I ask you to ignore the fact that, although this story is set in the future, technology does not appear to have advanced beyond the present day! :)
Every time he entered the front door of his home, Noah was brought right back to the moment his name was announced. He didn't think there would ever come a time when the whole thing wouldn't feel like a dream. But right there, proudly displayed in the glass case in the dining room, was his Academy Award statue for Best Director. He couldn't believe it had already been three years since he had won. He smiled proudly to himself as he soaked in the sight of the beautiful trophy once again. The final cut of his newest film, which he had just submitted to the studio, had turned out far better than he had expected. He hardly dared to hope it, but the thought came through anyway: Next year could be my year again!
He turned and began walking upstairs, stopping to adjust the crooked family portrait hanging on the wall. Luke had probably walked by the portrait twenty times that day and didn't notice it was crooked, but Noah's military upbringing had instilled in him an attention for that kind of detail and a desire to correct it. His heart warmed as the five smiling faces in the picture, including his own, seemed to welcome him home from his seemingly endless day in the editing room. And he was so glad to finally be home.
As he reached the top of the stairs and quietly entered their bedroom, Noah was greeted by the sight of his husband lying flat on his back, his eyes closed and his hands holding an open paperback novel against his continually expanding gut. Luke was sleeping peacefully, but the open book was a clear indication to Noah that he had made a valiant effort to remain awake to welcome him home. Noah was just as happy that Luke had given up and gone to sleep. It was well past two o'clock in the morning and Luke needed to be up in less than four hours.
Noah sighed contentedly at the sight of his slumbering husband. Even after thirty-one years of marriage, Luke still took his breath away.
He reached down and ran his hand gently across Luke's cheek. It was the wee hours of Friday morning, and on Saturday he and Luke would finally get to spend some real quality time together. The studio had been pushing for the final cut of the film and Noah's life had become completely consumed by the editing process of late. Sadly, he could count on one hand the number of hours he had spent with his family in the last three weeks. Now that he had submitted the final cut, Saturday would be the day he could make it up to them. As much as he loved making films, Luke and their children and granddaughter were the true loves of his life.
Noah changed into his pajamas and then made his way down the hall to the bathroom to brush his teeth. As he brushed, he took a look in the mirror. His jet black hair was now speckled with gray and a few wrinkles had started appearing on his face and neck, but otherwise he was aging very gracefully for a fifty-eight year old man. Even though others in the industry had urged him to dye his hair and get botox, he always resisted such temptations. He had long ago made a promise to be true to himself.
As he exited the bathroom, he noticed the light shining from underneath the bedroom door at the far end of the hall. He walked over and rapped gently on it.
“Yes?” The tone of the response was one of thinly veiled annoyance.
“Matt, can I come in?” Noah asked quietly.
Noah could hear the exasperation in his son's voice. “OK,” he finally answered.
Noah opened the door to find the sixteen year old sitting on his bed, typing away at his laptop.
“It's pretty late, Buddy” Noah said, trying to keep his tone even. “You've got school in the morning.”
“I know, Pop,” Matt answered. “I've just got to finish this paper for tomorrow and then I'm going right to sleep.”
“Matt, it's three in the morning. Tomorrow is today. How long have you known you had this paper?”
Matt scowled up at him. “What does it matter, Pop? I'm getting it done. It's not like I'm blowing it off or something. Jeez.” He sighed loudly as he returned his eyes to the screen.
Noah shook his head in frustration and stepped out of the doorway and into the room, closing the door behind him. Nothing with Matt was easy these days.
“You ARE blowing it off if you're not starting it until the middle of the night on the day it's due,” he said. “It's not your best work if you're just rushing to get it done at the last minute. And you NEED to pull your grades up if you want to stay on the team. You know that, Matt.”
Matt rolled his eyes and moved his laptop onto the desk next to the bed. “You know, every minute you're standing here lecturing me I could be actually finishing the paper. But, no, you're in the door five minutes, so you've got to come in here and be mad at me.”
“I'm not mad at you,” Noah said, rubbing his hands across his exhausted face. He was so tired and this was the last thing he needed to be dealing with."But Dad and I need you to be more responsible about your schoolwork.”
“Dad has been on my ass about this for weeks,” Matt countered. “So I don't need you coming in here in the middle of the night to tell me what a screw up I am.”
“You know I don't think you're a screw up, Matthew.” his father said warmly. “And neither does Dad. We're 'on your ass' about it because we know you're not putting forth your best effort. And if you get any D's or F's on your next report card, you're going to get kicked off the team. Why are we the bad guys because we want you to work to your potential in school and continue to do something you love? I just don't get that, Buddy.”
“You guys think I can do whatever you can do,” he answered. “But you both just need to face it. I'm not smart like you and Dad and Sean and Brooke. And I don't LIKE to learn the way you all do.”
Noah stepped over and sat on the edge of the bed. Matt began to shift uncomfortably and finally dropped his gaze from the penetrating blue of his father's wordless stare, fixing his eyes on his intertwined hands.
“You're plenty smart, Matt,” he finally said. “I don't ever want to hear you talk yourself down like that. We'll do whatever we need to do to help you. We'll get a private tutor if that's what you need. Listen to me,” he said firmly, reaching out to gently lift his son's chin up to meet his eyes. “ I am so proud to be one of your fathers. But everyone in this house has a job. I go off and makes movies. Your dad teaches the next generation the great literary classics. And your job is to give every ounce of effort to your schoolwork so you can get into a good college and make a life for yourself, the way your brother and sister have. And starting a paper five hours before it's due, when you've had weeks to finish it, is not fulfilling your end of the deal. Do you understand what I'm saying?”
Matt grudgingly nodded, apparently realizing that being at least a little bit agreeable would end the conversation sooner.
“I know it seems like everyone has these big expectations for your future when you're a teenager, and it feels like you're being judged.” He nodded wistfully, more to himself than to Matt, remembering his own long ago days as a struggling adolescent. “Believe me I know. The last thing Dad or I would ever want is to make you feel like you don't measure up. Because that's not what we think. We knew you were special the first moment we held you in our arms. What we want is for you to live up to just how special we know you really are, and not settle for anything less.”
Noah paused to let his words wash over the boy. Matt nodded and seemed to be softening a little bit.
“So are we good?” Noah asked.
“Yea, Pop, we're fine,” he said, reaching over and pulling the laptop back onto the bed. “Now can I finish writing the paper or are you going to stay here all night and stare at me?” Although he still sounded grouchy, there was now the smallest hint of a smile on his face.
“Go ahead and finish,” Noah told him, standing up and making his way toward the door. “But don't let anything go to the last minute again, alright?”
“Whatever you say, your Majesty.”
In the interest of keeping the peace, Noah decided to let that little bit of backtalk go. He turned around, standing in the now opened doorway. “Did Dad tell you I submitted the final cut tonight?”
Matt's face was back to being glued to the computer screen and his fingers were typing furiously. “Yea, that's great, Pop,” he answered, his voice not conveying the slightest bit of enthusiasm.
“So I was hoping we could make Saturday a family day, you know, to celebrate? I just feel like I haven't spent any time with you guys lately, so I thought we could all go out for a nice dinner. I'll call Sean and Brooke tomorrow and see what they've got going on. Hopefully Sean can bring Jess and Sarah...”
Matt, who had not taken his eyes off the screen, suddenly looked up and shook his head vigorously. “No can do, Pop, Saturday's Tom Riley's birthday party.” He returned his focus to the computer. “But that's OK, you guys can all just go without me.”
Noah tried his best to hide his disappointment. “OK, but I hope you got permission from Dad already,” he said.
“Yes, of course, Pop,” he answered testily, rolling his eyes. “God, living here is like being in prison. I'm surprised you guys don't insist on coming into the bathroom with me to wipe my ass.”
“Well, keep talking to me like that and we could still arrange that,” Noah responded, smiling through his rising anger. Realizing that both of them were overtired at this late hour of the night, he decided there was no point in continuing the conversation.
“Matt,” he said, by way of a closing thought, “ Dad and I know that being your age isn't easy. We were both young once, too.”
Matt gave an incredulous look, but once again Noah could see that hint of a smile on his face. “Pop, it's impossible for me to imagine you or Dad EVER being young.”
“I love you, Matt,” his father said as he began to close the door behind him.
“I love you too, Pop,” he returned with a mixture of sincerity and obvious relief that this conversation was finally over.
As soon as he entered his own bedroom, Noah could see that Luke was no longer asleep. Although he was still lying in the same position with his eyes closed, Luke was now wearing a sly smile on his face, which betrayed that he had been roused from his slumber.
“Trouble in Paradise, Bubby?” he asked groggily, opening his eyes into slits and shifting into a sitting up position on his side of the bed.
“You heard all that?”
“Just the tone of it,” he answered. “I couldn't really hear what you were talking about. What's going on?”
“Your son drives me crazy,” Noah said, plopping down heavily onto his own side of the bed.
“Hey, why is he always YOUR son when he hits a home run but he's always MY son when he's acting like a jackass?”
“That's just the way it goes,” Noah smiled broadly. He leaned over and planted a kiss on his husband's waiting lips.
“He's sixteen, Noah,” Luke rubbed his shoulders reassuringly. “It's not going to be like this forever. You know I didn't always make things easy on my folks when I was his age.”
“When you were his age, you were dealing with kidney failure, alcohol abuse, and struggling to come out. What exactly about his life is so difficult? He's just pissed off at us because we won't let him party and flunk out of school.”
Luke kissed the back of Noah's nearest hand. “We had some tough times with Sean and Brooke, too. This is just what it's like raising teenagers.”
Noah shook his head emphatically. “I don't remember it being like this with Sean and Brooke. They had their moments, times when they rebelled, tested us, said we were being too strict, but Matt just seems to have pulled away from us so much.” His blue eyes locked directly with Luke's brown and Luke saw that they had grown moist. “I just miss the little boy who used to run to greet me at the front door every night.”
“I know,” Luke said. “But he's the same little boy, Noah. He might be a little older and he might have a bad attitude, but he's the same boy who knew you loved him when he was just a toddler and who knows that now, too. In a few years he'll understand that any pushing we had to do with him was for his own good.”
“Well, that was my father's logic, too,” Noah said bluntly. “And you saw how that worked out.”
“Bubby, you are nothing like your father,” Luke said firmly. “So I think you should just get that idea out of your head right now.”
Noah nodded, acknowledging that Luke was right, but not really feeling much better. “I just can't seem to say anything to him these days without it getting tense really fast."”
“It's the same way with me, too,” Luke told him. “The only difference is that you always want to keep it from turning into a fight. I just get right down into the mud with him. You should have heard us last night.”
“Yea, he got all affronted because I dared to ask him if the party at Tom's would be supervised, and he yelled that I just live to suck all the fun out of his life and I yelled that if he hated it here so much he could go live on the street in a cardboard box and let me know how that worked for him. After we got that out, we were both fine. It might sound dysfunctional, but I think it's really very healthy.”
“He's right you know?” Noah said, and it took Luke a moment to realize that Noah was still trying to vocalize his own thoughts and not responding to Luke's story. After all their years together, Luke had come to understand and respect that Noah needed space and time to process his emotions and that he, Luke, would sometimes need to be patient as Noah got it all out. “He's right. I'm hardly home for weeks at a time and then I want to come in and bombard him with paternal wisdom.”
“You work long hours,” Luke agreed. “But I'm amazed at how well you've done balancing attendance at nearly every baseball game and parent-teacher conference with being one of the most prestigious directors in Hollywood. You amaze me, to be honest.”
“Well, thank you,” Noah grinned bashfully, “But you're the incredible one. You're the one who teaches two hundred teenagers from eight to three and then comes home and deals with another really moody one on a daily basis. YOU amaze me.”
The couple interlaced their fingers as they had done so many times throughout the years and shared a long silent moment together.
“I've missed you,” Luke said, running his hands through Noah's hair.
“I've missed you, too. Saturday is going to be all about you and the kids, I swear. We're going to celebrate in style.”
Luke flashed Noah the seductive smile that had turned him on for the past forty years. “Well, Saturday's great, Noah, but I've got needs that I'd like taken care of as soon as possible. If you're not too tired, that is,” he added quickly, noticing for the first time just how beat his husband looked.
“You know I'm never too tired for that,” Noah said, turning on his own seductive charms. “We've just got to be quiet, though. The kid's still doing his homework at three in the morning.”
The two men locked eyes, where so much nonverbal communication had always taken place between them. Luke lifted his arms up over his head and Noah reached down and pulled his T-shirt up and over his head. Luke's hands grasped the bottom of Noah's shirt and soon Noah's shirt joined Luke's on the floor next to the bed.
Luke laid down, smiling in anticipation as Noah grabbed at the leg of his pajama pants and slowly pulled them down and off. He moved back up, grasping at the waistband of Luke's boxers and pulled those off, as well.
As Noah slid his own pants and underwear off, he soaked in the sight of his now completely naked husband. Luke had gained between five and ten pounds every decade they had been together, while Noah had remained as thin as he was the day they had met, but Noah had never once found any other man as strikingly attractive as Luke.
Noah brought himself down on top of him and their lips met in a long, lingering, probing kiss. After a sustained period of mouth to mouth contact, their lips parted and they began using their mouths to explore other areas, Noah kissing the side of Luke's neck and Luke licking at Noah's shoulders. After nearly forty years together, the two men found each others' bodies as familiar as their own, and they knew exactly which areas to focus on to bring the other complete joy and satisfaction.
They both instinctively knew when foreplay had been exhausted and it was time to move forward. Wordlessly, Noah sat up and Luke lifted his legs, which Noah took and placed over his shoulders. Noah began to prepare for his entrance, all the while planting little kisses on Luke's legs.
“I love you so much, Luke” Noah whispered as he ran his length up and down Luke's entrance. The sound of Noah's voice in his current state of arousal sent shivers down Luke's spine. “I would be completely lost without you.”
“I love you, too, Noah. You make my life so special,” Luke responded, and at that moment, Noah pushed forward and entered him. Luke moaned in pleasure and threw his head back. Noah leaned down and their tongues joined in a passionate kiss.
The rhythm of intercourse between them was so comfortable and familiar and yet, in many ways, always new. Both men always seemed to have an unspoken understanding of what needed to be accomplished or celebrated in each individual act of lovemaking. This night, what they both needed was reassurance and reacquaintance. Noah's demanding schedule had denied them of quality time and they were, in this moment, expressing just how much they had missed each other.
Their mutual need for relief was so great at this moment that neither man lasted very long. Luke orgasmed first, which almost immediately brought Noah to his own orgasm. Noah collapsed on top of his husband and they spent a few long moments holding each other, catching their breaths, and delighting in being so close and fully present to each other.
Luke and Noah loved these moments immediately following the sex almost as much as they loved the sex itself. It was almost as if the act of lovemaking built them a private sanctuary where no one else could find them. The stresses and cares of the outside world didn't matter in these moments. They lived only in the present, where they felt safe and completely at home in each others' arms. They always had, right from the very beginning.
Luke was the one who finally broke the long silence. “We're really good at that,” he said and then chuckled at his own statement.
“Yes, we are,” Noah agreed, kissing Luke's forehead. “We get better with age and experience, don't we?”
Luke nodded. “Are you feeling better yet?”
“How could I not after that?” Noah laughed.
“We have a beautiful family, Noah. And that's mostly because of you. You're an incredible husband and a wonderful father. You've got three children and a granddaughter who adore you, and that includes that one down the hall. You're the heart of this family, Bubby.”
Noah guffawed and shook his head. “I think that would be you, Luke.”
“Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree. All I know is that when I stop and reflect on my life, I realize that every dream I've ever had has been fulfilled because of you.”
A couple of tears trailed down Noah's cheek. “What did I ever do to deserve you?” he asked, the deep emotion written on his face coming through clearly in his voice.
“Just being yourself has always been more than enough,” Luke answered.
The two men shared one more long kiss and then Noah rolled off of Luke and back onto his own side of the bed. Within minutes, both of them were sleeping peacefully.