“I have to ask why you’re here. Why you came. I have to know.”
The atmosphere changed so quickly that Luke almost stumbled.
“Don’t Noah.” Luke was conflicted and confused. He didn’t know what he would feel on seeing Noah again, but he hadn’t expected THIS. He thought he was over this, but he had been holding back waves of emotion since the moment Noah had opened his door a few hours earlier. (That hug had felt so good.)
“I meant what I said before I left for LA. My feelings haven’t changed. I still want you back Luke. I can’t just let you walk out without asking.” The hope, desperation and hint of fear in his voice was clear.
Luke was facing the apartment door with his back to Noah. He had been about to leave. They had run out of small talk and catch ups. There were no longer any more excuses for him to stay. (Even though he wanted too?)
He had both expected and dreaded Noah bringing this up, but he still wasn’t prepared for the torrent of emotions that seemed to be raining down on him. He was in LA on a business trip. He hadn’t even planned on seeing Noah, but somehow he found himself there. It was as though his feet had brought him of their own accord. If he was truly honest he knew he could have sent a junior on the trip. Subconsciously he had wanted an excuse to see him. He needed to see for himself that Noah was okay, despite what Noah had been telling him the few times they had spoken over the phone. He had always felt protective over him and, despite everything, that had somehow never changed.
When Noah had left for LA Luke had been ready to see him go. He wanted Noah to achieve his dreams and at the time his own feelings had been clouded by grief. But now, standing in Noah’s LA apartment after all those long months, feeling the charge, the electricity (still?), Luke felt his heart squeeze in his chest, and old hurts seemed to reach up and drag him down to a place he thought he had escaped from.
But along with those hurts he felt something else too, something he hadn’t felt in a while, something that scared him more than anything. He felt want, desire and most of all love, that all encompassing love that he and Noah had shared. (Still shared?) He had buried those feelings deep inside, so that he could survive, so that he could cope with losing Noah, so that he could move on with Reid. But now, without Reid to distract him, and after accepting his death…
Without turning to look at Noah or saying a word, Luke sought escape. He wasn’t ready… he needed time… he needed time. He noticed a doorway and marched through it, his heart banging in his chest, his breathing shallow, but there was no sanctuary to be found here either! It was a guest room, filled with unpacked boxes that made Luke scream inside!
“Noah isn’t happy in LA,” they seemed to mock. “Noah never really left Oakdale! Noah is all packed and ready to return to you at a moments notice!”
Luke felt like he would die! Right there he would die! He knew it!
“Luke?” He knew that Noah had followed him. He FELT Noah follow him.
He was about to reply, to ask Noah to leave, to ask for space, but as he turned to face him he saw tears flowing from his ex’s eyes. Noah was crying? Luke had only ever seen Noah cry like that after his father’s death. Just that one time…. But now Noah was crying and that could mean only one thing… he was hurting.
“I’m sorry. I can’t help it. It’s… it’s…you’re in here, Luke.” Noah banged his fist against his chest and the look of love and longing in his blue eyes caused something inside Luke to snap.
“Dammit Noah!” And all control was lost!
Before Noah knew what had happened, he was pushed across the room and forced up against the wall by Luke. He felt the air knock out of him and barely had time to recover before Luke’s lips were on his, devouring him with more intensity then Noah had ever known in his life. He responded with equal measure. It had been a long time! Too Long! God but he had missed Luke! Every part of him screamed with the need to touch this other man, but Luke had his hands and arms firmly glued to the wall above his head. Besides, Noah didn’t dare try to move, Luke had issues he needed to work through, and Noah owed him the chance to do that.
“How did I have ever push this away?” Noah wondered.
Then, too soon, Luke was pulling away from the kiss and the two men spent time staring deep into each other’s eyes, hazel on midnight, foreheads touching, breath heavy. A small drop of blood dribbled down Noah’s chin from a cut on his lower lip. Neither of them noticed.
And then just as quickly as the desire and want had appeared in Luke’s eyes, Noah saw the fear and uncertainty creep in. His heart ached at that look, knowing he was the reason. How could he have caused Luke such pain? Still holding Noah’s arms up against the wall, Luke dropped his sad gaze to the floor then looked up at Noah again. Shaking his head, he released his grip, turned his back, and took a step away from Noah.
Noah slowly lowered his arms. He could feel the tears starting again. He could usually control his emotions but these feelings ran too deep, hurt too much. His voice hitched as he said, “You can’t get past it… can you?”
He watched as Luke’s shoulders sagged even as he breathed deeply and painfully. Then Luke spoke softly, “I want to.”
Noah took a deep breath and swallowed hard before he spoke. This was going to be difficult. He’d never been good with words, and at this moment he felt like these words were more important than any he had ever spoken in his life. “I wish I could have found a way to deal with the blindness without hurting you. I wish I could take back what I did to you… but I can’t. All I have is…” he looked around trying to find the word, “…now. I love you so much! I love you more than I ever did and I want you back. I know that for you it’s not simple, but I also know that you still love me, otherwise you wouldn’t have kissed me. All I can do is wait and hope that you can find a way to forgive me, because you haven’t yet… you haven’t forgiven me… have you?”
“You hurt me.”
Luke turned to face him again, “You did what you had to do… to deal… and I get that. Mostly I’m just disappointed. I thought we were stronger… I thought nothing could ever break us up again. That after everything, we were a team… that you were over dealing with things on your own.”
“I don’t understand Noah.” Luke almost whined, shaking his head, “Why are you doing this now? You pushed me away… you made it clear that you didn’t want me in your life. You did what you’ve always done! As soon as things got hard you ran away! And to hell with the consequences, to hell with US even! You broke my heart Noah, and then you got angry with me for trying to move on… for hooking up with someone else? I mean what did you expect?”
“No Luke! You have to believe that I wasn’t angry at you for finding someone else!” Noah took another deep breath, “When I let you go I knew you would, hell I even wished it for you! I wanted you to find somebody to make you happy where I couldn’t anymore. I wasn’t in a place where I could do anything apart from get up in the morning!”
“But you and Reid....” he trailed off as his voice constricted, “I was angry that you never told me. I was angry because the two of you were carrying this thing on right... in… front… of… me, when I couldn’t see it! It made me feel like a fool!”
“I’m sorry Noah.” Luke sighed. He was tired… so tired... and his emotions were in turmoil.
"And I TRUSTED him Luke! I CONFIDED in him… ABOUT US! I told him things and he knew how desperate I was to get my sight back… so that I could make things up to you! Fix us! And I felt like he took the things I told him and used them to draw you in. It was like he stole my chance to make things right again!” He shook his head.
“How could we have told you Noah?” Luke whispered, and then louder as frustration set in, “You needed him! You needed him to give you your sight back! I couldn't tell you, can’t you understand that! I couldn’t risk doing something that would jeopardise your chance to see again! Besides, how could I have explained it to you what I didn’t understand myself?"
Both men remained silent for a while after that. Luke was about to speak when Noah interrupted him by holding up his hand, “I know that now. Please believe me, I do. I know Reid just fell for you like I did. Hell, I can hardly blame him! If anybody understands how easy it is to love you it’s me.” Luke stood frozen by Noah’s words, “Looking back I realise Reid did try to warn me. I guess at the time he was afraid to fall too deep. I guess he knew I only had to open up and you would pick me.”
“I know… and I shot you down… because I was angry and shocked… and scared. I was a coward and I didn’t have the right to….” He sighed, “Look… I know you loved him. And I’m sorry for the way you lost him. I’ve accepted it Luke. I’ve accepted a lot of things about what happened. I know how much I hurt you alright? I know I’m asking a lot because of it. Maybe I don’t deserve you anymore, and maybe I should just let you go, but I can’t… I’ve tried… I just want you back… I just want to hold you… so much Luke! I miss you so much.”
Luke couldn’t contain his surprise. Noah was different… he was different somehow. In the past Luke could only guess at what was going on in Noah’s head or he would have to draw it out of him, but here was a different Noah… a Noah whose heart was open, expressing himself, expressing his feelings clearly… with words! And for the first time since their breakup Luke allowed himself to think IT… maybe… maybe this could work! Maybe everything that had happened and everything they had become because of it, only meant that now… that now they were even more… right for each other? Was it even possible? He shivered. He was afraid.
“When we spoke on the phone, why did you tell me you're okay out here in LA?”
“Because you needed me too.”
“Of cause”, Luke thought to himself, that was just so Noah.
There was a long pause before the floodgates opened, “I know you want me, need me, to tell you that I’m happy but I’m not. Look at me Luke!” Noah gesticulated towards himself with his hands, “I’m such a mess! I mean LOOK around!” His hands swept the room, “I’m stuck Luke! I’m stuck without you… I can’t move on… I can’t settle. How can I call this place home when YOU’RE my home? My life is just so… so… empty…. I NEED you! I don’t want anything or anyone as much as I want you.” He was sobbing now, his wet blue eyes pleading, begging for a release only Luke could give him. “If you don't want this, US, anymore then I can understand that… after everything I did to you…” he let out a bitter laugh “I can understand… but I don’t know how I’ll cope. This past year, this whole time, all I’ve done is wait for you. I’ve just past the time with work and sleep and hope! And now you are here! Finally here! And I’m terrified Luke! I’m so scared that you’re going to walk away, that you can’t get past what I did to you.” Noah felt his throat tighten and begin to burn, “Because if you leave now… if you walk out that door… you take that final speck of hope with you. If you leave then I really have lost you for good. I really am alone!” The panic was setting in now! It was getting difficult to breath and his vision was blurring, “God I… I…”
“Noah!” Luke screamed as he caught him just before he hit the floor. Noah was choking now, coughing and sobbing and trying to get in mouthfuls of air as they both lay sprawled across the floor.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry… please!” Noah gasped between panicked sobs.
“Noah? Calm down, breathe, just breathe…” And those words, words he knew he had uttered before, brought back such an overwhelming feeling of love for this broken man. Everything that had happened to them and between them since the first day they met flashed through his mind, all the emotion he had locked away inside burst out like a tidal wave. And suddenly, just like that, he knew what he wanted. He knew what he had always wanted. He knew what he had to do. Luke softly smoothed the unruly black curls from Noah’s face and whispered gently, “Sh, sh, sh. It’s alright. Sh. I’m here. Just breathe.”
And Luke moved to hold him, spooning him as they lay on the floor. It felt so good, so close, so right. Slowly the sobs faded from Noah’s body and his breathing calmed and became more regular. And they lay there in silence on the plush carpet, gaining comfort from the warmth of each other, listening to their hearts beating together. And they slept. Right there on the floor they slept for hours. Until the first rays of sunlight fell through the open blinds and bathed them in zebra patterns.
They stared into each others eyes, both too afraid to say anything. They had moved during the night and were facing each other, arms and legs wrapped around each other as though holding on. They had awoken together, and both were afraid this might be the last embrace, that if they spoke, all the pain still laying between them might rip them apart for good.
Finally Noah spoke, in a voice so soft and hesitant that Luke had to strain to hear it, “Please don’t leave me.”
Luke closed his eyes, paused for just a moment and then leant in to place a gentle kiss on Noah’s expectant lips. He pulled back and while thoughtfully studying Noah’s mouth, wiped his thumb over the small cut he’d made the night before, as though to smooth it away somehow. “Slowly,” was all he said.
Luke made eye contact again, “We can take things slowly. See what happens.”
“Start again?” Noah hardly dared to hope. Was this really happening? God but Luke was beautiful!
Luke nodded, “But Noah…?”
“I can’t be hurt like that again.” He shook his head, “I won’t make it.”
“I know. Never again.” They kissed as if to seal a deal.
“It won’t be easy.” Luke started, “There are so many things we need to talk about. Things wrong that need to be made right if we want this to work but…”
Noah stopped Luke’s words with another deep kiss before uttering, “I’ll work with you this time okay? I never want to feel what it’s like to lose you again! Trust me Luke! From now on it’s you and me, together on everything. I promise.”
“…but…” Luke drew the word out to indicate that he wasn’t finished with his previous thought, “…but laying here right now… it feels like… it feels like we were never apart.”
“Yes it does,” Noah smiled, playing with Lukes fingers.
They lay in silence for a while longer until Luke suddenly erupted in an unexpected and totally inappropriate fit of giggles.
Even in his confusion Noah couldn’t believe how his heart filled at the sound, “What’s so funny!?”
“Wait until Mom hears out about THIS!”
Noah snorted in response, “I love you Luke,” He laughed, suddenly feeling on top of the world, “I never stopped.”
"Same here, Noah, same here."
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