libra85 (sunalsosets) wrote,
libra85
sunalsosets

Remember When (Chapters 46-47/Epilogue)

Title: Remember When
Author: sunalsosets
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 5,984
Pairings: Luke/Noah, Luke/Reid, Noah/OMC
Previous Chapters: Chapters 44-45
Disclaimer: Just for fun, not for profit.
Author's Note: Well here it is (finally, lol)...the final chapters. I again want to thank every single person who read and took the time to comment on this story. Like I said when I first began posting, this was a story that had been circulating around my head since last summer and felt like it was literally haunting me. I cannot believe I actually finished it. I look at the word count of the entire story on my Word document and still can't believe I wrote a 60,000 + word fic. That's almost mind-boggling to me. 

Again, thank you all so much for reading and I hope the ending is satisfying for you. I will definitely be taking a break from writing as I head into the last semester of my Master's program but I did say at the start of this that I will try to challenge myself to write a fluff story. So look out for that in the future (lol) and I imagine a fluff piece will probably be a lot shorter. So with that said, enjoy. 

Chapter 46


“What’s wrong?”

Noah barely walked through the door, when Luke, walking up to meet him, asked that question.

“Okay, it’s kind of freaky how good you are at that,” Noah said softly, not even trying to deny Luke’s suspicions.

“What can I say,” Luke lifted his shoulders in a casual shrug, “I am an expert when it comes to knowing you.”

“Good to know,” Noah smiled slightly, moving in for a quick yet passionate and tender kiss.

“So,” Luke said, not allowing himself to become distracted by Noah’s lips…Noah’s oh so very soft and very, very perfect lips.

“What’s wrong?”

“There’s nothing wrong per se,” Noah hedged a little.

“Okay,” Luke drawled out. “Why does that sound suspiciously like an evasion of the question?”

“Because it was,” Noah said, sighing softly before tenderly reaching for Luke’s hand.

“Come on, you might need to sit for this.”

As they settled onto the couch, Luke, sounding far more nervous than he had a few seconds before, said, “Okay, you’re scaring me a little Noah.”

Before Noah could respond, he added, voice now in a complete panic, “Oh my God, is it the wedding? Something happened to the venue didn't it, or it’s the food, or…”

“Luke,” Noah said, grabbing even tighter onto Luke’s hands in his, “stop. It’s nothing like that. Everything is fine with the wedding. Your mom has that thing planned and micromanaged down to perfection. It’s fine.”

Luke gave a soft, “okay”, before breathing out a slow, calming breath.

“Well you can’t blame me for freaking out a little,” he added. “We’re getting married in less than two weeks and then you show up looking like something horrible may have just happened.”

“I’m sorry,” Noah said, gently cradling Luke’s face in his palm, the touch immediately ridding him of any lingering fears.

“It’s nothing to do with the wedding or anything tragic, I promise,” he added.

And as Luke quietly and patiently stared up at him in anticipation, he slowly stated, “I ran into Alison today at Java.”

“And…” Luke muttered, calm but still confused and clearly wondering what the point was.

“And,” Noah said, hesitating a few more seconds before finally saying, “She told me that Reid is back in town.”

Luke said nothing, his face expressionless. Noah took it as a sign that he might have been in shock.

“Surprised me too,” he said softly. “According to Alison, he’s been back for two weeks. Anyway, I wanted to tell you before you ran into him and had to deal with the shock.”

With Luke still silent, his expression giving nothing away, Noah muttered, “Are you okay, I know you weren't expecting…”

“I already knew.”

“What,” Noah said; stunned in mid-sentence by Luke’s very calm and seemingly unfazed words.

“I already knew Reid was back in town.”

“How…when…”

“Remember last week when we were at my parents’ place, looking over those flower arrangement patterns and there was a knock at the door?”

“Yeah…” Noah said.

“It was Reid.”

“When I asked you who it was, you said it was no one.”

“It was,” Luke said, shrugging lightly. “Noah, Reid is no longer a factor in my life. I opened the door, saw him standing there, we stared at each other for a few seconds and just as he was about to say something, I realized that I really wasn't interested in anything he had to say. He’s in my past, in our past and that’s why I didn't say anything to you because it doesn't matter.”

Noah chose to remain silent, quietly taking in Luke’s words. While his mouth said nothing, his eyes said a lot.

Once again, with his uncanny ability to read Noah very well, Luke let out a slightly frustrated sigh and said, “What…I can tell you want to say something and judging by your face, something you think I won’t like.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely,” Noah muttered sarcastically, a small smile peaking at the corners of his lips.

“I believe that you’re over Reid, Luke but I don’t think you can entirely shut off everything he meant to you or you two meant to each other so easily.”

“Noah…”

“No, listen to me. If you’re worried about my feelings or my being bothered by you going to see him or anything like that; don’t. I believe in us, in what we have and how strong we are. I’m not threatened by your history with Reid.”

“And you shouldn't be, ever. That part of my life is over, completely,” Luke said, fiercely cupping Noah’s face into his hands.

“Except it’s not,” Noah quietly stated.

“What are you talking about?”

“Luke, this is someone you were with for two years, who you had little to no closure with. Hell, you didn't even have an actual break-up. You came home one day and he was just gone.”

Reaching for Luke’s hands again, giving them a strong and sure squeeze in his, Noah hesitated a little before adding, “You will never fully let go of your past with Reid unless you actually face him, have an actual goodbye and gain some closure.
This is not about you having any lingering feelings for him. It’s about you needing to once and for all, fully close the book on that chapter of your life. And this moment is as good as any to do it.”

“I just hate having to give him any of my time,” Luke stubbornly whispered, “because I don’t think he deserves it”.

“You’re not doing it for Reid,” Noah said, “You’re doing it for yourself.”

Still looking like he was not too fond of the idea, Luke finally muttered, “I’ll think about it.”

“Fair enough,” Noah said, before leaning down to place a passionate kiss to Luke’s lips.

Thoughts about Reid were quickly forgotten as they got lost in each other.

***
As Luke lay in bed later that night, Noah cradled tightly to his chest, the sound of his breathing low and rhythmic, he realized that Noah was right. However, knowing it and accepting it were two different things.

Luke wasn't completely delusional. He’d thought about that brief moment with Reid a few times in the past week and on a conscious level, had always known that their finally having a conversation was inevitable. Still, he was hardly in a hurry to have the inevitable happen.

He’d been honest with Noah when he’d said that he really didn't particularly care what Reid had to say. True to his nature, he was curious where Reid had been, what he’d been up to and on some level, cared about his well-being and hoped that he was now okay.

But Luke could not get past one inevitable truth, the one thing that made Reid nothing more than a person in his past he wanted nothing to do with. And that was the fact that he’d simply left. Luke could understand sadness, understand pity, anger but he simply could not understand just walking out on someone one claimed to love.

One day he’d gotten up, kissed his boyfriend goodbye and left for work. A few hours later, he came home to a suddenly empty apartment with a note that only expressed how Reid felt and not a hint of apology to Luke for what he was about to do him. Still, as Noah had said, they did have two years together. Two years that while never perfect had had its moments of joy, love and even laughter.

Luke gave a gentle sigh, cradling Noah who had stirred a little, even tighter into his body as he acknowledged once again how right he was. Going to see Reid was not about Reid at all. It was something Luke had to do for himself and it was particularly important that he do it before the wedding.

Because, Luke thought silently to himself, even though according to most churches, God didn't approve of who he was and the love he and Noah shared; he still thought it would probably be nice to actually break up with his former boyfriend before marrying someone else. God would probably approve.

***
Noah recognized Adam’s face immediately. He had only picked up the copy of the Chicago Tribune to have something to do as he waited for Luke and Lily to show up for their meeting with the wedding coordinator, so they could go over some last minute details of the wedding.

He really wasn't paying too close attention, until he got to the Health & News section of the paper and glanced at a headline about a group of doctors at Seattle Gray Research Hospital discovering a possible gene responsible for brain cancer.

Noah barely glanced at the story, instead focusing on the picture of the group of doctors, right below the headline. He spotted Adam immediately. His hair was a little shorter, but for the most part he looked the same, his smile bright and full.
The second thing, aside from the picture itself, to grab Noah’s attention, was the list of names below the picture. The five names were all listed in order of how the doctors were positioned and then he saw it, Dr. Adam Stevens-Bailey. Noah did a slight double take.

He had no idea Adam had gotten married. While they hadn't become the best of friends and closest confidantes, they still periodically exchanged emails, text messages and a few phone calls. Plus, they followed each other on their social media accounts.

Because of the latter, Noah had known that there was a boyfriend in the picture, since Adam had posted a few pictures on his Facebook and Instagram accounts. However, Noah had logged onto his Facebook account a number of times in the last week and so it completely baffled him that he’d somehow missed the fact that Adam had gotten married.

Still, it was a very pleasant surprise. Picking up his cell-phone, he went through his contact list and found the number he was looking for.

“Hello…”

Adam answered on the fourth ring.

“You got married,” Noah said, in way of a greeting, a smile in his voice.

“Hi Noah,” Adam said and Noah could hear the smile in his voice. “Yes, I did.”

“Congratulations,” Noah said; an honest happiness in his voice. “I had no clue until I picked today’s paper and saw a story about your work – oh and congratulations about that too,” he added as an afterthought.

“Thank you,” Adam said, “on both counts. And don’t worry, you weren't the only one stunned by the news. Let’s just say it was kind of a whirlwind, spur-of-the-moment thing.”

“Wait…you didn't elope did you?”

“You sound like you don’t approve,” Adam laughed.

“No,” Noah said, “I just didn't take you for the type.”

“I didn't really take me for the type either but it was Jonathan’s idea. He asked and I just knew that everything about it felt right, so I said yes and we did it.”

“That’s great,” Noah said, curious about one thing.

“How did your parents take the news?”

“Um, it was kind of a mixed bag,” Adam chuckled. “I think they were more hurt than angry, that they didn't get to be a part of such an important moment in my life. But Jonathan and I are making it up to all our friends and family, including his parents who were equally hurt, by having a huge ceremony/party thing in a few months.”

“That sounds nice. I’m sure they’ll all love that.”

“Speaking of weddings, how’s the big day coming along for you?”

“It’s coming,” Noah said, “in less than two weeks actually.”

“Nervous,” Adam asked.

“Hmm, more excited than nervous,” Noah said.

“Understandable…”

There was a pause in the conversation but it wasn't awkward. As surprising as it was, Noah always marveled at how not awkward things were between them.

“So, how are your parents,” he said, adding, “I mean aside from the hurt over your sudden elopement.”

“They’re great. Although I think my poor dad was hoping that Jonathan was temporary like you.”

“Why,” Noah curiously asked.

“Oh, did I forget to mention what Jonathan does for a living?”

“What?”

“He’s a screenwriter.” Noah could hear the laughter in Adam’s voice.

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Well let’s just say my dad’s not too fond of the whole creative/artistic thing and I think he was hoping after we broke up I’d find myself a nice fellow doctor or lawyer to settle down with.”

“I knew it,” Noah said almost triumphantly. “I knew he never liked me.”

“Oh Noah please,” Adam scoffed, “any idiot knew that.” However, he quickly added, “he didn't hate you though. He just didn't think you were right for me.”

“He must have felt vindicated after everything that happened between us then.”

Adam was silent for a second, obviously picking up Noah’s meaning. Finally, he said softly, “I never told my parents what happened between us. I just told them we decided that we were no longer right for each other.”

“How come,” Noah asked, very curious about the answer.

“I didn't want them to hate you,” Adam stated quietly. “They would never understand that you weren't a bad person despite everything and I wanted them to think of you the way I do…as a great guy I shared a beautiful few years with.”

“Thank you,” Noah whispered, truly touched.

“You’re welcome.”

Noah was just about to end the call, figuring Adam needed to get back to work when rather than say goodbye, Adam added, with a little hesitation in his voice, “so, I heard Reid’s back in Oakdale.”

Noah didn't ask how Adam knew. He figured that Adam naturally kept in touch with some of the doctors and nurses he’d worked with at Oakdale Memorial.

“Yeah he is.”

“How has that been?”

“Well I personally haven’t seen him and it’s not like he and I have much to say to each other. He and Luke however, is a different story, except Luke’s not interested in speaking to him at all.”

“And you want him to,” Adam asked, sounding a little surprised.

“Yeah, I think it’s important for him to get closure.”

“Boy, you sure love some closure,” Adam teased.

“Whatever,” Noah said. “I know I’m right.”

“Perhaps,” Adam said, “but it’s probably best to let Luke figure it all out on his own time.”

“Good point…”

“Anyway, I should probably get back to work.”

“Right…”

“Thanks for calling Noah,” Adam said, adding, “It was really nice talking to you." Noah could hear the absolute sincerity in his voice.

“You’re welcome and same here.”

“Goodbye Noah and in case I don’t talk to you before, have an amazing wedding day.”

“Thanks,” Noah said softly.

And then they hung up.

***

He wasn't sure at first that Reid would come. After all, he had slammed the door in his face when Reid had tried to reach out to him. Still, once Luke made up his mind that he had to talk to Reid and was ready to do so, he decided that it had to be somewhere where there would be little to no interruptions so they could once and for all lay everything out on the table and finally move on.

He decided to send Reid a message, asking him to meet him at the Farm in the middle of the afternoon. He knew it was a little out of Reid’s way and it was possible he would be at work, but every other option seemed too public for their conversation. Again, he wasn't really confident that Reid would show up.

However at 2:00 p.m. sharp, as he was casually sitting on the couch on the porch, he saw Reid slowly walk up. Luke silently watched him slowly approach, his frame increasing in sharp focus, bit by bit. Finally he was on the bottom step of the porch and then he paused, staring up at Luke.

“Hi,”

“Hi,” Luke returned quietly. His voice not betraying a hint of emotion, he stated matter-of-factly, “We need to talk.”

Chapter 47

Reid tentatively joined Luke on the couch, keeping a significant distance between them. They sat in silence for a few long and tense seconds, Reid clearly waiting for Luke to speak and Luke trying to figure out how best to put all the thoughts running through his mind, into words. He finally settled on one of the simplest ice-breakers.

“How are you?”

“Fine,” Reid muttered.

“Where have you been all this time,” Luke asked, deeply curious about the answer.

Reid quirked one brow, his expression one of mild surprise, before stating, “Do you actually care?”

“I wouldn't ask if I didn't.”

“I was a little all over the place, to tell you the truth. After I left Oakdale, I sort of just drove around aimlessly for days, with no destination in mind. Eventually I made my way to my hometown; spent some time there and then I guess I sort of just traced my whole journey as a doctor. I visited my Alma Mater, visited the first hospital I worked at as a resident and just tried to remember what I most loved about this job, why I was so good at it in the first place.”

“That sounds nice…” Luke said.

Reid’s face had taken on a faraway, almost wistful look once he started talking about the journey he’d been on. Hearing Luke’s voice seemed to snap him back to the presence.

“It was nice. Eventually I ended up volunteering at a few clinics and nonprofits that were in need of doctors but couldn't afford to pay too much. It was a nice humbling experience for me I think.”

“I bet it was,” Luke said, a hint of a smile ghosting over his lips.

Reid hesitantly smiled back before sobering up and stating, “I heard about your accident when I got back.” And with complete sincerity in his voice, he added, “Luke, I swear to you, if I had any idea that you’d been hurt that badly, I would have been here.”

“I know you would, Reid. I believe you.”

And the truth was, Luke did believe him. Whatever faults Reid had, one fact was indisputable about him. He loved what he did. Saving lives was his heart and soul and so Luke knew, without a shred of doubt, that if nothing else, the doctor in him would have wanted to help him.

“Thank you,” Reid said softly.

“You’re welcome.”

“So how are you really doing health wise? No lingering effects, issues…”

“No, I’m fine. All my memories are intact and according to the doctor’s report after my last physical, I am as healthy as a horse.”

“That’s good.”

“Thanks for the concern.”

“Sure,” Reid said, before adding softly, “so I also hear that you’re getting married.”

“I am…’

“Huh,” Reid muttered, as he leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “So how long after I left did it take Noah to swoop in and play hero,” he sneered.

“Ah,” Luke said; a completely humorless smile on his face, “there he is. I was wondering when the rude and obnoxious man I remember so well would show up.”

“Well you can’t blame me,” Reid stated in a completely unapologetic tone. “I left and he was supposedly madly in love with Dr. Stevens who I notice is no longer at Memorial. Poor guy…he actually believed he and Noah were forever. I should have told him that he was just a placeholder until Noah had a chance to swoop back into your life.”

Luke was furious. Sitting up, back so stiff, it felt like he could crack at any second, he stated harshly, “Don’t you dare. You don’t get to do that. You don’t get to pass judgment on me or Noah. You know nothing about what happened between us because you weren't here and you weren't here because you left. Things got a little hard for you and you just left, just walked out without so much as a goodbye, an explanation, an apology…so you have no right to judge me, Noah or our relationship.”

Luke was almost yelling by the time he was done, fury causing his voice to shake a little. Reid however still appeared relatively calm.

“Well,” he said, “glad to see we’re past the pleasantries and getting to the whole point of this entire meeting. I mean it was just to tell me how much of a horrible person I am and what a horrible mistake I was in your life right?”

“That’s not what this is about,” Luke said, voice a little calmer.

“Really,” Reid sneered. “Because you haven’t spent all the time you've been back in Noah’s arms, thinking about how it’s where you belonged all along and how much of a giant mistake I was in your life, a mistake you’d like nothing more than to forget?”

“What are you talking about,” Luke said.

“I’m talking about the fact that my leaving gave you the perfect out you wanted. It allowed you to run right back to Noah and not have to look like the bad guy.”

They had both stood up, now furiously staring each other down.

“Are you seriously standing there and trying to blame me for your decision to leave and simply walk out on our relationship without so much as a goodbye?”

“No, I’m saying that my leaving just made it easier for you to do what you’d wanted to do for two years and that was run back to Noah.”

“I…”

“You can try to deny it Luke but I’m not stupid. And hey, we’re adults here, there’s nothing left between us right…so once and for all, let’s lay out all our cards on the table and be completely honest.”

“Fine,” Luke said, weirdly fascinated by what Reid had to say, “I’m listening.”

“I admit it was wrong for me to leave the way I did. It was selfish and unfair. But you didn't even try to find me, to reach out to me, to stop me. Let’s face it, I wasn't that hard to find. I had my phone with me, my number never changed, neither did my email accounts and there was nothing from you. I left and you just washed your hands clean….”

“You walked out on me without so much of an “I’m sorry” and you’re judging me because I didn't come chasing after you?”

“I walked away just like Noah did,” Reid snapped.

“What,” Luke stated, sounding incredulous. “Noah never walked out on me.”

“Not exactly the same way, but after you told him you wanted to be with me, he picked up and moved to a whole other state and didn't even bother to tell you goodbye. And what did you do, spend months calling and writing to him.”

Noting the slight surprise in Luke’s eyes, Reid said, “Yeah I knew about those. I overheard a few of your voicemail pleas to him, wanting him to let you know that he was okay. No matter how many times he ignored those messages, you persisted.”

“That was different,” Luke stated, lips quivering over the memories of all that hurt and pain he’d experienced back then.

“Noah and I were broken up. I chose someone else over him, told him he and I were never right for each other. He didn't owe me a thing anymore and had every right to leave Oakdale without saying goodbye to me. And the reason I was so desperate to know that he was okay was because I had broken his heart. I had to know he was okay for my own selfish reasons, to ease my guilty conscience. I needed to make sure that he didn't hate me.”

Wiping furiously away at a few timid tears, he added, “What happened with you and I doesn't compare. I got up one day, we were supposedly still in a relationship, kissed you goodbye, told you I would see you later for dinner and then you were just gone. What you did was selfish and cruel and to try to somehow make it my fault is appalling.”

“I’m not trying to make my actions and my decisions your fault,” Reid said. “My decision to leave was mine and mine alone and I know it was selfish and hurtful. But I just want you to once and for all, be completely honest with me. I think I deserve that much.”

An incredulous laugh escaping his lips, Luke said, “You don’t deserve anything from me. But sure, I’ll play along and answer whatever it is you think I lied to you about.”

“Okay,” Reid said softly, “while we were together, did you ever regret choosing me over Noah?”

Luke was silent. He stared directly at Reid, seeing the truth in his eyes…that Reid already knew the answer. But Luke knew he had to say it. This was likely the last conversation they would have. It was time to put it all out on the table.

“Yes, I did…”

Reid said nothing, simply nodding slightly in acknowledgement of Luke’s response. Finally, he slowly leaned against the stairwell, casually folding his arms, before saying softly, “I spent the entire two years of our relationship feeling like I was on a never-ending audition for the role of Luke Snyder’s boyfriend. And I didn't just have to impress you, but I had to impress your family and half this damn town. I always felt like I was being treated as if I should have been grateful that you dared to take a chance on me, like I was basically being judged because I had the gall to come between Oakdale’s number one gay couple and I had to prove that I was worth that honor. And no matter what, I repeatedly failed and came up short. I felt the criticisms and saw the judgments from people in this town who were friends with you two, your family and especially your parents.”

“That’s not fair,” Luke said softly, protectively folding his arms around him. “My parents didn't care for you Reid because they didn't know you and they didn't know you because you never gave them a chance to. And that was true for most people in this town. You put up a wall and a defense before anyone had a chance to get to know you. You kept demanding that people just accept you for who you were without realizing that you never even gave them a chance to know who that person was. My parents didn't dislike you simply because you weren't Noah, they disliked you because they never got to know you and what little they did know of you wasn't that great. You were often defensive and belligerent, like you expected them to dislike you so you were going to beat them to the punch.”

“And what about you…”

“What do you mean,” Luke said.

“You got to see the real me. So why was I still just a regretful choice you made that you couldn't get out of.”

Luke said nothing for a few seconds. Eventually, taking a heavy sigh, he slowly settled back down onto the couch. Staring up at Reid, he finally spoke with complete and honest sincerity.

“I cared about you a lot,” he started, adding, “I know you might not buy that now, with everything that happened between us but I did. And on some level, I really did believe that I was in love with you. When you and I first got together, I wanted it to work, I really did.”

Leaning back, Luke stared off into the distance as he got lost in the memories of everything that happened between him and Reid.

“When I met you, things between Noah and I had been bad for so long at that point. We were distant both emotionally and physically and selfishly, I enjoyed the attention from you. I enjoyed the feeling of being wanted and desired. Plus, in some ways I also saw you as a challenge because you such a jerk to everyone. I guess what I’m saying is that it was very easy during that time to convince myself that we had something very special, something that could be amazing.”

“But the reality turned out to be the opposite,” Reid stated calmly with no emotion in his voice or on his face.

“I thought I could push Noah to the back of mind, shelve everything we shared together as just the memory of my first love. But I realized immediately how impossible that was when he left and the full force of what my decision really meant hit me…that he would be gone forever from my life. And the realization tore me apart and I knew…”

“So why didn't you just say that to me? Why couldn't you have just been honest and save us both two years of wasted time,” Reid asked; the lack of emotion gone, leaving a world of frustration and hurt in its place.

“I don’t know,” Luke whispered. “I know that sounds really, really lame but it’s the truth. I think it was a number of things, my pride not wanting me to admit I’d made a mistake, me not wanting to hurt you, fear that if I changed my mind Noah and I would fall apart again and just so many things.”

Reid listened, silently absorbing every word.

“But it wasn't all bad between us Reid. I don’t want you to think I spent every single day we were together wishing that I could be with Noah. I meant it when I said my feelings for you were real. Maybe I didn't love you in the way I wanted to but I truly, truly cared about you and we did share something special.”

With a slight nod of his head, acknowledging Luke’s words, Reid buried his hands deep into his pocket and said softly, “so what happens now?”

Slowly rising from the couch, Luke bridged the gap between himself and Reid, stopping when there were only a few inches of space between them.

“Now I get to do what I couldn't because of the way you left…I get to properly end things between us and tell you goodbye to your face.”

A flurry of emotions played across Reid’s face and still, Luke couldn't really tell what he was thinking or feeling. That didn't surprise him. Reid had never been the most emotionally forthcoming person. Considering how emotionally unavailable Noah had also been for years, it almost made Luke wonder if he had a type.

Finally, Reid pulled his hands out of his pockets and said softly, “goodbye Luke.” And then he seemed unsteady and unsure as he made a tiny move towards Luke but quickly seemed to reconsider. Luke decided to make the decision for him.

Hesitantly moving forward, closing the space between them, he brought a slightly nervous hand up to wrap around Reid’s neck. Reid’s entire body stiffened and Luke was just starting to wonder if he’d stoically ignore the hug, when Reid relaxed slightly and wrapped his hands around Luke’s upper body.

The hug was slightly uncomfortable, tentative on both their parts but still genuine. It lasted only a few seconds before both pulled away at the same time, almost on automatic.

Placing his hands back into his pockets, Reid muttered, “I really am sorry for leaving the way I did and any of the hurt I caused you.”

“I know and I feel the same…for all the mistakes I made in our relationship.”

Giving a silent nod, Reid slowly turned to head out. He’d only gotten to the top of the stairs when he turned around and said softly, “it was real.”

“What…”

“My feelings for you, it was real. Maybe I didn't always express it in the best ways but I did love you, so much.”

There was nothing Luke could say but quietly acknowledge the words and so he remained silent. With one last look, Reid turned and left. Luke slowly went back to the couch, settling back comfortably onto it, as he calmly watched Reid walk away.
***
Later that night in bed, Luke shared everything with Noah about his talk with Reid. He hadn't told Noah that he was seeing Reid that day, as he was still trying to process and figure out all his feelings about the meeting.

However, minutes after saying goodbye to Reid, he called Noah and told him about their meeting. He kept the details of the encounter brief when he first saw Noah, wanting instead to just focus on them, on the joy of their wedding in less than two weeks and their amazing life together.

But as they quietly winded down their day, together in bed, Luke finally shared the entire conversation, including his feelings about all of it.

“Are you okay,” Noah quietly asked, as Luke finished detailing everything that happened.

“I am,” Luke said softly. “And don’t gloat or anything but you were right about my seeing him.”

“Of course I was,” Noah joked, a cheeky smile on his face.

“Whatever,” Luke laughed, before adding, “but seriously, more than just the closure we both needed to once and for all finally end things, seeing Reid and talking to him made me realize something.”

“What’s that,” Noah said.

“That as bad as things were, despite all the pain, hurt and sadness, I don’t really regret any of it because I think all these things, me dating Reid, you meeting Adam…it all in a weird way brought us to this point and let’s face it, where we are is pretty damn amazing.”

A gentle smile on his face, Noah whispered, “I agree,” adding, “yeah I was pretty bitter and hurt when you ended things between us but looking back, I do think we needed some time apart to be on our own and away from each other, to figure out who were outside of being each other’s boyfriend. We’re together now not as couple of naïve kids but as two people who know how hard relationships can be but that it’s all worth it because we’re it for each other.”

“I love you,” Luke whispered, moving forward to place light, feathery kisses on Noah’s lips. “I love you so, so much and I cannot wait to be your husband.”

“Ditto,” Noah muttered, smiling against Luke’s lips on his.

Epilogue

It rained on their wedding day. But Lily and the wedding planner had wisely established a contingency plan in the event of any natural disasters. However, the floral store also mixed up their order and sent the wrong flower arrangements and Damian decided to show up for an impromptu visit the day before the wedding to see Luke, sending Holden and Lily and just about everyone in town into a tailspin.

But to Luke and Noah, the day was perfect in every single way. Because they got to stand in front of their family, friends and loved ones and promise their lives to each other. It would not always be perfect, there would be challenges and at some point, they knew, one or both of them might want to throw in the towel but they would survive.

And as Luke happily watched Noah dance badly, endearingly so, with Faith to some horrible pop song, his heart swelled at the knowledge that they were now forever connected in every sense of the word; mind, body and spirit. This was the man he would grow old with, make passionate love to, argue and yell at, laugh and cry with.

And with a smile so bright it practically broke through the cloudy weather outside, Luke knew he couldn't wait for it all. Noah caught his eye at the exact moment and they quickly shared a private, intimate look that said words only they understood.
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