Walk the Sky





------------------------------- Chapter Seventeen: Overtime --------------------------------

Little Mona Lisa laying by my side

"Crimson and Clover" pulling overtime

-------------------------------

It had started out harmless enough. She’d heard them screaming at three in the morning, he claiming that he’d heard voices and she replying that it’d only been the Home Shopping Network. One thing led to another, and soon she was wailing for someone to help her. Then she’d screamed. Shortly thereafter, the police had come, but of course it’d been nothing but a misunderstanding. Of course. And when she ended up at the hospital for spraining her ankle, they both knew it wasn’t from falling down. But she refused help once more, because she loved him very much so, and he loved her as well. Then, finally, right before almost receiving yet another beating, she’d taken refuge and stayed for the night, begging not to let him know she was there. The next morning she was found, badly beaten and left on the front steps barefoot and without a coat. That had been the straw that broke the camel’s back, and she’d gone to a halfway house, away from him and into a new life, where she could start again and be safe.

And she *was* safe. However, for doing these favors and getting involved in her neighbor’s affairs, Abby Lockhart was not. And she should’ve realized it the minute Brian walked into the ER in search of his wife, quizzing Abby brusquely on her whereabouts, and he wouldn’t even leave her alone until Dave Malucci’s intimidating glare had steered him away. She remembered him approaching from behind, asking her, though he was looking right at Brian: “Is there a problem, Abby?”

“No, no problem,” Abby stated, then began to turn away, in hopes that Brian would just leave.

Her hopes were soon dashed, however. “Yeah, there’s a problem!” Brian exclaimed, looking to Dave for help, who only crossed his arms over his chest. “She won’t tell me where my wife is.”

“And why’s that?” Dave asked coolly, though Abby could easily see he remained skeptical in trusting this man.

“He beat her up,” Abby said, and Brian was immediately angry, rushing up to her as he yelled: “I did not beat my wife, you vindictive bitch!”

Dave was between them in an instant, pushing Brian forcefully away from her. He has used so much force that Brian had almost lost his footing and fell but had recovered quickly. “No way you talk to her like that, not if you want to keep breathing through your fucking nose. So you better keep your distance, man.”

“You better tell me where my wife is, *man*,” Brian retorted, and suddenly the two were in each other’s faces. Brian was suddenly so calm it startled Abby. “I didn’t touch my wife, I don’t know what happened to her and I’m worried!! Just try to understand where I’m coming from, buddy. You know how women can be, they get upset and band together…make shit up…”

“Listen to me, *buddy*,” Dave returned, his tone oddly calm, so calm that for a moment - a split second - Abby thought that Dave had sided with Brian. “Obviously, your wife says differently. And don’t even try to identify with me,” Dave spat, his expression hard and his eyes glaring. Abby had taken his arm then, but he shrugged it off defiantly. Oh, great. The last thing Dave needed was to get into a fistfight right here in the ER and get suspended. They both knew one more time and the Residency Review Board would be all over his ass. And it would be her fault for getting him into that mess. “I think you should leave, before I get security.”

“She’s my wife, you can’t - ” the young man started, but Dave cut him off sharply, saying: “She’s a patient here, and now she’s under our care. Get the fuck out or I’m calling security.”

“This is bullshit!” Brian spat, pushing Dave brusquely, and Abby was almost sure he was going to hit him back, but surprisingly he just let Brian walk off, although his fists were clenched so tight that his knuckles were white. God, it must have killed Dave not to hit him. But the minute he left, the Junior Resident was all over her, badgering her with questions. Who was that? What was he doing here? How did he know who you were? She’d explained everything - regretfully, since he immediately told her she was staying with him tonight.

“I don’t think so, Dave,” she said, and then to his protests: “It’s my apartment, there’s a lock on the door. I’ll be fine, you don’t have to worry. He won’t do anything, he’s a law student, he knows the consequences.”

By the time she’d gotten home and settled in for the night, her third or fourth glass of red wine in her hand as she waited for her dinner to be delivered from the Italian restaurant, she’d brushed the incident off. She didn’t really need to worry about it anymore, right? She was fine…perhaps a little inebriated from the alcohol, but other than that, she was perfectly okay.

Wrong. So very wrong, and she’d known it the instant she’d opened the door and Brian was on the other side instead of the delivery boy. But that was okay, since he was only there to pitifully beg for her to tell him where his wife was, and a threat to call the police had deterred him from further interrogation. He’d left her apartment then, after making his way inside by himself to put her food on the counter. Immediately, she bolted and chained the door, but had soon heard a loud series of knocks, indicating that he wasn’t ready to leave her alone just yet.

Then, she’d made the most serious and most stupid mistake of her life: she’d opened the door for the second time. She was just going to yell out to him to go away, because she was calling the police now, but Brian had obviously had other plans. With rage backed by violence, he’d kicked open the door, the futile chain snapping in two, and he’d punched her square in the face with what she was sure was all the strength he’d had, sending her to the floor with an unforgiving thud and sending her into a frightening blackness.

She wasn’t quite sure when she regained consciousness or even how long she’d been knocked out, but she remained still and kept her eyes clothes in fear that she wasn’t alone. Listening intently, she’d only heard the kettle, which was whistling persistently on the stove. Opening her eyes carefully - or eye, rather, since she was unable to open her left one, she realized with fright - she glanced around her apartment and saw nothing. But…he could still be here…or he could be coming back. Instinctively, she grabbed her face and rolled up onto her knees, standing slowly, the pain resonating through her body. Her hand was wet. Why? Blood. It was covered in blood, and it was coming from her face.

She rushed to the door then, locking the bolt and then trying the chain, but of course it wouldn’t lock, it was broken. Brian had kicked it open, remember? Yes, of course, she’d replied to her own thought. Right before he’d punched you in the face and knocked you out. Grabbing the phone off of the floor, she’d rushed into the bathroom, and suddenly felt the cold of the apartment. Oh, God…oh, no…her robe was open. Jesus Christ…he…he hadn’t tried to rape her…had he? Once in the bathroom, she locked the door clumsily before turning away from it, sighing with a relief that wasn’t yet tangible. It was then that she’d caught her reflection in the mirror and began trembling in horror. Her face…oh, God…her eye was swollen shut and her cheekbone was bruised with dark shades of purple and blue. Opening the mirror, she’d frantically grabbed at whatever bandages she had, blotting the blood dripping from her nose and split lip.

Ambulance sirens had then wailed in the distance.

Much like they were doing now, she thought to herself, as she stood at the Admin Desk in the hospital, filling out a new chart after she’d misplaced the last one. Her head had been elsewhere lately, the attack still clear in her mind, haunting her dreams, even weeks later. Thankfully, she was at least allowed to work again, delving into that to keep her distracted from her troubles. Her eye was almost completely healed as well, save the small contusion that she could almost cover up with makeup. Almost.

“Hey, Abby,” the brusque voice of Frank called from the other side of the desk. “Phone. It’s the DA’s Office. Something about the attack.”

“Thanks, Frank,” she said, her curiosity piqued as took the phone from him and placed it to her ear. Why would the District Attorney’s Office be calling her? Perhaps they’d pushed up Brian’s hearing and wanted her to come in. A multitude of similar thoughts ran through her head as she introduced herself on the phone. “Hello? This is Abby Lockhart.”

“Hi, I tried reaching you at home, but you weren’t there,” the secretary stated, and Abby idly wondered if her voice was usually this nasal or if she had a cold. “Just wanted to let you know that your subpoena has been revoked and the trial’s been cancelled.”

“What??” Abby asked, a little too loudly, because several people around her turned to look. Making sure to be quieter, she hunched over on the desk, putting a hand to her forehead in exasperation as she did so. “Why is it cancelled? What happened?”

“In the interest of all concerned,” the woman said, and Abby almost rolled her eyes at the verbosity, “each side cut a deal: Mr. Westlake will spend no time incarcerated. However, he was sentenced to probation and forty hours of community service.”

“Forty hours of community service?” Abby squeaked, aghast. “The guy attacked me!”

“This is his first offense.”

“But he’s pathological!” Abby insisted, aware of the many eyes on her but not really giving a damn. “I’ve had to call the police on him before.”

“He also has to take a mandatory anger management course.”

“So, what?” she snapped, incredulous. “He counts to ten before he hits somebody now?”

“Let’s not overlook the fact that two men beat the hell out of Brian Westlake a couple hours after you were attacked,” the secretary sneered, her words dripping with derision. And then, to Abby’s silence: “But you didn’t know anything about that, did you?”

“No, of course not!” Abby exclaimed, agape. “Who the hell would do something like - “ She paused, a flash of blue scrub top catching her eye. “Uh, thanks, but I have to go. Patients.”

She hung up then without another word, storming across Reception and to Chairs, where Dave Malucci was speaking with a recently discharged patient. “Just take two of these every day for the next ten days, and when it runs out go to your own doctor for a checkup. And if you have any questions, you can - hey!!”

Abruptly, he was pulled away from his patient by one pissed off Abby Lockhart, who was dragging his soon-to-be sorry ass by the arm to a desolate part of the ER, where everyone was just far enough away not to overhear anything. That is, unless she decided to yell, which was looking pretty probable right now, especially if what she suspected was true.

“Dave,” Abby started, her tone causing worry to flash across his eyes. He looked as if he were about to wince. “Where did you go after I was attacked? You left while Susan did the rape kit and you never came back.”

“I was…here,” he said, though the words sounded lame to even his own ears. “I thought you might want some privacy.”

“Did anyone ever tell you you’re a horrible liar?” she asked, stepping closer to him, and he instinctively took two steps back. Never mess with an angry woman. He’d seen his mother standing in that exact same way before - one hand on her hip, the other pointed directly at his heart as if to rip it out any second and feed it to him - and he knew each time to run for cover as soon as he could, otherwise… “You went to look for Brian, didn’t you??”

“Yeah…” Don’t lie, either. They know. He doesn’t know how, but they do.

“And you found him,” she stated, before taking yet another step closer to him, and now his back was against the wall. An angry index finger poked him in the chest. “Because guess what, Dave?? Now, thanks to you, he isn’t going to go to jail.”

“What??” he asked, surprised. “I didn’t do anything! Okay, okay, I did, but I only - “

“Beat him up??”

“No!” Deadly stare. “I mean it!” Deadly stare. “I just might’ve…roughed him up a bit.” Deadly - “Stop doing that! I just…warned him. And I might’ve hit him…once,” he quickly added.

Dave had done a little more than just “warned him,” and he sure as hell knew it. He’d been pretty angry, to say the least, when he’d discovered that Abby had been hit and knocked unconscious in her own apartment by some jerk who’d been beating up his own wife before then. And then to worry about the fact that she might’ve been raped while she was unconscious?? That had been just too much to handle, and he’d done the first thing that had come naturally: He’d gotten angry…

---

Seem too close to be losing touch

By giving in, what am I giving up

Am I losing way too much?

---

He’d been treating a patient when he got the news. Chuny had burst into the room, startling him and his medical student, who had been performing a rape kit on their patient. The patient gasped, and Dave glanced sympathetically towards her. She was already uncomfortable with a male doctor around, much less his novice medical student performing the kit. His medical student winced herself, muttering a sheepish apology as he turned to Chuny. “What is it?”

“Uh…I…” she sighed, her expression showing her desperation. His eyes narrowed, as he stepped away from the patient and towards her. “Look, they didn’t want me to tell you, but I thought you should know…”

“Know what?” he asked, curiously, though he could tell he wasn’t going to like the news at all. “Know what, Chuny?”

A single, whispered word: “Abby…”

He froze. His heart fluttered in his chest. A feeling in the pit of his stomach formed. The same feeling he used to get when he heard the front door slam and the drunken slurs of his father emanating from down the stairs. Something bad had happened now, and he could sense it, just as he could sense the imminent danger so many years ago.

“Dr. Malucci?” His medical student, breaking him from his reverie. “What should I do now?”

“Uh…uh…wait. Wait a minute. Just…wait right there,” he stuttered, before turning to Chuny. “Now - now what about Abby? What happened to her, what’s wrong? Is she’s hurt??”

“She, uh…” the Hispanic nurse said softly, her attention diverting to the patient on the bed. “She…”

“Chuny,” he urged, waving his hand sharply in front of her eyes so that she returned her gaze to him. “What happened?? Is Abby hurt?”

“She was assaulted,” she blurted out. “Paramedics are bringing her in now…she was hurt.”

“Assaulted?” Dave asked, the questions firing from him. “By who? Where?? When? And how badly was she hurt??”

“Dave,” she interjected, before he could get in another question. “I don’t know the specifics.”

“What do you mean you don’t know the specifics?! Christ!”

“As in, I don’t know the specifics. So stop yelling at me!”

He sighed. “I…I’m sorry. Just…do you know what kind of assault? Have we heard that much?”

“I don’t know anything, Dave,” she reported, feeling sorry for him. “She should be here soon. I just…I just thought you should know, since she’s your girlfriend. But Dr. Lewis told me not to tell you, so if she asks, you didn’t hear it from me.

“Right,” Dave replied. He tried to smile. “Thanks. Uh, but could you do me another favor?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Can you page Dr. Chen and get her in here to finish this rape kit,” Dave asked, indicating his patient and medical student. “I just…I need to be available when Abby gets here.”

Dave waited with his patient but did not do further work on the rape kit; he was entirely too jittery and knew if he’d instructed his medical student his mind would’ve been elsewhere, and he didn’t want to endanger his patient. He was very careful about that now, ever since killing that kid… He explained to the patient that another doctor would be coming in, a female doctor, someone she could relax with a bit more, and it seemed to ease her nerves. Finally, Dr. Chen arrived and he bolted from the room, running to the front desk only to be told by Frank that Abby was already here and in Exam Three. He’d burst through the door and into the room moments later, startling Abby and Dr. Lewis, the latter the doctor currently assessing his friend.

“Abby,” he breathed, approaching the bed. She’d looked away from him as soon as she’d recognized him, but she turned to him as he got closer, showing him her face, which had been disfigured by an angry fist. He hissed sympathetically, his expression turning from shock to incredulity and then back to shock. “Oh, my God. What - what happened? Who did this? Do you know who it was??”

“My neighbor’s pissed because I helped his wife get into a battered women’s shelter,” she replied flatly, her tone suggesting that it was no big deal. Dave immediately sensed her bravado, and she, in turn, picked up on his skepticism. “He was angry. He wouldn’t leave. He kicked in the door and just hit me…”

“Wait,” Dave interrupted, as he heard Susan gloving up. “So this guy knows where you live??”

“Dave,” Abby said, almost with exasperation. But when she looked up at him, her features softened at his obvious panic. “He’s my *neighbor*. He attacked me in my *apartment*.”

“Right, right,” Dave said, trying to wrap his mind around this. He briefly glanced at Susan, who was palpating Abby’s abdomen with experimental fingertips, but soon turned back to Abby, realization dawning on his face. “Hold on. That isn’t the guy that came in here this morning? The one that was giving you bullshit in the hall?”

“Yeah…that’s the guy…” Abby said quietly, hating the attention she was getting from both Dave *and* Dr. Lewis, even though she barely knew the woman. Her fingers lifted and traced her swollen cheekbone, even that small touch causing her to wince in pain. She felt like the Phantom of the Opera, one side of her face smooth and normal, but the other turgid and ugly. She damn well knew that she *looked* like it too. “His name’s Brian…”

“Did the cops get him?” Dave asked. “They arrested him?”

“They don’t know where he is,” she admitted. “He hangs out at some places, like this bar, the Windbreaker or something…but they can’t find him anywhere yet.”

“They can’t find him?” Dave asked, his voice rising slightly, though not at Abby but at the cops for not being able to catch this creep. “He couldn’t have just disappeared. Are they double-checking?”

“Dave, I think they know what they’re doing,” she assured him.

“Obviously not, if they can’t find him already. Lie back so I can examine your face.”

“Dr. Malucci?” Susan Lewis interjected, softly but firmly. He glanced up at her sharply, almost seemingly angry for the intrusion. He didn’t like her, and she knew it, but, frankly, she didn’t like him that much either. And she was pretty sure *he* knew *that*. “Can I see you in the hall for a moment?”

“Why?” he snapped, as harsh as he’d intended to.

“Dave,” Abby sighed, and he was surprised to see her look of pure desperation when he turned to her. “Please don’t fight…I need to change out of my robe anyway.”

He sighed himself, silently, before saying: “All right. I’ll be right outside if you need me, okay?”

God, he didn’t want to leave her like that. She looked so fragile in that bed, wearing nothing but her tightly closed satin robe, which was stained from her own blood. He shuddered just thinking about how afraid she must’ve been as that motherfucker had kicked open the door, shouting obscenities as his fists came flying towards her. Dave knew the fear of being overpowered into submission, and he hated knowing it, hating the familiarity he had with it. Damn it, he wanted to fucking kill whoever had done this to her, and made her as afraid as he was imagining in the scenario he’d created in his head of her attack. He wanted to make *Brian* feel the same fear and pain Abby had, ten times over. And he knew Brian better hope that he never saw Dave, because he swore to God it was going to take a miracle to save him.

“Dr. Malucci,” Susan said quietly, calling to his attention and breaking him away from his rather violent thoughts once they were in the hallway. She sighed, glancing at Abby, who was out of earshot from this distance and because of their low voices. “I understand your…relationship with Abby, but I think you should let me handle this.”

“What?” he asked, puzzled. Sure, he knew all about he and Abby’s passionate love affair that had been going on for months now, so he wasn’t confused by that assumption…it was the fact that she wanted him to sit back while Abby was suffering and let her take care of everything. He didn’t think so. “I think I can handle this just as well as you can,” he snapped defensively.

“Do you really think so?” Susan asked, as if the answer was obvious or perhaps he was just plain stupid.

“Listen,” Dave said, annoyed. “I’m aware that you and *every* other doctor thinks I’m a total fuck up, but I am more than capable of taking care of Abby.”

“Dr. Malucci, this isn’t about you or your abilities as a doctor,” Dr. Lewis began, stepping in his way as he tried to move past her and back into the exam room. “And as a doctor, I am sure you could take care of a patient like Abby. But this *is* Abby, and I don’t want you to get over-emotional in there and make a mistake or make her more nervous than she already is. You already *are* with the third-degree interrogation you’re giving her in there.”

He winced at her words, glancing back to Abby, who was watching them from the bed. He didn’t want to hurt her. Perhaps it was best if he waited out here while Dr. Lewis examined her, just in case… Nodding absently, he said: “Yeah…okay. I’ll…wait out here.”

“I’ll take care of her,” Susan said, squeezing Dave’s arm reassuringly, though he was almost sure he could see through her façade. As if she gave a shit what he thought or how he was feeling. She then stepped back into the room silently, closing the door behind her, leaving Dave to pace the hall like a caged animal. Dave smiled at Abby through the glass window before Susan pulled the curtain around the exam bed, so he couldn’t even see what was going on through the small window in the door, though he did try. Then, suddenly, there was a hand on his shoulder, startling him so much he jumped and spun around.

“Luka,” he breathed, surprised. As far as he knew, the Attending wasn’t due back from his Doctors without Borders trip for another week, though that had just the major consensus of the Rumor Mill. Apparently, the nurses *didn’t* know everything, if the tall Croatian man in front of him stood for anything. “I didn’t know you were back yet,” he said then, noting how harrowed Luka looked.

“I just got back today; Dr. Lewis called me in to cover for Kerry,” he stated, before glancing beyond Dave’s shoulder and into the exam room. “I heard about Abby’s attack just a few minutes ago. What is going on, why aren’t you in there?”

“Abby was, uh…attacked, by her neighbor,” Dave reported, looking up at Luka. “She was helping his wife get into a women’s shelter, and he got upset and decked her right in her own apartment. As for why I’m not in there…” he began, “Dr. Lewis thinks I should wait out here. I was making Abby nervous.”

As if on cue, the exam room door opened, and Dr. Lewis poked her head out. She seemed almost embarrassed. “Dr. Malucci? Abby wants you to come back inside.”

He didn’t sneer. He didn’t throw an I-told-you-so in her face. If this wasn’t about him then it certainly was not about her. He simply glanced back at Luka with a promise to update him on what was going on, and then stepped back into the room, Dr. Lewis following him. He glanced at Abby then, noticing that she had changed into a gown. Softly, he said: “Hey.”

“Where did you go?” she asked, and it seemed almost as if she was hurt that he would leave her.

“I just had to talk to Luka for a minute out in the hall,” he replied smoothly, very aware of Susan’s eyes on him.

“Luka’s here?”

“Yeah, he’s waiting outside,” Dave stated, before glancing at Susan, changing the subject quickly - or perhaps getting back onto the real subject, he didn’t know. “How does everything look?”

“So far,” Susan replied, “so good.”

“What about her eye?”

“We’re waiting on Radiology to get back with the films,” she said, and then paused briefly before turning back to Dave. “Abby and I are in a disagreement on a course of treatment, but we *did* agree to let you weigh in.”

He glanced at Abby suspiciously, and then looked at Susan, eyes narrowed. “Okay…”

“Upon examination we found a large contusion on her thigh.”

His expression froze on his face, as his body visibly tensed. “She got kicked?”

“I want to order a rape kit, just to be sure.” Rape. Rape. The words seemed to resonate throughout the room, though Dave knew it was only in his head. “What do you think, Dr. Malucci? Should we order the kit?”

“I was not raped!” Abby declared, but the words sounded even uncertain to her own ears.

“You were unconscious,” Dave argued, his brow furrowed in apparent worry.

“Yeah, unconscious,” Abby stated. “I wasn’t in a coma!”

“She reported that she was unconscious for an undetermined amount of time,” Susan stated, obviously to gain Dave’s attention. “She also reported that the robe was open when she regained consciousness.”

“Christ,” Abby hissed, exasperated. “My robe fell open…I…I think I would know if I was raped…” Abby looked at Dave but her eyes were panicked. “I don’t want a rape kit.”

“I don’t care, you’re getting the exam,” Dave declared, as he headed towards the door. “I’ll get it from the supply closet.” He exited the room hastily, unwilling to listen to his friend’s protests, and found Luka still waiting outside, who looked to Dave with questioning eyes. “I’m getting a rape kit.”

“She was - ”

“No - well, we don’t know,” Dave interjected, and then seemed to reconsider. “We don’t think so, but we just…want to make sure. But let me tell you, Luka, he better not have.”

“Did they catch the man who did this?” Luka then asked, as he followed Dave to the supply closet.

“No, not yet,” Dave replied, shaking his head in disdain. The conversation seemed to end there, although Luka continued to walk silently with Dave into the supply closet. If it hadn’t been for the current situation occupying most of his thoughts, Dave would’ve been too embarrassed to even go near the older man; from what the Junior Resident had heard from John, at one point during his overdose he’d ended up at Luka’s apartment, desperate and crying his eyes out, acting like one of the patients up in the Psych ward. What bothered Dave the most, however, was that he couldn’t remember most of anything from that night, so he wasn’t even sure what to be so embarrassed about. Breaking him from his thoughts, he was suddenly aware of the fact that no matter how hard he searched these shelves, he could not find what he was looking for. “Where are the rape kits?”

“Check the drug lockup,” Luka suggested, and watched as Dave stilled for a moment. Oh, God, he’d totally forgotten. How could he have forgotten?? Quickly, he asked: “Do you want me to get it?”

“No, no…I’ll get it,” Dave said, brushing off Luka’s offer. “Why don’t you go check on Abby? I told her you were here…”

Hastily, he left the storage room, crossing the ER to a room he was all too familiar with. Curious eyes followed him inside, but he ignored them as he quickly headed to the storage drawers under the locked cabinets. He pulled open the right drawer, spotting the kit, but he found his eyes wandering to the shelves above. There they were: antidepressants, depressants, painkillers, tranquilizers… He could see his own reflection in the glass, hated the hungry look in his eyes, but he couldn’t look away. Coming in here, he’d been almost positive he wouldn’t be affected by this, because he was over it - but now, he could see it had been a misconception masked by his pride.

“Dave?” He spun around, turning to Luka in the doorway. “Did you find it?”

“Yes,” he said quickly, grabbing the kit and closing the drawer, then leaving with Luka, physically away from the temptation, though it remained ever-present in the back of his mind.

---

Moments later, Luka and Dave were outside in the hallway, waiting for Susan to finish the rape kit and report the results to them. The silence that had stretched between them so far hadn’t been entirely uncomfortable, though it would’ve been had the circumstances not been so serious. As of now, they were simply too worried about their friend to concern themselves with each other. However, Luka, who was attempting to perhaps get his mind off of the current situation, soon broke the silence.

“So…how have you been?” he asked, in the quiet hallway. Patients had been cleared a while ago, so they at least had some sort of privacy. “I, uh…took a later flight that night, made sure you were okay before I left, but…I never actually got to see you.”

Dave immediately knew what night was speaking of, and he glanced up, surprised. “Really?” He quickly recovered from his momentary shock, however, and looked away. “I…didn’t know that. I’m okay, I guess… What about you? How was Bosnia?”

The quick change of subject was not lost on Luka, but before he could reply, Dr. Lewis was exiting the exam room, and she’d barely closed the door before both men were all over her. She held out her hands in a pleading gesture, to calm them down and halt their questions. “A radiologist cleared Abby’s head CT, and there *aren’t* any signs of rape.” Susan had never heard such sighs of relief as she had at that moment, and they surprised her. These men really cared for Abby, and she was almost jealous; she didn’t know anyone who cared like that for her anymore. “She has some broken bones in her face, but they’ll heal nicely. She should be fine.”

“Thank God,” Luka whispered.

Susan looked at Dave, who seemed to have been silently thanking God. “Well, she needs friends right now. I think she’s a bit more shook up than she is letting on, so she’s going to stay at my place tonight.”

“Well, triage is clear,” Luka suddenly said, as if needing a change of subject to wash away the last of his fears. “You just need to prep the pass-ons. I’m going home, I haven’t even unpacked yet.”

“I’ve lived here five months and I haven’t unpacked!” Susan exclaimed, but Luka was already gone - along with Dave, which she thought was rather weird, considering the scare he’d just had with his girlfriend. She shook the thought off and sighed then, moving towards Admin. “Yeah, bail…” she muttered to no one.

Meanwhile, Dave was hot on Luka’s trail, calling to the older man, who was already out the ambulance bay doors. “Luka, wait up!”

The Attending turned around, glancing at Dave curiously. He’d been hoping to avoid the younger man, especially after that night not too long ago. It seemed as if Dave were pretending that the whole encounter had never happened - and with a gasp, Luka realized that he might not be pretending, per se…he might not remember it at all. After all, he *had* been overdosing…oh, God. How could Luka had been so *stupid*, allowing all of that to happen in his apartment.

He knew why. It was because he was in love with Dave. Or perhaps just infatuated. Obsessed. Luka had not many good things in his life, so when they came along he was reluctant to let them go. Dave had definitely been a good thing, despite how blind he had been to it before now. Maybe that was it. Whatever it was, he wanted the younger man, and wanted to be wanted by him, too. *Needed* to be wanted. Needed to be needed. And because of this, and because he knew that Dave no longer felt this way, it hurt to be around him.

“Luka,” Dave said, catching up with him and breaking him from his thoughts. “Abby mentioned a bar that the little fuck that attacked her likes to go to.”

“You want me to drive you to the police station?” Luka inquired, though his words sounded more like a statement.

“What?” Dave asked, puzzled. “Why?”

“So you can tell them and they can look for him there.”

“No,” Dave said, as if the notion were incredulous. “I want you to drive me to the bar so I can take care of this mother fucker myself.”

“Why?” it was Luka’s turn to ask, though Dave exact idea was already running through his brain.

“So we can look for him ourselves. It’s called justice, Luka…my way.”

---

The two men entered the bar several minutes later, Dave glancing around carefully and taking note of every person in the room, the features of the man he was looking for emblazoned on the back of his eyelids even though he’d only seen him once. But hitting his best friend - an unsuspecting woman, no less - was all it took for Dave to remember each and every curve and plane of her attacker’s face.

“Do you see him?” Luka asked, his own eyes searching each bar patron. “I don’t really know what he looks like besides what you’ve told me.”

“Maybe he’s not…” Dave trailed off, spotting the curly-haired man standing by the telephone, who was glancing around cautiously, as if he knew someone would eventually come here. And the moment he laid eyes on Dave, he hastily hung up the phone, nearly dropping it while doing so, and dashed around the pool table as if that would shield him from one angry Junior Resident ready to knock his lights out.

“I don’t have a problem with you, man,” Brian said desperately, seeing the rage in Dave’s hard expression as he approached.

“I have a problem with you,” Dave spat back.

“I got angry,” Brian claimed. “It was a mistake.”

Dave almost scoffed in disbelief. “You hit women by mistake?”

“That’s not what I meant,” Brian said, desperately. “Let me explain, buddy…”

“I am *not* your fucking buddy!” Dave yelled. “Let me explain something to you: Your biggest mistake was putting your hands on Abby. And you know why? Because of me. I’m your biggest nightmare. Me. And I’m going to make you sorry you were ever born.”

“Dave,” Luka said, following close behind the younger man. So this was the man that had beaten Abby? Instantly, his own anger flared, though Dave was angry enough for the both of them. Sure, he’d seen Dave’s temper before - hell, he’d been on the receiving end once or twice. He knew how the younger man could yet. Suddenly, he was worried about the younger man…he could seriously hurt Brian, or seriously get hurt himself. Either option was not ideal. “Let’s just call the police.”

“Just hold on a second, Luka,” Dave said, though he didn’t take his eyes off of Brian, who was feeling very threatened with Dave and Luka there.

“I lost my temper, man!” the young law student tried desperately to explain.

But the younger man was obviously not listening, because a moment later he reached out and smacked Brian on the cheek with an open hand, hard enough to send him back into a rack of pool cues. “Let’s see you hit me,” he dared then, his voice raising. “Lose your temper with me!”

“I - I’m going to go to the cops right now and turn myself in,” he said then, desperately holding his hands out as he tried to keep the irate doctor away from him. Suddenly, Dave hooked him in the jaw with a fist, and then another in his chest. “Wait!”

“You better start swinging back!” Another to the stomach, to the shoulder blade now. “Oh, I get it. You only hit women, huh??”

“Dave!” Luka exclaimed, watching as the younger man continued to punch Brian several more times in the head and body. He glanced around nervously, noting that the bartender was now on the phone with who he presumed to be the police, and then turned back to Dave and a now blubbering Brian.

“I was wrong! I got angry!” he was saying, in an almost pleading manner. “She took away my wife!!”

With a sort of rage Luka had never seen before, Dave turned Brian around and threw him onto the pool table, knocking the wind out of him. “*You* took away your wife!”

“I know, I know! I know!” the law student whimpered. “But I loved her. She’s everything to me, and I lost her.”

“Whose fault is that??” Dave asked, the pathetic words doing nothing to quell his anger. “You think she’s just going to take it from you?! She’s a human being, you mother fucker! You have no right to treat her like that, you hear me!?? No right!!”

Drawing back his arm, Dave was about to send an angry fist full-force squarely into Brian’s face when a hand on his bicep stopped him. “Dave!” Luka said, and he was almost surprised to see the younger man flinch, as if snapping out of his tirade. Breathing heavily, the Junior Resident then shook him off, taking a step back before seeming to reconsider his action.

Abruptly, he grabbed Brian by the shirt, pulling him close. “You touch her again…I’ll kill you.”

---

Hey

California waiting

Every little thing’s gotta be just right

---

Um…warning? Yeah…

“Dave,” she said, almost sighing as she broke him from his thoughts, pure disappointment laced with his name and written all over her face, and he immediately felt guilty and ashamed. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you to think before you acted?”

“Abby, I’m sorry,” he said, but she held up her hand before he could barely finish the sentence, stopping him. She glanced up at him, shaking her head as if to tell him it was useless to try to apologize and figure out an excuse, because he wasn’t getting away with it. And then, she smiled sadly before turning and walking away from him, leaving him standing there, feeling worse than he had in a long time. “Dr. Dave strikes again,” he said to himself, aware of the many eyes of nosy staff members on him, but ignoring them as he quickly picked up a new chart and hurried off to see another patient - any patient - as long as he didn’t have to think about how he’d let yet another person down.

-------------------------------

Say

While you’re tryin’ to save me

Can’t I get back my lonely life?

-------------------------------

John Carter was in the Lounge, preparing to cover the end of Dr. Greene’s shift. It would only be a few hours, but he knew Dave was going home now, and he’d rather be home with him - especially since John was leaving early tomorrow morning. Sighing as he put on his lab coat, he heard the door open and turned to see Abby enter.

“Hey, Abby,” he greeted her warmly. He approached her, gently touching her still-healing eye, but she pulled away sharply. “What’s wrong? Do you feel okay?”

“I feel like crap,” she replied indignantly, as she began to manhandle the coffee maker.

“Okay…” he said hesitantly, knowing never to mess with an angry woman. He quickly changed the subject. “Uh…have you seen Dave? I wanted to see him before I left.”

Abby suddenly slammed the coffee maker, and he winced as it smacked against the counter. She turned to him, glaring. “You are never allowed to say that name again. Dave is the devil.”

“I…didn’t know that,” he said, and, as if on cue, the Junior Resident entered the room. John glanced at him with a puzzled expression. “Hey, Dave.”

“Hey,” he replied, smiling, and then saw Abby. “Abby, can I - “

“No!” she exclaimed, crossing the room and brushing past him, leaving the Lounge in a hurry. Dave sighed, moving towards his locker and fumbling with the combination.

“What was that all about?” John asked, as the younger man opened his locker and began to grab his things.

“She’s mad at me.”

“I figured as much,” he said, his brow furrowing. It seemed as if Dave didn’t want to talk about it, but John wanted to know. Abby and Dave were so close, and sometimes John found himself wondering just *how* close. It hurt him to think she could know more about Dave than he, his own lover, did. He turned to Dave then, old enough to recognize his feelings as jealousy but not mature enough right now to admit it. “Why is she mad? What did you do?”

“Why do you automatically assume that I did something?” Dave asked, stuffing paperwork he needed to finish by tomorrow into his knapsack.

“Did you?” John asked.

“I might’ve…” he replied, and then sighed, turning to his lover. “Do you remember when Abby was attacked? Well…the cops couldn’t find the guy, and she mentioned he liked to hang out at this bar, so…”

“You didn’t,” John said, his voice laced with exasperation as he put two and two together. “Dave, please tell me you didn’t…”

“The cops weren’t doing anything!” Dave exclaimed, to John’s almost pained expression. Sometimes Dave hated cops…he knew how they defended their own, knew it first hand. It was what had stopped him from living with his mother all those years ago, and what had stopped his father from getting into trouble all those times. He quickly pushed the thoughts aside. “We went there and found him, we didn’t - “

“We?” John asked. “Who’s we? You didn’t take Abby there, did you??”

“No!” Dave replied incredulously. “I went with Luka.”

“Luka??” John was now incredulous. “Why the hell would you go with Luka?? I thought you two hated each other?”

“This wasn’t about us,” he stated. “This was about Abby. And we both care about her, and when the cops weren’t finding the guy, we went out to see if we could find him ourselves.”

“What did you do to him?” John asked, now suddenly worried. He knew Luka and Dave’s temper - hell, he’d been on the receiving end of both men’s anger at one time or another. Images of the two of them going out and hurting Abby’s attacker easily came to mind, and he didn’t like that one bit. “What did you do?” he asked again, when Dave didn’t immediately reply, but was instead enthralled in his locker. “That’s why she’s mad, because you did something??”

“We just…talked to him,” Dave said carefully, but it was too hesitantly for John’s liking. “We just threatened him, we didn’t *do* anything.”

“Then why is Abby mad at you?” There was definitely more to it than that; John knew Dave well enough now to distinguish when he was telling the truth and when he wasn’t.

“Because the bartender said we attacked him,” Dave said, his hands raised to the Heavens in anger, “and now he’s not going to jail.”

“What?” John exclaimed, tossing Dave a hard stare. “Dave, I don’t think someone would misinterpret a threat as beating the hell out of someone.”

“We didn’t beat the hell out of him!” Dave said angrily, slamming his locker closed. “We just went there and threatened him, you can ask Luka if you want to. But, frankly, I don’t care if you believe me or not, or what the hell the Goddamn police think. He deserved everything he got!”

“Dave, it doesn’t matter if he deserved it,” John said, trying to reason with him although he knew Dave would never listen to him when he was angry like this. “You shouldn’t have done that. You could’ve gotten yourself killed, you know. Luka, too.”

“I’m fine, and so is Luka,” he said.

“So you admit you hit him?”

“I’m not admitting anything!” Dave hissed indignantly.

“Well, if you didn’t do anything wrong,” John began, hoping that a challenge would coax the truth out of Dave, “then be proud of what you did and admit it. Be proud of it, don’t be a coward.”

So suddenly it startled John, Dave punched his locker, denting it slightly. He turned to him then, stepping very close to him, his eyes wild with anger. “What do you want to hear, John? That I beat the fuck out of him? Fine, I did. I did. Is that what you want to hear? I wanted to kill him, John, and probably the only thing that stopped me was Luka. That, and the fact that he was smart enough not to rape Abby. I beat the shit out of him, and you know what? I’m not sorry. It made me feel great watching him cry and beg. Is that what you wanted to hear? Because it’s all true. Any other questions?”

John was so stunned by the cold hatred in Dave’s eyes and words, he almost didn’t reply. “No,” he finally remembered to say.

“Good,” Dave said quietly, and his eyes cast to the floor as he began to leave the Lounge. He turned back, looking at John sadly. “Look…I didn’t mean to fuck things up for Abby, it just…always sorta turns out that way when I try to help.”

“Dave,” John said, suddenly feeling sorry for the younger man, and sorry that he’d snapped at him. But Dave was already out of the Lounge, unwilling to hear John’s sympathies, though John followed him out anyway.

“Just the man I want to see!” Jing-Mei Chen chirped, greeting John warmly as she spotted him. “Look, I’ve got six patients for you!”

“Hey, you just remember not to get too caught up,” Dave reminded him, as he headed for the Admin desk to sign out for the night. He was pretty excited about tonight, despite how bad the day had been, having made plans with John - who was left in the dark, of course, because it was all going to be a big surprise. Perhaps the surprise would end the day at least on a good note. “You better be home on time.”

“I know,” he replied, glancing around reception in fear someone would ask something and Dave would open his big mouth. Sure, everyone knew they lived together, but thought they were only roommates. And that was just fine with John, so why was Dave going around saying something like that?

“Why? You two have plans or something?” Jing-Mei asked, and John jumped up from his seat in front of the board to reply before Dave did when a fairly good-looking - and fairly young - man suddenly surprised the oriental woman. And don’t think John didn’t notice the once-over that Dave had just given him. This was *not* the checkout counter, he thought to himself, suddenly feeling jealousy creeping up on him, making his cheeks hot. And he wasn’t *that* good-looking, now that John thought about it. “Randall,” she said, giving the twerp a name. “What are you doing here?”

“Are you off?” he asked, his face filled with hope.

“Uh…”

“Aren’t you supposed to be covering Dr. Greene?” Dave interrupted innocently, covering for his former-crush as he saw her frozen there like a deer in headlights. He tried to change the subject to take the heat and attention off of her then, but it did nothing to deter Randall. “Anyway, I’m out of here. See you all later. Remember, Carter!”

“I know!” the Chief Resident almost groaned.

“Look, Randall…” Jing-Mei was saying, approaching the young man but keeping the Reception counter between them. She proceeded to break up with him rather awkwardly under the gazes of several staff members - including himself - and Randall somehow managed to seem incredibly dense about it, though John wasn’t surprised. He didn’t look like the smart type. “Jeeze,” she said, once he was gone. “We just went out once.”

“One date and he’s buying you flowers?” John asked, slightly surprised.

“Can you believe it?” she asked rhetorically, incredulity written all over her face. “You give a guy a hand release during ‘Harry Potter’ and he wants to marry you!”

-------------------------------

I’m going so fast that I can’t slow down

It’s hard to get up when you’re spinning round and round

-------------------------------

Abby Lockhart shivered in the cold as she made her way down the street to her apartment building. She lived close to the El and was thankful for that, so she didn’t have far to walk to get on a train and to work. Walking more briskly as the wind picked up, she stuffed her hands into her pockets as she made her way through the freezing cold. Suddenly, she came to a halt, her heart skipping a beat and her breath catching as she caught sight of him walking into her apartment building.

Shit!

She took another step forward, before reconsidering her action and turning around, sighing with deep resignation as she headed towards the place where she knew she’d be safe.

-------------------------------

I’d tell you the news but nothing’s changed

I’d sing you a song but they blew it away

All wrapped up in this stupid ass game

-------------------------------

Everything was almost perfect, Dave decided, as he stood inside the dining nook of the apartment, double-checking everything just to make sure. Moving into the kitchen to grab some candles, Dave tasted a bit of the chicken parmesan he’d made to find that it was probably the best he’d ever made - and it had better be, after spending hours carefully cooking it and perfecting the homemade sauce. The vegetables were steamed and tender, his own concoction of seasoning adding to the taste. And he’d even bought a bottle of sparkling water, which was icing nearby, since the two of them couldn’t have alcohol. Now, grabbing the candles and placing them around the room, lighting them as he went, he softly sang to his Pete Yorn CD, looking forward to the night ahead.

“Oh, Billie, I want you so…” he sang, lighting a big fat candle that was a sort of off-white color. “I’m trying to meet you…too many things they don’t know…too many repeatings…of beatings…”

Startling him and almost causing him to burn himself on a match, the doorbell rang, and Dave turned towards it in puzzlement. John wouldn’t ring the bell, unless he’d lost his keys. But they were attached to his car keys, so unless he’d walked home from work, it wasn’t him. He’d have called Dave and told him. Maybe their neighbor Mrs. Caruso wanted something…

Crossing to the door with anticipation - secretly hoping it was John, though he knew it was unlikely - Dave unlocked it and pulled it open expectantly, his brow furrowing as he saw her.

“Abby,” he said, even more puzzled than he had been upon first hearing the bell ring. Plus… “I was pretty sure you were never going to talk to me again.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that,” she replied, brushing a strand of brown hair behind her ear, almost seeming sheepish. “Uh…look, my neighbor moved back in…”

He waited for her to go on, but she didn’t elaborate so he nodded, leaning in the doorway as he said: “I remember you looking at apartments in the Lounge today.”

“Right,” she murmured. She glanced up at him suddenly, her eyes alarmingly desperate. “I mean, uh, he’s there *now*, and I…I didn’t want to stay there. I just…wouldn’t feel safe, knowing he’s next door. So I came here, but I don’t want to, you know, impose or anything, but I just…”

“Abby, it’s fine,” he said, damning himself right now for losing his temper. That loser would be in jail right now and Abby would be safe, if it wasn’t for him. But at least he could repay her somewhat by letting her stay here - and absolve himself of a little guilt, he knew. “Come in, don’t worry about it. You can stay in the guestroom until you find a new place.”

“Thanks, Dave,” she said, as he moved over to allow her passage. Suddenly, she found herself wrapped in his arms, and she hugged him back tightly, but she had to pull away before she lost her composure completely. She stepped out of his arms and into the apartment, immediately noting the dimmed lights and several candles, picking up the scent of what had to be some sort of chicken, and then seeing the dinner plates set up on the table in the dining nook. Oh, man… “Did you and John have something planned?”

“Yeah, uh…tomorrow morning he’s got an early flight to California,” he stated, rubbing the nape of his neck as he closed the door behind him. And upon her confused expression: “The conference in LA? For emergency room doctors and better care or something like that. He’s going to be gone for the weekend.”

“Oh, Dave, I’m so sorry, I totally forgot,” she said, mentally slapping herself before moving towards the door. “You know what? I’ll just suck it up and go home…”

“Abby, no,” he insisted, blocking her path to the door. “I said it was fine, and I mean it. You know what they say about us Italians making enough food for the neighborhood. We’ll just…have a romantic dinner for three.”

“Oh, that makes me feel *much* better,” she said dryly. “Move.”

“No,” he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and leading her towards the table. “Do you honestly think whether or not you’re here is going to affect the fact that this night is ending with amazing sex??”

“Well…”

“Hell, if you really want it to be amazing,” Dave suggested with a wink, “join us.”

Abby winked back. “Maybe I will…”

“Thatta girl!” He grinned, pulling out a chair for her and then grabbing more plates from the cabinets as she sat down hesitantly. Perhaps the night would be more fun with her here, he considered as he continued to sing along to a new song, serenading Abby. “Oh, Billie, I want you so…I’m trying to meet you…Too many things they don’t know…too many repeatings, of beatings…”

Theatrically, Dave bowed down and extended his hand towards Abby, silently asking her to dance. At first, she waved him away, laughing as she did so, but he took her hand and pulled her up, and they moved into the traditional dancing stance. They swung in circles until they were nearly dizzy, watching where they were stepping since the apartment hadn’t been made for this. He held up her hand above their heads and she spun, before Dave dipped her, tripping over Kermit as he did so, causing her to nearly fall right on her ass and also causing them to laugh even harder.

“*Ahem*” they heard, glancing up from the floor to see John standing in the doorway, a puzzled grin on his face, along with a cocked eyebrow. Had they really been so loud they hadn’t heard him enter? “Uh…do you two want me to leave?”

“Hey, John,” Dave said, still chuckling slightly. He stood, extending an arm to Abby to help her up from the floor once he was. “Nah, you don’t have to do that. Just hope you don’t mind we started your going away party without you.”

“Long as you didn’t eat anything without me,” he replied, instinctively approaching Dave as the younger man did the same, and they wrapped their arms around each other in a loving hug. John’s eyes danced around the room, catching sight of the candles and food, while his nose gave attention to the different aromas: the chicken, the tomato sauce, a few smells he didn’t recognize, and then, of course, Dave - musky, manly Dave, who had the most wonderful natural scent. “You did all this by yourselves?”

“Actually,” Abby interjected as she played with her napkin, feeling like a peeping tom as the two men embraced intimately. “I just got here. I sorta crashed the party…”

“This is all very nice,” John stated softly, looking directly into Dave’s brown eyes. The obvious effort and time put into this evening touched him, proving all the more that the younger man loved John just as much as John loved him. He brushed his lips against Dave’s then, pulling away afterwards but keeping his hand in the Junior Resident’s. Suddenly noticing Abby probably feeling like a third wheel, he asked: “What about you crashing the party?”

“Oh, well, uh…” Abby began, but suddenly found herself stuttering. What if John didn’t want her here? It was, after all, his apartment too. She didn’t want to play Mommy against Daddy, so to speak, especially tonight of all nights.

“Abby’s neighbor moved back in,” Dave picked up for her, sensing her discomfort. “It wouldn’t be safe for her there, so I said it was okay if she stays here a few days.”

“Sure,” John agreed, smiling reassuringly at her. He knew what it was like to be attacked and feel defenseless, and also what it felt like to face your attacker again. But living right next to them, vulnerable like that? He’d never make someone he cared for go through that. “Mi cosa, tú cosa…is that how it goes??”

“Yeah,” Dave said, chuckling. “Or something like that…”

Dinner, at least for Dave, went relatively slow. They’d only taken about an hour to eat, but it felt like at least three, and they were *still* sitting here talking and picking at their leftovers. Come on! Dave wanted to get out of here, he was just itching to get into the bedroom. And whether or not they actually got there, Dave was going to fuck John in two minutes, even if he had to do it on this very table. Hey, it *was* probably the only place left in the apartment they hadn’t done it yet. Dave could think of several off the top of his head: The kitchen, in front of the refrigerator, the glasses and other things inside clanking against each other as the two men slammed into it again and again. And then that night they barely made it through the door before going at it, ending up somehow on the coffee table. Oh, man, and then that one time on the couch, Dave sitting back and John on his lap, facing him and riding him so agonizingly slow while looking right into his eyes. God dammit, he thought to himself, as he felt the raging hard-on beneath his denim jeans. This was doing nothing to deter his horny urges.

“Dave, stop it,” he suddenly heard from Abby, and glanced up at her with puzzlement. “You’re getting annoying.”

“What am I doing?” he asked.

“You’re fidgeting. Stop it,” she said, but knew that when he did that there was something wrong. “Is something up?”

“You could say that,” he stated quietly, fighting back a snicker. He looked up at her confused expression, before quickly recovering. “Uh, no, nothing’s…up. I’m just…”

“Tired?” she offered, when he trailed off.

“Yes!” he exclaimed, startling her and John. He snapped his fingers, before pointing as if he’d had an epiphany. “That’s it. I’m tired. And I’m going to the bedroom.”

“Okay,” John said, reaching across the table to grab more salt for his potatoes, or what was left of them. He suddenly felt an elbow in his ribs and jumped, glancing up at Dave, who had delivered the unexpected blow. “What?”

“I’m going. To. The bedroom,” he articulated slowly, staring John straight in the eyes with a mischievous glint that he knew all too well.

“Oh! Right, yeah, the bedroom,” John repeated, and then turned to Abby. “Yeah, me too. Now that Dave mentions it, I’m really tired.”

“I’m sure,” she murmured, compressing a smile. “You guys go ahead, I’ll clean this up.”

“You sure?” Dave asked, although he was already halfway to the bedroom. And before she could even reply: “Thanks, Abby! You’re the best!”

“I know,” she said, reminding herself to search the kitchen cabinet’s for a bag of popcorn to heat up, because she was pretty sure she’d be able to hear the boys all the way in here in a few minutes, and no way was she going to miss this.

-------------------------------

Hey

California waiting

Every little thing’s gotta be just right

-------------------------------

Their bodies were entwined before they even entered the bedroom, Dave hastily kicking the door closed behind him as their lips met in a deep kiss, their hands fumbling with clothing all while attempting to make it to the bed without falling over each other. Hell, who cared as long as they got to have sex, even if it had to be on the floor? And Dave was so fucking horny right now he was ready to take John right against the door, though he knew from experience it was a difficult task, since he was shorter.

Damning genetics, he led John further into the room, their lips never parting as they paused briefly to enjoy their make-out session before getting hot and heavy. John’s lips parted then, and Dave took that as an invitation to snake his tongue inside, feeling his gums and smooth teeth, and when John began sucking on Dave’s tongue, he grinned, his chuckle soon changing to a moan. Dave’s hands moved to John’s shirt, unfastening the buttons as quickly as his could without tearing them away completely, and he felt John’s hands on his back, moving up his shirt to feel the hard muscles beneath his skin. Then lower they moved, until they were at the small of his back, tracing the tattoo there expertly, before he felt John brushing his knuckles over his ass.

“Wait,” he breathed into their kiss, tensing ever so slightly. “Let’s move to the bed.”

“I sorta like this,” John said with a devilish wink and a wicked grin, placing one hand at the back of Dave’s neck, pulling him into another kiss just as deep as the first one. And again, the hand was at his back, and then on his ass, forcing him to thrust against John.

“Stop,” Dave tried to say, but the hand at the back of his neck was not relenting, as it was holding him still while John continued to kiss him and touch him, and Dave felt his heart beating more rapidly than it should be. He panicked for a moment, frozen in place before he regained his wits and snaked a hand between them, pushing John a good foot away. “I said stop,” he breathed, when he could find his voice again.

“I heard you,” John stated calmly, and the fact that Dave now took a step back was not lost on him. “I just didn’t see any reason to. We do this all the time.”

“I just…wanted to move to the bed.” Something was very wrong here, Dave knew, and he wasn’t sure if he liked being alone with John right now. But he wasn’t sure what bothered him more: that, or the fact that he didn’t know why.

“I’m not going to hurt you, you know,” John said, and Dave almost seemed surprised by his words.

“I know,” Dave replied, though hesitantly so. He glanced up at John, but only met his eye for a moment before casting his gaze quickly to the floor. “I just…I mean…you know I don’t do that.”

“You say ‘that’ as if I’m asking you to blow me, or let me fuck you,” John snapped, and Dave visibly flinched at the harsh words. But John was sick and tired of Dave’s lame excuses. “But that isn’t the case here at all, because you’ll never let me do any of those things, will you??”

Dave glanced up once more at John, but didn’t even know where to begin. What the fuck was John doing, asking him a question like that? They’d talked about this before… “We’ve talked about this before, why is it a problem now?”

“It’s not a problem,” John stated, shaking his head as he held out his arms in a pleading gesture. “I just want to know why. What makes you so afraid of me?”

“I’m not afraid of you.”

“Yes, you are!” John exclaimed, and then reached out and grabbed Dave’s ass, who immediately pulled away. But John reached out again, just touching Dave anywhere, and the younger man kept on flinching. “See! You’re afraid! What made you so afraid of that, afraid of *me*??”

Suddenly, Dave turned and pulled open the door, bolting from the room and into the living room, and he knew John was right behind him, yelling at him to come back, but he wasn’t sure if he would suffocate if he went back into the bedroom. He saw Abby in the corner of his eye, too, turning fast to glance at him from the kitchen, where she was cleaning up. “What’s going on?” she asked, puzzled as she sensed something amiss.

“We’re not finished talking, Dave!” John exclaimed, both ignoring Abby’s question.

“What is this, Truth or Dare??” Dave spat, avoiding his previous questions completely. No way in hell was he about to answer to John’s accusations, who shouldn’t even be doing stuff like this anyway. “You want to talk about secrets? You won’t even let me go near you when we’re together in public, not even at places where people don’t know us!”

“That isn’t what this is about,” John said, knowing that Dave was avoiding the subject.

“Maybe it should be,” was the quick reply he received. “Maybe I should be able to go out with you in public and joke around with you and talk to you and - and not be afraid that if I even go near you you’ll get all weird. And maybe I should be able to - “

“And maybe I should be able to touch you!” John interrupted, feeling his anger rising. “This isn’t about me, Dave, and I’m not going to let you make it about me! I just thought we were closer than this by now - “

“Uh…” Abby said, inching towards the hallway. She knew she shouldn’t be here for this, but the two men were blocking her path. “Excuse me…”

“Closer?” Dave asked, hardly hearing what Abby had just said. “You don’t seem too keen on being ‘closer’ in public.”

That was it! Sure, this argument wasn’t about that, but now he was just plain mad and Dave wasn’t going to get away with that comment. “Do you know what you’re asking of me? Do you have *any* idea what you’re asking of me??”

“I’m just asking you not to be ashamed of me!”

“You don’t even let me *touch* you,” John yelled, incredulous, “but you want me to tell everyone how much I *love* you?!”

“You know what?” Dave asked then, placing his hands on his waist. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“It’s always about what you want, isn’t it??”

“Then maybe you should just leave!” Dave yelled now, turning away from John and moving into the kitchen. “You know, I thought I could have this nice dinner for you, and make it real special, but that obviously isn’t what you want. Just - fuck it! Fuck dinner, fuck everything!”

“Yeah, fuck everything except you!” John retorted angrily, and Dave reciprocated by picking up a fork from the dinner table, throwing it violently into the sink. It clattered into a dish, which immediately exploded, sending pieces everywhere. “I can’t believe how immature you’re being. God, fuck this. I’m going to the conference.”

“Just fucking leave already!!” Dave screamed, and John grabbed his coat and bags, which had been waiting by the door. “Get the fuck out!”

“I’m fucking going!!” he yelled back, right before doing so, effectively slamming the door behind him, the crack of wood against wood resounding in the room.

“And don’t fucking come back!!” Dave said to the closed door, not caring if John could hear him or not. He suddenly looked to the floor, the apartment going still except for Dave’s harsh breathing.

“Dave, you have to go after him!” Abby suddenly exclaimed from her spot in the apartment. He glanced at her then, his hard gaze almost startling her.

“Why?” he simply asked, as if it were the most ridiculous thing in the world.

“Because you just told him to leave and never come back,” she stated, her tone suggesting that he might just be retarded.

“And I meant it,” he spat, his hands as shaky as his breath. “I can’t fucking believe him, can you fucking believe him??” he asked, though she was pretty sure it was a rhetorical question. Then, startling her, he reached out and punched the wall, denting the plaster with an angry fist. Suddenly, he seemed defeated, his shoulders slumping and his face taking on an almost pained expression. “Shit…”

The microwave suddenly beeped, and Abby and Dave instinctively looked at each other, the latter puzzled, but the former suggesting tentatively: “Want some popcorn??”

She cringed as the only reply she received was the sound of Dave’s bedroom door slamming closed behind him.

-------------------------------

Say

While you’re tryin’ to save me

Can’t I get back my lonely life?

-------------------------------



Part 18
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