- Text Size +
"Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes, Part 22"
By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts

John's mind was going in a million places from the moment he first
heard Dave's voice. He wasn't even aware that he and Luka had walked
to the doorway of the sitting room -- all he was aware of was Dave
Malucci. What in the Hell was he doing there? Why was he talking to
Gamma? John hadn't misheard Steve, the man had been quite emphatic
that Dave had wanted nothing more to do with him, so why was Dave
standing there?

By the time John's thoughts finally coalesced into one, Dave was no
longer looking happy and Luka seemed to have a death grip on John's
hand. "Dave...what are you doing *here*...I thought you..." John's
voice trailed off as he remembered the presence of his grandmother in
the room. It was one thing that she knew about him and Luka, but he
wasn't so sure he wanted her to know that his 'ex-lover' was standing
before her.

Millicent noticed the abrupt change of atmosphere. Dr. Malucci looked
as if he was about to kill someone, and so did Luka. John looked
stunned, and Millicent found herself wondering if the cruise John had
been on had been the one where Dr. Malucci had reunited with his
'significant other'. Well, no sense probing right now, she thought as
she turned her chair so she was facing her grandson. If Dr. Malucci
had worked with John, then he must have worked with Luka, as well, or
so Millicent surmised. "John, Luka, I believe the two of you know Dr.
Malucci? He's going to be working here, starting tomorrow."

Luka abruptly let go of John's hand, unable to keep control over his
anger any further. He didn't want to explode in front of John's
grandmother though, so he thought it would be best for him to just leave.

With a final glare towards Dave, he turned on his heels and headed up
towards his room. Luka knew that he was going to have to deal with
all of this, but he needed to deal with his anger first. And slamming
his fist into the wall of his room was a much better solution then
walking up to Dave in the living room and slamming his fist through
the younger, cockier man's face.

Why did Dave have to show up at that moment? Luka had finally gotten
John to admit his feelings. Luka had finally gotten John to admit
that it was time to start to get over Dave. And *again*, the very man
showed up, and threw everything into a tailspin.

Back downstairs, Dave watched Luka storm off, and then brought his
eyes back over towards John. Inside, he was a mixture of hurt,
confused, angry...everything all rolled into one.

"Um...Mrs. C...I...thank you for the job. I still want to work
here...very much...but, before I do, I...I think I need to talk to
John about something. Would...would it be alright if I had a few
words with your grandson?"

John's expression was almost unreadable. And Dave was honestly
confused as to what was going on. When they had last spoken, Dave had
thought he had told John how much he loved him, and missed him.
But...maybe something had been misinterpreted? What the fuck had

"Of course." Millicent smiled up at Dr. Malucci, then over at John
before she left the room, leaving to check on dinner.

John shook his head as he continued to stare at Dave, still confused.
If Dave hated him, then why was he taking the position? Was it just
to torment him? "Why are you here?" John asked, his heart starting to
break. It had been one thing to be dumped third hand, but now that he
had Dave in front of him, the pain was sharp and real.

"Why...why am I here?"

Dave repeated the words, a mixture of surprise and disbelief in his
voice. "Of course. Of course you would ask that question. So tell
me. Did you wait until the minute I left the cabin to jump into Luka
Kovac's bed, or did you at least wait until you got back to Chicago,
so you could wait a whole twenty four hours before cheating on me?"

His voice was low, but the words were clear. And Dave continued
speaking, figuring he'd might as well get all of the cards out on the
table while he could. "Gettin' fired was rough enough. You know,
being told that I was bein' fired because of being with you...you
know, it was actually a relief. Because it meant I could move to
Chicago sooner. So I told my brother I was leavin'. Leavin' to go
back to the person I loved. You know, Steve was happy for me. I
still didn't tell him that it was a guy...but maybe one day I'll be
able to tell him I swing that way. I don't know. Doesn't seem to
matter much now. Then...then I don't want you to be disappointed in
me. I don't wanna show up at your doorstep unemployed, expectin' you
to take care of me. So I fuckin' scour the streets of Chicago,
lookin' for anyone who will hire me. I find this agency...this home
care agency. They hire me on the spot. Been in one home after
another this week."

Dave let out a bitter laugh. "I didn't realize this was your house
until your grandmother mentioned her grandson worked for County General."

Dave shook his head, still unable to believe what was going on. "What
did I do wrong? I called you...I kept calling you...telling you I
loved you...telling you I missed you...and then...I...I find this..."

Dave gestured his arms around the room, not even sure what he was
pointing to. He was just *so* hurt, and felt so betrayed, he couldn't
even put his full feelings into words. So he sat there, waiting for
something -- some kind of justification. Some kind of a reason to not
go running out that door.

"What are you talking about? It was Steve who told me when I called
that you didn't want anything more to do with me. That you had moved
and if I wanted to get in contact with you, I'd have to go through
him." John was more than confused as he had listened to Dave -- there
had been no 'I love you' phone calls, nothing like that.

"My brother? Why the Hell would my brother say something like that?
I didn't tell my brother anything about you. Why would he tell you
that I didn't want to have anything to do with you anymore?"

Dave was genuinely confused. What the Hell had *that* been all about?
There was no reason for John to lie to him -- he really never had in
the past -- in fact, John was just as incapable of lying as Dave was.
Dave would have seen right through him.

"Is...is that what prompted all of this? Is...is that why...why
you're with...with him now?"

Dave's voice broke on the last words. He hadn't meant it to but he
was genuinely hurt and confused. This was supposed to be a happy
reunion, but, so far, it had been nothing but pain.

John looked away from Dave, not sure if he should believe the pain he
was seeing in the man's eyes. But, he couldn't ignore the fact that
Dave seemed to truly feel he was being cheated on.

"I was able to get my schedule arranged so I could come out to see
you. I called you on the ship, but Nurse Davis said you hadn't worked
there since the cruise ended. She didn't say why, but I thought that
maybe you had gotten in trouble for showing up late that day. I know
you didn't want me calling your brother, but, the last time you were
fired I didn't call you, and I lost you, and I didn't want that
happening again." But it had still happened, or so John had thought
at the time.

"So, I called, and as soon as I told Steve who I was, he got angry,
saying that I had done more than enough to you and that you never
wanted anything to do with me again. Hearing that, combined with the
fact you moved and that your phone calls always were short and ended
without you ever saying that you loved me...well, I thought you
decided I wasn't worth the trouble."

John shrugged. "That was a week ago, Dave. So, no, I didn't
immediately jump into Luka's bed. I tried to find you, even here, but
when I called information, they said that no one by your name had a
phone number. You didn't call me." He shook his head. "What else
was I supposed to think?"

"I told you I loved you every time -- I ended every conversation with
'Love you...Miss you...' -- maybe, maybe you hung up before you could
hear that, I don't know, but I told you I loved you every time. I
still do..."

Dave shook his head, frustrated at all of the emotions he was feeling.
Once he felt he got a grip on them, at least a little bit, he
continued on. "I kept the calls short cause I was embarrassed. I
didn't call this week cause I was running around on job interviews. I
didn't want you to be disappointed in me gettin' fired again. I...I
wanted to make sure I had somethin' lined up before I called you
again. I've been livin' in a hotel on the south side of town, hoping
I'd be able to find somewhere to live when I got a job, and then this
opportunity came up. Movin' in here meant that I didn't have to find
a place to live, but now...I'm not sure if workin' here is a very good
idea...it seems you've moved on..."

God, how that hurt. It hurt so much that Dave wasn't sure he could
take it. Dave quickly cast his eyes downwards again, once more
embarrassed at how upset he was over this. Once again he had opened
his heart to John. And once more, it was broken. And this time, Dave
wasn't sure he'd ever be able to move on from it. And the information
about Steve...Dave wasn't sure what to make of that. But he couldn't
think about that at the moment. He'd give his brother a call later.
He could understand why John would be feeling the way he felt, based
on the information given, but Dave couldn't help but feel like his
entire world was crumbling at his feet.

"I never ended a call until I couldn't hear your voice any longer,
Dave. You might have meant to say those things, but you didn't."
John looked away from Dave, not sure about what to believe or do.
*If* Dave was telling him the truth, then he had cheated on him and
they weren't broken up. But John also knew that Dave wouldn't want
him now, not knowing he had been with Luka again. Not knowing that he
had cheated on Dave, no way.

"I wouldn't have been disappointed in you, Dave. Never. I know it
was my fault you were fired, so how could I possibly hold that against
you?" John shook his head again. "You should have told me the truth
back when it happened. You could have stayed here." John looked back
at Dave, but Dave was staring at the floor. "You could have been here
with me this entire time," John softly added.

"I...I wanted you to be proud of me. How could you be proud of a
loser who couldn't even manage to hold down a job? God, I'm such a
fuck up...and I've managed to fuck things up for us again. Look at
us. Look at what I've done..."

Dave shook his head, unable to even look the man he loved in the eyes.
"I always ended those calls with 'I love you'. Maybe the call
disconnected before I did...I don't know, but I always wanted you to
know how much I loved you. How much I still love you. God...this
just hurts so fucking much. I never expected...I never expected you
and Luka to be together when I got here..."

He had lost John again. And it was all his own fault. His own fault
for getting fired. His own fault for not telling John. His own fault
for not telling John he was back in Chicago, even without a job...

John quickly walked over to Dave and put his arms around him. "Don't
say that. Don't *ever* say that, Dave. You're not a loser or a fuck
up. Cell phones can suddenly cut off, we both know that. I'm sorry.
I should have waited longer, or asked Steve more questions
or...something. I love you. Being with Luka...that didn't stop my
loving you."

Instinctively, Dave's arms went around John's body, pulling the taller
man closer to him. It was as if he was holding on for life -- afraid
if he let go, even for a moment, that John would leave him.

"But, but what about Luka? You might love me...but...if you're not
with Luka now, he sure thinks so...because Luka looked like he wanted
to rip my head off when he saw me in this living room," Dave said,
finally feeling a little bit calm for the first time since seeing
John. "I...I've really managed to fuck up your life again, John..."

John shook his head. "No, don't say that. It's not your fault you
were fired, it's mine. I should have known that there would be rules,
but I never asked. I'm sorry." He hugged Dave tightly, and then
stepped away from him. "As for Luka...God." John ran a hand
nervously through his hair, then looked into Dave's eyes.

"I love him. Not the same way I love you, I could never have those
same feelings for another person, but I *do* love him. We need to
talk this through, the three of us. If you never told Steve to say
those things to me, then that means we never broke up, right? So, I
did cheat on you. But I didn't know I was, I thought you had dumped
me, and rightfully so, and I tried to move on, and..." John's heart
felt as if it were being torn in two by his feelings. "And Luka loves
me, too."

"I know Luka loves you," Dave said, finally bringing his eyes up to
meet John's. "He was in love with you back on the ship -- but he was
too much of a gentleman to stand in your way when you came after me.
I knew he was jealous as Hell every time we were together, and I
didn't care. I didn't care cause I had you and he didn't. As for the
rest of it..."

Dave shook his head. "No. You didn't know. You didn't know. You
didn't cheat on me...cause you didn't know. I shoulda called you. If
I had called you, none of this would have happened. I guess...I guess
we both have to take a bit of the blame here."

He ran a hand over his eyes, trying to sort all of this out. "Yeah, I
think we do have to talk...all three of us. But, I think that the
most important thing that has to happen is...you have to make a
decision. You have to decide who it is you want to be with; me or
Luka. And as much as I hate to say it, one of us is *not* going to be
pleased when you make that decision...but the other person...the other
person will be the luckiest man alive..."

Dave was hoping that John would choose him. And part of him
knew...okay...all of him knew that if John decided that he wanted to
be with Luka, there was no way that Dave was going to let him go
without a fight.

John didn't want to have to make that decision, especially since it
was going to leave someone hurt and disappointed. So, he decided to
concentrate on the three of them talking. "Come on upstairs. I'd
like to get out of these scrubs and into some real clothes and then we
all can talk." He held out his hand toward Dave, ready to lead him up
the stairs.

"You want all three of us to talk now? Do...you wanna talk to Luka by
yourself first? I...man, this is a real mess...isn't it? Yeah, okay,
I'll come up with you...I'll be by your side. Anything that Luka
says...I wanna be there to defend myself.."

He took John's hand in his, a foreign and familiar experience at the
same time. Foreign because this was not how he had expected things to
be, yet familiar because Dave and John together...it was the way it
was ultimately meant to be.

Squeezing his hand, almost unconsciously, Dave let John lead him up
the stairs, completely unsure of what was going to await him once he
reached the top.

John took Dave to his room, opening the door wide to reveal a large
bedroom with a loveseat, a few chairs and some tables and the large
bed against the wall. "Go on inside and have a seat while I get Luka.
No reason why we can't be comfortable while talking, right?"

Dave nodded. "Yeah, okay.. I'll wait here for you," he said. And he
slowly made his way over to the loveseat. Dave wasn't sure what he
was more surprised over -- the fact that he was experiencing all of
this, or that John's bedroom was bigger than Dave's apartment had been
when he had last lived in Chicago.

"Go get him. I'm not goin' anywhere. I promise..."

John's eyes drank in the sight of Dave in his bedroom, and his heart
constricted just a little over the fact that he was possibly going to
lose the chance to ever see that sight again. "I'll be right back."

Without shutting the door, John walked the short way down the hall to
Luka's room, knocking softly on the hard wood. "Luka? May I come
in?" God, how was he going to explain things to Luka? And if Luka,
like Dave, wanted to insist that he choose between them, then John
wasn't sure what he was going to do.

After pounding his fist into the wall a few times, Luka had finally
collapsed on his bed in an exhausted heap, frustrated that nothing
*ever* seemed to go his way. Once again, he had thought that things
were finally going to work out for him, for John...and then Dave
showed up.

There was no mistaking the look that he had seen on John's face.
That, combined with the fact that John had admitted to him the night
before that he was still in love with Dave, spoke volumes.

Luka's expression was unreadable as he mulled all of this over in his
brain. And his voice was devoid of any emotion as he told John to
enter his room.

As the door swung open, Luka lifted his head off of the pillow. "What
do you want, John?"

John's heart broke into a few more pieces as he took in Luka's
defeated appearance. He couldn't choose between Dave and Luka, he
just couldn't. Not knowing how badly one of them would be hurt when
he choose the other.

He stepped into the room and walked over to the bed where he sat down
and rested his hand against Luka's cheek. "I'm sorry about all of
this, Luka. We need to talk...*all* of us. Dave's waiting next door
for us." God, but it hurt to see Luka trying to not show his pain.

Luka's eyes fluttered closed, his heart doing a leap as John touched
his cheek, and Luka flinched away, knowing that if he was going to get
past this, he was going to have to start to close himself off from
John sooner rather than later. And as John spoke, Luka slowly opened
his eyes, trying to focus his tired eyes on the man he loved. The man
who had the ability to crush him with one action, one look...

"You think that the three of us need to talk? What is there to talk
about? You told me last night that you didn't love me the way you
loved Dave...and now Dave is here...obviously he wants you back...and
you're going to go to him. So what is there to talk about?"

As much as he wanted to mask the hurt, it was nearly impossible to do
with the pain so close to the surface.

John shook his head, wondering why it was so easy for the men he loved
to think he'd desert them so quickly. "No, it's not that simple,
Luka. I thought Dave and I were broken up and I made a vow in my
heart to you, but, we weren't broken up, so that meant I cheated on
him. I love him, that much is true. But it's also true that I love
you. It might not be the same kind of love, Luka, but it's there and
it's real and I don't want to lose either one of you."

Luka now looked at John head on, disbelief growing in his eyes. "You
can't have it both ways, John. You might not want to lose either of
us, but can't have *both* of us. I won't stand for that, and I'm
quite sure that Dave won't stand for that, either. No. You are
dealing with some very real feelings here, both mine and Dave's, so
you need to decide...very, very soon, what you want, or the decision
is going to be made for you, John. I'll...I'll give you some time,
but I won't wait around forever. Sooner or later, I am going to have
to move on with my life if you should decide that you don't want to be
with me. But I am going to have to find some way to get closure from
this. And you not wanting to lose either of us will end up hurting
*both* of us in the end."

Luka shook his head, and then slowly sat up in bed, still trying to
make heads or tails out of what was going on. "If you want the three
of us to talk...I'll come in and talk, but frankly, I still don't know
what there is to talk about."

John ignored Luka's little speech about him having to choose. It
wasn't fair and he didn't want to face having to chose between the two
of them. "What there is to talk about is what happened to create this
situation, Luka. If you and Dave talk things out, then you won't hate
each other so much. It's not his fault, and it's not your fault,
either. There's no reason for the two of you to be at each other's
throats." John got to his feet and, as he had with Dave, held out his
hand for Luka to take. "Come on."

Unable to argue with the man anymore, Luka obediently rose from the
bed, and took John's hand in his. It was warm and smooth, just like
it always was. And Luka's hand still fit with John's nicely, but
something was different. Something had changed.

Dave Malucci. Dave had torn them apart again. And this time, Luka
knew if it happened, it was going to be forever, because he was not
going to let himself go through the pain of losing John for a third time.

As they walked back towards John's bedroom, Luka hesitated once more.
"Are...are you sure this is really necessary? Right now, all I want
to do is throw the man's head into a wall. I'm not so sure it's a
good idea for me to be in the same room with Dave for very long..."

John came to a stop in the hallway and he hugged Luka. "I know you're
hurting, and I know you're angry. But you're angry with the wrong
person, Luka. Hear him out about what happened, please?"

Luka nodded, and pulled away from John, once more trying to distance
himself from any more pain. And without taking John's hand in his
again, he made his way into John's bedroom, stopping short as he
noticed the eyes of the younger man on him once more.

Dave's eyes met Luka's...and he nearly shuddered at what he saw there.
Luka was someone who was hurting just as much as Dave was, and that
made all of this that much more difficult. It would be easier if Luka
had been a fling...if Luka hadn't actually had feelings for John, but
knowing that Luka was in love with John...and that John was in love
with Luke...

That hurt. John loving someone else. That *really* hurt. Because
John had been the only person that Dave had ever loved. And Dave knew
in his heart that would never love another...that John was *it*.

"Good afternoon, Luka," Dave finally managed to say. "I'll bet you're
wondering just what I'm doin' here..."

"The thought had crossed my mind," Luka said. He grabbed a chair from
the table that was in the room, and turned it so it was facing the
love seat. With another glance up towards John, Luka sat down, intent
on listening to everything that Dave had to say. Why, he wasn't sure.
Luka already knew in his heart what the end result was going to be.
He didn't know why he was putting himself through the pain.

Dave spoke. And he kept speaking, repeating essentially the same
story he had told John only moments earlier, only a little more matter
of factly. And as he finished speaking, he glanced over to Luka, and
then dared to look at John, trying to figure out how he was reacting
to all of this.

John had intended to change immediately, but he found himself standing
there and listening to Dave talk. He had wanted to sit, but he knew
that if he sat on the loveseat by Dave then Luka would be hurt, and if
he pulled a chair over and sat by Luka, then Dave would be hurt, and
God only knew what they both would think if he sat on the bed.

"I really need to change out of these scrubs," John said as he turned
to his chest of drawers to get some casual clothes. "You two can talk
about things and I'll just step into the bathroom for a few minutes."
As John closed the bathroom door behind him, he felt the sting of
tears in his eyes, and he walked over to the closed toilet, sitting
down while he silently cried over the entire mess his life had so
quickly become. He really needed a cigarette...or...something
stronger. God. What he needed was to change and go back into his
room to find Dave and Luka smiling at each other and willing to share
him. That's what he needed, and John didn't quite understand why he
couldn't have that.

To be continued
You must login (register) to review.