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Luke knows he'll need to fight for Noah. He has a few ideas.
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Luke and Noah are about to see each other for the first time since Noah left for LA! Let's see how this goes!
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The Other Man by jb1183 PG-13
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Luke finds that working as a researcher for a security company comes with unexpected events.

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A Casual Get Together

by jb1183
[Reviews - 10]   Printer
Table of Contents

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Story Notes:
Written for: What did you do? prompt meme
Prompted by: Ficnic
With prompt: If ever you would leave me
Cheese and crackers were casual enough, right? Luke wouldn’t read too much into cheese and crackers, right?

As Noah put out a plate of crackers with cheese sauce on the side for spreading, he told himself to calm down. It was just Luke coming over. The person he felt most comfortable with in the entire world. Well, the person he USED to feel the most comfortable with in the entire world. And the person he wanted to feel that comfortable with again.

This was all very confusing. Noah had put a great deal of thought into this evening, the first night that he and Luke would be seeing each other face to face since Noah had moved to Los Angeles. He had put considerable effort into making sure that everything about this evening would seem casual, so that Luke didn’t feel pressured by any apparent expectation on Noah’s part to take him back.

But it was all an act, of course. Noah wanted Luke back so desperately that he thought he might soon lose his mind. He longed for Luke pretty much every minute of every day. Every time they spoke on the phone, it took everything Noah had to keep himself from pleading with Luke, begging him to give him another chance. Instead he forced himself to partake in the stilted awkwardness that characterized all their conversations now. It was worth it, though, just to hear the sound of Luke’s beautiful voice.

It was ten minutes before 7:00, which was the time Luke was supposed to be arriving, and Noah took a seat on the couch to wait, his eyes darting nervously around the impressive room in the Lakeview. Lily had clearly given him one of the nicest rooms in the whole building that wasn’t a bridal suite.

It was the night before Thanksgiving and, at Lily’s insistence, he had been flown back to Oakdale on Lucinda’s private jet, a gesture that both deeply moved and somewhat embarrassed him. When he arrived at the airport, Lily, Holden, Lucinda, Emma, Natalie, and Ethan were there to greet him. He felt like a soldier returning from war. He was touched and grateful, but it felt like too much kindness toward the guy who had ruined Luke’s life. It was hard for him to understand why they all still loved him so much, after everything. He thought their feelings would have changed by now.

But, at the same time, he recognized that his feelings hadn’t changed, either. He still loved all of them, too, after everything.

Despite Lily’s continued attempts to convince him to stay at the Farm, he had insisted that it wasn’t appropriate, given the status of his relationship with Luke. Thanksgiving dinner was one thing, sleeping under the same roof was quite another. They finally compromised with him agreeing to let Lily provide him with a free room at the Lakeview. After having burgers with the family at Al’s, he purchased some snacks and drinks for his visit with Luke and checked into the room.

Noah had called Luke the previous week and suggested they spend some time together the night he got into town so as to make both of them more comfortable at dinner the next day. “Just a casual get together,” he had assured Luke, who immediately agreed to the idea. Noah wanted to believe he detected a hint of excitement in the other man’s voice, but he didn’t want to read too much into that. After all, he didn’t really know what went on inside Luke’s head anymore. He used to know everything about Luke, but Luke was very guarded with him now.

He’s guarding himself from YOU! He mentally accused himself. He’s protecting himself from all the pain that YOU brought to his life!

The best he could hope for from this get together, he decided, was for him and Luke to reconnect as friends. Because, as excruciating a reality as it was, he had to finally face the truth.

Luke was never going to want him back.
Showing up a few minutes late for their get together was a good idea, right? After all, if he was actually uncharacteristically punctual, Noah might read too much into that, right?

Luke had woken up that day feeling as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. Noah was coming home today! From the moment Noah had kissed him goodbye and walked out of WOAK, Luke had felt his absence acutely. After months of trying to convince himself that his feelings for Noah had changed, he was confronted in that moment by the profound and inescapable truth that his love for Noah Mayer was a flame that would never die.

But after the high of initial excitement that morning, Luke was soon brought back to reality by his recollection of the phone calls he and Noah had shared over the past couple of months. Despite Noah’s earlier assurance that he “would be waiting” for Luke, their conversations had been extremely distant and lacking in substance. Someone listening in would never be able to tell that these were two men who used to share every hope and dream with each other. Noah seemed to be holding back from him.

It was his fault, of course. His big mouth, his life-long inability to adequately think through what he was saying before it escaped his lips, had caused him to wound the person closest to his heart in the most painful way possible. Now, whenever Noah thought about him or talked to him, an endless loop of “we were not right for each other” probably played over and over again in his head.

It was Luke’s propensity for seeing everything in stark black and white terms that had led him to make the statement. If he and his new boyfriend had been “right,” than he and Noah must have been “not right.” Never mind that he and Noah had been “right” for a very long time until calamitous circumstances befell their relationship. Never mind that he and his new boyfriend hadn't had a fraction of the history that he and Noah did, nor had their relationship been tested in any significant way. Never mind that, despite his fears of Noah pushing him away again, he couldn’t manage to get him out of his head. That realization, in particular, threatened the foundation of Luke’s new relationship, which he had quickly built his entire existence around in a stubborn attempt to prove to himself and everyone else that it was a far better and more adult relationship than the one he had with Noah.

So, after all the pain Noah had caused him over the past year and in an attempt to assert the supposed primacy of his new relationship, Luke declared them “not right for each other.” It wasn’t until after tragedy had struck his new relationship and Noah had departed for the West Coast that the impact of what he had said actually struck Luke.

Noah had been a man without a home until he had found one in Luke. To claim that their relationship had been “not right” all along was to shatter the very foundation on which Noah’s entire life had come to be built. It was to write off the only truly happy years Noah had ever known as a “mistake.”

There was a time when he would have understood the immense pain that a declaration like that would have caused Noah, a time when even at the height of fury or frustration he would never have uttered such a sweeping and simplistic assessment of their relationship. But somewhere in the tumult of the past year, he had forgotten who THEY had been. The hurt and brokenness of the previous few months seemed to eclipse all the countless moments of love, joy, and connection that had come before. He now recognized that only a Luke who had forgotten who THEY were could have said what he had said to Noah.

Knowing that his mom had basically ordered Noah home for Thanksgiving, Luke had resolved to clear the air with him face-to-face during the visit, assuring Noah that he did, in fact, remember who THEY had been, and initiating the first steps toward reconciling. But Noah’s obvious emotional distance in their subsequent phone conversations had caused him to back away from that plan. It seemed to Luke as though Noah had retreated back into the protective shell he had inhabited when they first met over three years earlier.

Because of his toxic upbringing, Noah rarely let people in emotionally. Trust was something which needed to be built over time with him. But Noah had taken a risk and opened his heart to Luke, and Luke had ultimately taken that fragile heart and stomped all over it. He had wounded Noah so deeply that it might not be possible to undo the damage.

No wonder he’s distant! He mentally condemned himself. YOU promised to love him FOREVER and then told him that the two of you WEREN’T RIGHT FOR EACH OTHER! He’ll probably never trust ANYONE ever again!

So, despite his intense longing to reunite with Noah, Luke had decided that he would follow Noah’s cues on the tone of their relationship going forward. Noah had insisted that tonight was just a “casual get together,” so that was what it was going to be. But Luke wanted more. He wanted Noah back. He wanted THEM back.

The best he could hope for from this get together, he decided, was for him and Noah to reconnect as friends. Because, as excruciating a reality as it was, he had to finally face the truth.

Noah was never going to trust him again.
Noah was worried.

Luke was ten minutes late. Sure, that wasn’t out of the ordinary, but did it mean something tonight? Did it mean Luke was having second thoughts about coming? Just as he was about to text a quick message to Luke, he heard the knock on the door.

He answered it to find Luke standing there with a nervous crooked smile on his face. He wore a faded blue T-shirt and jeans, which meshed nicely with the faded green T-shirt and jeans that Noah was wearing.

They were casual. This was a casual get together, right?

Seeing Noah dressed similarly to him, Luke breathed a sigh of relief that he had decided against wearing the button down shirt and khakis he had originally laid out for himself.

“Come in,” Noah said, with a warm smile that barely hinted at the exhilaration he felt at being in Luke’s presence again.

“Thanks,” Luke said, walking past him to enter the hotel room. “God!” he exclaimed, surveying the lavish room, “Mom sure went all out for you! This is the nicest room I’ve ever seen here that wasn’t-”

“-a Bridal suite,” Noah finished, stepping up behind him. “I know. Your family has always been much too good to me.”

Luke opened his mouth to tell Noah that he deserved every kindness the Snyders had ever given him, but thought better of it and stopped himself.

His eyes traveled to the Queen sized bed and he couldn’t help but think how badly he wanted Noah to make love to him on that bed. Or any bed. Right now.

He turned around to face Noah, determined to distract himself from those thoughts. “So, how about we have a drink and catch up?” he suggested.

“OK,” Noah said, gesturing toward the table in front of the couch, where he had set out the plate of cheese and crackers and a few cans of Ginger Ale, which he had left chilling in ice.

The two of them sat down. They each opened a can and took a sip. Then they each spread some cheese on a cracker and took a bite.

“That’s really good,” Luke said.

“Yeah,” Noah agreed.

After a brief period of silence, Luke said, “So…

“Yeah, um…” Noah added. “Um, uh…Ethan’s really growing like a weed. I’ve only been gone for two months and he’s grown so much.”

“Yeah,” Luke agreed. “He’s getting really big. So…how’s the weather been?”

“Great. It’s sunny all the time…it’s weird to have it be so hot this time of year, but I could get used to it.”

“Yeah,” Luke said.

“Definitely,” Noah agreed.

“Well, the weather here’s been cold,” Luke said. “I mean, I believe in global warming, of course, but it’s been REALLY cold for November.”

“That too bad,” Noah said.

“Yeah,” Luke agreed.

After another period of silence, Luke asked, “So, um, is gas as expensive out there as it is here? Because I seriously can’t believe how expensive it’s gotten.”

“It’s unbelievable,” Noah said sadly.

“It really is,” Luke agreed.

“No,” Noah said, shaking his head. “I mean, it’s unbelievable how we used to be able to talk about anything with each other, and now we’re sitting here talking about the weather and the price of gas.”

“I know,” Luke said quietly, pursing his lips and nodding his head.

“I just…” Noah turned himself around on the couch to look directly at Luke. “All I want is to be your friend again,” he said, taking Luke’s hand. “No expectations for anything more. All I want is our friendship back.”

“And that’s all I want, too, Baby,” Luke agreed, squeezing his hand hard.

They both started laughed at Luke’s slipping back into the old pet name. “Old habits die hard, I guess,” Luke chuckled, trying to wave it away as if it was just a slip of the tongue and not an obvious indicator of how he truly felt inside.

“That’s OK,” Noah assured him with a kind smile.

They both looked down at their clasped hands. They had each been waiting for the other to let go, but neither of them had done so yet. They looked back up, and as their eyes locked, a shared realization passed between them.

“I DON’T want to be just your friend, Luke,” Noah suddenly spat out emphatically. “I love you. I’m so IN LOVE with you.”

“Same here, Baby,” Luke responded, before he practically jumped on Noah, their mouths crashing together in a hot and passionate kiss that they both needed desperately.

Time seemed to stop as their tongues danced in each others' mouths. Luke sat on Noah’s lap and they pulled each other as close as possible and experienced and enjoyed each others' physical contact in a way they hadn’t in over a year.

When they finally came up for air, Noah was shaking, and tears were trailing down his cheeks.

Luke reached forward to wipe them away. “Noah, I’m so sorry,” he said, his own tears falling, too. “I hope you can find it in your heart to trust me the way that you used to.”

“I trust you,” Noah said immediately. “I’ve never trusted anyone the way I trust you. And I don’t think I ever will. That’s why it was so hard for me to face you not being in love with me anymore.”

“There was no way I was ever going to stop being in love with you, and I’m so sorry that I let you think that, for even one minute.” Luke placed a hand on each side of Noah’s cheek. He dipped down and planted a kiss on Noah’s lips between each word of the next sentence he spoke. “You’re…the...love…of...my…life.”

“I’m never going to push you away again,” Noah told him, continuing to choke up as he said it, his atom’s apple bobbing. “That’s a promise, Luke.”

“I believe you,” Luke affirmed, running his hand through the other man’s black hair. “Because after tonight, I know now that if either of us would ever leave the other again, it would be the death of both of us. We need each other.”

“God, do we ever,” Noah said with a chuckle as he wiped the last few tears from his eyes.

“So,” Luke said, finally climbing off of Noah’s lap and sitting back down on the other side of the couch, “after everything, you still trust me?”

“Yes,” Noah answered immediately.

Luke’s eyes were wide and intense. “Show me,” he said simply.

“OK, I will,” Noah responded with a sly smile, immediately picking up on what Luke was doing. “And after I show you how much I trust you, maybe you can show me how much you still love me?”

“Sounds fair to me,” Luke said, grinning and fighting the urge to lick his lips in anticipation.

Noah stood up from the couch and offered Luke his hands to prompt him up off the couch, as well. Luke took hold of his hands and was soon standing face to face with Noah, with just a few inches between them. Noah kicked off his shoes and quickly pulled off his socks.

As Noah looked directly into Luke’s eyes, he slowly pulled His T-shirt up, exposing his toned stomach. Teasingly, tantalizingly slowly, he pulled it up over his head and then dropped it onto the carpeted floor below.

Luke took a sharp intake of breath. This was happening. THEY were THEM again! Watching Noah undress himself, expose himself completely before Luke, it was as if the strife of the past year hadn’t even happened. Every feeling and emotion of love for Noah he had worked so hard to bury and push down flooded back completely. He knew that this was RIGHT. THEY were RIGHT. There was nowhere else he would rather be and no one else he would rather be with.

And, as if reading that thought somehow, Noah began to undo his belt. He unzipped his jeans and slowly slipped the pants down to his ankles. Then he put two fingers on each side of his black boxer shorts and slipped them down, too. He stepped out of the pants and boxers and kicked them to the side.

And there he was. Noah stood before Luke completely naked, but without the slightest hint of fear, embarrassment, or hesitation in his eyes.

“Do you see how much I trust you?” Noah asked. His smile was so bright it could have lit the whole Earth.

“I do,” Luke said, and he knew it wouldn’t be the last time he said those two words while standing face to face with Noah. He assumed Noah would probably be wearing clothes for the next "I do," though.

“So,” Noah said, biting down on his lower lip to hold back the tidal wave of emotion that was building inside him, “are you ready to show me how much you still love me?”

Luke swallowed his own emotion and nodded. And a second later, he was down on his knees, showing Noah exactly how much he still loved him.
Luke awoke with his arms wrapped around Noah, the other man sleeping with a look of peaceful contentedness on his face. The alarm clock on the nightstand read 2:38 AM. Luke carefully removed his arms so as not to wake Noah, and slowly crept out of bed to check his phone. His naked body suddenly felt cold after hours underneath the covers.

Between the time he and Noah got out of the shower after their first round of sex and the beginning of their second round, he had quickly sent a text to Lily to let her know that he wouldn’t be coming home that night, but not to worry because he was with Noah. He wanted to check and make sure she had seen it.

Her wordless response was:):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

Luke’s own face mirrored the images on the screen. That was exactly how he felt, too.

“What are you doing?” Noah asked groggily from the bed.

“I’m just checking to see if my mom got my text,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to wake you. Go back to sleep.”

“You didn’t wake me,” Noah answered. “I was just immediately aware that you were gone.”

Luke climbed back into bed and cuddled up next to him. “So, my mom figured out from my text that if I wasn’t coming home tonight, it meant good things for you and me.”

“Oh, yea?”

“Yea. Everybody’s going to be so excited. The kids are going to be jumping up and down. Grandma will probably cry. Grandmother will hug us and say, ‘My dear stubborn boys, I knew this day would come.’ Casey and Ali are going to go nuts, too.”

Noah smiled at the thought of all those amazing people rooting for him and Luke to reunite. God, it was so good to be HOME.

“This has the potential to be our best Thanksgiving yet,” he said to Luke.

“Well, I certainly know what I’m thankful for today,” Luke responded, leaning in for a kiss.

Pulling out of the kiss, Noah’s eyes traveled to the table in front of the couch, on which still lay the plate of cheese and crackers and the cans of Ginger Ale.

“Well, so much for my ‘casual get together,” he quipped.

“Yeah,” Luke laughed, turning around to look at the table. “I think this get together ended up being quite a bit better than the original plan.”

“Most definitely. You know, come to think of it, I’m actually pretty hungry. I think I’m going to go grab a few cheese and crackers.”

As he moved to get out of the bed, Luke leaned over and whispered hotly in his ear, “I’d like to have some cheese and crackers, too. Do you want to hear what surface I’d like to eat them off of?”

Noah gulped and nodded his head.

This was DEFINITELY going to be their best Thanksgiving yet.
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