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Oakdale - Chapter 5
| Title: Oakdale|
Chapter: Five of Thirteen
Summary: Luke and Noah review the past, deal with the present and face the future...
Characters: Luke, Noah
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.
Link to Chapter 1
Link to Chapter 2
Link to Chapter 3
Link to Chapter 4
Luke was completely lost and totally frantic.
“Afraid? Noah? Okay… Um…” he took Noah’s other hand, flushed with concern, “I’m not following you.”
Suddenly Noah seemed to notice him there. His eyes darted across Luke’s face and his right hand lifted to sweep lightly down his cheek.
“You’re so beautiful.” His voice chocked.
“It’s okay Luke. You can tell me.” He nodded his assurance, “I won’t make it hard… hard for you.” His breathing was erratic, “I won’t stand in your way…” He closed his eyes as the words left his lips, struggling with something far stronger than he was.
“Oh god… god… what’s happening?” Luke searched Noah’s countenance trying to make eye contact but failing. Noah seemed afraid to lock eyes. As though if he did that he wouldn’t be able to go on…
“I just want you to be happy.” His bottom lip quivered and his eyes welled with more tears.
“I am happy…” Luke whispered frowning.
But it was as if Noah wasn’t hearing him, “Don’t you understand Luke? I would give you the world if I could but I only have me! I only have me to give you… so… so it’s okay… It’s okay if that’s not enough…”
“It’s okay if you’ve found someone else. I saw… I saw…”
Luke felt his heart plummet as things suddenly became clear, “Oh my god! Sh*t! Noah… Baby…”
He moved from squatting to kneeling by Noah’s legs and then pulled him down, encasing him in his arms. Noah slumped into him, shivering and then returned Luke’s hug with a desperation, clinging to him. “Have you been sitting here this whole time?” he shook his head as he asked the question, “I’m so sorry! You saw?” He felt Noah nod. “It’s not what you think! HE kissed ME!”
Noah moved back so that he could see him and Luke nodded.
“Look at me!” He grabbed both sides of Noah’s face, “Just look at me! What do you see?”
Three tears dropped from the corner of Noah’s right eye and for the first time since Luke’s arrival their eyes locked. “I see love.” There was utter relief in Noah’s tone.
Luke nodded wetly at him again and pulled him back into the hug, “He kissed me! I didn’t want it! I wasn’t expecting it! And the moment he did I pushed him back! Okay?”
There was so much hope in the question, Luke’s heart cracked for him. “Bubby! You’re enough! You’re more than enough! You’re everything! Okay? You and Nicholas are everything!”
Luke felt it then, a lightening of spirit, as though some indefinable burden had dropped away from Noah’s firm frame. He relaxed into Luke. Luke couldn’t help it, but he let out a sound somewhere between a sob and a laugh that angered Noah and he pushed Luke, so that he fell backward to the ground, “Don’t you laugh! Don’t you dare laugh!”
“Oh I’m not!” Luke maintained whilst trying to keep a straight face. “Man, but I love you!”
“Stop it!” Noah was definitely back!
“I love you baby but sometimes you really are stupid! You know that?”
Noah glared at him, but Luke caught the slight lift at the corner of his mouth as he fought a smile. There was silence for quite sometime whilst they surveyed each other, Luke still sprawled across the ground; Noah, tear stained, still slumped on the bench.
Finally Noah spoke first, “Nicky says you should never call somebody stupid…”
Luke laughed, “He’s right. I’m sorry.”
“Apology accepted.” He still hadn’t smiled but the humour was there.
All Troy knew was that he needed HIM! He had managed to get by over the past few months believing that HE would one day return to Oakdale from wherever it was he had gone and then they could regain what they had. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t much, but Troy could at least work on that.
Of course Troy had known he was being used at the time. But everybody used him! Hell! Half the time he was the one encouraging it! But there were times, snippets, especially in the beginning when they first met, when HE and Troy would spend time talking. And HE really listened! HE was the first person who ever really listened to Troy. HE was the first person Troy told of his loneliness… The way his parents were never around whilst he was growing up. The way they sent him to boarding school and collage abroad so that they didn’t have to care about him. So that they didn’t have to raise him… Their only child…
HE seemed so concerned and it was comforting. HE made Troy feel safe and wanted for the first time ever… Even if it was only during those few brief moments. Moments, Troy now realised, when HE must have been more sober.
HE never spoke much about his own life. HE told Troy about the doctor that died, but HE had never mentioned this other man. Troy wondered about him. Wondered what he was like. What qualities he had that Troy didn’t, to deserve this man. This amazing person…
Luke felt his feelings were too complex for him to try to explain them. He could only hope that Noah knew him well enough to understand without him having too.
In the silence that followed the small interlude of humour, Luke decided that now was the time to talk. He sat carefully on the other end of the bench, all the time keeping an eye on Noah. He could see how Noah’s hands still shook vigorously and he cursed himself for taking so long to lay things out for him. If he had told Noah sooner he could have spared him this shock.
Noah looked up as Luke spoke.
“So…” Luke took a deep breath, “So, last year Grandmother found me in an alley. I was…” he hung his head with the embarrassment of it and pressed on, “I was about three minutes away from having sex in full view of the public.” The words rumbled out of his mouth in quick succession as he tried to get it over with.
Noah’s eyebrows rose in shocked disbelief, “What?”
Luke let out another shuddered breath and braced himself. “It might be best if you just let me speak, okay? Just let me get it all out.”
Noah nodded cautiously.
“I was drunk.”
Noah’s mouth opened and he cupped it with both hands, closing his eyes as the news sank in. It there was one thing Noah was acutely aware of it was how bad things could get when Luke drank.
Luke persisted, “I was drunk and I barely even knew my own name.”
It was Noah’s turn to take a deep breath, “Why?”
“Because I...” and he whispered the last part, “I wanted to forget…”
Noah fiddled his fingers together and stared at them, “Reid?”
“No Noah, not Reid… I wanted to forget you…”
With the help of her driver they eventually managed to manoeuvre her intoxicated grandson into the back of the car, where he promptly decided to throw up behind the seat. Somehow, even in his current state, he still seemed to respect her, and in general he obeyed her commands as the driver walked him unsteadily into the house.
“This is your house…” Luke observed confused, leaning up against the hallway.
“Yes!” She stated angrily. “Maybe we can resolve this thing without your mother finding out!” She thanked her driver and closed the front door after assuring him they’d be fine. Then she rounded on Luke. “Just what on earth were you thinking of?”
Luke started and then slipped slightly against the wall, bracing himself on a side table.
“Just LOOK at the state of you! What if Lilly had seen you Luke? Or god forbid Faith or Natalie? What you were doing in that alley… I mean… I just don’t know!” She threw up her arms.
That statement had an immediate effect on Luke. The defiance in his eyes turned suddenly to shame, and to what Lucinda thought looked something like self loathing, and then he slumped even more.
“How long Luke? How long have you been drinking like this? You know what it means for you to drink! For heaven’s sake! Are you trying to kill yourself?”
“Yes.” He whispered and dropped to a seated position, crying now. “Yes! That would be better! That would be better than…” his words fell away as he shook his head.
To Lucinda’s horror she realised he meant it. She realised just how far and hard her grandson had fallen off the proverbial wagon. She sat at the writing desk he was currently bracing his head up against, “Darling? Why? Why are you giving up like this? It’s not like you!” She balled her hands into fists before him. “You’re a fighter! Just like your old Grandmother over here!”
“It’s just… I’m so tired. I’m so tired Grandmother.”
“Of missing him.” There was absolute agony behind his words.
“Oh I see. I get it now. This is about your young man. The doctor?”
Luke shook his head with resignation, “I wish! I wish this was about Reid! And I hate myself for saying this but… but Reid’s dead! So I wish this was about him, because that would be so much easier to deal with! And I know how selfish that is!”
Then she realised. “It’s Noah? Isn’t it? It’s Noah you’re missing so much.”
Luke closed his eyes as he nodded and he wiped his nose against his hand, sniffing loudly.
“Oh honey! Finally! Finally you’re admitting you still love him! We all know that!”
“I never denied it Grandmother. I’ve always loved him. I will always love him.”
She smiled, “Luke! If you love him so much what are you doing here? He’s only a plane ride away.”
“Why ever not?”
She saw him struggling for the right words, but she knew they would come. That was just the way Luke was… How he had always been. He could never keep his thoughts to himself. He always had to share his feelings with somebody. She was sure this was how he had ended up back on the bottle. For some reason he had tried to keep these feelings bottled up inside.
“Because… because at least this way I can believe he still loves me. I can think he’s in LA waiting for me.”
“Maybe he is darling…”
“But what if he’s not? What if I go and he… what if I go and he’s moved on… and he pushes me away…. I can’t take that again. I’m in HELL! Don’t you see? I want him back so badly but I’m terrified of him! Because he’s the only one that can hurt me like this! The only one who ever could!”
“Sweetheart…” she tried to help, tried to comfort him but the gates were open and so she allowed him to continue unaided.
“And it took me so long to accept I’d lost him! To allow myself to move on with Reid. But I mean LOOK AT ME! THIS!” he gestured towards himself, “THIS is what HE does to me! This is how much he can hurt me! And I can’t do it anymore Grandmother! I can’t hurt like this anymore… its killing me… I just want to forget! Don’t you understand? I just want to forget him…”
“Oh Sweetheart!” She moved gingerly onto the floor by his side. She was getting on in life and it was no longer an easy feat to find oneself sitting on the floor. She hooked her arm around him and allowed him to flop into her bosom.
“Please…” he begged, “What do I do? I’ve tried everything!”
She stroked his head just as she had done when he was a small boy after he had tripped and fallen, “There really is only one thing you can do darling. You need to confront this. You need to stop running away. You need to get on a plane and find him and resolve this thing once and for all. Whatever that means! You have to be brave enough to face whatever the outcome of that is.”
He sagged defeated against her as her words sank in.
“Don’t you understand Luke? The two of you share a bond! And it’s a bond that has survived everything that’s happened! That’s special honey! That’s not something you walk away from. I’m willing to wager all I have he’s out there in LA, hurting just as much… missing you just as much. But you can’t go and claim him back in this state! First we need to get you sobered up! Don’t you worry…” she patted his arm, “Your Grandma’s got your back okay kid?”
She felt him nod and she smiled. Yes! She would sort this!
“Even after I left rehab, I had to find an excuse to fly to LA.” Luke continued after telling Noah the story of that night, “I convinced myself that it was just a business trip and had nothing to do with you! Just so that I didn’t talk myself out of going…”
“Mom and Dad don't know anything about it. Just Grandmother... And now you. But I wasn’t trying to hide anything from you.” Luke assured him. “You have to know that. It’s just… there was never a right time. Everything got a little crazy over the past few months. And then I guess… Things have been so great between us, that I just forgot about it. Or maybe I wanted to forget… “
“And this guy? The one she found you with?”
Luke sighed. He knew they’d have to broach this subject. “It’s the same guy who kissed me tonight. His name is Troy Jenson. Grandmother introduced us. She’s friends with his father. He returned home from collage last year and he came onto me. At first I ignored him and denied the advances but, the more I drank the harder it became to push him back and… and eventually I gave in.”
Noah closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. “You slept with him.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yes. A few times… But you should know that it meant nothing. I felt nothing for him.”
“It’s not like you…” Noah said.
“I know. I… I used him Noah and I feel terrible about that because… because I realise now that I hurt him. He told me tonight that he fell in love with me.” He could see all the emotions flittering across Noah’s face at his words. But Luke would get it all out. He had to believe they were strong enough.
“Why did you do it?”
Luke shook his head. “Cleaning up the company kept me busy at first. I concentrated totally on that to keep my mind off feeling anything! Then suddenly everything at work was great! Sorted! And I found myself with all this time to think and…” he shrugged, assuming Noah would piece the rest together from what he’d already heard. Instead he returned to the issue of Troy, “I never told you, but… you were the main reason I never slept with Reid.”
“Because in those moments with him, as much as I loved him, I couldn’t get you out of my head. So when I said we were waiting… that’s what we were waiting for. For me to forget you… But during those days last year, part of the reason I returned to the bottle was because I realised I could never forget you! There wasn’t anything that could break the bond between us.”
“Even though you wanted to, right? You wanted to break it…”
“For a while there, yes I did. I tried hard to make that happen.”
“Because I hurt you.”
“So when I slept with Troy is was just sex. That’s all it was. At least for me. He never asked anything more of me so, tonight, when he told me how he felt, it was a complete shock and then suddenly he was kissing me and…” He stopped, realising it didn’t matter, “I’m sorry you saw that! I wanted you to know. I was going to tell you everything tonight.”
Noah turned to him, “That’s what you wanted to talk about?”
Luke nodded. “I wanted you to know everything about me. Why do you think I was so insistent about locking the liquor cabinet at home? I’m not planning to relapse but, it’s happened before so…”
Noah was staring ahead of him again, still rubbing his hands together nervously.
“You need to know it could happen, especially now… with Nicholas around…”
Noah nodded but he remained silent and Luke waited.
“I… I need to think…” Noah whispered finally.
“You need some space. I know.” Luke got up to leave but then turned and said, “Noah?”
Noah looked up at him with emotion filled eyes.
“I just need you to know something. Even if he came back? Reid I mean? Even if Reid somehow came back today. I would be happy… so happy…” Noah looked away again but Luke continued, “...but I could never leave you! Not now! Not ever! Not even for him… Please. Please believe me…” and he prayed Noah would, “I love you Noah… I don’t want to lose you… I don’t want to lose us! Our family! It’s everything! So I’m asking… please… don’t take too long to come back to me… Okay?”
He turned and started the short walk back to his car, hanging his head in contemplation. In his heart he felt sure they would be okay. They had come too far not to be. But there was still that small part of him; the part that was always afraid of losing Noah; that tried to push through those negative thoughts.
But then, halfway to his car, he felt a warm presence fall into step beside him and Noah’s hand took his and their fingers interlaced. Nothing more was said but he felt the relief wash over him as they made their way back to Emma’s farm, together.
Link to Chapter 6
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