Noah hasn’t left Oakdale. He eats at the same restaurants, he works at the same coffee shop, he takes his laundry to the same Laundromat, and he goes to the same school. Almost nothing has changed about Noah and Noah’s routine. He just doesn’t have Luke anymore.
It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t see Luke because he does.
Sometimes they run into each other at Java. Noah hates it when he runs into Luke at Java.
“Hey, Noah,” Luke says as he walks up to the counter.
Noah braces himself for the interaction and turns around to face him. “Hey, what can I get for you?” He doesn’t know why he still asks. He knows his order by now.
“Uh, just the usual. Do you have any specials today?”
“Yeah, there’s actually a special today for a caramel latte, whipped cream, with an extra shot,” Noah mentions as he prepares the order.
Noah shakes his head. “No, not really.” He only briefly feels guilty for his smart comment but then that feeling quickly dissolves. He doesn’t and he shouldn’t feel guilty at all. Every time that he sees Luke it’s like a fresh cut. Every time that he sees Luke and Dr. Oliver together? It’s rubbing salt into the wound.
“Luke, speed it up. We gotta go,” Reid pops inside Java to deliver that message and his eyes meet Noah’s, giving him a nod in acknowledgment. Then Reid’s out the door and Luke ducks his head down, shaking his head, and chuckling to himself.
Noah tries not to pay attention. He’s busy making their drinks but he can’t help but overhear. How can Dr. Oliver treat Luke like that? Why does Luke let Dr. Oliver treat him like that? Noah would’ve never been that snappish with him.
Making the drinks as quickly as he can, he hands one off to Luke, and finishes the one for Dr. Oliver. “Going somewhere?” he tries to be casual about the question but he’s internally kicking himself for it.
“Yeah, we’re just -- we’re going to Boston. Reid’s -- Reid’s family lives there,” Luke speaks quickly.
“Oh,” Noah’s reminded that he has no family. Maybe that was another problem between he and Luke. “Well, have a good time,” he tries to say sincerely but it doesn’t really come off that way. Noah finishes the drink and Luke pays for both of them.
“Luke!” Reid’s back inside and Noah realizes they’re racing to the airport. He’s a little vindictive in thinking that he hopes that they’ll miss their flight.
“I’m coming!” Luke shouts back but there’s still a smile on his face. He just leaves the cash on the counter and takes the two drinks. “Thanks, Noah. See ya,” he’s hurried and races to the door. “Geez, I know you’re excited to leave Oakdale but …”
“Elated. I’m elated to leave Oakdale,” Reid corrects him. He must be keeping the door open for Luke. “You would be too if someone blackmailed you to come to the most boring …”
Reid’s voice is cut off as the door closes.
After Noah puts the money into the register, he grabs the rag from the counter and cleans every speck, practically rubbing the counter raw. Noah will never understand what Luke sees in that doctor. Sure, he’s hot but what else is there? What does Dr. Oliver have that he doesn’t have?
He hates thinking this way. Luke’s right and he’s been right from the start. They’re broken up and that’s it. They try to be friends but when Luke’s there, Dr. Oliver isn’t too far behind and he hates seeing them together.
Noah has dinner with Casey at Al’s one night and he’s having a really good time. It’s been a long time since it’s just been the two of them and they’re goofing around, catching up, and in walks Luke.
Noah’s eyes go straight for him when he’s at the counter and Casey snaps his fingers in front of his face. “Earth to Noah! Come in, Noah. What are you doin’, man?”
“What?” he says distractedly.
“Are you still hung up on Luke?”
“What?” Noah appears to be offended by the thought but Casey’s on to him. He also speaks too loud because Luke hears him and walks over to the table.
“Hey! How are you guys?” Luke hangs out with Casey and Noah knows that. That’s probably the reason that Noah hasn’t seen Casey in a while.
“Good, you?” Noah responds as friendly as he can but there’s always an underlying meaning to his words.
“I’m okay. It’s been pretty hectic though. You know, with Dad getting divorced from Molly and Mom looking like she’s ready to be Mrs. Holden Synder again, it’s been crazy.”
“Already? Are you kidding me? Last I heard, Molly changed the locks on the house after she found out that your Mom had a key for ‘emergencies’. What happened?” Casey seems riveted by the story and Luke pulls up a chair to the table.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Do you mind if I join you for a minute?” Luke asks Noah.
Noah shakes his head, motioning for him to take a seat, and then he and Casey are both given the long, gory details in yet another Walsh-Synder family drama. It’s a pretty good story and for the first time, Noah’s not thinking about Luke with Dr. Oliver. He asks all the right questions, pauses in the right places, and he is trying to be a friend to Luke.
All of this gets ruined later when he spots Dr. Oliver come into the diner.
Standing near their table, Reid clears his throat and says, “Half an hour.”
Luke’s eyes widen almost comically and Casey’s laughing but Noah’s not. “Crap,” Luke stands and pushes the chair in.
Reid’s arms are crossed in front of him, giving Luke a hard stare. “You left me starving and now I find you sitting here chatting with your friends.”
“Starving, Reid? Come on now,” Casey tries to play mediator and Luke smiles when he hears him.
Reid? Reid? Even Casey’s calling him Reid now?
“Just for that, I’m going to put you on double janitorial duty, Hughes,” Reid points at Casey.
“Would like to see you try,” Casey gives him a large, cheesy grin and Dr. Oliver rolls his eyes.
“Okay, come on,” Luke wraps his arm around Dr. Oliver, placing his hand on his opposite shoulder. “Bye Noah, bye Case.” He says his goodbyes and drags the doctor away. “You could’ve called me,” he hears him say as they go back to the counter.
“I would if your cell phone didn’t always die. I keep telling you to get a new phone. How are we ever get in a good session of phone sex if it –-“
“Reid!” Luke laughs and the doctor laughs with him. “Say it louder, would you? I don’t think the whole town heard you yet. Thank you,” he takes the bag from the counter and turns to leave.
Dr. Oliver says something but Noah can’t hear him. He watches them laughing together, walking together, and then they’re out of sight. Reid talks about sex like it’s a handshake and even though Luke is embarrassed; he can tell that he doesn’t mind. The thought of Luke and Dr. Oliver having sex is something that he never, ever wants to visualize. But, that Luke is so comfortable with it is what bothers him.
“Noah,” Casey brings his attention back. “Let him go,” his eyes are filled with sympathy as he looks at him and Noah can only nod. “Hey, I know this guy. Let me fix you up with him.”
It reminds Noah of the time that Casey and Allison locked them up on the roof to talk. Casey’s still playing cupid. But, this time, he’ll take him up on the offer. “Yeah, okay.”
Noah meets Casey’s friend and finds out that they have a lot in common. They even like the same movies, which is very important to him. It reminds him of the relationship that he had with Maddie except this time it’s with a man. They begin to date and they have some pretty great dates.
Noah doesn’t see Luke that often anymore and when he does, he feels a little better when he looks at him. Luke notices and finds out that Noah’s been dating someone. Luke is genuinely happy for him but he still sees Luke less than he used to. Maybe he doesn’t notice Luke as much as he used to.
He does run into Luke a couple months later. He’s still with Michael and they’re out on one of their date nights at the movie theater. He and Luke run into each other at the snacks counter.
“Hey!” Noah smiles widely when he sees him. It’s been a while since Luke’s busy with the construction of the neuro wing and he looks good. His hair’s a little longer, still styled, but longer.
“Noah!” Luke greets him and they hug briefly. “God, it’s been forever.”
“No, I know. I was just gonna say the same thing.”
“You look good.”
“So do you. Are you and Dr. Oliver …?” he trails, motioning to his order.
“Oh, yeah. Who else am I gonna buy all these snacks for?” They laugh together. “Are you here with Michael?”
Noah nods and motions behind him. “We’re going to see that new indie. I’m surprised it’s even playing here.”
“Thought about you when I saw that. I thought it was right up your alley.” Noah likes that Luke still thinks about him. “Well, I better get all of this to Reid. I think our movie is starting. It was really good to see you. Let’s get coffee or something soon.” Noah doesn’t think that they will but it’s nice for Luke to say it.
“Sure. I’d like that.” Luke briefly squeezes Noah’s arm and then he carries the tray of snacks and drinks to his theater.
Both movies are out at the same time. Noah and Michael are talking about everything that they loved and everything that they hated. They have the same opinion on some things and debate on others.
Noah spots Reid and Luke walking ahead of them. Luke’s pressed close against Reid's side and the doctor wraps his arm around Luke’s waist as they walk, talking to one another. They both turn to look at each other and lean in for a quick but gentle kiss. Luke smiles, says something, and Reid’s arm drops from his waist to give him a quick slap right on his ass. They laugh together and Reid’s arm wraps around his shoulder instead.
They’re walking quickly so Noah and Michael lose them in the crowd ahead of them. Noah may never understand Re --- Dr. Oliver and Luke’s relationship, will probably never be able to avoid the completely if they’re all in Oakdale, but he thinks he’ll reach the point where he’ll stop caring so much.
“Hey, are you listening?” Michael asks, playfully nudging his shoulder.
Noah looks ahead of him again, not seeing either Luke or Dr. Oliver. Out of sight, out of mind.
“Yes,” he says, slipping his hand into Michael’s. “You have my complete attention.” For the first time in a long time, he does.