Luke Snyder ignored the hustle and bustle of the busy hospital corridors as he walked with serious purpose to his destination. His heart was beating fast and he knew he was sweating in his made-to-measure Armani suit. He’d left the office as soon as the call had come through, swearing his way through the downtown traffic and one hundred percent certain his car would be towed from the no-park zone he’d left it in. He didn’t care. The man of his dreams - the man he intended to spend the rest of his life with - had finally woken from his coma less than an hour ago. And Luke was on his way to introduce himself.
“I’ll be back to see you later, Gran. Just text me when Matthew’s gone, okay?” A tall, ridiculously good looking young man exited the private hospital suite, raking a hand through his dark blond hair and already reaching into a pocket for his mobile phone. He strode purposefully along the corridor, nodding to the nurses as he passed, his open smile causing more than one to blush and bat their eyes at him in return – and more than one to turn and watch his arse as he walked away.
Luke Snyder, unaware of the heart-fluttering reaction he’d left behind him, turned at the end of the corridor and made his way towards the bank of elevators at the far end. Before he’d taken more than a few steps, the ping of an opening door and the sound of a loud laugh caused his eyes to widen alarmingly.
“Oh, fuck!” His voice held an edge of panic as he realised he only had a few seconds to escape his worst nightmare. Matthew, his cousin, fuck knows how many times removed, was a letch of the first order. The slimy arsehole just didn’t know how to take no for an answer and Luke was fed up trying to evade his innuendo and wandering hands. Luke’s family had become very adept at never leaving him alone when Matthew was around, but his Gran’s illness had provided an ideal opportunity for the greasy bastard to just turn up unannounced. Fortunately, Luke had already received word that he was intending to visit today, hence the early departure. It looked like his luck was about to run out, however, as his worst nightmare was moving nearer, although thankfully, his attention was fully on the doctor he was currently flirting with.
Without stopping to think, Luke reached for the nearest door handle and swiftly stepped through it. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and if that meant hiding in a closet, he wasn’t too proud to do it. He’d done it before, after all. He turned and gently pushed the door closed, leaning against it as he listened to Matthew’s braying laugh pass by.
Standing with his forehead resting against the door and breathing deeply in relief, it took Luke a moment to realise that someone was speaking to him.
“Sir? Hello, sir. Can I help you?” Luke turned quickly, his hand coming to his heart in shock, his mouth forming an ‘o’ of surprise.
“Oh my God, but you scared me,” he laughed breathlessly.
“Oh, Mr Snyder! It’s only you.” The young nurse smiled brightly and unconsciously straightened her spine, her breasts jutting out in an invitation as old as time. Suddenly realising what she had said, she became flustered, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean only…I didn’t…” Taking pity, Luke interrupted her stumbling apology.
“Please don’t worry…Rosie, is it?” he asked, peering at her name badge. “I’m not supposed to be here, I know. I was just escaping…I mean…” and it was Luke’s turn to stumble in embarrassment, especially when he saw her eyes widen in sudden understanding, her head beginning to nod.
“Ah, yes. I understand, Mr Snyder.” Rosie smiled sweetly, letting Luke know that there was no need to explain further, and his embarrassment faded. He should have known his grandmother would commandeer every available body to make sure his path didn’t cross with Matthew’s.
Luke suddenly became aware that he could hear the quiet, but steady, beep of a heart monitor in the shadowed room. Interest piqued, he took a step forward to peer over the shorter nurse’s shoulder.
“Um…Mr Snyder? You shouldn’t really be in here, you know? This is a private room.” Luke had the grace to look slightly ashamed as he met her eyes and shrugged disarmingly.
“I didn’t even realise there was anybody else on this floor. I haven’t seen any visitors, and I’m here at least once a day.” There was a question in Luke’s voice and he used his eyes to implore for answers. He wasn’t used to not getting his own way, that was for sure. Rosie shuffled uncomfortably for a moment and then looked around, as if afraid of being observed. Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper.
“Mr Mayer doesn’t have any visitors, the poor guy.” She turned to look at the man lying in the bed on the opposite side of the room and Luke took this as an invitation to pass her and walk closer.
Luke’s breath caught in his throat and, although he was aware that the nurse continued to speak, he was no longer listening – was no longer capable of listening. His entire attention was fixed on the man lying in the pristine hospital bed in front of him. He was dark. That was Luke’s first impression. Dark hair framed his face as he lay with his eyes closed, his chest rising and falling steadily. Open your eyes. Please open your eyes. Luke was mesmerised at the sweep of dark lashes on the pale cheeks and he itched to touch that perfect skin. He clenched his fists and turned towards Rosie; at least, he tried to, but just couldn’t seem to drag his eyes away. His voice was suddenly husky as he spoke quietly.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch what you just said.”
Rosie smiled, a touch of disappointment that he didn’t see in her eyes. Well, that was that, she supposed. There’d been a pool going for several weeks on whether Luke Snyder, heartthrob extraordinaire and all-round nice guy, was gay or not. Every nurse on this floor, female and male, had batted their eyes his way and he’d been oblivious to them all. It seemed she now had her answer and she couldn’t help feeling a little sad – although she was definitely going to be quite a lot richer.
“It’s a pretty heart-breaking story, actually. And I shouldn’t be telling you – so I hope you won’t go and get me into trouble.” Her voice was suddenly stern. Luke finally turned to look at her, his gaze earnest and totally serious as he promised he wouldn’t.
“Well…okay. This is Noah Mayer. He’s been here for about a week now. He took a cab from the airport and it was in an accident. Turns out the cabdriver was drunk and it was all his fault. The cab company are paying the medical bills, which is why we’re looking after him.” While she spoke, Rosie smoothed down the patient’s wrinkle-free covers and checked his IV.
“Oh my God! That’s so tragic. What’s wrong with him? I can’t see any obvious injuries.” Luke’s eyes ranged across the comatose Noah, taking in every detail, and then returned to that sleeping face, watching for any sign he was about to wake.
“He was actually pretty lucky, especially when you consider the state of the driver.” She shuddered theatrically before continuing. “The main problem is a head injury that caused some swelling to the brain. That seems to have receded now, but he hasn’t regained consciousness since the accident.” Rosie was suddenly all efficient professionalism, passing on her knowledge of his medical condition. “Basically…he’s in a coma, and we have no idea when he’ll wake up. All the tests show that his brain is healing normally, so it’s just a case of…waiting.” She patted Luke’s arm.
Again, Luke spoke without turning away.
“Well, where’s his family, for God’s sake? I haven’t seen anybody visiting and I’m practically living here in the hospital at the moment.” His voice was full of indignation.
“As far as the police can tell, he doesn’t have anybody. Apparently, he’s been travelling around for a while, taking time out from his university studies. Luckily, he had ID on him, so they’ve been able to find out some stuff about him and where he comes from.” Rosie shook her head sadly. “We all come in here as often as we can to talk to him. You know? Just in case he can hear our voices. I hate to think that he’s alone in the silence all the time.” She suddenly looked at her watch, before exclaiming,
“Oh, damn! I’m meant to be somewhere else. I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to leave, Mr Snyder.” Her voice was apologetic as she finished.
“It’s Luke, Rosie, okay? Look…do I have to leave? I mean – you know who I am and that I’m not some sort of homicidal maniac who preys on innocent accident victims, right?” Although he was joking, Rosie could see how serious his eyes were. Luke Snyder did not want to leave and she could tell that he would argue all the way.
“Mr Snyder…Luke,” she smiled slightly at his mock glare, “you know I don’t have the authority to give you permission to stay here, but… she raised her hand to stall the interruption she knew was about to come. “…but…I’ll speak to my supervisor on your behalf and explain the situation. Okay?” The breath was almost choked out of her as she was grabbed and squeezed.
“Thank you! Thank you!”
Rosie, cheeks becomingly pink, smoothed down her uniform and tried to look seriously professional. She failed miserably, smiling widely at Luke’s obvious gratitude. Patting him gently on the arm, she turned and left the room, closing the door with a barely audible click.
Taking a deep breath, Luke pulled the only chair in the room closer to the bed and sat down. Hesitating for just a moment, he reached over and tentatively covered the sleeping man’s hand with his own. He was surprised at how warm it was and squeezed it gently.
“Hi there, Noah Mayer. My name is Luke Snyder.”
Luke knew that the hospital staff probably talked about the weird guy who always seemed to be striding purposefully through the hospital corridors. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise him if half of them didn’t think that he was some kind of eccentric doctor who worked there. He certainly put in the overtime hours. But he just couldn’t bring himself to leave Noah all alone in that sterile room, listening to the empty silence. He’d confirmed, through the use of a private investigative firm, that Noah had no family who might be looking for him, so Luke knew that he was all he had.
“So…I’ve copied some of my favourite songs on to this iPod so that you know what seriously good taste in music I have. It’s quite an eclectic mix, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the maturity of my musical taste.” Luke chuckled as he placed the padded earphones carefully on to Noah’s head, the strains of Rihanna’s ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ leaking quietly into the room. “See what I mean?”
"So…I thought I’d stun you with my prowess at chess, today. Do you play? I’m sure you do.” Luke set up the game on the bed and laid Noah’s hand gently along the edge of the set. “I’m going to go with Kasparov’s opening move from his 1985 win over Karpov, if that’s okay with you. Ummmm…can you remember how these little horsy things move?”
"So…did I ever tell you about the time Casey pushed me through a window at the farm? We were about six years old and messing around in the kitchen – which was actually off-limits unless we were in there with an adult. Gran heard the sound of breaking glass – and Casey’s scream - and came running, convinced that one of us was severely injured. I tell you, after that lecture, we both needed hospital treatment for earache. And I didn’t get any allowance for a month can you believe?”
"So…what’s your favourite TV show? You look like a bit of a CSI guy to me. Anyway, I thought you might need to catch up on the soaps. Although I think I’ll keep hold of the remote control ‘cause you look like a bit of a hogger to me.”
“So…did you know that, apparently, your heart speeds up when I come to visit you? Heart monitors don’t lie, you know.” Luke hoped that Noah could hear the smile in his voice as he leaned over to whisper, “My heart does that too.”
And in amongst all the trivial things that Luke shared - the games he took in, the music he played, the dreadful reality TV shows he picked apart – he told Noah everything about himself. As cliché as it sounded, he shared his hopes and dreams, his fears for the future, his doubts over his career choice, his convoluted family relationships and his take on topics ranging from the country’s economic crisis to his opinion on the latest Simpsons episode. He told Noah about his realisation of his sexuality as a teenager, his eventual outing at school and described his disaster of a first kiss.
In twelve days, Noah Mayer found out more about Luke Snyder than any other human being on the planet could possibly know. Luke just prayed that he would remember some of it when he woke up.
Luke stopped dead at Noah’s door, his hand resting on the handle. For the first time, he was afraid to go in, suddenly doubting that this was meant to be. Had he just been deluding himself all along, swayed by the romanticism of the sleeping beauty just waiting for the right person to wake him up? Fuck! He hadn’t even kissed him; hadn’t crossed any physical line. He’d just been happy to share himself with someone that he’d felt an instant connection to.
Taking a deep breath, Luke slowly pushed the door open, entered the room and made his way to the bedside. His heart was beating so loudly in his ears that he was sure it must be audible in the room, vying for attention over and above the beeping heart monitor. His Noah lay as he always did, eyes closed, wavy hair dark against the snow white of the pillow. Luke’s eyes drank their fill, roving across his face, looking for any sign that things had changed.
It was a moment before he realised he was staring into midnight blue eyes; eyes that held his without blinking.
“Oh!” Luke’s breath caught in his throat and he couldn’t tear his gaze away. He was drowning in this moment of truth, drowning in navy eyes that held all the answers but gave nothing away.
Slowly, Noah raised a trembling hand, holding it out even though it was obviously an effort for him to do so. Luke met him half way, linking their fingers together before lowering them gently to the bed where they rested, entwined. Noah closed his eyes, breaking the contact, before taking a deep, shuddering breath. Meeting Luke’s eyes again, his voice was barely above a whisper as he spoke for the first time.
Thanks for reading :)