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Chapter Four

Another three days went by. He wasn't avoiding Dave anymore; he'd
found that, as much as he'd managed to so far, it got harder and
harder as the days went by. And not only because he hated every minute
of it, but also because it was nearly impossible to ignore someone you
worked with, no matter how big the ER might be.

Their patients would be in the same room. They would be forced
together during a trauma. Maybe they would both be waiting for a
consult in Radiology. And of course, there was the Admin Desk; you ran
into everyone and their mother there, getting a chart or putting one
away, grabbing films and test results.

But he could deal with that. He just spoke to Dave when he needed to,
and even then he was harsh. He didn't want to encourage conversation.
Snap at him, yell at him, push him out of the way; anything to get his
point across: Leave him alone. He didn't know what Dave was doing
here, and he didn't care, so just leave him alone.

There was, of course, the whole ache in his chest thing, but that was
ignored just as.. 'easily'.. as Dave.


"Lucy, I asked you to get some Lidocane in here," he said,
exasperated. "How am I supposed to suture Mrs. Cook if I don't have

"Dr. Carter, if you haven't noticed, I've been busy," she replied.
"I'm juggling seven patients out there, you aren't the only one. You
want your stupid Lidocane, get it yourself."

"Is there a problem?" he asked, not so much exasperated anymore as he
was curious. "Are you mad at me?"

"No," she replied, walking away from him, chart in hand. "But you've
been mad at everybody else for the past week, and frankly I'm sick of
your attitude."

"Well, excuse me," he said to her retreated form, offended. And maybe
a part of him knew she was right. He must be acting like an asshole.
Not like it was his fault, he thought, heading towards the drug
lockup. It was Dave's fault, for coming here, throwing his entire
world out of whack just like he'd done the first time around.

He rubbed his eyes tiredly, and when he brought his hand back down to
his side and looked up, he saw not only the drug lockup that he'd
walked into, but also Dave. He didn't notice John right away; maybe he
wouldn't have if John ducked out and quietly left. But he felt like
he'd just developed some sort of rare disorder that stops you from
functioning at all, every single body part. It's so rapid and
paralyzing you're forced to be doing whatever it was you were doing
last, forever.

Dave looked up from the small vial he was holding to the cabinets
before him. That must've been when he saw John out of the corner of
his eye. He looked at him, gripping the vial tighter.

"John," he said, but he didn't say anything else.

It was the first time he'd ever really gotten to look at Dave. Most of
the time, he was too busy looking away, no matter how close they were.
But there he was, right there, and John could see how much he'd
changed. But mostly, he could see how much of him was the same.

Dave took a step closer, breaking him out of his thoughts. John
cleared his throat, reaching forward for the cabinet, stopping Dave in
his tracks. "I just came in here for some Lidocane."

"It's right over here," Dave said, picking up a vial near him and
holding it out to John.

He wanted to take it, but he was afraid he might touch Dave. He didn't
want to touch him. He was afraid he would feel exactly the way he
remembered.. most of all, he was afraid he would feel that familiar
spark of electricity, fire that could melt him in an instant.

So instead, he shook his head, holding up his hands. "Forget it. I
don't need it anymore."

He turned, heading out of the room. He needed to get out of there,
before either of them said something that --

"Why do you hate me?"

John turned, angry at Dave for stopping him, even though he knew he
could've kept walking. "I don't hate you."

"Yes, you do," Dave said, stepping closer to him. "You hate me. Before
I thought.. I thought you were just angry. But you really hate me,
don't you?"

He was looking at John, into his eyes. None of that romantic sappy
stuff, he was just meeting his gaze with those dark brown eyes. You
could see everything in those eyes; it'd been the only way for John to
know what Dave was thinking or feeling. And now he knew what Dave was
thinking, what he was feeling. It nearly undid him, but he found
himself and remained defiant.

"I.. " he began, but then he realized it. He'd already come undone,
the first instant he'd seen Dave; it was too late now. He sighed,
looking away. "I don't hate you, Dave."

He saw Dave take a step closer to him out of the corner of his eye. He
didn't stop him this time. Another step, and now Dave was just one
pace away. Would he take the final step? He didn't. He stood there,
maybe waiting for John to take the last step. But John didn't either.
He was glued to the floor again, that damn fucking disease.

"Can we talk?" Dave asked.

John shook his head. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Come on," Dave urged quietly. "I'm hungry, and I don't know where the
cafeteria is. Randi said it was on four, I wanted a sandwich and I
ended up delivering a baby." John rolled his eyes and Dave grinned
broadly. "Come on, that's funny. They got a kick out of it in Pedes."

John shook his head again. "It's on six."

Dave's smile slowly vanished, and he nodded silently, his eyes
drifting to the cabinets around them. "Okay. Thanks."

John started towards the door. Started, but didn't finish. He
lingered, his steps slowing until he stopped. He glanced up at the
Heavens, wondering what the hell he was getting himself into. Sighing,
he turned back to Dave, who was studying the shelves again. "I'll meet
you there at twelve."

Dave looked at him, surprised for an instant. Then he smiled again,
and he even laughed, that musical laughter that had been echoing in
John's head for a week. "Okay," he said, still grinning. "Twelve.
Okay. See you at twelve."

"Okay," John replied, and now his disease was taking a turn for the
worst; instead of paralyzed, he couldn't stop moving. He rushed past
the exam rooms, Trauma Two and One, down the hall to Chairs and out
the door. He didn't stop at the ambulance bay; he kept going, across
the street and inside Doc's, into the bathroom, into a stall, closing
and locking the door behind him. He sat down on the closed toliet,
partially out of breath and totally out of his fucking mind.


To be continued..
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