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"Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes, Part 21"
By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts

Dave looked at the address on the piece of paper in his hands. He had
pulled the car over to the side of the road just to make sure he had
read it correctly. Yup. This was it. 19837 West Cedar Drive. But
man, the driveway to get up to what Dave thought was the main house
looked really, really long. With a shrug, he put his car in gear.

His jalopy. It wasn't much, but it was his. Finally, after years of
wanting one, the nest egg he had saved from the cruise ship had given
him enough of a savings to buy a reliable used car. No, it wasn't
anything flashy. But it got good miles to the gallon, and it got him
from point A to point B.

Responsible. When had Dave Malucci turned responsible? He himself
was not sure. But now it seemed like there was a lot of stuff for him
to look forward to. And uppermost on his mind was seeing John.

John was going to be *so* surprised to see him. And as he drove
slowly down the long winding path, he surveyed the surroundings. It
all seemed so private. So secluded. How neat would it be for him and
John to make love out here in the middle of the seeming wilderness?
With nothing but a blanket to protect them from the elements...?

He was getting hard just thinking about it.

Okay. He needed to calm down and focus. And first finish the task at

He finally made his way to the top of the drive, and Dave easily
parked his car in an empty spot, remembering to take the keys and lock
the door behind him. Hey -- just because he was in a ritzy
neighborhood didn't mean he didn't have to be careful. He was still
in the city limits of Chicago.

His eyes swept over the building before him. Wow. It was hard to
believe that people actually *lived* in this place. It was just so
large. And with a bit of fear...but more confidence than anything
else, he knocked on the front door.

A rather imposing man opened the door, and Dave's smile faltered only
for a moment.

"Is this...the Carter residence?" Dave asked, looking down at his
piece of paper once more.

"Yes, this is. You must be Dr. Malucci. Yes. Mrs. Carter has been
expecting you. Please, come inside."

Dressed a bit stiffly in his only suit, Dave stepped inside, once
again his eyes sweeping the house, this time from the interior. He
followed the man into what he proposed was a sitting room, and then
smiled as he spotted an older woman in a wheelchair as he fully
entered the room.

"Mrs. Carter? I'm Dr. Malucci. The Fuller Agency sent me down."

Dave had to admit that he was a bit more nervous than he was letting
on. He *had* to get this job. There was no way he could face John
until he had a job in his pocket. It was humiliating enough to get
fired. It would be even more humiliating for Dave to show up on
John's doorstep unemployed, expecting John to take care of him. No.
He had to get himself situated. Then he'd let John know he was home.
Besides, the fact that he was interviewing with a woman who had the
same last name had to be a good sign. He was sure that John would get
a big kick out of that.

Millicent smiled up at the young doctor, quickly taking in his suit
and appearance. A good-looking man, carried himself with confidence.
Millicent liked that. She gestured to the chair across from where
she was seated. "I've been expecting you, Dr. Malucci. Please, have
a seat. Would you care for anything to drink? Tea, coffee, water or

"Just some water would be fine," he said, as he once again surveyed
the room. It was hard to believe that he might actually be living on
these premises if he got this job.

"So Ms. Wagner from the agency explained to me a bit about what this
job would be about...I'd essentially be a backup physician to you? On
call in case you needed help with anything? I think you'll find that
my background at County General, as well as my recent experience on
the cruise ship will be beneficial to your needs. I'm quick on my
feet, and very efficient at what I do...but I also take the time to
make careful diagnosis," Dave declared. Well, he did that now. Dave
learned his lessons from when he worked at County. That much was sure...

Millicent gestured to the butler, who quietly left the room to get the
requested water, and then she turned her attention to Dave. "Well, I
have my diagnosis, Dr. Malucci. I'd mainly need you around to monitor
the progression of the disease as well as any complications from where
I broke my hip. You'd be working closely with Dr. Meyers, my personal
physician, and he can be quite demanding at times." It was
interesting that he had once worked at County General and Millicent
wondered if John or Luka knew him? She'd have to find out, but she
was sure she'd make her decision before either one of them returned
home from work.

Dave nodded. "Oh...I've worked with some tough, demanding doctors in
the past. I'm sure that Dr. Meyers and I will get along just fine,
that is if you should come to the decision to hire me on."

He could tell this woman was a tough one. But there was something
that drew him to her, but he wasn't sure why. He had a feeling that
this was the type of woman who had come to the decision to hire
someone for this particular position after a long and thought out
process, and that she wasn't going to hire just anyone to fill the
post. So Dave had to do what he could to try to charm her.

"I do have my resume with me, if you want to look at it, though I
think the agency likely forwarded that to you as well," Dave said,
reaching for the folder that he had brought with him.

Job hunting was certainly exhausting. Besides the interviews with
this agency, he also had submitted applications as Mercy and
Northwestern, and Dave was hoping to get a bite from somewhere
sometime soon. Very soon. Because he missed John terribly.

"That's quite all right, Dr. Malucci. As you surmised, the agency has
already provided me with a copy of it." What Millicent didn't add was
that she had yet to read it. Dr. Meyers had looked it over and
pronounced Dave Malucci to be a fit and capable doctor -- on paper,
anyway -- and that was good enough for Millicent. No, what she wanted
to know wasn't in his resume.

She smiled as the butler brought her a cup of tea and then handed a
glass of ice water to Dr. Malucci. "Tell me, Dr. Malucci, why do you
want this position? You're young and you have excellent credentials,
so why would you want to waste your days by looking after an elderly

Dave considered the answer to this question for a moment. He could
lie through his teeth and say that he found that working with the
elderly to be an exciting or refreshing career change, and know that
this woman would be able to see right through him.

Or, he could simply state as much of the truth as he could.

"I moved away from this area several months ago...because of a really
big...misunderstanding between myself and...the person that I was in a
relationship with," he said, deciding that telling someone who might
be your boss that you were gay might not be that great of a first
impression. "I ended up working on a cruise ship out of California,
and while working on there I became reunited with this...person. And
we realized that we had both made some mistakes. At the end of the
cruise, we promised to keep in touch. I still had four months to
complete on my contract, but my intentions were to return to Chicago
once my stint with the cruise ship was over. Well, I...unexpectedly
ended my employment with the cruise ship early, so I came back. But,
I don't want to go to this person to tell them that I'm back in town
until I have a new job. So...while this is not the most exciting job
that I might undertake, I do promise that while I am in your employ,
I'll work very hard, and do my best to do everything I can to make you
feel good, and I'll be the best doctor that I can be. Because I
really want things to work out this time...all the way around..."

He hoped he hadn't said too much, and immediately cast his eyes
downward. Well, he'd know soon enough. If the older woman showed him
where the door was...well...at least he still had his car.

"I see. And do you plan to quit once this person sees you're
gainfully employed?" Millicent asked, needing to know just how long
he planned to stay around. She didn't see much sense in hiring
someone who wasn't willing to give her his best for a decent amount of
time. She did have to admit to herself that Dr. Malucci's insistence
on finishing out his contract, when he could have most likely broken
it, did speak in his favor.

Dave immediately shook his head. "Not at all, ma'am. If you hire me,
I'll stay on for as long as you'll have me. That much I promise you.
I'm a man of my word...and I won't quit. I'm not a quitter."

He knew that he was lazy at times...sometimes he didn't completely
follow through...but for Dave Malucci, the patient *always* came
first. The same would hold true for him if he was working for only
Mrs. Carter.

"Since you didn't quit your job with the cruise line, then were you
laid off or fired?" Millicent asked, wondering just why he had left
the position.

"I've got to be honest with you, Mrs. Carter," he said, as he brought
his eyes back up. "I was let go from the cruise line because they
found out that I had been seeing my...significant other while on
board, and my supervisor wouldn't listen to any explanation that it
was not a normal circumstance. I did not sleep around with everyone
on board...but running into this particular person...had caught me by
surprise...and made me realize how much I still loved this person..."

It was hard for Dave not to slip up and say something that would make
this woman suspect it was another guy that Dave was in love with. He
didn't want to take the chance, in case the woman had a problem with
that. And truth be told, he needed the job so badly that he'd find a
way to work around it if he had to.

"So...it wasn't my work performance that did it in for me...it

"I see." Millicent took a sip of her tea. "If you should get this
position, you'd be staying in the guest cottage on the other side of
the lawn, so you'd have your privacy, Dr. Malucci. However, security
is always an issue and I'd like to know if you plan on inviting your
'significant other' to the estate at any time while in my employ."

Dave nodded. "Of course. I'll be happy to provide you with my
significant other's name and other particulars if you should hire me
to be in your employ," he said sincerely. And he would. First get
the job...then say he had a boyfriend. At least then, there would be
some kind of legal suit if he was fired for being gay.

Millicent nodded, noting how he had managed to not answer her while
still answering her. She liked a person who could play it close to
the vest, so to speak. "Tell me a bit about your medical background.
The details, please, and not what was put in your resume. What did
you like best about your job at County General and what did you like
the least about it?"

Dave thought about this for the moment, and didn't speak until an
answer was fully formulated in his mind.

"I think if I had to pick one thing that I liked most about working at
County, it was helping people. Nothing made me more satisfied then
putting the smile on a face of a little girl as I bandaged her
knee...or holding someone's hand when I told them that everything was
going to be okay...sometimes having to lie a bit because I knew it
really wasn't....and I think...I think I'd have to say that the thing
I hated most about working at County was having to deal with a bit of
the bureaucracy of working in a hospital setting. I hated that we
couldn't always do what was right for the patient because it was
against hospital policy, or wasn't the 'way things were done there'.
Sometimes...sometimes you have to do medicine by feel and at the
hospital there wasn't much opportunity for that."

Dave turned his head so his eyes met Mrs. Carter's. He hoped that
that was the kind of answer she was looking for...

Millicent couldn't keep from smiling as she listened to his answer.
"I hear the same sentiments from my grandson. He also works at County
General. Perhaps you've heard of him? John Carter? He works in the
emergency room."

Dave nearly dropped his water glass, which he had been holding
casually, out of his hand when Mrs. Carter spoke. And then, he
gripped the glass tighter. Whoa. How dumb was *he*? Of course this
was *the* Carter mansion! He was interviewing at *the* Carter mansion.

A grin spread over Dave's lips, and his eyes lit up. Nodding, he made
eye contact with the older woman once more. "Yeah...yeah you might
say I know John Carter. He's really...God...wow...John's one of my
closest friends. Honestly. He's...wow...he's...I'm...I...I can't
believe that I'm interviewing *here*," Dave finally sputtered out. "I
can't believe I didn't put two and two together, that I'm interviewing

Millicent began to remember John mentioning a doctor from the ER who
had been fired, presumably because he had been caught having sex in an
ambulance, but John had the opinion that it had more to do with a
death of a patient a few days prior. She found herself wondering if
Dr. Malucci was that man. "Well, John does resemble his parents more
than he resembles me. Still, I've been to County, but I don't
remember seeing you there. When did you leave the hospital again?"
she asked, remembering that she was supposed to have read his resume.

"My...my last day at the hospital was in September of last year," Dave
said, the smile that had been on his lips slowly disappearing. This
was possibly one of the most difficult interviews he had ever been on,
and he hoped that admitting that he knew John hadn't made his chances
at getting this job even more difficult.

"I believe John mentioned it at the time, but I didn't pay too much
attention to the story as I was still mourning for my husband. I'm
sorry that your time at County General ended in such a harsh way.
John usually has good things to say about Dr. Weaver, but he had some
very definite opinions about the way she handled herself at that
time." Millicent set her teacup aside and smiled warmly at Dave.

"I like you, Dr. Malucci, and the position is yours if you want it. I
do have to warn you that I can be a most stubborn patient, you can ask
my grandson for verification about that, but I don't want to be a
burden on him, and up to now, he's been handling a good portion of my
care as in making all the necessary arrangements. Having you around
will be a blessing in more than one way."

Millicent was certain that John would feel even better about things
once he knew that a good friend would be the person treating her.

The smile that had faded was quickly replaced, and Dave was up out of
his chair and over by Mrs. Carter's side to shake her hand. "Thank
you, Mrs. Carter," he said, smiling broadly. "I really appreciate it.
You won't regret it, I promise..."

This...this was great. Not only did Dave now not have to worry about
a job, but he didn't have to worry about a place to live. And not
only that, but for when he wanted to see John...Hell...it was *John's*

Dave was thinking that he was pretty sure that his life couldn't get
any better than this. And now, he couldn't wait to talk to John to
tell him the good news.


John stretched as he got out of the Jeep. He was hoping to soak in
the Jacuzzi for a bit, to ease his aching back, and he hoped that Luka
would be willing to 'soak' with him. They both had had a hard day at
work, and were each returning home dressed in scrubs and not in the
clothes they wore to work that morning.

"What do you say we change into our swim trunks and hit the Jacuzzi
and the pool?" John asked Luka as they stepped into the kitchen.
Corrine was busy at the stove, stirring something that made John's
stomach growl, but despite his hunger, he first wanted to relax.

"Good afternoon," Corrine said, smiling at them. "In case you're
interested in meeting him, Mrs. Carter is interviewing a doctor right
now, you know, to be here all the time?" She informed them.

Luka's interest was piqued at this bit of information. "I think a dip
in the pool and the Jacuzzi sounds like a very good idea, but first
maybe we should go out and meet this doctor, in case it turns out it
is one that she wants to hire -- just to make sure that he knows his
stuff, huh? What do you say?"

A grin spread over Luka's lips. He was in a generally good mood.
Since their discovery of their feelings for each other the night
before, even the fact that they had had a long day at work didn't seem
to matter. He and John were together, and this made him very, very

John reached out for Luka's hand. "Shall we?" He grinned wickedly at
Luka, wanting to see if the doctor would freak out over knowing that
two men were living together in the house. If he did, then John was
sure his Gamma wouldn't hire him. And, if he didn't, then John and
Luka would have a little bit of experience at showing affection to
each other in front of a stranger.

Luka returned the squeeze of his lover's hand, fully aware of happy
look that the beloved cook was giving to the two of them. "I thought
there was some sort of attraction between the two of you," she quipped
as she looked from Luka to John. "I was just wondering when you would
figure it out yourselves."

Luka blushed, and then nodded, biting his bottom lip briefly as he
formulated an answer. "Thank you. It took us a while...but I think
that we are both very happy..."

Luka looked over towards John, and he was sure that their expressions
matched. With another smile towards Corrine, Luka and John headed
into the living room.

"So, yeah...I want to thank you again, Mrs. C, for this chance. I'll
really do good by you...I can have my stuff here by tomorrow," came a
familiar voice from the living room. And as they walked closer to
where the talking was coming from, Luka squeezed John's hand in almost
a death grip.

"J...John...is...*that* who I think it is?"

Dave. Dave Malucci. There was *no* mistaking that voice. Damn it.
What the hell was Dave doing here...?

Luka kept a possessive grip on John's hand as they continued to walk.
And soon, the two of them were standing in the doorway of the sitting
room, looking onto an elated Dave, and a rather pleased looking
Millicent Carter.

And then, Luka dared to cast a gaze over to John, trying to gauge what
his reaction to all of this was...

Dave's expression had been slightly guarded while he was talking to
Mrs. Carter, but he could *not* contain his joy when he saw John
appeared in the doorway.

"John...God...it's *great* to see you man..."

Dave resisted the urge to jump up, and take John in his arms. He had
missed him *so* much, and keeping from John that he had been in town
had been really tough for him to do. But seeing John now was all
worth it.

Then, he saw the person standing next to John's side. Luka was here?
Okay, that much he could handle...but...were...John and Luka holding
hands? What was *that* about?

Dave's face fell. From elation to deflation in a matter of seconds.
What, exactly was going on here? He could feel the anger building up
in him, but he couldn't show it. Like it or not, he needed this job.
And he had just promised Mrs. Carter that he would stick with it no
matter what, and he wasn't going to let her down.

Even if her grandson had just taken his heart, and smashed it into a
million pieces.

To be continued
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