29 August 2011 @ 08:12 am
A Stable Heart, Chapter 8  
Title: A Stable Heart
Written By: [info]_alicesprings
Rating: NC-17
Summary: AU. When Luke has to hide out from the Grimaldi family, taking a job as a stable hand in Dallas seems like the perfect solution. It’s too bad Luke’s new “boss” Dr. Reid Oliver is such a jerk.
Author’s Notes: This was written for the wonderful and very patient [info]peggin for her generous donation in the auction to help Japan. I hope it’s everything you wanted! This is my first multi-chaptered fic, and given how difficult it was for me to write, probably my last! I hope you guys enjoy it. :)

This is the final chapter, and I'd just like to say a BIG thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment on the fic. I worked really hard on it and your feedback was so rewarding and wonderful to read! Thank you! Another big thank you goes out to the awesome [info]peggin for her bid, and to my fantastic betas [info]rhiannonhero and [info]cindergal for their invaluable help!

Previous chapters: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7

When they get home from the hospital, Reid throws together a huge sandwich and eats it standing up at the counter. “Starving,” he mumbles with his mouth full.

Luke’s disturbed that he finds that charming, instead of gross, and wonders when Reid’s appalling manners started to turn him on instead of off.

Afterwards, Reid flops onto the couch, and Luke sits next to him. “Tired?”

Reid nods. “But I’m still running on adrenaline, too,” he says. “It always feels like this after a successful surgery. The high doesn’t wear off for a while.”

“Do you wanna take a nap?” Luke asks.

“Hell no,” Reid says, and drags Luke down. “I want to fuck you,” he says against Luke’s ear. “Best way to get rid of nervous energy.”

Luke snorts. Reid said something similar after their first time. Luke’s not sure he can handle anything too emotionally intense right now, not with the news he has to break later, but Reid’s apparently not in the mood for slow and gentle anyway, and when he flips Luke over roughly and yanks down his jeans, Luke’s body gets with the program fast.

He’s already hard by the time Reid’s got the condom on, and he shivers with excitement as he gets onto his knees and Reid slides into him from behind. The fuck is fast and hard, and when Reid mouths at Luke’s neck, biting into the tendons as he comes, Luke shoots so hard it hits him on the chin, and Reid laughs as Luke collapses spent, then licks Luke’s come off him.

Reid goes back to the hospital afterwards, and when he gets home, he tells Luke Annie’s doing fine.

“That’s so great,” Luke says sincerely. “I’m so happy for Laura and Victoria and Juan. Dennis Judd is kind of a dick, though.”

Reid snorts. “Tell me about it. I almost fainted when I saw him in Annie’s room this morning. It’s been so long since he bothered to show up at the hospital, I almost didn’t recognize him.”

Luke exhales, and bites his lip.


“I have to talk to you,” Luke says. “I have some news.”

“Okay,” Reid says cautiously. “What is it?”

Luke hesitates. “My dad called,” he finally says. “It’s safe for me to go home.”

Reid stares at him for a long moment, and then looks away, shaking his head.

Luke wipes his sweaty palms against his jeans.

“Right,” Reid says, standing up and putting some distance between them. “Of course. You’re going back. This was always a short term thing. We both knew that.”

“Reid—” Luke doesn’t know what to say. He wants to go home, and see his family, but he wants to stay here, too.

“No, no,” Reid says, his voice cold. “You don’t need to make any excuses. ”

Luke frowns. “I wasn’t going to make any excuses,” he says. “I hope you know how much our time together has meant to me, but my family...”

“Comes first,” Reid says. “I know.”

Luke shakes his head. “I’m not explaining myself very well.”

“I get you just fine,” Reid says. “So, when are you leaving?”

“I don’t know yet,” Luke says. “I wanted to give you time to find someone to look after the horses.”

Reid nods. “I’ll get Nancy onto that right away. With any luck, it should only take a day or two.”

“Take as much time as you need, Reid,” Luke says. “I’m not in a rush to go back, really.”

“Aren’t you just dying to get back to mommy and daddy?” Reid says snidely. “And your foundation, let’s not forget that. You can finally get back to all those exciting projects you were working on, none of which involve shovelling horse crap.”

“Reid, don’t be a jerk.”

“I am a jerk, Mr. Snyder, or have you forgotten?”

“Reid...” Luke closes his eyes and shakes his head. “Don’t do this, please.”

“Don’t do what?” Reid says. “I’m not doing anything. This whole thing,” he points between them, “has been nothing but a blip on my radar. And now it’s over and life can return to normal. For both of us.”

“You don’t mean that,” Reid,” Luke says. “I know you’re upset about this but don’t do things this way.”

“Upset?” Reid’s voice hits a high pitch. “I’m not upset. This was just sex, like we said at the start, and now you’re free to go home, and it’s over. That’s it, plain and simple.”

“It’s more than just sex, Reid,” Luke says, getting pissed himself now. “Don’t belittle it.”

Reid snorts. “Maybe you thought so,” he says. “But that’s all it was to me.”

“You know what? Maybe that is all it was to you,” Luke says. “God knows, you do your best not to let me get too close, always hiding behind your defense mechanisms.”

“What are you talking about?” Reid says, his voice rising.

“Your defense mechanisms, Reid, the way you keep me at arm’s length, and the way you cut people off as soon as they try and get close.”

Reid snorts and rolls his eyes.

“Like your parents, for instance,” Luke says.

Reid’s eyes narrow. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“You told me your mom never cooked because she was busy being dead,” Luke says. “But your folks didn’t die until you were twelve, Reid. Don’t try and tell me you don’t remember anything that happened before you were twelve.”

Reid scoffs.

“And what about the way you take things out on Victoria when things go wrong with your patients? It’s classic displacement.”

“Don’t psychoanalyze me,” Reid says, his voice dangerously low.

“Fine!” Luke throws up his hands. “Push anyone who tries to get close to you away. Go back to being that pathetic loner you were when I arrived.”

“Don’t think you’ve done me any favors with your presence, Mr. Snyder,” Reid grits out.

“Oh no, of course not!” Luke says. “The great Dr. Oliver doesn’t need a pointless personal life, he has his work!” Luke stands up. “Let me know when you find someone to look after your horses.”


Nancy Jones calls him just after lunch the next day.

“Hi, Luke,” she says. “Dr. Oliver asked me to call and let you know your replacement will be arriving tomorrow morning.”

“Wow, that was quick.” Luke’s a little shocked, though not surprised, not after that ugly scene yesterday. Luke’s sure Reid wants him out of here as soon as possible. It hurts though, that Reid didn’t tell Luke himself, and had his assistant call instead.

“He had me make it my number one priority,” she says. “Told me you wanted to leave Dallas ASAP.”

Luke shakes his head.

“Anyway,” Nancy goes on. “He’ll arrive around 9:00 a.m tomorrow, and he will be living on site, so Dr. Oliver asked me to be sure and tell you to have your things packed and cleared out, though I suppose you’ve already done most of that if you’re in a hurry to leave town.”

Luke clears his throat. “Will do,” he says. “Thanks, Nancy, for everything.”

“Sure thing, honey. New guy’s name is Matthew Riggs. I told him you’d be expecting him.”

Luke thanks Nancy again and she wishes him luck, and tells him to take care.

Luke sighs and rubs his hands over his eyes and into his hair, raking through it in frustration. How the hell had everything gotten so out of control? Yesterday, he and Reid had been good, and today, Reid can’t get him out of here fast enough.

Luke boots up his laptop and looks for flights from Dallas to Oakdale. There’s one tomorrow afternoon, and Luke makes a reservation, deciding it will be faster than having his grandmother’s jet dispatched. He texts his flight details to his parents, not trusting his voice to call them right now, then heads out to the barn to saddle up Storm. He doesn’t want to think right now, just escape to the simple pleasure of fresh air and exercise, so he climbs onto the horse and lets him lead the charge around the pasture.

When they return almost an hour later, Luke’s head is a little clearer, but his heart is just as heavy as it was before.

Luke gets the horses squared away and then decides to head inside and say goodbye to Victoria. He’s not sure if she’s coming into work tomorrow, and he doesn’t want to miss his chance.

He lets himself in the back door and heads for the kitchen. She’s usually there at this time of the day. When he hears Reid’s voice though, he stops short. He must have arrived while Luke was out riding, because he hadn’t heard the car before that.

“I'm fine,” he hears Reid say. “Stop making this into a goddamn fairytale romance. It was a screw. A nice time, but now it's done.”

“Mijo—” Victoria begins.

“I've told you, don't call me that,” he snaps.

“Fine, Dr. Oliver. Luke is more than just that, and we both know it.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Victoria chuckles. “You think you’re Mr. Tough Guy, huh,” she says gently. “But you don’t fool me. And you don’t fool Luke, either.”

“You don’t even know him,” Reid snorts derisively.

“I know he’s a good man,” Victoria says. “And I know he likes you and that you like him. And I know you two could be happy together, if you let each other. And that’s all I need to know, mijo.”

He hears Victoria’s shoes start to click on the floorboards, and he backs away down the hallway and heads for his quarters before he’s discovered.

Victoria knocks on his door a few minutes later, her purse over her shoulder and car keys in her hand.

“Victoria,” Luke says, a lump in his throat.

She takes one look at him and shakes her head affectionately. “Mijo,” she says, patting his cheek. “What’s going on?”

Luke just shakes his head and lets her in, and they sit at the table together. Luke sighs, and fiddles with the petals of one of the daisies in a vase on the table.

“You’re leaving tomorrow?”

Luke nods. “I have to go see my family, Victoria,” he says. “I haven’t talked to them or seen them since I came out here. It’s time for me to go back.”

“Of course you want to see your family,” she says kindly. “But what about you and Dr. Oliver?”

“It’s complicated,” Luke says.

Victoria smiles kindly. “I’m sure it is, mijo,” she says. “But I’m also sure that whatever he said to you that’s making you run away so fast, he didn’t mean it.”

Luke snorts. “We both said some pretty crappy things.”

“But he likes you, Luke,” she says. “I’ve never seen him like this before.”

Luke sighs. “I like him too, Victoria. So much. But I have to go home and see my family, and well, I don’t know if this makes sense but I need time away from here, too. To figure out if this thing with Reid is real or if it was just... I don’t know, because I was out here all alone, and Reid was lonely too, and we just...” Luke shrugs one shoulder.

Victoria smiles, and pats his hand. “Go home, mijo,” she says. “See your family, kiss your little sister.”

“Oh no, Annie,” Luke says. “I’m sorry I won’t have time to see her. Will you tell her goodbye for me?”

Victoria smiles and stands up, pulling Luke into a hug. “Of course I will,” she says. She’s soft and comforting against him, and he clings to her tightly for a moment, swallowing a sudden lump in his throat.

“Hasta luego, mijo,” Victoria says, and pats his cheek one last time.

Luke watches her disappear around the side of the house and sighs, leaning against the door jamb. He considers going over to the house, but like he told Victoria, he needs a little distance from Reid right now, to figure out if what they have is real, or was just some kind of isolation fling. And besides, Luke really is dying to see his family again. He should just go. Now’s not the time for another confrontation, not while Reid’s still so pissed at him.


His whole family is waiting for him at Oakdale airport. Ethan and Natalie run up to him while the others follow behind, and he drops down to his knees to hug them both at the same time. Faith’s doing her best impression of a moody teenager, but even she manages to crack a smile when Luke forces her into a hug.

“I missed you, Faithy,” he says, and she rolls her eyes.

“Whatever. I missed you, too.”

Luke grins and pulls back and then his dad is hugging him and kissing him on the side of the head, and then it’s his mom’s turn, and he clings to her for a long time, smelling her familiar perfume as they rock in each other’s arms.

“We all missed you so much, baby,” she says.

“I missed you guys so much,” Luke says. “I’m so glad you’re all safe.”

“You too, baby,” she says. “You don’t have to worry about a thing anymore.”


Oakdale is a shock to Luke’s system after the quiet and relative solitude he’s been living in in Dallas. Faith’s in the middle of one of her teen dramas, which apparently includes a lot of shouting between her and his mom, and doors in the house being slammed loudly. Natalie and Ethan are loud too, in that boisterous way all kids are. Luke’s sort of forgotten.

Luke sleeps alone for the first time in weeks that night, and while it’s comforting to be back in his old bedroom, surrounded by his own things again; his books, his high school basketball trophies, and all the reminders of his childhood, he can’t help but feel like he’s outgrown the person that used to live here. And more than anything, he misses Reid’s arm draped over him in bed.

They go to the farm for a dinner in Luke’s honor the next night. Luke spends a long time hugging his grandma and is kind of shocked to realize it makes him miss Victoria.

Emma’s made all of Luke’s favorite foods from when he was little, and his family tucks into a meal of mac and cheese and fried chicken, with chocolate cake for dessert.

Luke goes out to the barn after dinner, and breathes in the familiar smell of hay and horses.

“Hiya, boy,” Luke says, stroking Mercury, his favorite horse. “How ya doing, big guy?”

Mercury nickers and moves closer to Luke.

“I missed you too. How about we go riding tomorrow? It’s been a long time, I know.”

Mercury nickers again, and Luke smiles, placing a kiss on his nose.

Luke thinks about Sonny and Storm, and he hopes the new kid, Matt, knows what he’s doing, and looks after them properly. He seemed competent enough, but Luke’s protective of his boys.

Luke sighs, wondering why everything in Oakdale just makes him miss Dallas even more.


Luke checks in at the Foundation, and is pleased with the work that’s been done in his absence. The place runs well without Luke’s physical presence. All of their current projects are on track, and the new proposals and applications for grants that came in while Luke was away are being handled by his more-than capable staff.

Luke goes out to the farm in the afternoon and takes Mercury out for a ride. When he gets back to the barn his dad’s in there, cleaning tack.

“Hey, son,” Holden says. “Good ride?”

Luke nods. “I guess I got used to riding out in Dallas. I forgot how much I missed it. I never seemed to have time before.”

Holden shrugs easily. “You were busy,” he says, then a moment later. “Have you heard from Noah lately?”

Luke snorts as he takes down Mercury’s saddle. “No. I haven’t talked to him in months.”

“Why don’t you call him,” Holden says gently. “I can tell you’re not happy, Luke.”

Luke looks up, startled. “You can?”

Holden chuckles. “Give me some credit, Luke,” he says. “I know you pretty well.”

Luke smiles a little sadly as he starts grooming Mercury.

“Call him,” Holden says. “Or go out to L.A. and see him. I know heartbreak when I see it, son, and I don’t want that for you. You know your mother and I just want you to be happy.”

Luke takes a deep breath. “I am in love,” he says. “But not with Noah.”

“What?” Holden laughs, confused.

“I’m in love with Reid,” Luke says. “Oliver. Dr. Oliver, in Dallas.”

It’s true. If Luke’s being honest, he knew it was true even before he left Dallas. What they had wasn’t a summer fling. It’s real, and if Reid’s too chicken to say it, Luke’s going to have to go there and drag it out of him.

“The guy who bought the horses?” Holden asks.

Luke nods. “We started... dating while I was out there,” he says. “I miss him, Dad. That’s why I’m sad. It’s not Noah. It hasn’t been Noah for a long time.”

“And does this man feel the same way about you?”

Luke nods. “Yeah,” Luke says. “I’m pretty sure he does.”

“Pretty sure?”

Luke shrugs. “I’m sure. But he’s kind of... stubborn. When I told him I was coming back to Oakdale we didn’t exactly leave things on good terms.”

Holden puts down the pieces of bridle he’s re-assembling. “What do you want to do, son?”

“I want to go back to Dallas,” Luke says. “I want to be with him.”

“But Oakdale’s your home.”

Luke smiles. “It is,” he says. “And all you guys are here and I love you so much.”

Holden nods.

“But Dallas feels like home to me now too. Reid feels like home.”

Holden’s silent for a long moment, and Luke feels nervous, hoping for his dad’s approval more than just about anything.

“Well,” Holden finally says. “We’re going to miss you, but you better expect company, because we're all going to come and visit you. A lot!”

Luke laughs, and pulls his dad into a hug. “You better.”


Lukas escaped the stable block as soon as soon as he dared the next morning, seeking the comfort of his and Jude’s special place in the Oak grove. When Jude arrived, a sob burst from Lukas’s throat, and he flung himself into Jude’s arms.

“What’s wrong?” Jude asked, holding him tightly, the concern evident in his voice. “Has something happened? Are you all right, Lukas? Tell me you’re all right!”

Lukas nodded, his face buried in Jude’s shoulder. “I’m all right, Jude,” Lukas said shakily.

“No, you are not!” Jude said. “You are worrying me, my love. Do calm yourself and tell me what’s happened.”

Lukas nodded, and extricated himself from Jude’s arms, looking around to make sure Noah was not spying on them again. “Let’s sit behind the wall,” Lukas said, and Jude nodded, steering them both to their hiding place with his arm around Lukas’s shoulder.

When they were seated, Jude used his soft handkerchief to wipe Lukas’s eyes dry. “Come now, my love,” he said kindly. “Tell me what’s got you so upset.”

Lukas took a deep breath. “We have been discovered, Jude.”

Jude’s eyes widened momentarily. “By whom?”

“Noah,” Lukas said, then closed his eyes as a single tear escaped down his cheek.

“Tell me exactly what’s happened,” Jude asked kindly but firmly.

Lukas took another deep breath. “He came to me yesterday,” Lukas said. “He said he saw us here, together, and he threatened to tell your father! You’ll be taken away and I’ll never see you again!”

“Hush,” Jude said, holding him close. “I won’t allow that to happen. What does he want, Lukas? Does he want money for his silence? I can arrange it, you know.”

Lukas shook his head. “He wants... he wants me to stop seeing you, to... return to him.”

“What?” Jude laughed incredulously. “But he is married now. And I know what he told you all those weeks ago.”

Lukas nodded. He’d told Jude all of the details of his relationship with Noah, including how it ended.

“I know!” Lukas said. “I can scarcely believe it myself. What are we going to do, Jude?” Lukas cried. “I can’t go back to him! But if he tells your father...”

Jude held him close and placed a reassuring kiss on his forehead. “Neither of those things are going to happen,” Jude said. “I won’t let them.”

“But how are you going to stop him?” Lukas felt all at sea, unable to see a way out of this dire situation.

“There is something I haven’t told you, my love,” Jude said. “Something I had not wanted to trouble you with.”

“What is it?” Lukas asked, alarmed.

“My father has been becoming rather... insistent that I find a wife,” Jude said. “And soon. He wishes me to be married by Michelmas.”

“Michelmas!” Lukas was dismayed. “But that is just a few weeks away!”

Jude nodded. “He has set his designs on a union between myself and the daughter of a baronet from Shropshire. I have met her twice,” Jude said. “She is a pretty, amiable sort of girl, but of course I feel nothing for her.”

Lukas heart was pounding in his chest, and a cold feeling of dread was descending upon him.

“And what does your father say?” Lukas all but whispered.

“Both our family’s support the union,” Jude said. “I am expected to propose to her soon. This week, in fact.”

Lukas felt as though his heart was being squeezed in a vice. “No,” he whispered. “No.”

“Of course not, Lukas!” Jude said. “I will not marry her! I have no wish to marry her!”

“But you will have to,” Lukas said despondently. “It is your duty. You must do as your father commands you.”

“No!” Jude said fiercely. “I will not! My heart belongs to you, Lukas. Only to you.”

“Do you mean that, Jude?” Lukas asked, his heart hammering in his chest. As yet, they had not exchanged words of love, but Lukas felt them, and he knew Jude did too.

Jude nodded solemnly. “I love you, Lukas,” he said. “So very much.”

“Oh!” Lukas said, falling into Jude’s arms. “I love you, too. So much!”

Lukas pulled back from the embrace and kissed Jude firmly on the mouth, before asking, “What in heavens are we going to do?”

Jude took a steadying breath. “I have been thinking of a plan for a while,” he said. “But I’m afraid you will not like it.”

“Will we be together?” Lukas asked.

Jude nodded.

“Then I shall like it,” Lukas said, holding Jude’s hands in his own. “Now, tell me everything.”


The details were decided later that night. Lukas had confided in his mother, telling her not only of his love for Jude, and of Jude’s in return, but of Noah’s role in the situation.

“Oh, you’ve gotten yourself into a great mess, my darling,” she said.

“I’m sorry, mamma,” Lukas said. “I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you, but I... I love Jude, I do. I’ve never loved a woman, I simply can not.”

“Oh, Lukas,” Lilian said, embracing him. “I am not disappointed. You are my son and I love you. I am saddened however, that you find yourself in such an untenable position. These circumstances are difficult indeed.”

“Will you help us, mamma?”

Lilian nodded. “Do not despair, my darling boy,” she said. “We will make things right.”

With a lighter heart, Lukas returned to the stable block to make his preparations.


Very early the following morning, Lukas and Holden met Lillian and Jude by the stable block. The men were still asleep, and the morning sun had not yet breached the horizon. Lukas had little with him, just a small bag with some garments, the money his mother and Holden had given him, and the volumes of poetry he treasured above all.

Lukas embraced his mother for a long moment, both of them holding back tears.

“I shall miss you, mamma,” Lukas said. Lilian nodded and stroked his hair as she had done when he was a child.

“And I shall miss you too, my darling boy.” She turned to Jude. “Look after him,” she said, and Jude nodded solemnly. “I will, Mrs. Smith,” he said. “I shall protect him with my life.”

Lilian nodded, and embraced Lukas once more. “Write me as soon as you can,” she said.

“I will,” Lukas nodded. “When Jude and I are arrived in America, I shall write directly.”

Lilian looked worried, and Lukas did his best to reassure her. “The war is over, mamma,” he said. “The seas are safe once more, and Jude and I will have no trouble.”

Lilian still looked troubled, but she managed to produce a small smile. “Go on, then,” she said. “Off with you both. I shall await my first letter from my American cousins, Messrs. Oliver and Luke Walsh.”

Lukas smiled and gave his mother one final embrace. “Holden is a good man,” he whispered in her ear. “I wish you both happiness.”

His mother pulled back from the hug and smiled at him. “Travel in safety, my boy,” she said, and kissed his cheek.

Lukas and Jude climbed into the small carriage, and waved goodbye to Lilian as Holden drove them away from Oakdale Hall.

“Are you sure about all this, Jude?” Lukas asked, one last time. “I have little to lose, but you have so much.”

“The money and the land mean nothing to me, my love, if I cannot share them with you,” he said. “I am most sure.”

Lukas smiled. “Then let us begin our new life together,” he said. “We shall make a surgeon of you yet, cousin Oliver.”

Jude laughed, then turned serious. “I am honored you chose to share my name, Mr. Walsh.”

“The honor is mine, Mr. Walsh,” he said, clasping Jude’s hand tightly as they rode toward their destiny.


Luke’s mom cries when he tells her.

“I’m sorry,” Luke says, as she hugs him tight.

“No, no, baby,” she says. “Don’t be sorry. I want you to do what makes you happy.”

She finally releases him, and dabs at her runny mascara with a tissue. “I’m just going to miss you so much, and the kids will too.”

“You might be ruining your make-up for nothing, Mom,” Luke says. “He might not even want me to move out there.”

“You have to follow your heart, baby,” she says. “And of course he’ll want you to move out there. How could he not love you, Luke?”

Luke smiles. “I hope so, Mom. And I’ll miss you guys too, but we can call each other all the time. I can Skype with the kids! It won’t be like before when we couldn’t even talk to each other. And you guys can come and visit. Reid’s house is really big, there’s plenty of room.”

Luke swallows nervously, and after a moment Lily smiles. “I have always enjoyed Dallas.”

Luke grins and pulls her into another hug. “Thanks, Mom.”


Things move quickly then. There are more tears from Ethan and Natalie when Luke tells them he’s leaving again, but he placates them with promises that they can come out and visit really soon and see Sonny and Storm. Faith is sullen, and tells him Texas sucks, despite the fact she’s never even been. Luke just hugs her and tells her he’ll change her mind about that, and manages to get a smile and a promise she’ll be good from her before he leaves.

Luke’s packed and ready to go within a day, and he heads out to the farm to say goodbye to his grandma and the horses before he goes.

“Bye, big guy,” Luke says, stroking Mercury’s neck. “I’ll miss you.”

“They don’t talk back, you know.”

Luke spins around and his eyes widen in shock. “Reid?”

Reid shrugs self-consciously. “Your grandmother said I’d find you out here,” he says. “Is she the one who taught you to cook?”

Luke nods, dumbfounded.

“Think she’ll invite me to stay for dinner?”

Luke blinks. “What are you doing here, Reid?”

Reid clears his throat, swallowing nervously. “The horses miss you,” he says. “You have to come back.”

Luke bites back a smile. “The horses miss me, huh?”

Reid nods. “And the new stable boy sucks. He doesn’t even put out.”


Reid grins. “And I might miss you too. A very little bit.”


Reid pulls a sheet of paper out of his back pocket and unfolds it. “This is for you,” he says, walking over.

“What is it?”

Reid hands it over. It’s a child’s drawing of a little girl, a couple of brown horses, a rainbow and a few oversized flowers. We miss you Luke! Come back! Love from Annie! scrawled in shaky purple crayon.

“This is absolutely shameless, Dr. Oliver.”

Reid smiles crookedly. “I needed all the ammo I could get,” he says, then turns serious. “I was a jerk, and I’m sorry. And I, uh, want you to come back to Dallas with me. If you want.”

Reid taps his hand against his thigh nervously, and pulls his lower lip into his mouth.

Luke considers letting him stew for a while, but a smile’s threatening to overtake his face, and he doesn’t think he can hold it back. He doesn’t even want to try.

“I was actually just on my way to the airport,” Luke says casually.

“Oh,” Reid says. “Business trip?”

Luke shakes his head. “I was on my way to Dallas,” he says. “There’s this guy there, he’s a real jackass, but I— I love him.” Luke swallows.

Reid’s lips twitch. “You love him, huh?”

Luke nods.

“That’s fortunate,” Reid says. “Because he loves you too.”

Luke grins and wraps his arms around Reid’s waist, pulling their bodies close together. “So, Dr. Oliver,” he says. “How do you feel about having a live-in boyfriend?”

Reid tilts his head, thinking. “I’m amenable to the idea, Mr. Snyder.”

“That’s good,” Luke nods seriously. “Because I’ve already invited my family to come up and stay with us when they visit.”

Reid snorts. “Pretty sure of yourself, Mr. Snyder.”

Luke nods. “I’m sure,” he says seriously.

Reid looks at Luke with soft eyes as he thumbs the cleft in Luke’s chin. “Me too,” he says quietly, and leans in for a kiss.

Luke’s insides flip, and he smiles against Reid’s mouth. Reid’s tongue tastes sweet and familiar, and as the kiss goes on, and the sound of Mercury snorting behind him fades away, Luke finally feels like he’s home.



Luke smiles as he hangs up the phone, and then heads out towards the barn.

“Hey, Victoria?”

“Yes, mijo?”

“I just spoke to my mom. She and my dad are coming to visit on the weekend, can you get their room ready please?”

“Of course, mijo!” Victoria smiles. “It will be nice to see them again.”

Luke grins. “I know! I can’t wait.”

“Are they bringing the kids?”

Luke shakes his head. “Not this time,” he says. “Faith’s coming but she’s staying in the dorms at SMU. They’re having campus tours this week.”

The last time Luke’s family had been out to visit, Faith had met a cute sophomore from Southern Methodist University and decided that Texas didn’t suck so much after all. She’d declared that she was moving to Dallas for college and would not be going to Oakdale U after all.

His parents hadn’t been too happy. Faith’s a handful, and has a tendency to get a little out of control if they don’t keep a close eye on her. Still, Faith had been adamant and it looks like it’s practically a done deal.

Luke’s happy though. It means his family will be out here visiting even more than they already do, and it’ll be nice to have his sister living so close. He can keep an eye on her, too.

“Where’s Annie?” Luke asks.

Victoria points to the pasture. Annie’s encouraging Sally, one of the little girls with autism, to ride Fifi, their newest pony.

Annie’s been cancer free for almost a year now. Luke smiles as he watches her interact with the kids in the program. Luke’s pretty sure she’s got a career in pediatrics ahead of her, despite the fact she tells everyone she’s going to be a brain doctor, just like Dr. Reid.

Luke gets a real kick out of how crazy about Reid Annie is. She follows him around the place like a groupie, asking questions about brain cortices and tumors, and which med school she should go to. It’s pretty hilarious.

Reid’s a total sucker for her, too. If Luke wasn’t in love with Reid already, seeing the way he is with Annie would have done it. Luke knows Reid's going to make a great dad some day.

Their barn now houses four ponies, as well as Sonny and Storm. Luke’s foundation opened a therapeutic horseback riding center at the house a few months after Luke moved to Dallas, and now they have a group of volunteers who work out of his old quarters, which have been converted into an office.

They have kids out at the house for horse therapy every Tuesday. Their accredited instructor is a guy named James, who’s the sweetest, most laid-back man Luke’s ever met. Nothing ever seems to faze him, and he’s great with the kids. He’s also drop-dead gorgeous, tall and well-built, with wavy blond hair and a killer smile. Luke and Reid have both spent plenty of time together ogling him over the barn gate.

Laura volunteers with the program every week, and is training to become accredited as a therapy instructor too.

Luke’s pretty sure James has a crush on Laura, but he's too shy to make the first move. Her divorce from Dennis Judd was finalized six months ago, and if the way she drools over James when he’s not looking is any indication, she’s just as interested in him as Luke suspects he is in her.

She deserves some happiness after the difficulties of the past year, and Luke makes a note to ask Reid to give Laura a nudge in James’s direction. Laura and Reid have become pretty good friends, and Luke knows she'll listen to him.

When Luke approached Reid with the idea for opening the center, Reid just shrugged and said, “Whatever”, but Luke knows he’s pretty proud of it, and the work they do there, too.

Luke works from home these days. They converted the smallest bedroom into an office for him. He checks in with his Foundation once a week via teleconference, and they manage to get by just fine with phone calls and email the rest of the time.

Luke only works on one Foundation project at a time now and spends most of his days writing. He’s working on a novel at the moment, and he completed a screenplay a few months ago that was sold to a producer in Hollywood. Luke was thrilled, of course, but that was nothing compared to how ridiculously proud of him Reid was. Luke gets giddy just thinking about it.

Luke helps Victoria put fresh sheets on the bed in one of the guest bedrooms in preparation for his parents’ visit, and then walks her out to her car and waves goodbye as she drives home.

Luke walks through the house, running his hand along some of the new furniture he and Reid picked out together, a smile on his face as he remembers them choosing each piece.

Luke loves Dallas, and while he misses Oakdale sometimes, he loves their house, and their horses, and the life he and Reid are building together more than anything.

The place is quiet now that everyone’s gone home for the day, and Luke heads into the kitchen to get started on dinner.

Reid should be home soon, and as Luke grabs ingredients out of the pantry and begins assembling them on the counter, he decides to mess up the cans in the pantry a little. The last time he did that, Reid punished him by bending him over the kitchen table and spanking him until his ass was red, then Reid fucked him so hard his hips bruised from where they dug into the timber.

Luke grins, and messes up the Tupperware, too.