Luka pushed open the door to exam one. His eyes widened as he saw Dave sitting on a bed and Kerry with her arm around him.
"Dave?" said Luka uncertainly, wondering just what was going on.
Kerry let go of Dave and picked up some blood samples that were lying on the bed. "I'll talk to you later Dave," she said, patting him on the shoulder.
Dave nodded dully as Kerry left the room, looking sympathetically at Luka as she passed him.
"Is there something I should know about?" said Luka as he sat down on the bed beside Dave. His light tone belied the worry he was feeling. Surely Dave and Kerry weren't...no...he pushed that thought away. He trusted Dave...and besides...Kerry was an honorable woman. Even supposing that she had harbored a hidden...make that a well-hidden desire for Dave, she would never do anything about it...not when she knew that he and Dave were happy together.
"What?" said Dave, looking up for the first time since Luka had entered the room.
"What's the matter Dave?" asked Luka, shocked by the forlorn look on Dave's face. "Did you lose a patient today?" He remembered a few months ago, when Dave had been treating a young girl who had been hit by car while cycling. In spite of all Dave and Kerry's best efforts they had been unable to save her. Dave had come home that evening almost in tears at what he perceived as his failure. Luka had done his best to comfort him, having heard the details from Kerry earlier, but Dave had been very much affected by the incident. So much so, that he had even started wearing a helmet while cycling.
"I...no...no I didn't," said Dave, quietly.
Luka put his arm around him, but to his surprise, Dave pulled away. Luka looked at him in puzzlement. "What is wrong? Please Dave, don't shut me out...whatever it is...maybe I can help..."
Dave laughed hollowly. "Help? Nobody can help..." he said. Luka reached for him again, but Dave stood up and started pacing the floor.
"Dave..." said Luka, stepping in front of him and grabbing him by the arm.
"Don't touch me," said Dave, almost sobbing. "I...I'm...I'm contaminated...diseased..."
Luka stared at Dave, but didn't let go. Finally Dave lifted his gaze from the floor and looked Luka in the eye. "I...I was with a patient...a junkie...he was freaking out...he...he bit me...Luka, he could have AIDS...I could have it now...I...I don't want you to get it...I don't want to hurt you..."
"Oh Dave," said Luka softly, as he pulled Dave into his arms. Dave tried to pull away, but Luka held him tightly. "Shh, little one...it will be all right," he whispered softly in Dave's ear.
Tears were rolling down Dave's cheeks as he finally relaxed in Luka's grip. "I...I was checking him for injuries...he was spaced out on something...we were trying to put restraints on him...and...and he bit me...and I saw the track marks in his arms...Luka...I don't want to die...I don't want to infect you...oh God..."
Luka led Dave back to the bed and sat down beside him. He gently stroked Dave's hair and held him close. "I take it Kerry was drawing blood in order to test it?" he said softly.
Dave nodded as he wiped his eyes. "Ye...yes," he said. "But it could take weeks for the virus to show up. We...we can't...we can't sleep together...not until I know...and if I am...if I am infected...I...I don't want to put you at risk..."
"Shh, the chances of you being infected from a single bite...they are very very small...that is even if you were bitten by an infected person. Is he HIV positive?"
Dave shook his head. "I...I don't know...the Chief was gonna go and get him tested...once he'd come down..."
"So he might not even be infected...which means that you will be all right," said Luka, doing his best to cheer Dave up.
"But what if I am infected?" said Dave, softly. "If...if you don't want to take the risk...I...I'd understand if you left..." He turned his face away from Luka, not wishing him to see the pain he was feeling.
"You really think that little of me?" asked Luka, a little shocked. "You think that sex is the only important thing in our relationship? I love you Dave...yes I enjoy having sex with you...but I love being with you...I love talking to you, laughing with you...I love to wake up in the morning and feel you beside me...I love that your face is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night...I love every minute that we spend together and I promise you that whatever happens...I will never leave you..."
"I...I don't want to die...I don't want you to see me like that," said Dave, tears rolling down his face.
"Look at me Dave," said Luka softly. "In the last ten years there have been so many advances in AIDS treatment...there's experimental treatments. Better drug 'cocktails' than there were ten years ago. Even if you are infected...you can still have a long and healthy life...and I will be there for you no matter what happens...I will stand by you no matter what. I'm going to be there till the last breath...the last wisecrack and final practical joke. I'm going to be there when you're gasping for breath and there's no hope left. I'm going to be there, holding your hand when the drugs are screaming through your body. I'm going to hold you tight, as you lay exhausted after experimental treatments. I'm going to be there through drug trials and bad hospital food and cute nurses changing your bedpans. I'm going to be there when you get sick on yourself from the drugs... I'm going to clean you off as you cry into my arms, because you hurt so much...and...I'm going to cry with you because it even hurts me now to imagine you in so much pain. I'm going to be there no matter what. I love you Dave and I'm never ever leaving your side."
"I...I don't know what to say," said Dave, numbly as he looked up at Luka. Today hadn't been the first time he had been potentially exposed to the HIV virus. He had had his share of needle sticks and bites...but he had never been as worried about it before. He had always taken the attitude that if it happened, then it happened...but he had never before had so much to live for.
"Come, let us get out of here," said Luka, standing up and pulling Dave to his feet. "Do you have any patients to finish up on?"
Dave shook his head. "The Chief said she'd take care of them...she...she said I should finish up on some charts." He didn't need to say that Kerry didn't want him seeing any patients until his blood work was back.
"Okay then," said Luka. "You go and finish your charts...I need to speak to Kerry...but I will find you and wait with you afterwards..."
"What happened to 'I will never leave you'?" asked Dave, with a half smile.
Luka punched him gently on the arm. "Am I not allowed time off for good behavior?" he joked, relieved to see that Dave was recovering at least some of his good humor.
Before leaving the room, Luka put his arms around Dave and hugged him tight. "Be strong...everything will be all right," he said softly as he kissed him.
Dave nodded, unable to speak, and then headed for the Lounge.
"Kerry," called Luka, seeing her limp along the corridor in front of him. "May I speak with you in private?"
He followed her into the empty suture room. "Kerry, are Dave's results back yet?"
Kerry looked at him, frowning slightly. "No they're not...but Luka, even if they were, I couldn't tell you what they were."
"What? But why not? Dave and I, you know about us..."
"Yes," said Kerry patiently. "But unless Dave gives me permission, I can't discuss them with you...I'm sorry Luka."
"It...it is alright," said Luka quietly. "I...I understand. But can you at least tell me if he exposed to the virus or not?"
Kerry bit her lip. "No...I can't."
"No you don't," said Kerry. "I can't tell you, because I don't know...Mr. Harris refuses to perform a HIV test. I'm afraid that Dave is just going to have to wait to be given the 'all-clear'."
Luka stared at Kerry in shock. He did not know how Dave would cope, knowing that it could be months before he was in the clear.
To be continued
Author's notes. Many thanks to Sarah for letting me rewrite one of her RPG posts to use as Luka's speech of support to Dave.