Rating: PG-13 with a little strong language in some parts
Word Count: 3,649
Pairings: Luke/Noah, Luke/Reid, Noah/OMC
Previous Chapters: Chapters 38-39
Disclaimer: For fun, not for profit.
The last thing Adam expected when he walked into his apartment, after a two day shift at the hospital, was to find Noah sitting on the couch, staring silently at the walls.
“Noah,” he said softly, the question obvious in his voice.
“Hey,” Noah said softly.
“What are you doing here?”
Joining Noah on the couch he quickly added, “I thought the festival wasn’t over until tomorrow and you wouldn’t be back until the day after that.”
“I decided to leave a little early,” Noah said, still mostly staring at the walls.
It quickly became apparent to Adam that something was very wrong.
“Noah,” he began a little tentatively, gently stroking his hand up Noah’s arm, “did something happen at the festival? Did they not like your film?”
“No,” Noah said, releasing a joyless chuckle. “That’s not it. They loved the film. At least the few critics and people I spoke to loved it.”
“That’s great,” Adam said.
“So what’s wrong, why did you come back so soon and why do you look less like someone who just had one of the greatest achievements of his career and more like someone whose life just got turned upside down?”
And with that comment, Noah finally slowly turned to face Adam.
“Because it did,” he said softly, sounding like he was silently choking on his words.
“What,” Adam asked.
“My life did just get turned upside down.”
“Noah, you’re scaring me a little. Just tell me what’s going on.”
“I love you,” Noah stated slowly, slightly wet eyes boring into Adam’s.
“I love you too,” Adam said but as he said it, he was suddenly more terrified than he’d ever been about their relationship. Something was very, very wrong.
“I love you and I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…’
The shift was immediate and instinctive. He heard the guilt, the shame, the regret in Noah’s voice. Adam went from warm, concerned and supportive to stiff and distant in a second. His body became so rigid it looked like he could break with any sudden movement.
He suddenly felt sick as the truth slowly sank in. He knew…knew exactly what Noah was sorry for but he was going to make him say it.
“What are you sorry for,” he said softly, the tears already forming in his eyes.
His own tears precariously hanging near the edge, ready to spill over, Noah nervously reached for Adam’s hand. But the second his fingertips grazed the back of Adam’s hand, Adam roughly pulled back, reacting like he’d just been sparked by an electric shock.
“What are you sorry for, Noah,” he repeated, this time through tight, gritted teeth, his anger surpassing his tears.
Noah decided to tell the whole story.
“Luke showed up in New York,” he began slowly, fighting to maintain direct eye contact with Adam but eventually giving up and turning away; because the indescribable hurt that was already there was too much to bear.
“I…I wasn’t expecting him. He found out that I was showing at the festival from Alison and showed up to support me and…”
“And what…” Adam said, his entire body now trembling with rage.
Noah couldn’t continue, couldn’t even look at him.
“AND WHAT…” Adam yelled. He was going to make it say it. He deserved that much.
Finally drawing his eyes back to Adam’s tortured eyes, hating himself more than he’d ever hated himself in his life, Noah said softly, “and we slept together.”
Adam’s resolve broke and the tears finally fell with unrestrained force. Noah quickly moved forward, trying to draw him into his arms.
“Don’t touch me,” Adam yelled, recoiling away from Noah like he was contaminated in some way. He stood up and quickly moved away from the couch, creating as much distance as possible between them.
Noah slowly stood up, tentatively taking a few steps forward, “I love you and I’m so sorry, I just…”
“If you loved me so much you wouldn’t have fucked your ex-boyfriend,” Adam snapped harshly.
He drew his arms tightly around himself and whispered, “You told me I was being ridiculous, crazy for not being happy about you moving back here. But I knew it, I knew you had feelings for him, I knew this was all about Luke…”
“That’s not true,” Noah yelled. “I did not decide to move back to Oakdale to be with Luke. I was thinking about us and making our relationship easier.”
Shaking his head in amazement, giving an incredulous laugh, Adam said, “were you thinking about me and our relationship in New York?”
Noah remained silent, knowing there was clearly no answer for that question and Adam obviously didn’t want one.
They stared silently at each other for a few seconds, a multitude of emotions, the biggest being hurt and regret, flashing across their faces.
With the tears slowly running down his face, Adam said quietly, “I know you and I know you wouldn’t hurt me like this and risk what we have for a casual hook-up.”
And as he said it, he met Noah’s eyes with a stare so piercing; Noah was certain he saw right through his soul.
“You’re in love with him aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Noah whispered.
“And let me guess,” Adam smiled mockingly, rolling his eyes up at the ceiling, “you love me too.”
“You know I do,” Noah said. “I hate so much that this is happening, that I’m causing you so much pain because you deserve so much better.”
“You’re right, I do,” Adam said softly before moving slowly towards Noah, still keeping a fair distance between them.
“I also deserve someone who doesn’t have to think about who he wants to be with, who can know without a shadow of doubt, I’m who he wants. But you can’t do that can you Noah? You can’t look at me right here, right now and tell me I’m who you want, that being with Luke was a mistake that will never happen again.”
Noah ran his hand through his hair, his face pained and torn, with a look of heartbreak written all over it.
“I love you so much, I do…”
Adam nodded in silent understanding, the tears spilling all over his face now.
“But you can’t tell me that I’m all you want, that you choose me.”
“No, I can’t,” Noah said softly, closing his eyes against the sight of Adam looking so heartbroken and betrayed.
“I just, I’m so confused and I know that’s not fair to you and I just...”
“Get out,” Adam whispered.
“Adam,” Noah said softly, once again tentatively reaching for him, trying to find some way to anchor them together.
Adam took another step back, drawing away and placing a greater distance between them both physically and emotionally.
“I want you to leave, now…”
“Just go Noah, please…” Adam said, hands clutched around his middle, looking like it was taking everything in him to not completely fall apart in front of Noah.
Noah knew there was nothing left to do but give Adam at least that much and so he slowly picked up his luggage from the trip, that he’d never even bothered unpacking. And still looking like a part of him was dying; he slowly walked out of the living room and eventually out of the apartment.
***For the first time in his life, Noah was accepting that it really was nice to have some connections. At first, he had been wary of going to Lily’s hotel, his natural inclination against asking for help from anyone, kicking in.
Not to mention, there was his guilt over the fact that her son was currently hurting because of him. He knew it was highly doubtful that Luke had told his mom about New York but Noah knew and that was enough to feed his guilt. Plus, he knew she’d be curious and suspicious about his needing a place to stay, knowing that he most likely lived with Adam.
Still, he had needed a place to stay quickly and it was the most convenient. Not to mention the great discount he was able to get from knowing the owner personally. Lily had been nothing but supportive and helpful, not prying at all, despite whatever thoughts or suspicions she might have had.
Noah was truly grateful for the help and most importantly grateful for a place to finally lie down and think about the emotional rollercoaster he’d been on in the space of two days. After Luke had left his hotel room, he spent a fitful night, tossing and turning, vacillating between wanting to call Luke and tell him again how sorry he was, how much he loved him, how much he hated so much hurting him and catching an immediate flight to Oakdale and confessing everything to Adam and begging for his forgiveness.
The second he’d woken up, after finally getting a maximum of four hours sleep, he’d known immediately that he couldn’t stay for the rest of the festival. He’d contacted the committee about cancelling the rest of his accommodation fees, citing an emergency back home and managed to switch his ticket for an earlier flight.
He’d gotten to Adam’s apartment, placed his bag on the floor of the living room and sat down, trying to figure out how he was going to tell Adam the truth that would destroy him. And he was still thinking about it when Adam showed up a few hours later.
The image of Adam’s tear-streaked, heartbroken face played across his mind as Noah lay down across the bed. There was no way around it…he was a horrible person for hurting someone as truly kind, good and amazing as Adam, as badly as he did. He recognized so many things he’d done wrong, so many ways he’d failed Adam.
He should have been honest the minute he realized he was developing an attraction to Luke again and definitely should have told Adam when he realized that he was in love with Luke. Instead he’d carried on like normal, gave no signs of anything being wrong to Adam and then ultimately blindsided him by cheating on him.
As the tears that he was sure he’d been done with started flowing again, he thought about all the good Adam had brought to his life, ways he’d loved and supported him and Noah hated himself more than he’d ever had in his life.
He cried for the next hour, crying for his own selfish feelings, torn between two people who meant the world to him. He cried for the hurt and pain he’d caused Adam and how badly he’d failed him and he cried for the hurt and pain he caused Luke and the ways he’d failed him and finally, he cried over how he’d broken the trust he had with both of them.
Noah cried and cried until he was exhausted, finally drifting into an emotionally exhausted sleep. As he slowly lost consciousness and moved gently into a dream-like state, the image of one face danced across his mind and he fell asleep whispering that name.
Luke was trying desperately to pay attention to the presentation Mr. Birkin was giving on nonprofits and their use of social media, but he simply could not get his mind to focus for more than a few minutes before wandering off again.
He’d been fighting and losing the battle to not think about Noah since he got back to Oakdale and left for Chicago less than a day later. He’d spent the last six days trying valiantly to ignore the desperate hope that sprang deep in his chest every time his cell phone went off, with the hope that it was Noah calling to tell him that he chose him, that he wanted him and only him.
He also fought desperately to not break his resolve and call Noah, even while he found himself on more than one occasion with his fingers teetering nervously over Noah’s number in his contacts list.
And then there were the memories. He was plagued morning, noon and night with images of that incredible night in New York. Plagued with memories of Noah’s touch, the feel of his hands hot and rough all over Luke’s body and of course his taste. There were moments, when Luke closed his eyes and breathed in so deeply that he could almost smell Noah’s scent, powerful and intoxicating. And in those moments, it would almost feel like Noah was in the room with him.
But with the memories of their lovemaking came the memories of the aftermath. Luke couldn’t escape the memories of Noah avoiding his eyes when he brought up the idea of Noah and Adam breaking up or the intensity of his regret and sadness as he stood silently, unable to give Luke what he wanted. Unable to look at him and say that Luke was it, that he knew without a shred of doubt.
And every time those memories came, an unbearable and almost crippling fear engulfed Luke because he recognized that it was a very real possibility that the next time he saw Noah it could be to tell him goodbye because Noah would have chosen Adam.
Luke knew Noah loved him but he was honest enough with himself to realize that more than two years had passed since they’d been together. That they'd both changed in significant ways and weren't the same people they were years ago when they were madly and crazy in love with each other. He also acknowledged that they had ended because of him. He had decided that he and Noah were no longer right for each other, decided to throw away everything they’d shared and meant to each other for Reid.
A man who basically walked out on him without a second glance and who he clearly didn’t love as much as he tried to convince himself he did as he’d barely given much thought to where he was or how he was doing since getting most of his memories back.
And no matter how much it pained him to admit it, Luke was honest enough with himself to realize that Adam was an amazing person who was clearly hopelessly and utterly in love with Noah and was an amazing boyfriend to him. They had clearly built a wonderful relationship and as much as it would break his heart to accept, he would understand why Noah might not be willing to walk away from that to take a chance on him and take a chance on them again.
But knowing all this and understanding it didn’t stop Luke from hoping and believing that as much as Noah loved Adam, as happy as he was with him, that he’d ultimately realize that what he and Luke had was eternal. They were not just soul-mates; they were each other’s souls. Luke truly believed that. However, it was up to Noah to believe it too.
Noah was stunned when he got the short and direct text from Adam, almost five days after they’d last seen each other, asking him to meet Adam on the rooftop of Oakdale memorial. He’d been particularly surprised considering Adam had ignored every call, text and voicemail he’d made to him.
He arrived a few minutes earlier than their scheduled time, nervously pushing the heavy door that led onto the rooftop. He stepped out and soaked in the late afternoon breeze, enjoying the quiet of the moment and beauty of the town stretching out in front of him as the sun set bright red in the sky.
As he was appreciating the view, wondering not for the first time what he would say to Adam or more appropriately what Adam wanted to say to him, he was suddenly struck by two memories of him and Luke on this very same roof, what felt like a lifetime ago. The first was when Alison and Casey had deliberately locked them there in an attempt to get them to work out their problems.
He remembered the sadness and hurt on their faces as they felt their relationship crumbling away. He thought back to how in that moment they thought that this was the hardest and most heartbreaking thing they would ever face.
“If we only knew”, Noah scoffed silently to himself, thinking back to the second time they were on that very same roof. He’d just gotten out of surgery and it was the first time he had truly realized how much he had lost Luke.
They had never been more emotionally distant and broken than they had been in that moment. He had looked into Luke’s eyes and seen no sign of the boy he’d loved like his life depended on him; the boy who had loved him so fiercely and passionately. Instead, all he’d seen was sadness and distance.
He was so consumed by his thoughts about Luke that he didn’t even hear Adam open the door and jumped a little in his skin when he heard the soft “hi” muttered behind his back.
“Hi,” Noah said nervously, “I...I didn’t hear you come up.”
“Sorry,” Adam said softly, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s okay,” Noah said, adding softly, “How are you?”
He felt like he knew the answer to that question though. Adam looked tired, most likely from work yes but there was also a deep and profound sadness in his eyes which were also slightly red-rimmed. “I did this,” Noah thought silently, once again hating himself.
“I’m fine,” Adam said, adding a little sarcastically, “or as I fine as I can be considering my boyfriend cheated on me.”
“Noah, don’t,” Adam quickly interrupted. “I don’t want to hear how sorry you are anymore because it won’t change what you did. It is what it is.”
“Okay,” Noah said softly, “so what do you want to talk about?”
Adam stared silently at him, his arms wrapped tightly around his chest like he was protecting his heart.
“I’ve spent the last few days thinking about this,” he began slowly, “thinking about my feelings for you, my feelings about what you did, your feelings for Luke and our relationship, and finally, it all made sense to me.”
“Okay,” Noah said slowly, confusion running across his face.
Adam’s face suddenly took on strange calm, eyes never wavering from Noah’s as he said softly, “Noah, what would you say if I told you I was willing to forgive you for what happened with Luke, that I was willing to give our relationship a chance and fight for us.”
Noah was stunned. He stood silent, struck dumb, staring back at Adam, his mouth unable to form words. Finally, he stuttered out a mumbled, “I...I don’t know what to say.”
Adam eyes shone with unshed tears as he said softly, “I figured.” And with a sad and heartbroken smile across his lips, he said, “you’re not confused Noah.”
“You’re not confused. You know exactly who you want to be with, you’re just too afraid to say it. Because saying it means having to break my heart and you hate yourself for having to do that.”
“You love me; I know…I believe you. But I also believe that what you feel for Luke transcends everything else. You know, while I had all these thoughts running around my head in the past few days, at one point I wondered if I hadn’t chosen Oakdale Memorial for my residency if we’d still be happy and together and in love. But I realized it didn’t matter. Because whether it happened now or ten years or even twenty years down the road, you two were always going to find your way back to each other.”
“I…I don’t know what to say,” Noah said, the heavy lump in his throat making it almost difficult for him to choke out the words.
“There’s really nothing to say,” Adam said, shrugging almost helplessly. “You made your choice the second you slept with Luke. You’re not a cheater Noah and yet you willingly threw away everything we meant to each other for one moment with Luke. That wasn’t random or an accident and it’s not something that would have happened with just anyone. It happened because it was Luke.”
Suddenly finding his legs, Noah moved quickly, gripping Adam’s arms tightly, his tears flowing freely.
“You, you have made me so happy. You came into my life when I didn’t even think I could ever be happy again much less fall in love and you are one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.”
“I know,” Adam said, nodding sadly as his own tears spilled over. “And I’m sure on some level you wish you could choose me but I don’t want you to be with me out of some kind of obligation or guilt because I’m such a good person. I want you to choose me because I’m who you want to be with period. And that’s just not the case. I know you’re afraid to take a chance on Luke again because of what happened between you but all of that doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, the heart wants it wants and your heart wants him.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” It became a mantra that Noah repeated as he dropped his head to Adam’s chest, feeling his own heart breaking into a million pieces even while he was breaking Adam’s.
“I know,” Adam finally said, sounding remarkably calm.
“I have to go now,” he added, before tenderly placing a soft kiss to the top of Noah’s head which was still buried in his chest.
It took a good five minutes before Noah finally pulled away slowly and allowed some distance between them.
Adam stared up into his tear-soaked face and red-rimmed eyes before finally saying softly, “goodbye Noah.”
And without another word he walked away. Noah watched him leave, heard the sound of the door bang shut and his footsteps fading away before he allowed himself more tears. This time they were goodbye tears.