Fic: A Beautiful Mess, 20/?
Summary: Luke is a pediatrician! He is officially Dr. Luke Snyder.
Spoilers: References to Luke's past from canon and that's about it.
Disclaimer: Wish they were mine but they're not.
Note: This was inspired by this entry in lure_prompts by the brill _alicesprings. Feedback, concrit, etc. welcome! ♥
Reaching the end, folks! Thanks for sticking with it. :D
Matthew’s case was difficult and not even Reid and his team of medical professionals could have anticipated what happened in the operating room. They underestimated the location of the tumor, making it even more difficult to remove once they had opened the brain. Dr. Huang had been aggressive but completely justified in the actions that resulted in the death of Matthew Hilts.
Reid’s going over the official report now and making some additional notes. It’s all very clinical, professional, neat and clean. After all, that’s the way these things are handled. Reid knows all about this protocol, having done it before more times than he’d like.
Professionally, he understands death is part of the job. Personally, he tries not to think about it except for those few cases he keeps in the form of photographs. This time, he can’t help but think about it when he has a partner who’s in mourning. He’s never been around to witness the grief first-hand but he’d seen it on Luke after the surgery.
It’s been three days. The wake is tomorrow with the funeral the day after that. Reid knows this because he and Luke discussed going. No, Luke’s told him he’s going and he’s been trying to convince Reid to go with him.
Things are tense between them. Reid knows that Luke doesn’t blame him for the surgery. He’s said himself he knows he did all he could for Matthew. Nevertheless, Luke’s been keeping his distance. He’s taken personal leave at the hospital and he’s been spending one night at mom’s and one night at dad’s. Today’s another day with dad, Reid thinks.
He’s just finishing up at the office and he’s saved this report for last. It isn’t finished yet so he takes it with him, putting it into his briefcase and walks out to his car.
He pauses when he’s behind the wheel, unsure of whether to go home to the empty apartment, to a bar so he can relax and relieve some of the tension he’s been feeling lately, or hunt down his boyfriend.
He thinks about Luke and how they haven’t really spoken since the surgery. It makes his gut twist a little and his heart pound hard a couple of times at the thought. He tries to tell himself he’s probably just hungry but he knows that’s not what the feeling is. He misses Luke already, trying to avoid that train of thought since they’ve only been apart for a few days.
He doesn’t just miss Luke. He thinks about how he’s handling his grief. He wonders if he’s running away from him because he really does blame him for the surgery. He’s asking himself if he should’ve gone after him the second Luke told him he was spending the night with his mother.
Reid doesn’t know what to do here but he wants to be with Luke. So he’s going to find him.
In Oakdale, he never has to go far. If Luke isn’t in one place then he’s got to be in the other. First, he tries his mother’s house. When he sees that nobody is home, he jumps into the car, and heads over to dad’s house.
When he arrives, he sees the lights on the front porch are on, and so are the lights in the kitchen. He kills the engine and walks straight into the house.
“Reid,” Holden spots him first, obviously completely surprised to see him. “Are you looking for Luke? He’s out in the barn.”
Reid notices the other two female Snyders around are giving him a good, hard glare. He wants to have a stare off with them (because he’ll win) but that isn’t his objective now.
“Uh, thanks,” Reid’s about to turn right around again to head out the door when Holden calls out to him again.
“Reid, are you guys doing okay?”
Yeah, there’s no way he’s going to talk to Luke’s dad about any of this especially when he doesn’t really know what’s going on himself. “Um, yeah. I mean, I guess so. Thanks,” he answers quickly and walks back out the door.
The lights are dim in the barn except for a light toward the back. He slips in through the door and walks toward it when he hears quiet voices during his approach.
“... just like when you were my age,” he hears Ethan.
Luke laughs and Reid smiles, completely annoyed at himself because he’s missed that laugh so damn much. “That’s right. I did have my very own horse then. Now you have yours.”
Reid sneaks in a little closer, Ethan and Luke’s backs turned to him as they brush the coat of the pony. “You haven’t stayed over in a long time, Luke.”
“I’m sorry I haven’t, buddy. I’m living with Reid now. Remember Dr. Oliver?”
“Yeah,” Ethan sighs and that makes Luke laugh again.
“You like him, don’t you?”
“Yeah but you spend more time with him than you do with us now.”
Reid watches Luke’s shoulders slump and he nods, leaning over to press a kiss to Ethan’s hair. “I’m spending time with you now,” he wraps his arm around his little brother and Ethan does the same, wrapping his arm around Luke’s waist.
Things begin to quiet down again and Reid thinks about making his presence known when he hears Ethan say, “Do you like him a lot?”
“Who? Reid?” Ethan looks at him and nods. “Yeah, I do.”
“More than you like us?”
“Ethan,” he tightens his arm around him and shakes his head. “I love you both in different ways.” Releasing him, he bends down so that he’s at eye-level with Ethan. “You’re my brother. I’ll always love you and I’ll always take care of you and I’ll always be here. Okay?”
Ethan considers all of this and nods. “Okay.”
“Okay,” Luke pulls him into his arms, hugging him tightly.
Seeing this moment, thinking about what Luke’s going through right now, it’s probably best that Reid just leaves. He turns around to walk back through the barn door when he hears his name.
Turning around again, he gives Luke a small smile, stuffing his hands into his pocket.
“What are you doing here?” Luke pulls away from Ethan’s embrace but he doesn’t really let go, standing, but still allowing Ethan to stay by his side.
“Just thought I’d … stop by.” The excuse sounds lame coming from his lips and he knows how lame it is.
“I’ll be back,” he pats his brother’s side and motions to the small horse. “Keep brushing. You want his coat to really shine,” he advises him. Ethan looks at them both but goes back to attending to the horse.
Luke walks away from him to stand close to Reid. “Hey,” he says when he reaches him.
“Hi,” Reid replies, bringing his hand up to cup the back of Luke’s neck. “You okay?”
“No,” Luke answers immediately, shaking his head, folding his lips into his mouth, and looking down at the ground to prevent Reid from seeing his eyes. Reid can already hear the trembling in his voice. He doesn’t know why he feels like he needs to hide his tears.
“Luke, you can’t hide out here forever.”
“That’s not what I’m doing!” Luke raises his voice and a look of regret immediately sweeps across his face. “I’m -- I’m sorry but that’s not … I’m not hiding out. I told you I’m dealing with this, Reid.”
“Actually, you haven’t told me anything. You just said that you needed some time, that you wouldn’t be at home, and I could call you.”
“You didn’t call.”
“You’re avoiding my point. You haven’t told me anything, Luke. You’re kinda keeping me in the dark here and I don’t want you to.”
“Oh, so everything is on your time table now? On your schedule?” he pulls away from Reid’s touch and that definitely stings a little. “Not everyone can function the way that you can, Dr. Oliver. Not everyone is built to just complete brush off something as tragic as what happened to --” he pauses and shakes his head, closing his eyes. When he opens them again, he stares at Reid still maintaining that anger in his eyes. “I’m going to spend some time with my family and I want you to leave.”
“No,” Reid answers firmly, standing his ground.
That shocks Luke out of his rant. “No?”
“You heard me.” Reid isn’t going to indulge Luke in this drama. He knows Luke and this isn’t him. He’s pushing Reid away for whatever reason and he knows that Luke will only come to regret it.
The fight seems to leave Luke but he’s still stubborn and just turns on his heel to walk back to his brother. They’re clearly having some kind of moment out here so Reid leaves them alone for now, walking back toward the house.
Holden’s the only one left in the kitchen, washing up the dishes left behind by his daughters. There’s a surprised look on his face too. Yes, yes, Reid’s just full of unexpected moments today.
“Do you have any leftovers?” Reid asks when he steps inside.
“Hello to you too,” Holden smirks, looking down and washing another plate. “There should be enough in the fridge.” Reid heads toward it and just as he’s about to open it, Holden stops him. “After you help me here,” he points down at the full sink.
Reid groans but he drags his feet to the sink. Removing his jacket and rolling up his sleeves, he begins to soap and wash while Holden dries.
“So you guys haven’t been talking lately?”
Great and now he’s going to get a “talk.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Luke mentioned something about it.”
“And by mentioned do you really mean he spilled his guts out about it?”
Holden laughs and shakes his head. “No, he didn’t. But, he is pretty miserable.”
“I assume that has more to do with the death that he’s mourning rather than me.”
“I think that it’s a little bit of both.”
Reid’s intrigued despite trying so very hard not to be. “What do you mean?”
“Well, he’s definitely mourning the patient you both lost. This is the first time that he’s really been part of the entire cycle. Sure, he’s been the patient in the hospital with everyone afraid that we were going to lose him.” Reid thinks about that and feels his entire world crumble around him. He’s only experienced part of that with Luke and it was no less terrifying. “But, he had this exuberant, fun, playful little kid that probably reminded him a little of Ethan. He hadn’t been there much for Ethan. He was born when Luke was doing his residency and Lily and I … she almost lost the baby,” Holden pauses, quickly collecting himself. “Anyway, Luke took to Matthew almost immediately and Matt did kind of look up to Luke as some kind of big brother figure.”
“These are things that Luke should’ve told me himself.” Reid really shouldn’t be hearing it from Luke’s dad and it makes him a little … uncomfortable even hurt that there are important things that Luke’s kept from him.
“Probably,” Holden agrees with him. “But, I’m sure that Luke has his reasons. He’s always felt really guilty for not being here for us before Ethan was born and even after. He had work and we understood that. He’s just always had a little trouble accepting his absence during that time. He was here for Natalie and Faith but not Ethan.”
Everything clicks in place for Reid at lightning speed and Holden holds out his hand for the next dish. Reid forgets that he’s in the middle of washing it and hands it over.
“What’s Luke doing now?”
Reid instinctively looks toward the barn and Holden follows his gaze but says nothing. “He’s with Ethan in the barn.”
They finish the dishes in silence and Reid stands at the sink until he sees Ethan running through the doors with Luke chasing him. Both of them make it to the house, still laughing and smiling. Reid’s still looking out the window and eventually looks down at the sink, noticing the wrinkles in his fingers.
“Reid?” Luke calls his name, a concerned expression on his face as Reid turns to look at him. “You’re still here,” he notices.
“Told ya I wasn’t going anywhere,” Reid wipes his hands on a cloth and walks to the fridge. “I was promised leftovers for a trade,” he holds up his fingers for Luke to see.
It makes Luke smile a little. “How’d they get that wrinkled?”
“Come here, buddy,” Holden reaches down to carry Ethan but Ethan fusses in his arms, saying Luke’s name. “Say goodnight to Luke and Reid. You’ve got to go to bed.”
“Night, Luke!” he says, Holden moving him closer so that he can wrap his arms around Luke’s neck for a hug.
“Night,” Luke smiles as he hugs him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Sleep tight.”
“‘Kay,” Ethan nods. “Night, Oliver!” he calls out to Reid as Holden takes him away.
“Oliver?” he asks once Ethan’s out of the room.
“He doesn’t like your first name. Oliver kind of rolls off the tongue,” Luke mentions as he walks to the sink to clean up a little, washing his hands thoroughly. Reid grabs the plate that’s meant for Luke and he reaches inside for some fresh turkey and several other fixings to make a sandwich.
They’re silent as they go about their tasks, Reid heating up what he wants, and Luke using the microwave to heat up his plate. He takes it with a glass of water to the table and when Reid finishes making his sandwich, he follows Luke to the table, and sits beside him.
They eat together in silence.
Luke’s the one who breaks it. “Why can’t you just leave, Reid?”
“Because I’m not stupid,” he tells him, mouth full. He swallows and pops a falling piece of turkey into his mouth as he looks at him. “You don’t want me to leave. For whatever reason, you’re punishing yourself by thinking you need to do this alone. I won’t let you do that.”
“I’ve always dealt with things alone, Reid.”
“And … I haven’t?” It should have been harder for him to adjust to a relationship with Luke. He has spent more time alone than he’s ever spent being with someone else but it’s been so easy with Luke because Luke makes it look so easy. It’s easy to love Luke. It’s easy to give in to Luke. It’s easy to feel around Luke. “I’ve never talked to anyone about how I felt about anything.”
Luke considers that, concentrating on Reid’s words. “You talk to me about things. What’s changed?”
“In case it isn’t obvious by now in the several months that we’ve been seeing each other,” Reid puts the sandwich down so that he can talk to him. “You.”
“Yeah,” Reid laughs, not even bothering to pretend that Luke’s surprise isn’t adorable. It is. Reid also used to hate words like adorable, only equating them to fluffy bunnies or fluffy puppies but Luke’s sort of like that sometimes. “I still don’t like talking about those feeling … things, often. You know that. But, you’ve brought things out of me that I’d never think about talking about. There are even those things that probably don’t matter and somehow matter to you.”
“Of course they do. Everything about you matters to me.”
“So, what makes you think that everything about you doesn’t matter to me? What makes you think that I don’t want to hear about what you’re going through right now and that you have to do this alone?”
Reid knows that he’s got Luke right where he wants him, wanting him to talk after these days of silence. Silence and Luke Snyder don’t really work in the same sentence.
“No one’s ever really been there for me, Reid,” Luke admits, speaking quietly. “I tried. I tried with Noah to keep him part of my life. I wanted him to know everything about me and I wanted him to help me. When I tried to help him, he just pushed me away. He pushed me away every single time.” Reid’s ready to go find that pompous ass just to punish him for the hold he still manages to have on Luke. But, that’s something Luke will frown upon. Still, the idea brings him plenty of joy.
“You can’t be there for everyone else and want or expect nothing in return.” The expression on Luke’s face tells Reid everything that he needs to know. This is Luke at his worst. He really doesn’t expect anything in return. Reid wants to punch every single person who’s done Luke wrong. Forget about his hands because every single one of them will deserve it.
Reid reaches forward and presses two fingers underneath Luke’s chin, lifting his head so he looks directly at him. Without saying anything, he leans in for a kiss. He wants Luke to feel that he isn’t like the rest of them. He’ll prove to Luke that he isn’t like them. Luke’s hand comes to rest on Reid’s wrist, his fingers still underneath his chin as they continue to kiss.
Holden clears his throat and Luke’s the one who pulls away. Reid sighs and turns his head to glare. “Just wondering if you’re staying over tonight, Luke. I’ll get your bed ready.”
Luke looks at Reid and Reid gazes back at him.
“Um, no. No, thanks, dad. I’m going home but I’ll be back soon,” he promises. “Let’s pack this all up,” Luke motions to the food in front of them.
They pack the food together, wrapping it up, and Reid knows that he isn’t going to touch the rest of this food until later. He and Luke aren’t done yet.
Luke says goodnight to his dad. Reid gives him the keys so he can put the leftovers in the car. While he’s out doing that, Reid says his reluctant thanks to Holden. Luke’s mom doesn’t seem to like him very much. After all, she’s still very much Team Noah but Luke’s dad has never shown him anything but acceptance. Reid can respect that.
Reid walks out to the car and starts the drive back to their place, both of them silent all the way there. They maintain their silence as they unload the food, as they walk up to their apartment, as they put away the food, and finally breaks when they’re in the bedroom.
Well, sort of. Luke says, “I’m going to take a shower.”
Reid replies, “I’ll join you.”
Even though they haven’t been together in a few days and it’s been even longer since they’ve had sex, the shower’s completely innocent. Reid helps him soap up and makes sure he gets all the barn smell off of him. He begins to help shampoo Luke’s hair (an activity that Reid actually loves doing because of the way that Luke practically purrs when he massages his scalp) and they face each other while he does it.
Luke’s eyes moisten. Reid can see that even with water cascading all around them. Luke releases a quiet sigh and then whispers, “Reid.”
Reid quickly takes him into his arms as he begins to sob against him, a loud, wailing cry escapes his lips. Reid kisses him, keeps him tightly pressed against him. This is everything that Luke’s has held for three days. This is about him mourning for Matthew. This is about Luke believing that no one is there for him. This is about loss, a deep, all encompassing loss. All Reid can do is hold on and believe that he’s enough.
Luke eventually begins to still and Reid can feel that he’s holding most of Luke’s weight. Reaching forward, he turns the water off, and quickly grabs a towel. Luke’s slumped forward a little but he keeps himself standing upright as Reid dries him. Reid thinks that he’s completely out of it but Luke grabs a towel to dry Reid. They both work together to get as dry as they can but they don’t bother with towels when they step out of the shower.
They go straight to bed, foregoing all of their other nightly rituals. When Luke’s underneath the covers, Reid follows and presses his chest to Luke’s back. He presses a chaste kiss to the back of Luke’s neck as he rests his head on Luke’s pillow, staying close.
Luke says nothing but he places his hand over the arm that Reid keeps wrapped around his body.
Reid leans in close to his ear and whispers, “You’re never alone.”
Luke takes Reid’s hand and tightens his arm around him. “I love you, Reid.”
Reid presses another kiss to his shoulder and settles down next to him.
Whatever they have to face, they face it together. Reid will accept nothing less.