The Best Laid Plans by Cathy Roberts
Summary: Dave Malucci meets John Carter in college, and nothing will
ever be the same. Be warned that this story contains scenes of sexual
assault, kinky sex and bad language in place.
Categories: Regular Characters: Dave Malucci, John Carter, Other-Male
Genres: General
Warnings: Kink, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 19 Completed: No Word count: 75831 Read: 188758 Published: December 20, 2004 Updated: September 04, 2008

1. Chapter One by Cathy Roberts

2. Chapter Two by Cathy Roberts

3. Chapter Three by Cathy Roberts

4. Chapter Four by Cathy Roberts

5. Chapter Five by Cathy Roberts

6. Chapter Six by Cathy Roberts

7. Chapter Seven by Cathy Roberts

8. Chapter Eight by Cathy Roberts

9. Chapter Nine by Cathy Roberts

10. ChapterTen by Cathy Roberts

11. Chapter Eleven by Cathy Roberts

12. Chapter Twelve by Cathy Roberts

13. Chapter Thirteen by Cathy Roberts

14. Chapter Fourteen by Cathy Roberts

15. Chapter Fifteen by Cathy Roberts

16. Chapter Sixteen by Cathy Roberts

17. Chapter Seventeen by Cathy Roberts

18. Chapter Eighteen by Cathy Roberts

19. Chapter 19 by Cathy Roberts

Chapter One by Cathy Roberts
Philadelphia, PA - 1989:

Dave Malucci sat on his bed, looking forlornly at the object that sat
on the couch beside him. To be more accurate, he was starting at his
wallet. His empty wallet. While it was nice to be at the University
of Pennsylvania on a scholarship, the cost of his books had eaten up
what money he did have. And now, here he was, on the last day of
September and looking at an empty wallet. He's been job-hunting, but
since he hadn't gotten to Philly until right before school began, he'd
lost a chance for most of the part-time jobs near campus, and he had
no car, so driving to the suburbs to look for a job was out of the
question.

Dave was hungry. He was hungry for food. He was hungry for beer. He
was hungry for sex. Yeah, there was food in the cafeteria, and his
tuition covered him getting three meals a day, but he wanted real food
- pizza or a good steak.

The door to the dorm suite opened, and Gary, one of Dave's three
roommates, walked in, whistling happily. Just an hour ago, Gary had
been as morose as Dave, complaining about having no money and needing
to get away from the campus and having a good time.

"What happened to change your mood?" Dave asked as he reached for his
wallet. He wasn't quite willing to share the contents of his wallet
with his suite-mates. Especially the fact that he had zero money
within said wallet.

"Serendipity, my friend, serendipity. Otherwise known as John 'the
sucker' Carter." Gary plopped down into one of the armchairs, one leg
swinging freely over the arm and the other planted on the ground.
"There's this guy one floor up, a soph, who will just hand you the
money. As long as you say you'll pay him back for it, that is." Gary
grinned broadly as he pulled something out of his shirt pocket -
money, Dave could see that much. Gary unfolded the bills, revealing
that he had two fifty's there. "I just gave him some sob story and he
handed over the money."

"Just like that?" Dave asked, wondering who could be so stupid as to
just loan money out to people he didn't know. "This is a joke, right?"

Gary chuckled. "Yeah, a joke on him. He's some rich kid from
Chicago, Dave. No school loans, no bills. His parents are footing
the whole bill. He's only in the fucking dorms because he insisted on
staying here. Apparently, his parents wanted him to get his own
place, at least that's what Steve, Johnny's roommate, told me. He's
already loaned about five hundred bucks to Steve. If you're hurting,
you should go on up and see how much he'll give you." Gary then sat
upright in the chair and leaned forward, a twinkle in his eyes. "Word
has it that the cuter you are, the easier time you'll have getting the
money. He didn't make a pass at me, or anything, but," Gary winked,
"It couldn't hurt to flirt a bit, you know?"

The money sounded good to Dave. The fact that this John Carter seemed
to prefer guys sounded even better to him, and his cock took notice of
that fact, and Dave had to lean forward on the couch to hide the fact
that he was getting hard just thinking about the chance of getting to
fuck someone, even a stranger. "What's his room number?" Dave asked,
a smile growing on his face. "I might just take a walk upstairs in a
little bit. It never hurts to have extra cash."

Gary nodded and got to his feet. "Good luck. And now I'm outta here.
Don't wait up for me."

"Have fun," Dave said, grinning as he imagined the trouble his
roommate would get into. In the short time that he'd been at Penn,
Dave had noticed that Gary liked to party more than anything else. He
was a sophomore, as was one of the other roommates, Tom. The other
roommate, Jason, was a freshman, just like Dave. Tom was the studious
one of the four, with Dave following close behind, and then Jason and
Gary pulling up the rear as party hardy guys. Dave knew he couldn't
afford to party, not if he wanted to keep getting scholarships. It
had been his hard work that had gotten him out of high school as the
valedictorian and earned him not one, but two scholarships - one to
the University of Pennsylvania and the other to Columbia, back in New
York. Dave had jumped on the one that would take him away from home,
knowing that he needed to get out of the house before he and his old
man came to any more blows. And Philly wasn't far away, so Dave could
easily visit home.

He got to his feet and checked his clothing, making sure that he
wasn't wearing anything dirty. If that Carter guy turned out to be
good-looking and liked guys like Gary had hinted at, then who knew
what might happen? If Dave played his cards right, then not only
would he get some money in his pocket, but he'd also get laid, and
there was nothing better than that combination, Dave mused, unless
rich boy Carter also happened to have ordered a pizza.


Twenty minutes later, Dave was exiting the stairs on the floor above
his. He headed down the hallway, passing a few other students and
nodding in greeting. He stopped at room 415, looked to make sure no
one was looking and then checked his breath. Still minty fresh.
Grinning, Dave knocked on the door.

And he wasn't disappointed when the door opened and put him face to
face with a guy about his same height, but brilliant blue eyes, light
brown hair, and a tan to die for.

"Yeah?" the guy asked.

"Uh, I'm looking for John Carter," Dave replied. He suddenly felt
awkward, as if this guy was out of his league. Well, he was out of
his league, Dave thought. Rich and good-looking, dressed in preppy
clothing, and oozing poise and grace. And now Dave had to find some
way to ask to borrow fifty bucks. This was not going to be easy.

The guy smiled, an act that went right to Dave's cock, and Dave
decided that he'd tell any lie he had to in order to get a chance to
get into that room with John Carter.

"Well, you found him. What can I do for you?"

"It's kinda embarrassing," Dave said, and he looked down at the floor,
hoping that he came across as looking embarrassed. "I've heard that
you sometimes help out other students, and...well, if I can come in, I
can tell you all about it." Dave looked up and into those beautiful
eyes. "It's something I'd rather not talk about in the hallway."

John Carter slowly nodded, then stood aside. "Excuse the mess," he
said as Dave walked into the room. As was usual with most of the dorm
rooms, there were two beds inside, one on each side of the door, then
a closet on the right wall, and desks below the windows, with a
footlocker in-between the desks, obviously being used as a bookshelf
and catchall. One side of the room was neat - the bed made, desk
tidy, books perfectly aligned on a shelf above the bed. The other
side held an unmade bed, clothes tossed over the back of the chair and
even on the desk, and posters of bikini-clad models graced the wall
above the bed.

"And excuse the decorations, too. I'm afraid that my roommate is more
into that sort of thing than I am." John Carter sat down in the chair
on his side of the room and gestured for Dave to sit on the bed.
"First off, why don't you tell me your name?"

Dave sat down, wondering just what the guy meant with that statement
about 'that sort of thing'? Did that mean he didn't like women? Or
that he didn't like posters of nearly naked women? "Oh, sorry. Dave
Malucci."

"It's nice to meet you, Dave. So, what can I help you with? Is your
car loan late? Or car insurance? Or maybe you're into gambling and
the odds haven't been in your favor?" Even though John was smiling as
he asked those questions, Dave had a feeling that he wouldn't approve
of a yes answer to any of those questions. Which made coming up with
a lie that much harder.

"Well," Dave began, "none of that. It was..." Ah, the Hell with
lying, Dave thought, and he grinned broadly at John. "Books. I did
pretty good at the used bookstore, but I've got this one class, on
medical ethics, and we have to have three different books for it, all
of them new and only available at the school store. And they wiped me
out. I don't even have enough change for a soda and chips, man."

John looked at Dave, his expression one of disbelief. And then he
laughed. "Books? You're not shitting me, are you? Everyone else
that's come by here has made up some grandiose lie, and then you come
in here complaining that buying text books has left you broke? Dave,
you are a gem."

"No, I'm a Sagittarius," Dave corrected him. "And, I don't need much,
just enough to go out and be able to get some pizza, maybe some beer,
get laid. Chicks don't look at you twice when you're broke, man, you
know?"

John shook his head, but he was still smiling. "No, I wouldn't know."

"Oh, yeah. Sorry. I guess that when you're rollin' in the dough and
all, chicks are all over you."

"They might try to be, but, like I said, I'm not into that kind of
thing," John's smile seemed to deepen, as did the blue of his eyes.

"That kind of thing being having meaningless sex?" Dave dared to ask.

"That kind of thing being having sex with women," John stated. "That
doesn't shock you, does it? There are so many people around who would
just as soon beat up a gay man as look at him."

"I don't mind lookin' at you," Dave quickly replied, and he smiled.
"In fact, you're pretty easy on the eyes, John Carter."

John got to his feet and came over to where Dave was and sat down on
the bed beside him, his hand hovering over Dave's thigh. "Do you
really mean that, Dave?"

Dave placed his hand over John's, pushing it against his denim clad
leg and holding it there. His cock strained against his jeans, ready
to feel that hand on it, and Dave found himself very glad that he'd
decided to pay John Carter a visit. "I really mean it, John. Hell, I
would just as soon kiss you as look at you."

John smiled again, and he leaned toward Dave. "I think you're going
to have to do better than that, Dave. Anyone can just kiss my lips.
It's other body parts that are aching to be kissed." And with that,
John took Dave's hand and moved it over so that it was resting on
John's crotch.

Dave could feel a hardness under the chinos, and he grinned. "Well,
you're in luck today, John Carter. Aside from lips, that's one of my
most favorite things to kiss."

"I was hoping you'd say that," John replied, and he leaned back on the
bed, resting on his elbows and exposing the rest of his body to Dave.
"Help yourself."

Dave's hands made quick work of undoing the belt that John wore and
then the pants themselves. He licked his lips in anticipation of what
he'd find under that material, and judging by the bulge he felt, he
knew it was going to be a mighty fine cock. No pizza, but hey, Dave
could get the pizza later. Who ever said that he couldn't handle
delayed gratification?


**********************************************************

Dave whistled happily as he left John's room and headed for the
stairs. Even though he hadn't gotten laid, due to the fact that
John's roommate Steve was due back soon, he'd had a pretty damn good
time sucking John off, and John had encouraged Dave to bring himself
to a climax, so it was all good. And Dave was definitely counting on
seeing more of John, and having the chance to fuck that fine ass of
his. Dave was counting out the twenties in his hand, John still on
his mind, and the next thing he knew, he was bumping into a body,
sending textbooks to the floor of the hallway.

"Sorry," Dave said and he smiled apologetically at the slightly geeky
looking guy who he knocked into. "Let me help you." He started to
kneel to help pick up the books, but the guy waved him away.

"I've got them," the guy said, and he quickly gathered them up into a
pile.

Dave's nose wrinkled as he saw the titles - nothing but math and
business books. Definitely a geek "Accounting major?"

"Business," the guy replied as he straightened up, and that's when
Dave noticed that the geek had the most expressive eyes he'd ever
seen. Still, a geek was a geek, even if he was kinda good-looking,
and Dave had to force himself to pay attention as the guy seemed to be
prepared to keep on talking. "But, I'm minoring in pre-med so I get
into medical school. The business classes are just to keep my family
happy. What about you?" the guy asked, a hopeful tone in his voice.

"Pre-med, Hoss, all the way. Twenty years from now, I plan to be
raking in the big money in some high priced specialty. Well, there's
a pizza out there with my name on it. Bye." Dave had no intention of
hanging around the hallway talking with some freshman who looked to be
all of seventeen, not now that he some money, and then he realized
that he was still holding those twenties, and he shoved them in his
pocket and away from the geek's prying eyes. Prying and lonely eyes,
Dave thought. He'd seen that look many times in the past month when
he'd looked at his fellow freshmen - the look that was practically
begging for a bone of friendship.

"Bye," the kid said, and Dave easily picked up on the lonely, yet
still hopeful tone in that voice.

As Dave walked toward the stairs, he could feel the guy looking at
him, and he felt a brief pang of guilt for not asking if the guy
wanted to join him. After all, he had bumped into the kid. But, Dave
didn't really want to ruin his post-fuck high by spending an hour or
so eating pizza with some business major geek, and the guy was long
out of Dave's mind by the time he was outside of the building.


John Carter stood in the hallway, watching the other guy go down the
stairs and once more feeling as if he didn't really belong at Penn or
anywhere else, for that matter. He really didn't want to go back to
his room, and he'd been hoping that the guy would invite him out for
pizza. Hell, he would have even offered to pay, John thought as he
turned around and headed toward his room. Anything to keep from
having to walk back into that room. He was seriously considering
putting in for a new roommate, or maybe even rushing one of the
fraternities, he disliked Steve that much. The guy was just...well,
slimy, John thought. Definitely slimy.

John knocked on the door, just in case Slimy Steve was in there with a
girl, and the door opened to reveal a smirking Steve.

"Oh, it's just you," Steve said, and he pushed past John and into the
hallway, motioning for someone else in the room to join him. John
stayed to the side as Gary walked out of the room, a camcorder in his
hand, and the two guys headed on down the hallway, never saying
goodbye or goodnight. At least John had gotten a 'bye' from the other
guy, he thought.

John stepped into the room, cringing as he eyed the mess that was
Steve's side. After putting his books on the desk that was useless
for studying due to Steve's penchant for loud music and partying, John
went over to his bed and flopped down on the wrinkled covers. Steve
had obviously been letting his friends sit on it again, even though
John had asked him time and time again not to do that. It wasn't that
he was mean, but it was his bed, and John really didn't like the idea
of people putting their feet up on it, or doing other things on it.
They'd only been in school for three days when John had returned to
the room to find Gary and Steve energetically engaged in sex with some
girls - and Gary was using John's bed.

John rolled over and jerked his arm back as his hand encountered
something wet and cold on the blanket. A cautious sniff of his hand
confirmed that it was sperm. Damn them, he thought as he got to his
feet, angry that he had to clean his blanket yet one more time
courtesy of his rude and slimy roommate. John yanked all of the
bedding from the mattress and then left, heading toward the local
Laundromat, wondering if he could get away with charging Steve and
Gary fees for all of the cleaning he had to do due to them.

**********************************************************

Dave was still feeling a pretty good buzz as he unlocked the door to
the dorm suite. Thanks to John's generosity and a fake ID, Dave had
managed to enjoy a deep-dish pizza and plenty of beer, and now, with a
full belly and feeling mellow, he was ready for bed.

Still, when he stepped into the room and saw John there with Gary,
Dave couldn't stop himself from grinning. He was anticipating
spending more time with John; when there wasn't a danger of John's
roommate coming back. And more than spending time with John, Dave
wanted very much to fuck the guy, and his smile most likely revealed
that desire, as did the slight bulge in his jeans.

"Hey again," Dave said, and he nodded over at Gary, who smirked back
at him.

"Hello. We've been waiting for you to get back," John said, and he
was also smirking. "We've got something to show you, and we wanted to
do so before your other roommates got back. Gary, step outside and
make sure that Dave and I aren't disturbed."

Gary frowned. "But, I..."

"Do it," John ordered, and the tone of his voice was harsh. He meant
business, and Gary got to his feet and headed for the door.

As Gary passed Dave, he paused. "Cocksucker," he whispered, and then
he was on his way out of the door.

Dave glared at Gary's retreating back, then looked at John, more than
a bit confused. "Did you tell him?"

John leaned back against the couch and picked up the remote that was
on the cushion beside him. "I didn't have to tell him anything, Dave.
Gary was hiding in the closet, filming it. Have a seat. You look
pretty damn good on film, sucking my cock like you can't get enough of
it and stroking yourself at the same time. You definitely earned your
money tonight, Davey, old pal. And you're going to be earning a lot
more as the school year progresses."

Dave sat down on the other end of the couch, his beer-fogged brain
trying to wrap around what John was saying. "You didn't pay me," he
finally said, as that one fact seemed to stand out the most. John had
loaned him the money, that was all.

"The fuck I didn't. Ah, here you are..." John gestured toward the TV
and Dave looked up to see the two of them on the screen. He was
stripped and kneeling on the floor by John's bed, his cock hard and
sticking up proudly.

Dave wasn't feeling so proud now, even if the video was a bit of a
turn-on. "So, you filmed us? Big deal."

"Oh, it'll be a big deal if it gets mailed to your parents, won't it,
Davey? Or do they already know how eager their son is to suck cock
for money? Here, let me fast forward to the good part." John pressed
the remote and the two bodies in the video sped up, Dave's head
bobbing up and down on John's prick in an almost comical motion. And
Dave's hand was just as fast. Then it was over, and Dave was dressed
and accepting money from a very satisfied looking John.

"I'd say that any cop would attest that that looks like a trick paying
a whore, Davey. And I'd bet your parents would agree, too." John
turned off the TV. "Shall we discuss the terms of your employment?
Or do you have any other complaints to make?"

"You set me up. You and Gary fucking set me up," Dave said, a tinge
of anger in his voice.

"That we did, Davey. I have to say, that of all the guys we've played
this on, you were one of the easiest." John then reached over and ran
his hand down Dave's thigh. "And you were also one of the best
cocksuckers. At least, for this year. Last year we had a couple of
really good ones working for us, but they transferred to other
colleges over the summer. Shame, too, because more than a few of
their customers have been asking about them."

The door opened and Gary slipped into the room. "Jason's headed this
way," he said. "Is everything set?"

"Almost," John replied. "Davey? Shall we go to your room to iron out
the details? Or maybe I can rewind and hit play, and let Jason see
just what you're capable of doing?"

"My room," Dave quickly replied as he got to his feet. He was trapped
and knew it, but he was hoping that once he was sober he'd be able to
figure a way out of this. Provided it wasn't just some pizza and beer
induced nightmare to begin with. "And bring the fucking tape."

"Of course," John replied, a broad grin on his face. "Gary, get the
tape and come on." John got to his feet and followed Dave into his
room, Gary close behind. The door of Dave's room shut just as the
door to the suite opened.

************************************************

As the months passed, Dave's feelings toward John Carter morphed from
dislike to out and out hatred. He knew the guy wrestled junior
varsity, same as Jason, and Carter ran the chance of having his ass
beat with every match the team attended. Not that Dave could ever get
a chance to watch something like that happen. No, his days and nights
were busy, thanks to school and John Carter. It hadn't taken long for
Dave to understand that Gary simply did what Carter told him to do.
Hell, Gary even turned tricks, a fact that really didn't surprise Dave
all that much.

Maybe, maybe if turning tricks had been his own idea, then Dave
wouldn't have minded the money he earned. Carter wasn't a stingy
boss, and he gave his 'stable' a decent percentage of their earnings.
But it hadn't been his idea, and every fiber of Dave's being hungered
for revenge over being blackmailed into being a male prostitute. And
that hunger had resulted in Dave doing some investigating of John
Carter. He learned that the guy came from a loaded family, which made
the whole prostitution ring idea difficult to understand. Dave
learned that Carter had his blackmail videos in a box somewhere in his
room, locked up tight. Dave knew that if he could get his hands on
those videos, then not only would Dave be free of Carter's greed, but
so would the other guys. Dave had even ferreted out the names of some
of them. Most of them were freshmen, like himself. Gary and a few
others being the exceptions. And all of the freshmen wanted to get
back at Carter for what he'd done to them.

They just needed a plan. And over the months, Dave's mind was busy
working on that plan. He'd have to trust some of the other victims
for it to work, but if it worked, then not only would they have the
tapes, but they'd have the ultimate revenge. They could kidnap John
Carter, get a hundred thousand or so for him, clean out his bank
account -- the one where he deposited the money from what he made them
do, get the tapes and destroy them, and then maybe show John Carter
what it was like to be fucked non-stop for hours. Or they could show
him what some of the more kinky customers liked to do.

The problem with Dave's plan was opportunity. How could you kidnap a
guy at school and not have anyone notice that he was missing? You
just couldn't. The other problem was finding guys he could trust to
help him out. Now, that problem was one Dave could do something
about. He got to know the guys a bit better, and he'd narrowed his
choices down to three guys. Not that he'd need that many involved to
make the plan work, Dave figured. But from those three, he could
choose two, or even one, and get things done.

A week before Christmas break, Dave was in the suite, studying for his
finals. He'd soon need to leave, since he had to meet a trick at 8,
but until then, it was his time, not Carter's. Jason came in and
collapsed in one of the chairs, his gym bag dropping to the flood as well.

"I am beat, Dave, just beat. I swear, the way the coach is working
us, you'd think we were first string or something." Jason ran a hand
through his still damp hair.

"And you thought that wrestling would be easy?" Dave asked with a
grin. He liked Jason, and liked teasing the guy, and Jason teased
back just as often.

Jason grinned. "No. I thought that jv wrestling would be easy. But,
noooo. Seems we've got a tournament coming up, and the coach is
busting our asses to get ready for it. He wants a win big time. And
the really sucking part is that the tournament begins the day after
break starts, so we can't go home until the tournament's over."

"Oh?" THAT grabbed Dave's attention, since it meant that John Carter
wouldn't be going home immediately for the break. "It's a long
tournament?"

"Two days, I think. Two and a half if we win and get to the finals.
It's being held here in Philly, but still...it just sucks. I was
looking forward to going skiing or something before Christmas, but
that doesn't look like it's going to happen."

"If the tournament's here, then you'll be staying here, in the dorm,
until it's over?" Dave chewed thoughtfully on the end of his pen,
wondering if a week would be enough time for him to get his plan to
kidnap Carter into action. "All of you?"

"Yes, and yes. At least those of us who live in the dorms. Man, I
wish I had the money to move out, like John's doing."

"John Carter? The rich kid upstairs? That Carter?" He couldn't be
moving out! That would ruin everything.

Jason nodded. "Yeah. He said he's had enough of his roommate, Steve.
The guy's a real slob apparently. So, John's going to be spending
his Christmas break moving to an apartment off campus. It's kinda
pathetic in a way, because he's only moving then because there's no
reason for him to go home. His folks are off somewhere else, and
won't be home, so if he went back to Chicago, he'd be there all
alone." Jason shrugged. "Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, it does," Dave agreed. If Carter were doing the moving after
the tournament, then he'd be in and out of the dorm constantly, so if
he wasn't seen for a few days, no one would notice. Dave smiled as he
realized that everything was now falling into place. "Everything
happens for a reason, Jase."

Dave found a blank page in his notebook, and he began to jot down the
details that he'd just learned. He'd have to pick his team for this,
but Dave was pretty sure they could easily pull it off. Grab John
Carter for two, maybe three days, get the money and videos, let him go
and then they'd have time to enjoy their own holidays. Oh, yeah,
revenge against that prick was going to be very sweet.

To be continued


A/N: I want to take the time to make a special post to thank Tara (the
SheDevil) and Julie for their inspiration for this story. Tara with
the idea of having Carter and Dave meeting when they were in college,
as she's shown now in several great fics, and Julie for the idea of
actions having unforeseen consequences, as shown so wonderfully in her
story "Consequences".
Chapter Two by Cathy Roberts
John Carter stared into the darkness of his room, wondering why people
had to be so complicated? If it wasn't his parents and grandparents
going off right at Christmas, it was Steve acting angry because John
had decided to move out into his own apartment. John would have
thought that Steve would be happy about getting the room all to
himself - hell, he'd have more room in which to toss his clothes
around, John thought. But, no, Steve had pitched a fit when John told
him, and he'd been irritable ever since. When Christmas break arrived
and Steve had left, John had been relieved. He'd wasted no time in
tidying up their room, even though he was planning to leave it.

And now, the room held boxes waiting to be packed as well as boxes
already packed. John hadn't thought that he'd brought all that much
stuff with him, but obviously he had. Stereo, books, clothes. The
trophy from the recent tournament. John grinned into the darkness as
he remembered the rush he'd felt when he'd won his weight class. The
varsity coach had been watching, too, and had commented that if John
kept up that kind of performance on the mat, then he'd pull him up to
the varsity squad. John was proud of that offer, but not sure if he'd
take it. He had enough on his agenda without having to add the more
competitive varsity-wrestling schedule. But, he wasn't going to make
up his mind until the next semester began. They had a few more
matches in January, and then the season would be over, so there was no
rush to decide right then if he wanted to push himself enough to make
the varsity team.

As for his family, well, John preferred to not think about them. They
most likely had good and compelling reasons for spending Christmas out
of the country, he was sure of that. Of course, he wasn't really sure
why they couldn't have invited him, although John did have a hint that
his grandfather was upset over their last conversation, in which John
insisted that he would be going to medical school once he had his
college degree. His grandfather had been pushing for him to go to
Wharton and get a masters degree in business, but John was sticking to
his guns on this. He was going to be a doctor, and nothing would
change his mind on that.

And, with determination to rule his own life echoing in his head, John
drifted off to sleep.

And he awoke to a nightmare. At least, he was pretty certain that it
was a nightmare and not reality, because there was no way that someone
would be holding him down against his mattress while someone else was
shoving something over his head. He cried out, demanding to be
released, and yelling, even though he knew it wouldn't do him any good
to yell - he was the only student staying on his floor over break.
And the people grabbing him ignored his yells, at least that's what
John thought as he felt his hands being bound together with something.
And then a strip of cloth was being tied around his head, where his
mouth was, and it pushed material into his mouth as well. And there
he lay, panting with fear and anger on his bed, bound and gagged, and
blind, courtesy of the hood or whatever it was over his head.

John heard whispers from the other side of the room, and then hands
were hauling him to his feet. A rough sounding voice warned him to
cooperate or else, and the next thing John knew, he was being walked
somewhere. Out of the room, most likely. Oh, God, he thought, dismay
settling in, I'm being kidnapped. When were his parents leaving
Chicago? He couldn't remember. And he couldn't remember when his
grandparents were leaving, either. What if the kidnappers called and
couldn't reach anyone? Would they kill him?

John made as much noise as he could, hoping that they'd undo the gag
so he could plead with them, tell them that no one would be home when
they called. But all his attempts to communicate earned him were a
punch in his back, and a voice whispering hoarsely against his ear.
"Keep quiet, Hoss, and this'll be a lot easier on you."

Since the guy was whispering, John couldn't tell if he knew the voice,
but he knew that term! He could vaguely remember someone calling him
that. But who? Had it been someone in a class, or at a wrestling
match? If only he could remember who it was, then John knew he'd have
an edge up on his kidnappers - provided that he didn't let on that he
recognized the guy.

His mind churning as he tried to remember, John paid little attention
to where he was going until he heard the metallic clink of a door
slamming. Before he could deduce where he was at, John found himself
being hoisted up and thrown over someone's shoulder. They were on the
stairs, John was sure of it. And he thought they were going down. He
tried to concentrate on the sound of footsteps, but since he didn't
know exactly how many people had been in his room, he really couldn't
separate the sounds from one another. After going down a bit, they
started to head back up the stairs, and John could hear the guy
carrying him grunting from the exertion. He was put down, and when
someone tried to whisper a question, it was instantly hushed. So,
John wasn't the only one who didn't understand why they were going up
and down the stairs.

After what felt like an eternity to John, he was heaved up again like
a sack of potatoes and they went down the stairs, then through a door,
and the soft sounds of shoes on the metal stairs went silent, and John
knew they were on a carpeted dorm floor. Damn the school for having
carpeting, he thought. John thought he'd be put down again, but that
didn't happen. Instead, his captor kept walking, and then he suddenly
stopped and John heard laughter.

"What's going on?" a voice asked, and John felt the body beneath him
go rigid.

"Frat initiation," came the rumbling voice of his captor. John knew
that voice. It was the voice that had called him "Hoss" before. But
he still couldn't place the guy. He kicked his legs then, more from
frustration than from trying to call attention to himself. A firm
slap on his butt made him stop, though, and there was more laughter.
"Damn freshmen don't know when to keep still."

"Looks to me like he needs a good paddling," another voice said.

The hand patted his backside lightly. "Oh, don't worry, he's gonna get
that...and then some. Isn't that right, Hoss? Yeah, he knows that
bad little boys get punished."

There was more laughter, and John felt his face burning over the fact
that they were laughing at him. Damn, he thought, kicking again.
Couldn't they see that he was a prisoner of these creeps? A hood over
his head, gagged and tied, and they thought it was a frat initiation?
In fucking December? Who held frat initiations in December?

That hand fell on his butt again, hard this time, stinging through the
heavy cotton of his sweatpants, and John quit kicking. "Kick me
again, and I won't be held responsible for what I do, understand that,
Hoss?"

John nodded, his spirits falling as he heard goodbyes and good lucks
being said, and then they were moving again. John heard a door close,
felt more movement, then the closing of another door and the next
thing he knew, he was being tossed onto a bed, landing on his back.
He tried to move, to sit up, but hands grabbed his ankles and pulled
them apart, and John felt something being tied onto them. Hands held
his arms while his wrists were untied, and then his arms were pulled
up and out, and his wrists re-tied. He was completely helpless and at
their mercy, and John felt ashamed of the tear that slipped from his
eye. It wouldn't do any good to cry now, he told himself

"John Carter," the voice of his main captor resonated in the room.
"You have been charged of being an all-around asshole, an arrogant
prick, and just a bastard in general. Who here thinks that he's
guilty as charged?"

"Definitely."

"In spades."

No more voices, John noted. There were just three of them then. But
when had he behaved like that? He didn't even know these guys. At
least, he didn't think he knew them. He pulled at the bindings,
trying to see if he could get free, but his attempts just seemed to
make the knots tighter.

"John Carter, you have been tried and found guilty. Now be prepared
to face your punishment. First, you will be stripped of all dignity."

Hands once more grabbed his ankles, and John heard metallic sounds,
then he started as he felt the cold of metal against his skin, and
heard the sounds of something being cut. They were cutting off his
sweatpants. He tried to protest, shaking his head, but they kept on
going. And they didn't stop there. Once his sweatpants were gone,
they went after his T-shirt, and then his boxers.

John shivered in the room; the cool air causing goose bumps to erupt
all over his body. God, what did they want? They hadn't mentioned a
ransom yet. They would, wouldn't they? Or would they...John didn't
want to think about what they might do.

"Second, your family will be called upon to cough up a sizable amount
of money for your return. Third, you will be subjected to the very
things that you've subjected others to."

Once more, John felt hands upon him, only now there was no barrier of
clothing, and the hands weren't holding him down. They were touching
him, pinching him...John mewed softly behind the gag, wishing and
praying with all his might that this really was a nightmare and that
he'd wake up from it any minute.


Dave motioned Harry to follow him, and then he went into the sitting
room of the suite. He felt ashamed of the fact that he was getting
turned on by watching Harry and Ron messing with Carter, and he needed
to do something to get his mind off of all of that. When he took
Carter, he wanted it to be with retribution, and not because the sight
of the asshole's body had turned him on.

Harry closed the door on the soft whimpering that was coming from
behind the hood, and he looked questioningly at Dave. "What's up?"

"I'm going back to Carter's room to get the video tapes and his
wallet. I was thinking that we might as well take advantage of his
ATM card while waiting for his family to deliver the money."

Harry nodded. "That's a good idea. When are you going to call them?"

Dave looked at his watch. It was almost 5 am, and he knew that
Chicago was an hour behind them. "At six, I think. It'll wake 'em
up, but at least I know I'll catch them at home." A quick trip into
the computer database for the students had given them a telephone
number for Carter's parents. When Dave had picked his 'team' for
this, the fact that Ron worked part-time in the office of Student
Affairs had been an asset and helped get Ron selected. Harry...well,
Harry was just a good guy who had been done wrong. Strong, but not
overly intelligent. The kind of guy that people took advantage of,
and all too often. Dave felt that Harry deserved the pleasure of
getting back at Carter for the indignities that had been heaped upon him.

"I'll grab Carter's stuff, bring it back and then head out to a phone
booth to call," Dave said as he headed for the door. "In the
meantime, I'm sure that you and Ron can find things to do to keep
Carter busy. Just don't fuck him. I get his ass first."

Harry nodded. "Right. But we can do anything else? Shame we had to
use the pillowcase on him. It would have been sweet to make him suck
my cock the way he had me suck his."

"Yeah," Dave agreed, and his cock stirred at the image of Carter on
his knees before him, those big blue eyes looking up obediently while
working Dave's cock over. "But, we couldn't risk him seeing us. He
can claim all day long that he knows us, but without him seeing us,
it'll be hard for him to prove anything. Then there's the fact that
if he goes to the cops to finger us, we have the proof that he
blackmailed us. I don't think the Carter family back in Chicago will
be too pleased to know what Johnny-boy's been up to while in college."

Harry grinned. "Fuck, no. You got your key?"

Dave held his hand up, his key ring easily visible. "Got it. Have
fun." Dave opened the door and stepped out into the hallway, but he
didn't head away from the suite until he heard the lock engaging on
the other side. Breathing a sigh of relief, Dave headed for the
stairs and Carter's room, his body finally quieting down.

Six am found Dave in a phone booth on the other side of Philadelphia.
He'd had to borrow Ron's car to get there, but Ron hadn't minded
handing over the keys after Dave had returned to the suite with the
box of videos, which had ended up being in a footlocker. Ron and
Harry were still enjoying their vengeance, and Carter's body seemed to
be enjoying it, too, Dave thought. At least, to him that's what that
raging hard on and writhing meant. He more or less ignored the fact
that the pillowcase was wet right where Carter's eyes would be. And,
not wanting to have to notice Carter's tears, Dave had grabbed the
print-out that Ron had made with Carter's contact numbers on it, as
well as Carter's wallet, and then he'd left to go make the call that
would pay for their college educations and then some.

Dave unfolded the computer printout and decided to try the number for
Carter's parents first. He dropped coins into the slot and then
dialed, his hand tapping out a nervous staccato as he waited for
someone to answer the phone, but no one did. He did get an answering
machine, but Dave was pretty sure that ransom demands weren't made on
tape.

Dave replaced the receiver and cursed over the fact that he didn't get
his money back, since technically, the line had been answered. He
then repeated the process; only this time he dialed the number for
Carter's grandparents. He looked around, hoping that he didn't look
guilty of anything, but since there was nobody out and about yet, Dave
found it didn't matter.

He was just about to give up on that number when the line was answered.

"Carter residence."

"Uh, yeah. I'm calling from Philadelphia, and I need to speak with
Mr. Carter. It's about his grandson, John."

"I'm afraid that Mr. Carter doesn't take calls this early. If you'd
like to leave a message, he'll be able to call you back at a more
convenient time."

"No, that won't work. Look..." Dave didn't want to tell the butler or
whoever this bozo was that they'd kidnapped John, but he didn't know
what else to say if he wanted to get the older Carter on the phone.
"It's vital that I talk to Mr. Carter right now. John's life just
might depend upon it."

There was a long pause, and then Dave heard a sigh from the other end.
"Very well. Please hold the line."

Dave heard the phone being laid down, and he steeled himself for a
short wait. They'd decided on asking for six hundred thousand, an
amount that would set all three of them up nicely. And, if they
needed to negotiate the amount, then they'd all agreed that the six
hundred was a decent starting point. Jesus, Dave thought, how long
did it take for someone to come to the phone? He'd thought that being
told that it was urgent would make a person hurry to the phone, but
the rich obviously didn't think that way.

Just as Dave was about to give up on being able to talk to anyone
again, he could hear the sound of voices on the other line - faint,
but getting stronger, and then the phone was picked up.

"This is John Carter. Who are you and why are you calling me at this
hour about my grandson? If this is some kind of a prank, then I
assure you that it's not amusing at all."

Dave smiled at the indignation in the man's voice, and wondered just
what the guy would sound like when confronting his grandson over his
'business' venture. "This isn't a prank..." The rest of Dave's words
were cut off as a recording began, instructing him to insert eighty
cents for three more minutes. What the fuck? His hand dove into his
pants pocket, but all Dave had was three dimes. And his other pocket
only held a quarter. He slammed the receiver down.

"Fuck it all!" Now he'd have to go back to the suite and admit to the
guys that he'd fucked up the ransom call by not having enough money.
And then Dave remembered that he'd grabbed Carter's wallet, thinking
at the time that he could try out the ATM card on his way back. Well,
might as well do that now, before Carter's grandfather got suspicious
and had the bank put a hold on the account or something.

Dave went back to Ron's car, locked the doors and then began to go
through Carter's wallet. A business card for Carter Industries, with
the name 'John Carter, Jr., Vice President' on it. Another card for
the same company, this one for a 'Branch Carter', also a V.P. What
the Hell kind of a name was Branch? Dave snorted derisively as he
found yet another business card, this one for the President and C.E.O.
of the company, John Carter, Sr. The family had a serious problem
when it came to naming kids, Dave thought. They were all either the
same, or completely out of the ballpark. Next came a library card for
Chicago, a library card for Philadelphia, a Visa card, and Carter's
driver's license. Dave added it to the pile of other cards, intent on
finding that ATM card, and then he paused in the middle of reaching
into the wallet again. Something wasn't right.

Dave reached down and picked up the driver's license. It was for
Illinois and it gave all kinds of vital information for John Truman
Carter, III. Birthdate, expiration date, hair color, eye color,
height, weight. And a photo, too. Dave's mouth went dry as he looked
at the ID, his brain not quite believing what he was reading and
looking at. The guy in the photo didn't have light brown hair and
brilliant blue eyes. He had dark brown hair and beautiful brown eyes.
And the description matched the photo.

This wasn't the guy he knew. "Fuck," Dave said into the emptiness of
Ron's Toyota, and his fists beat the steering wheel relentlessly until
it hurt. "Fuck, fuck, fuck." He tossed the wallet onto the other
seat and started the car, knowing that he needed to get back to the
dorm as quickly as possible. He had to find out just who the guy was
that was tied to his bed, find out if he really was John Carter, and
if he was, then who in the Hell was the guy that had been blackmailing
Dave and all the other guys?

*******************************************

John tried to hold back the moan that was rising, but he failed, and
when his tormentors heard it, they laughed, making more comments about
how much he 'loved it'. God, he hated it. John hated it all. He
hated being helpless to stop them from touching him. He hated being
betrayed by his body as it responded to what they were doing to him.
He hated it that he couldn't stop the tears. They streaked down the
side of his head, wetting his hair, and some even pooled in his ears.
His nose was running, too, and he hated that as well.

Worst of all, he was hard. So achingly hard, and release - John
didn't want to think about what it would mean to gain release. It was
bad enough to be hard over what two guys were doing to him, but to
come because of it - no, John didn't want that to happen.

Another moan was torn from John's throat as warm lips tugged at a
nipple, pulling hard on it and licking while fingers painfully twisted
the other one. It wasn't fair, this combination of pain and pleasure,
not fair that it was guys making him feel this way, stripping him of
his dignity in so many different ways.

A door slammed, and then he heard the head guy - the mean one --
ordering the others to get away from him. Was he being released?

Hands grabbed John's shoulders roughly, and he was being shaken. "Who
are you?" the guy asked. "Are you John Carter?"

John nodded, and the shaking stopped. The others were trying to ask
what was going on, but the head guy shushed them. "John Truman Carter
the third? From Chicago?"

Again, John nodded, and he nodded yet another time when the guy asked
him about his home address. "And you've got brown hair and eyes?"

John nodded vigorously, and he heard one of his captors, the one with
the softer hands, mutter 'Oh, shit.' The hands left him, and then
John heard a door close.

They'd left him alone, and John was grateful for that. But, oh God,
what he wouldn't do to be able to come. They'd put something on him,
something metallic and cold, and had laughed and said that he couldn't
come even if he wanted to. And it shamed him to admit that he wanted
to come.

This nightmare had to end, and it had to end soon, or else John knew
he'd go crazy.

**********************************************************

"What the Hell is going on?" Ron asked as soon as they were in the
main room of the suite. "John Carter has fucking blue eyes, dammitt."

"Calm down," Dave said, although he himself was far from calm. He
held out John Carter's driver's license. "I don't know who the guy is
who we all...who was blackmailing us, but that guy in there isn't him."

Harry grabbed the driver's license and shook his head, cursing under
his breath as he held it out to Ron to look at. "So that guy in there
is the real John Carter? And we've been..."

"Yeah," Dave replied, his voice a monotone. "He is, and we have."

Ron looked at the photo. "I've seen this guy before. One time when I
was going to Carter's room, this guy was coming out. Carter told me
that it was his roommate Steve." Ron looked up into Dave's eyes, his
own eyes now haunted. "I'd bet anything that the guy we thought was
John Carter is really Steve."

"I don't doubt it," Dave said. He sat down on the couch, his hands
covering his face as he tried to think about what to do. "Okay...I
couldn't get in touch with his family," that was only a half-lie, but
it would do, Dave thought. "And I didn't make it to the ATM, so
there's no harm done."

"Other than us raping him," Harry pointed out.

"We didn't exactly rape him," Ron countered. "We just..."

"Sexually assaulted him," Dave said. He was glad then that he had
never touched the guy, but he was still responsible, since most of it
had been his idea. "We've got the tapes, so we can get away from
Car...from Steve. We can untie this guy, wrap him up tightly in a
sheet or something, dump him on his bed and run like Hell. We can be
out of sight before he can get free, and we'll just take off for home,
like we had planned. We'll pack, get Ron's car loaded and then let
him go."

Ron and Harry both nodded, but Harry looked doubtful. "Won't he go to
the police? He has to know that he never left the dorm."

"I doubt if he'll report this," Ron said. "I know I wouldn't, if it
were me."

"Me, either," Dave agreed. He got to his feet. "Okay, let's get
packed and then we'll end this." And may God and John Carter forgive
us for what we'ved done, he prayed.


To be continued
Chapter Three by Cathy Roberts
Chicago, December 1999

Elaine Nichols and Dave Malucci came back into John's life at roughly
the same time; although, when it happened, John didn't really notice
Dave. To be more precise, while he knew that the new resident's name
was Dave Malucci, at that point, John didn't recognize him from ten
years earlier. Elaine had taken up a lot of John's attention, both
with the incredible sex and then her battle with breast cancer.

It wasn't until Elaine left Chicago and was no longer distracting
John, that he began to pay attention to Dave. At first it was just a
nagging feeling that he knew Dave, but just couldn't place where he
knew him from. Dave claimed to be from New York, and while John had
visited there often enough, he was pretty certain that he didn't know
Dave from there. As far as knowing Dave from school was concerned,
Dave had finally confessed on Thanksgiving that he went to medical
school in Grenada because he'd been unable to get into a medical
school in the US. Dave claimed that he'd partied too much and had a
lousy score on his MCATs. Watching Dave, John could believe the
partying bit, but not the lousy score excuse. Dave was intelligent,
and even though John realized that some people just weren't good at
taking tests, he didn't think that Dave was one of them.

What made it all click into place for John was hearing Dave call
someone "Hoss". God, that had chilled him to the bone, and John had
had to retreat to an empty exam room as his mind flashed back to the
time he'd been kidnapped. Was it a coincidence? It had to be a
coincidence. If it were true, then how could Dave have been working
there for weeks and not give away the fact that he'd once been John's
kidnapper? Surely other people used the term "Hoss"?

But the more that John listened to Dave talk, the more certain he
became that Dave was one of his tormentors. The head guy, in fact.
John burned with shame, knowing that Dave had seen him naked and hard
at the hands of Dave and the other guys. The shame morphed into
anger. Anger that Dave was running around County as if nothing had
ever happened. As if he'd never cut off John's clothing and
humiliated him so brutally. John's soul cried out for revenge, and he
put on an outward face of casualness toward Dave, not wanting the
bastard to know that he had recognized him.

Christmas was quickly approaching, and Dave let everyone know that he
was going home for it, and leaving on December 23rd, to be back on the
28th. Since John now had his own place, he could easily have a
'guest', someone that nobody else would know about. With a smile on
his face and anger in his heart, John continued to be friendly toward
Dave, all the while planning his revenge. Oh, yeah, revenge was going
to be very sweet indeed.

*****************************************************

Even though Dave had never forgotten that John Carter was from
Chicago, he had never imagined that Carter would be working there, and
in an inner-city hospital, no less. That entire first day at work,
Dave had been on pins and needles, trying to impress Dr. Weaver while
at the same time trying to tell if Carter recognized him.

Apparently, he hadn't, and that made Dave breathe a little bit easier,
especially after the day they went together to save a construction
worker who'd been in a job-site accident. If close proximity hadn't
triggered a memory, then Dave was pretty sure he was safe from being
fingered as a kidnapper - and worse. Still, Dave never quite relaxed
until a shared shift was over and he was home, away from the hospital
and John Carter.

As the months passed, Dave began to worry that maybe the whole thing
had been so traumatic that Carter had blanked it out. If that were
the case, then would his mere presence at County be Carter's downfall?
Dave worried about that for around two weeks, until persistent
questioning of a resident on the psych floor had left him convinced
that if it hadn't happened yet, it wouldn't happen.

And that's when home became more of a cell and not so much a haven as
it had been before. Once alone, Dave's mind would play over the
events that had happened, beginning with the three of them; him, Ron
and Harry, breaking into Carter's room and then ending with the three
of them quite literally dumping Carter's sheet-wrapped body onto his
bed and then running out of the room and the dorm, to escape to New
Jersey - to drop off Harry, and New York City - to drop off Dave and
then for Ron to go home as well.

Then there would be the agony of the memory of the return to school,
of confronting Steve with what they'd discovered and getting out from
under his thumb. Steve quit school, as did Gary. Harry also dropped
out, leaving Ron and Dave to wander the campus, fearful of running
into John Carter and being recognized. Drinking helped damp that
fear, Dave discovered. And so did pot, and the second semester passed
in a high that Dave knew was self-destructive. When the semester
ended, Ron announced that he was transferring to another school, and
Dave, well Dave slinked back to New York and kept partying all summer
long. When it came time to go back to Penn, Dave dragged his heels,
and he never went. Instead he enrolled in a local school, which meant
putting up with his old man, but hey, that was a mild punishment
considering his crimes, right?

By the time Dave emerged out of the guilt, it was too late to save his
academic career. He went from being a straight A student in high
school and his first semester of college to barely passing. But, he
graduated, which was all that mattered, and he went to sit for his
MCATs thinking that he'd be able to salvage medical school. That
thought had sustained him well until he received his grades and saw
how low they were. No medical school in the states would accept him,
and Dave almost gave up then, but something within him made him seek
out a school that would accept him, and he found himself in Grenada, a
year later than he'd anticipated with regard to starting medical
school, but there nonetheless. As Dave worked hard to prove that he
was as good as the students stateside, he would wonder what Carter was
doing, and the guilt would dig in, threatening to pull Dave down again.

The one thing that had helped Dave during that time was something, or
someone, that came about from an accident. Lisa, one of the other
students there in Grenada, was always flirting with him. Dave would
flirt back, but that's as far as it went. And then she got lucky
enough to catch him during one of his guilt-trip times, and he gave
in, letting the pleasure of her body keep the guilt at bay.
Everything had been fine after that, until she missed her period and
then discovered she was pregnant. Lisa had the baby, a fact that Dave
was happy about, and he'd had the pleasure of being a daddy. For a
short while, anyway. Lisa had been a year ahead of him in med school,
and she left for her residency, ending up in Detroit, of all places.
Up to that point, Dave had been a constant presence in his son's life.
After that point, he had to settle for seeing Dylan on holidays and
during the summer, when Dave would go to Detroit. His summer stays
gave Lisa a break from having to pay childcare, but Dave would also
work part-time, so he could keep on giving money to Lisa for Dylan.

When it came time for Dave's residency, the closest he could get to
Dylan was Chicago, and Dave had made the best of things. He still saw
Dylan as often as he could, sometimes taking three-day weekends in
order to spend time with his son. But, any sacrifice was worth it as
long as Dave was rewarded with a smile from Dylan when he stepped
through the door.

Having Dylan in his life had helped Dave fight off the guilt, and not
let it eat away at him as it had before. Sure, Dave still had his
brewskis, nothing would stop that, but he drank in moderation, and he
steered well clear of pot. So, when it now looked as if guilt was
going to attack again, Dave knew he could keep it at bay -- just as
long as he didn't have to look at, or talk to John Carter. It would
have been easier if not for his damn eyes, Dave thought. They were
always so expressive, so...so penetrating. And at times, they were
downright sad, and Dave feared that the sadness was due to him and
what he'd done all those years ago.

Still, Dave didn't go out of his way to avoid Carter. In fact, he
found himself gravitating to the man, yearning to see his smile each
day, and wanting so much to chase away the sadness that appeared in
those gorgeous eyes of his. And so, each day Dave fought an internal
battle between his attraction to John Carter and his need to stay
distant from the man so that his secret crime would remain secret.

****************************************************************

"Dave!"

Dave stopped walking as he heard Carter calling his name. He turned
around, a grin on his face and determined to not let himself get
dragged back into the ER. "Sorry, my friend, but as of five minutes
ago, I am on vacation. I am not going back in there. My train leaves
at eight in the morning, and I've still got some presents to wrap
before I get on board." Dave didn't mention that his train was first
stopping in Detroit, where he'd pick up his son, and that the two of
them would then continue on to New York, to spend Christmas with the
rest of Dave's family. Nobody at County ever asked about his personal
life, so Dave chose not to volunteer anything, especially anything
about Dylan.

John shook his head as he caught up to Dave. He, too, was off from
his shift, and if he was going to exact his payback, it was then or
never. "I'm off, too," he reassured the other man. "I just
thought...well, I wanted to see if you wanted to stop by my place?
You know, for a beer or something? You're not going to be here over
Christmas, so this is the only chance I have to wish you a merry one."

"Yeah?" Carter wanted him to come over? How could he turn down an
invitation to Carter's place? "Hey, you still living with the Chief?"

John shook his head. "Got my own place now." He cocked his head to
one side. "How about it? One beer and then you can go home and wrap
presents."

Dave nodded, his grin still in place. "Sounds good, my friend. Did
you drive, or...?"

"I drove," John replied. "The Jeep's in the parking garage. Do we
need to get your bike or have you finally decided that it's too cold
to be riding it to work?"

Dave laughed as he stepped closer to Carter. "I took the el in today.
It is getting colder, but it's not too cold yet. It's mostly the ice
that I worry about, more so than the cold."

"Good thing for you that there isn't any ice in Grenada," John
commented as they headed to the parking garage. Now that he had Dave
agreeing to come over, John had to figure out just how he was going to
keep Dave there. He supposed he could hit him over the head and knock
him out, but that risked giving him a fractured skull. John wanted
Dave to suffer the way he had suffered, but he thought a fractured
skull might be a little too much. He did have some Benadryl left over
from an earlier attack of hay fever. The only problem with that idea
was that mixing an antihistamine and beer wasn't the best idea. But
what if he got Dave to drink something else first, like a soda or a
milkshake laced with the pills? Yeah, that just might work. John
smiled at Dave as he nodded. Yeah, that would work out best, he thought.

Dave smiled back at Carter, glad to see him in a good mood - and happy
to see that smile in place. God, but Carter's smile..."Uh, yeah, it
was. And I did have a bike there, and was able to use it a lot. Kept
the leg muscles in shape."

"I can tell," John replied, and he then had to force himself to keep
from frowning as he wondered just why in the Hell he'd said that. And
why he'd ever noticed Dave Malucci's legs in the first place.

"Thanks," Dave replied, happy to know that all of his efforts at
having a buff body were paying off. Especially since it was John
Carter doing the noticing.

John stopped at his Jeep and unlocked the passenger door, then went
around to the driver's side, not making any further comment. Dave
slipped into the passenger seat, putting his bookbag on the floor and
then putting on his seatbelt. He was tickled to have been invited to
Carter's place, even if it was going to be a minefield once they were
there. Dave couldn't deny that he was attracted to Carter, but at the
same time, that fear was there. A fear that he'd mess up and reveal
to Carter that he'd been one of his kidnappers years ago, or that
Carter would reveal to him that he'd already figured it out.

As he pulled out of the garage, John started to make small talk,
because he hated silence in a car, and wasn't sure that they could
agree on a radio station. "You're going to New York for Christmas,
right?"

Dave nodded. "Yep. That's where most of the family still lives.
I've got a few relatives scattered around the country, and an uncle
here, too, in Chicago. But, most everyone gathers in New York for
Christmas. What about you?" Dave couldn't remember if anyone at
County had said that Carter was from Chicago, so he felt it was safest
to pretend to not know.

"I'm from here. Sometimes the family's all here, and sometimes
they're not. There were a couple of years when everyone seemed to be
here, but lately we've all gone our own ways. The family tries to get
together over the summer, though. But, I've missed that lately, too.
It's difficult to get the time off for everything." John didn't want
to remember the way his grandfather and father had shown up in
Philadelphia the day after his kidnappers released him, concerned for
his safety since he'd not been in his room to answer the phone when
his grandfather had called. Or the way they carried on about it all,
even though John had assured them that he'd merely been out and that
whoever had called Chicago about him must have been pulling a prank.
For years after that, everyone was home for Christmas, including John.
It wasn't until he was out of college and in medical school that the
family relaxed on that issue.

"That's true," Dave replied with a sigh. "I'm lucky that Kovac
offered to cover for me, or else I wouldn't be heading home." Dave's
stomach chose that moment to rumble, and he wrinkled his nose,
thinking that his belly had some lousy timing, because he really
didn't have enough money on him to be able to offer to buy Carter
dinner or something.

"Are you hungry?" John asked. He hadn't had anything to eat since
shortly before noon, and was starving. "It's probably not a good idea
for us to drink on empty stomachs. I could swing by a burger place or
something."

Dave had enough money to get a cheeseburger and a drink and fries for
himself, so he nodded. "I could go for a cheeseburger. I'm not
partial to any one place, so you can just pull into the first
drive-thru you find."

"Okay," John replied. It didn't take long before he spotted a
McDonald's and then they were on their way. They decided to wait
until they were at John's place before eating, and the aroma of the
freshly made fries was making both of their stomachs rumble fiercely.

"Here we are," John said as he pulled up in front of his building and
parked. "And not a second too soon, either. I was about to pull over
and pig-out, it smells so good." He looked over at Dave and grinned,
and his stomach felt warm and fluttery when Dave grinned back. John
shook off that feeling, though. If he was going to get Dave back for
what he did, then John couldn't afford to feel any affection at all
for the man.

"I wouldn't have argued with you about that," Dave said as he got out
of the Jeep, the bag of food and his milkshake in hand.

John grabbed his shake and his bag and led the way into the building.
They were both quiet as they made their way to John's apartment, but
once inside, Dave looked around and nodded approvingly.

"Nice place you've got here."

"Thanks. I haven't been here long, and when I was apartment hunting,
I was in a hurry, so I think I got pretty lucky in finding a place
like this." John set his drink on the dining table, then put his bag
on the floor against the wall. "It's not very big, just one bedroom,
but it seems well made, and the neighbors are nice."

"That's always a plus," Dave said as he followed Carter's lead and put
the food and his drink on the table and his bookbag against the wall
by Carter's bag. "It's also a plus to not have to deal with roaches."

John shuddered as he remembered the way that Anna Del Amico used to
deal with roaches in her apartment. "A definite plus," John said as
he went into the kitchen and returned with a bottle of Heinz ketchup.
"One thing that surprised me back in college was the lack of bugs in
the dorms. What about you? What was your college like?" John kept
his eyes on his Big Mac box as he opened it, wondering if Dave would
be honest and admit where he went to school or if he'd lie about it.

Dave had been reaching for the ketchup when Carter had asked about
college and he was proud of himself for not dropping the bottle. Did
Carter know? Was he just playing games with him? Dave glanced over
at Carter, but Carter was opening the box that held his burger. The
question meant nothing, Dave thought, or else Carter would be watching
him, looking for a sign that he was right or something.

"There weren't many roaches in Grenada," Dave managed to breezily
reply as he squeezed the ketchup out onto some fries.

"I guess not," John replied, a little saddened that Dave hadn't
admitted that he'd gone to Penn. Well, it really didn't matter. John
knew where Dave had gone, and more importantly, what Dave had done
while there, and that was all that mattered. The Benadryl was in the
kitchen, and if John was going to slip it to Dave, then he needed to
do it then, while he had the opportunity.

Reaching for the ketchup bottle, John's arm bumped into Dave's
milkshake, knocking it to the floor. The lid popped off and the
chocolate mixture spread over the hardwood flooring as John rose to
his feet.

"Oh, man, Dave...I'm so sorry. Here..." John shoved the napkins at
Dave. "See if you can mop that up while I get a towel or something."
John hurried into the kitchen, out of Dave's sight. He opened
drawers until he found the Benadryl, and he pulled out four capsules,
thinking. Each capsule held 50mg of antihistamine, and a person would
be harmed if he took 300mg of it. So, if John gave Dave three and a
half of the capsules, or rather, the contents of the capsules, then
that should be enough to knock him out. Or get him close to it.

John put the capsules on the counter, then grabbed the dishcloth and
ran it under the water to dampen it. He then grabbed a dish towel and
returned to the dining area.

When Carter had given Dave the napkins, Dave had immediately started
to clean up the mess. Working quickly, he was able to push some of
the milkshake back into the cup, but there was still a mess on the
floor. Carter returned, handing Dave a wet cloth and a towel, and
Dave smiled his thanks.

"I'm not normally that clumsy," John said. "Tell you what, you can
have my milkshake."

Dave shook his head. "I can't take your drink, man. That just
wouldn't be right. I'll just have a beer or something." He said as
he wiped up the remaining mess.

"No. It's my fault that your shake is gone. How about if we split
mine? Then we'll each get some, okay?" John grabbed his cup and
headed back to the kitchen.

"Uh, sure. Okay," Dave called out after him. He grinned as he dried
the floor and then got to his feet. He'd heard some stories about how
Carter was less than graceful when a med student, but he'd never
really believed them. Now, however, Dave could easily imagine Carter
being a bit clumsy. Dave shoved the wet napkins into the cup, then
gathered up the dishcloth and towel and headed into the kitchen.
Carter was pouring some of the milkshake into a glass, and when it was
half full, Carter handed it to Dave.

"Thanks," Dave said as he put the dishcloth and towel into the sink
and then took the glass. "I guess it's a good thing we both ordered
chocolate, isn't it?"

Carter smiled at him, and Dave couldn't help but think that it was the
most beautiful smile he'd ever seen. In fact, Carter's smile seemed
to hit him hard, in more ways than one, and Dave had to turn away from
Carter. "Where's the trash can?"

"Over there by the stove," John replied. Come on and drink up, he
silently urged. He needed Dave to drink it all down, and quickly,
before they got to the beer. John didn't want to put Dave in the
hospital over mixing too much of the drug with beer - he just wanted
him helpless. Just as helpless as he himself had been ten years ago.
John shoved his hands in his pockets, and the fingers of his right
hand came in contact with the Benadryl packaging. John felt lucky
that he'd thought to put the Benadryl in the glass before pouring in
the milkshake, or else Dave would have caught him in the act of lacing
his drink.

John smiled when Dave turned back toward him, and then he pulled his
hands out of his pockets and picked up his McDonald's cup. "I think
our food's getting cold."

Dave nodded at Carter's observation, and he followed him back to the
table. The fries and burgers were still warm, and Dave eagerly dug
in, his desire for Carter stoking his physical hunger. It was a good
thing that he had the shake to wash the food down with, since he was
eating everything so quickly. It wasn't until Dave had finished the
shake and burger that he realized that Carter was staring at him. And
that he had been staring at him the whole time that he'd been eating.

"That was good," Dave said, but inside he hoped that Carter didn't
think he was a slob or something. Carter nodded, still smiling and
staring. Damn, those eyes, Dave thought as he stared back.

"You like hockey, don't you?" John asked. "I think there's a game on
tonight. Why don't you see if you can find it while I finish eating?"
The Benadryl wouldn't act immediately, and John couldn't think of
anything else that would distract Dave until he became drowsy.

"Yeah," Dave replied as he gathered up his trash. "There is a game on
tonight. Let me toss this into the trash and I'll see if I can find
it. I think it's on ESPN." He grinned at Carter. "I didn't know
that you were a hockey fan."

John shrugged. "I'm not a big fan, but I like watching it," he said,
reaching for the last of his French fries. "I'm more of a basketball
fan, mainly because it's a game I can play."

Dave nodded then went to throw out his trash. As he came back out of
the kitchen, he smiled at Carter. "I know what you mean. I play on a
hockey team, although I liked hockey long before I started playing it.
I guess I like it better than basketball because they move faster,
being on ice and all." Dave went over to the TV, feeling a bit
envious because of the size of the screen.

"I've played it, but mostly for fun, with my family. Bobby, my
brother, was a much better player than I was," John admitted as he
began to gather up his meal debris.

"You've got a brother?" Dave looked over at Carter questioningly.
"Younger or older?"

"He was older by a few years, but he died when I was ten. I've got an
older sister, too, Barbara. What about you? Any brothers or
sisters?" John didn't like to talk about Bobby to just anyone, and he
really didn't want to talk about Bobby with Dave Malucci, so he felt
it best to change the subject to Dave's family.

"Two brothers, one older, one younger, and an older sister," Dave
said. Carter nodded and then went into the kitchen and Dave returned
his attention back to the television until Carter came into the living
room. "My sister thinks she's the boss of me, what about yours?" It
was pretty obvious to Dave that Carter didn't want to talk about his
dead brother, and even though Dave was curious as to how Bobby died,
he wasn't going to push the issue. Not right then, anyway.

John grinned as he sat down on the other end of the couch. "Barbara
used to be bossy, but as she's gotten older, that's changed. She's
much more into hiding so that she won't be noticed by the rest of the
family. She lives in Europe. She came here when I graduated from
medical school, and stayed a week, and that's the last time I saw her.
We talk on the phone a lot, but she doesn't like coming home."

Dave nodded as if he could understand a person feeling that way, but
he didn't. When he had the money, he was always going back and forth
from Grenada to the states, mostly to see Dylan, but sometimes to
visit his parents. It just seemed odd to him that someone would stay
away from home for years. His thoughts on that were diverted though,
when one of the teams on the screen scored a goal, and from then on,
he was paying more attention to the game. He'd gotten past all of the
potential minefields that were in Carter's questions, and it was
pretty clear that Carter had no idea that they'd gone to the same
college, let alone that Carter knew what Dave had done.

Relaxed, Dave leaned back in his seat and enjoyed the game, and before
too long found himself fighting off an attack of the yawns, which
wasn't too surprising since he'd had an early shift that day. Still,
the game and company were good, and he didn't want to leave, even if
he did still have presents to get wrapped. He could always catch a
short nap on the train in the morning.


To be continued
Chapter Four by Cathy Roberts
Dave was having a nice dream about Christmas morning. He'd awakened
early and gone into his mother's kitchen to start a pot of coffee.
Still a bit groggy, he'd made his way back to the bedroom he was
sharing with Dylan; to make sure Dylan was still asleep. Kneeling by
the bed, Dave had gently brushed Dylan's hair back from the boy's
face, once more giving thanks that Lisa had given him such a precious
gift.

Of course, the touch awoke Dylan, who blinked sleepily up at Dave and
then grinned. "It's Christmas! Santa's come!" Dylan threw his arms
around Dave's neck, giving him a hard hug, and then he rushed out of
bed. Dave laughed as Dylan grabbed him by the hand and led him to the
living room where the Christmas Tree stood, the colored lights
blinking merrily in the near darkness of the early morning. Dave
stood back while Dylan rushed the tree and went to his knees, looking
for packages with his name on them.

Grinning, Dave decided to check the weather, and headed for the front
door, knowing it would only take a few moments to run down the short
flight of steps to the front door of the building. Only when he'd
opened the door of his mother's apartment, he'd found himself in the
doorway of a house, and it was snowing outside. The snow hit his
skin, chilling him, and the next thing Dave knew, he was standing on a
snow-covered porch naked.

The dream faded away, but the cold remained, and Dave shivered as he
became aware that he really was naked, and also in a bed, but not
quite 'in it'. Instead, he seemed to be on it, with the covers either
under his body or not on the bed at all. Dave opened his eyes, and he
looked around the room, finding it unfamiliar. He frowned as he went
to move his arms and found them secured to the headboard. And his
displeasure over that discovery turned to a bit of fear as he realized
two other things - his ankles were similarly secured and he was gagged.

Dave's head dropped back to the mattress as his mind went over what
had happened. He had been on his way home when Carter had stopped him
and invited him over for a beer. But there'd been no beer. They'd
had burgers and shakes, and then watched a hockey game, and that was
the last thing that Dave remembered. He shivered once more, but not
from cold this time. This time it was from the fear that was growing
out of the idea that Carter really did know what Dave had done before
- why else would he do something like this to him?

Oh, Dave had always known, deep in his gut, that one day he'd pay for
what he'd done. But he hadn't imagined it happening at Christmas, and
on the night before he was to pick up his son. He couldn't disappoint
Dylan by not showing up, he just couldn't. And Dave had to find some
way to make Carter understand that. Hell, he'd willingly come back
for whatever punishment Carter saw fit to dish out, but he just
couldn't disappoint Dylan. The problem was how to convince Carter of
that? Gagged, Dave couldn't reason with Carter. Damn, damn, damn,
Dave thought. He was screwed. Totally and royally screwed, and it
would be Dylan who would pay the brunt of the price for it.

Dave raised his head from the mattress as he heard a door open, and he
watched as Carter walked into the bedroom. Carter leaned against the
dresser that was opposite the bed and simply stared at Dave. Dave
tried to talk, tried to get Carter to remove the gag, but Carter
ignored him and his struggles to get his hands or feet free. Even
when he'd been 'working' for Steve, Dave had never felt so helpless,
and he let his head drop back to the sheet, feeling defeated. He also
felt very exposed and ashamed under Carter's gaze.

John looked at Dave for a long time, not saying anything. It wasn't
so much that John didn't know what to say, but that he had too much to
say to the other man. He watched as Dave struggled to get free,
listened to the muffles behind the gag, and felt nothing at all over
Dave's predicament. It wasn't until Dave sank against the mattress,
giving up, that John found his voice.

"You're lucky, you know? I could have blindfolded you, and then you'd
be lying there, wondering about every sound you heard. Wondering if I
was about to touch you or hurt you. It's worse, being blindfolded.
Or I could have put a pillowcase over your head, and then not only
would you be unable to see, but with every breath you took, the
material would mold itself against your nose, making you feel as if
you were going to suffocate. Those are some pretty scary feelings."
John shrugged. "Maybe I'll do that later..." Dave's head arose from
the mattress once more, his eyes fearful and questioning. "...and
maybe I won't."

John stepped away from the dresser and sat down on the bed. "I'm
going to be going out for a bit, but I'll be back. Fortunately for
you, I don't have two other people to leave behind, so you'll be
alone." He reached out, his hand hovering over Dave's groin, and then
John quickly moved to lightly hit Dave's shoulder. "I won't be gone
long."

John got to his feet and headed out of the bedroom, ignoring the
noises that Dave was making. He supposed that he should have felt
guilty over leaving Dave alone while bound to the bed, but he didn't.
It wasn't as if he were going to be gone for a long time, John
reasoned. And Dave could see what was going on around him, even if
nothing was happening. John hoped that the time spent alone would
dredge up any sense of guilt that Dave might have over what he'd done,
but he doubted it. Dave had worked with John for months now, and had
never expressed any remorse over anything in his past. John doubted
if Dave would exhibit any remorse now. Oh, he fully expected Dave to
beg to be set free, and to promise just about anything to achieve that
freedom. But promises weren't what John was looking for. He wanted
Dave to feel just as helpless and ashamed as he had felt. He wanted
Dave to feel violated and demeaned. He wanted Dave to be scared. And
John was intending to enjoy each and every moment of watching those
emotions surge through Dave Malucci.

****************************************************************

Dave had never been as scared as he was after he heard the door of
Carter's apartment close. He was alone and tied to a bed, helpless if
something should happen. He bit down hard on the gag in his mouth,
hoping that maybe he could use his teeth to cut through it. If he
could, then he could call for help.

And Dave stopped at that thought. If he did call for help, then the
police would be called, and then Carter would be in trouble. Despite
his fear and humiliation, Dave didn't want Carter in any kind of legal
trouble. Carter was only getting him back for what had happened years
ago. If Carter were arrested for this, then Dave would have to
confess to what he'd done back then, and most likely Harry and Ron's
names would come up. They'd all be screwed, Dave knew. His career
would most likely be over, as would Carter's. He somehow didn't think
that Romano would overlook Carter more or less kidnapping a co-worker,
even if he had valid reasons for doing so.

But, God, what if a fire broke out? Or if someone broke in? What if
Carter kept him all night and into the day? Dave could clearly
imagine the look on Dylan's face when he didn't show up. And then
Lisa would try to call him, to see what was going on, because Dave was
never late to pick up Dylan. When she got no answer, Lisa would
worry, Dave knew, and she'd call the police. Again, it would come
down to Carter getting into trouble, and by extension, himself getting
into trouble as well.

There was no way that anyone would win in that situation. Dave simply
had to wait out Carter, try to get the gag removed and then convince
Carter to let him go for Christmas. He'd promise to let Carter string
him up later if he wished, but Dave couldn't miss picking up Dylan.
Dave pulled at the bindings on his wrists, trying once more to get
free, and he looked up at his right wrist to see what was holding him
in place. A necktie? Looking at each limb, Dave saw that Carter had
used neckties all the way around, and Dave was willing to bet that his
gag was a necktie, too. Now, if it had been him, that wouldn't have
happened, because Dave only owned two neckties, one red and one blue.
Now that he thought of it, Dave remembered that Carter had quite a
collection of neckties. Hell, Carter could probably wrap Dave up like
a mummy, using only neckties, and still have plenty leftover.

Dave shivered again. The air in the room was coolish, especially
against bare skin. The wind chose that moment to rattle the
windowpane, and that made Dave shiver even harder. He knew that
Carter had the heat turned on, but right then, he doubted if he was
benefiting from it. He lifted his head to look around for a clock.
Carter had to have been gone for about ten minutes already, Dave
thought. Where was the clock? Carter had to have a clock, how else
would he make it up in time for work each day? He'd moved it from the
room, Dave finally reasoned. Damn him. How could he know how much
time had passed without a clock or being able to see his own watch?

Dave relaxed against the mattress. Of course, Carter didn't want him
to know that, or else he'd have left the clock in the bedroom. Then
again, maybe this wasn't Carter's bedroom. While Carter did tell Dave
that the apartment only had one bedroom, how did Dave know if Carter
was telling the truth? The whole invitation had been a set-up, after
all. Dave's body jumped on the bed as he heard the slamming of the
door, his heart racing from the surprise of the sudden noise, and then
Dave realized that the earlier sound of a closing door had been a
trick. Bastard, he thought, Carter had never left in the first place.
What a sneaking, conniving bastard. How could he trust Carter if the
guy was going to play tricks like that on him? How could he feel safe
if he never knew if Carter was really there or not? It was almost
psychological torture, Dave was sure of that.

And Dave was also sure that he deserved every bit of it.

*************************************************************

John felt guilty. And then he felt angry over feeling guilty. He
looked at the items in the small shopping basket, and felt guilty over
buying them, over what he intended to do with them. And the more he
looked at the items, the more guilty he felt, until John had no choice
but to put the items back and leave the drug store.

Once in the Jeep, John simply sat there, as still as if he were made
of stone. But his mind wasn't still. No, his mind never found it
easy to be still. And right then it was concentrating on Dave
Malucci. It was a matter of familiarity, John thought. Back when
Dave and his cohorts had abducted him and did…those things, they
didn't know him. They could act that way because he was a stranger to
them. Although, they did seem to know his name, only the questions
they'd asked him had later made John wonder just what in the Hell had
really been going on.

John knew Dave Malucci. He had to admit that he even liked Dave.
Sure, the guy was a maverick at times, but he was likable. And it was
difficult to do things to someone you liked. At least John was
finding it difficult. Then there were the things he didn't want to
think about. Such as the way he'd gotten hard after he'd stripped
Dave and was able to get a look at his entire body. The muscles that
were often visible on Dave's arms gave promise to a body that matched,
and when John had seen that body, he'd become aroused. And then right
before he'd left the apartment, or rather, right before he pretended
to leave the first time, John had gotten hard at the thought of
touching Dave, which was why he couldn't go through with it.

John turned the key in the ignition, starting the motor, and having
decided that he was pretty fucked up. And Dave Malucci had definitely
had a big hand in making him that way. Or had he? Would John have
responded so easily to what Dave and his buddies had done ten years
ago if there hadn't already been a shred of attraction for males
within him? It was a difficult thing to think about, but something
that John knew he couldn't ignore. Was there more to his failed
relationships than the bad memories from ten years ago? Did he end up
using those memories to cover up the fact that he didn't want to have
a relationship with a woman?

Sighing, John drove back to his apartment, not sure what to think. He
was equally unsure of what to do now. He had planned to do things to
Dave, to pay him back in full for everything. But since he'd wimped
out back at the drug store, John didn't know what he could do to exact
that revenge. This was one of those times when he wished that he and
his grandmother were on better terms, so that he could go over there
and pick her brain. And also get comforted in the process. But, the
rift between them seemed unbreachable, and tonight wasn't the right
time to try to mend things, especially if his grandfather was in town.
John was in no mood for yet another lecture on how he was letting the
rest of the family down just because he wanted to be a doctor.

Once back in the apartment, John sat down on the couch, still unsure
of what to do about Dave. Maybe it was enough to just keep him tied
up overnight, with Dave not knowing what was going to happen? John's
gaze fell on Dave's book bag, and he found himself wondering if Dave
had anything in there that might prove interesting. He brought it
over to the couch, stopping by the chair long enough to grab Dave's
pants as well, so he could go through the pockets. John doubted if
there was anything there that would lead him to Dave's accomplices, or
that would even incriminate Dave in any other way, but he was hoping
to find something that he could use against Dave, even if it was
something small.

*****************************************************************
It had been a while since Carter'd come back, Dave thought. At least,
he thought it had been a while since he'd heard the door close. Would
Carter come back in to taunt him again? In a way, Dave hoped that he
would, because that would then give him yet another chance to try to
get Carter to remove the gag.

As if on demand, the bedroom door opened and Carter came back into the
room, holding something in his hand. Dave warily regarded Carter as
the man came to a stop by the bed.

"You have a son," Carter said, and he held out his hand toward Dave to
reveal the picture of Dylan that Dave carried in his wallet. A
picture that conveniently had the words 'love you Daddy' written on
the back, along with the date it was taken. Lisa was always good
about making sure that something nice was written on the back of any
picture she sent him of Dylan.

Dave nodded, hoping that Carter would want to hear the story of how
Dylan came about, but Carter merely nodded in return and then walked
out of the room. But he didn't shut the door this time, and Dave felt
that was a good sign. Of course, it was a good sign that Carter
hadn't cut off the lights each time, too. They were small things, but
right then, Dave was holding tightly onto the small things.


Back in the living room, John sat down on the couch and placed the
child's picture on the coffee table, alongside the other things from
Dave's wallet and bag - Dave's driver's license, a library card, the
latest issue of JAMA, and train tickets. One ticket for Dave Malucci
for the next morning, from Chicago to Detroit. And two tickets from
Detroit to New York for later that same day, in the names of Dave and
Dylan Malucci. Dave was taking his son to New York for Christmas.

And John felt sick to his stomach. The kid was cute, and definitely
Dave's. And he looked...normal. The way a kid should look. He was
smiling happily in the photo, with a glint of mischief in his eyes.
And if John kept Dave overnight or longer, than that normal little kid
would miss out on having Christmas with his daddy.

John flopped back against the cushions and ran a hand through his
hair. It wasn't supposed to be like this. He wasn't supposed to be
too weak to go through with what needed to be done. He wasn't
supposed to hurt an innocent party.

"Fuck it," John muttered as he got to his feet. He grabbed his coat
and his keys, and then went back into the bedroom. Dave lifted his
head to look at him, his eyes questioning, but John didn't say anything.

Instead, John went to the other side of the bed, and he undid the tie
that bound Dave's left wrist. "I'm going out. Don't be here when I
get back," John said, and he hoped that his voice wasn't as shaky as
he thought it sounded. Turning quickly around, John went to the door,
and this time he flipped the light switch, sending the bedroom into
darkness. He couldn't make things too easy for Dave, he thought as he
shut the door behind him and then left the apartment. Once in the
Jeep, John drove around, no destination in mind. He knew that Dave
would see his things laid out on the coffee table and would get them
all when he left.

John finally found himself stopping across the street from Kerry
Weaver's house. It had once been his house, too, John thought, until
becoming the head of the department had gone to her head and she'd
kicked him out. Oh, Kerry claimed to have noble reasons for doing
that - that it wouldn't look right. But John was sure that it
wouldn't have mattered to anyone, not since he'd been there for close
to a year. John shook his head as he gazed at the house, remembering
how at home he'd felt when he'd lived there, and wishing that he was
still there.

But, John didn't live there anymore, and no amount of wishing would
undo what had been done. It wouldn't undo Kerry kicking him out, it
wouldn't undo what he'd done to Dave, and it wouldn't undo what Dave
and his friends had done to him so long ago. The only consolation
that John had was that keeping Dave away from his son at Christmas was
not going to be something that he'd later wish he could undo. Letting
Dave go now was the right thing to do, John knew that. He just wished
that he still didn't feel like scum for having abducted Dave in the
first place.


To be continued
Chapter Five by Cathy Roberts
Dave closed the children's book and placed a gentle kiss on the dark
head that was rested against his chest. He and Dylan had spent a
wonderful Christmas in New York, and now that they were back in
Detroit, everything seemed to be catching up to Dylan. Dave had
barely read three pages of "Goodnight Moon" before Dylan fell asleep.

"Want me to take him?" Lisa asked as she looked up from the crossword
puzzle she was working.

"Nah, I got it," Dave replied, but he didn't yet move to get to his
feet. It felt nice to just sit there and hold Dylan while he slept.
If Dave kept his mind on Dylan, then he didn't have time to think
about Carter. At least that was the lie he kept telling himself.
He'd thought about Carter nearly the entire train ride from Chicago to
Detroit. Then, once he'd picked up Dylan and they were on their way
to New York, Dave still found himself thinking about Carter. It was
worse now, since he was one night away from returning to Chicago and
work. What would Carter do and say when they saw each other again?
Would he tell everyone about Dylan? Would Dave show up at his place
and find the cops there, ready to arrest him for kidnapping Carter?
Was there even a statute of limitations on kidnapping? Probably not,
Dave thought, but he didn't dare ask anyone, because they'd want to
know why he wanted to know and he didn't want to admit to what he'd
done back then.

Dave shook off the current batch of thoughts and he smiled at Lisa.
"Thanks again for letting me crash here tonight," he told her. Lisa
never turned him away from her couch, mostly because she felt that
Dylan deserved to have his father around. Plus, they were friends.
Always had been, and Dave found himself suddenly needing to talk with
Lisa, and telling her what had happened. She knew part of the story,
it had come out once when he was drunk, but she didn't know the whole
story, and she definitely didn't know that John Carter was working
with him in Chicago.

"It's not a problem, Dave, you know that," Lisa smiled at him. "Are
you sure you don't want me to take him to his room?"

"I'm sure." This time Dave made it to his feet. "Um, you don't have
to be to work early tomorrow, do you? Because if you don't, there's
something I'd like to talk with you about."

Lisa shook her head. "I'm not on until noon," she replied. "How
about some hot cocoa? I can get it started while you're putting the
rug rat to bed."

Dave smiled as he nodded. "That'd be great. Thanks." He headed
toward Dylan's room while Lisa headed into the kitchen, and once he'd
tucked Dylan in, placed a goodnight kiss on his cheek and turned out
the light, that's where he found Lisa.

Dave sat down at the kitchen table, not quite sure how to begin. Lisa
stood at the stove, stirring the milk and cocoa mixture, and she
glanced over at him, eyebrows raised questioningly.

"You remember me telling you about my freshman year at Penn?" Dave
finally asked.

Lisa nodded. "Yeah. You said that some creep had blackmailed you and
some other guys into doing...stuff."

Dave snorted and shook his head, but inwardly he was glad that Lisa
phrased it that way. He'd been truthful during that drunken
confession, so she knew he'd been working as a male whore. "Remember
my stupid plan for revenge?"

"I remember you saying that you and some of the other guys had done
something to get back at the creep who was blackmailing you. Can you
grab some mugs for us?" She gestured toward the cabinet where she
kept the mugs and glasses, and Dave got to his feet to retrieve them.

"And we ended up finding out that we'd been lied to when we grabbed
the wrong guy." Dave placed the mugs on the counter near the stove.
"I don't know about the other guys, but what we did to him before we
found out the truth...it haunts me, Lisa."

Lisa gently touched his arm. "I know," she softly said. "It happened
around Christmas time, right? So it's only natural for you to have it
more on your mind at this time of year."

"It's not just that," Dave replied. "It's...he's...he's at County
General, Lisa. The guy we kidnapped and assaulted, he's working
there. We work together nearly every day."

"Oh, Dave," Lisa turned fully toward him, enveloping him in a hug.
"That must be rough on you."

Dave felt comfort from the hug, but it bothered him that Lisa was
dismissing Carter from her thoughts. If it was rough on Dave, then it
had to have been Hell on Carter. "He knows. I'm not sure how he knew
it was me, Lisa, but Carter knows. I found out the night before I
came to pick up Dylan." That was the first time that Dave had ever
mentioned Carter's name to her, although he'd mentioned Steve's name
more than once.

"He...he invited me over to his place and drugged me. For some
reason, he ended up going through my things and he found out about
Dylan and that I was taking Dylan to New York, and he let me go. I
don't know what I'm going back home to find, Lisa. I don't know when
he realized it was me. At first I was glad that he didn't recognize
me, but then I began to worry that he'd blocked it all out somehow. I
guess he didn't. Sometimes, when he thinks he's alone, Carter
is...well, it's like some deep sadness just oozes out of his soul,
Lisa. And I can't help but feel guilty over putting that sadness there."

Lisa turned off the burner and poured the cocoa into the mugs, then
handed one to Dave. "There might be an opening in the emergency room
at my hospital," Lisa said, and then she walked over to the table and
sat down. "I can take Dylan to daycare early, and we can go there
tomorrow morning. I don't mind recommending you for the job, Dave."

Dave came over and sat down across from her, shaking his head.
"Thanks for the offer, but I can't take it, Lisa. I can't run from
this. I've been running for ten years, and now it's time to stand
still and see what happens. I just...I thought he was my friend, you
know?" Dave shrugged and smiled slightly. "I'm gonna miss that."

Oh, yeah, Dave thought, he was definitely going to miss that. Sure,
Carter had a quick wit and sometimes a sharp tongue, but Dave knew
that nothing was said out of spite. Hell, the gleam in Carter's eyes
always gave him away. And now Dave wouldn't be seeing that gleam, or
his smile, or hear the laughter in Carter's tone. Dave had heard
Carter when he was being pissy-acting, and he hated the thought that
the same tone of voice that Carter used then would now be used on him.
He lifted the mug to his lips and blew gently on the hot cocoa before
taking a tentative sip, then became aware that Lisa was watching him
intently. And that's when he remembered that Lisa was a psych resident.

Lisa cocked her head to one side. "You like him, don't you?" she
asked. "And I don't mean just as a friend, either. You really like him?"

"Don't be silly," Dave quickly replied, not wanting her to know that
it was true. Hell, he'd had dreams over this vacation about being
naked in front of an equally naked Carter; only it wasn't anything to
do with revenge. No, in those dreams, they were naked because they
wanted to be, and Carter wasn't hesitating when it came to touching
him. It wasn't that Dave didn't want Lisa to know he was bisexual,
Hell she'd already figured that one out, even before he'd told her
about the work he'd done for Steve. He just felt it was a bit, well,
sick, for him to have the hots for a guy who he'd assaulted, even if
it was years ago. And there was no way possible that Carter would
ever feel anything but hatred for him, Dave was sure about that, so he
wasn't even going to let himself think otherwise. No, naked Carter
would just have to stay in his dreams, no matter how much Dave wanted
him in his waking world.

"Okay," Lisa replied, but the smile on her face told Dave that she
didn't believe his assertions. "You really need to talk to him,
though. I'm sure that it would help if you told him why you did what
you did. It would help both of you, Dave."


Dave shook his head. "He's not gonna want to sit down to talk, Lisa.
And I can't even joke about tying him down to make him listen.
Besides, what difference does it make? What we did was wrong, and we
knew it. We just chose to ignore it at the time, because we felt that
what Car...I mean, Steve, had done, was worse. But in the end, what
we did was even worse than what Steve had done. Yeah, Steve
blackmailed us, but if we'd each had balls, we would have stood up to
him, dared him to send those videos to our folks. But, we didn't.
Instead we caved in to his demands."

"You were kids, Dave," Lisa said, her tone firm. "Eighteen years old,
most of you away from home for the first time. You were all scared
and ashamed. None of you had come to terms with your sexual
orientations. What Steve did to you all was unforgivable. I don't
think you'd find many people out there who wouldn't have responded to
his blackmail."

Dave stared into the cocoa. "Maybe you're right. But none of that
changes the fact that each of us was a willing participant the first
time around. I didn't have to do anything with Steve, but I did. And
he didn't force any of the others that first time, either. Hell, I
was horny and more than happy to make out with Steve. But,
Carter...what we did to him, Lisa, he didn't want or ask for."

"And you didn't want or ask for being a male prostitute, either."
Lisa leaned forward and rested her elbows on the table as she regarded
Dave. "You were all victims, Dave. Yes, you can sit there and split
hairs all night long over who was more of a victim, but in the end, it
sill remains that each of you was victimized. The sooner you start
believing that, the better off you'll be. You need to come to terms
with it all, Dave, or else you'll never be able to help him come to
terms with it."

Dave snorted. "You're assuming that he wants my help with coming to
terms with any of it."

"I'd bet good money that he wonders why you did what you did. You
know why Steve blackmailed all of you, but this guy Carter, he has no
idea why he was abducted and then set free. Does he even know what
Steve was up to?"

Dave shook his head. "No. When we confronted Steve with the tapes,
the things he said made it pretty clear that Carter had been clueless.
He was far from home, and didn't have many friends outside of the
wrestling team, and Steve took advantage of that."

"Steve was quite a user, wasn't he?" Lisa softly asked. "He used his
roommate, and he used those he felt were weaker than himself. And
yet, when you all confronted him, what did he do?"

Dave frowned at Lisa's question. "I already told you that; Steve quit
school."

"That's right. Once he was confronted by all of you and knew he'd
lost his meal ticket, he caved in and ran away. But, you didn't. And
Carter didn't."

"You make it sound as if I was strong, Lisa. I wasn't. Yes, I stayed
out the year, but I never went back to Penn. The only one who stayed
there until he graduated was Carter, and he had to have spent every
single day wondering if the guys seated around him in class were the
same ones who'd practically raped him."

"Yes, he must have. And you spent all that time wondering if he'd
stumble across you and recognize you. That's why you left Penn,
right? Because you were afraid that he'd be able to identify you?
Well, now he has, and you don't have to be afraid of that any longer,
Dave. And now he knows that he was never in a class with you."

"God, Lisa, you make it sound so simple." Dave shook his head. "I
can assure you that Carter is not a simple man. He feels things deeply."

"And you're shallow?" Lisa shook her head, but there was a hint of a
smile on her face. "If you didn't feel things deeply, Dave, then you
wouldn't have tried to destroy yourself afterward. You were strong
enough to pull yourself together before reaching the bottom, and
Carter has been strong enough to get this far. You owe it to yourself
and, most importantly, you owe it to him, to tell him everything.
Even if he never speaks to you again, you owe it to the both of you."

"You're probably right," Dave admitted with a sigh. "But I don't know
how in Hell I'll get him to listen to me."

Lisa reached across the table and took Dave's hand with her own.
"You'll find a way, Dave. I've got the utmost confidence in your
abilities where that's concerned."

Dave smiled back at Lisa, touched by her trust. But inside he found
that he didn't have as much confidence in himself as she did. Still,
he knew that Lisa was right. He had to talk to Carter and explain
things. And if the end result was finding himself arrested, then so
be it. The running was over. Dave felt strangely relieved at that
realization, and while the guilt he'd been carrying for the past ten
years remained, it didn't seem as overpowering right then.

Of course, he wasn't seated across from John Carter, either. And Dave
was pretty sure that Carter wouldn't be as understanding as Lisa
seemed to be. Now, Dave just had to figure out how to get Carter to
listen to him, and he suspected that thinking up a way to accomplish
that was going to be much easier than the actual execution.


To be continued
Chapter Six by Cathy Roberts
As New Year's approached, John found himself wishing it to come
quickly, the main reason being that he wanted to get as far away from
Christmas as he could.

It wasn't that John didn't like Christmas, because he did. Well, most
of the time, anyway. But this Christmas had been rougher than usual.
First, there were all of the old memories that had been dredged up by
recognizing Dave as being one of his abductors ten years ago. Then
there was his attempt to - John still wasn't sure just what he was
trying to accomplish with the whole gifts-for-guns thing that seemed
to just happen. He knew that he hadn't gone into work that day with
that in mind.

But, it had happened. One minute he was treating a gang-banger and
the next he was giving the guy a present in exchange for his gun, as a
gift for the thug's brother. Then they just started to show up - kids
mostly, looking to trade. And he'd bought into it, thinking he was
doing something good. Until the first gang-banger came back, shot
again, and also under arrest for shooting a kid in a drive-by.
Angered and disappointed, John had grabbed one of the guns and
confronted the kid. He still didn't know what he would have done if
he hadn't have been stopped. His finger was on the trigger, and he
felt as if he could pull it, end that punk's life the same way the
punk had ended the life of an innocent little boy.

But, the gun hadn't been loaded, and if it had, he was pretty sure he
wouldn't have actually pulled the trigger, even if it would have
brought a sense of closure to the whole night. There was a pattern
there, John thought, of him not being man enough to do what needed to
be done. He'd been unable to go through with what he had planned to
do to Dave Malucci, and he'd been unable to keep some gang-banger from
killing a little boy. He was weak, John could see that.

And now here it was, New Year's Eve, and John knew he had to work with
Malucci. So, what was he doing? He was hiding in the suture room,
that's what he was doing. They wouldn't get many patients until
later, so it wasn't as if he was trying to get out of doing any work.
No, what he was doing was trying to avoid seeing Malucci. What he
was doing was trying to pretend that Malucci didn't matter in any way
to him.

What he was doing, was failing, John thought. He wanted to grab Dave
Malucci and...and kiss him. He wanted to grab Dave Malucci and beat
the living daylights out of him for making him want to kiss him. He
wanted to grab Dave Malucci and make him tell him why he'd done what
he had. But, John knew he'd blown the chance to find out the truth
when he'd let Malucci go that night. Despite knowing that setting him
free was the right thing to do, a part of John kept kicking himself
for doing it before he'd found out just why Malucci and his friends
had done those things to him. John had spent many a waking hour over
the years trying to figure out the answer to that, but nothing had
ever come to him.

John knew he wasn't the most popular guy on campus, knew he stuck out
like a sore thumb. When he had first arrived at Penn, he'd thought
that things would be good, that he'd fit in. But at the dorm and in
classes, conversation would always steer toward high school and what
things were like back home, and family. And John would always feel
like some circus freak when they'd stare at him as he admitted that
he'd gone to boarding school and not high school. Penn was an Ivy
League school, but apparently there weren't all that many students
there who had trust funds. Instead of feeling all grown up now that
he was in college, John found himself reliving the emotions that he'd
felt when he'd first been sent to boarding school, and he hated that.

After a while, John gave up on trying to make friends. Oh, he had a
few - there was his roommate Steve, and some of the guys on the
wrestling team, but that was it really. It wasn't until John moved
into his own place that he seemed to shake off the stigma of being
different. Being abducted that Christmas, as he was in the process of
moving into his own place, had changed things. With not knowing who
his abductors were or where they were, John found himself holding back
when it came to talking about himself. Instead, he ended up asking
more and more questions of those he met. And much to his surprise, he
found them liking him. That's when he really came to understand that
his background and his family were things that got in the way of
friendships.

Keeping quiet about his family had served John well over the years.
The only notable exception being Anna Del Amico, but once she got over
being angry with him for not telling her up front that his family was
loaded, things had gone well. Then again, considering that she didn't
hesitate to leave with her former, ex-drug addict boyfriend, maybe
things hadn't gone so well after all. His hoped for relationship had
never materialized. John sighed, thinking it had been for the best.
Anything between them would have ended, just as all his relationships
ended.

The door opened and John sat up, expecting to hear one of the nurses
telling him that he was needed for a trauma. He looked away though,
when he saw that it was Dave Malucci standing there.

"What?" John brusquely asked, making it plain - or so he hoped - that
he didn't wish to be disturbed.

"I was just wondering where you'd gone off to." Dave stepped further
into the suture room, letting the door close behind him.
"Carter...John, we need to talk."

"There's nothing that I want to talk about with you," John replied as
he slid off of the gurney and stood facing Dave's direction.

"Okay." Dave paused for only a moment. "Then there's something I
need you to listen to."

"I've got to get back to work," John said, and he took a step toward
the door of Trauma 2, so that he wouldn't have to walk past Dave to leave.

"It's dead out there right now and you know it. Dammitt, Carter, this
isn't easy for me, either. But you deserve an explanation about what
happened, and I think that you'd rather hear it now, and not put it
off any longer."

John stopped, and then turned to look at Dave. He'd spent ten years
wondering why Dave and his friends had kidnapped him and now he had
the chance to find out. It would really be stupid to walk out, he
told himself, even though his body was definitely in flight mode.
Nodding, John turned and walked back to the gurney to lean against it.

"Fine. Explain to me why you and your friends grabbed me in the
middle of the night, did...things to me, and then dumped me back in my
room. I'm guessing that it wasn't just for kicks?" He glared at
Dave, knowing that there was no decent explanation to be had, but he
was willing to humor the man, at least for the moment.

Dave shook his head. "It wasn't." Dave leaned against the counter,
trying to keep some distance between him and Carter. The last thing
he wanted was for Carter to feel pressured or anything.

"I guess that it basically starts with me being a freshman and broke.
I'd gotten a scholarship to Penn, but the books...well, they hit my
wallet pretty hard. I was in one of the suites at Matthews Hall, on
the floor below yours, and one of roommates told me about this guy, a
soph, who was practically handing out money. His name was John
Carter, and he was pretty loaded. And I went to his room. He was
cute, and more than willing to lend me money. We...we got along, or
so I thought." No, that wouldn't work, Dave thought. Carter deserved
the whole truth and not just the bits that Dave felt comfortable telling.

"I gave him a blow-job, okay?" Dave could feel face growing hot from
embarrassment, but he continued, knowing he owed that much to Carter.
"I'm bi, and he wasn't the first guy I'd ever sucked off. Not the
last, either, as it turned out. Later that night, Gary, the roommate
who'd told me about John Carter, and Carter himself, or rather who I
thought was John Carter, came to the suite with a videotape in hand.
It was a videotape of me sucking Carter off. I had two choices. I
could sit by and let Carter send that tape to my folks or I could go
to work for him. Seems he and Gary had a little business on the side
and had been running it since the year before. My parents..." Dave
shook his head as he thought of how his family would have reacted. He
looked over at Carter, feeling a bit uneasy over the intense stare
that Carter was giving him.

"I gave in. And I hated it, and I hated John Carter. I wasn't the
only guy that he and Gary had pulled that bit of blackmail on, and we
all hated him. Hated them both, but mainly Carter, because Gary also
worked for him. About the only good thing I can say about him is that
he did give us all a generous share of what we earned, but still...it
was humiliating, okay?"

Dave pushed himself away from the counter and began to pace. "I
wanted revenge, and I wanted to get out from under Carter's thumb. I
had all kinds of plans in my head, but things really came together
when I found some other guys who wanted revenge as much as I did. And
I also found out that Carter wasn't going home for Christmas
break...some kind of wrestling thing. My other roommate was on the JV
wrestling team with Carter, so I knew what was going on. He actually
felt sorry for Carter because the guy wasn't going home once the
wrestling thing..."

"Meet. It's called a wrestling meet," John interrupted.

"Anyway," Dave quickly said, regaining the narrative, "Jason said that
Carter was moving out of the dorm, so I knew we had to move fast. We
planned to grab Carter, give him a taste of his own medicine, get some
money from his folks to compensate us for the Hell he'd put us through
and then get those tapes from him. Not just our tapes, but all of
them, so that he wouldn't have anyone to blackmail. Christmas break
came, Carter stayed, we grabbed him...it wasn't until I went to call
his folks that I discovered that the guy we'd grabbed wasn't the same
guy we'd been working for. I was going through your wallet and I
found your driver's license. After that, well, I guess I panicked.
We should have let you go, explained things to you...but I panicked
and dumping you back in your room seemed to be the easiest thing to do."

Dave stopped pacing to find himself standing in front of Carter, and
he looked directly into Carter's eyes. "I'm sorry. I can't say
anything more than that, and I'm sorry for that, too. I wish I could
go back and undo all of that, or that I could have ever gone to one of
the wrestling meets, because then I would have known that you were you
and that he wasn't you, that he was your roommate."

Silence stretched between them, their eyes still locked, and it was
John who broke the silence. "Did you get them? The videotapes, I
mean? Did you get them?"

Dave nodded. "Yeah, we got them. Steve quit school after that.
I...well, it doesn't matter what exactly happened, does it? Let's
just say that we all didn't just forget what we'd done."

"When I first started at Penn and had Steve as a roommate, I thought
it was a good thing. He was funny, and smart. He made me feel as if
I wasn't alone or some kind of a freak because of my family. By the
end of the year, though, he'd changed, and I found it easier to stay
away from the room than to be in there with him. Still, when it came
time to come back for my sophomore year, I didn't ask for a new
roommate. I guess it was a case of preferring the known to the
unknown, even if things had started to get strained between us. That
sophomore year, though..." John shook his head, frowning. "He tried
his best to talk me out of getting my own place. I thought that he
really and truly was upset that his attitude had chased me out. I
thought he was my friend. You know, until you mentioned it just now,
I didn't know that he'd dropped out. Once I moved, I never heard from
him." John looked away from Dave, the sense of betrayal he'd felt
those years ago rising to the surface once more.

"I knew you were from Chicago," Dave said. "Or rather, I knew that
John Carter was from Chicago, but when I got the residency here at
County, I never imagined that you'd be there. I kept thinking that
you'd know, even though you never saw me. I deserved what you did,
Carter. Hell, I deserved more, even though I'm grateful as Hell that
you let me go. If you want to file charges against me, I understand,
and I won't try to talk you out of it."

John looked back at Dave, confused. "I drugged you, so shouldn't it
be the other way around? You filing charges against me?"

"We kidnapped you first." Dave sighed, thinking it was one screwed up
situation. "I'd say that what we did was far worse than what you did."

Before John could reply to that, Lily pushed open the door to announce
an incoming trauma. John thanked her, then headed for the door, not
sure what to think or say about Dave's confession. What he did know
was that he didn't want to think about it right then.

Dave watched Carter leave the room, and he sighed. He had no idea
what Carter was going to do, and he knew the suspense would drive him
crazy. Maybe that was also a just punishment, he thought as he left
the suture room, maybe he was fated to spend days not knowing what was
going to happen. Dave also knew that he had to give Carter time to
process everything; he just hoped that it wouldn't take too long.
Funny, Lisa had said he'd feel better once he told Carter the whole
truth, but right then, Dave was feeling less certain of things than he
had before. In a way, he felt worse, because there'd been no
mistaking the sadness that he'd seen in Carter's eyes when they were
looking at each other.

And, God help him, there'd been no mistaking the fact that Dave had
wanted to wrap his arms around Carter, hold him close and love away
that sadness.


After being pulled out of the suture room for the trauma, business for
the night steadily increased. Neither Dave nor John had time to think
about their earlier conversation. Which was why, when midnight had
come and gone, and Dave had found himself ready to take a break, he
was surprised to step into the lounge and find Carter there, pouring
himself a cup of coffee.

"Mind pouring one of those for me?" Dave asked, hoping that Carter
would actually pour the coffee and not just chuck the pot in his
direction.

John nodded as he reached for another mug and filled it with the hot
liquid. He put the carafe back on the burner of the coffee machine,
then grabbed both cups and walked over to where Dave was seated on the
couch.

"Thanks," Dave said as he accepted one of the cups from Carter. "Some
night, huh?"

John nodded, he himself had seen more than a dozen cases since the
trauma, and they'd all caused by stupidity. "It'll get worse, though,
as the night goes on. We've got a long haul between now and 6." John
took a long sip of his coffee. "By the way, Happy New Year."

"Thanks," Dave said, and he smiled. "Happy Y2K to you, too. Since
the power's still on, I guess all that doom and gloom talk was nothing
but hot air, huh?"

John found himself smiling back as he nodded in agreement. "Sure
looks that way."

A silence settled between them while they drank the coffee, and it was
Dave who finally broke it.

"Friends?" he asked, hoping that a visit to the local jail wasn't in
the near future for him.

John stared down into the last of his coffee, then shrugged. "I don't
know, Dave. I really don't know. I still need time to digest all of
this." He looked up and into Dave's eyes. "I can assure you that I
won't be calling the cops, though. I think we've both suffered enough
and done enough to each other, don't you?" John looked back down into
his coffee mug, not wanting Dave to see the emotions that John knew
were in his eyes. He wanted Dave, John knew that much. And how could
he be friends with Dave when every time he looked at Dave, John
remembered the way Dave had touched him, remembered the way his body
had responded. And, God help him, he found himself wanting to see if
he really would like kissing Dave now. It had to be sick and
unhealthy, John thought. Even years after the fact, a person didn't
want to kiss the person who'd practically raped him. Right?

Dave could feel it radiating from Carter, that almost unbearable
sadness. And something else mingled within it. Guilt? But Carter
had no reason to feel guilty over anything, and Dave told himself that
he was wrong. It couldn't be guilt that Carter felt, but rather
something like accusation. "Yeah, I guess we have," Dave replied. He
finished his coffee and got to his feet, knowing he needed to get back
to work before he forgot himself and ended up in front of Carter,
begging him to forgive him.

"Thanks for the coffee," Dave said as he rinsed his cup in the sink
and then headed for the door.

"You're welcome," John replied, and he looked up in time to watch Dave
walk out of the room. Sighing, John got to his feet and headed for
the sink to take the time to wash out both coffee mugs. He needed to
put time and a bit of space between himself and Dave, or else he'd
never get his emotions and thoughts under control and back on normal
things. God, but he needed to get everything back to normal, and as
far as John was concerned, normal couldn't happen soon enough.


To be continued...
Chapter Seven by Cathy Roberts
For his New Year's resolution, Dave had decided that he wouldn't press
Carter where friendship was concerned. Oh, he still wanted them to be
friends. Even better would be for the two of them to go past
friendship, and to be lovers. But, Dave knew that Carter was right in
that he had to come to terms with everything. And so, Dave decided to
be patient, and wait.

Oh, Dave still kept up his usual friendly banter, but he couldn't deny
that his heart skipped a beat whenever that banter drew a smile or
laugh out of Carter. And, as the month drew to a close, Dave was
thrilled over the fact that every time he went on break, Carter seemed
to take his then, too. There'd be coffee and pie at Maggoo's, or
coffee on the roof. Little things, really, but they were things they
did together, and that meant all the world to Dave. The abductions
were never mentioned, and that was just fine to Dave. The sooner they
both put all of that behind them, the better, he thought. And was it
his imagination, or was Carter looking at him differently? Dave swore
that there were times when he'd quickly look over at Carter and see an
intense longing in the man's eyes. The look would pass quickly, but
Dave was sure that it had been there. And that belief gave him hope
that he did have a chance with Carter, that despite the fact that
Carter could get a chick like Elaine Nichols in his bed, he could
still want another guy.

As January ended, and February began, Dave was feeling very optimistic
indeed, almost to the point of going out and buying Carter a card for
Valentine's Day. A very naughty, racy, and suggestive Valentine's Day
card. Dave's face broke into a huge grin whenever he thought about
it, but then his stomach would do a flip as doubts reminded him that
he could be reading Carter's looks wrong. The only thing to do, Dave
finally reasoned, was to just keep watching Carter, and waiting for
Carter to make the first move.


For his New Year's resolution, John had decided that he'd put Dave
Malucci and the past out of his mind. Now that he had his answers to
the hows and whys of the abduction, there was no longer any need to
dwell on what had happened. No need to wonder just what he'd done
that had been so bad as to warrant that kind of treatment. From
January 1st onward, Dave would be nothing more than a co-worker, a
colleague, just like Kovac or Cleo. Nothing more, nothing less.

And that was a resolution that John broke on January 2nd, and every
day after that. Hell, he didn't even have to be working the same
shift with Dave to break it. Thoughts of Dave would pop into John's
head without warning. And they were always erotic thoughts. If John
had been having those thoughts about a woman, he'd welcome them. But
they weren't about a woman, they were about a man. And not just any
man, but about a man who had once kidnapped him and did...things to
him. For the first time since Kerry Weaver had evicted him from her
basement, John found himself glad that he had his own place. The
strain of acting 'normal' at work was a hard one, and after every
shift, John would come home and fall apart in the privacy of his own
apartment. Oh, it wasn't a hysterical falling apart, nothing quite so
dramatic as that. It was just that once John stepped into his own
apartment, he remembered Dave being there, remembered how Dave had
looked on his bed, naked. John often found himself crawling onto the
bed, his mind and hands active, until he'd climax with Dave's name on
his lips.

And then John would shower furiously, the water as hot as he could
stand, sometimes almost too hot, but heat was needed for cleanliness.
He'd scrub his skin over and over, trying his best to wipe away the
dirt and guilt. What kind of a person was he, anyway? Definitely not
'normal', he'd decide, and the silence of his apartment would agree
with him on that. As each day passed, John found himself wanting Dave
more and more. He imagined what it would be like to kiss another man,
to kiss Dave Malucci, and he found himself yearning to find out the
answer.

The agonizing days of January came to an end, and John tossed his
resolution out the window, knowing there was no way possible for him
to ever keep it. The first days of February found John trying to
think up a way to get Dave alone, so that John could find out once and
for all just what it would be like to kiss him. Oh, it was dirty and
definitely not 'normal', but Dave Malucci was worth it. And maybe,
just maybe, Dave would think that John was worth it, too, and not find
him as repulsive as he found himself.


John stood nervously in front of the men's room mirror. He'd gone
over this a million times, but was certain that when it came time to
actually talk to Dave, he'd mess it up. And, John definitely didn't
want to mess this up, not when everything else had seemed to fall into
place so easily. His plan to get Dave alone had started to come
together earlier in the week, when he'd seen the latest television
guide. The Chicago Blackhawks were playing Atlanta on Saturday, in
Atlanta, no less. Which meant that the game was going to be aired in
the Chicago area. A quick look at the schedule showed John that both
he and Dave would be off in time to see the game. Dave had that day
off, and John was getting off of his shift at six. The game was at
seven, so there was plenty of time to get home, shower and change and
then be ready for Dave's arrival.

It all hinged on Dave accepting his invitation to come over to watch
the game. Sure, Dave liked hockey, but what if he already had other
plans? Or didn't want anything to do with him? John sighed heavily
as he gave his reflection one last look. Hiding in the men's room and
obsessing over whether or not Dave would accept the invitation
certainly wasn't getting him anywhere. He'd just catch Dave on break
and casually mention the game, and then if Dave seemed interested,
John would invite him over. His determination back in place, John
turned from the mirror and headed back into the ER, hoping that his
confidence wouldn't vanish the moment he saw Dave.


The day had not been going well, Dave thought with a frown. The work
had been the usual fare of the ER - sprains, broken bones, flu
complaints, a few MVAs, and some GSWs. It was the rest of the day,
his breaks most especially, that hadn't gone well at all, and all
because of one small fact - Dave had spent his breaks alone. He'd
become so used to having Carter as company that he felt Carter's
absence keenly, and Dave felt like kicking himself for letting his
feelings grow that much for someone who obviously only wanted to be
friends. Dave then wondered if he'd done or said something that had
scared Carter away? Maybe looked at him too longingly? Stifling a
sigh, Dave signed himself out from his shift and headed into the
lounge to his locker, Carter not in sight. That was the repeating
theme of the day, Dave realized. Except for one trauma, he hadn't
even seen Carter, and that had to mean that he'd done something to
scare him away.

But what? As Dave opened his locker, his mind raced to try to
discover just what he'd done to frighten Carter off. Dave was so deep
in thought over the matter that he didn't notice that someone else was
in the lounge with him until he heard the sound of someone clearing
his throat. When Dave looked over his shoulder to see who was there,
he couldn't keep from breaking out into a smile at discovering it was
Carter. But his smile faltered a bit as he realized that Carter
looked uneasy, maybe even nervous.

"Carter," Dave said, nodding at the other man and then returning his
attention to his locker. If Carter was already nervous, then he
didn't want to do anything to make matters worse. The best thing was
to let Carter take control of the conversation. "You off already?"

"No," John replied. "I've got a few more hours to go. There's a
Blackhawks game on TV this weekend. Saturday night, at seven; to be
exact. They're playing Atlanta, and I, well, I was wondering if you'd
want to come over to watch it. That is, if you're feeling up to it,
and all." Dave was still getting over his short bout of the flu, and
John wasn't sure that Dave was up to going out, even if it was just to
come over to watch a game on TV.

Carter was inviting him over? Dave grinned once more. "Yeah, that'd
be great. I could grab a pizza or something on my way over."

John nodded. "Okay. And I've got beer and stuff. You remember where
I live, right?"

"I sure do," Dave replied. He felt all happy inside as this moment
more than made up for the fact that Carter had been scarce all shift.

"Good." Carter headed for the door. "I've got to get back to my head
lac. We can talk later about what to get on the pizza." He then
smiled, and Dave felt right then as if his heart would melt - and his
cock embarrass him completely as it tried to spring to life. Luckily,
the door closed behind Carter just as that happened, sparing Dave that
bit of notice.

"Down boy," he whispered to himself as he pulled on his coat. "It's
just a hockey game. It's not like he just invited us over to screw
his brains out or something." But if things went well, and Carter
kept on inviting him over, then maybe, just maybe, someday there would
be a chance to do just that.

Whistling happily, Dave slammed his locker shut and headed home, his
mind already on the weekend and spending some time alone with Carter.
All in all, it had one Hell of a great day.


John spared a moment to glance at his watch, and he groaned loudly as
he saw it as 7:15. He then continued up the stairs to his apartment,
taking them two at a time and wondering if Dave would be in the
hallway, waiting. He'd told Dave to be there a little before seven,
wanting to give himself time to shower and change once he was home
from work. And that would have given John plenty of time, and then
some, if he had gotten off of his shift at six, as scheduled.

John should have remembered that quitting times in the ER hardly ever
went as scheduled. A trauma had come in, an MVA with three people,
and he'd been too busy to notice the time. It wasn't until he'd
declared the death on his patient that he realized it was after six,
and he still had the chart to finish. John had taken a moment to call
Dave, to let him know that he'd be late, but there'd been no answer at
Dave's place, and John had had to leave a message on Dave's machine.
It was already after six thirty at that point, and John was pretty
sure that Dave was on his way to his place. Dave had planned to get
the pizza that they'd talked about having, a large one, with extra
cheese and everything on it. Dave had raved about a place he knew
that made a New York style pizza, something rare to find in Chicago,
and John had given in to Dave's desire to get a taste of home.

Only now, Dave would probably be the only person enjoying any of it,
John grimly thought. He couldn't really blame Dave for not hanging
around past seven. After all, it was only a hockey game and nothing
more. The certainty that Dave had come and gone slowed John's steps,
and he was practically dragging his feet as he opened the stairwell
door and stepped into the hallway of his floor.

"D'ya get stuck at work?"

John's head jerked up as he heard Dave's voice, and he smiled broadly
at he saw that it really was Dave sitting there on the floor in front
of his apartment door. "Yeah, I did," John replied. "I tried to call
you, but you'd already left."

Dave turned to the side and picked up the pizza box that was beside
him, holding it up toward Carter. "Here, hold onto this for a sec."

John took the box, surprised that the pizza was still hot. "I thought
you'd be gone by now."

Dave got to his feet and shrugged, then grinned as he took the pizza
back from Carter. "Your time was going to be up in about ten
minutes," he said. "Luckily for you, I know what it's like to get
stuck leaving late."

John dug into his pocket for his keys and quickly unlocked the door,
then standing aside so Dave could go inside first. Once John had
entered the apartment, he flipped the switch for the overhead light,
and then closed and locked the door. "You can just put the pizza on
the coffee table. Would you like a beer or a soda pop?" John asked as
he removed his tie and draped it over the back of one of the dining
room chairs. He dropped his bag on the floor against the wall, then
began to pull off his jacket as he headed toward the kitchen. Dave
went on over to the couch and put the pizza down on the table. He
took off his coat and tossed it in the easy chair, then sat down and
picked up the remote.

"Beer, please. Do you mind if I get the game on?"

"No," John called back as he opened the refrigerator. "Go ahead." He
grabbed two beers and some napkins, hoping that Dave wouldn't mind not
having a plate for the pizza. Right then, John physically and
mentally didn't feel like dealing with dishes. He just wanted to
collapse on the couch, eat and relax. He also wanted a shower, but
knew it would be rude for him to go and take one now that Dave was there.

"Thanks," Dave said as he took his beer from Carter. He'd easily
found the game, and was pleased to see that they hadn't missed much
since there wasn't yet a score. He glanced over at Carter as the
other man sat down, thinking that he looked tired. He also looked
quite delicious as he lounged there, his long legs stretched out under
the coffee table, his hair tousled, his tie loose and the top buttons
of his shirt undone. As his cock began to react to that scene, Dave
turned his attention to opening the pizza.

"One large garbage pizza, New York style," Dave declared as he grabbed
a piece of it and took a bite. "Mmmm."

John smiled, then leaned forward and grabbed a slice as his stomach
rumbled. It smelled good, and the slice was heavy from all of the
toppings. He took a bite and found himself agreeing with Dave on the
taste. It wasn't a Chicago style pizza, but it was pretty damn good.
"Mmmm," he echoed.

Since both men were hungry, they ate in silence for a little while,
eyes mostly on the game. Every now and then, one or the other would
glance sideways at the other man, their thoughts running along the
same lines. The only different in their thoughts was in the
conclusions of them, with Dave thinking that it was going to kill him
to be patient, but he'd do it anyway; and John trying to think of a
way to let Dave know without a doubt that he was interested in doing
something more than eating pizza and watching a hockey game.

There were so many scenarios running around in John's head. Almost
too many, he thought. Heck, if Dave were a woman, then he'd have a
better idea about what to do, John thought, glancing once more over at
Dave and taking in the form-fitting T-shirt and tight pants. He
grinned as Dave cheered for a Blackhawks goal, then returned to his
musings. Okay, so Dave wasn't a woman, but the act of seduction
wasn't necessarily gender exclusive, was it? John had seduced women
before, so he certainly could seduce another man. What he needed
though, was something that wasn't too overt, and his thoughts went
back to the fact that he wanted a shower. Rude or not, John was
beginning to think that a shower would be just the thing. He could
leave the door open and give Dave a chance to join him. And if Dave
didn't do that, then John could always find an excuse to come back
into the living room while wearing nothing but a towel. He nodded,
knowing that he'd finally decided on a good course of action.

"You know, I'm sure I reek of the hospital," he said, looking over at
Dave. "You wouldn't mind if I went and got a quick shower, would
you?" He'd already begun to undo the buttons on the shirt cuffs.

Dave looked over at Carter, knowing all too well how it felt to want
to wash away the smells and feelings from the ER. "Nah, go ahead.
I'll save some pizza for ya."

John smiled as he got to his feet. "I'll try to be quick." As he
headed toward the bathroom, John began to undo the rest of the buttons
on his shirt, hoping that his act of stripping was sending the right
message to Dave. He closed the bathroom door, but didn't lock it.
Then he opened it again, not wanting Dave to think that he was being
shut out.

"I keep forgetting that the exhaust fan is broken," John said, quickly
making up a lie to explain why he was going to leave the door ajar.

"Okay," Dave said, and he made himself look back at the TV. Carter
obviously trusted him, and Dave wasn't going to mess things up by
ogling him now. Even if Carter's bared chest did look pretty damn
kissable, and would look even more touchable once Carter's entire body
was bare and wet.

Dave could hear the sounds of clothing rustling, and his cock twitched
in appreciation of the fact that Carter was most likely fully naked.
He jumped slightly as the water suddenly started, seeming pretty damn
loud through the partially open door. Dave glanced toward the
bathroom, catching a glimpse of a bare leg before he forced himself to
look away. Damn, but this was going to be one long shower, he
thought, hopefully long enough so that his erection would ease off
before Carter came back.

Dave returned his attention to the hockey game, and soon lost himself
in the battle that was being played out on the television screen. It
wasn't until he felt a presence slightly behind him that he realized
that the water had stopped. Dave sent a quick glance to his right,
and the quick glance quickly turned into a stare as he saw that Carter
was standing there behind the couch wearing nothing but a towel. His
skin was still a bit pink from the hot water, and damp, and Dave found
himself growing hard once more.

Dragging his eyes away from Carter, Dave leaned forward to get another
slice of pizza from the box, hoping that the movement would hide his
arousal.

"What's the score?" John asked.

"Uh, two to one, I think," Dave replied as he slowly sat back against
the cushions, hoping that Carter would quickly go to get dressed while
also wishing that he was standing there naked.

"Chicago winning?"

Damn, he didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave, Dave thought. "Yeah,
Chicago's winning."

"That's good."

Dave could feel Carter's eyes on him, but he didn't dare turn to look
at him again. If it were anyone else, Dave would have been pretty
sure that Carter was trying to seduce him or something. But, this was
Carter, and the fact that Carter's hand was now on the back of the
couch, his fingers barely brushing against Dave's neck, didn't mean
anything except that Carter didn't realize the effect he had on Dave.

The devilish part of Dave chose that moment to speak up - maybe it did
mean more than that. John Carter wasn't an innocent, after all, even
if he didn't do guys. Dave slowly turned his head to look at Carter,
and this time he was fortunate enough to look at Carter's eyes first.
Oh, yeah, there was no mistaking the look there. It was desire, pure
and simple. Dave let his eyes trail down Carter's body, noting the
erect nipples, the lean belly and the bulge under the towel.

Oh, dear good God in Heaven, Carter WAS trying to seduce him. The
devilish part of Dave wanted to vault over the back of the couch, grab
Carter and kiss him senseless, along with a few other choice acts.
The 'good' part of Dave knew that Carter had no experience with men,
and he didn't want things to happen just because Carter'd had beer.
How many HAD he had, anyway? Not enough to be drunk, his devilish
side replied, he knows exactly what he's doing.

Dave quickly turned back to face the TV, undecided about what to do.
Lordy, but if it was anyone else...Hell, if it was anyone else, he
wouldn't be sitting there right then. Dave wanted Carter, pure and
simple. He'd wanted him for a long time now, and why should he be
hesitant now that it looked as if Carter felt the same way? Maybe it
was because looks could sometimes be deceiving? What if this was just
another bit of payback? Or what if Carter didn't really know what it
was he was asking for?


After showering alone, John had been a bit discouraged, but he'd
rebounded by reminding himself that Dave didn't know that the open
door was an invitation to join him in the bathroom. Obviously, he
needed to be more overt, and once his body was mostly dry, John had
acted spontaneously, stepping back into the living room in just a towel.

And Dave hadn't noticed. He'd been so wrapped up in the game that he
didn't bother looking when John left the bathroom. Torn between going
quickly into the bedroom to dress and stepping between Dave and
television, John had opted for something simpler - going up behind Dave.

That seemed to work, John noticed. Dave had definitely taken note of
the fact that he was there, but then the game had reclaimed his
attention. John scrambled for something to do or say that would get
him Dave's attention again, and he'd leaned against the couch, bracing
his hands on the back, to ask how the game was going. Unfortunately,
it took more than one question for John to get Dave's full attention.
Fortunately, John was patient enough to keep talking, and when Dave's
eyes met his own, he could have sworn that he saw want and need there,
and John was pretty sure that Dave's eyes hadn't missed the fact that
he was hard.

So why then did Dave turn his attention back to the game? His
shoulders slumped in defeat; John started to turn away, confused as to
what had just happened. Had he only imagined the look in Dave's eyes?
God, he HAD imagined it, hadn't he? And Dave was being nice enough
to not punch his lights out over it. Shaking his head, John headed
for the bedroom, wondering if he'd really be able to come back out
without being totally humiliated over what he'd tried to do.

He should have known better, John thought. Nothing ever worked right
when he made the first move. It never worked right with women, so he
didn't really know why he'd thought it would work right with a man.
Besides which, John should have realized that a simple seduction
wouldn't work with Dave, not when he was the one doing the seducing.
Dave had seen him before and he knew the way John's body had responded
to what he and the others had done to it. Dave knew firsthand that
John was a bit perverted, so why would he want him? Why would anyone
ever want him?



To be continued.
Chapter Eight by Cathy Roberts
***************************************************

Now that Dave was aware of what Carter was attempting, all of his
senses were on Carter, and the hockey game no longer held any interest
for him. He knew when Carter moved, and Dave found himself holding
his breath as he waited for Carter to come around to the front of the
couch. He was a bit confused then, when that didn't happen.

Dave glanced back toward Carter and saw him walking toward the bedroom
door, his posture all but screaming 'defeated'. Whoa, that wasn't
what Dave had intended. When he'd ignored Carter, it had been to make
sure that Carter knew what he wanted and what he was doing. Dave had
never thought that Carter would take it as a sign of rejection.

Dave quickly got to his feet, catching up to Carter at the bedroom
door, and he placed a restraining hand on Carter's shoulder. "Don't,"
Dave said, and he found himself bending his head slightly and placing
a kiss between Carter's shoulder blades. Carter's skin was still warm
and damp from the shower, and a shiver ran down Dave's spine as he
envisioned what the rest of Carter's body must feel like.

"Dave..."

"Shhh," Dave interrupted. "Don't say anything, Carter, just listen.
I want this. I want you. But, I don't want you doing anything that
you don't really want to do, you know? So, it's up to you, okay? If
you want me, if you really and truly want me, then turn around and
tell me so. And if you're not sure, then go on into your room and get
dressed and we'll forget this ever happened and just stay friends.
Your choice, Hoss." Oh, God, but how he wanted Carter to turn around,
Dave thought. Please turn around, please.

The arm under Dave's hand was trembling, and Dave hastily removed it,
not wanting his touch to put Carter under any extra pressure. He
didn't realize that he was holding his breath until he saw Carter
start to turn around and Dave let that breath out with a silent sigh
as a smile began to stretch its way across his face. Carter really
did want him, and at that moment there was nothing more important than
that.

And yet, when Carter had turned completely around, he wouldn't meet
Dave's eyes. Instead, it seemed to Dave that Carter was looking at
the floor. "Hey," Dave said as he tucked a finger under Carter's chin
and began to tilt his head upward. "Look at me, Carter."

Eye to eye they stood there, Dave rock solid and Carter's body still
slightly shaking. Dave let his finger slide along Carter's jaw, then
to the back of his head, where his hand then held Carter steady as he
leaned in for a kiss. Carter was a tad bit taller, but Dave had no
trouble meeting his lips. The first thing that Dave noticed was that
Carter's lips were cold; the second thing was that Carter had his lips
tightly clenched. Dave didn't know if the clenching was also because
Carter was cold or if it was because he was uneasy about kissing
another guy. Either way, it was pretty obvious that Carter needed to
get warm, even if Dave did like looking at him while he was wearing
nothing but a towel.

Dave slowly pulled away from the kiss, smiling at Carter. "You know,
I was hoping that you were shivering with anticipation and not because
you were about to freeze your cute ass off. C'mon," Dave put an arm
around Carter's shoulders and turned him around, then headed into the
bedroom. "Why don't we crawl under the covers until you've warmed up?"

It didn't matter to Dave that Carter didn't answer him; he had every
intention of getting Carter into the bed and warm. And above that,
Dave wanted to make sure that Carter's lack of enthusiasm with the
kiss had been because he was cold and not because he didn't want to do
this after all.

Dave switched on the bedside lamp and then let go of Carter long
enough to turn back the covers. "Get on in," he said as he toed off
his shoes. "And scoot over to make room for me." If it worked out
that nothing happened, then Dave wanted to at least know what it felt
like to hold Carter next to him and to breathe in his scent.

As Dave stripped down to his briefs, he tried to not stare at Carter,
although he was acutely aware of the fact that Carter was staring at
him. Dave considered slipping out of his underwear, but chose not to,
since he didn't want Carter to get freaked out and thinking they were
going to do something right then.

"You'll get warmer quicker if there's skin contact," Dave explained as
he slipped under the covers and moved over to wrap his arms around
Carter's body. The other man seemed tense, and it took a few light
tugs for Dave to silently get across the idea that he wanted Carter to
move closer. As soon as Carter moved, though, Dave felt a coldness
against his body, and he realized that the towel was still damp.

"Jesus, Hoss, no wonder you're freezing," Dave exclaimed as he moved
back a bit, his hands going to Carter's waist. "This towel has got to
go."

Dave yanked on the towel and felt it come loose, and he tried to not
let his cock notice when his hands brushed over Carter's hardness.
"Lift your hips a bit and we'll get this thing outta here," Dave
ordered, and he was pleased when Carter quickly obeyed.

Dave pulled the towel out from under the covers and tossed it across
the room. As he settled his arms once more around Carter, Dave
smiled. "Better?"

"Much," John replied. "Thank you."

Dave's smile grew broader as he felt Carter's body relax against his.
"You're welcome. It's the least I can do," Dave said as he began to
light caress Carter's lower back. "After all, if I'd maybe been a bit
quicker on the uptake, you wouldn't have stood there for so long
freezing in that towel."

"I guess I can just hit you over the head the next time I want to try
seducing you," John commented, and Dave could feel the vibration of
Carter's voice against his chest. It was a feeling he liked, and Dave
pulled Carter a little bit closer.

"That might work," Dave agreed. "Look, Car...John. If you don't want
anything to happen..."

Dave's offer to let Carter off the hook was cut off when Carter's lips
were suddenly there on Dave's. Dave found this to be a much more
enjoyable kiss, and it was pretty damn obvious from the hardness that
Dave felt against his thigh that Carter was enjoying it as well. Dave
felt a hand tugging at the waistband of his shorts, and the kiss was
cut off long enough for Dave to hear Carter's lone word on the
subject, "Off."

With one hand wrapped around the nape of Carter's neck, Dave had to
get his shorts off with the other hand. It wasn't as difficult as
Dave originally thought it would be, and his shorts were soon pushed
aside under the covers, so that the two men were completely touching
bare skin to bare skin.

Lordy, but Carter's mouth and hands seemed to be everywhere, Dave
thought, and at that moment his back arched involuntarily as he felt
Carter's slender and still cool fingers wrap around his hard cock.
"God, Carter..." Dave managed to say when Carter's lips moved down
over Dave's chin and to his neck. Dave's hand relaxed a bit on
Carter's neck, willing to lightly guide if needed, but equally willing
to wait to see where Carter ended up on his own.

The devil inside of Dave began to wonder if he'd misjudged Carter and
his experience when it came to having sex with another guy, but the
angel within kept assuring Dave that when it came to guys, Carter was
about as innocent as they came. He'd be the one to teach Carter for a
change, and Dave grinned at that thought, then reached down and cupped
Carter's ass within his hands.

"Easy, Hoss. We've got all night, and I'm not going anywhere." Truth
was, there wasn't anyplace that Dave would rather be than right where
he was right then, and he couldn't help but feel warm inside over that.


When Dave had grabbed him and called him "Hoss", John had frozen. He
hadn't meant to react to that name, or to Dave's touch, but he had.
When they were at work, John was able to keep back the memories that
that name tried to drag to the surface. But he wasn't at work, and
John had had to work hard to push those memories back down. By the
time he felt he'd successfully put them aside, Dave was saying
something about him freezing and then leading him into the bedroom.

Since that's where John had wanted to be all along, he hadn't argued
over Dave taking charge that way. In fact, it was quite nice, letting
someone else make the decisions for a change. It wasn't until they
were both under the covers and Dave was touching him that John
realized that he wanted more than what Dave was offering right then.

"He who hesitates is lost," John thought to himself, remembering one
of his grandfather's favorite quotes. His mind made up to not lose,
John made his move. Dave's body felt hard and hot under his, and his
lips were soft and pliable. Dave's mouth tasted of pizza and beer,
and John fed on that taste. The only thing wrong with everything was
that John couldn't touch all of Dave's skin, and he paused long enough
to let Dave know. As Dave worked to remove his underwear, John kept
kissing him, tasting Dave's mouth again and then his skin. Dave had
showered since he'd left work, and his skin smelled and tasted of the
soap he'd used. And under that was what had to be Dave's own musk, a
scent that John knew he'd never tired of smelling.

Feeling brave, John decided to go for broke and he moved his hand
downward until it found Dave's cock. Aside from medical examinations,
John had never held another guy's cock, limp or hard. He'd thought
that it would feel strange, but instead it felt very familiar. Of
course, he'd masturbated enough to be familiar with the way a hard
cock felt, he'd just not expected Dave's to feel so...familiar. Of
course, it only stood to reason that if Dave's cock physically felt
similar to John's, then Dave would like having the same things done to
him. John began to slowly stroke Dave, his fingers lightly squeezing
the organ every other stroke.

A part of John wanted to move further down Dave's body, to see if Dave
liked being sucked off as much as he did, but the overall act made
John hesitate. He didn't know what to do, not really. He'd never
sucked himself, so there was no point of reference, and John didn't
want to do something wrong. The last thing he wanted was for Dave to
leave there unsatisfied. No, John wanted Dave feeling very satisfied
and eager to come back for more.

John slowly licked a spot on Dave's neck and then propped himself up
on one hand. He looked down into Dave's eyes, then away from Dave,
over at his own pillow. "I don't know what to do now," John admitted,
and he could feel his cheeks growing warm as he said it, too.

John felt Dave's hands on his chin once more, forcing him to look back
at Dave. Dave smiled up at John, and in that short instant, John knew
everything would be all right. "It's okay. I can show you," Dave
said. "Get on your back."

John moved off of Dave, carefully so that he wouldn't poke Dave in any
wrong places, and he stretched out in the middle of the bed. The cool
sheet under his back felt good right then, the passion that John was
feeling for Dave had long ago chased away the chill. "Okay. Now what?"

Dave rose up slightly, propping himself up by one elbow. He let his
free hand skim over John's chest, catching the nipples with every pass
and making John gasp from the pleasure of it. It was something John
remembered from all those years ago, a simple pleasure that had been
unexpected then and just as unexpected now. John had been so busy
remembering the other things - the not so simple things - that he'd
forgotten the small acts, like Dave's hand barely touching his
nipples. He'd forgotten how good it had felt to have Dave's lips
tugging on a taut nipple, and then to feel Dave's tongue flicking over
the nipple.

"Yes!" John exclaimed, his own back arching up from the mattress this
time. "I'd forgotten how good that felt." His hands searched for
Dave's head, and John entwined his fingers in Dave's hair, needing to
hold Dave to his chest so that the pleasure never ended. "Don't stop.
Please don't stop."


Dave had been getting pretty turned on by watching the look on
Carter's face as he messed with the guy's teats. Dave liked having
his nipples played with, and he was glad to see that Carter did, too.
As Dave nibbled on a nipple, he could smell Carter, and that made his
dick get harder as well. At least until Carter spoke. Even as Dave
heard Carter begging for him not to stop, Dave did stop, his mind
racing. He raised his head and looked down at Carter. He looked
delicious with his eyes closed and his face flushed, but Dave couldn't
let himself be distracted from finding out more about what Carter had
said. "Carter. Look at me."

John's eyes slowly opened, and the two men locked gazes.

"What did you mean just now? When you said that you'd forgotten how
good that felt?" Dave's hand had come to rest on Carter's chest, and
Dave suddenly realized that it had come to rest on top of one of the
perfect nipples. He hastily moved it, letting it rest instead on the
relative safety of Carter's belly. Dave hoped that Carter simply
meant that he'd enjoyed it every time a chick had done that, but his
gut was telling him that it wouldn't be that simple. This was one
time when Dave was praying that his gut was wrong.

John looked confused as he shook his head. "I meant just what I said.
I'd forgotten how good that had felt. You know, from when you did it
before."

Dave glanced away from Carter and he began to chew on his bottom lip,
not sure what to say. Maybe it had been a mistake to not talk about
the abduction, Dave thought. "You thought that I...?" Dave shook his
head, then moved so that he was upright and kneeling on his knees
beside Carter.

"John, I never touched you," Dave said, keeping his eyes on Carter's
face. "Except for cutting off your clothes, and then later wrapping
you in the sheet. I...I left the room after I stripped you."

John's cheeks began to turn a deep red, and he turned his head to look
away from Dave. "You didn't...you were there, though. Right?"

Dave shook his head. "Not really. Someone had to go to get the video
tapes and that someone ended up being me." Dave didn't think it was a
good idea to admit that he'd left the room because watching the other
guys touching Carter had aroused him. No, it definitely wasn't a good
idea.

"Why didn't you say that earlier?" John softly asked. "You could have
let me blame the other guys."

"I might not have assaulted you, Hoss, but I was just as guilty as
they were. I planned it all. Not the details, but the whole
abduction thing was my idea." Dave sighed as he thought that maybe
making love to Carter wasn't the best idea right then. "We don't have
to do this. You don't have to do this."

John's reply was to roll onto his side, away from Dave, his body
curling into a ball. "Just go," he said, and Dave could have sworn
that he heard more than a little waver in those two words. "I
wouldn't want you to waste your time with me."

Oh, shit. Dave felt like a real heel as he listened to Carter. He
moved again, spooning his body behind Carter's and wrapping his arm
over Carter's body. "Time spent with you would never be a waste,"
Dave said. "I just don't want you thinking that you've got to go
through with this in order to prove something. I want you for who you
are, Hoss. Tonight I know exactly who I'm with, make no mistake about
that."

The body in front of Dave was rigid, and Dave was beginning to fear
that Carter was going to kick him out - or just drive him away by
ignoring him. Dave was stubborn though, and he was determined to not
leave until he was completely sure that Carter realized what he meant
to Dave. Seconds passed, turning into minutes. Those minutes quietly
passed as well, and Dave could feel Carter's body relaxing against him.

"Do you really mean that?" John asked, his voice soft and uncertain.

Dave snuggled up closer to Carter. "I really mean that." His arm
tightened around Carter's body. "I'm with John Carter, with brown
hair and brown eyes and long legs that I want to feel wrapped around
my waist, holding me in place while we make love. I'm with John
Carter, who isn't afraid to show the pleasure he feels when I touch
him. Yes, it's true that when I started at County I remembered you
from before, but it didn't take long for me to start wanting you,
Carter. I've spent months fantasizing about you while jerking off,
and I can go back to doing that if that's what you want."

Dave planted a lingering kiss between Carter's shoulder blades while
letting his hand lightly caress the skin of Carter's belly. "But I
hope that you'll prefer me coming right here with you. Hell, to be
totally honest, I hope that you'll let me fuck you. I'm aching to be
inside you, Hoss. But if I have to wait, then I'll wait. And it
definitely won't be a waste of my time."


To be continued...
Chapter Nine by Cathy Roberts
John thought it was nice to just lie there and simply enjoy the way
Dave was touching him. It was nice to not to have to think about
anything, and to just feel, but John couldn't help but wonder just how
far Dave's patience would go. There they were finally, naked and warm
under the covers, both of them aroused, and John suddenly found
himself unsure of things. While it had been a surprise to find out
that Dave hadn't been one of the guys who assaulted him, John knew
that learning that news didn't really make any difference in what he
wanted or how he felt. No, what was making the difference was Dave
himself.

John had wanted Dave. He'd wanted to be with Dave and kiss him and
hold him and do all the things that two people were supposed to do
when they were warm and naked together. And then Dave had started in
with asking him if he really wanted this. Maybe it wouldn't have
mattered if Dave had just asked one time, but to John it felt as if
Dave kept asking. Was he sending out some kind of a signal that he
didn't want Dave? He didn't think so, but if not, then why did Dave
keep asking?

Hell, John had even set out to seduce Dave, and if that wasn't desire,
then what was? Only…what if Dave was right and this wasn't really
something he wanted? John sighed, finding it all too confusing to
think through. His sigh brought about a stronger caress from Dave,
and John bit against his lower lip as Dave's hand drifted lower and
began to stroke John's cock. Oh, damn, but that felt good!

The Hell with thinking, John finally decided. He'd just go with what
his body felt and what it wanted and think about things later.
Without further thought, John abruptly rolled over so that he was
facing Dave. Dave's grasp had loosened, but his hand never left
John's cock, and John reached out and grasped Dave's firmly. He
looked into Dave's questioning eyes, glad that Dave had left the light
on so that they could see each other. John didn't want to be fumbling
around in the dark, not this first time, anyway. John grinned then as
he realized that in his head he was already planning more times together.

"So, you think you can teach me what to do?" John asked, eager to find
out what brought Dave pleasure and equally eager to find out what Dave
would do to please him.

Dave slowly grinned and his grip on John's cock became firmer as he
resumed his stroking. "Oh, yeah, I'm pretty sure I can teach you.
I've heard stories about you, you know, and what a fast learner you are."

"Have you now?" John asked, and he followed Dave's lead and began to
stroke Dave's velvet hardness. "Well, I'll try my best to not let you
down."

"I'm sure you won't, Hoss," Dave replied. He then sat up, letting the
covers drop away as he moved his body so that his mouth could reach
John's groin. "And the first lesson is going to be about using your
mouth to its fullest potential. And, yes," Dave added as he looked up
at John, "there will be an oral test on this later."

Before John could reply he found himself moaning as his cock was
enveloped in the wet heat of Dave's mouth. At first it wasn't very
different from the times women had gone down on him, but a second of
contemplation told John that it was in reality much, much better.
Dave's tongue and mouth just seemed to know the right places to touch,
the points to lick that would bring the most pleasure. It quickly
became easy to forget all of the times when John had been the
recipient of oral sex with a woman, as well as that one other time,
with those guys who…no, John didn't want to think about that time,
especially now that he knew Dave wasn't there.

One hand reached downward, finding Dave's head. John laced his
fingers through Dave's hair and closed his eyes as he floated on the
sensations that Dave was creating. He only barely noticed it when
Dave's finger skimmed over his opening. It was as light as a
butterflies wing, but there was no mistaking the shivers that merest
of touches evoked. John's other arm suddenly shot out to the side,
his fingers grasping at the sheet as Dave's finger slipped inside of
him and stopped, leaving a tingling sensation around the ring of muscle.

"God Almighty, Dave!" While John could remember someone doing that to
him that night in college, he didn't remember it feeling quite as
good. John was pretty sure it had everything to do with just whom it
was that was doing it to him right then. For a moment, John wondered
if it was right for him to think that it felt good. He didn't think
it had been right all those years ago, but this wasn't then. Dave
hadn't just kidnapped John and nobody was doing anything that he
didn't want to do, or experiencing things that he never dreamed that
he would experience.

Thoughts of that night began to hammer at John's consciousness, but he
pushed them back. This was not the time to remember that night, or to
even think about what had happened and why. This was the time to just
enjoy Dave.

"You're way too tense, Carter," Dave's voice rumbled from somewhere
near the foot of the bed. "Relax for me."

John nodded and took a deep breath, willing himself to relax. The
next few minutes were filled with relaxation and pleasure as John let
his muscles go slack and Dave kept up his oral and manual attentions
to John. John felt the slight touch of Dave's hand against his inner
thigh and he spread his legs wider, obeying the unspoken request to
give Dave better access. So far everything was feeling great, and
John didn't have any fears about what else Dave would do to him. Or
what Dave would want to do with him, either, John thought. He smiled
as he imagined himself wowing Dave with his incredible oral sex skills
– it was his fantasy, so he could make himself be as good as he wanted
to be, right? In that fantasy, John would have Dave reduced to a
puddle of want and need, in much the same way that Dave was slowly
reducing John into a being that simply felt and reacted. There were
worse ways to be, John knew, and he wasn't going to fight those feelings.


Dave had been caught by surprise when Carter suddenly rolled over and
grabbed his cock, but he didn't let that bit of surprise put a stop to
things. Instead it strengthened his resolve to make this the best
first time anyone ever had. Once he got Carter to relax, it was
really easy – and arousing – to loosen Carter up enough for
intercourse. And God, but he was looking forward to what it would
feel like to slide inside of Carter. The man was super-tight around
Dave's fingers and Dave's imagination of what that would feel like on
his cock was keeping him achingly hard.

Aside from the pleasure that Dave was getting out of messing with
Carter, there was the fact that he was getting one hell of a turn-on
from Carter's reactions. While it was true that Dave had been with
quite a number of men over the years, he'd never met a guy who
responded quite the way that Carter was responding. It was as if
Carter had given in totally to what Dave was doing – every top's
dream, Dave thought, although he wasn't sure yet if Carter really was
a bottom, or if he'd like to switch off. Either way was fine with
Dave, as long as he himself ended up in charge most of the time.

Carter's body was writhing above him, and Dave suddenly pulled off and
sat back on his haunches. He stared at Carter's face, waiting for the
moment when Carter would realize that nothing was happening – and it
was a beautiful sight to look at, Dave thought. Carter's eyes were
closed, but his lips were parted. Carter's skin, flushed from
passion, had a light sheen to it. Dave let his eyes wander down over
the body that was displayed before him, taking in the pert and dusky
nipples, the nearly flat belly and the arrow of dark hair that pointed
down toward Carter's wet and rigid cock. Slim hips sat atop thighs
that were spread apart as far as they could so, the muscles clearly
defined in the bedroom light. A set of swollen balls was nestled
between those thighs, resting for the moment on Dave's hand. He
reached out with his other hand and gently raised them, admiring their
heft before glancing to where his fingers disappeared inside of
Carter. Dave slowly twisted them to the side, smiling as he heard
Carter moan from that small action. Of course, it didn't hurt any
that Dave had his fingers pressed up against Carter's prostate, and he
couldn't resist sliding them against it once more, just so he could
hear Carter's noises of appreciation.

When Dave looked back up at Carter's face, he found Carter staring at
him, those dark eyes even darker, and Dave's smile broke into a
full-blown grin. "You doin' okay?"

Carter swallowed and he nodded, his tongue slipping out to wet those
perfect lips. "I think so. You?"

"I will be. I shoulda asked this before things got too far along, but
where are your condoms?" Dave's plan was to finish Carter off with
his mouth and fingers and then quickly move to the fucking, not giving
Carter time to get tense again.

Carter moved his head to the side, using his chin to point to the
nightstand on the right. "Top drawer. Don't you need lubricant or
something?"

"I was planning on using "something", unless you've got something
better in that drawer. I really don't want to leave the bed if I
don't have to." Dave wiggled his fingers, chuckling as Carter gasped
in response. "And I don't think you want me to leave the bed, either,
do you?"

"Hell no," Carter quickly replied. "Might be something in there, but
I doubt it. I once had a bottle of baby oil leak while it was in a
drawer and I never thought I'd get the smell out of my clothes. Since
then I try to keep stuff like that in the bathroom."

Dave nodded. "Good idea." He ran his hand lightly over Carter's
thigh, feeling Carter's body shiver in response. "But I bet you
smelled pretty damn good for a while though."

"Only if you're partial to baby smells," Carter replied. He raised
his arm and extended it toward the side of the bed. "You want me to
get the condoms?"

"Nah," Dave replied with a shake of his head. "I'll get 'em. Just
stay still." Dave moved so that he was stretched across Carter's hip
and side, his body extended out about as far as he could and not have
to move his other hand. At least, he didn't have to withdraw it,
because he definitely moved it.

"Damn…" Carter muttered. He closed his eyes for a moment, and then
opened them to look at Dave. "Top drawer, toward the front, I think."

Dave nodded before turning his attention to the nightstand. He opened
the drawer and found himself lucky in that the box of condoms was
right where Carter had said it would be. Dave easily grabbed the box
and slowly moved back to where he'd been before, once more resting on
his haunches as he tried to open the box with one hand and failed.

"Here," Dave said as he tossed the box onto Carter's belly. "You get
one out for me."

"What? You mean I have to do some actual work here?" Carter asked but
he reached for the box anyway and withdrew a foil packet from it.

"Might as well let you get warmed up," Dave replied. "Because you're
going to be doing quite a lot of work in a few minutes."

"Oh?" Carter's eyebrows rose questioningly as he ripped open the
packet. "And here I thought I was going to simply enjoy myself."

"Oh, you'll enjoy it all right," Dave replied as he rose from his
haunches and moved forward so that Carter could roll the condom onto
his cock. "I'll make sure that you enjoy it."

"Think a lot of yourself, don't you?" Carter asked, an evil glint in
his eyes as he rose up a bit and grabbed Dave's cock with one hand.
Carter rubbed his thumb over the sensitive head, and he grinned as
Dave moaned in response. "I guess we'll just have to see how well you
do, won't we?"

"Yeah, I guess," Dave replied, and he closed his eyes as Carter toyed
a bit with his cock. It was nice, but quickly becoming too nice, Dave
thought. He opened his eyes and looked at Carter again. "If you keep
on doing that, then everything's gonna be over in about 2.5 seconds
and we won't get a chance to find out if I'm that good."

Carter smiled up at him and then began to put the condom on Dave.
"Wouldn't want that to happen. At least not this time."

"Damn straight," Dave said. He then changed his mind about how he was
going to do things. He wanted Carter to come when he did, or at least
close to it. Dave inched forward on his knees until he finally had no
choice but to ask Carter to lift his hips off of the bed so Dave could
place his knees under them. "Not too uncomfortable I hope?"

"It's…different," Carter admitted. "Am I supposed to hold on to my
legs or something?"

"That's mostly up to you. I've got your hips high enough for right
now, but as things get going you might find that it feels better at a
different angle." He grinned. "Don't worry about it too much right
now. Most of the fun is in the messing around to find what feels best."

If Carter had planned to say something in reply to that, it was lost
when Dave wiggled his fingers again, making the man moan loudly. "I'm
gonna have to use a lot of spit, so don't get grossed out, okay?"

Carter chuckled. "After what you've done so far, you're worried that
a little spit will bother me?"

Dave shrugged. "Might happen." He then gazed intently at Carter.
"You sure about this?"

Carter stared back just as intently. "I'm positive. I want you, Dave."

Dave slowly grinned and then nodded. He worked up a good amount of
saliva and then spit it into his hand and using it to lubricate the
condom. Dave then inched forward just a bit more, his fingers still
teasing Carter even as he lined his cock up with that sweet opening.
"Just remember to breathe deeply and relax…"


Following Dave's instructions were easy enough, John thought. Right
up to the moment when Dave started to shove a 2x4 into his body.
There was an initial bit of pain, followed by a burning sensation that
didn't seem to want to ease up.

"Jesus!" John exclaimed, barely noticing that Dave had stopped moving.

"You gotta relax for me, baby," Dave said. He spit into his hand
again and grabbed John's cock, stroking and squeezing it, not that
there was much of an erection left to mess with. It had quickly fled
when the pain had started. "Take deep breaths and relax."

"That's easy for you to say," John said, "You don't have a board stuck
up your butt." Despite his urge to make Dave stop, John obeyed Dave's
orders and he took a deep breath, and then another, before willing his
muscles to relax. His cock was starting to harden again, and Dave's
hand there felt really nice. John closed his eyes and took another
deep breath, then whimpered as he felt fingers pinching at a nipple.
The tingling sensation ran straight to his groin, and John felt his
cock throb, the burning sensation temporarily forgotten.

"Yeah, you like that, don't you, Hoss? You like having your cock
messed with. You like it when I play with your teats, too, don't you?
Hell, you like everything I do, don't you?" Dave's voice was thick
with desire, and even though John wanted to look up into his face
right then, he chose to keep his eyes closed. If he didn't see Dave
tearing him in two, then it was easier to pretend that it wasn't
happening.

But Dave wouldn't have any of that, and John found himself opening his
eyes at Dave's urging. John couldn't remember ever seeing that much
desire in someone else's eyes, and it nearly took his breath away.

"Breathe," Dave commanded.

His eyes still on Dave, John obeyed, and he felt a slight renewal of
the burning as Dave moved in a bit further. John took another breath
as Dave eased in a bit more. The burning wasn't so bad by then, he
noticed. John was about to take another deep breath and then heard
himself gasping out loud as the most wonderful sensation shot up his
body from his ass. It had felt good when Dave's fingers had been
touching his prostate, but this…this was so fucking incredibly better.

Dave smiled slowly. "There. I told you that you'd like it, didn't I?"

John nodded, not trusting his own voice to not squeak if he tried to
talk. The pleasure increased a bit as Dave moved again.

"I'm there now," Dave said. "All the way in." Not that John needed
Dave to tell him that. He could feel Dave's balls against his butt,
the heat from them searing. Dave's hand was still slowly working on
John's cock, stroking firmly in each direction and sending John into a
state of near bliss.

"Grab your thighs and pull your legs up," Dave instructed and John
started to do just that, wondering if Dave was planning on doing
anything else besides just stay right where he was. Not that it felt
badly, John mused, but he was now a bit eager to see what it would
feel like to have Dave thrusting in and out.

As his legs moved into the air, the angle changed and John couldn't
hold back a moan of pleasure over that mere thing. He looked away
from Dave's face, raking his gaze down Dave's body until he found the
spot where they were now joined. "God…" John muttered at the
perfection of seeing Dave's body disappearing into his own. He looked
back up at Dave's face, and seeing the smile he saw there made John
grin. "You're so damn perfect."

Dave gave John's cock a hard squeeze. "I think you've got that a bit
backwards, Hoss. From where I'm sitting, you're the one that's
perfect. I don't know if I can even start to describe to you just how
damn good you feel around my cock. So hot and tight, and all mine."

John could understand the lack of words, because he was pretty sure
that he'd never be able to tell Dave just how it felt to have Dave's
cock buried deep within him. Yes, it was filling, but it also made
John feel whole and complete.

They were still smiling at each other when Dave began to ease back
out, his cock pressing hard against that sweet spot as it moved.
"Move with me, baby," Dave said. "Find that rhythm and move with me."

At first, John thought that it would be hard to get into sync with
Dave's movements, but he soon found himself moving in time with Dave,
his hips moving upward to meet Dave's inward thrusts. His eyes had
closed again, and John was grateful that Dave didn't ask him to open
them again, because John was pretty sure that that was out of his
control. There were too many other things going on – too many
sensations to experience, for John to worry about having to keep his
eyes open.

He was getting close to coming, and John made some noise to that
effect, but Dave's strokes and occasionally caresses of the cockhead
didn't slow or cease. It was pretty obvious to John that Dave was
intending to make him come, and John had no intention of convincing
Dave out of doing that.


Dave had worked up what he felt was a pretty good pace for the two of
them. His hand was keeping up pretty damn well with his cock, and
Carter…oh, man, but Carter was definitely a fast learner. Dave knew
he wasn't going to last long, but right then, he really didn't want
to, either. He wanted Carter to have a good time, and to enjoy
himself, and Dave thought that a long ride would be too much for
Carter right then.

Carter started to make some other kinds of noises, and Dave looked
gazed down at his face, quickly noting the telltale signs that an
orgasm was imminent. He looked down in time to see Carter's balls
retract a bit and prepared himself for the explosion that hit shortly
thereafter. Dave nearly lost it right then himself over the way
Carter's sphincter muscles contracted so damn tightly over his cock.
But Dave managed to hold back, even managed to stop while Carter came.
Dave kept his hand moving though, milking that essence out of Carter
and creating quite a mess on Carter's belly and chest.

As Carter's body settled into a post-climactic lassitude, Dave resumed
his thrusting, and he was now able to use both hands to grab Carter's
hips, helping the guy along with the fucking. "That was great, Hoss,
just great…you're so fucking hot when you come…"

And damn if Carter didn't manage to still keep up with him, meeting
him thrust for thrust until Dave thought he'd scream from the pleasure
of it all. And then he suddenly did yell out, his own orgasm slamming
hard. Dave yanked Carter's hips closer as he tried to bury himself
deeper within Carter. Eyes closed, Dave felt his come spurting out
into the condom, the heat of Carter's body still surrounding him so
perfectly.

When Dave opened his eyes again, he found Carter staring at him.
"You're the one that's fucking hot," Carter said, and a shiver went
through Dave at those words. Damn, but he loved it when Carter talked
that way. He knew that Carter would never, ever say anything like
that at work. Hell, he probably didn't say anything like that much of
anywhere, and Dave felt more than a bit special that he was the one
who was capable of getting Carter to let his guard down and just relax.

"I try my best," Dave cockily replied. He reached down and grabbed
the condom at the base of his cock and slowly pulled out, noting the
way that pleasure still danced across Carter's face at that small
movement. "Be right back."

Dave rushed into the bathroom and ditched the condom in the trashcan
in there, and then he cleaned himself off. He then grabbed a
washcloth, dampened it, grabbed a towel and returned to the bed to
find Carter laying on the bed just the way he'd left him.

Dave crawled onto the bed. "This might be a bit cold," he warned as
he began to clean Carter, making sure he was as gentle as he could be
while wiping around the more sensitive areas. Dave knew that Carter
would be sore the next day and he hoped that Carter would feel it was
worth it.

Once Carter was clean and dry, Dave dumped the washcloth and towel
over the side of the bed and stretched out on top of Carter, kissing
him deeply. Carter's arms snaked around Dave's body, holding him
tightly. "Did you like that?" Dave asked.

Carter smiled at him. "I can say that I definitely liked that,"
Carter replied. "That was pretty good."

"It'll be better next time," Dave promised.

"Which will be?" Carter asked, his eyes dancing with laughter.

"I'd like it to be just as soon as I recover, but I think your ass is
gonna be too sore for anything more tonight. What's your schedule
like tomorrow?"

Carter shook his head. "Shitty. I'm working a double and won't be
getting done until midnight or so. You?"

"I'm off at seven." Dave shifted slightly and gave Carter's shoulder
a kiss. "What about the next night?"

"Valentine's? I'm working a regular shift and will be done by seven.
Why? You're not interested in being my Valentine, are you?" That
glint was back in Carter's eyes and Dave couldn't help but grin at him.

"Maybe I was, and maybe I wasn't. I can't think of anyone else that
I'd rather spend that night with. What about you?"

"Hmmm…" Carter looked up at the ceiling, but didn't say anything else.

"Well?"

"I'm thinking, I'm thinking." Carter grinned and looked back at Dave.
"Nope. Can't think of anyone that I'd rather be with, either. So,
looks like we've got a date."

"Yep, it does. How about we go to my place?"

"That'll be nice," Carter agreed. "We'll have to put in an appearance
at the party, though."

Dave had forgotten about the Valentine's Day party that they were
planning to have in the ER. He'd already coughed up his share of the
pizza money, or else he would have tried to convince Carter that they
could skip the party. "Yeah, we can stay there for a short time. Can
I catch a ride with you?"

"Didn't you just do that?" Carter asked with a smirk.

"Whoa, am I lucky or what? Not only do I get a guy with a cute ass,
but a smart one as well," Dave teased. "And yes, you just gave me one
hell of a ride. However, I was thinking more along the lines of me
riding in your Jeep to my place."

"I think that can be arranged," Carter replied, and Dave nodded his
thanks.

They were both quiet for a few moments and then Carter poked Dave in
the ribs. "You're heavy, Dr. Dave."

"Sorry." Dave rolled off of Carter and then stretched out at his
side. "This better?"

"A little bit. I did like the warmth. Hold on."

Dave watched appreciatively as Carter crawled to the foot of the bed
to grab the covers. There was enough light for him to see that he
hadn't damaged Carter too badly, and Dave was glad of that. Carter
soon returned to his side, pulling the covers up over them both before
snuggling against Dave's body.

"So, maybe when you're recovered I could take my oral test?" Carter asked.

"I think that could be arranged," Dave replied. He placed a kiss on
the top of Carter's head. "Let's get some rest first, though."

Carter nodded and Dave felt him nestle even closer. He wrapped his
arms around Carter and smiled over the way things had turned out. Now
that it was quiet, he could hear the hockey game, but Dave didn't want
to leave Carter long enough to go and turn off the television. Maybe
they could do the "testing" in the living room? With the way Carter
was surprising him tonight, Dave didn't doubt for one moment that
Carter wouldn't have a problem with doing stuff there – or any other
room for that matter.

As Dave listened to Carter's even breathing, he found himself thinking
that he was one lucky son of a bitch indeed, and he was already
looking forward to Valentine's Day and their next night together.
"Baby, be mine," Dave whispered as he tightened his arms around
Carter. If Dave had his way, it was going to be one hell of a night.

To be continued…
ChapterTen by Cathy Roberts
All things considered, Dave thought, it was shaping up to be the best
Valentine's Day of his life. Despite having to work - and haggling
with Jing-Mei over a patient, he'd found the time to sneak a few
kisses with Carter. And now Dave was looking forward to their evening
together. Since their shifts were set to end at the same time, Dave
had done what he could before work to set the mood for the evening.
It was corny, but Dave hadn't been able to resist placing red and
white candles around the bedroom, and he had a jarful of rose petals
on the nightstand, ready to be thrown onto the sheets. Lube and a box
of condoms were also waiting on the nightstand, and the Valentine's
card that he'd bought for Carter was propped up against the lamp. Out
in the living room, sexy music was loaded in the CD changer, and the
fridge was stocked with fun finger foods, beer and a bottle of champagne.

Oh yeah, Dave thought, grinning, it was going to be one Hell of a
night. They'd both get to enjoy the party at work and then be able to
have their own private party at his place. Dave couldn't have planned
the timing any better if he'd tried. Since his stomach was feeling
quite empty at that moment, he was on his way to admit to see if the
pizza had arrived. Dave's path was detoured though, when he saw
Carter going into the lounge. Hopeful of getting another kiss, Dave
quickly followed, letting the door close quietly behind him as he
stepped inside and discovered that they were the only people in the
lounge.

Carter was at his locker, his attention fully on the lock. Dave was
able to take advantage of that and he was directly behind Carter
without Carter realizing that someone was there.

"Be mine," Dave whispered as he placed a hand on Carter's shoulder,
and he grinned as Carter slightly jumped.

"Jesus, Dave!" Carter turned his head to glare and him and then he
went back to opening his locker. I think you just knocked ten years
off of my life."

"Nah, seven tops," Dave replied as he stepped to one side and leaned
back against the next locker. "Pizza get here yet?"

"I don't know," Carter said as he started to take off his lab coat.
"Between Abby, Lucy and a few flu patients, I haven't had time to check."

"Well, when it gets here, don't eat too much," Dave warned. "I've got
plenty of food at home."

Carter put his coat on its hook and reached for his overcoat. "I'm
sure that we can find a way to work off the pizza." He grinned at
Dave as he put on the coat. "So we're all set on the plans for later?
I leave first and wait for you at my Jeep?"

"That's the plan. Just make sure I know when you're leaving. I
wouldn't want you freezing that cute ass of yours off while I'm still
partying hard in here," Dave said with a grin. "Speaking of freezing,
where are you going?"

"Abby's patient died and she went up to the roof. I'm going to take
her some coffee to thaw her out and give her a little pep talk."

Dave nodded as followed Carter over to the coffee machine. "It's
always rough to lose a patient, but even more so on a holiday. Do you
know how Abby likes her coffee?"

"I haven't a clue, so I hope she likes it black." Carter smiled as he
filled to Styrofoam cups with the hot coffee.

"I'll get the lids while you get bundled up," Dave offered.

"Thanks." Carter began to button his coat. "Guess you really were
serious about me keeping my cute ass in one piece."

"Damn right," Dave replied as he put a lid on the first cup. "I'm
also partial to a few of your other body parts, and would like them
kept warm as well."

"I see." Carter looked toward the doors, then back at Dave. "My lips
are feeling pretty cold right now."

Dave snapped on the second lid. The fact that Carter wanted to risk
them kissing right then and there sent a thrill through him. He
grinned. "You're in luck, Hoss, cause I think Dr. Dave has just the
cure for cold lips."

Dave closed the space between their bodies and moved in for a kiss;
pleased as punch when Carter met him halfway. A noise from outside
the lounge brought the kiss to an end, but they were both smiling
happily despite the interruption.

"How's that?" Dave asked.

Carter nodded and reached for the cups. "That did the job. Of
course, they're going to get cold again when I go outside. Maybe I'll
ask for you when I get back."

"I'm counting on it. I better not catch you getting treatment from
someone else," Dave said. Much to his own surprise, he wasn't really
joking. He stayed there in the lounge after Carter had gone,
wondering just how it was that he'd become so possessive in such a
short time. He'd never been the jealous type, figuring that life was
too short to waste on something like jealousy. But the idea of Carter
kissing someone else, male or female, made Dave's blood run cold.


For Dave, the worst part of the evening was seeing Carter on the
floor, seeing the blood pooling around his body and feeling helpless
to do anything to help Carter.

No, the worst part was having to work on Lucy and not know what was
going on with Carter in the other trauma room.

Definitely, the hardest part was having to sit down with the cops to
answer their questions. Had he noticed anything off or strange with
Sobriki? When was the last time he'd seen Sobriki? When was the last
time he'd seen Carter or Lucy?

The ultimate worst part was sitting around and waiting while Carter
and Lucy were up in surgery. It was getting so badly to Dave that
when Jing-Mei asked if he wanted to walk over to Doc's with her, he'd
jumped at the opportunity to get out. His shift was over, but there
was no way Dave could go home while Carter was splayed open on an
operating table.

The most horrible part was laughing about the joke Carter had played
on Lucy and then finding out that Lucy was dead, but that Carter was
okay and in recovery. And then feeling grateful that Chuny hadn't
come over to tell them that Carter was dead.

The little gathering at Doc's had broken up shortly after that. Dave
was tired and he squinted at the dawn, knowing he'd need to be back to
work all too soon. But he couldn't just put on his coat and go home,
as most of the others had done. Dave knew that he'd never get any
sleep if he didn't see for himself that Carter had pulled through.
He'd waved goodbye to Luka and the others, then walked back into the
ER with Abby, the two of them quiet. Abby had gone off on her own,
probably to mope and cry, and Dave had headed for the elevators and
post-op. Now that he was alone, Dave found it difficult to keep the
tears at bay. He angrily wiped them away, reminding himself that he
needed to find a way to get in to see Carter without getting caught.
The nurses up there could be real hard-asses when it came to the
rules, and no visitors meant just that, no visitors. It wouldn't
matter to them that he was Carter's lover as well as his co-worker.
It wouldn't matter to them if he was Carter's family - at this point,
Carter wouldn't be allowed visitors period.

"Fuck that," Dave told the empty elevator as it came to a halt. It
didn't matter if Carter knew he was there or not - all that mattered
was that Dave saw him, saw that he was breathing - saw with his own
eyes that Carter was still alive.

The doors opened and Dave stepped out onto the surgical floor, heading
toward a corridor that would lead to a back hallway that would then
take him to post-op. As long as he looked as if he belonged there,
Dave knew that he wouldn't be stopped. He had his badge and was still
in scrubs, and despite the heavy coat, Dave knew he looked "official".
He'd act as though he were some poor surgical resident getting in
early for his shift. It had worked for him on other floors, and Dave
was pretty sure it would work for him right then.

It took about twenty minutes of careful maneuvering throughout the
hallways, but Dave did make it to Carter's bedside. There weren't a
whole lot of other patients in recovery, and Dave realized that he'd
be discovered if a nurse he knew came in, or one of the surgeons. But
he planned to be out before that could happen. Dave approached
Carter, thinking that he looked far too pale. Just how much blood had
he lost before they'd gotten it under control in surgery? Too much,
Dave thought as he reached out and brushed Carter's hair aside on his
forehead.

"You're gonna be okay, Hoss," Dave softly said, and he gave Carter's
hand a gentle squeeze, then blinked in surprise as he felt a squeeze
back. Carter was waking up. Dave didn't know if this would be the
first time or the second time, and he wasn't sure if he needed to go
to get someone. Doing so would blow his "cover", but Dave knew it
would be necessary. The decision was taken from him as he heard
voices approaching the area - Benton and someone else.

"Later." Dave gave the hand another squeeze and then he hurried out
of a side door. He paused on the other side long enough to confirm
that Benton had entered recovery - he had, and Benton and the nurse
began to talk to Carter. Dave couldn't stop himself from staying
there until he'd heard Carter's voice - it was raspy and weak, but
good to hear. Secure with the knowledge that Carter was alive, Dave
made his way off of the surgical floor. It was time to go home and
get some sleep.


Dave awoke with a start, gasping for breath. It took a moment for it
to register in his brain that he was in his bed and not still in the
world of his dream. Shuddering, Dave sat up, looking around the room,
as if there might be some sign of the madman who had roamed County
last night. Instead of Paul Sobriki, Dave only saw the candles that
he'd put in place yesterday.

Dave fell back against his pillow, wondering if it really was just the
next day. So much had happened...Carter injured, Lucy dead. Could it
all have been less than 24 hours ago? Maybe he'd slept for longer?
But no, Weaver would have been on the phone, demanding to know if he
was coming in. Since there'd been no phone call, it only stood to
reason that it was really the next day. Dave still felt a bit
sluggish, but he knew that there wouldn't be any more sleep for him.
He was too reluctant to dream again, too scared to relive what had
happened the night before.

Dave stretched and then got out of bed, yawning broadly as he made his
way to his bathroom to shower. He'd shower, get something to eat and
then head in for work. If he got there early, then he'd go to see
Carter. If he got there on time, then he'd see Carter after his
shift. As Dave turned on the hot water, he once more felt guilty over
the fact that Carter was still there for him to visit. It was still
difficult to accept the fact that Lucy was dead. Was she even from
Chicago? Dave felt bad because he had no clue as to where Lucy was
from, or if she had brothers and sisters, or if she were an only child.

There'd be a funeral, or maybe a memorial service if it turned out
that Lucy was from somewhere else. Her family might show up at
County. How could he look at them knowing that he - as Weaver had
declared that night - had been partying while Lucy was dying? That
had been the gist of his nightmare as well. He and the others were
partying. Laughing and dancing and having a good time while Sobriki
stabbed Lucy and Carter over and over again. Dave's imagination
hadn't been content to stay with what he'd actually seen. No, it had
to create the scene for him, separating Carter and Lucy from the party
by a glass wall. No sound penetrated the wall, but as they all
danced, the wall became splattered with blood. Carter tried to get to
them, but the wall wouldn't move. Dave had been dancing with Randi as
he noticed the wall and what was behind it. And even then, he laughed
as he had watched Carter's hand leave a bloody smear on the glass.
Others had noticed, and they'd point and say something, but not a
single one of them moved to get past that wall. Then Weaver had
arrived and she walked right through the glass, shattering it into
millions of pieces. The sound carried over the song playing on the
radio, and the noise seemed to shake them all out of the party
mentality. They'd all rushed to Carter and Lucy, but Kerry kept
telling them that it was too late; Carter and Lucy had bled to death
while they'd partied.

Dave shook off the memory of the nightmare and stepped into the
shower. He hadn't been the only one who didn't hear anything, he told
himself. But that knowledge didn't make him feel any less responsible
for what had happened. If they'd heard something, then maybe Lucy
could have been saved? Maybe they could have stopped Sobriki before
he'd stabbed Carter? There were still so many questions left
unanswered - why was Lucy with Sobriki in the first place? A call had
been placed to psych - where the Hell were they? If they'd been doing
their job, then Lucy would still be alive, and Carter would be in the
shower with him, Dave thought. Dave scrubbed his skin roughly, never
noticing the tears that were mingling with the shower spray.


It was a subtle awareness, one reached slowly and with hesitation.
The slow pace was mostly due to the fading effect of painkillers. The
hesitation was due to the returning memories of what had caused the
pain. His eyes closed, John listened to the noises around him - some,
like the voices from the corridor, were familiar. John could hear
snippets of the medical jargon being easily spoken by doctors and
nurses. But, other noises weren't quite as familiar, at least not for
the length of time that he was hearing them - the beeping of a monitor
being one such noise.

John opened his eyes, noting dully that there was daylight outside of
his window. Had he slept all day and night or had he merely slept a
few hours since Benton had been there? John wasn't sure if it really
mattered, not when every time he awoke he had to once more face the
fact that Lucy was dead. Benton had told him that he was lucky, but
John didn't feel lucky. He didn't even feel relieved to be alive. He
just felt...John wasn't sure what he felt. Maybe it was too soon
after surgery to be feeling anything emotionally.

The sound of fabric against fabric to John's right caught his
attention and he turned his head to see that Dave was seated by the
bed. Seeing the concern in Dave's face, John finally felt an emotion
- guilt. They'd had plans for Valentine's, and John had ruined those
plans.

"Hey, Hoss," Dave said, and he smiled at John as he leaned forward,
resting his elbows on his knees. "How you doin'?"

"I'm okay," John said, but his voice was hoarse and his throat dry.
He motioned toward the water cup on the bedstand and Dave picked it up
and got to his feet, putting the straw to John's lips. John sipped
slowly, relishing the relief that the cool water brought to his mouth
and throat. When he'd had enough, he moved his head away and Dave put
the cup back.

"Thanks. I'm sorry that I ruined your plans," John said. He pulled
the covers up a bit higher on his chest, wishing he could just burrow
under them and hide.

"There's no need to apologize. We'll just reschedule things for when
they let you out of here," Dave gave John a big smile. "That should
be in a week or so, right?"

John nodded, although he wasn't exactly sure when he'd be released.
He vaguely remembered a nurse saying something about him having a high
temperature, which wouldn't be too surprising considering his
injuries. If he had an infection, then he might be in the hospital
for longer than a week, and that was something he really didn't want
to think about.

"You know about Lucy?" John asked, not that he really wanted to think
about her, either. But he did need to know how she died. Benton
didn't tell him the details earlier, and John had been too stunned by
the news to ask.

"Yeah. I guess Benton told you?" Dave sat back down, looking
uncomfortable.

"He said she'd died, but he didn't say how or why. I think I remember
seeing her in the trauma room, and she was alive then." John wasn't
sure now if that was a true memory or something his subconscious had
invented.

Dave nodded. "She made it through surgery fine, but then she threw a
PE. They...Romano and Corday, that is, were about to put in a
Greenfield filter, but she threw a clot just after they got her in an
angiography suite, and they couldn't get her back. She'd been talking
to them and everything." Dave's voice was soft as he spoke, and he
kept his eyes firmly on John.

For his part, John tried to look at Dave, but by the time Dave had
finished speaking, John was staring at the clock on the wall. He
found himself wishing that Lucy would have died back in curtain three.
She would have been spared so much more pain, he reasoned. He
couldn't imagine what it must have been like to wake up and know you
had a blood clot, and to know that you were dying because of it.

"Have the cops come by to talk to you?" Dave asked, and John felt a
bit of relief at the change in subject.

"Not that I know of," John replied. "I've been doing a lot of
sleeping. Benton wants me up and walking this evening, which means
this catheter will be gone by then." John managed a small smile.
"That'll be one less thing to worry about. Benton said that I'd keep
the colostomy for about a month; give the colon time to heal properly.
So it looks like I'll only be out of the hospital for a short while
before I'll be back for more surgery."

John shrugged. "Better than the alternative, I suppose, so I can't
complain."

Dave got to his feet and came to stand right by the bed. He reached
out and took John's hand within both of his, and John couldn't turn
away from Dave's intense gaze. "I'm glad that you're alive. When we
were waiting to hear the news about you and Lucy, I kept thinking that
I didn't know what I'd do if you...if you didn't make it. You got
lucky, Hoss, really lucky."

"I know." John carefully pulled his hand free. "Do you see the call
button? I think the pain meds are wearing off."

"Uh..." Dave looked around, and then grinned as he pressed a button
that was on the bed rail itself. "Right there." A nurse answered,
and Dave told her that John was in pain. She replied that she'd be
right there.

"I should head on down to work now," Dave said. He glanced at the
door, and the next thing John knew, Dave was kissing him fully on the
lips. "I'll come back by on my break, okay?"

John nodded, although he wasn't sure if he wanted Dave - or anyone
else, for that matter, to come by the room. He forced himself to
smile, playing the part of the cooperative patient. "I'll be right here."

"Smartass," Dave replied as he headed toward the door. "Good thing
for you that I like that." And with that parting comment, Dave left.

John slumped into his pillow and closed his eyes, looking for some
respite from the thoughts that were jumbled in his head. He was glad
to be alive, but felt guilty over being that way. John supposed that
that was a normal reaction to what he'd been through, but he wasn't
100% sure of that, and he didn't want to risk asking, just in case it
wasn't normal. The nurse arrived with his pain medication and he
swallowed the pills down, then sat through a vitals check. He did
have an elevated temperature, and the nurse mentioned that it looked
as if he did have an infection. He was assured that he was receiving
antibiotics in the IV and that he'd be feeling better soon.

John smiled at the nurse, assuring her that she was right. Once the
painkillers took effect, he'd be feeling a whole lot better, because
he'd be numb and nearly asleep. And really, John thought, he couldn't
ask for more than that, could he?


To be continued...
Chapter Eleven by Cathy Roberts
If one more person stopped by the room to "see how he was doing", John
was going to scream, he just knew it. It was bad enough that his
doctors also happened to be his colleagues, poking and prodding at
him, looking at body parts that John usually reserved for more
intimate settings. But to have almost the entire hospital dropping in
on a daily basis was wearing John down. And of course, it didn't help
matters any by the fact that the people fell into two camps - those
who wanted him to talk about Lucy and the stabbing in general and
those who seemed uncomfortable just saying Lucy's name.

Then there had been his family and their concern. No, not as in
concerned enough to come to see him, although his Gamma had come by a
few days earlier, and then both she and his grandfather had been by
that morning. No, his family thought that phone calls were good
enough. His parents were in Tokyo and unable to get away, or so they
said, and they called every day. While they had seemed relieved that
he'd survived the stabbing, they hadn't seemed too anxious to see him,
so John had felt pressed to tell them that it was okay, that he was
okay, even though that was a lie. It seemed to John that he'd been
doing a lot of lying since the stabbing. He lied to Lucy's mother
about it not hurting to be stabbed, he lied to his friends when they
asked how he was doing, he lied to his parents that he was okay. He'd
even lied to his grandmother, although John didn't think she believed him.

Everybody else seemed to believe him, especially Dave. Dave would ask
how John was feeling, John would tell him that he was okay and Dave
would nod and then smile before settling in to tell him stories from
the ER. It seemed important to Dave that John be feeling okay, so
even on days when John felt like shit warmed over, he still lied and
told Dave what he seemed to want to hear.

And now those days of having to lie were over, or so John hoped. Dr.
Anspaugh had told him that once he was competently using a walker,
then he'd be going home. It had been hard work, John thought as he
slowly made his way down the hallway toward his room, but worth it.
Even though Harry from PT was at his side, John knew that he didn't
need any assistance. He'd been over the whole floor, and while he was
tired and glad to be getting back to his room, John was also happy
that he hadn't floundered even once.

John eyed the hallway clock, already counting down the hours until Dr.
Anspauh's afternoon visit. Dr. Anspaugh would be pleased with his
progress, and while John was packing to go home, Dr. Anspaugh would
take care of the discharge papers. John would be sleeping in his own
bed that night, and right then he couldn't think of any place that
he'd rather be.

"You're doing great," Harry said, and John beamed at him.

"Thanks. I'm looking forward to taking this thing on a spin around my
place," John joked. Yes, he could finally joke now that his time in
the hospital was coming to an end. It felt...good. And it also felt
odd. It had been a while since John had truly felt happy, and it was
a feeling that he'd missed.


Hours later found John looking at Dr. Anspaugh in disbelief. "Say
that again?" John said, hoping that he'd misheard what the older man
had said.

Dr. Anspaugh looked uncomfortable, which John felt didn't bode well
for his hopes that he'd heard wrong. "Dr. Carter...John, I can't
release you unless I know that someone will be home with you. You've
made a lot of progress with walking and I'm confident that you'll
continue to improve. However, sending you home alone right now is not
in your best interest."

Okay, so John hadn't heard wrong. His heart sank as his hopes for
escaping the prison County had become were dashed. His mind raced,
searching for an answer that both he and Dr. Anspaugh could live with.
"What about a nurse? I can call some agency or something and have
someone there every day."

Dr. Anspaugh shook his head. "I'm sorry, but that won't be enough.
You need someone there all of the time, John. A nurse is good for the
daytime, but you who'll be there with you at night? You can't
guarantee that you won't wake up in the middle of the night and get
out of bed without remembering to use the walker."

Dr. Anspaugh looked a bit sad as he looked at John, and John knew the
man was thinking about what he'd left unsaid - how John had already
fallen twice under the very circumstances that Dr. Anspaugh described.
But, home was different than the hospital, and John was pretty
confident that he'd remember his limitations.

"You promised me that I could go home once I was able to use the
walker and didn't need the wheelchair any longer. We both know that
I'm strong enough to go home," John said. Damn, but if he had to use
guilt to get his way, he would.

There was a flicker of guilt in Dr. Anspaugh's eyes, and for a moment
John felt guilty over causing it. But, dammitt, the man had promised him!

The moment of guilt ended as Dr. Anspaugh shook his head. "I'm sorry,
John, I really am. But there's no way that you're going to be going
home today."

"When then?" John snapped, no longer able to hold his emotions at bay.
"What hoops do I have to jump through before you decide that I can
get out of here?"

"It will happen when you're stronger, John. I know this is
frustrating for you, but it's for your own safety and well-being."
Dr. Anspaugh looked down at his hands, then back at John. "What about
your grandparents? I understand that they've been by to see you.
Maybe you could stay with them?"

John shook his head. While it was nice that his grandparents were
once more speaking to him, John didn't think that they - or himself -
were ready for 24/7 togetherness. "They're going away," John said,
lying because it was easier than explaining the truth. It was bad
enough that Dr. Anspaugh knew that John's parents hadn't bothered to
come, and John didn't want to garner any more of the man's pity.

"That's too bad," Dr. Anspaugh said. He then stood a little bit more
at attention, checking his watch. "If you get twenty-four
companionship, then I'll be more than happy to sign your discharge
papers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get to the OR."

Dr. Anspaugh was turning to leave even as John nodded, and then he was
gone, leaving John alone with his disappointment. John slumped back
in the chair, wincing against the pains that shot through his back and
thigh and pulled at his belly. He'd already had his PT session for
the day, but John wondered if he could manage a walk alone out in the
hallway? Yes, he was tired, but not so tired that he couldn't get in
a bit more exercise. Besides, if he could handle it on his own then
that would be one more argument for getting discharged.

John reached for the walker and glanced up at the clock. The lunch
trays would be coming around soon, and the nurses didn't like it when
he didn't eat, which meant that he couldn't miss lunch, or overdo
things and be too tired to eat. So it would be a short walk, John
thought. And then once he had lunch, he could take a longer walk.
Grimacing, John used the wheelchair as leverage and got to his feet.
He knew that he'd have to ignore the growing pain - his next round of
pain meds was due at lunch, and the current dose had all but worn off.
So be it, John thought. Pain was a small price to pay if it meant
getting well enough to go home that day.


Dave came out of the stairwell wondering if this was going to be his
last hospital visit to see Carter. He knew that Carter was anxious
about getting out, and Dave wanted that, too. But, Dave couldn't deny
that he'd miss their visits. Even though Carter was a patient, it had
often seemed as if their visits were special treats - times when they
could have each other's undivided attention. Many of the visits would
be around mealtimes, and Dave would bring his lunch or dinner so they
could eat together. Once Carter was on solid food again, Dave would
bring him milkshakes from Magoo's, or cheeseburgers, just to give him
a break from hospital food.

If Dr. Anspaugh went on and discharged Carter today, then all of that
would be gone, Dave thought. Yes, he'd still see Carter at his
apartment, but it wouldn't be as convenient. He couldn't get to
Carter's place and back in thirty minutes. As soon as Dave thought
that, he felt guilty over it. Carter wasn't in the hospital for
Dave's convenience, and if anyone deserved the familiarity and
comforts of home, it was Carter. Be even nicer if that home included
Carter's parents, Dave thought. Carter obviously thought he was doing
a great job of covering up how hurt he was over their absence, but
Dave had seen right through that act. Hell, the hurt was ever there,
looking out from Carter's eyes, and mingling with all of the other
hurts that the guy had accumulated over the years. Some of them Dave
had put there, and he was doing what he could to erase those hurts,
but the others, the ones that came from Carter's family - Dave didn't
see any sign that they were fading. Sure, it was nice that Carter's
grandmother had come by, and then his grandfather. But it would have
been even nicer if they'd been there sooner. The woman had waited a
week before coming. A week. As if she had to be sure that Carter was
going to live after all, or something. Or as if he had something
contagious. Where the hell had the bitch been the night that Carter
had been stabbed, or the day after? Carter said she'd called, just
like his parents had called. Big fucking deal, Dave thought. So
they'd called and talked with Carter while he was out of it on pain
meds. Yeah, that was definitely reassuring. But, he'd kept quiet for
once, and hadn't said anything to Carter about his feelings on the
subject. Carter probably felt all of that himself, and Dave didn't
need to add anything else to the feelings that Carter was dealing with
right then.

And speaking of Carter, Dave came to a stop in the hallway as he saw
Carter up ahead, out on the walker, his head watching the floor with
every step he took. Dave estimated that Carter was about ten steps
away from his room, and then he wondered just why Carter was in the
hallway alone. If things were on schedule, and they were always on
schedule, Carter would have had the PT and been in his bed right now,
having just taken his pain meds and waiting for his lunch tray to be
delivered. Dave could smell the aroma of the food, and knew that the
trays were being delivered. So what was Carter doing out on his own?

Dave frowned as he walked up to Carter and fell into step behind him.
"Nice day for a walk," he said. "Although, I thought you'd had your
morning walk already."

Carter glanced sideways at him, then returned his attention to the
floor as he moved the walker along. "I've had PT. I just wanted to
do some more walking. The sooner I'm on crutches, the better."

"Maybe," Dave cautiously replied. "As long as getting to the point of
using crutches doesn't do more harm than good." That remark was met
with silence, and Dave didn't really feel like pressing the issue
right then. So, he decided to find out if this really was his last visit.

"Has Anspaugh been by yet?" Dave asked, hoping he had injected enough
happiness and hopefulness into his voice so that Carter wouldn't
realize how he really felt about Carter going home.

"I don't want to talk about that," Carter replied.

Dave watched his lover inch along the hallway, and then looked up as a
nurse passed them by, Carter's lunch tray in her hands. "Looks like
lunch is served," Dave said. "Want me to grab you a wheelchair so you
can get in there and eat it while it's hot?"

"No. I need to do the walking, Dave," Carter replied, and Dave could
have sworn that his voice was sounding shaky, which meant he was
pushing himself too hard. "I want to go home."

Dave took the time in the ensuing silence to put two and two together.
If Carter didn't want to talk about Anspaugh's visit and was out
pushing himself to walk because he wanted to go home, then that meant
that Carter wasn't being released. The brief spark of relief that
Dave felt over that realization fizzled out as he then came to
understand just how much going home had meant to Carter. The guy was
really upset about it, or else he wouldn't be out in the hallway about
to keel over from exhaustion from pushing himself. Anspaugh had said
that Carter could go home when he was able to competently use the
walker. So, yeah, Carter was slow with it, and he still couldn't put
his left leg fully on the ground without it giving way under him, but
it seemed to Dave that Carter had control of things. Definitely
competent when it came to using the walker. So that meant one of two
things - either Anspaugh had lied, or there was some other reason why
Carter wasn't going home.

"So why can't you go home?" Dave asked, figuring the direct approach
would work best right then.

"There's no one else there," Carter replied, and this time he glanced
over at Dave as he spoke. "Anspaugh's afraid that if I don't have
someone there 24/7, then I'll fall or something at night, or some bull
like that."

Carter took another step, then looked at Dave again. "I suggested
hiring a nurse, but he didn't think that would work, since a lot of
the agencies don't have people who work at night, and that's the time
he's worried about."

"I see," Dave said. And he did see. Carter didn't know that he knew,
but Dave had found out about the times he'd fallen at night, and he
could understand Anspaugh's concern. However, the answer seemed
pretty simple to him. "I can come and stay with you. If I talk to
the Chief, I'm sure she'll set up my hours so that I can be with you
when the nurse can't be." The more Dave thought about it, the better
the idea sounded. He'd be seeing Carter a lot more, and able to know
that he was all right. And yeah, he'd be there for when Carter was
feeling well enough for sex, and that was definitely a plus.

Carter shook his head. "I can't ask that of you, Dave. Thanks for
offering, but..."

"You didn't ask, Hoss. I offered, and you know the Chief won't have a
problem with the scheduling. Everyone wants you to get better so you
can haul your butt back to work, and they'd be willing to switch
shifts around if it helps you get outta this place." They were
finally at the door of Carter's room, and not a minute too soon, Dave
thought as he noted how tired Carter looked.

"I don't want people making sacrifices for me," Carter said, and his
voice sounded a bid sad. "I'm not their problem."

"Of course not," Dave said, his brow furrowed as he wondered why
Carter would think he was a problem. "You're a co-worker, and, in
some cases, a friend. Look," Dave added, deciding that he needed to
play the ace card. "A lot of 'em feel bad because Lucy died. And we
all feel bad because you two got stabbed while we were partying and we
never heard a thing. Being able to do that for you, well, it'll make
a lot of 'em feel better." Dave hated using the guilt angle, but he
was pretty sure that it was an argument that Carter wouldn't dismiss.
The guy practically fed off of guilt, yet another thing that Dave was
determined to put an end to, given enough time. And if he were
staying with Carter, then that would definitely give him more time to
repair the damage he and the others had done and then some.

There was no answer from Carter, and Dave took that to be a sign that
Carter was giving the matter some serious thought. Or else he was too
tired and hurting to speak. His brow furrowed with worry, Dave
hovered close as Carter made his way over to the bed. It was almost
painful to watch Carter as he slowly maneuvered the walker around so
that he could use it as a support for getting onto the bed, and Dave
was ready to help if asked, only he was pretty sure that Carter
wouldn't ask. He never asked for help, never wanted to admit that he
might need assistance. And Dave couldn't blame him for feeling that
way, because he knew that if their places were reversed, he wouldn't
be asking for help, either. He just hoped that Carter wasn't viewing
his offer to stay as Dave thinking that Carter needed help, and turned
it down out of pride.

"You just say the word, Hoss, and I'll be in Anspaugh's office in two
seconds and have you outta here," Dave said as Carter curled up on the
bed and pulled the covers up over himself.

Carter's eyes closed, his eyelashes dark against his paler than normal
skin, and Dave was starting to think that Carter's answer would be no,
and that he was doing his best to send Dave away without saying
anything. And then it happened, a slight nod of Carter's head.

"That a yes?" Dave asked as he stepped closer to the bed.

"Yeah," Carter replied, his voice rough with tiredness and pain. "Get
me out of here, Dave. But Anspaugh's in surgery, I think. When he
left here, he said he was going to the OR."

Dave nodded. "Okay. I'll go see the Chief first, and then I'll hunt
down Anspaugh. We'll have you home by dinnertime, Hoss." Dave leaned
down and placed a quick kiss on Carter's cheek, knowing he was taking
a risk by doing that with the door open, but not really caring. He
was going to be taking Carter home, and the joy of that thought chased
away any worries that someone might see them and know that they were a
couple. "I'll tell the nurse to put your lunch on hold so you can get
some rest, okay?"

Carter nodded. "Thanks," he said, and this time he opened his eyes,
looking up at Dave. "For everything."

Dave smiled brightly at Carter. "You're welcome, Hoss. I'll be back
as soon as I can."

Dave waited until Carter had closed his eyes again, and then he
quietly left the room. He was practically walking on air as he
approached the nurse's station to let them know that Carter was asleep
and asking for them to put his lunch in their refrigerator so he could
have it once he woke up. He also told them that they needed to get
Carter's things ready so he could go home, and then he headed back to
the ER to talk with the Chief about getting his shifts arranged so
he'd be home every night with Carter. And to think that he'd been
dreading having Carter go home, Dave thought. That had been selfish
and stupid, he chided himself. The way things were working out were
so much better than having Carter in the hospital, and Dave wondered
why he hadn't thought before about offering to stay with Carter while
he recuperated at home. It was such a perfect answer, and Dave knew
it would be good for each of them, and Dave knew it would only get
better as Carter healed.


To be continued...
Chapter Twelve by Cathy Roberts
The beat was relentless, driving into his brain and body with a force
that John simply couldn't fight. And his body responded to the tempo,
his heart beating in time with it, his blood spurting out with each
thump of sound.

It was too loud, John thought. He tried to call for help, but it was
too loud. And that damn beat everywhere around him, shaking his body
- no, his body was shaking from the shock and the pain. He needed to
get help, but his body wouldn't work, wouldn't do what he asked it to
do. The jarring sound of falling metal clashed against the beat as
John fell to the floor, the cold tiles burning against his palms.

And then he saw her, saw Lucy. Her eyes...wide and scared. John knew
then that he had to get help for her, if not for himself. But his
attempt to get up failed, and darkness took him. He fought back
against that darkness, against the total blackness that had enveloped
him, and as the thumping once more surrounded him, John tried once
more to get to his feet. He did succeed in moving a bit, to his side,
but the beat went on, drawing his life away...

*************************************************************

John awoke from the dream with a start, the room around him dark and
evil. It was quiet, though, and that bit of knowledge helped to slow
the rapid beating of John's heart. There was no music blaring,
keeping him from calling out for help. Not that he needed help, he
reasoned. He wasn't in curtain 3. He was home, and in his own bed.

His mouth and throat were parched, and John used that as his excuse to
get out of bed, not wanting to admit to himself that he really wanted
to confirm that he could get up, that he could move, that he wasn't
being pressed against the mattress by a wall of sound and a body that
was quickly failing him.

Flinging the covers back, John sat up, wincing slightly as the
movement pulled on his recovering abdominal muscles. After resting a
moment, John got to his feet and started for the bathroom. It wasn't
until he found himself falling to the floor that he remembered the
walker and the fact that he needed it. His hand flailed out for it,
hoping to stop his body from falling, but the walker, like the mayo
stand in curtain 3, betrayed him as it fell over, and John found
himself and the walker falling to the floor in a maelstrom of noise -
metal and voice and a thump. Not a thump, he thought as pain shot out
from his back. Please God, not a thump...


In the living room, Dave reclined on the couch, reading one of
Carter's medical journals. It was his fourth night on the couch, and
even though he would have preferred to be sleeping in Carter's bed,
Dave couldn't deny that for a couch, it was pretty damn comfy. The
cushions were deep and lush, and wide, so he had plenty of room to
move around. Of course, the size of the couch had given birth to many
fantasies, all of which involved Dave, Carter and the couch, and he
grinned as yet another one drifted into his mind. A person really
shouldn't be having sexual fantasies while reading about abscesses,
Dave thought, but really, who could blame him? When faced with a
choice between imagining Carter naked and hard and abscesses, what
choice did Dave really have?

His grin disappeared when he heard the noises from the bedroom, and
Dave felt himself living the phrase "my heart was in my throat" as he
left the couch in one fluid motion and rushed to the door of Carter's
bedroom, fearing the worst. Dave flipped on the light switch, his
eyes quickly taking in the scene before him - Carter on the floor,
obviously in pain, the walker toppled over onto its side. This was
the very reason why Anspaugh hadn't wanted Carter home alone, and Dave
had obviously failed as a caregiver since his presence there hadn't
kept it from happening.

Dave went to Carter's side and knelt down by him. "Let's get you back
to bed, Hoss," he said, thinking he could assess Carter for any
injuries then. The smell of shit hit his nostrils even as his mind
registered the fact that Carter was trying to push him away.

"Get out of here, Dave. Go."

"No way, Hoss. You can't get up on your own. Let's get you up and
into the bathroom." Dave muscled his way past Carter's hands and
managed to get an arm around Carter's waist. "What happened?"

"I was a stupid idiot, that's what happened," Carter snapped as he
worked to get his feet under him. With Dave's help, Carter was on his
feet, but still a bit unsteady. "Get the walker up, okay? I can get
into the bathroom on my own."

Dave shook his head. "I'm not letting go of you. Besides, I think
that your colostomy bag must have come undone or something, and you're
going to need help."

"Fuck that," Carter angrily replied. "I can clean up my own mess,
Dave. Just get me the damn walker like I asked, okay?" Carter was so
angry that there were tears in his eyes, and Dave almost relented at
seeing that. But his common sense overcame his pity, and he shook his
head.

"Sorry. I need to make sure that you didn't hurt yourself, and you're
going to need help getting into the shower. I'm your overnight nurse,
remember? You're kinda stuck with me." Dave started to walk toward
the bathroom, taking Carter with him, his mind already on what he'd
need. He knew that Carter kept the ostomy supplies in the bathroom,
so those would be there. And there were clean pajamas in Carter's
chest of drawers - Dave could get those while Carter was in the
shower, although Dave wasn't really sure that he wanted to leave
Carter alone in there. Yes, there was a seat in there for Carter to
use, but until he knew for certain that Carter was physically all
right, Dave just didn't feel comfortable leaving him alone in there.
He could get the pajamas when they came out of the bathroom and he put
Carter back to bed.

Of course, all of that depended on Dave having Carter's full
cooperation, and right now, Carter was still trying to get away from him.

"I'm not a baby, Dave. I can wash myself. Thanks for helping me get
up, but if you'd just get me the walker..." The angry tone had been
replaced by a pleading one, and Dave found that this nearly undid him.
He didn't like seeing Carter unhappy, or hurting. But, Dave knew he
had to be firm in his resolve. He was there to be of help to Carter,
and not just to keep the guy's couch warm.

"I'll get it later," Dave interrupted. "We're here now." They were
at the door of the bathroom, and Dave walked on inside, pausing only
to flip on the light switch. He then went over to the commode, and
lowered the lid so that Carter could sit down to undress. "Have a seat."

"No," Carter said, and he tried to twist away from Dave's guiding arm,
which resulted in Carter sitting down hard on the toilet lid. He
glowered up at Dave. "Get out of here. I'm perfectly capable of
doing this myself."

"Hoss..." Dave knelt in front of Carter, ignoring the odor emanating
from Carter's body. "I know that you can do this by yourself. The
point is that you don't have to, okay? You asked me to stay here so I
could help you, and that's what I'm doing."

"I asked you here because it was the only way I could get home,"
Carter snapped and he pushed at Dave's chest, nearly knocking Dave off
balance.

"I know that, Hoss. But the truth is that you do need me here, and we
both know it." Dave got to his feet, thinking that he'd perhaps been
overzealous in his efforts to take care of Carter. "Why don't you get
your shirt off while I get you a washcloth?" He turned on the water
in the sink, to let it get hot and then went out to the hallway to get
a washcloth. He supposed that Carter wouldn't allow himself to be
washed, but Dave could at least make the task a bit easier.

When Dave returned to the bathroom, he saw that Carter was just as
he'd left him, with the shirt still on. "Carter...you've got to take
the shirt off," Dave said as he stepped forward.

"And I will. Once you're out of here," Carter replied, his hands
going down to the hem of the T-shirt he was wearing. His posture let
Dave know that the movement hadn't been done in preparation for
removing the shirt, but to keep Dave from removing it.

"Okay." Dave held out the washcloth. "I'll be right outside the
door. You call me once you're done, and I'll help you get in the
shower. You can just ball the clothes together, or something, and
I'll take care of getting them washed."

Carter nodded as he accepted the washcloth from Dave, but he didn't
meet his eyes. "Okay."

"Okay," Dave agreed, also nodding. "Good." He stepped out into the
hallway and pulled the bathroom door closed behind him. Now that his
initial fear that Carter had injured himself was past, Dave was
beginning to see that Carter was most likely humiliated by what had
happened. He didn't need to feel that way, Dave thought. But, he
knew that if their places were reversed, he'd be feeling pretty bad
about having shit all over himself, and equally aghast over the idea
of having someone else trying to clean it up.

The problem was how to apologize to Carter for pressuring him without
making Carter feel even worse about the accident. Dave leaned against
the wall, his mind racing to find an answer. He wanted to help
Carter, not make the guy feel worse, so making things right was of the
utmost importance.

*****************************************

After Dave left the bathroom, John sat still on the toilet lid,
staring at the door. He was half afraid that he'd be undressing and
have Dave come barging back into the room, eager to help. The tears
of anger now turned to tears of despair as John wet the washcloth and
the simple act of stretching over to reach the sink made him hurt. He
was so damn tired of being in pain, of aching. He was tired of the
nightmares, and even more tired of the scenes that would assail him
during his waking hours. Physical therapy was painful, but worth it
as long as he was making progress, John noted. The problem was that
his progress wasn't happening as quickly as he'd like. If his stupid
leg was working properly, then he wouldn't be sitting on the toilet,
getting ready to clean shit off of his body. John swiped the
washcloth over his face, washing away the tears, and then he began to
remove the T-shirt that he'd worn to bed that night. The Hell with
cleaning it, he thought. Dave could just toss it all in the trash.

John grabbed one of the plastic garbage bags and shoved the T-shirt
inside, then after pushing the waist of his sweatpants down, he
removed the belt and ostomy bag, tossing them both in the bag. John
had another belt, and right then, the idea of reusing the other one
was repulsive to him. As he began to cleanse his skin, John found his
thoughts going back to Dave. He'd figured that the guy would have run
after the first night there, but he hadn't. Instead, he'd been there
each night, helpful and considerate, even though he was getting
anything, such as sex, in return.

Why? Why would Dave stick around? John was nothing more than a
stumbling shell of a man, smelly no matter how hard he scrubbed his
skin. He knew that his nightmares woke Dave up during the nights.
And yet, Dave stayed. Even when John lost his temper and threw things
across the room, Dave stayed. He'd be quiet until John had calmed,
and then he'd go and get the broom and dustpan and clean up whatever
it was John had broken, and not say a word about John's childish
behavior. It was as if Dave simply accepted that this was beyond
John's control, and put up with it until John could control it.

John used the edge of the sink and pulled himself to his feet so he
could remove the sweatpants, pushing them down to his knees before
sitting once more to finish the cleaning. When he was done, the
washcloth and the pants went into the trash bag, which John then
closed with a twist tie. He wished there was another way to close it,
to seal it off and hide the fact that he wasn't even capable of
shitting like a normal person. Yeah, he knew he was lucky - his
colostomy was temporary and would be reversed soon, and others weren't
so lucky. It still sucked, he thought, and then he smirked as he
wondered what his co-workers and family would think if they heard him
saying that. A Carter didn't use common language, that was a lesson
his grandmother had taught them all at young ages. Of course, his
family would have to actually BE there for them to hear him using
vulgar language. Not busy in Tokyo, or other places around the globe,
but right there in Chicago, Illinois, in the good old U.S. of A.

But they weren't, and he was, and John realized that he owed Dave an
apology for snapping at him when he was just trying to help. It
seemed that John was having to apologize a lot to Dave for things.
John looked down at his belly and shuddered as he regarded the
opening. He reached for a towel and draped it over his waist,
covering the offending sight - sights, if you counted the surgical
scars, and then called out that it was okay for Dave to come back inside.

The door opened, and Dave walked in slowly, as if he weren't sure of
what kind of reception he'd receive. Not that John blamed him for his
caution. A person didn't walk into a lion's den without some
apprehension and protection, and Dave definitely had no protection.

"You ready for that shower?" Dave asked, his eyes everywhere but on John.

"Yeah. And, uh...I'm sorry, about earlier. I shouldn't have snapped
at you." John watched as Dave went over to the tub and started the
water, wishing that things were normal and that Dave would once more
enjoy looking at him. But things weren't normal, and John knew that
Dave would never again want him. And rightfully so, he supposed.
After all, who wanted damaged goods? John had been lucky enough that
Dave had still wanted him even after finding out that John had been
turned on by some of the things those other guys had done to him.

"No need to apologize, Hoss," Dave said as he turned around to help
John to his feet. "You were upset, and rightly so. I was being too
pushy, and I apologize for that." As he held John upright, Dave bent
over and turned on the shower. "Ready to get in?"

John nodded and leaned heavily against Dave as he made his way over
the edge of the tub. As soon as he was in front of his little bench
seat, John sat, glad to be under the hot water. He didn't realize
that he was still holding that towel against his body until Dave
pointedly asked for it.

"Let me have that wet towel and I'll throw it in the wash with this
other stuff." Dave held out his hand for the towel.

John shook his head as he handed the towel to Dave and then covered
himself with his arms. "Just throw it all way. I can buy more towels."

"You sure? It won't take long to run it all through."

John nodded. "I'm sure. I don't ever want to wear those things
again. Thank you." John hoped that Dave would go then, because he
couldn't very well enjoy the shower if he couldn't move his hands away.

"Okay. I'll be right back." Dave pulled the shower curtain closed
and John relaxed, titling his head up toward the shower spray for a
few moments. Then he reached for the body soap, grateful it was in
liquid form, and began to wash himself more thoroughly. Maybe he
could find a way to repay Dave for his kindness, John thought. He was
sure that Dave would refuse money, but maybe John could manage to do
something without Dave knowing about it, such as paying off some of
his student loans. All John needed was the loan numbers. All the
banks cared about was getting their money back; they didn't care who
paid it. Or he could get Dave a car or something, so he wouldn't have
to ride his bike all of the time. He was currently loaning the Jeep
to Dave, and he was sure that once Dave was back at his own place,
he'd be missing the wheels. Or maybe he could do both, John thought.
One thing that Dave wouldn't know about, and one thing he would know
about. Of course, his preferred thing would have been to make crazy
and passionate love to Dave, but Dave's inability to even look at
John's body made that a stupid idea. So, it would have to be
something material, no matter how much John longed for it to be
something else.

**************************************************************

Dave left the bathroom and shut the door, then leaned against it,
taking deep breaths. He'd known that Carter would be naked, but he
still had been taken a bit by surprise when junior down there
practically jumped to attention over it. Being so close to Carter and
not getting to touch him was starting to take a toll on him - and on
junior, Dave thought. Jerking off every night on Carter's couch
wasn't the way Dave had wanted to spend his nights. Of course, if he
hadn't have volunteered to stay with Carter, then he'd still be
jerking off, just at home. And Carter'd be trapped in the hospital.
All in all, this was the better solution.

Dave went on into the kitchen and put the trash bag into the kitchen
one, thinking that he'd take it all out to the dumpster later. He
didn't want to leave Carter alone for too long. The guy was too
stubborn for his own good, and Dave had no doubt at all that Carter
would try to get out of the tub alone once he was done with the shower.

Dave went back into the bathroom. The room was steamy from the hot
water, and it felt good against his skin. A shower really was a good
idea, he thought. Maybe he'd take one once he had Carter settled back
in bed? Junior jumped to life at that thought, and Dave mentally
reminded his cock that getting Carter settled in bed wasn't going to
include sex of any kind.

Dave's eyes drifted to the shower curtain. Would it hurt either one
of them if they showered together? While they wouldn't be able to do
anything, they'd at least be naked together, and able to touch one
another. Yeah, Dave thought, nodding. It couldn't hurt at all.
Grinning, he quickly stripped off the sweats he'd been wearing and
then he stepped into the shower behind Carter. Carter didn't seem to
notice his presence, which was okay by him. Dave didn't mind giving
the guy a pleasant surprise.

Dave reached out and began to knead the muscles of Carter's neck,
expecting a slight jump of surprise and then relaxation. The
half-scream that tore out of Carter's throat was definitely unnerving,
and Dave threw his arms around Carter's body to keep the guy from
lunging off of the bench.

"It's okay, Hoss. It's just me," Dave said. "I'm sorry. I should
have warned you that I was here."

"Get out!" Carter's voice trembled as he tried to twist out of Dave's
grip. Dave responded by tightening the hold he had on his lover.

"It's okay, John. It's just me." Dave hoped that if he kept
repeating that, then it would get through to Carter. He felt like
kicking himself for scaring the guy like that.

************************************************************

John felt a surge of panic as he realized that Dave was just as naked.
What was the guy doing? Tormenting him? "I know who it is. Now,
get out," John said. If Dave no longer wanted him, then why was he in
the shower?

John felt Dave pulling his body back a little, and he stiffened in
more than one place as he felt Dave's erection pressing into his back.
Dave DID want him. But, that made no sense. John was scarred and
had that damn colostomy to worry about. How could Dave possibly want him?

Those thoughts did nothing to abate John's own erection, and Dave's
didn't seem to be going anywhere, either. "Dave? What are you doing
in here?" John finally asked. If Dave really didn't want him, then it
was time for him to say something. And if he did want him, well, then
John had no clue as to what he'd do. He didn't want Dave seeing him
naked, not when the hot water was making the surgical scars look even
worse than they normally did. And he definitely didn't want Dave to
see the stoma. No how, no way.

Dave's hands began to massage John's neck, and he couldn't help but
push his body into them, craving the sensation of being touched. But
enjoyment of the touching didn't detract John from trying to find out
Dave's intentions, and he heard himself demanding over the roar of the
shower, "Dave? Answer me. Just what the Hell do you think you're doing?"



To be continued...
Chapter Thirteen by Cathy Roberts
*******************************************************

It wasn't so much that Dave was ignoring Carter's questions as it was
that he, well, that he WAS doing just that. Dave couldn't answer
Carter because he himself had no idea why he was lingering there in
the shower, touching Carter. One part of him knew it was wrong to
push his own desires upon Carter while the guy was still healing, but
another part of him just wanted for them to be touching. Yeah, it
would be nice for them both to get off, but Dave would be satisfied
with the skin-to-skin contact. Dave also hadn't missed the fact that
Carter had leaned back against him, giving them even more skin-to-skin
contact. So, the guy obviously wasn't too upset over him being there
in the shower.

Dave removed his hands from Carter's shoulders long enough to grab the
shampoo and pour some into one hand. "I'm washing your hair," he said
as he put the bottle down and then began to massage the liquid into
Carter's dark locks. A simple answer, and one that Dave hoped Carter
would accept.

"Washing my hair?" Carter's head turned around and he looked up at
Dave, blinking the water out of his eyes. "I don't think it needs
washing."

"Well, too late to think of that now, isn't it?" Dave replied with a
grin as he continued to massage Carter's scalp. "Shampoo's already in
it. And if you keep looking up at me, then it'll get in your eyes,
and we don't want that." Using his hands, Dave gently moved Carter's
head until the guy was facing forward again.

There was a lull in the conversation then, one that lasted a few
moments, and then Carter spoke again. "Can you get me a towel?"

"Sure thing, Hoss," Dave said. There was a towel flipped up over the
shower curtain rod, and Dave pulled it down and handed it to Carter.
"Got soap in your eyes after all?"

"No," Carter said as he took the towel. "My eyes are okay."

"Good, cause it's time to rinse your hair now." Dave couldn't help
but see that Carter had done his best to place the towel over his
middle, and at first Dave thought that Carter was trying to hide the
fact that he was hard. And then it hit him - Carter was trying to
cover up the stoma. He either didn't want more water getting to it,
or...or he didn't want Dave to see it.

Dave felt like banging his head against the shower wall as he realized
how insensitive he'd been about that. Of course Carter didn't want
Dave seeing that. The entire time in the hospital, and then during
the days since he'd been released, Carter had been pretty adamant
about not having people around when the bag needed to be changed.
Okay, Davy, he told himself, you've discovered the problem, now find a
solution. His fingers continued to work over Carter's scalp as he
thought, only stopping when Carter called his attention to the fact
that he'd been ready to rinse the shampoo away.

"Right, we were going to do that, weren't we?" A plan started to form
then, and Dave took a step back from Carter. "Why don't you stand up
first? Then we can turn you around so you can put your head in the
spray."

"I don't think that's going to work," Carter replied, his arms
clenched against his body. "Just use a glass or something."

"It'll work. Trust me on this, Hoss. It'll work. Here." Dave
placed his hands on Carter's shoulders. "I won't let you fall."

Carter was still for a moment or two, and then he slowly got to his
feet. Dave made sure that he kept his hands on Carter's shoulders, to
keep him steady. "Good. Now you can go on and wrap that towel around
your waist and we'll be good to go."

Carter turned his head to look at Dave, but he didn't say anything.
Instead, Dave was treated to a small smile and then Carter secured the
now wet towel around his waist. "Ready whenever you are," Carter said
as he turned his face back to the front of the shower.

Getting Carter's hair rinsed wasn't as easy as Dave had first thought
it would be. For one thing, in his plans, he hadn't remembered that
he'd need to help support Carter's weight, and that made things take a
bit longer. Carter did as much as he could to keep upright, but by
the time the last of the shampoo suds went down the drain, Dave was
regretting that spur of the moment idea.

With one hand on Carter's shoulder and another on his hip, Dave guided
Carter back onto the seat. He then reached around and turned off the
water, and the sudden quiet of the bathroom seemed overwhelming.
"That wasn't so bad," Dave said, keeping his voice low so that he
wouldn't sound as if he were shouting.

"No, it wasn't," Carter agreed.

Dave pushed the shower curtain open and grabbed a towel from the towel
bar across from the toilet. He turned back to Carter and began to dry
Carter's hair.

"You know, I can do that myself," Carter said.

"I know," Dave replied, not stopping. "But I like doing it. One of
these days you're going to learn to just accept the fact that people
want to help you."

"I can accept that fact," Carter said, and he turned his head so that
he could look at Dave, his eyes intense. "I just don't like it."

Dave grinned back at Carter. "Then you need to learn to like it.
Just like you need to learn to tell me when I'm doing something that
makes you uncomfortable. I know that there are things that bother
you, like the ostomy. And I know that sometimes I don't think things
through, and I act before thinking, like when I got in the shower. I
didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, Hoss. I just wanted to be with
you." Dave's hands had quit moving as he spoke, and he moved the
towel from Carter's head to his shoulders, where he then began to
gently rub the skin dry.

"Dave..." Carter said, "I...I don't know what to say. I don't like
the ostomy, that much is true, but it doesn't make me uncomfortable."

"Having me seeing it does, though, doesn't it?" Dave moved the towel
down Carter's back, careful to avoid the scars from where the knife
had sliced into him. It took a lot of willpower for Dave to hold back
the shudder that threatened every time he thought about what Sobriki
had done to Carter.

"I...you...you shouldn't have to see it," Carter said, looking away
from Dave.

"Like I haven't seen worse?" Dave asked, only half-jokingly. "Look, I
know it bothers you, and I'm not trying to convince you that you're
wrong or something for feeling that way. I just want you to know that
if I'm being dense then you shouldn't hesitate to let me know. I'm
here to help you, remember? And having you feeling bad because I'm a
doofus isn't exactly helping you, is it?"

"You're not a doofus," Carter said, and then he shivered, which made
Dave realize that he most certainly was a doofus, because he was
standing there talking while Carter was sitting in a wet towel.

"We can argue about that later, when you're not about to catch
pneumonia. Get up and get that wet towel off and this dry one on."

"It was just a chill, Dave. I'm okay," Carter said as he continued to
sit there.

"If it was just a chill, then why do you have goosebumps all over?"
Dave chided. "On your feet. I'm not willing to have the Chief and
Benton all over me because I let you get sick."

Carter slowly got to his feet, holding onto the small bar over the
soap holder to keep steady. "I doubt if they'd be all over you," he
said as he let the wet towel lose. It dropped heavily, and Dave
wasted no time in wrapping the mostly dry towel around Carter's waist.

"That's easy for you to say, Hoss," Dave replied. "You're not the one
getting the third degree every morning at work. Wait here while I get
another towel for you."

Dave stepped out of the tub, only slightly aware that Carter was
watching him. "They ask you about me?" Carter asked, wonder in his voice.

"Every morning. It's like clockwork. I get there, log in, and before
I can reach my locker, the Chief's there, asking how you're doing.
So, I tell her, then start to get ready for the day. By the time I
open the door to leave the lounge, Benton's there, asking me how
you're doing. Most everyone else keeps their questions to every other
day." Dave opened the bathroom door and stepped out into the hallway
long enough to grab a towel from the linen closet, and then he was
back in the bathroom and making his way back to Carter.

"Why?" Carter asked as Dave began to pat his chest dry.

"Why what?" Dave asked, ignoring his own rising goosebumps as he
concentrated on getting Carter dry.

"Why are they asking?"

Dave paused long enough to look into Carter's eyes, and he saw genuine
confusion there. "Because they care about you, Hoss. Why else? Now
hold still while I get your legs done."


Under normal conditions, John would have protested the way that Dave
was babying him. But these weren't normal conditions, and John felt
tired and worn out. All he really wanted was to crawl back into bed
and be able to fall into a deep and dreamless sleep. Or at least a
sleep free from nightmares and memories, the kind of sleep that had
been eluding him ever since he was stabbed.

John looked down as Dave started to kneel so he could dry his legs,
and that's when John noticed that Dave was shivering. "This is
stupid," John said, shaking his head over what he was putting Dave
through. "You're freezing, Dave. I can dry myself while you're
getting dry," John undid the towel that was around his waist, sat back
down on the bath seat, and began to dry his own thighs, his eyes
trying to avoid the sight of the ostomy.

"I'm not cold," Dave replied, not even looking at John.

"You've got goosebumps all over you, so that means that you're cold.
Weaver'll have my hide if I let you catch pneumonia or something,"
John joked. He reached over and placed his hand on Dave's upper arm,
tugging lightly. "Come on, Dave. Get dried off."

Dave looked at him then, with a smile on his face. "You don't gotta
twist my arm," he joked as he got to his feet and began to rub the
towel briskly over his own body. "Want me to set out the bag and
stuff for you?"

John thought that over as he moved the towel over his skin. He was
used to putting on his own bag, but he was tired, and he knew that if
he didn't get everything right, then the seal wouldn't take and the
bag would leak. After the embarrassment of the 'accident', John
definitely didn't want a repeat performance.

"Actually," he said, glancing over at Dave as he spoke, "I was
thinking that maybe you could do it for me? I can tell you what to do."

"I know what to do," Dave replied as he started to rub the towel over
his hair. "I can do it for you." Dave peeked out from under the
towel and smiled at John. "Let me go get the walker for you, and then
you can take your time finishing up in here while I get things ready,
okay?"

John nodded. "Sounds like a plan to me."

Dave wrapped the towel around his waist and left the bathroom,
returning shortly with the walker. He lingered long enough to help
John step over the side of the tub, and then Dave left John alone in
the room. John ran a hand over his weary eyes, then wrapped the towel
around his waist and started the long trip back to his bedroom.

When he got there, John saw that Dave had everything laid out on the
bed, including a fresh pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt for John to
wear to bed. Dave had even taken the time to pull on a pair of
sweats. "Looks like you've got things under control," John commented
as he made his way to the side of the bed.

"I try my best," Dave replied with a grin. "Go on and get the T-shirt
on and that damp towel off. I WAS serious when I said that I didn't
want you getting sick or anything."

Despite having been naked in front of Dave not so long ago and was
about to let Dave tend to a very personal need, John hesitated when it
came to removing the towel. He wished that there was a way to get the
bag on while wearing the towel, but his short experience with the
colostomy and its care had shown John that there was no other way.
John loosened the towel and let it fall to the floor, and then he sat
down on the side of the bed and reached for the T-shirt.

Dave took care of things without a lot of comments, which suited John
just fine, especially since he was feeling more tired by the moment.
When he was finally dressed for bed and under the covers, it was John
himself who broke the silence.

"Could I ask you something else?"

Dave paused as he picked up the debris from attaching the ostomy bag
and nodded. "Anything, Hoss."

"Why did you come into the shower with me?" John needed to know if
Dave still found him desirable, if Dave still cared in that way for him.

"I did it because I've missed you," Dave said. He came closer and sat
down on the edge of the bed. "I know that you're not ready for sex
and all, but I've missed seeing you and touching you. I should have
waited until you were ready, though, and I'm sorry that I just barged
in without warning."

"It's okay," John replied, a small smile on his lips. So Dave DID
still want him! That made the scare worth it, John thought. "I've
missed you, too. I thought...well, it doesn't matter what I thought,
except that I missed you."

"It matters," Dave replied. "I always care about what you're
thinking, John."

John looked away from the intense look that Dave was giving him. His
fingers began to play with the edge of the blanket as he spoke, "I
thought that maybe you'd changed your mind about wanting me."

"Never!" John felt Dave's hand on his chin and he let Dave turn his
head so that they were facing each other once more. "I...I love you,
John Carter. And nothing, not surgery or scars, is going to change that."

John's heart felt as if it would burst as he heard Dave's words, and
he realized that he, too, felt that way about Dave. He grinned. "I
love you, too."

They continued to look at each other, both men grinning broadly, and
then John pushed his body up from the bed. "I think that when two
people declare their love, that they're supposed to seal it with a
kiss or something."

"Are they now?" Dave asked as he leaned forward.

John nodded. "That's what I've heard."

"Then I guess we'd better do some sealing then, haven't we?"

Their lips met in a warm kiss that grew quickly into a kiss of
passion. John was left a bit breathless and eager to do more than
kiss. But he knew that making love in the way he wanted was out of
the question right then. But there were other things besides sex,
John thought. He just wasn't sure if those other things would be
enough for Dave.

"You know, I don't think that you really need to be keeping that couch
warm every night," John said. Dave's response to that would let John
know whether or not mere physical contact would be good enough for Dave.

Dave grinned. "You don't? And what do you suggest I do then? You've
only got the one bedroom, Hoss."

John patted the mattress beside him. "I think that this needs to be
warmed."

"I think you're right. Let me go get the lights and we'll see if the
mattress agrees with you," Dave said. He leaned forward and gave John
a quick kiss and then he left the bedroom.

John curled up under the covers, a smile on his face as he anticipated
how nice it would be to have Dave in the bed with him. Dave soon
returned to the bedroom, and he turned out that light, then crawled
into the bed and wasted no time in spooning his body around John's.

Dave kissed the back of John's neck. "Night..."

"Goodnight," John replied as he snuggled even closer to Dave. He
closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep, as much lulled by the sound
of Dave's breathing as by the safety of Dave's arms.

When John awoke the next morning, it was early. This wasn't so
unusual for him, as his nightmares often awoke him in the wee hours of
the morning and then this brain kept replaying that night over and
over again until sunrise. What was unusual was that on this
particular morning, John was waking up early because he was well
rested. He smiled as he burrowed in closer to Dave's body, savoring
the warmth of the other man. For weeks now, John had felt that
something vital was missing, and now he knew what it had been - Dave.

It was funny, John thought, not hah-hah funny, but strange-funny, that
even though he and Dave had just shared a few nights together, those
nights had come to mean so much. They were simply the best nights
John had ever had. He had felt safe and loved in Dave's arms, and had
missed that after the stabbing. Why he hadn't insisted on having Dave
sleep with him once he was home was beyond him. Well, it wasn't
really beyond him. John had been afraid to ask, afraid that Dave
would turn him down.

But that was no longer a worry. Dave hadn't turned him down last
night, and here he still was, sleeping soundly behind John. John
moved his arms so that he could rest a hand on Dave's arm. This was
the way love was supposed to feel, he thought, all warm and cozy.
John's eyes fluttered shut and his mind, centered on Dave and how
great it felt to be with Dave, slowly closed down, letting John fall
back into an easy and nightmare free sleep.


To be continued...
Chapter Fourteen by Cathy Roberts
There's a saying that you don't know what you've got until it's gone,
and it was a saying that Dave never really gave much thought to until
he found himself missing the feeling of having Carter next to him in
bed every night. Dave realized that a cynical person would try to
claim that he was missing the sex, but there hadn't been any thing
sexual going on between them. Well, not much of anything sexual,
anyway. Dave wasn't really sure if he wanted to count getting
blowjobs and hand jobs from Carter as them having a sexual
relationship, especially since Carter wouldn't let Dave reciprocate.
At first, Dave had argued with Carter over that, but Carter's stubborn
insistence and magical mouth would end up wearing down Dave's
resistance. Of course, he knew why Carter wouldn't let him do
anything - he was still self-conscious about that damn ostomy and the
bag. Dave could shower with Carter, but touching him anywhere below
the waistline was a no-go, and Dave had no choice but to honor that
prohibition.

It wasn't an easy thing to honor though. Or rather, it hadn't been an
easy thing to honor. The ostomy was now a thing of the past. Carter
had gone back to the hospital to get it reversed and was now home
again after a long week's stay. At least it had felt like a long stay
to Dave, who had grown quite used to having Carter's body snuggled
against his own every night. Dave also suspected that it had been a
long week for Carter, too, judging by the pissy mood the guy had been
in during Dave's visits. Again, Dave couldn't really blame Carter too
much for feeling that way - he'd been making good progress with his PT
and the reversal surgery did set Carter back a bit. He'd hoped to be
on crutches by now, but was still stuck with the walker, and the
doctors had been quite emphatic that Carter shouldn't even attempt
using crutches until his sutures were out, and they went on to urge
that Carter not try the crutches until a few more weeks had gone by.
Dave knew that there'd a be a struggle about the crutches, which was
why he'd already taken the step of hiding them in the back of the hall
closet. Sometimes, Carter's stubbornness was a good thing, Dave
thought, like when he insisted on making Dave come. But at other times...

Dave shook his head slightly, even though there was a slight smile on
his face. Carter stirred a bit and Dave wrapped his arms a bit
tighter around Carter's body, holding him closer. It felt a bit
decadent to be napping in the middle of the afternoon, and Dave was
enjoying every moment of it. He'd brought Carter home just an hour
ago, and promptly put him to bed. Dave had intended to putter around
the apartment for a bit, but when he'd heard Carter crying out in his
sleep, all thoughts of housework went out of the window. Carter
needed him. And Dave was able to be there for Carter, unlike the
whole past week when Carter was once more trapped in a hospital room.
Dave had looked in Carter's eyes during the past week and knew that
the nightmares had come back, and he'd felt helpless over the fact
that he couldn't do anything to keep those nightmares at bay.

The helpless feeling was now gone, although Dave did feel a bit badly
that Carter had started to have a bad dream so soon after coming home.
He thought about going to DeRaad or someone else in Psych and asking
if there was anything special he should be doing for Carter. It
wasn't the first time that Dave had thought about doing something like
that, and he suspected that it wouldn't be the last time. But, as
with the other times he'd thought about it, Dave still encountered the
main obstacle to him asking, and that was him revealing to co-workers
that he and Carter were together. While it was true that quite a few
people knew that Dave was staying at Carter's place, none of them knew
that the two of them were sharing a bed. Dave didn't think he'd be
able to explain away how Carter's nightmares could be quieted by him
holding Carter just a bit closer as they slept - not when he was
supposed to be sleeping on the couch every night. Dave didn't know
how Carter felt about it, but he personally wasn't interested in
outing himself. Not yet, anyway.

Dave placed a light kiss on the back of Carter's neck and closed his
eyes, then softly cursed as he heard the sound of the doorbell.
Didn't people realize that Carter had just got home and didn't need
any visitors? Well, he'd just ignore it, Dave decided. And then the
doorbell sounded again. With mutters that cursed the parentage of the
person at the door, Dave got out of bed and headed from the bedroom,
closing the door softly before proceeding to the front door. The damn
doorbell rang again before Dave could get there, and that pissed him
off. Didn't they realize that they might be disturbing Carter's rest?
He yanked the door open, angry at the rude insistence of the bell ringer.

And then Dave stood there speechless as he found himself face to face
with Carter's parents. No, he'd never met them, but he'd seen them in
photographs in the apartment, so he recognized them. Carter's mother
looked like - well, like some bitch made out of ice. Carter's father
looked exasperated. Both were well-dressed, and both looked
well-rested, facts which made Dave wonder just when they got into
town. He knew from Carter that they'd been in Tokyo, and if they'd
just gotten off of the plane, then they would be looking a little
tired and rumpled. Anger surged through Dave's body as he looked at
the couple. Carter had been stabbed and nearly killed and they hadn't
come home, and now they show up on the day that Carter was home from
his second surgery, looking for all the world as if this were a normal
social call.

Fuckers.

Carter's father cleared his throat. "We're looking for John Carter.
This IS his apartment, isn't it?"

Dave nodded, but he didn't step aside to let either one of them in.
"It is, but he can't come to the door right now. He just got home
from the hospital and is taking a nap. I can let him know that you
came by." Even as he said it, Dave knew that he wouldn't follow
through on that. Not that he wouldn't tell Carter, but that he
wouldn't turn Carter's folks away. The guy had been practically
pining for them for weeks, so there was no way that Dave would be the
one making them leave. But Hell if he was going to make this easy on
them, either.

"We're John's parents," the woman said, looking at Dave with something
between disdain and suspicion. "And you are?"

"I'm Dave Malucci. I've been staying here with John to help out since
he still can't walk very well," Dave answered. He then stepped to one
side. "Come on in, but try to be quiet. He didn't get a lot of rest
in the hospital and he really needs the sleep."

The couple walked past him and as Dave closed the door he found
himself wondering if he should go in and wake Carter. A part of him
knew that Carter would want to see his parents, but another part of
him wanted Carter to rest.

"I'd offer you something to drink, but I don't have any coffee made.
We've got juice and water, though, if you'd like any." Dave headed
over to the easy chair; ready to sit down if they declined his offer.

"No thank you," Carter's father answered. "We had something at the
hotel before we came over." He sat down on the sofa with his wife,
both of them now looking uncomfortable. "John was in the hospital
again? He didn't mention anything about that during our phone calls."

Dave knew that Carter's parents called him. He'd even been there for
some of those calls. But he didn't know that Carter hadn't been
keeping his parents updated on his condition, and that knowledge made
him wonder just how much to reveal. He finally decided that the basic
facts would be good enough. "He went back in to have the colostomy
reversed," Dave said. "We just got home about an hour ago."

"I guess he didn't want us to worry about minor surgery, Jack,"
Carter's mother said.

As the Mr. Carter nodded, Dave sat down. "It wasn't minor surgery,
Mrs. Carter. John was in the hospital for a week, recovering from the
procedure. Of course, I don't know how you view things. For you,
major abdominal surgery might be a minor nuisance." Oh, Dave knew
that he was being rude to Carter's mother, but right then, he didn't
give a fuck. He was still pissed off with Carter's parents over the
fact that they hadn't rushed back to Chicago when Carter was stabbed,
and their current attitudes weren't making things better.

"Yes, well..." Mrs. Carter said, but her eyes drifted toward the
closed bedroom door. "I'll just take a quick peek at him." She
quickly got to her feet and headed for the bedroom before Dave could
think up a reason to stop her.

"Eleanor's a bit anxious to see John," Mr. Carter said. "If you don't
mind, I'd like to join her, and then we can be out of your way."

Dave got to his feet as Mr. Carter stood. "Of course," he replied,
not trusting himself to say anything more in the fear that he'd tell
them just where they could put their parental concern. He watched in
silence as Carter's parents disappeared into the bedroom and found
himself wondering if they were going to look at Carter and then slink
back to Tokyo, never giving Carter a chance to visit with them.


John could hear the soft whispers near his bed and the sound confused
him, for he was pretty sure that Dave had brought him home. If so,
then why were there nurses or visitors in his room, trying so hard to
be quiet? Finding himself faced with the choice of continuing along
the road of sleep or forcing himself to awaken to see what was going
on, John felt drained. There were far too many choices that he had to
make every day, he thought - should he be cheerful or sullen, should
he admit to his pain or endure it silently, should he live or die...

Not wanting to think about choices, especially that last one, John
forced himself toward wakefulness, and as he became more aware of his
surroundings, he realized that he was in his own bed, in his own
place. And that the voices he was hearing were those of his parents.
His parents? John opened his eyes and found himself looking up at
them. They both looked worried and then that worry was replaced by
contriteness as they noticed that John was looking at them. His
mother smiled and then sat down on the edge of the mattress, moving
carefully as she reached out to smooth his hair back from his forehead.

"We didn't mean to wake up," she said, an ever-sad smile on her face
and reflected in her eyes.

"That's okay," John said as he started to sit up. "I thought you two
were in Tokyo."

"We closed the deal and headed straight here," John's father replied
as he moved closer to the bed. "Your friend Dave told us that you
went back into the hospital for more surgery. You never mentioned on
the phone that you were going back into the hospital."

"Now, Jack, that's not important," John's mother said, gently chiding
her husband. "What's important is that the surgery is over and John's
okay." She looked back at John. "You ARE okay, aren't you?"

John wanted to throw his arms around his mother's neck and cry,
telling her and his father all the many ways that he wasn't okay, but
he didn't. Instead he just smiled and nodded. "I'm doing fine. I
was able to do some PT while in the hospital, so I didn't fall too far
behind with that."

John's father chuckled. "Johnny, you keep forgetting that we don't
know all of that 'doctor slang'. What's PT?"

"Physical therapy," John replied, even though he wanted to argue with
his father that the term he had used was hardly 'slang'. But, John
knew that in the eyes of his family, medicine was nothing more than a
fancy of his, and one that they all hoped would pass. Why couldn't
they be like normal parents, John thought, and brag about their son
the doctor? Why did they and his Carter grandparents make it seem as
if being a doctor, especially a trauma physician, was beneath them all?

His father nodded. "Well, that's good to hear," he said, and he
smiled at John, but for John it seemed a bit forced. If it wasn't for
the fact that these were his parents, John would have sworn that his
father was feeling awkward, and unsure of what to say.

Just don't let him start in about the hospital, John thought. His
Gamma had already brought up the idea of him not going back to County,
citing his injuries as a good reason to look elsewhere for employment.
And, not too unexpectedly, the family business had been mentioned.
Not permanently, Gamma had said, but for a short time while he
recuperated and figured out what he wanted to do with the rest of his
life. Again, another shining example of his family not listening to
him, John thought.

"Yes," his mother agreed, and for a moment John thought he had spoken
out-loud and she was agreeing with him, but then he realized that she
was referring to his physical therapy. "You'll be back to your old
self in no time," she continued.

"I hope so," John replied, and then he found himself stifling a yawn.
"I'm sorry. My pain medication makes me sleepy."

His mother smiled and leaned over, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"There's no need to apologize, John. We'll be in town for about a
week, so there's plenty of time for the three of us to talk." She
looked over at John's father. "We should let John get back to sleep."

After saying goodbye to his parents, John burrowed back under the
covers. His yawn had probably saved him from the lecture about his
job, but his mother's words had let John know that the lecture was
going to be coming. It was a lecture that John didn't want to hear,
but he couldn't think of any way to get out of sitting through it.

The bedroom door opened and Dave stepped into the room. "I'm sorry
that they woke you up," he said as he crawled back into the bed and
carefully positioned his body next to John's. "I was a bit surprised
to see them."

"Me, too," John admitted as he snuggled closer to Dave's body. If
only Dave could be there when his parents wanted to talk him out of
being a doctor...Dave wouldn't let them say anything spiteful; Dave
wouldn't let them hurt him. "They're staying for a week, or so they
said."

"That's good," Dave said, although John didn't think that Dave sounded
too pleased over that. "You all should have plenty of time to visit."

"They didn't come for a visit. They came to talk "sense" into me, you
can count on that. They all want me to give up medicine and get into
a "real" job. To be specific, they want me in the family business."

"Well, they just need to realize that you're one Hell of a doctor, and
you'd be doing your patients a big disservice if you gave up
practicing medicine just to be a desk jockey," Dave's arms tightened a
bit around John as he spoke, and John felt a bit more comforted by
that small action.

"Maybe they'll see that someday. Right now, all they see is that I
was hurt while working at County. Gamma's already been talking about
me not going back. It's tempting, too. But I know that if I don't go
back...back into Curtain 3, then I'll never be able to live with myself."

Dave placed a soft kiss on the top of John's head. "Well, there's no
need to be thinking about all of that right now. You need to first
concentrate on getting better, and then you can work on facing the
demons. You know..." Dave's hand began to caress John's arm, "You
know that talking to someone will help with that. A shrink, I mean.
Several of us from work have been in therapy over the...over what
happened. I think it would help you deal with things if you saw
someone, too."

"I'd never be able to talk to DeRaad," John said. He wasn't quite
sure how he felt about the man who was the head of the psychiatric
department, but John was pretty sure that he didn't want to go over
his feelings with the guy. Especially if it turned out that he
harbored some resentment toward him for not showing up when Lucy had
first paged psych. "Things would have been so different if they would
have come down when Lucy called them," John said. "Or even the second
time. But no, they had to wait hours before coming down." John found
himself blinking back tears as memories from that night started to
nibble at his consciousness.

"I know," Dave said, and he seemed to hold John even closer. "I know."

John tried to move even closer to Dave, wanting to get lost in the
sound of Dave's heartbeat and the rise and fall of his body as he
breathed. Dave was alive and real, and Dave kept him safe. Those
were the thoughts that John held onto as he started to fall back
asleep. As long as Dave was with him, John knew he had nothing to fear.


To be continued...
Chapter Fifteen by Cathy Roberts
*************************************************************************************************************************

It had been a week since John had confessed to Dave as to why he'd
been reluctant to let Dave perform oral sex on him. During that week,
the two of them had been pretty busy doing each other. It was good,
very good, but it wasn't enough. No, John thought as he shook his
head, definitely not enough.

He'd reached that conclusion the day his parents left, and ever since
then, John had been testing himself daily to see just what positions
he could and could not handle. John quickly discovered that being on
his back with his legs curled upward was painful. So, that position
was out, which meant no face-to-face interaction. John had found that
his left leg still wouldn't cooperate with him, which made being on
his hands and knees undoable, as was trying to squat.

And that was about the gamut of his knowledge of gay sexual positions,
so John had turned to what he hoped would be an informative source -
the internet. So far though, he'd waded through pictures of guys
getting and giving blow jobs, guys doing it face-to-face, guys on
their hands and knees, guys on their backs. Plenty of images of what
John already knew he couldn't do, and not much of what he could try to
do. It was frustrating, doubly so, since looking at all of those
pictures had gotten him aroused, and Dave wasn't due home for another
hour or so. John looked away from the current image on the screen -
one of three guys all having fun, and saw that it was actually later
than he'd thought, which meant that if he'd left on time, then Dave
would be walking through the door at any moment.

John closed the window on the screen, only to find that there was
another one beneath it, advertising yet another sex site. He closed
that one, then realized that there was a whole cascade of windows now
open. Crap, crap, crap, John thought as he began to click them
closed, afraid that he wasn't moving quickly enough and trying to not
panic over how long it was taking to hide the evidence of his
curiosity. One nice thing about the little bit of panic that he was
feeling was that his erection had abated. Oh, yeah, nothing like
being on the verge of being caught surfing sex sites to get your
libido under control, John thought.

There! He was down to the last few windows, and home free. John
began to relax, confident that Dave would never know about his little
foray into internet pornography. Of course, if things would have gone
the way John had wanted them to, then Dave would have found out about
it that night, when John told him he was ready for them to do more.
But, since he'd struck out at finding a position that seemed possible,
John knew that his plans for the evening would have to be put on hold.

John had just closed the last screen when he heard the sound of the
key in the lock, and he grinned at beating Dave home, so to speak. He
was looking at the door as it opened, and his grin grew broader as he
watched Dave walk into the apartment.

"Hey," John said, his day definitely a bit brighter now that Dave was
home.

Dave smiled back before he turned and locked the door securely. "Hey,
yourself." Dave walked over to John, leaned down and gave him a quick
kiss on the lips. "How was your day?"

John nodded. "It's been good, but aren't I supposed to be asking you
that? After all, you're the one who gets to get out of here every
day." Even though John did leave the apartment for his PT, once home,
he and Dave usually didn't go out much. It was just easier to stay in
and be with each other. So far, that had been enough, but John was
starting to get the itch to go out and do something...see a movie or
eat dinner out. Anything would be nice, as long as they were doing it
together.

"It was okay," Dave replied as he began to take off his coat. "We
were slammed this morning for some reason, but the afternoon was
fairly quiet. How did your PT go?"

John watched as Dave walked over to the closet. "It was good. I
worked with crutches for a little bit. Everyone seems to think that
at the rate I'm going, I should be fully on them by the end of next
week. I was thinking that maybe when that happens, we can celebrate
it by going out somewhere? Maybe to dinner and a movie, or just dinner?"

"What?" Dave asked, "You tired of my cooking already?" He was grinning
as he asked though, and John shook his head.

"Not at all. I just...I just want to get out of here, and no, PT
doesn't really count as getting out," John said.

"I hear ya, Hoss." Dave came over to the couch and sat down next to
John. "I'd like to go out when you're ready, and the crutches will
definitely be easier to get in and out of the Jeep than the walker
would be."

John smiled at Dave and nodded once more. "That's what I was
thinking, too." He closed the cover of his laptop, then sat it onto
the side table before turning toward Dave. "The pork chops that you
wanted to cook for dinner are in the fridge, thawing out, and I
chopped up all of the vegetables for the salad, so we can get dinner
going whenever you're ready."

"Sounds good," Dave said with a smile of his own as he placed his hand
on John's thigh. "Sounds like I'm turning you into a cook or something."

"Probably more of the something. Dr. Weaver didn't think too highly
of my culinary skills when I was living with her. She kept trying to
teach me to cook, but then she gave up. Of course, she was a lot more
particular than you about things. Vegetables had to be sliced a
particular way, cucumbers had to be seeded, stuff like that."

"So, you're saying that I'm easy?" Dave asked, his hand slowly inching
upward.

John cocked his head to one side as he looked at Dave. The man's hand
was leaving a hot trail along John's thigh, and he was once more hard.
Only this time he was hard because of a living, breathing human
being, and not because he'd waded his way through hundreds of porn
images. John much preferred this way. "I think I might be saying
that, yes." And with that, John shifted position on the couch so that
his legs were a bit further apart, a clear invitation to Dave, and one
that Dave quickly accepted.

As Dave's hand closed over John's cock, John sighed with pleasure.
Even with the material of his sweatpants between his cock and Dave's
hand, it still felt good. "I missed you."

"So I can see. I missed you, too," Dave said, and he gave John's cock
a gentle squeeze. "Or, maybe I should say that..." Dave glanced down
at his own groin, and John looked there, as well, noting the
impressive bulge behind Dave's jeans. "...we missed you."

John looked back up, and into Dave's eyes. The love and desire he saw
there nearly took his breath away, and once more John thought about
how lucky he was to have Dave in his life. And how he wanted more
right now than just the feel of Dave's fingers or mouth on his cock.
Oh, he wanted that, there was no mistake at all about *that*, but John
also wanted to feel Dave inside of him, taking him, making them one.

"I have a confession to make," John said, deciding on the spur of the
moment to come clean about what he'd been doing. "I want you...in me,
I mean." John could feel his cheeks growing warm as he made that
admission, but his eyes never left Dave's face, even though John was
sure that this would be easier to admit if he were looking away from
Dave. "I...I've been trying to see what positions I can be in that
won't hurt, but there aren't any. I even went onto the internet to
look, but all I could find were pictures of the same ones that I can't
do." John looked at Dave intently, hopeful that Dave would have some
magical position that he could introduce to him. "You're the worldly
one here, any ideas?"

John wasn't too sure how he'd expected Dave to reply. A grin, most
definitely a grin. And that would be followed by a squeeze or two to
his cock, then a joke. What John hadn't expected was the flare of
anger in Dave's eyes, or the way that Dave moved back from him, going
to the end of the couch. Okay, so Dave didn't like the idea that he'd
been looking at porn sites, John thought, his spirits falling. "I'm
sorry," John said, his voice soft. "I shouldn't have been looking at
porn without telling you first."

"What the fuck?" Dave's voice sounded angry and confused all at the
same time. "Why would I care if you look at porn? You're an adult,
John, and you don't have to ask my permission to look at sites on the
internet, or to go out and buy magazines or stuff. Jesus! The way
you say that it makes it sound as if I'm your father or something."
Dave was now on his feet and pacing at the end of the couch, a sure
sign that he was upset.

"Sorry. I thought that's why you were angry," John said in a lame
attempt to defend himself.

"Stop apologizing for things you're not guilty over." Dave's reply was
harsh. "Why do you do that? You're always apologizing for things
that you didn't do, or for things that aren't your fault. God, you
probably apologized for me kidnapping you, didn't you? We left you in
your room and you probably looked up at the ceiling and apologized for
being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

John looked away from Dave, wondering why Dave had to bring up that
time. He'd thought that they'd gotten past all of that. And now,
there was tension in the air to go with Dave's anger. "No," John
softly replied, "I didn't apologize for that. Why are you bringing
that time up? What does that have to do with us now?"

"You're the one who brought up that time by reminding me of my days as
a whore, John. Oh, you made it sound nice and genteel, 'you're the
worldly one here', but we both know that you meant that since I'd
worked as a whore, then I'd know of a position or two that we could
use." Dave's face was red, and it was clear to John that Dave was
really, really upset and angry. Dave glared at him, then turned and
went into their bedroom, slamming the door behind him, and letting
John know in no uncertain terms that his company was no longer wanted
or needed.

What was he to do now? John couldn't just get up and go for a walk
outside, the walker made that a complicated thing to do. He supposed
that he could call someone, to see if they'd come to pick him up, go
get coffee or something. But there really wasn't anyone that John
felt he could confide in about the history he had with Dave. He
hadn't been thinking that about Dave, he really hadn't. But, Dave
obviously didn't believe that, and right then all that mattered was
what Dave thought. For a brief moment, John found himself wishing he
was Catholic, for then he could go to confession and not have to worry
about the priest calling the police to arrest Dave for something that
had happened long ago. Talking to his grandmother was out of the
question, for that reason, and then some. As far as John knew, his
and Dave's relationship wasn't open knowledge, even amongst their own
families.

The ringing of the telephone interrupted John's feeble attempt to list
friends with whom he could confide in about this, and he automatically
picked up the receiver. But, before he could say 'Hello', he heard
Dave's voice answering, and then a woman's voice. That didn't bother
him. No, what bothered John was the way that Dave replied when he
heard that woman's voice. "You must have ESP, because I really need
you now."

Oh, yeah, that had been all that John needed to hear. He slowly
replaced the receiver, feeling more alone than ever before and
wondering just what was going to happen now with Dave. John's earlier
decision that going for a walk was out of the question was now
revised. There was no way that he could stay here now.


****************************************************

As the echo of the slammed door faded away, Dave also felt his anger
beginning to subside. Dave had really thought that he and Carter were
past the past, that they were both adult enough to not go bringing up
the bad things, such as what Dave had been forced into doing before
he'd kidnapped Carter. But, no, they weren't. Or at least, John
wasn't that mature. The phone rang, and Dave answered it, then smiled
as he heard Lisa's voice.

"Hey, Dave. You got a minute?"

"You must have ESP," Dave replied as he sat down on the edge of the
bed. "because I really need you now."

"Oh? Something's happened with John?" Lisa sounded worried.

"No. Yes. He's okay, if that's what you're asking. His physical
therapy went well today, and the therapist thinks that he'll be able
to use crutches all of the time by next week. So, that's not the
problem. It's a bit more personal."

"Do you want to talk about it? Considering that I am the mother of
your son, I'd say that I could handle 'personal' from you," Dave could
hear the smile in her voice. And the concern, too, and that made him
feel a little bit better.

"Yeah. The stabbing put a stop to our sex life, at least for a while.
We've been getting by with just oral sex, and touching, stuff like
that, but nothing more strenuous. So, tonight I get home from work
and John tells me that he'd like to get back to doing that, which was
great news. But then he started on about how since I was more
'worldly' and all, that maybe I knew some positions we could try,
because most of the usual ones were too painful or uncomfortable for
him. How could he just throw my past in my face that way, Lisa? I
thought he loved me, you know? I love him, and I'd never throw his
past in his face that way. I've been here for him, been patient, been
considerate. And this is how he pays me back? By asking me to delve
into my whoring tricks to help him get off?"

"Whoa," Lisa chided, "Slow down and back up a bit. I only know John
from what you've told me about him, but based on that, I don't think
he'd have said that. Now, just what did he say? His exact words this
time, Dave."

Feeling unduly chastened, Dave sighed, but he did pause long enough to
recall the conversation. "He said that he wanted me in him, and that
he'd been looking at some porn sites on the net, to see if there were
any positions that he could be in that wouldn't hurt, but that there
weren't any. He then said that I was the worldly one here, and did I
have any ideas."

"And out of that you got that he was asking you to recall the days you
worked as a male prostitute?" Lisa's voice sounded amused and Dave
immediately felt defensive.

"He said I was the 'worldly' one, Lisa. What else could that mean?"

"It could have meant that since he's only been with one guy, that he's
not knowledgeable enough about gay sex to figure out what wouldn't
hurt him. What about the tone of his voice? Was he taunting you?
Did he sound accusing?"

Dave once more had to take the time to recall the conversation, and as
it came back to him, his shoulders slumped as he saw that Carter
hadn't been accusing or taunting. "No. To either question. He
sounded sincere, and he was blushing. Damn."

"Indeed." Lisa was then silent for a few moments, and during that
time Dave found himself wondering just what it would take for him to
make Carter forget his harsh words. And the way he'd stormed off and
slammed the door.

"Thanks," Dave said. "While this wasn't exactly the help that I'd
been expecting, I'm glad that you called. You don't happen to know
any surefire way for me to make this up to him, do you?"

"Aside from telling you to delve into your past and pull a few tricks
out of your days as a male prostitute and getting 'in him' the way he
wants, no." Dave could hear the laughter in Lisa's voice.

"Funny. Not. So, what 'were' you calling about?"

"I've got to go to a conference and I was wondering if you two would
be able to keep Dylan while I'm gone. I think it's about time he met
John, don't you? But, a meeting between them can be arranged for
another time if you don't think the two of you can handle him right now."

"I'll have to check with John on that," Dave replied. He'd love to
have Dylan there in Chicago, but he wasn't sure that Carter would want
to be running around after a three year old child. "Give me the
details, and I'll get back to you either tonight or tomorrow, will
that be okay?"

"That'll be fine," Lisa replied. She then gave Dave the details of
her upcoming trip. He wrote them down, thanked her again for calling
and then asked if Dylan was there. She put Dylan on the line, and
father and son talked for a few minutes. Dave would have liked to
talk longer, but he didn't want to run up a long distance bill for
Lisa, besides, there was only so much that Dylan would talk about over
a phone. He much preferred talking someone's ears off in person.

By the time Dave ended the call and headed for the bedroom door, he
was smiling once more. And his brain was going over various positions
that he and Carter could try out. He opened the door and stepped back
into the living room, but his smile faded as he saw that the room was
empty.

"John?" Dave called out, thinking that maybe Carter was in the
bathroom, but there was no answer, and the door to that room was ajar,
too. And then Dave noticed that the walker, which had been near the
couch, was now gone.

Carter was gone.

Dave stood in the center of the living room, feeling lost and alone.
Sure, he'd snapped at Carter, but it hadn't been nasty enough to make
Carter want to leave, right? And with Carter still recovering from
his surgeries, he would know that he couldn't go far. Unless he
hailed a cab or something, but wasn't his wallet on the dresser in the
bedroom? Dave's feet finally moved, and he went back in there,
confirming that yes, Carter's wallet was still sitting on the dresser.
Which meant that wherever Carter had gone, he had no money. And he'd
been wearing sweats, so there was no pocket in which to put his keys.

If Carter didn't bother to take his keys with him, then that would
mean that he didn't intend to come back. This wasn't good, and Dave
headed for the door, grabbing his own keys as he grabbed his coat.
The elevator in the building was slow, which often made it nice for
Dave that Carter's apartment was on the second floor and not any
higher, taking the stairs always took less time than taking the
elevator. But with the walker, Carter had no choice but to take the
slow way, and Dave was pretty sure that he could catch up to Carter.

The door slammed behind Dave as he left the apartment, but he didn't
pay it any mind as he practically ran to the stairwell. Taking the
steps two and three at a time, Dave was to the ground floor in less
than a minute. The small lobby was empty and quiet, so Dave headed on
outside, pausing on the sidewalk to look both ways for signs of his
fleeing lover. Dave wasn't sure what he'd say when he found Carter,
but he was pretty sure that asking him if he were out of his mind
leaving like that wasn't the best thing to say right now. Nope, much
better to just apologize, say that he loved him and get him back
inside...and into bed.

The big question though, was would Carter forgive him and come back
inside? And if so, would he still be horny? Okay, so that wasn't
really a nice thought, Dave chided himself. But, it was an honest
one. They'd been waiting so long to resume their sex life, and now,
well now, it looked as if Dave might have screwed it all up, no pun
intended, he told himself.

***********************************************************

There was a small playground across the street from John's apartment
building, and he'd headed over there, unable to stand the idea of just
sitting in the living room to wait for whatever was going to happen
with Dave. It didn't matter if Dave planned to come back out of the
bedroom to break up with him, or if he would come out with some story
about needing to go out to clear his mind. Either way left John
alone, and if he was going to be alone, then it would be on his terms,
dammitt, and not Dave Malucci's.

John had just gotten settled on one of the swings when he saw Dave
rush out of the building. He watched impassively as Dave looked each
way down the street, then just stood there. John reasoned that Dave
was looking for him, and it was tempting to call out to him, to get
his attention. But then John remembered what was in store for him,
and he remained silent.

And John remained silent as he watched Dave shrug into his jacket and
take off down the street at a trot. He even remained silent as a tear
or two rolled down his own face. Dave was definitely in a hurry to
leave him, John thought. Although he supposed that Dave would first
be all attentive, acting as if he cared that John had left without
leaving a note. John shivered, then remembered that he'd been in so
much of a hurry that he'd not only left behind his coat, but also his
wallet and keys. Oh, yeah, great way to handle things, he chided
himself. Now he couldn't even get back into his own apartment,
provided he didn't freeze to death right here on the kiddie swings. He
supposed that he could try to awaken the super, and get into the
apartment that way, but John really didn't want to deal with the man's
questions about why he was outside without keys or coat. The man
would look at him with pity in his eyes, and John knew he couldn't
deal with pity right now.

Dave came back into sight, pausing once more in front of their
building and looking in the opposite direction from which he'd just
come. "Hell," John muttered. Might as well get this over with.

Sighing, John lifted his arm up into the air, "Dave!" He called out,
and Dave must have heard him because he stopped and tilted his head to
one side, listening for more. "Over here."

Dave saw him then, and he headed across the street at a dead run, and
was panting when he came to a stop by the swings. "You scared the
Hell out of me, Hoss."

"Don't call me that," John said. Okay, so that hadn't been what he'd
planned to say to Dave. He'd planned to just ask for his key back and
then go back inside, leaving Dave here to follow or go as he pleased.
But, that name…that name just took him back to his college days, and
being lonely and scared and…and no, John didn't want to be called that
name ever again.

Dave frowned, "Sorry. And not just about that, but for walking out on
you. I misunderstood you, babe, and I'm so sorry."

John looked at Dave. The guy looked sincere, but John was pretty
certain that sincerity was needed when one was about to break up with
their lover or whatever it was that John had been to Dave these past
weeks. Toy, maybe? Diversion?

John shrugged. "Whatever. I'd like my key back, please. I left mine
in there and I'll need it when I'm ready to go back inside."

Dave smiled then, "Oh, no problem. We'll just go back in together.
Hey! You're shivering!" Dave began to take off his coat.

"I'm not cold," John lied. "And I don't want you coming back inside
with me. You might as well go on home, Dave. Whatever it was that
you were doing here, it's over." John looked directly at Dave, and
while a part of him felt good about taking the initiative here, and
breaking up with Dave before Dave could break up with him, another
part of him was dying inside. He'd really and truly thought that Dave
was `the one'. He'd never really imagined that he was just…just a
passing fancy for Dave.

Dave froze, his coat half on, half off, and the smile had gone from
his face. "What? John, babe…I'm sorry that I misunderstood you. I
know that you weren't throwing my past in my face, and I'm sorry that
I overreacted. We can go back inside, get warm, and talk about it."

"There's nothing to talk about, Dave. Just give me my key and go.
You can come back to get your things later…I can't deal with that
right now. I'm not what you need and I know it. You don't have to
sneak behind my back."

"Sneak behind your…???" Dave looked confused as he sat down in the
swing next to John's. "I don't understand what you mean. *You* are
all that I need, babe."

"Right. That's why you were so glad to hear *her* voice when she
called. You need her, go to her. I won't make a scene or anything,
if that's what you've been afraid of."

Dave laughed, and John looked at him sharply. "I don't see…"

"That was Lisa. My ex-girlfriend? I told you about her, and about
Dylan."

Lisa. John knew about her, but had never heard her voice. "Lisa?"

Dave nodded. "She was calling to see if I could watch Dylan for a few
days while she's at a conference. She's a shrink, remember? I was so
glad to hear her because…well, because I thought you were talking
about my time as a prostitute, and she made me realize that I'd been
an ass, and you hadn't meant that at all."

"Oh." John felt like an ass then. He'd overheard something and let
his imagination get the better of him. He looked up as he felt Dave
touching his shoulder.

"I think we both jumped to the wrong conclusions tonight, babe. So,
how about we go on back inside and get warm." When Dave had sat down,
his coat had still been half off, and he went on and removed it the
rest of the way, then got up from the swing and placed the coat over
John's shoulders. "If we do get around to looking for a good position
tonight, then I don't want to find that anything important has been
frozen off."

John smiled up at Dave, then put his arms through the sleeves. "Me,
either. And if you walk back in with me, then you're going to catch a
chill, since I can only move but so fast with this walker. Why don't
you go on ahead and maybe put on some milk for hot cocoa? I'll be
right behind you."

Dave nodded, and the smile on his face did as much to warm John as did
Dave's coat. "Just don't take too long, okay?"

"I won't. I'm pretty interested in finding out if we can find a
position that works. Or maybe even two." John said, his smile now a
full-blown grin.

"Two works for me," Dave replied. He bent down and kissed John fully
on the lips. It was a kiss full of not only love, but promise of what
was to come once they were both inside.

John got to his feet as Dave headed back across the street. Even
though it was cold, it wasn't icy out, so John was able to get across
the street rather quickly, and without worrying about the walker or
his feet slipping on any ice. By the time he reached the apartment,
he was more anxious than tired, but this time his anxiousness was due
to the idea of making love with Dave, and not because of thinking that
Dave was leaving him.

Dave had left the door ajar, and John made it inside easily enough.
Once inside, he locked the door, then made his way over to the couch.
He was just about to sit down when Dave stepped out of the kitchen, a
big grin on his face.

"Why don't you go on into the bedroom? I'll bring the cocoa in to you
and we can relax in bed with it while going over positions."

John grinned back. "Sounds good to me. And should I also strip while
waiting for you?"

Dave's eyebrows rose, but he slowly shook his head. "I don't think
so. I want the pleasure of undressing you. Being with you…it's like
Christmas and my Birthday all rolled into one, only you're the best
present I ever got."

John laughed as he headed on into the bedroom. "I feel the same way
about you, Dr. Dave. Undressing you is half the fun."

Dave wriggled his eyebrows. "Never let it be said that Dr. Dave
denied you your fun. I'll be right in, the milk's almost to a boil."

As Dave disappeared into the kitchen, John made his way into the
bedroom. Even if they didn't find that perfect position tonight, John
was pretty certain that they'd have a good time with the search. And
to think that he almost threw it all away by jumping to the wrong
conclusion! Never again, he vowed, would he just assume something
like that. Dave's love was far too important to risk on an assumption.

To be continued…
Chapter Sixteen by Cathy Roberts
It had been a week since John had confessed to Dave as to why he'd been reluctant to let Dave perform oral sex on him. During that week, the two of them had been pretty busy doing each other. It was good, very good, but it wasn't enough. No, John thought as he shook his head, definitely not enough.

He'd reached that conclusion the day his parents left, and ever since then, John had been testing himself daily to see just what positions he could and could not handle. John quickly discovered that being on his back with his legs curled upward was painful. So, that position was out, which meant no face-to-face interaction. John had found that his left leg still wouldn't cooperate with him, which made being on his hands and knees undoable, as was trying to squat.

And that was about the gamut of his knowledge of gay sexual positions, so John had turned to what he hoped would be an informative source - the internet. So far though, he'd waded through pictures of guys getting and giving blow jobs, guys doing it face-to-face, guys on their hands and knees, guys on their backs. Plenty of images of what John already knew he couldn't do, and not much of what he could try to do. It was frustrating, doubly so, since looking at all of those pictures had gotten him aroused, and Dave wasn't due home for another hour or so. John looked away from the current image on the screen - one of three guys all having fun, and saw that it was actually later than he'd thought, which meant that if he'd left on time, then Dave would be walking through the door at any moment.

John closed the window on the screen, only to find that there was another one beneath it, advertising yet another sex site. He closed that one, then realized that there was a whole cascade of windows now open. Crap, crap, crap, John thought as he began to click them closed, afraid that he wasn't moving quickly enough and trying to not panic over how long it was taking to hide the evidence of his curiosity. One nice thing about the little bit of panic that he was feeling was that his erection had abated. Oh, yeah, nothing like being on the verge of being caught surfing sex sites to get your libido under control, John thought.

There! He was down to the last few windows, and home free. John began to relax, confident that Dave would never know about his little foray into internet pornography. Of course, if things would have gone the way John had wanted them to, then Dave would have found out about it that night, when John told him he was ready for them to do more. But, since he'd struck out at finding a position that seemed possible, John knew that his plans for the evening would have to be put on hold.

John had just closed the last screen when he heard the sound of the key in the lock, and he grinned at beating Dave home, so to speak. He was looking at the door as it opened, and his grin grew broader as he watched Dave walk into the apartment.

"Hey," John said, his day definitely a bit brighter now that Dave was home.

Dave smiled back before he turned and locked the door securely. "Hey, yourself." Dave walked over to John, leaned down and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. "How was your day?"

John nodded. "It's been good, but aren't I supposed to be asking you that? After all, you're the one who gets to get out of here every day." Even though John did leave the apartment for his PT, once home, he and Dave usually didn't go out much. It was just easier to stay in and be with each other. So far, that had been enough, but John was starting to get the itch to go out and do something...see a movie or eat dinner out. Anything would be nice, as long as they were doing it together.

"It was okay," Dave replied as he began to take off his coat. "We were slammed this morning for some reason, but the afternoon was fairly quiet. How did your PT go?"

John watched as Dave walked over to the closet. "It was good. I worked with crutches for a little bit. Everyone seems to think that at the rate I'm going, I should be fully on them by the end of next week. I was thinking that maybe when that happens, we can celebrate it by going out somewhere? Maybe to dinner and a movie, or just dinner?"

"What?" Dave asked, "You tired of my cooking already?" He was grinning as he asked though, and John shook his head.

"Not at all. I just...I just want to get out of here, and no, PT doesn't really count as getting out," John said.

"I hear ya, Hoss." Dave came over to the couch and sat down next to John. "I'd like to go out when you're ready, and the crutches will definitely be easier to get in and out of the Jeep than the walker would be."

John smiled at Dave and nodded once more. "That's what I was thinking, too." He closed the cover of his laptop, then sat it onto the side table before turning toward Dave. "The pork chops that you wanted to cook for dinner are in the fridge, thawing out, and I chopped up all of the vegetables for the salad, so we can get dinner going whenever you're ready."

"Sounds good," Dave said with a smile of his own as he placed his hand on John's thigh. "Sounds like I'm turning you into a cook or something."

"Probably more of the something. Dr. Weaver didn't think too highly of my culinary skills when I was living with her. She kept trying to teach me to cook, but then she gave up. Of course, she was a lot more particular than you about things. Vegetables had to be sliced a particular way, cucumbers had to be seeded, stuff like that."

"So, you're saying that I'm easy?" Dave asked, his hand slowly inching upward.

John cocked his head to one side as he looked at Dave. The man's hand was leaving a hot trail along John's thigh, and he was once more hard. Only this time he was hard because of a living, breathing human being, and not because he'd waded his way through hundreds of porn images. John much preferred this way. "I think I might be saying that, yes." And with that, John shifted position on the couch so that his legs were a bit further apart, a clear invitation to Dave, and one that Dave quickly accepted.

As Dave's hand closed over John's cock, John sighed with pleasure. Even with the material of his sweatpants between his cock and Dave's hand, it still felt good. "I missed you."

"So I can see. I missed you, too," Dave said, and he gave John's cock a gentle squeeze. "Or, maybe I should say that..." Dave glanced down at his own groin, and John looked there, as well, noting the impressive bulge behind Dave's jeans. "...we missed you."

John looked back up, and into Dave's eyes. The love and desire he saw there nearly took his breath away, and once more John thought about how lucky he was to have Dave in his life. And how he wanted more right now than just the feel of Dave's fingers or mouth on his cock. Oh, he wanted that, there was no mistake at all about *that*, but John also wanted to feel Dave inside of him, taking him, making them one.

"I have a confession to make," John said, deciding on the spur of the moment to come clean about what he'd been doing. "I want you...in me, I mean." John could feel his cheeks growing warm as he made that admission, but his eyes never left Dave's face, even though John was sure that this would be easier to admit if he were looking away from Dave. "I...I've been trying to see what positions I can be in that won't hurt, but there aren't any. I even went onto the internet to look, but all I could find were pictures of the same ones that I can't do." John looked at Dave intently, hopeful that Dave would have some magical position that he could introduce to him. "You're the worldly one here, any ideas?"

John wasn't too sure how he'd expected Dave to reply. A grin, most definitely a grin. And that would be followed by a squeeze or two to his cock, then a joke. What John hadn't expected was the flare of anger in Dave's eyes, or the way that Dave moved back from him, going to the end of the couch. Okay, so Dave didn't like the idea that he'd been looking at porn sites, John thought, his spirits falling. "I'm sorry," John said, his voice soft. "I shouldn't have been looking at porn without telling you first."

"What the fuck?" Dave's voice sounded angry and confused all at the same time. "Why would I care if you look at porn? You're an adult, John, and you don't have to ask my permission to look at sites on the internet, or to go out and buy magazines or stuff. Jesus! The way you say that it makes it sound as if I'm your father or something." Dave was now on his feet and pacing at the end of the couch, a sure sign that he was upset.

"Sorry. I thought that's why you were angry," John said in a lame attempt to defend himself.

"Stop apologizing for things you're not guilty over." Dave's reply was harsh. "Why do you do that? You're always apologizing for things that you didn't do, or for things that aren't your fault. God, you probably apologized for me kidnapping you, didn't you? We left you in your room and you probably looked up at the ceiling and apologized for being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

John looked away from Dave, wondering why Dave had to bring up that time. He'd thought that they'd gotten past all of that. And now, there was tension in the air to go with Dave's anger. "No," John softly replied, "I didn't apologize for that. Why are you bringing that time up? What does that have to do with us now?"

"You're the one who brought up that time by reminding me of my days as a whore, John. Oh, you made it sound nice and genteel, 'you're the worldly one here', but we both know that you meant that since I'd worked as a whore, then I'd know of a position or two that we could use." Dave's face was red, and it was clear to John that Dave was really, really upset and angry. Dave glared at him, then turned and went into their bedroom, slamming the door behind him, and letting John know in no uncertain terms that his company was no longer wanted or needed.

What was he to do now? John couldn't just get up and go for a walk outside, the walker made that a complicated thing to do. He supposed that he could call someone, to see if they'd come to pick him up, go get coffee or something. But there really wasn't anyone that John felt he could confide in about the history he had with Dave. He hadn't been thinking that about Dave, he really hadn't. But, Dave obviously didn't believe that, and right then all that mattered was what Dave thought. For a brief moment, John found himself wishing he was Catholic, for then he could go to confession and not have to worry about the priest calling the police to arrest Dave for something that had happened long ago. Talking to his grandmother was out of the question, for that reason, and then some. As far as John knew, his and Dave's relationship wasn't open knowledge, even amongst their own families.

The ringing of the telephone interrupted John's feeble attempt to list friends with whom he could confide in about this, and he automatically picked up the receiver. But, before he could say 'Hello', he heard Dave's voice answering, and then a woman's voice. That didn't bother him. No, what bothered John was the way that Dave replied when he heard that woman's voice. "You must have ESP, because I really need you now."

Oh, yeah, that had been all that John needed to hear. He slowly replaced the receiver, feeling more alone than ever before and wondering just what was going to happen now with Dave. John’s earlier decision that going for a walk was out of the question was now revised. There was no way that he could stay here now.


****************************************************

As the echo of the slammed door faded away, Dave also felt his anger beginning to subside. Dave had really thought that he and Carter were past the past, that they were both adult enough to not go bringing up the bad things, such as what Dave had been forced into doing before he'd kidnapped Carter. But, no, they weren't. Or at least, John wasn't that mature. The phone rang, and Dave answered it, then smiled as he heard Lisa's voice.

"Hey, Dave. You got a minute?"

"You must have ESP," Dave replied as he sat down on the edge of the bed. "because I really need you now."

"Oh? Something's happened with John?" Lisa sounded worried.

"No. Yes. He's okay, if that's what you're asking. His physical therapy went well today, and the therapist thinks that he'll be able to use crutches all of the time by next week. So, that's not the problem. It's a bit more personal."

"Do you want to talk about it? Considering that I am the mother of your son, I'd say that I could handle 'personal' from you," Dave could hear the smile in her voice. And the concern, too, and that made him feel a little bit better.

"Yeah. The stabbing put a stop to our sex life, at least for a while. We've been getting by with just oral sex, and touching, stuff like that, but nothing more strenuous. So, tonight I get home from work and John tells me that he'd like to get back to doing that, which was great news. But then he started on about how since I was more 'worldly' and all, that maybe I knew some positions we could try, because most of the usual ones were too painful or uncomfortable for him. How could he just throw my past in my face that way, Lisa? I thought he loved me, you know? I love him, and I'd never throw his past in his face that way. I've been here for him, been patient, been considerate. And this is how he pays me back? By asking me to delve into my whoring tricks to help him get off?"

"Whoa," Lisa chided, "Slow down and back up a bit. I only know John from what you've told me about him, but based on that, I don't think he'd have said that. Now, just what did he say? His exact words this time, Dave."

Feeling unduly chastened, Dave sighed, but he did pause long enough to recall the conversation. "He said that he wanted me in him, and that he'd been looking at some porn sites on the net, to see if there were any positions that he could be in that wouldn't hurt, but that there weren't any. He then said that I was the worldly one here, and did I have any ideas."

"And out of that you got that he was asking you to recall the days you worked as a male prostitute?" Lisa's voice sounded amused and Dave immediately felt defensive.

"He said I was the 'worldly' one, Lisa. What else could that mean?"

"It could have meant that since he's only been with one guy, that he's not knowledgeable enough about gay sex to figure out what wouldn't hurt him. What about the tone of his voice? Was he taunting you? Did he sound accusing?"

Dave once more had to take the time to recall the conversation, and as it came back to him, his shoulders slumped as he saw that Carter hadn't been accusing or taunting. "No. To either question. He sounded sincere, and he was blushing. Damn."

"Indeed." Lisa was then silent for a few moments, and during that time Dave found himself wondering just what it would take for him to make Carter forget his harsh words. And the way he'd stormed off and slammed the door.

"Thanks," Dave said. "While this wasn't exactly the help that I'd been expecting, I'm glad that you called. You don't happen to know any surefire way for me to make this up to him, do you?"

"Aside from telling you to delve into your past and pull a few tricks out of your days as a male prostitute and getting 'in him' the way he wants, no." Dave could hear the laughter in Lisa's voice.

"Funny. Not. So, what 'were' you calling about?"

"I've got to go to a conference and I was wondering if you two would be able to keep Dylan while I'm gone. I think it's about time he met John, don't you? But, a meeting between them can be arranged for another time if you don't think the two of you can handle him right now."

"I'll have to check with John on that," Dave replied. He'd love to have Dylan there in Chicago, but he wasn't sure that Carter would want to be running around after a three year old child. "Give me the details, and I'll get back to you either tonight or tomorrow, will that be okay?"

"That'll be fine," Lisa replied. She then gave Dave the details of her upcoming trip. He wrote them down, thanked her again for calling and then asked if Dylan was there. She put Dylan on the line, and father and son talked for a few minutes. Dave would have liked to talk longer, but he didn't want to run up a long distance bill for Lisa, besides, there was only so much that Dylan would talk about over a phone. He much preferred talking someone's ears off in person.

By the time Dave ended the call and headed for the bedroom door, he was smiling once more. And his brain was going over various positions that he and Carter could try out. He opened the door and stepped back into the living room, but his smile faded as he saw that the room was empty.

"John?" Dave called out, thinking that maybe Carter was in the bathroom, but there was no answer, and the door to that room was ajar, too. And then Dave noticed that the walker, which had been near the couch, was now gone.

Carter was gone.

Dave stood in the center of the living room, feeling lost and alone. Sure, he'd snapped at Carter, but it hadn't been nasty enough to make Carter want to leave, right? And with Carter still recovering from his surgeries, he would know that he couldn't go far. Unless he hailed a cab or something, but wasn't his wallet on the dresser in the bedroom? Dave's feet finally moved, and he went back in there, confirming that yes, Carter's wallet was still sitting on the dresser. Which meant that wherever Carter had gone, he had no money. And he'd been wearing sweats, so there was no pocket in which to put his keys.

If Carter didn't bother to take his keys with him, then that would mean that he didn't intend to come back. This wasn't good, and Dave headed for the door, grabbing his own keys as he grabbed his coat. The elevator in the building was slow, which often made it nice for Dave that Carter's apartment was on the second floor and not any higher, taking the stairs always took less time than taking the elevator. But with the walker, Carter had no choice but to take the slow way, and Dave was pretty sure that he could catch up to Carter.

The door slammed behind Dave as he left the apartment, but he didn't pay it any mind as he practically ran to the stairwell. Taking the steps two and three at a time, Dave was to the ground floor in less than a minute. The small lobby was empty and quiet, so Dave headed on outside, pausing on the sidewalk to look both ways for signs of his fleeing lover. Dave wasn't sure what he'd say when he found Carter, but he was pretty sure that asking him if he were out of his mind leaving like that wasn't the best thing to say right now. Nope, much better to just apologize, say that he loved him and get him back inside...and into bed.

The big question though, was would Carter forgive him and come back inside? And if so, would he still be horny? Okay, so that wasn't really a nice thought, Dave chided himself. But, it was an honest one. They'd been waiting so long to resume their sex life, and now, well now, it looked as if Dave might have screwed it all up, no pun intended, he told himself.

***********************************************************

There was a small playground across the street from John’s apartment building, and he’d headed over there, unable to stand the idea of just sitting in the living room to wait for whatever was going to happen with Dave. It didn’t matter if Dave planned to come back out of the bedroom to break up with him, or if he would come out with some story about needing to go out to clear his mind. Either way left John alone, and if he was going to be alone, then it would be on his terms, dammitt, and not Dave Malucci’s.

John had just gotten settled on one of the swings when he saw Dave rush out of the building. He watched impassively as Dave looked each way down the street, then just stood there. John reasoned that Dave was looking for him, and it was tempting to call out to him, to get his attention. But then John remembered what was in store for him, and he remained silent.


And John remained silent as he watched Dave shrug into his jacket and take off down the street at a trot. He even remained silent as a tear or two rolled down his own face. Dave was definitely in a hurry to leave him, John thought. Although he supposed that Dave would first be all attentive, acting as if he cared that John had left without leaving a note. John shivered, then remembered that he’d been in so much of a hurry that he’d not only left behind his coat, but also his wallet and keys. Oh, yeah, great way to handle things, he chided himself. Now he couldn’t even get back into his own apartment, provided he didn’t freeze to death right here on the kiddie swings. He supposed that he could try to awaken the super, and get into the apartment that way, but John really didn’t want to deal with the man’s questions about why he was outside without keys or coat. The man would look at him with pity in his eyes, and John knew he couldn’t deal with pity right now.

Dave came back into sight, pausing once more in front of their building and looking in the opposite direction from which he’d just come. “Hell,” John muttered. Might as well get this over with.

Sighing, John lifted his arm up into the air, “Dave!” He called out, and Dave must have heard him because he stopped and tilted his head to one side, listening for more. “Over here.”

Dave saw him then, and he headed across the street at a dead run, and was panting when he came to a stop by the swings. “You scared the Hell out of me, Hoss.”

“Don’t call me that,” John said. Okay, so that hadn’t been what he’d planned to say to Dave. He’d planned to just ask for his key back and then go back inside, leaving Dave here to follow or go as he pleased. But, that name…that name just took him back to his college days, and being lonely and scared and…and no, John didn’t want to be called that name ever again.

Dave frowned, “Sorry. And not just about that, but for walking out on you. I misunderstood you, babe, and I’m so sorry.”

John looked at Dave. The guy looked sincere, but John was pretty certain that sincerity was needed when one was about to break up with their lover or whatever it was that John had been to Dave these past weeks. Toy, maybe? Diversion?

John shrugged. “Whatever. I’d like my key back, please. I left mine in there and I’ll need it when I’m ready to go back inside.”

Dave smiled then, “Oh, no problem. We’ll just go back in together. Hey! You’re shivering!” Dave began to take off his coat.

“I’m not cold,” John lied. “And I don’t want you coming back inside with me. You might as well go on home, Dave. Whatever it was that you were doing here, it’s over.” John looked directly at Dave, and while a part of him felt good about taking the initiative here, and breaking up with Dave before Dave could break up with him, another part of him was dying inside. He’d really and truly thought that Dave was ‘the one’. He’d never really imagined that he was just…just a passing fancy for Dave.

Dave froze, his coat half on, half off, and the smile had gone from his face. “What? John, babe…I’m sorry that I misunderstood you. I know that you weren’t throwing my past in my face, and I’m sorry that I overreacted. We can go back inside, get warm, and talk about it.”

“There’s nothing to talk about, Dave. Just give me my key and go. You can come back to get your things later…I can’t deal with that right now. I’m not what you need and I know it. You don’t have to sneak behind my back.”

“Sneak behind your…???” Dave looked confused as he sat down in the swing next to John’s. “I don’t understand what you mean. *You* are all that I need, babe.”

“Right. That’s why you were so glad to hear *her* voice when she called. You need her, go to her. I won’t make a scene or anything, if that’s what you’ve been afraid of.”

Dave laughed, and John looked at him sharply. “I don’t see…”

“That was Lisa. My ex-girlfriend? I told you about her, and about Dylan.”

Lisa. John knew about her, but had never heard her voice. “Lisa?”

Dave nodded. “She was calling to see if I could watch Dylan for a few days while she’s at a conference. She’s a shrink, remember? I was so glad to hear her because…well, because I thought you were talking about my time as a prostitute, and she made me realize that I’d been an ass, and you hadn’t meant that at all.”

“Oh.” John felt like an ass then. He’d overheard something and let his imagination get the better of him. He looked up as he felt Dave touching his shoulder.

“I think we both jumped to the wrong conclusions tonight, babe. So, how about we go on back inside and get warm.” When Dave had sat down, his coat had still been half off, and he went on and removed it the rest of the way, then got up from the swing and placed the coat over John’s shoulders. “If we do get around to looking for a good position tonight, then I don’t want to find that anything important has been frozen off.”

John smiled up at Dave, then put his arms through the sleeves. “Me, either. And if you walk back in with me, then you’re going to catch a chill, since I can only move but so fast with this walker. Why don’t you go on ahead and maybe put on some milk for hot cocoa? I’ll be right behind you.”

Dave nodded, and the smile on his face did as much to warm John as did Dave’s coat. “Just don’t take too long, okay?”

“I won’t. I’m pretty interested in finding out if we can find a position that works. Or maybe even two.” John said, his smile now a full-blown grin.

“Two works for me,” Dave replied. He bent down and kissed John fully on the lips. It was a kiss full of not only love, but promise of what was to come once they were both inside.

John got to his feet as Dave headed back across the street. Even though it was cold, it wasn’t icy out, so John was able to get across the street rather quickly, and without worrying about the walker or his feet slipping on any ice. By the time he reached the apartment, he was more anxious than tired, but this time his anxiousness was due to the idea of making love with Dave, and not because of thinking that Dave was leaving him.

Dave had left the door ajar, and John made it inside easily enough. Once inside, he locked the door, then made his way over to the couch. He was just about to sit down when Dave stepped out of the kitchen, a big grin on his face.

“Why don’t you go on into the bedroom? I’ll bring the cocoa in to you and we can relax in bed with it while going over positions.”

John grinned back. “Sounds good to me. And should I also strip while waiting for you?”

Dave’s eyebrows rose, but he slowly shook his head. “I don’t think so. I want the pleasure of undressing you. Being with you…it’s like Christmas and my Birthday all rolled into one, only you’re the best present I ever got.”

John laughed as he headed on into the bedroom. “I feel the same way about you, Dr. Dave. Undressing you is half the fun.”

Dave wriggled his eyebrows. “Never let it be said that Dr. Dave denied you your fun. I’ll be right in, the milk’s almost to a boil.”

As Dave disappeared into the kitchen, John made his way into the bedroom. Even if they didn’t find that perfect position tonight, John was pretty certain that they’d have a good time with the search. And to think that he almost threw it all away by jumping to the wrong conclusion! Never again, he vowed, would he just assume something like that. Dave’s love was far too important to risk on an assumption.

To be continued…
Chapter Seventeen by Cathy Roberts
Author's Notes:
The story will now go into a more AU direction than it was already headed.
Carter had been on crutches for about a week, and Dave felt that Carter was making good progress with them. But, not as much progress as Carter seemed to feel he was making. The guy was dropping hints left and right about going back to work. Dave could understand Carter’s desire to get back to a regular routine and to once more be doing something instead of sitting around the apartment, but he felt that going back there now was just too much for Carter to handle. And that wasn’t just his personal opinion, but his professional one as well.

Carter’s personal and professional opinions were totally different than Dave’s, and this was causing a lot of tension between them. Each man felt that the other was relying heavily on personal opinion and not so much on the professional one.

For Dave, the issue was one that could easily be resolved by Carter’s physician. All the man needed to do was to tell Carter that it was too soon for him to be going back to the ER. But did the man do that? Hell, no! Instead he told Carter that he could go back at any time, providing that he felt physically up to it. Of course, upon hearing that, Carter claimed to be feeling fine.

As if, Dave thought as he brought the meat tenderizer down hard on the flank steak he was prepping for their dinner. Carter couldn’t put any weight at all on his left leg, he tired easily, and if he exerted himself, then he was often left in pain. Things that Carter conveniently forgot to mention when he was telling the doctor that he felt ‘fine’. He also didn’t tell the man about the nightmares that were still plaguing him, preventing him from getting a decent night’s sleep.

Dave looked over his shoulder as he heard the now familiar sound of the crutches on the kitchen floor. Carter looked happy and Dave had a sinking feeling that Carter’s happiness was going to make Dave anything but happy.

“I just got off the phone with Weaver,” Carter said as he came to a stop beside Dave and then leaned against the counter. “She said that I can just show up when I feel ready to come back to work and that I don’t need to set it up with her first. She did insist on short shifts to start out with, and I was thinking of giving it a try tomorrow.”

Dave looked away from Carter’s hopeful look and brought the tenderizer down hard on the beef. “That doesn’t surprise me any. You’ve been anxious to get back to work since you got the crutches. What does surprise me is your insistence on turning a blind eye to the fact that while you might be mentally ready to go back to work, your body and emotions aren’t yet healed enough for it.”

Carter sighed. “Dave, we’ve been over this a hundred times. It’s not like I’ll be working traumas or anything that would really tax me. And the sooner I go back, the better off I’ll be.”

“It hasn’t even been six weeks since the ostomy was taken down,” Dave tossed the tenderizer into the sink. “Babe, you had major surgery the first time, and taking down the ostomy wasn’t a walk in the park. Your body needs time to fully heal. Can’t you give it to the end of the month before going back to work?” Dave would really prefer for Carter to wait until May, but he knew that asking for that would be really pushing it. He knew that Carter wasn’t seeing anyone about the nightmares, and he was hoping that he could get Carter to see a therapist between now and him going back to the ER. He himself had had a hard time walking into Curtain 3 after the stabbing, and he’d not been the victim. Dave worried about how Carter was going to react the first time he had to go back into that room.

“I’m tired of arguing about this, Dave,” Carter said.

Dave turned to fully face Carter. “That’s because you *are* tired,” Dave replied. “You haven’t slept all the way through the night since…well, you haven’t done that at all, John. If it’s not nightmares waking you, then you just can’t fall asleep. Do you think I don’t notice when you’re wide-awake beside me?” Dave was feeling extremely frustrated over Carter’s stubbornness on this matter, and he knew that that frustration had to be coming out in his tone of voice. He just hoped that Carter saw it as frustration and not as something else.


“And the sooner I face things, the easier things like sleeping will get for me,” Carter replied, looking somber. “When I close my eyes…” He shook his head. “I *need* to go back to work and face that room, so that maybe I’ll stop seeing it the way it was that night.”

Dave sighed and leaned back against the counter. “I understand what you’re saying, babe, I really do. I just don’t think that right now is the best time for you to be trying to put your demons to rest. Get your body fully healed, and then go after those demons. I know that you’re tired of being stuck here in the apartment, but I really don’t think that going back to work now is the best thing for you.”

Dave could tell by the look in Carter’s eyes that his words were falling on deaf ears. Carter had made his decision, and that’s all there was to it. There were times when Dave almost admired Carter’s stubborn streak, but not right now when Carter’s health was at stake.

So, it was time to hit below the belt. “So, this means that you’ve changed your mind about Dylan coming to visit? If so, then that’s all right. We can go back and stay at my place, and I’m sure that Weaver will let me have some time off so that he won’t be alone. And then once you’re home, and have some time to rest, we can come over to visit. He’s really looking forward to meeting you,” Dave kept his voice pleasant, even though inside he was beating himself up over using his son to bend Carter to his will. Dave knew that Carter would never renege on his agreement to watch Dylan during the day while he was in Chicago, although he was a bit surprised that Carter hadn’t realized the date and that Dylan would be arriving in two days. Not that Carter had forgotten about Dylan’s visit, the man had been talking about it nearly every day since Dave had called Lisa back to tell her that it was okay for her to drop Dylan off with them so she could attend her conference. The conference was in Milwaukee, so in a way, Chicago was on the way. Lisa and Dylan would take the train from Detroit to Chicago, and stay overnight. Then Lisa would leave the next morning, giving Dave and Carter a full week to spend with Dylan. As much as Dave was looking forward to spending time with his son, Carter was just as excited, doing his best to plan things that he hoped Dylan would find fun. So, no, Dave was pretty certain that Carter hadn’t forgotten about the visit, but he had the feeling that Carter didn’t realize the date.

When Carter’s face paled at hearing Dave’s words, Dave knew that he’d hit home in more ways than one. As Carter seemed to slump in his crutches, Dave knew he’d won, but he couldn’t help but feel a little guilty about his methods.

“I forgot…” Carter started, and then he looked up at Dave, an earnest look on his face. “I didn’t forget about Dylan coming, Dave, honest. I just didn’t realize that it was this week.”

Dave walked over to Carter, wrapping his arms around him. “I know you didn’t forget, babe. Look, how about a compromise? You spend the week running around with Dylan as planned and then when he goes home, if you feel that you’re physically ready to go back to work, then I won’t argue the point. But, if after spending a week with a rambunctious five year old has you worn out, then you agree to not argue the point with me, and you stay on medical leave for at least two more weeks after that. Deal?”

Carter seemed to think about it for a few moments and then he nodded. “Deal.” Carter then smiled as he moved his face closer to Dave’s. “Seal the deal with kiss?”

Dave’s answer to that was to press his lips against Carter’s, giving him a thorough kiss as well as a pretty good grope, and making himself hard in the process. Winning always made Dave horny, and this was no exception, even if it wasn’t a sports-related win. “How about I get dinner in the oven and we go into the bedroom and seal the deal a bit more fully?”

Carter grinned. “I like that idea, although why risk burning dinner by going into the bedroom? We can seal the deal right here, can’t we? Besides, we’re going to need to get in as much loving as we can before Dylan gets here.”

Dave frowned, not sure what Carter meant, and then it slowly dawned on him. “You think we won’t be able to make love while Dylan’s here?”

“I don’t see how we can. Yes, he’ll be sleeping on the couch, but we’ll just be behind a flimsy door, and it’s a door that we’re not used to locking, Dave. We can’t risk him waking up in the middle of the night, confused and needing you and then walking in on us.”

Dave was trying to come up with a good reply to that, when Carter got an intense look on his face. This in itself wouldn’t alarm Dave, but then Carter slowly sucked in his lower lip, a sure indication that Carter was about to say something that Dave knew he didn’t want to hear.

“You know, it might be better if I sleep on the couch while Dylan’s here, and he stays with you in the bedroom. He’ll be more comfortable with you,” Carter said, his eyes firmly on Dave’s collar bone. Oh, yeah, Dave thought, eye avoidance. Yet another clue that Carter knew that he knew that Dave wouldn’t be happy with what he was saying.

Well, Dave was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to be sleeping with his son during his stay, and he was also pretty sure that he and Carter were going to keep on making love during that time, too. But, seeing as how he’d just won this round of keeping Carter from rushing back to work, Dave didn’t really see any sense in pushing things. There’d be time later to prove to Carter that he was once again wrong.

Dave slowly smiled, “We’ll talk about that after dinner,” he said, once more pulling Carter closer to him. “Why don’t you go get what we need while I get dinner in the oven? If we’re to take advantage of having no child around, then I don’t want to waste any time scrambling around for condoms.”

Carter nodded and raised his head, and Dave took that as an invitation for another kiss. The way that Carter’s lips parted so quickly for him told Dave that he’d interpreted that movement correctly. Yeah, he was getting pretty good at figuring out how Carter’s mind and heart worked. Well, maybe not so good at the whole working part, but he definitely knew how to get Carter back on the right track when that mind of his deviated from Dave’s set plans.


As Carter headed out of the kitchen, Dave went back to the flank steak, placing it in a baking dish and then thoroughly washing his hands before he began to season it and add a few onion slices to the dish. Dinner was going to be simple: rosemary and thyme seasoned flank steak with onions, boiled small potatoes and glazed carrots. The carrots were going to be baked, and were already in their dish, and the potatoes would boil up in no time at all, so once they were done *sealing the deal*, they wouldn’t have to wait long before having dinner.

Dave had just closed the oven door when Carter returned to the kitchen, condoms and lube in hand and a grin on his face. It was a grin that Dave liked seeing, because it promised so many good things within the next hour or so. He took the condoms and lube from Carter and placed them on the table.

“Floor, counter or table?” Dave asked as he reached out and began to unbutton Carter’s shirt. “Or all three?”

*************************************************

The kitchen was awash in a rather appetizing combination of aromas. The smell of dinner cooking was mingling nicely with the smell of sex that hung over the room, or so John thought.

He took a deep breath and looked up at Dave, feeling more than a bit lethargic and very comfortable in the nest of tangled clothes that they’d made on the kitchen floor. John had already come twice, with a slight intermission between the orgasms to give Dave his own mind-blowing orgasm, but Dave didn’t seem to be letting any time elapse between John’s last orgasm and whatever it was that Dave was now planning. He stood there, looking down at John, eyes dark with the same desire that had been in them since he had reached out to undress John an eternity ago. John, for his part, was simply enjoying the view. Dave’s hard cocked bobbed with every breath the man took, and there was a sheen of sweat coating Dave’s entire body. Some of it might have been due to the heat emanating from the oven, but most of it was from what they’d been doing. Or rather, what Dave had been doing, since John didn’t really feel that he’d done all that much work. How much effort did it take to hold still while someone ravished your body and brought you to completion? Or to rest on ones knees and haunches while devouring Dave? Judging by the sweat that was still on John’s body, more effort than he thought.

John licked his lips, wanting to offer to suck Dave dry again, but John had a feeling that Dave was after something different this time around. It was tempting, too tempting, really, to reach up to stroke and tease Dave’s cock, but John’s hand was stilled by the look in Dave’s eyes, and he let his arm drop back down to his belly.

“Are you going to just stand there all night or are you finally going to fuck me?” John asked, never taking his eyes from Dave’s gaze.

“Oh, I’m going to fuck you, don’t worry about that,” Dave replied, his voice low and husky, a nice counterpoint to John’s own languid tone. “I just need a moment or else this will be over before I get fully inside of you, and I want to last as long as I can for you, babe.”

“Oh…” John smiled. “Well, then by all means, take your time.” John shifted his hips slightly and then moved his legs, parting his thighs as far as they could go. “Because I think we both know just how much I like having you fully inside of me.”

Dave’s eyes darkened and he slowly moved to his knees between John’s legs. He reached out and ran his hands over John’s thighs. “Yes, we do know that, don’t we?”

Dave reached over and picked up the bottle of lube, squeezing out a good amount into his palm. John watched, dimly noting that they’d already used quite a bit of it and that they needed to buy more soon. John’s cock and balls were still slick from earlier, when Dave had been using his hands to stroke him to orgasm while using his mouth and tongue elsewhere, simulating intercourse. John was eager to have his body reach the point where he could kneel between Dave’s legs and rim him to the point where he was incoherent. But, while John could handle being on his knees long enough to suck Dave off, he wasn’t yet to the point where he could spend his leisure in that position, so that goal was something to work towards.

Dave rubbed his hands together, then he wrapped his hand around John’s flaccid member, giving it a squeeze. “Harder…” John whispered, his eyes still on Dave’s face.

Dave slowly smiled as he increased the pressure of his grip, “Don’t worry, babe. We might not have been doing this for months or something, but I’ve figured out what you like…what turns you on the most…what makes you beg for more…makes you scream because it feels so good…”

John let his head fall back, his eyes closing as delicious feelings of pleasure began to course through his body, each and every one of them originating in his groin and then his chest as Dave began to suck and nip at his nipples. Dave was right – they hadn’t been lovers for a long time, yet Dave knew just what to do to satisfy him. From the words to his movements, Dave managed to find all the right things, and John could only hope that he was doing the same things for Dave. He took it as a good sign that he was able to make Dave beg from time to time, but there were times when John still felt a bit insecure about their relationship, and feared that Dave was just faking things so that he wouldn’t hurt John’s feelings. Then there were the feelings that cropped up about not feeling normal. Was it normal to like it when your lover talked dirty to you? Was it normal to like it to hurt a little bit? Although, John did have to admit that he’d liked that even when he’d been with women, so maybe that part *was* normal. Problem was John didn’t have anyone to ask. People were still trying to convince him to see a therapist about the stabbing, but John didn’t quite feel comfortable talking to anyone who worked at County. And if he did, then he sure as Hell wasn’t going to talk about his sex life!

John’s introspective thoughts crashed to a halt as he felt a jolt of pleasure mingled with a pinch of pain, and he opened his eyes in time to see that Dave had entered him. John’s eyes went from looking to where they were now joined to looking at Dave’s face. Dave’s eyes were now closed, and there was a look of pure bliss on his face. So, yeah, okay, that wasn’t being faked.

John slowly smiled and then he cocked his hips toward Dave, his smile growing as that simple movement made Dave gasp.

Dave’s hands moved to John’s hips, gripping him firmly as Dave opened his eyes and looked down. “Damn, but what you do to me, babe…” Dave then looked to where they were joined and he began to move, slowly pushing his cock inside of John. “I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing us like this…your perfect ass just sucking my cock inside of you…so tight…so damn tight…”

John moved again, doing what he could to help get all of Dave’s cock buried inside his body. “Yeah…” John moaned, “You feel so good, Dave…so perfect…”

“Tell me,” Dave said, his voice demanding. “Tell me how it feels, how you feel.” His cock continued its slow movement.

“It feels…” John struggled to find the right words. Using slang was something he’d never been allowed to do, and God forbid he should ever utter anything dirty within earshot of his Gamma! Still, John knew that Dave liked this kind of talk, too. Knew that it turned him on just as much as it turned John on to hear Dave saying those things.

“Your cock fills me up…makes me want more of it…all of it…yeah, just like that,” John said as he watched more of Dave’s cock disappear into his an…no, not his anus or rectum, but his ass. He could do this for Dave. “I like watching you fill my ass…watching you fuck me…God, Dave…just shove it in already! I need you to fuck me!”

Dave grinned. “You know that I have a hard time turning you down when you not only manage to beg, but to also demand it at the same time.” And with one shove, Dave got his cock settled completely inside. John could feel Dave’s balls coming to rest against his ass. Balls that were heavy and big and more than ready to come.

“Shall I stay like this, babe?” Dave asked, a shit-eating grin on his face now. “Or should I move?”

“Fuck me,” John growled, his own hips now in motion. “You know you want to fuck me right through this floor, admit it.”

“Oh, I admit it, Carter…I admit it. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like hearing you begging me to fuck you. Which is something that I’m not hearing right now.” That grin seemed to get broader. “I’ve heard demands, but no real begging. So…it’s up to you, Carter…I can stay just like this, or I can fuck you. Which shall it be?”


“Fuck you…” John muttered, and damn if that didn’t make Dave chuckle! Nope, couldn’t have Dave chuckling, not now. “Please, Dave…fuck me…I need to feel your cock fucking me…please?”

“That’s a bit better…” Dave then winked at him. “I think it’ll do for now, but you’re going to have to do a bit better than that next time.” Dave then quickly pulled back, until just the tip of his cock was left within John, and then they both began to move together, giving both of them what they wanted and needed. Their bodies slapped against one another, both of them making noises as their movements grew frantic and even more intense. One admiring the tightness and heat of the other’s body and the other admiring the length and thickness of the other’s cock. Both filled with love and desire for the other, a bit more of the desire right then.

John’s cock was once more hard, and Dave was alternating between stroking it and squeezing John’s balls as he thrust in and out. John’s hands were on Dave’s arms, but holding on tightly and not just resting there, “Harder…” he demanded, not caring if the harder action was the fucking or the stroking or the squeezing, as long as something was done harder, felt more intense. “Harder…”

And Dave did everything harder, or so it felt to John. It was no surprise then, that when Dave cried out that he was coming, John was right there with him, his third orgasm feeling as intense as the first one had been, and if they didn’t have the neighbors below them hitting the ceiling and demanding that they keep it down, then John was going to start to wonder about their hearing!

“God…” Dave said, nearly panting as he let his body settle over John’s, his lips seeking out John’s mouth. John lifted his head, more or less meeting Dave halfway, his hands now resting on Dave’s shoulders.

“That was good,” John said as that kiss ended, already looking forward to another one once Dave had handled the condom issue. “Very, very good.”

Dave grinned, “What can I say? You know that I aim to please you. Hold on a sec.” Dave reached between them as he pulled out, and John once more felt incredibly empty. But before that emptiness could move from John’s body to his heart and soul, Dave was leaning down again, kissing him tenderly.

The buzzer on the over went off, and Dave broke off the kiss, laughing. “Now, that’s what I call good timing. You okay here while I get dinner out of the over or do you want to get up?”

“I’m good here,” John replied. His muscles still felt loose, and the prospect of having to move was not one that John wanted to even consider. Besides, if Dave finished up with dinner while naked, then John would have an excellent view from where he was currently lounging.

Dave placed a quick peck of a kiss on John’s mouth, then got to his feet. He did pause to look down, licking his lips and shaking his head. “Damn, but I’m so lucky.”

John chuckled, and was going to reply that *he* was the lucky one, but he just didn’t seem to have the energy for that. It was while he was watching Dave bend over to open the over that John’s body gave up the struggle to stay awake, and John closed his eyes, thinking that a short nap before dinner would be a very good idea. A part of him piped up that this was what Dave was talking about when he said that John wasn’t physically ready to go back to work yet. But another part of John was quick to retort that having Dave Malucci make love to a person was far more intense than anything he could encounter at work, so shut up. Besides, it wasn’t as if he was after a two hour nap or something…just a few minutes, until Dave had dinner ready. Anybody who’d just been ravished that thoroughly would need a power nap.

John’s power nap was interrupted as he sensed someone or something settling right above him. He slowly opened his eyes to see that Dave was straddling him, a grin on his face and a plate in his hands. He also realized that there was something beneath his head, pillowing it comfortably while also raising it a bit.

“I figured that since you were too weak to move, that I’d better bring dinner to you. Open up.” Dave held a steak laden fork out toward him. “I’ve got enough on here for the two of us.”

John wasn’t so sure that he liked the idea of being fed, but then his stomach growled and hey, his arms were still feeling like limp macaroni, so why not take advantage of Dave’s good mood? He opened his mouth and took the bite that was offered, chewing it slowly as Dave also took a bite of the steak.

“It’s good,” John replied once he’d swallowed.

“You know, you say that every night,” Dave replied as he speared a carrot and held it out toward John. “I know you said that you’re not that good of a cook, but I can’t be *that* good all the time.”

John grinned as he thought about why his arms and legs were still feeling so loose. “Oh, trust me. You *are* that good all the time!” He bit the carrot off of the fork.

“Brat. You know that I was talking about cooking. As for the other,” Dave speared another carrot, “I’m only that good because of you. Pleasing you just seems to bring out the best in me.” He ate the carrot, then fed another piece of beef to John.

As John chewed, he thought about Dave’s words, and how he felt the same way. He wanted to please Dave, to make him happy and satisfied. With Dave, he’d done things that he’d never in a million years imagined himself doing, such as sucking another guy’s cock. And while he hadn’t yet rimmed Dave, he intended to. And yeah, at no point in his life had he ever thought that he’d not only think about doing something like that, but that he’d be looking forward to doing it! And being taken by Dave…nope, he’d never imagined that he’d like being fucked by another guy. But for Dave…for Dave, John would do anything.

“Dave?” John asked just as Dave had taken another bite. Something else had occurred to him, and despite the fear that was balling up in his stomach over that idea, it was something that John wanted to mention.

“Hmmm?” Dave replied.

“I think that I…well, that I’m in…what I mean is that I think I’m falling for you. Falling in love with you.”

Dave had been about to spear something else with the fork, but he’d stopped at John’s words. John felt that fear begin to grow. Had he just ruined things between them by saying the wrong thing? Had he rushed things by admitting how he felt?

Dave set the plate and fork aside and he leaned over, placing both hands on the floor to either side of John’s head. He slowly smiled. “Do you now? Well, I think that’s a good thing, because I feel the same way. And I have to add that I’m very much looking forward to finding out just how far we’re both going to go with that love.”

Dave wasn’t upset! He was feeling the same way! Oh, man…this was better than John had ever hoped it could be. “Me, too,” he said as he looked up into Dave’s eyes and noticing that they were once more dark with desire. “Me, too.”

They kissed, a lingering, toe curling kiss that left them both breathless and half hard. “That can all be heated, right?” John asked.

“Definitely. What do you have in mind?” Dave asked as he pushed the plate further away.

“I’ve noticed that whatever you put beneath my head has put me in a really advantageous position.” Seeing Dave on his hands and knees had given John an idea about how he could rim Dave without worrying about hurting himself. “Think you can turn around for me?”

“You want to sixty-nine it?” Dave asked as he began to move as requested.

“Not quite, although it might just end up that way,” John admitted. “I’d like to try using my mouth somewhere else.”

Dave came to a stop and looked back at Carter, a hint of surprise and pleasure on his face. “You’re planning on rimming me?”

John smiled and reached up to smooth his hands over Dave’s ass. “You got it. Now, if you could inch backward just a bit, I think it’ll be perfect.”

“You sure, babe? I don’t want you doing something…” Dave’s voice broke off with a moan as John swept his tongue along the space between Dave’s balls and his opening.

“Any other questions?” John asked with a grin. “Or can I just get on with what I’ve got planned?”

“Oh, by all means, continue with your plans. Far be it from me to ask for you to change your plans!”

John would have had a nice retort for that, but the sudden feeling of Dave’s wet and hot mouth on his cock pretty much chased those words away. Instead, John ended up using his actions to do his talking for him. As plans went, this one was right up there with the best of them, John thought as he began to make Dave moan.

To be continued…
Chapter Eighteen by Cathy Roberts
Dave grinned as he watched Lisa and Dylan exit the train. That grin
grew broader once Dylan spotted him.

"Daddy!" Dylan yelled out, immediately tugging on Lisa's hand. Dave
saw Lisa say something to Dylan, and then the boy was running across
the platform toward him, his five year old legs carrying him rather
quickly.

"Hey, buddy!" Dave said as he scooped his son up and over his
shoulder. The boy erupted into giggles, his legs still in motion, yet
never coming close to hitting Dave.

"Daddy! Where is he?" Dylan asked as he squirmed around until he was
securely within Dave's arms and their heads were level with one
another. "Where's John? Mama said I get to meet John. Is that him?"

Even though John wasn't there, Dave still looked in the direction that
Dylan pointed, then shook his head. "That's not John. He's waiting
back at his apartment for us. He still has to use crutches to help
him walk, and there wouldn't have been enough room in the Jeep for all
of us, your luggage and his crutches. Your Mom explained to you about
John's accident, didn't she?"

"Yes, I did," Lisa said as she reached the duo, giving Dave a look of
reproach. "All of it, and he knows that it wasn't an accident, Dave.
And what else do you know, Dylan?"

Dylan made a face of exasperation. "Not to talks bout it front of
John cause it's a sensible matter. I'm *not* a baby, Mama. I knows
when not to talk and when to talk."

"I think that's supposed to be sensitive," Dave commented, and despite
his son's young age, he knew that Dylan would remember that. Not to
brag any, but his son was one smart cookie, probably due to Lisa's
genes and good sense.

Dylan gave Dave what could only be interpreted as a `that's what I
said' look, and Dave was wise enough to let the matter drop. "John's
really looking forward to meeting both of you," Dave said. "He's got
all kinds of fun things planned, and I'm even going to be able to get
a day or two off so I can come along, too. Can't have the two of you
guys having all the fun."

Dave was surprised to see his son frowning at that. "Mama said you'll
be home at night to play with, an' I can play with you then. I gets
to play with John in the days."

Dave looked pointedly at Lisa, who simply smiled as she shrugged.
"Why don't we go to baggage claim?" she said. "I'm sure that the
three of you can work out something before the week is out. I think
that baggage claim is this way."

Not wanting to argue the point, especially in front of Dylan, Dave
followed Lisa. She slowed at one point, and Dave saw that she was
glaring at this one woman who was also headed toward baggage claim.
The woman noticed the glare and reddened, then hurried on ahead.

"What's up?" Dave asked as Lisa resumed walking.

"Nothing," Lisa replied at the same time that Dylan declared, "That
woman said Mama was bad for taking me here to stay with you an' John
cause you two are sinful fornaculators and will burn in that word I
can't say, and she should be ashamed to be sposing me to such filth."

Dave came to a stop and looked at Lisa, his mouth slightly agape.
"She said that?"

"It was nothing, Dave. Just an old biddy who has a closed mind."

"But, Mama, you tolded her off but good, an' said she was a…"

"Don't worry about what I said, Dylan," Lisa quickly cut her son off.
"I spoke harshly and shouldn't have. She can't help it if she's got
a closed mind."

Dave slowly smiled, having a pretty good idea just what it was that
Lisa had said to the older woman. "I see. And just what brought on
her words about us?"

"She saw that Dylan was excited about coming to Chicago and asked him
why. And your son said…"

This time it was Dylan doing the interrupting. "I tolded her I was
coming here to visit with my Daddy and his boyfriend, John. An'
that's when the ol' biddy got ugly on us. Miss Vicki says that it's a
good thing for me to be able to meet John."

Dave knew where Dylan had picked up the phrase `old biddy', and he
grinned at Lisa at hearing that. "Miss Vicki's your teacher, right?"
he asked, thinking he'd heard the name before.

"She's one of the assistants in the class," Lisa explained. Lisa had
enrolled Dylan in a kindergarten class that was held at the hospital
where she worked. The hospital also provided daycare for when class
was over, but the parents, many of which worked in the building,
weren't yet off shift. Even though the daycare program at County
General was a good one, both Dave and Lisa had decided that it would
do Dylan good to have a little vacation, and John's willingness to
spend the days with Dylan also played a big role in that decision.
Lisa had mentioned that more than one of Dylan's classmates had
parents who were in same-sex relationships, so that idea wasn't
strange to Dylan.

Lisa must have laid down a *lot* of groundwork, because when Dave
mentioned John on the phone to Dylan, his son knew exactly who John
was and what he meant to Dave. And this was something that Dave
hadn't told Carter about. He'd not yet managed to tell Carter exactly
how he felt – yeah, there'd been those breathless declarations of love
while they were having sex, but to just come right out and say it?
Hadn't happened yet, at least not when John was awake and could hear
him. And then there was the matter of work. Dave really wanted to
show Dylan off to everyone in the ER, but he wasn't sure he could risk
it. He didn't know Carter's feelings on the matter, but Dave wasn't
so sure that he wanted Dylan to out them to their co-workers. Hell,
Dave wasn't so sure how he felt about Dylan knowing that he and John
were `fornaculators', as Dylan phrased it. Dave really needed some
time alone with Lisa to find out just what she'd told Dylan. And
Lord, but Dave could just imagine the fit John would have if Dylan
told him the story about the `old biddy'. The man would probably
insist that both Dave and Dylan stay at Dave's place each night,
forget about any options regarding the couch!

Dave noticed that Lisa had once more begun walking, and as he
followed, he noticed that Dylan was happily babbling on about the
train ride, Miss Vicki, the kids in his class and how much he was
looking forward to meeting John. All Dave had to do to be a good
Daddy and listener was nod and make appropriate noises during those
times when Dylan paused to take another breath.



John's right leg was bouncing a mile a minute, an outward sign of his
nervousness as he awaited the arrival of Dylan and Lisa. To be
honest, John wasn't quite sure who he felt the most nervous about
meeting – Dave's son, the most important person in Dave's life; or
Lisa, the woman who was not only lucky enough to be Dylan's mother,
but who was also a psychiatrist. John really, really had no desire to
go anywhere near a psychiatrist, and he was half afraid that Lisa
would try to analyze him during her short, overnight stay.

Speaking of which, it occurred to John that he'd never asked Dave
about where Lisa would be spending the night. Dylan would either be
on the couch or in the bedroom with Dave, but there was no room there
for Lisa. Was Dave going to send her off to a hotel, or put her up at
his place? Maybe both Lisa and Dylan were going to be staying at
Dave's overnight? But no, Dave had specifically said that Dylan would
be staying with them the whole time.

The uncertainty made John want to pace, and he looked longingly at his
crutches. It was tempting to get up and move about the room, but John
didn't want to be tired when Dylan arrived. He knew that he'd need
his energy if he wanted to keep up with Dylan, and it was imperative
that he not only keep up with the boy, but that the boy like him. Oh,
God, what if Dylan hated him on sight? What if John tried too hard to
get Dylan to like him and it backfired and made Dylan hate him? John
moaned as he closed his eyes and began to hit his head repeatedly
against the back of the couch, the worst case scenarios dancing behind
his eyelids. Dylan would hate him, Lisa would think he was a pathetic
bundle of unhealthy emotions, and Dave would drop him like a hot
potato. Yes, Lisa had physical custody of Dylan, but Dave certainly
wouldn't stay with him if Dylan didn't like him, and John could never
blame Dave for that.

John checked his watch, frowning at the time. They should have been
back five minutes ago, and that was counting on traffic. Maybe Dave
had taken the time to fill Lisa in on everything that had happened,
including his own worries about John's mental and emotional
well-being. The woman would walk into the apartment already in
judgment of him, based on Dave's biased opinions. Wait…no, Dave
wouldn't do that, wouldn't ambush him that way. John sighed, and once
more began the leg bouncing, and this time added a bit of tapping his
fingers against the arm of the couch. He mentally ran down the list
of things that he'd planned for him and Dylan to do. First off, Alger
had been nice enough to volunteer to drive them everywhere, and John
was grateful for the man's help with that. He'd not been looking
forward to handling public transit while on crutches and trying to
keep a 5 year old in line. John had trips to the zoo, the Children's
Museum, Navy Pier, and a few other kid-approved places planned.

He smiled as he thought of the biggest surprise of all – two tickets
to the Blackhawks home game later in the week, for Dave and Dylan.
John could tell that Dave felt badly about not being able to spend a
lot of time with Dylan, and he was pretty sure that Dave would love
being able to take Dylan to the hockey game. And by then, John would
probably be in need of some quiet time minus one particular 5 year old
boy.

John also wanted to take Dylan to County, so he could see where his
father worked, and also so Dave could show off his son to one and all.
But, would Dave be okay with that idea? While most everyone knew
that Dave had come to stay with him once he'd been released from the
hospital the first time, John didn't know if they realized that Dave
was still staying with him. What if Dylan innocently said something
about the sleeping arrangements? John wasn't completely sure how he'd
feel about that, but he did seem to be leaning toward not caring if
everyone there knew that he and Dave were together. But would Dave
mind? And if everyone at work knew, then what about his family?
John's grandparents were finally talking to him again, and had even
hinted that they'd reinstate his trust fund. Would finding out that
he was in a relationship with another man change things for the worst?
Would his own parents now condemn him? Would it be possible to be
*out* at work, but not with his own family? Could he even live that
kind of a lie just to keep his family from being disappointed yet
again in him?

The sound of a key in the lock brought John out of that depressing
line of thought, and he grabbed his crutches. He was to his feet by
the time the door opened, and he saw Dave standing there, grinning.
And then a bundle of pure energy was rushing through the door, coming
straight for him.

"Dylan, no jumping," Dave warned as he stood aside so someone else
could enter the apartment.

John smiled at Dylan as the boy came to a halt right in front of him,
looking at him closely. "Do I pass inspection?" John asked jokingly.

The boy slowly nodded. "You'll do," he said, sounding so much like
his father that John couldn't help but grin.

"Thanks. I'm John, by the way."

Dylan nodded. "I knows that. Momma and Daddy tolded me all about
you. Is it hard to walk with clutches?" Dylan leaned a bit to one
side, apparently trying to get a better look at the crutch.

"It was at first, but I've gotten pretty good with them. Did you have
a good train ride?"

"And this is Lisa," Dave said as he and a very pretty woman stepped
closer. Dave had an odd look on his face, but John ignored that as he
greeted Lisa.

"It's good to finally meet you," he honestly told her, taking her
offered hand and giving it a firm shake. It was a good sign to have a
firm, but not too hard, handshake. Or so John thought he remembered
it that way from his psych rotation.

"Same here," Lisa replied with a smile that made her bright blue eyes
seem even brighter. For a moment, John was glad that he was madly in
love with Dave, because Lisa was definitely had the physical
attributes that he was attracted to in a woman – average height,
blonde hair, great breasts, and lovely eyes. Strange then that the
one guy he'd found himself attracted to didn't look anything like
that, except for the lovely eyes part. And John supposed that a great
penis could be comparable to great breasts in the long view of things.

"Hey buddy, why don't you go and wash up?" Dave said as he took
Dylan's backpack from him. "And then we'll talk about lunch. You
hungry?"

"Starving!" Dylan announced. "Where's the bafroom?"

Dave pointed out the door and Dylan rushed to the room, slamming the
door behind him. "Sorry about that," Dave said. "He tends to do
everything at one speed and intensity level…fast and hard."

"Like his father," Lisa said with a smirk, and John couldn't help but
silently agree with her on that.

"Look, I sent him out of the room for a reason. He knows we're a
couple, okay? As in lovey-dovey stuff," Dave explained, and John
thought it was really cute the way that Dave was blushing while
talking. "And Lisa's pretty much explained same sex relationships to
him, and that it's okay for two people of the same sex to be in love.
But, he's five, so he's likely to blurt out things without
thinking…and why are the two of you looking at me like that?" Dave
looked confused as he looked from John to Lisa and then back to John.

"You're just so cute when you blush," John said.

"That's just what I was thinking," Lisa said, and she winked at John.
Suddenly, his worries that Lisa would dislike him or try to analyze
him disappeared. And he had the feeling that Dylan liked him so far,
so all was going well.

Then John remembered the other thing – where was Lisa staying. And he
brought that up, taking advantage of Dylan being out of the room.

"Dave's letting me stay at his place tonight," Lisa said. "Dylan has
stayed away from me before, but never for a week. I think that if he
knows that I'm nearby tonight, then he'll be more relaxed about adding
a stranger into the mix. But, the way he's been talking about meeting
you and the fun you two are going to have together, I don't think
there's going to be any trouble with him adjusting to being without me
for a week," Lisa admitted.

The bathroom door opened and Dylan came back out, his hands shiny with
water. "All cleaned," he announced as he held his hands up. Then he
tugged on John's wrist, leading him to the couch, where they both sat
down. Dylan even helped John put the crutches to one side. "Let's
talk food now. John, what do you wants to eat? I likes lotsa things,
but not liver. Pizza's good, and peanut butter and jelly samwiches,
and hot dogs and cheeseburgers, and sagetti. But if you don't like
any of that, then we won't get it."

The boy looked earnestly up at John, and for a moment John felt that
he saw a bit of apprehension there in Dylan's eyes. The boy probably
had the same fears that John had, that he wouldn't be liked by someone
that was important to Dave. John smiled. "I don't think that's going
to be a problem, Dylan. I like all of those, and I hate liver, too."

Dylan grinned and then crawled into John's lap, giving him a hug. "I
just knewded that we'd get along. Just knewded it!"

Lisa turned to Dave, her smile wide. "I guess that just answered my
questions about throwing a stranger into the mix, didn't it? What
about getting a couple of those Chicago deep-dish pizzas? Give Dylan
a break from your usual demand of a New York style one?"

"I'll have you know that both Dylan *and * John happen to like New
York style pizza," Dave replied, but he was headed for the phone.
John had a list tacked to a small corkboard by the wall phone, and it
held the names and numbers of nearby places that delivered. In his
short time at the apartment, Dave had added a few numbers of his own
to the list, so on the nights when neither one of them felt like
cooking, they had a large selection of delivery food to choose from.

"I *like * New York style pizza just fine," John said, looking over at
Lisa. "But I happen to *love * Chicago style. Make sure that one of
the orders is an everything, no anchovies."

Dave nodded, then looked at Dylan. "What do you want, buddy?"

"An everthin', no fishy things," Dylan firmly stated as he leaned back
back against John's chest. Dave knew that Dylan's usual pizza request
was pepperoni and nothing else, and he felt a momentary pang of
jealousy that his son was willing to try something else just because
John wanted it. Then again, Dave knew that if he'd have told John in
advance that Dylan only ate pepperoni pizza, then that's what John
would have requested. They were both obviously eager to be liked by
the other.

"And Lisa, you want an all-veggie, right?" Dave asked.

"Sure do." Lisa went over and sat down in the arm chair. "What do
you have here to drink?" she asked as Dave began to dial the phone.

"We've got milk and several kinds of juices, some Kool-Aid packets and
soda pop." John hadn't been too sure about having the soda pop
available, since he didn't know how strict Lisa was with Dylan about
that kind of treat. But Dave had assured him that it would be okay,
and that if they let Dylan have it sparingly, then all would be well.

"Let's have soda pop with the pizza then," Lisa said. "Make it an
extra special treat."

Dylan smiled and clapped his hands, "Good idea, Momma. We cans go
back to hasing milk tomorrow, right, John?"

"Works for me," John replied. "Your daddy interrupted earlier when I
asked about the train ride. How was it? Did you enjoy it?"

Dave finished placing the pizza order and he leaned back against the
wall, a smile on his face as he watched the interaction between John
and Dylan. They were already getting along well, and Dave found
himself very glad that Lisa had decided to go to this conference.
Having Dylan there would keep John home a little bit longer, and
having a week to spend with his son was definitely special to Dave.
He caught Lisa's eye, and she winked at him, and he winked back,
feeling very, very content with his life and loves at that moment.
Being surrounded by the ones you loved, and who loved you back, that
was what made life worth living.


To be continued…
Chapter 19 by Cathy Roberts
By the time Dave and Dylan left to take Lisa to Dave's place, John was
more than ready for a pain killer and a nap.

As he swallowed down a Vicodin, he mused over the fact that he hadn't
been this worn out since his first week of physical therapy. John
began to worry that watching over Dylan for the rest of the week was
going to be more than he could handle. But as he stretched out under
the covers, he began to realize that it wouldn't be as bad as today.
For one thing, he'd been feeling extra tense and anxious, since he'd
worried that Dylan wouldn't like him, or that he wouldn't like Dylan.
Or even worse, that Lisa wouldn't like him and would then insist that
Dave end their relationship or never see Dylan again. Coming between
Dave and his son was one thing that John vowed never to do. No matter
how much he loved Dave, he would never put him in the position of
having to make that kind of a choice.

But, he and Dylan had gotten along, and Lisa seemed to genuinely like
him, so John felt a bit more confident on that front. He'd also not
taken his pain meds that morning, not wanting to risk falling asleep
just as Dave returned from the train station with Lisa and Dylan. So,
he was now paying the price for that. After meeting Dylan and seeing
first hand how energetic the boy could be, John saw that he needed to
slightly alter his plans for each day. Oh, they'd still go places and
see things, but nap time would definitely be scheduled for each day.
They could get up, have breakfast, go out, come home and nap, then go
out again, get home in time to meet Dave, eat dinner, then he could
crash while Dave played with Dylan. That seemed like a good plan, and
John smiled as he shifted in an effort to find a more comfortable
position.

He also needed to find the time to talk with Dave about bringing Dylan
to see him at work. John knew that Dave would be thrilled to show
Dylan off to everyone else, but he also knew that they'd risk Dylan
mentioning that they were together. The boy apparently hadn't
hesitated to tell people on the train about his daddy's boyfriend, so
why would Dylan hesitate at County? And it just wouldn't be right to
tell the child to keep his mouth shut about it. What good was it to
try to teach him that it wasn't wrong for two people of the same sex
to be in love and then tell him to keep quiet about him and Dave being
in love?

John himself didn't mind if everyone knew that he and Dave were a
couple, and that surprised him. He was pretty sure that if he and
Dave had met a year earlier and started a relationship, then he
wouldn't have been so quick to be outted. But the stabbing changed
the way John looked at things. He was in love and didn't care who
knew it, or how they felt about it. Finding and loving Dave, and
having Dave loving him back were the best things that ever happened to
him. And with everything else around him falling apart, John needed
to hold onto as many of the good things as he could. For instance, he
and his grandparents were now reconciled, so that fell into the `good
things' category. His parents staying in Tokyo when he was stabbed
fell into the other category. And on some days, being alive fell into
the other category, too, but John tried to not dwell on those days.
This week, he wouldn't allow himself to have any of those days. They
would all be good days, and if he were lucky, once Dylan was back
home, those good days would linger. Smiling, John closed his eyes and
drifted off to sleep, confident that if he dreamt, they would be good
dreams, and not the usual nightmares of late.


*********************************************

Dave eased the door open, not really surprised to find himself walking
into a seemingly empty apartment. When he'd left to take Lisa to his
place, he could tell that John was in some pain and needed to rest,
and that was most likely what he was doing now, just like Dylan.

Dave grinned as he shifted Dylan on his shoulder. The excitement of
the day had caught up with Dylan as they were driving back from
dropping off Lisa, and he'd been sound asleep for about five minutes
now. Dave knew from experience that Dylan would remain asleep for at
least an hour. He closed and locked the door, then eased Dylan down
onto the couch, covering him with the afghan that was draped over the
back. Dave placed a tender kiss onto Dylan's forehead, then he got to
his feet and headed into the bedroom, figuring that he might as well
get a bit of a nap, too.

Dave left the door slightly ajar, so he could hear it if Dylan awoke,
then he looked toward the bed with an indulgent smile. John was
curled up under the blankets, as soundly asleep as Dylan seemed to be.
Dave toed off his shoes and emptied his pockets onto the dresser
before crawling under the covers on his side of the bed. John
immediately moved close, molding his body against Dave's, and Dave
found himself wondering how it was that John thought they could get
through this week sleeping apart? Dave was still adamant about not
giving in to John's fears of having Dylan walking in on them, and he
knew he'd find some way to ensure that they made love during this
visit. And Dave sure as Hell wasn't going to even think about John's
other idea of having Dylan sleeping with Dave while John took the
couch. Dave wasn't going to go without having John in his arms each
night, and he couldn't imagine that John would find the couch to be
very comfortable right now.

Dave kissed the top of John's head, and then smoothed one hand down
John's arm as he got comfortable. This, having his lover at his side
and his son nearby, was what life was all about. Being surrounded by
those he loved was something that Dave had craved for a long time, and
now that he had it, he wasn't willing to give it up, not for anything.

John shifted against him, and Dave recognized it as one of the signs
that he was waking up. "Shhh…" Dave soothed as he ran his hand up and
down John's arm once more. "Go back to sleep, John."

John shook his head, and Dave couldn't help but grin as that made his
T-shirt move against his chest, tickling him. "We need to talk.
Where's Dylan?"

"He's asleep on the couch," Dave replied. "He conked out on the way
home. He's had quite a day so far."

"He's a great kid. You and Lisa have done a good job raising him."

"Well, it's been mostly Lisa, but I've tried to spend as much time
with him as I can."

"I was thinking that you'd like to show him off around work."

Dave heard a bit of hesitancy in John's voice, and he mentally steeled
himself for what was to come next. He so very much wanted to have
John bring Dylan to the hospital, but he had been afraid that John
wasn't ready to have others know about them. And if the hesitancy in
John's voice was anything to gauge by, he was right. Well, as much as
Dave wanted everyone to know about them, he wasn't going to push John
about it. God knew the man was dealing with enough already and didn't
need that kind of pressure on top of everything else.

"I think that a lot of people at work would be astonished to know that
I produced such a great kid," Dave said, hoping that his words were
carefully neutral.

"They shouldn't be." John's voice was soft, yet certain, and that
made Dave's heart swell. John believed in him, and that meant a lot
to Dave.

Dave gave John's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Forget them. Go on back
to sleep, babe."

John shook his head, "Dave, have you…" John sighed, "I mean would you
like it if I brought Dylan to the ER to see you?"

There it was. Now that the subject had been brought up, Dave found
himself relaxing a bit. John could voice his doubts about it while
still finding a way to let Dave know that it was all right if he
wanted Dylan to come to visit him. And then Dave would do his best to
reassure John that he didn't have to do that, and that they could keep
their relationship a secret, thereby relieving John of any guilt he'd
surely feel over not wanting anyone knowing that they were together.

"Sure, it would be nice, and Dylan would most likely get a kick out of
it," Dave said the obligatory words. Now it was John's turn to poke
holes in the idea, and then Dave could gracefully back off and all
would be right with the world. And then maybe John *would* feel a bit
guilty and let Dave make love to him while Dylan was napping, or once
they went to bed for the night. Dave grinned, yeah, sometimes a bit
of Carter guilt could lead to some very nice things indeed.

"So, you wouldn't have a problem with it if he said something about me
being your boyfriend?"

Okay. That wasn't in the script. And Dave couldn't tell from the
tone of John's voice what he was feeling.

"Um, no. I wouldn't have a problem with it. Hell, I'd shout it from
the roof if you gave me the okay, but…"

John suddenly pushed himself to his elbow, his eyes intently gazing at
Dave, and a small smile on his face. "You would? Funny you should
say that, because I've been thinking the same thing."

Dave slowly smiled as John's words sank into his brain. "You have?
You mean you'd like for me to shout it from the roof? That you'd have
no problem at all with me telling the world just how lucky I am to
have you as my boyfriend?"

John's small smile quickly turned into a grin. "More along the lines
of me not having a problem telling the whole world just how lucky I am
to have *you* as my boyfriend. So, how about it? Do you want me to
bring Dylan to work for a visit? Or do you think that others finding
out that you're a great father AND gay on the same day might be too
much for them to handle?"

"Hell, it's an ER. If anyone faints, we can revive `em," Dave
replied. He rose up on one elbow so that he faced John. Leaning
closer, Dave reached out with his free hand to caress John's cheek.
"And do I get to kiss you in front of everyone, too?"

John chuckled. "You really want to risk sending everyone up to the
C.C.U., don't you? Well, you only get to kiss me in front of everyone
provided I get to kiss you in front of everyone, too. Or first. Who
knows? I might just surprise you and everyone else by walking in and
planting a good one on you the second I see you."

"Not if I see you first…" And with that, Dave closed the small gap
between them, kissing John tenderly. His hand moved from John's
cheek, gliding along the skin until he was able to grasp the back of
John's neck, holding him in place as he deepened the kiss. God, but
he wanted so much more than a kiss right then, but with Dylan napping
in the other room, and the door ajar, Dave just wasn't willing to risk
it. But, come Hell or high water, he was determined to make love to
John that night. There was a reason that the door had a lock, and
Dave was going to make good use of that reason.

Despite his reservations about making out right then, Dave couldn't
help but feel his passion rise as John moved a bit closer, their
bodies touching in too many places. Dave broke off the kiss and
grinned as he noticed that John was just as hard as he was right then.

"Damn…we're definitely taking a rain check for tonight, babe."

Dave was expecting to get an argument from the other man, but John
just grinned. "You bet we are. As for now, I need to get back to my
nap, and you know I sleep better when I'm sleeping next to you, so…"
John motioned for Dave to lie back down, and once Dave was prone, John
snuggled in close, resting his head on Dave's shoulder.

"Much better." John said, and Dave could have sworn he heard a slight
sigh in there, too.

John had draped his arm over Dave's waist, and Dave rested his hand
along it. "I agree. It just can't get much better than this."



To be continued…
This story archived at http://errealmofslash.com/viewstory.php?sid=869