” Reid snorted. “Being so righteous all the time. And I don’t like him.”

“You don’t like anybody,” Luke said, exasperated.

“I like you.” Reid said with a glimmer of a smile, his eyes focused on Luke’s face.

Startled, Luke mouth dropped open.

“Don’t look so surprised.”

Luke bit his lip, for a moment he couldn’t speak. “But you haven’t been around me, not really in a long time.”

“So?”

“So… You don’t know how I can be about love, be about Noah. “ Luke’s face looked agonized, the mere mention of Noah’s name on his lips made Luke’s eyes almost start out of his head with remembered pain; his face darkened by a red flush . “He says that I hover and that I pressure him. I-I do that. He’s right. I don’t know when to stop.”

Reid looked at Luke’s tense expression, his trembling lip. He felt his whole body gravitate toward Luke then, as if to offer some shelter. Reid leaned in, so that their thighs pressed together. He took Luke’s face in his hands.

“ You have a generous heart, Luke. Never apologize for it. “

Luke inhaled sharply, and then a joyous smile came over his face.

Until he saw it, Reid hadn’t realized just how much he’d wanted to bring out that smile, how much Luke’s happiness caused a tenderness to swell up inside of Reid’s chest, the force of it nearly knocking him back.

“Thank you,” Luke said, still smiling at him.

Reid abruptly released Luke and gave a sulky shrug. “No big deal,” he told Luke. “Let’s not get sappy.”

“Okay,” Luke nodded, his eyes looking moist. “No sappy stuff.”

Reid looked away and spoke slowly. “I don’t know crap about love, Luke. I could tell you about the brain chemicals. How mysterious it all is. I could tell you that each brain is unique, so maybe love is unique every time too. That’s about all I can tell you.“ Reid was aware that he was babbling, but couldn’t seem to stop it. When he glanced back at Luke, however, Luke was listening, his head tilted near Reid’s own.

“Maybe I don’t know crap about love either. “ Luke sighed.

Reid nearly laughed at that. Luke was the most loving person he’d ever known; it came as easily to him as breathing.

“I wish I’d ended it with Noah sooner,” Luke continued. “Why did I just stay so long?”

Reid gave Luke an awkward pat on the back. “Well, maybe because he’s your first. First lover and first love, right? That’s hard to lose.”

Luke didn’t answer. He bit his lip harder and chewed it. “Actually” Luke said, ducking his head, “he was my first love, I guess. But not my first…you know.”

“Oh. So there were others.” Reid nodded and suddenly wanted the conversation to end. Bad enough he had been talking to Luke about love and mooning over the brain to him. At this point, he didn’t really need to hear about all the men Luke had slept with.

“There weren’t others,“ Luke mumbled, tugging at his ear.

Reid’s brows came down in concentration. “What?”

“I’m not a prude,” Luke said suddenly. “I wanted to! I –I imagined I’d like sex.”

Images flashed at rapid speed through Reid’s mind – Luke on his back with his knees to his chest, open and eager, Luke on all fours, groaning for it, Luke’s mouth open and sucking Reid’s cock -- and he had to shut his eyes to push them away.

“Noah never felt it was the right time, “ Luke explained. “And to be fair, we always had one bad thing after another happening. I tried to get past the stuff and be with him. But Noah always wanted a break up when things fell apart. So we’d split…. We’d get back together, talk about maybe doing it-“

“Talk about doing it?” Reid echoed.

“We’d come close,” Luke flushed, “sort of. And then more problems. More breaks.“ Luke looked away. “Now I feel like the world’s biggest idiot for waiting. I feel like that will never happen for me now.” He rubbed his hands over his eyes a moment. “Anyhow. All that stuff aside. You want to know the worst part?”

Reid nodded, but his mind was still processing the fact that Luke was a virgin.

Luke took a deep breath. “The worst part was that right before he met Ameera, I realized that I didn’t fit with Noah anymore, not in a long time, maybe for months. I realized that I needed to get out for good. But then Ameera happened and he needed me, and I keep trying to stand by him, to fix us anyway. Even though I finally saw that we didn’t work. I just keep taking it, like some habit I just couldn’t stop.”

“Sounds like you need a Noah-detox treatment,” Reid suggested wryly.

Luke laughed at that. He met Reid’s gaze with soft eyes. His mouth curved still. Reid felt a thrumming start inside of his heart and he couldn’t help but to reach out for Luke’s hand.

Then Luke bolted up. “You know - that’s it!”

“What?” Reid asked, watching as Luke became animated, feeling both relieved and disappointed that Luke had gotten up.

“I do need a detox from him.“ Luke looked at Reid. “You’re joking, but you’re not wrong. I was kind of addicted.“ Luke’s face grew thoughtful. “And now I want to move on with my life, detox Noah from it.” Luke gazed at Reid again. Suddenly, Luke came a few steps toward him, with a determined look and a suggestive smile on his lips. “Maybe I know the right doctor to give me the treatment?”

Reid stood up nervously. “I don’t follow.” Only he did know what Luke wanted; Reid could see it in his eyes. “I don’t know what you mean,” he repeated stiffly, trying to reject the plea in Luke’s expression, the desire on his face.

Luke’s look of bravado crumpled. “This- this virginity thing?“ Luke blushed. “It’s embarrassing! I’m twenty and I haven’t, you know. How can I go forward to another relationship with this thing hanging over me?” He came closer to Reid. “I need somebody to - to – relieve me of it, so I can really move on.”

“Luke,” Reid said in a low voice. “Don’t ask me. “ Reid could feel his strength draining away at the longing in Luke’s gaze.

Luke paused a second, and then, as if his feelings just couldn’t be contained, he shrugged helplessly. “Why not? Why not ask you? I saw you when I massaged your leg. I saw.”

“I- I - you’re like a brother or something.”

Luke gave him a look. “Really? Honesty, remember?”

Reid’s jaw clenched. “Okay, maybe I don’t see you like a brother exactly.”

Eagerly, Luke started towards him.

“Wait.” Reid said, quickly. “Listen,” he backed a few inches away, “I don’t do relationships. I don’t fall in love. “

“But that’s perfect!” Luke declared enthusiastically to Reid’s utter shock. “I’m not asking you to fall in love with me,” Luke exclaimed. “I’m not ready to fall in love again. I just want you to be with me. You can help me out as a friend- no strings- and we can both go on to our lives.”

“That’s insane,” Reid replied, even as his whole body started to sweat.

“I need somebody I can trust with this. Somebody who understands that it’ll just be a sex thing. I tried waiting for love. And I will try and love again…someday. But right now, I need this to just happen.“ Luke stepped closer. “Please, Reid? Please? You’re the only person in the world I can ask this of.”

“No. It’s insanity,” Reid repeated firmly. The sweat was dripping down his back now.

“No,” Luke argued stubbornly. “Insanity would be my picking up some stranger. Do you think that’s a better plan?”

“Of course not! Don’t be a moron!” Terror ripped through him at the thought of Luke being stupid enough to go home with a stranger, someone who might be too rough, or hurt him, or not use a condom.

Luke smiled sweetly. “Well then?”

“Did it even occur to you that I’m a stranger too? We haven’t really seen each other in all these years.“ Reid shook his head. “We don’t really know each other anymore.”

Then Reid froze at the visible grief in Luke’s eyes.

“Yeah, we do.” Luke walked over to Reid, pressing his body close, searching his face.

“You can’t look at me,” Luke said, his voice thick with pain, “and tell me you don’t know me.”

At his words, Reid felt time slipping away, back to their boyhood. He pictured Luke with him in the barn, explaining how to milk a cow; Luke making up stories with Reid as the villain and Luke the hero; Luke sneaking him food, telling him knock-knock jokes, picking him over time with other kids. He saw Luke riding on a pony, all dressed up for his birthday; Luke sobbing over his parents; Luke defending him to Chris; Luke saying that he loved him. Reid’s eyes pinched closed a moment, seeing it all.

He opened his eyes slowly and simply nodded at Luke.

Luke smiled and touched his arm gently. Everything between them now seemed dangerously alive, even the air sizzled.

“Look,” Reid scowled at him, still trying to argue, “even if we do know each other, it might not matter. I’m still seven years older than you. Don’t you think this might be a problem?”

“No, not really,“ Luke smiled. “I think that’s great! I mean, you’ll know what you’re doing.“ Luke hesitated. “Wait. You do know what you’re doing, right?”

“Of course!” Reid huffed. “I’ve had no complaints!”

Luke grinned. “So it’s perfect.” Luke started to touch him again, but Reid pushed him away.

“Don’t go taking off your chastity belt just yet,“ Reid said sharply.

Luke drew back and his grin faded. “Are you making fun of me?” Hurt spread across on Luke’s face.

With a groan, Reid shook his head. “No, but I think you’re overreacting.” He gently took Luke’s hand and squeezed. “A lot of guys won’t mind being your first, Luke. Maybe just wait.”

“I’ve been waiting! I’m sick of waiting,” Luke began to get upset again. He began to pace in front of Reid. ” And a lot of other guys would think I’m ridiculous.” Luke’s cheeks were flushed; his voice began to crack a little. “What if I make a fool of myself in bed? What if I freeze up or something? What if he gets impatient with me and I –“

“Then he isn’t the right guy,” Reid replied firmly.

Luke just shook his head stubbornly. “What if I’m too needy ‘cause it’s my first time? I want to be confident, you know? And right now I’m this stupid mess. I have all these doubts about myself now, after Noah. And I just know I’ll be so nervous with a new guy. I’ll be a wreck trying to be with him without any experience and then - “

“Okay, okay.” Reid interrupted. He shushed Luke. “Calm down. Just, slow down a moment. You’re all emotional.” Reid paused. His own voice sounded less than calm. He drew in a deep breath.

Reid couldn’t disagree that the world was full of predatory men; men who would be impatient or worse, rough with Luke. Some men got off on causing virgins’ pain, tearing apart their assholes without any lube or preparation or care, and Luke with his air of sweetness would be like a lamb being led to the slaughterhouse. Reid’s body jerked back at the thought.

“Maybe you do need to do this, but I still think it’s too soon. You just broke up with your boyfriend like five minutes ago-“

“But I’ve been trying to break it off for months. I just wasn’t strong enough before. I don’t want him back.”

“Good to know.” Reid smiled slightly. “But it’s still fast, and I’m not sure you’re thinking straight.”

“I am! I want to experience passion, sex. Everybody acts like I’m some throwback to the Victorian age already, but I’m not. I’m a person with needs, like anybody else. Please? Please Reid?”

Jesus fucking Christ. Luke was begging to have sex with him, to be deflowered or whatever. Reid felt like his brain was about to explode. He held his hand over his face a moment. He searched his normally logical mind for some more arguments, but it was like a bomb was going off in his head. Even knowing that this was a mistake, even knowing that Luke wasn’t being rational, even knowing that he was not staying in Oakdale and there was no future in it, even knowing that he shouldn’t touch Luke or he’d never want to stop, Reid just stood there wanting it.

A long moment went by and Reid couldn’t seem to collect himself.

“So,” Luke said with a twist of his lips. “I’m not hearing a no.” He grinned at Reid and waggled his eyebrows hopefully.

Reid hesitated. He was uncertain what to do. Reid wished Luke were an operation that came with instructions. He wished he could see the results clearly in his mind. The last thing he wanted was to choose wrong here and hurt him.

During his own teenage years, Reid had avoided relationships by hiding in his text books. When he’d finally emerged enough to look around, he was already 18 and in his third year at Harvard. It had been agony, wondering how to know if a guy liked him or not. Reid had stumbled his way through a few relationships, and then had simply decided to keep his emotions in check. He could understand what Luke was saying. Relationships were messy and Luke had been hurt. Sex was easy. It was a basic human function.

Luke was asking for his help.

On the other hand -- oh, fuck - there was no other hand. This was wrong. This was foolish, wrong and ridiculous.

Reid gathered his words together. He’d have to let Luke down gently. Try to make him see why it was a lousy idea.

Then Luke wetted his lips nervously.

Desire shot through Reid’s body like a blast from a gun. He’d never felt desire so strongly before. He had yet to touch Luke, but his whole body was already a shaking mess. A strange, almost animal sound escaped Reid’s throat and a tremor passed through him.

Missing Reid’s reaction, Luke wrung his hands together. “I mean, unless...I know you don’t think of me as a brother, but if you’re not attracted enough to me to be interested,“ Luke stammered out. “I mean, I know I’m not all that . I-“

Blindly, with an instinctive grunt, Reid pulled Luke’s body against him abruptly stopping Luke’s words. He couldn’t stand it anymore. He had to touch Luke’s moist lips, taste him. Just once.

Reid let their mouths press together, but then he wanted more. He thrust his tongue into Luke’s mouth, teased his way deeper inside. The taste was intoxicating, and Reid felt his body responding. As their lips clung, he wrapped his hand firmly at Luke’s waist, boldly tightening his arms around Luke. The kiss went on, lingering, exploring. Reid traced Luke’s lips and then pushed back inside. Luke was moaning softly, his mouth desperately locked on Reid’s own. Reid felt like he couldn’t breathe without Luke, he needed to keep on kissing him, holding him.

Reid pushed him away.

“What the hell am I doing? “ Reid muttered. Luke didn’t answer; he was gasping for air. Luke trembled and rocked his body closer. Reid stared at him a second, and he went right back for Luke’s lips.

He drew Luke’s tongue back into his mouth, suckling it. His pulse was pounding. He could feel it throbbing in his neck. Reid nibbled Luke’s delicate lips in teasing strokes and then thrust again at his tongue. Luke was so responsive. He was thrashing his body around in Reid’s arms, trying to squirm closer. Luke’s mouth hung on his own. Reid shuddered. His hands were gentle now, caressing Luke’s back. Their tongues circled. Their bodies tangled, arms like ropes now, chest against chest, hip to hip. They seemed rooted together.

Reid held Luke’s head in his hands. His mouth never wanting to let Luke’s lips go. The contact was almost unbearable, heat searing his mouth. Reid’s eyes opened a moment and all he could see was Luke’s skin tinged pink. He could see the delicate curve of his earlobe and sunlit hair. He inhaled and closed his eyes again, continuing the kiss. He tasted so amazing. It wasn’t something Reid would ever be able to put into logical words. Luke just tasted perfect. It was like his mouth fit the shape of Reid’s the way a last puzzle piece fit, and his taste was every craving Reid longed for, and Luke’s body was incredibly warm and true. Reid teased him a moment longer with his tongue. He let his lips noisily find Luke’s in a few last tender touches.

Reid finally pulled his head away. Luke’s eyes were still closed. Gently, Reid placed the pad of his thumb on his lower lip and then touched the corner’s of Luke’s mouth.

Luke smiled, his eyes flying open.

Reid didn’t smile. He let his thumb and finger rest lightly still on those lips and then moved them away.

“I want it to be you.” Luke’s voice was strained. “You’ll take care of me. You have my back, remember?”

“If we do this,” Reid said, “I’m going to have more than your back.”

Luke blushed, but he laughed too. Reid smiled in response. He just stood there smiling, unable to help it. He gazed at Luke’s swollen lips and happy face, and Reid smiled again. “All I’m going to say tonight is go home. Rest. “

“Sleep on it?”

“Yes.”

“And,“ Luke said huskily. “If I’m still sure in the morning?” Luke took Reid’s hand and laced their fingers together. “I’m not changing my mind,” Luke said insistently, and with his words, Reid felt something twisting inside of him, an emotion he refused to examine too closely.

“Sleep on it.” Reid’s tone was gruff now.

He released Luke’s hands, and left Luke standing on the rooftop.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere, USA
Author: Marsabi
Warning: None
Summary: Luke and Reid meet again as adults


Chapter 6

The next morning Reid was running late. He’d slept poorly and hadn’t heard his alarm, and now he hurried into the locker room. He had no time for breakfast before he needed to start to prep for Ameera's operation, and so he quickly downed some vending machine snacks. He’d have to operate on sugar and adrenaline. He'd done it before, and he could do it again.

Briefly, he wondered how Luke was doing this morning. He imagined Luke already at Ameera’s room or lingering out in the hallway. After last night, Reid hoped he wouldn’t see him. His feelings for Luke confused him. Luke wasn’t just a little brother; Reid could admit it now. How could he tell himself that Luke was like a brother, when he kept picturing those lips on his cock? If it was only an attraction, Reid would deal with it, but Luke brought out weird, messy feelings of affection - and it was so much more complicated now that he knew Luke was gay.

Reid ran a hand over his face. He would do his job, avoid all this craziness, and leave as soon as possible. With any luck, he’d barely have to see Luke today. Besides, given how things ended last night, Luke was annoyed with Reid too, so he’d probably just stay away.

Feeling slightly better, Reid began to change. He took off his pants and put on scrub bottoms, and he had his shirt off, just about to change into the scrub top, when the door swung open.

“Reid,” Luke called out.

Reid paused in shock, his shirt still in his hand. Jesus. It was like Luke had a sixth sense. He always knew where to find Reid.

“Don’t you knock?” Reid snarled, annoyed at the way his heart raced at the sight of Luke.

Luke said nothing, his eyes on Reid’s bare chest. Reid could practically feel Luke’s eyes move like a caress, gliding over his bare neck and shoulders, then sliding down to his pecs, staying a moment on his nipples before moving to his lower abs. When he saw that Reid was watching him, Luke quickly averted his gaze and stared off at the lockers.

Complicated, Reid thought again and frowned.

Reid noticed Holden standing just behind Luke, a warm smile on his face, and the usual farm-ready wear making a drab fashion statement.

“Sorry for interrupting you, Reid,” Holden said. “I just wanted to stop in and say hello. It’s been a long time, and I didn’t want to miss you after the surgery.”

Social niceties always confused Reid. Who really cared? He nodded and said, "Okay."

“And you became a doctor,” Holden smiled, stating the obvious like he always did. “I guess you really did like all that medical stuff.”

“Nah,“ Reid drawled. “I only did it so I could wear these scrubs.” Reid pulled on his top. “They’re like pajamas. “ He glanced at Luke. “The medical stuff was just a bonus.”

“Well,” Holden went on, “I know Luke’s glad it’s you taking care of Ameera. He was ecstatic to tell me that you had returned to town and that you were the one operating on her. Ecstatic.”

Reid eyed Luke curiously. Luke was flushing a slightly pink color. He appeared to be still transfixed by the lockers.

“So you’re close to Ameera too?” Reid asked Holden.

“Oh, sure. And Noah. I’m here to support Noah through this, and Luke too.”

“I didn’t realize the Mayers meant so much to your whole family,” Reid said. He knew the Snyders were meddlesome busy-bodies, but everything about this situation reeked of weirdness.

Holden was about to answer, when his cell phone buzzed. “Excuse me, I gotta take this. “ Holden answered it with an annoyed glare. “Not here,“ he told the person on the other end. “Later.” He walked out the door to talk in private.

Reid wondered if he should mention the small fight he and Luke had had from last night, but Luke didn’t seem to be thinking about it. His eyes were at the door as he listened to Holden talking. They heard Holden whispering and then his voice rising at the person on the phone. Luke looked at Reid and smiled a bit ruefully.

“New girlfriend?” Reid guessed.

Holden’s voice carried again. Then silence.

“Yeah. And maybe, well Mom thinks - new long lost sibling.”

“You’re kidding!”

Luke sighed deeply. “I wish. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love Abigail and Aaron, and I’m fine with anything Dad does.” Luke didn’t look fine to Reid. He looked stressed. Now that Reid was facing him, he could see circles under Luke’s eyes, tension in his face.

“What I worry about,“ Luke said. “Are the little ones. I really hope there’s no truth to Mom’s worries. I mean for Faith, Nat and Ethan’s sake. It will just upset them. Confuse them, you know?”

Reid nodded. “Maybe Lily’s wrong.”

“Maybe.” Luke ran a tired hand over his eyes. “You’re so lucky in some ways not to have anybody.”

Reid said nothing.

“Oh, God!” Luke said, his mouth dropping open. “I didn’t mean - that sounded so - I’m sorry. That wasn’t how I meant-“

Reid held up his hand to stop Luke’s words. “It’s just the truth,” Reid replied calmly.

Luke gazed at him with a mixture of guilt and compassion. “I’m sorry,” Luke repeated softly. “You know that I feel-“

“I have medicine,” Reid interrupted. “And being a doctor is fine; it’s more than enough for me.”

Luke gave him a troubled look.

“So you really might have another sibling out there?” Reid said crisply, trying to get the subject off of how alone he was. Why did that fact keep coming up?

Luke looked at him a long moment and then he nodded. “Seems to be the case.” He walked a few steps closer to Reid. “And the strange part is that Dad was the one who gave me the whole birth control lecture.”

Reid raised an eyebrow at that.

“Before he knew I had no danger of knocking anybody up.” Luke half-smiled.

“Worried about the girl next door and that tempting barn house, was he?”

“Yeah,” Luke said. “He stumbled over a few basic pointers and then handed me a book about it. It had some really nice pictures too, colored illustrations.“ Luke laughed. “Not really the book I needed though.”

“I doubt Oakdale library carries that book. If I recall, their circulation material stopped around the 1950s.”

“And now Dad once again might be in a paternity mess,” Luke sighed.

“Well,“ Reid offered. “I’m about to go into brain surgery, but if you want I think I could handle giving Holden a quick neutering afterward.”

“Reid!” Luke exclaimed “That’s awful.” But his eyes gleamed and mouth curved up.

“Snip , snip?” Reid made a scissor with his hand.

Luke snorted out a laugh.

“You know these heterosexuals,” Reid continued, “they can never keep their pants zipped.”

The door swung back open. “All done.” Holden smiled at them. “Luke? Want to head with me to Ameera’s room? I’m sure Reid has to get ready.”

“I do,” Reid said

“Okay,” Luke answered. He moved closer to the door.

“Oh, Holden,” Reid said, turning to the other man for a moment.

“Yeah?”

Reid saw Luke’s eyes bug out. He flashed Luke a quick grin.

“There’s something I wanted to tell you.”

Luke frantically mouthed, ‘please no.’

Reid held back the urge to laugh. He gave Luke an innocent stare and Luke shut his eyes like he had on Casey the night before.

Reid walked over to Holden, and, forgetting about teasing Luke, Reid studied Holden’s face. He’d been planning to say something to both Lily and Holden, and the time seemed as right as any. “Look, I,“ Reid paused. “I wanted to say I appreciate that summer that you took me in.” He extended a hand out to Holden and they shook.

Even though Reid didn’t think much of Holden as a reliable husband and questioned his choices as a father, he knew that he’d done him a kindness way back then.

Looking stunned, Luke watched them shake hands. Then his eyes became all big and melting. Reid could practically hear all the sappy, gooey thoughts running in Luke’s head. Reid rolled his eyes at him.

Luke’s grin widened at the eye roll, and he just wrinkled his nose back at Reid.

“Thank you for that,” Holden nodded.

Reid nodded back.

“We all just hope you can save Ameera,” Holden said. “We’re counting on it.”

“I’ll do everything I can.”

“We should go,” Holden replied. He clasped a heavy hand on Luke’s shoulder. “I’m sure Noah needs us there, right?”

Reid was watching Luke’s eyes, and he could just see the light going out of them. The moment of teasing and sweetness evaporating before him, Luke appeared miserable now. He shifted his feet.

“You’re right. I should go and see.”

“I’m sure it will all soon work out and return to how it was before,” Holden told Luke cryptically. It felt like he was speaking in some odd code.

Luke merely shrugged.

Once again, Reid felt like he was confused by the situation. He couldn’t figure out the Snyders and the Mayers deep connection. Since learning that Luke was gay, and therefore not in love with Ameera, the situation baffled Reid. But then again, this was Oakdale, where nothing made sense and everything got lost in translation.

“Bye, Reid,” Holden said. “We’ll be waiting outside the OR.”

Reid nodded.

“Bye,” Luke said quietly.

“Bye, Luke.”

Whatever this bizarre situation with Ameera and Noah was, Reid was firmly on Luke’s side. Reid just wished that Luke would stop blaming himself about Ameera . Wasn’t he sick of that yet? Luke always blamed himself for everybody else’s troubles; he’d been that way as a kid, too.

With his eyes, Reid attempted to communicate his desire to help him. Something gentled on Luke’s face, and Reid knew he understood him. Luke had always understood him.

But Luke said nothing else, his gaze swept over Reid’s body a moment, and then he followed his father out the door.

***

During Reid's final briefing of Noah, Luke had been nowhere to be seen, which wasn't too much of a surprise given how adamant Noah had been about leaving Luke out of all decisions concerning Ameera's care. But the presence of Holden and Lily, both physically supporting Noah with hands on his arm and shoulders, had triggered another round of questions for Reid to ponder as he walked toward the OR. They were treating Noah almost like a son, and hadn't Luke said that Noah had no family? Was he yet another stray the Snyders had taken in at their farm? Was he a warmer, touchy-feelier version of Reid himself? Had he milked cows for a few summers in exchange for a home, and managed to wriggle his way into their family, to actually be one of them?

Reid snorted. Who'd even want that?

Turning toward the OR, Reid saw Luke slumped against a wall; avoiding Luke was proving impossible today. Luke straightened up at the sight of Reid and came toward him, provoking in Reid an odd combination of feelings. As Luke nearly reached him, Reid couldn’t determine if it was fear or thrill that made his pulse leap slightly.

"What are you doing here?" Reid said, not stopping, but continuing on to the OR.

"Waiting for you." Luke was immediately at his heels, and Reid stepped up the pace, hoping that he still stood a chance of shaking him.

"Why?"

"Just 'cause," Luke said. "I wanted to say good luck in there."

Reid stopped short, unable to keep himself from looking at Luke again. "Don’t need it."

“Oh, course not,“ Luke said, amusement on his face. “I forgot who I’m talking to.” Luke gave a little, mocking bow and then grinned.

Reid smiled back at him, almost shyly. “I thought you were angry with me last night, but you came in to see me with Holden before and now you’re here again.”

Luke shrugged generously. “I was angry, but if you’re only here for a few days…I don’t want to waste them being mad at you.”

“Oh,” Reid said. Luke was so close to him there wasn’t an inch of space between their bodies.

“Even if I’m a blip,” Luke added.

“I-I never said you were a blip- I never,” Reid couldn’t believe he was actually stammering now.

Luke gave him a saucy grin.

“Are you being a wise-ass?” Reid asked him.

“Maybe. “ Luke tilted his head. “What’re you gonna do about it?”

“Listen, If I wasn’t on my way to surgery –“ Reid began stepping threateningly at him.

Pain suddenly shot through his leg. Cursing, Reid began to hop around on it, trying to make the charley horse go away.

Luke frowned, his teasing grin gone. “Are you okay?”

“Do I look okay?” Reid replied. He stamped his foot on the floor to try and stop the cramping pain.

“What is it?”

Reid sat down in a nearby chair and pulled at his toes. “Just a charley horse . I get them, mostly in the morning. I’ve had too much surgery lately and not enough stretching. And my hotel bed sucks. ”

Reid left out the fact that he had barely slept. The reason for it was staring him in the face all full of concern now, making the empathetic sounds that Luke made so well.

“You should try yoga,” Luke advised. “I’ve heard it’s good for loosening up muscles.”

“Yoga?” Reid snorted. “Do I look like an earthy-crunchy type?” Reid made a face.

“And for a doctor? Your diet is terrible.” Luke scolded him. “I saw all those vending machine snacks.”

Reid shot him a glare. “Thanks, Mom. Damn it. Right now, I'd try anything. Getting a kink in my leg right before a major operation is going to set it back. Can't go in until it's resolved.”

“Here,” Luke said, “let me help.”

“How?” Reid grimaced and pulled at his toes again. After a moment, he stood up, and tried to walk down the hallway.

“Wait, Reid,” Luke cautioned. “Give it a minute.”

“I don’t have time for this.” Reid made it one more step, when pain sliced through his calf muscle.

“At least lean on me ,” Luke said, grabbing at Reid’s waist and hoisting him close, causing Reid’s body to stiffen and his heart to speed up.

“I’m not leaning on you . Don’t you have a foundation to fulfill all these obsequious, do-gooder instincts of yours? Go rescue a small country or something. Leave me alone.”

Luke pursed his lips. “Being a jerk might scare off most of the people you meet. In fact, I’m sure it causes the hospital staff to flee in terror, but it doesn’t work with me. “

“Why not? Too much hayseed between the ears?” Reid grumbled, but he grabbed Luke around the shoulders, which felt firm under Reid’s hands.

“Too much exposure to you,” Luke replied, “and at a young age.” He wrapped his arm at Reid’s waist and, half-carrying him, helped Reid into a nearby room and over to another chair.

As he sank down, Reid couldn’t help letting out a small yelp of pain, and of course Luke noticed it, his eyes went big with worry and a stubborn look crossed Luke’s face. Reid knew there was no escaping Luke’s strange need to fuss over him. Reid made a sour face at him, but he found he couldn’t object any further, both because he knew Luke was a person of singular purpose and because the idea of Luke’s attention turned solely on him wasn’t entirely unappealing.

“Does it hurt that much?” Luke asked, clucking sympathetically. He gave Reid a small touch on the side of his leg; the touch was both a pat and a poke. “Should I get a nurse?”

“Do you want to kill me? Just let me up, alright?” Attempting one final escape, Reid started to rise, but Luke pushed him firmly down into the chair. Their eyes locked on each other and the force of Luke’s determination struck Reid. Luke’s eyes were so large and so deeply brown, Reid became momentarily lost in them. A faint spot of color was on Luke’s cheeks and he seemed equally compelled to just gaze back at Reid. Then Luke sighed deeply and dropped his eyes.

Luke bent down between Reid’s legs.

“What are you doing?” Reid snapped, coming to his senses again, trying to squeeze his knees together.

“I’m helping you,” Luke said, practically gritting his teeth.

“You know, I can prescribe you something for this irrational need you have to meddle. Or there might be a shot for it. Say the word and I’ll put a big needle right in your butt.”

God, Reid really had to stop fixating on Luke’s ass. First he threatened to tattoo it and now he was prattling on about sticking something in it. He’d been trying to change gears deliberately and get rid of Luke’s attentions, but now he’d only boxed himself into a corner with his own big mouth.

“I’m helping you,” Luke repeated, his lip jutting out. “Now quit fighting me.”

Luke stared him down, practically daring Reid to argue, and when Reid didn’t say anything more, Luke lifted up Reid foot, and quickly rolled the scrub bottom up to his mid-thigh. Then Luke placed Reid's foot on his knee, and began to knead Reid’s calf muscle, stroking the knotted flesh with his fingers. He had really warm, surprisingly strong hands, and Reid swallowed back a soft moan.

Luke scooted closer, massaging Reid’s leg in steady circles with the pad of his thumb. It felt good, really good, and a small shudder passed between Reid’s shoulder blades; he had to concentrate on not allowing his breath to come too quickly. Luke’s fingers dug harder into his flesh, creating equal parts pleasure and pain, and Reid had to fight the urge to contort his body in reaction to both. Reid’s heart thumped violently just under his ribcage as Luke dug his thumb in again, pressing on just the right place.

“Mmm,” Reid said, the sound escaping his lips before he could squash it.

“Feel good?” Luke stopped and looked up at him. Luke’s palm pressed flat against Reid’s leg, generating warmth, and Reid’s eyes felt pulled to Luke’s. For a second, he again lost himself in their clear gaze; the energy between them was electric.

“It ain’t bad,” Reid admitted, attempting to sound breezy and unaffected, but watching Luke from under his lashes, examining Luke’s flushed skin, he knew -- something was brewing between them. Reid could feel it in his gut, not that he planned to act on it, but just knowing that Luke might want him too caused a delicious coiling sensation in Reid’s groin.

Luke smiled quickly, bashfully, and went back to the massage, using all of his fingers on Reid’s skin, pushing into the muscle and then rubbing softly. Luke’s mouth hovered near Reid’s knee; his breath blew gently out, his fingers stroking Reid's skin, as his hand traveled up to Reid’s thigh, and worked the flesh there. For some reason, Reid didn’t protest. He didn’t remind Luke the pain was in his calf. Luke ran his other hand up Reid’s thigh and then glided it back down, moving closer, close enough that Reid could feel the heat coming off of him.

Reid gazed at the top of Luke’s golden head, bent practically at Reid’s crotch, and groaned. He firmly pushed Luke’s hands away, rubbing a hand over his eyes, trying to keep his dick from making itself very obvious to Luke and anybody else who might enter the room.

“Better?” Luke asked him softly.

Reid was incapable of speech; he nodded.

Luke flashed his dimples at him and grinned, jerking Reid's pants leg back down as he stood up. “I’m glad. Listen,” Luke said. “After the surgery, when all this is over, you know, if it goes well and all, do you want to meet up? Maybe grab dinner. Or even come over to my mom’s and I’ll make something for us.”

Reid stared at Luke for a moment, still trying to shake the image of Luke's head by his crotch, and asked the first thing that came to mind. "You cook?" He took a deep breath and focused on that thought. He was desperate to focus on anything after that massage to prevent getting hard. “You cook real, actual meals?”

“I do,” Luke laughed. “It was a matter of survival, since Mom never did. Once we moved out of the farm, I practically starved every night. Anyhow, I begged Grandma to teach me. She tried to teach the girls too, but they weren't interested. I started fooling around with it more and more. I mean, I’m not as good a cook as Grandma Emma, so don’t expect anything like that, but I can make a killer chicken parmesan.“

Reid just stared at him.

“It’s cooking Reid,“ Luke teased, "not brain surgery.“ Luke dropped his eyes a moment. “It was nice hanging out last night, right? I thought maybe we could get together tonight too. Let me thank you for all you’ve done.”

Reid raised his eyebrow in question, “Don’t you want to celebrate with Noah, Casey or your family? Assuming I’m my usual brilliant self today?”

Luke shook his head.

“I did a lot of thinking last night,” he said softly. "About them all…. I’ve made some decisions today that-“ He stopped and his body hunched forward protectively. “My timing sucks. Look, you’re about to go into surgery, right? I’m sure you need to do some things. We’ll talk later.”

“I’m holding you to that promise. “ Reid examined Luke curiously, wondering what decisions he’d made.

Luke just smiled warmly “I know you will. Just like I know you’ll be great in there with Ameera. You’ll be great.”

Reid didn’t know what to say to that, so he kept his mouth closed, and stood awkwardly to his feet. He angled his body closer to Luke’s, wanting to thank him, touch him. Reid started to lift his hand up and hesitated. He could sense the weight of Luke’s body and it would be so easy to just lean forward and kiss him, but one kiss would lead to a thousand problems, so Reid lowered his hand to his side.

Luke stared at him, like he’d known exactly what Reid was thinking, and then he moved back to let him go.

Reid left the room without looking back, forcing his mind off Luke, and the way Luke could look at him as if he mattered more than anyone else in the world.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.

Warning: strong language and sexual content in this chapter

Chapter Five

The next morning, as he hurried to find a parking space at Memorial, Reid let his car turn sharply, making the tires screech. He’d had his own private parking space at the Mayo clinic, and now he had to circle around and around like some gopher again.

Reid glanced down at his pristine white coat. Nope, still a world class neurosurgeon - one without a place to park. Out of the corner of his eyes, Reid finally spotted an open space. He accelerated.

He barely tapped the other car’s bumper; it had come out of nowhere to steal his space, before Reid slammed the brakes on.

Reid honked the horn several times at the idiot driver, before getting out.

“You,” Kim Hughes said as she opened up her car door.

Unlike Bob, Kim hadn’t aged well. Her mouth was heavily lined and her hair had turned mostly white. The only thing about her that was the same was that expression of haughty disapproval, and she was probably still as sweet as a packet of artificial Sweet N Low; Reid could almost imagine her bitter aftertaste.

“So happy to see me that you had to hit my car?” Reid joked.

“You hit my car,” Kim informed him. “And we need to exchange insurance information.”

“Why?” Reid made a face. “It’s a fender bender. No damage. See?”

Kim ignored that. “Don’t bother to ask if I’m alright.”

“I can see you are,“ Reid replied. “But don’t worry, I’m sure Bob will run 100 tests on you for free and then confirm what common sense tells us right now.”

Kim walked over to him. “I heard you were back in town. I should have known. Bob has been working twice as hard as usual.”

Reid handed her his insurance card. “And you blame me?”

Kim glared at him. “Shouldn’t I?”

“No,” Reid said annoyed. “I’m not making Bob stay at work. He’s doing his job. Imagine that.”

“Bob needs to take it easy,” Kim said frostily. “Not spend his time with neurosurgeons.”

She made it sound like a dirty word. “Would you rather I’d gone to clown college with Chris?” Reid asked, baiting her. Why did she always act like he was about to steal Bob away or something?

“Chris is a doctor,” Kim told him proudly. “A good family doctor. He’s off in Africa right now making a difference to poor families.”

Reid snorted. “Do they have golf in the jungle? Otherwise, I can’t imagine what he’s doing out there.”

“He’s concerned about humanity.”

Chris Hughes was still full of so much shit, he could fill up a port-o-potty. Reid opened his mouth to tell that to Kim.

“And the last thing Bob needs,” Kim continued before he could talk, “is you. “

“Bob doesn’t seem to mind my presence,” Reid said flatly. He glanced at the exit door, ready to leave her and this ridiculous conversation.

“Bob is exhausted. Several doctors have left him already. Richards left because of you.”

“So Bob is understaffed and tired and Chris just took off for Africa.” Reid nodded. “That sounds like him. Maybe what Bob needs is needs a vacation or a checkup,” Reid suggested. “Or less pressure at home.”

Kim stared at him. “I’m not discussing my husband or our personal life with you!”

“Isn’t that just what you were doing?” Reid countered.

Kim walked away from him, not answering. Reid shrugged. He would look into asking Bob about his staffing issues. If Bob needed some competent new doctors, Reid could make some calls for him and do some research. There must be a few decent M.D.s out there still foolish enough to think that small town living sounded quaint.

“There you go again making friends.” Luke called out. “You always did have a talent for that.”

Reid turned startled and looked at Luke, who somehow had come up right behind him and was now standing nearly on top of Reid’s feet.

“That woman has always hated me,” Reid said. “And I don’t need friends.”

“Well,” Luke laughed, jamming his hands in his pockets and grinning foolishly at Reid, “You have one friend .” He smiled wider. “Right here.”

“Is that what we are?” Reid said cautiously.

Luke pushed his face closer to Reid’s own and smiled again gently.

The trouble was, Reid couldn’t help returning the smile. Luke had a great smile; it was warm as sunshine. Reid couldn’t help wanting to get tangled up in its light.

“I guess I don’t understand people,” he admitted.

“There’s news,” Luke laughed.

“Thanks,” Reid’s lips twisted wryly.

Then Luke’s whole face softened. “Aww, don’t be sensitive about it “

“I’m not.”

Luke reached out and touched his arm. His eyes were full of sweetness. “Maybe you don’t get people, but they don’t try and get you. Like Kim for instance? She should be thanking you for being concerned about Bob. If she knew you, she’d know that you are going to work harder for him while you’re here and even try and help him with his staff. That you would tirelessly go over applicants for Bob if he asked you, right?”

Reid’s mouth fell open a moment. It was exactly what he’d been thinking before Luke had spoken. Luke’s eyes practically melted into his. His fingers squeezed Reid’s arm.

“Excuse me, I didn’t know you moonlighted as a psychic. Where did you pick up your insight? From the back of a cereal box ? ” Reid pulled his arm away. “And I have no interest in the Hughes family. “

“Uh-huh,” Luke grinned. “Okay. You’re a rude jerk who doesn’t give a damn about anybody.”

“You got it,” Reid replied.

“And that’s why you need me,” Luke happily added in a smug tone. “To be your friend.”

Reid was about to protest, when Luke smiled at him again, his brown eyes dancing. Luke’s dimples appeared and his grin widened. Reid’s breath caught in his throat.

“I guess if I have to be in Oakdale, it’s not such a bad thing to have a friend.”

Luke’s face lit up. “Careful, Reid,” he teased, “I might lure you in to extending your time here. And who knows? Stay long enough, we might get to be BFFs again. “

“Oh no. I have to give that honor to Bob or he’d cry.”

Luke burst out laughing. He pushed at Reid with the heel of his hand. Reid clasped his shoulder. It was nice to make Luke laugh.

Luke’s tongue darted out and ran over his teeth. Reid couldn’t help following the motion.

Their eyes stayed on each other, lingering, unable to break off the contact. Luke was watching him like he wanted something from Reid; his smile started to slip slightly. Reid breathed in his scent. He was so close to Luke he could smell his skin and hair. He could feel the air charged between them. Reid looked at Luke’s mouth as it parted, open, waiting. That mouth hovering by his own, asking to be kissed, those lips so near, with their promise of soft skin and warmth.

They swayed closer to each other.

Reid pulled back. This was crazy. It must be all in his head. Luke was in love with Ameera, and even if he wasn’t, Luke was like a little brother. Reid wound his arms around his waist. He felt an urge to sit down and put his head between his knees to keep from hyperventilating.

“I should get inside.”

Luke nodded.

Reid gritted his teeth. He deliberately made his face a mask. As they slowly start to walk toward the door into the hospital, Reid could feel Luke sneaking glances at him.

“So,” Luke smiled at him as they walked. “Do you like Minnesota?”

Why did he always insist on chatting? Reid took deep breaths through his nose. He barely glanced at Luke, but he could feel Luke waiting.

“I guess.“

“What’s there to do for fun?” Luke persisted.

Reid rolled his eyes, “How would I know?”

“Okay, let’s try another question.” Luke sighed. “How long have you lived there?”

“Couple of years.” Reid opened the door to the hospital, walking up to the elevator.

“And you know nothing about the place?” Luke nudged him. “Reid?”

“What?” Reid shrugged. “Every place is the same to me. Food. Sleep. Work. Whatever.”

“Well,” Luke said, his eyes soft now. “Oakdale isn’t like just anywhere.”

Reid snorted derisively. “Tell me about it.” He jabbed his finger at the up button, frowning at the elevator’s slow response.

“I mean…you have people who remember you and care that you’re back.” Luke smiled at him, his expression affectionate.

Reid stared. He rubbed a hand at his neck for a second.

If anything, Luke’s face seemed to soften more as he watched him. ”Am I making you uncomfortable?”

“No,” Reid said. He pressed at the button again, leaving his finger on it.

“Are you in a hurry?” Luke asked.

Reid ignored him.

“You do know it’s okay for people to care about you, right?” Luke’s voice was teasing, a light of humor in his eyes.

Reid sighed as the elevator finally arrived. It was only when he quickly got inside and the doors closed, that Reid remembered how much he hated small spaces, and now he was inside one with Luke. Reid watched the numbers slowly lighting up; he would be out of this sardine can and away from the source of these uncomfortable feelings soon enough.

“I don’t have time for that. I‘m here to operate on Ameera. That’s all,“ Reid said. “So why are you at the hospital? I thought you were staying away?”

At the name Ameera, Luke’s face grew somber again. “Then you’ve forgotten a few things about me,” Luke joked weakly. “I just came to talk with Noah, but I won’t go into the room.”

The fact that Luke was so obsessed with Ameera’s condition told Reid quite a lot. Luke’s feelings for her must be deep. Reid’s stomach lurched a little as the elevator continued to climb.

Luke shifted from side to side. “This is weird, but there is one thing I do need from you, okay? A small favor.”

Reid raised an eyebrow questioningly.

“Here? At the hospital? Can we not share the fact that we know each other with Noah?” Luke had a look of stubborn concentration on his face now; his tongue was tucked at the corner of his mouth.

“Why?” Reid demanded bluntly.

“It’s complicated, I’m paying for her hospital care and that was hard enough to convince Noah about…” Luke scratched at his ear. “I don’t want him thinking I’m taking over and brought you here too.”

“Bringing me is bad?” Reid frowned.

“No, of course not. I just-” Luke looked away. “Noah’s proud and he wouldn’t like the idea of me controlling the situation.”

“What? By helping? By getting the most brilliant neurosurgeon here to save his wife?”

“I told you, he’s proud.”

“Sounds more like ungrateful.”

Or was Noah not as vacuous as he appeared? Did he know about Luke’s feelings for Ameera?

Luke shook his head.

They fell into silence. Reid looked at the elevator lights again. There was a barely perceptible clicking noise as they passed each floor. Reid could imagine the cables snapping and hurtling them down to the ground.

The elevator doors opened and Reid started down the hall with Luke trailing behind him. After a few yards, Reid stopped and looked at Luke.

“And I’m supposed to call you Mr. Snyder?” he asked. He folded his arms across his chest.

Luke nodded. “And I’ll call you Dr. Oliver. But just in front of Noah.”

“Terrific,” Reid mumbled.

“What’s the big deal,” Luke asked. “It’s my name.”

“No, your name is Luke, at least to me,“ Reid answered flatly. “I don’t like this situation.”

“I can see that.”

Reid nodded, his mouth turned down. Just then, Reid’s pager went off.

“What is it? “ Luke asked. “Ameera?”

“No,” Reid said, already moving quickly. “ Emergency. An accident. Head trauma. Gotta go.”

“About the name thing, do you agree to -“

“Are you an idiot? I gotta go!” Reid snapped and hurried off to the OR.

“See you at dinner,” he heard Luke call to him as Reid rounded the corner toward the ER.

***

The car accident was pretty brutal. There were actually two different head trauma patients. The woman from the car was comparatively lucky, only needing a CT scan, some staples in her head, and maybe some plastic surgery to cover what is sure to be a nasty scar. The other victim, an apparent genius who chose to ride his motorcycle without a helmet, required surgery to save his life, and he was in the Intensive Care unit recovering when he seized, and Reid spent another three hours going back in – a dangerous procedure, to say the least. The longer a brain is exposed, the longer the potential for complications, and this man's life was hanging by a thread.

After seeing the family, Reid quickly went to Bob’s office to update him. "Good thing I was here, Bob-o. Saved the idiot’s life. For now."

“Oh yes,” Bob said slowly, looking up from a huge stack of papers. “So the operation was a success?” Bob asked.

“Of course.” Reid sat down across from him. “You actually need to ask me?”

“Forgive me. “ Bob smiled. “I forgot that I was speaking to the great Dr. Oliver. We mortal doctors actually experience a few failures from time to time.”

"Must suck to be you," Reid said, letting his eyes twinkle a little. “Now I need a hot shower to wash off the family’s endless hugs of gratitude.” Reid gave a mock shudder.

Bob chuckled in amusement, folded his hands on his desk, and leaned forward. "Regardless, Dr. Oliver, it looks as though you'll be stuck here in this town that time forgot for at least one more day."

"Yep. Ameera Mayer's surgery will have to wait." Reid rolled his shoulders and inclined his head, stretching his sore muscles. "I suppose you explained the delay to the patient's husband."

"Yes, and I have to say, he wasn't thrilled. But if anyone is familiar with being thrown a curve ball, it's Noah and Luke."

"Yeah, about that," Reid started, but his beeper cut him off. "Christ, can't the guy give me a break?" he muttered. "He seized again. A bunch of panicky, squawking nurses have it under control for now, but I’ll need to check the MRIs, sees what's going on. And here I was hoping for a nap."

Bob shook his head. “You know one day, Reid, you might actually come across a patient who impacts on you emotionally. You might care about him and his family, too. It won’t be a bad thing. In fact, it might even make you a better doctor for it.”

“That’s deep, Bob.“ Reid rolled his eyes, standing up to leave. “Why not have Kim embroider it on a pillow for your office?”

Bob held up a hand. “Enough. Go and shower. Rest up, Dr. Oliver, you earned it. By the way, that motorcycle patient, do you think he'll require a second procedure? That's risky.”

Reid’s own smile faded. “I went in a second time already. I'm trying to avoid a third.”

Bob blinked at him several times, and then he rubbed his eyes. “Oh, right. I was thinking of Dr. Dixon’s heart patient from the accident. Long day.”

“Dixon? He’s still around?” Reid said. “No wonder this hospital is second rate; half the staff here should have retired to a condo in Florida decades ago.”

“We might be old, but don’t count us out.”

Reid only shrugged. Bob did look tired. Maybe Kim was right about his being overworked. “You really should hire a secretary for all this paperwork,” Reid told him, fingering at a file.

“Memorial has a budget problem currently, “ Bob sighed. “Otherwise, I’d gladly do that.”

“Well then, forget about paying somebody. That’s why you have interns, right?”

Bob failed to hide a smile. “Goodnight, Dr. Oliver,” he said sternly.

“Not quite. MRIs first, and then, with any luck, I can get out of here."

"Right," Bob agreed. "Care to join us for dinner?"

"Thanks, Bob, but I've got plans."

Reid shut the door behind him, hoping that the motorcycle idiot wouldn’t require anything more than close monitoring and stronger anti-seizure meds, so that he could make it out to the farm in time for Emma's pie.

***

After finally leaving Memorial, Reid raced back to his hotel for a fast shower. His muscles were aching and sore from holding such awkward positions during the day's two grueling surgeries, and he knew he should stretch out soon, or he'd risk a cramp. Cramps always sucked, but for a neurosurgeon, if they come at the wrong moment, say, while curled over a patient's delicate brain with a sharp, sharp scalpel, the consequences could be deadly. He checked the clock; he had no time to worry about it right now.

As he shaved, barely nicking himself, he cursed as he stuck a piece of toilet paper on the tiny bleed. He was exhausted, and would have liked a nap before heading out to the farm, and had even briefly considered not going, but the lure of Emma's cooking, and a strange coursing excitement that he didn't want to look at too closely both compelled him to ignore his lust for sleep, and get on some clean clothes. He even remembered to stop by the grocery store for flowers, proud of himself for remembering not to arrive empty handed.

It was almost six. Time to eat.

Lily especially loved the flowers, fussing over the roses and praising Reid more for them than for the patient he’d saved. Emma immediately sat him down to eat. She’d cooked lasagna, and Reid happily dipped his bread into the thick sauce. Holden was apparently out of town until the morning and the kids were staying the night, excited to see their father soon. Lily merely smiled and didn’t whine as much, though Luke sat close to his mother anyway, offering his usual sweet comfort.

Reid thought the meal was going really well. Luke and Emma both asked him about the trauma victim, and that gave him something to concrete to discuss.

"So, you'll be here for another day at least, then?" Luke asked, and he looked incredibly hopeful in Reid's estimation. Why did he care? And why at Luke’s wistful smile did Reid’s chest swell with a buoyant feeling?

"Looks like," Reid agreed. "Ameera's operation will be tomorrow, and sans any emergency operations, it'll be a few days after that before I'll be sure that motorcycle idiot and Mr. Mayer's wife are in the clear."

"Tell me more about the motorcycle idiot," Natalie said, her eyes gleaming.

“Well, I can’t tell you the details about this while he’s in my care,” Reid said. Then, seeing Natalie’s disappointment, Reid quickly launched into a story about a motorcycle accident from a few years back . Excited now, Reid was just at the good part in the brain surgery, where he’d scooped out some damaged tissue, when Faith pointed out that he was chewing with his mouth full.

Lily gave her a reprimanding look.

“What?” Faith shrugged insolently. “That’s gross.”

Reid shrugged at her, opening his mouth full of pasta wider and said, “No, gross is brain matter underneath your nails, but don’t worry, I wore gloves.”

“Eww,” Natalie said. “Do brains really get under your nails?” she looked impressed.

Reid turned to her. “There’s nothing quite as cool as slicing bit by bit through a dead person’s brain.”

Natalie clapped her hands in delight.

“The grosser the better for her,” Luke laughed, wrinkling up his own nose Reid’s description.

“Not for me though.” Lily waved her hands at Reid to stop. “And not over dinner.”

Reid smiled at Natalie. She smiled back, revealing a huge gap in her mouth. Reid remembered Luke having a lot of missing teeth too. Luke used to bang and wiggle the tooth until it came free.

“I’ll tell you more after dinner. We haven’t even talked about guts or intestines.”

Natalie nodded eagerly, and Luke laughed, as Emma deposited the pie in front of everyone. Just one taste of the sweet cherry goodness on his tongue made Reid nearly forget everything else. He made a sound of deep appreciation as he took a bite, letting his eyes drift close. When he opened them after savoring the decadent dessert, he found everybody watching him, and Luke's grin was huge.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," Luke said, and everyone else went back to their food. "You just…really like to eat, don’t you?"

Reid shrugged. "Just because you've always had an embarrassment of riches, doesn't mean that those of us less spoiled shouldn't thoroughly enjoy what's on offer here."

"Oh, no, go right on ahead," Luke laughed. "Just, you know, keep your enjoyment PG-13 at least."

Emma slapped at Luke's hand, and said, "Ignore him, Reid. I'm happy you're enjoying the pie."

"It's delicious," Reid said around a mouthful. "Best I ever had."

Emma looked pleased, and Luke did, too, as Reid took another huge bite.


Afterward, the family broke up. Ethan and Natalie went to the living room to play board games, and Faith disappeared upstairs with a goodnight snarl toward her mother. Lily, for her part, thanked Emma graciously for the dinner, and then checked her voicemails, her face falling in disappointment. She pathetically seemed to be waiting for a man, any man, to ring her. After announcing that she was going to take a short walk around the farm, she told Ethan she’d be back soon to give him a bath, get him in his pajamas and read him a story. Lily had always been a good mother to her children in the small ways; it was in the big picture that she seemed to fail. Reid just wished she’d get her adult life together. He could still remember Lily at Luke’s birthday party; he doubted she had much more self control now.

“Game, game!” Ethan was shouting to Emma and Luke, his small face grinning at getting out of bedtime for a little while longer.

“Okay, okay,” Luke laughed at him, ruffling his hair.

As Luke took out Candyland to play with the kids, setting up the board, Reid quietly studied Luke’s silky skin, deep brown eyes, long eyelashes, full mouth, firm body. Luke had beauty, but also a maleness to him, a promise of hidden strength that Reid found exciting. The moment Luke glanced up from the game and caught his eye, Reid looked away.

He decided to retreat, not wanting to unnerve Luke with his attraction, and seeing an option for escape, Reid offered to help Emma clean up.

“You don’t have to help,” Emma said.

“No problem,” Reid answered quickly, already stacking up the plates. “I’d rather help you than face the Lollipop Queen or whatever that game’s about.”

“In that case, help.” Emma chuckled and smiled at him. “My goodness, help would be lovely.”

Reid carried the dishes to the sink, and as he began to wash, Emma dried them. “I’m surprised some lucky guy hasn’t swept you off your feet yet,” Reid told her sincerely. “That was the best dinner I’ve had in forever.”

Emma pursed her lips in pleasure. “Thank you.” She handed him some glasses. “My heart is taken with my grandchildren though.”

“Well, Luke always was a lucky guy.”

Emma sighed. “Well, not always. He’s had a few bumps.“ She looked at Reid. “I did sometimes wish that you’d been around for him when he was a teenager.”

“Me?” Reid asked surprised. “Why?”

“To help him see it would be okay. “

“What?”

“Being gay,” Emma told him as opened up her cupboard. “He really struggled coming out.”

Reid almost dropped the plate in his hand. Slowly, he placed it into the sink and looked at Emma.

“Luke’s gay?”

“Yes, dear. He told us years ago. And like I said, it wasn’t easy for him.”

Reid barely heard her. He was still processing the information. His thoughts, usually so swift, felt like they were moving through mud. Hadn’t a part of him known today? Deep down? For a moment, Reid flashed back to the parking lot and the way Luke looked at his mouth, had almost leaned in for a kiss. Then Reid shook his head vigorously. He refused to allow his mind to go there.

“His parents all had some problems with it, but they seemed to be resolved now,” Emma said as she took the dried plates from Reid.

“Resolved,” Reid snorted. “Sounds supportive.”

“Well,” Emma sighed. “I know Luke felt very alone. “

Reid winced at that, imagining it. He washed a few more dishes in silence.

Outwardly, Reid was careful to wear a mask of indifference, but inside his heart beat wildly. Reid continued to clean up, looking at his hands in the sudsy water. He picked up a sponge and washed the same dish twice. His mind circled around and around thoughts of Luke, the way he'd looked at Reid earlier, and the undeniable attraction that Reid felt toward him. Reid scrubbed the plates until his fingers pruned, and he had no more excuses to stand there.

It was ridiculous. He wasn't here to play doctor with the boy he'd always thought of as a little brother. He was here to save a life, Ameera Mayer's life, and Luke…Luke wasn't his type. Luke would be all about love, romance, and family, and Reid was a one night stand or a fuck-buddy kind of guy. It would never work. It should never get started.

Reid nodded his head firmly, and let the water out of the sink, determined to say his goodbyes. He would treat Luke like he would treat as Natalie or Ethan; he could control his emotions the same way he controlled a scalpel. Reid bent to retrieve a towel that had fallen to the floor; he dried the dishes efficiently and then he strode out of the kitchen. It had been good to see them all, but he wasn’t planning on coming over for any more meals. He would simply do his job and then get out of Oakdale as fast as humanly possible.

***

Reid found Luke outside. He seemed lost in thought. The moonlight was bright, illuminating his features.

“I’m heading out.” Reid’s voice sounded low to his own ears. He carefully took out his keys and tried to appear casual.

Luke turned and his face lit up as he saw Reid there. His skin glowed, his eyes shined, and his mouth curved into a delicious smile.

Reid inhaled sharply. Why did he have to look like that?

“You’re going?”

Reid just nodded, clasping his keys in one hand tightly. He had planned to talk with Luke further about Noah and this Mr. Snyder crap, which made even less sense to Reid now that he knew there was no love triangle, but looking at Luke suddenly, being alone with him, Reid felt off balance again. He continued to just stare at Luke, holding his keys, while his legs refused to budge.

“I could stay a little longer,” Reid finally mumbled, still gazing at Luke. “Or I could go. I should probably go -“

“Stay,” Luke said, hastily. “Just a little longer.”

Reid tried to remind himself that he was a genius. He’d graduated medical school before he was twenty-one. He’d drilled open skulls to remove tumors the size of grapefruits. He’d bested doctors twice his age.

He could handle the information that Luke was gay. He would ignore it. What Luke did and with whom was none of his concern. Luke was just a kid to him. He’d seen him do arm farts. He’d seen him spit milk out of his nose. He’d seen him dance around with underwear on his head.

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?" Reid demanded.

“Tell you?”

“That we play for the same team,” Reid answered. At Luke’s blank look, Reid clenched his jaw in annoyance. “About your sexuality.”

Luke jumped about a foot in the air. He stared at Reid, his eyes on Reid’s face. “What?” Luke’s voice was a croak.

“Relax. I’m not asking your favorite positions.“ Immediately several positions popped into Reid’s head and he nearly cursed.

Luke still looked like he was completely clueless. “Positions?” he echoed.

Reid’s eyes narrowed at the way Luke was gaping open-mouthed at him. “Why didn’t you tell me you were gay too?”

“Oh.” Luke laughed nervously. “Yeah that.”

Reid moved a little closer to him. “I thought you were in love with Ameera. I could have sworn –"

"Me? In love with Ameera?" Luke choked on his laughter. "No. No, never."

"Because you're gay."

Luke nodded, dumbly, his eyes wide.

"Have you known a long time?” Reid asked, suddenly curious.

“Long time, yes,” Luke said, like he was confused by the question.

“Are you dating anybody?” It wasn't his business. Why was he asking? The question just flew from Reid’s lips.

Luke cheeks tinged with pink. His tongue darted out over his lips. “Dating?” He repeated in a dazed voice.

“Yes, dating. Do you need to look the word up in a dictionary?”

“Yes - no yes.”

Reid raised his eyebrows. This was absurd. Ridiculous, but he really had to know. “Which is it? Don’t you know?”

“I’m dating N-Casey.” Luke nodded. “Casey. He’s nice.”

“Sounds serious.” Reid smirked. But underneath his teasing, Reid felt a jolt of disappointment. He quickly tried to brush it aside. Why wouldn’t Luke be dating? Reid eyes gently skimmed his features. Of course, he’d be dating.

Luke crossed his arms defensively. “What about you?”

“Nope. Not attached.”

“Probably work too much.”

“Most likely.” Reid did work a lot, but he'd never met anyone who made him want to work less.

“Or it could be that winning personality,” Luke threw out.

“Possibly” Reid replied, enjoying the exchange. He shrugged at Luke. “So we’re both gay.”

Luke nodded.

“Must have been that secret handshake,” Reid teased.

Luke laughed. “You remember that?”

“I remember everything about that time, “ Reid said, his eyes sharpened on Luke’s face.

Luke stared back at him. “Me too.”

“Really?” Reid tilted his head. “You were very young.”

“Try me.” Luke suddenly lit up again. He grinned and stuck out his fist at Reid challengingly.

Reid met his fist with his own. They bumped them twice, hooked their thumbs, and then ended with their hands on each other’s shoulders.

Reid was aware of the warmth of Luke’s fingers. He could smell a subtle hint of Luke’s aftershave, and another, slightly muskier smell. Luke looked at him, their hands still on each other’s. Luke’s mouth quivered slightly. Reid watched it. Then he swallowed hard and dropped his hand.

Luke smiled shyly.

Reid didn’t return his smile. He felt like somebody had socked him in the stomach. He stared intensely at the shape of Luke’s mouth as Luke came a little closer to him, looking into his eyes. Reid licked his lips and his heart pounded in his throat.

“Yo, Luke,” somebody called out.

They jumped apart. A guilty flush rose up Luke’s neck.

“Hey, Casey,” Luke called out as a tall, well-formed guy approached them. “I was just talking about you.”

Casey bounded up the porch steps. “And my ears are burning.”

“What’re you doing here?” Luke asked.

“I thought I could see you before the big operation day tomorrow. You know? Anyhow, aren’t you glad to see your main squeeze?” Casey laughed, socking Luke’s shoulder lightly.

“Right. I am,” Luke smiled at him. Then he turned to Reid.

“Um, Casey Hughes, Dr. Reid Oliver.”

“Hughes?” Reid asked. What was it about this town? The whole place consisted of Hughes or Snyders. These families bred like rabbits.

“Bob’s grandson,” Luke informed him.

“Hey man,“ Casey said, grinning away. “Good to meet ya. You're the guy who’s gonna drill into Ameera’s head, right?”

Reid just nodded his head. It was clear that the Hughes gene pool thinned with every generation. Reid shot Luke an incredulous glance. He knew Oakdale wasn’t a gay mecca, but was this really the best Luke could do?

Luke blushed, as if he knew Reid’s thoughts, and then gave a tiny shrug.

“Yep,” Reid said. “That’d be me.”

“Cool!” Casey enthused.

Reid narrowed his eyes. “So how long have you two…?”

“Oh not long,“ Casey laughed, “I mean , I’m new to this whole gay thing. But then I got with Luke and figured, why not?”

Luke shut his eyes for a second.

Casey glanced at Luke and suddenly looked nervous. “I- I mean I like dudes totally now.” He stumbled little on his words. “A lot. Dudes. Yeah.”

“And what did you like specifically about Luke?” Reid asked smoothly, his tone like ice.

“Um…He has great hair,” Casey said.

“His hair, not his ass? Or his –“

“Reid!” Luke jumped in. “Casey is a bit shy talking about all this. He hasn’t been out of the closet too long.”

Reid looked at Casey, who was drumming his fingers on his thighs to some internal rock beat. He was an idiot, anyone could see that.

Luke straightened his shoulders up, and determinedly took Casey’s hand in his own. “I’m glad you’re here,” Luke smiled suggestively.

At the expression on Luke's face, all warm and flirtatious, Reid felt his own gut clench and his dick twitch. Reid stared at Luke’s fingers locked with Casey’s, watching Luke’s thumb stroke there.

“I gotta go,” Reid said abruptly. “I have work early. “

“Wait a minute-“

“Don’t worry, you’re 'Mr. Snyder', I got it. And by tomorrow, Ameera Mayer will get her surgery, and I’ll be out of here. And we won’t have to think about it anymore.”

Luke looked confused. "Think about – what? Reid? " Luke dropped Casey’s hand. “One minute,” Luke told Casey, and Reid walked faster, hoping to outpace Luke. No such luck. Luke grabbed his arm. “Wait-“

“What?” Reid turned, and Luke halted inches from his face.

“It's just that…after the operation,” Luke asked. “You’re not staying in town for a while?”

Reid got the car door open, and held it like a barrier between them. “No. I'll stay as long as my patients need me. Maybe a few days. Then I have to get back to my real life.”

“Oh,” Luke said.

“Thankfully,“ Reid said harshly, “Oakdale is just a blip on my radar.”

“A blip?” Luke repeated, his expression changing, a pout forming on his lips. “So I’m a blip too?”

Reid could see that simpleton Casey Hughes looking over. He probably didn’t even know how to give good head. Reid would bet anything that Casey was a gagger.

“What do you want from me?” Reid snapped. He held his keys pointed at Luke, almost like a weapon.

Luke glared at him a minute. Reid glared back, sparks of electricity firing off between them. “Not a thing,“ Luke said.

Reid sighed. “Look, thanks for dinner. Okay? I gotta go.”

“So go,” Luke said, and turned back to Casey, to his boyfriend. Reid rolled his eyes again at that, before getting into his car, turning the key and pulling out of the driveway.

He tried to push out the image of Luke’s smile, his full lips out of his mind. He’s dating somebody. He’s too young. I’m leaving soon. Reid sucked in some air. He’s like my brother.

“Like my brother,” Reid muttered out loud. ”Like my brother.”

A brother he had spent just five months with as a boy. Did that really make him a brother? Reid exhaled slowly and turned onto the road toward town. Close enough. It was definitely close enough.

***

Reid went back to the Lakeview and took a long shower. He leaned his head against the wall and let the steam soak into his skin. The water hit his back in a powerful rush, as Reid soaped his shoulders and neck and lower stomach. He turned to wash his thighs and calves, and then his hand drifted down his body to his cock. He palmed it, rubbing circles there, and his lips curled, his neck arched back, as his movements increased.

Desperately, he began to stroke, squeezing the tip hard, and then gliding his fingers along the engorged flesh. He held the weight of his cock in his hands and ran a thumb relentlessly over the small slit. Then he wrapped his whole fist around the shaft and worked it firmly up and down.

He thought about the last guy he’d screwed. The guy had been young, and blond, but Reid couldn’t remember his name. What was the point? A new nurse from peds, with strong shoulders, and a nice long neck that Reid had marked for the hell of it, and an ass that had been sweet, and tight, and he'd pounded into the guy so hard.

Reid blinked his eyes. It wasn't working. He needed something more. His other hand slid to his ass, and he pushed a finger at his own hole. He massaged the sensitive flesh there, imagining a hard cock plowing him open. It didn't matter who – just someone, big, and strong, who'd push into him with abandon, and make him come. His finger thrust in and out, and he groaned. Or someone with warm eyes, and a tender touch, someone that he could trust.

“God!” Reid stroked himself harder now, his entire body tensed, and a hot stream of cum burst out, covering his hand like a sticky net. Reid turned his body back under the water and trembled, washing the mess away, and trying to forget the image that had entered his mind at the last moment.

Afterward, Reid dried off, pulled on some sweatpants, tied the drawstring, and drank a beer from the mini bar. I really need to get laid, he thought, by some unimportant fuck.

Lying on his back, alone in his bed, Reid stared at the ceiling, but sleep wouldn't come. For a moment, he allowed himself to remember Luke’s hand on him, his forehead pressed close, his body radiating warm heat. Reid sat up and gazed out the window at the dark sky, visible from between his hotel curtains.

Despite his orgasm, his body didn’t feel relaxed. He kept seeing Luke’s face. Reid reached down between his legs. He was rock hard again.

He curled up with his pillow and let out a soft string of curse words. It wasn’t a stranger he wanted.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.



Chapter Four

When Reid came back to Ameera’s room, Noah was by her bed. Luke was there too, his back to Reid, hands jammed in his pockets.

Neither of them seemed to notice Reid standing at the door.

“I just think you should consider the risk first, “Luke was saying, “before you sign it. Read the risks- “

“This isn’t your decision to make, Luke,” Noah said in a nasty voice. “It’s mine. This is my wife.”

“I know that.” Luke’s voice sounded hoarse and desperate, “I just want to be sure before-“

“And I just want to do this thing. Now. Or don’t you want Ameera to get better?”

Luke visibly flinched.

Reid cleared his throat. “Actually, he’s right. You should read all the information I left you.”

Luke jumped in surprise and turned to Reid. Reid saw a quick flash of gratitude in Luke’s eyes. He hitched his mouth up a moment and let his eyes just rest on Luke.

“Come in,” Noah said “Don’t just stand in the door way. Luke, make room for Dr. Oliver. “

As Reid approached, Noah’s expression changed. He was all smiles . Luke moved into the corner and rocked back and forth on his heels.

Noah focused on Reid intently. “I’m so ready to have you start, Doctor Oliver. I want Ameera to get well!”

“We all want that,” Luke said. His eyes looked pleadingly at Noah, who ignored him.

Reid glanced from one to the other. “We need to discuss the possibility of your wife having suffered permanent tissue damage,” Reid said to Noah. “It could be minor or be substantial. I won’t know until I get in there. Do you understand?”

Luke made a guilty noise and started near Noah, his face full of sadness and sympathy.

“She could have brain damage?” Noah said slowly, his eyes stunned.

It always shocked Reid how much a family member often live in denial. Of course, his wife might be damaged; her brain could be smashed like rotted fruit. She might wake up fine, or she might wake up a quadriplegic, or with the thought-process of a child.

“I’m sure she’ll be okay,” Luke said. “She’s young and strong and –“

“Stop,” Noah said. “This is my problem, my wife.” He made a face like a lemon was in his mouth, his thick eyebrows knitted together angrily. “Dr. Oliver, I’d like to talk with you. In private, okay Luke?”

Luke’s expression reminded Reid of the day Luke was hurt at the pond. He’d held his hand up to his head with a look of confusion, the blood staining his fingers before Reid had carried him away. The walk back to the house, holding Luke, had felt like forever. Reid nearly tripped several times. Reid remembered that Luke hadn’t cried; he’d been dazed, and shocked that something in this world would hurt him, but he hadn’t cried.

That was how he looked right now. Like Noah had just given him an unexpected blow.

Reid sawed his finger back and forth under his jaw. He was being idiotic, remembering all this old stuff. Luke was not a child and Reid wasn’t here to fix Luke. Reid’s lips clamped together. He busied himself with the chart, fiddling with his pen.

“You understand, right?” Noah asked Luke now, his voice slightly dismissive, so different from the obsequious tones that he’d addressed Reid with earlier.

“Fine,” Luke said abruptly and turned. He briefly looked Reid’s way. Reid hadn’t planned to look up at him, but he lifted his head and met Luke’s eyes. When Reid saw embarrassment and misery reflected there, Reid’s hands curled into fists.

Luke stared dumbly at him for one more second and then he left.

“Dr. Oliver-“ Noah started to say.

Reid held up a commanding hand. He gave Noah a measuring look.

He took out his stethoscope and bent over Ameera. Whatever Noah wanted to say to him could damn well wait a moment. It was difficult to put Luke’s agonized face out of his mind as Reid checked Ameera’s vitals. He listened to her heart. He deliberately took his time with the exam.

“She sounds strong,” he informed Noah at last, “but that could change instantly.”

“I can’t believe this is happening to me,” Noah said.

“Actually,“ Reid replied, “it’s not. “ He gestured toward Ameera.

But Noah wasn’t listening; his face was buried in his hands.

“She was fine the morning I left her to go to Java. She was singing an Iraqi song.“ He looked up at Reid, “Singing! And then I come home to find Luke there dialing 911, and Ameera on the floor-“

“Luke called 911?” Reid repeated. It seemed odd to him how involved Luke seemed in this case.

“Yeah, Luke was with her and I know he’s upset about Ameera.” Noah said. “But I just can’t deal with his needs right now. This isn’t about him.” Noah looked at Reid, “Can you keep Luke out of the room?”

“He isn’t family or anything, right? “ Reid said slowly. “I don’t see a problem.”

“He’s not family, and she’s my wife.” Noah’s tone turned indignant again, as if his wife were a toy he owned and he was five. “I don’t want Luke trying to control it all. Even if he’s paying for her room and everything, I should be the one to decide for my wife what to do.”

“He’s picking up your medical costs?” Reid said. “But you don’t want him here?” This whole thing got stranger and stranger.

Noah nodded, clearly not bothered that Luke was paying for it all, even as he treated Luke like dirt.

“Yeah, Luke’s great to help out,” Noah said automatically, without any warmth. “But I need to concentrate on Ameera right now and nothing else.”

Reid felt puzzled . Somewhere there was a hidden piece here and he just wasn’t seeing it. He usually excelled at puzzles of any kind. Reid must have consumed too much of Bob’s lousy coffee; his head throbbed. He held his fingers up to his temples a moment and rubbed.

“She’s my wife,” Noah repeated possessively, giving Reid his answer.

Both men must be in love with her. Luke must be in love with Noah’s wife. That was the missing piece of the puzzle. Reid recoiled from the thought, but it was the only explanation that made sense. It explained why Luke was picking up the cost and why he looked so devastated, and why Noah looked so resentful. Reid looked at Ameera. She was a nice-looking girl. She had dark hair and a delicate face. Reid touched the girl’s cheek a moment. He thought about Luke. Right or wrong, if she was the person that Luke loved, then Reid wanted her well. He would never do less than his best for a patient, but now Reid felt a strange urgency about it.

“It’s your wife,” Reid agreed, his voice tight. “So what is it you want to do?” Reid asked carefully. “Are you going ahead with the surgery?”

“Dr. Oliver,” Noah said, “what do you think I should do?”

Reid said nothing. His freaking headache was becoming worse, and Noah’s voice was like a hammer at the back of his skull.

“Do you think we should operate?” Noah persisted.

Reid shrugged. “Yes, but –“

“Then that’s good enough for me.”

So much for this guy wanting to make his own decisions. What an ass. If he and Luke were in some sort of love triangle with Ameera, it seemed astonishing to Reid that Luke had any competition. Why would anybody want Noah over Luke? Reid blew out a breath. He needed to let this go. It wasn’t his job to care about any of this. It didn’t matter. Noah’s agreement gave Reid what he wanted-a magnificent operation, and then he’d take the fastest exit out of this insane asylum.

“Fine” he looked abruptly at Noah. “We’ll proceed with the operation.”

Noah nodded. He picked up the consent forms and dutifully signed them.

***

The Snyder farm practically glowed in the setting sun. It seemed smaller than Reid recalled, but still beautiful. The leaves hadn’t started to turn yet, but soon they would be glowing with color. The fields stretched out as far as you could see. Reid knew that just beyond the ridge, the pond was waiting.

Reid smiled slightly. He almost missed that pit of black water. He remembered how the bottom of it would coat his toes in soft mud and the water was always crisp, even on the hottest day. It always smelled like wet grass and flowers there. Now he swam in chlorinated water of YMCAs, where the only smell was of chemicals.

He loosened his tie a little and looked around. He should have stopped first at Yo’s and had a few beers. Reid yanked at his tie some more; it still felt too damn tight. He estimated how long he could just stand on the Snyder porch before somebody found him. He walked up another step. Finally, he reached the front door and knocked.

Emma answered the door. Her round face broke into a smile of welcome. She dusted some flour from her hands and greeted Reid warmly.

“It’s so good to see you, “she said.

“You too.” Reid had always felt comfortable with Emma. They’d had a simple relationship of food.

He was about to comment on how nice the farm looked, when Lily appeared.

“Reid, it’s been a long time.” Lily said in a more formal tone than Emma’s. “How are you?”
Lily looked around at him and Reid suddenly realized he’d forgotten to bring anything like flowers or wine to the dinner.

“You look good,” Lily added, going in for a hug.

Reid grimaced at the little squeeze she gave him. But he managed a smile.

Just then, a couple of kids barreled into Reid as they dashed for the door.

“You’re it!”

“You are!”

They ran down the porch and out to the yard like crazed puppies.

“Children!” Emma called them, “We have a guest.”

“What can you do?” Lily said with a tiny shrug. She went back into the house.

“I got you both!” Luke bellowed out at the kids, appearing quite suddenly from behind the house. He chased them around in circles.

“Goodness! Stop it,” Emma scolded. They stopped and Reid saw that all three had the same wide smile.

“Ethan and Natalie - go upstairs and wash up. Natalie it’s your night to set the table.” Emma shook her head at them . “And say hello to Dr. Oliver.”

“Hello,” the kids dutifully chorused. Reid offered a hand to them and they just giggled. They ran inside.

“You came,” Luke said, still in the yard. He smiled at Reid.

“I did.”

“I’m glad,” Luke said simply, but his eyes shined.

“Luke,” Emma instructed. “Dinner won’t be for a little bit. Why not show Reid around the farm again? He might enjoy that.”

“Okay.”

Luke gestured for Reid to come down and join him.

“Want to go to the barn first?”

“Sure. Might as well start with the appetizing smell of manure.”

Luke laughed and then led the way. As he unlocked the barn door, he said, “Don’t let my dad hear you say that. He’d bottle this smell if he could.”

“Ahh, now I know his secret with the ladies.”

Luke sighed. “That would be funny, Reid. If my mom wasn’t hoping he’ll show up tonight.”

“Oh. So Holden and Lily….“

“Split up,” Luke smiled painfully. “Again.”

“Sorry,” Reid said, his eyes softening on Luke.

“Oh well,” Luke tried to shrug it off. “Hope springs eternal.”

So did dysfunction, Reid thought, but he said nothing.

“We don’t even live at the farm right now. Mom has a place in town. We come to see Emma and Dad, but if Mom comes then he usually isn’t around.” Luke went over and gently patted a cow.

Reid listened, but he didn’t know what to say.

“So,” Luke said in an overly bright tone, still patting the stupid cow. “How’ve you been?”

Reid nodded. “No complaints.”

“Are you happy at the Mayo Clinic?”

“For the most part.”

Luke studied him with his expressive eyes. “Are you happy outside of work? “

“There’s a life outside of work?”

Luke half-smiled at that. He gave the cow one last pat. Reid made a face at the animal. Milking bovines was one job he never wanted again. It had taken him years to forget the rubbery teat in his hand.

“Is being a doctor really everything? “ Luke said.

Before Reid could respond, Luke walked closer to him.

“There’s nothing else you want in life?”

He was close enough that Reid felt the heat from his body and smelled the sweetness of his breath.

“What about your life?” Reid asked quickly. He tactfully moved away from Luke. “You’re in what? Your last year of college?” Reid was genuinely curious about Luke’s life, which he marked as an oddity. Usually, anything outside of medicine, Reid just tuned out.

Luke took a moment to answer. “I’m not in school right now, actually.” Luke studied his feet.

“Oh? “ Reid frowned slightly. “You decided to drop out?”

Luke hesitated. “Not exactly.” Luke glanced away. “I made a pretty big mistake and was asked to leave.“ He had a red spot of humiliation on his cheeks now. Reluctantly, he looked back at Reid. “Can we just change the subject?”

Reid nodded. “Sure.” Then he paused a second. “But how bad could it be? Did you hurt somebody?”

“No, of course not. It wasn’t anything like that.”

“Okay. But Holden and Lily didn’t defend you? Stick up for you?”

Luke walked back over to the cow’s pen. He rubbed his hands over the wood.

“Why should they?” Luke gave a slight shake of his head. ”I told you that I made a mistake. I deserved it.”

Reid tapped his hand against his thigh impatiently. “And nobody else in Oakdale has ever made one of those?” Reid scoffed. He hitched his body forward a little and took a small step toward Luke. “No matter what, they should have stuck up for you.” Then, as his eyes met Luke’s, Reid tried to lighten the mood. “Besides, couldn’t they just buy you a new university or something?”

Luke stared at him. “You know, nobody else is like you, Reid.”

Reid wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or a criticism.

“I’m unique,” Reid agreed, a little awkwardly.

Luke nodded. He skimmed his hands over the wood again.

“You’ll get a splinter doing that,” Reid warned.

Luke grinned then. “Unique,” he repeated suddenly.

He crossed the distance between them and gently brushed his hand at Reid’s collar. “I really missed you sometimes.”

Reid was silent. Luke played with his collar. He looked into Reid’s eyes. “Did you ever miss us? Miss Oakdale?”

“I’m too busy to miss things. “

“Are you?” Luke said softly.

Reid forced his gaze away from Luke’s. The barn suddenly felt like a furnace. Reid wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead and then glanced up.

“’Remember when we used to go up there? “ he asked Luke, pointing to the hayloft.

Luke, thank goodness, had stopped with his collar. His hand fell away and followed Reid’s gaze.

“I loved it up there. I used to hide out and just think.”

Reid nodded, suddenly he could see Luke as a boy again. He’d come back from his job at Memorial and often find him in the barn. It didn’t matter that the days were hot and the barn stunk, Luke would be in shorts and a T-shirt, barefoot, and drinking a Coke. He’d usually been surrounded by papers and markers too.

“Didn’t you write up there? “ Reid said now. “Filled up that notebook with those superhero cartoons, right?”

“You remember? “ Luke laughed, color flooding his cheeks. “I thought I’d be the next Stan Lee. “ He smiled sweetly at Reid.

“You were pretty good at writing.” Reid gave him a quick smile in return. Then he began to climb up to the hay bales.

Luke followed him. Soon they were sitting side by side, swinging their legs off the ledge, surrounded by hay.

“And you were all about medicine,” Luke smiled. “What’s being a surgeon like?”

Reid shrugged. “Like connecting the dots.”

“I doubt operating is that simple,” Luke laughed.

Reid smiled. “You’d be surprised how it all goes together so easily. If you understand it, it’s like the patterns stars make in the sky, you know? Do you remember how you used to like to look up at them as a kid? We took out Holden’s binoculars a few times and tried to find Orion and the Great Bear, right? “ Reid’s body relaxed as he became lost in the memory. The binoculars were second rate, but the stars out at the farm were always clear.

Reid turned to Luke. “Remember looking with me at them? You didn’t see the connection at first, but then you got it. From then on, we saw all these amazing constellations. The brain is like that. At first, it just looks like this alien spaghetti, but then it begins to reveal its true beauty and it has a shape and a pattern, you know? It’s incredible. No two are alike. ”

Pulling back, Reid suddenly realized that he was doing all the talking. Luke’s head was tilted close to his own, almost touching. Crap. Had he really just geeked out like that? It was Luke’s fault; he was too good a listener. Reid hadn’t babbled like that in years.

Reid cleared his throat several times.

Luke nudged him gently. His eyes were soft, his lips smiling gently. “Hmm, the brain and constellations? Are you a bit romantic about your job, Reid?” Luke teased.

Reid smacked his forehead. “Oh, I forgot to tell you about the fungus, the bad food, and the moronic interns too.”

“Now that sounds like you.“ Luke grinned.

They both laughed.

“It isn’t romantic,” Reid admitted sheepishly. “It’s bleeding and vomiting and pissing and fighting – it’s life and death. But on a good day, it’s saving somebody too.”

Reid picked up a few stray pieces of hay and started to braid them together. He was still curious about Luke and college, but he also wanted the night to go well. He was enjoying it. He liked just sitting next to Luke, high up in the barn, talking. Reid couldn’t recall the last time he just shared his thoughts with anybody, outside of medicine.

“I didn’t mean to bring up a sore subject before,” Reid offered. “With college.”

Luke turned to him. “It’s not you. You’re fine.”

There was a silence. It occurred to Reid that he should be asking Luke more about his life.

“So what do you do with your time now? Work here?”

“I run a foundation. We work with charities.”

“Impressive.” Reid was about to ask what exact charities Luke sponsored, when Luke shook his head.

“Not really,” Luke caught his lip with his teeth. “The money came from Damian.”

Reid knew Damian was a tender issue for Luke. In all the months that Reid had spent on the farm, Damian had never called Luke. His questions had again hit upon something bruised inside of Luke. He thought about what to say.

“Does that matter?” Reid asked at last. “It’s not where you got it, right? It’s what you do with it.”

“Yeah?” Luke said. His eyes grew larger. “Maybe you’re right.”

“I’m always right.”

Luke snorted and then laughed.

“You know what, Reid? Things have been kind of rough lately. But seeing you again has been one of the few bright spots.” Luke gently covered Reid’s hand with his own a moment.

Reid was aware of his mouth suddenly being dry. Luke’s touch almost made him feel light-headed. He took his hand away.

Luke looked disconcerted too. He jammed his hand into his pocket.

“Tell me more about your foundation,” Reid suggested.

Luke nodded eagerly. “I’ve actually been thinking about the foundation a lot. And about hospitals. I’m considering working on some funding for Memorial. I hate how the walls are always white. I hate the smells, and the way families have nowhere to relax. Wouldn’t it be great to have a special wing where families can gather and maybe even spend the night? My foundation might actually be able to build that. One day, I hope to do it,” Luke said. Then he bit his lip. “You probably hate that idea.”

“No,” Reid answered slowly, “It’s not completely dumb.” He flashed Luke a fast smile. “And it keeps the families out of my way.”

“Gee , thanks,” Luke said dryly. “That was exactly my goal.”

“Any time.”

Luke shook his head at him. “Seriously though, it’s awful for the people doing the waiting in the hospital. Ever since Ameera got ill, I’ve been thinking about it.”

“Speaking of Ameera,” Reid replied, “what’s up with that? What’s going on with the three of you there?” The moment the words left Reid’s mouth, he could tell he once again said the exact wrong thing.

Luke’s face closed up.

That was why he hated making conversation. Trying to relate to people always just ended in a mess.

Luke started to climb down the ladder.

“What?” Reid asked, following. “You’re leaving?”

“Well, dinner is pretty soon.“ Luke said, walking at rapid speed toward the door. “We should go wash up.”

“Luke-“ Reid called. But he wouldn’t stop or look at Reid.

Reid went after him, knocking down a few empty milk jugs in his pursuit.

“Hey,” Reid caught Luke on the arm and turned him around. “Why are you so upset about her?”

“I-I’m not.” Luke wouldn’t meet his gaze; he seemed to be somewhere deep inside himself.

Reid was tempted to give him a little shake.

“You’re practically running out the door,” Reid said. “I get you care about her, but –“

Luke’s dark eyes turned fearful. “Is she going to be okay?”

“I’ll do my best. “ Reid studied him. “But I can’t make you any promises.”

Nodding, Luke tried to smile. “I know that. And Noah and I will be there for her when she wakes up.”

Reid didn’t say anything for a moment. Then honesty forced him to speak. He shook his head. “I doubt that. Noah asked that you keep out for now. He requested-”

“Noah said that?” Luke interrupted. “He doesn’t want me there now?”

“Only Noah or family.”

“Why would he say that?” Luke asked stiffly. “I -I was just trying to help.” Then Luke gave a shrug, his smile failed again. “Well, if that’s what Noah wants…”

Reid stared at Luke, at the intense hurt on his face, bewildered by it.

“Why do you care?” Reid asked finally. “It makes sense that he might only want his family there. I get you’re close, but he wants to take care of his wife-“ Reid was fishing slightly, waiting for Luke to confess to a love affair with Ameera or a broken heart or something.

“Noah has no family,” Luke said abruptly. “And forgive me if I want to take care of my friends.” Pouting, Luke ran a hand through his hair.

“Yeah,” Reid said, “I heard about how you’re taking care of them. Do you pay all of your other friends’ bills too? If so, sign me up. I got some loans from medical school still hanging over my head.”

“You don’t understand. “ Luke said.

“Enlighten me.”

Luke didn’t answer. He seemed unable to say a word. He had a guilty expression, the same one he’d have as a boy when he took too much candy or stole flowers from the neighbor’s garden to give to his mother. He averted his eyes.

Reid touched him on the shoulder.

“Tell me,” Reid said.

Luke stared into his eyes. Then he drew in a deep breath.

Reid steeled himself, ready to hear some sappy love confession.

“Look, I can’t get into the whole thing, but what happened with Ameera? Noah kind of blames me. And it’s –“ Luke’s eyes filled. “It is kind of my fault.”

“Your fault?” Reid eyes bugged. “Because you were in the room when she collapsed?”

Reid watched as Luke shuddered with emotion. He gave a barely perceptible nod. “Ameera and I – we were arguing that day. Really badly. “

“About what?”

Luke waved his hand away. “That doesn’t matter. What matters is I yelled at her. I said things. I was,” he sniffed, “awful to her And she became upset, and then she just-“His eyes widened. “She just began to seize and fell on the floor…”

“Luke,” Reid said sternly. “That’s not your fault. “

“I was so mean and Noah came in and he –“

“He’s an upset husband looking to blame somebody. I’m telling you that you can’t cause a seizure like that-“

Luke’s head snapped up. Reid was taken aback by the raw emotion on Luke’s face. “Noah thinks I got her so agitated that she just- “

“Sure,“ Reid drawled. “By all means let’s ignore the world class doctor.”

“But I screamed at her, Reid, I -“Luke looked away.

“So what?” Reid made a sour face. “If yelling at somebody and making them be emotional caused brain trauma, then half the staff working for me would have succumbed to a brain hemorrhage by now.”

Reid tucked his hand under Luke’s chin and forced their eyes to meet again. “Bad things happen sometimes. The body fails. Her brain might have had this problem lying dormant for years already. It just happened. That’s all. “

There was a silence as Luke thought this over.

“I know the Luke Snyder Way was always to take the world on your shoulders, “ Reid said. “But listen to me. This wasn’t because of you.” He released Luke’s chin.

Luke still said nothing.

“It’s not your fault,“ Reid repeated once more. “Don’t make me tattoo it on your ass,” he threatened.

Luke looked at him then and gave a small grin.

Reid smiled back. He liked how the light was back in Luke’s eyes again. He’d looked so depressed for a moment.

“Listen, I know you’re trying to make me feel better,” Luke said. “In your strange way.”

“I’m not.” Reid denied. “I just have nothing better to do until dinner.”

Luke nodded, “Right okay, Reid. “ He smiled at him again.

Just then the door to the barn swung open with a crash that startled them both.

“Dinner,” Natalie said, “Come on.”

***

At dinner, Reid immediately saw that Lily had not changed. She was still beautiful and still all about her own needs. She rambled on about some perfume factory she wanted to invest in, all the while looking at the door for Holden to magically appear. Lily moped the entire meal, and Luke sympathetically and patiently patted her back.

Faith, now a sulky teen, barely said a word. She just gave her mother evil glares and pushed her food around on her plate. Luke acted like he didn’t see Faith’s sour expression and he talked with his sister warmly, even kissing the top of her head. Faith’s expression softened just a second for her brother, before she returned to a gloomy, long-suffering pose.

The two younger ones, Natalie and Ethan, were pretty cute for little crumb snatchers. Reid watched as Luke easily gave them both piggy back rides around the kitchen on his shoulders. Then, with his face glowing with real affection, Luke listened to each of his siblings tell him about their day. Watching him, Reid felt lighter too and allowed a tiny smile to touch his own lips.

Reid knew from the start that his Uncle Angus was a bastard. It had made him tough and wary about life. When he’d come to Oakdale as a boy, he’d easily seen the train-wreck of a marriage Holden and Lily had too. So seeing Luke now pushing fire trucks up the stairs with Ethan and then having a tea party with Natalie’s dolls, Reid was amazed that goodness, that gentleness in Luke was still so visible. It was right there for the whole world to see. Given his model for family life, Luke should have grown up to be guarded or selfish.

“Luke, Luke,” Natalie cheered him as Luke laughingly gave in to her request for a hand stand. He planted his hands down and then attempted to straighten his legs up over his head. Luke’s tee-shirt fell, exposing his flat stomach. Reid caught a glimpse of some golden hairs starting just underneath his navel and trailing downward; he looked away.

“Ahh,” Luke yelled out as he fell over. “I almost had it.”

Natalie and Ethan clapped for him anyhow. Lily even smiled for a moment.

“Thank you, thank you,” Luke said to the applause and pretended to brush at his shoulders with mock importance.

“Smooth move,” Reid said to him dryly. “Maybe you could put your foundation’s money into supporting the circus.”

“Only if they hire me for the opening act,” Luke replied him with a beaming smile, not at all insulted.

The best part of the meal was still Emma’s cooking. Luke was right; she hadn’t lost her touch. He gobbled up the roasted chicken and twice-baked potatoes and apple crumb cake.

Emma seemed delighted with Reid’s appetite. She kept scooping him out more with a please expression on her face. “You always were a good eater,” she praised him, and Reid felt foolish at the rush of warmth spreading through his body at Emma’s proud smile.

“I was,” he agreed, his mouth still full of potato.

“But such a serious boy too,” Emma mused, as she topped his potato with more sour cream.

Reid said nothing to that. For serious, his mind heard ‘nerd’ and ‘geek.’

After dinner, Emma and Luke both walked Reid to his car.

“Come again tomorrow,” Emma told him. “I insist.”

“No I-“

“Oh come on Reid,” Luke laughed. “You’re going to turn grandma down?”

“It’s how I show my love,” Emma teased sweetly. “By fattening you up.”

Reid smiled. “Okay. Tomorrow.”

Emma nodded and went into the house.

“Tomorrow,” Luke repeated and clasped Reid gently on the arm. Reid looked at Luke’s fingers holding him, then he backed away.

Reid climbed into his car quickly. Luke still stood there watching him. As he started the car, Luke smiled and gave him a small wave. Reid frowned at him. He never waved. He nodded his head curtly at Luke.

Luke waved again, more enthusiastically.

“Bye!” he shouted. “Come back tomorrow.”

Reid lifted up his hand like a magnetic was pulling it. He waved at Luke. As he drove off into the night, Reid fought a desire to keep on driving, until he was well past the boundaries of Oakdale and all the sloppy emotions churning inside of him.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.



PART TWO

Chapter Three

“Miss me?” Reid said.

He pushed open the door. But the office was empty.

Reid shrugged and tossed his bags down. He stretched his arms up over his head. It had been a long flight. He’d forgotten how he loathed the red-eye. He could use some sleep and good food. He sat down in the leather chair and put his feet up on the big desk and wondered if Al’s Diner still made those super greasy onion rings . He could go for those and a chocolate milkshake right now.

Part of Reid couldn’t even fathom that he was back in this town. Oakdale. It was still a dump. He only had to drive through the one main street to the hospital to see that his assessment held true. He’d been fifteen when he’d been here last. He’d walked into the town, trying to pretend he wasn’t scared shitless, and stumbled into an insane, do-gooder, hell.

Reid closed his eyes and remembered it all: the Snyder farm, milking cows, and a comfortable bed that never felt like it was really his. Reid remembered the bumpy drive leading to the farm; it shot off the main road just outside of town. Could anybody still be living out there? Maybe the place was sold by now? He couldn’t imagine Emma ever leaving. He would have to ask Bob. He was curious about Lily, Holden and Emma.

And Luke? Reid’s mind went blank a moment; his neurons refusing to fire, and then an image of Luke flashed in his memory. Luke had been such an innocent kid, with so much promise. He pictured Luke standing on his toes to look Reid in the eye, excitedly demanding his attention, his upturned face, almost obnoxious with its devotion, shining up at him. Stupidly naïve little kid. Reid sighed and wondered what had become of him. Did his parents finally warp him, or break him? Or worse.

Reid hoped Luke had escaped the insane asylum that was Oakdale and was making his way somewhere else in the world, like he had.

At least his time on the farm had been tolerable. They’d treated him well. Considering how rude he’d been to the Snyders, they were pretty decent to him. They were a screwed up family, for sure, but what family wasn’t?

Reid pressed the bridge of his nose and shook his head, trying to shake it all away. Fact was, he’d been taken in like a stray puppy. For years he’d tried to forget how that felt. But now, back in Oakdale, it was closing in around him. How easy it was for the past to merge with the present.

Reid stiffened his shoulders. Maybe he wouldn’t ask Bob about the Snyders, after all. It would be better to leave it alone. Reid would do his job and then try to forget about all of this again. And that’s the way it should be. When he’d left Oakdale the first time, he’d promised himself that nobody would ever jerk him around again.

Unless it was some hot blond doing the jerking. Reid sighed. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d fucked somebody senseless. The last boner he had was all alone in his apartment, looking through a dirty magazine and letting go all over his chest and belly. It wasn’t the same as being with somebody.

God. Why was he even thinking about this? He should be thinking about the case. Usually, he had a one track mind – medicine and only medicine. But he’d been restless lately, and not just for some sex. Reid never took vacations. Since leaving medical school he’d worked every day without fail, but these last few months he hadn’t felt his usual passion for it. His recent patients had all been routine, no excitement in fixing them, and Bob’s phone call had come at the perfect time. Listening to Bob explain the help he needed, hell, just hearing from Bob, had sparked a response in Reid. He’d felt more alive since that call than he had in a long time.

Angus would call him a sap or worse. He’d say Reid was whipped for jumping on a plane the moment Bob called. Normally, Reid refused calls from other doctors begging for his help. He had a waiting list and he stuck to it. He didn’t care if a patient was Mother Teresa or a serial killer – they all had to wait their turn. It was surprising how something so fair could piss so many people off.

And doctors – doctors were the worst. Arrogant pricks, most of them, pressuring him to place their patient’s name higher up than the others. Everybody had a reason, a sob story, for wanting their patient to move to the top spot. Reid didn’t give a damn. Fair was fair, and people would wait their turn.

But Bob was different. Bob had favored him, taught him, accepted him. Reid really didn’t understand why. He would never let some stupid kid follow him around the hospital. But Bob wasn’t like him. Bob had allowed him in the OR. He’d handed him a skull saw. He’d recognized the fire inside of Reid to become a doctor. Bob had been warm and kind and good with people. No, he wasn’t at all like Reid.

The moment Bob called, the warmth he greeted Reid with, even after all these years, had crushed Reid’s defenses. Reid shifted in his chair. That last thought was far from comfortable. Reid sucked in a few deep breathes. Maybe he wasn’t quite so ready for this meeting after all.

Reid picked up a notebook and a pen. Really, he could use some food. He started to write a note, informing Bob that he would come back later, when he froze. He heard Bob’s voice just outside the door and Reid cursed his perfect memory then. Just the sound of that voice combined with the smell of Memorial’s halls brought it all rushing back: walking the corridors with Bob, his scrubs hanging off his skinny frame, as he desperately followed Bob from room to room, attempting to look more confident and self assured than he was. Bragging to Bob about all the medical things he already knew, scribbling things down in that ridiculous notebook he’d carried. Reid could see now that he’d probably never fooled Bob with his bravado. He’d been so eager then, practically stumbling over his own feet to fit in at Memorial. He shuddered slightly.

Last week, Bob had called him and asked for his help. Reid had agreed readily. But now memories of being that ugly teenager made him feel trapped, like Bob’s office had no windows and really poor air circulation. Reid detested that sensation, almost as much as he loathed the fifteen year old kid he’d been, and when he’d told Bob yes, he hadn’t anticipated any of that.

The staff at the Mayo Clinic where he worked now would be shocked to see him wiping at his forehead with his handkerchief, sweaty and unsteady. He was Dr. Oliver, for God’s sake. Nurses cowered in the corner every time he entered the room. Patients looked up to him and feared him. Other doctors despised him with all the hatred inspired by rampant jealousy and respected his every idea. He’d made it. Big time.

So why did hearing Bob’s voice just outside the door make his palms sweat? As a kid, he’d never wanted to please somebody so much.

As Bob entered his office, Reid made a sour face.

“Reid!” Bob smiled. “Thank you so much for coming.”

Reid stood up. Bob looked the same. His hair was gray now and his eyes were lined, but it was still Bob. When Bob moved as if to embrace him, Reid quickly stuck out his hand. They shook solemnly.

Reid picked up Bob’s name plate from off of his desk. “I see you finally made it,” Reid said, tapping on the Chief of Staff title under Bob’s name. ”How many decades did it take you?”

“You know, the moment I saw your frowning face on that website , I knew it was you. But I’d forgotten that charm of yours.”

“I’m just surprised someone as ancient as you can navigate the internet.”

Reid could never remember a single person in Oakdale ever talking to Bob with anything but the utmost respect. The hospital might as well name a wing after him, or erect a statue of Bob in Old Town; he was that much of a central part of Oakdale. Reid suspected that kind of reverence got boring, and deep down, Reid had always sensed that Bob enjoyed their exchanges. Bob took the joke good-naturedly now.

“Even an old guy like me can learn a few tricks,” Bob said with a twinkle in his eye. “But I must admit my grandson helped me. “

Reid wondered for a moment about Bob’s family. Was the grandson Chris’s kid? Now, there was a person who should never have gone forth and multiplied. Reid felt an old, familiar twist in his gut.

As a kid, he’d had no use for the Hughes family, but he valued Bob, and he’d always thought Bob’s sons hadn’t appreciated their father enough. In fact, that gangly, fifteen year old Reid had sometimes imagined with vivid desperation that Bob was his father, and he’d wanted to thump Tom and Chris for having no idea just how great they had it. He could admit that to himself now, standing in front of Bob. It was the first time he’d admitted that to himself since he’d left this ridiculous place.

Bob clasped his arm. “I am very appreciative that you came here to consult on this case. “ Bob looked at him warmly. “My neurosurgeon was way out of her depths.”

“Well if she trained in Oakdale that’s no surprise.”

He was a little uncomfortable with Bob’s sincerity. While it pleased him that Bob recognized his brilliance, discussing Bob’s gratitude unnerved him.

It was a good thing that Bob never needed to know just how far Reid’s daydreams as a teenager had gone. Truth be told, if he’d been Bob’s son, he most likely would have disappointed him anyway, because he was not very good at being a person. Truly belonging was not something Reid could really imagine for himself. The best he could do was to be a fucking fantastic doctor, and he certainly always succeeded there.

People with good families, loving fathers and mothers, just took it all for granted. Chris certainly had, and Reid had seen it many times in the hospital: sons and daughters neglecting their parent’s care. They were burdens suddenly, too much trouble to deal with, even though Reid could see that their folks had given everything to make sure they had gone to the best schools, and they had everything their hearts could desire. Ingrates, all of them, and without any sense of gratitude. It made no sense. It was inexplicable to him. Not that Reid knew anything about the intricate workings of a family.

Reid cleared his throat. “Where is your so-called neurosurgeon anyhow? Did you give her a time out?”

Bob sighed. “No. I’m afraid Dr. Richards left in quite a huff over this matter. “

“She didn’t want another surgeon playing in her sandbox, huh?”

It didn’t displease Reid to learn of Dr. Richards’ departure. If he took on a patient, he wanted complete control. It was messy to work with other, always inferior doctors, so he was pleased that he would be doing the operation solo. Dr. Richards’ petulance allowed him to escape the pretense of inclusion. Reid nearly sighed with relief at not having to pretend to ‘play well’ with others.

Bob ignored his quip and handed him a file. “Here’s the case. She’s a young woman with quite an interesting story-”

Reid opened the file. “Right. I don’t really care about all that. Just so long as the case is challenging, like you promised. Just give me her name and a synopsis of her medical history.”

“Still think compassion is for the nurses, do you?” Bob shook his head. “I know you’re a serious surgeon, Reid, but the really gifted surgeons care about every aspect of a case. “

Reid was surprised that Bob remembered his remarks as a teenager. He certainly had liked to shoot his mouth off. And Bob always was a bleeding heart.

Reid preferred to keep a healthy distance with his patients. If anybody else had lectured him about compassion, Reid would have smirked at them with a mixture of scorn and enjoyment of their stupidity. The few times he had attempted to reach out to a patient, when he’d been young and foolish, Reid had gotten burned. One had sued him for malpractice when the surgery, successful in every other way, left a scar that was larger than the patient deemed necessary. It had been all the confirmation Reid needed that he’d been right not to trust the human race. After that, Reid pulled back and remained strictly professional.

“Her name is Ameera Mayer,” Bob continued. “Her preliminary CT scan was serious; the tumor is located in a rare and dangerous place. The bleed is contained right now, but has the possibility of a massive eruption at any second. You should see the brain scans - the swelling.”

“Oh, Bob,” Reid drawled. “Now you’re just sweet talking me.”

Bob laughed. “Let’s go meet the Mayers, shall we?”

***

Ameera Mayer was in her last year of college, young and seemingly healthy, when she collapsed with a violent seizure. A friend had quickly phoned 911, but Ameera had already slipped into a deep coma. Her CT scan revealed a massive tumor in her brain, deep in the center of her head.

As Reid listened to Bob go over the medical facts, he looked at Ameera. She was a pretty woman, though obviously very ill. Her face was pale and her body looked tiny in the hospital bed, especially with her husband, Noah, standing like a giant over her. His face was scrunched up, as if begging Reid for some understanding.

“Are you the specialist?,” he said the moment Reid walked in. “Please, you have to save my wife.”

Reid pressed his lips together, avoiding the hundred or so sarcastic remarks he longed to make. Reid was careful about every word he uttered either patients or family members. Discussing a case with the family was like unfolding a map; you had to be cautious of every crease or they read it completely wrong.

“You’re in excellent hands with Dr. Oliver,” Bob told him. He patted Noah on the back and Noah nodded his head up and down. “I called him in because I believe Dr. Oliver is truly the best man for the job.” Bob met Reid’s eyes. “I have every confidence in him.”

“Thank you, Dr. Hughes. Dr. Oliver.“ Noah smiled at them.

“Don’t thank us yet,” Reid said dryly. “One step at a time.”

Noah bent over his wife, stroking her hand. “Don’t worry,” he said to his wife. “I won’t leave you for a moment. I’ll be here night and day. “

Terrific, Reid thought, just what he needed.

Noah looked at Reid. “I made her a promise, when she came to this country. I swore to take care of her.”

Noah paused then, like he expected Reid to praise him or something. Reid just looked at him. Wasn’t that what husbands and wives did, take care of each other? Noah said it like it made him special.

His chest puffed out a little. “I rescued my wife.” His face changed slightly. “And then this happened.”

“We’ll do everything possible to help her,” Bob assured him warmly. “She’s lucky to have you.”

Noah seemed satisfied by that and nodded in agreement.

Bob signaled Reid to join him at the door. “I trust you want to examine her now?”

“Examine her? “ Reid’s mouth lifted. “Nah, I thought I’d go right for the skull saw. Just do it right here in this room. Figure it out as I cut.”

“I’d forgotten your rather colorful sense of humor.” Bob sighed. “Seriously, Reid, do you need any further assistance from me? I’d be happy to stay for awhile. “

“I got it, Bobo.” Reid’s brow lifted. He glanced at Noah. “Unless you can get rid of him for me?”

“We allow our immediate family members to stay.” Bob gave him a stern look. “We try and work with our families and offer them some comfort.”

“Well, there’s your first mistake.”

Bob crossed his arms over his chest. “Our rule here is to practice sound medicine with a compassionate heart.”

“Sure, let’s all join hands and sing ‘It’s a Small World’.” Reid leaned forward. “Medicine is about results.”

Bob shrugged. “Well, Dr. Oliver, when you run a hospital of your own, you can make the rules.”

Reid gave a bark of laughter. “Me? Run a hospital? I’d rather be tied up, gagged to a chair and forced to watch soap operas all day, than listen all day long to the histrionics of the nurses and interns.”

Bob shook his head at him. “After you’re done, meet me on the second floor, room 201. I’d like to hear your evaluation of the case and go over it with you.”

Reid felt slightly annoyed at the way Bob was ordering him around. At the Mayo Clinic, he had free reign. Nobody questioned him or wanted to meet with him every second. He’d forgotten how Memorial worked. This place was so old-fashioned. They probably still accepted chickens instead of cash as payment.

Besides, Bob had called him, hadn’t he? Reid might need to remind Bob of that fact. But this wasn’t the right moment. When they were alone, Reid would remind Bob of that he wasn’t a boy of 15 anymore. He didn’t need a babysitter.

Bob left the room and Reid went over to begin his exam. He was hoping Noah would just be quiet and let him work. Noah, however, had other ideas. It was almost as if he couldn’t stand the silence. He’d swallow, and burst out with strangled comments, going on and on about his wife, her background in Iraq, and a bunch of other insignificant nonsense that had nothing to do with the upcoming operation.

Reid didn’t listen. The case was difficult, but clear cut enough to know that nothing in her history or environment led to the tumor. Reid sighed, examining Ameera’s reflexes.

“…And she’s a great person, doctor. She’s an honor student and has a job at a fashion store, and she-“

Blah, blah, blah. Reid pinched the bridge of his nose in irritation and tried to shut out the noise.

Noah went on now about how his wife didn’t deserve her illness. That it was unfair. Reid tried not to roll his eyes in response. He tried to nod sympathetically. If a doctor learned to fake a good nod, he might be able to escape small talk.

While Noah strangled out sentences, Reid focused on his patient. He intently looked her over, careful not to miss a thing. Reid gave her cold fingers a soft squeeze; he hoped this fragile girl had the strength for her battle ahead.

“Well,” Reid interrupted finally, straightening up, “I really need to study her case file.”

“Thank you, Doctor Oliver, thank you so –“

Reid waved a hand to stop his gushing. “Again, don’t thank me until I’ve done my job, all right? Here. Look over these consent forms carefully. I’ll be back soon.”

He picked up the other file of her scans and exited the room quickly. He really didn’t want to hear Noah prattle on any further about the unfairness of life-as if life ever balanced on a scale of justice. Reid had seen a baby born with half a brain. He’d witnessed children dying of cancer, taking a final breath in their mothers’ arms. Suffering was never given out in equal measure.

Reid felt lucky to escape the room. He hoped to get this operation done quickly. He considered transferring Ameera back to the Mayo Clinic. The trip down memory lane had already been anything but comfortable, and Memorial was a tiny hospital in the middle of the sticks; the chances that it had upgraded its O.R. to rival the state-of-the-art facilities he was accustomed to was unlikely, but, from everything Bob had said, Ameera was far too delicate for that. She might not survive the trip. Reid frowned grumpily; he was trapped here for now and being trapped sucked.

Just then, a body slammed into Reid, causing his scans to go flying.

“Watch out!”

“Sorry!”

The young man bent to pick them up. Reid had a nice view of a firm ass. It was exactly the way Reid liked it-- high and tight.

“I’m so sorry,” the guy was saying, “totally my fault.”

“Just move aside, “ Reid said impatient and suddenly horny again all at the same time. “I’ll get them myself.”

“No, no. I insist.” The young man glanced at him, his gaze lingering on Reid’s features with curiosity a second, and then he bent back down once more.

A jolt of recognition shot through Reid. He knew that face. But, no, it couldn’t be. What were the chances? Well, okay, given that it was Oakdale, a town the size of a postage stamp, the chances were pretty good.

Reid narrowed his eyes. “Luke?”

The man glanced up questioningly.

It was him. It had to be. Same brown eyes. Same expressions.

“Luke,” Reid repeated and, for the first time that day, broke into a real smile.

“Do I know you?” Luke answered, tilting his head.

Reid swallowed a sudden jab of hurt. Of course, Luke had been a kid and –

“Wait. Reid?” Luke’s mouth dropped open. He stood up, his eyes moving up and down Reid’s frame, the CT scans left on the floor. Luke ran his tongue over his lips and asked, “Seriously? Is it you?”

“It’s me.” Reid nodded. “Have I changed that much?”

“No- I mean- you do look different.“Luke flushed. “I don’t think I would have recognized you now,” Luke went on. “You’re so- so filled out.“ He flushed again. Then he chewed his lip. “Not that you looked bad before-“

“I was a nightmare,” Reid laughed slightly, not offended. “Puberty isn’t anybody’s best look.” Reid studied Luke’s features slowly. “I’d have recognized you,” Reid said, “you have the same face you had at seven.”

“Oh,” Luke answered, clearly unsure if that was a good thing or not.

Their eyes locked on each other.

Reid remembered the way Luke had always scurried to catch up to him, looking at him with that open and eager face, and he knew they could be meeting on the other side of the world and Reid would know him. He would recognize Luke.

Luke chewed his lip now, making Reid smile. He’d always done that as a kid too. Reid half-expected him to have ruined those lips with that habit. But no, his lips weren’t scarred at all. They were full and lush- a generous mouth.

Reid realized he was staring at Luke’s lips. He forced himself to look away.

“What are you doing here?” Luke asked finally, breaking an awkward silence.

Reid liked that Luke asked that instead of the more asinine “How are you?” or “How’s life treating you?,” Luke’s question had a clear cut response, and Reid had an actual answer to it.

“I’m working on a case. Bob tracked me down and asked me. The internet is a dangerous thing.”

Luke laughed, and Reid felt oddly pleased . When Luke laughed, his whole face expressed joy. Unlike most people who laughed with their hands at their mouths or with only a polite chuckle, Luke laughed openly. He laughed in a way that made Reid want to laugh too.

“I’m not surprised you’re sought after. I always knew you’d be at the top of your field.”

“And I am.”

“Still modest, too, I see.” Luke smiled.

“Modesty is overrated. “

Luke rolled his eyes, but seemed amused more than anything. “What’s your specialty?”

“Neurology, of course.“

Surely Luke remembered Reid at the dinner table sketching the Frontal and Central Lobes on all those napkins, while Luke’s family babbled on and on, and he waited for Emma’s food?

“Well, I guess you always were doodling those pictures of the brain,” Luke said, as if reading his mind, although Reid took a slight offense at the word doodling. Those drawings had been accurate renderings. He started to correct Luke about that, when Luke added “ And Bob found you on the computer?”

“Yeah,” Reid nodded, “Who knew the old dinosaur could work a mouse?”

Luke started to laugh again and then stopped. “Wait. Neurology? Are you- it’s not Ameera’s case, is it?” Luke didn’t wait for him to answer. “What am I thinking? Of course, you’re the specialist Bob promised Noah. That’s you. Wow.”

“You know her?”

Luke’s eyebrows shot up underneath his hair. “Sort of…I mean, yeah.”

Why was he surprised? Of course, Luke knew her. The Snyders knew everybody in this town. All Oakdale residents were either tied by blood, marriage or a weird combination of the two. That’s probably what made ‘em crazy.

“She’s not your wife and stepsister too, is she?” Reid joked.

“What? No,” Luke tugged nervously at his ear. “She’s just a friend.” But he looked guilty. His eyes darted to the side.

Reid cocked his head. Interesting. The woman was married, of course, but in a town like Oakdale where infidelity was as pervasive as opinions, that didn’t mean a damn thing.

“Is she really so bad?” Luke folded his arms across his body. He slumped his shoulders in protectively. “I mean, she can be fixed, right?”

Reid stared at him. He wasn’t going to discuss a patient with Luke, but something about Luke’s eyes made Reid think of the many nights when Luke, frightened of his nightmares, had crawled into his bed for comfort.

“That’s privileged information,” Reid simply said. But he said it almost gently.

“Oh! Of course it would be. Sorry!” Luke straightened up and flashed his dimples at him. “Anyway, it’s terrific that she has you on board now. I’m sure you’re a great doctor. “

“I told you. The best.”

Luke grinned. “Right. The best.“ Amusement and something warm lit up his face. “It’s really good to see you!” Luke came at him with open arms.

Reid didn’t hug. Ever.

But as Luke reached him, Reid automatically opened his arms to tolerate the coming embrace.

Luke grasped him and hugged tightly. He leaned a moment into Reid’s neck, and Reid took a deep breath. Luke smelled good, like fresh laundry soap. His body felt warm and strong, and nothing at all like the little kid he’d known.

The hug ended abruptly. Luke stepped back, tugging at his ear again, suddenly interested in what the nurses across the way were doing. Luke brushed a hand over his hair, tidying it. Reid swallowed. He felt a little off balance, too.

“So did you come alone?” Luke inquired suddenly.

“Of course,” Reid said, puzzled at the lack of segue. “I’m hoping it will only take a few days.”

Luke nodded, focusing on Reid intently. “And then back to?” Luke asked curiously.

“Minnesota.”

Luke nodded, and Reid saw that he looked a tired and sad. Of course, Reid hadn’t seen him in years. But it was there all the same. Reid never was good at reading people, but he knew he wasn’t wrong about reading Luke.

“The Mayo Clinic?”

Reid nodded. Was it the girl? Or something else? He wasn’t sure, but Luke was not happy. That much he knew for sure.

“Wow,” Luke said. “So, how long will you be here?”

“A few days, tops.”

Luke looked genuinely disappointed, and he sighed. “That’s too bad.”

Reid shrugged. “Three days of second-rate sushi and freaky hotel room sheets? I’d say that’s more than enough time for me.”

Luke bent over the x-ray films again, moving with what seemed like incredible slowness. Reid remained still, watching Luke as he moved, admiring the shape of him.

“Here,” Luke said, rising.

“Thanks.”

Gazing at each other, Reid felt like the air had suddenly grown hot and he was breathing too hard. So was Luke. Reid folded his arms. He had a strange burning inside of his chest, a pressure almost, like a tight valve was about to be released. He cleared his throat and took the scans from Luke. Their fingers brushed.

Luke quickly pulled his hand away from Reid’s.

Reid backed away, forcing images into his mind of small Luke giggling and making him sandwiches, with gobs of mayo on crusty bread, layering the meat and cheese for Reid to eat. Reid breathed out slowly, calming down.

“Well,” Luke said in a high voice. “I was headed to Ameera’s room . Are you?”

“No, I need to look these over now. “

He should shake hands and go. But he stood and looked at Luke instead. He couldn’t seem to stop looking. He had an urge to touch Luke on the arm, as if to make certain he was real.

Luke smiled softly. “But you don’t work tonight, right? Want to come out to the farm for dinner? Grandma Emma can still cook up a storm.”

“I was just thinking about her pie,“ Reid licked his lips.

Luke’s eyes darkened a moment; he ducked his head away. When he looked back, Reid could almost swear that Luke was giving him a coy look, his eyelashes fluttering up and down.

Reid rubbed a hand over his eyes, clearing his head. His weird reaction to seeing a grown-up Luke was crossing his wires all wrong. He needed food. A nap. To get laid. Something.

At that moment, a nurse rushed by, pushing a heavy cart, and they were forced to take a step away from each other.

Luke cleared his throat. “Anyhow, my mom and all the kids –I have three younger siblings now- Faith, Natalie and Ethan- they’ll be at the farm tonight. You should come. Eat with us.”

Reid bit back a snarky comment about the respective parentage of each of the new siblings and said, “I don’t want to intrude on family dinner time.”

Reid wanted to accept Luke’s offer. He hardly ever ate a home cooked meal. Most of his dinners, were around the television, eating plastic covered crap from the microwave. On the other hand, he’d always sucked at dinner chitchat, and the Snyders were a mushy bunch. Reid knew they liked to sit around and ask about each other’s day and all of that. It had always twisted his guts up. He’d never felt relaxed with it all. It was probably a really bad idea. Reid massaged his temples; he had a headache coming on.

“Reid,” Luke murmured, and Reid felt an odd ache at his name on Luke’s lips. ”You were family once...“ He walked closer to him, until their shoulders almost rubbed together. Luke searched his eyes.

“And I’d hate for you to leave town without getting to see you again. Please come.” Luke smiled. “Please?”

It had always been difficult to refuse Luke anything. Like the time that Luke had managed to drag him out of bed before dawn to see the sunrise over the pond. Luke had sworn to him that it would be a great adventure. First, Reid had tripped on a cow patty and had to wash his foot off in the stinking cold water of the pond, and then after a rather disappointing sunrise, red ants crawled onto his towel and bit him; he’d ended up needing calamine lotion on his face, neck and back. He’d vowed never to do anything Luke suggested ever again.

Luke caught his eye and hit him with another warm smile.

Reid sighed. “What time’s dinner?”

“Six!” Luke’s smile turned goofy. Weirdly, Luke seemed genuinely happy at the thought of Reid’s company. That never happened to Reid. Most people couldn’t stand him. When he entered the room, the nurses all busied themselves or ran into the bathroom. Other doctors only ate lunch with him if they had need of a consult. Reid pretended not to notice, not to care.

“And don’t be late,” Luke added.

“I’m never late for food,” Reid replied.

“Good to see some things never change.” Luke grinned widely at him.

Reid’s mouth lifted slightly. He couldn’t help smiling back at Luke. “I’ll see you out at the farm.”

“See ya then!” Luke said cheerfully.

Reid watched Luke head toward Ameera Mayer’s room.

***

Bob opened the door of room 201. It was a small office, with a square-shaped desk, an old laptop, and a phone.

“For you Dr. Oliver,” Bob said graciously.”For as long as you’re here.”

Reid walked into the room, taking in the nearly ancient computer. Oh, well, he supposed it would do just fine for checking email from Mayo. His eyes fell on the phone.

“Is this a rotary?” Reid made a face. He was still annoyed at Bob for all of the hand holding.

“I’m afraid the hospital hasn’t updated a lot of things.”

Reid looked at the old fashioned clock on the wall and the flowered wallpaper. “I swear Oakdale is the town that time forgot,” he muttered.

‘Well,” Bob said, and smiled. “Feel free to make it your own space.” He put a friendly hand on Reid’s shoulder. “I really want you to feel comfortable.”

Reid felt his annoyance fading. As usual, he had misunderstood the social situation. Bob wasn’t mistrusting him; Bob was attempting to be generous. At the Mayo Clinic, the doctors worked like it was a giant factory. There were no personal touches, no visits from the boss. Bob wasn’t like that, had never been like that. Everything about Bob, Memorial, and Oakdale was personal.

Bob stood looking at him, waiting. Reid knew he should say thanks or something.

“I’ll be here two days, Bob. Three tops. But I’ll be happy to decorate it with candy wrappers and Coke cans.”

“I remember when I used to travel for the occasional consult—“

“In the dark ages?”

“I’m not as old as I look. I used to like to bring a picture of Kim and Christopher. I’d put it out wherever I was, and I always felt at home.”

“Still got the sermons on home and family, I see.”

“Still got the loner chip on your shoulder.”

“No chip. Just pragmatic acceptance of reality and an appreciation for having everything I want exactly how I want it.”

Bob just smiled at him. “Why don’t we move on to the lab?”

“Finally! Maybe we could actually focus on what I came here to do.”

“All right,” Bob agreed. “In that case, I’ll confide in you that this case has me a bit anxious.”

“Losing your nerve in your age old man? Sure it’s a difficult case, but it’s far from beyond me—“

“No, Dr. Oliver. That’s not the problem. Unfortunately, there is something we need to discuss about Ameera.” He hesitated. “Have you by any chance seen any unusual activity around her room?”

“UFO sightings? Paranormal activity? You’ll have to be more specific, Bob.”

They left the office and headed for the lab.

“INS. There appears to be some concern over her citizenship.”

“I haven’t seen them and don’t really care,” Reid shrugged, “As long as they stay out of my way.”

Bob started to reply, when a nurse stopped them.

“Good morning, Dr. Hughes. Thanks again for the pep talk last night.”

“You’re welcome, Gretchen. You have the makings of an excellent nurse. Just remember to keep your chin up.”

The nurse gave him a wobbly smile and moved on. Three other nurses passed by and each of them also had the need to thank Bob or ask his opinion on a matter. Their questions struck Reid as rather idiotic and he’d have happily told them where to stick them; Bob, however, patiently answered them all.

At this rate, Ameera Mayer would die before Reid had a chance to examine her scans.

“By the way,” Bob glanced at Reid, as they started toward the lab again. “ Dr. Richards informed me this morning that she’s taking some personal time . There is a serious question about her returning to Memorial. As you can imagine, her rather abrupt decision is a problem for the hospital. Can I count on your help for any emergency neurological cases?”

Reid was about to ask just how many neurological cases a small town like this had, when another doctor grabbed at Bob.

“I must speak with you,” he said, practically tugging on Bob’s white coat.

“Dr. Stevens. This is Dr. Oliver-“

“Nice to meet you,” Dr. Stevens said without looking at Reid. “Please, Bob. Five minutes.”

Bob looked at Reid. He almost sighed. “Can you find your way, Dr. Oliver?”

Reid nodded.

It seemed like everybody in the hospital wanted a piece of Bob. Reid wondered if Bob ever felt like he was surrounded by a bunch of hungry vultures. Probably not, what with Bob being Bob and all.

“About those Neuro emergencies?” Bob turned to him, removing the other doctor’s hand from his coat.

“Sure, why not.” Reid would probably be gone before a single problem came up in the ER.

“Fantastic.” Bob smiled widely, his eyes gleaming. “I’ll meet you in the lab.”

He hurried away with Dr. Stevens. Reid stood there for a moment, his eyes narrowed. Bob had given him a smile like Reid had offered up his first born. Why did he feel like he had just been tricked?

***
Sighing, Reid went on to the lab. He began to unload his papers and x-rays.

Moments later, Bob joined him. He handed Reid a cup of coffee. “It’s still awful and burnt, but here.”

Reid accepted the cup.

“I read your background,“ Bob said suddenly, as he slowly sipped his drink. “I was impressed with your work at Hopkins.”

“Of course you were.”

Bob smiled. “Dr. Oliver, I see that has ego stayed with you all these years.” Bob handed him a scan. “I actually think I might have missed it. Or maybe I’m just missing my own sons lately.”

“Oh?” Reid put the scan up to the machine and pointed at the tumor.

Bob nodded at it. “Tom’s very busy, and now Chris is off.”

Bob looked at Reid. “I guess it’s natural. All young men want to go out there and see the world.”

“I just want to see an OR,” Reid replied grumpily. “Sometime in the next day or so, preferably before Mrs. Mayer dies.”

Bob shook his head. “You make a valid point, Dr. Oliver.”

“Thank you.”

He and Bob studied the test results . As they reviewed them, Bob listened and asked him pertinent questions. Time didn’t matter, only medicine, only the pursuit of the right treatment. Reid felt his adrenaline kick in; a good medical talk always gave him a high.

Reid appreciated that Bob worked swiftly and was professional. They discussed the prognosis, trouble shooting different scenarios for how to deal with possible complications during the operation. It felt oddly good to go back and forth with Bob. When Reid had been a teenager, he would have been in heaven for five minutes of Bob treating him like an equal.

“Let me tell you what I have in mind for the first part of the operation.” Reid tapped at the x-ray. “See here? That is where we take out part of the skull-“

Bob nodded his agreement, and a flush of pleasure went through Reid’s body. Usually, Reid kept his Chief of Staff at a great distance, answering only direct questions, avoiding meetings. Most Chiefs lived to shove paperwork down your throat and Reid never wanted to waste time with any of them.

“And here is where I can remove the tissue and still not damage the cortex. Do you see?”

Bob made an appreciative sound. “Impressive.”

Reid couldn’t quite hold back his smile.

Finally, they reached the last scan. Reid drummed his fingers on the chart. He waited for Bob to finish examining the picture.

“So? “Bob said. “As bad as I thought? Right?”

Reid nodded. A surge of excitement went through him; this was a case he could really sink his teeth into and it’d been a long time since he’d faced a true challenge of his skills. Reid’s hand eagerly twitched at his side for a scalpel.

“You know I was right to call you,” Bob said, “I always knew you’d be the best. But your ideas are just amazing, cutting edge.”

“Well, don’t give yourself a medal.” Reid rolled his eyes. “Any competent Chief of Staff would know to call me.”

“But nobody else could have gotten you to come,” Bob replied, amused. Then his expression sobered. “Have you explained all this to Noah? Her husband will need to know the full scope of the operation. It’s a risky procedure.”

Reid nodded grimly. “He has the waivers and disclosure information already. Once he signs, we’ll be good to go.”

“Dr. Oliver, I want you to take some time with him. Make sure he understands all the facts.”

Reid had his doubts that Mr. Mayer was capable of understanding even a few of the facts, much less all of them, but he said, “Will do.”

Reid started to leave.

“Oh, and one more thing.” Bob held up a hand, asking him to wait.

Reid sighed impatiently.

“Is it feeling like home here again?” Bob gave him a big, hopeful smile.

Reid grunted. “It never felt like home before .”

He walked off, drinking the horrible coffee, and hoping that Memorial’s cafeteria wouldn’t give him too serious a case of food poisoning.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story with multiple chapters.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.

Part One:

Anywhere, USA

Chapter Two

His first few days at Memorial, Reid attempted to make himself indispensible. He had no intention of returning to farm labor. But he was off to a rocky start. No one there seemed to like him. The nurses didn’t seem to like it when he diligently reminded them of the doctor’s orders. It sincerely baffled Reid. Why didn’t those nurses want to improve their performance? Why wouldn’t they want to fix their rather glaring inadequacies? Reid would appreciate some constructive criticism; that is, if he ever made a mistake.

The doctors seemed to hate Reid too. They resented his meticulous list of questions. One of them actually tore his list up. Reid, unfazed, made a new copy for that doctor and stapled it to his to do board. The doctor hadn’t been amused. Reid was quickly learning that some doctors, despite graduating from med school, were just idiots. He soon gave up on them. He concentrated on the few good doctors at Memorial. Even the competent ones though, hated Reid, and he tried, he really did. He attempted a minute of small talk. He had it in his notes even, make small talk. Maybe he didn’t listen to the answers about their flea-burdened dogs or timed out offspring, but he tried. It just that small talk was such a huge waste of his time. Finally, when Reid gave up on the pretense of chit chat and merely inquired curiously about the medical choices they were making, the doctors became so defensive.

“Remind me again what medical school you went to? “ Dr. Dixon had snapped at him.

Dr. Stewart had been more polite, but as soon as her shift with Reid was over, she’d gone to the Chief and requested he no longer be allowed in her OR. And he’d even faked listening to Dr. Stewart prattle on and on about her latest divorce.

Reid swallowed the little bit of hurt he felt. Let them all rebuff him. He concluded that their egos were bigger than their skills. He went to the library and took out thick stacks of medical journals. If the staff at Memorial couldn’t teach him, he’d find out the answers alone. Reid spent his next few days at Memorial quietly. But he observed everything like an eager sponge. He wrote down all of his observations and poured over his medical texts at night.

The only doctor who made time for him was Bob. He was always patient. He even allowed Reid to watch his operations, as long as he stayed out of the way. Watching a person being cut open thrilled Reid, he studied every move Bob made. Reid followed Bob around so much, he heard the other doctors teasing Bob about his shadow. Bob only smiled at their jokes. Reid no longer gave a damn what those doctors thought. Reid continued to follow him, eating snacks from the vending machine, and scribbling down things Bob told him in his notebook.

Bob didn’t seem to mind being questioned as much as he minded Reid’s food selection.

“Why don’t I take you down to the cafeteria and buy you lunch,” Bob told him, watching Reid shoving Doritos into his mouth. Reid had been working at Memorial for an entire week.

“No thanks,” Reid said, still chewing. He licked at his fingers. “I’ve seen the cafeteria food. I want to live to sixteen.”

“Even future neurosurgeons need nutrition,” Bob said. “It is still neurosurgery you want to go into?”

Reid nodded. Bob was the only person he’d told that to.

“Cardiology can use bright minds like yours,” Bob mused. “Or what about a pediatrician? There can never be too many good family doctors?”

“No way,” Reid scoffed. “I want to actually practice real medicine.”

“You don’t think children are worthy patients?” Bob countered.

“I don’t think holding the hand of some mother having histrionics over another case of her brat’s sniffles is worthy,” Reid replied.

Bob grinned at him. Reid stared back. He’d been perfectly serious about hating pediatrics, but he clearly was amusing Bob for some unfathomable reason.

“I do find children with brain problems interesting, “ Reid said, pointedly ignoring Bob’s smile. “There was a recent article on children and Autism,” Reid told him. He dug among his notes to find it. “ It offered really pertinent theories about why so many lose their language abilities in those first two years. The studies showed-”

“Reid,” Bob held up his hand. “I’d love to hear it, but don’t you want to head out? It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Don’t you have someplace else to be for the rest of the day?“

Reid shrugged.

“You know,” Bob said gently, “even future doctors are allowed a life. “

“I don’t know what you mean.” Reid shifted his feet back and forth.

“I mean go have some fun,” Bob advised him. “ Life is more than homework and hospitals.”

Reid’s mouth turned down at the corners. “What else matters?”

Bob sighed. “Friends? Family? “

Reid just looked at him.

Bob clasped him on his shoulder and laughed. “One day, you’ll get what I mean.”

Reid began to argue with him, when as if on cue, his wife and son interrupted them.

“Darling,” Kim said, coming over and giving Bob a peck on his cheek. “Did you forget about coming to see Chris pitch today?”

Chris stood near his mother in a baseball uniform.

“Oh,” Bob replied. “Sorry, Chris. Let me just finish up here first.”

Kim made a tiny frown of displeasure.

“Oh say,” Bob turned to Reid. “I have an idea. Reid, would you like to come to the ball game with us? See Chris’s team?”

Reid shrugged casually and chewed his chips. He looked at Chris’s hostile gaze.

“Sure. I like baseball. I can calculate all the averages of the team members.”

“Of course you can, “Chris said. “Why would you go to actually just watch?”

Kim pulled Bob aside. She whispered into his ear.

Chris looked at Reid with pure dislike. “You know my dad just feels sorry for you?”

“Actually, I think you’re the one he’s sorry about.”

“Just ‘cause you want to be a doctor,” Chris muttered.

“And you don’t, right?”

“No. I don’t. I’ll never become a doctor,” Chris vowed.

Reid nodded sagely, “Wise of you. Future patients are rejoicing.”

“Freak,” Chris said.

“Really? That’s your best insult? “ Reid shrugged. “Oh well, keep trying. It’s like those scratch off cards in the lottery, eventually even a dope like you might score. ”

Bob and Kim suddenly were whispering loudly to each other. Bob kept glancing over at him.

“I can’t just take back an invitation,” he heard Bob say.

Reid pretended not to notice that remark and busied himself with his notebook. Chris smirked.

Kim ignored Bob’s protest. She walked over to Reid and touched his arm lightly. “Reid, you understand that this is father and son thing, right?” Kim smiled at him frigidly. “We’ll have you join us another time?”

“Kim,” Bob said. His cheeks were slightly red.

“No,” Reid waved a dismissive hand at Bob. “It’s fine.” Reid tapped his papers. “ I wanted to read up on that Autism thing. Oh and there’s another journal covering metopic craniosynostosis.”

“Oh,” Bob’s eyes lit up. “That is a fascinating condition.” He motioned for Chris, who looked sullen and bored. “You should hear about this illness and its treatment.”

“I was reading the newest procedure breaks open the skull to make room for the brain –“

“Yes! “ Bob nodded vigorously, his whole face delighted with Reid. “I read that too!”

“Yeah,” Reid gave a small smile back. “The bones in this one baby’s skull had fused prematurely and –“

“All very interesting,” Kim interrupted, “but the game is going to start. Bob?”

Reluctantly, Bob followed his wife. As he left he turned back once to Reid. “Reid,” Bob called with a smile, “eat a real meal and we’ll discuss all this on Monday.”

Then he was gone, off to be with his family.

Reid stood there a moment, and then went back to eating Doritos alone.

***

The month of May brought more scorching heat, the last of Emma’s brilliant flowers blooming, and Luke’s birthday. The entire Snyder clan was involved in planning the party. As the day approached, they were all running around in excitement. You’d think Luke was about to get married, instead of just turning eight.

The day of Luke’s party seemed to shut down the entire town. Everybody from Oakdale was there, maybe because the kid’s birthday was at Lucinda Walsh’s mansion. It was a formal affair, too. The men were in dark suits and the women were in various dresses. The kids were all looking like future princes and princesses. Luke was in a dark jacket, red tie, dark shorts and knee socks. His hair had been combed and slicked down to one side. Lily and Holden took a “family” picture with their kids; their smiles too wide and too fake for Reid’s taste. As soon as the pictures were over, they took off for different parts of the party.

The party was outside on the patio area of the mansion. Lucinda Walsh had apparently flown in just for Luke’s birthday. A full staff of servants were running around, and there was a live band, and Luke had a literal mountain of expensively wrapped gifts, too. Luke shook all the guest hands as they arrived. He was like the little man of the manor.

Reid did hear Luke ask repeatedly if his other father had called. Apparently, Damian usually called on his birthday, but he hadn’t this year.

“Oh,” Luke’s face looked crestfallen and then he shrugged, “doesn’t matter. I’m sure he’ll call me soon.”

As far as Reid knew, there was no call coming.

The highlight of the party was the moment Holden showed Luke the Shetland pony he’d bought for him. Finally, Luke seemed to be having fun. Holden led him out on it and everybody clapped. Luke waved to everybody with his huge grin. Then Holden helped Luke feed the pony a sugar cube and the animal took the treat with big gums and surprisingly yellowed teeth. Then Luke hugged Lily. He hugged Holden. He even hugged the damn pony.

Reid never had a birthday party as a kid. Angus took him bowling once, when he turned nine. Reid was having trouble fathoming this lavish affair. He was glad for Luke, but the whole event made him uncomfortable. He quickly made a huge plate of lasagna and turkey meat, and then looked for a place to be out of the way. He sat down behind a big tree and began to eat.

“Darling, you need to deal with this now.” Somebody was standing on the other side of the tree. Reid ate another forkful of pasta, and then froze at Lily’s voice.

“I can’t. I just want it to go away.”

“Ha,” the other woman laughed a little caustically. “That , my dear, is not how life works. Things don’t just go away. You have to face them!”

Lily sniffed loudly.

“Mark my words, that Molly isn’t going anywhere. You need to get rid of her.”

“I’ve tried, mother. I did. I confronted him about Molly and that- that girl. I confronted him about smelling her perfume on his shirt the other day, that cheap junk.”

“I’m sure that she buys her toiletries at Walmart darling, but the point is you need to a plan. Let me help.”

“No, absolutely not.”

“Why? I’m so awful , is that it?” Her tone was scorching now. “You weren’t so easy, you know. Do you think I wanted you to be with Holden? Didn’t I warn you about all of this?”

Lily didn’t answer.

“Put down that drink,” Lucinda ordered.

“I’m fine, Mother. Holden and I will work it out. Molly promised not to make trouble.”

“Darling, don’t insult my intelligence on my own property. “ Reid heard her snort. “And think what all this does to Luke? That poor child!”

“He’s fine.”

“He’s not fine. He’s being damaged.”

At last, Reid thought, brain power being used. He waited for Lily’s reply.

“He’s fine,” Lily’s voice had an edge to it now, and her words sounded slightly slurred. “He’s too young to understand.”

Reid rolled his eyes.

“Let’s hope.” There was a pause.

“Why can’t Holden just be done with her?” Lily was whining at Lucinda now. “I just can’t bear the thought, Mother.”

“Of Holden and Molly?”

“Of being alone,” Lily cried out.

Lucinda sighed in clear annoyance, “Stop riding on this pathetic merry-go-round.”

“If you ever loved a man like I love Holden-“

“Oh, p-shaw. I’ve loved many men. Powerful exciting men! But I’m my own woman, darling.”

Lily started to say more, but Lucinda hushed her.

“Quiet. Look who’s coming. Get yourself together.”

“I can’t.”

“Just do!” Then Lucinda called out. “There he is! My best guy!”

Kissing noises.

“Hiya, Grandmother. Thanks for the great party! Mommy? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Lily said in a small voice.

“Mommy has allergies, my darling. She’ll be fine. Lily, go and look at Luke’s presents.”
Luke and Lily’s voices soon trailed off. Reid waited a moment, and then decided it was all clear, he stood up.

“Are you the boy living out at the farm?”

Reid nearly jumped out of his skin. He should have stayed hidden longer.

Lucinda Walsh tilted her head majestically at him. She looked at his half-eaten food and slightly wrinkled, cheap suit.

Reid stared back at Luke’s grandmother. She was the only woman there in a pantsuit and not a dress.

She had a diamond pendant at her throat. Her eyes were shrewd, her gaze direct.

Reid shrugged. “What gave it away? Is there some hay in my hair?”

“I know this entire town, darling, and I have never seen you.” Lucinda circled him, sizing him up. “Do you like living there? At the Snyder farm?” she persisted.

“Not really,” Reid said sourly.

Lucinda look turned calculatingly. “Interesting. Most would have lied about that. “ She studied him. “Has a woman named Molly been there lately?”

Reid said nothing. His mouth turned down in displeasure. He really wished he’d remained hidden by that tree.

Lucinda smiled at him now with a predatory gleam in her eyes, “I can make it worth your time to answer me.”

“Really? ‘Cause I just came for the food.”

“Well how would you like some money with your dessert? Tell me about the farm and Molly. ”

“You should be more concerned with your daughter,” Reid said crisply. “And I can’t be bought.” Reid made a face. “Why do rich people think everybody is for sale?’

Lucinda shrugged, “Because most people are,” she told him flatly.

“Well I’m not.”

“A stray with a moral compass? “ Lucinda appeared amused and hooked her arm around him. “I may need to rethink my whole strategy now.”

“ Moral and gay,” Red told her pointedly, trying to piss her off. “So get your hands off.”

Lucinda threw back her head and cackled with delight. ”Gay? Oh well, all the best ones are, darling. Don’t worry,” Lucinda grinned wickedly at him, “ straight or gay your honor is safe with me. You have a handsome face, but I like my men with a little more meat on their bones. “ She gave Reid’s ass a friendly pat.

Shocked and trying not to show it, Reid refused to move away.

“And your meat is way past its prime.” Reid slowly moved her hand.

“Ha! Oh, I like you!” Lucinda declared, not the least bit offended. She pointed a finger at Reid’s chest. “Think over my offer, young man. I was told you are headed to Harvard in a few months. That’s not a cheap place.”

“I’m getting a full ride.”

“Including text books? Food? Clothing? “ Lucinda narrowed her eyes. “Just think it over some more, before you refuse me. I could use a smart guy like you keeping an eye on things.”

Reid started to reply, when a strange excitement swept through the crowd.

Molly took that moment to crash the party, dragging a sullen teenage girl with her.

“Holden!” Molly called.

Everybody stopped and stared. Molly walked determinedly up to Luke and Lily.

“Oh damn it all,” Lucinda said, “the cheap entertainment has arrived.”

She began to walk determinedly in Molly’s direction, but everything was happening too fast. Molly had already reached Lily and Luke.

“Luke, happy birthday, buddy!” Molly sang out. She thrust the girl in front of her. “This is your sister, Abigail.”

The teenage girl looked miserably at Luke. He stared back.

“You!” Lily shouted at Molly. “How dare you?” Her hysteria grew with each syllable.

“What?” Molly chirped up. “I thought they should meet.”

“Molly, “ Holden said, “we agreed this would be done privately.”

“Why? You said you weren’t ashamed of us?”

“You whore.” Lily swayed unsteadily near Molly.

Molly sneered back.

Luke jumped in between them all. “I want my cake now,” Luke said. “Can I please have my cake?”

“Not now, baby,” Lily said, practically pushing Luke aside.

“Yes, now,” Luke tugged at her hand.

“Why shouldn’t Abigail be here? “ Molly said suddenly. “Holden is her father.”

“You have no rights- none!” Lily screamed at Molly. Lily’s color paled, her breathing seemed erratic. She lurched closer to Molly.

“Holden? “ Molly demanded. “Tell her we can stay.”

“Let’s all try and be reasonable,” Holden said, his eyes gleaming with something close to excitement at the two women fighting.

“I want her gone!” Lily shrieked. Her words were slurred and desperate.

“It doesn’t matter what you want, “ Molly yelled right back.

“I’m ready for my cake, “ Luke said in a small whimper. “Please?”

Lily flung her drink in Molly’s face. Molly lunged at Lily. The two of them began to pull each other’s hair and roll around on the lawn. Holden jumped in and pulled them apart. The girl, Abigail, ran off crying. Then Lily’s face went white, she gasped and fainted into Holden’s arms.

Bob ran over and began to help. Lucinda also ran over and shouted for an ambulance to be called. “We have to get her to Memorial and pump her stomach. Right now.”

Bob and Lucinda rode with the ambulance. Everybody around Reid was whispering and motioning to Molly.

Molly was crying now, big gobs of mascara ran down her face. “I’m a mess,” she cried to Holden. Then she tried to smile. “She was drunk; I didn’t hurt her. I do hope Lily will be okay. I really do.”

“She brought this on herself.” Holden said critically.

Molly glanced down at Luke. “I’m sure your mommy didn’t mean to cause a scene,” she told him with a syrupy voice. “I think she’s just a little sick.”

Luke’s face contorted. “Don’t say my mommy’s name!” His small face twisted with rage and grief. He pounded at Molly with his fists. “Don’t talk about her!”

Holden grabbed him. “Luke! Stop.” Holden shook Luke firmly.

The crowd fell silent.

“I know you’re upset about mommy, but…” Holden stared down at Luke. “That’s no excuse! You don’t act this way, understand? Apologize to her.” When Luke was silent, Holden continued to lecture him. “All of our friends have come here for your birthday. And you are letting them down by misbehaving?“

Luke’s big eyes drifted over all of the faces at his party. Guilt flooded his features.

“Sorry,” he said to his guests in a wobbly voice.

Holden released him. He went over to Molly. “Are you okay?”

She clung to him.

“I’m waiting for you to apologize to Molly too, Luke.”

There was another silence.

“Don’t make me ashamed,” Holden said.

Reid took a few steps closer to Luke.

Luke hung his head a moment. “Sorry, Molly,” he whispered.

“That’s okay,” Molly said with false cheer. “No big deal. And I’m sure soon you can meet your new sister!”

Holden shook his head. “Not now.”

“Right,” Molly said, covering up her mouth. “Bad idea.”

“We need to talk, “ Holden told her. She linked her arm in Holden’s and he led Molly away from the crowd.

Luke looked up, his eyes moist, his lip quivering. He pulled at the collar of his starched white shirt. One of his little knee socks had fallen down.

Reid approached him slowly. For the second time today, Reid felt like socking one of Luke’s parents. All these weeks on the farm, Holden acted like a good dad. But now Reid thought he was full of it. Luke didn’t need a lesson in morality, his parents did.

He bent down to Luke’s level. “ Lily’s gonna be fine. Okay?”

Luke looked into his eyes. “ Really? You’re not lying to me?”

“I’m incapable of lying. Takes too much effort and charm.“ Reid lifted the corners of his mouth and took Luke’s hand a moment. “That’s the truth. They’ll pump her stomach, she will feel like crap for a day or two, and then go back to hounding you about baths soon enough.”

Luke gave Reid’s fingers a little squeeze. The poor kid looked devastated.

“If I’d never had my stupid birthday party, “ Luke whispered to him, “none of this would have happened.”

“Luke,” Holden called sharply. He had returned with Emma.

“Go back to the farm with Mama. I’ll go to the hospital.”

Luke let go of Reid’s hand and looked at Holden. “I wanna go to the hospital. Please!”

Holden just shook his head. “For your own good, Luke. Go to the farm. “

“He just wants to see for himself that she’s alright,” Reid protested.

Reid was ignored.

Holden was already walking off.

“Oh dear, “ Emma said, hugging Luke to her ample bosom. “Let’s just go home.”

***

As they reached the farmhouse, Emma left them to go and settle Faith down for a nap.
Luke had been pretty quiet on the ride. Usually, he chattered away.

Reid gave him a small nudge.

“Hey, don’t you want to go in and open your gazillion presents?” Reid asked him now.

“Not really.”

They climbed out of the truck and just stood there.

“When can I see her?” Luke asked him.

“Lily?”

“Yeah.”

Reid was quiet, unsure of what to say to him. Luke seemed to sadly accept his silence. He kicked at the ground with his shoe.

“You know what, Reid? “

“What?”

“That Molly is a- “ he hesitated a second and glanced around, clearly nervous to be caught saying anything. Reid pretended to glance around too, even though he knew they were alone, and he gave Luke the thumbs up. Luke nodded. Then his features scrunched up in an angry, pouty face, “She’s a dummy.” His eyes widened as if he’d just said the worst profanity on the planet. Reid had to smother his smile.

“No arguments from me. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody dropped her on the head as a baby, maybe left her back a few grades in school.”

Luke nodded emphatically a moment. Then he caught his lip with his teeth. “Don’t tell, okay? That I said that?”

Reid crossed his heart with a finger and nodded. “Don’t worry, Luke. I got your back.”

Luke smiled trustingly at him.

“My birthday wasn’t so good, right? ” Luke went on confessing his feelings, “I mean, I didn’t even get to eat my cake or give out my goody bags. They were Spiderman goody bags too.”

“That isn’t fair,” Reid agreed, “especially the cake part. “

Luke put his hands on his small waist. He let out an almost grownup sigh.

“Being eight really stinks.”

Reid couldn’t help it. He laughed at that.

“Try fifteen,” Reid said dryly. Then he studied Luke. His hair was blowing in the hot wind, his mouth had a small stain of Kool-Aid or something around it, and his dress shoes were once again untied. Luke felt his gaze and gave him a beautiful smile, full of simple warmth. Reid felt a clenching at his heart and looked away a moment. Despite everything that had happened at his birthday, Luke was still so full of simple goodness. His crazy family and this stupid town hadn’t beaten it out of him yet .

Reid reached into his jeans pocket.

“Here.” He thrust the gift at him.

“What this?”

“I’m a little late,” Reid shrugged, “but happy stinking birthday.” “

Luke examined the gleaming white queen in stunned silence.

“Thanks,” Luke said. He turned the chess piece around and around in his hands.

Reid shrugged self-consciously. “Just learn to play right, will you?”

“Happy stinking birthday,” Luke repeated and then he giggled.

It was the first time Reid heard his laugh since the fight between Molly and Lily. Reid would miss carrying around the white queen- it’d been his lucky piece- but hearing Luke’s laughter made it suddenly worth it.

“Come on, pest,” he told Luke, hooking an arm around him. “Let’s go raid Emma’s fridge. There might not be cake, but we can find something good.”

Luke slipped his hand into Reid’s. Together, they went into the house.

***

A few days later, the events at the Snyders’ had settled down. Lily was at Lucinda’s , but she visited and appeared well. Holden told Reid they’d found pills mixed with alcohol in her system, and she was getting some outpatient rehab. She and Holden had some kind of temporary truce, and Molly was keeping away from the farm. The weeks went by and soon it was June. Remarkably, Holden and Lily were still getting along. Reid felt relieved about it, since he had to work at Memorial and didn’t see Luke much. Everything appeared to be better for the moment.

Best of all, Luke was happy again. Just that morning, he’d snatched up a pair of clean underwear that Emma had laid out for him and put it on his head. Luke ran around the kitchen, pretending to fly and shouting ‘I’m an underwear superhero!’ Emma had been appalled that underwear, even a clean pair, was on her grandson’s head. Holden had tried to catch him and make him get dressed. Reid had found it hilarious. His sides ached even now from all that laughing. Who knew little kids were so funny? Or maybe it was just Luke.

Reid was still thinking about the underwear incident while he shadowed Bob on his morning rounds. Although he would never tell him, Reid had to admit that Bob was amazing with his patients. He knew their names, their spouses, the names of their pets for god’s sake. When Bob entered the room, all the patients straightened up. Even the cantankerous lady in 3A, who did nothing but spit ice chips at the nurses, loved Bob. By the end of the visit, she was giving him her wrinkled hand to hold and flirting with him.

“Remember, Reid, “ Bob told him as they left the room, “even the worst of the whiners, even the mean ones, are really just frightened. Remember, the doctor has all the power, too.”

“The power?”

“Think about it, “Bob said, “ these poor patients have been poked and prodded and tested. They might have sores in their mouths from the chemo or unbearable pain that no meds can fully take away. In the end, they need us to help them. Hopefully, save them. That’s a great power, “ Bob told him, waving his finger in the air like Merlin brandishing a magic wand. “ A great responsibility.”

“Touching.” Reid rolled his eyes. “But when can I get to observe another operation?”

Bob sighed.

“Aren’t you scheduled for a surgery?’ Reid asked persistently, although he knew Bob was due in the OR. He had Bob’s schedule memorized.

“Yep, right now. “ He tossed Reid some scrubs. “Okay, come watch, but stay out of the way, alright?”

“Right!” Reid’s heart beat frantically. He hadn’t expected Bob to agree. He pulled the scrubs on. They were way too big for his thin frame. The scrub top could easily have been wrapped around him several times and should be pinned, and the bottoms fell below his feet. He cuffed them up quickly, not caring.

Reid watched fascinated as Bob cut into the man’s abdomen, he could see the flesh and muscles being opened. Reid leaned closer to see the organs inside. He felt like the mysteries of the universe were suddenly being exposed. His pulse raced. He felt a rush of adrenaline flood his body as Bob cut away a massive tumor. It was a high like nothing imaginable. Reid’s fingers flexed. He couldn’t wait for his first surgery, his first cut.

Afterward, as Bob changed, Reid couldn’t stop asking him questions.

“Okay, Reid okay. I’ll answer everything. While I admire your dedication, son, and I intend to answer all those questions, calm down. I intend to have my lunch first, and I expect you to join me.”

“What is it? Bypass surgery? A brain aneurism?”

Bob laughed and was about offer more, when Chris and Kim arrived.

“Here he is,” Kim said with a smile.

Reid felt a stab of irritation at their unexpected arrival. They often showed up to take Bob out, but it was still early. Reid had been hoping for more time.

“Are you excited?” Bob asked his son.

“I am,” Chris gave Bob a big grin. “I can’t wait.”

Reid sighed. Maybe Chris had a big golf tournament or had finally passed basic Geometry or something. He waited for them to go.

Bob turned to Reid. “I have some good news. Christopher wanted to join us today. His classes are pretty much done for the summer now. Just this morning, Chris informed his mother and me that he wants to be a doctor.” Bob beamed at Chris proudly. “Isn’t that right, son?”

“That’s right, Dad. Just like my old man.”

Reid stared at Chris.

Kim waved her hand at him. “Oh, dear. I need to make a call for a moment. I forgot my interview is coming in to the station by three. Bob? Let me into your office a moment, darling?”

“Sure. Wait here, boys.”

As soon as Bob and Kim went into the office, Reid turned to Chris accusingly.

“I thought you didn’t want to be a doctor?”

“Funny thing,” Chris smiled charmingly, “I changed my mind. “ He clapped his hands together. “And after Dad gives me the tour today, I might even suggest I get a job here for the summer. “ Chris continued to smile at him. “Course the job you do is about the only one I’m qualified for.”

Reid didn’t reply. He felt his heart just stop.

“Aww Reid, what’s wrong?” Chris asked mockingly. “Not feeling so superior now?”

Bob and Kim came out of his office. At the same moment, the elevator opened and Luke and Lily got out.

“Reid!” Luke called cheerfully. “We came to take you to lunch.”

“Why don’t we all go to Al’s?” Bob suggested, “After lunch, Reid and Chris can do afternoon rounds with me.”

“Great!” Lily said.

“Fantastic,” Chris added. “I can’t wait for the afternoon, Dad. “

***

Outside of Al’s, Reid just waited for the others to be done. He had gobbled down the food, appreciating the milkshakes and burgers, but now he felt slightly sick.

Luke came outside to join him. “Hi,” he called.

Reid said nothing.

“You had some fries left over,” Luke told him.

“So what?” Reid shrugged.

Luke frowned at him and tilted his head. “What’s a matter?”

“Nothing.”

“Reid-“

“Chris is about to take away my job, damn him.” Reid spoke almost to himself more than to Luke. “ He doesn’t even want it!” Reid rubbed his hands over his face. He sat down on the nearby bench and tried to take deep breaths.

“But,” Luke said baffled, sitting down next to Reid, “it’s your job, right? Finders keepers, right? He can’t just take it away.” Luke patted Reid’s shoulder lovingly.

Reid shook his head, feeling miserable. “He can. He’s Bob’s son. “ Reid sniffed loudly. “And I’m nothing.”

“Don’t say that, you’re- “

“Just stop,” Reid jumped away from Luke, off the bench. “What do you know? You’re just a kid, an entitled brat. Like all the rest of them.”

Reid hurried away, headed for the bus stop. He’d find his own way back to the hospital. He needed to just be alone.

He refused to look back at Luke, and he refused to allow the stinging behind his own eyes to fall into tears.

***
It took Reid awhile to find the right bus back to Memorial. He dreaded seeing the smug look on Chris’s face or the pitying one on Bob’s. That would be the worst of it. Having to listen to Bob explain why his job now would belong to Chris.

He felt bad about taking his anger out on Luke. He knew he owed him an apology. Whatever. Luke probably wouldn’t understand, but Reid did feel sorry about it. Reid had to dig for enough money to pay the fare and the bus driver gave him a suspicious look, as if he didn’t think that Reid belonged. Reid got on and quickly slid down into a plastic seat. Reid gazed at his own reflection in the glass; he looked thin and anxious. He frowned at himself. The bus lurched forward and the people riding were all quiet. Some were dressed carefully, headed to their jobs. Others looked defeated, like they were only riding to the next bad thing. Every stop, the bus driver with the mean, pinched face hurried the people off or on. The bus went through Old Town and then headed for Memorial. By the time his stop arrived, Reid was ready. He straightened up his shoulders determinedly. He no longer cared about a-holes like Chris who though the world should be handed to them on a plate. Reid had to fight for everything. So what? That wasn’t news. He’d just have to go in there and fight as hard as he could. He’d remind Bob that one day he’d be the best neurosurgeon on the planet.

When he finally arrived at Bob’s office, he was startled to see that Bob was with only Luke. They appeared to be waiting for him. Luke gave him a smile and Reid looked down at his shoes a moment. Then Reid glanced around for Lily and for Kim. In confusion, he looked around for Chris. Reid was ready to fight Chris for his position, but he was dumbfounded now. Maybe Chris was already doing his job?

“Sit down, Reid,” Bob said.

“But I-“ Reid stood, scowling.

“Sit.” Bob’s voice was firm. Reid sat.

“Seems you have a little champion,” Bob told him.

“Champion?” Reid repeated.

“You took a long time to return. In that time, Luke here has been giving me quite an earful of all your good qualities. He seems to think I’d be rather foolish to let you go.” Bob turned to Reid. “I told Luke I was surprised, since I have no intentions of firing you.”

Reid stared at Bob. “You – you don’t?”

Bob shook his head.

“But I thought…” Reid trailed off, baffled. “But Chris?”

“Can apply for this job next year,” Bob answered smoothly.

“He’s your son.” Reid said.

“Who can apply like everybody else. You’re one of the finest young minds I’ve ever encountered, Reid, “ Bob said frankly. “You deserve this job.”

Reid felt his whole body grow warm.

“Lily is waiting in her car outside,” Bob informed him crisply, sensing his embarrassment. “ I told her you and Luke might want to talk for a moment. “

Bob went over to Reid and patted his back. “Now I have some other hospital business to see about. “ Then Bob smiled down at Luke, “and you should be a lawyer, young man. You are quite persistent.”

Luke flashed his dimples at Bob.

Smiling back, Bob closed the door behind him. He left Reid with Luke.

“I- I was obnoxious before,” Reid said haltingly.

“Yeah, “ Luke agreed.

Reid frowned, perplexed. Luke sounded fine, not at all upset. “I was a jerk,” Reid said slowly, “yet you…you still pleaded my case with Bob?”

Luke smiled. He got up and went to him. “I know you were just scared. “

Reid snorted at that. ”Was not.”

He gazed into Luke’ eyes. Luke gazed back. How could a little kid see him better than any adult ever had? Reid swallowed hard for a moment. He glanced away. He hated admitting to fear. It was a wasted emotion.

“Reid,” Luke said softly. He looked back to see Luke chewing on his lower lip. “ I told Bob to keep you? Is that okay?”

Reid cleared his throat. He just nodded.

Luke beamed at him. “I’m glad you’re not mad at me. Ms. Hughes seemed mad. And Chris,” Luke shrugged at that.

“I would have loved to have seen their faces, “ Reid shot him a smile.

Luke giggled. “They looked like this.” He made his cheeks blow out and eyes grow big. Then he pretended to choke and stuck out his tongue.

“That’s good, Luke,” Reid laughed. “You look like Chris.”

Luke giggled some more. Then his face grew more serious.

“I kind of tattled on Chris,” Luke admitted sheepishly.

“Yeah, I see that big old tail coming out of your butt.”

“There’s nothing in my butt,” Luke said indignantly. Then he laughed hysterically.

Reid just shook his head. “Why am conversing with a kid? “ He looked skywards as if the answer would be written on Bob’s office ceiling.

“Thanks for not being mad at my tattling, “ Luke said, once he’d stopped laughing.

Reid shrugged. “Well, in this case, you were just helping me out, true?”

Luke nodded.

“So, I don’t think it’s wrong then. In fact, I- I should be the one thanking you.” Reid felt heat coming to his cheeks. He did feel grateful to Luke. He had done his a favor, and he’d stuck up for him, no one, big or small, had ever done that.

Luke stared at him a second. He gave Reid a dazzling smile.

“No big whoop,” Luke said generously. “ Forget it.”

“Yeah, well I intend to forget it,” Reid teased.

But he wouldn’t forget it. Not ever.

“It’s like you said,” Luke added, running his small hand down Reid’s cheek. “We got each other’s back. “

“Yeah,” Reid nodded simply. “We sure do.”

“I know!” Luke’s eyes lit up, ”We need a secret handshake!”

“A what?” Reid made a face.

“A secret handshake,” Luke repeated patiently. “That only we know, see? And that way, we never forget.”

Reid just sighed.

“Okay,” Reid grumbled.

“Hmm,” Luke put a finger in his mouth and concentrated. “What should it be like?” He looked deep in thought. Then Luke grabbed Reid’s hand.

“I got it!” His whole face beamed with sudden joy, “we fist bump- like this. Twice okay? Hook thumbs. Yes, right. And now…" Luke thought a moment. “We grab each other on the shoulder.”

Reluctantly, Reid held out his fist, bumped it twice with Luke’s, hooked thumbs together for a moment, and then released it and clasped Luke by his small shoulder. Luke held Reid’s shoulder too. He had to stand on his tip-toes to reach it. Reid bent down a little to help him, putting his face close to Luke’s.

“Let’s use it whenever we need each other again? Okay?” Luke said.

“Okay,” Reid answered.

“Now we belong to each other,” Luke told him happily.

***

The summer flew the last months. Luke was in camp and Reid was at Memorial. Before he knew it, August came. Harvard sent Reid his housing information. He was off to begin his real life. Finally.

Reid requested a single room. He didn’t want a roommate bothering him. He secured a work-study job. He packed up his few things. Holden and Lily were back together now. Molly and Abigail had left town. Luke was over the moon with joy about his parents. Reid personally had doubts about them staying together, but he said nothing. Emma was planning him a farewell meal on his last night. Reid even got to pick the menu. He’d miss Emma.

Meanwhile, it was his very last day at Memorial. He knocked at Bob’s door and waited. Reid might have just left; he hated goodbyes, but he knew Bob would just show up at the farm or something. Better to get it over with now.

“Come in,” Bob called. He was sitting at his desk, surrounded by case files.

He smiled at Reid warmly.

“Off to Harvard in another day, right?”

“Yep.”

“So 4 years of college and then right to med school?”

“Four years? “ Reid scoffed. “I don’t think so…two tops. I plan to be n the accelerated track just like high school.”

Bob shook his head ruefully, “Still not slowing down to find a life, huh?” Bob walked over to him. “When you get to be my age, son, you’ll see that the important parts are what happens outside of work.”

“When I get to be your age,” Reid countered, “I’ll be drooling in some nursing home.”

“You should learn to speak to your elders with respect,” Bob gently scolded.

“And you should go after that Chief of Staff job already,” Reid advised. Then he gave Bob a shy, fast smile. “You’d be ten times better at it than anybody else here.”

“I don’t suppose you ever want to come back here and work for me?”

Reid let out a fast, incredulous laugh. “Here? “ He shook his head. “Never.”

“Never say never.”

“Right, “ Reid said, “that will be my new mantra.”

“Dr. Oliver,” Bob laughed, “and I can call you that before anybody else does…Wherever life takes you, you will make a fine surgeon.“ Bob gazed at him steadily.

For once in his life, Reid found he could not reply. He nodded curtly. Bob offered his hand and they shook.

Then Reid hurried away. Gathering up his things, Reid left Memorial and headed to the farm.

***

Emma’s dinner was over and Reid thought his stomach might explode. The only down note was that Luke had run off somewhere before dessert. He had to endure the rest of them insincerely prattling on about how they would miss him. If there hadn’t been ice cream and pie, Reid might have run out too.

Finally, the meal was over and Reid searched Luke out. He was easy to find; Luke would make a lousy criminal. The light from the barn was clearly on. Reid went over to the barn quietly, trying to figure out exactly what to say.

He pushed open the barn door and nodded at Luke.

“Hey,” Reid said, ”you missed pie.”

Luke shrugged, “I get pie every week.”

“Lucky you,” Reid answered

Luke didn’t respond. He had his hands jammed in his pockets and his mouth was twisted up. Reid was praying Luke wouldn’t start to cry or something.

“You’re leaving.”

‘Obviously’, Reid almost said, but, as he looked into Luke’s unhappy face, he quickly bit back the sarcasm.

“Yeah,” Reid glanced away from him. Then he took a deep breath. “But Boston’s not that far,” Reid offered. “And you’re loaded. You can visit. Hop on your grandmother’s jet.”

“No.”

“Yeah, we can write or call each other –“

“Don’t lie to me,” Luke said, suddenly angry. “You’re the only one who doesn’t lie to me.”

Reid fell silent. He looked into Luke’s eyes.

“It’s not gonna be like that,” Luke said. “My daddy Damian said stuff like that, “ he sniffed. “And it’s not true.”

Luke took his hands out of his pockets and wiped at his eyes.

“You’re right, “ Reid replied after a long moment. “You and I have always been honest with each other.”

Bending down to Luke’s level, Reid wiped a stray tear away. Then he reached out uncertainly and cupped Luke’s small face in his hand.

“We probably won’t see each other ever again,” Reid admitted.

He held his hand at Luke’s cheek and stroked it a moment.

“I love you,” Luke said.

Reid swallowed hard. He could feel a muscle twitch in his cheek.

Without saying anything, Reid pulled Luke’s body to him. He rocked him a moment in his arms.

“Me too,” Reid whispered into Luke’s ear. His voice was rusty sounding and trembled slightly.

Quickly, Reid pushed Luke away from him and stumbled for the door. He blinked hard several times, refusing to let his own tears fall.

“Bye, Reid,” Luke called softly.

An ache in his chest, Reid just stood there a second. He looked back at Luke and gave him a sad, slow smile.

“Bye, Luke.”

Then Reid left.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Anywhere USA
Author: Marsabi
Summary: This is a two part story.
Part One: Abandoned as a teen, Reid is forced to live on the Snyder farm as a foster kid for a few months, before he heads off on his own, but will a certain child worm his way into Reid’s heart?
Part Two: Reid returns to Oakdale as a favor for Bob, something he planned never to do, and he can’t wait to leave town, until his past slams into him in the form of Luke Snyder and damn if Luke isn’t all grown up.
Warning: Sexual Content in some parts
Rating: PG-NC-17
Thanks to the following friends for their support of this story: shadownyc, traciamc, and Rhiannonhero
Author’s notes: This was bid on by Rhiannon Hero for the Japanese auction. Because I know Rhiannonhero loathes short chapters, these chapters will be long.

Part One:

Anywhere, USA

Chapter One

As he pushed open the door to the barn, the smell of hay and manure filled his nostrils and he twisted up his lips. He was dressed in a white t-shirt that hung loosely on his skinny frame, a pair of faded black jeans and some scuffed sneakers. In his jeans, were all the things he actually owned: a leaky pen, some Band Aids, a white Queen and a ten dollar bill. Listening for any noise outside, he exhaled a deep breath. Nobody was coming. Satisfied that he was alone, he carefully slid the book out from underneath his shirt. Anatomy. He had seen it on in a bookstore and spent his last winnings on it. He sighed and opened up the first page, gliding his fingers across the text. He only needed a few hours; he’d have the entire book memorized by then. Since he was alone, he allowed a tiny smile to pass over his lips as he glanced down at the picture of the human heart.

Then a small movement in the hay caught his attention. Frowning, he made his way over to it. The hay rustled. He crouched down and threw some pieces aside.

“Who are you?” he demanded, irritated.

“I’m Luke.” The small boy answered. “Who’re you?”

Reid stared into a pair of wide, brown eyes.

“I’m nobody,” Reid said. “Forget you saw me in here.”

“Forget you saw me,” Luke replied.

“Why?”

Luke wrinkled up his small nose. “My mother. She wants me to take a bath. Again. “ His chin jutted out, “And I took one yesterday. I’m totally clean.”

“Actually, regular hygiene is important to your health. This hay probably isn’t sanitary. Mice can get into the loft and their droppings –“

“You talk funny.” Luke emerged out of the hay now.

“So I’ve been told.”

Luke had on a striped shirt, and a pair of khaki shorts; his legs were bare and scabbed, his hair a mess of blond, slightly dirty strands that almost reached his eyebrows. He was one of those annoyingly cute kids that adults fawned over.

They examined each other a moment.

Then Reid’s stomach let out a gigantic growl, and Luke began to giggle.

“I guess you’re hungry.”

“Brilliant deduction.”

“I got a candy bar.” Luke suddenly offered him. He gave Reid a shy glance, “It’s yours.”

“Why?” Reid narrowed his eyes at him.

“Just ‘cause.” Luke pulled a slightly melted candy bar from his shorts.

“I can’t be bribed, kid.” But Reid’s stomach growled again, and he grabbed the candy.

Luke began to chatter then, something about his mother and grandmother, and Reid closed his eyes to block out his noise. He couldn’t believe his great escape had led to this encounter, or that he was standing in a barn. Reid didn’t bother to make small talk with Luke, or glance at him. Instead, Reid devoured the candy bar in a few big bites.

Finally, Luke had fallen silent. Either he had realized that Reid was not listening or else he had simply run out of things to say.

Reid looked down at him. Luke stared right back. Luke had just been waiting for his attention; he wasn’t as dumb as Reid had thought at least.

“Look, are you gonna tell on me? Or not?” Luke asked, his small face earnest. “I need to know. Seriously.”

“What will you do if I say yes?” Reid asked. He handed Luke his candy wrapper. Luke looked at it, and then just shrugged and shoved the wrapper into his pocket.

“Run,” Luke promptly replied. “I’m a really good runner. I won a ribbon last year, beating Casey, even though Casey bragged he’d win, and my dad said –“

“Whatever,” Reid quickly interrupted him. He did not want another bout of endless chatter.
Then Reid shrugged. “Do what you want. I could care less.”

“Thanks,” Luke flashed him a ridiculously big smile, revealing a missing tooth.

Reid was about to reply, when they both heard a loud nose outside the barn. It sounded like a truck kicking up some gravel.

“Hide me!” Luke squealed and dove back under the hay.

Cursing, Reid found himself putting down the book and covering Luke up.

A moment later, Holden pushed open the barn door.

“That you, Reid?” he said.

“Obviously,” Reid replied.

Holden studied him. “You’re supposed to be helping in the corn fields right now. The other boys are out there already.”

“Well, I’m not other boys,” Reid answered. He rolled his eyes. “And I told you this morning that I won’t pull corn or whatever it is you farmers do. I’m going to Harvard in 5 months and then med school. I’m going to be the best damn surgeon in the world. I’m not risking these.” He held out his hands.

“Then I’ll find you some other chores.” Holden just shrugged at him. “Right now. A lot of farm work requires some muscle though.”

Holden slowly examined Reid’s body up and down, making Reid flush. He followed Holden’s gaze down his own bony frame. He imagined what Holden saw: ribs visible, knobby knees, gangly limbs. Angus had called him Toothpick enough times.

“I can do the work,” Reid said coolly. “I look stronger than I appear.”

“Let’s hope so,” Holden said. “And you might be some kind of boy genius or whatever, but that hardly matters here in Oakdale. “

“Of course it doesn’t,“ Reid scoffed. “I’ve seen your police. I’ve been through your court system, remember? Believe me, I know that you people don’t rank intelligence as important.”

“We care about values, heart.” Holden suddenly smiled at him. “And I think hard work at our farm will be good for you.”

Reid scowled at him. “You know what I hate more than anything?”

Holden waited.

“People who think they know what’s good for me.” Reid sneered.

Holden looked like he might laugh. “Well, you’re stuck with us.” He shrugged at Reid.

Reid hugged his arms around his chest and cursed his uncle beneath his breath.

“By the way,” Holden said. “You haven’t seen my son Luke, have you? His mother is searching for him.”

“Nah,” Reid replied. “But then again, I can’t keep all of you Snyders straight.”

Holden just nodded at the insult and then gestured for Reid to follow him.

Reid left the barn without a backwards glance.

***

It had only been a few days earlier that Reid’s whole life had turned inside out. He did it to himself, really. Reid regretted not keeping his mouth shut, but when he’d figured out Angus’s scheme, Reid had up and refused to do it. He had told his uncle that clearly.

“You’re going to do it, smart-ass!” Angus snarled from the front seat.

“No,” Reid pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’m not.”

Angus glared at him in the rearview mirror. They were headed to Chicago for a very important chess match. The old Pontiac was guzzling up their last bit of gas money, their frayed suitcases piled up next to Reid’s feet, the radio full of static. Reid was glad that the radio had static, or he’d be forced to listen to Angus’ oldies station all day. Angus was still yelling at him and Reid purposely shut him out, gazing out the window, looking at the rather sad houses that could be seen from the highway, their paint peeling from neglect, revealing their own disappointed stories. Reid and Angus had lived in houses like that, renting them out once or twice when money was tight, and they’d lived in far worse places too. In the front, Angus paused to chew his tobacco, making his mouth look swollen. He ignored every time Reid tried to tell him about the dangers of chewing. He would just spit the dirty brown wad at Reid’s feet. So Reid had given up on it. He’d pretty much given up on changing anything about his uncle.

Abruptly, Angus pulled the car to the side of the road. He turned fully and faced Reid.

“Listen up, you spoiled brat. We have no money, get me? I need to win this thing. And winning here means betting on somebody else. You’re the favorite. You win and we get squat, see?”

Reid climbed out of the car. He clutched the Anatomy book he’d been reading to himself. Angus was supposedly home-schooling him, but that had stopped years ago. Angus’s intelligence was razor-sharp and he had taught Reid a great deal, but once Reid had become a chess champion, all Angus’s greedy focus had switched to that, and Reid’s education from then on had been self-motivated. Reid had been pathetically eager to please him. It was never enough. There was always one more competition – one more win. Not that Reid didn’t love the game, he did. He loved it the way a person loves a deeply hidden secret. He loved the way an almost invisible force took over his body and showed him the answers. With chess, everything would just click and Reid could see the moves. He never felt that way about real life. Angus though, turned the game into profit, into results, the sheer pleasure of playing stolen from Reid day-after -day. Now Reid had just applied early admission to Harvard. He was 15 and confident he was about to be accepted there. Reid could taste the freedom. He only had to put up with Angus and the chess competitions a little longer.

Right from the start, when Reid had been forced into his life, Angus had made it clear that Reid was unwanted. “What am I gonna do with this scrawny brat?” he‘d asked the social worker who’d tracked him down after Reid’s parents’ fatal accident. No, he hadn’t wanted Reid. But the money from the State had tempted him. They had lived off that money, eating convenience store food and traveling around as Angus drifted from job to job. Angus was always looking for an angle, the next big thing. The day Reid had picked up a chess board, Angus found it. Memories of his parents faded daily, leaving only Angus and his demands. One day, Reid worried, he might forget completely his father’s laugh or his mother’s face. Even now, the memories felt more like faded impressions and his brain was failing him.

Reid stood watching the traffic whiz by them. The fumes from the cars filled his lungs.

Angus climbed out of the car, too. He went over to Reid and jabbed an elbow at his stomach.

“I’m talking to you, genius.” His watery eyes met Reid’s. One wrinkled hand, aged with spotted skin, attempted to hold Reid’s arm firmly. Reid pulled back from him.

“I hear you,” Reid replied. He began to think of a problem to solve:

Two cars 225 miles apart start traveling toward each other at the same time, and one car travels at twice the speed of the other car. Find the speed of each car if it takes two and a half hours for them to meet.

Reid quickly did the calculation in his head as Angus ranted at him. It was what he did during his uncle’s sudden rages.

Finally, Reid became aware that Angus had stopped screaming at him.

“I won’t do it,” Reid repeated flatly. He was a lot of things, but he would never be a loser. He would never deliberately throw a chess match.

“You’ve got a real problem then,” Angus said in a low tone.

Reid refused to let Angus see any definable emotion on his face.

“I did you a favor, taking you in, a skinny, no good smart-ass. And this is how you repay me? “ Angus nodded thoughtfully and chewed his tobacco. They stared at each other. Something like a smile passed over Angus’s lips, but his eyes were small and mean. He was dirty and unshaven. Reid dropped his gaze and examined his own clean hands. Every time they stopped on the road, Reid would find a restroom and attempt to keep himself clean.

Angus walked away from him and headed to the car. Reid looked up at the sound of the door being slammed shut.

Angus turned the key in the ignition. “So be alone then, big shot. Find out what it’s like.”

The engine roared to life. The tires squealed at the fast rotation back to the highway.
Reid watched him pull away, stunned and stupid-acting for once, unable to move.
He looked all around, lost. Reid swallowed hard. He wouldn’t cry. He wouldn’t feel anything about it. Angus didn’t matter. Reid didn’t need anybody. He began to walk off, ignoring the smell of exhaust fumes and stepping around the discarded cans, balled up tissues, and half-torn candy wrappers that littered the road. Determinedly, Reid’s eyes focused on the nearby exit sign. He planned to leave the highway, regroup, and think. He would come back later, maybe hitch a ride. For now, Reid headed for the exit ramp, toward the town called Oakdale.

***

He didn’t get far. A police car followed him the second Reid had entered the town. Apparently, everybody in this one-horse town knew each other, and immediately the cops knew that Reid did not belong. A red-haired female officer then insisted he get into the patrol car. She proceeded to ask him a bunch of stupid questions that Reid simply refused to answer. Angus would be back; the situation could not last too long. Reid was his uncle’s paycheck, after all.

Only he didn’t return.

Within hours, Reid stood in front of a judge, the police officers and a social worker, all trying to “help “ him.

“Tell us where you’re from,” the judge ordered.

“No place.”

“Tell us your home address,” said the social worker.

“What are you, a town of idiots? I just told you I’m from no place.”

The judge droned on and on. Reid did more math problems in his head.

Finally, the judge ordered Reid to go with the cops to the station and for the social worker to find him a “suitable, temporary residency.”

Inside the tiny police station, Reid sulked. He leaned up against the wall. He might as well be in their half-assed jail cell. He’d slept in worse places.

The cop offered Reid a donut. She and another officer just stood nearby, sipping old coffee out of Styrofoam cups. Reid chewed the stale donut and sighed.

After investigating him some more, the social worker and cop agreed he really did have nowhere to go. Reid just rolled his eyes at them and took a second donut. He’d told them as much hours ago. Maybe there was something in this town’s water that damaged brain cells.

The social worker approached him with a big, fake smile. She was a heavy woman and it looked like her feet were pinched too tightly into her shoes. Rolls of fat clung to her belly and thighs.

“So let’s talk about where we will live,” she told him in a patronizing tone.

“I assume you live at Burger King ,” Reid told her, “but by all means, we can discuss it.”

“No need for nastiness, young man.”

“No need for obesity either,” Reid countered. “It’s called diet and exercise.”

Less than twenty minutes later, she gave up. “He’s all yours,” she said and left.

The cop watched her leave. Then Margo Hughes quietly examined Reid. “ I get it. You’re angry. It’s okay to be mad.”

“What have you been reading, psycho-babble in cop sensitivity training or something?” Reid shook his head. “I’m not mad, lady. I just want to go. I’m perfectly fine taking care of myself.”

Officer Hughes ignored his rudeness. She patted Reid’s bony shoulders.

“Oakdale is a great town. We want to find you a home here.”

“Look,” Reid snapped, “I don’t want any help. And I sure as hell don’t care about this town of Anywhere, USA. I’m leaving, as soon as I can, do you hear me? “

She shook her head sadly at him, and the pity in her eyes made Reid flinch. “We can’t let a minor just be alone. “ Then she smiled. “But don’t worry, Reid, I have an idea. I’m going to call a great family and see if they’d agree to foster you for a while. The Snyders have fostered many teens before and they’re warm, decent people. They even live on a farm!”

“And that’s a selling point to you? Do I look like I want ‘Little House on the Prairie’?”

“You can be happy here, “ she told him. “If you let yourself.”

“It’s the human condition to be miserable,” Reid shot back in his most authoritative voice. “Happiness is just a delusion.”

She shook her head. “You sure are smart. I wish my own boys used their brains half as much.”

“The average person only uses a third of their brain’s potential,” Reid started to inform her, and then he realized she was not truly listening to him. She had already picked up the phone.

Nobody listened to a teenager, not even one with a genius IQ. Reid tried to formulate another math problem in his head, but found it impossible. His mouth felt sticky from the donut, and his throat was dry. He refused to ask the bonehead cops for water. Reid closed his eyes; he felt like they must be burning. He imagined that Angus must have reached Chicago by this time. He could picture the tournament. He could see all the other contestants receiving their numbers and exchanging relieved looks that Oliver didn’t attend the competition. The other kids always went out for pizza after they’d lost and talked chess strategy for the next contest, but Reid never went. He didn’t need to hear their puny ideas or hear about the newest chess book on the market. He was always the winner. Besides, nobody ever asked him to go.

“The Snyders want you!” Officer Hughes told him suddenly and gave Reid the thumbs up.

“But I don’t want them,” Reid replied. Blunt as usual.

A little while later, they’d sent for Holden Snyder and he’d packed Reid up into his truck and taken him away.

***

Dinner at the farm was an endless event. There were always people, that for the life of Reid, he couldn’t quite figure out: cousins and more cousins and half-brothers and adopted grandparents…it went on and on. After his first few nights, Reid simply gave up trying to keep the endless mix of family straight. All he cared about was the food anyway. The food made it all almost worth it.

Emma Snyder didn’t seem to know about microwaves. She made everything from scratch. She put down a plate in front of Reid filled with food: roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, corn fritters, fresh rolls, and green beans. She never sat down at the table herself, she was always too busy serving her family. She seemed to love to do this. Reid practically drooled at her side, holding out his plate. Emma didn’t really try and talk with him; she simply fed him. Reid could easily be in love with her or at least in love with her cooking.

The rest of them drove him crazy. Luke always insisted on sitting near him and prattling away to him. Everybody else clearly found the kid adorable and so there was no ditching him, not if Reid wanted to sit there and eat. Lily and Holden usually were there. Sometimes they acted lovey-dovey to each other, and other times the air was filled with a strange tension. Reid noted that the mood of their marriage went up and down like a see-saw. The other cousins and their babies came and went and added to the loudness of the meal. Somebody was always shouting for something.

Tonight was fairly quiet for a meal with the Snyders. There was only Lily and Holden and Luke and baby Faith. The baby was screaming though, and Emma was trying to soothe her. Reid was busy shoveling in some of Emma’s chicken.

“Reid,” Lily admonished him. “You can slow down. There’s plenty.”

“I know,” Reid told her impatiently, his mouth full of food. “But I’m starving.”

Lily frowned at his open mouth. Luke giggled.

After his parents’ death, Reid had never sat down at a real table and ate a meal. He and
Angus ate in the car, or on rickety wooden picnic tables, with the food wrapped in Saran wrap. Sometimes they had stopped at restaurants, mostly small diners, places full of truckers, smells of frying bacon, plastic flowers on the table. Eating with the Snyders, Reid missed those greasy spoon stops. He would have liked to have Emma’s food in peace and quiet. His stomach let out a sudden rumble of agreement and Reid pushed in the food quickly.

“By the way,” Lily told him, “my sister’s daughter Lucy is coming to town. She’s about your age. I thought maybe you’d like to make a friend.”

“Not interested,” Reid said.

Lily gaped at him. ”Why not?”

Reid’s mouth turned down in displeasure. “Do I look like a people person to you?”

Luke, meanwhile, spilled his milk. Reid handed him a napkin and Luke dabbed at the mess. All he succeeded in doing though was pushing the milk around toward the edge of the table. Reid snorted at him and then grabbed the napkin from his hands. In one move, Reid efficiently wiped up the milk. Luke smiled at him, leaning his head into Reid’s arm, just beaming up at him. Reid ignored Luke and continued to eat his meal. He looked back at Lily.

Lily was shrugging in confusion. “Everybody needs friends, Reid.”

“What for?” Reid asked her bluntly. He really did want to know. To him, friends appeared a lot of work and a colossal waste of time.

Lily didn’t answer that. She only said, ” Lucy is a great girl. You might even find yourself interested in being more than friends.” Lily actually let out a giggle. “Who knows?”

Reid stared at her. He found Lily extremely irritating. Out of all the Snyders, she seemed to him the most illogical.

The baby started to wail again, and Emma took her out of the room. Reid spooned some more food onto his plate.

“I don’t want to date her,” Reid told her. “Do you understand? “ He rolled his eyes. “I have no interest.”

“Well,” Lily laughed. “Nobody’s asking you to marry her. But she is a beautiful girl and –“

Reid shook his head. Okay, he’d just have to spell it out for her. It might be rather enjoyable to watch Lily’s carefully made up face.

“I’m gay,“ Reid said flatly. It pleased him to see Lily’s stunned expression.

There was a dead silence at the table. Holden shifted in his chair. Reid chewed loudly and indifferently.

“Oh,” Holden said, finally. “That’s okay, Reid.”

“Thanks for your permission.”

“What’s gay?” Luke asked.

“Happy,” Lily said quickly, passing him some rolls.

“Reid’s never happy,” Luke said in confusion, wrinkling up his small nose.

Reid let out a bark of laughter.

Luke smiled up at him widely, clearly not getting what he had said to make Reid finally smile, but pleased by Reid’s response.

“Reid may not need to entertain Lucy anyhow,” Holden was saying slowly to Lily. “ It looks like another girl Lucy’s age might be in town too.”

“Who?” Lily’s eyes narrowed. “Oh no. Not her!”

Holden’s face grew pinched. “She is my daughter, “ he whispered to Lily firmly.

“This is just a ploy of Molly’s , Holden, “ Lily said crossly. “Wake up!”

“Abigail isn’t a ploy-“

Emma came back a moment, grabbed baby Faith’s diaper bag, and left again. Reid was sorry to see her go. He was almost ready for dessert.

“Shh,” Lily was hushing Holden. “We can talk about it later.”

“No,” Holden said angrily. “We’ll talk about it now. I welcomed your past mistakes. I’ve adopted Luke, haven’t I?” Then Holden realized what he’d said. He flinched and glanced at Luke. “And I love you so much, Buddy,” he added.

Luke ducked his head away and nodded.

Reid glanced at Luke. He was adopted?

He saw Holden try and take Lily’s hand, but she was too angry.

“You always throw Luke’s father in my face. Damian was long ago,” Lily said heatedly. “Molly is here now.”

Reid slid a glance at Luke. He might not know much about parenting, but even Reid could sense this conversation shouldn’t be in front of a little kid.
But Holden and Lily appeared to have forgotten that. They had eyes only for each other now.

“Molly is not a threat to you,” Holden insisted. His voice grew louder.

“She is, too!”

Reid looked at Luke once more. The kid sat stiffly now beside him. Holden and Lily were talking about people like they were misplaced socks. Reid grew more and more confused by them.

“Damian won’t ever be back,” Lily said. “He doesn’t care about me or Luke. But Molly is just waiting for you to feel sorry for her again and to –“

“Children!” Emma scolded, as she and the baby came back into the room. She gestured to Luke, “That’s enough!”

There was a brief, guilty silence.

“Sorry, Mama.”

“Yes, sorry.”

Emma just shook her head at them. “Reid, “ she said, “will you please take Luke to your room for a while? I’ll call you boys back down for dessert.”

“Sure,” Reid said. He was eager to escape this insane dinner. Reid grabbed a few rolls as he left. Luke followed him silently.

Upstairs, Reid glanced at Luke.

“So um..want to watch some baseball?”

Reid fiddled with the TV, but they could soon hear voices from below.

They sounded angry. Lily was yelling. There were some sounds of chairs being moved. Then it was quiet.

Luke sat on Reid’s bed, his feet dangling off. He didn’t say a word. His small mouth pulled tightly closed.

The voices started again, trying to speak in more hushed whispers, but still the voices were clear every once in a while. Reid looked at Luke. The kid’s shoulders shook, hunched in, and Reid could see he was trying not to cry.

Crap. Reid went over to Luke.

“How ‘bout a game instead?” Reid asked.

Luke didn’t answer. Reid hurried to the closet with the board games.

The door opened and Lily peeked in. Her face was red from crying. “ Dessert is ready guys.“ Then she looked at Luke. “Baby, I’m going to visit Grandmother for a while, “ she told Luke in a fake, cheery tone that put Reid’s teeth on edge.

“When are you coming home?” Luke asked in a small, quivering voice.

“Oh real soon. It’s just for tonight,” Lily gave him a big hug, but didn’t look Luke in the eyes. “Real soon.”

“He’s not an idiot,” Reid snapped. Why did adults think kids had no brains?

Lily gave Reid her chilly smile. “Reid, this is a family matter.”

She hugged Luke again and then left.

Reid reached down and awkwardly patted Luke’s stiff shoulders.

“A game,” Reid said again. At Luke’s unusual silence, he felt desperate. He went back to the game closet. Reid’s eyes found the chess board. What a plastic piece of junk, but better than nothing, Reid figured.

He gingerly approached Luke with it.

“We can play this.”

“My fault,” Luke said in a low voice. He wasn’t even looking at Reid.

“What?”

Luke sniffed a little and wiped his eyes with his shirt.

“What’s your fault?” Reid asked. “ Your folks?”

Luke nodded, his gaze still on the floor.

Impatiently, Reid grabbed Luke’s chin and tipped his head back. Their eyes met.

“Listen, mini-Snyder, it isn’t your fault.” Reid sighed loudly. “ Let me tell you what a genius like me knows to be true, okay? It’ll save you lots of time in the future. Grownups suck. People suck. They’re selfish. They let you down.” Reid released his chin.

He sat down on the bed opposite Luke and began to set up the chess board.

“Now pay attention. I’m about to teach you the greatest game on Earth.”

“I don’t know how to play,” Luke said, his attention finally off of Lily and Holden.

“Too bad. I won’t take it easy on you. Got that brat? You’ll have to suck it up and learn.”
Reid gave him a small, fast smile. “It might take a few nights until you get it.”

“We can play every night?” Luke asked, a little light returning to his eyes.

“Why the hell not? “Reid shrugged. “It’s not like I have any place else to go.”

Reid glanced at the door. He was hungry for dessert, but he didn’t want Luke to have to face Holden just now. Reid sighed again. Pie would have to wait.

“Your move,” he told Luke.

***

“Would you quit following me, kid?”

Luke dogged his every step, practically on Reid’s heels. The day was hot and humid and marked the coming end of the spring. Reid’s entire body ached from farm work. His mind was bored too. He had been counting the days off until Harvard. Oakdale was sucking out his brain cells the longer he stayed.

“But you’re my friend, “ Luke protested.

“I’m not your friend,” Reid mumbled.

“Sure you are.” Luke beamed a smile at him, revealing his dimples.

Reid sighed. They had this conversation at least once a day now. Luke was everywhere he turned. Teaching him chess and giving him attention had been a huge mistake. Now he was stuck with Luke.

“Anyhow,” Luke was grinning, “I made you sandwiches.”

Then again, the kid had some uses.

Reid stopped abruptly causing Luke to smack into him. Reid pulled him off and looked at the bag in Luke’s hand.

“What kind?” He asked hungrily.

“Roast beef. And Peanut butter and Jelly. And baloney.”

“No turkey?”

“How many sandwiches can you eat?” Luke asked with wonder.

Reid shrugged at him. “Just hand it over.”

Their fingers touched briefly. Luke had sticky hands.

“Whatcha doing?”

Reid glanced down at his bathing suit. “Going to take my SATS. What do you think I’m doing, moron?”

“You shouldn’t call little kids names,” Luke told him, scolding him. “That’s what my parents say.”

“No one’s asking you to listen, Miss Manners.”Reid chewed on the baloney sandwich as he talked.

“Not that I’m a little kid,” Luke said suddenly, poking the ground with his shoe. “I’m seven, almost eight.”

Reid opened up another sandwich.

Luke watched him, pleased. “Good, right?”

“Not bad,” Reid grudgingly replied. “ More mayo next time.”

Luke peeked up at him with big eyes. “More mayo,” he repeated, like he needed to commit the knowledge to memory. He studied Reid as he ate the food, not moving, his small face completely serious. Reid sighed, finishing the last sandwich, wiping the crumbs on his swim suit.

“I’m going to the pond,” Reid told him.

Luke jumped up, suddenly animated. “Wait for me to swim, okay? I’ll go get my trunks. Don’t go without me!” He dashed off urgently.

Inwardly groaning, Reid watched him run off into the house. He shook his head. Why Luke wanted to follow him around was a complete mystery to Reid.

Of course, people in general made no sense to him.

Reid ran his hand across his sweaty forehead. It was only late April, but there was a record heat wave the past few days. Reid was dreading the long summer. Luke came back, his small arms loaded with pool toys and towels. Reid didn’t offer to carry it. He let Luke stumble along beside him and they made their way down to the pond.

At the pond, Reid and Luke quickly went into the water. It was frigidly cold, but somehow refreshing. There was soft, cool mud at the bottom. Reid tried to keep treading water, but his foot would sink into the mud occasionally. Luke was a pretty fast swimmer for a kid. He swam eager, exuberant circles around Reid, trying to get him into a splash contest. Reid gave and in and soon they splashed around a little, laughing, and something inside of Reid loosened up as he played with Luke. Reid’s own childhood was all about focus and reward, not fun. Luke stuck his tongue out at Reid, dodging the spray of water. A surge of exhilaration filled Reid as he splashed Luke back, the sun hot on his face, laughter gurgling again from his lips, a strange, unfamiliar joy inside of him.

***

“Hey Luke!”

“Lukey! Oh, he’s so adorable.” A girl squealed as Luke turned and waved.

“Hello there!”

Reid’s gaze turned to look at the gaggle of teenagers. They were all in bathing suits and carrying coolers and towels. He watched them wave at Luke again and then spread out a big blanket. Reid saw them look at him, whisper to each other and then look away. The boys sniggered with laughter at something.

He had no real reason to assume they were laughing at him, but still…

Reid was suddenly aware of his bony frame. He crossed his arms. He painfully realized that he was goofing around with a child while all the other teens were with each other. Reid clasped his hands together in a tight grip. He treaded water, his feet kicking out.

“I’m going to swim over there,” Reid told Luke, pointing to the other side of the pond.

“But my tube and noodles are here,” Luke protested, “and now other kids are here.”

“Whatever,” Reid said.

“Stay, Reid!” Luke implored. “I’ll give you the blue tube?”

“I’m not playing with your toys,” Reid snapped. “Just stay here.”

He swam away from the other kids and from Luke. Reid went to the other side of the pond. Stubbornly, Luke went after him.

This side of the pond had less grassy area and more rocks. Reid treaded the water. He tried to think about the lungs- he’d been studying that in his Anatomy book. Reid went under the water a moment, deliberately feeling the pressure build for air. Lungs were amazing really. He held his breath until he couldn’t stand the sensation a moment more, then he broke through the surface of the water.

Luke was walking on the rocks, putting one foot in front of the other.

“Look , Reid! I can jump off of these. I’m a really good jumper.”

Reid frowned. “Go back to the other side,” he told Luke.

Luke climbed up the jagged rocks and then threw himself into the water.

“Cannonball,” he yelled in a high-pitched voice.

He emerged from the water, flicking the hair out of his eyes.

“Did you see Reid? Did you see?” Luke cupped his mouth, shouting at him. “I was awesome!” Luke beamed at him in delight.

Reid just grunted. His eyes were on the group of teens again. Some of them were clearly kissing now, their hands at each other’s waists. A few of the boys had their shirts off. Reid’s eyes moved over the hard, flat torsos.

“Watch me do it again. “

Reid didn’t ever hide who he was; he wasn’t ashamed. With a sigh, Reid swam around in the murky water a second. But it was one more thing making him the odd one, the outsider. Reid glanced back at the others. They were just starting to go into the pond. The girls were shrieking and giggling, and the boys were playfully shoving each other and calling each other “asshole.”

A suddenly loud splash and a yelp drew Reid’s immediate attention.

With one look, all the color drained from Reid’s face as he realized that Luke had fallen. He had tumbled down a jagged rock and into the pond. Reid reacted swiftly, although his heart pounding, his throat caught. He dove under the water and grabbed Luke’s small, slippery body. Reid held Luke in his arms and treaded to the edge of the water. He quickly pulled them both out.

“Jesus! Are you okay?” Reid gripped Luke’s shoulders, his eyes probing Luke all over.

“I think so,” Luke answered, dazed. Then Luke felt the top of his head and blood stained his tiny fingers.

He looked at Reid. They both froze.

With a quick intake of his breath, Reid moved. He took a towel and put pressure on the cut.

“It’s okay, Luke.”

Luke just whimpered and clung to him.

“It’s okay,” Reid said again. “Heads bleed. I’ve read about brain trauma. Most bleeding head wounds are strictly superficial.” Reid touched Luke gently, feeling his skin inch-by-inch for any problems.

Luke wrapped his arms around Reid tighter; he leaned against him, shuddering.

“I’m gonna get Holden, and we can go get your head checked out, okay?”

Reid scooped up Luke and carried him back to the farm. The other kids hadn’t even noticed. They were all in the water across the way by then, swimming with each other.
Reid hesitated. Maybe he should ask for their help too. Then he felt Luke shaking in his arms. He determinedly walked off with him; he could take care of Luke alone.

***

Holden was pretty good about Luke’s injury. Reid had to give him credit. Many fathers would scream or curse or something. Holden had been calm. He and Reid had glanced at the cut from underneath the towel and seen the injury wasn’t too deep.

“Put him in the truck,” Holden told Reid. “I’ll call a friend of ours and let him know Luke is coming to the ER.”

“I feel okay, Daddy.”

“We still need to get it checked. “

Holden went into the house to make the call.

Reid and Luke sat in the truck waiting for him.

It was only then that Reid felt a little of the tension that had clutched his guts easing. Thank goodness Reid was right about the superficial wound. His hands trembled and Reid quickly pressed them down at his thighs.

“Sorry,” Luke whispered.

“Good thing you have a hard head,” was all Reid could manage.

***

They reached Memorial and found Dr. Bob Hughes waiting for them. His son Chris was there too.

“Thanks for coming, Bob,” Holden said, as Bob led them to an exam room.

Chris, however, didn’t look too thrilled, Reid noted. He had a sour expression on his face.

“Want to watch me stitch him up?” Bob asked his son. “I keep hoping Chris will show an interest,” Bob joked to Holden.

“Me too, “ Holden laughed, “with Luke and the farm.”

“I’ll wait outside,” Chris said in a disgruntled tone. “Give me a dollar for the vending machine?”

Bob sighed and opened up his wallet.

“Can Reid stay?” Luke asked.

Bob looked at him. “As long as you don’t mind the sight of some blood.”

“Not me.” Reid’s mouth hitched up. “I plan to go to medical school.”

“Really?” Bob looked at him with a sudden interest. “In that case, look at this. It’s the latest staple gun. I don’t need to do any stitching. “ Bob showed it to Reid. He let Reid hold it a second.

The staple gun felt surprisingly light. Reid studied it reverently. He could feel Bob Hughes looking at him and the way Reid glided his hand over the instrument.
Embarrassed, Reid quickly gave it back.

“Interesting, right? “ Bob said.

“Whatever,” Reid shrugged.

Then he watched in fascination as Bob cleaned Luke’s injury. Holden held Luke’s hand as the staples were shot into his head. Bob did it quickly, Reid saw, but perfectly.

“All done.”

“How about a lollipop?” Holden said to Luke.

“Okay!” Luke grinned, his wound forgotten with the promise of candy.

“Just a second,” Bob said. “Holden? Can you come to my office a moment?”

“Sure.” Holden glanced at Luke. “Right back, buddy. Stay with Reid.”

When they’d left, Luke tugged at Reid’s arm. “You’re my hero. Thanks!” His brown eyes glowed up at Reid.

Reid looked at Luke. “Oh, shut up.”

“You are.”

Reid pinched the bridge of his nose. “Next time, just pay attention.”

“Okay.”

“I mean it. Don’t be stupid. Turn your brain on!”

“It’s here,” Luke said seriously.

“What is?” Reid dropped his hand to look at Luke.

“The switch.” Luke tapped behind his left ear. “The switch for my brain is there.”

Reid’s lips twitched. He leaned over and flicked his fingers behind Luke’s ear.

“Okay then. It’s on. So no excuses for acting like an idiot again.”

“Right,” Luke beamed.

Reid smiled at him reluctantly.

Just then the door opened, and Chris came in. “My father here?”

“Obviously not,” Reid snapped, embarrassed to be caught smiling. “Unless you think your old man is a ghost.”

Chris flushed. “And you are, again?”

“None of your business.”

“This is Reid, “ Luke said, “ he’s staying with us.”

“Oh,” Chris’s lips twisted. “A charity case.”

“They pay me actually.“ Reid nodded his head at Chris. “To keep morons away from the farm.”

“Like a skinny geek could ever keep me away,” Chris said hotly and puffed out his chest. He walked to Reid. “I’d like to see a wimp like you try it.”

Luke turned to Chris. “Reid’s not a wimp and he’s not a charity case,” Luke defended him instantly. “Reid’s fun to have around. Reid’s gay.” Luke added proudly.

Chris took an instinctive step back. His eyes bulged.

“Don’t worry,” Reid said caustically, “it’s not catching.” He gave Chris a deliberately flirtatious look. “Or maybe it is.”

Chris nearly tripped over his feet to escape.

‘Dumb fucker’, Reid thought, ‘As if he’d ever be my type.’

Chris opened the door and fled.

Reid looked at Luke. Luke tilted his head in puzzlement.

The door opened and Bob came in. Holden followed and handed Luke his lollipop.

“Come on Luke,” Holden said, picking him up. “Let’s wait outside a second.”

Reid started to follow them, when Bob put a hand on his arm. “A moment, please.”

“I didn’t do anything,” Reid frowned.

Bob shook his head. “Not yet. But I’d like you to do something.”

“What?”

“Work here. I just spoke to Holden about you. He told me all about you. We both agreed that you might do better working here with me than at the farm.”

“What would I do here?”

“Nothing glamorous,” Bob shrugged. “Mostly mop up after operations, but you could observe them, too, on occasion.”

Reid tried to ignore the hopeful hammering inside his heart.

“Of course, I have to run it all by the Chief of Staff first.”

“That’s not you?”

“No,” Bob laughed, “not yet.”

“Wow,” Reid snorted. “You’re so old and you aren’t even Chief.”

“I guess you plan to run a hospital by what? Twenty?” Bob looked amused. “ Holden said you were opinionated- most good doctors are.“ He gave Reid a wry look. “I might be old to you, but I know a great deal about hospitals and I know my way around a good surgery.”

“ Did they have even have operating rooms back in the Stone Age?” Reid made a face, “What did you do? Knock the patients out with a big boulder?”

“I’m younger than I look,” Bob replied dryly.

Reid shrugged, “If you say so.”

Then Bob touched Reid’s shoulder. “You’ll have to lose that attitude, young man, if you want to work here.”

“Good thing I haven’t signed a contract yet,” Reid said.

Bob ignored his remark. “If you really want to be a doctor one day, you should learn about compassion and about patient care.”

Reid stared at him. The guy really looked like he believed that malarkey.

“Yeah,” Reid said slowly, as if talking to an idiot. “I thought that’s what the nurses were for.”

Bob just shook his head. “If all clears with the Chief, I’ll expect you to start here on Monday.”

***

For the next few days, Luke’s parents treated him like a yo-yo. The poor kid bounced back and forth between the farm and his grandmother’s house.

Why am I thinking about him? Reid frowned as he headed to the barn. He was starting the job at Memorial in the morning after what had seemed like endless delays of ridiculous paper work, and that was what he should be focused on. Opening up the barn door, Reid grabbed the bucket from off of a hook. Holden had ordered him to milk the cows this morning.

Gingerly, Reid approached the animal. Up close, cows smelled worse than he had imagined. Reid nearly gagged. He forced himself to walk closer, and, as if sensing his unease, the stupid bovine thrashed its tail like a whip. Reid squatted down on the stool and slid the bucket under the cow’s udders. He tentatively reached out his hand.

“Wait! That’s not right,” Luke called to him, stepping into the barn.

“You’re back,” Reid said, surprised. He studied Luke. He looked good, other than the bad haircut somebody had given him.

“Yeah. “ Luke flashed his dimples at him. Then he held up a sneaker, “Can you tie this for me?” He asked. The laces flopped around as he waved his foot at Reid.

“No.”

“What? Why not?”

“Learn to do it yourself,” Reid told him.

“Fine,” Luke’s lips came out. “Go back to grabbing the cow’s teat.”

“Teat,” Reid repeated in disgust, “no wonder I suck at this.”

The cow mooed in agreement with him.

Luke watched him struggle a moment.

“Here,” Luke handed him some Vaseline. “You need to make your hands slippery. She doesn’t want dry fingers on her.”

Reid scowled , but he took the Vaseline and quickly used it.

“Now go and squeeze the base of her teat,” Luke instructed him.

Reid started to put his hand on the cow’s udder. He paused.

“You wanna do this? “ Reid turned to Luke hopefully.

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

Luke grinned at him. “You gotta learn to do it yourself.”

“Brat,” Reid said, but with some admiration.

With a sigh, Reid fingered the cow’s teat and pushed down. To his surprise, a spray of milk came out and shot into the bucket.

“Yay!” Luke cheered him and Reid gave him a fast smile in return.

“No big deal,” Reid boasted and then began to milk the cow some more. Milk spurted out in a thin white line.

After the bucket was full, Reid walked over to Luke.

“Now watch,” he told him. He bent down and picked up Luke’s laces.

“This is a knotty mess,” Reid scolded.

“I tried to make bunny ears-“ Luke protested.

“Bunny- what? What the hell is that?”

“That’s what Mom told me to do. Make two bunny ears and then go down the hole.”

“Figures,” Reid mumbled. He was not particularly impressed with Lily’s intelligence. Luke clearly got his brains from his mysterious father.

“No bunny ears- no baby stuff, clear? I’m going to show you and only once, the real way to tie a shoe.”

Reid explained the steps as he tied up Luke’s sneaker.

Luke bit his lip and nodded, giving Reid all of his attention. He made Luke practice it over and over. Finally, Luke looked at him in absolute delight.

“I did it!” Luke exclaimed, his small face flushed with pleasure.

“I have news for you,” Reid told him dryly, “most seven year olds can tie a shoe.”

Luke still smiled. “Well I have news for you. Grandma Emma’s so happy to have me back, she’s making her special chocolate fudge cake.”

Luke giggled as Reid clasped at his heart.

“You’re certain? Chocolate fudge?”

Luke nodded again.

“Fantastic!” Reid smiled a second. “Emma is the only person in this crazy town that I actually like,” Reid declared.

Reid could almost taste the decadent cake already. His stomach gave a rumble.

Then Reid saw Luke’s face. “What?” he asked perplexed. Luke looked as if somebody had shot his dog.

“Nothing.” Luke dug his heel into the ground, poking at the dirt. “She’s not perfect, you know. “

“Who?”

“She snores louder than a bulldozer. And she makes you not swear and say thank you all the time.” Luke crossed his arms over his chest and looked at Reid. There was that pout of Luke’s lips again. The kid really needed to outgrow that face. Nobody pouted past childhood.

“What do you think about her knowing that?” Luke asked.

“Who?” Reid had lost the thread of this entire conversation.

“Grandma Emma. Is she,” Luke voice trembled, “is she really - the only person?” Luke said finally, his small face crumpling.

“The only person?” Reid repeated blankly.

“That you like?” Luke persisted. Tears were starting in his big eyes.

“Oh, that’s why you’re upset? Geez, don’t get all weepy,“ Reid waved his hand at him. “I wasn’t thinking about you.” He stood up and awkwardly patted Luke’s hair. “You’re okay too. For a little pest.”

“You like me?” Luke demanded.

Reid shrugged.

“You like me?” Luke said again. He pushed his face close to Reid. He was practically standing on Reid’s feet.

“Yeah. Maybe, you get the Oliver stamp of approval. “

He reached out and mockingly slapped his palm at Luke’s forehead.

“I knew we were friends!” Luke beamed up at him.

“Well, I never said that,” Reid huffed. He walked to the barn door. “Now scram. I have other chores to do for your slave-driving old man.”

“Okay,” Luke said happily. He practically danced out of the barn, “See you at dinner!”

Reid just frowned, shook his head and didn’t answer.

***

Dinner had gone pretty well that night and Luke didn’t lie about Emma’s fudge cake. It was beyond delicious. Afterwards, they’d all played a game of checkers and watched mindless TV. Nobody pushed Reid to talk too much. Still, Reid was happy another day at the Snyders’ was ending. He went to his room and read.

Suddenly, he heard Lily downstairs. She wanted to take Luke back; something about that Molly woman again. She had showed up at the grandmother’s house, bragging to Lily about Holden. Reid listened as Holden defended his actions. He looked at the clock. It was pretty late. Luke would be sound asleep. Reid drummed his fingers against his textbook. Part of him longed to march down the stairs and tell them both to shut the hell up. They should just accept the fact that their relationship was toxic, put the kids first, and deal with each other. Reid listened to them fight some more. Idiots.

Finally, Lily must have just left. Reid heard the door slam. He heard Emma and Holden whispering to each other, and then silence. He contemplated sneaking to the kitchen for more fudge cake. He decided against it - too risky. He didn’t want to run into the adults. Maybe he could sneak some for breakfast. Although, Luke was right about Emma and her rules. She’d insist he eat something healthy first. Shrugging , Reid went back to his book. He studied the skeleton and the spinal cord for a while.

A long time later, Reid put down his text book and drifted off to sleep. His last coherent thought was that he would start in the morning at Memorial, impress the hell out of Bob Hughes, and never touch another teat as long as he lived.

Reid sighed in his sleep. He was half-dreaming about the bones in the body. He felt warm. Something was rubbing up next to him. Reid tried to push it away. It snuggled determinedly back.

It was a body and it was shaking.

Reid’s eyes flew open.

“Luke? What - why are you in here?”

Luke sniffled and nestled even closer against him.

Reid felt Luke’s tears wetting his t-shirt.

“Bad dreams?” Reid asked.

“Don’t send me back to my room,” Luke pleaded. He pressed his face into Reid’s chest and sobbed.

Hesitantly, Reid patted Luke’s back. “Wanna tell me what it was about?”

Not that Reid couldn’t guess. Why a sweet kid like Luke had to have such awful parents was beyond him. It didn’t take Reid’s genius IQ to know Luke must not have been sleeping earlier.

“Monsters,” Luke replied. He lifted up his tear-stained face and stared at Reid. “They were getting me. They had my mom and dad too. “

“Hmm…. What did they look like?”

“Purple,” Luke answered quickly, “with two heads and claws like this.” He showed Reid a curled hand. “And snake eyes. “

Reid shook his head at Luke.

“ Don’t worry about it, okay?” Reid said. “It’s just your REM sleep has triggered a nightmare. Actually, the amazing thing about the brain is that it never really shuts off. In fact, the emotions in your dream possibly overloaded its circuits, see?”

“Okay,” Luke replied. Then he promptly burst into giant sobs. Reid frowned in confusion. Science always helped him though bad moments, but it clearly wasn’t working with Luke.

Reid searched his mind for what to do.

“And there are no such things as monsters,” he said decisively.

Luke was bawling now. If anything, all of Reid’s words had made him just cry harder. He was soaking his shirt with snot and tears. Reid was baffled. He ran his hands through Luke’s hair and down his thin, sweaty shoulders. “Okay, okay,” Reid murmured to him.

Clearly, Luke didn’t care about explanations or reality.

He took a deep breath and decided to try something completely unlike what he would need, but maybe Luke…

Reid began to sing softly to him. He sang the only song he really knew from childhood. “Mr. Sandman...” As he sang, his voice alternated between deep and true and an occasional, embarrassing cracking high note. Luke didn’t seem to mind that. He looked at Reid transfixed and listened to him.

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream
Make him the cutest that I’ve ever seen
Give him two lips like roses and clover
Then tell him that his lonesome nights are over


Reid sang it once more, noting that Luke’s tears had lessened now. When he was done, Reid broke the song off and looked away.

He felt Luke patting his arm insistently. Reluctantly, Reid forced his gaze back to Luke.

“Better now? “Reid asked gruffly.

Luke stared at him a moment. Then he nodded slowly.

“I love you, Reid,” Luke said.

Reid’s heart jumped in his chest. “Shut up!” Reid said quickly, “you don’t.”

“I do.”

“You don’t.”

Luke tilted his head at him in puzzlement. His big eyes looked at Reid with compassion beyond his years. Reid felt himself almost flush.

“Why do you say that?”

“Cause you don’t, “ Reid answered.

Luke didn’t argue. Instead, he grabbed Reid’s cheeks with both of his small hands. He leaned down and kissed Reid’s lips softly, his mouth lingering on Reid’s mouth a moment. Luke smacked his lips once more on Reid’s stunned ones. Luke’s skin was soft as dough, his breath sweet as candy.

“ I do,” Luke said simply. “I love you.”

With a satisfied little smile, Luke put his head back down on Reid’s chest and closed his eyes.

In no time, Reid could hear Luke’s little snores.

Reid didn’t sleep for a while. Nobody had ever told Reid that they loved him. If his parents had ever said the words, Reid had no memory of it. Angus never said anything even remotely affectionate to him. The closest he came was after Reid would win a chess match. He’d let out a grunt of approval. Reid had a few past friendships, but moved around too much to ever keep a friend for long. Besides, his friends were the types to discuss Physics or video games, not emotions.

Reid stayed awake and tried to lecture himself. Luke was just a little brat, and it shouldn’t matter. Little kids probably went around telling everybody that they loved them and it didn’t mean a thing. But for once, Reid’s logical mind was losing the fight. His heart was pounding with emotion. Reid wrapped an arm protectively around Luke. He’d always thought a little brother or sister would only be a pain, but now he thought it might be kind of nice.

Luke had said he loved him.

Up until that moment of Luke’s kiss, Reid had always believed he was simply unlovable.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: WHAT IF? (A comment fic)
Written By : Marsabi
Rating: NC-17
Summary: What if Noah had not rejected Luke that day in the bar? What if Noah “forgives” him, and they get back together ? Many argue (in douche fandoms) that Reid never would’ve been with Luke then. Of course, Noah’s stingy heart didn’t forgive Luke in that famous scene. Either way, I don’t think it matters. Luke is meant for Reid.
Warning: NC-17
Author's Notes: I'm experimenting with POV here.


“He’s strong enough to take it.”

“I’m not strong enough to tell him.”

“That’s guilt talking, not honesty. “

“You want honesty? Okay. I do have feelings for you; I can’t deny that anymore. But I’m in love with Noah.”

“Well, I guess you have a decision to make then, don’t you?”


***

Reid’s eyes say so much. His jaw is clenched tightly. You can see Reid’s struggling. Yet you sit there dumbly, a paralysis has overtaken you. Across the room, you feel the force of Noah’s gaze. You wish for the courage to touch Reid, just on the hand and feel his warm skin again, before he slips away. You’re struggling too, but Reid doesn’t know it. You do nothing. You let him go.

***

You choose Noah.


Noah spends the rest of the night talking about his future. He wants to work on his film. He wants to go back to school. He wants you to know that he’s sorry for being hard on you, blaming you. Now he’s ready to “forgive.” You smile, nod. Choked sentences come out of your mouth, but you can’t hear your own words. A hundred different moments with Noah are holding you captive. You can’t leave him.

Your face feels tight, drained. Your body’s cold. Noah wants you back, and you should be elated. Noah is your life; you are nothing without him. Noah can see you, at last. He can look you in the eyes.

So why do you feel so unbearably grim?


***


At Memorial, you’re working with Reid. It’s so painful you can barely breathe. You wait for Reid to call you Trust Fund or Richie Rich. You stare into those stern blue eyes, hoping for even a little smile. You joke. You follow him around. You know you must stop this.

Noah still brings up Reid every night.

“Did you see him today?”

“Did you think about his kiss?”

“If I hadn’t caught you, would you have slept with him?”

You tell Noah. “ No, no, no.”

You lie.

You speak to Noah carefully or not at all.

Reid never made you careful. He made you angry. He made you want to pull his hair, push him against a wall, put your face right up to his. Later, he made you want to anchor your lips together, or simply rest on his shoulder.

****

Late at night, you hear his voice.

How do I make you feel?


You dream of sex, of that predatory gleam in Reid’s eye. You dream his tongue is everywhere, tasting. You dream that his firm mouth is biting on your nipples to the point of pain, making his way to your ass, opening up your tight hole. Fucking you breathless. Every night, the sex dream turns dirtier. He lets you play with his dick, lick his balls. You imagine Reid lets you do anything. Every morning, your cock aches and drips.

***

You choose Noah.


He is supposed to be your man, your partner. But it never feels this way. At your Dad and Molly’s wedding, Noah leaves you with his food, carrying his plate. All around are couples holding hands. You’re alone.

Noah pumps Abigail for information about LA; he almost seems to flirt with her. When you confront him, Noah calls you dramatic. Miserably, you eat some cold appetizers. The food tastes bitter in your mouth. When Abigail asks Noah about you, he stands far away.

Reid never hesitated to grab you, kiss you. You hold a finger to your lips, remembering.

Back home, Noah approaches sex like he is doing you a favor. He plows into your ass. You think about Reid: his face, his hands, his unexpected smile. Noah is panting and thrusting.

Afterwards, Noah falls asleep, perfectly content.

You stay awake all night.

***

You go to Katie’s house to explain once more about Noah. How he’s your life. How you must love him. Why you picked him.

Reid stands there with a five o’clock shadow on his cheeks, his shirt half-tucked, a bowl of cereal in his hand. His eyes are cold and sad at the same time.

Reid asks why you’re bothering him.

“Because we mattered. Because we’re something.” You insist on this fact.

You long to touch him.

“What are we, Luke?“

You find it impossible to reply.

Reid closes his door.

***

You go to the pond and stare into the water for hours, deeply depressed.

You miss the fun and the honesty.

You miss the man.

Softly you speak his name.

Reid.

***

You break up with Noah.

It‘s frightening and exhilarating all at once.

“You’ll regret it, Luke. You’ll be sorry. You’ll be back.”

Noah’s face is ugly. You realize that ugliness has no power over you any longer. You feel none of the usual guilt.


Leaving him, your feet practically bounce on the air.

***

Standing at Reid's door, you prepare a speech and practice your words, but the door opens with a loud bang.


You lick your lips nervously -


- he pulls you into the room, kissing you hard.


Reid nibbles at your lips. He bites and then runs his tongue over the lower one. The kisses are swift and frantic. His hands are going underneath your shirt and rubbing down your spine. Heat floods your whole body. He kisses you again, with a warm slowness now. It makes you tremble, and small sounds of longing escape your lips.


“If we do this- I want it all,” Reid says. This is all he says, and you nod desperately, wiping at your tears.


Reid touches his finger to the wet spot of skin. Silently, as you kiss him again, inhaling his scent, gripping his waist, you vow to make it up to him forever.


Together, you go into the bedroom. You take off all of his clothes and spread your fingers over his heart. For a moment, you just feel its rhythm. Dropping to your knees, you hold his lean cock in your hands, admiring the length and beauty. You taste and lick and suck. You worship his arousal with your mouth.


You eat his cum like thick jelly.


You stand, your legs shaking, a smile on your face. Reid gives you a tiny smile back. You reach out to stroke his cheek. His smile widens. It is his true smile, the private one that he rarely shows. Seeing it, your heart nearly seizes with joy.


Reid slowly undresses you, kissing his way down the slope of your shoulders , over your chest, and then lower. He takes your cock into his mouth and wets it with his tongue. You grip the nape of his neck. Reid moves his mouth up and down.


He pushes you down on the bed, and continues. You ejaculate wildly. Reid swallows. He then begins to lick at your buttocks, holding your flesh apart with his fingers.


As he straddles your thighs, you look up at him. You can sense his need for you. You know this was not a mistake or an accident. You think about how this is destiny.


Reid hovers over your body, tenderly stroking. When your eyes meet his, Reid’s face changes. His breathing is shallow. He holds your face in his hands.


He makes love to you, and it's like the light after the darkness. Nothing will be uncertain ever again. You reach out for Reid’s naked body, pulling him closer. Reid pulls at you too.


The right man is finally in your arms.

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