Mar. 8th, 2011

marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Without Borders 1/14
Author: Marsabi
Summary: Noah remains blind, and he abandons Oakdale and Luke. Luke is left feeling guilty and lost, so he decides to focus on the foundation and PR work. Luke moves the foundation to Rome and avoids America. However, two years later, his family in Oakdale has been pressuring him to visit, and when an old friend calls him with a problem with her medical organization’s image, Luke agrees to fly to Miami. But can he turn their best doctor into a media star? As the cameras roll, Luke soon finds himself in a “pretend” relationship with Dr. Oliver …
Warning: Sexually explicit content (some parts)
Rating: PG- NC-17 (depends)

First of all, a big shout of thanks to the amazing rhiannonhero! Thanks for encouraging me not to throw this story away, and for kicking my butt at all the right times.
Thanks also to the lovely traciamc for reading my lazy typos, and chatting with me about James Franco.

A/N
Without Medical Borders (WMB) is a fictional organization, but is modeled loosely on Doctors Without Borders.
Most of these places in South Beach really do exist.


Chapter One



Describe me any way you want. Say that I’m handsome, or affectionate, or sweet. Maybe I look like your brother, your friend, your old lover. I don’t care what people think. I’m not the kid I used to be. I’m no longer innocent, and I won’t go back.

My boyfriend had an accident. He blamed me for it, and maybe it was my fault. No doctor we found could help Noah get his sight restored, so he turned bitter. He left me and broke off all contact. I spent the year in a bottle, continuing to disappoint my family and what was left of my friends. I was hospitalized, went to rehab, and was hospitalized again. My parents would not let me near my siblings. My foundation was floundering. It took nearly dying from damaging my kidney to get me straight again. I had a second kidney operation and woke up feeling glad to be alive and foolish to have ever touched alcohol. I woke up a different person.

So here I am, trying to find a place between that old Luke and the new. The foundation is once again running smoothly, and I have spent this year traveling the world, giving out money. If I couldn’t save Noah, well, at least I have saved others. But it never feels like enough. I will never be able to make up for the loss of his eyesight or my part in that. All I can do is go forward.


Luke looked up from his journal as the captain’s voice came over the loud speaker. He had landed in Miami, still not far enough from Oakdale and those old torments. Luke sighed and closed his journal. He gathered his suitcase and walked alone down the ramp. Intense hot, moist air greeted him, making him feel like he was in a giant sauna. Luke gulped down some water and grabbed a cab over to the headquarters of Without Medical Borders. The cab driver nearly hit several cars on the way over, breaking all the speed records on I-95, but Luke wasn’t worried. The cabbies in Rome drove much worse. Besides, Luke liked speed. He and Damian often raced cars together. He liked racing down the track, pushing the limits of the car. He would have rented one here, if the visit were longer. As the driver stepped on it, Luke gazed out at the palm trees calmly. This place was known as a gay man’s paradise. Too bad he was only here on business.

Soon enough, the cab ride was over, and Luke gave the guy a generous tip. He studied the large, impressive building, which was one part offices and one part a working hospital. The men and women working for WMB were stationed in places all over the world, however all of their assignments started here at the Florida hospital. It was this administrative office that decided what countries the organization would be stationed in, and it was to here that they flew in some of the most serious cases, treating the patients for free and performing operations with equipment not available in some areas of the world.

Usually, Without Medical Borders had great press. But there had been two significant disasters in a short period of time, throwing the organization into chaos. The first incident had involved George Simms, a very important doctor in the organization, whose familiar face was soon splashed all over The New York Times for laundering dirty money through the WMB and other charities, rattling the donors’ trust. The second scandal followed when a WMB helicopter had to abort a landing in North Darfur due to an increase in the violence there. Some people bitterly blamed Without Medical Borders for the many deaths of the locals. They argued that WMB should have taken the risk and landed.

After reading about the disasters in the newspaper, Luke was not surprised at Jessica’s call. Jessica Griffin was the head of the Florida organization. She was a top-notch lawyer, and an old family friend. She had left Oakdale long ago, but Luke had been close with her daughter, Bonnie. She had begged him to come and help.

“Not only is your foundation a huge supporter of our work here,” she’d argued, “but you are the best PR person I know.”

Her timing had been perfect. Normally, Luke might have hesitated to come in person, but he was reluctantly planning to visit his family back home.

“Send me everything on the situation and on your staff,” he told her. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Luke had called Jessica back within hours of her desperate plea. He’d studied the staff at Without Medical Borders, and had found a solution. Luke was feeling pretty pleased with himself when he’d told her, “You have an answer to your image problems right with you in Miami, a Dr. Oliver? I was reading about his work, his latest write ups in medical journals- he’s amazing. His work is cutting edge.”

“Yes,” Jessica had answered, hesitating, ”Reid is a fantastic surgeon, but- “

“He’s young and single and he has a decent face, at least on his staff picture. You need an image booster - Dr. Oliver might be it. “

“Well,” Jessica had said, “I don’t think Reid will agree –“

“Oh, he’s shy? “ Luke had chuckled, spinning around in his office chair. “I can help him get over that.”

“No, not shy,” Jessica had said.

Luke had cut her off. ”Whatever his hang up, I’ll fix it. He’ll be perfect, you’ll see.”

***

Dr. Oliver had apparently complained long and loud about doing any press. Jessica had told Luke that he’d refused to even try and help, but Luke dismissed it. He felt confident that once he met with Dr. Oliver and sold him on the idea, everything would work out fine. He arranged to be Miami for a week. He didn’t think it would take very long to help. Then he planned to travel to Oakdale for a few days. A day or two was all Luke could handle with his family or that town.

***

Luke reached the lobby and was now looking for Dr. Oliver’s office. When he’d asked a nurse for directions, she’d winced and pointed down a hallway. “Good Luck, “ she told him. “Enter at your own risk.” Luke gave her a puzzled thank you.

On his way down the corridor to the office, he paused to look at his recent phone messages. The first one, from Damian, made him smile.

Missed our lunch date today, Luciano. I’m sure you’ve saved the doctors already. Enjoy your trip home. Say hello to your mother for me. D

Since moving to Rome, he and Damian had grown extremely close. The text had made Luke recall their last lunch together.

“Miami has lots of men like you, yes?” Damian had said over their last meal, scooping out a big bowl of Tortelli di Patata for them to share.

“I guess.“ Luke shrugged it off. “I won’t have time for that. “ Luke met his father’s eyes and groaned at the hope in them, “Dad,” Luke said, embarrassed, “I’m not going to Miami to fall in love.”

“I know,” Damian said, chewing his pasta thoughtfully, “but at least have some fun, right? “

Luke nodded. “This from the man who once tried to turn me straight?” he teased his father.

Damian nearly choked as he protested, “A long time ago! ”

Luke laughed and smiled at him, “Just messing with you,” he told him with affection.

“Not funny, Luciano, “ Damian scolded and poured himself a glass of wine, “but I’ve learned from my mistakes.” He suddenly leaned into Luke urgently, “ Now it’s your turn. Don’t let one bad relationship close off your heart.”

Luke didn’t reply. He gazed into the distance. He thought about trying to meet somebody special and let go of his old hurt, but it was so difficult. He’d never told Damian the whole truth about Noah. He’d never told anybody; he’d been too ashamed. Luke turned back to his father. He smiled as Damian drank some Chianti and chatted about work. Miami was just business, Luke thought as he forced himself to eat some pasta, nothing more.

Now, only a few steps away from meeting Dr. Oliver, Luke retrieved his last message and then sighed. Lily had left a small voice mail asking again when he would arrive in Oakdale.

He felt like texting her back with one word: never.

***
As he walked a few more steps to Dr. Oliver’s office, he tried to put his visit home out of his mind. When Luke politely knocked, Dr. Oliver opened the door with an impatient, “What now?”

He stared at Luke, his mouth turned down in a fierce line of displeasure. He was dressed in scrubs and holding a bag of mini-frosted donuts.

Luke heart thudded in his chest. Dr. Oliver’s eyes – god, so blue – met his own wide ones. The man was gorgeous. His staff picture had not captured those eyes or the perfect shape of his face. Luke felt his breath getting stuck in his throat.

The frown remained when Luke introduced himself. “Oh right, that,” Dr. Oliver gave a long-suffering sigh and gestured reluctantly for Luke to come inside.

In contrast to Dr. Oliver’s harsh greeting and casual dress, Luke stood there in his Prada suit and sparkling loafers and offered a big smile.

“So,“ Dr. Oliver had drawled arrogantly, “you’re the King of Spin.”

Luke felt shocked at the blunt insult.

“And you’re the arrogant SOB who won’t help out your own hospital,” Luke countered as soon as he’d recovered.

Dr. Oliver’s mouth curled in distaste. ”Who has time for the endless parade of interviews? I’m actually busy, you know, saving lives? I don’t have time for bad tabloid TV.” Still holding his donuts, he crossed his arms over his chest.

Luke shrugged. “Make time.”

Dr. Oliver frowned and clearly bit back whatever rude retort he’d wanted to say. His eyes were angry and piercing.

Luke swallowed.

“Meanwhile,” Luke said, trying to break the tension, “since I’m here, why don’t you show me this place?”

“I’m not a tour guide,” he said crossly.

“And this isn’t Disney World.” Luke replied. “I get it. But I want a tour anyway.”

“I can get a cute nurse to fill you in? “ Dr. Oliver suggested.

Luke’s mouth twisted .

“I want you,” Luke answered.

They stared at each other a moment. A muscle jumped in Dr. Oliver’s cheek.

“Fine,” he said. He tore open the donut package, and sugar flew everywhere, including all over Luke’s suit.

“Oops. Sorry about your Versace there,” Dr. Oliver said, sounding unapologetic. He handed Luke a napkin from his desk.

Luke smiled coolly, “Prada actually,” Luke brushed off the mess, ”and I have lots of suits.”

Dr. Oliver raised an eyebrow, “I’m sure. “

He motioned for Luke to follow.

“Let’s just make this quick,” Dr. Oliver said, “ I don’t have time to hold your hand.”

“Quick,” Luke agreed, “just the way I like it.”

The doctor stared at Luke again. Then a reluctant smile touched his lips.

They walked from department to department.

Meanwhile, Dr. Oliver was stubbornly not speaking. He would show Luke a room and grunt, “Peds, “ or “Trauma,” and that was it.

Luke stopped walking and poked at his side. “You do realize that I can fix this mess only if I understand how things work both here and abroad?”

“I have an idea,” Dr. Oliver tapped the side of his head mockingly, “it’s called the internet. Use it.”

He started to walk on. Luke hurried over and grabbed at his arm. “I did use it. But forgive me, millions of my foundation’s money is involved, and my friend has asked me to help. I actually wanted to know how things work first hand.“

Dr. Oliver looked down at where Luke held his arm.

“What’d you want from me, Mr. Snyder? “ he said.

Luke made a frustrated gesture. “Not much. Some conversation. We chit chat, exchange ideas. You tell me why this place is so special and how we can save it.”

Dr. Oliver’s face became pinched, “Yeah, “ he shook his head, “I’m incapable of small talk.”

“I’m beginning to see that. “ He was also beginning to see why Jessica had been so hesitant about using Dr. Oliver for the face of WMB.

They stared at each other a moment. Then Luke dropped his eyes nervously. He stared instead at the collar of Dr. Oliver’s shirt, and couldn’t help noticing the creamy skin there. Luke had the strangest desire to press his lips to it.

Just then, a familiar voice called his name.

“So happy you made it!” Jessica said, walking over to them.

“Me too,” Luke answered, giving her a smile.

“Reid,” Jessica Griffin said tentatively, “I do hope you’re behaving yourself with Mr. Snyder.” She gave him a firm glance.

“I’m being perfectly civil,” Dr. Oliver declared hotly. “See?” He gave them both a giant, fake smile that looked like it would hurt his teeth.

“Is he?” Jessica raised an eyebrow.

Luke met Dr. Oliver’s blue eyes.

“Sure,” Luke drawled, “he’s a Girl Scout.”

“You should see my merit badges,” Dr. Oliver agreed.

Luke met his magnetic eyes again. Another surprise flash of attraction shot through Luke’s body. He took a step back. Luke wasn’t certain if it was just his imagination, or if Dr. Oliver’s eyes had quickly slid over his body, but he could feel heat going right to his cheeks.

“Well, let me get you off the hook for now,” Jessica was saying to Dr. Oliver, “I really want to take Luke here to lunch.”

“Yes, do that,” Dr. Oliver said. He nodded, relieved to be dismissed and ready to take off.

“Lunch sounds great.” Luke smiled with extra sweetness at Dr. Oliver, “Nice meeting you. We’ll talk soon.”

“Can’t wait,” Dr. Oliver answered sarcastically.

Luke looked at Jessica, “But let me take you out,” he told her generously. “Name any place you want to go.”

“Really? Fantastic!” Jessica exclaimed.

He caught a hungry look on Dr. Oliver’s expression at the mention of a lunch out.

Luke smiled again, “Enjoy the cafeteria food,“ he told him, giving his arm a pat. Luke almost laughed at Dr. Oliver’s disappointed expression.

Luke couldn’t help noticing, as he walked away, that Dr. Oliver had a firm, beautifully-shaped ass.

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