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: 452158 Published: August 30, 2004 Updated: September 10, 2007
Chapter Twenty-Eight by MonaCK
"Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes, Part 28"
By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts


Luka exited the exam room, and looked down at his shirt in disgust.
Only the second patient of the day, and already he had been vomited
on. After signing off on the patient's chart, Luka replaced it in the
bin, and then headed off to the supply closet to get a fresh pair of
scrubs.

A few moments later, Luka was freshly changed, and decided that since
it was relatively quiet, it would be a good time to head over to the
lounge to grab himself a fresh cup of coffee. The conversation with
John in the morning was still weighing heavily on his mind. Luka
couldn't figure out for the life of him why John had acted the way
that he did. So far, he had not seen John come in, but that didn't
mean anything -- they often had different paths once they came to work.

Pushing open the door, a smile flickered on his lips as he spotted
Abby sitting on the couch, drinking her own cup of coffee. "Good
morning, Abby," he said as he walked over to the coffee machine.
"How's the coffee today? Okay to drink, or should I run over to Docs?"

Abby looked up at Luka and grimaced. "It's never okay to drink, but
we do it anyway. Besides, there's not time to run over to Doc's, not
with John out sick. How is he?" She asked, her grimace turning to a
look of concern as she waited for Luka's diagnosis of what had been so
bad as to keep John away from work. The man never called in sick, and
everyone had been surprised when he had gone on that two-week cruise.
John hadn't had any real time off since either his stay in Atlanta or
his medical leave after the stabbing, depending on how much you knew
about him.

Luka looked over to Abby from the coffee pot in surprise. "John
called out sick...? I...when I left the house, he told me that he
would see me here...I hope he's okay..." Obviously, whatever had
happened this morning was having a profound effect on John, and once
more Luka wondered what the Hell had happened.

"Yeah, um," Abby raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Frank said he
called in around six and that he sounded...strange. Definitely not
himself." With the way John and Luka had been walking on cloud nine
the day before, Abby was surprised that Luka hadn't known that John
was ill. Perhaps they had fought or something? She almost found
herself hoping they had, and that one or both men would realize that
they really didn't have feelings for each other after all and get back
to being straight. At least then she'd have a chance with one or the
other of them.

Luka shook his head, returning Abby's gaze. "Did Frank say what was
wrong? It's not like him to call out, and frankly, I'm worried about
him Abby. Abby...Dave came back yesterday, and...everything was
thrown into a loop...and I think it was too much for John to take..."

Luka knew that Abby was aware of what was going on -- and he was
pretty sure that John had confided in her about Dave. So she was one
of the few people that he felt safe talking to about all of this.

Abby frowned. "Dave Malucci? I thought he had dumped John. I
remember John saying that Malucci had seemed to move on shortly after
the cruise. He was fired or something like that, right?" Suddenly,
Abby's fear that she was turning all of her boyfriends -- or, would-be
boyfriends, gay, seemed unimportant. She remembered how John had
literally glowed with love when he came back from the cruise. But it
wasn't until she pressed him for details about his obvious shipboard
romance that he had finally told her about Dave Malucci. As Abby had
listened to John telling her about how the two of them had been a
couple even before Dave had been fired, Abby realized that she had
been blind and stupid to have ever thought that John was pining away
for her. Oh, he had been pining away, all right -- just not for her.

But, despite her disillusionment over that, Abby had been happy that
John and Dave had gotten back together. Malucci planned to move back
to Chicago in a few months and John had been so excited about that.
And then he had tried to call Dave and found out the man had dumped
him without a word of warning. Shortly after that is when Abby got
her second surprise as John told her about Luka's offer. But, she had
recovered from that and encouraged John to work past his feelings for
someone who obviously didn't give a damn about him and instead do his
best to have a relationship with someone who did -- Luka.

And now Luka was telling her that Malucci had shown up after all?
That couldn't be right, it just couldn't be. Abby felt that Luka's
words about it being too much for John to take were an understatement,
considering all he had told her about his feelings for Dave and then
how he felt about Luka.

What a mess.

"No...he didn't dump John...it was apparently a misunderstanding.
Malucci came to the house, looking for a job as Mrs. Carter's personal
physician. John and I came home from work yesterday, to find Dave in
the sitting room with her. Dave and I put perhaps a little too much
pressure on John to make a decision on who he wanted to be with, and
now...John wants to work something out so that he can be with both of
us, because he claims to be in love with both of us...and while Dave
and I do not agree on much...we do agree that this would not be a good
thing in the long run. I...I can't have that, Abby. I can't have the
person who I am committed to committed to another person as
well...things were doing better, I thought, but something must have
happened this morning. When I left for work, John was acting strange..."

Luka took a deep breath and looked over to Abby. He had no idea how
he and John were going to ever get past this, if at all. And then
there was Dave...would Dave take no for an answer if John ultimately
decided to stay with him? Luka just didn't know.

Abby got to her feet and walked over to Luka, giving him a hug because
he definitely looked as if he could use one. "It's not just a claim,
Luka. John told me how he felt about you. He *does* love you. And
he also happens to love Malucci. I'm so sorry about this. I can't
even begin to imagine the Hell all of you must be going through over
this." She didn't particularly care about how Malucci felt, but Abby
couldn't stand the thought of John and Luka hurting so badly.

"It is a bit of a mess," Luka admitted, allowing himself to feel the
comfort of his former girlfriend's arms around him. "It's been less
than twenty-four hours, and I don't think I can handle it...and yet
John wants as much time as he needs to make a decision. Honestly, I
don't know if I can do it. We can't talk to John, out of fear of him
going into a breakdown.. and he just doesn't understand that he is
toying with both my and Malucci's feelings here..."

"A breakdown?" Abby looked up at Luka in disbelief. "John Carter is
much stronger than that, Luka. You should know that. The worst this
might do is make him crave the sensation of being high, but a
breakdown?" She shook her head. "Not John."

Luka shook his head, his mind on the present as well as the past and
what had happened on the cruise. "You didn't see him yesterday,
Abby...or this morning. I don't think John is as strong as we would
link to think he is. He ran screaming from the house while we were
trying to work all of this out...he hasn't eaten since sometime
yesterday. Abby, I just hope that I haven't done something to drive
him into some sort of depression...he wouldn't even talk to me this
morning before I left the house."

Tears unwillingly leapt into the man's eyes and he angrily brushed
them away. Luka had not realized just how heavily this was all
weighing on his mind.

"Luka, he just needs time, and maybe a little bit of space. I mean,
he's got you in the room next to his, and now you're telling me that
Malucci's working there, so he's probably in the house, too. John
likes to please people and he hates the idea of having anyone
disappointed in him. It wasn't having to hear people say he had a
drug problem that hurt him the most about when they all confronted
him, it was knowing they were disappointed in him." Abby reached into
the pocket of her smock and pulled out a tissue, then handed it to
Luka. "Here, take this. Maybe all John needed was some time alone
today and when you get done with your shift you'll find that he's in
much better shape than he was in this morning."

Luka took the tissue, and stared for a moment. "Yes. Yes, you're
probably correct. Now.. if you'll excuse me, Abby...I need to go
check on a patient..."

Suddenly embarrassed that he had displayed as much emotion as he had,
Luka felt the need to leave the lounge. So he did, quickly making his
exit, and headed right into the men's room to try to compose himself.
Luka had a feeling it was going to be a *very* long day. And God
only knew what he was going to be facing once he got back home.

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

*ring* *ring* *ring*

Dave raised his head off of the mattress, the pounding in his head far
worse than it had been in ages. He had had too much to drink the
previous night. Way too much to drink. And now, the phone was
ringing. That was likely his wake up call -- he had called one in for
extra early because he had to finish packing before heading out of the
hotel.

Wearily, he got up out of bed, realizing that the pressure on his
bladder was not going to let him sleep for even a moment more.
Looking down, he realized that he had never bothered to get out of his
clothing the night before. Boy. Did he feel horrible...

About a half hour later, Dave was feeling slightly better. He had
taken some Advil, which was beginning to work towards his headache.
He had gone to the bathroom, and taken a shower, which had helped with
his attitude. And he was looking forward to starting his job...at
least John and Luka were going to be at work, and he wouldn't have to
deal with them. He was looking forward to getting to know Mrs. Carter
better.

He was soon packed -- most of his clothing was in one large suitcase.
Dave realized that he was going to need to go shopping soon -- both
for clothing and for things for the cottage. While the house had all
the furniture he was ever going to need, Dave needed to do things like
rebuy his big screen TV. That was a requirement, and he was hoping
that he would be able to afford to buy that soon.

Soon Dave had checked out of the hotel, and was loading his car. And
fifteen minutes later, he pulled onto the Carter estate. He couldn't
help but recall how the previous day, he had had such high hopes for
what was going to happen. Dave was going to get this job and then
find John and tell him that he was back in town. Instead, Dave was
competing with the Croatian wonder for the love of his life. What did
Luka have that Dave didn't have? It didn't seem fair to Dave that he
was in this situation at all.

Dave parked his car in front of the mansion, deciding that he would
head over to the cottage after checking on Mrs. Carter to make sure
that she was okay, and also wanting to make sure that everything was
set with exactly what Dave was going to be doing. And with this
thought in mind...and trying to push thoughts of John far away, Dave
knocked on the door of the estate.

Millicent was in the study when she heard the maid announce that Dr.
Malucci had arrived, and she looked up, a smile on her face as he
walked into the room. "Good morning. Have you had breakfast yet? If
you're hungry, I'm sure Corrine could whip something up for you."

Dave grinned shakily. The thought of food at that moment turned his
stomach, but he wasn't going to tell Mrs. Carter that. "Nah, I'm all
right. I grabbed something before I left the hotel," he lied, as he
looked toward the older woman in the wheel chair. "How are ya doing
so far today, Mrs. C? Anything I can help you with?"

As long as he didn't let thoughts turn towards John, Dave was in good
shape. But Dave knew the moment he let his thoughts wander...he was a
dead man.

Millicent shook her head. "I'm fine. Dr. Meyer will be here around
eleven and the three of us can discuss my needs and just exactly what
it is he needs you to do every day. So, why don't you take the
morning to get settled into the cottage? If something should happen
and I need you, we'll know where to find you," she added with a grin.

Dave nodded. "Okay, Mrs. C. I have my pager on, so you can page me
also and I'll come over if ya need me. And.. um.. Mrs. C? Thanks
again for this opportunity. I'm really looking forward to living and
working here." Despite the fact that Dave was going to have to deal
with nights without John -- that wasn't part of his original game plan.

After saying goodbye to the woman, Dave headed back out to his car,
intending on driving over to the cottage so he could unload his meager
belongings out of the car. 11am gave him a couple of hours to set up
shop the best that he could.

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

At some point in the morning, John had fallen asleep, and it was close
to noon when he awoke, and his mind was finally clear. He knew what
he had done wrong -- well, most of it, anyway, and he knew what had to
be done. He just didn't like it, that was all.

Needing a cigarette, but not wanting to face anyone, John took the
pack into the bathroom and he opened the window all the way, letting
fresh air into the room. He sat down on the edge of the tub, smoking
the remainder of the pack as he went over one more time all the
conclusions he had reached just prior to falling asleep.

The first was that he was a selfish bastard. That had been an easy
thing to conclude, John thought. He had been called selfish many
times, but it wasn't until that morning, when he realized that Luka
had dumped him, that John had realized just how selfish he had been
toward Luka and Dave. He had been so insistent that each man promise
to remain his friend no matter what he decided, thinking that he
couldn't live without either one around. But it took Luka dumping him
and John having to face working with the man as a friend for him to
realize that he couldn't handle that at all. And neither could Luka
or Dave. Selfish bastard, John chastised himself. Selfish, selfish,
selfish.

There was no way he could have Dave and keep Luka as a friend, and no
way to have Luka and keep Dave as a friend. He was deluding himself
to even imagine he could, and so were they. The only thing he could
do was what he had said the day before -- choose neither one of them
and spend the rest of his life alone.

It was all he deserved anyway. Selfish bastards who couldn't keep
their bodies under control, and who went around lusting after two men
at the same time, didn't deserve love. Not at all. John was a
selfish bastard, and he was a...a sex kitten. That's what Dave had
called him on the ship, and Jenny...she had used those words often.
Telling him about how his body so easily responded to her
touches...and how he was obviously born to please and just a natural
when it came to sex.

It hadn't been her fault that they had sex when he lost his virginity
-- it had been his. If his cock hadn't become hard....if only his
cock hadn't become hard when Luka had kissed him....or Dave....or
Alex....John shook his head, not wanting his thoughts to go *there*,
not after all this time. It was painful enough to think about Jenny
and how she had dumped him, left him behind without hardly a word. He
definitely didn't want to think about how Alex had done the same
thing, only Alex, like Dave had done in his nightmare, had made sure
he didn't leave until he had come, but that was just a blow job and
not the same thing, and Dave wasn't Alex and that had just been a
dream, even though Dave had claimed it was real, but it wasn't....Dave
loved him and would never leave him, right?

But now John was going to leave Dave. He got to his feet and splashed
some water on his face, then looked at his reflection in the mirror.
His hair was standing out in several directions, and, despite having
napped, there were dark circles under his eyes. In short, he looked
horrible. Why would anyone, let alone two hot men like Dave and Luka,
want him?

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

Luka was exhausted. As he pulled his car up in front of the mansion,
he sighed as he sat behind the wheel of the car. He had no idea what
he was going to be facing once he got inside, and in all honesty, Luka
was not looking forward to finding out. The weariness he was feeling
was both physical and mental -- the day in the ER had been busy,
especially since they were short handed, and mentally -- mentally Luka
was about ready to shut down.

He fumbled for his keys, and entered the house, drawn towards the
voices in the dining room. Luka wasn't sure why, but he decided to go
investigate who was talking, in case it was John. It was clear that
Luka was going to have to talk to him, and make sure that he was okay.
Abby hadn't really seemed concerned, but Luka knew better than that.
There was something very, very wrong.

Millicent looked up as she heard the sound of footsteps approaching
the dining room. "Luka, you're just in time for lunch. I imagine
John must be starving by now as well since you both missed breakfast.
You remember Dr. Meyer, don't you?" she asked, remembering that Dr.
Meyer had been over to the house a few times since Luka had come there
to stay. She couldn't help but think that Luka looked as worn out and
exhausted as Dave appeared, and she wondered if John was going to walk
in looking the same way. There were some days when the ER was hectic,
and it seemed to take a lot out of them, but Millicent knew that their
exhaustion wasn't work related this time.

"Yes, nice to see you, Dr. Meyer," he said, looking at the man sitting
at the table. "And I'll be happy to join you for lunch, but, speaking
of John, have you seen him?" He couldn't believe that Mrs. Carter
didn't know that John had called out of work. Of course, the man
might have just fallen back to sleep after Luka left since it was so
early.

Dave looked up to Luka, surprised. "What do you mean? He wasn't at
the hospital today with you?"

Luka shook his head. "No. They got a call early in the ER that he
was sick. According to Abby, who spoke to Frank, John did not sound
like himself...and John was acting...very strangely when I left this
morning as well, it was as if I had done something wrong, but I hadn't
done anything wrong..."

Luka was clearly distressed, and becoming more upset by the minute.

Millicent frowned. "I haven't seen him at all this morning. Sarah?"
she called out for the maid, who quickly entered the room. "Have you
seen John today?"

"No, ma'am, but when I was collecting the bed linens this morning I
wasn't able to get into his room because the door's locked. I didn't
say anything because he usually does lock the door on wash day if his
sheets are still clean."

Millicent's frown deepened as she looked from the maid to Dave and
then to Luka. "Perhaps I should check on him," she said as she moved
her wheelchair away from the table.

Dave had been listening to everything, concern overwhelming him as he
thought about John and everything that had happened, and all he had
done to contribute to John's lack of security. "No. Mrs. C...let me
go. I wanna check on him..."

Luka stood, and walked in front of Dave. "No. Let me. I think that
it might have been something I said that upset him..."

"All the more reason that I should check on him, my friend," Dave
said, feeling hurt and anger build inside of him. "C'mon. Let me
go...if he's pissed at you, then he probably won't talk to you...we
learned that already..."

Luka sighed, and then nodded not wanting to push the issue, and Dave
did have a point. "Okay, I'll wait here."

Dave turned to look at Mrs. Carter, to make sure that it was alright
that he be the one to go check on John.

Millicent nodded, the worry clearly in her eyes as she watched Dave
leave the dining room. She wanted to reassure Luka, but couldn't find
the words and instead she turned her attention to Dr. Meyer. "Usually
we wouldn't be so worried about John, but he's had a rough time of it
the last couple of days.
"
The man nodded. "I'm sure he's fine, but it's good that he has people
around to care about him. It's not like him to be ill though. John's
one of the healthiest people I know."

Dave headed out. He heard Mrs. Carter speaking from the dining room,
but his mind was focused on one person -- John. What was going on
with him? Why was he acting this way again? Okay -- so Dave knew on
some level why -- all of this was obviously too much for John to
handle. Dave briefly remembered what had happened on the ship- - the
meltdown that had scared the living Hell out of him. He hoped that
something similar wasn't brewing now -- though at least now they were
somewhere where they could get John some real help.

Dave knocked on John's door once he reached the room. "John? You
okay? It's Dave, please open up..."

Unable to stand his own reflection, John had retreated to the relative
safety of his bed, burrowing under the covers. There were so many
thoughts -- memories -- going through his mind that he was finding it
difficult to concentrate on what it was he had to do. And then he
heard Dave's voice from the other side of the door and he remembered
-- he had to NOT choose Dave. Or Luka.

He could still hear the pain in Dave's voice from his voice mail
message and John's heart, which had already broken into a hundred
pieces, found a way to break once more. He had to let Dave go, Luka,
too. No, that wasn't right. He couldn't let Luka go because Luka had
rejected him -- dumped him. Just as he deserved Just as everyone
did. Luka...Dave...Elaine...God, the list was endless, wasn't it?

But...he wasn't ready to let Dave go just yet. John didn't know what
to say to him. He needed time, more time. Time alone. "I'm okay, go
away," he called out, hoping Dave could hear him.

"No. I'm not leaving. If you don't open the door, I'm gonna break it
down...and you know I will, man," he said, his voice perfectly serious.

John sighed. Why wouldn't Dave listen to him? Why was he making John
hurt him? Why? He crawled out from under the covers and went to
stand behind the door. John ran a shaking hand through his hair as he
knew what he had to do. "Go away, Dave. I don't choose you. Go."

Dave's mouth opened, and shut again. And in a matter of moments, his
heart broke. Had John really said that? Had John really chosen Luka
over him? Just like that? "But...John, no...I...you...you can't
mean...after all this, you...you don't...you can't...God...no..."

He couldn't even form a thought.. and before John could further drive
the knife into his heart, he took a step back from the door.
"I'm...not leaving...until you tell me that to my face, because...I
don't believe you," he found himself saying through unshed tears.
Dave had never felt more in pain than he did at that very moment. His
voice broke as he spoke. There was no way that John could possibly
mean it just like that. There was no way that it was over...Dave
simply refused to believe that it was true.

John began to tap his head against the hard wooden door. "No. Just
go, Dave. It's over. I'm a selfish bastard and it's over. Go and
forget me. Be happy with someone else. Someone who can love only you
and can keep his pants on and his legs closed and his mouth shut
and...just go."

"Damn it, John, I won't be happy with anyone but you...I told you that
a long time ago, and it still holds true. I tried to live without
you...and I can't. I'm miserable when I'm not with you, please, open
the fucking door...let me talk to you about this..." Dave was a
bundle of confused emotions, all the feelings that he had been trying
to suppress found their way to the surface. It simply wasn't fair --
that after all this, Luka was going to win.

John's body slid down the door until he was sitting on the floor, and
he put his hands over his ears, not wanting to hear the pain in Dave's
voice. The pain he had caused, but it was better than all the pain he
knew he would cause Dave in the future if they stayed together. "Go
away," he said. "Just go. I'll only destroy you, Dave. You deserve
someone who isn't...I'm a bastard, Dave, a selfish bastard...Luka
realized that, why can't you? Just go away. Please, just go away."

"You're not a bastard...damn it...listen to me...you are *not* a
bastard, you're confused, that's understandable, but, you're *not* a
bastard...you won't destroy me...doin' this...pushing me away is
what's destroying me, and...what did you mean by Luka realizing it?"
Dave asked, the last part of John's speech registering in his brain.
What John had just said was not compatible with how Luka was acting
downstairs.

Having his hands over his ears didn't keep John from hearing Dave, and
he gave up on that, squeezing his eyes shut against his tears.
"Stupid. I'm so stupid and selfish and a bastard and a...a good
cocksucker. I *am* good at that, aren't I? You've said so. Luka
said so. Alex used to say that, too. A natural born cock
sucker...but that doesn't keep me from being a selfish bastard..." he
had to keep his thoughts on track, or else he'd never get his point
across to Dave. Never. "I hurt Luka last night, and he came to his
senses and left...why can't you do the same? Save us both this pain,
Dave.. just go." Once again, John began to knock his head against the
wood. How could he be so selfish? How? He loved Dave and Luka, but
all he kept doing was hurting them? Over and over and over again.

"Alex? John.. who's Alex?" That was a name that Dave had not heard
before. Had John been with someone else in the interim that Dave
didn't know about? He didn't think so.. but at this point, nothing
would surprise Dave. "As for the rest of it.. Yeah...you're good at
that...but that doesn't make you selfish, and that doesn't make you a
bastard. I don't think that either Luka or I think that...we...we
just want you to be happy, John, be happy...while somehow gettin' what
we want too, and maybe that make each of us a little selfish..."

Dave's voice was pained but calmer. "Please...please open the door
John, let's...let's talk about this, please?"

"Leave me alone, Dave. Go away, just like Luka did. Just go. Like
you did in my dream. Walk away and leave me. Do you hear me? Just
go." John pleaded, the tears now pouring down his face. "I can't
open the door. I can't see you ever again. Never. Ever. Because if
I do then all of this will mean nothing and I'll do what you asked in
your phone call last night and I'll come back to you, but it will be
wrong, Dave. Wrong. So very, very wrong. Go away."

"Phone call? What phone call?" Dave was genuinely confused...about
all of this. Luka hadn't walked away -- Luka was downstairs looking
like a kicked puppy. And a phone call? In his drunken haze he didn't
remember...and then it hit him like a ton of bricks. Singing in the
karaoke bar, flipping open his cell phone, crying into it. It *was*
Dave's fault that John was acting like this. "It...it wouldn't be
wrong," Dave finally said, as the realization hit him. By this point,
Dave was also leaning against the door, as he realized that this was
the closest he could be to John for the time being. "Being with you
could never be wrong. I'm not going away...I can't go away, damn
it...I love you, John, please don't do this..."

God, why wouldn't Dave listen to him? Why didn't anyone *ever* listen
to him? John scrambled to his feet and faced the door, suddenly angry
over the fact that people just didn't listen to him. Even in that
nightmare, Dave hadn't listened to him -- John had begged Dave to not
leave, but Dave had left. And now, in real life, Dave was begging him
not to leave -- but he would. He had to. To save Dave. It didn't
matter how much it hurt now, the hurt had to be less than what John
knew he would cause in the future. And all because he always got
hard, always wanted...needed....always.

He shook his head, trying to clear his mind again, needing to
concentrate on getting Dave away from his door. "It's wrong," he
yelled. "It's all wrong. It's always been wrong. Go away. Go the
fuck away, Dave," he screamed out. "Go."

Dave was dumbfounded, and he really didn't know what to do. It was
obvious that John had gone off the deep end - again -- not even
wanting to talk to him about it...and this nonsense about Luka
breaking up with him -- as much as Dave * wished* it was true, he knew
that it wasn't. What was going on with this complex man on the other
side of the door?

"Fine. I'm goin'...but you can bet your ass I'll be back, John. I'm
not giving up on you...on us...because I love you, and I didn't invest
this much time in you...and all of this just to have you give up on it
with a few simple words...it's not that easy, John...it's not that easy."

And with tears in his eyes, Dave made his way downstairs. Not knowing
where else to turn, he headed back into the dining room, where Mrs.
Carter was sitting stoically with Luka and Dr. Meyers. "He's...I
don't know what the Hell's wrong with him. He thinks Luka's broken up
with him...and...I think he just told me to get out of his life.."

Dave could barely stand he was so distraught.

Millicent slowly shook her head. "We heard screaming? Was that you
or John?" she asked.

"It was both of us...John started screaming...I screamed back that I
wasn't leaving. He didn't care, he said that wanted me to leave him,
that he was selfish, that I shouldn't be with him.. I...I tried to
tell him that it wasn't true, that none of it was true. That I loved
him, but he didn't care...he didn't listen..."

Dave was, to put it mildly, destroyed. Luka wasn't in much better
shape -- the words that Dave had said were swimming in his head -- why
would John think that he had broken up with him?

"I think it's best that we leave him alone for now," Luka declared as
he ran a hand over his eyes. "We don't want to push him too far, and
as much as I would like to go up and see if he's okay, I'm afraid that
will just continue to drive him away."

"You might be right," Millicent said. "We can give him some more time
alone, maybe until dinner. Lord knows when he ate last, he's got to
be hungry soon. And, if he doesn't come out by then, I've got a key,
so we can get into the bedroom."

"Excuse me," Dr. Meyer said, looking uneasy. "I know this isn't any
of my business, but the man Dr. Malucci is describing isn't the John
Carter I know. Has he ever behaved this way before or is this just
something brought on by recent stress?"

Luka looked over to Dave, and seeing that the man was still visibly
shaken, he took the time to answer. "On the cruise we were on...the
last night of the cruise, he had a...breakdown...and he was talking
about some woman named Jenny. Every time that either Dave or I tried
to touch John, he would accuse us of trying to have sex with him, and
then claim that it was the only thing he was good at...which of course
I don't believe either of us think is true."

Luka looked over to Dave, who was in complete agreement with him.
Feeling that he was a little more composed, he interrupted Luka and
spoke. "You know, back when John and I were...friends when I last
lived in Chicago, he and I talked one night about the first time we
ever...you know...had sex...and he told me a story about some woman
named Jenny. I thought it was kinda odd, claiming that losing your
virginity at 11 was some kind of a normal thing..."

Dave's voice trailed off as he felt the eyes of the room on him.
Realizing that he had inadvertently hit on something, Dave clamped his
mouth closed. Dave had assumed that John's grandmother knew about it.
Obviously, he was wrong.

When Luka first said the name, Millicent didn't think twice about it,
she was concentrating too hard on the rest of the story, but when Dave
said it, and also mentioned that John was 11 when he lost his
virginity -- eleven! -- the name clicked in the back of Millicent's
mind. Corrine's niece, Jenny, had worked for Jack and Eleanor as a
maid at one time. Had John been eleven then? But, it couldn't be,
she thought. It just couldn't. Jenny was so much older than John and
she had known John nearly all of his life. There was just no way.
Still, she had to ask. Looking Dave squarely in the eyes, Millicent
found the courage to speak. "And did John tell you how he knew this
Jenny?" Her hands were tightly clenched around the arms of the wheelchair.

Dave nodded. "Yeah...if I remember correctly," he said, looking
directly at Mrs. Carter. "He said that she was his maid. And...that
she was older than him..."

Luka nodded in agreement. "I knew about this too. When we were in
that class together many months ago, John talked a little about her
when conversations went towards first times..."

There was a nervous air in the room, and the energy was almost
palatable to all those who occupied it. Dave watched as Dr. Meyers
shifted nervously in his seat. And Dave wondered if he had just
opened a big can of worms...of course, if one of those worms could
help John, maybe it wasn't all bad.

Millicent felt herself grow pale. "Dear God, no." She looked over at
Dr. Meyer, not quite able to take in the fact that her grandson had
been sexually abused.

Dr. Meyer got to his feet. "We need that key, Millicent. In light of
this...revelation, and the breakdown John had earlier, I don't feel
it's safe to leave him alone behind a locked door. He knows me and
hopefully he'll let me stay in the room with him until he's...calmer."
He looked over to Dave and Luka. "I have my medical bag with me," he
gestured toward the sideboard where it sat. "Thankfully, I've got two
different sedatives in there, although I hope we won't have to use any
at all."

"I can't remember where it is," Millicent exclaimed, mentally kicking
herself for not being able to remember such a simple thing as where
the skeleton key was for all the rooms in the house. "I can't
remember..."

"I can break in there," Dave said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I know I can. It's easy with those kinds of locks. All I need is a
paperclip and a credit card of some sort.. and I'll be able to get in
there," he said, looking over towards the rest of the occupants of the
room. "And...Mrs. C., I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you,
it's...something I've suspected for a while, but I guess I didn't
wanna admit it to myself..."

Dr. Meyer walked over to his medical bag and opened it, then turned
around, a paper clip in his hand. "I've got a credit card in my
pocket, let's go. I think it might be a good idea for you and Luka to
hang out in the hallway upstairs, out of his line of sight, but handy
if I should need you." He picked up his bag. "One of you can hold
onto this for me."

Millicent still couldn't believe what was happening. "She was close
to the family...she used to watch John and Bobby so Jack and Eleanor
could go out. The boys loved her...dear God. Poor Corrine. How am I
ever going to face her again?"

Dave nodded, and took the paperclip from the doctor, intending on
bending it to the right position while they walked. He then looked
sadly down at Mrs. Carter. "I'm sorry...I'm really sorry."

There was really nothing more that he could say.

To be continued.
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