Word Count: 3,474
Pairings: Luke/Noah, Luke/Reid, Noah/OMC
Previous Chapters: Chapters 42-43
Disclaimer: Just for fun, not for profit.
Author's Note: Okay folks, this is the penultimate chapter. I worked really hard to get this completed (had to edit and tweak some stuff) early in the day because today is my birthday (yea!! me) and I wanted to post it before I was too hungover, lol. So enjoy. I'm sure I'll shed a few tears when I post the last part but because it is the last part, I might take a week or more to post it because I want to make sure it's perfect. Thanks again for everyone who's been supporting this story from day one.
Taking it slow proved to be a lot harder than both Luke and Noah had anticipated. Of course, it probably had to do with the fact that they had decided to hold off on sex for a while, agreeing that it tended to complicate things.
They mutually decided that it was probably best to just spend some time together, go out on dates and basically get to know each other again on a romantic level instead of the weird friendship/not completely platonic limbo they’d been in for the past few months. However, that was easier said than done.
There had been more than a few occasions when light making out had turned into hands groping for each other, grinding against each other, heavy breathing and both being seconds away from saying “screw it” to the entire abstinence promise. But always, one would eventually come to their senses and cool things down before it got really intense. However, it was not easy.
Still, aside from the heavy increase in cold showers, they were both happy with the situation. Noah couldn’t deny that keeping things light and simple had been a great idea. It allowed them to just be. More importantly, there was no pressure to recreate what they once had. They were both at peace with the reality that their past relationship was just that…the past.
Just as they’d let go of all the hurt from the last few years, so too had they let go of any idealized visions they still had of each other. Noah knew that in so many ways, Luke was not the boy he’d fallen in love with so many years ago but that was okay, because different didn’t mean bad. It just meant he was older, wiser and stronger than he was all those years ago.
And for his part, Noah knew he was so far removed from that scared, introverted, emotionally distant guy he’d been so many years ago and Luke saw that in him, saw the person he was now and loved all of him.
For Luke, life was simply perfect. No matter how sexually frustrated he was (and he really, really was), just getting to be with Noah in the most simple ways was enough. He still couldn’t believe that he’d actually gotten a second chance. That even after screwing up so badly by letting Noah walk out of his life, the universe had found a way to bring him back to him. Luke was almost certain that his face was going to crack in those first few weeks from his inability to stop smiling.
They had decided to keep things as private as possible at first, telling only immediate family. Most of the Snyders' reactions were expected. They were beyond thrilled that Luke and Noah were back together. However, Lily’s initial reaction had both stunned and confused them.
She’d smiled tenderly up at them before saying softly, “you know I love you both right?”
“Of course,” Luke said, turning to Noah with a small frown of confusion.
“And I want nothing but happiness and joy for both of you and if that is with each other, then no one would be happier than me.”
“But…” Luke provided for her, hearing the very obvious and not so subtle “but” in her voice.
“But I just want you both to be really sure about this. You’ve been through a lot this year honey with Reid leaving and then the accident and your memory loss and Noah, I know you’ve been so supportive through all that and I just worry that you two might confuse those feelings for something more.”
“I…” Luke began, indignation at his mom of all people who was constantly in a never-ending saga with his dad, causing his voice to rise. However, he was immediately silenced by Noah’s hand in his, squeezing tightly, a subtle gesture to him to trust Noah and let him handle it.
Squeezing back, Luke slowly closed his mouth.
“Lily,” Noah began softly, “trust me, I understand exactly where you’re coming from. I had so many of those same thoughts and so many others running through my head when I realized I wanted to be with Luke again. I questioned whether or not we could or even should do this again but Luke pointed out something fairly obvious to me that made me realize that I should just trust my heart and trust what we feel for each other. And that is, there are no guarantees in life, period. No matter how much you plan, prepare, life is always going to throw you curveballs. So we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but here is what I do know; no matter what happens, I will always love Luke. That’s a guarantee I can make and for me, that’s enough.”
“It’s enough for me too,” Luke said softly, turning to smile tenderly up at him.
Lily said nothing for a few seconds until eventually, an ecstatic smile slowly spread across her face and she said happily, “okay then, that’s all I needed to hear.” And then she’d drawn them both into her arms, whispering softly into Luke’s ear, “I’m so happy for you baby.”
***Despite their attempts to keep things quiet in the first few weeks, word eventually spread around Oakdale which meant it naturally reached Adam. His first run in with Noah after it was public knowledge that he and Luke were back together was appropriately awkward.
They exchanged small talk and tried to be as polite as possible until Adam had decided to just be open and honest and admit to Noah that being around him was much too hard and it was even harder living in a town where he and Luke were back together.
Noah said nothing, knowing there was nothing to say and continued to feel incredibly guilty for breaking Adam’s heart. So it should not have come as a total surprise to him when Adam called him two weeks later on his way to the airport, to say goodbye…but it was.
“Goodbye,” Noah said confused, “what are you talking about?”
“I requested a transfer, right around the time we broke up. I knew I couldn’t work in Oakdale anymore and let’s face it, I originally came to learn from Dr. Oliver and he’s no longer here. So that, coupled with you and I being over, it just makes the most sense for me to leave. My grandfather was able to pull some strings to get my transfer put through quickly. Anyway, I didn’t want to just leave without saying goodbye so goodbye Noah.”
Still completely stunned, Noah could only mutter in something of a dazed voice, “goodbye Adam.”
However, he couldn’t get Adam’s leaving out of his mind. He’d been on his way to meet Luke for a lunch date but all during his drive to the farm, his mind was focused on the fact that Adam was leaving, and he would never see him again.By the time he got the farm, he’d made a decision. As soon as Luke opened the door, the smile on his face shifted ever so slightly.
“Don’t be mad…” Noah said a little tentatively.
“Okay,” Luke drawled out slowly.
“I got a call from Adam as I was leaving my place. He was on his way to the airport. Apparently he requested a transfer and is leaving Oakdale today and he called to say goodbye. I was so stunned that all I could do was mumble a half-hearted goodbye but…”
“But you realize that you need to say goodbye to him in person,” Luke said softly, knowing exactly what Noah was going to say.
“I know we had plans and it’s crazy of me to cancel to go see my ex-boyfriend at the airport but he’s leaving and…”
“What,” Noah said, silenced in mid-speech.
A tender smile spread across Luke’s lips as he said, “He meant a lot to you Noah and he’s leaving and I know you. You’re thinking that you’ll never see him again and after everything you two meant to each other, he deserves a better goodbye from you. I understand…so go. I’ll be here when you get back.”
“I love you,” Noah breathed out through a relieved sigh before pulling Luke in for a deep and passionate kiss that left them both a little breathless.
“I love you too,” Luke mumbled against Noah’s lips, before Noah slowly pulled away, promising to be back very soon.
Noah prayed all the way to the airport that Adam hadn’t yet gone through security. As he rushed through the automatic doors, breathing a little heavily, he whipped his head around, surveying the room. He was very close to accepting that he’d been too late when he saw him, head bent down and buried into a massive book.
Noah took a few tentative steps forward before panic set in. What if Adam didn’t want to see him at all? After all, he had called to say goodbye and might have felt that was enough. In fact he might be angry at Noah for showing up at the airport like he cared, after the way he’d treated him.
However, Noah decided he was already there so he might as well go through with it. Swallowing down his fears he continued forward, stopping a few feet away from Adam.
“Adam,” he said softly.
Adam immediately stared up; the shock in his eyes making it clear Noah was the last person he expected to see at the airport.
“Noah,” he said softly, the question obvious in his voice, “what are you doing here?”
“I had to see you,” Noah said softly. “I couldn’t say goodbye to you like that...over a phone.”
Standing slowly, Adam took a few steps forward, closing the gap between them.
“You came all this way just to tell me goodbye in person,” he asked a little incredulously.
“Pretty much,” Noah said softly.
"Okay,” Adam whispered, clearly waiting for Noah to start.
“I don’t really even know where to start,” Noah said, adding, “I guess I could mention how blessed I feel to have had you in my life. You are an amazing person Adam, one of the kindest, most generous and loving people I’ve ever known.”
Adam listened silently, the tears slowly welling up in his eyes.
“And,” Noah added, “I know you’re going to do great things in this world.”
“Well duh, I know that,” Adam jokingly whispered, immediately breaking the tension.
Noah laughed through his own tears as Adam smiled at him.
“I feel blessed to have been in your life too Noah,” and because he could see the hesitation in Noah’s eyes, he added, “yes, even with everything that happened with Luke. You are still one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever known.”
“Thank you,” Noah whispered.
And then they both turned their heads to the sound of the voice announcing boarding for Gate 4 was starting.
“That’s me,” Adam said.
“Okay,” Noah whispered.
Noah watched in silence as Adam reached for his messenger bag, stuffing the book he’d been reading into it and slowly slung it across his side.
And then he turned back to face Noah, a flood of emotions across his face. They moved at the same time, embracing each other tightly in a hug. It only lasted a few seconds but it said so much.
Adam placed a soft, tender kiss to Noah’s cheek before whispering in his ear, “be happy.”
“You too,” Noah whispered back and then they were slowly pulling away.
“Goodbye Noah,” Adam said, as he turned to head towards his gate.
“Goodbye Adam,” Noah said softly.
Adam had only taken a few steps before he turned back to Noah and said, with a happy smile on his face, “I’ll never forget you.”
And then he was gone.
Noah found Luke in the stables, petting one of his favorite horses.
“Hi,” he said softly.
“Hi,” Luke said, staring intensely at Noah’s face, before quietly asking if he was okay.
“I’m fine,” Noah said, “just a little sad.”
“Are you sadder about Adam’s leaving or the circumstances of his leaving?”
“Pretty sure it’s both,” Noah said.
And then he leaned against the barn’s fence before gently reaching for Luke and drawing him into his body.
“Hey,” he said when Luke was settled intimately between his legs, his arms wrapped tightly around Luke’s waist.
“Hey yourself,” Luke whispered.
“Tell me the truth. Are you really okay with me going to the airport and everything else,” Noah said.
Luke didn’t answer at first, instead choosing to gently stroke the few curls lying across Noah’s forehead.
“Truth,” he finally whispered, “it didn’t exactly make me want to do backflips but I’m not threatened by your feelings for Adam, Noah. I know you loved him, I know that he meant a lot to you and was a part of your life for a long time. I don’t expect you to just erase him from your memory and like you said, he was leaving, you might never see him again, I understand why you felt you had to say goodbye in person.”
“I love you,” Noah whispered.
“I love you too,” Luke mumbled, as Noah’s lips were already on his.
A few minutes later they were both once again cussing themselves for deciding to take things slow.
It took four months before they finally decided they were ready. Or rather, Noah decided it was time and told Luke in the most explicit way possible. They were leaving a restaurant after having dinner, when with little warning, Noah had shoved Luke against the wall of one of the buildings, nestled in the corner of the street.
The kiss that followed was one of the most explosive, heart-stopping, filthy kisses Luke had ever experienced. When Noah had eventually pulled away slowly, Luke had stared back at him a little dazed, his head swimming.
“Wow,” he whispered, “what…”
He hadn’t finished the thought, as Noah leaned in closer again, breathing against his lips, “I want you.”
“I…me too,” Luke stuttered.
“I want to take you home, strip off all your clothes and taste every inch of you,” Noah whispered breathlessly. And in the next few minutes, he proceeded to describe in the most explicit and detailed ways, all the things he wanted to do Luke.
By time he was done, Luke was almost shaking with need and desire. They barely made it to Luke’s apartment that he’d gotten a few weeks after they’d reunited, once he'd moved out of the farm. Noah had proceeded to keep all his promises and then some.
Luke quickly realized that time and age had certainly done wonders for their sex life. There were positions and moves he couldn’t even figure out how they’d pulled off and by the time they had both fell across the bed, sated and sweaty, they were too exhausted to do more than curl into each other’s arms and tiredly whisper “I love you” to each other.
The first roadblock in their relationship came a few weeks after they first slept together. It was five months into their relationship when Noah was contacted by a fairly successful independent film company who had seen his film at the Tribeca Film Festival and was interested in signing him as a limited contract filmmaker for their company.
It was an amazing opportunity. However, it meant Noah had to move to New York which meant leaving Oakdale and more specifically, leaving Luke. However, Luke had been immediately supportive, dismissing any doubts and concerns Noah had.
“You have to take it,” he’d said softly, gently caressing Noah’s face. He placed a few tender kisses to Noah’s lips, before reassuring him that they would be fine. “That’s what planes and telephones are for.”
And for five months, they made it work, with Luke flying out almost weekly. Because between Lucinda’s jet and the excellent airline miles he’d acquired flying around for the Foundation work, it cost him almost nothing to do so.
Plus, he discovered that he loved New York. It was a little cliché but he loved the energy and life of the city, how it never seemed to stop. He loved the culture, the freedom, the spirit and experiencing it all with Noah just made it that much more perfect.
Which is why, on a late spring day, as they were walking hand in hand down Central Park, he turned to Noah and told him he was tired of the flying back and forth and was ready to move to New York permanently to be with him. Luke decided that they were more than ready, now almost a year into their reunion, with their relationship stronger than ever.
Noah had quietly stared at him, a small smile on his face before gently reaching for both of Luke’s hands, squeezing them tightly in his.
“How about I do you one better,” he’d whispered.
“What do you mean?”
He’d said it so calmly, so effortlessly, that for a few seconds Luke was certain he’d imagined it. But then Noah was slowly dropping down onto one knee and Luke realized how real it was.
“Oh my god,” he whispered, eyes shining brightly with unshed tears. He said yes before Noah could make it to the ground, pulling him back up to wrap his arms tightly around him, saying yes over and over.
The next two months saw Lily go into full-on crazy wedding planner mode. They both decided that there was no other place the ceremony could happen but Oakdale. Unfortunately, the state of Illinois did not recognize same sex marriages and only offered civil unions, so they decided to have the ceremony as a symbol for their family and friends but actually file the license and marry in New York, where same sex marriages were legal.
As endearingly insane as Lily had gotten, they were both fine with her controlling things because neither one was that interested in worrying about all the minor details involved in planning a wedding. Unfortunately, Lily always demanded their opinion on every major decision before she made it.
On the one hand, they appreciated that she respected that this was their day and all about what they wanted but during moments like right now, when they were seated at Holden and Lily’s place, swamped by samples of flower arrangements, they wished she’d just go ahead and choose whatever she wanted.
“I don’t get it, they all pretty much look the same to me,” Noah whispered.
“Yeah, me too,” Luke said.
“Hey, tell you what,” Noah said, “how about we just close our eyes and randomly pick one and just go with that.”
“That’s one way of doing things,” Luke laughed, “but my mom’s putting a lot into making this day as perfect as possible for us; I think we can grudgingly look through a few flower arrangement samples for a few minutes.”
“Fine, you’re right,” Noah sighed.
Leaning into Noah’s side, Luke placed a soft kiss at his throat before muttering, “I promise I’ll make it up to you later.”
“Well hell,” Noah said, “now I’m really not going to be able to concentrate on this.”
“Down boy,” Luke laughed, before pulling away.
They had just turned back to the arrangement of samples when the doorbell rang. They both stared a little surprised at each other, knowing that everyone who lived there was mostly gone for the day.
“I’ll get it,” Luke muttered, quickly getting up from the couch, leaving Noah to silently grumble some more about the arrangements all looking the same.
He walked quickly through the living room, down the hallway to the front door and reached for it, a pleasant smile on his face at the ready for whoever was behind it. However, the smile died within seconds.
He looked different. His hair was wild and out of control, his skin sallow and a little pale, his clothes somewhat disheveled. But the most striking difference was his expression. Gone was the smirk that always seemed permanently attached to his lips, the air of overwhelming confidence and arrogance. The man standing in front of Luke looked slightly sheepish, apologetic and a little sad.
“Hi,” he said softly.
Luke could only mutter softly, “Reid…”
They stared silently at each other for a few seconds, both seemingly waiting for the other to say something. However, as Reid slowly opened his mouth to say what, Luke wasn’t sure, something snapped within him. And with clear purpose and intent, he very calmly and casually shut the door in Reid's face.
He then slowly turned around and walked back into the living room, joining Noah, still hunched over a slew of flower arrangement samples.
“Who was that at the door,” Noah mumbled, not even looking up from the sample he was staring at.
“No one,” Luke said softly, before casually picking up an arrangement and settling in close to Noah’s body, drawing strength from his presence.