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Here is the rest of 9 (sorry for this!)
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Title: Without Borders 3/24
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)
A big shout of thanks to the amazing rhiannonhero! Thanks also to traciamc

Without Medical Borders (WMB) is a fictional organization, but is modeled loosely on Doctors Without Borders.
Previous chapter: http://marsabi.livejournal.com/25995.html

Chapter Three

The next day, Reid met Luke in the green room of ‘South Florida Today’, and he actually looked pleased when Luke offered him a latte.

“Ah caffeine,“ Reid sighed and breathed it in. Luke smiled.

“It’s early,“ he agreed. “I didn’t know what you like, but I like the flavored lattes, so-“

Reid nodded at him, “Fine.” A smile played across Reid’s lips, making Luke catch his breath and turn away.

“Are you ready for this?” he asked Reid, fiddling with his coffee cup.

“Sure,“ Reid answered, “bring on the inquisition.”

“You’ll be fine,” Luke said. He automatically reached out and touched Reid’s shoulder. Reid’s eyes followed the movement. He looked down where Luke’s hand rested. Luke abruptly removed his fingers from Reid, feeling like his gesture of good will had become provocative. He focused on his coffee cup again.

After suffering through the makeup girl, Reid was brought onto the show and seated as the cameras started rolling . Molly and Mick, the two hosts, chatted inanely about the weather and sports first. Then they gave an ecstatic caller a trip to the Eden Rock hotel for the night. Luke motioned to Reid from backstage – he was yawning on camera.

Reid rolled his eyes at Luke and Luke again frantically motioned him to stop. He pointed to the cameras.

“Now,” chirpy Molly was saying, “We have our first guest. He is the genius behind our local Without Medical Borders facility, and is here today to share with us some of their new goals and dreams. Dr. Reid Oliver!”

“Dr. Oliver, “ Molly said with enthusiasm, “ have you been at Without Medical Borders long?”

“Didn’t you check?” Reid said annoyed, “I’ve been there ten years. “

“Wow! What a long time!”

“In TV time, I guess. How long has this show been on the air? Ten minutes? I guess you have your five minutes more left.”

Molly was starting to look uncomfortable, she turned to Mick.

Luke, meanwhile, was trying to catch Reid’s attention from off stage. None of this was what they’d rehearsed.

“So, Dr. O, can I call you that?” Mick asked.

“No.”

Mick shifted in his seat, “Oh. Okay, Dr. Oliver…Tell us what’s up next for the WMB? Planning to save more lives?’

“Are we planning…What?” Dr. Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose. “No, we’re thinking about playing a game of chicken with the patients. You know? This one lives or this one dies. “

Molly gave a loud, tittering laugh, “Oh, what a kidder!” She gave Dr. Oliver’s arm a mock punch. ”But really can you answer the question?”

“When you ask something intelligent, “ Reid replied, “’I’ll answer.”

Molly laughed again, “This must be your first –“

“Moment of insanity?” Reid interrupted.

“ - Interview, “ she finished.

“Tell us about WMB,” Mick encouraged him.

“Well, Dick,”

“Mick.”

“If you say so.” Dr. Oliver paused. “ Tell me what you know about WMB.”

“Not much,” Mick chuckled, “I’m more an NBA guy than a WMB,” he laughed at his own joke and so did Molly.

“You’re so funny, Mick!”

“Gee, thanks Molly!”

“Do you two want a moment alone?” Dr. Oliver asked.

“So tell us, WMB is about…what? In your own words?”

“WMB is on the internet, doesn’t anybody do any research here? –“ Reid started to complain.

Luke couldn’t take a second longer of watching Reid ruin his words and ruin WMB’s chance for redemption. Before anybody could stop him, Luke ran out in front of the cameras.

“What Dr. Oliver is saying, “ He told Molly, sitting down next to a stunned Reid, “is that the WMB is a great organization , one that truly cares about people.”

“And you are?” Molly asked.

“I’m Luke Snyder, I’m Dr. Oliver’s partner – “

Luke started to say his partner in the WMB campaign, when Molly interrupted.

“His partner,” she gushed, “hear that everybody? Well, that is so sweet.”

“No,“ Luke tried to correct her, “we work together and –“

“Aww, partners and co-workers. Lovely. We have a lot of couples like you two here in South Florida, “ she glanced down at her phone. ”Oh, in fact, we all love you two already! Our phone lines are lighting up.”

Luke looked around helplessly, as Reid remained glued in shock to his seat. This would be a huge disaster, they’d look like liars and it was worse than anything, unless…

Luke took a deep breath, put a hand on Reid’s knee, and gave the camera his most charming smile.

***

“Just hear me out!”

“No! Of all the stupid, brainless – “ They were back in Luke’s hotel room.

“Listen,” Luke held up his hand near Reid’s chest. “I had to do it. Otherwise, WMB was about to have another scandal. “

“I don’t think-“

“We’d have to admit that I was helping you and you would no longer appear sincere. And maybe this will actually be good for the PR process,” Luke mused.

“How is turning us into a couple good?” Reid demanded.

“Gay is hot,” Luke said, “Think Modern Family? Will and Grace?”

“Those are sitcoms!”

“And this is South Beach. You heard the callers. They wanted to know all about how Without Medical Borders works and about us. They were curious. Hooked. Trust me, gay is hot right now.”

Reid looked so pained that Luke suppressed a smile.

Reid’s eyes narrowed at Luke.

“What does it matter to you, right? You fly off to wherever in a day or two, but I live here.”

“Look, in a week, nobody will remember our part in this whole thing. But meanwhile, this can help the public forget the scandals and focus on something else. And we can educate them on WMB at the same time. It’s just for a few more days, five at the most. “

“Fine,” Reid said slowly, “ I’ll do it, but only if you live up to your hype.“

“What do you mean?”

“I mean show me the money! You’re loaded, right? So I need new equipment, new operating tools, hell…” Reid’s eyes gleamed with challenge, “Why not give me a whole new neuro wing?”

Luke pursed his lips together a moment. He knew Reid was just trying to rile him up.

“Fine,” Luke agreed, “but that means you go in front of the cameras again and we act like a couple.“

Reid’s mouth fell open. “You- you agree?”

Luke shrugged, “You know us rich folks – what’s a few more thousand –“

“Millions.”

“Millions then. It’s for a good cause, right? We can save WMB and build that wing.” Luke paused, “But I have some conditions.”

“Conditions?” Reid folded his arms across his chest.

“You have to be willing to do this right. Take a few days off from work and be with me. I’m sure Jessica will understand. And I want a seat on the board at WMB. Most of all, you have to make a serious effort here, not like your interview today. “ Luke glanced at him. ”We have to practice.”

“Practice?” Reid said warily.

“Learn things about each other. In case they question us. Where you live. When’s your birthday. That sort of thing.”

“So, in other words, if you learn I’m a Pisces and yet ironically allergic to shellfish, people will believe we’re lovers?”

Luke could feel heat rising to his cheeks. “Well, maybe we should also practice, um…you know.” He looked away and tugged at his ear a little.

“Do you want to do that now?” Reid asked softly, stepping closer to him.

“No!” Luke stepped back,” I –I mean we have time to talk all that over.” He could see amusement in Reid’s eyes and frowned at him. “So we agree.” Luke said, changing the subject. “ Tomorrow we can go out early, and then meet up with Mick and Molly for another interview at some hot spot.”

“Fine.”

Luke bit his lip. “Where should we go?”

Reid shrugged, “I don’t know.”

Luke looked at him, “Well, you live here. What’s good?”

“I don’t know,” Reid repeated indifferently.

“Do you ever go out?” Luke asked him. Then he shook his head, “Poor Reid. All work, no play.”

“What can I say?” Reid agreed, “I’m a dull boy.”

Luke laughed, “Fine, I’ll plan the date and then set something up with Molly. Some place that doesn’t serve shellfish, right? “

“It was an example, Einstein. I’m not allergic to anything except stupid people.”

“Are you even a Pisces then?”

Reid stared at him. “Oh, no. I’m starting to itch.” He scratched at his chest with both hands.

Luke blew out a puff of air. “You might be the world’s most brilliant doctor, but as a human being? I have my doubts.”

“Now you’re getting it.“

Luke sighed. “If we’re going to pull this off, then I do need to know things for real.”

“Just don’t forget I want the neuro wing plans in a contract too, and we’ll be fine.”

“Okay, I’ll get my lawyer on that. So…” Luke studied him, ”Deal?”

“Deal.”

Luke stuck out his hand. Reid looked at him, hesitated a moment, and then shook it.

***


I’m average, give or take. Yes, I have money, but for me it was just background. Life still caused me confusion and pain. I’ve seen my parents screaming at each other in the hallways of mansions. I’ve felt like I was starving for something surrounded by opulence. I’ve had my money thrown at me like it could solve all the upheaval and drama my family constantly created.

I met Noah when I was young and desperate to be loved. During my family’s divorce and my mother’s latest mess with my two fathers, I wasn’t skilled at hiding my need. Like a lot of people when they are still teenagers, my emotions were often raw and full of undisguised despair. I craved Noah’s approval and it was like a scent he picked up on with distaste - like my loving him was sour. I didn’t know I could demand anything from him in return. I just groveled until I hated that part of myself as much as he did, but I couldn’t help it. Every moment with Noah was an apology, even before I made him lose his sight.

Once he was blind, I couldn’t save him, and my money was useless. I was so guilty. I wanted to be elsewhere and not staring into his angry, unseeing eyes, his burnt face. He pushed me away in a series of shoves, like he was trying to chop me in half, the way I once chopped at worms as a boy. I used to cut them into pieces just to see them wriggle. He did that to me. Cut me. Sliced me. Watched me squirm. When everybody else said “Poor Noah,” he was severing my heart in two.


Luke shut the journal. He’d been thinking about the way Reid had saved that little girl. Despite their crazy deal, Luke was still impressed with Reid. Thanks to him, Maya would recover and hopefully, live a full life. If only Noah had been that lucky, Luke thought suddenly, so much might have turned out differently. Or would it have mattered at all?

He tossed and turned in bed all night.

***

The next day, Luke picked Reid up in front of WMB building for a lunch to talk strategy. Since he’d need to stay in Miami longer than planned, he’d rented a car.

Reid’s eyes widened as he saw the red Lamborghini.

“Slumming it, are you?” He asked as he opened the door.

Luke grinned and started the engine. He looked at Reid’s face as he the car purred to life.

“Careful, Reid. You’re drooling over the seat,” Luke answered dryly.

“Rich boys,” Reid complained, buckling up.

“My father and I both love cars,” Luke chatted as he drove. “Especially Italian ones.”

He stepped harder on the gas, weaving in and out of traffic.

“So I see,” Reid shot him a look. He held on as Luke took a sharp turn onto the highway.

“Why did I pick you up at the hospital?” Luke asked. “I thought you planned a few days off?”

“I did. But I wanted to look some last minute things over. “

“If we are going to pull this charade off, I’ll need to know more about you. Like where you live!” Luke laughed. Seeing his exit at the last moment possible, Luke shifted and quickly turned.

The car roared.

Reid’s face became white. His knuckles gripped the dashboard.

“Slow down!”

“Sorry,” Luke slowed a little. He took his eyes off the road a second to look over at Reid.

“Keep your eyes on the road,” Reid instructed him.

“Boy,” Luke said, “for somebody who flies all over the world and goes into violent locations, I’m surprised a little fast driving bothers you so much.”

“Just keep your hand on your stick,” Reid grumbled.

“Thought you’d never ask,” Luke teased.

Reid shook his head, “Really? Do you want to play double entendres with me? Should I bring up blowing your tires or burning rubber?”

Biting his lip to hold back a laugh, Luke turned on Collins Ave. A few moments later, they’d arrived at the parking lot of the restaurant. He got out and tossed Reid the keys.

“What’s this?” Reid asked as he caught them in one hand.

“You’re reward. If you do some prepping with me over lunch, I’ll let you drive.”

“Really?”

“Sure. You can even go under the speed limit like all the other elderly people in Miami.”

“Brat,” Reid said, “at least I’m old enough to shave.” He reached out and stroked Luke’s smooth cheek. “Do you even get stubble on that skin?”

Luke looked down at the ground, fighting a blush. He jammed his hands into his pockets. How could one quick touch cause his heart to hammer so strongly? His knees to almost buckle? Luke tried to shake off the tingling feeling.

He forced his eyes to meet Reid’s.

“Let’s just get to work,” Luke said.

***

They ate at the Big Pink, which was a South Beach landmark. A greasy diner that served all kinds of eclectic food, the Big Pink lived up to its name with its bright, neon pink walls. Reid ordered the enchiladas and a milkshake. Luke had the chicken pot pie and a latte.

“Okay,” Luke told him, waving his fork in the air for emphasis,” We meet Mick and Molly in just hours at a dinner and dance place. We need to be ready.”

“I don’t dance,” Reid said flatly.

“Then eat.“ Luke eyed Reid’s already half-finished plate, “I can see you have no problem eating.”

Reid grunted in agreement.

“I told Molly we’d just be having dessert and drinks there, but feel free to have another meal.”

“Finally,“ Reid joked, “something to look forward to.”

Luke bit his lip, trying to ignore the surge of hurt he felt at Reid’s words. It was so stupid to feel hurt. Luke knew this wasn’t a real date; it was just a meeting to plan their public appearance later. He shook his head and tried to focus .

“Why the pout?” Reid asked.

“What?” Luke frowned, “I’m not pouting!”

“Yes, you are.”

“No. I don’t pout,” Luke told him, attempting to relax his lips.

“Whatever, “ Reid said.

Luke wanted to change the subject. He looked at Reid sternly.

”Let’s get back to the basics. We need to know things about each other. And by the way, remember to use my first name.”

“I haven’t been calling you Mr. Snyder.”

“I know but we should still practice. “

Reid just rolled his eyes.

“We should get used to using our names- it should come naturally.”

“Fine, Luke, pass the hot sauce.”

Passing the bottle to Reid, Luke couldn’t help liking the way he said his name. Reid had a deep, sensual voice.

“Where are you from originally?” Luke asked.

“Here and there.”

“Do you like Miami?”

“It’s fine.”

Luke drew in a breath and tried to be patient.

“Are your parents nearby?” Luke persisted.

“No.”

Luke scowled at him. “I really could use more than monosyllabic answers.”

Reid chewed his food a moment. “They died. A car accident. “ He looked down at his plate. “My uncle raised me.”

“Oh.” Luke felt horrible now, remembering Reid’s reaction to his driving. He reached over impulsively and squeezed Reid’s hand. “I’m so sorry.” He gave another warm squeeze.

Luke looked deeply into his eyes and offered Reid a sweet smile of real sympathy.

Reid appeared startled. His eyes darted from their hands back to Luke’s face. Luke smiled at him again.

Reid shrugged, “Long time ago.” But he allowed Luke to hold his hand a second longer, before he pulled away.

There was an awkward pause.

“What about you? “Reid asked slowly, “You mentioned your father?”

“Yeah,” Luke’s face softened. “He lives near me in Rome. But I also have parents in Oakdale, where I’m from…Brothers and sisters there too. Cousins. Grandmothers. “

Reid raised one eyebrow, “Yet you don’t live in Oakdale?”

Luke rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m going for a visit when I’m all done here.”

Reid continued to just look at him, waiting for more. Luke shifted in his chair. “Family’s great,” he said finally, “in small doses.”

“Like taking medicine,” Reid offered, eating again.

“Yeah,” Luke agreed laughing, “just like that.”

“How far along is this relationship?” Reid asked him, ordering an apple pie for dessert.

“Um, what?” Luke nervously sipped on his latte.

“Well, we have to fake a history there too. Are we lovers or just interested in dating at this point?” Reid asked smoothly, biting into the pie. “We should try and generate some sparks or whatever.”

Sparks shouldn’t be hard, Luke thought, considering he felt on fire every time Reid looked at him.

“We’re dating, “ he nodded, “taking it slowly.”

Reid looked him up and down. Then he shook his head. “Bullshit,” Reid said simply. “There would be no way I wouldn’t have hit the sack with you by date one or two. No way.”

Luke just stared at him. “Really?” He asked at last.

“Have you seen you?” Reid flashed a smile, “I’m not that patient a guy.”

Luke felt his heart start that ridiculous beating again. He took a giant gulp of his latte.
He had no idea what to say.

He gazed into Reid’s eyes. His whole body felt flushed with sudden heat.

“You have some whipped cream on your upper lip.” Reid said huskily. He leaned over with a finger and wiped it off. Then he sucked on his finger and gave Luke a wicked smirk, “Guess faking chemistry won’t be a problem, “ he said.

“Right,” Luke said, his own voice a bit high and squeaky. “We act like lovers for them.”

“Works for me,” Reid smiled.
marsabi1: (Default)
Title: Hit and Run
Summary : When Natalie becomes a victim of a hit and run, Luke and Reid must fight for their relationship.
Disclaimer: Owned by ATWT
Warning: some angst, some Cake, some answers
Rating: PG
Part 15

It took about ten minutes for Alison to break down and confess the whole sordid event.

“Chris and I have been seeing each other,” she began, peeking a minute at a white-faced Casey.

“We’re in love!” She added defensively.

“Ali, quiet!” Chris ordered.

Alison shook her head adamantly. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“So you two were together, “ Reid said prodding her on, “the day of the accident.”

Ali bit her lip. She swallowed hard and didn’t dare look at all the Snyders. The Hughes family was also standing all around her. She couldn’t look at their faces either. “Yes. We were coming back from some …alone time. Chris was hung over, so I was driving the family car. I looked at Chris to just – just for a second – I swear! She came out of nowhere!”

“Why didn’t you stop, Ali? Why?” Luke’s voice was thick with hurt.

“We did!” Ali shot back. “We did. But I couldn’t have everybody find us, not together. I wanted to be with Casey – I thought it wasn’t love, not then…” She turned to Casey. “I couldn’t hurt you, not like I did before with Mick and ”

“Gee thanks, you bitch,” Casey growled.

Ali recoiled from him.

“Go on,” Jack said.

“Tell us,” Reid added.

Ali let out a shuddering breath. “I was trying to end it with Chris and still marry Casey, but I – I couldn’t resist him. “ She glanced at a sullen Chris, then continued, “ We did stop for Natalie, but…Chris looked at her. But he said we needed to ditch the car; he promised he’d head right back once he got his own car. He’d go back and examine her. We just had to –
“ Ali stopped talking.

“Get rid of the evidence?” Jack said in a chilly tone. Tom began to pace around the room, while Margo seemed frozen.

“It really wasn’t a hit and run. We stopped! We planned to help her soon. Chris went to his car and headed back to help her.”

Everybody looked at Chris.

His face was expressionless. “I don’t know what she is talking about,” he said.

“Chris did not do this!” Kim added, “You did it Ali and now you are blaming him. You are just like Susan!”

“Shut up!” Ali yelled back. She had actually just called her mother and Emily to hurry over.

“What did you do next, Ali?” Reid asked calmly. He was so logical and focused; he would have made a great Sherlock Holmes in another life.

Ali’s voice trembled now, ” I called Casey and told him- “ she stopped and cried some more.
They all looked at Casey. His face was pale and set.

“She called me and told me she’d had a bad fender bender- hit a dog or something. I saw the blood, but I thought, I swear, that it was a stray that had since run off.”

Ali nodded, “I told him that. Chris told me to tell him that.” She looked at Chris pleadingly. He ignored her.

Casey gulped hard and began to rush his words out:“I took the car, smoking and messed up, to the mechanic. Took Ali to change and go to the hospital…it was only then- “ Casey stared at Luke. “I – I didn’t know about Chris-“ Pain colored his words and he looked sick. “ I –I became suspicious, but everybody kept telling me I was being paranoid. That it had been a dog . Chris. Ali. Even you, Dad.”

“Casey, just be quiet,” Tom said. He stopped pacing and gave his son a look.

“What does he mean?” Margo asked her husband.

“The perfect son,” Chris jeered at Tom.

“Shut up , Chris. I covered up this mess to protect Dad. You told me it was Dad!”

There was a stunned silence. Tom Hughes had covered up a crime. He would be disbarred, maybe worse.

“So how does Bob tie into this?” Asked Holden suddenly, confused. Molly took his hand and held it. Holden refused to allow himself to cry. He repeated his question in a firm voice.

Reid’s mouth twisted up. “Don’t you see? Chris sent Casey on a fool’s errand with the car and then he began to change Bob’s medication as the fall guy. Might as well blame your own father, right?” Reid looked at Chris with disgust. “In your mind, Bob had already betrayed you by suspending you and never giving you the Chief job.”

“No,” Kim moaned, “no, no, no.”

“We are bringing Bob up from his cell right now,” Jack told them.

“I examined him there,” Reid said. “He is better now; I put him back on his real medication.”

“This is too much,” Lily whispered. She looked at Chris and Ali. “You have been in our home countless times. You’ve cared for Natalie at the hospital. How could you-“ She broke off and began to sob.

Luke put a protective arm around his mother. She clung to him. Reid walked over and patted Lily a little on her back. Lily looked up startled and then gave Reid a small smile of thanks.

The door opened and Bob came in. He had eyes for nobody but his son.

“Where did I go wrong with you, Chris?” Bob said sadly.

Chris exploded with anger. “Where did you go wrong? That’s right, I’m always the screw up. Tom is perfect; you’re perfect. I hate being in this family. “ He looked around wildly. “I should have been Chief! It was so easy to convince you, Dad, that you hit Natalie. You kept getting more and more confused. And your precious Ali?” He sneered at Casey, “Just a tramp as always.”

Ali sobbed, finally understanding that Chris had used her as much as the rest of them.

“I wasn’t going down for her.” Chris was raging. “ I woke up at the impact and saw what Ali had done. She and I had been drinking all night; we were tired and at fault. I wasn’t - I had her ditch the car, yes. But I did head back. “ He spared a quick glance at Lily. “I’m not a monster- I wanted to go back. But Margo was there- the police. The ambulance was coming, so…” He shrugged.

“You bastard,” Luke suddenly shouted, startling his family with his language. “Every minute for Natalie mattered.” He went up to Chris. “When I think of my sister struggling to speak a full sentence! Trying to get up from her hospital bed!” Luke screamed hoarsely. “ In therapy ever day, and you think it’s okay cause you were going back for her? “ Tears of helpless rage poured down Luke’s face.

“Easy,” Reid said to Luke, and he took Luke away from them all for a moment.

“Calm down,” Reid said softly.

“Don’t tell me I’m overreacting,” Luke replied heatedly.

“I’m not! Are you kidding? I want to scream a few profanities at him too.”

Luke sniffed, “Really?”

“Absolutely.” Reid gently cupped Luke’s face. “But listen. All yelling will accomplish is getting you thrown out of here, see? Take a breath,” Reid advised. He still held Luke’s face in his palm. He studied Luke, seeing that he was getting it together.

Luke turned his lips into Reid’s palm and sweetly kissed it. “Okay,” Luke said.

“Good,” Reid replied. “I don’t want you arrested right now for disorderly conduct or something. I love you, but I hate the thought of having to visit you in jail. The cells are too small, beds all narrow, and I’d have to fight for your honor with some guy named Bubba.”
Reid shook his head in mock horror, making Luke smile.

Reid smiled back, “There’s the Luke I like to see. “ He patted his cheek.

Together, they went back to the others.

“So Doogie,” Reid drawled ,” You were telling us all about your good deeds?”

Chris ignored Reid. He turned to Margo. “I went back. It was really all just an accident. “

“You father’s medication?”Reid pushed suddenly, “They just accidentally got switched too? You …What? Suddenly couldn’t read pill bottles? Became spontaneously dyslexic? “

Chris’s face went hard. His boyish good looks not disguising his ugliness now.

“Shut up, Oliver! None of this is your business!”

“We’re his family and this is his business ,”Holden said. “And I am wondering how any son could do a thing like that?”

“Chris,” Margo added in a sad voice, “To try and get a job is one thing, but to actually blame him for a crime?”

“ Look,” Chris searched his mind for a good spin on it. “…I didn’t plan to involve him at first. I only switched his medication to persuade Dad about Memorial. He was letting Oliver here take over everything! He didn’t see me! I just wanted to have some influence on him again. To have him make me Chief.”

Bob just sat in complete shock. It was Lily who actually got up and comforted him. Bob could not look at his son.

“I didn’t plan to do all this,” Chris defended his actions again. “Not at first.”

“Man’s a boy scout,” Reid muttered.

“So why involve Bob in the rest? “ Margo was demanding. “Why frame him?”

He shrugged. “ Carly would have been fine as my scapegoat. But it didn’t happen that way.”
Jack started at Chris, and he backed away. Margo held up a hand at Jack.

“But when Carly didn’t work out due to a lack of evidence, you decided to use Bob,” Reid said, he kept the interrogation moving as much as the cops. He wanted Chris to confess it all.

Chris glared at Reid. “I knew it was only a matter of time before the car might be found. Margo kept on digging.”

“And you went along with it,” Casey spoke suddenly to Alison.”You had me convinced my granddad was sick and that I was being silly about the car and all this time- it was you .”

Ali had been rocking back and forth in misery, crying. Now she looked at Casey, wiping away her black-streaked eye liner.

“I- I’m not a bad person,” She cried out. “I – Chris said if we let Bob take the blame that no court in the country would convict a confused old man, and I really did think his dementia had gotten worse. I didn’t know Chris had changed his medication.” She pulled guiltily at her hair, twisting it around. “ Plus, by then, I thought Chris and I were in love and it was more than a fling now… I – he told me what to do!”

Casey turned away from her.

“It seems the only one knowing all the information here was Chris,” Holden said. “He convinced Bob that he was guilty and then made Tom believe it too.”

Reid nodded, “Yep. Doogie is the definition of an opportunist. He used Casey and Tom to cover things up and let Ali think they had a future to keep her going along with it all. He could cover up the crime and be Chief.”

Holden and Reid nodded at each other – a good team.

There was a moment of silence as everybody took in the crime.

“Where did we fail?” Bob asked Kim sadly.

Kim shrugged away from him. “Chris, my Chris, is ill.” She told Bob in a pleading voice. “ He needs help!” She would never abandon Chris. She’d just have to make Bob see that he was sick and not to blame.

“I want a lawyer,” Chris said, not even looking at his crying parents. “And not Tom!”

“I wouldn’t represent you ever, “ Tom snarled.

“How could you be sucked into this?” Margo asked Tom sadly. “Even out of love for Bob? “

Tom had no answer. He was basically a weak man.

Margo wrapped a protective arm around Casey.

“I want a lawyer too!” Ali said. She tried to reach out for Casey, who shrank away and let Margo hug him tightly.

“You are all going to pay for what you did,” Lily vowed.

“For once, we agree,” Holden told her. Molly shot Lily a jealous look that everybody else ignored.

Meanwhile, Luke felt like he’d been punched in the guts. He leaned into Reid.

“You were right about Bob,” Luke whispered. “ I should have listened.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Reid whispered back and kissed Luke’s head.

“I’ll get out of this,” Chris was saying, “It was Ali driving, not me!”

Nobody even answered him. Bob was comforted by a compassionate Lily and Holden, while Kim dialed lawyers and cried. Susan and Emily arrived and hugged Ali. Jack checked in with Carly at their home.

Casey broke off Margo’s hug and slowly approached Luke.

“I’m sorry. I was such a fool to believe all the lies. I should have known . Listened to my gut. ”

Luke held out a hand, “It’s your family and your girlfriend…I -I’m sorry for you!”

The two friends embraced with great emotion.

Then they stepped back and watched as Ali and Chris were finally led to their cells.

***
Outside the station, Luke watched as Reid and Bob shook hands . Reid had offered to go to the hospital for Bob, but Bob wanted to go too. It was the only place left that still made sense to him. He and Reid agreed to go together. Their handshake went on for a long time, both men not wanting it to end. Luke was glad Bob would have Reid to help him. He waved goodbye and watched the car until it disappeared from sight.

“He was very good in there,” Lily commented, coming up behind Luke.

“What?”

“Reid,” she said, “he’d be a good cop.”

“He’d enjoy the doughnuts anyhow,” Luke laughed, “And he is pretty much good at everything.”

Lily almost smiled at that. She reached out a hand and rested it on Luke’s shoulder.

“You really love him, huh?”

Luke shrugged.

“Don’t worry, I finally am seeing that. I guess, it’s been so hard, you don’t know.”

“What?”

“Losing you.”

Luke looked at her in surprise. “Mom, you don’t have to lose me- “

“But I do. It’s right that I do. You have your own life, and that’s what really hurt me.
Seeing you move so far from me and be with Reid.”

“I’ve had other boyfriends,” Luke replied, puzzled.

Lily shook her head, “Noah was more like another son. He followed my rules. He never took you far away from me. But with Reid, it’s adult. “

Luke was silent a second. “I guess, that’s true. I mean with Reid I am trying to build a whole partnership –a life.”

Lily nodded. “And that is what’s hard for me- to let you go. Really let go. I see now that I was blaming Reid, and I’m sorry.” Lily wiped away a stray tear. “ It’s just I have no husband- my house is empty. I don’t know how to be without a man,” Lily admitted quietly. “And without all my kids too. Faith hates me most of the time, Ethan always wants to be at the farm . Natalie went to you.” Lily dabbed at her eyes.

“Mom, Natalie is just with us for this week. Reid told you she can move back to your house by New Year’s.”

“I know, but she is my baby,” Lily smiled. “It’s still hard. I guess I need to work on being okay when I’m alone.” Lily took a deep breath.

Luke smiled and hugged his mother. “You’re not alone. I am always a phone call away, alright?”

Lily hugged her son with all of her strength, “Thank you. My sweetheart. I love you.”

“I love you.”

“Good thing Reid’s not here,” Lily added.

Luke stiffened, “Why?” he asked cautiously.

“Cause, “ Lily laughed and made a face, “he made it pretty clear to me- no more drama. “

“Yeah,” Luke laughed too, “that sounds like him.”

She took her son’s hand, “He and I are very different people, but I am going to try a lot more with him. Okay?”

Tears formed in Luke’s eyes, “Mom,’ he said, “That means a whole lot.”

***

The next day, Reid and Luke attempted to meet and pick up some dinner from Al’s; Reid had worked round the clock at the hospital again, trying to help an emotional Bob focus. This was Luke and Reid’s only time together. But as soon as they entered Al’s, they saw Casey sitting there, not touching his giant cheeseburger and fries, and looking lost. Luke and Reid exchanged glances and slowly approached him.

“I just can’t go home,” Casey said to them in greeting.

“Sorry,” Luke said to him.

Casey shrugged. “Love sucks.”

“You’ll find another girl someday,” Luke said softly, “ You’ll love again.”

“I don’t know," Casey said. “I might be done.”

“No,“ Reid said, “Luke’s right. Just get back out there, there are lots of other cheating lying girls in Oakdale.” He ate one of Casey’s fries.

“Reid!”Luke scolded.

But Casey gave a laugh and then laughed so hard he held his sides, “Yeah, I’ve already dated some of those too. Emily? Vienna? Ali? Oakdale ladies all. ”

Then to all their surprise, Casey grabbed Reid and squeezed him. “Thanks. I don’t know the last time anybody made me laugh.”

“Um,” Reid actually blushed, “I’m going to go and get our take out order.”

Luke smiled in amusement. He winked at Casey. Then he followed Reid up to the counter.

“Listen, I know we made plans at home to eat, but –“ Luke gestured to Casey.

“No, okay,” Reid said in understanding, “go and do what you need to do.”

“You don’t mind?”

“Well, I’ll miss you,” Reid grinned, “but I have some nourishment so- “

“You’ll survive on chili and corn bread,” Luke added with a returning smile.

They kissed goodbye. Luke let his eyes admire Reid in his jeans as he left.

Luke went back to Casey and they sat together eating awhile in silence.

Casey finally spoke. “I know Ali did the crime too and God I hate her, but Chris- he just messed with everybody in the family. All of us,” Casey’s voice roughened.

Luke did not answer. He had nothing good to say about Ali or Chris.

“I thought Ali changed, after Mick Dante. I thought she really changed, “ Casey added.

Luke sighed. “I used to think things like that- not anymore. People don’t change really.”

“What do you mean?”

“I used to think like that with Noah. That if I just worked harder at it, if I were just was a little better a boyfriend –“

“Luke, you were a great boyfriend to that loser.”

Luke grinned. “But he never made me feel like I was…I just kept thinking if I worked more at it, he’d change. He’s stop judging me so harshly or appreciate me more- he never really did. You know? “

They fell into another silence.

“Well,’ Casey said, “my parents have been great. Dad is admitting what he did and facing the consequences and Mom has been awesome to me.”

“Good.”

“But things are so screwed up. You’re so lucky, Luke, “Casey said suddenly.

“What? Why?”

Casey took a bite of his burger. He shrugged. “You family is pretty solid right now and you’re with a guy who really loves you.”

“Yeah-“ Luke said, although he felt a little sad at the word guy and not fiancée.

“What?” Casey asked, seeing his friend’s look.

“It’s nothing, stupid.”

“Spill. I want to hear something other than Poor Casey right now.”

“I just wanted to get married in this coming year to Reid and now…Cause we fought and you know-“

“Over Natalie, right? God, that is on my family too.”

Luke waved his hand away, ”No, that’s on me. I messed up with him. Anyhow, I don’t think marriage is coming this year or any time soon.”

Casey chewed a moment. “Let me ask you a question.”

“Shoot.”

“Can you see Dr. O ever running around town cheating on you? Lying about things and sneaking around?”

Luke shook his head. “No.”

“Yeah, me either.” Casey smiled. “That guy has it so bad for you ,Snyder. So what does a piece of paper really matter right now?”

“I guess,” Luke said slowly and he did feel better listening to Casey. “It’s just, hard to explain, but it is something I really, really want with him. That’s all.”

“That’s cause ever since we were kids you’ve been just a girly-girl at heart,” Casey tossed a fry at Luke.

Luke caught it and popped it in his mouth. “More man than you are, Hughes. I can still whoop your ass on the basketball court.”

“In your dreams.”

“We’ll see when the snow is gone. “

“It’s a bet,” Casey told him.

Luke smiled at his oldest friend, “I love you, Case, “ he told him. He hated to see Casey
hurting so deeply.

“See?” Casey made a face, “You’re a total girl. “ Then he reached out and punched Luke lightly on the arm in thanks.

Casey sighed. “I probably do need to date outside of this town. “ Casey looked at Luke a moment, “Dr. O doesn’t have like some smoking hot sister, hidden away some place does he?”

Luke laughed. “Not that I know of.”

“Too bad, man, too bad.”

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December 2011

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