Mar. 29th, 2011

marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Without Borders 13/14
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: none
Rating: PG- NC-17
First of all, a big shout of thanks to the amazing rhiannonhero! Thanks also to lovely traciamc

Chapter Thirteen

By the time Luke woke hours later and showered, finally headed to WMB, the hospital was already busy. Sirens blared in the distance, nurses scurried by him, and the smell of disinfectant and hospital meals hung in the air. Luke started determinedly to Reid’s office. He was still shocked that their fight had gotten so out of hand, that they’d spent a night apart. He wondered how Reid would greet him now. He couldn’t help thinking of Noah and his long grudges. Reid might not want to see him. But Luke needed to try. If Reid would only ask him to stay - he would.

“Luke!”

Jessica waved at him.

“Hi.”

“Hi! How’s your father doing this morning?”

“Good, I think.”

“That was a great night we had.” Jessica was flushed and smiling. Luke sighed. Damian always had the ladies flushing.

“It was fun. Um, is Reid here?”

“Oh. Haven’t you heard?” Jessica sighed, unsmiling now.

“About what?”

“That patient I called Reid in for? We tried. Reid operated an hour ago, but we lost him.”
Jessica broke off sadly. “He was 18 years old.”

“That’s awful.”

Jessica nodded. “Reid took it hard. It had looked good there, in the surgery, he did everything right. “

“Then what happened?”

“Post Op complications.” Jessica shook her head. “Very common thing.”

“Is Reid in his office?” Luke asked her.

“Yeah, I think so.”

“I’ll go check on him.”

“That’s good,” Jessica nodded, “he could use seeing your face.”

She walked off.

Luke just hoped she was right.

***

Carefully, Luke opened the door to Reid’s office and poked his head inside. Reid was just standing there, looking lost in thought. Luke drank in the sight of him.

“I’m so sorry,” Luke said.

Reid jumped in surprise. “What’re you doing here?”

He looked tired, Luke thought, he had circles under his eyes. All thoughts of their fight vanished from Luke’s mind, and he just wanted to wrap his arms around Reid.

“I just heard and I’m sorry,” Luke offered again, coming closer to him.

He hesitated a split second, unsure if Reid would welcome a hug from him. So Luke let his hand touch Reid’s cheek instead. Reid kept his eyes on Luke’s and then swallowed hard as if he were in pain. He leaned his body into Luke’s and their foreheads touched. Luke rubbed his other hand up and down the small of Reid’s back. Despite their unresolved fight, Luke was so happy to be touching Reid.

“A dumb kid,” Reid murmured, his breath near Luke’s cheek, “on his stupid motorcycle without a helmet.” He shuddered a second. “Idiot.”

“I know, so terrible. I don’t know what to say.”

He could feel Reid’s shrug, “Nothing to say. That’s it.”

Luke looked at him. “Do you want to come to the hotel with me now?”

“Why? Does somebody there need a neurosurgeon?”

“Reid.” Luke wanted to help him so badly. He equally wanted to discuss the night before and make things up with Reid. He felt a little lost on how to go about either task. Luke could tell that Reid’s defenses were up again, the moment of touching over.

Sure enough, Reid straightened up. “I’m not off until four.”

Luke could sense so much feeling beneath Reid’s surface. Luke ignored his slightly cold, abrupt voice and stared into Reid’s eyes. He could just see the emotions churning there. It only made Luke more determined to help him.

“But with losing a patient,” Luke began.

“I have other patients.” Reid’s voice was crisp now. He began to move around the room.

“But you’re hurting?”

Reid gave him a look. “Pretty sure the guy down the hall with the brain cancer is hurting more.”

Bewildered, Luke just stared at him. He knew Reid was upset, but he wasn’t letting Luke in. Luke took a deep breath.

“It wasn’t your fault.” Luke took a step to him. “Patients die.”

“I know that,” Reid shot him an impatient glance. “They cover that in medical school on day one.”

Reid went to his locker and pulled out his white coat.

“You don’t have to put up a front for me,” Luke protested, following him.

“It’s not a front. “

“I’m trying to comfort you,” Luke said.

“Well, get over that impulse. I’m fine.”

Reid began to sort through his desk drawer. Luke studied Reid’s face.

“That was your cue to go,” he said to Luke.

“I want to help,” Luke said stubbornly.

“Terrific. Write a letter to the state asking for some helmet laws in Florida.”

Luke shook his head. “You can try and hide this, Reid, but it won’t work with me. Talk to me.
I know you care about that patient you just lost. “

“Look,“ Reid said. “It doesn’t matter what I feel. Dragging my feet and feeling sorry for myself? Boo-hooing about it all? It’s a waste of my time.”

“So you’re over it?” Luke said skeptically.

Reid shrugged.

Luke could see him just gathering his strength, a fierce focus was on Reid’s face now. Luke couldn’t help but admire that about Reid.

“I don’t know how you do it,” Luke admitted, “move on like this.”

“You just do.“ He looked at Luke. “You get a thicker skin. “

“You make it sound easy.”

“No. Necessary.”

Luke frowned at that. It was so different from the way he was made. “I don’t know if I could ever be a doctor, “ Luke said. “I’d mourn every patient. I’d go over and over the loss.”

“Well, I don’t mourn them.”

“You’re just tougher than I am,” Luke said, almost accusingly. “I wish- “ he broke off. “Were you like that from your very first patient? Just forget them and everything? Go right to the next one?”

“I never said I forget them,” he sounded offended. “ I said I don’t mourn them. “ Reid hesitated. ”I save them. Some of them. The important ones. “

Luke was confused, “Save them?”

Reid held up a hand a moment. Then he turned and got his phone out. He gave it to Luke. Luke looked at the picture of a young man, clearly dead. He flinched.

“You save these?” Luke could barely look at the photo. “Why?”

Reid didn’t say anything. Luke looked at the picture again. He saw it was one of several on Reid’s phone. He scrolled through.

“Who is this one?” He asked softly. She looked like a pale, broken doll.

Reid looked. “Jenny. Six years old. Brain tumor. Big as a fist. “ Reid paused. “She’d probably be twelve now, be some poor crazy, pubescent brat in middle school - “ he trailed off. Luke hit the next picture.

“And him?”

“Paul. He should be a baseball star now. He was a great athlete. All American. Massive blood hemorrhage. Too much bleeding…“

“And this older man?”

“Mr. Gonzalez. Tough bastard,” Reid’s voice was rough with admiration. “He survived years longer than other doctors told him he would.”

“What happened with him?”

“The inevitable.”

Reid took the phone back abruptly and closed it.

“We’re done with this trip down memory lane.”

Luke refused to let Reid turn all dismissive again. He purposely let his fingers brush against Reid’s in a feather light touch.

“Thank you for sharing this with me,” Luke said in a gentle voice.

Reid stared at him a second. He glanced down at their fingers. Then he nodded.

“So I think I understand now. You don’t get sad,” Luke said slowly, “you get angry.”

“No, I get even,” Reid said firmly. “ I go to the next one and fight harder. I use the loss and train better. Fuck, Luke, I try and kick death’s ass.”

They walked to Reid’s office door.

He looked at Luke a moment. Then Reid suddenly shifted his feet and stared off. “We didn’t get around to why you’re here exactly.”

Luke shrugged. This was no time to go over what happened last night. “To see my favorite doctor.”

Reid’s mouth lifted at that.

“Meet me after,” he gestured to the hospital, “ alright?”

Luke nodded, a big smile shooting across his face. “I’ll be back at four. “

Reid looked somewhat relieved. “Hey, um I appreciate, well …you know. ”

Luke smiled at him a moment more. Despite the earlier fight, the connection between them was palpable again. Luke gave Reid a shy, coquettish glance.

They stepped out into the corridor. Luke looked at the hallway. A nurse was running near a patient’s cart, comforting him. Another doctor was chatting with a woman standing with an IV. All around, more illness, more hopes to get better. Reid was right. He was needed. Luke would have to wait.

Luke fixed the collar of Reid’s white coat. “Go on back to the fight,” he told him.

“I’ll see you,” Reid said. His eyes rested on Luke with a laser-like intensity that made Luke blush.

Luke nodded. ”See you at four.”

***

An hour later, Luke sat on the beach, his knees at his chest. He looked at the ocean. It was choppy water today, a turbulent color. The waves were fierce and unrelentingly pounding the beach. There were no shells visible, just small clumps of seaweed. Luke breathed in the salty air. He studied the horizon, where the water met the sky.

Luke took his journal out and turned to a blank page.

Today I learned something. I thought I’d let Noah go, just because I wanted to. But he is still with me.

Noah has been the villain in my story for a long time. And some place, out there, I’m no doubt the villain in his version of us.

It no longer matters. Noah and I are dead. What I’ve been carrying for two years is not Noah. It’s that dead relationship that I keep on mourning. I keep on searching for answers as to why it got so sick and looking to see if I am to blame. I’ve been carrying around the weight of our failure like an awful secret.

What I finally see is that it doesn’t matter. It’s over. I need to let it go and move on to my next fight. I may not be a doctor fighting for the next patient, but I can fight for my next chance at love.


Luke closed the journal. Memories never faded, not really. They could return from out of the darkness, and some memories remained sharp, coming at you like an arrow. But it was how you dealt with them that mattered. Luke felt light as he walked back to his car. He climbed into the front seat and quickly made a few phone calls to Rome. Then he opened up his computer. He set up the web camera on it, hooking it up.
Luke called the number he knew by heart.

“Mom,” Luke said, when Lily’s face filled his screen. “How are you?”

“Fine, baby. But why haven’t you returned my calls?”

Luke could see his father Holden in the background.

“I’m sorry. But I wanted to talk to you now. And Dad. “

Holden came over and greeted him.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Luke said. “Well, two things. The first is, I’m in
love with somebody here in Miami, and I might not make it home for a little while. But the second thing is about Noah and me.”

“Noah?” Lily said.

“Wait- you’re in love?” Holden asked.

Luke smiled at them. He took a deep breath and began.

***

It had gone well. His parents had been shocked at how ugly Luke and Noah’s relationship had ended, and they listened with rapt attention about Reid. As Luke finally closed his laptop, after promising them a visit for real this time, he felt incredibly good. He glanced out at the immense ocean. It was even rougher now, the waves were really kicking up. Luke stripped down to his boxers, not caring how he looked. He dove into the blue water, using his whole body to fight the current. The day was hot , the sun high and warm. He swam out, riding up and over the waves. He laughed as he felt the sea lift him up. He even laughed as it slammed him down. Underneath the water a moment, Luke felt that pressure in his lungs right before he burst back to the surface. He breathed out. Another wave approached. Luke just got right back up and rode it. The water radiated with light. He felt free, exhilarated. Luke’s arms and legs moved confidently. The waves carried Luke to the shore and he was not afraid.

***

Then Luke went back to WMB. Jessica’s eyes widened at the sight of him, all wet and sandy. She recovered quickly. “I’m afraid Reid has gone back into another surgery.”

“I know, I tried his office.” Luke smiled. “I just wanted to leave something for him there. Can you let me in?”

“Sure.” They walked together.

“I’m meeting your father tonight,” Jessica told Luke with a faint blush.

“That’s great.” Luke looked at her. ”But you know he leaves town in the morning.”

“I know,” Jessica smiled at him as she unlocked Reid’s office, “I’m enjoying his attentions, but my eyes are clear.”

Luke smiled, relieved to hear that. He looked at her. “Would you mind if I wrote Reid a note privately and then locked it?”

“Go ahead. I think I can trust you,” Jessica laughed.

Jessica left. Luke waited until the office was silent.

It felt odd to stand in Reid’s office without him.

Luke walked over to his desk. Reid had not one personal item. It made Luke a little sad. It made him hope to change that.

Luke took out his journal and placed it down. Then he took out the packet of mini doughnuts he’d bought Reid from the vending machine. He put those down too.
Luke took a small piece of scrap paper and a pen. He wrote a simple note.

You already know the facts that are in this journal. But you don’t know all the whys. The emotions. I think it explains a lot, and I want you to read it. Please. I will give you two hours. A guy with a photographic memory shouldn’t need any longer, right? Meet me at 6 at this address. Luke added the address and then hesitated. He wasn’t sure how to end the note to him. Then he sighed and simply added Love, Luke PS –enjoy the doughnuts.

Luke left the office, feeling lighter, his hands dangling free.


***

One more stop, then he could be with Reid and not have to look back again. He could finally tell Reid how much he wanted to stay.

Luke stood outside his father’s room and knocked.

Damian answered, a towel flung around his hips and a shaver in his hands. “Luciano?” He gestured for him to come inside. “I was just getting ready to meet Jessica.”

Luke smiled at him. He looked at his father’s strong hands holding the razor. Then he looked into Damian’s eyes.

“I’m not going back to Rome, “ Luke said. “I’m remaining here.”

He held up a hand, when Damian opened his mouth to speak. “And yes, it is because of Reid. But it’s also just time.” Luke’s eyes were moist suddenly. “I know I owe you a huge debt for helping me through the worst time in my life, but I want to be here, in Miami. I want to run the foundation from here and I want to start my own PR firm.”

“You do?”

“Yes,” Luke flashed him a smile. “I want something that’s just mine, that I can build myself. I think Miami has a lot of potential for a PR firm here. Anyhow,” Luke looked at him again, “have I really disappointed you?”

“If I say yes,” Damian replied, “will you come back to Rome?”

“No.”

Damian smiled, his teeth flashing. “Good for you then, Luciano!”

“You’re not angry?”

Damian shrugged. “Disappointed that I won’t see you every day, that we won’t work side by side, yes. Angry- no.” Damian began to dress for his date. He took out an expensive suit and tie. “I almost expected it, truthfully. “

“I do love him, “ Luke said softly.

Damian nodded, “You love deeply and well. I was concerned at first.”

“Not now?” Luke watched Damian splash on some of his cologne.

Luke rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet a moment. “Do you like him?” He asked almost bashfully.

He came to Luke then and touched a little cologne onto Luke’s cheek with a friendly smack. “He’s arrogant, rude. Yes, I like him.” He grabbed Luke by the shoulders. “I think he might be good for you.”

Damian released him.

“I think so too- “ Luke started to say, then his eyes narrowed. “Wait a minute. I thought you were testing Reid last night. But you were testing me too, weren’t you?”

Damian shrugged. “I needed to make sure.”

Luke started to reprimand him, but then he saw the clock by Damian’s bed. “Aw no! Is that really the time? I’m totally late right now.” The last thing Luke needed was Reid thinking he was stood up. “I gotta go.” He raced over to Damian and gave him a huge hug. “But thanks, and enjoy your date with Jessica.”

“I plan to,” Damian said in amusement- watching Luke dash around frantically- “You enjoy yours.”

“I will,” Luke opened the door. He stopped a moment and looked at Damian, “I am driving you to the airport tomorrow, no arguments.”

Damian smiled, “You just want to drive my car.”

“Ciao, Dad.”

“Ciao, Luciano.”

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December 2011

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