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Tension - it's what Luke joined the gym to escape. But well, what else can he call this bunched up feeling, like he's run for miles and bench pressed hundreds, like he's in need of so much water, a whole waterfall, a - oh feck.

Water's falling, shiny under the bright lights of the gym, just dripping down the hot guy across the room that Luke may have been fixated on for the past minute or two. May have been because boy, does Pilates look good on him.

Hot guy sits back now, lounging with his legs outstretched, long and tanned, striking against the ribbed blue mat. Droplet after droplet slide shameless down his chin, his neck, his fitted tee. Then the guy screws the cap back on his water bottle and lord, his biceps. Did Luke ask for this? No. Oh no, he did not.

Turning, Luke considers his options. There's a row of treadmills overlooking the streets. Boring but maybe. There are weights, stationary bikes, and those funny-looking giant balls that are great for core muscles and balance (and balanced core muscles). Once again maybe but Luke isn't keen on falling on his ass and making a fool of himself in front of anyone, much less that guy.

"Don't know where to start?"

Luke startles at the voice. "Oh god, it's you!"

And it is. It's tall, dark, and handsome from earlier. The very one. The one with the damp shirt and the blue eyes and the short, mussed up curls, the one with the nice arms and chiseled jaw and the wet, wet… lips.

Luke closes his eyes and wipes a hand over his forehead, over non-existent sweat. "I mean, it's me. It's totally me. I uh- yeah, I have no idea where to start." He chuckles nervously. "Obviously. There's just so much." He throws his arms around, encompassing the 'so much', which includes all six foot something of the hot guy himself.

Tall and Knowing throws him the tiniest smirk, kind of politely. It's weirdly hot. "Well, you're in luck. Hi, I'm Noah. I'm a personal trainer here at Moon's."

"Luke." Luke holds out his hand. And good gosh, what a grip. He gulps.

The guy - Noah - mistakes his action for nerves. "Don't worry. I don't bite."

"Ha!" Luke tries not to choke on his own saliva. "If you say so."

Noah smiles at him. So encouraging. "So, what do you like to do, Luke?"

Luke licks his lips, bites his tongue. The way Noah says his name. "Uh, basketball!" He snaps his fingers, half hoping to snap himself out of it, not that it works. "I played basketball in high school."

"Ah," Noah tuts. "We don't have a basketball court here, but what do you think about kickboxing?"

"Kickboxing?" Luke makes a question mark with the whole of his face, his hands, and his shoulders too. He doesn't know the first thing about kickboxing, but if it means spending time with Noah...

"Is that kicking or is that boxing?" He jokes, flicking his eyes up to Noah's in a way that his friend Maddie would call flirty.

"That's a very good question." Noah leans down and cups a hand over his mouth like he's dispensing a secret. "It's both," he says, and a warm puff of air dusts Luke's face, dusts it red.

If Luke doesn't know any better, he would say Noah's flirting back. But well, when has his luck ever?

"Interested?" Casual as you please, Noah reaches over and rests a hand over his shoulder. Friendly. It's just a friendly gesture. If it were his friend Casey, Luke would think nothing of it.

Only, this is Noah and this feels warm. Luke's whole shoulder feels warm, warming to hot. "Maybe," Luke says as he ducks his head, tucking in a small smile to himself. "I could be persuaded."

And that's how he finds himself in the next room, in front of a mirrored wall, Noah beside him showing him the basic stances.

Then Noah's behind him, adjusting his elbows and his feet and Luke really has sweat on his forehead now.

"You feel that? You should feel some tension in your muscles, like a coil about to be sprung, but also at the same time- free, like you can go in any direction from here."

Luke feels his breath go a little short. After all, Noah's down on one knee in front of him. "Yeah."

"Now try taking a swing at me." Noah stands, towering a bit. "Pretend I'm the punching bag."

Luke swallows back his retort - you're too pretty to be a punching bag - and jerks his head in a nod.

"Don't worry about hitting me." Noah taps his own forearm. "I know how to block." And Noah grins, all teeth, slow and cocky.

It does something to Luke, makes his mouth fall open, going a little dry. What Noah said - it isn't remotely sexy. At least it isn't meant to be. And yet, all Luke can imagine is Noah catching him, spinning him, long arms and legs on him, and Luke's sweatpants were not made for thoughts like these.

"Here goes." He takes a deep breath and swings, blindly, with zero finesse.

Noah catches his fist with ease, moves it back. "Like this." Noah shoulders in beside him and looks to the mirror. "Watch me. You want your arms up, close to your face, and elbows like this, tucked in, close to your ribcage, and your legs should be out shoulder-width apart, okay? See how I can bounce on the balls of my feet and reach out like this and like this with my arms?"

Reach me with your arms, Luke thinks, as he tries to ignore the flush on his own cheeks. "Yeah, mmm-hmm." He runs a hand through his hair and tries to look natural.

Quick as lightning, Noah throws two punches and twists his body, swinging out with his foot. It makes a fap-fap-fap sound and steals Luke's breath. "Just like that."

Luke throws him an incredulous look.

Noah smiles and throws up his hands. "I promise it's not as hard as it looks. You'll nail this by the end of the month."

"I raise you by end of the week." Luke has no idea why he said that. And he wants to take it back immediately.

But Noah's smiling at him, absolutely grinning. "Oh, it's like that, is it?"

"You bet your trainer ass it is." Luke can't help smiling either but gosh, how does the move go again? "Can you show me one more time?"

Noah ends up showing him about twenty more times and Luke punches and kicks at nothing vigorously until he can feel it in the muscles that he didn't even know he had.

"You're doing great, Luke." Noah pats his back and squeezes his upper arm and Luke really, really likes this... gym.

"I took what, two hours, to learn to stand and kick at air."

"And you'll do both better next time." Noah looks down at the towel in his hands and quirks his lips and Luke can't help the indignant huff that comes out of his mouth. It just pushes Noah's smile wider though.

"Oh, I'll do so much better next time, you just watch!"

"I will. You can count on it."

And there it is again - that tone. Luke can't help the way his face muscle twitches, something resembling happy.

~~

Oakdale is small, hopeless small, small town gossips small. Some days Luke wishes he lived somewhere anonymous - New York or L.A. or maybe even Boston.

"So... how was your workout?" Maddie smiles slyly at him as she sips at her milkshake.

"Was it a workout?" Jade lifts an eyebrow at him.

"Ugh, spare me the visuals." Casey shoves two fries into his mouth.

Maddie just laughs at her boyfriend and leans against him, their arms kissing. They look disgusting, so disgustingly cute. (Goals, honestly.)

"What visuals?" Luke kicks at his friend under the table. "It's not like I said something about being all sweaty and-and hot in a locker room after a really rough game of handball."

"Nice!" Maddie says at the same time that Casey huffs out, "Seriously?" and glares at him. Jade just cackles.

"But it was really fun." Luke can't help the small bubble of smile at his cheeks. "Kickboxing is great."

"Noah, right?" Jade flicks extra salt off her fries and Luke regrets telling his cousin anything. "Is he gay?"

Luke shrugs. He knows better than to assume.

"I can find out for you."

"Jade, no!" All three of them exclaim at the same time.

She shrugs. "Your loss."

Luke's pretty sure it's not a loss. Just the anticipation itself, even if it turns out to be nothing, has him floating, despite his sore muscles.

~~

"How are you doing?" Noah reaches over and squeezes his shoulder in greeting and Luke feels even lighter than when he left the gym last time.

"Good, good, I'm good. I'm ready to kick and I'm ready to box."

Noah grins at him. "Just so you know, since it's your second session, I'm not gonna to go easy on you."

"Easy?" Luke feigns surprise, clutching at his chest. "Oh, I don't think you know the meaning of that word, Noah."

Noah just smiles. "How do you feel about practicing on an actual punching bag today?"

"Really? Bring it!"

"Can't. Too heavy."

Luke rolls his eyes but inwardly laughs. Gosh, Noah's such a dork.

"I just have to settle for taking you to it." Noah says as he walks backward, as if he can't take his eyes off of Luke. Yeah, right, Luke chides himself. Still, it's a nice thought.

The room they step into this time shines with mirrors too, but unlike the sparse room last time - "This is where we usually hold our Zumba and yoga classes," Noah had explained - this room is dotted with punching bags (a zigzag of five) hanging from the ceiling, chained and intimidating. It smells stronger too, like sweat and tears.

Noah lays both hands on Luke's shoulders and Luke leans back, automatic, can't help it. He really shouldn't be getting used to Noah's hands on him though. Shouldn't.

"Relax," Noah says in his ear, and Luke relaxes not at all.

"Warm-ups! I should-I should stretch, right?" Luke fiddles with his hands and tries not to look at Noah's arms and legs, how they're still long and lean, toned and gorgeous, how they're still totally unfair.

"Yes, you do that. I'll get us gloves." Noah gives him a look then says, almost as an afterthought, as his eyes cut to the side, "Protection's important."

Luke absolutely does not trip over his feet. At least, it's the flooring's fault. Nevermind that it's lined with mats. He does not splutter either. And that smirk on Noah's face? It's probably some trick of the lighting. Yup.

With a groan, Luke sinks to the mats. Might as well. Maybe he can do some push-ups while he's here. Or well, maybe like two push-ups.

"One," he counts out loud as he straightens his arms. "Two." He presses back down to the floor.

A glove bounces, landing close to his face, and he blinks at it, then up at Noah who's bent over, chasing after the glove with pinked cheeks.

"Sorry," Noah mutters. "Dropped one."

"I can see that." Luke sits back, sprawled on the floor, legs akimbo, and makes no attempt to get up. (Push-ups still suck.) Lazily, he studies Noah, the strong profile of his forehead, his nose, his lips. From here, Noah looks good, handsome like a shy prince. But then again, Luke just bets Noah looks good from any angle.

"You ready?" Noah holds out the glove he retrieved. This close up, Noah's eyes are mesmerizing. Worse, they're warm, inviting.

Luke stares back (can't help it). "Yeah." His voice catches on his lips, stumbles out breathy, and he notices Noah noticing. All of the sudden, the air feels like tighter, like gravity's flopped sideways, dragging Luke and Noah both eyes to lips.

Then a loud squeak-bang! The door opens and Noah turns to look over his shoulder. "Hey, Tony."

Luke curses this Tony and the gods of timing. But privately he also thanks them. What was he thinking? They're in public, not to mention he's only met Noah three days ago.

"Yo, what's up, Noah. Hey, what are you still doing here? Isn't your shift over?"

Luke looks to Noah in surprise, but Noah's busy blushing and looking away. "Um, I'm switching. With Alison."

Tony pauses and slides Luke a look. "Does Alison know that?"

"Don't you have a date you need to get to?" Noah crosses his arms.

Tony smirks at him but starts setting down the gloves and the stack of towels that he carried in. "Reg isn't going anywhere. And that hot tub - that hot tub's not going anywhere." With the last towel stashed away, he turns to Noah with a mock salute. "Have fun, guys. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"You'd do anything though," Luke thinks he hears Noah mutter under his breath.

Tony laughs and bounces out the door with a "see ya!"

Squeak! Bang!

"Sorry about… all that." Noah clears his throat. "You ready to learn jabs and crosses?"

"What about roundhouse kicks?" Luke counters. "Those look cool." And they did. Luke did his research last night. He finds that he wants to do well, for some reason.

Some reason smiles at him, full and genuine, if a little shy and still a bit red. "We'll get there," he promises.

Luke nods. "Okay." He has a good feeling they will. "Then show me the jabbercrosses!"

"Gloves first." Noah reaches for his hand and snaps back the strap of velcro. Its whine, luckily, is just loud enough to cover the thumps at Luke's chest.

"Are they supposed to be this heavy?" Luke frowns at the gloves. They weigh a ton.

Noah presses down firm, sealing the strap. "You'll be thankful for the padding once you start hitting that." He gestures at a bag.

Luke purses his lips. He supposes so. After all, Noah's the expert. Still, he feels like his wrists are going to break. The gloves are so big.

"It's like new glasses. You'll get used to them. Trust me."

For some reason, when Noah says 'trust me' with his earnest eyes soft on him, Luke believes him. He nods and knocks his gloves together at the knuckles. "All right, let's do this."

Noah teaches him the direction in which to point his thumbs, when to turn his wrist, how to stand (once again), and how to line his whole body up with the movement of a cross.

"Don't break your hips." And Luke thinks he's barely breathing for how Noah's hand's on his hip, correcting his form. "You want your whole body weight to be the force."

"Like I'm a wrecking ball?" And Luke tries to imagine it.

"Just like that." Noah swallows, his Adam's apple pulling Luke's focus. "Let's do this in slow motion one more time. You're almost there."

"Okay." Luke takes a deep breath and lets Noah guide him, hands on his shoulder, his hip, his leg.

"Perfect."

Luke blushes and clamps down hard on a grin. "Now fast?"

"Now regular speed." Noah side-eyes him and Luke can't help sticking his tongue out.

"Hah!" He calls out as he delivers a cross to the punching bag just like Noah's been showing him.

"Not bad."

Luke scoffs. "Not bad?"

Noah uncaps a water bottle and holds it up to Luke's lips. "Not bad," he repeats.

Luke drinks, doesn't break eye contact. Absently, he thinks he might be dying from all this not-flirting with Noah. It's worse than all the not-flirting he's ever done before in his life. Also, it's mid-December. When did it get this hot? He swallows down the cool liquid. It helps. Minisculely.

"Let's try that again." Noah gets back into instructor mode and gestures at the bag. "This time turn your body faster. It'd be a more effective punch."

Luke sighs. "You just want my hands to fall off."

Noah chuckles softly. "Believe me, I don't want that."

Luke bites his tongue, hard, and tries. He tries to ignore the way Noah's looking at him, all intensity and gym god vibes. Focus. He needs to focus. Turning, he takes out his frustration on the punching bag, going faster this time as Noah has urged.

"Better." Noah touches his ankle, fingers lingering. "You want to line this up though. Your shoulder and hip are good, but you want to line your foot up too."

Luke curses everything, especially the fact that he has never before in his life considered his foot an erogenous zone.

"Thirsty?" Noah misinterprets his nervous lick.

"Sure." Luke nods. He could use some water. At the very least, it'll shut him up so he can't word-vomit something inappropriate and destroy this budding trainer-trainee-friend?-ship.

Unlucky for him, Luke doesn't catch all the water this time and some dribbles out of his mouth, down his chin. Out of habit, he lifts a hand to wipe away the excess only to realize the glove's still on, a bulbous monstrosity he's not keen on wiping his mouth with.

Never in a million years does he expect Noah to reach over and help him out. But there he is. There's Noah. There's Noah's thumb on on the edge of his lips, wiping, too warm, too close. Just as quickly as he appeared, however, Noah's stepping away. "Sorry."

Luke's not sure what Noah's sorry about but he's really, really not. "No, it's fine. Thanks. You should see what a mess an overexcited four-year-old plus cereal plus chocolate milk can make on Christmas morning." He laughs a little, hysteria just one little part of it all. Mostly, it's fondness. He loves little Ethan.

Noah looks up at that. "Did you just compare yourself to a four-year-old?"

"Hey, for all you know that four-year-old is me."

"Is it? You're younger than I thought."

"Shut up!" Luke says without heat as he shoves at Noah. "And that four-year-old's my brother, I'll have you know. Well, one of my brothers. I have sisters too. There are a lot of us."

"Sounds nice." Noah looks a little wistful as he sets the water bottle down. "It's just been my dad and I. But it's not all bad. I got to travel around the world. Army brat," Noah explains, pointing to himself.

"Yeah? Is that why you're so fit?" Damn it. Luke doesn't mean to go there.

But Noah surprises him. "You're not so bad yourself," Noah says as he gives him a once over.

Luke fidgets and tries not to blush. "Thanks. I... live on a farm. So, it's all the tractor driving and mucking out stalls."

"You can drive a tractor?"

"I can drive a tractor," Luke confirms. "My dad taught me."

"Your dad sounds pretty amazing."

Luke smiles. "Yeah, he is. Holden's actually my step-dad but he's just dad to me, you know? He's always been there for me. He even helped deliver me!"

"Wow."

"Yeah, I know. My family - my family can get a little crazy sometimes, like a real life soap opera." And Luke ducks his head, trying not to think about the latest episode.

"Is that why you came here? To get away a little bit?"

Luke looks up. Is he that transparent?

"I mean- you don't - you don't have to tell me anything. I know we just met."

Luke finds that he wants to though. There's something about Noah that makes him want to tell him everything. "Is it weird that I feel like I've known you for much longer?"

"No, not at all." Noah smiles, full and shy and genuine, crinkling up his eyes. "Same here."

Luke smiles back, his heart aflutter.

Their moment's broken by two sharp points of laughter by the door. Noah takes a step back as the door opens to reveal the owners of the voices.

"Hey, Noah! I wasn't expecting you tonight." A girl in perky ponytail waves at him.

"Hey," Noah clears his throat. "Alison."

"What are you doing here? Didn't you have that paper to finish?" Alison snaps up gloves for herself and her companion, who turns out to be none other than-

"Maddie?!"

"Hey, Luke!" Maddie smiles sweetly at him and comes over to give him a hug. "You raved about kickboxing so I had to check it out! Alison's going to show me."

"Oh, great. That's great." Luke makes sure Maddie gets just how great it is that she's here to spy on him. Super great.

Maddie ignores him. "Hi! You must be Noah." She extends her hand. "I've heard so much about you!"

"You have?"

"Well, you've met our Luke," she tilts her head charmingly. "Oh, and I'm sure if you need help with your paper, Luke here can do it. He's a really, really good writer. And, bonus, he can definitely fill up the pages no problem."

Noah smiles at that. "A man with talent."

"Luke's very talented. Did you know he won an essay contest a couple of years ago?"

"Oh, yeah?" Noah's gravitating towards her, super charmed as expected. Luke's not jealous at all.

Maddie's lovely. Luke loves Maddie. Usually. Only, right now it feels like she's trying to steal his not-boyfriend and succeeding without even trying.

Luke takes a deep breath and tunes out their chatter. As cleanly as he could, he executes a jab, a cross, and a side kick in quick succession.

"Look at you go!" Maddie claps her palms together and beams at him, her eyes the size of moons.

"That was really good, Luke." Alison gives him a thumbs up.

Noah though seems less enthused. "Do that again." Noah taps the bag and half hugs it so it stops swinging.

Luke wants to pout. "Alison said I was really good."

"Too bad. Alison's not your trainer." Noah pats the punching bag. "Do that again."

"Bye, boys! It was nice to meet you, Noah." Maddie calls out as she leaves with Alison.

Luke doesn't even care where they're going because really? What's Noah's problem? It's not like Luke's the one who flirted with Maddie just then.

He takes a steady breath and repeats the movement again, paying attention to the point of his thumbs and the turn of his wrist, the freaking lining up of his shoulder, hip, and toes as he kicks.

He gets a nod for his efforts.

"Well?" Luke prompts.

"Watch your elbow." Noah taps the bag. "Again."

Luke goes with it a couple more rounds until he can't stand it anymore. Noah's no longer offering him conversation or water or eye contact or anything other than this thick cord of awkward.

"Okay." Luke drops his arms and stares at Noah, who looks drop dead gorgeous even with a frown on his face. "What's wrong, Noah?"

"Nothing." Noah swallows nervously and takes a half step back.

"Really? Cause you haven't looked me in the eyes for the past five minutes."

Deliberately, Noah drags his eyes up. "You're not even wearing a watch," he accuses. But there's a tiny curl of amusement in the twitch of his mouth, so Luke counts it as a win.

"Neither are you," he counters senselessly.

It gets him a smile though, which feels like an olive branch.

"Hey," Luke pushes it a little further because he can. "Can I have some water?"

Noah nips at his bottom lip and turns to grab the water bottle. "Yeah." He straightens and Luke doesn't even think about it, just steps closer, leaning in to drink, trying not to spill this time.

Once he starts, he realizes how thirsty he is. Quickly, he finishes the rest of the bottle and smacks his lips. "Mmm," he hums, satisfied. It's then that he notices how close they're standing, how Noah's breathing shallowly, just staring at him.

And staring at him.

It takes a second, maybe two, for Noah's eyes to work its way up from Luke's mouth to Luke's eyes.

It takes another for Luke's gaze to drop to Noah's lips and round-trip up.

It takes nothing at all for their breaths to hitch, their heads to tilt. Noah moves first, lips closing around Luke's upper lip as the empty bottle falls away, forgotten.

One delicious suck and the pressure's gone. Luke steadies himself with gloves on Noah's waist and looks up, dazed. Noah's still staring at him, gaze hot but uncertain, like maybe he's asking for permission. So Luke looks back steadily, tries to give him all the permission slips. A whole school bus full. Take.

Noah latches on, hands cupping Luke's jaw and ears as he dives back in. They meet in the middle. They meet in the middle over and over. Luke hears nothing save for the rustle of their shirts, the harshness of their breathing, the slick-hot slide of Noah's lips against his. He certainly doesn't hear the door.

He thinks he hears the door closing though, which is weird, but he can't be too bothered. Noah's still kissing him.

Until Noah isn't anyway. "Did you hear that?"

"...no?"

Noah looks at him, probably seeing too much, like how Luke's definitely heard the door closing too. Abruptly, Noah pulls away. "Sorry. I-I shouldn't have-" He cards a hand through his hair. Then the other hand too. He looks a mess.

Which is exactly how Luke feels. "Noah," he licks at his lips and tries to calm the frantic beating of his own heart. "It's okay." He's not sure whom he's trying to calm. Maybe both of them. "I bet that was just Maddie. She is here to spy on me, you know..." he trails off. With a small smile, he holds out his hands, which are still weighed down with gloves. "Help me out of these?"

Noah nods and rounds back to him, to undo the velcro. He can't undo the kiss though and Luke wants to make sure that's okay, that they're okay. He catches Noah's fingers in his once the gloves are off.

"Noah," he starts and then stops, nerves jumping, jumbling his thoughts. "Was it-? It's not that I'm a bad kisser, right?" He breaks off in a nervous laugh.

"No!" Noah curls his fingers over Luke's, tugs him in close. "It's- you're-"

"-pretty great?" Luke teases with a smile and a lift of his eyebrow and ignores how shaky he sounds.

Noah frames his cheeks again, kisses him in response, soft and sweet, just once. "I'm just not-"

"-out?" Luke guesses. "It's not easy coming out."

"No, it's not. Especially when your dad's a colonel in the army and this is the last thing he wants you to be. Well, besides becoming a filmmaker."

"You want to be a filmmaker?" Luke brings a hand up and squeezes Noah's hand. "That's cool. I want to be a writer."

Noah brightens at that. "You could write me scripts."

"You don't even know if I'm any good." Luke pokes at Noah's chest, light and teasing.

Noah catches his finger, caging it loosely, and rubs. "I have it on good authority that you're pretty talented. You don't know if I'm any good."

Luke tries to ignore his index finger, how it feels like kindling in between Noah's fingers, more and more combustible with every touch. "That's true. You could totally suck."

Noah snorts. "That's it." He pushes Luke away lightly. "On the mat. Give me twenty push-ups!"

"Harsh." Luke laughs. "You're a real drill Sergeant when you want to be, huh?"

"I'm a trainer," Noah offers dryly.

"But this isn't your shift."

Noah swallows. "No."

Luke curls his lips in to contain his smile. Not that it can be contained. "You missed me."

Noah doesn't deny it. "My next shift is tomorrow night at seven, if you can make it."

Luke doesn't bother suppressing his smile this time. "I'll make it."

~~

how was the kiss cause it looked HOT

Luke rolls his eyes at the text. At least it confirms that it was Maddie at the door. He itches to text Noah to let him know, but remembers he doesn't have Noah's numbers yet. Tomorrow...

~~

When Luke finally makes it out to the gym at nine forty-five, he doesn't find Noah in any of the main rooms. He spots Tony though at the weights.

"Hey. Tony, right?"

"Hey." Tony huffs, out of breath as he is from however many reps of lifts he's been doing. "Noah's in the showers."

"In the showers." Luke blinks. "In the showers as in he's in there working or-?"

Tony huffs, half laughs. "No, he's washing up. There was a Gatorade accident."

"Of course there was." Luke's not sure he wants to know. At least he hasn't missed Noah entirely. "Thanks."

He looks around the room. There's a woman on the treadmill, earbuds in and curls flouncing at a furious speed. In another corner, there's a guy working his back muscles, pulling down weights as his trainer counts him off.

Luke feels tired just looking at them go.

"You're not gonna change today?" Tony gestures at his jeans and sweater and coat.

Luke looks down at himself. "Nope. I told Noah I'd be here, so I just came by to let him know I can't kick-box today."

"You can't kick-box today?"

Luke looks up at the voice. Noah. Noah's come in, hair still damp. He looks clean scrubbed and perfect and Luke takes a second to find his voice. "Hi."

"Hi."

"Bye." Tony walks in between them. "I'm off."

"Bye Tony." Noah nods at him. When Tony's out of earshot, Noah steps closer and rests a hand on Luke's shoulder. "Do you want to go grab a cup of coffee? I'm off in ten, if you can wait?"

Luke doesn't feel giddy. He doesn't. "Yeah, I've got time."

~~

There are no coffee shops open at ten p.m. in Oakdale. At least not in Old Town.

"I swear it's not a line, but my other part-time job is working as a barista here." Noah points at the closed shop front of Java café.

"How have I not run into you before? I'm like fifty percent coffee."

Noah smiles back at him, cheeks puffed and eyes shy.

"Sorry, I interrupted you."

Noah swallows. "I can make a decent cup of coffee," he says quietly. "If you-if you want to come back to mine?"

Luke doesn't think his heart has ever beaten this fast before. But then again he has never been in a relationship or been with anyone before and this is all just a little fast.

"Unless you want to come back to mine?" He counters. "The Snyder farm has like fifty rooms and a pond and a barn and-"

Noah squeezes his hand. "Sounds perfect."

~~

They end up drinking hot chocolate that Luke's grandma Emma makes for them and a slice each of her sweet potato pie.

"Mrs. Snyder, this is the best thing I've ever eaten in my life." Noah forks up another bite.

Emma laughs, hearty and happy. "Then eat as much as you want, sweetheart. There are three more of these in the fridge." She pats at Luke. "I like him. Bring him around anytime."

Luke just shakes his head. First Maddie's taken with Noah and now his grandma. He looks at both of their beaming faces and can't help smiling anyway. "Thanks grandma." He squeezes her hand.

After she's gone to bed and another couple of slices of pie have disappeared from the dish, Luke takes Noah around to the Snyder pond, to walk off their snack.

Luke's recounting how they had caught a whole bunch of Pokémons there the other day when Noah turns to him and cups his face and steals a quick kiss.

"What's that for?" Luke smiles as he tips his forehead against Noah's.

"Everything. Inviting me here. Showing me this place. It's so peaceful here, beautiful."

"You're welcome." Luke nudges at Noah's chest. "In fact, according to my grandma, you're welcome here anytime."

Noah goes quiet, contemplative, as they start walking again.

"Penny for your thoughts?"

"Your kitchen table - I can't help noticing how big it is. It must seat so many."

"It does, yeah. You won't believe how noisy it gets with all of us or how full the sink gets, after, with all the dishes."

"Must be nice. Our holidays are always quiet, if observed at all."

"Hey," Luke leans into Noah's side. "I meant it. You're welcome here anytime."

Noah doesn't say anything and when Luke looks up, he can see why. Noah's all choked up. Luke leans up and kisses him, soft and slow at first, comforting. But then the kisses build and build until they're hot and hard, until Luke's pressed up against a tree trunk.

"Luke," Noah tucks his face to Luke's ear when they break apart. "We should probably stop?"

Luke could feel how tense Noah is, what a hard line he forms all along his front. "You want to stop?"

Noah groans into the skin of his neck. "No, not at all. But-" he pulls off to look at Luke. But it's not what I want our first time to be like. Luke gets it. He's thinking the same.

Noah swallows and pushes away a little more. "But there are probably unsuspecting Pokémons running around here."

Luke burst out laughing.

When he's gotten a hold of himself, he tugs at Noah's sleeves. "Noah?"

"Yeah?"

"Invite me to yours again? Maybe when I've mastered the roundhouse kick?"

Noah grins, brighter than all the stars. "Okay."

They move back into a hug, tucked perfectly into each other, quiet for a moment. Then- "So, I'll see you at the gym tomorrow?"

Luke laughs and pushes at Noah. "Do you even have a shift?"

"Shut up." Noah's blushing and gorgeous and adorable and Luke lets himself fall a little more in love.

~~

Roundhouse kicks are harder than Luke ever thought.

They work through it though, gym nights interspersing with date nights.

~~

Luke confesses on Valentine's day, after reading 'Love, Noah' on the card from Noah.

"Same here." Noah tells him, heart in his throat, and it's enough.

~~

"I think you got it."

They stare at each other, barely breathing.

Squeak! Bang!

~~

Water's falling, shiny under the bright light of Luke's shower, just dripping down the hot guy in front of him.

Hot guy smiles back at him and bends to lick a hot stripe up his neck.

"Noah." Luke melts into it, into Noah's touch. Then Noah's sucking at his sensitive spot right below his ear. With a jolt, sweet tension springs back, winding him up, up, up.

"Baby," Luke manages. "Oh fuck."