Bob: What does it say?
Luke: Driving with an expired license, operating a stolen vehicle, attempting to leave the scene of an accident, and —
All: Resisting arrest.

— Bob, Luke and Kim

FanFic Update | Simple Gifts Chapters 24 and 25

In case you’ve forgotten, when we last left our intrepid heroes, Luke had finally gotten a new iPhone and thanks to tech-savvy writing buddy Tessa, used it to place a call to a certain filmmaker in California, and was otherwise enjoying his new gadget (no, not that way – get your mind out of the gutter!). Reid, meanwhile, distracted upon hearing Noah’s voicemail, has shown up at WOAK looking for Katie. Now that Reid finally has Luke’s new phone number, will the boys every talk again? Stay tuned…

Chapter 24: Oakdale Now

Chapter 25: Deal

Sorry it’s taken so long to get this update out. These two chapters plus the one to follow are all part of one story arc that I found impossible to separate while writing. They were conceived as one gigantic chapter, and written that way. In case you want to start from the previous chapter, you can find that here:

Chapter 23: Bubbles

Or, if you’re completely new to Simple Gifts, or have simply forgotten what it’s all about, you can start from the beginning…

Simple Gifts: A Luke and Reid Fanfiction

Train? What train. Following their first Christmas together, Luke and Reid embark on journeys of self-discovery. Can two simple gifts lead to a happily ever after?

Simple Gifts Chapter 1: Snyder Farm

Enjoy,

-LL

Extended author’s notes follow the break below for anyone who wants to know more about the story behind this chapter.

Author’s Notes – to be read after reading the chapters. Don’t bother reading if you’d prefer not to see your literary sausage being made (not that this qualifies as literature), or if you consider authors’ random ramblings to be self-indulgent snores!

[spoiler name=A/N:]

Note: Chapters 24, 25 & 26 (Oakdale Now, Deal, and one to be named) were originally written as one chapter. Conceptually, I still prefer Oakdale Now and Deal as one chapter, because I think the two moving stories are too parallel to split. But at one point, this material was up to 20,000 words, so pragmatism won out. The notes below still treat refer to them as one chapter.

When I first started Simple Gifts (once I realized it wasn’t just a simple 4-5 chapter story about Christmas), there were a few major milestones and plot points I knew I wanted to address that would make it more than just a string of one-shots strung together. One of the points that was very important to me was to address Reid’s insecurity about Noah.

To me, the show writers gave Reid (and LuRe fans) all sorts of reason to be paranoid about Nuke, not the least being the ambiguous “open-ended” ending for Luke and Noah (which thankfully, Reid was not around to see; I, unfortunately, was not so lucky). But they also showed Reid constantly bringing up Noah out of the blue (playing doctor/”I’m not Noah,” babbling/”Unless you’d rather go to Noah’s”, etc), which also needed addressing.

So storyline-wise, as far as I was concerned, if Luke and Reid had any prayer of a truly lasting happily ever after, a) Luke needed to realize he was over Noah, b) the reader needed to be convinced of such, and c) Reid needed to be convinced – roughly in that order. I don’t actually think Reid’s there yet, but he’s getting there.

A B-plot storyline point was to continue to explore Katie’s relationship with Chris, and its parallel with Luke’s with Reid. Both were “recovering” when Reid/Chris arrived on the scene, and both romantic pairings materialized overnight (well, there were some hints earlier, but really!). But while the show rapidly put the brakes on Luke and Reid, they instead put Chris and Katie on the ultra-fast track. One reason I felt that Katie’s story was important to continue even though this is a Luke and Reid story (duh!), is that for this story to have legs, she couldn’t just be a “simple” prop or “yes man” (woman), but needed at least some depth to her own story.

Specifically, I really believe Reid needs real friends and relationships in Oakdale other than Luke, starting with Katie. So (as those of you who have been reading can tell), their friendship had to play out “on-screen” and it had to be two-way. (Incidentally, like just about everyone, I loved Reid’s dynamic with Henry, so I’m also going to keep developing the C story I wish we’d seen on-screen).

At the same time, the two plot points I knew early on that I knew should drive this storyline were Noah’s reappearance and Reid and Katie sharing the Oakdale Now experience.

I’ll backfill the story on Noah’s reappearance in author’s notes for Chapter 22: Plans (as soon as I can get around to it!) and focus on the  backstory for just this current chapter here.

I had in my mind very early on that a pop psychiatrist would help open Reid and Katie’s eyes to their inner thoughts. People have noted in recent comments on this fic, that when Reid and Luke talk, it should be a doozey of a phone call, and incidentally, when is that going to happen?  Those comments made me smile – because I think that’s what Reid’s both dreading and anticipating. But as the writer, it was important to me that Reid first work through his issues on his own, since Luke simply reassuring him (as he has in the past) wasn’t going to be sufficient (just like Luke needs to work through his own issues, which is why I sent him to Iowa in the first place!).

Katie, OTOH, has been running full-steam ahead into Chris’s arms (and he’s been more than happy to encourage her without hesitation). When she told Reid during the Mona Cross arc that she already had her one great love, it only made me hit my head that much harder when a mere two months later (well three, if you count the final episode fast-forward) she was engaged.

Meanwhile, Reid (in Simple Gifts) has now established a history of expecting Katie to be at his beck and call when he needs her; that history plus his fear that Luke will run back to Noah if he says “boo” made Oakdale Now a backdrop for exploring his thoughts. By having Reid and Katie share this experience, I hoped that they would both unexpectedly learn about themselves through their mutual concern for each other. By setting it at Katie’s workplace, I hoped it would provide a vehicle for her to continue to develop/assert her independence (and for Reid to show her some well-deserved respect). Even if not always borne out by canon, the feminist in me needs Katie to be more than Reid’s friend and Chris’s fiancee (and a LuRe prop).

Originally, I tried to write this chapter to talk about managing life changes – including births, deaths, break-ups, new jobs, and new loves. Dr. Rick had a theory for change based on a business model (which I actually still kind of like but definitely plays out better in concept than on paper!). But what I found was that when I started writing, the change model was so convoluted, I had pages and pages of nothing but Katie and Dr. Rick talking generically about change. Yuck.

So then I tossed the “change model” concept and decided to focus just on grief, even though I wasn’t sure how I was going to connect it to Luke’s situation. Unfortunately, while all this was going on, there was an unfortunate little situation developing on-screen where a certain neurosurgeon was unceremoniously steamrolled by a locomotive. Because of this, I really struggled with how Dr. Rick should present the grieving process – I wanted it to honor the fandom, without trivializing it. I still don’t know if I succeeded, but I hope I at least didn’t insult anyone.

In the meantime, I was still stuck on how to work Luke back into this chapter when I wrote Dr. Rick’s part; what ultimately inspired the endgame for this chapter was the line, “The tears will come less often” (which I admit, I think I stole from a pop-psych self-help website). This gave me the hook I was seeking to explore Chris and Katie (and Katie and Reid), and expand on the fact that we know she has cried on Reid’s shoulder and he has heard her cry herself to sleep at night. Once that scene started to crystallize, Luke’s moving in story fell into place, followed by the much-needed to-do over Noah.

I also struggled with whether or not Reid should have to put up with Noah mementos and ultimately came down on the side of – yes; their love can be strong enough to sustain what should be a non-issue. I have been, and remain friends with most of my ex-boyfriends today. At various times, I have had photos of them (mostly in groups, and later with their girlfriends and wives) up on our walls along with our other friends and family. I do still own photos of my ex’es from when we were dating, but I’m a packrat;  so they sit in storage along with photos of my best friend from second grade’s cat. I have met my husband’s one serious ex. While he’s not the sentimental type, she was really good friends with my sister-in-law, so I have a niece named after my husband’s ex. If we’re adult enough to deal with this then I think Reid is, too.

Creatively and intellectually, this chapter (well chapters) ended up in a really satisfying way for me, so I hope you haven’t all found it dreadfully boring drivel (which I fear, as both LRO and FF have been woefully silent despite a number of hits). Though, if you’ve actually read both chapters and this incredibly long ramble, I already owe you profuse thanks.

As I’ve said elsewhere, whether anyone else actually reads or likes it, I am committed to write Simple Gifts until I come to “the end” (and there are a few potential end points) because I can’t really stop at this point. But feedback (as always) would be appreciated. And let me know if these author notes have been interesting/helpful/dull as dirt or if you’d like to see more.

Thanks for reading!

-LL

[/spoiler]

7 Responses to “FanFic Update | Simple Gifts Chapters 24 and 25”

  1. Sharon says:

    I will continue reading as long as you keep writing.

  2. Sharon says:

    Please keep the chapters coming!! When ATWT went off the air I thought about continuing LuRe’s story on my own, but my ideas could never come close to your portrayal of these fine characters. You have Reid’s sarcasm and self righteous demeanor perfectly. I have only read the first eight chapters, but I am eager to read more and delve further into the complexities of their developing relationship. I miss all of the characters and storylines from ATWT, but the show will forever be in my heart. I have bookmarked this website, so that I don’t miss any of the new posts about my favorite characters and the fabulous actors who brought them to life during ATWT’s final days.

    • lovelure says:

      Thanks, Sharon – I will. It’ll be a few days/week before Chapter 28 due to a combination of it being school vacation/family travel/work deadline week (bad combination) and a storyline crossroads (not sure how to play out the next scene yet, and which flashbacks to use). But I promise, there will be more. Thanks for reading and bookmarking!

  3. Cecelia says:

    I just read the whole story and wanted to thank you. You’ve captured the sweetness of their relationship beautifully. I miss them and your fiction helps fill the void. I was wondering if you actually went to the Iowa Writer’s workshop. If not, you’ve certainly done your homework/research. Thanks for this and your web site. I’ve enjoyed it all summer!

    • lovelure says:

      Hi, Cecilia – no I didn’t attend Iowa Writer’s but several people have asked about it so I will do a brief post about why and what I know about it at some point soon. Thanks for the feedback! Glad you like the site!

  4. Vallie says:

    Just a short reply to let you know that I absolutely loved the last two chapters. Actually I have been hooked on this story ever since I read the first chapter and your loooong AN was really good. It´s always interesting to actually get to know what the writer wanted to tell us with the chapter and if we acknowledge it. I feel exactly the same way as you regarding how the show threated Reid/Luke and Katie/Chris relationships, so it´s really good that you are exploring it!

    Anyway, I´m really looking forward to the next chapter and I´m very pleased to read that you are not giving up on this one!

    • lovelure says:

      Oh, yay! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! The feedback for these very long chapters has been very slim, so I’ve been harboring a sinking suspicion that they’ve fallen flat. Although this “chapter” has been one of the most painful to write — kind of like a 24-hour labor, though thankfully, I say that by assumption as both my kids were born with mercifully short and uneventful labors — it’s definitely among my favorites.

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