Mar. 14th, 2011

marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Without Borders 5
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) and some Nuke here
Rating: PG- NC-17 (depends)
A big shout of thanks to the amazing rhiannonhero! Thanks also to traciamc
Previous chapter: http://marsabi.livejournal.com/26703.html


Chapter 5

The next day, Luke and Reid walked past the pastel hued buildings of the Art Deco district. Luke had always wanted to see this part of South Beach and he wasn’t disappointed. Every hotel and art gallery and restaurant had flair. Coming from Oakdale, where all the houses were white or some other bland color, it was incredible to see so much vibrancy in such a small area.

Reid allowed Luke to drag him into the different places without too much grumbling. Luke suspected he’d never taken a day off and just toured around before.

“Admit it,” Luke said to him as they walked, “you’re enjoying this.”

“No, I’m tolerating this,” Reid answered, but a tiny smile was on his handsome face.

Reid looked amazing. He was dressed casually, not in a suit or scrubs, and it made Luke feel all kinds of crazy urges to touch him. Reid had on a dark pair of jeans, button-down shirt, and sunglasses.

Neither of them had discussed the night before. They had simply met and started the day. Luke almost brought it up, but he couldn’t see Reid’s eyes and he thought he’d want to read their expression for that conversation. Besides, Luke was at a loss what to say. He’d barely slept all night, thinking it all over.

Seeing a small art gallery, Luke took Reid’s hand and pulled him into it.

“Welcome to Long John’s!” A voice called immediately. A small man with a toothy smile, came up to them. “I’m John.” He was short and thin and wearing a yellow shirt with ‘It’s Good To Be Queen!’ on the front.

The gallery was filled with big canvases of street scenes in neon colors. It had small sculptures of bodies, all naked, twisting and turning together - some were men, some women, some both.

“This is wonderful!” Luke enthused. Reid said nothing, just jamming his sunglasses on top of his head.

John smiled and strutted over to them. “Yes, darling, isn’t it?” He said. John ran his finger down one of the sculptures naked torsos, “I just love a good bronze.”

“I’m Luke and this is Reid,” Luke offered, ignoring Reid’s rolling eyes.

John shook Luke’s hand, “Not from here?”

“Just visiting.” Luke eyed a picture of a dolphin and a naked man swimming together. “That’s interesting,” he smiled.

Reid, meanwhile, stood back and scowled.

“I normally don’t like fish,” John twittered, “ but this one’s special.”

“Dolphins aren’t fish,” Reid said rudely.

“Reid, come out from behind me,” Luke scolded.

“Oh darling, let the man be behind you,” John winked, “I would.”

Luke laughed and felt himself blushing.

“You are too cute!” John gushed. “Isn’t he?” He said to Reid.

“Like a stuffed animal,” Reid drawled and Luke turned and glared at him.

“Okay,” John clapped his hands together excitedly, “I must have you in my collection.”

“Collection?” Luke asked.

“Hmm, yes. I take my picture with many of the tourists who come to my gallery – a little hobby of mine. Not all the tourists of course. Not those skeletal woman from Boca, or those lobster-faced, sunburned men from Minnesota…the good tourists. Just a sec!”
John dashed into the back of the gallery.

“Don’t move- “ he called.

Luke looked at Reid.

“I think we should make a run for it,” Reid said dryly.

“Why? What do you think he’s doing back there?”

“I don’t know, “ Reid said, “but if he comes out in nothing but a feather boa or something –
I’m sacrificing you and heading for the door. “

“You’re all heart,” Luke said, clutching at his chest in a pretend swoon.

“That’s me,” Reid agreed, his mouth kicking up.

“I’ve returned!” John said in a sing-song voice, coming up to them holding a photo book and tiny camera.

He thrust the photo album and camera into Reid’s hands. “Now dear, you take our picture first,” he instructed Reid, “and then I want one with you.”

John grabbed Luke and pulled him in for a picture, flinging his arm around Luke’s shoulders.

Glancing at John’s album, Reid looked up with a wicked gleam in his eyes and aimed the camera
at them.

“Smile,” Reid said sweetly.

Just as Reid went to snap the picture, John made a lunge for Luke’s right nipple and squeezed.

The camera flashed and Luke stepped away, shocked.

“Oh dear, have I upset you?” John asked him. “I’m sorry.”

“Um, no it’s fine, “ Luke said awkwardly.

Reid tossed Luke the photo album, “Take a look, “ he said smirking, “then you won’t feel so badly.”

Luke flipped through the album. All of the pictures were of John and other tourists. All of them had John grabbing for nipple. Only male nipples.

“How ‘bout it?” John asked Reid.

“Yes, Reid, do take a picture!” Luke grinned and took the camera. Luke looked at Reid challengingly, sure he would refuse.

“Okay,” Reid said calmly walking over to John, “but stay away from the family jewels. “

“His only,” John nodded to Luke.

John’s remark caused a nervous jolt to go through Luke’s system and he looked anywhere but at Reid’s jeans right then.

“That’s right. His,” Reid said mockingly, and Luke knew that taunting tone was aimed at him.

“ I understand darling. Too bad though,” John’s gaze lingered on Reid’s crotch, “looks like some huge stones.”

Now it was Reid’s turn to flush. He glared at John.

“Smile,” John told him, “nobody likes a sour-puss.” John made kissy noises at Reid, who now looked like he wanted to get away.

Luke was laughing so hard that he had trouble taking the picture.

Sure enough, John grabbed Reid’s nipple at the camera’s flash.

“Thanks, boys, “ he told them happily. “You’ve made my day.” Then he indicated the art all around. “Be even a better day if you’d buy something?” he suggested.

“Just browsing, “ Reid said firmly, seeing Luke start to look around to spend his money.
Reid steered Luke out of the gallery.

“What?” Luke said, “I have money to buy some art.”

“That stuff is in every gallery on this street, “ Reid said impatiently, “at least compare places before you just whip out that big credit card of yours.”

“Are you looking out for me?” Luke asked, amused.

“I’m protecting the money for my wing, “ Reid protested. “I can’t have you buying art from every Mary in South Beach.”

Luke laughed again. Reid started to laugh too.

“ We have a meeting with the Herald later, right? “ Reid asked him.

“Yes, no more South Florida Today. A real newspaper wants to interview us.”

Reid snapped his fingers, “Darn! I’ll miss those M&Ms.”

“M&M’s?” Luke said, puzzled.

“Molly and Mick,” Reid said.

Luke smiled at him, but Reid didn’t smile back. He just gazed at Luke intently.

The air between them sizzled with sudden tension. Reid was openly just looking at him, his gaze moving over very part of his body. It made him feel exposed as if every one of his emotions were visible.

Luke felt the urge to bolt, and it must have been clear on his face because Reid grabbed his arm.

“Relax,” Reid said quietly, “nothing has to happen again.” He studied Luke with his eyes, “unless you want it to?” Reid crossed his arms over his chest.

Staring at the ground, Luke found he couldn’t answer.

Luke chewed on his lower lip and then took a deep breath, “About last night. I –“

Reid waited.

“It’s just been a really long time and I-“ Luke broke off. A muscle quivered in his stomach.

Reid still waited.

“ I-I do want it too,” Luke finally stammered out, keeping his eyes low. He could feel his own pulse speeding up.

When Reid didn’t answer, Luke couldn’t stand the silence and raised his head.

Reid was looking straight at him.

Luke swallowed hard. He was sure Reid was about to kiss him again. He wet his lips in anticipation. Reid’s lips hovered just an inch above his.

Then Reid gave a wordless exclamation and ran a hand through his hair.

Reid shook his head, “Not when we have to be at the newspaper in a little over an hour. “

Luke couldn’t reply. The nearness of the kiss had left him half-dizzy with lust.

“Come on, I want to show you something,“ Reid said, “a really good thing for WMB’s press.”

“Oh,” Luke said, trying not to sound disappointed that Reid wanted to take him somewhere for
business and not pleasure, ”Okay. Will it help the PR campaign?”

They began to walk again.

“I think so,” Reid said. They headed to where the car was parked, crossing a busy street.

Reid reached out and took Luke’s hand. Pleased, Luke glanced at him.

Reid smiled. “And after we go do some PR work,” he said, ”we can discuss all those reasons that you didn’t mind my kiss.”

Luke looked away in embarrassment and tried to take back his hand. Reid refused to let it go.

“What?” He asked Luke. They had crossed the intersection and stopped walking again.

“Nothing just- “ Luke hesitated, ”now I’m the one who’s wondering, “ Luke paused. “Did you like my kiss?”, he asked in a rush of words.

Reid groaned, “You have to ask? I think you felt the proof of that last night.”

Luke felt heat rise to his cheeks, but he was also relieved.

Reid put his thumb under Luke’s chin and lifted his face up. “Why would you even doubt that?”, he said curiously. The thumb under his chin gently stroked Luke’s skin.

Luke just stubbornly shook his head.

“I guess I’ll have to do it again,” Reid said with mock reluctance. He patted Luke on his cheek. “Later.”

Luke felt like a silly schoolgirl then. His cheek felt like it was burning where Reid had touched him. His palms were literally sweating, his heart thudding. He snuck a glance at
Reid. His eyes were bright in the strong sunlight. His mouth curved in a slight smile. The humid, Miami air was blowing through his hair. Luke couldn’t help darting out his tongue again as if to taste Reid. He could practically smell his skin.

“Come on,” Reid said, “let’s go.”

***

“I bet you didn’t know that WMB promotes this Baby Cuddler program, “ Reid said, somewhat proudly, opening the door to a small, cute looking house. It was right next to the hospital grounds.

Luke shook his head, “I had no idea.” He looked around the cheerful lobby. It was full of flowers and stuffed animals.

“Yeah, it will be good to mention today. We aren’t just about other countries. WMB does important work right here. Without people to love them,these sick, often neglected infants, will have lower bonding abilities and social skills down the road.” Reid played with a stuffed bear as he spoke, and then, seeing what he was holding, he quickly dropped it.

“You seem to know a lot about this place?” Luke asked curiously.

Reid shrugged, his face tightened, “A little.” He led Luke into a pretty lobby area. The sound of babies crying and soft music could be heard. The walls were designed in black and white.

“It stimulates them,” Reid said, nodding to the walls, “that’s what the studies show anyhow.”

A short, rounded woman came out.

“Luke- Claudia, “ Reid said, “the head nurse here. She decides if the babies need to be back in the hospitals’ Nic U, or can be part of the cuddler program here. “

She greeted Reid with a huge , warm smile. Reid, of course, scowled back. Luke noticed that
Claudia seemed more amused than offended. She lightly took Reid’s arm as they walked inside and Reid didn’t object.

“Are you enjoying your time here?” Claudia asked Luke.

“I am,” Luke said. He really was, too. He pondered that for a quiet minute. “It’s a beautiful area,” Luke added.

“Ah, I grew up here. I’m spoiled,” Claudia grinned at him. “Beaches, night life, and not too far from Mickey Mouse.” She had a great, full laugh. Luke couldn’t help laughing too.

“Before we go to the other babies, “ Claudia stopped a second to turn to Reid, “I need something, mijo.”

“You always do,” Reid said with a mocking sigh.

Claudia pushed at him, “Oh, stop that. Haven’t I brought you my famous paella ? Didn’t I take you out for caipirinhas on your birthday last year? You owe me.”

To Luke’s amusement, that seemed to shut Reid up and embarrass him.

“Excuse me, Luke?” Claudia smiled. She handed Reid a chart of some kind.

They chatted a moment in Spanish together.

“She wants me to look at one of the drug addicted babies for a second,” Reid told him, “He needs to go back to the Nic U. When I return from examining him, we can both go in, okay?”

“Sure.”

“I’ll keep your friend company,” Claudia told Reid cheerfully.

He eyed her suspiciously a moment.

“And I don’t owe you, by the way.” Reid said suddenly. “Not since you set me up with your cousin Larry from Hallandale. The one with the back hair and limited IQ?.”

Claudia’s smile widened.

“He liked you,” she teased. “He still asks me about a second date. “

Reid made a sour face and went to look at the baby.

Claudia turned her wide smile to Luke.

“Did Reid tell you that this was his idea? He helped me convince WMB to try it. “

“No, really?” Luke said in surprise. “He left that part out.”

Claudia laughed heartily, “Figures.” She smiled at Luke again. “He’s a clam, that one.”

“I don’t know,” Luke laughed, “he’s no trouble making comments to me.”

“Ah, about silly things? Rude remarks? But real feelings?” She shook her head, “A clam.” She patted Luke’s arm, “But no worries. I saw him looking at you on television. The eyes always give it away, yes?”

Luke shifted his feet uncomfortably. It was one thing to deceive the press, but he felt strange pretending to be a couple to Reid’s friend. And she clearly was a friend.

“I’m just so happy that Reid found somebody!” Claudia’s joyful tone continued.

“You seem like a fan of his,” Luke said, interested, fishing slightly. This was the first person who really seemed to know him.

“Oh I sure am! He comes here all the time, in what little spare time he has and helps out.” She grinned at Luke, “But I’m sure you figured out his tough act by now too, right? “

Luke looked at Reid through the glass window as he was listening to the baby with a stethoscope.

“Yeah,” he said to Claudia quietly, “I got that.”

“Well, I’ve never had him bring anybody here with him before,” she beamed. “The two of you together- muy guapo!”

“This is such a great thing you do here,” Luke said smiling as he changed the subject, “I’m really moved. I want to give you a small donation.”

“Really?” Claudia asked.

Luke nodded. He glanced quickly at Reid, then smiled. “Let me just do this fast and then I can see the babies. “ Luke took out his wallet before Reid returned.

A little while later, Reid and Luke sat in the rocking room, as Claudia called it. Each man held a small infant. Luke gazed down at the little boy, swaddled in a striped blanket. The baby had a thick head of black hair. His tiny, wizened face was red, his little fist curled up against Luke’s body.

“It’s hard to believe he’s sick,” Luke said, “he doesn’t look it.”

“Appearances can be deceptive.“ Reid nodded, rocking his baby. “Some of these infants have had intensive treatment for drug withdrawal, some had operations already, “ Reid looked at the girl in his arms, “and all are neglected and lost. Welcome to the world, right?“ He shook his head.

They rocked the babies more. The only sound in the room was the creaking of their chairs.

“Looking at them it puts everything else in perspective,” Luke said quietly, “and how much of my problems have been of my own bad choices.”

“What problems would that be?” Reid sarcastically said, “deciding to play golf or tennis at the country club? Running out of caviar on your private jet?”

Luke laughed silently. Reid was still doing his best to offend him, but it was hard to take seriously now. Not when Reid was cuddling a baby at the same time, holding the infant to his chest. Luke felt his heart flip over at the sight of the small baby, no bigger than a man’s palm, snuggling trustingly into Reid. The baby let out a tiny, mewing sound and Reid gently rubbed at the small cheek.

They stayed for a good hour, rocking different babies in companionable silence.

As they left, Claudia came over and waved. “See you soon, mijo,” she told Reid and then added to Luke, “Thank you so much.”

Luke tried to wave her off, but Claudia was too busy smiling at Reid. “Your friend here is so generous. I mean this amount of money he just donated is going to help so many of our babies,” Claudia became misty-eyed. She leaned over and kissed Luke’s cheek. “You’re an angel. ”

Luke smiled and flushed. He felt tongue-tied. He really wasn’t expecting Claudia to mention the money. Reid said nothing about it as they left.

He and Reid walked out of the small house and back into the Florida sunlight.

“Are you angry at me?” Luke said in a small voice.

“Why should I be?” Reid said startled.

“For writing that check? I mean no sarcastic comment about rich boys writing checks instead of doing real things?”

“You were here. Wasn’t that you? Rocking babies, changing babies? And writing checks. “ Reid smiled a little. “Hey I wish I had a trust fund!” He reached out an arm and patted Luke, “No, I’m grateful. Thanks for coming here with me and for helping.”

“You’re welcome,” Luke replied slowly.

Reid headed to the car, but Luke felt like his feet were in thick concrete.

***

The interview with the Miami Herald went well. Luke made certain to bring up WMB local programs and praise Reid for his work. They answered a few questions about dating, but mostly it was a big boost for WMB. Just what Luke needed to finish the job soon. So why did the thought of the job coming to an end leave him slightly depressed? Instead of being elated that the plan was working, Luke left the Herald feeling restless.

Afterwards, they agreed to meet at a local club for some nightlife experiences. The alternative press would be there and it might be another way to gain attention. For the meantime, they both wanted to shower and relax first. They left it with Reid agreeing to come to the hotel around nine.

Luke took a long shower, letting the warm water caress his body. Then he dried off with a hotel towel and slipped on one of the fluffy hotel robes. He picked out an outfit to wear. He played a little with his hair, combing it in different ways. It was still too early for Reid. Luke threw off the robe and put on his dress pants. Then he picked up his journal, brooding slightly, remembering.


Even before Noah’s accident, our sex life was sporadic at best. I didn’t mind back then. I truly loved him with my whole heart. I thought maybe I was too demanding and emotional, and he was right to withdraw. Noah didn’t like anything involving his mouth. He liked to jerk me off with only his hands. He seemed slightly repulsed when I sucked on him. I never swallowed, he thought that was disgusting. I always went to the sink afterward and had to brush my teeth before he’d tolerate a kiss. And that was before our fight. Before the fireworks he was fooling with exploded. That was our sex life when things were supposedly loving.

The last time Noah and I tried to be intimate was beyond a nightmare. It took me by surprise. He rarely wanted me. But that night, for whatever reason, he was horny. He woke me from a deep sleep. I was confused at first, then I felt the erection. Pleased, I started to get hard, hopeful that we’d at last connect in some way. I leaned into Noah to offer him a kiss.

“Get the stuff,” he said, holding me off with his hand. “We can do that part later.”
I tried once more to meet his lips. I knew that “later” would never arrive. Kissing always meant so much to me, and Noah knew that it did. My lips pressed at his briefly, but he refused to open his mouth.

I went to the night table and handed him the condom and lube. I looked at Noah’s ruined eyes. I hesitated, examining his face. My hand held the thin sheets a moment. The only sound in the semi-dark room was the hissing wind outside, making the window tremble. I looked down and realized that I’d twisted the sheet into a knot, and I forced my hand to relax. If I didn’t try again, I felt like I’d just disappear into nowhere; fear and need struggled inside of me. Tentatively, barely touching him, I attempted to stroke his cock. Noah just sat there a moment on the edge of the bed, his expression almost sullen. Then he swatted my hands away.

“Can we just do this?,” he’d interrupted. His unfocused eyes held no tenderness as he jerked down my sweat pants. My body stiffened up then. I felt a dull shame in the pit of my stomach. Noah could feel my hesitation.

“Look, if you don’t want me – “ he started to say.

“No, I do!” I answered quickly back. “I just need some time to get going. Can you just -“

“I can’t see, Luke! Remember? I can’t be worrying about all of that.” Noah sounded frustrated, edgy and the gulf between us was widening again. I was desperate to cross it. Soon it would be too late; we’d be lost on the other side of something never spoken.

“Okay, sorry! Sorry!”

I attempted to feel excited by the muscles of his chest, his skin, the evidence of his hard-on.

I told myself that my own pleasure wasn’t important; all that mattered was Noah.
I didn’t try and argue anymore. I got on my knees. I thought maybe if I showed him that I would always be there for him, no matter what, I would matter to him again. I could feel his finger swipe on the lube. It was still cold, jolting me. He grunted once as he put on a condom.

“Do you want help?”

“I can do it. Leave it alone.” His erection bumped along his hands as he struggled.

He clumsily rolled it on. I started to guide my body up and at him, but he just said “Don’t.“

His tone was like a master to his dog. And I knew abruptly, who I’d become. I stopped moving as he fumbled his dick up and down my crack, pushing against and then missing my hole repeatedly. Just as it was beginning to be humiliating for both of us, he turned and found the right leverage and made his way inside. I tried to breathe through it. I could hear his guttural sounds, but they seemed remote, as if they were coming from another place. I could feel his sweat dripping on my lower back. Noah was gripping my hips roughly, seeking his own release. As he pounded away, my own erection shriveled. I held the headboard and just tolerated it.

“I- was it what you wanted?” I asked him afterwards, still hoping for some encouragement.

“You always need reassurance” Noah said wearily. “Let’s just sleep.” Then he’d just rolled over.

I was awake the entire night, curled up in a tight ball of misery, listening to his small snores.

That was the final time. After that, Noah still lived in my house and ate my food and took my help, but he never tried to be with me again. I got used to that. I got used to taking care of myself in the shower or quickly in the dead of the night.

But I never got used to the way he made me feel so lonely.



Luke shrank back at the loud knock at his door. He’d been so caught up in his journal that he’d forgotten about the time. Putting the journal away, Luke grabbed his shirt and opened up the door.

Reid stood there looking fantastic. He glanced down at Luke’s naked chest and then at his wet hair.

“I should have known you’d take forever to get ready.” He stepped around Luke, and sat down by the desk, straddling the chair.

“Go ahead, “ Reid said, waving his hand at Luke, “continue to get gorgeous. But if you could stop primping in about an hour, I’d be ecstatic”

“Sure,” Luke said, distracted. “Just a few minutes.”

He went into the bathroom and closed the door, breathing deeply.
Reid is not Noah. He told himself firmly. Then Luke almost smiled. Now that was ridiculous. Noah and Reid were nothing alike. Reid was rude and egotistical and brilliant. He was funny and irreverent. Noah had been straight-laced and serious.

Reid had hidden depths that Luke was only now discovering. Noah had ultimately been shallow. After seeing Reid with his patient and with the babies, Luke sensed that Reid had a sweet, gentle side that he tried to hide from people.

Luke felt calmer now. He opened up his bathroom door and stepped out.

“Sorry,” Luke said. “I’m almost ready.”

Reid cocked his head to one side and studied him. “Everything okay?”

Luke just smiled. “Let’s go clubbing,” he said.


A/n:
Okay- don’t hate me for that Nuke pain! Luke and I will make it up to you in the next part- we promise!

FYI: Most of the places in South Beach in this fic are real, but I made up Long John’s. The guy’s photo fetish, however, is based on a waiter in South Beach who takes pictures like these of his male customers. As for baby cuddling programs, they do exist. But of course, not one in WMB…

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