Word Count: 2,904
Pairings: Luke/Noah, Luke/Reid, Noah/OMC
Previous Chapters: Chapters 40-41
Disclaimer: Just for fun, not for profit.
Author's Note: Sorry for the slightly late update. I actually meant to have this up last night but I was too busy cussing out Ryan Murphy and Glee on numerous message boards for the absolute craptastic shit they pulled with Kurt/Blaine. So let's just say I had a lot of feelings.
Also I'm sure some are going to read this and wonder why it's not the last chapters because it certainly feels like an ending. Well let's just say there's still some resolution I feel is necessary for the characters, that I didn't just want to throw into a short epilogue. But the story is almost over which both excites me and saddens me. Now onto the chapters. Enjoy...
“Luke,” Holden said, a flicker of surprise on his face as Luke slowly walked into the barn.
“Didn’t hear you walk up.”
“Yeah sorry,” Luke said softly, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s okay,” Holden said, before turning back to tend to one of the horses, adding, “just kind of surprised to see you here. Little early in the day to be home isn’t it?”
“Yeah well it's Friday, I figured I’d let everyone get an early start on the weekend.”
“That’s nice of you,” Holden said, quietly adding, “Everything okay?”
Call it natural parental intuition but he knew almost instantly that something was going on, something that Luke clearly needed someone to talk to about.
“That obvious, huh…”
“Nah, not really,” Holden smiled, “but I’m a parent, more importantly I’m your parent. It’s kind of my job to pick up on these things. So what’s going on?’
“Where do I start,” Luke said, giving a hollow chuckle.
“Doesn’t matter,” Holden said. “Just talk about whatever it is you’re going through.”
“Okay,” Luke said slowly, deciding to get the most shocking parts out of the way first; “well for starters, Noah and I slept together.”
His dad reacted pretty much exactly the way he’d expected. Staring at Luke with wide, slightly confused eyes, Holden finally said quietly, “okay I was wrong. How about you start from the beginning?”
“How much time do you have,” Luke asked a little sarcastically.
“For you,” Holden said calmly, “I have all the time in the world.”
“Thanks dad,” Luke muttered and then he began to talk and for the next fifteen to twenty minutes he shared everything.
He talked about the first kiss on Emma’s porch, his suggestion that he and Noah put some distance and boundaries between them, Noah coming to see him before leaving for New York, his going to New York to support Noah and his film, their sleeping together and of course his ultimatum. He was almost out of breath by the time he was done.
“Wow…” Holden muttered quietly to himself.
“Yeah, I know,” Luke answered, trying to distract himself by stroking the back of one of the horses.
“We had no clue all of this was happening, your mom and I…”
“I mean she knew something was up when Noah asked to stay at the hotel but she didn’t want to pry and…”’
“Wait what,” Luke said; the hand stroking across the horse’s back immediately stilled.
“Oh yeah,” Holden said. “About two weeks ago Noah moved into your mom’s hotel but he didn’t go into any details about why he suddenly needed a place to stay.”
“He told Adam the truth about what happened in New York,” Luke said, both sounding and looking a little numb.
“Well that’s a good thing right,” Holden said, “maybe a good sign for you two?”
“Not really,” Luke said. “It just means Noah’s not a liar. I knew no matter who he decided to be with, he was always going to be honest with Adam about what happened.”
“You said he had two weeks to give you an answer right?”
“When are the two weeks up?”
Eyes fixed on the beautiful shiny coat of one of the prized thoroughbred, Luke whispered, “It was up six days ago.”
“So why didn’t you call him?”
“Isn’t that kind of obvious,” Luke said, still avoiding his dad’s eyes, this time staring hard at the ground. “I’m afraid of what he’s going to say. The longer I hold off on calling Noah and speaking to him, the longer I can lie to myself and pretend that there’s still hope for us.”
“What makes you so sure there isn’t?”
“Come on dad,” Luke said, a tiny emotional catch in his voice, “if Noah really wanted to be with me, he wouldn’t need days much less weeks to figure that out and he’d certainly not make me wait past our agreed time. No, he’s probably doing his own avoidance of me because he doesn’t know how to tell me he’s chosen to stay with Adam because it means breaking my heart.”
“I still say that’s a big assumption to make without even talking to him,” Holden said, before adding, “But assuming you’re right, what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Luke shrugged, “cry until I’m all cried out and then slowly try to pick up the pieces and move on.”
“Well no matter what,” Holden said, slapping his dusty gloves across the barn door, “your mom and I are here for you.”
“Thanks dad,” Luke said softly, “that means a lot.”
“I’m going have a quick walk around the lake, do some thinking.”
“Okay,” Holden said, the look in his eyes one of obvious concern. “Just remember, you don’t really know anything until you actually talk to Noah.”
“I know but I just…I just need a little time.”
And with that said, he turned and headed out of the barn.
Luke spent the next few minutes walking around the lake before settling down near the edge. He thought about his dad’s words and more than anything he wanted to believe that he and Noah still had a chance, wanted to hope that Noah was just making sure to truly end things with Adam before coming to him.
But every day that passed without a phone-call, a voice mail, text message, email or any form of communication, the deeper his heart sunk and the more painful the aching hurt in his chest became. And the more convinced he became that it was over - Noah had chosen his life with Adam over a life with him.
And as hard as that was to accept, as painful of a reality as it was, Luke understood. So much had happened between them and so much time had passed. They had been a couple of giddy teenagers when they’d first fallen in love, convinced that their love would conquer everything until they’d grown up and realized it didn’t work like that in the real world.
And it occurred to Luke that maybe when Noah thought about it, he’d decided that choosing Luke, trying to rekindle what they once had would be like taking a step backwards. They’d had their moment and in so many ways it had been a great love but maybe Noah didn’t want to revisit that love, maybe he’d realized that what he had with Adam was where his future really lay. And once again, Luke really couldn’t blame him if he had.
Noah had grown so much and succeeded despite everything. He’d succeeded at Grad school and now had his film shown at one of the most renowned film festivals in the country. In many ways his life had moved far beyond small town Oakdale and his 18 year old love.
It was going to hurt more than anything ever had in his life, Luke knew, but he would survive. He would find happiness again. It might not ever be the intense, transcendent, soul-baring love he shared with Noah but it would be something strong and satisfying. After all, Noah had found that joy and love with Adam after leaving Oakdale heartbroken about their relationship.
He was going to be okay…eventually. Once Luke slowly made his peace with that realization, he decided he was ready to see Noah and get the conversation over with. He watched the late afternoon sun bounce sparkling circles off the lake as he steadied himself for what was probably going to be his goodbye with Noah.
Luke’s plans to call Noah the next day and set up a time and place to meet, were thwarted by Noah himself.
He had just placed the last of the dishes into the dishwasher, when he heard the light knock on the door. Not even thinking for a second that it might be Noah, he casually walked to the front door to let whoever it was in, and then his heart dropped.
He wasn’t ready. He thought he was but he wasn’t. He had given himself another 24 hours to prepare, to figure out what he’d say, how he’d say it and most importantly, how he’d do it without falling apart. He just needed a few more hours.
But unfortunately, no matter how many times he blinked, he found that he wasn’t dreaming and Noah really was standing behind the screen door, his face an unreadable mask of emotions. Slowly pushing the screen door, allowing Noah to step inside, Luke whispered, “hi…”
“Hi,” Noah whispered back, before adding, “can we talk?”
“Umm sure,” Luke said, trying desperately to ignore the loud pounding of his heart.
“Do you want to come in?”
“Umm,” Noah frowned slightly, before asking softly, “Can we walk a little instead?”
“Of course,” Luke said, heading towards the hall closet to grab a light jacket.
He nervously put it on while his heart continued to pound erratically in his chest. He tried desperately to read Noah’s face, to find some small sign of what he was thinking, what he was going to say but this was quite possibly the most expressionless Luke could remember ever seeing Noah.
They stepped out onto the porch and proceeded to walk for a few minutes, no clear destination in mind. They eventually ended up near the barn.
Luke took the opportunity to distract himself and more importantly look away from Noah’s still expressionless face, by playing with a few sheaths of hay
“I’m sorry for not calling or coming to see you sooner,” Noah said softly. “I know we agreed on two weeks.”
“It’s okay,” Luke said, “besides I don’t know if we agreed so much as I demanded.”
“Either way, I’m sorry for not being here sooner.”
“You do,” Noah said, a hint of confusion in his voice.
Deciding that he couldn’t take the uncertainty anymore or the weird tension, Luke sighed a little loudly before saying, “Can we just get this over with quickly Noah?”
“What,” Noah asked, now looking and sounding more than just a little confused.
“I know the reason you haven’t been to see me is because you’re avoiding me and I know the reason you’re avoiding me is because you’re trying to work up the courage to tell me that you’ve decided to stay with Adam. It’s fine…well, okay that’s a lie, it’s not fine. Thinking about it makes me feel like I’m slowly dying on the inside but I promised you that I would respect whatever decision you made and I will, no matter how much it hurts. But right now, the uncertainty and state of limbo is killing me more than anything else so just tell me that you love me but you can’t be with me and you’ve chosen Adam, so I can start to figure out how to let you go.”
When he was finally done, he stared a little breathlessly up at Noah, who had seemed stunned at the start of his speech and now looked slightly bemused.
“Are you finished,” he asked quietly.
“Adam and I broke up.”
“What,” Luke whispered, “why?”
An incredulous and slightly amused expression on his face, Noah sarcastically said, “Seriously?”
Smiling despite himself at his own stupidity, Luke said, “Right, that’s not what I meant exactly. I just…what happened?”
“Well, I told him about New York, told him I was confused and he basically called me out on my bullshit.”
“What do you mean?
“He told me that I wasn’t confused, that I knew exactly who I wanted to be with but I was just too afraid to say it because it meant hurting him and he was right.”
Luke’s breathing had become slightly erratic, his heart which had been pounding before from nervousness, now pounded from tentative excitement. He was still too scared to hope, to believe.
“Are you saying…”
“That I love you and want to be with you,” Noah said calmly, “yeah, pretty much.”
“Oh my god…” Luke whispered, his heart now practically in his throat and tears of excitement and joy welling up in his eyes.
Despite his joy however, he could still see a hesitance in Noah. Even as he told Luke he wanted to be with him, that he chose him, they were still standing with a significant distance between them.
“If you love me and want to be with me, why are you looking like you’d rather be anywhere but here right now?”
Digging his hands a little nervously in his pockets, Noah said softly, “I know you thought I was avoiding you because I didn’t know how to tell you I’d chosen Adam over you, but the truth is, I was avoiding you because I didn’t know how to tell you I loved you and chose you.”
“I don’t understand,” Luke said, his excitement and joy from a mere seconds ago, dimming slightly.
“I know that I love you and that being with you is still…after all the time that has passed between us, it’s still like nothing I’ve experienced or felt in my entire life.”
“I feel the same way…”
“But I’m scared about us being together, of us going down this road again. What we had was so amazing and powerful and when it was good, it was like the greatest high I could ever imagine. But that same intensity and passion is what made the bad so painful. And I’m scared of us failing again because the last time almost destroyed me and I just, I don’t know if I have it in me, if we have in us to survive another failure.”
Luke had quietly listened, his heart breaking a little at what he heard…that despite still loving him and his heart wanting to be with him, Noah didn’t know if he could or wanted to take the chance.
But as he stared at Noah, stared at the person he knew without a doubt was the love of his life, he decided that it was time to fight…fight for him and fight for them. Taking a few steps forward, closing the gap between them, he tentatively cupped Noah’s face in his hands, gently cradling his jaw.
“Noah,” Luke said softly, “do you love me?”
“You know I do.”
“And can you see yourself five, ten, twenty years down the road with me?”
A tense moment of silence passed as Noah stared intensely at Luke, looking like he was thinking hard about the question. Luke nervously held his breath.
“Then that’s all that matters,” Luke said. “I get that you’re scared; don’t you think I am as well? I’m terrified. I’m also terrified of us failing again, terrified of losing you forever. But I’m willing to take the risk because you’re worth it. I can’t give you any guarantees Noah and I know choosing Reid that day more than two years ago was probably the worst thing that I’ve ever done to you but I can’t change that…”
“Luke, we’ve been over this. That time in our lives was both of our faults.”
“The point is I can’t take any of it back. All I can say is that all the time we spent apart, all that time that we lost only made me realize even more how eternal and everlasting my love for you is. And that will never change. We will never be perfect but that’s okay…I want this Noah, I want you. That’s all I can say and if that’s not enough then…”
He left the sentence unfinished, leaving the ball entirely in Noah’s court. A heavy silence hung in the air between them; Luke’s heart breaking a little the longer Noah said nothing. And just as he was ready to accept that Noah had decided the risk was just too great, Noah reached for Luke’s hands caressing his cheeks, squeezing them tightly.
“I love you so much…” he whispered, voice cracking a little with emotion.
“I love you too,” Luke whispered, “so much.”
And then Noah’s mouth was coming down to gently wrap around his and Luke eagerly received it. The kiss was like magic. Every taste, every stroke of their tongues, every nibble of their lips, every sigh felt a little like letting go…letting go of all the hurt, letting go of the past, the fear, the uncertainty. They kissed until their heads were swimming with dizziness and lack of oxygen. But neither wanted to stop, neither wanted to pull away, to interrupt the perfect moment.
Luke eventually pulled away first, still keeping his lips almost on Noah’s, breathing out his words across Noah’s lips.
Struggling to get his breath under control from the intensity of their kissing, he breathlessly whispered, “We’ll take it slow.”
“What,” Noah whispered back.
“Us getting back together, we’ll take it slow. So much has happened, so much time and we’ve both changed a lot. Sure we’ve been friends the last couple of months and spent a lot of time together but we haven’t been a couple in a long time. So we’ll just take it slow, figure things out one day at a time. Does that make sense?”
Smiling softly as he delicately caressed Luke’s face, Noah said, “makes perfect sense. Besides, there’s no need to rush. We have all the time in the world.”
Luke smiled back happily at him as they quickly sealed the promise with another soul-baring kiss.