Appearance - Chapter 2This is a featured page

Title: Appearance
Chapter: Two of Two
Rating: R
Summary: Luke's road trip results in unexpected consequences...
Characters: Luke, Noah
Genre: Endgame
Warnings:
Disclaimer: This site is no way associated with "As the World Turns", CBS, P&G, or Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann. This is not for profit. No copyright infringement is intended. Authors submit and write their own work
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Chapter 1

********************

Noah rubbed his forehead as he sat down on one of the plastic chairs in the waiting area of St Anthony's Hospital.

His cell rang into his ear and eventually a friendly male voice answered, "Hello?"

"Hey Robert, it's Noah."

"Hey…" the word fell away at the end, "Wait! Aren't you supposed to be in the air right about now?"

"I didn't make my flight."

"Everything okay?"

"Yeah. Yes. Everything with me is fine. I just need to take care of something and I think I'll be here overnight. Could you cancel my morning meetings please?"

"Yes of course," Rob replied uncertainly, "But you realize one of those meetings is with the producer and you know how he is!"

Noah sighed, "Yes, I know, but I've never asked to cancel a meeting before so I think we can risk it just this once."

"Okay! It's your call. Do you know when you'll be back? Because I know people will ask me."

"I hope to be on the lunchtime flight tomorrow."

"Okay boss! Is that all you need done?"

"Yes, thanks. I'll see you tomorrow then."

"Chow!"

"Bye."

Just as Noah placed his phone back in his pocket a doctor walked in.

"Excuse me?" the doctor asked, "You're here for our John Doe?"

Noah nodded, standing to shake the doctor's hand. "Noah Mayer, sir."

"I'm Doctor Banson. What can you tell me about him?"

"Not much I'm afraid. I see him near the same alley every Thursday when I visit Chicago for meetings. Today he wasn't there so I got concerned, an old guy like that out in the cold, and then I found him collapsed in the alley. Will he be okay?"

"Well, he's very lucky you found him when you did. I doubt he would have lasted much longer, especially with the temperature dropping like it is."

"Can you tell me what's wrong with him?"

"I'm afraid I can't since you aren't family."

"Right, of course." Noah agreed, "But he'll be okay?"

"I believe so, yes. We've cleaned him up and he's resting comfortably now."

"That's good." Noah smiled and hesitated before asking, "Do you think I could visit him?"

"Well, he's asleep at the moment but, I don't see how it would hurt."

"Thank you."

"Room 127." Dr Banson told him, turning to leave but then turning back again, "And you might be interested to learn that he's not old at all."

Noah started with surprise, "He's not?"

The doctor shook his head, "Living rough… alcohol abuse… it all contributes to make a person look years older. No. This guy's about the same age as you."

...

There was absolutely no way that he could have known.

There was no way he could have seen him hiding beneath that thick beard and greasy longer than shoulder length hair; gone back to his natural strawberry rather than his usual salon styled blonde.

But when Noah entered that hospital room and found his baby-faced Luke, freshly shaven, lying in the bed, the sound of anguish and shock that escaped his lips brought two nurses running to his side.

His knees hit the cold hard floor; he couldn't breathe and his hands trembled violently as the nurses repeatedly asked him what was wrong.

All this time…?

All these months and weeks…?

Luke…?

The last thing he saw before he passed out was the bright florescent hospital light on the ceiling.

...

Hours later, when Noah re-entered that hospital room, he was more prepared for what he would find. But the sight of Luke, thin and weak in that bed, still sent a shudder through his body and he had to steady himself against the frame of the door.

Six long months of sickening fear and worry; of not knowing…

Slowly Noah approached the bed until he was a mere foot away.

Six months!

And all this time Luke was in Chicago, watching, right in front of him. He'd never spoken, only grunted. And now when Noah thought about it, he'd never looked up either. Although, at times when Noah had walked away, he could have sworn he felt the man's eyes on his back.

"This doesn't make any sense…" he whispered down at the sleeping form, "Why? Why Luke?"

His legs grew wobbly so he pulled up a stool and sat down; eyes glued to the ashen face.

It was clear that Luke was terribly sick. Needles delivered liquids and meds through the veins in his wrists and a tube was helping him breathe.

But even in that state, he was achingly beautiful.

Noah didn't dare touch him however much he wanted to; afraid perhaps that he really wasn't there at all. If anything Noah felt as though he were losing
his mind. Maybe he already lost it months ago when he received that first desperate phone call from Holden asking if he'd seen Luke.

His phone buzzed suddenly in his pocket making him jump.

"Sh*t…" he exclaimed in a whisper, catching his breath and extracting his phone. He checked the display before flipping it open, "Hello?"

"Noah! I just spoke to the producer and he's not happy! He says, and I quote, that you should get your butt on a flight tonight or else!"

"Um…"

"Noah? Hello? Are you there?"

"Yes. I'm sorry Rob, but, it doesn't look like I'll be back in a while..."

For the first time Noah allowed his fingers to tickle through Luke's soft hair. There were no words for the feelings that one small pleasure produced in his heart; instant, gratifying.

"A while?" Robert was saying, "What does that mean?"

"I'm not entirely sure." Noah felt dazed.

"You're not sure? How long is a while, Noah?"

As Rob asked his question Luke's doctor walked in with a confused look on his face. Noah held up a hand in acknowledgement and to indicate he needed a minute.

"I really don't know." He replied to Rob, "Look… I need to sort through some things and I won't be back for a while. That's the best I can do right now."

He heard Robert sigh, but knew his friend would cover for him.

"Fine!" He sounded exasperated but Noah knew it was just his way. "I'll sort it."

"Thanks Rob."

"You owe me big time!"

...

"The nurses told me you had a panic episode earlier?" Dr. Banson asked as Noah pocketed his phone.

The doctor frowned as he noticed Noah's hands still smoothing through Luke's hair.

Noah shook his head and expelled a shuddering breath, "I know him."

"You know him?"

"It's crazy…"

"I thought you said…"

"I did." Noah interrupted him. "I mean I had no idea... I didn't know… His name is Luke Snyder and he's been missing for six months." Noah shook his head as he turned to look back at Luke. "Six months, Luke!"

"Well, isn't that astonishing?"

"What's wrong with him?" Noah asked. "Is it his kidney?"

But predictably the doctor shook his head, "I'm afraid I still can't tell you that."

"Please?" Noah begged; breath sobbing.

The doctor softened at Noah's obvious distress, "I can speak to any family member. Do you know how to contact his family?"

"Oh God!" In his shock Noah had completely forgotten about informing the Snyder's. "Yes! Um… if I give you the number can you call them please?"

"Of course." The doctor replied.

...

If Noah still harbored any doubts that it was Luke lying in the hospital bed and not some figment of his imagination; they flew out of the window the moment those coffee browns cracked open and peered out from under heavy lids.

It had been so long since they shared such an intense look and for a moment neither of them could breathe.

Time stood still.

The body's needs took over and Luke rasped as he inhaled, "Am I dreaming?"

Noah couldn't speak; still spellbound by gentle eyes he'd missed for so long.

Confusion and pain lived in those eyes now.

Luke's right hand lifted weakly from the bed and his fingers raked down the side of Noah's face; transporting Noah back to that moment in the alley when he'd felt frozen fingertips against his cheek.

As he realized now what he hadn't then; what that moment must have meant for Luke, Noah shuddered into sobs. He dropped his face into the sheets beside Luke and cried for all those moments when he should have known but didn't.

Luke's fingers teased through his hair.

"Please don't cry." It was pained, slurred and lacked the usual Luke volume and exuberance but it was his voice; and it called to Noah like some old remembered melody. Noah lifted his head as Luke continued, "I can't stand… seeing you cry. Please…"

Noah hitched a breath as he struggled to regain control. He sniffed and tried to wipe the tears away with the backs of his hands, even as more flowed.

"Luke…" Noah's voice broke and he didn't want to do this; not while Luke was so sick. He had so many unanswered questions but he needed to focus on something else and get himself back together, so instead he said, "I'm going to get the doctor. He… um… he needs to know you're awake and..."

Luke's hand gripped the sleeve of Noah's shirt in a tight fist as he made to leave, because Luke saw the move for what it was; a typical Noah Mayer avoidance tactic.

Noah's eyes left the door and fell back into the browns.

"I'm sorry…" Luke struggled past a dry mouth and throat.

"Oh my God, Luke! I should have given you water already. I was just so…"

Noah shook his head at his own stupidity and leaned backward to lift the plastic cup and straw the nurses left earlier. He steadied the tip of the straw as Luke sipped. He counted one, two, three sips and then pulled the straw back. "Nurses said not too much."

Luke watched Noah's features carefully, reading him as only Luke could. "I hate it when you're sad..."

Noah replaced the cup on the table; bowing his head and pressing his hands together in his lap.

"I'm sorry… Noah…"

"Why Luke?"

"I tried to stop."

Luke looked incredibly guilty; as though he was expecting reprimand.

"What?" Noah asked confused.

"The first time… it was by accident…"

"What was?"

"First time… I saw you."

It wasn't much of a reply and Noah crinkled his brow in question.

"A lady dropped her flowers."

"Luke? You aren't making any sense."

Luke considered Noah for a moment; his hand coming up as if to once again touch Noah's face. But he seemed to think better of it. Instead he brought his fingers together and played with the fabric of the hospital blanket. "She dropped her flowers and you picked them up for her…"

"Luke?"

"…and you… you smiled."

Noah racked his brain, trying to remember this moment that Luke was describing.

"I missed that smile." Luke's eyes locked once more with Noah's and immediately Noah felt that familiar thump in his heart, "You're so beautiful, Noah! You don't even know it!"

Noah shook his head, unsure as to how this was significant to Luke's current predicament.

"Please Luke…"

"People watch you as you walk. Did you know that? They watch you… I've seen it…"

Convinced now that the fever and medication were making Luke delirious Noah shook his head and stroked Luke's hair back from his forehead. Luke closed his eyes and seemed to savor the gesture.

"I couldn't stop…" he whispered.

"Stop what?"

"Going to see you. When… when I realized… every Thursday…"

Noah wanted to ask his questions. He wanted answers badly. But Luke was so fragile and he didn't want to risk upsetting him.

"You weren't supposed to notice me… but you did…"

Something strong and unexplainable had drawn Noah toward the homeless person on that first day. Even weeks afterward Noah couldn't understand what it was about the man that tugged at his heart so much.

Now he knew.

All this time it was Luke. His Luke. His heart knew even if his head didn't.

"Are you happy Noah?"

"Happy?" Noah asked incredulously.

"I hope he makes you happy. I really do!"

The look of pained sincerity in Luke's eyes almost rocked Noah into another fit of sobs but he held back.

"Who are you talking about Luke?"

"I saw you together. I went to your apartment. I was about to cross the road and I saw you arriving… with a man. And you were laughing and joking. You looked so happy. Do you know how long it had been since I saw… saw you so happy?"

Luke's words brought up a whole new line of questions for Noah but at that moment only one major thing stood out.

"You came to see me?"

"I had so much I wanted to say… to tell you…"

Luke's hand hovered over Noah's but never made contact; afraid to perhaps.

Eventually Noah closed the gap between them and interlaced their fingers. He was shocked at how bony Luke's fingers were; how thin his wrist was.

Luke watched their hands lock together; fascinated.

"What happened to your car Luke?"

Luke lifted his gaze from their fingers back to Noah and realization crossed his brow.

"You saw my car."

Noah nodded.

"I didn't want anything to… to delay me. I was trying to get to you… I walked for miles and then I hitched a ride with a truck driver. I just kept going until I made it to L.A."

"How did you crash your car?" Noah asked the question even though he was certain he already knew the answer.

Deep shame darkened Luke's features and he tried to pull his hand from Noah's; but Noah held firm.

"You were drunk. Weren't you?"

Luke nibbled on his lower lip as the tears came. He nodded.

"You could have died, Luke. Or killed somebody else!"

"I know…" There was a long pause while Luke worked through his thoughts. "I wanted to stop drinking… I knew I was in trouble… I knew I was too far… too deep…"

"So you got behind the wheel of a car?"

"I was drunk, Noah! I wasn't thinking clearly! I just had to get to you!"

"Why?"

"Because I knew you were the only person who could help me to stop drinking. I needed a reason to stop."

Noah sighed and kissed the back of Luke's hand to convey he understood.

"So, you got to L.A. and saw me with some guy and you thought…"

Luke frowned up at him, "You're not…?"

Noah nodded, "I'm not seeing anybody Luke. I haven't and I'm not."

"But…"

"You saw me with a friend. You saw me having an innocent laugh with a friend and you were your usual drunk and insecure self immediately jumping to the worst possible conclusion." His tone grew loader and angrier, "Without bothering to check with me first! Without trusting me… Luke!"

Noah flew up from the chair and paced up and down the foot of Luke's bed; anger storming through him.

"Do you have any idea what you've put us all through? I've been going f*cking crazy Luke! Wondering where you are! If you were hurt! And now… this!"

He needed air and headed for the door until Luke's weak voice brought him to an abrupt stop.

"Don't go!"

Hand already gripping the doorknob Noah took two deep breaths before turning back to Luke.

The blonde's expression was broken; tear-stained as he stretched his hand out for Noah, "Please don't leave me…"
Noah didn't move.

"You looked happy." Luke tried to explain. "I was a f*cking mess… And it was like the past year I could never make you happy like that… It was like I could never make you happy…"

Noah strode back over to the bed and once again grabbed hold of Luke's hand between both of his own, kissing the fingers gently.

"Luke, you idiot… You're the only one who ever could…"

They remained in pained silence for a while as Noah let that sink in, both wondering at the pointlessness of the whole situation.

"The day you noticed me my heart leapt." Luke whispered out of nowhere. "I thought you knew, but you didn't. You just said hello and asked me if I was okay."

"You nodded."

"Yes, and you gave me $20." Luke smiled. "$20 buys enough vodka to see me through to the next week."

Noah jolted at that, realizing that he had unintentionally been funding Luke's habit as well as giving him the ability to hide from his grandmother's detectives.

"That's why you never touched your bank accounts?"

"I didn't want anybody to see how low I'd sunk."

"Oh, Luke…"

"I didn't want anybody to see me like this… especially not you…"

Their eyes locked in a silent communication and all the anger Noah felt evaporated.

"I'm sorry Noah."

"Where did you sleep? Eat?"

"There's a free shelter… It's Catholic and the nuns are b*tches but…"

Unexpectedly that made Noah laugh and he snorted. Luke's eyes shone when he realized he'd been the cause.

"Well," he smiled, "at least I can still make you laugh."

Noah's smile faded once more, "Luke, I really wish you had just…"

"I really fell bad this time bubby."

Noah's eyes closed at the nickname.

"I couldn't see my way out… Even now… I'm already trying to work out how I'm going to get my next drink…"

Noah's eyes whipped open.

"I'm sorry." Luke continued, "But it's the truth and I don't ever want to lie to you. Not to you…"

"You've been lying for months, Luke!"

"No." Luke shook his head, "If you had asked me I would have told you… I was hiding in plain sight… not lying…"

Noah shook his head again.

"The last thing I thought you'd want was me…"

"Are you kidding me?"

Luke frowned, "You still want me?"

"Luke, I love you!"

"Even like this…"

"I hate this! I wish all of this was just one big bad dream and you'd come to see me in L.A. like you promised! Because you know what Luke?"

"What?"

Noah took his hand once more, leaned over and pressed a soft kiss to Luke's lips, "We would be so happy right now if you had."

Luke was speechless. His lips parted but he was struggling to find the words. He swallowed and tried a few times until eventually he asked, "Can we still? Are you saying we could still be happy?"

Noah cupped Luke's cheek, his eyes welling up.

"Are you going to help me Noah?"

Noah kissed the tips of Luke's fingers, "You're going to help yourself Luke. I'm just going to love you."

~end~


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Latest page update: made by Seajellybaby , Oct 14 2011, 1:37 PM EDT (about this update About This Update Seajellybaby Edited by Seajellybaby

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Seajellybaby FanFic - Appearance - Chapter 2 10 Oct 15 2011, 12:55 AM EDT by Seajellybaby
Thread started: Oct 10 2011, 4:38 AM EDT  Watch
Here is chapter two of appearance.

This story is not part of the L.A. Series
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