It didn’t take more than a couple of days for the patient and donor to be prepared for surgery. In that short period of time Luke’s color had gone from pale to ghostly, but Reid knew that was part of suppressing the immune system to ease the process of his body accepting the new kidney.
Jack was tired, but in great spirits. He spent a lot of time with Katie and Carly, talking about Holden and Brad, recalling some of his happiest memories with his cousin and brother. He spoke candidly with Reid when they finally had a moment alone in Jack’s room. “I think I finally know why I got to live.”
Reid huffed. “Is everyone in this town prone to the melodramatic?”
“You’ve got to admit, it’s pretty incredible that I’m a better candidate than Parker. After all he’s much younger, and although I wouldn’t admit it in front of him, in much better physical condition.”
“It’s random.” Reid didn’t want to read too much into anything, preferring to focus solely on facts to get him through the next few days. “Brad, Holden, and Lily died because violent, insane assholes couldn’t contain their anger and jealousy.”
Jack lay back on his hospital bed and pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. “I was the one who was supposed to always be in danger. I’m the cop. Can you explain why they went first?”
“If I could I’d be a fortune teller; instead I’m a lowly brain surgeon.” Reid tried to grin, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to do so. He still remembered, all too vividly, Luke’s face when Jack called telling him he needed to go down to the morgue. Luke bravely carried out his final duty to his parents with dignity, only collapsing when they were home alone later that horrible day.
Luke had spoken about his parents incessantly for a week... until Ethan moved in. He said nothing more unless the little boy brought it up.
No one could deny how quickly Luke had grown up at that point. He behaved with class and dignity at the funeral and took on the unexpected role of brother-parent as if he’d been preparing for it all his life. Reid was in awe of Luke and his family. They really had endured it all and would probably have more crap thrown at them in the future -- hopefully nothing as serious as the current crap, Luke’s need of another kidney transplant.
“Reid, this will make him better, right?”
It was strange to see Jack Snyder asking the questions. Now that he was the patriarch of the family, he was the one generally in charge -- the one who seemed to know all the answers.
Nodding, Reid tucked his hands in the pockets of his lab coat to keep them still. “Of course he’s going to get better. There’s no other option.”
“Do you believe that one hundred percent?”
Why did Jack have to ask the tough questions? Reid wished the detective’s instincts would vanish -- temporarily. It was almost easier responding to Ethan’s constant inquiries and trying to be honest and upbeat continually. “I’m a doctor, Jack. Nothing is ever one hundred percent.”
“I understand that. But give me an honest prediction. I need to know Luke is going to be okay.”
“He has to be okay. Like I said, there’s no other option.”
Closing his eyes tight, Jack took a deep breath. “It didn’t matter that he wasn’t Holden’s by blood. Holden loved that kid with everything he had.”
“I know. We spoke about it once or twice. I think it was his way of threatening me -- making sure of my commitment to his son.”
Jack laughed. “I could see Holden doing that. How did you respond?”
“By the time we finished speaking, there was no doubt in his mind that I valued Luke far more than I valued my own life.”
“And now you have Ethan too.” Jack certainly didn’t mince words.
“Yes. Both of them now hold that place in my life.”
“And in your heart?” Carly walked in, adding her own two cents.
Reid turned away, pinching the bridge of his nose. “How much have you heard?”
“Enough. Answer my question. And in your heart?”
“God, you’re a protective, nosey bunch.”
Carly laughed. “It’s part of being in the Snyder family. I’m glad I’m part of it for good now.” She put her hands on her hips, unwilling to let Reid slide past her question. “So, Doctor?”
“Yes, are you happy? Luke and Ethan are the reason I get up and make it through every day. Seeing them when I arrive home after a long day makes everything worth it.”
“Then it makes Jack’s donation all the more important.” Carly walked up to Reid and kissed him on the cheek. “Make sure our boy stays healthy and happy.”
“That’s my plan.” Reid grinned. “Between the Snyder and Walsh families, I’m never sure which is more powerful.”
Jack snorted. “Each in our own way, buddy.”
“Got it.” Reid was glad all of them were on his side. When this group banded together to support one another they were a force to be reckoned with. He was counting on Luke having that kind of inner strength to bring him through the next few weeks.
Standing next to Luke’s bed he listened as the anesthesiologist explained all the details of his participation during the procedure and the medications he would be using. Reid watched as Luke perused the release form just as thoroughly as he would a contract for the foundation or World Wide. Seemingly satisfied with what he read Luke signed the document.
“We’ll begin when we enter the operating room. You should be brought down pretty soon. See you in surgery.” He shook Luke’s hand and then Reid’s. “See you later, Dr. Oliver.”
Nodding, Reid remained silent. Although he knew this was the best possible scenario he could ask for, he hated the feeling of helplessness. He wanted to be in the operating room, but Dr. Walker insisted it would be to Luke’s disadvantage and therefore not going to happen.
Chris entered the room and looked directly at Luke. “You ready to get your old energy back? I know Jack’s practically chomping at the bit. He’s already down there waiting for you.”
Luke smiled. “I’m grateful to him, to all of you.”
Putting his hand on Luke’s shoulder and giving it a little squeeze, Chris smiled. “Don’t be grateful, just get better. We want to send you home as soon as possible. Maybe then Reid won’t be such an overbearing pain.”
“Have you met my partner? He was that way before he came to Oakdale.”
“But now he has good reason.”
If Luke had the ability, Reid knew he’d be blushing. “We’ll be leaving for the operating room in a few minutes Chris.”
“Gotcha. I’ll leave you two alone.”
“Wait.” To Reid’s surprise, Luke stopped Chris. “Is Noah outside?”
“Yes, with the rest of the family.”
“Can you take Reid out with you and send him in?” Reid was about to protest, but Luke continued. “I just need to speak to him for a second and then I want to be alone with you.” He looked at Reid, pleading with his eyes.
“Okay, Dr. Oliver, let’s both step out for a minute.”
Reid walked up to Noah. “Where’s Mark?”
“Dr. Walker said he could observe. He’s with Jack and the team right now.”
Somehow that news brought Reid a small modicum of comfort. “He wants to see you briefly, don’t ask me why.” Reid thought about toning down the angry edge in his voice but at that point he didn’t give a damn. “Make it fast. I’m going back in before they take him.”
Noah nodded, his brow furrowed, clearly not understanding this request anymore than Reid.
Luke hated waiting until the last minute to have a private conversation with Noah, but whenever his friend came by during the previous couple of days, a doctor or nurse was always hovering over him, drawing blood, administering medication, or examining him for the umpteenth time. He was just glad he finally had a moment before surgery.
Entering the room, Noah looked at Luke. “I remember when I was in a bed like that waiting for Reid to operate on me.”
“Look how well that turned out.”
Noah laughed. “Turned out great in a lot of ways -- for both of us.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “Mark asked me to move in with him.”
“Please tell me you didn’t put him off. You’re not twenty years old anymore.”
Noah chuckled. “I’ve long accepted we were definitely not meant for each other as a couple, and I did accept his offer. As soon as he gets off today, and you’re safely tucked into your post-op bed, I’m bringing all my stuff to his place, our place. Hell, I practically live there already.”
“Do you love him?”
Biting his lip. “More than I thought I was capable of loving anyone, and the best part is, I think he feels the same about me.”
“Good. That’s how it is for Reid and me.”
“So why am I in here instead of Reid?”
“Because you need to promise me you’ll help him if something goes wrong.”
“Whoa!” Noah raised his arms. “Nothing’s going to happen. You’re gonna be fine.”
“Let me say this so I can be with Reid.”
Noah nodded hesitantly.
“Promise me, if something happens you won’t let Reid destroy himself. He will. He’ll never admit it, but he needs me as much as I need him. I know that without a doubt. But Ethan will need him even more if something should go wrong, so Reid will need someone to lean on. Promise me you’ll be there for him.”
“You’re not giving me much of an out.”
“No out at all. Promise.”
“Okay, Luke, I promise.” Noah leaned down and kissed Luke on the forehead. “You drive a hard bargain, even though I’m sure it’s not necessary.”
“Let’s just say your promise will let me rest easy during the procedure.” Luke smiled. “Now go send Reid in. I’m sure he’s not waiting patiently to get back in here.”
Noah kissed Luke again, on the cheek and left the room without saying another word.
“I won’t ask why you wanted to see him.” Reid was trying to remain supportive in any way possible.
“Just some last minute business only Noah could take care of. He’s moving in with Mark tonight.”
“According to Mark they practically live together anyway. It’s no big deal.”
“Yes it is, and you know it.”
Reid nodded, knowing how significant it was the day he and Luke made the actual decision to live together. It was more than unintentional convenience, but another step toward their future as a couple.
Two nurses and two orderlies entered to escort Luke to the operating room.
“It’s time for me to go.”
“Not for long.” Reid walked alongside as they maneuvered the bed into the hallway. The rest of the family stood up, but remained in their places.
“I had my mother take him to the cafeteria, as he already wished you good luck this morning, I thought it would be less upsetting for him if he wasn’t here to see you being wheeled down the hallway on a gurney.”
“Good. Will she keep him entertained until I’m back in a room?”
“Yeah. She’s become a better grandmother than she ever was a mother.”
As the elevator doors opened and one of the nurses went inside to hold them open, Luke grabbed Reid’s wrist with what seemed to be all the strength he had left. “I love you. I’ll love you forever. Remember that when you get impatient.”
Reid rolled his lips inward. “Me too. Forget counting backwards from one hundred. Just think about all the times you’ve finagled those three words out of me. That’ll take you into the thousands.”
Luke’s joyful grin was completely inconsistent with a man being taken into surgery.
Scanning the group accompanying Luke and the family watching the team like a flock of hungry hawks, Reid knew the time was right. “Listen to me. This is not just your boss talking.”
The nurses and orderlies all gave their full attention to their Chief of Staff.
“You’d better be extra careful -- this is my husband you’re taking to the O.R.” Reid leaned down and brushed his lips gently over Luke’s.
“Thank you.” It was barely a whisper, but Reid knew Luke had heard his message loud and clear.
Standing tall, Reid’s hands returned to the pockets of his lab coat where he’d placed Luke’s wedding band. He gripped it tightly as the elevator doors closed, separating him from his husband.
Return to The Hospital