Change In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes by MonaCK, Cathy Roberts
Summary: It's a slashy A/U story about how Season 8 might have been and contains no spoilers for the current season. By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts
Categories: Regular Characters: Dave Malucci, John Carter, Luka Kovac, Other-Female, Other-Male
Genres: General
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 31 Completed: No Word count: 177069 Read: 446531 Published: August 30, 2004 Updated: September 10, 2007
Chapter Fifteen by MonaCK
By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts

John, Maggie and Randi were in the sitting room, watching a movie. It was the last night of the cruise, and Luka and Mike were out dancing somewhere, enjoying themselves one final time. John had thought that the women would go out, too, but they seemed content to stay in the suite and watch videos with him. Randi had voted to watch a lesbian porn film that she had bought back in LA, but John had vetoed that selection. He was having a difficult enough time waiting for Dave to arrive without having to deal with watching hot looking women doing each other on the TV -- especially since he was pretty sure it would quickly lead to Maggie and Randi doing each other, and they didn't always wait until they were behind closed doors to start, either.

The last night at sea -- John and Dave's last night together until they could arrange their schedules to mesh. God, he thought, it was going to be agony to have to wait to see Dave again, but John knew the reunion would be well worth the wait. He pretty much knew Dave's cruise schedule, it was his own shifts that he didn't know about. There was still a chance that Weaver would offer an attending position to him, which would alter his shifts quite a bit. As Chief Resident, he was expected to be there when others were out sick, expected to come in early or stay late, so there was more of a burden on him in that position than as an attending. But, nothing was written in stone. For all John knew, Weaver was still looking for someone with more experience and she wouldn't think twice about him. Which meant that at the end of his year as Chief Resident, he'd be in pretty much the same boat he was in before, when his residency ended -- to stay at County doing shift work or find a job elsewhere as an attending?

Maybe he could apply to whichever hospital it was that Dave ended up working? That would be good, John thought, very good.

He really, really wished Randi and Maggie had gone out partying. He wanted his last night with Dave to be special, but with them in the suite, it would only end up being the same as every night had been -- the two of them greeting each other chastely at the door, and then disappearing into John's bedroom. He wanted to have sex out on the balcony, dammitt! Or on the dining room table, or...someplace different. That's what he wanted. But it wasn't what he was going to get.

He sighed as the closing credits of the movie began, and was aware of two sets of eyes on him. "What?" he asked, looking over at Randi and Maggie as they sat cuddled on the love seat.

Randi grinned. "I was just wondering if we were boring you, that's all?"

"Of course not. I'm just...tired, that's all."

"Ah, tired. Of course. Well, one good thing about this cruise ending, you *will* be able to finally get some decent sleep," she replied with a smirk.

"I'm getting plenty of sleep now, thank you, and..." the rest of John's sentence remained unsaid as he heard a knock on the door. He was up from the sofa and to the door in seconds, his cock already hardening because he knew it was Dave standing there, waiting to come in.

Maggie looked over to Randi. "C'mon. We'd better leave loverboy here alone for his last night with Dr. Love out there," she teased. Since their argument a couple of days prior, both Randi and Maggie realized that it was a fruitless effort to argue over who was better for Carter -- especially if it ended up impinging on their own sex life.

As John opened the door, Dave stood stoically. He had been thinking way too much about the conversation that he had had with Luka...and now that the final moments of the cruise were approaching, Dave was more apprehensive than ever. He loved John. God...how he loved John. And because of that reason, Dave had to let him go...because there was no way that John would ever be happy with him. No. Luka would be there...and since Luka wanted him anyway...no...the temptation would be too great for John. This way, John could sleep with Luka...and didn't have to worry about feelin' guilty about it.

"Hey," Dave finally said, forcing a smile to his lips. "Man...you're looking *so* fine tonight."

Yeah...for that moment...he had to play it up, as if nothin' was wrong. There'd be plenty of time to talk later.

John grinned as his eyes moved up and down Dave's body. He was once again in his uniform, and John had no problem appreciating the way it set off Dave's muscles and coloring. "So are you. Come on in." He stood aside to let Dave into the suite. "I was hoping that we'd be able to spend our last night alone for a while in a memorable way, but Randi and Maggie decided they wanted to relax tonight, and they stayed in, so my plans to have my way with you out on the balcony have been put on hold. Maybe I'll just have to book another cruise within the next four months so we can try that? But, this time, I'll make sure that I'm all alone in the suite, so we'll never be disturbed." He shut and locked the door after Dave entered the room, then wrapped his arms around those broad shoulders as he spoke.

Dave shut his eyes, momentarily getting lost in his lover's arms as he spoke. Yeah...another cruise sounded like Heaven...but was it realistic? Was any of it realistic? They weren't gonna get to see each other...and Luka was gonna be right there...right within reach of him...

John deserved to be happy.

"Just bein' with you will be special, John," Dave finally said, keeping his eyes shut to try to block out any of those thoughts. "Let's...let's go into your room...that way we can talk a little bit in private...how does that sound?"

Yeah...get this out of the way now...maybe that was the way it had to be...that way...John could throw him out like he deserved...and that way it wouldn't look like he was out to get one last fuck.

Despite the fact that if he could, Dave would sell his soul to make love to John for the rest of his life. But the things that *Dave* wanted weren't usually meant to be.

"It sounds perfect," John said. He nibbled lightly at Dave's neck, and then pulled away from him, smiling. Taking Dave by the hand, John led him into the bedroom and shut the door, locking it for good measure since he knew Randi still had that Polaroid camera with her. "Will you need to leave early in the morning as usual, or can you stay a little bit longer since we'll be almost in port by then?" John asked as he began to unbutton Dave's shirt.

"I'm, uh...,I'm gonna have to leave at the usual time to get ready to go into port. Uh...John...maybe...maybe we should talk a little bit first..."

Man...it was hard...it was really hard because all Dave wanted to do was fall into bed with John, and never let him go. But that wasn't in the cards. No. He had to talk about this with John...it wasn't fair...it wasn't fair to him. John deserved to be happy...

John shook his head. "No talking, Dave. I don't want to waste a single moment of our last night together with words," he said. John decided to let his actions speak for him and he began to kiss each inch of Dave's flesh as it appeared when the buttons were undone.

Dave was gonna say something. He was gonna stop John. He really was. But then...then John's lips touched his body, and it was all over for him. His cock stood at full attention, hoping for some of the attention that it had been getting all week. There was nothing that he could do...yeah...they were still gonna have to...whoa...with one more motion...one more sweep of the hand, and all coherent thought went out of Dave's head.

He wanted to make love to John...and now that Dave's focus was narrowed, there was nothing that was gonna stop him.

The shirt out of the way, John stepped up to Dave, pressing their bodies together while he planted a long and passionate kiss on the man. He could feel Dave's erection through their clothes and knew that there was no way Dave would miss the one he was sporting. The kiss nearly made John dizzy, but he managed to pull out of it before he was breathless. There was too much he wanted to do and he didn't have the time to waste recovering from Dave's kisses.

With a slow smile, he knelt in front of Dave, then reached out and undid the belt around Dave's waist, deliberately not touching Dave's cock at all, but wanting to tease Dave with the idea that he would soon be doing more than touching it.

Irresistible. Once more...Dave found John a combination of intoxicating and irresistible. Dave found himself wanting everything at once; both of them naked, both of them in bed...touching...feeling...making love...making memories...

Oh man...as soon as John knelt in front of him, it was as if his cock just *knew* and seemed to get harder, further pressing against the fabric of his pants. Man, and so teasing. God...it was a slow form of torture...

"Please," Dave finally managed to say. Because in his mind, Dave knew this was the last time...this was it...and he was gonna have to make it the best that either of them had ever done...

*****************

Both men lay spent against the bed, drenched in sweat, in the throes of one Hell of a marathon love making session. But yet, Dave could only think of one thing. How they had to talk...how Dave couldn't do this...how he couldn't lead John on...

He still held John in his arms, pulling the man tighter to his chest as he thought about all that he would have to say, that he would most likely lose John forever with his words, but it was the way it *had* to be. John deserved to be happy...maybe with Luka he could be happy. Four months was a hell of a long time to have another man pining for you to be able to resist. Dave was just saving some time. No doubt, John would end up ending things with him sometime down the line...

Dave was just letting the heartbreak happen earlier rather than later. For both of them. It was so hard. Dave loved John so fucking much...but it was for that reason that he had to let him go.

He couldn't speak. He could only think. And he wasn't sure what was gonna come out of his mouth when he finally did speak.

John tenderly kissed Dave's chest as he became aware that the passion that had so recently filled the room was now replaced by sadness. It was going to be difficult, being apart for four months, but it wasn't going to be anything like the way it had been when they were apart because of them, him mostly, being stubborn. Then, John had no end in sight, nothing to aim for. But now...now, he knew that Dave would be there, and Dave knew he would be there as well. They'd wait for each other, see each other when they could, and survive it. Hell, people married to those in the military did it all the time -- faced long separations and the wonderful reunions.

Sighing, John rested his cheek against Dave's chest, content to just listen to the beating of the man's heart -- a heart that beat for him and him alone.

Dave found himself close to tears as he lay there...knowing it was for the last time. And finally...somewhere within him...he found the words to speak. "We...we have to talk about this," he said, his voice full of emotion. "We...have to talk about...all of this..."

He shut his eyes. Man...this was tough...when they were fighting...it was easy, but...not like this...he didn't wanna do this...but he had to.

"I...I don't know...what to do..."

Dave's voice rumbled into John's ear -- deep and somber. With the air of sadness in the room already, it was a bit too much for John to take, so he moved a bit, resting on his elbow so he could look at Dave while he spoke. "We've talked it all out, Dave. I know your cruise schedule, you gave that to me a few days ago. And once I'm back to work, I'll have a better idea of what my schedule will be like." He smiled warmly into Dave's dark brown eyes and reached out to caress his arm. "Four months isn't really all that long, you know. Trust me on that one. I spent three months in Atlanta, remember? Compared to that, this will be a piece of cake, except for missing you terribly each and every moment we're apart."

Luka's words kept rumbling in Dave's ears. John deserved to be happy. John deserved it. And that was why he had to do this. "Are...are we really gonna be able to see each other, though? I mean...I'm workin' more then I'm not, and, I don't know if you'll be able to stay with me when I'm not workin...four months...four months is a really long time. I...man, John, I...just don't know...I..."

He loved him. But if Dave said that, he knew he was sunk. Turning his head away in the hopes that John wouldn't see the emotion that was building in his eyes, he spoke again.

"I...I just don't know...I...I just want you to be happy..."

John brushed the back of his hand against Dave's cheek, "Even if we only get one night together, it will be worth it, Dave. Which reminds me that you haven't given me your phone number or address yet. It'll be pretty difficult for me to tell the cab driver where to go if I don't have your address, and I can't let you know when to expect me if I can't call you."

"See...see that's just it, John...I don't know if you're gonna be able to come and see me...not for the whole time...don't...I'm I'm stayin' with my brother, John...I'm not *out* to my brother...and he'll disown me if he finds out...I...I can't see you...I can't talk to you...not for the whole time we're apart...that's...that's a long time...I...I...damn it...John...I want you to be happy...maybe...maybe that's not with me..."

Feeling tears building, and not wanting to let John know that he was close to completely losing it, he abruptly sat up in bed. "You...you deserve better than someone who can't even tell you for sure when you'll see him again. You deserve...you deserve to be happy..."

Swinging his legs over the side, he made a move to get up. This was for the best, right?

John vaguely remembered Dave saying something before about his brother and he mentally kicked himself for not paying closer attention to Dave's fears. He started to reach for Dave, but then Dave sat up, and John had to move quickly to be able to reach him. "Dave..." John began as he wrapped his arms around Dave from behind. "It's okay. I'll get a hotel room somewhere and your brother will never have to know. I...I can call you here, on the ship. They have ship to shore lines, and I can do that instead. Having to work around your brother isn't going to make me unhappy, Dave, I promise you that."

"Is that the way you wanna be...sneakin' around? Calling me on the ship? I...I can't promise anything at this point. I don't think I'm gonna be able to get out of my contract...I don't know when I'm comin' back to Chicago...damn it, Carter...you deserve to be happy...you...you...God...I love you so much, but I...I can't do this.. I can't do this to you..."

He wrestled himself out of Carter's grasp and began to gather his clothing off the floor. "It isn't fair to you...I can't do this. I just...I can't...you deserve to be happy..."

He deserved to be with someone who could be there for him. Luka.

John's brain struggled to put all of Dave's words together, and by the time their meaning became clear, the man was nearly dressed.

"No." John scrambled out of the bed and went to stand in front of Dave, grasping him by the arm to hold him in place if he needed to. "Dave, I...I don't understand this. You said your contract was for six months and you've already worked two of them, so that means you'll be able to come back to Chicago in four months. You said so. Several times. This is about more than that, isn't it?" God, what had he done wrong? John's mind raced over the past two weeks, searching for clues as to what he had done or said wrong. He couldn't find anything, but he *had* to have done something wrong or else Dave wouldn't be standing there trying to walk out of his life again.

"Whatever it is I've done wrong, Dave, I'm sorry," he hastily said, looking intently at Dave. He wouldn't cry, he couldn't. No matter how much Dave's words hurt. "I promise I'll never do it again, but I don't know what it is I've done wrong. Tell me, please?"

Dave swung around, feeling tears fill his eyes as he faced John. Looking at his face, Dave almost lost his resolve. But he couldn't. He knew that he couldn't. "No. No...it's nothing you did...please, you have to believe that, *you* have done *nothing* wrong. I...I don't deserve you...you...you deserve someone who can make you happy. You deserve someone who can be there for you..."

A half smile formed on his lips as he brought his hand up to the side of John's face. "I'll never forget you, and I'll never stop loving you, but, you deserve so much better than me..."

He leaned in, and brought his lips to John's, kissing him briefly before forcing himself away. And then, without looking back, he left John's room. It was the way that it had to be.

Then why did Dave feel like his entire world had just fallen apart?

John felt as if someone had just punched him in the belly and he couldn't breathe -- he just couldn't. One moment his world was fine, a little sad, yes, but fine. And the next, it was over. Just like that.

Unwanted tears sprung to his eyes as he watched Dave walk out through the door. Just like he had before. And, like before, John was just standing there and letting him go.

Like Hell. John grabbed his robe and pulled it on as he walked into the main area of the suite. Dave already had the outer door open. "Dave...wait...you can't do this. Please stop so we can talk about things," John called out as he hurried his steps to catch up to Dave.

Tears were already streaming down Dave's face, and he frustratingly turned towards the man who had stopped him. "There's nothing to talk about..."

Damn it, why didn't John just let him go? It would have been so much easier...watching John in front of him.. Dave wanted to gather him in his arms and apologize for being so silly to try to end this. "Don't you understand? This is the way it has to be...I...I can't make you happy...and you deserve it, you deserve to have the *world* given to you. I can't...I can't give that to you..."

John shook his head. "But you *do* make me happy, Dave. And I thought I made you happy, too, but I guess I don't, or else you wouldn't find it so easy to walk away. If you love me, then you'll come back into that room with me so we can talk this out. I don't know what's wrong, but I'm not going to just let the best thing that ever happened to me walk away again. I won't." God, Dave had to see reason, he just had to. Because John didn't know what he'd do if Dave kept on walking.

"Four months, John, four months is an awfully long time...you deserve someone who can *be* with you those four months, not someone who isn't even sure when he's gonna be able to talk to you again...and because of how much I love you...I have to do this...you...you don't deserve to be strung along by me..."

He couldn't move. He couldn't leave. He couldn't stay. He could barely talk because if he did, he was gonna completely break down. And that wasn't an option.

"I"m only gonna hurt you in the end...you don't understand...I'm only gonna hurt you in the end...like I always do...so I might as well do it now when you have your friends around you to support you..."

Dave was crying, which to John meant that Dave didn't really believe what he was saying. He couldn't believe those words. There *had* to be something else...someone else. That was it. Dave had obviously never believed him about Luka. Dave had been celibate, not even touching a woman during their time apart, and John hadn't. "It's me who doesn't deserve you, Dave. I know I wasn't celibate while we were apart like you were, and I'm sorry about that. But I can be faithful to you for four months, I really can. I told you before that you don't have to worry about Luka or Randi or anyone else. I love you and we're back together and I don't want anyone else but you." John started to lean in toward Dave, thinking that if his words couldn't convince Dave about his feelings, then his kiss would. It had to.

Dave backed away, knowing that if he and John kissed he'd be sunk. "You shouldn't have to make that choice," he said, finally finding words even though they were choked with emotion. "You deserve to be with someone who can *be* there for you. I can't be there...and that's my own fault. It's my own fault that I'm on this cruise in the first place...and it's my own fault that I'm going to lose the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't deserve to be with you...I...I can't...please.."

And completely backing out of the door, he let the door slam in front of him...knowing if he let John touch him...if he let John near him he was gonna lose his resolve.

And taking a deep breath, Dave let the tears openly run down his cheeks as he walked down the hallway, not daring to look back.

This was the way it hadda be. Luka said so. And Luka was right. Dave was only gonna hurt John in the end.

John stood there, silent and still, but inside he was screaming. He wouldn't let Dave do this. They belonged together, and John was going to see to it that they stayed that way. He hurriedly tied the sash of his robe, then flung the door open and dashed into the hallway, looking around wildly for Dave and seeing him standing by the elevators at the end of the hall.

"Dave...don't..." John called as he ran toward him. He'd beg if he had to, get down on his knees and beg Dave's forgiveness for ever letting another man touch him if that's what it took -- vow to Heaven and earth to not even think about sex in the next four months -- whatever Dave's terms were, John would accept them. "Please don't go." The tears were now falling down his face, making it difficult to see Dave even as he neared him. But he saw the elevator doors open. "Don't go."

Dave stopped dead in his tracks as he heard John's voice behind him, his own vision blurred by the tears in his eyes. Damn it...he was makin' this so hard...so fucking hard...no...deep down this *wasn't* what Dave wanted, but he had no choice...he had to do this.

He couldn't look back. No way...if he looked back...he was sunk. As it was, his resolve had all but melted away...but then...then the elevator doors opened and out walked Mike and Luka. They had obviously had a good time, wherever they had been. Luka had a smile on his face, but it quickly left as soon as he saw the scene in front of him. Mike and Luka just exchanged a look, and Mike wordlessly walked down the hallway to his own room.

Dave took one look at Luka, and spoke.

"You...you were right," he said, his voice breaking. "I...I don't deserve him...please, please take care of him, please...make sure he's...okay..."

And before he completely lost any control over his speech, Dave walked into the elevator. He only dared to turn around once the doors began to close, and then he fully broke down, sobbing as the doors shut completely.

And, after pressing the button for his floor, he leaned against the side of the box, sliding down it with his head in his hands as he cried for the relationship he had ruined...and the friendship that was likely gone forever.

***********************************************
John's eyes were glued to Dave's form as he watched him step into the elevator. His own tears blinded him to the fact that tears were still in Dave's eyes as the man turned around and the elevator doors shut. But at that moment, something slammed shut inside of John. He came to a complete stop, his tears ceased even though his cheeks were still wet from the ones already shed.

Dave had ignored him. Dave had left him. Just like all the others.

And John still didn't know exactly what it was he had done wrong.

He vaguely became aware that he wasn't alone in the hallway, and his eyes left the elevator doors to see Luka looking sadly at him. He didn't need or want Luka's pity. And he definitely didn't want to hear Luka telling him 'I told you so'. The only thing John needed and wanted was leaving his life -- this time forever, from the way Dave made it sound. And all because John couldn't keep his clothes on, couldn't keep his lips and hands and mouth off of another.

Off of Luka. John had been celibate until that night at Luka's place. He could have come onto the cruise and faced Dave proudly, knowing he had been just as chaste while apart as Dave had been. And Dave wouldn't have been jealous or distrustful of him. Dave would have easily believed that John could be faithful for four months and more. But that wasn't possible because Luka had kissed him that night and John had given in to his desires and kissed Luka back. Wasn't that always the way with him? His flesh betrayed him each and every time. Another man might have blamed Luka, reasoning that since Luka had made the first move, he was to blame for all that had happened between them.

John Carter wasn't another man. He knew who was to blame -- the same person always to blame. God, why hadn't he just pushed a few extra cc's of Fentanyl or morphine when he had had the chance? Then he'd never have to face this pain, not once, but twice now. How was he supposed to live without Dave in his life?

Luka tried to come to terms to the scene that had unfolded in front of him...and the way that John's emotions seemed to shut off as quickly as the elevator doors had closed.

He took a tentative step towards John, and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'll...I'll take care of you," Luka said, his voice soft...soothing. "Let's...let's go to bed.. I'll take care of you..."

And *very* tentatively, he moved to take the other man in his arms. Luka felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that his own words might have been the catalyst to the couple splitting...but Luka reasoned that Dave would have likely come to the realization on his own anyway.

Long distance relationships never worked. It was better to have the heartache now instead of later.

John bowed his head as he allowed Luka to take him into his arms. As he allowed Luka to treat him as the slut he surely was. And why not? Dave already believed him to be incapable of being faithful for four short months, and with good reason. So why not go from being in bed with Dave to Luka's bed? It's what he was good at anyway. John had known that for years, that one inescapable fact -- he was an insatiable sex kitten, as Dave and Jenny and lots of others had discovered. It was as if he had been born to be good at sex; that, too, had been said about him.

He automatically put his arms around Luka's waist, burying his head in the strong shoulder he found in front of him. But no tears came. Insatiable sex kittens didn't cry when their randy ways got them in trouble. They just moved on to the next body, the next bed.

"Come on," Luka said, walking him towards their suite. "It's time to go to bed...everything will be better in the morning...I promise...everything will be better..."

Opening the door to the suite, he led John inside. As soon as he did, the girl's room door opened slightly, and a sleepy Maggie poked her head out.

"What's goin..."

Luka waved her off, shaking his head as he continued to walk with Carter. Luka didn't particularly feel like being social at that moment -- guilt was eating away at him. Maybe Dave and John really did have something together...and it was very...very painful to watch it fall apart in front of his eyes..

Once again, Luka had John by default. A rather large default this time. And Luka wasn't sure how he felt about that.

Leading John back into his bedroom, Luka shut the door behind them before leading him towards the bed.

John had heard a voice as they walked through the suite, Maggie's he thought, but when he glanced in the direction of her room, the door was closed, so he thought maybe he had imagined it. How could Luka promise that things would be better in the morning? They'd never be better, not with Dave gone.

God, his hands were starting to shake, John realized, and the numbness that had gripped him in the hallway was slipping quickly away. "Luka..." he shakily said and then John felt his knees give out on him as the tears once more came, this time harder than ever before. He didn't even think he had cried that hard for Bobby when he died, but then again, John and his brother had sat together quite often, crying over what was happening with Bobby.

Luka instinctively sunk to the floor, kneeling on his knees as he wrapped his arms around John...feeling a mix of guilt -- fear...sadness.

What had he done? He had said that Dave was going to hurt him...and in the end...Luka had been the one to inadvertently bring the pain to John. "Shh, John, I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."

He held John close to him, unsure of what to do to make John feel better. "I'll...I'll take care of you John...I promise, I'll take care of you..."

Luka's words seeped through John's sobs. Even he knew what John was -- those words were proof. Yes, Luka would take care of him quite thoroughly, John had no doubt of that, the few times they had been completely together had shown him that Luka was more than capable of satisfying his lust. Maybe Dave was right -- John needed to have someone around *all* the time to keep him satisfied in order to make sure his eyes didn't roam or that he didn't spread his legs for the next handsome face he saw.

Well, so be it, John thought as his fingers fumbled with the tie of his robe and then he shrugged it off his shoulders, getting to his feet at the same time. "How do you want it?" he asked Luka as he wiped the tears from his face, not noticing that new ones were quickly forming. "On my back or on my stomach? Or maybe standing up in the shower? I can wash away all traces of Dave first, if you'd prefer." John looked into Luka's eyes. "Anything you want, I'll do, just tell me."

Luka looked at John, surprised at his words...even more surprised at his actions...

"No! No...John, no...what are you doing? No, not like this...you...you love Dave, I'm...I'm not going to be with you this way. I'm...God...what the Hell have I done?"

Feeling suddenly dizzy, Luka stood, and turned, looking for the door. He...he had reduced John into thinking that all he had left was sex...Luka couldn't do that...he couldn't be with John that way.

Because it would be like making love to an empty shell...and that was the last thing that Luka wanted. "Tomorrow...after a good night's sleep...we're going to find Dave tomorrow after the ship is in port...and we're going to fix this between the two of you...you two...you two belong together He loves you, and you love him...and...and John...I'm going to help you fix this..."

John stared down at the floor, not quite believing that Luka now didn't even want him. But, as John thought about it, why should he? He'd been with Mike nearly the entire cruise while John tried his best to make up things to Dave. Luka had probably wanted to spend his last night on the ship with Mike, not with the County General whore. He backed up until the edge of the bed hit the back of his legs, and then John sat down, his world steadily closing in around him.

He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't even realize Luka was talking until he heard the words 'I'm going to help you fix this', and John shook his head. "There's nothing to fix, Luka. I fucked up when I fucked, and now no one will fuck with me." For some reason, that struck John as being the funniest thing ever said and he began to laugh, not realizing how close to hysteria he was edging.

"I want you to listen to me, John. You are quite possibly one of the most desirable men I've ever been with. I won't be with you tonight, because it would be *wrong*. Your heart belongs to someone else, now...and I'm sorry that I even tried to pretend that it didn't. It's my fault that Dave left. I'm going to do my best to get him to realize that...you two should be together..."

Where had John's self esteem gone? Luka had *never* seen him this dejected before. "I'm...I'm just sorry it took all of this for me to see that...I'm going to fix this for you...I'm going to make it so you're happy again..."

John was near hysterical...and Luka walked over to the edge of the bed, sitting next to John before he wrapped his arms around him, trying to calm John down.

This was an awful way for their vacation to end.

John's laughter suddenly stopped as it sunk into his brain that Luka was blaming himself for what had happened. "It's not your fault, Luka. I kissed you back, remember?" He reached his hands up, trapping Luka's face between them. "You are *not* to blame for this, and I don't want to hear you saying anything like that again, do you hear me?"

"Yes...there was nothing wrong with you kissing me back," Luka said, "We...we both weren't with anyone else when things happened between us...and it's not your fault that I fell in love with you. I fell in love with you...and you were in love with someone else...you belong with Dave...you belong with him because you love each other..."

He trapped John's hand with his own. "I am not going to have sex with you tonight...but I will stay with you if you want me to..."

Maybe he could do *something* to help John feel better...but it wasn't going to be sex. Not until John and Dave resolved things.

"Dave was celibate the entire time we were apart. But not me. No, not me." John dropped his hands into his lap, looking once more at the floor. "It's my nature, Luka. I try to not be that way, but there are times when I just can't help it." He got to his feet, not caring that his robe was still on the floor. "Maybe Randi's awake? She was a bit disappointed that she didn't get a chance to have me go down on her. Do you think she'd like that tonight? End the cruise sorta the way we began it? Except that you won't fuck me, not that I blame you for that, I really don't. I wouldn't want to fuck someone who had just been fucked, either," John said as he headed toward the door of the bedroom.

"No...John...no. I'm not going to let you do this..."

Luka walked up to John, and slowly put his arms around the man once more, trying to get him to listen to reason. More and more, Luka realized that he had made a huge mistake in getting involved...he should have let Dave and John's relationship take it's natural course. And as he realized this, he came to a decision, even as John's body slumped within his arms.

He had to find Dave...


To be continued
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