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: 446528 Published: August 30, 2004 Updated: September 10, 2007
Chapter Two by MonaCK
The plane took off without a hitch, and within a few moments the captain came over the loudspeaker stating that it was safe to lower the lap trays and turn on any approved portable devices.

Luka glanced over to John, who seemed to be in a completely different world, staring out the window as if he was remembering times gone by. It was recognizable to him because it was the same kind of look that he experienced when he thought of his wife. His Danijela. A smile crossed his lips as he thought of her...and how beautiful she had looked on their wedding day.

Since Danijela, there had been others...men and women alike for he had known for a very long time that he was attracted to members of both genders. But there had been none who could compare to his wife.

Abby had come close -- even he had to admit that -- but at the same time, Abby had demons of her own to fight -- not least of which was trying to sort out her feelings for the man who was, ironically enough, sitting by Luka's side, not hers.

Luka glanced over to the women sitting across the aisle from him. Randi's lady friend had fallen asleep already, head leaning back onto a pillow in her seat, but Randi was awake, and looking back over to Luka. He was about to say something to her, when out of the corner of his eye he noticed a *very* attractive man wearing nothing but a G-string with a name badge on it walking up the aisle holding a tray with drinks on it.

Luka's soft smile turned into a full-fledged grin. If the men on the ship were anything like the men on this plane, both he and John were in for a *very* fun time. A female voice broke his train of thought.

"Wow. What a *hottie*," Randi exclaimed, barely able to control her own excitement.

With that Luka couldn't disagree. Neither could his body as he realized he was becoming quite turned on by the vision of a very attractive man in very little clothing.

"John...you have to take a look at this," Luka finally said, as the man passed, and was quickly followed by a woman clad in a similar getup.

John's penis was hard just from remembering what had happened with Dave, but it was Luka's voice and not Dave's that he heard saying his name, and when he looked over at Luka, it was with a bit of guilt for letting his thoughts wander the way they had. He shifted slightly, hoping that the seat belt was concealing the fact he was aroused. "What? What is it?"

"They aren't naked...but look..."

By the time he had caught John's attention, the first flight attendant was making his way back down the aisle, offering snacks to everyone in his path. It was kind of funny to Luka that the snack food that he was bringing this time around was packaged nuts.

"What do you think? Nice looking, right?"

John's mouth gaped open once again as he saw what the male flight attendant was wearing. Or, more precisely, what he *wasn't* wearing, and he could feel his cheeks growing warm as he watched the man approach their seats. It *would* have to be the guy who had reminded him slightly of Dave...and nearly naked, John could see that the man had the same muscular build. But the bulge behind that G-string wasn't anywhere as impressive as Dave.

Trying to sound nonchalant, John shrugged. "I've had better. I mean...I've *seen* better." He quickly turned his face back to the window to hide his embarrassment.

Luka raised an eyebrow. The mistake had not gone past him. He knew that John had had some sort of experience -- he seemed to know just what to do in the times that they were together for him *not* to have...but they hadn't really talked about their pasts. "Oh? So you've *had* better, huh," he teased, a playful smile on his lips.

He quickly glanced over to Randi, who seemed to be rather shamelessly flirting with the female flight attendant that Luka had seen earlier. At least she seemed to be otherwise focused. "He seemed to have a very nice...how do you say it...package on him?" Luka grinned once more. "You mean to tell me you've been with someone...nicer then that?"

John nodded as he looked out over the clouds hovering below the plane. "Yeah. Plenty of times," he said to the window. He had never claimed to be a virgin with Luka, and Luka had never asked him about his experience, so John had never seen the point in volunteering that information, especially since it involved Dave. Not that it would matter now, since Dave was long gone from County General and his life.

"You're one of them," John turned to Luka with a small smile on his face, hoping that the true compliment would keep Luka from questioning him further.

Luka's grin turned softer, and he turned his own eyes away, suddenly embarrassed by the praise. There had never been any of that when the two of them had been together. It was a beneficial relationship to both of them...they used each other when they both needed relief, and it was something they both agreed upon. Nobody was hurt by it.

"Thank you," Luka finally managed to say.

The cute male flight attendant made his way over to them, and Luka could read his name-tag as it hung off of his G-string. Bradley.

"Would you folks like anything to drink," he asked, his voice very gruff. "Coffee? Soda? Something stronger?"

"Just some water for me," Luka said. "John?"

"Water's fine, thank you," John said, smiling up at the guy's face. He didn't dare look anywhere else. The only time he had seen men dressed that revealingly, not counting being with Dave and Luka, had been in a gay bar once, and he had been drunk then. He wasn't drunk now, and he didn't want the guy *or* Luka to think that the hard on he was experiencing was due to the attendant.

The rest of the flight was uneventful. Carter and Luka talked quietly about nothing in particular. Randi flirted with everything that moved, and Maggie slept for the entire flight. They landed, and got their luggage relatively quickly. Carter had arranged for a limousine to take them to the hotel where they would be spending the night before the cruise.

Maggie and Randi decided to go out to a hot place for dinner that Randi knew about from her last trip to LA. Since they were only there for the night, Maggie was not going to argue with her. And besides, Maggie had slept for so long, that she was sure that she was ready for just about anything Randi had planned. So, that left Luka and John to fend for themselves.

They checked into the room, and as Luka opened the door, his tired eyes surveyed the surroundings. Well. It certainly was big, definitely large enough for the four of them. Luka had already volunteered to sleep on the pull out sofa since John had been generous enough to pay for the room. And as Luka dropped his bags near the front door, he turned towards his travel companion.

"So what would you like to do for dinner? Do you want to go out somewhere, or do you want to just order in some room service?" He was fine either way, but truth be told, Luka was a little bit tired. He hadn't been able to rest much on the plane at all...he was looking forward to having some room service, and maybe going to bed early in anticipation of the cruise the next day.

"I'm too tired to go out anywhere, so room service is fine." John replied as he closed the door. "There should be a menu over on the desk with the telephone. Just order me whatever it is you're having because my brain is too exhausted to make any kind of a decision right now."

John sat on the couch, wondering when the hotel maid would be by to set it up. It bothered him that Luka felt obligated to sleep on the sofa bed just because John was paying for the room, and he was determined that one way or another, Luka *would* sleep in the bedroom.

"No caffeine, though," John said over to Luka. "I just want to eat and then crawl into bed and sleep until the alarm goes off in the morning. Milk would be okay, or water, I don't care either way." He was having to fight the urge to close his eyes right there and then, but he knew if he did, then he'd be asleep in minutes, and he didn't want that. So, he kept his eyes on Luka, watching as the man looked at the room service menu.

"Okay. No caffeine. I agree. You need your beauty sleep," Luka teased as he perused his menu.

A few moments later, Luka hung up the phone after ordering the both of them a light meal of sandwiches. He ordered bottled water for them, along with some milk for John since he seemed to want some. Within twenty minutes, there was a knock on the door with their food selections, and after wheeling in the tray, the person from room service was gone in a blink of an eye.

"I hope you like the sandwiches," Luka said, as he pulled the cart closer to the table in the room. "I figured they would be light enough for us to be able to sleep soon afterwards..."

John got to his feet and slowly stretched as his back was aching slightly from where he had been stuck in the airplane seat for so long. "That sounds great. Thanks for ordering."

He was just about to sit when there was another knock on the door, and this time it was the maid to turn down the beds. As she headed into the first bedroom, John returned to the table and began to eat. "Do you remember when we're supposed to board the ship?" he asked.

Luka had just picked up the sandwich, and was about to take a bite when Carter spoke. He nodded.

"Yes. We are supposed to be at the pier to check in at noon, and they start to let you onto the ship at one."

Remembering back to when they were on the plane, Carter had been awfully reflective for a lot of the time during the flight. And it made him remember a conversation they had had a few months ago...after they had all been locked up in that classroom together during the snowstorm. They had been talking about their previous experiences and Carter had admitted that he had lost his virginity at age eleven.

Luka was sure that it seemed out of the blue, but he had to ask... "So. We were talking a little about previous experiences on the flight...and it had me thinking about that time we all talked about our first times...what...how did it happen that you had your first experience when you were so young?"

John carefully wiped his mouth as he considered how to answer Luka. The last time he had been asked that question, it had been Dave wanting to know, and they had argued. In John's mind, now that he had had months to replay that entire day in his head, it was that question that ultimately led to him and Dave breaking up for the first time.

He didn't want to let the same question ruin his friendship with Luka -- at least not yet. The friendship was still so new and full of promise, and John was finding that he genuinely liked Luka's company. And -- when they were in the mood -- the sex, such as it was, was pretty good, too.

John finally shrugged. "The normal way, I guess. You know, part A is inserted into part B..." he joked.

Luka eyed him, his brow rising as a smirk crossed his lips. "Oh, that's very funny, John. Okay. I guess you're not comfortable talking about this -- it was really just a curiosity question. I just...find it very interesting that we are both so different in terms of being comfortable without clothing on. Maybe it was because our first sexual experiences were very, very different..."

Luka finally took a bite from his sandwich, considering where to take the conversation next. He certainly didn't want to talk to John about anything that he found uncomfortable, but he really wondered quite often about what the circumstances had been around what happened with the maid.

"I thought it was very touching that you and Danijela waited for your wedding night. Look at how much grief could be avoided if more people did that," John commented.

Luka placed his sandwich down on his plate, and took a quick sip of water as John talked, considering his words very carefully in response. After a moment, he brought his eyes up to meet John's.

"It...was the way that things were done at home. Danijela and I were in love...and we married very young. We dated for a while before we finally married, and well...I really thought that she and I would be together forever...I guess that's what happens when you're young and full of ideas..."

Luka cast his eyes downwards once more, and picked up his sandwich. He wasn't very good at talking about his past...especially when his thoughts drifted to his wife and children. Marko would be 11 now...the same age that Carter was when he had sex for the first time. It was difficult for Luka to grasp his mind around that.

"No one expects life to end early," John commented, feeling slightly bad about making Luka sad. He also couldn't help but remember how young Lucy had been when she died, and, before that, Dennis, and before him, his brother Bobby.

John also couldn't help but feel guilty over thinking that if Danijela had lived, then Luka would still be in Croatia, probably the father of a few more children by now, and very happy with his family. He wouldn't be fooling around getting and giving blow and hand jobs to other men. And God only knew what else Luka had done. Their experiences with other men wasn't something they had talked about before.

But, since Luka was talking about 'first' times, then maybe men would be a better topic.

"So," John asked as he finished off his sandwich. "Since you asked me a question about sex, it's now my turn. What did you do the first time you were with another man?"

Luka recognized the subtle shift of subject, but he wasn't going to argue with the man. It was obviously not a very comfortable topic for John to talk about. He could understand that. But, before he could reply, the maid left the second bedroom and started on the sofa bed, and it wasn't until she had left the suite that Luka was able to speak freely. "My first time with another man, huh? What makes you think that you are not the first man I ever was with," Luka teased, knowing full well that John did not believe that for even a moment.

Luka sat back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest as his mind went back in time to his first experience.

"I guess I've always known that I am attracted to both men and women...but I guess the first time I ever acted on it.. I guess it was before I met Danijela...no...we never really did anything that could be classified as completely sexual. We never made love...we never did more than kiss and play with each other a little bit. I was, I think, fourteen years old..."

Luka smiled over to his friend. "How about you, John? What did you do the first time you were with another man?"

John smiled when Luka mentioned kissing, because kissing Dave had been a favorite pastime, and, when it came to kissing, Luka wasn't too bad, either.

He did feel his cheeks growing warm though as he thought about what he and Dave had done that first time. "Well, it started off with the two of us planning to jerk each other off, but I ended up giving Dave a blow job and he jerked me off," John said.

Luka straightened up, genuinely surprised. Dave? The only Dave that Luka knew was Dave Malucci...and it couldn't possibly be *that* Dave that John was talking about...as far as Luka knew, Dave had been a rather cocky, smart-mouthed lady's man.

"Dave? Your first time was with...Dave?"

Luka knew that John would know *just* which Dave he was referring to. What was more interesting is if it was Dave Malucci that John had been involved with, then John had only just begun to experience this part of his sexuality.

John frowned at the tone of Luka's voice, as if there was something *wrong* about him having been with Dave. "Yes, my first time for a lot of things was with Dave. Not that it matters now. Me being his first as well wasn't enough to keep him in Chicago, was it?" And Dave telling him he loved him and would never leave him hadn't kept Dave from doing just that, either.

Luka slowly nodded, but kept his gaze locked on John. "I'm...just surprised. Was...this recent?"

His mind was reeling with this new piece of information. John had been Dave's first as well...and it *must* have been recent, or he wouldn't have referred to Dave leaving...the way that John was acting, it was almost as if he...

Did John *love* Dave Malucci? This was very interesting indeed...

And now, it was more important to Luka than ever before to make sure John had a good time on this cruise.

"I...it's just that...John...you seem much more experienced then someone who only recently was with a man. I'm really just surprised that this happened not a very long time ago..."

"It didn't last long and the first time, it ended not that long before Dave was fired." John couldn't help but smile as he remembered all the times the two of them had been together, "But it was quite something when it lasted. Being with Dave made me realize that the reason my relationships with women didn't last had more to do with me probably being gay or something than from anything else, although when I was with him, I didn't find other men attractive. That's why I'm not looking to meet men on this cruise. Finding you has been more than enough, Luka." And even then, Luka didn't come close to making him feel the way Dave had.

Luka again nodded as John finished speaking, turning this piece of information over and over in his mind. "I'm glad that I have found you too, John," Luka said honestly, as he brought his eyes up to meet his friend. "A friendship like this is not quite like one I've experienced before. Most were either full-blown relationships, or one night stands. I've never done *this* before, have a friendship with someone with other certain...benefits," he added onto the end as a soft smile crossed his lips.

"Was this what your relationship with Dave was like?" Luka was pretty sure of what the answer was...but he wanted to let John talk about that, and not assume anything.

"Honestly?" John asked as he looked across the table at Luka, not sure if being honest about his feelings would destroy their friendship or not.

Luka looked back at John intently. "Yes. Honestly." Because for him to ask for anything less wouldn't be fair to either of them.

John smiled slightly. "I loved him." Then he shook his head. "I still love him. I knew that he'd leave me, I just wasn't expecting it to happen so soon...it's a bit complicated, because we broke up, then seemed to get back together, then broke up again, although I sure as Hell didn't expect him to just leave Chicago when he was fired. I guess I didn't mean as much to him as he had said I did, but, at the time..." John smiled sadly, "...at the time he said those words to me, I believed them. Not the words that he wouldn't leave me, I knew better than that. But when he said he loved me, I believed that."

Luka wasn't used to this much candor between them, but he didn't want to stop the conversation. Luka never once fooled himself into thinking that he was in love with John...or that the reverse was true...but it was interesting to learn that while John was in bed with him, he was likely thinking of another man from his past.

It was okay. In a way, they were both using each other. Both trying to find a way to find solace for a love that neither would have again. Luka's soul mate was dead. And it seemed that John's was permanently out of town.

"How did it end," Luka finally asked. "You said that you knew that he would eventually leave you. How did it happen? Either time?"

"The first time, it was stupid. He wouldn't take 'yes' for an answer," John replied with a shrug. "I don't know what happened. Not really. We were fine and then he was asking about Jenny and what happened when I was eleven, and then we were...busy...I was busy, I should say. I wasn't expecting it when he came, when he pushed his penis down my throat a bit, and I said that. He asked if I was okay and I told him yes, but then he kept on asking and I finally started to feel that he didn't believe me, especially when he finally said, in a tone of voice that didn't sound very sincere, that he believed me and trusted me." John twisted the napkin in his hands. "Maybe I was trying to pick a fight, I don't know. All I know is that if I could turn back time, I never would have said anything. Life is much better when I don't complain, too much."

Luka listened patiently to the whole story, and then nodded once more. "It does sound like you were looking to start a fight with him...because that seems like a very silly thing to break up a relationship over.. I noticed that you were not on very friendly terms before he was fired.. I guess that might be why he didn't try to stay..."

It sounded like a shame to Luka. After all, if he could still be with his soul mate, the person he was meant to be with, he would in a heartbeat, even if it meant traveling half way around the world. And it sounded to him like John and Dave had given up before they had a chance to know just how wonderful being in love could be.

"Now is not the time to dwell on this," Luka finally said, a smile crossing his lips once more. "We are going on a *cruise* tomorrow, and are going to have a very good time. I hope that even though you are not so interested in meeting someone new, that you'll at least try to dance once or twice with your suite-mate, huh?"

Now it was time to get John out of his doldrums. It had probably been a mistake to bring all of this up, but Luka was so happy to have some insight into John's life...

John looked up at Luka and smiled, but he couldn't help but remember how he and Dave had never had the chance to dance together. "Dancing would be good. As a matter of fact..." John got up and went over to the radio on the table by the sofa bed. He turned it on, found a station playing easy listening music, and then he turned and held out his arms to Luka. "I think we should practice," he said with a smile.

Luka brought his eyes up to look at John as he walked across the room, and with a nod, he stood up out of his chair. A smile twitched on his lips once more, as he moved into the arms of his friend and sometimes lover. He had to admit, it was very nice to be in his embrace.

"You're a very good dancer," Luka admitted, as he pulled back slightly. And unable to resist the grin on his face, Luka brought his lips down onto John's, brushing over them ever so lightly.

John's lips tingled slightly from the light kiss. It wasn't the electric charge that came with every single one of Dave's kisses, but it was good. John moved his body closer to Luka's. "So are you. And, as luck would have it, there are a few other things I'm good at."

Luka's smile grew broader. "Oh, yes? Maybe before we go to sleep, you can show me one or two of those things that you are good at...how does that sound?"

Luka's hands moved down John's back, and he rested them comfortably near the middle, crossing his wrists as he pulled John closer still. "I mean...I'm suddenly feeling a lot more awake...and we'll need to do *something* to get rid of this excess energy before even attempting to sleep..."

Oh...Luka was *not* going to complain if the two of them ended up fooling around a little bit. John was *very* good at what he did. Luka once again brought his mouth down to cover John's, this time brushing his tongue against his lips, begging entry.

John parted his lips, then slowly sucked Luka's tongue into his mouth, claiming it even as his hands began to work to undo Luka's belt.

Luka kissed John fully and passionately, lust taking over where simple friendship had been moments before. He craved to have his skin against John's skin. Yearned to have parts of John's body in his mouth. He had managed to pull John's shirt out of his pants before breaking away from the kiss breathlessly. "This is making for a very...very interesting evening...and a good way to begin our vacation together, don't you think?"

John slowly grinned at Luka. "I think so. And, I'm not so tired any longer, either. I think you're right that we both need to burn off some energy." John began to unbutton his shirt. "First one undressed gets to pick what he wants -- to suck or to be sucked."

Luka couldn't help but continue to grin as he watched John get undressed. Then realizing he was falling behind, he began to unbutton his own shirt. He seemed to be matching John article of clothing to article of clothing...but he was not fast enough for John.

What a magnificent body that man had. No -- it wasn't the most toned...but still...he was quite impressive to look at, and Luka found his own body responding to John as he moved to pull off his own underwear.

"It seems that you have won," Luka said, shifting his eyes over his lover's body. "What is your choice?" Because either would be a win for Luka...though he was kind of hoping to be able to have some release by John's hands that night as well.

John took a step toward Luka, grabbed him by the hand and walked the few steps over to the sofa bed, and then pushed Luka down on top of it. "My choice is to eat you alive, Luka. Dave was always amazed by what I could think to do with my tongue, and I think you will, too." He then grinned. "At least, I hope you will."

John dropped to his knees, pulling on Luka's thighs until the man's buttocks were poised on the edge of the bed and his legs were widely spread to either side of him. John leaned forward and carefully took Luka's scrotum into his mouth, sucking gently on the testicles within.

Before Luka could protest...say a word...anything, he was laying flat on the bed, and all at once, John's mouth was all over him. Licking...teasing...he...he really was very, very good at this.

Luka felt himself grow harder at every single one of John's touches. "Yes...John...that feels...very, very good..."

He wanted John to touch his penis, but he was not going to push the issue...no...John had won...so this was his choice...and he had no complaints over the treatment so far.

Luka's words spurred John on, and he soon found himself moving his mouth from the base of Luka's penis, and he worked his way up the shaft, to where the tip of Luka's penis glistened from the partially retracted foreskin. Yet another difference between Luka and Dave, John thought as he pulled the foreskin back even further so he could swirl his tongue over the head.

Luka whimpered slightly, but the whimper turned into a moan as he felt John's mouth on the head of his penis..

His hands moved down to the top of John's head, and ran his hands through his hair.

"Yes...John...that's good... "

John grinned around the head as he felt Luka's fingers in his hair. It was nice to have something he was good at, and, like he had told Dave, sex was something he excelled at. And, apparently, not just with women and Dave, judging by Luka's reactions.

"Do you want me to suck you dry, Luka? Or should I just give you a hand job?" He moved his hand up and down Luka's erection, moving the foreskin up and over the head, then back again. It was a fascinating thing to watch, and John found himself wondering if it also felt good for Luka. It had to, he reasoned, since any movement over his own sensitive head felt good to him.

"Mmm... John...I want to...I want to put my mouth on you too...do you think...maybe...we can...suck each other...at the same time?"

It wasn't something Luka had done very often, but he did enjoy it...and this way, they could both enjoy similar sensations in concert with each other. It was very appealing to Luka.

John nodded. "That sounds good. I've only done it that way once, so I might not be too good at it." John crawled over Luka's body to get to the bed, and as he stretched out, he patted the mattress beside him. "C'mon, Doc Euro, get your rear end over here so I can make you scream," John said with a grin.

"Yeah...well...maybe I'm interested in making you scream, too," Luka said, unable to keep a grin from forming on his lips.

Since John was already lying on his back, and besides, he had a feeling that him being on top might be too hard for his back, Luka decided that they would do this facing each other. But first...

Leaning over, he brought his mouth onto John's once more, wanting to taste himself as much as he wanted to taste John's lips on his. Lying down on his side, he took his lover in his arms, fully interlocking with him before pulling away with a smile. "Are you ready?"

John nodded, then he turned around and scooted down to rest on his side before taking Luka fully into his mouth.

Luka only hesitated for a moment before turning his body on his side, and bringing his mouth onto John's waiting penis. Engulfing it into his mouth, Luka barely suppressed a moan as he felt John's lips performing similar actions on his shaft.

The more he thought about it...the happier he was that Dave had left John. After all...otherwise...he wouldn't be enjoying this kind of mind-blowing sex...

John moaned around Luka's penis as he felt his own being engulfed in a warm and wet mouth. Of course, making Luka scream would mean that Luka would have to remove that mouth at some point, but sacrifices sometimes had to be made, John thought as he sucked energetically while using his hand to massage Luka's testicles.

That felt absolutely divine to Luka -- the feeling of John's hands mixed with his mouth on his most intimate areas. While Luka had experienced this before, it was the first time that he and John had ventured down this path. It was a treat. And like any treat, Luka felt that it was something that he could very well end up craving more and more...

His own movements matched John's, continuing to hungrily suck as he brought his fingers up to John's testicles to massage them, his strokes matching the movements of his mouth.

Oh...it had been a while since he had last had pleasures...and Luka knew it was not going to be long before the feelings that John was invoking in him were going to be too much for him to handle.

John could tell that Luka was rapidly reaching the point of no return, and he momentarily thought about tormenting the man by easing off, but that idea was quickly discarded as John found himself eagerly anticipating when Luka would come. Aside from just liking it, John enjoyed the rush that hit him as he saw what he had done -- it was a rush of power, and as much of a turn on as pleasing Luka was.

Luka's own mouth continued to move down onto Carter's throbbing shaft. And his hands continued to massage him, the movements becoming more urgent as he felt his body being pushed closer and closer to that ultimate pleasure.

And when it hit, it did hit hard...his mouth continuing to suck, trying to draw it out of Carter as rapidly as it was being drawn out of him. Normally his preference was to pull back, but with a guttural moan, he finally found his release and his own orgasm was too intense to do that...so he spit instead. Feeling as if he was coming forever Luka hoped that John was able to handle the lot of it one way or the other. He also hoped that it wasn't too aggressive for him, remembering their conversation from earlier.

After what seemed to be an eternity of swallowing and ejaculating, John rolled to his back, suddenly spent, but feeling sated. And then he heard a soft snicker that quickly grew to a laugh. And not just one voice, either. But two.

He was facing away from the door of the suite, but he didn't need to be facing in that direction to know that Maggie and Randi were back. John knew his face was on fire, but he also knew he had to say *something* -- anything.

"Well, you two are back early. Did you have a good time?" John asked, happy to hear that his voice didn't squeak on any of the syllables.
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