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: 452149 Published: August 30, 2004 Updated: September 10, 2007
Chapter Seven by MonaCK
After a great workout in the ship's gym, Randi and Maggie headed back to the cabin. The remains from that morning's coffee had been cleared away and the quiet throughout the three-bedroom suite assured the women they were quite alone.

"I don't know about you, but my muscles could really use a long soak in a hot tub of water," Randi said to Maggie as she started to strip in their bedroom.

Maggie nodded. "Oh yeah," she said, shutting their bedroom door behind them. "And would you let *me* get those clothes off of ya? Huh? After my session with Carter this morning, I am *more* than ready to show you some of the same in the tub..."

Walking up behind Randi, Maggie nuzzled her neck playfully while her hands found the bottom of Randi's shirt. "Let's get you into some of that hot water..."

"I'm feeling a little jealous here, Maggie," Randi commented as her shirt fell to the floor. "Not jealous *over* you, but that you got Carter. So, I knew you said we lost, but is he *really* that good? Because if he is, then I want my turn with him." It was hard to keep her mind on the subject at hand when Maggie's hands were busy exploring while trying to find the button and zipper for Randi's pants.

"Let me put it to you this way, Rand," she said, as she finally was able to get Randi's pants off of her. "My tongue has -nothing- on his...c'mon...when have you ever known a *guy* to get me to the point where I'm *screaming*? Oh...and I'm *sure* you'll be able to have him at some point of this cruise...provided you can get Luka away from him long enough. Man. Luka looks like a love sick puppy, doesn't he?"

After successfully pulling Randi's pants, and then her panties to the floor, Maggie practically licked her lips in anticipation. "Mmmm...Carter might have a magical tongue...but man...he's got *nothing* on you in the looks department..."

Maggie dropped her hands so she could begin to work off her own clothing, but not before leaning her lips down to Randi's so she could kiss her fully and passionately.

When the kiss finally ended, Randi walked into the bathroom to start running the water with Maggie close behind her. "Carter could use someone like Luka right about now. He needs someone to, well, fuck him senseless and keep him happy. He's been sad for far too long. At one time I thought he and this other doc at work were a hot item, but..." Randi shrugged. "I guess it didn't work out and then the guy got fired and that was the last any of us saw or heard of him. But man, Maggie, did those sparks fly when they looked at each other," Randi grinned as she remembered how hot it had been to watch Carter and Dave Malucci simply looking at each other.

Randi stepped into the tub, happy to see that it was wide enough so they both could fit without too many contortions of the body -- well, as long as they were just sitting there, that was. If they *did* anything, and Randi was planning to do plenty -- then there would be quite a few bodily contortions.

"So, get your cute little ass in here and give me a blow by blow," Randi grinned again, "or should that be 'lick by lick', description of this morning."

Maggie raised a brow as a grin spread over her lips, and she lowered her body into the tub, taking care to try to displace as little water as possible. "Well...let's see..."

She brought her hands down to Randi's crotch, feeling the wetness from the water of the tub mix with Randi's natural secretions. And as she carefully began to thrust a few of her fingers in and out of her, she brought her lips down to the side of Randi's neck, talking with a mix of husk and lust in her voice as she described, to the best of her remembrance, exactly what Carter had done to her.

As Randi had predicted, things quickly got physical in the tub. Water was sloshing over the sides and body parts were flailing in every which direction. Still, even when she thought about it, she never could say exactly how it was that she suddenly found herself trapped in the tub because the big toe of her right foot was stuck in the water spigot.

"Maggie, I've got a problem," Randi said as she gently pushed Maggie away. "I'm stuck."

Maggie had been just getting into it, feeling her hands move over her lover's smooth skin...her mouth on any part of Randi's body she could get when Randi pushed her away.

"W...what?" She looked up confused, her eyes sweeping down her girlfriend's body...to the vision of Randi's toe stuck in the faucet of the tub. "Oh...shit, Rand...one sec..."

Maggie quickly got out of the tub, hoping that the water on the floor near the tub wouldn't be too slippery. She was sort of hoping that the movement would dislodge Randi's foot, but no such luck.

"Uhh...maybe some soap?" Maggie raised an eyebrow, a lost expression on her face. Well. This had been a vacation of firsts. She had never been with someone who had gotten * stuck* in the tub before...

"Soap, or see if the guys have any lubricant with them," Randi suggested as she tried once again to pull her toe free. It seemed to her that the harder she tried to tug it out, the tighter it seemed to be stuck.

"Uh...right...lube...sure...uh...yeah..." Maggie quickly tried to retreat from the side of the tub, but her foot lost its grip, and she completely lost her balance in the puddle of water that had pooled near the side of the tub. Maggie ended up landing almost sideways on her foot as she fell to the floor with a yell of pain and surprise.

"Maggie," Randi shouted out as she watched Maggie hit the ground, feeling helpless since she was trapped in the tub. "Are you okay?

"Fuck. Okay...yeah...I'm alright...I'll be right back..." A little bit more gingerly this time, Maggie got up again, grimacing in pain as she hobbled out of the bathroom, and made her way into Luka's bedroom. Luckily, there was lube sitting out on the nightstand from the evening before, and she grabbed it, taking a moment to try to regain her balance before trying to make it back to the bathroom.

Maggie made her way back in, and stood in the doorjamb between their bedroom and bathroom, looking at Randi as tears of pain sprung to her eyes. "Man...I think if we do getcha out of this...we're gonna have to go down to the medical center. I did a hell of a job on my ankle..."

"You didn't sprain it, did you?" Randi asked, worried that Maggie had seriously injured herself and starting to feel angry that she couldn't get out of the tub to help her get to the bed or a chair. "Toss me the lube and go sit down and take the weight off that foot."

"Well...I'm pretty sure that I didn't break it. I mean I can move it and all...but man...it really fucking hurts..." Maggie did toss her the tube, but she continued to stand in the doorway as she watched Randi try to loosen her toe. "Rand...I think I'm going to call downstairs...this is insane...maybe someone can get you out of there..." Wasn't this just the friggin luck?.

Randi frowned at the idea of having to be rescued like some helpless chick, but then she grinned when she considered that it would most likely be guys sent to the cabin to help -- guys who wouldn't know what to do when a supposedly lesbian chick started flirting with them. The fun would almost make up for Maggie being injured -- almost. A lot depended on just how badly Maggie *was* hurt. "Why don't you see if they can send the ship's doctor up here, too? Let him check you out. Or her, as the case may be." Randi added some more lube, but her toe still didn't budge.

Maggie nodded, and then turned away from the door, hobbling over to the bed so she could sit while she made the phone call. She spoke to someone for a couple of minutes, and then called into the bathroom.

"Well, there are advantages to bein' in this suite...they're gonna send someone right up...uh...I'm going to throw on a robe. Do you wanna try to cover up or anything, or do you not really care?" She supposed she could drain the tub for Randi, and then help her get into her robe, or at least cover her with a towel if Randi wanted to...

"Well," Randi called back, "Since we didn't use bubble bath, then I guess a towel would be good. I can reach the plug at least."

"'Kay..." Maggie got up, feeling a wave of pain rush through her body as she accidentally put pressure on her foot. Her robe was haphazardly lying across the bed from where she had left it earlier in the day, so Maggie easily slipped it on, leaving it open while she limped back into the bathroom. Grabbing a towel, she brought it over to Randi.

"Here you go. Now we'll be leaving *something* to their imagination when they come up," she teased, as she sat down on the commode in the bathroom.

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

As he and Luka walked into the suite, John strained to hear if Maggie and Randi were back. He could faintly hear voices coming from their bathroom and he figured that they had simply forgotten to close their bedroom door. He turned to Luka with a grin. "Well, looks like we made it back safe and sound. I don't know about you, but I was worried that my robe would come open while we were walking. Still, it was nice of them to let us wear the robes back here instead of asking us to get dressed while wearing massage oil."

Luka couldn't help but smile. "I think that we will need to take a shower to take off all of what's left of the oils, huh? But yes...it was a lot of fun and worth it." As the smile spread further on his lips, Luka pulled John towards his bedroom. "What do you say...I know that it hasn't been long enough to...uh...get it up again...but maybe I can convince you to take a quick shower with me before we go and explore the ship some more?"

"Sounds good to me. Maybe by then the ladies will be finished with whatever it is that has them 'occupied' in their room and they can join us?" John said as he closed Luka's door behind them and continued to follow Luka into the bathroom after tossing the bags with their clothes in them on the bed.

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

Dave had been completing some charts from earlier in the day when he got a page about some help being needed in the grand suite of the ship. He had heard that someone *really* wealthy had bought it out, but he hadn't really cared who it was.

In fact, Dave had so far spent most of the cruise trying to stay as *far* away from the festivities as possible. Because...well...to be perfectly honest, every time he saw a man dancing with another man, all it did was remind him of Carter.

Man. It was so weird. He could have sworn that morning that he had seen him standing in the buffet line for breakfast, but he knew that was impossible, so he didn't even consider stopping to say hello.

He closed the chart on the guy who he had seen that was complaining of burns...well...Hell yeah he had burns...apparently his 'partner' had gotten a little too overzealous with the whips the night before...

Shaking his head, he got up from the chair, intending on meeting the maintenance people outside the elevators on the deck where the suite was. Apparently, some chick had gotten her toe stuck in a water spigot, and her girlfriend had messed up her ankle trying to get it loose.

***

A few moments later, Dave and company were outside the door. They knocked at first, but when they didn't get an answer, maintenance used their key to open the front door to the suite. The crew made their way inside.

"Yo...Doc's here," Dave said, a slight grin on his face. "Where's the patient?"

Randi grinned as she heard someone calling. "The middle room," she called out, hoping Maggie wouldn't even try to get up from where she was seated on the toilet lid. The oddest part about hearing someone calling out was that Randi would have sworn it sounded like Dave Malucci. Probably because he had been on her mind earlier.

Dave furrowed his brow. Whoa...if he didn't know better, he would swear that that was the voice of Randi. Nodding towards the guys in his company, the three of them -- two guys from maintenance and himself -- made their way into the bathroom of the middle bedroom.

And as Dave entered the bathroom, the grin on his face turned into one of surprise. "Whoa...Randi?" He thought for a moment, and then the grin returned. "I always knew I'd see you naked some day..."

Randi laughed as she looked up at 'Doctor Dave'. "Well, I do have on a towel, but that can be easily lost if you think it'll get my toe free any faster."

She then realized that Maggie, who was sitting quietly in pain, had no idea who this guy was. "Maggie, meet Doctor Dave. Malucci, meet Maggie. She used to work at County, too."

Dave turned towards the woman sitting on the commode, in a bit of obvious pain. "Hi. Nice to meetcha. Man...Randi...I didn't know you swung this way. It only makes you *that* much hotter..."

Maggie smirked. "Hey, Doctor Strangelove...if you fix my ankle, I might even be convinced to give Randi a wet hot lingering kiss...right in front of ya...is that enough incentive?"

Dave raised a brow. "Hell yeah...tell ya what...why don't I take you out to the living room of the suite so I can take a better look at your ankle, while my friends here get Randi outta the tub. Man...Randi...it's great to see you," he said sincerely. What were the odds of someone from County being on *his* cruise, especially during gay weeks?

Dave held a hand out to Maggie, and carefully helped her back out to the living room, taking care to settle her on the couch so that she could elevate her leg. "So what were you at County...doctor...nurse...clerk?"

"Doctor, thank you very much," she said. "Still am. Trauma Doc at Mercy..."

She nearly jumped off of the couch when Dave touched her ankle. "Whoa...not exactly known for your bedside manner there, huh, Doctor Dave?"

Dave smirked. "Funny..." He took an instant liking to Maggie. She had a lot of spunk. He liked that.

***

John had a towel wrapped around his waist as he headed toward the door of Luka's suite. While his clothes were probably still clean, he just couldn't bring himself to put them back on, another leftover from his childhood training. As he opened the door, he looked back at Luka, admiring the man's body as he bent over to open the drawers of his dresser since Luka had no intention of putting the same clothes back on either.

"Give me a few minutes to dress and dry my hair and then we can check out the rest of the ship."

Dave was chatting amicably with Maggie, and Maggie was telling the story about how she and Randi decided to be more than friends when Dave heard a voice.

A very...very familiar voice. He immediately froze. "Uh...Maggie...who...uh...who else is sharing the suite with ya if ya don't mind me asking? I mean...anyone else from County?"

John stepped into the main area of the cabin and froze as he heard a voice that he now only heard in his dreams, but once had heard nearly every day. Maggie was on the couch that faced him, and, kneeling on the floor in front of her was a man. It had to be Dave; it just had to be, John thought as he took a hesitant step forward. What if this was just another dream? What if he called out to the man only to find that it *wasn't* Dave holding on to Maggie's ankle.

But what if it was?

John swallowed hard, then found his voice. "Dave? Is it really you?"

Dave's back straightened. Maggie didn't even have to answer for him to know for *sure* that it was Carter in the room with him. Leaving a confused Maggie on the couch, Dave turned around, and felt his mouth turn dry at the first glance of the man who had been haunting his dreams for month...exactly how he had pictured him...perfect looking...scars and all...Oh man...it was him.

His insides turned to jelly. Dave felt weak in the knees as he looked at Carter before him. Oh man...he still loved Carter. He still absolutely loved him... Whoa...yeah...there was no denying it. And the shock of seeing him right here... "Yeah...yeah...yeah it's me...uh...wow...I'm...wow...I can't believe you're here..."

For months John had rehearsed over and over in his head just what he'd say to Dave if and when he ever saw him again. The lines had run the gamut from begging for forgiveness over their argument and promising to never doubt him again to just kissing him senseless without a single word.

Even as John's eyes took in the uniform that Dave wore, his mind was registering just how good the man looked. He had no right to look that good *or* sound that surprised and somewhat pleased at seeing John there.

John's mouth was set in a tight line as he took in the fact that Dave was wearing the uniform for the cruise line. "You can't believe I'm here? I guess that makes two of us, because I can't quite believe *you're* here, either. I take it that you're the ship's doctor?" John's voice was tightly controlled, just as the building anger and hurt inside of him were tightly controlled -- for right then.

Dave supposed that he deserved the indifference. But part of him inside died all over again. Obviously, Carter was *not* as happy to see him as Dave was to see Carter. Great.

"Uh...yeah. I'm the ship's doctor. Maggie twisted her ankle. I guess I'd better get back to my patient...Carter." Back to the way it was. He couldn't ever be with Carter again. He had fucked up that chance when he had taken off from Chicago. But Carter had made it quite clear that he didn't want to be with Dave. And when Dave lost the job at the hospital, and Carter had rejected Dave's offer to move, there wasn't much of a point in him sticking around...

"Yeah, I guess treating patients at sea is a lot easier than treating them in a busy ER, isn't it?" John snapped. Dave running off to play doctor on a cruise ship just played into the misconceptions people had of him as being nothing more than a partier out for an easy life. Even as he said it, John knew it wasn't true, but he wanted to get some kind of reaction from Dave, even if it was an angry one. Anything would be better than his lack of enthusiasm over seeing that John was on the ship.

Dave straightened up once again, and turned to face Carter. "What the fuck is *that* supposed to mean, John? Do you think that I *wanted* to no longer be in an ER? Do you think it was *easy* for me to find a job after everything that happened? But no. Not you. You had everything handed to you, right?"

"Hello? I'm in pain here," came Maggie's frustrated voice from the couch.

Dave ignored her, his full focus on the man in front of him. Man. How could someone he cared about *so* much...even after all this time...want to drive him to jump overboard? "Do you think that I had any *choice* but to leave?"

"Yes, I do," John hotly replied. "There are always choices, Dave. You could have fought back for your job, but you chose not to. You chose to leave, and you'll never know how much that hurt..." John clamped his mouth shut as he realized he was about to reveal his feelings to Dave. Why bother? By leaving Chicago without even a 'goodbye', Dave had shown John just how little he really cared.

Dave looked up, his face no longer showing signs of emotion. "Funny," Dave said, eyeing him evenly. "I thought you were too wrapped up in Abby to even *register* that I was no longer there, let alone be hurt by it."

His voice was calm, though inside he felt like his insides were being twisted with a knife. Yeah. This was *just* what he needed. He had walked on eggshells so far on this cruise thinking that everything was gonna remind him of Carter.

Yet here he was in the flesh.

John's voice and expression softened slightly. "I never lost track of the fact you were there, Dave. Never," he replied.

Dave downcast his eyes. There really wasn't anything to say to that...because his actions spoke much louder then his words did -- especially back then. If Carter had thought anything about him, he woulda tried to contact him during those days between him getting fired and when they ran into each other on the roof...tell him he was sorry Dave had lost his job...anything...but no...Carter wasn't exactly opening up the floodgates of communication.

"Yo, guys? Patient in pain over here, remember?" Maggie said.

John looked over at her, the pain on her face registering in his brain. "You need to see to your patient, Dr. Malucci." Then John turned around and walked back into Luka's bedroom, slamming the door behind him as he fought back tears of hurt, anger and frustration.

Dave's mouth was agape as he watched Carter storm off...and calmly, he turned around to Maggie once more. "Sorry about that. I'll wrap that ankle now...."

And with a downcast head he tended to his work. Because...when all was said and done...once again work was all he friggin had.

Luka was in the bathroom, brushing his teeth, when he had heard the sounds of upturned voices, and he jumped in surprise when he heard the bedroom door slam.

"John? Is everything o..."

As Luka walked into the bedroom, his expression turned from curiosity to one of pure concern as he saw that John was obviously upset. "What...what happened?" He walked over to his lover, and reached to draw him into his arms.

The second that John felt Luka's arms, damp and warm from the shower, touch his bare skin, he began to cry. The worst part was that John didn't really know why he was crying -- was he hurt by seeing Dave? Was he hurt because Dave had left him behind without a thought? Was he hurt because the arms around *should* have been Dave's and not Luka's?

"N...nothing happened," John managed to say. "Nothing at all happened. He looked right through me, Luka. Damn him. Then had the nerve to act surprised to see me here and then accused me of not caring about him. Fuck him. Fuck him. Fuck him." John sobbed.

Luka pulled him close, truly bewildered as to who was here...and to who was affecting...oh...shit..."Dave? Is Malucci here, John?"

Dave. Quite possibly the *only* person who Luka truly felt threatened by. Dave. The person who John still *loved*. Luka's eyes fluttered shut as he tried to get a grip on all of the emotions that were welling up inside of him. Jealousy. Fear. But also a certain knowledge. As long as Dave was still in the picture...there was no way that John would ever return the feelings that were building inside of Luka.

John nodded against Luka's shoulder as he tried to wipe the tears away from his eyes. "He's the ship's doctor and Maggie hurt her ankle or something and he's *out there*, Luka. Right now. And he said...he said he loved me, so how could he look right through me? Oh, God, I've got to get off this ship now. We need to make them turn around or something. I can't be here with him, I just can't."

Luka bit his bottom lip, his eyes focusing on the door in front of them; the door leading out to the living room where the man the John loved was standing. "No...no we can't leave...and we can't turn around...I...John...I think you need to talk to him...he's going to be here with us for two weeks...and it's not that big of a ship..."

The words that were coming out of his mouth were not what his heart was feeling. Luka's heart was telling him to go and beat the shit out of the person who was making John feel this way..

But Luka had to take the higher road. They were only going to be on this cruise for two weeks, and he had a vested interest in John having a good time. Maybe Dave had moved on too, and the two of them could come to some sort of peace.

John shook his head. He didn't want to talk to Dave again. He couldn't stand having Dave look through him again, or accuse him of forgetting he existed. John also knew he wouldn't be able to be alone in a room with Dave without wanting to touch him and kiss him and beg him over and over again to forgive him and make love to him -- and Dave clearly didn't want that. He had first made that clear when they broke up the first time, and Dave's leaving Chicago had only made it clearer.

"I'll stay here...in our cabin. I didn't really plan to go all over the ship...I can read and relax. Watch videos...tan out on the balcony. I don't even have to leave to eat, they'll serve food here, that's why we have a dining room." John nodded and stepped back from Luka; satisfied he had found a way to deal with Dave's presence. "That'll work. He can stay in his office or whatever it is he has and I'll stay here." John looked into Luka's eyes and tried to judge what it was he was seeing there, but he couldn't. Luka's gaze was unreadable. Any other time, that wouldn't have bothered John, but right then it just hit him the wrong way. Maybe Luka didn't want him any longer now that he knew Dave was on board?

John headed for the bed and the bag with his clothes in it. His plans to go to his room for fresh clothes were now canceled, so the ones he had worn to breakfast would have to do.

Luka shook his head sadly. He cursed Dave Malucci -- not only for being the man who Carter was so obviously still in love with...but because he had once again managed to encase a shell around Carter...a shell that Luka was just beginning to break through.

Luka began to walk towards his drawers, and as he pulled out clothing for himself, he began to speak once more.

"I am not going to push you to do anything that you're not ready for," Luka said, his voice quiet. "But I think you are making a mistake..."

And picking up his articles of clothing, he walked into the bathroom. He shut the door behind him, intent on getting dressed while he figured out what the Hell he was supposed to do.
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