As the World Turns | Luke/Reid pre-slash | 1650 words | R, f-bombs | newbie, no beta (typo alerts appreciated)
spoilers | see title, some lines cribbed verbatim
notes | missing bits from last Monday's episode [1 2] - won't make sense if you haven't seen it, concrit appreciated
summary | This is how they get each other's undivided attention.
For once, he's running early. Even though he changed clothes twice, going from grey to black then back to grey again, going through half his ties before deciding on no tie. He's running early, even though he reviewed his notes a dozen times, anticipating Dr. Oliver's objections to his ideas, prepping arguments to his arguments, working harder on this than he's ever worked on anything in his life because Dr. Oliver is such a, such a --
Anyway, the point is he's got plenty of time. So when he gets to Campbell Avenue, he goes left instead of right. He goes to Memorial instead of the Lakeview.
He sees the scrubs and of course that jerk forgot about the meeting, except no, wait, he didn't. He just doesn't want Luke to be there let alone go with him. Luke grits his teeth and points out who's writing the checks around here.
"Good thing you reminded me," he sniffs. Then he blows off Luke's research with a giggle. Prick.
So when Luke smirks and says he has "a few suggestions", he makes sure that Dr. Oliver's looking right at him so that he can watch that jaw clench, so that he can watch those eyes harden and change color.
Oh, yeah. Score one for Richie Rich.
"'Patient Advocate'?" he sneers, snatching the notepad right out of Luke's hands.
"Did I stutter?" Luke hisses back. They're practically running down the hall, and Dr. Oliver's knocking down his ideas like bowling pins, so it's not Luke's fault if he sounds out of breath and a little defensive.
"And what will this Patient Advocate do?"
"I dunno. I thought maybe he'd advocate for patients."
"In addition to one of the world's top neurosurgeons, this wing will have a handpicked staff. Every one of us will be a patient advocate."
"It's not the same and you know it. Even when people actually have bedside manners --"
"And what are we going to cut so that we can pay for this glorified babysitter, hm? A nurse? A doctor? What machine? What scanner? What knife?"
With each question, he pokes Luke in the chest with a corner of the notepad, backing him up a few steps. Then he looks meaningfully at the threshold they're now standing in: the doctors' locker room. Luke blushes with the realization that he'd followed him inside.
"Your money may buy a lot of things, Mr. Snyder, but not a peep show. At least not with my peep." He thwaps Luke with the notepad, then lets it go so Luke has to hustle to catch it. By the time he looks up, Dr. Oliver has slipped inside.
He comes out fifteen minutes later freshly showered and wearing a black suit. They pick up the argument right where they left off, carrying it down the hall and out into the parking lot. Dr. Oliver's got a point about budget, and Luke's maybe thinking about possibly suggesting that the position be part-time when he realizes that Dr. Oliver has followed him to his car.
"What am I, your chauffer?"
"Isn't that why you came here?"
Huh. He's got no answer for that, so he just scowls and gets in the car.
The argument over the Friends & Family Lounge takes them all the way to the Lakeview, through the lobby, and into the elevator. So okay, maybe Dr. Oliver's got a point about square footage, but damn it, so does Luke, and --
Well, that's when all hell breaks loose.
After some really ungenius-like yelling and banging, Dr. Oliver turns on Luke, and isn't that predictable. He throws the money thing in his face again, and disses his ideas again, and Luke has had it. So when Dr. Always In Control starts to freak out, Luke feels a volcanic surge of maniacal fucking glee. He bounces. He can't stop himself. He's found a chink in the armor and he's going to jump up and down on it until it splits wide open.
Then Dr. Oliver puts him into a wall and it occurs to Luke -- as something hot tingles up and down his spine -- that this is how they communicate. This is how they get each other's undivided attention: by slamming each other into walls -- literal, verbal, emotional. A random thought about bad dads scurries across his brain and he happily lets it escape. It's so fucked up, he knows, but when Dr. Oliver glares at him and says, "You want me to admit that I'm human?" something deep inside him answers yes and please and show me.
But he doesn't. No, Dr. Oliver backs up and looks at him with, of all things, disappointment. He thinks Luke's going to gossip about him, for God's sake, and yeah, okay, he so was, but now he can't, which is totally unfair. Then the hospital beeps 911 and Luke remembers that he really is stuck in an elevator with an actual brain surgeon so maybe it's time to try and help.
Dr. Oliver talks about brains the way that Noah talked about film. With pride, yeah, but also passion and awe. For the first time since they met, Luke sees the wonder in grey spaghetti and the artistry in Dr. Oliver's work. Luke gets that this moment is rare and he wants to capture it, write it all down. When he's caught looking, he says, with a little awe of his own, "It's working."
Luke's on his cell with the architect and Dr. Oliver's on his cell with the hospital. Luke clicks off before they get in the car, but Dr. Oliver's still talking to the attending, and oh shit, it's Dusty. Luke thinks about Janet and Johnny, wonders where they are and who's with them. When Dr. Oliver's finally done giving orders, he, for whatever reason, puts his tie back on. Then he stares at the dashboard without really seeing it, his hands twitching, and Luke just knows that in Dr. Oliver's amazing brain, Dusty's surgery has already started. Luke thinks about the Sistine Chapel, about The Godfather and symphonies. He thinks about chocolate.
"I don't care who he is."
And here we go, the brutal honesty that you can set your watch by. It's almost funny. Luke closes his eyes before sending an apologetic look Janet's way and shaking his head at -- oh, jeez -- his new business partner. So this is his life now: apologizing for Dr. Oliver's words while assuring everyone that his hands are worth every cut.
"You could've been a little nicer, y'know."
Dr. Oliver shoots him an exasperated have-you-learned-nothing? look. "Do you really think that surgeons try harder if the patient is a nice guy? Would you want a surgeon who operates like that?"
"I... No. It's just... They're like my aunts," he finishes lamely.
"'Like' your aunts?"
Not the point, but it's his fault for bringing it up. "They're married to my dad's -- my good dad's -- cousin."
"Both of them? I thought my roommate was married to him. This really is an inbred, backwater hamlet, isn't it."
Luke should be offended. He should be furious. He should be leaping to defend the family honor. Instead, he barks a laugh. He loves his family, he really does, but his family tree is ridiculous, and he knows it.
Startled, Dr. Oliver looks up from Dusty's chart. That's when Luke realizes that he's followed Dr. Oliver down several corridors and up four floors -- that they're in an elevator and Dr. Meltdown isn't batting an eye. Of course, this elevator's moving and Dr. Oliver's in his own private Idaho, complete with dancing brains. Whatever, before Luke can share his ironic musings, there's a ding, the doors open, and Dr. Oliver veers left, his laser-focus already back on Dusty's chart.
Luke steps out slowly. He's not actually supposed to be up here and Dr. Oliver's already disappeared behind the giant swinging doors into the surgery suites. Suddenly at a loss, Luke looks around, then stares down at the hand still clutching Dr. Oliver's coat.
He makes his way back down to the waiting area, more aware of his actions and surroundings than he has been since he picked up Dr. Oliver this morning. He sneaks into the doctors' lounge and stashes his bag, laying Dr. Oliver's coat neatly on top of it.
When he turns a corner and sees Noah, a familiar warmth fills his chest. He hesitates for a second then almost laughs. What's the worst that can happen? So he talks to him. They talk. And there's none of that unattractive panic or desperation, no fear or recrimination. Just the truth. It feels nice. They laugh about Luke's adventures with Dr. Oliver and they're still smiling when the man himself comes down from surgery.
Dr. Oliver's glowing with pride and it must be catching because Noah's patting him on the shoulder and it should be weird, right? But it's not; it's nice, and Luke smiles at both of them. Dusty's going to live -- as if there was ever any doubt -- and Luke can't help but feel like he had a small part in that. Like he'll have a small part in every life that Dr. Oliver saves in the Snyder Neurology Wing and suddenly, he feels grateful. Of course, that's when Dr. Oliver tries to thank him and Luke can't let him finish. A polite Dr. Oliver freaks him the hell out. But this feels good. They're making jokes and smiling at each other and it's weird, but it's good.
Then Dr. Oliver gets served. And just like that he shuts down, shuts Luke out. When Luke pushes, he pushes back, and seriously, the man's giving him fucking whiplash. "You don't know anything about me," he seethes, before stalking off to find Bob Hughes. "You can't help."
But Luke knows better now. And he's got an idea...