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In Love With The Proper Stranger - Chapter 15
| Title: In Love With The Proper Stranger|
Chapter: Fifteen of Twenty-three
Summary: AU - Their's is a love story which happens quite by accident, in the midst of a dangerous whirlwind of mystery and deceit sparked by the death of Luke's mother-in-law
Characters: Luke, Noah, Reid
Genre: AU, Action, Adventure, Romance, Angst
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.
The sound of gunshots sent Luke bolting for the front exit, flinging open the large double doors and galloping down the steps.
When he reached the pavement, he frantically scanned the area left and right, trying to figure out where the sound originated.
It was only then that he noticed Maddie by his side.
"What's going on?" she pleaded.
At the same time, Reid had left the car and made his way over to where Luke and Maddie stood.
"Did you hear those shots?" a frantic Luke asked.
"You don't think…?" began Reid.
"WHAT?" Maddie yelled, eyes widening as she now too scanned the surrounding area, wishing perhaps that somehow Noah would just magically reappear.
"Now don't go getting your panties in a twist!" Reid delivered his usual manner of derision. "You don't know that for sure!"
"Noah was here, Reid!" Luke exclaimed. "He saw me and ran out the back!"
Then Reid offered a theory. "It could just as easily have been fireworks or a car backfiring."
"Wait! Just hold on a minute!" Maddie grabbed Luke's arm and looking between the two men asked, "Would one of you please tell me that the hell is going on?"
Luke shook his head sadly at her. "It's Noah. There's a hit… a contract out on him."
Maddie frowned, obviously unable to comprehend it.
"That means somebody has been hired to kill him." Reid explained with condescension.
"Yes I know what a hit is – thank you very much!" an annoyed Maddie replied. "But what I don't understand, is why on earth anybody would go after Noah? It's not like-"
"It was Greg." Luke interrupted, "for the money from…"
"For Juliet's estate?" A now horrified and confused Maddie asked.
"Yes!" Frustration and worry about Noah gripped Luke. "Look, we don't have time for this! We have to find Noah before the hired gun does! Don't ask me how I know. I just do! Noah's in trouble! Those were definitely gunshots!"
"They came from down there." Reid pointed toward the Avenue L/East 13th Street intersection.
That seemed right, Luke thought. It was the general direction in which Noah had run.
Terrified, he tried once more to reach Noah on his cell phone, praying he would answer.
When he hard Noah's feeble voice, Luke sagged in relief against the stairway's metal handrail. But it was short lived. Noah was in trouble and perhaps already hurt.
It felt like an hour instead of minutes since Noah had spoken to Luke. But finally he was getting close. He could see the gilded top of the fountain in the distance, rising above the heads of other people on the street.
Noah tried to speed up as he ran past store front after store front; but his legs were running pretty whipped.
Whenever he tried to move any faster he'd start to stumble; and he was afraid he was going to trip. Instead, he started to walk an even pace with agonizing difficulty, pretending to belong in the crowds, knowing the gunman and Greg weren't far behind.
But they were even closer than he thought.
As he walked past the entrance to another dark alley, someone leapt out and grabbed him in a crushing and weighty hug from behind, pinning his arms to his sides; and nearly lifting him off his feet. A bolt of pain ripped through his side causing him to cry out.
"I'm real sorry about this kid," Greg grunted into his ear. "But you've left me with no other choice."
That voice was enough to send a spine tingling ripple of alarm up his back.
Usually just the sound of Greg's voice was enough to send Noah into survival mode. But to have the man's arms around him temporarily immobilized him making it easy for Greg to drag him back into the alley and away from prying eyes.
But Noah wasn't going to go down without one last fight. When Greg finally dropped him, Noah swung wildly as he spun around only to be stopped by Greg's powerful fist catching him square in the jaw. His vision clouded as he fell back in a blur of tears and pain.
Luke, Reid and Maddie split up in search of Noah.
Reid headed off down the back alleys in which Noah had first disappeared, while Maddie ran to search the park and surrounding area.
Luke headed for the fountain in the square, hoping with every piece of his being that Noah still had enough trust left for him to follow his instructions and meet him there.
Maybe, just maybe, scared as he sounded on the phone, Noah would turn to Luke now, having run out of options.
There was no doubt that Luke was struggling to keep it together. The anxiety in Noah's voice; the deathly fear Luke had heard there; and the knowledge that someone was really close to ending Noah's life; crushed him.
When Luke finally reached the fountain he earnestly circled its cylindrical design a few times, searching for Noah; eventually having to accept that he wasn't there.
Luke was left feeling cold and unsure as to what his next move should be. Night was falling and that would make finding Noah all the harder.
"Please be okay." he whispered into the chilling wind.
Should he wait by the fountain and hope Noah was still trying to make his way? Or would it be better to join Reid and Maddie in a wild search of the entire area, trying to take advantage of what little daylight they had left?
He was even considering calling the police when he saw Noah plunging through the crowd toward him. He drew a sharp breath of relief. Noah was still alive; though the terror in his eyes told Luke that danger wasn't far away.
A hot dog vendor unfortunately chose that very moment to wheel his cart across Luke's view; and he lost sight of Noah.
The next time Luke saw him, the burly Greg had a forearm wrapped around Noah's throat and was dragging him back into an alley way.
Luke dashed in their direction, watching horrified as a creepy, disheveled looking man drew a gun from under his coat and entered the alleyway after Greg and Noah.
"No!" Luke screamed, willing his legs to run faster.
Once Noah had recovered enough from the punch to look back up, Greg was backing away toward the exit and out of the alley.
Noah became confused and made a tentative move to leave, but stopped short when the man who shot him earlier appeared, blocking Noah's only escape route.
He approached with that same manic grin and pointed the gun directly at Noah's head.
Noah closed his eyes and conjured up Luke's face in his mind. That was what he wanted to think about before he died.
Luke! Luke as he'd know him. The kind, gentle and comforting man, who made him laugh even when he was sad.
The gun went off, gripping him in terror as he dropped quickly to the ground, sheltering his head under his arms.
Somehow… somehow he was still alive.
Shuffling, groaning and grunting noises to his right snapped him out of his frozen state. He opened his eyes to see two bodies rolling around on the ground; pounding away at each other.
The gunman had apparently dropped his gun early on in the scuffle. It now lay a short distance from Noah's right hand, as if placed there by some guardian angel.
Barely functioning, Noah crawled through the dirt, grime and trash until he was close enough to stretch out his arm and grab the handle.
He knew nothing about guns. He'd never seen a real gun in his whole life, let alone fired one.
But relaying on what he gleamed from watching countless cinematic shootouts; he shakily cocked back the hammer. Noah rolled onto his back and aimed the
gun with both hands. Luke delivered a right hook to the man's jaw and he stumbled backward.
Noah fired, striking the attacker in the stomach. The assailant's face had a look of utter shock as he moved slightly forward and fell with a loud crunching sound onto his face.
Despite the noise from the busy street, all Noah could hear was his own labored breathing and the beating of his heart.
"I killed him."
As the sickening thought crossed his mind, he was gripped by the need to protect himself. His unsteady hands still brandished the firearm when a bloody and dirty Luke began to approach him.
"Stay away from me!" Noah screamed, leaping to his unsteady feet. "I'll shoot!"
Luke was completely out of breath from the fistfight with the strange man. Having no weapon to fight him off; and precious little time to come up with any other solution, he'd angrily ploughed into the gunman just as he'd pulled the trigger.
As he struggled during the fight, Luke was totally unaware of Noah's condition. For all he knew, the bullet had found its target.
But his main priority in the moment was to somehow render the killer unconscious.
That problem was suddenly eliminated with one loud shot. The gunman lay dead and Noah's entire frame trembled before Luke.
"Noah, listen to me," He said gently, focusing totally on the wide and manic blue eyes and not the barrel of the gun pointed toward him. "Look at me. I won't hurt you."
"You said that before." Noah sniveled.
Luke shuddered at that but took a step forward. "It's over."
"You lied! I told you everything! I told you everything and you used me! You used me to get back at Reid."
Luke shook his head. "No! That's not what happened. Trust me. Please just trust me one more time."
Noah began to sob; and Luke wanted nothing more than to draw the broken man into his arms.
Luke took another step forward and Noah lifted the gun firmly.
"I can't trust YOU!" Noah shouted, "How do I know you're not a part of this?"
"You KNOW." Luke stated confidently, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on Noah's.
Luke nervously took another step forward.
"This…" a now tearful Luke gestured between them. "…is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I didn't tell you about Reid and me… and that was wrong. But I was SO scared, Noah. I was so scared we wouldn't make it. I love you… Don't you get that by now?"
Luke saw a slight flicker in Noah's features. Noah wanted so badly to believe him.
"Besides," Luke continued gently, "…you started this, remember? You kissed me first. How could I have planned that? Hey? How?"
And that was it. Noah's bottom lip quivered as he lowered the gun, letting it drop to the ground before sinking to his knees. His shoulders slumped, his eyes brimming with tears.
"I'm so tired." he said as he pressed his hands to his watery eyes. His whole body heaved with the effort of it all.
Luke ran his hands through his hair and sniffed through his own tears as he took the last few steps to the man he loved.
He sat down beside him and drew Noah close; his hand disappearing into a head of matted, wet black curls.
"It's over now." Luke whispered, his voice catching in his throat as he kissed the top of Noah's head. "No one can hurt you now. I won't let them."
Link to Chapter 16
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, Sep 18 2011, 4:44 PM EDT
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