There's a saying that you don't know what you've got until it's gone,
and it was a saying that Dave never really gave much thought to until
he found himself missing the feeling of having Carter next to him in
bed every night. Dave realized that a cynical person would try to
claim that he was missing the sex, but there hadn't been any thing
sexual going on between them. Well, not much of anything sexual,
anyway. Dave wasn't really sure if he wanted to count getting
blowjobs and hand jobs from Carter as them having a sexual
relationship, especially since Carter wouldn't let Dave reciprocate.
At first, Dave had argued with Carter over that, but Carter's stubborn
insistence and magical mouth would end up wearing down Dave's
resistance. Of course, he knew why Carter wouldn't let him do
anything - he was still self-conscious about that damn ostomy and the
bag. Dave could shower with Carter, but touching him anywhere below
the waistline was a no-go, and Dave had no choice but to honor that
It wasn't an easy thing to honor though. Or rather, it hadn't been an
easy thing to honor. The ostomy was now a thing of the past. Carter
had gone back to the hospital to get it reversed and was now home
again after a long week's stay. At least it had felt like a long stay
to Dave, who had grown quite used to having Carter's body snuggled
against his own every night. Dave also suspected that it had been a
long week for Carter, too, judging by the pissy mood the guy had been
in during Dave's visits. Again, Dave couldn't really blame Carter too
much for feeling that way - he'd been making good progress with his PT
and the reversal surgery did set Carter back a bit. He'd hoped to be
on crutches by now, but was still stuck with the walker, and the
doctors had been quite emphatic that Carter shouldn't even attempt
using crutches until his sutures were out, and they went on to urge
that Carter not try the crutches until a few more weeks had gone by.
Dave knew that there'd a be a struggle about the crutches, which was
why he'd already taken the step of hiding them in the back of the hall
closet. Sometimes, Carter's stubbornness was a good thing, Dave
thought, like when he insisted on making Dave come. But at other times...
Dave shook his head slightly, even though there was a slight smile on
his face. Carter stirred a bit and Dave wrapped his arms a bit
tighter around Carter's body, holding him closer. It felt a bit
decadent to be napping in the middle of the afternoon, and Dave was
enjoying every moment of it. He'd brought Carter home just an hour
ago, and promptly put him to bed. Dave had intended to putter around
the apartment for a bit, but when he'd heard Carter crying out in his
sleep, all thoughts of housework went out of the window. Carter
needed him. And Dave was able to be there for Carter, unlike the
whole past week when Carter was once more trapped in a hospital room.
Dave had looked in Carter's eyes during the past week and knew that
the nightmares had come back, and he'd felt helpless over the fact
that he couldn't do anything to keep those nightmares at bay.
The helpless feeling was now gone, although Dave did feel a bit badly
that Carter had started to have a bad dream so soon after coming home.
He thought about going to DeRaad or someone else in Psych and asking
if there was anything special he should be doing for Carter. It
wasn't the first time that Dave had thought about doing something like
that, and he suspected that it wouldn't be the last time. But, as
with the other times he'd thought about it, Dave still encountered the
main obstacle to him asking, and that was him revealing to co-workers
that he and Carter were together. While it was true that quite a few
people knew that Dave was staying at Carter's place, none of them knew
that the two of them were sharing a bed. Dave didn't think he'd be
able to explain away how Carter's nightmares could be quieted by him
holding Carter just a bit closer as they slept - not when he was
supposed to be sleeping on the couch every night. Dave didn't know
how Carter felt about it, but he personally wasn't interested in
outing himself. Not yet, anyway.
Dave placed a light kiss on the back of Carter's neck and closed his
eyes, then softly cursed as he heard the sound of the doorbell.
Didn't people realize that Carter had just got home and didn't need
any visitors? Well, he'd just ignore it, Dave decided. And then the
doorbell sounded again. With mutters that cursed the parentage of the
person at the door, Dave got out of bed and headed from the bedroom,
closing the door softly before proceeding to the front door. The damn
doorbell rang again before Dave could get there, and that pissed him
off. Didn't they realize that they might be disturbing Carter's rest?
He yanked the door open, angry at the rude insistence of the bell ringer.
And then Dave stood there speechless as he found himself face to face
with Carter's parents. No, he'd never met them, but he'd seen them in
photographs in the apartment, so he recognized them. Carter's mother
looked like - well, like some bitch made out of ice. Carter's father
looked exasperated. Both were well-dressed, and both looked
well-rested, facts which made Dave wonder just when they got into
town. He knew from Carter that they'd been in Tokyo, and if they'd
just gotten off of the plane, then they would be looking a little
tired and rumpled. Anger surged through Dave's body as he looked at
the couple. Carter had been stabbed and nearly killed and they hadn't
come home, and now they show up on the day that Carter was home from
his second surgery, looking for all the world as if this were a normal
Carter's father cleared his throat. "We're looking for John Carter.
This IS his apartment, isn't it?"
Dave nodded, but he didn't step aside to let either one of them in.
"It is, but he can't come to the door right now. He just got home
from the hospital and is taking a nap. I can let him know that you
came by." Even as he said it, Dave knew that he wouldn't follow
through on that. Not that he wouldn't tell Carter, but that he
wouldn't turn Carter's folks away. The guy had been practically
pining for them for weeks, so there was no way that Dave would be the
one making them leave. But Hell if he was going to make this easy on
"We're John's parents," the woman said, looking at Dave with something
between disdain and suspicion. "And you are?"
"I'm Dave Malucci. I've been staying here with John to help out since
he still can't walk very well," Dave answered. He then stepped to one
side. "Come on in, but try to be quiet. He didn't get a lot of rest
in the hospital and he really needs the sleep."
The couple walked past him and as Dave closed the door he found
himself wondering if he should go in and wake Carter. A part of him
knew that Carter would want to see his parents, but another part of
him wanted Carter to rest.
"I'd offer you something to drink, but I don't have any coffee made.
We've got juice and water, though, if you'd like any." Dave headed
over to the easy chair; ready to sit down if they declined his offer.
"No thank you," Carter's father answered. "We had something at the
hotel before we came over." He sat down on the sofa with his wife,
both of them now looking uncomfortable. "John was in the hospital
again? He didn't mention anything about that during our phone calls."
Dave knew that Carter's parents called him. He'd even been there for
some of those calls. But he didn't know that Carter hadn't been
keeping his parents updated on his condition, and that knowledge made
him wonder just how much to reveal. He finally decided that the basic
facts would be good enough. "He went back in to have the colostomy
reversed," Dave said. "We just got home about an hour ago."
"I guess he didn't want us to worry about minor surgery, Jack,"
Carter's mother said.
As the Mr. Carter nodded, Dave sat down. "It wasn't minor surgery,
Mrs. Carter. John was in the hospital for a week, recovering from the
procedure. Of course, I don't know how you view things. For you,
major abdominal surgery might be a minor nuisance." Oh, Dave knew
that he was being rude to Carter's mother, but right then, he didn't
give a fuck. He was still pissed off with Carter's parents over the
fact that they hadn't rushed back to Chicago when Carter was stabbed,
and their current attitudes weren't making things better.
"Yes, well..." Mrs. Carter said, but her eyes drifted toward the
closed bedroom door. "I'll just take a quick peek at him." She
quickly got to her feet and headed for the bedroom before Dave could
think up a reason to stop her.
"Eleanor's a bit anxious to see John," Mr. Carter said. "If you don't
mind, I'd like to join her, and then we can be out of your way."
Dave got to his feet as Mr. Carter stood. "Of course," he replied,
not trusting himself to say anything more in the fear that he'd tell
them just where they could put their parental concern. He watched in
silence as Carter's parents disappeared into the bedroom and found
himself wondering if they were going to look at Carter and then slink
back to Tokyo, never giving Carter a chance to visit with them.
John could hear the soft whispers near his bed and the sound confused
him, for he was pretty sure that Dave had brought him home. If so,
then why were there nurses or visitors in his room, trying so hard to
be quiet? Finding himself faced with the choice of continuing along
the road of sleep or forcing himself to awaken to see what was going
on, John felt drained. There were far too many choices that he had to
make every day, he thought - should he be cheerful or sullen, should
he admit to his pain or endure it silently, should he live or die...
Not wanting to think about choices, especially that last one, John
forced himself toward wakefulness, and as he became more aware of his
surroundings, he realized that he was in his own bed, in his own
place. And that the voices he was hearing were those of his parents.
His parents? John opened his eyes and found himself looking up at
them. They both looked worried and then that worry was replaced by
contriteness as they noticed that John was looking at them. His
mother smiled and then sat down on the edge of the mattress, moving
carefully as she reached out to smooth his hair back from his forehead.
"We didn't mean to wake up," she said, an ever-sad smile on her face
and reflected in her eyes.
"That's okay," John said as he started to sit up. "I thought you two
were in Tokyo."
"We closed the deal and headed straight here," John's father replied
as he moved closer to the bed. "Your friend Dave told us that you
went back into the hospital for more surgery. You never mentioned on
the phone that you were going back into the hospital."
"Now, Jack, that's not important," John's mother said, gently chiding
her husband. "What's important is that the surgery is over and John's
okay." She looked back at John. "You ARE okay, aren't you?"
John wanted to throw his arms around his mother's neck and cry,
telling her and his father all the many ways that he wasn't okay, but
he didn't. Instead he just smiled and nodded. "I'm doing fine. I
was able to do some PT while in the hospital, so I didn't fall too far
behind with that."
John's father chuckled. "Johnny, you keep forgetting that we don't
know all of that 'doctor slang'. What's PT?"
"Physical therapy," John replied, even though he wanted to argue with
his father that the term he had used was hardly 'slang'. But, John
knew that in the eyes of his family, medicine was nothing more than a
fancy of his, and one that they all hoped would pass. Why couldn't
they be like normal parents, John thought, and brag about their son
the doctor? Why did they and his Carter grandparents make it seem as
if being a doctor, especially a trauma physician, was beneath them all?
His father nodded. "Well, that's good to hear," he said, and he
smiled at John, but for John it seemed a bit forced. If it wasn't for
the fact that these were his parents, John would have sworn that his
father was feeling awkward, and unsure of what to say.
Just don't let him start in about the hospital, John thought. His
Gamma had already brought up the idea of him not going back to County,
citing his injuries as a good reason to look elsewhere for employment.
And, not too unexpectedly, the family business had been mentioned.
Not permanently, Gamma had said, but for a short time while he
recuperated and figured out what he wanted to do with the rest of his
life. Again, another shining example of his family not listening to
him, John thought.
"Yes," his mother agreed, and for a moment John thought he had spoken
out-loud and she was agreeing with him, but then he realized that she
was referring to his physical therapy. "You'll be back to your old
self in no time," she continued.
"I hope so," John replied, and then he found himself stifling a yawn.
"I'm sorry. My pain medication makes me sleepy."
His mother smiled and leaned over, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"There's no need to apologize, John. We'll be in town for about a
week, so there's plenty of time for the three of us to talk." She
looked over at John's father. "We should let John get back to sleep."
After saying goodbye to his parents, John burrowed back under the
covers. His yawn had probably saved him from the lecture about his
job, but his mother's words had let John know that the lecture was
going to be coming. It was a lecture that John didn't want to hear,
but he couldn't think of any way to get out of sitting through it.
The bedroom door opened and Dave stepped into the room. "I'm sorry
that they woke you up," he said as he crawled back into the bed and
carefully positioned his body next to John's. "I was a bit surprised
to see them."
"Me, too," John admitted as he snuggled closer to Dave's body. If
only Dave could be there when his parents wanted to talk him out of
being a doctor...Dave wouldn't let them say anything spiteful; Dave
wouldn't let them hurt him. "They're staying for a week, or so they
"That's good," Dave said, although John didn't think that Dave sounded
too pleased over that. "You all should have plenty of time to visit."
"They didn't come for a visit. They came to talk "sense" into me, you
can count on that. They all want me to give up medicine and get into
a "real" job. To be specific, they want me in the family business."
"Well, they just need to realize that you're one Hell of a doctor, and
you'd be doing your patients a big disservice if you gave up
practicing medicine just to be a desk jockey," Dave's arms tightened a
bit around John as he spoke, and John felt a bit more comforted by
that small action.
"Maybe they'll see that someday. Right now, all they see is that I
was hurt while working at County. Gamma's already been talking about
me not going back. It's tempting, too. But I know that if I don't go
back...back into Curtain 3, then I'll never be able to live with myself."
Dave placed a soft kiss on the top of John's head. "Well, there's no
need to be thinking about all of that right now. You need to first
concentrate on getting better, and then you can work on facing the
demons. You know..." Dave's hand began to caress John's arm, "You
know that talking to someone will help with that. A shrink, I mean.
Several of us from work have been in therapy over the...over what
happened. I think it would help you deal with things if you saw
"I'd never be able to talk to DeRaad," John said. He wasn't quite
sure how he felt about the man who was the head of the psychiatric
department, but John was pretty sure that he didn't want to go over
his feelings with the guy. Especially if it turned out that he
harbored some resentment toward him for not showing up when Lucy had
first paged psych. "Things would have been so different if they would
have come down when Lucy called them," John said. "Or even the second
time. But no, they had to wait hours before coming down." John found
himself blinking back tears as memories from that night started to
nibble at his consciousness.
"I know," Dave said, and he seemed to hold John even closer. "I know."
John tried to move even closer to Dave, wanting to get lost in the
sound of Dave's heartbeat and the rise and fall of his body as he
breathed. Dave was alive and real, and Dave kept him safe. Those
were the thoughts that John held onto as he started to fall back
asleep. As long as Dave was with him, John knew he had nothing to fear.
To be continued...