“Careful, Mr. Snyder. You’ll lose your squeaky clean reputation, letting your inner trash mouth loose.” Reid smirked as he careful settled in the bed next to Luke, making sure there was no pressure on his partner’s incision.
“You called me Mr. Snyder.”
“That’s your name isn’t it, or are we back to that old Luke versus Mr. Snyder discussion?”
“No.” Luke rested his head on Reid’s shoulder. “I don’t think a name ever sounded so good. It’s mine, all mine, really truly mine; by blood, not just in name.”
“You’ve got that right. According to this piece of paper--” Luke grabbed the sheet out of Reid’s hand before he could finish.
“Please let me read it again.” Luke took a deep breath. “Final determination -- Luke Snyder and Ethan Snyder are a 99.9% DNA match.” Luke held the paper to his chest. “I’m his brother in every way possible.”
“You certainly are, not that you weren’t before.” Reid loved seeing the gleam in Luke’s eyes. The last time he’d looked that way was the day they were legally married over two years earlier.
“Oh God, Reid. I wish--” Luke’s voice trailed off.
Reid cupped Luke’s chin, forcing him to look into his eyes. “What do you wish? I’m sure I can guess, but it can never happen.”
“If he only knew -- if they all knew. Their lives would have been so different. My parents would still be alive because Damian wouldn’t have any hold over my mother or me.”
“Luke, you have no way of knowing what might have happened. Don’t dwell on the things you can’t change.”
“Sounds like the all-too-familiar Serenity Prayer.”
Reid stroked Luke’s hair. “It applies here too, doesn’t it?”
The two lay together, Reid’s arms wrapped around Luke.
He became alarmed when he felt Luke begin to shudder. “What is it? Are you in pain?”
Shaking his head, Luke clutched Reid’s T-shirt tightly in his fingers. “I’m a Snyder and I can’t tell anyone, can I?”
“You’ve always been a Snyder, and from what I can see looking in, none of them would see this as a huge difference, other than physiologically.”
“I loved my dad so much. This would have meant the world to him.”
“Well, I’m a cynical ass, as we both know...”
Luke huffed through his sniffles.
“... but if I were to follow Jack’s line of thinking, Holden knows.”
“I love you.” Luke kissed Reid gently.
“Something else we both know. Now, you need to get some rest.” Starting to make his way off the bed, Reid was halted by Luke’s palm pressed against his chest.
“Stay with me. I miss sleeping next to you.”
“You’re such a romantic sap. You do realize if a nurse were to come in here I would become the new hot topic of gossip for the next month.”
“Do you really think you and I haven’t been the subject of constant gossip since you used the H word right before my surgery?”
“I’ve been taking far too many risks with my steadfast, obnoxious, and on occasion boring reputation.”
“Dr. Oliver, you are without a doubt as far from steadfast and boring as you could possibly be.”
Holding Luke close, Reid was more than happy to remain in the uncomfortable bed. “I guess I can risk humiliation if it makes you happy.”
Luke’s response was to snuggle in closer as Reid resettled himself.
“I’d love to tell Ethan.” Luke’s voice was barely above a whisper.
“No. We can’t risk retribution and you know it.”
“So it’ll be our secret forever.”
“Well, ours, along with Noah and Mark.”
“Huh?” Luke lifted his head slightly, his brow furrowed. “Why them?”
“Remember, I told you they were with me when Dr. Walker brought up the subject.”
“Isn’t it risky for them to know?”
“Not really. Mark’s a doctor, he knows how to keep medical information to himself, and Noah -- he would never do anything to put you or your family in danger.”
“You’re right. I trust your judgment.”
Reid hoped he would always be worthy of Luke’s unconditional trust and love. It never ceased to amaze him, just how easy it was for Luke to give so fully of himself despite all the times he’d been burned.
It was less than five minutes before Luke’s breathing was slow and even. Before he fell asleep as well, Reid carefully sat up just enough to look under the hospital gown and check on Luke’s incision. It was healing beautifully, all the stitches still intact, despite the night’s excitement. Dr. Walker was the best and she had proved it once again.
Satisfied that Luke was truly on the mend, Reid lay back on the pillow and closed his eyes, keeping one arm protectively wrapped around his partner, husband, whatever -- it was all just semantics.
“I have to go back to school tomorrow. I’d much rather stay and visit with you, even if it is here.”
Reid sat in a chair off to the side in Luke’s room reviewing several patients’ charts as he listened to Ethan and Luke.
“Ethan, I know school can be a drag sometimes--”
“Sometimes! Most of the time it’s boring as hell! The only times it’s not, the teachers are piling on the work. I’m pretty sure they get some sort of sick pleasure out of that.”
Although Reid knew Ethan would never love school the way he had, since school had been a place he excelled, whereas, unlike Ethan, his home life had been miserable, he was glad Ethan had maintained fairly decent grades. He’d been tempted on several occasions to ask why the kid didn’t get more A’s, but remembering his parents’ accusatory questions about grades, he reined in his expectation that his kid should be perfect at all times.
Ethan had friends and a social life. That had to count for something. He wondered, not for the first time, if Luke would follow through and return to college, even if just to audit some writing classes. He was already getting attention for the book he co-wrote with Katie, and Noah was working on a script Luke had submitted a few months earlier.
Shrugging, Reid returned his attention to the chart he was reading.
“Ethan, you know I’ll be going home tomorrow.”
“It’s about time. I thought we were gonna have to start having your mail delivered here.”
Reid bit his lip so he wouldn’t laugh at Ethan’s remarks. He had to hand it to the kid, he was entertaining.
“I’m glad I won’t have to inconvenience you or the postal service.”
“You’d better let me go back to Boston soon. My trip was cut off before it even got going because of you.”
“Once again, sorry for the inconvenience.”
“Luke,” Ethan slowly walked closer to his brother, “you are going to be totally better, right?” There was the little boy, popping up as he still randomly did from time to time.
“Come sit on the edge of the bed, Eth.” Luke patted the bed. Now that his stitches had been removed, he was more comfortable seated cross-legged on the bed, able to wear loose fitting clothing.
“What’s up? Am I in trouble?”
“No, you’re not in trouble. I just wanted to sit with you.”
“Are you still sick?”
“I’m fine. I’ll have to take medicine for the rest of my life, but it’ll help keep me healthy.”
“And the meds will make sure there’s no problem holding onto Jack’s kidney, right?”
“Yeah. I hope so.”
“It must suck not to be able to have a drink when everyone else does.”
“Drinking alcohol’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. I’m used to sticking to soft drinks, and let’s face it, the alternative totally sucks.”
Reid held in a laugh. He was always amused when Ethan rose to his brotherly talks with Luke while Luke regressed by about ten years.
“That would suck. No more hospitals for you, big brother.”
“I’ll work on that.” Luke sighed. “Ethan?”
“You do know how much I value being your brother. It means the world to me, maybe more now than ever before.”
Reid stopped reading and rested the chart on his lap.
“You’re a terrific big brother. Much better than Aaron. He never visits unless there’s some big family thing.”
“He does live two thousand miles away.”
“Abigail visits more than Aaron.”
“She has more time, I guess.”
“You’re the best big brother. Especially after Daddy left us.”
“He didn’t leave us, Ethan. It wasn’t his choice.”
“I know. It’s easier to think of Daddy and Mommy having left than...” Hearing the childlike words from the growing twelve year old, Reid wanted to do something to make the bad memories disappear. He hated listening to the pain of loss in his... son’s voice.
“They would be here with us today if they could.” Luke’s voice hitched, but he kept it steady enough so that Ethan didn’t seem to notice.
“You sound a lot like Daddy. Sometimes, if I close my eyes when you’re talking to me, I can picture him reading me a bedtime story, or taking me to the pond, like when he taught me to swim.”
“Do you remember those times?”
Ethan nodded. “I really do. But it’s easier to remember when I’m around you. I’m not sure why.”
Reid froze in his chair, wondering if Luke could hold in his precious secret.
“I guess it’s because we both shared him, and I was lucky enough to have a lot more time with him as I was growing up. I wish you had more years with him.”
“Me too.” Ethan jumped off the bed and walked over to Reid. “But I’ve got you and Reid. You’re both pretty cool dads. You’re two of the youngest dads around. My friends are all jealous because their dads have no idea about what’s going on in our world, but you two seem to get it -- most of the time.”
Grinning, Reid looked at Ethan. Having learned more during the previous few years than Ethan realized, Reid detected the kid’s current strategy. “You’re buttering us up. What do you want?”
“Why do I have to want anything?”
“Because you’re twelve and you’re flattering your older brother and your not-so-old dad, both of whom are completely onto your manipulations.”
Ethan rolled his eyes. He was getting quite good at the dramatic moves. “You promised me some downloads. There are three new albums out and a new DVD I’m dying to get.”
“Luke, what do you think? After being fairly cooperative during your irritatingly long hospital stay, causing our young ward stress and strife and loss of vacation time--”
“And making me take a blood test!”
“And making him take a blood test. Should we give the kid a break?”
Gazing at Reid, Luke’s smile spread across his face. It was a sight Reid was thrilled to see. “You’re such a softy. You’re not even going to negotiate, are you? You’re going to let him buy them all.”
“I suppose I might.” Reid winked at Luke, both of them now smiling broadly.
“Yes!” Ethan jumped two feet off the ground.
Before Reid agreed to anything else, Katie walked into the room. “Hi guys. I see the patient is almost ready to get released.”
Reid snorted. “It’s discharged. This isn’t prison.”
“Right, because everyone who’s here is so happy about being here.”
“Katie, is there a reason you stopped by, other than to insult my hospital, which, by the way, your husband also holds in somewhat high regard?”
“Yes, I have a reason for being here. Two, in fact. Luke, the film Noah’s working on -- the one with your script -- was just awarded some additional grant money as it has been classified as an aid to keeping kids from turning to alcohol to numb their pain.”
“Oh my God! That’s great news. I hope the film really helps teens.”
“I’m sure it will. We plan to go into production soon and some of the networks have been asking about it.”
Reid stood up, checking on Luke’s scar, since he seemed unwilling to sit still and the stitches were no longer there to secure the incision. “Katie, you said you had two reasons to be here.”
“My assistant is giving Miriam a tour of the station and showing her some of the test footage from the film. When she’s finished I’ll be taking her to Al’s for lunch and we wondered if Ethan would like to join us since it’s her last full day in town.”
Reid looked at Luke who silently gave his approval. “Sure. Take the kid. It’ll give Luke a chance to actually rest while he’s here taking up space.”
“Okay, buddy, let’s go.” Katie’s smile was almost as beautiful as Luke’s. Reid knew he was lucky to have both of them in his life.
As they walked away, Ethan’s voice echoed through the corridor. “Katie, you’re not gonna believe this -- I got Dad and Luke to agree to buy me a bunch of albums and a movie.”
“Sounds great, Ethan.”
Reid turned to gaze at Luke. “We’re finally alone.”
“Too bad we can’t do much about it yet.” Luke grinned flirtatiously.
“Patience isn’t one of my better traits. You’d better heal quickly.”
“I promise it’ll be worth the wait.”
“I know it will be.” Reid kissed Luke and then gently nudged him to lie back on the pillows. “Now rest while you can. You’ve only got one more day of pampering.”
“Right -- because I’m sure you’ll let me go about my regular day-to-day activities once I’m home.”
Rather than finding some random word to silence Luke, Reid ignored his partner’s sarcastic yet accurate statement, kissed him again, dimmed the light, and took out his penlight to continue reading his charts.
Return to The Hospital