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How Do I Breathe? - Ramblings
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try! ~Dr. Seuss
How Do I Breathe?
Title: How Do I Breathe?
Rating: PG
Spoilers: contains references to July 3 episode.
Author's Note: I was inspired by and took the title from the song by Mario. May write a song-fic later because I think the lyrics suit Nuke. I meant this to be a short drabble but somehow found myself writing 7 pages. A muse must have been flitting around, looking for a place to land. Please enjoy.
The streetlights lit the sidewalks outside Yo’s as Noah made his way through the couple of groups standing together and talking. Everyone was having a good time.

All Noah wanted to do was find a dark corner and escape. Away from Tony’s wandering hands. Away from Luke’s searching gaze. And away from his own insecurities and uncomfortable feelings. He was trying to feel more natural in his own skin but he felt like he was always shifting, always having to be different with different people. It was mentally and emotionally exhausting.

He found a shadowed spot in against the brick, a small alcove of peace. With a bench. He slid down to sit and let his back come to rest against the cool stone, the shock jarring his senses. The wall was cool and gritty, scraping against his back through his t-shirt. He could feel the stones pricking his skin. He shifted his shoulder, slightly welcoming the feeling. And the memories the place evoked.

He been numb since watching Luke walk out of Java. Time had passed and he’d gone to work and finished moving into his dorm in a slight fog.

When Tony had smiled at him yesterday as he ordered coffee, there had been enough interest vibrating off of him to inspire some response in Noah. So even his lukewarm nod to Tony’s invitation had resulted in their showing up here together tonight. He must have been really out of it lately to miss the face that Cindy Lauper would be performing.

From the moment Noah had met Tony at Java today, things had felt wrong. His skin was tight, working to stretch over rusty joints and old expressions. His lungs had to work for every breath of clean air. His smile wasn’t quite fake, but t certainly wasn’t real. Tony’s hands were too warm and sweaty and Noah couldn’t help pulling out of their grasp and surreptitiously wiping his fingers and palms on his sides as he crossed his arms. But Tony was oblivious, only registering that there was a warm body beside him. Any faceless person would do.

Noah missed mattering to someone. He missed being a whole person with thoughts and feelings, fears and joys.

He crossed his arms to warm up a little bit, rubbing his upper arms through the soft t-shirt material. A door slammed open a few feet away and Noah idly turned his head to the right. He was expecting a stagehand or flushed concert-goer, not Luke’s pale face.

Luke burst out of the darkness to stand in a circle of golden light. He was breathing hard, a hand on his stomach that Noah remembered he placed there to press against jumping nerves. Noah almost took a step to go to him.

“Just take a deep breath. You’re going to do fine.”

Noah recognized that voice. Had recently become (reluctantly) re-acquainted with that voice. For a moment Reg was a ghostly identity existing in the darkness, but not really physically present. But then Luke looked up and smiled and Reg tainted the light.

“It’s just an interview, honey. Just writing like you’re so good at.”

Luke ducked his head sheepishly at the compliment, at Reg’s deep chuckle that followed. Noah’s back tensed.

“But she’s Cindy Lauper! I can’t just… talk to Cindy Lauper. Why didn’t you warn me about this!”

Reg laughed, loud and brash. It hurt Noah’s ears.

“You’re so cute when you’re nervous. But then again… you’re pretty much always cute.”

Reg’s hands were sliding over Luke’s shoulders. Noah couldn’t tell if he was trying to provide comfort or support, but it looked like he was just trying to touch Luke.

Luke settled his hands on Reg’s hips and Noah felt his own joints tingle. He shifted over the gritty brick again, settling his trunk firmly into the wall. He crossed his arms to stop his hands from fidgiting.    

“I think I just need a few minutes by myself to go over my questions. I’ll come back in and find you in a little while.”


His hands were on Luke’s face now, fingers spread to cover the most area. Noah thought it looked like he was trying to consume Luke.

“Yeah. Just a few minutes.”

“Alright.” His kissed Luke’s cheek, making a big smacking sound that reminded Noah of the baby kisses Ethan would give. Wet and slippery and slightly gross. But Ethan was a baby, it was cute. With a grown man it was disgusting.

Reg backed away, back into the darkness. Noah watched Luke watch Reg. He suddenly felt tired of watching.

The sound of the door closing again seemed to echo in the night. Noah watched Luke deflate before him. It wasn’t obvious but Noah could tell. His own heartbeat reverberated in his ears.

Noah stepped out of his hiding spot while Luke was slightly turned and his gaze was focused in the opposite direction. It gave him a few seconds to try and gather his thoughts. His hands dropped to his sides.


Noah watched Luke’s eyes snap to his before flitting over his face and down his chest.

“Noah? What are you doing out here?”

He took a step closer.

“Needed some air.”

Luke brushed a hand through his hair, the strands bunching up against each other.

“Where’s Tony?” The tone wasn't accusing, wasn't sniping. Simply curious.

Noah shrugged.

“Don’t know.”

He didn’t stop it. Didn’t want to.

“Don’t care.”

They looked at each other. Noah didn’t like the wariness that crossed Luke’s face. When had they become so afraid of each other? They weren’t supposed to be fighting each other. All of their battles were supposed to fought together, against others. When had he forgotten that?

Noah took another step forward.

“I didn’t think about you being here tonight.”

“What?” Luke’s brown furrowed in a question. “Why wouldn’t I be here?”

“I meant that I didn’t plan this out I didn’t think it through.”

“You mean that you didn’t consider how it would make me feel when you showed up here with Tony.”

Luke's time for anger was past. Now all Noah saw was confusion and hurt.

“No, I didn’t. And I’m sorry for that.”

He took another step closer and they were finally face to face. The light embraced both of them, the first time in a long time they’ d been this close without harsh words and flashing eyes.

“Why are you doing this Noah? Why are you here talking to me when your date is inside.”

Noah’s hand lifted to smooth over Luke’s shoulder. He wondered if maybe subconsciously he could banish away any memory of Reg’s hands on Luke in his mind, in Luke's mind. If he could wipe the feeling from Luke’s nerves so that he only remembered Noah’s hands.

Luke had to repeat his question. This time it was a desperate plea for answers.

Why Noah?” 

“Because I can’t stop it anymore.”

His hand cupped the back of Luke’s neck and pulled him up until their foreheads met. Luke’s skin was cool and dry. The feel of his long, slender fingers was familiar when they touched Noah’s hips. Noah’s other hand speared up Luke’s back, suddenly impatient to find warm skin.

He moaned Luke’s name and muttered prayerful, needy words as he dragged him closer. Their mouths met and Noah pulled Luke into himself, hands sliding over skin while he arrowed the fingers of one hand into the messy hair, searching for warmth underneath the cool strands.

It was a kiss from memory when Noah traced his tounge over Luke's lips and teeth, re-orientating himself with the dimensions and shades of Luke's taste. One of them moaned and the sound seemed to echo and bounce back from the brick walls until neither could distinguish who the sounds were coming from.

They broke apart, gasping for air and Noah dropped his head into Luke’s neck. He still smelled the same. Still felt the same.

“I’m sorry,” He said, belatedly feeling Luke’s fingertips clutching at his sides. Scrabbling to find a way to hold on to the moment.

“Noah, what does this mean?”

Noah shook his head, his skin rubbing against Luke’s rough chin.

“Don’t know. Don’t want to think.”

He hugged Luke, his arms banding around his shoulders and torso. His face was still buried under Luke’s chin and he dropped desperate kisses on his collarbone, though his shirt. He didn’t notice how Luke had tensed. Didn’t notice his hands were starting to push against his hold. After a while it was impossible to ignore as Luke furiously rejected his touch.

They were pushed apart and Noah’s head spun at the sudden shock of cool air against his heated skin. His arms started to reach for Luke again but the expression on the other man’s face stopped him.

“You can’t do this to me Noah! You can’t just touch me like this and say that you don’t know what you want!”

He paced away, then back.

“You know I love you Noah, but we’ve got to stop doing this to each other!”

“Luke… I…”

He didn’t have anything to say. His brain was barely working and the only thoughts that were coming to him related to the way Luke’s hair was falling over his brow. The strip of skin revealed between his t-shirt and jeans. The small cut on one of his beautiful hands.

“I can’t do this Noah. I’m supposed to go inside and interview freakin’ Cindy Lauper right now.”

Luke’s tone was slightly frantic but he managed to smile sadly as he lifted his hands, palms toward Noah.

“I want you to be happy. You know that.”

His hands dropped lightly to rest on Noah’s chest.

“I want us to be together. You know that too.”

Noah nodded slowly, his fingertips lifting towards that strip of skin. He barely graced it when Luke stepped away, but his fingertips tingled with the impression of warmth.

“But you’ve got to figure this out. You have make a decision, once and for all.”

They stood silent for a moment and Noah idly wondered that although neither one of them was lit anywhere by streetlights, Luke’s face was still illuminated by… moonlight? Internal brilliance?

It was a sudden shock when the door to the club banged open again.

“Luke, they’re ready for you.”

Luke smiled dimly at Reg, who hadn’t noticed Noah as he stood in the shadows off to the side.

Reg held out a hand and Luke took it as the two started inside.

Noah couldn’t see his eyes, but he wondered if there was challenge or acceptance in them when Luke softly whispered:

“Just let me know.”  

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