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By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts

John slowly opened his eyes, feeling more than a little out of sorts. His mouth was dry and his head seemed fuzzy, and he had no idea why. Thinking back, he remembered the horrible nightmare that he'd had and he shivered under the blankets. There could be nothing worse than Dave leaving him the way he had in the dream, John thought as he reached over for Dave. But Dave wasn't there, and John's heart fell a little as he remembered that Dave had to get up early, even though they would soon be in Los Angeles, it was still a cruise day, and Dave's schedule hadn't changed.

He sat up, running his hands through his hair as he considered his shower and packing to go home. He had Dave's schedule written down and could get the number for the ship from the concierge, since Dave hadn't liked the idea of John calling him at home. Not that John could blame Dave for his reluctance on that, he himself hadn't come out to his family and he had the same fears as Dave -- what if they rejected him, disowned him for life? The idea wasn't a pleasant one, but John knew that as long as he had Dave and his friends, then he'd get through it. But he still understood Dave's fear of being rejected by his own brother.

As John stood, he realized that he was wearing pajamas, but he didn't remember putting them on. Had he awoken because of the nightmare and just didn't remember it? It was possible -- it had happened before, although, thankfully, not often. Then he made his second discovery of the morning when he saw Dave, fully dressed, and dozing in the corner chair. Had the dream been so bad that Dave had run from the bed? God, that made John feel guilty, and he quietly walked over to Dave, standing beside the chair and simply looking at the man for a moment before reaching out to gently shake his shoulder. He knew Dave would want to shower and get back to his room to change for the day, and time was steadily moving on.

"Dave? Hey, wake up, sleepyhead," John said as he jostled Dave's shoulder.

As soon as John touched his shoulder, Dave was awakened, eyes flying open as his glance darted around the room. He had a crick in his neck the size of California. And he was just *so* stiff. Stiff from spending the night sitting in a chair instead of a comfortable bed.

He was a bit startled, but calmed down once he realized that it was John waking him up and not anyone else. John. John wanted him there...he wasn't trying to throw him out of the room...he wasn't accusing Dave of trying to rape him. And Dave found his arms going around John's waist, and he pulled the man close to him, as if he was never going to see him again.

Because, by all rights, Dave didn't deserve him.

There was a moment's silence right before Dave spoke. And turning his head up so his eyes met John's, he found the worry begin to leave his body. And then Dave began to wonder just how much John remembered from the night before...

"You're...you're okay?"

John smiled down at Dave and began to massage the back of Dave's neck, thinking that sleeping in the chair couldn't have been all that comfortable. "I'm a little sad that we're reaching port this morning, but last night will hopefully tide me over until I see you again. What about you? I must have had some nightmare if it ran you from the bed, or did you get paged during the night and that's why you're in your uniform?" he asked.

Nightmare? John thought he had a nightmare? Well...in a way it was one...but it was a nightmare for *all* of them involved. John massaging the back of Dave's neck felt good, but it was not enough to distract him from talking.

"How much do you remember from last night," Dave asked, his voice hesitant as he continued to hold onto the man he loved. Dave realized that he should be getting ready for the next cruise...and he was likely going to get in *big* trouble for skipping out of the Medical Center for this long, but he didn't care. There were some things more important...and solving things with John was more important than anything else that was going on in his life.

"I remember that you exhausted me," John said with a grin. "And I remember what you said about not wanting me to call you at Steve's place because you're not out to him, so I won't be doing that. I don't want to cause you any pain, Dave, I hope you know that."

Had John blocked everything out? It certainly seemed like that was what was happening. John didn't remember Dave breaking up with him...and his regression...well...well no, of course he wouldn't. John was *not* himself the previous night.

"We did have fun last night," Dave finally said after a moment's thought. "And...uh...yeah...thanks for not talking to my brother about all of this...but...uh...man...there...there was some other stuff that happened...stuff I wanna make sure you're okay with. I'm...I'm so sorry...because I *did* hurt you...and if you can't forgive me...I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive myself...I love you more than anything, and I'm so sorry for trying to do what I tried to do last night..."

His breath caught in his throat. Dave hoped that he wasn't making a mistake in saying this much to John, but he wanted to get all the cards out on the table. Lying wasn't his style...in any form.

John knelt down in between Dave's legs and looked up at him, frowning slightly. "I don't know what you're talking about, Dave. You didn't do anything to hurt me last night. Telling me not to call you at your home didn't hurt my feelings. I can understand your worries and fears about that because I have them, too. I don't know what my family will do when they finally find out about us, so I can understand your insecurities. Now, let's forget all about that and go shower, okay? This is the last day in a long while that I'll have the luxury of my own personal 'barber'." John got to his feet and tugged on Dave's hands, trying to get him out of the chair so they could enjoy a few last moments together.

Dave couldn't resist it when John began to pull on his hand, and he soon found himself standing on his feet and smiling over to John. "Yeah...we can shower...at this point, I'm already late. I won't get in trouble. They love me downstairs," Dave assured John, knowing that if John knew the truth that John would be too worried about him to enjoy the shower. "But...uh...there's...there's other stuff that happened last night...that...uh...we should talk about. I...I don't want you to be upset with me later, especially without me bein' here to defend myself."

They had begun to walk towards the bathroom, when Dave stopped in his tracks, pulling John around so that they were face to face. "I...I...can't believe you don't remember this...and I don't know how smart I am to bring it up...but I don't ever wanna hide anything for you...ever. I...I tried to break up with you last night...I somehow got it in my head you'd be better off without me...so I left...scared of having something good for the first time in my life...you...you kinda freaked out on Luka...and a little while later, Randi ran down to find me. I...I had to give you Ativan to get you to calm down enough to sleep. You...you weren't yourself...you were talkin' about not wantin' your private parts to swell...and not wanting to be my sex kitten anymore...I...man...I never realized...John, I'm so sorry...it was a stupid, stupid mistake on my part, and I never shoulda done it...I love you so much..."

Dave brought a hand up to the side of John's face, trying to read what his expression was as Dave spoke.

John turned his head slightly and kissed the palm of Dave's hand. "You know we didn't have the same dream, Dave, but it's nice of you to try to pretend we did just to make me feel better about the nightmare I did have. Now, come on, we're running out of time and I don't want to rush through any of this with you." He reached up and took Dave's hand into his own again, then turned to lead them both into the bathroom.

Dave began to walk with John, but continued to speak while he did so.

"I wish I could tell ya that it was a nightmare...but John...you didn't tell me what your nightmare was...how would I have known?"

Dave looked up to John, both his eyes and his voice sincere as he spoke. He knew that there was a possibility that Maggie, Randi, or even Luka might bring things up later...so he wanted John to be ready for it.

"Dave," John began, speaking patiently, "I obviously must have when I woke up from it. I'm in pajamas and I know I didn't go to bed that way, and you're dressed, and I know you didn't go to bed that way, either. So, enough of the playing around, okay?" While the idea of Dave pretending they had some sort of psychic connection was sweet, his insistence that it wasn't a dream was starting to get on John's nerves. He wanted a bit of quality time with Dave before the world of the ship took Dave away from him.

"I'm not playing around," Dave said, walking towards him. "I'm not. Man. Look. Last night was fucking *hard* for me. It was *hard* for me to hear you say that you didn't want me to touch you. And it was hard for me to watch you in so much obvious pain and know that I caused it. I *wish* I could tell you it was a nightmare. Maybe in a way it was. A horrible, horrible living nightmare..."

Dave turned his head away, not wanting to upset John...but by the same token, knowing that it would be a hundred times worse for both of them if John remembered everything when he was off of the ship.

"I...I'm sorry," Dave finally said, once again bringing up a hand to the side of John's face. "I almost lost you again last night...and it woulda been my fault. I just wanna make sure you're really not pushing me away..."

"Dave, if you had done anything in real life like you did in my dream, then...well, I certainly wouldn't be standing here like this talking to you, now would I? I really don't want to argue with you on our last morning together for God only knows how long, so would you *please* stop this and just come and shower with me?" John asked, more than a hint of exasperation in his voice.

Resigned, Dave relaxed his shoulders and nodded, feeling more guilty than ever. Dave *had* done all those things in real life. He *didn't* deserve to be by John's side. John had basically just *said* that.

"Yeah...okay...shower...sure...we can do that..."

What Dave felt like doing was crying. Because Dave knew...he knew in his soul that once John really did remember what happened the previous night, he would run so far from Dave that Dave wouldn't know what hit him.

Reaching out a hand, he rested it on John's shoulder. And then on pure impulse, he pulled the man into his embrace. He just needed to feel John next to him...to feel John's body covering his as Dave held him tightly.

"I...I love you," he said again...hoping that that fact would be enough to carry both of them through.

Because now, Dave was scared to death.

"I love you, too," John happily replied. "Now get your butt in the shower so I can show you just how much I'm going to miss you." They couldn't get naked quickly enough to suit John.

As Dave began to undress, thoughts of the previous night continued to run through his head. Specifically, Dave was thinking about how John accused both him and Luka of only wanting to fuck him...and when there wasn't fucking, that they wouldn't leave John alone. And that John didn't want them to touch him...

It was very hard for Dave to get past it all, and get back to some semblance of normal.

"John, how...how would you feel...if we took a shower...and then...just...laid down for a little while? No...no funny business...just...just us enjoyin' each other's company...talking...just bein' together?"

It was odd...Dave Malucci not wanting to have sex...but in this particular case, Dave wanted to make sure that he had his soul-mate by his side...and not necessarily all the rest of it.

Mostly because...Dave needed to figure out how to get past it without feeling the guilt. It was obvious to him that John was someone who had been abused in a far worse way than Dave had ever been, and Dave was now afraid that he was not helping matters, but only making them worse.

"Well, that would be nice too," John said, even though he was a little hurt by Dave's apparent reluctance to make love. Maybe he was more upset about being awakened in the middle of the night by John's nightmares than he had let on? As he dropped his pajama top to the floor, John asked. "My nightmares, they really bug you, don't they?"

Dave quickly shook his head. "Your nightmares don't bug me...what's bugging me right now, is that you refuse to realize that what happened last night wasn't a nightmare, and that's scaring the *Hell* outta me...because I'm afraid you're gonna remember all the horrible things I did when you least expect it, and then you're gonna leave *me*. And God...I don't want that to happen. I was such a fucking fool last night...and I'm scared to death of losing you...not to mention..."

Dave shook his head and stopped talking. He didn't want to say too much...didn't want to hurt the man that he loved any more than he already had.

John stepped up to Dave and gently placed his hands on Dave's cheeks, holding him still as he looked deeply into his eyes. "I will never leave you, Dave, I promise you that. I love you, and there's nothing you could ever do that would make me leave, do you understand me?" Dave's obvious insecurities were painful for John to see, and he vowed to himself to do all he could to make sure that Dave always knew he was loved and cared about.

"I'm scared of hurting you again," Dave flat out said, before he could put any kind of censor on his words. "I almost lost you again last night...and it woulda been my fault...all because I'm not good enough for you. I *know* I'm not good enough for you...but I have to try to make this work because living without you is too painful. I...I couldn't do it...even though it woulda been for your own good...I couldn't do it...I couldn't leave you...and then...when I saw you last night...I caused you to have those nightmares, John."

If John wanted to call them nightmares, then Dave would oblige.

"It was my fault that you didn't want Luka or I touching you...it was my fault that you were that way in the first place...my fault you were...afraid that we were going to rape you. I don't *ever* want you to think that I'm only in this for the sex...there's *so* much more going on here, man."

John shook his head. "I don't think that, Dave. I've never thought that about you, honest. And I don't like hearing you say that you're not good enough for me because it's nothing but a bunch of bull. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me, and, while I know you're not perfect, I also know that none of us are. I *love* you, every inch of you. I love your mind and your perfections and your faults, Dave." To emphasize his point, John gave Dave a lingering kiss, wishing that he could magically take all of that pain and lack of self-esteem away from Dave. In time, John thought, it would happen in time.

Dave returned the kiss, wrapping his arms around John's body as if just being there...in his arms...listening to his assurances...would make everything okay. And as the kiss ended, Dave was powerless to stop a smile from creeping across his lips.

As Dave ran his hands over John's smooth body, he dared to speak again. "Maybe...maybe we should take that shower now," he finally said. And as he moved his hands down to John's pajama bottoms, Dave decided that it was best for him to try to put it all out of his mind...for now. At least John knew how Dave felt...hopefully that would be something that John kept in mind if he ever truly remembered the events of the previous evening.

"Maybe we should," John agreed. "And will I get one last close shave from you, as a lesson on how it's properly done since I'll be on my own for the next several weeks or so? I definitely don't want to draw blood down there," John joked as he stepped back from Dave and pulled off the pajama bottoms, his self-consciousness about being naked in front of Dave long gone.

"Yeah...I can do that for you," Dave said, as he looked at the area admiringly. "No. I don't need you damaging my property," he teased as he took another step closer. Reaching for the bottom of his own shirt, he pulled it over his head, no longer even caring how late he was gonna be for work. "We do need to hurry a bit...or you're gonna end up cruising with me for another week," Dave teased, as he swooped his lips down over John's once more.

"As if that would be a hardship for either one of us," John said after the kiss ended. He grinned at Dave, then grabbed a fresh towel and placed it on top of the toilet lid before sitting down, his butt at the edge and his legs spread apart to give Dave ample access to his 'work' area. "All ready whenever you are," John said with a wicked smile since he was already half hard and the merest hint of a touch from Dave's hand would make that a full erection. Dave's act of shaving John's groin every morning always led to them making love in the shower -- which, as John thought about it, was a fine way to greet the day. A fine way, indeed.

Dave grinned as he watched John settle himself down on top of the toilet seat, and he grabbed John's razor, as well as a can of shaving cream. Soon, he was fully ready to do what he needed to do to make John clean-shaven. "You know...I really like how smooth you are like this," Dave commented as his hand touched John's dick. The organ seemed to spring to life in Dave's hand, and Dave couldn't help but run his fingers along the shaft.

"It's very important," Dave started, as he reached his free hand up for the shaving cream, "that you get a good lather goin' before you start..."

Emptying the gel in his hands, he rubbed the foam all over the areas of John's nads, and the base of his dick. "Then...you have to make sure you use a sharp razor. Believe it or not...a dull one does worse..."

He grinned up to John with a smile that reached his eyes. And as Dave began to shave John, he continued to speak and narrate for John exactly what he should do when doing this himself.

John watched Dave intently as the man worked, saying an occasional "I see" and "right", but not looking at what Dave was doing. John knew all too well how to shave and was pretty sure he could manage it on his own. It was far more interesting to watch Dave's face as he ran the razor carefully over the skin -- it almost seemed to John that Dave got as much pleasure from doing the shaving as John was getting from being shaved.

As Dave finished shaving, he reached for a towel, and began to carefully and teasingly wipe the last of the cream from John's cock and balls. And as he smiled up to his lover, he felt something flip inside him as he watched John's face. This was the face of a man who *did* love him...who *did* want Dave to be there...

Dave was a fool for trying to leave. And all doubts that John was going to kick him out of his life soon left his head. As Dave wiped John clean, he couldn't resist giving his cock a teasing suck. So bringing his lips down on top of John's erection, Dave drew his cock into his waiting mouth.

"Oh, God," John moaned as he felt the warmth of Dave's mouth caress his cock. It definitely seemed as if Dave's idea of showering and then just lying in bed was long gone from Dave's mind, and that suited John just fine, he thought as he ran his hands through Dave's thick hair. It somehow didn't seem fair that Dave still had his pants on, keeping John from seeing the erection that he knew Dave was sporting. The way the material was strained against Dave's crotch was the physical clue John had, but, he also emotionally knew that Dave was just as turned on. It was definitely going to be a long four months until Dave was back in Chicago where he belonged.

Dave's cock pressed against the fabric of his uniform pants, and as he lifted his mouth off of John's cock, he straightened his body up slightly so that John might have access to be able to take the offending garment off of Dave's body. Dave's mouth eagerly sought after John's once more...wanting their worlds to mesh together one more time...one more time until they had to part until the end of Dave's contract.

And Dave wasn't quite sure how he was going to deal with it. How could Dave have *ever* thought he could live without John in his life? He was a damned fool...and he was damned lucky...lucky that John didn't remember a blessed thing.

Breaking away from John's lips, Dave finally stood, bringing his lover up with him. "We'd better hurry...or you're not gonna be able to leave the ship on time."

"I thought I had until nine, right? It's not yet eight," John said with a laugh as he followed Dave into the spacious shower. "I get to wash you first," he volunteered. Soap in hand, John worked it into a rich lather, then began to run his hands all over Dave's skin, ending the washing at Dave's cock and balls and ass, making sure he was more than clean for the special treatment John had in mind. As soon as the water had rinsed away the soap, John's mouth had replaced it upon Dave's cock, and he sucked and licked and nibbled as if this was his last meal, Dave's moans and whimpers of delight letting John know that his efforts were very much appreciated.

Dave had learned that trying to argue with John was often a fruitless effort -- especially in matters regarding the bedroom. So he simply agreed, and wasn't going to complain as his body was exposed to the most luxurious treatment that Dave knew existed -- John's hands, lips, and tongue.

Better than any spa treatment. Better than massage therapy. Thank God John didn't want to bottle this and sell it, because though the man would likely make a fortune, Dave didn't want to have to share him with anyone.

Not ever again.

"Mine," Dave uttered, as John's touch continued to infect him. "You're...mine...mine...mine..."

Dave's hand found the top of John's head, and as John's sucking became more urgent, Dave's strokes through John's hair had the same urgency.

As Dave's body began to give off the little clues that signaled the onslaught of an orgasm, John changed tactics. He pulled his mouth off of Dave's cock in one long suck, and then gently moved to Dave's balls, tenderly sucking on them while his hands caressed and kneaded Dave's thighs. And when it seemed as if that sucking was going to be too much for Dave to handle, John moved so that he could rim Dave, knowing that it drove his lover nearly over the edge each and every time he did it. John wondered just how long he could manage to go from erogenous zone to erogenous zone without having Dave come -- would it be a matter of a few minutes or could he stretch it out to twenty, or even thirty minutes? It was definitely a goal to aspire to, even though John knew that it wouldn't be a goal he would try for that morning.

Once more his mouth was back on Dave's cock, licking it from the base to the tip, tickling the corona before taking the cock fully into his mouth and sucking it until his nose was pressed up against Dave's pubes. This time John intended to suck Dave off, not wanting to keep Dave from his job any longer than he already had.

The emotions that Dave were feeling were almost too much for him to classify. The feeling of Carter's tongue on his ass...he almost came right there...but somehow...somehow John just *knew* when it was going to happen, and would pull away, giving Dave just enough time to recover somewhat before starting the next assault.

However, when John placed his mouth on his cock that final time, it was too much for him to take. "Yeah...yeah...oh...oh, GOD, John...GOD!"

Unable to hold on even for a moment longer, Dave came in spectacular colors, seeming to spill his seed as endlessly as John seemed willing to almost drink it. John had this ability to satiate Dave like no one had ever done in the past, and Dave knew would never happen with anyone else ever again.

"God, I love you," Dave exclaimed, his voice breathless.

John grasped the base of Dave's cock tightly as he gave it one long suck and then kissed the top of Dave's thigh. "I know. I love you, too." He got to his feet and embraced Dave, pulling him close for a long and passionate kiss that would leave them both breathless.

Wrapping his arms around his lover, Dave gave everything to that kiss...knowing that there wouldn't be many more of these to come before Dave got back to Chicago after his tour was over. And as they pulled away, Dave's eyes were still full of passion, even though his body was definitely spent.

"You didn't think I was gonna leave you hanging...did you?"

Reaching his hand down, Dave found John's hard cock, and began to stroke it, liking the way the smooth skin of his dick felt between his fingers. His other hand reached down and cupped John's package. Once more, Dave enjoyed the weight of them in his hands and he gently squeezed them as he brought his mouth to John's nipple, eagerly taking the nub between his teeth as Dave began his assault on his body.

"I had thought you were in a hurry," John replied, and then his speech abilities disappeared as Dave's hands and mouth began to work magic upon his body. All of the worries about Dave's low self-esteem and even John's own disquiet about the nightmares that still plagued him went away, suddenly not important as Dave pulled his body toward completion.

Dave heard John speak, but he didn't care...didn't care that he was going to get in trouble...didn't care that he was late to set up for the next cruise...didn't care about *anything* but the man in his arms. Moving his lips down the front of John's body, Dave dropped to his knees, licking his lips in anticipation of sucking off John the way that John had sucked Dave off only moments before.

And soon, his mouth covered John's hard dick, licking some of the pre-come off the top before completely taking John's cock into his mouth.

John leaned his back against the cool tile of the shower as his hands rested on Dave's shoulders, holding him in place while his brain prayed that Dave would never even imagine doing what he had done in the dream and leave him. As Dave's tongue began to magically work its way over him, John closed his eyes, his desire for the man in front of him steadily building. "God, yes, Dave. Don't stop, please don't stop. Let me come...God..."

Stopping wasn't even close to being in the cards for Dave. He wanted to make John feel as good as Dave had felt only moments earlier. And he knew if he continued in this manner, it was only a matter of moments before John found his ultimate release. Dave's hands roamed over the surface of John's ass, and one of Dave's fingers drifted towards the opening, teasing the tip inside in the hopes that would help enhance his lover's orgasm.

"Jesus...oh, God...yeah...DAVE!!!!" John screamed out as his emotions reached the abyss and went right on over the edge, taking his mind with it and leaving nothing but sated desire behind. If not for the wall behind him, and Dave in front of him, John knew he would have fallen over from the perfection of it all.

To be continued
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