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John woke slowly, feeling the still sleeping bodies wrapped over his, entwined with each other. He looked towards the window and noticed the early morning sun. Glancing at his watch, he realized he'd slept just over an hour, in a peaceful slumber without nightmares. He smiled to himself. So now he knew. The cure for insomnia and a year and a half of nightmares was sex, desperate and ravenous sex! He wondered if he could paten the idea.

"Hey, sexy." Veronica purred sleepily.

"Shh. Go back to sleep. It's early." He brushed the hair from her face. She smiled. "I'll be right back." He said, moving as carefully as he could. Brandon groaned but released his leg.

John quietly went to the bathroom. He couldn't help but smile when he saw the mess. Water still in puddles on the floor, cloths in wet heaps, the hot tub still full of water. After using the facilities, he looked in the mirror. He looked tired but different. He felt different. He'd explored fears, fantasies, and dreams. He'd been taken to the edge, held hostage and brought over the edge safely. He felt desired and appreciated. He felt loved by two people who'd become so important to him so easily and without effort. They hadn't asked anything from him except to feel, to allow them in. They'd brought him along in their journey and he'd been a willing passenger. He'd been able to make the experience pleasant for them as well, showing his appreciation.

And the most important part was they had said they wanted him around. They liked him for who he was, not the doctor, not the rich heir, not the conquest. It was what he'd given Brandon so long ago that made the impression and the bond. It was him doing something without any effort, without trying, without thinking.

John's hand felt the bruising on his collarbone. He looked at his body and noticed that he had marks all over, little reminders of the night he'd had. He wished he had something else, something more than a few hickeys that would heal and eventually fade. Something more than his memory, which would also lose the desperation and the passion he felt in his heart. Well, he thought. He'd have their friendship.

He carefully crawled back into bed, taking up his still warm spot he'd vacated just minutes before. Brandon reached out and wrapped his legs around John's as Veronica smiled and placed a sleepy hand over his heart. John fell back to a comfortable sleep.


John opened his eyes and he smiled, coming out of a wonderful re-enactment of the previous night's exertions in his head. He was alone in the bed, after having one of the most restful night's sleep he'd experienced in over two years. John had always had trouble sleeping, ever since he was a child and woke often. He glanced at the digital clock and realized he'd slept another four hours without any nightmares. Yes, this was definitely the prescription to his sleep problems. He just wondered whom he could find in Chicago to help him out. He chuckled to himself, running the people he knew through his head.

He stretched out, flexing his back and realized that although it was a bit stiff, the pain still had not returned. He figured with some of the positions he'd been in and with his spasm he'd experienced in the heat of the moment that he'd be paying for it today but there was no pain.

He could hear Veronica and Brandon talking downstairs, their voices comforting him the way his parent's voices used to when he was very young. He found himself waiting for the arguing to start, for the voices to become harsh and combative but they didn't and he smiled.

He found it very strange with how comfortable he felt here. Brandon and Veronica were indeed older but he didn't think it was a nurturing, parental comfort. At least he hoped it wasn't. The things that they'd done together were not activities he wanted to share with his parents by any means. No, it was more like a level of protection or respect; similar to the feelings he'd gotten from his colleges at County. Mark and Doug had made him feel like this but they were too afraid to get too close. Kerry definitely made him feel like this, but more so when he lived with her. She always kept an air of separation at work but at home, they talked and comforted each other without barriers. Now, Benton, even with his anger and over protectiveness definitely made him feel like this. Even when he yelled and broke his self-esteem down to nothing, John always could feel the compassion under everything. He knew Benton cared about him and he always would.

Back in Atlanta, he felt the connection with Brandon right away. They were both experiencing being professionals who'd lost control and had bottomed out. They both relied on a chemical substance to help them deal with the pressures of life although Brandon's didn't stem from a particular event as John's did.

Brandon had let his life get out of control, his marriage, his practice and he'd just been caught up in the idea of being rich. They'd helped each other back from the depths of hell and grew a special bond no one would understand but them.

Veronica, well, she was everything John had found himself drawn to. She was attractive, older, strong and of course, blonde. He'd always had a special place in his heart for blondes. He figured it came from one of his first crushes. She had been his fourth grade teacher at his boarding school. Miss Baker had seen how John was picked on and how he just never fit in so she took him under her wing. She would have him and his older sister over to her house during the holidays because their parents rarely sent for them. She was single and unattached and she became John's nurturer during his rough years. As he grew, she remained to be a supporter of his ideas, his emotions, and his feelings, often reassuring that he would make it through yet another crisis.

When John was thirteen, he'd stopped by her house, which he'd done often in the past to help her with her yard work. Even though he was small for his age, he would help her with many of the things he thought 'a man' should be helping such a beautiful woman with. John had knocked on the door and a man answered it, looking at this young man strangely. John's heart broke. Miss Baker had him come in and told John how excited she was to be getting married the following month. The man treated John nicely but John never returned to do her yard work. He was invited to the wedding also. Barbara, his sister went but John faked stomach flu and stayed in bed all day, crying over losing his first love.

Ever since then, John found his stomach jumping at the sights of a pretty, strong blonde. He'd had relationships with several in the past but none had ever worked out. They all left for one reason or another. He analyzed his current situation in his head. Veronica fit into his mold of the perfect woman but he wasn't drawn to her in the same way. He went into this relationship knowing it's levels, it's boundaries, it's basis, and he was all right with it. For the first time, probably in his entire life, he hadn't fallen in love with them. They gave him all the same feelings and emotions but not the commitment. And it felt good.

John thought about what he'd done and he couldn't help but to smile. This had definitely been an eye opening experience for him. He'd done things, positions, as well as acts that he'd only read about but had never seen himself actually doing. The whole wax and bondage thing had been a fantastic experience and he could now understand people's attraction to it however as far as repeating, he could only see himself doing it with people that he trusted as much as he trusted Brandon and Veronica. He'd never reached that level of trust with any of his sexual partners before. Now, when he thought of the things he'd done with Brandon, that was another story.

John realized what he had missed out on with Jason. He'd also known other openly gay people who he considered his friends. Maggie had been a very good friend of his and now, if he believed the rumors, Kerry. But as far as he knew, he hadn't known any men who did both. It wasn't exactly something the guys talked about in the locker rooms. Not if they wanted their reputations intact. John thought about it for a few minutes. He couldn't deny that he'd liked what Brandon did. He liked the feeling once he got past the pain of being so completely filled. He felt the thrusting up to his heart and back down to his groin. With Brandon, it didn't feel strange. When Brandon took him in his mouth, well, Brandon knew exactly what to do. Guys just knew another guy's body better and Brandon hit John's right in target.

When John took Brandon into his mouth, John felt sensations he'd never experienced. He liked the contrast of the strength, of the hardness compared to the softness of a woman. He liked being able to tell if what he was doing was right from the hardening and the ejaculation, where as with a woman, she could fake her climax and the guy was usually convinced. Brandon hadn't faked anything. John had been able to please him and that turned John on in a way he'd never been turned on before.

So, now that John knew about this, did this make him gay? Well, he chuckled to himself at the thought but he could live with all the physical things Brandon did for him but he sexually enjoyed Veronica. Emotionally, he could relate to men but sometimes, with how things affected him, he felt like his emotions were similar to a woman's. Maybe that was why he'd never been able to connect with women in the past. Had what he felt for Benton been more than just mentor/student?

John sat up, laughing to himself at the thought. No, he hadn't had a crush on Peter Benton, man of emotional steel. He shook his head, realizing the truth for the first time in his life. John Truman Carter had indeed always had an attraction to men and liked it. He was indeed, without a doubt, completely down the center - bisexual.

John pulled out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt from his bag and went to the bathroom. This would be his last twenty-four hours in heaven and it was his day. He would get to live out his own fantasies for the next twenty-four hours and hopefully return with enough memories to get him through his many sleepless nights in Chicago. He turned on the shower in the perfectly straightened up bathroom. He wondered if Veronica had cleaned up or if they'd had the maid return to do it. If it had been the maid, she certainly got an eyeful with him in bed, stark naked, half aroused and the blankets bunched on the floor.

John stepped into the warm water and let it pulsate down his face. There were times when a shower felt so good, like after a long shift, or after being puked on by twenty or so patients and their cousins or after a night of totally incredible sex, like last night. He ran his hands over his chest, feeling a few tender areas. He smiled, knowing he'd return to his normal life marked, branded by his lovers and he again wished the marks would be lasting. They were reminders of their commitment to him, to their skills and talents and to his own surrender. He reached for the shampoo bottle and was reminded of burying his face into Veronica's shoulder as he climaxed into her. It was a good smell. He made a mental note of the brand and the scent. He'd make sure he bought the same when he went home.

He completed his shower and got dressed. He stood before the mirror, looking at his face. He hadn't shaved since he arrived and he was beginning to look a bit scruffy. He had needed a haircut for a while but looking at his slightly bushy self, he realized he looked relaxed. No dark circles under his eyes; his lines, which had begun appearing on his face in the past year, were almost nonexistent and his skin had a healthy color to it. He smiled, liking his face for a change. He knew Weaver would have a fit when he returned, believing all her doctors should be clean-shaven but he decided to leave his face alone. 'Don't mess with perfection'. He kidded out loud, brushing his teeth and slipping his shirt over his head.


"Good morning." He smiled widely as he came down the stairs. Veronica was reading on the sofa, enthralled in her romance novel and Brandon was doing some paperwork at his desk, which was in the same room. Veronica glanced his way over the top of her glasses.

"Good afternoon, sleepy head. We figured you'd stay up there all day." She teased harmlessly as John gave both she and Brandon a kiss. He helped himself to a cup of coffee.

"I've been up for a while. Just doing some soul searching." He smiled, taking a seat at the opposite end of the sofa.

"Come to any conclusions?" Brandon asked, grateful for the distraction of his work. He really wasn't ready to return to his real life, not with John's body still so close. John nodded, looking mischievously into his own coffee.

"Actually, yes I have." He said, looking years younger and carefree.

Veronica watched him for several minutes, his relaxed state rubbing off on her. She smiled, seeing pure happiness radiating from John.

"Well, John. The entire day belongs to you. What would you like to do?" She tucked her bare toes under his hips for the warmth. John looked up and smiled.

"How about ask for another four days off?" He teased, gently stroking Veronica's bare calf.

"Well," Brandon came and sat on the arm of the couch. "I don't think that's very realistic but I did have an idea. I remember you saying that you have some sailing experience?" He suggested. John's eyes lit up at the possibilities.

"You have a boat?" He asked, looking hopeful at Brandon. Brandon nodded.

"How about a day on the water?" Brandon asked. John smiled.

"Can I play captain?" He asked. Both Veronica and Brandon laughed.

"Sure." Brandon stood. "It's your day, John. You can do anything you want."


"This is fantastic!" John said more to himself than any one in particular as he steered the large boat into the open waters. The sun was shining and there were actually several boats on the water, all taking advantage of the warm weather. John was proving to really know what he was doing so Veronica and Brandon were relaxing on the deck, also enjoying the sun. They had a tray of fresh fruits spread out before them, truly finding the comfort of letting John manage the controls.

John smiled as the boat sailed a smooth right turn, out away from the shore, away from the other boaters. The breeze ruffled his hair and shirt and the smile that had been on his face was genuine. He looked out across the glasslike waters, squinting from the shine even though he wore sunglasses. He stood and lowered a sail, allowing the boat to bob freely in the waters. He watched a speedboat zoom by, smiling at the looks on the passenger's faces. They were having fun and so was he.

"John?" Brandon joined him by the controls, handing him a soda. John accepted it.

"Thanks. How's Veronica?" He asked as he and Brandon sat comfortably next to each other. While they were not the only one's on the water, they did have privacy on the large boat.

"She's catnapping on the deck." Brandon took a hold of John's hand and began playing with his entwined fingers. "So, what kind of conclusions did you come to this morning?" He asked, thankful that John hadn't pulled away from his open display of affection. John smiled, looking out on the water.

"Not conclusions, just realizations I guess. Things that were always there but I hadn't seen. That's not true. I'd seen them. Just always ran from them before." John said, Brandon understanding without the details.

"Good realizations or new fears?" Brandon boldly put him leg on top of John's. John laughed.

"Good ones. Ones that I hope don't end with my going home tomorrow." John said, sounding sure of himself. He watched Brandon's thigh on his own.

"Oh, I think that pretty much goes unsaid. John, I don't want you to get the wrong idea about these past few days. I love my wife dearly." Brandon stated.

"And you should." John said, nodding, looking into Brandon's eyes. "Don't worry, Brandon. I'm keeping this whole experience in check." He smiled, leaning in and giving Brandon a reassuring kiss. He leaned back, relaxing.

"So," Brandon said lazily. "You think I'll be the only one?" He questioned. John chuckled silently.

"Oh, I don't see me seeking out anyone else. It's not like I'm going to become a regular at The Pumper." John laughed, mentioning the only gay bar he was aware of in Chicago. He figured there must be more but the name of this one had always intrigued him. Brandon chuckled.

"Good." He relaxed back against John, John's arm gently wrapped around him. Because of the size of their boat, they were out of view from many of the other boaters but far enough from the shore for those with a wider range of sight to distinctively make out their faces. They sat comfortably for a long time, the boat bobbing smoothly in the water, the sun warming their skin.


"John, your cheeks are getting sunburned." Veronica broke the silence that had surrounded them for over an hour. John opened his eyes and smiled.

"You got some sun, too." He saw the pink tone to her shoulders.

"Yeah, but your skin is much lighter than mine. Too many Chicago winters." She smiled, sitting on the other side of John and cuddling up against his warm body. He kissed her shoulders.

"That's what was missing." He smiled, placing his arm around her shoulders in the same manner that he sat with Brandon.

They stayed on the water for several more hours, talking and sharing a very comfortable level of friendship that had been created just days before. They laid in the sun, usually one or the other keeping the physical contact, which had been so strong. They talked, ate the fruit, and napped, all taking advantage of their carefree vacation knowing that all too soon, they'd have to return to the hustle and bustle of their normally chaotic lives.


John was back at the helm, steering the boat closer to the shore, all three of them having had almost too much sun for comfort. He could feel the sunburned areas of his back and chest and he knew he'd feel it tomorrow under his scratchy lab coat. He knew everyone would wonder where he'd been, returning with a smile on his face and a sunburn, too. This obligatory dinner had been one of the best things to happen to him in a very long time and he'd have to make sure to thank Dr. Weaver for butting into his personal life.

"Whoa, slow down there." John said, watching a speedboat zoom way too closely to the front of another boat. Veronica looked up from her book.

"What's wrong, John?" She asked. Brandon was also looking in the direction of the boats. John pointed.

"They are going way too fast." John stated, his eyes never leaving the racing vessel. Judging by how many people were on the small boat and how they were screaming and laughing, John figured that they'd all had too much alcohol to be safely behind the controls. John mentally chastised himself for not having his medical bag with him. "Hey, Brandon. You got a first aid kit on board?" He asked, watching closely. Brandon laughed.

"Uh, yeah, tough guy. You planning on being a hero?" Brandon kidded. He knew that both he and Veronica were also physicians but neither had done any real emergency medical treatments in years. Brandon couldn't see himself doing anything other than the elective plastic surgeries that had made him rich and Veronica was much more experienced with a notepad than a tracheotomy kit.

"Hope not." John's entire body was on high alert, his adrenaline increasing, prepared. They were getting more and more reckless by the minute, playing chicken with several other boaters. John steered closer, not wanting to put their boat in danger but he had a bad feeling that he'd want to be as close as possible. "Brandon, radio the coast guard or the police or whoever patrols these waters and get them in the area, ok?" John instructed. Brandon looked at him like he was crazy.

"John, they're just being silly. They haven't done anything yet. Let them be. You're just being paranoid." Brandon laughed, putting the radio back down. Just at that moment, they all heard the crash, followed immediately by the screams of terror.

"Paranoid, huh?" John emptied his pockets and flipped off his shoes. "Get us closer now! Veronica, get the first aid kit ready." He instructed.

"John!" Veronica stated as he dove into the water. Brandon radioed for help.

There were several people in the water as it quickly became red with their blood. The speedboat had hit another sailboat head on, going at least 50 miles per hour, exploding the sailboat into splinters, and sending almost everyone into the water.

"Help us!" A woman cried, her face covered in blood. John reached a male first, his face down in the water, his unconscious body bobbing in the red water. John reached out, flipped his face up, and checked for the man's pulse.

"Shit!" John said out loud. He pulled the man to the side of the boat he'd been relaxing on just a short time ago. Brandon was reaching down to pull the man up. "No pulse. His chest is crushed." John yelled, helping Brandon lift the man. A second later, John pushed back off, going out to find someone else.

"They're five minutes out." Veronica said, coming to her husband's side. He tried to begin CPR on the unfortunate man but John was right. Brandon could feel his entire chest broken beneath his skin.

John reappeared at the side of the boat.

"Brandon!" He yelled, out of breath. "Help me." He assisted them to drag two more bodies from the water, both with facial lacerations and one with a huge gash across her stomach.

"Check her blood pressure." John instructed when Brandon pulled the first woman out.

"John, I don't have a BP cuff. My kit is just basic bandaging." Brandon cried, feeling totally out of place. John gave him a terrified look as he panted for air, holding onto the other woman. Veronica reached out for her.

"She's got a penetrating wound to her abdomen." John explained to Veronica. "Apply pressure and try to get it to stop. She's critical and goes first as soon as help gets here."

"I'll take care of her, John. Come out of the water. It's freezing." She urged. John shook his head.

"Not yet. There's gas pouring out of the speedboat and there's still another guy in the water." John explained. He took a deep breath and again swam towards the splinters littering the water. Other people had come over and were helping get the less injured out of the water. John swam back to the site, his chest aching, and his arms feeling like they had one hundred pound weights on them. He searched for the man he'd just seen.

"Where'd he go?" He asked anyone.

"Under there." A young man pointed.

"Shit." John said, taking a deep breath and going under. His eyes stung from the gas and his chest felt as if it would explode. He searched under the murky waters, searching for a body. His arm reached out and he could feel the man's freezing skin. John clutched onto his arm and he began pulling the man back towards the surface. Just as John's head reemerged, he could hear Veronica's blood curdling scream in the distance as the speedboat exploded. John jerked the man and himself back under the water just in time as the entire surface engulfed in flames.

Eternity seemed to pass as Brandon and Veronica watched the flames. The rescue squad finally arrived and began dealing with the people that had been pulled from the water. Several of them boarded Brandon's boat.

"Is that all of them?" The man asked. Veronica held her hand to her mouth in a silenced scream and Brandon was riveted, watching the water for any sign of life.

"No. There's still two out there." Veronica managed. Finally, she heard a group on another boat cheer wildly as John emerged with the unconscious man. They were pulled onto one of the rescue boats.

John was in serious respiratory shape himself but he was acting the role of emergency physician and no one would stop him.

"He's not breathing!" He panted, checking for a pulse. He began CPR, finding the strength to continue. He gave the man two breaths and used his entire body to compress the man's chest, feeling the bones cracking below the surface. Well, if he were successful, the man would recover from the ribs John was breaking but if he weren't, then John would know he was too late.

The others on the boat watched in stunned horror as John continued. He finished his repetition and felt for a pulse.

"Come on, come on." John urged, thankful for the faint pulse under his fingers. He continued rescue breathing.

Suddenly, after several agonizing minutes, the man began to violently cough up all the water he'd taken in. For the first time since John had hit the water, he took a deep, relieved breath.

"We got it from here." The captain of the rescue team stated as he moved to John's side. "You saved his life, Mr.?" He questioned John. John smiled.

"Carter. Dr. John Carter." He said, looking around at all the people watching him. He suddenly felt very dizzy. The captain smiled.

"Well, Dr. Carter. I believe that there are several people who owe you their lives today." He said, listening to John's chest. John nodded, knowing that today had been a good day.

"Is everyone ok?" He asked, trying to brush off the stethoscope against his chest. If his equilibrium would just balance out again, he'd feel fine.

"The first man you pulled out was probably dead on impact but everyone else is fine. Couple of broken bones, some contusions, probably a concussion or two but yeah, they're fine. Where do you work?" The man asked as he placed a blanket around John. The boat headed for shore.

"Cook County General, Chicago. ER department." John rattled off, looking around to make sure everyone was all right. He tried to stand but quickly fell back against the seat. His eyes met Brandon and Veronica's for a brief second as their boat followed them in. They were smiling and looking very relieved.

"Well, I'll have to make a phone call thanking them for giving you some time off." The man said, checking John's head. "Were you in the crash?" He asked, looking at the large cut on his forehead. John shook his head, confused.

"No. I just witnessed it. Why?" He asked, noticing what the man was doing. He reached up and felt the laceration across the right side of his forehead. "No, I think I hit my head on something when the boat exploded. We got slammed pretty hard. I think it might have been the propeller of the other boat, I'm not sure." He rambled as they pulled into shore. A large crowd had gathered on the shore and they began cheering as John was helped from the boat. There was already a news crew there and they rushed to John's side.

"Are you the man who saved all those people?" A brightly dressed woman asked.

"Huh?" John asked, confused by the chaos. Brandon joined him at his side. He could see that John's coordination was off balance.

"Yes, he is." Brandon told the reporter.

"What's his name?" She asked, turning her attentions to Brandon.

"John Carter. Dr. John Carter from County General in Chicago." Brandon said.

"The same one that was stabbed?" The reporter asked having instantly thought John looked familiar.

"One in the same. Look, we've got to get him to the hospital." Brandon brushed past the news crew and helped John into the back of the ambulance. John was beginning to become altered from his own head injury.

"Brandon?" He asked as he was being laid down on the gurney and having the blood pressure cuff wrapped around his arm.

"I'm right here, buddy. Right here." Brandon patted his arm, reassuring John that he wasn't alone.
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