Luka woke up the next morning with the feeling that something had crawled down his throat and died. He groaned slightly and opened his eyes. Strange, he thought to himself. I don't remember my bedroom being that color before. He sat upright in the bed as he realized that he didn't recognize the room. The sudden movement was a mistake, so he closed his eyes again and waited for the room to stop moving. Hearing the sound of a shower, he opened his eyes again.
This wasn't the first time he had woken up in unfamiliar surroundings with his head spinning. After his family had been killed, Luka had spent a lot of time crawling down the neck of a bottle trying to blot out unwelcome memories.
The noise of the shower stopped. Luka rolled over to face the door, wondering who had been kind enough to bring him home on this occasion. His jaw dropped as Dave walked in, wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist.
"Oh dear God," thought Luka to himself. Of all the colleagues he could have spent the night with, it had to be Malucci. It wasn't that he had an aversion to same sex relationships. Nor was it that he disliked Dave, on the contrary, he had always found Dave to be a friendly and welcoming individual. What bothered him was the fact that Dave was one of the biggest gossips in the ER, and Luka had no wish for his personal life to be one of the main topics of conversation at work. He forced himself to smile at Dave.
"Hey, you're awake," said Dave smiling as he toweled dry his hair. "Man, I thought you were going to sleep all day. Another hour and I was going to call the Chief and borrow her whistle."
"Her whistle?" said Luka, confused.
"Yeah, the one she used on me last week. Man, that thing could wake a corpse."
Dave started rummaging in drawers for some clean clothes. "I hope I didn't hurt you too much last night. Guess I don't know my own strength sometimes."
Now that he thought about it, Luka was feeling a bit stiff. He was also feeling rather chilly. With a shock, he realized that he was naked. "My clothes. Where are my clothes?" he asked frantically.
"Hey chill out man," said Dave, his voice muffled slightly, as he pulled a t-shirt over his head. "They're over there." He indicated a chair in the corner of the room.
"I don't remember taking them off," said Luka, trying to elicit some indication of the events of the previous evening.
"That's cause you had a little help," said Dave with a grin. Throwing the towel on top of a heap on the floor, he pulled on a pair of underpants and started rummaging around for his jeans.
"You took my clothes off?"
"Hey, you've got nothing I haven't seen before," said Dave, grinning as he pulled on his jeans.
Luka eyed the pile of clothes on the chair. It was too far away for him to reach without getting out of the bed. He could always wait until Dave had left the room, but after all, Dave had already seen him naked. Shrugging his shoulders, he got out of the bed.
"There's some clean towels in the bathroom if you want a shower," volunteered Dave, while casting an approving eye over Luka's body. Man the guy was in almost as good shape as Dave himself was. Of course he was a lot skinnier.
"That would probably be a good idea," said Luka.
"I'll make some breakfast while you're showering. Bacon and eggs okay with you?"
Luka's stomach churned at the thought. "Maybe just some coffee," he said.
"Hey, you can't do a good days work without a proper breakfast. You go and shower, you'll feel a lot better afterwards."
Dave was right, thought Luka. He did feel a lot better after the shower. Now his only worry was what Dave was going to tell the rest of the ER staff. He considered how best to broach the subject as he made his way to the kitchen.
Dave looked up from the frying pan as Luka walked in. "You're looking a lot better now," he said with a smile. "Feel like having something to eat?" He held out the pan for Luka's inspection.
"Why not?" said Luka, sitting down at the counter. "Dave, there is something I must ask you."
"Eat first, talk later, that's what my Mom always said," said Dave, as he deftly arranged the breakfast on the plates. "Dig in," he said, putting a heavily laden plate down in front of Luka.
"About last night," Luka began, unsure of how to phrase his request without offending Dave.
"Yeah?" said Dave, through a mouthful of fried eggs.
"I would prefer if it you did not mention what happened to anyone in the ER."
"No problem. I wasn't going to say anything anyway. I mean it's not something I want people to know about."
Luka was taken aback at this comment. Surely it hadn't been that bad, he thought to himself. Okay, he had been fairly drunk, but he couldn't have been that drunk.
Dave noticed the hurt expression on Luka's face. "What's wrong?" he asked, puzzled.
"Nothing," muttered Luka, as he took a mouthful of coffee. "If that's the way you feel, then it's up to you."
"The way I feel about what?"
"About, you know, last night, us. I mean I can understand if you don't want to tell anyone." Luka was more hurt than he had realized. First Carol, now Dave. Okay, he hadn't exactly been seeking a relationship with Dave, but it was still disappointing to be rejected by him, even if he couldn't remember exactly what they had done.
"Luka, nothing happened last night," said Dave, failing to hide his amusement. "You passed out on my bed after drinking too much. I took your clothes in cause I didn't want you puking all over them."
"But you said you hoped you hadn't hurt me? That you didn't want people to know about it?"
"I meant when I knocked you over on the El platform. I didn't want anyone to find out that I'd thought you were going to jump. You didn't think I meant.... oh my god, you thought we.... oh man, Luka that's priceless." Dave started laughing.
Luka blushed in embarrassment. "I am glad you find the idea so amusing," he said stiffly. "I think I had better go now," he said, standing up.
Dave stopped laughing, and grabbed Luka by the hand. "You might as well finish your breakfast first," he said, pulling Luka back down onto the stool. "Look, I'm sorry I laughed at you. It's just.... I'd be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind."
Luka was silent. Partly from the surprise of Dave's revelation, and partly because Dave was still holding his hand. Finally he said, "So why did you not act upon it?"
Dave shrugged, "Didn't want to take advantage of you while you were drunk."
"I'm sober now," said Luka, looking into Dave's eyes.
Dave smiled, "I know you are, but I have to go to work."
"And I should go home and change," said Luka reluctantly. "Otherwise the nurses will be gossiping about why I wear the same clothes two days running."
"You could always wear something of mine. That'd really give them something to gossip about."
"Maybe someday I will do that."
"How about tomorrow?"
Luka looked at Dave uncertainly, wondering what he was suggesting.
"I mean, if you wanted to come over tonight, we could get a pizza, have a few beers..." said Dave.
"And afterwards?" said Luka.
"That's up to you. Listen, think about it. I should be home about eight. Come over any time after that."
Looking at his watch, Dave said, "Anyway, it's time I was out of here. If I'm late again, the Chief will have me on night duty for a month."
To be continued.