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NEW FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE! "Hazard Pay - Chapter 29"

Posted on 2013.08.16 at 14:04
Title: Hazard Pay – Chapter Twenty-Nine

Pairing: Noah/OMC

Rating: M

Prompt: Action!Noah in action ripped from the headlines!

Disclaimer: Don’t own ‘em. Don’t make no money.



***
***

Hazard Pay – Chapter 29

“Reid.” Luke stared at him. “You sent that photo?”

Reid folded his arms. “I did.”

Luke frowned. “Why would you do that?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Reid asked. He nodded toward Noah and Jeff. “They’re back together, and you need to face up to that.”

“You couldn’t just tell him you saw us together?” Jeff asked, his tone mild.

Reid spared him a glance. “You don’t know Luke. He doesn’t believe anything he doesn’t want to believe.”

“So you took a picture,” Jeff said slowly. “As proof.”

“Yes.”

“Wait a minute,” Noah interrupted. “You told me you'd stay out of the way while Luke and I figured things out.”

“Obviously you figured out your side of things,” Reid replied haughtily.

Noah gave a bark of laughter, then rubbed his face, feeling his shock slide into anger. “You know what? Fine. Take a photo. Make a video for all I care. But did you have to send it to some sleazy gossip site?”

Reid flushed a little. “Maybe I wanted to make a grand gesture.”

“Grand gestures aren’t really your style, Dr. Oliver.”

Reid blushed even more. “I know that. But what have I got to lose at this point?”

“I don’t know,” Noah snapped. “But Jeff might lose his job.”

Reid shrugged. “So?”

Noah growled with rage. “Help me up,” he ordered Casey. “I’m gonna punch him in the nose again.”

“Easy, Solo.” Jeff put a hand on his shoulder.

“Like hell.” Noah was so angry his head was spinning with it. “You really don’t care how your actions affect other people, do you?” he asked Reid.

“No, I don’t,” Reid replied calmly. “I only care about Luke.”

Noah sputtered but Jeff laughed. “Well, at least he’s honest,” he said. “No, Noah, it’s okay,” he added as Noah tried to stand again. “Although I’m sure my lawyer will be interested in how many federal privacy laws Dr. Oliver violated. Not to mention ‘Do No Harm.’”

“What?” Reid sneered. “Are you threatening to expose me? Ruin my career?”

“I’m seriously thinking about it,” Jeff replied. His voice remained calm, but his blue eyes glittered.

Reid raised his chin. “Go right ahead.”

“Reid.” Luke finally found his voice. “I can’t believe you’d do something so reckless for me.”

Reid’s eyes boggled, a stark departure from his usual bland expression. “Are you serious, Luke? When haven’t I been reckless for you? I gave up my entire career to come to this shithole town.”

“Yeah, because I blackmailed you,” Luke said.

“Blackmail?” Jeff raised his eyebrows. “Intriguing.”

“Oh, please.” Reid made a contemptuous gesture. “I could have fought you,” he told Luke. “I could have called your bluff. I stayed because I wanted to.”

He took a deep breath and stepped closer. “I stayed because I couldn’t get you out of my head, Luke Sndyer.”

“Oh,” Luke said in a tiny voice.

Reid’s voice grew uncharacteristically loud. “And this whole time—this whole time— I’ve done every single thing you ever asked me to.” Reid’s hands tightened into fists. “Including performing surgery on your ex.”

“Dude, isn’t that kinda your job?” Casey asked.

“Shut up, Casey,” Luke said absently. His eyes shone with tears.

Reid spoke again, still staring at Luke. “I put up with all your drama, all your moods, your drinking, your break-ups and back-and-forths. And you know what the worst part was, Luke?”

Reid’s voice cracked, and he took another step forward. “The whole time, no matter what I did, you were waiting for him to come back!”

He stabbed a finger at Noah, then pointed at himself. “He left. I stayed. I stayed for you, but the minute he was back in the picture, you acted like none of it mattered. Because you had some childish fantasy that everything could go back to the way it was.”

Reid’s voice quieted, and he shook his head. “That’s the problem with you, Luke Snyder. You always want what you can’t have. And you never want what’s sitting right in front of you, yours for the taking.”

Reid stepped backward. “Well, no more. I’m done. I’m out.” He gestured toward Noah. “Do what you want. I don’t care anymore.”

He turned and left the room.

“Reid, wait!” Luke started after him, then stopped and looked back at Noah, his expression anguished.

“Are you kidding me?” Noah asked. He pointed toward the door. “Go after him!”

Luke smiled through his tears, as heart-breakingly beautiful as always. “Thank you,” he mouthed.

Then he was gone.

Noah let out a deep breath and sagged back against the pillows. His heart ached in his chest, and he felt exhausted. He rested his cheek against Jeff’s hand, still on his shoulder, and closed his eyes.

After a moment, he felt Jeff’s gentle touch on his hair. “You okay, Solo?” he asked, his voice subdued.

“Yeah.” Noah smiled up at Jeff, wanting to reassure him, then reached up and clasped his hand. “You?”

Jeff nodded. “That was…dramatic,” he said finally.

Casey snorted. “Dude, that was awkward, is what it was. But par for the course for those two. I give them six months of bliss before they break up again.”

“You think they’ll get back together?” Jeff asked, surprised.

“Oh, hell, yeah,” Casey replied casually.

Jeff frowned. “Are you sure? That sounded pretty definitive.”

Casey shrugged. “When it comes to love, most of us have no pride.” He rose and stretched, glancing toward the window. Outside, dusk was falling, along with heavy, swirling snow. “I was gonna try and bust you out of here for coffee,” he told Noah. “But now I’m thinking a drink is in order.”

“Oh, God, yes,” Noah said. “Just let me get my shoes on.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed.

“Are you sure you’re up for it?” Jeff asked worriedly.

“Probably not,” Noah admitted. “But if I don’t get out of this hospital soon, I’m gonna lose my mind.”

“You’re not supposed to mix prescription pain-killers with alcohol,” Jeff fretted.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake.” Noah rolled his eyes. “I’ll have a ginger-ale, okay?” He looked at Casey. “Yo’s?”

Casey reached for his coat. “Absolutely.”

“Come on,” Noah told Jeff. “You can be my chaperone. Keep me out of trouble.”

Jeff smiled fondly down at him. Then he tilted Noah’s chin up with his hand and gently kissed his lips. “Anytime,” he murmured. He pulled back and rubbed his thumb over Noah’s beard. “I kinda like this,” he admitted.

“It’s not too scratchy?” Noah asked.

“A little,” Jeff admitted. “But you look badass.”

Noah grinned. “I’ll show you badass.” He pulled Jeff down for another kiss, this one deeper.

“Awkward,” Casey sing-songed.

They broke apart, blushing.

“Sorry, Case,” Noah said.

Jeff’s cell phone rang. “Seriously?” he murmured, frowning. “I didn’t give anyone this number.”

He rifled through his pockets until he came up with his phone, then peered at the screen. His face cleared. “It’s Pippa,” he said, then looked at Noah. “Is it okay if I—”

“Take it.” Noah waved his hand. “Tell her I said hi.”

“Sorry.” Jeff ducked out of the room as he answered. “Hey, gorgeous, what’s up?”

“What?” Noah asked Casey, who was studying him closely.

“I still don’t like Luke being with Doctor Weirdo,” Casey said. “But I’m starting to like your Mister Moneybags.”

Noah blushed. “Shut up and gimme my shoes.”

***

Noah balanced carefully on the edge of the bed and slid his feet into the slip-on sneakers. (Bending over to tie laces was still impossible with his injured leg.) Then he stood and pulled on a jacket and scarf.

“What was it you wanted to talk to me about?” he asked Casey. “You said there were two reasons you came by.”

Casey looked blankly at him for a moment, then smacked himself on the forehead. “Dude, I forgot! I have a job offer for you. Or rather, Kim does.”

Noah paused in reaching for his crutches. “Casey,” he said carefully. “I’m not staying in Oakdale.”

“Not permanently, maybe.” Casey made a face indicating his disapproval. “But you still have months of physical therapy ahead of you, right?”

“I guess,” Noah said reluctantly.

“So this is a short-term gig,” Casey said. “Three to six months. Part-time.”

Noah tapped his crutch against his foot, scowling. “I’m listening,” he said finally.

“One of our station coordinators is going on maternity leave,” Casey explained. “She’s doing a job-share thing with another employee. Had it all arranged until the other guy quit yesterday. I thought you might be interested. It’s not camera work.” He held up his hand to forestall Noah’s question. “It’s boring administrative stuff. Phone calls and emails and spreadsheets and shit. You could do most of it remotely, from your laptop.”

“It’s not a charity thing,” he added quickly. “When I suggested you, Kim jumped at the chance. She remembers how hard you work. And everyone knows how important it is for you to pay your own way. This would at least give you some income, even while you finish up PT.”

Noah stared at him. “Casey, I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll think about it.”

“I will,” Noah said. “Of course I will. But…I’d have to talk to Jeff about it, too.”

“Well, yeah.” Casey waved his hand. “You gotta do the couple thing. I know what that’s like. But…” He paused. “It would be really fun to work together, and to have you around for a while, even if you eventually go off and do your big-shot globe-trotting again.”

Noah’s eyes threatened tears, and he cleared his throat “You’re a good friend, Casey.”

“Yeah, well, don’t get mushy on me.”

Noah laughed, then frowned as Jeff came back into the room. He was staring at his phone with a blank look on his face.

“Carter, what is it?” Noah asked in alarm. “What happened now?”

Jeff looked up from his phone, his expression stunned. “Pippa wants to interview me.”

“On her morning show?” Noah asked.

Jeff shook his head. “On Ninety Minutes.”

Ninety Minutes?” Casey asked. “Isn’t that the boring show on Sunday nights with the ticking clock? The one my parents watch?”

Jeff sank into a chair. “That’s the one,” he said. “‘America’s primetime news magazine.’”

Noah whistled. “How’d Pippa land that gig?”

“The same network owns her show,” Jeff explained. “Other people have been calling me for interviews all day,” he told Noah, wincing. “I didn’t tell you that.”

“About the website?” Noah asked.

Jeff nodded. “Yeah. Patty’s been fending them off. But this…” He shook his head. “Pippa wants to do a live interview tomorrow in New York.”

“She wants you to come out,” Noah said softly. “On national television. Jeff, are you ready?”

Jeff looked up at him. “I don’t know. I…shit.” He broke off and ran a hand through his hair.

“No one else has done anything like that,” Noah cautioned. “I mean, in the entertainment industry, sure. Musicians and actors and people like that. But no one in the news.”

“I know, and I never wanted to be the first.” Jeff shook his head again. “Then again, half our viewers have seen the picture already, so what have I got to lose?”

“What about your job? Has Patty said anything about where TNN is with all this?”

Jeff smiled ruefully. “She says if it was up to her, I’d be on assignment right now. But she admitted that the suits weren’t very happy about the situation. They say the whole thing is a distraction from the news, but what they’re really scared about is some advertising clients pulling out of the network.”

Noah scowled. “Assholes.”

Jeff shrugged helplessly. “The TV news audience skews toward an older demographic, you know that. Grandma and Grandpa Middle America might not want to watch TNN anymore if they’re seen as promoting ‘the gay lifestyle.’”

“This is so unfair!” Noah objected. “You didn’t choose to have your private life put on the Internet.”

Jeff shrugged again. “It doesn’t matter, Solo. What’s done is done, and now we just have to deal with it.” He took a deep breath. “I’m thinking of doing the interview.”

Noah’s breath caught. “Seriously?”

“Yeah.” Jeff frowned. “But what about you? After all, I’d be coming out, but so would you. I don’t want to put you through that if you’re not ready.”

“Are you kidding?” Noah asked. “I’ve survived a homicidal homophobic father, a traumatic brain injury, and nearly getting my leg blown off. You think I care what some gossip columnist says about me?” He leaned forward. “I’m behind you one hundred percent, Carter, whatever you decide. I’ve got your back no matter what.”

Jeff smiled. “I know that, sweetheart.” His eyes widened suddenly. “Holy shit! My grandmother watches Ninety Minutes! This really could give her a stroke. Or more likely,” he added, “she’ll cut me out of my inheritance.”

He smiled up at Noah again. “Noah Mayer, will you still love me if I’m a just a poor struggling journalist?”

Noah laughed. “We’ll be fine, babe,” he said. “I just got a job offer.”

Casey looked up from scrolling his cell phone. “I don’t mean to interrupt this tender moment,” he said, “but if you’re thinking of flying to New York, you’d better get moving. There’s a major blizzard heading our way, and there’s a good chance O’Hare will be shut down by midnight.”

“Shit,” Noah said. He looked at Jeff. “I want to go with you, but I’m not supposed to fly so soon after surgery. Maybe I can—”

“No,” Jeff said instantly, standing. “I am not letting you take that risk. I’ll stay here. Pippa will have to reschedule the interview.”

“That won’t happen,” Noah argued. “Her network will get cold feet, and you know it.”

Jeff hesitated. “You’re right, but—”

“Go,” Noah ordered. “Go,” he said again when Jeff hesitated. “I’m not going to hold you back. If you catch the next flight out of Oakdale, you can make it out of Chicago ahead of the storm. Kick ass on the interview and give Pippa my love.”

“Are you sure?” Jeff asked. “I just got here. I don’t want to leave you again.”

Noah leaned his crutches against the wall, then cradled Jeff’s face in both hands. “I love you and I’m not going anywhere,” he said firmly. “I will be waiting for you when you get back. Now get the hell out of here.”

“I love you.” Jeff kissed him once, then again. “I’ll call you. I’ll email—”

“GO!” Noah yelled, pointing at the door.

“I’m going, I’m going!” Jeff grabbed his laptop case and scuttled out the door.

Noah looked at Casey.

“Still want that ginger-ale?” Casey asked.

Noah took a deep breath. “Screw that,” he said. “I’m getting a beer, and you are getting me drunk.”

To be continued…

Comments:


valenti1965
valenti1965 at 2013-08-16 20:35 (UTC) (Link)
Another fantastic chapter of this fabulous story! AND You have me feeling sorry for Reid :-O that never happens lol so Jeff is going to tell his side of the story? Cool er just hope he makes it there safely!!

Can't wait to see what happens next! Xxxn
random_nic
random_nic at 2013-08-16 23:57 (UTC) (Link)
Awwwww Reid. <3 Hope Luke's got his head out of the sand now - he can't have Noah, but Reid's one hell of a consolation prize! Now if he can just get Reid to forgive him one more time...

I am not at all comfortable with Jeff getting on a plane with an impending blizzard. Yikes!
Shavon
jeri_1116 at 2013-08-17 05:57 (UTC) (Link)
I am not feeling Jeff getting on a plane with a storm a brewing. Please let him make if off that plane in one peice. I felt so bad for Reid, he really poured his heart out. Luke better wake the hell up. Noah is taken, Luke needs to move on. Hope Reid makes him stew for a bit.

Loved Casey in this. Is also hoping Noah stays in town, him and Jeff could make a home there, adopt some kids. One can dream. :D

Also hope Reid gets what he wants and it last more than 6months. Luke's put him threw shit, he deserves his dues.


Anyway great chapter! Can't wait to see what u do next.
wheelie47
wheelie47 at 2013-08-17 07:43 (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter!

Ah so it was Reid. Thought so. He really laid his cards on the table there.

And Jeff taking off with snow on the way.I'm feeling an uh oh coming on!
seajellybaby
seajellybaby at 2013-08-17 10:51 (UTC) (Link)
OMG! Adore this chapter so much! Also, for the first time I found myself cheering for Reid! LOL! But then grand gestures are really the only thing that seems to work on Luke once he's got his head set on something else!

Loved the moment of heartbreak in there, when Luke and Noah both fully let go... It's still painful, but it's the right thing to do in this situation.

Poor Jeff! Having to face live TV to explain himself! It's a shame they have to part again...

And Casey! OH! The love!

Brilliant!
Writer
aspirwriter at 2013-08-18 17:16 (UTC) (Link)
Have followed this story the whole way. Expertly written. You've got us all rooting for Noah/Jeff, so don't let us down :) This damn storm better not get in the way.

I LOVE how you write Casey--perfection.

Tom

(IMHO...A "nuke" ending doesn't necessarily have to have them together as a couple. Best friends who've been around and around the block together, grown up together in many ways, and now at peace with the important role that each plays in the other's life.... just my opinion :) )

Great writing as always.

Tom
pirl
pirl at 2013-08-18 20:43 (UTC) (Link)
Hahaha! Casey is perfect. Noah and Jeff are fucking adorable (of course!) and Reid! You made me feel an emotion other than indifference or loathing for Reid!! You write with magic words....

I'm not going to get my panties in a bunch about Jeff taking off before the blizzard. Perhaps it's just my midwest-ness, having flown in crap weather plenty times before, or maybe my naivete that you would actually do something SOOOO CRUEL to them now that Noah didn't get blown up, that Luke didn't mess everything up, and Jeff still loves his Solo like the Wookie he is.

Cuz you would neeeeeever do something like that. >.>

I do want to thump Noah on the head tho for going out in an impending snow storm with his busted up leg, on painkillers, and looking to tie one on. That's bad news bears.

And am I the only one who was like, "Oy! Dumbos! You have a TV station right there *in town.* You can do a satellite interview, DUH!" But by all means keep gushing over how hot your man looks with a beard. Nomnomnom...

Boys....




myalterego1 at 2013-08-19 20:39 (UTC) (Link)
I loved how you resolved the Reid/Luke/Noah triangle. Why am I finding it easy to believe that Reid and Luke have this dramatic dysfunctional relationship in Oakdale? I can so see Reid addicted to Luke and Luke addicted to drama. And Casey's comment about them breaking up in six months. Priceless. Luke is his mother!

Meanwhile, loved Casey's job offer and how Jeff and Noah are so happy. I didn't think I'd ever root for someone other than Luke, but you pulled it off!

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