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"Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes, Part 25"
By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts

As the kiss ended, Dave kept his lips close to John's. And a smile
crept across his lips as he kept his gaze locked on John's. "I love
you so much, John, that it consumes me like nothin' I've ever
experienced before. I want to make sure you know that, and...I'll
take any part of you that I can get, John...anything that you can give
me...I'm gonna hold onto...and possess as much as I can. The biggest
mistake that I ever made in my life was lettin' you go...and I'm not
ever gonna do that again..."

John smiled sadly as he rolled off of Dave. "But you will, won't
you...I mean, if I should choose Luka over you? You both said you'd
leave me if I chose the other one." John stared up at the ceiling,
wanting to believe Dave when he told him that he'd never let him go,
but knowing in his heart that he was going to lose either Dave or
Luka, both as a lover and as a friend. To John, it was losing either
one of them as a friend that would be the hardest thing to get over.
It was a lot easier to get a lover than it was to get a friend, but
neither one of them seemed to understand that.

Dave thought about this for only a moment, and then brought his hand
up to John's chest, feeling the skin under his fingers as he spoke.
"I promise you...if you should decide...somewhere down the line that
you want Luka to be your life partner...I'll always be your friend.
Always. Because if that's what I have to do to remain in your life,
then that's what I'll be. Your friend."

Dave couldn't think about that, he couldn't think about what would
happen if John ultimately rejected him, because it hurt too much.
"I...want to make sure you know this, though. Months ago I lost my
heart to you. It happened. I can't say I wanted it to happen, but
I'm really glad it did. My heart is yours now. And I don't think
that it can ever fully come back to me. You'll always have part of me
with you...and if you should...should decide that I'm not the person
you wanna spend the rest of your life with...I...don't think I could
ever...ever love anyone else like I've loved you."

He swallowed hard, and then turned his head so he was facing the
ceiling. "But I don't want you to think about that. I don't want you
to run away from me...I don't want you to think that I'm pressuring
you into making a decision, cause the last thing I want to do is push
you away...not now." And not ever.

"The minute you each told me I had to choose between you two, I was
pressured into making a decision." John rose up on his elbow and
looked down at Dave. "It means a lot to me that you're willing to
always be my friend...no matter what I choose. But I want you to know
that even if that should happen, that I'll always love you. Choosing
one of you over the other doesn't mean that the love I feel for the
other is going to go away, and I think that you need to know that, for
if I *do* choose you, I'll always love Luka, Dave. Just as I'll
always love you. I didn't mean to fall in love with him, it more or
less snuck up on me, but it happened, and I can't just shut it off.
And he's going to have to realize that if I choose him, then I'll
always love you."

John reached out and stroked his hand over Dave's belly. "I just wish
I could convince the two of you that my idea isn't as bad as you seem
to think it is. Life would be much simpler that way."

"I...I don't wanna get into an argument about this, so please, don't
get upset about this...but I want you to understand why I feel so
strongly about this," Dave began, his eyes seeking out John's.
"I...don't fall in love that easily. I can honestly say the feelings
that I have for you are unique. I've never had them before, and I
don't think I'll ever have them again. I think...if I didn't love you
as much as I do...I wouldn't have a problem with what you're
suggesting, but...having the three of us act like a "couple" on a
regular basis...the jealous, hot blooded Italian in me can't
understand it."

Dave's lips twitched into a smile, as he said that, hoping that he had
added a little levity to the situation.

"I...I can accept that part of your heart belongs to him. I guess I
don't have any choice but to, since it's my fault that it happened.
But I'm not as sure I can deal with sharing you in his bed, though I
guess I have to get used to that too, at least for now. If I didn't
love you as much as I did..,it probably wouldn't be an issue for me..."

Dave's voice trailed off. He hoped he was explaining himself better
than he felt he was. Because Dave actually felt like he was talking
in circles.

John slowly nodded, but his heart was still sad over the entire
situation. "I guess I can see your point. I don't quite understand
it, but I can see it." He reached out and caressed Dave's cheek.
"I'll never ask it of you again, I promise." And John meant that.
However, he didn't see why he couldn't take a long time, a very, very
long time, to decide between Dave and Luka. He at least intended to
try to take as long as possible, just so he could hold onto each of
them a little bit longer.

"We...we should probably get back soon," Dave said, sighing as he
looked over to John. "They're probably gonna wonder where we are
soon..." Dave's expression turned sadder over the fact that he was
going to have to go back to his hotel room. Where was John planning
on going? Right into Luka's bed, after being with Dave all afternoon?

The thought of it turned Dave's stomach, but he was determined not to
say a word about it to John.

John checked his watch. "It's just about dinner time, and you did
tell Gamma that you'd be staying for dinner." John rolled over and
got off of the bed. He would definitely need to shower before showing
up for dinner, or else people might just suspect he had been fooling
around. There was one advantage to using condoms, he thought as he
started picking up his clothes and putting them on.

"Right. Yeah, I said I'd stay for dinner," Dave said, suddenly
feeling sad that the contact was over. He didn't even really feel
like he was part of a couple anymore. No. He was part of some
bizarre love triangle that he didn't know if he wanted to begin to
understand. Was this the way it was going to be from then on? They
had sex...and then it was going to be like there was nothing else
going on between them?

Once more, Dave wished that things were different -- that he hadn't
been such a stubborn ass, that he hadn't been so afraid of losing John
when he got fired that he didn't call him. If he had just told John
what was going on -- none of this would have happened. Dave and John
would still be a couple, just the two of them. And Dave wouldn't have
this feeling of doom in the pit of his stomach, that he was lining his
heart up to be broken once more.

Dave moved off the bed as well, searching for his now wrinkled
clothing on the floor of the bedroom. "Maybe I shouldn't stay. I
look like I just rolled out of bed," he commented as he picked up his

"Is there a problem with that? After all, we *did* just roll out of
bed, and I'm not ashamed of it," John said as he pulled on his shirt.
"I'd like it if you stayed. Hell, I'd like it if we went back to
your hotel tonight and moved you in here instead of you having to do
it tomorrow." John grinned at Dave. "But you don't have any food in
here, or towels, or toilet paper or anything like that, so you might
not be too comfortable staying here tonight."

"Yeah, I do need to go do some food shopping," Dave mused, looking
around his bedroom. Dave was somewhat surprised that John offered to
go with him to move Dave in. And then, Dave began to wonder what the
sleeping arrangements would be altogether...

"So...is there any chance at all...that I can convince you to spend at
least *some* of your nights here? I mean, I know it's not as big as
the mansion...but I promise to be a good pillow for you..."

John liked Dave's suggestion, but he wasn't going to give Dave
anything he couldn't give Luka. "I'd like to spend some of my nights
with you, but I think it's only fair to give Luka the same chance. I
haven't yet had a chance to talk with him since we argued...I don't
know if he's even planning on staying. If he is...I don't want
anything flaunted in his face...or yours, either," John said. "I
won't hide the fact that I love both of you, and I don't intend to
pretend that nothing's going on when we're together, but I don't want
it rubbed in. That's not fair to either one of you, especially since
I know that merely knowing about the other is going to hurt you both."

"Well...I think that Luka's planning on staying. He's just as
stubborn as I am," Dave said, a small smile on his lips once more.
Dave mulled the rest of John's words over in his head, still in a bit
of a haze of disbelief that any of this was happening at all.
"Whatever you want, John. Whatever you need to do to come to terms
with this...I'll do for you. I just hope that you...that you are able
to...never mind...no...I'm not gonna do this. I'm not gonna talk
about it...cause if I do, you'll think I'm trying to pressure you.
And I'm not. I'm really just trying to understand this in my head,
cause right now I'm in a situation I never in my life thought I'd be
in. In a way, even though I'm in love with you, and you're in love
with me, and I had you first, I feel almost like I'm the other
guy...sneaking around, and I don't wanna sneak around...not anymore..."

He shook his head, reaching down to the floor to pick up his underwear
and put them on. "I can't believe that you're gonna be here and I'm
gonna have to get used to sleeping alone again...I can't believe that
you're not...all mine anymore. And I'm sorry, but it still hurts.
And it's going to take some gettin' used to."

John waited until Dave was upright once more and he walked over to
him, hugging him tightly. "I don't want you to feel as if you're
sneaking around. I want everything out in the open, Dave. And I'm so
sorry that I've hurt you."

"I'm...I'm sorry I hurt you too...especially since it was one big
misunderstanding," Dave said as he fell into John's embrace. "Damned
cell phone...I think the first thing I'm doin' when I get a paycheck
is changing cell phone providers..."

Dave shook his head, pulling away slightly. He knew that in order to
get through this, he was going to have to close himself off somewhat,
and joking around was one way for him to do that. Dave still had a
'dinner with the family' to get through. And he knew in order to get
through that, it was going to take every ounce of strength in his body.

His thoughts constantly fluctuated between wanting to kill Luka, and
wanting to cry. And neither scenario was a very good one.

"I think that changing providers is an excellent idea," John agreed.
Knowing the depths of Dave's feelings for him, John felt even guiltier
about not waiting a bit longer -- he could have easily held off
another day or two before letting Luka in on how he felt. But he
hadn't, and it mostly had been because John had missed the physical
intimacy of being with someone he loved. Wanting to make love to Luka
had gotten them all into this mess, and John now knew that making love
to both Dave *and* Luka was going to be his only way to hold onto them
while he decided which one he had to hurt with his decision.

"What do you say we get back up to the main house so you can go
shower, and I can get some dinner. Our activities certainly built up
my appetite," Dave teased, even though in reality, food was the
farthest thing from his mind. It was really easy in the heat of the
moment to forget that there were any problems at all, but when
thinking with a clear head, Dave realized that there was a lot more to
them then a roll in the hay. Dave wanted *every* part of John, and he
was not happy with this sharing at all. And he frankly did not know
if he would ever get used to the idea.

John nodded, and once they were both fully dressed, they headed back
toward the house. As they walked, John reached out and took Dave's
hand into his own, not feeling ashamed at all at walking hand in hand
across the lawn with Dave.

As they walked into the house, a delicious aroma greeted the two men.
It made John's stomach start to growl, and he began to think that
maybe he'd be able to handle eating after all, although there was
still the issue of talking things over with Luka...and that thought
alone sent John's appetite into hiding.

He stopped at the foot of the stairs. "The dining room's over there,
and there's a half bath down that hallway, first door on the right, if
you want to wash up before dinner," John informed Dave. Then he gave
him a quick kiss. "I'll see you in a bit."

Dave gave John's hand a quick squeeze, and then nodded. "Okay,
thanks. Yeah. I should go in and brush my hair or something, maybe
wash out my mouth. Though, I have to say, havin' the taste of you in
my mouth while eatin' my dinner doesn't sound like a bad thing," Dave
joked, as the smile grew broader on his face.

Dave watched as John walked up the stairs, waiting until he couldn't
see him any longer before finally walking away himself. Dave found
the bathroom that John was talking about, and quietly entered,
shutting the door behind him. Once when he was finally alone again
did he let any emotion show. Making sure the door was locked, Dave
ran the water on the pretense of washing his face. The nice thing
about running water, was that it hid other noises as well. So, anyone
walking by wouldn't be able to hear the choked back tears that were
coming from Dave. It was way too much for the young man to handle.
But Dave knew he had to try, because the only other option was not
having John in his life at all. And that was an option that Dave
simply could not live with.

Luka had woken up on his own about a half hour before the alarm that
he had set. The sleep that Luka had gotten had been quite troubled,
marred with visions of John...Dave...and specifically John and Dave in
compromising positions that he did not want to think about. But it
constantly invaded his thoughts. He couldn't help it.

Luka heard movement in the hallway, so he decided to get up to let the
maids know that he did not need to be woken up, thus saving them the
embarrassment of walking into his darkened room. And as he opened the
door, a smile flickered across his lips. It was John, not the maids,
coming up the stairs. And John was alone. Luka couldn't help but be
happy about that. And the man looked happy. That was good as well --
at least it meant that he was okay. Maybe John had come to some sort
of realization...or decision. But there was one thing that Luka knew
for sure -- there was no way that *he* was going to be the one to push
John into anything. The words of John's grandmother echoed in his
ears. This was something that John had to come to terms with on his own.

John glanced towards Luka's door as he heard it open and he smiled as
he saw Luka standing there. "Hey," he said, coming to a stop in the
hallway. Now that the two of them were face to face, John suddenly
had no idea how he was going to tell Luka that he was going to be
spending some of his nights with Dave, and John's smile wavered as he
remembered the hurt look on Luka's face earlier. There was no way
that he wanted to hurt Luka, just as there was no way he wanted to
hurt Dave, and John couldn't help but inwardly curse the fates that
had put them all in their current situation.

"Hi, John," Luka said, noting how when John had not known that he was
standing there, he had seemed happy. Now he seemed to freeze, almost
as if John was afraid of something. "Did you have a good walk? Did
it give you the chance to think of some things?"

Luka wasn't sure if he was ready to hear the answer to that. But Luka
had promised to try to be open-minded about this, so he knew that he
would listen to anything that John said.

John remembered his promise to Dave to not mention his desire to be
with both of them, and he thought it was important for Luka to know
that he wasn't going to push that issue. "I had the chance to clear
my head, yes. And then I ran into Dave and Gamma, and Dave and I
talked for a bit. I think we, you and I, that is, need to talk after
dinner." John took a tentative step toward Luka, wanting to kiss away
the uncertainty he saw in those eyes, but he held back since he wasn't
sure what was on Luka's mind. "I'm not going to ask again about being
able to be with you and Dave, Luka. I realized how much it hurt the
two of you to even think about that, and I don't want to hurt either
one of you. So, you can rest assured that it's a subject I won't
bring up again."

Luka listened, and then slowly nodded. "I think that the two of us do
have a lot to talk about, and..." The entire time that John was
talking, and part of the time that Luka was, the older man's eyes had
been sweeping up and down John's body. After taking stock of the
younger man's appearance, he had suddenly come to a couple of
conclusions. First, the man was badly in need of a shower. Second,
it seemed to Luka that John and Dave might have done a lot more than
*talk* while they were together.

"Did...did you and Dave just...fool around, John?" Luka's voice,
while inquisitive, was also very much laced with jealousy. Luka had
*no* idea how he was going to handle this, and get past all of these
feelings to be able to do what John wanted him to do.

"No," John kept his eyes locked on Luka's. "Dave and I just made love."

If John had just punched Luka in the stomach, Luka didn't think it
could hurt more than he was hurting right at that moment. He felt his
entire body tense, and he very tersely nodded. "I see. Well. John.
You'd better get ready for dinner. I will see you downstairs."

Turning away from the man he loved, Luka went back into his room, and
shut the door. Leaning his back against it, Luka shut his eyes,
wishing that doing that mere act would block out all of the pain that
he was feeling.

John's knees felt weak as he watched a very defeated looking Luka walk
back into his bedroom and shut the door. What if Luka was thinking
that John had made up his mind already? John couldn't let Luka think
that, and he walked over to the door, leaning up close against it and
hoping Luka could hear him through the wood.

"Luka? I haven't made any decision yet, I want you to know that.
That's one of the things we need to talk about later, okay? Not that
I've made up my mind, but...but that I need some time to think things
through." John held his breath as he strained his ears for some
response from Luka -- even if it was just a grunt of acknowledgement
that Luka had heard him.

Luka nodded, and then realized that John would not be able to see
that. Swallowing hard, he found his voice once again. "Okay. Okay,
John. We'll...talk later. I understand. You need time, and I'm not
going to pressure you for that...just...understand that I am going to
need my space too, okay?" John could not have it both ways. What was
the term? Having your pie and eating it too? That's what this was
very much like. John could not have his pie and eat it too.

"Okay," John said, nodding, even though the sound of Luka's voice
didn't make him feel very hopeful. Then again, there hadn't been much
since he arrived home that had -- except for making love to Dave.

Sighing, John headed into his bedroom to shower, wondering how it had
been possible for him to have ever imagined that his life would go


By the time Dave left the bathroom, all traces that he was upset were
gone. His eyes were clear; his face, clean. His hair was slightly
damp from the make-shift wash job he had done. He had taken off his
shirt to clean up. Dave realized he had left his tie at the cottage,
though that didn't matter much. Dave would be in his new abode the
next day.

He was looking forward to starting the new job. And as he walked into
the dining room and saw his new employer already seated at the head of
the table, Dave's eyes sparkled, and his grin grew wider. "Hey, Mrs.
C. I hope you had a good afternoon. Dinner smells absolutely
delicious, and I am *starved*. You doin' alright? Anything I can get
for ya?"

Even though Dave did not officially start until the next day, that
didn't mean that he couldn't make sure he was still in John's
grandmother's good graces. After all, if he was on the good side of
the only family member that John liked and respected, it couldn't be
*all* bad for Dave...

Millicent smiled warmly at Dave. "I'm fine, thank you. Why don't you
have a seat here?" She indicated the chair to her immediate right.
When Luka appeared for dinner, she planned to place him at her left,
to make it easier to keep her eyes on the two of them. Even though
the two men had seemed to take her advice to heart, Millicent wanted
them close just in case John decided to put in an appearance for
dinner. Knowing John and the way his stomach became easily upset when
he was troubled, Millicent wasn't really expecting her grandson to
eat. He might just show up, but that all depended on what had
happened between him and Dave after she had returned to the house.

"Do you like the guest cottage? If there's anything in there that you
don't like, then we can easily replace it, just tell me," Millicent
said to Dave, wanting him to feel quite at home once he started to
work for her.

Dave nodded, and sat down, turning his full attention to Mrs. Carter
as she spoke. "Yeah, it's really great. I mean...it's better than
just about anyplace I've ever lived before. Thank you so much for it
-- I wasn't expectin' much more than a room when I was told that board
would be included in this job. But I can't say I'm upset about the
arrangements. And the furniture is perfect -- it's saving me from
having to go furniture shopping right away," Dave said, smiling over
to the woman. Dave was hoping that the conversation could stay off of
the topic of John -- at least for the time being. Mrs. Carter didn't
need to hear Dave vent about how much he was in love with her
grandson. It just wasn't something that you chatted to your employer

Millicent nodded again. "I'm glad. I feel that you can do your best
job as my doctor if you're happy in your surroundings. Did John come
back with you? I was wondering if he planned to join us for dinner?"

Dave nodded. "I think he was. He was running upstairs to take a
shower when we got back to the house. I'm sure he'll come down when
he's finished changing," he said, as he looked down at the place
setting in front of him. In reality, Dave had no idea if John was
going to be down for dinner or not, and Dave no longer felt it was his
place to ask. After all, they were no longer *really* a couple in the
committed sense of the word, no matter how much John claimed to love him.

"Most likely, but not to eat, I'm sure," Millicent commented. "John's
stomach rebels against him when he's upset, and I'm not expecting
tonight to be any different." She looked up at Henry. "You can serve
dinner once Dr. Kovac has joined us."

"Very good, madam," Henry replied. "Shall I serve the beverages?"

Millicent nodded. "Please. I'll have water with my dinner." She
looked over to Dave. "What would you like? We have just about
anything you could possibly think to ask for, so please don't feel
obligated to ask for water again," she said with a grin.

Dave shook his head and laughed. "I'll just have a soda then, if you
have that," Dave said, as he looked back over towards Mrs. Carter.
Dave had decided that he *was* going to get drunk that night, but it
wasn't going to be until after he got back at his hotel. Dave had had
enough experience with drinking before work that he knew he'd be able
to be sober enough to start work the next day at the mansion. Dave
couldn't help but want to drink, though. Anything to numb the
feelings that John was causing inside him.

Henry nodded, then disappeared into the kitchen. Millicent returned
her attention to Dave. "So, how familiar are you with Shys-Drager
Syndrome?" She asked, wanting to see if he was willing to tell her
more than John or Dr. Meyers had revealed to her about the condition.

Dave thought about this for a moment, and then shook his head. "I
gotta be honest with you, Mrs. C. I read up a little bit on it before
the interview, but I don't know that much about it. I am planning on
researching some current treatments, and I wanna make sure that the
course of treatment that you're going under is the best one for you.
I'm sure that part of my job here is making sure that you're getting
the best care possible, so I wanna make sure of that."

Henry came back out with their drinks, and waited towards the back of
the room for Luka to get there in order to start to serve their meal.
Dave was grateful for the glass to focus his attention on, and he
quickly took a sip, wetting his suddenly dry lips.

"That's good. I'm sure that Dr. Meyers is doing everything possible,
though. John wouldn't stand for it any other way, so don't be
surprised if you find him looking over your shoulder from time to
time. There are some times when having a doctor in the family is more
of a curse than a blessing." Millicent took a sip of her water, and
then discreetly checked her watch, wondering just how much more time
she would need to give Luka to appear for dinner.

"Henry, did anyone go upstairs to inform Dr. Kovac that dinner was ready?"

"Yes, Mrs. Carter. He was already awake and said he'd be down
shortly," Henry replied.

"Very well," Millicent said with a sigh. She'd give him a few more
minutes then.

Dave couldn't help but grin that the Croatian was late in coming down
for dinner. It gave him a certain amount of satisfaction, in a purely
competitive, sophomoric way. But Dave didn't say a word, and just
smiled over towards Mrs. Carter.

Luka was in his room, and trying to get a grip on his emotions before
coming down the stairs. He was already dressed, but wanted to make
sure that it didn't look as if he was as upset as he was feeling
before going down to dinner. Luka was also hoping that he and John
could go down together, just like they had the previous day.

But it was no longer the previous day. And what a difference those
twenty-four hours had made. While the day before Luka had been the
only focus of John's attentions, now there was Dave as a spike between
them. Shutting his eyes for a moment, Luka shook his head, and then
opened the door, hoping that he was giving off worlds more confidence
than he felt.

Luka glanced towards John's door. He hesitated, and then softly
knocked on it, wanting to make sure that John was okay before heading
down for dinner. He was already running late, but hopefully Mrs.
Carter would understand.

To be continued
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