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Lure BB: The Road Home Chapters 3 and 4
marsabi


Chapter Three

“Turn there. See the sign? That’s the road for I-515.”

“That goes through the whole strip. It will take all day.”

“It’s what the GPS says to do, too.”

“GPS,” Reid scoffed.

“You have something against the GPS?”

“I like maps.”

“You do know what year this is, right?”

“Some of us like to use our brains. You open a map, and you read it. What’s so hard?”

“That’s not how you felt about the map that I gave you of the farm. Everybody else was waiting down by the pond that day and you were helplessly lost.”

“I was late, not lost. And if I was late, it was because you gave me a map older than time.”

“Hey! That map is an heirloom. My great grandpa made it.”

“It was a mess.” Reid said, “full of handwritten chicken-scratch, and filled with Snyder wisdom, too. Turn left by the corn field two miles--or is it or was it five? Or six? Oh well, just look for some corn. Once you get past the old brown barn, the pond is on your right. Yeah, except since grandpa died, that barn was painted orange.”

“It wasn’t that bad,” Luke laughed.

“I managed to find you only because I’m a genius with direction.”

“Remember how much fun we had that day, though? Once you did get there? Natalie and Ethan hung all over you like two little life preservers, and you ate three helpings of Grandma’s fried chicken.…” And after that, Luke suddenly recalled, they’d broken away from his family to a secluded field to make love. The flowers were all around them: daisies, buttercups, blue lupines.

“Here’s the turn ahead,” Reid pulled onto the highway and merged with the traffic. “See? No problems.”

“Yeah.”

Luke shifted around in his seat. Did Reid even remember that field? His face gave no sign. Luke shifted around again. He crossed and uncrossed his legs and then sighed loudly.

“Now what?”

“Nothing. Just that your car isn’t really roomy.”

“Sorry. I forgot the limo.” Reid rolled his eyes. “You’ll have to make do.”

“I’m fine. I’ll figure out a way to get comfortable.”

“Fantastic,” Reid said.

Luke unrolled his socks and stuffed them into his sneakers. Flexing his toes, he stretched them onto the dashboard. He folded his arms behind his head. “That’s better.”

“What are you doing?”

“Me? Not a thing.” Luke shrugged, “Just relaxing like you told me to do.”

Reid reached over and swatted at Luke’s big toe.

“Get off.”

“Why?”

“It’s blocking my line of vision.”

“You can look around them.”

“And you can lower them.”

“I don’t want to. This is more comfortable. I thought you were such a great driver, expert map reader and all. My feet really bother you?”

“Everything about this trip is starting to bother me.”

“You’re just hungry.” Luke shook his head. “You know how grouchy you can get when you don’t eat on time.”

“I’m not grouchy.”

“Cranky then.”

“Are we really going to argue the whole way back to Oakdale about your feet and my appetite?”
“Probably.” Luke’s lips twitched. He saw Reid suppress a smile.

“We could stop at the next diner,” Luke said. “It won’t be Al’s, but it might be decent food.”

“Is that an olive branch?”

“Yep. Coming in the form of milkshakes and fries.”

“My favorite kind of peace offering,” Reid said. He glanced over at Luke. “I guess your feet can stay where they are.”


The dinner at the rest stop was crowded. After a fifteen minute wait, a haggard-looking waitress sat them down in a booth near the back.

“Close to the restrooms. Hooray,” Reid said.

“Just look at the menu,” Luke advised. Reid really did get grumpy when he didn’t eat. Behind them was a mother with two girls with a bad haircuts, clearly home jobs, one was doodling and the other picking off her purple nail polish and flicking small bits of it onto the table.

“Hi,” Luke said, smiling at the girls.

The smaller one waved back.

“Here you go! Sorry about the wait,” the waitress said to the family, putting down some plates. “We’re swamped.”

Nodding, the mom lit up a cigarette and the kids ate their hamburgers in hurried bites.

“Ah, this is a no smoking restaurant.”

“What? Jesus! Can’t a person smoke anywhere anymore?” the mother glared at the waitress.

She stubbed it out in annoyance on the side of her younger daughter’s plate.

“Motherhood at its best,” Reid said to Luke.

Luke shrugged as the waitress came over to their table.

“Hey fellas, what will it be?” She gave them a cheery smile that didn’t reach her eyes.

“I’ll have a cheesesteak and fries,” Luke said.

“Me, too. Oh and a root beer. And a piece of cherry pie.”

“A la mode?” she asked Reid.

“Of course.”

“Okay.” She blew her hair, dirty blond but streaked with a little pink, from her eyes. “Coming up.”

“Long day?” Luke asked.

“Yeah. They’re all long.”

“Have you worked here awhile?” He smiled at her, ignoring the look Reid was giving him. Reid hated when his food was held up.

“Couple of years. I can’t even believe it. But I’m out of here soon.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. I’m studying nursing.”

“Really? That’s terrific. Reid’s a doctor.”

“You are?”

“He’s a neurosurgeon. And Chief of Surgery back in Oakdale, where we’re from,” Luke couldn’t help adding.

“Wow. Do you do a lot of major operations? That must be exciting.”

“Not as exciting as my cheesesteak and fries are going to be,” Reid said.

“Right.” She flushed. “I’ll go get it.” She hurried away.

“Really?” Luke asked when the waitress was clearly out of earshot.

“What?”

“She clearly wanted to ask you about your job.”

“And I just wanted her to do her job.”

“You were rude.”

“How was I rude?” Reid gave him a baffled look.

Luke shook his head. “I’m going to the restroom. If our waitress returns, try not to make her cry, okay?”

“She’s just a wannabe nurse. I only make real nurses cry.”

“You’re impossible.”


Luke went into the bathroom and splashed some water on his face. He thought things with Reid were going pretty well. Just being near him again, even bickering with him, made Luke realize how much he had missed him. When he came out of the men’s room, there was Reid and their waitress with their heads bowed low, studying something Reid had drawn on a napkin. Luke saw it was some kind of sketch of the brain.

“So we make an incision there and there. See?”

“And there’s not a lot of blood?”

“Not if you do it right.”

Luke came over and sat down.

“Hi again,” he smiled at the waitress.

“Hi. Your order is almost here.”

“Miss!” The mom at the next table waved her over. “My check?”

“Right. Back in a sec.”

She dashed off to finish taking care of the mother and her two girls. Luke looked at Reid, grinning.

“What? Stop looking at me like that. She asked me a question. You had to go and tell her I’m a neurosurgeon. She wanted to know about cranial, endoscopic surgeries.”

“I’m sure.”

“Would you stop smiling? It’s annoying. And look, it was purely selfish. I like people who feed me.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And if I helped her, she’d only feed me faster.”

“Right.”

“If I left it the way it was, she might have spit in my food.”

Luke leaned all the way across the booth towards Reid. “You, Dr. Oliver, are a big softie and we both know it.”

“Do you want me to stick this knife into my jugular vein? Stop.”

“Admit it,” Luke teased in a sing-song voice.

“I admit nothing.” But Reid smiled.

“Here you go! Enjoy guys!” The waitress put down their food. “I gave you some extra ice cream with your pie.”

“Thanks.” Reid gave Luke a satisfied nod. “See? Better food.”

“No, thank you! And thanks again for giving me your email at Memorial. I’ll be sure to send you my resume one day!”

“Don’t say one word,” Reid said, when she’d left. Luke only laughed.


After eating, they gassed up the Honda and switched drivers. Despite having licked his plate clean, Reid also bought out the mini market in snacks. When he glanced over, Luke saw that Reid was already dozing off, clutching his Cheetos and powdered doughnuts to his chest. Grinning, he sped up and drove. Luke enjoyed driving, and since spending time with Damian in Italy off and on, he’d learned to drive fast. Reid was much more cautious, so he wanted to take advantage of his snoozing and really cruise. At the gas station, Luke had phoned Lucinda and postponed his meeting, so there was no need to drive all night. In fact, he was hoping to convince Reid to check out some sights off the highway tomorrow.

“Take your time returning, darling,” Lucinda had urged him. “I’m proud of you, my boy. It sounds like you are finally thinking clearly.”

He appreciated her unconditional support. Of course, his grandmother had liked Reid right from the start. They played vicious games of chess and Hearts together, matching wits time and time again, playing for pennies like they were playing for sacks of gold. Other members of his family, his mom for one, had never quite warmed to Reid. But one thing Luke had learned over the years was that you couldn’t force feelings onto other people. Both Lily and Reid had tried for his sake to be civil and that was enough.
The car took a little bit faster swerve than Luke intended around a sharp bend in the road, and it jostled Reid’s snacks. Without opening his eyes, Reid’s hands automatically grabbed them. He nestled them closer to his chest. Talk about a security blanket. Luke shook his head.

Eventually, Reid stirred. He stretched his arms up, touching the ceiling of the car. “Are we there yet?” he asked.

“Very funny.”

Reid’s mouth curved up, making Luke’s pulse do a cha-cha. He watched as Reid immediately started eating his chips and doughnuts.

“And you objected to my feet.”

“What?”

“Crumbs,” Luke gestured, “all over.”

“I’ll clean it up,” Reid said, chewing some Cheetos, a mark of orange around his mouth. “Want me to drive?”

“Not yet.”

Luke drove a little longer. The landscape continued changing, every turn more breath-taking than the last one. It was hard to believe there were any problems in the world when it was this beautiful. Luke gazed at the mountains and the cloudless sky. Sunset was beginning.

“Let’s stop.” He smiled over at Reid and then pulled over at an overlook. They both got out of the car, and Reid followed him to the edge. Below them were jagged, red rocks, above them, a massive sky, filled with pink and orange edges. The wind kicked up slightly, making an eerie, whistling sound.

“Cold?”

“Not really.” Luke shivered.

Grunting at that, Reid removed his leather jacket and placed it on Luke’s shoulders. Gathering it closer, Luke inhaled Reid’s scent. The leather was soft and comforting—familiar enough to make him ache deep inside. He stole a quick, deep breath.

“Here comes the sunset,” Reid said. Nodding, Luke turned and watched the horizon.
Without a word, they stood and watched until the sun unfolded across the sky.

“That was lovely, huh?” He turned to look at Reid.

“Yes, lovely.”

But Reid wasn’t looking at the sunset. His eyes were hungrily fastened on Luke. Reid stared at him, all his intensity focused on Luke’s mouth, and Luke smiled, waiting for Reid to pull him into his arms.

Nothing happened.

Without a word, Reid abruptly jerked away and headed to the car. Luke watched Reid wrench open his door and get inside. He stood alone a moment, touching a finger to his neglected lips.

“Reid,” Luke said a moment later, as he got into the passenger seat.

“What?” Reid started the engine and got back onto the highway.

“Nothing.” He looked away.

Why was a kiss never just a kiss with them? Luke could immediately recall standing inside Reid’s apartment so many years ago, his mouth practically watering, hoping that Reid would touch him again, and so nervous that he didn’t know what to do. He had stood; ready to flee, yet unable to keep his rapt gaze off of Reid. The air between them had been so thick with longing, their faces only inches apart. Reid had started to unzip his jacket and Luke had held his breath, tight and frozen, wanting and not wanting. He had licked his lips slowly as if he could almost taste the love that was within his grasp.

---And here he was, all this time later, still needing Reid’s love like he needed oxygen.

“Nothing?” Reid glanced over at him. “You definitely sound like you have something on your mind. What were you about to say? I’m not about to get blackmailed again, am I?”

“You should be so lucky.” But thinking about blackmail only reminded Luke that he had deceived Reid with this trip and if they couldn’t be honest with each other from here on out, what chance did they have? “Did you almost kiss me back there?” Luke blurted out.

He saw Reid’s throat working as he swallowed hard. For a while he didn’t answer, and Luke didn’t think he was going to. Finally, he spoke. “I wanted to. Yes.” Reid looked down a second, a rueful smile on his lips. “But you don’t need to blackmail me for that. For the record, I’ll be happy to kiss you anytime you want.”

“Oh.” Luke knew his cheeks must be crimson, but he couldn’t help the goofy grin that spread across his face. “Good to know. And um, yeah ,I might want that…but…”

“But?” Reid prompted.

“But I think if we go in that direction, we need to be upfront about everything going on here, and I…well, I have something to confess to you. And I hope you’ll understand.”

“You do? What is it?”

“It’s nothing bad. I should have told you before…”

“Tell me.” When Luke remained silent, chewing his lip, Reid added, “I have ways of making you talk.”

“Oh God, not the fake German accent thing. You’re trying to be cute, but it’s just really, really cheesy.”

“It isn’t.”

Luke just shook his head, laughing.

“Fine. Now that you’re laughing at me, tell me what’s going on.”

Luke blinked. He realized that, as usual, Reid had been working to help him relax. That was something he’d missed over the past months. The way Reid understood exactly what he needed. The way he’d risk being self-deprecating, even downright silly, if he knew it would make Luke smile.

“Hello? Are you in there?” Reid snapped his fingers.

“Okay, okay… it’s not a big deal.”

“Well, you’re making it into one with all this hemming and hawing. Spit it out, Mr. Snyder.”

“Okay. It’s um, well…while there really was a snowstorm hitting Oakdale today, I, umm, doubt it closed the airport. Grandmother told me it was most likely staying open. I might have made up the part about it shutting down,” Luke finished in a rush.

“Oh. That.” Reid shrugged. “I knew that. I checked the weather on my phone before I ever left the hotel.”

“You did? Of course you did.” Shaking his head, Luke gave a rueful grin. “I never could fool you much.”

“You did surprise me though. At the wedding, we barely spoke and the next thing I know you’re asking me for a ride. Why’d you make it up---the weather thing?” Reid persisted. His tone was light, but Luke could hear his emotion cracking just underneath the surface.

“Honestly? Because I couldn’t let it go. When I saw you were about to leave Vegas and we hadn’t even spent any time together, I just acted on impulse. I’m not sure what I’m doing.”

Reid was silent, his face carefully blank. Luke wanted to reach out and touch his hand, but he restrained himself.

“Look, I know a lot has happened. And this year has been the worst. I’m not even going to pretend that I’m doing okay with it all. But I was hoping maybe we could just take things really slowly and figure things out together.” Luke held his breath.

Waiting for Reid to reply seemed like forever.

“I can do that.”

Luke exhaled his breath out. “Good.” He smiled. “I actually postponed the foundation’s meeting. So if you want, we can take some extra time getting back. Maybe we can sight see?”

“Fine with me. I still have a week’s vacation.”

“All right then. It’s a plan.”

“Luke?”

“Hmmm…?” He met Reid’s eyes.

“You don’t have to make up a reason to be with me. I want that, too.”

This time, Luke didn’t hesitate to reach out and clasp Reid’s hand. They linked their fingers together.


Luke was silent after that, staring out at the scenery. They listened to a static-filled radio station playing the same five or six songs and drove on, until they finally stopped in a small town outside of Moab, Utah. They ate some pizza, bought some warmer clothes, and quickly found a close motel. By mutual, unspoken agreement they decided to share a room. It had twin beds in the room, and Luke put his suitcase down on one, Reid put his on the other. He took out his robe and a small bag.

“I’ll go shower first. If that’s okay?” Reid asked. “Or you can go ahead…?”

“No. You go first.” Luke watched him go into the small bathroom. Reid was being so polite. Too polite. With a sigh, Luke began to unpack for the night.

When the bathroom opened, and Reid came out drying his hair with a towel, Luke tried not to look too much. “Well,” he said. “I guess I’ll go wash up, too.”

Reid nodded. “We could watch some television when you’re done. Check ESPN?”

“Sure.” Luke nodded back.

They stood there awkwardly.

“Okay, off for a quick shower.” Luke turned and gathered up his toiletries. God, he was being just as stupidly polite now.

Reid picked up the remote and turned on the TV.

Luke took his time in the shower, letting the hot water clean the grimy feeling of the road off his skin. Maybe they could talk a little when he came out? That would be a start. Reid had almost kissed him today, but now he was acting so distant, it confused him. Maybe Luke should heat things back up? He could kiss Reid? And if he did, how far should he take it? Luke was the one who’d asked for things to move slowly, after all. Would it be fair to Reid to put out these mixed signals? He dried off and wrapped a towel at his waist. He hesitated a second, breathing deeply, before opening the bathroom door.

Luke gave a snort. Reid was asleep already, completely crashed out. So much for worrying about what might happen. He studied Reid. He’d changed from his robe into a pair of old scrub pants and no shirt--Reid’s standard pajamas. Luke used to love to steal those scrub bottoms for himself and wear them all around the house. Seeing him dressed that way would often lead them to some rather experimental games of doctor. Grinning, Luke ran his finger lightly down the side of Reid’s leg, feeling the dark-blue cotton. Then he gently pulled a cover up to Reid’s stomach, letting him sleep.

He went to his own suitcase to get dressed. Of course, he had no scrubs to put on. When he’d left Reid, Luke had taken nothing; any reminders had hurt too much. He pulled on his boxer briefs and sat on the edge of Reid’s bed, flicking the channels on the television, hoping to catch some movie, but there was nothing. Giving up, Luke attempted to read a story on his Kindle, but it wasn’t easy to focus, and when the story took an unexpectedly sad turn, he had to stop. This was not what he needed. He glanced at the clock. It was late, but he felt more keyed-up than tired. He envied how easily Reid slept.

For him, the nights were the worst. Luke finally looked at the small fridge, where he’d been trying not to look all night, knowing it had small bottles of alcohol inside of it. He could have emptied it out a few hours ago in the sink; he should have done it.

Swallowing hard, Luke looked away from the fridge and stared at Reid, instead. He was snoring now, his hand clutching his pillow. God, he was beautiful. All these years later, and Luke never tired of looking at him. He really, really wanted to climb in and curl up next to him---that was always how Luke slept best, nestled right at Reid’s shoulder. But everything between them was so precarious. He couldn’t get himself to risk it, not yet, so Luke went to his own bed.

On one hand, all he had to do was wake Reid up, it would be that easy and he could lose himself in the sex. But he didn’t want making love with Reid to be about his own fears. When it happened again for them, it had to be for the right reasons. Instead, he lay back on his pillow, watching Reid’s chest, seeing the steady rise and fall of his breathing. It wasn’t nearly the same as holding him and touching him, but after all these months, watching Reid just inhale and exhale felt like a gift. Luke curled his body into a ball and continued to look at Reid. Sleep would still be hours away for Luke. But this, at least, was good enough.



Chapter Four

Reid woke up with a raging hard-on. Automatically, he felt the spot next to him, empty, of course. He wasn’t that lucky, not these days. Sighing, he turned slightly in Luke’s direction. He had his hands tucked under his face and his knees pulled up to his chest. Looking at him sleeping, Reid’s morning erection painfully twitched.
Slow, Luke wanted slow. Reid gave them one day, two maybe, before they were screwing like wild animals, but he’d try to hold off. He knew without a doubt he could get Luke to sleep with him, but getting Luke all the way back into his life? That was a more delicate matter, and Reid wanted it. The trouble was he wasn’t quite sure how he’d ever been lucky enough to win Luke in the first place, much less repeat the miracle.

Luke’s lips were parted and slightly moist. His hair, longer than it had been in some years, was sticking up against the pillow, and Reid walked over and pulled a chair closer to his bed, gently pushing a few strands back down. He didn’t like Luke’s color. He was too pale. Reid had noticed Luke had barely eaten yesterday. He’d make certain Luke had some decent protein today.

In the early days of their marriage, Reid had usually woken Luke. First, he would make breakfast for them, nothing fancy, toast and jam, cereal—things like that. Then, Reid would come and kiss him and it would often turn wildly passionate, deep sounds erupting from their mouths, their movements frantic, writhing together. Afterwards, Reid would need to run to work or risk being late, while Luke would just linger in their bed, grinning.

“One more kiss?” He’d tease, opening his arms. And who the hell could resist? Reid wasn’t a fool. He’d tumble back to bed, kissing Luke goodbye just one more time.

Reid shuddered, remembering the soft, warm taste of Luke’s mouth, the way Luke would grasp the back his head to get him closer, kissing him harder before they had to go their separate ways for the morning. Later, they’d had less time for indulging like that, but it had still been so good between them.

Luke sighed in his sleep, shifting closer to where Reid was sitting. His head was turned, exposing his neck and the lobe of his ear. Thank God Luke never went in for earrings. Casey once tried to talk him into that, and Reid was grateful that Luke hadn’t seemed interested.

“Are you watching me sleep?” Luke asked,yawning.

Reid blinked, dragging his gaze to Luke’s. He had been so busy obsessing over Luke’s ear, he’d failed to notice when he’d opened his eyes.

Without waiting for an answer, Luke held his arms up above his head and stretched. His sheet fell to his waist, his nipples tight little points, with an arrow of chest hair leading down to his stomach. Reid could make out the elastic band of Luke’s boxer briefs. On more than one occasion, he’d yanked those same ones off with his teeth, licking a hot trail down to Luke’s morning erection.

“No. Not really. I’ve just been waiting for you to wake up so that we can go and eat.” Reid dropped his gaze away. His own avoidance annoyed, and then saddened him.

“Oh. Well, I’m awake now. I’ll get up and we’ll go. I could really use some coffee.”

“And we can get some. But you should eat breakfast, too.”

“Just the coffee. I’m not hungry.”

“All that caffeine and no nutrition, it’s like pouring battery acid on your stomach.”

“Can you not lecture me this early in the morning?” Luke groaned, collapsing back down onto the bed and holding the pillow over his ears.

“Tough,” Reid said, trying to grab at the pillow.

“Cut it out.”

Luke held the pillow harder, digging his nails into it. They pulled it back and forth.

“Stop” Luke tugged, half-protesting, half-laughing. “Stop, stop or I’ll--”

“What?”

“I don’t know. Hide your toothbrush? ”

“Them’s fighting words. You might wake up good enough to kiss, but some of us need to brush first thing.”

“You missed my morning breath?” Luke smiled, but something flickered in his eyes.

They were both breathing hard from wrestling around.

“I missed a lot of things,” he admitted.

Luke inhaled sharply. He licked his lips, getting ready to say something back. Reid tensed, waiting.

A shout interrupted them.

Through the thin walls of the motel, they could hear a series of voices firing back and forth at each other, a couple clearly arguing, and the sound of a door opening and closing, opening and closing, breaking the moment that had been building between them. On top of that, a baby started crying in a loud voice. They could hear the sound of a trunk slamming shut, the baby crying, and a car starting up. Then silence.

Luke pulled away. “I guess that we should hit the road.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Moving slowly, Reid climbed off the bed.

“But there is something I need to do first.”

“What’s that?”

“Go to a meeting.”

“A meeting? Is that because of--”

“It’s not because of any one thing,” Luke cut him off, getting up and pulling on his T-shirt. “It’s just been a few days and I don’t like too much time to go by between them.”

“Oh. So, we’ll find one.”

“Already did,” Luke held up the motel phone book from the nightstand. “I looked it up last night when I couldn’t sleep. If we leave now, I can get to it in time.”

“Okay.” Reid tried to smile.

“Hey, don’t look so worried.” Luke said. “I’m really fine.”



A little while late, Reid pulled up outside a small church.

“Guess this is the place”

“Guess so.” Luke opened up his door. “Meet me in about an hour?”

“Sure.” He stared out at the open road.

“Reid.” He felt Luke’s fingers at his jaw, turning his head. “Look at me.”

He didn’t want to look, but he looked.

“I’m really okay.”

“I know you are.”

Luke nodded and started to climb out of the car, and then to Reid’s surprise he sat back down. “I never thanked you--for all those times you visited me at rehab. The nurses told me every time that you came, which was all the time. Right? And I know that I hurt you,” Luke said, his eyes locked with Reid’s own, searching his face, “when I never agreed to see you there. But it was too soon, too hard.”

“I understand.”

“But I was really glad you were there,” Luke continued. He stroked the side of Reid’s face. “And I’m doubly glad that you’re here now and that we’re together on this trip.”

“Me, too.”

“So don’t worry, okay? Go get some food or something. I’ll be out before you know it, and we’ll go and look at something beautiful today.”

He already was looking at something beautiful, Reid thought, although he wouldn’t say anything that sappy to Luke. He merely nodded. “I’ll study the map.”

Luke laughed. “Okay. Later then.” He again began to leave the car.

“Hey,” Reid stopped him, “I think it’s good that you’re seeking the meetings out.”

“Thanks.” He smiled.

Reid smiled back.

With a groan, Luke moved to him, giving him an unexpected hug. He wrapped his arms around Reid’s waist, his fingers clutching at his skin. Reid rested his head on Luke’s shoulder, giving into the hug, inhaling his fresh scent. His hand touched the nape of Luke’s neck. In the distance, he could hear the sound of a few other cars arriving, but he didn’t pull away. He felt Luke’s arms loosening, moving up and down his back in a soothing rub. He picked his head up and they stared at each other.

“See you soon.”

“See you.”

“And Reid? I missed lots of things about you, too.”

This time, Luke left the car and hurried into the church. Reid realized he was just sitting there, smiling dumbly. As Luke disappeared inside, Reid looked heavenward, doing a little praying of his own.



They drove into the mountains, the sky getting heavier, and the day colder. There were few other cars on the road, and Reid preferred it that way. He didn’t mind driving, except when other drivers were idiots. Luke hadn’t said anything about his meeting, but Reid thought he seemed a little less tense. He wanted to keep it that way.

“Look, another sign,” Luke laughed and pointed.

They had been seeing the most ridiculous signs for miles now. They all had giant red letters boasting slogans like: Come and See The Thing! Ten more Miles to The Thing! Stop At Your Own Risk!

“You know we have to stop,” Luke said.

“I’m not stopping. It’s a tourist trap.”

“I know. But it’ll be fun!”

“OK, but they’d better serve food there. I’d do anything to eat.”

“Anything?” Luke smiled, his eyebrows lifting up.

“This is news to you?”

“Nope. Why do you I think I always kept a stash of candy in our bedroom drawer?”

Their eyes met and then Luke hurriedly looked away. Slow. He asked for slow. Reid downshifted and let the car gobble up some road. He could remember everything in that candy drawer from the Hershey’s kisses to the honey bear—and every single way they’d made use of it. Reid zoomed past another sign for The Thing. The interstate weaved in and out of the mountains, but this part was on a flatter part and fairly deserted.

“Are you anxious to get to The Thing or the food, or both?” Luke asked. “What do you think The Thing is, anyhow?”

“A stuffed doll? A rubber chicken? An empty coffin with the word sucker over it? Who knows? People are gullible idiots.”

“Nice view of humanity.”

“It’s a medical diagnosis.”

“I love how whenever you think something is stupid, there’s some scientific proof backing you up.”

“Hey, I can’t help it if the brain is vulnerable to subliminal messages that advertisers take advantage of. I just hope they sell some burgers and fries along with their bullshit.”

“Because you don’t mind being manipulated as long as there’s food?” Luke smiled.

“Good food,” Reid corrected, smiling back at him. “No crappy, day-old sandwiches or wilted salads.”

“Liar. I’ve seen you eat and you’re not that picky.”

“I guess I am easy…for some things.”

Luke pursed his lips, his eyes gleaming, and Reid’s own smile widened. Flirting with Luke never lost its appeal. Why hadn’t they taken a road trip before? There was nothing better than driving down the highway, blasting bad country music, and making Luke flush.

Luke started to say something in response and abruptly stopped, straightening up. “Pull over!”

“What? Why?”

“There’s a dog. Over there. See him? He must be lost or abandoned. Hurry! He’s running right near the road.”

“That’s not a dog. That’s a –I don’t know what that is, an abominable creature of some kind.”

“Pull over.”

“No. He could have rabies or something.”

“He doesn’t.”

“How do you know this?”

“Reid, come on. If we don’t get him, he could end up hurt or something. He needs us.” Luke’s big brown eyes gazed at him.

“Fine,” Reid grumbled. He stopped the car and Luke opened his door. “Anyway, he’s probably a wild dog. Look at him. He won’t come to you. He’ll run. Better to---”
Luke gave a sharp whistle.

Running like it was blasted out of a canon, its shaggy fur flying, the dog launched itself directly into Luke’s arms, knocking him over, and soon covering his face with long, sloppy licks of his huge tongue. His tail whipped happily and he buried his head at Luke’s crotch and sniffed.

Reid experienced dog-envy for the first time.

“He has no collar or tags.” Luke examined him thoroughly. “Aw, he’s so cute. Aren’t you , boy?”

The dog thumped his tail.

“Don’t ya just want to give him a big ole smooch right back?”

“No.”

“Well, I do.”

“He probably has germs.”

“He’s fine. He’s adorable.”

“He’s a mongrel.”

“Aww, ignore him, Smooch.” Luke covered the dog’s ears. “I think you’re beautiful.”

“Smooch?”

“That’s his name. I just decided on it.” Luke stood up, beaming.

“Terrific.” Reid frowned. “He’s not a dog. I’ll tell you exactly what he is. He’s the real Thing,” he gestured to Smooch. “I think he escaped from the exhibit. Quick call them up. Tell them we caught him.”

“Shut up,” Luke elbowed him. “You know Smooch is sweet.”

Reid looked at the drooling, giant dog. His hair was knotted, his breath stank, and his front teeth looked yellow and crooked.

“Sweet,” Reid echoed.

“Yes. He is. Aren’t you? Aren’t you a sweet and smart boy?” Luke cooed.

“He doesn’t understand you.”

“Sure he does.”

“He’s a dog.”

“Haven’t you seen Lassie movies? Dogs understand people.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen them. They’re ridiculous.” Reid put on a sugary voice and said, “What’s that boy? A fire? Where? Over at the Johnston Bakery? Over on Main Street, you said boy? Let’s go!”

“I guess you have a point,” Luke laughed.

“We’re heading into the nearest town and finding a pound.”

“Yeah, okay,” Luke said, stroking Smooch’s gnarled, white fur.

Reid sighed.

Sure enough, as soon as they had driven into town, Luke put off the kennel, insisting they feed Smooch. So they went to Jack in the Box, and all of them ate hamburgers ---Luke and Reid had two and Smooch had five.

“Stop feeding that dog your curly fries.”

“He likes them.”

“He’d like anything to chew. A plate full of day old garbage would taste good to him.”

Smooch licked his lips in agreement. He pawed at Luke for some more fries.

“You should tell him to get down. Better he learn some manners right now.”

“Have you ever had a dog? Training them takes time.”

“Sit,” Reid ordered and snapped his fingers at the dog.

Smooch sat.

“Is this the part where you tell me you won the Eukanuba National Championship as a teenager?”

“No… but only because I never had a dog.”

“Show off.” Sticking out his tongue, Luke deliberately tossed Smooch another handful of curly fries.

Smooch gobbled them up and then panted for more.

“The only contest this dog would win is most slobber.”

“We should get going to the pound, I guess.” Luke bent down, patting Smooch on the head. He glanced up at Reid. “But, how about we just walk him around a little first? He probably could use a last bit of exercise?”

“You don’t consider running down the highway exercise?”

“I should get him a leash, too. We already know he has zero road sense. I’ll donate it to the pound when we turn him in.”

“Right.”

Luke ran into a drug store and bought a leash, a bright purple one that only made Smooch looked even more ridiculous, and some dog biscuits. Reid drove around and Luke practically held the dog on his lap, although its huge paws hung over the seat and its rump kept hitting the window. Luke didn’t care. He petted and praised Smooch endlessly as they drove. He reassured him in whispers that he would find a great home with a huge yard and lots of chew toys. Reid rolled his eyes and tried to ignore the inevitable. Spotting a park, he pulled over, and they walked Smooch around the area.

“He’s walking you more than you’re walking him,” Reid observed. Luke practically lost his balance and fell as Smooch pulled him.

“He’s excited, that’s all.”

“If you say so.”

Smooch dragged Luke over to a pile of dog excrement, sniffing and sniffing and sniffing at it, wagging his tail.

At Reid’s disgusted snort, Luke grinned over at him. “You really never did have a pet, did you?”

“My mother was allergic,” Reid shrugged, “and my father thought anything outside of academics was a waste of time. He didn’t want me being distracted from chess or from my studies. One time I did ask about it, sure, but I had too many obligations and too much traveling for competitions. What would we do with a dog then? Don’t look at me like that. It wasn’t a big deal. Lots of people don’t have pets. I really was fine with it. And my father was probably right; it would have been an unnecessary distraction.”
Luke was smiling at him, and Reid realized that the entire time he’s been blabbing on and on, he’d been absently petting Smooch’s shaggy head.


Eventually, they left the park and found the local animal shelter. Luke had taken one look and not given them Smooch.

“We can try another town, okay? I mean did you see the dirty floors there? And the sizes of their cages? Smooch is way too big,” he said as they all piled back into the Honda.

Luke ran a hand through his hair, mussing it up. “Did you see how empty it was there, too? Who would adopt him? Don’t you think a shelter in a big city might be better?” Luke bit his lower lip, and looked at Reid uncertainly. “And he won’t be any trouble. I promise you won’t even know he’s around.”

Smooch chose that moment to attack his back, scratching furiously into God-knows-what with his nails.

“Guess, he could use a bath.” Luke smiled weakly.

“No guessing involved there.”

“I’m not even sure what breed he is? Huskie, maybe? He sure is strong though. And he seems in good health for a stray. Don’t you think he seems in good health, Reid?”

“I’m a neurosurgeon, not a vet.”

“No, no, I realize. I’m just saying he looks good, that’s all. Aren’t you?”
Smooch tilted his head eagerly to one side, as if saying, Me? You talking about Me?

“I just worry nobody will see past his size. You know? And he’s big. Some families like smaller dogs. And, well, his teeth might be a problem. Have you noticed that they’re crooked in the front?”

Reid let out a long sigh. “We can keep him for now.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I mean, look at him. You’re right. Who else would adopt him?”

“Oh, thank you! Thank you!”

“Just make sure you wash both the dog and my car tomorrow.”

“I will. I will! You won’t be sorry.”

Hiding a smile, Reid started the engine, driving away from the town and back out to the highway. Luke slipped Smooch a biscuit that the dog inhaled.

Reid gave Luke a sideways glance. “You were keeping him no matter what I said anyhow, right?”

“Right, but it’s nice to have you agree.” Luke grinned unabashedly. “And you did a good thing here. Look how happy you made Smooch!”

Reid looked at Smooch, who thumped his tail and drooled, and then he looked at Luke’s glowing face.

When was the last time he’d seen Luke this happy? The answer hurt. He pushed it far away.



They drove into the night, stopping at a pet store and picking up more dog supplies —two massive steel bowls, several toys that Smooch would no doubt bite through in five minutes, and a whole lot of Eukanuba.

“Can I ask you a question?” Luke turned to the clerk. “Where is a good hotel to spend the night?”

“Oh, we have an exquisite 4 star lodge down the road. It has a fireplace in each room, a whirlpool tub and---but oh, no dogs there, I’m afraid.”

“Can you think of a close place that does take them?”

“Hmm,” she frowned. “Not really. But if it’s a small dog you might be able to sneak it in.”

“No, he’s not small.”

“He’s a monster,” Reid added.

“Be quiet.”

The clerk looked back and forth between them, and her eyes lit up. “Oh, you two are so cute! Let me think a minute about where else you can stay with a bigger dog. The only place that allows animals like that is the Good Moon Inn over on seventh.”

“Can you show us where it is?” Reid asked, taking out his map.

Fifteen minutes later, they pulled up to the Good Moon motel. The lights on the O, M and O were broken, so it read God On.

“Nice to know it’s a religious place,” Reid commented.

“Give it a chance.”

They checked and drove up to their room. It was right next to a drained swimming pool, green mold on the side of the concrete.

Reid looked at Luke.

“It might be okay inside the room,” Luke said.

He went in, followed by Smooch, while Reid got the bags. There was the world’s tiniest television inside, and an odor like old sweat. When they took off their shoes, the carpet was so dirty it turned their socks black.

“Don’t even say it.” Luke wrinkled his nose. “Even I’m disgusted. We can sleep in the car?”

Nodding, Reid picked up the bags again. “Great. All this because of this dog; we’re stuck. I was expecting first class hotels all the way with you footing the bill.”

“Sorry.”

“I can tell by your cheerful tone. You owe me, Snyder, you so, so owe me.”

“After tonight, I’ll look on my iPhone and find decent places that take dogs, too.”

“You’d better. My back is going to kill me from sleeping in a car.”

They got in and reclined the seats all the way back. Smooch licked Luke’s face and then curled up in the backseat.

“He’s happy anywhere,” Luke smiled.

The stars were bright, brilliant even, with no smog to ruin it. In the distance, Reid heard what sounded like an owl hooting. He turned, spreading the blanket over himself and Luke. They lay there, face-to-face.

“I guess it’s not terrible out here,” Reid said.

Smooch let out a loud, moaning whimper, kicking his legs in weird circles.

“I spoke too soon. It drools; it sheds; it has nightmares.”

“Well,” Luke said. “Doesn’t everybody? Even you?”

“I don’t drool or shed.”

“Have nightmares,” Luke grinned.

He thought of lying, but then admitted, “Yeah, I do, a lot of them, actually, these past months.”

Luke’s smiled faded. “I’m sorry. Nightmares are the worst.”

“They aren’t fun.”

Smooch let out another whimper.

“Poor guy,” Luke turned and petted him until the dog calmed down. “I wonder what his story is?”

“I don’t know. Something sad, I’d venture.”

“I think you’re right.”

They fell silent, with nothing but the sound of their breathing. Reid held up the cover.

“Come here. Have some more blanket.”

“Okay.”

Sharing the blanket, their upper bodies curled closer together. Their lower parts were separated by the car’s console, which was just as well, given how tempted Reid was. Luke was warm, his breath right near Reid’s neck. He wanted to kiss him, slide against him in the darkness. But he understood, too, that if he slept with Luke right now, he’d have no defenses left, and if Luke regretted it.… Only with Luke had he ever broken down his walls. Only with Luke had he shared real intimacy. Reid couldn’t imagine sharing that with any other man. If Luke regretted it, how would Reid function?

He took a breath. “We’d better try and get some rest.”

Nodding, Luke obediently shut his eyes, and Reid couldn’t resist pulling him even closer, curving their bodies together.

“G’night, Reid.”

“Good night, Luke.”

Within moments, Luke was asleep, and Reid held him tightly, staring off into the night sky, until he, too, fell asleep.


http://marsabi.livejournal.com/47959.html

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Heh heh heh, I recognize the cheetos and powdered sugar doughnuts, and I threw my socks away when the floor turned them black. They are having a real road trip through the West!

Lol! Yeah, wherever possible, I tried to work in the ideas from friends---sort of as a way to pay homage to all the great encouragement I got all those months back when I doubted I could write it/it would be read...

I will always read anything you write. I always enjoy your stories.

Hee! Of course Luke wouldn't be able to give up Smooch, and I love how Reid was already resigned to that from the beginning.

Thanks! I love getting specific feedback like this comment! And yeah, Reid knows Luke so well...

I have a sneaky feeling that you're going to make me cry in this one..almost happened when Luke was thinking about those tiny bottles in the hotel fridge...I hate the thought of him going back to that state and what pushed him their in the first place.

As always the writing is wonderful and I love Reid talking to the waitress and explaining a procedure...all that humanity that he learned from Luke. Luke, finding the stray....I just love this line,

"His tail whipped happily and he buried his head at Luke’s crotch and sniffed.

Reid experienced dog-envy for the first time." LOL

So gooood, I will continue reading tomorrow night then I can give my full attention to the story:-)

Thanks so much! I always love hearing specifically what somebody likes! I truly appreciate your comments on specific chapters! Thanks sooo much!
Yes, it does have sad parts...but I hope the feeling of their mutual love helps

Luke's feet! I instantly love any fic with feet (yeah, I have my big foot fetish).

Their banter is so fun. They're just trying to get along but it's so natural for them to just be together, you know? I love that about them.

The roadside attractions are funny! I've too wondered what they really are (I never stop).

Luke going to a meeting? Oh, this breaks my heart. Poor Luke. BUT I'm glad he's seeking help. And that Reid supports it.

The dog! I never pictured them with pets but I can see this dog easily fitting into their lives.

Great chapter!

Love what you did with these two chapters. Great job!

Luke unrolled his socks and stuffed them into his sneakers. Flexing his toes, he stretched them onto the dashboard. He folded his arms behind his head. “That’s better.”
“What are you doing?”
“Me? Not a thing.” Luke shrugged, “Just relaxing like you told me to do.”
Reid reached over and swatted at Luke’s big toe.
“Get off.”
“Why?”
“It’s blocking my line of vision.”
“You can look around them.”
“And you can lower them.”
“I don’t want to. This is more comfortable. I thought you were such a great driver, expert map reader and all. My feet really bother you?”
“Everything about this trip is starting to bother me.”
“You’re just hungry.” Luke shook his head. “You know how grouchy you can get when you don’t eat on time.”
“I’m not grouchy.”
“Cranky then.”
“Are we really going to argue the whole way back to Oakdale about your feet and my appetite?”
“Probably.” Luke’s lips twitched. He saw Reid suppress a smile.


*happy sigh*

Is there anything better than the two of them bickering and laughing together? I think not...mmmmmmmmmm...I could listen to them all day...mmmmmmmmm...

“Let’s stop.” He smiled over at Reid and then pulled over at an overlook. They both got out of the car, and Reid followed him to the edge. Below them were jagged, red rocks, above them, a massive sky, filled with pink and orange edges. The wind kicked up slightly, making an eerie, whistling sound.
“Cold?”
“Not really.” Luke shivered.
Grunting at that, Reid removed his leather jacket and placed it on Luke’s shoulders. Gathering it closer, Luke inhaled Reid’s scent. The leather was soft and comforting—familiar enough to make him ache deep inside. He stole a quick, deep breath.
“Here comes the sunset,” Reid said. Nodding, Luke turned and watched the horizon.
Without a word, they stood and watched until the sun unfolded across the sky.
“That was lovely, huh?” He turned to look at Reid.
“Yes, lovely.”
But Reid wasn’t looking at the sunset. His eyes were hungrily fastened on Luke. Reid stared at him, all his intensity focused on Luke’s mouth, and Luke smiled, waiting for Reid to pull him into his arms.
Nothing happened.


Soooooooooooooo many things to love about that passage! I was v. charmed by the description of them watching the sunset. Reid putting his jacket over Luke's shoulders was so wonderful and thoughtful and was the perfect way to demonstrate how Reid shows his love and affection without having to say anything. And even though it sounds nutz, I'm glad they didn't kiss. Something terrible happened between them - they need to talk some first before they fall back together, yes? Well, at least I hope they do anyway...

I wasn't sure if the rest of my comment would fit, so here's part two:

Reid gave Luke a sideways glance. “You were keeping him no matter what I said anyhow, right?”
“Right, but it’s nice to have you agree.” Luke grinned unabashedly. “And you did a good thing here. Look how happy you made Smooch!”
Reid looked at Smooch, who thumped his tail and drooled, and then he looked at Luke’s glowing face.
When was the last time he’d seen Luke this happy? The answer hurt. He pushed it far away.


'K, I adore the fact that Luke insisted they rescue the mangy (lol) dog. It's soooooooooooooooooo Luke and proves once again that this formula is true: Luke=Love.

But, I'm very intrigued by Reid's assessment at the end - now we have a hint that whatever happened between them caused Luke a mountain of pain. I'm worried...

(Btw, you know I like to be worried and riled up right? LOL!)

Lol! Thanks for a terrific comment as usual! I truly appreciate the time you take to point our specific thoughts! I guess you might need to worry, but you also know I only do happy endings...

This road trip is fun. At least they are able to talk with each other (a good first step), even if they don't get to the heart of what they need to discuss. That means they still have a strong connection and neither is incredibly angry with the other, as is often the case.

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