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In Love With The Proper Stranger - Chapter 20
| Title: In Love With The Proper Stranger|
Chapter: Twenty 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.
Reid agreed to meet with Greg at a back street drinking hole called the Blackbird Saloon. Reid had suggested they meet later in the afternoon primarily to buy Luke and the cops some time.
As soon as the location was set, Luke was on the phone with Detective Marco.
"What time is the meeting?" the cop asked.
"3 p.m. He's got Noah, Detective. I just know it!"
"Okay, Luke. Keep calm. We already have a unit heading over to the theatre to check on your friend. I want you and Dr. Oliver to stay put. I'll be there soon with a team. This meeting must be handled with extreme caution."
Luke agreed and after hanging up tried Noah's number one more time. Still there was no answer so instead he telephoned the main reception desk in his apartment building. The security guard confirmed that Noah had left early that morning.
"I can't believe this!" he said to Reid has he hung up.
"If Noah is with Greg then he's alive." Reid attempted to make Luke feel better, "I know why Greg would take him."
"I'm thinking he's somehow figured out that you and Noah are an item. He's desperate, penniless and perhaps he thinks he can-"
"…hold Noah to ransom?" Luke finished. "Oh God!"
Luke ran his hands through his bangs and spent the next few minutes creating a worn path in his office carpet, all the while wondering what kind of hell Greg was putting Noah through.
It didn't take Detective Marco and his six-member team long to arrive.
"What do we do?" Luke asked.
"Well," the detective said, "if Dr. Oliver is willing, we want him to wear a wire. Hopefully Chilton will give up Noah's location and we can rescue Noah safely, before Chilton even knows his plan's been discovered.
The entire team looked over to Reid.
"Are you willing?" Marco asked him.
Reid looked over at Luke, who pleaded back with his eyes.
"Sure," Reid sighed, "Fine. Whatever."
Even though he was somewhat irritated at being fussed with, Reid stood shirtless and still while the cops' electronics expert taped the tiny microphone to his chest.
"Okay. Now, Dr. Oliver?" the detective instructed, "Whatever you do stay calm. Keep him believing you're on his side and support his plan. You need to win his trust. He's not going to show his cards easily."
"We'll be listening in to everything. If he gives up the location then we'll swoop in and arrest him. Be aware that Chilton may want you to go with him. In which case we will follow. Understood?"
Noah woke up vomiting into a dirty strip of cloth Chilton had used to gag him. The rag was wrapped firmly around his head, running within his mouth and between his teeth.
The vomit almost drowned him. But he dropped his head forward to stop it from returning back down his throat.
The bitter fumes of bile burning through his nose and throat were nothing compared to the pain in his head; a series of pulsating and jarring throbs that blurred his vision.
He experienced a moment of sharp panic, unable to move or even remember anything before waking up here… wherever here was.
He instinctively jerked, yanking at his wrists, clenching his teeth as his head reeled from the effort. There was something around his wrists. He was tied up!
He struggled until a surge of nausea threatened to bring on more vomiting.
The breath through his nose was quick and short and his body quivered as he finally collapsed with exhaustion from the effort of it all.
"Lu… Luke?" The gag prevented much sound from escaping.
Cold sweat ran down his face and burned his eyes. He willed them open.
The room seemed to be revolving around him in a fuzzy kaleidoscope of color.
And he was thirsty… so very thirsty.
"Where am I?" Again, the words came out as nothing but a stifled moan.
His jaw ached making his temple thump.
He knew this kind of pain well. He'd been hit. But it wasn't the blow that was making him feel this way.
He groaned as another teeth-clenching wave consumed his skull, squeezing his eyes shut as it passed over him.
The shock of memory was so great that he momentarily forgot the pain and scrambled to sit up; kicking at the floor to move his body back up against a solid wall. That way no one could come up behind him.
Noah's eyes scanned the room.
Realizing he was alone he tried to stand. But he was instantly jerked back to the floor by something holding his arms. He jiggled his hands behind him and discovered he was chained to a radiator.
"I promised him." Luke sighed under a trembling breath just as Reid climbed into the police cruiser taking him over to the saloon to meet with Greg.
"What's that?" Reid asked shifting uncomfortably as the bug's battery pack dug into his back.
Luke shook his head, standing by the open car door. "I promised he was safe! I promised I'd look after him!"
"C'mon, Luke. You couldn't have known Greg would pull something like this! Even the cops didn't think he was that clever."
Reid looked up at his soon to be ex and experienced the strangest feeling in the pit of his stomach. Could it actually be a tinge of guilt?
Reid couldn't think how he had gotten Greg so wrong. Being smarter than most, he was usually able to read people pretty easily and up to a few days ago… accurately.
To Reid, Greg was nothing more than a small-minded idiot with an amazing physique - perfect manipulation material.
Reid hired Greg purely for his body and for seduction purposes. That was the honest truth. The guy was seriously buff! And as the years progressed, his body only improved.
However, the sex didn't!
So doped up on steroids Greg's sexual stamina swiftly twiddled down to zero. Reid had begun to tire of Greg years ago. It was pure indifference that made
Reid leave Greg in charge of the theatre and living at the house.
After all, there was nothing wrong with the way Greg did his job.
In fact he never considered or worried about what Greg thought at all. Perhaps this had been his mistake.
Reid never knew the kind of jeopardy he was putting his nephew and mother in when he moved the strange man into the house and theatre. The thought that Greg might harm a member of his family never crossed his mind.
It was only when Greg made the suggestion to switch his mother's medication for sugar pills that Reid really began to question the man's sanity.
But even then he never believed the coward would actually go through with it! Reid was sure Greg would behave and do as he was instructed.
Reid now realized that his effect on Greg had been far greater than he thought. The guy had somehow gotten it into his thick skull that he and Reid were in a relationship.
And they would one day ride off into the sunset together. As if!
Chances were the steroids had somehow messed with the man's brain because Reid had never promised him any such thing.
"I'll bring Noah back to you," Reid told Luke, before pulling closed the car door.
He was shaking his leg and fidgeting as the vehicle pulled away from the curb. Reid was nervous; another extremely alien emotion for the great Dr. Oliver. He'd been having a lot of those lately.
He wasn't afraid of Greg. He knew how to handle the guy. What he feared was screwing up things for Luke… again.
He'd made a royal f*cking mess of his marriage to Luke. If he managed to get Greg to lead him to Noah, it might just redeem him in Luke's eyes. He actually did love Luke on some level.
But that realization came way too late.
There was no way that Reid or anybody else had any hope of coming between Luke and Noah. Whatever it was that buzzed between the two younger men… it was something special; unbreakable.
Unless of course Greg managed to kill one or both of them.
Noah lay shivering from cold and fear in the unheated room. His stomach burned, his throat stung, his head throbbed and the anticipation of the torture to come was sheer hell.
He wondered why this monster from his childhood didn't just get on with it and kill him.
He just wanted it over.
But where was Greg? Surely killing Noah was why Greg had come back. Surely he had come back to exact his revenge at Noah for messing up his plans by not dying?
The most terrifying answer to that question lay in the taste of Greg's foul mouth on his; a taste that refused to dissipate despite the vomiting. It hinted at the certainty that Greg wasn't finished.
Greg had tried on numerous occasions over the years to do more than just touch Noah, coming perilously close at times. It was only Noah's pure
determination and sense of self preservation that had prevented things from ever getting that far.
And as Noah grew older and stronger, he was more able to fight off the man's advances. But now he was drugged and bound; basically unable to defend himself, while the immeasurably stronger Greg was close to stone cold sober.
Noah was growing more and more frightened. Not only did his fate appear sealed, but it was likely he would not live to see Luke again.
At 2:45 p.m. the police cruiser parked a few blocks up from the Blackbird Saloon. A NYPD surveillance van pulled in behind it.
Reid's legs felt a little rubbery as he got out of the car.
"Remember how Detective Marco told you to play it…" said Officer Malone, coming around from the front of the car. "Just keep Chilton happy. Keep him talking. Get him to tell you… and us… where Noah is."
"The bar is just two blocks down that way on the left." Malone pointed out. "You can't miss it."
Without another word, Reid turned and made his way up the street, looking back just once to see the police vehicles disappear into a back alley.
"Here goes nothing," he whispered.
He couldn't believe this was what his life had been reduced to; playing hero to his husband's boyfriend. It would almost have been funny if it wasn't real.
"Oh… you have got to be kidding me!" he exclaimed with disgust when he first laid eyes on the dive bar.
If the outside… guarded by trash cans overflowing with garbage and god knew what else… was any indication, Reid hated to imagine what was going on inside.
He caught sight of a handprint starting high up on one window; smearing downward in what he was sure was dried excrement. Human or otherwise… he dare not care to know.
Thinking of Luke he grimaced, using his shoulder to push open the door and holding his breath as he entered.
"If I catch any rare diseases," Reid thought. "Luke is so paying the treatment bill!"
Little attention was paid to him as he made a sticky path across the creaky barroom floor. He decided to stand at the end of the rail. He certainly didn't want to risk touching anything by sitting down.
"Whatyahave?" the barman asked before spitting a wad of chewed tobacco out the side of his mouth and straight onto the floor.
A shiver of horrified disgust ran up Reid's spine.
He absolutely did not want to drink or eat a solitary thing from the godforsaken place. But still he nodded and ended up ordering a beer.
This was a far cry from the luxury wine bars in Manhattan that was for sure!
When his drink arrived looking as russet as a muddy stream Reid at first thought something must be wrong with the beer. But on closer inspection, he realized the glass was so soiled as to have been stained a yellowish, brown tea color.
He hid a dry heave and resolved to leave the drink where the barman had placed it.
"Reid!" The sound of an excited voice reminded him why he was there in the first place.
He turned to find Greg making his way across the bar.
Reid restrained himself from doing a double take. The usually well-groomed man looked like crap. He'd obviously not had a decent shower in days and his usually sandy-colored hair had been dyed a pitch black; the longish locks slicked back with grease.
His face wore a nervous, paranoid expression that immediately put Reid on edge.
Quickly composing himself in his usual practiced manner, Reid produced his most welcoming smirk; and returned Greg's hug as the man reached him.
"I missed ya, baby." Greg said in his ear. "Did you miss me?"
"Yes." Reid simply said. Just behaving as he always did around Greg.
Greg pulled out of the hug and created a distance between their bodies. Reid was actually grateful since the type of person known to frequent this particular bar, would most likely not take kindly to an openly gay show of affection. It meant Greg would keep his hands clear and Reid wouldn't have to come up with some excuse to make him.
Greg's body odor didn't leave much to the imagination and his breath stank of smoke and cheap whiskey.
On close inspection, Reid could tell that his nose was definitely broken.
"What happened to your face?" asked Reid.
"Consider it a war wound," Greg replied. "While serving in the line of duty for my man!"
Reid didn't press for an explanation. He thought staying quiet would be his best bet to finding out where Greg had hidden Noah.
"You're not still mad at me, are ya Baby?" Greg pouted. "I did it all for us, you know? All of it!"
"Yes, I know." Reid replied. "I was angry. But now I understand. You did it for me."
"Did it for us! So we could finally get our money and be together, forever."
"Look, I know the hit on Noah didn't work out. But I have a new decent plan all worked out."
"Care to share the details?"
"Sure! All we need to do is tap that husband of yours."
Reid felt a deep abhorrence along with a raging anger rising in his chest. He held both these emotions at bay.
"And… how do you suggest we do that?"
Greg smiled at him slyly. "Wanna go for a ride?"
"Come on Greg! Cut the bullsh*t and just tell me what the f*ck you're on about."
"Don't get mad, Baby? Just go along with me. I promise I'll make it worth your while."
Reid sighed. He definitely didn't want to go anywhere with this man. But if it would lead to Noah then he'd do it.
Link to Chapter 21
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, Sep 28 2011, 7:37 AM EDT
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