Jun. 21st, 2011

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.

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December 2011

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