Walk the Sky





------------------------------- Chapter Eight: Something More -------------------------------

I just opened up my eyes

And let the world come climbing in

It's all better now, things are gonna work somehow

If I just sleep another hour

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No cars could be heard at this peaceful hour of the morning. The sun peeked through the open curtains, bathing everything in a bright yellow glow. The birds that used to migrate south for the winter years ago but now stayed year-round chirped softly at the screen of the windows, which were open. And two men in bed lay sleeping, one on his stomach, snoring softly, the other on his back, silent.

The quiet of the morning was suddenly shattered by an awful beeping sound, sending the birds away from the open window, and David Malucci wouldn't have been surprised if the sun went into hiding too. The annoying alarm clock was probably one of the loudest he'd ever heard, and he briefly wondered if it would leave any permanent damage to his hearing. Lifting his head from the pillow and turning onto his back, Dave glanced at his companion, wondering if the older man was going to shut it off or not. He did a double take when he saw that John was still sleeping soundly.

Unable to take the sound any longer, Dave nudged John in the ribs, calling his name. "John. Get up. Shut off your alarm. John. Shut it off. John. John."

John rolled onto his side, burying his face into his pillow. Why was Dave bothering him at this early hour of the morning? God, the birds weren't even chirping yet. Lifting his head from his pillow, his eyes still halfway closed, John glanced at Dave, who was wide-awake, and wondered just what the hell his problem was. Suddenly realizing that Dave wasn't the only one in the room making noise, John reached over and slapped a hand on top of the alarm clock, silencing it quickly.

"Now, what is it that you want?" John asked, turning back to Dave once that was out of the way.

Dave stared at him for a moment before breaking into a grin, slightly shaking his head. "Forget it."

Turning onto his back once more, John stared at the ceiling, trying to gather his thoughts in his still-barely-awake-half-sleepy mode. Last night, he'd had sex with another man for the first time in his life. But not just any man - Dave Malucci. Dave Malucci, the tough guy of the ER, the lady- killer, the same guy who'd done it in the back of an ambulance with a paramedic he'd just met, the same guy who told off the Chief of the ED on that same day, and the same guy who was - as it seemed - bisexual and interested in him.

Am I *insane*??? John asked himself. And just what was going to happen after this? Were they going to do this again or were they going to go their separate ways? Were they going to become fuck buddies or become...boyfriends? John had always been someone's boyfriend, but he'd never *had* one before. How was it going to be different? Assuming that Dave even wanted that. Assuming that he, himself, wanted that. But right now, he was so confused and mixed up he didn't even know where to begin.

Maybe he should ask Dave. Turning towards his companion, his companion then turned towards him, waiting expectantly. "Dave, we need to talk about this."

"After breakfast?" the younger man asked quickly, in an attempt to delay the inevitable, in an attempt to keep this lasting just a little longer. He knew what was coming, he knew that John was just going to back out again, even if they had gone all the way this time. But maybe during breakfast Dave could convince him otherwise. Hopefully. Possibly. Damn it. "Can we talk about this after breakfast? Please?"

"Okay," John said, after some hesitation, and then pushed back the covers. Standing and stretching, he suddenly winced, feeling an ache from when Dave had penetrated him.

"You okay?" Dave asked, worried when he saw John grimace.

"Yeah...just a little...sore," he replied sheepishly, searching the floor with his eyes, but their clothes were all over the room, and finding his underwear in this mess was going to be impossible.

"Did I hurt you last night?" Dave asked, genuine concern in his eyes. "I didn't mean to if I did. It was the last thing I wanted to do."

"No," John quickly replied, shaking his head. He smiled at Dave, who smiled back. "A little soreness is expected, right?" Turning towards Dave as John reached for his robe, which was haphazardly thrown over the desk chair, he said: "Grab yourself a spare robe from the bathroom closet, and let's go downstairs and make us something to eat."

"Us? And who the hell's got a bathroom closet??" Dave asked as he stepped out of bed himself, taking a moment to stretch as he studied John's naked figure. He was tall and lean, like a model, and Dave could picture him in a pose, with a turtleneck on and some tight-fitting jeans. And he could also picture himself ripping off those jeans and that turtleneck, so before he found himself needing morning "relief," he quickly pushed that thought aside. Dave caught his own eye in the mirror that was attached to the closet door, glancing over his own body as he realized that he was undressed in front of John. Sure, he'd been so last night, but that had been in the darkness, in the heat of passion, and now it was daytime and minds were rational, when John could see the...

John glanced at Dave, who was looking at himself in the mirror. He was about to joke about how vain Dave was when he saw that the younger man wasn't checking himself out, but was almost embarrassed...even unexpectedly shy. Then John Carter noticed exactly why Dave Malucci was examining himself: The scars on his body were deep and clear, and John had noticed them last night, but hadn't noticed just how many there were. God, the things Dave must've gone through to obtain them, the pain he must've felt...

Dave cleared his throat suddenly, and John realized that the younger man had noticed him staring. Both men quickly looked away from the other, and Dave turned, heading towards the bathroom to get the robe before John had the chance to notice any more scars, and hopefully he wouldn't notice the ones that were on his...

John watched as Dave turned and moved into the bathroom, and he flinched as he saw three long slashes across Dave's back. His eyes traveled to the desk chair, where his pants were hanging over, but that wasn't what John was looking at...he was looking at the belt, knowing one just like it could've been the one to bestow those scars upon Dave. And the thought of Dave, a young boy, crying out in pain as his own father beat him with it, was like John getting his heart ripped out of his chest and stomped on.

"Corrine told me about that time you and your brother tried to make your parents breakfast in bed," John suddenly heard Dave call from the bathroom.

John quickly shook the images from his head as he attempted to organize the clothes in an attempt to clear his head. The clothes were scattered all over the bedroom floor, a reminder of the night they'd shared.

"Practically lit the kitchen on fire," Dave was saying.

Picking up what looked like his own shirt, though John couldn't be sure if it was Dave's, the Chief Resident threw it on the bed, and then bent down to pick up Dave's pants.

"*And* you managed to break the stove," he continued.

As John tossed Dave's pants into the bed as well, he heard something, a small noise, and glanced at the floor, only to see two pills bouncing on the floor. Had they fallen out of Dave's pants? John asked himself as he bent down to pick them up. Holding them in the palm of his hand, he could hear Dave talking about sticking to the cooking today, but wasn't listening to what the younger man was saying as he examined the pills, his brow furrowed in concentration. What could Dave possibly be doing with a couple of pills in his pants pocket? And not just any pills, these pills.

"How do you break a stove anyway?" Dave asked as he exited the bathroom, tying the robe around his waist. Dave could see John's back, since the older man was facing away from him, but John turned towards him, staring at something in his hand. Dave tossed him a puzzled glance as John looked up at him from under his brow, and then tilted his hand down to show Dave what he was holding. And Dave felt his heart jump up to his throat. Fuck! How the fuck had John found those pills?? Had he gone through Dave's stuff? What if he knew that those were Dexedrines? Could they pass off as painkillers? Hoping they would, he said as casually as he could: "Painkillers. I hurt my neck during hockey practice."

"These...aren't painkillers," John replied slowly, glancing briefly at the pills in his hand before looking back to Dave, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. John probably wouldn't have recognized what kind of pills these were, because of the various pills that he dealt with everyday, but he'd just given his depressed patient, a woman going to law school and medical school at the same time, the same kind of pills. "They're Dexedrine, Dave."

"No, they're not," Dave replied, shaking his head, hoping he didn't look nearly as nervous as he felt right now. He quickly thought of a painkiller, while also trying to think of how many more were in his pocket. If there were a few more, John might become suspicious and...and what? He couldn't accuse Dave of doing anything, because Dave wasn't doing anything wrong...right? "They're Percocets."

"No, they're not," John said, continuing to argue. He approached Dave, holding out the pills to him to show him. "See? They're Dexedrine."

Dave feigned surprise. "Shit! You're right. I must've grabbed the wrong bottle."

"Did you take any of these earlier?" John asked, hoping that he hadn't. A combination of just two of these pills with all those martinis Dave had had the night before could've caused him to have a reaction to the mix, and even though it obviously hadn't happened, Dave could've unintentionally put his health at risk.

"No," Dave replied quickly, his eyebrows raised. "The Chief noticed that I was, you know, moving kinda stiff and she asked me what was wrong, so I told her that I got hit pretty hard by one of the teammates during hockey. She, uh, gave me a few Percocets and told me to sign out some more if I was still sore, and I...I thought I'd grabbed the Percocets, but I guess I grabbed those by mistake..."

"Really?" John asked. Okay, so John had only been able to recognize them because he'd recently dispensed them to a patient, but...images of Dave in the Lounge the other day flashed through his mind. Images of a depressed and somewhat suicidal Dave... "Did you take the Percocets with alcohol, Dave?"

"No..." Dave quickly shook his head. "I was feeling better after the first two, but I took a couple just in case. And I *do* know a little about medicine, I'm not a complete idiot."

"Dave, I know you're not an idiot," John stated gently, worried that Dave always put himself down. Did he really think that lowly of himself? And most of all: why? "I just want to make sure that you're all right, that's all."

"I'm fine. Just careless, I guess," he said softly, brushing if off with a deceptively casual shrug. He suddenly grew a wry smile. "But, hey, we already knew that right?"

John sighed, giving up trying to get through to Dave for now. "You'd better get these back to the hospital then," he replied, after a moment of silence. "If you signed out Percocets and took the Dexedrine, it'll screw up the inventory list."

"I didn't sign them out," Dave said quietly. He glanced at John's expression of puzzlement, and hastily added: "I didn't have a chance. I was going to do it when I went to work today."

"Oh," John said as he held them out to Dave, the relief Dave was feeling unnoticeable in his expression or body language. Dave had long ago learned to make excuses and lie just as easily, something he'd needed to survive during his childhood, though sometimes it cost him when he was caught. "Just watch out, because if Dr. Weaver finds out you didn't sign these out she's going to give you Hell. And just...be careful."

"What?" Dave asked, quickly sticking the pills back into his slacks. They must've fallen out when John had tossed them onto the bed. But be careful about what?

"When you're playing hockey," John said, smiling good-naturedly at him. Dave really wasn't a morning person, was he? "Come on, let's head downstairs."

"Right," Dave said, nodding as he followed John into the hallway. Shit, that had been way too close, way too fucking close. God, how stupid could he have been, to leave them off of him for that long? He should've taken them at the hospital so John wouldn't have found them in the first place. "Dave. Are you coming?"

Turning back towards his companion, Dave quickly caught up with him, heading down a flight of stairs. He could only vaguely remember the path they had taken in this huge house to get to John's bedroom, so he stayed close to the older man so he wouldn't get lost in the mansion. In a few minutes, they were standing inside the kitchen, though it was clean as opposed to the glasses of martinis left on the counter and broken dish that had been on the floor.

"Did you clean this up, Dave?" John asked, trying to remember if either one of them had the night before.

"No..." Dave replied, as he moved to the refrigerator to see what he could make them for breakfast. "I guess one of the servants did."

"Do you think anyone overheard what we did last night?" John asked, panic flooding his mind. What if one of the staff members *had* overheard? God...

"We weren't that loud..." Dave said, eyeing John, seeing the concern in his eyes and expression. "I don't think anyone overheard anything...why?"

"I mean...someone could tell my grandparents, or my parents even...and if they found out...I don't know what they'd do..." John rambled, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. He looked at Dave again. "You didn't clean this up?"

Dave smiled, reassuringly. "John, don't worry. Why don't you make us some toast and some coffee?" he suggested, trying to get the older man's mind off of the subject.

"Okay..." John said, confidence slowly returning to him. No one could've overheard, and even if they had, they hadn't *seen* anything, so it would be their word against his if they decided to tell anyone, and surely his parents or grandparents would believe their own son and grandson. "I think I can do that."

"Are you sure I can trust you?" Dave joked as he searched the shelves for some breakfast food. He swore there was everything in this refrigerator that he'd ever bought in his whole life put together, that's how big and packed it was. Finally locating the eggs, Dave pulled out a few and cradled them in the crook of his elbow. He pulled open a meat drawer and found some bacon, so he pulled that out to add it to the eggs, along with some butter. Finding the clock on the wall, Dave saw that he had a few hours before work. Perfect. "Think you can drop me off at my apartment in an hour or so? I've got work at ten."

"Sure," John replied, nodding as he stuck the bread in the toaster. He turned to Dave, and watched as the younger man searched the cabinets for cookware. "Pots and pans are over there, and the silverware is over there. So how is it back at work?"

"Fine," Dave said as he pulled out a sufficient pan and placed it on top of the stove. He turned the stove on and placed some butter in the pan, allowing it to melt. "The hospital settled with Paul's parents. So I'm in the clear."

"That's good," John stated, nodding. John's mind suddenly turned to the conversation he'd had with Dave in the Lounge following his suspension. Dave had been upset and close to a breakdown, maybe even close to ending his career...ending his life? John pushed that thought aside quickly, instead turning back to Dave. "Uh...how are you?"

"Fine, how are you?" Dave replied lightly, smiling, pretending not to notice the concern in John's voice. He didn't want to talk about his behavior in the lounge the other day, because he was, frankly, embarrassed that he'd acted in such a way. He'd been a mess, emotionally, and the drugs hadn't helped any, and he didn't want John to think of him like that, wanted to show him that he was okay and everything was fine, even if it wasn't.

So instead of expressing his feelings, something he rarely did to even his own mother, with whom he spoke with and visited often, Dave pretended to concentrate on his cooking. He began to crack the eggs open over the stove and placed the yolks inside the pan, throwing away the shells in a nearby garbage bin. Crossing his arms over his chest and leaning back against the counter, John watched Dave cook, Dave's brow creased in concentration as he mixed the eggs with bacon, cooking everything at once but managing to keep everything separate in the large pan. Suddenly looking up as if remembering something, Dave moved back to the refrigerator and pulled out some milk, pouring it into the eggs.

"Why don't you get the table ready while I do this?" Dave asked.

"Sure," John said, and began pulling out some plates and utensils for them to use. He glanced at Dave from the corner of his eye, knowing the younger man had ignored John's concern over his emotional health. Dave was certainly behaving differently than he had been over the past few weeks, and John briefly wondered if he was the reason. He'd rejected Dave harshly, in his opinion, causing the younger man to become angry and upset, and all because of John. He wondered if he could've saved everyone the trouble and just accepted this rather than push it away. But even now, he wasn't sure if he was ready for this, and he knew when he told Dave, it was going to crush the Junior Resident.

Within minutes, they were sitting on stools at the kitchen counter, eating breakfast and drinking coffee, talking about things such as work and sports, both avoiding the topic of what had happened last night. Finally, when breakfast was over, they sat at the table, still drinking their coffee, waiting for it to happen, waiting for one of them to mention it.

John was the first one brave enough to do it. "Dave..." he started, but couldn't form the right words to continue. Then, finally: "Last night was..."

"Different?" he offered, when John couldn't find the right word.

"Yeah. But it was...good," John stated, looking up at Dave. "But I've never considered this. I don't know what...I...Dave...I don't...God..."

"John," Dave interrupted, saving him from the stuttering mess he'd suddenly become. The younger man looked away, staring at his empty coffee mug. "Look...what happened last night was something that I've wanted to happen for so long. And I may have wanted it so badly that it was a mistake just attempting it, but I don't regret it. And I hope that you don't either, John." He finally looked up at his companion, his eyes showing his desperation. "I know that this is hard. And confusing. Trust me, John, I know, I went through it myself."

John looked down, asking quietly: "You did?"

"Yes," Dave replied, nodding, trying to get John to meet his gaze so he could see the reassurance in the younger man's eyes. "Don't sound so surprised."

"It's just that you're so sure of yourself...you know...about this stuff..."

"Looks can be deceiving, John," Dave said quietly.

"What was it like?" John asked after a few moments of silence, almost embarrassed to ask something like that. But he needed to know he wasn't the only person to go through this. He needed to be reassured that it was okay to feel like this.

"It was with Steven," Dave said, smiling softly at the memory. "It was great."

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Tried to reach you at your mom's

Hey baby why're you trying to keep away for so long?

I stopped feeling good, somehow I just knew I would

I guess I'll sleep another hour

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Sixteen-year-old David Malucci, junior at a high school in Yonkers, New York, stood in the hallway of his school, biting his lip nervously as he watched his boyfriend of ten months, Steven Drake, pull some books out of his locker and slip them into his bookbag. But the reason for his nervousness was not the fear that someone might see him with Steven, because the couple was known throughout the school, and, by now, they'd gone through all the torments and abuses for being gay and out in high school, and students were tired of bugging them about it, so they were left alone, only occasionally bothered by jerks looking for attention. The reason for his nervousness was the fear of rejection, because if everything didn't go as planned, Dave would be seriously embarrassed, and seriously crushed.

Approaching his boyfriend, he leaned against the locker next to Steven's, smiling one of his winning smiles. "Hey, Steven."

"Hey, Dave," Steven said, returning the smile with one of his own before turning back to his locker to pull out a notebook he'd forgotten. "What's up?"

"Uh...well...see, my dad's got this business trip for work, right? So...he's going to be gone for a couple days: Tonight and all day tomorrow." Dave said, hoping Steven would get his drift so he wouldn't have to continue, because this was very awkward for him, because he was afraid Steven was going to totally turn him down. Fiddling with his necklace, Dave soon moved his hands to wring each other, and looked up at Steven to see the older boy smiling at him, seemingly slightly amused. Oh, God, Dave thought, quickly looking down. Steven was laughing at him! "And...you know, uh...I was just wondering if maybe...possibly...I don't know, if you want, you could...you could, uh..." Why wasn't Steven getting his drift?

"Come over?" Steven asked, closing his locker and leaning against it, his amused smile turning into a softer one as he saw Dave blush and realized that he'd embarrassed the younger boy. He reached out and began to finger Dave's sleeve, before moving his hand to hold Dave's. The junior glanced up from under his brow, his eyes showing his anxiety. "I'd love to."

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

Feels like I'm wasting my time

Hanging on this same old line

Got to get you off of my mind

There's nothing left for me to find

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"Why were you so nervous?" John asked, his brow furrowed in puzzlement. "I mean...you guys had been together for a long time, right? Of course he'd want to be with you."

"Yeah, but we'd never done anything that serious," he explained. "And I'd never been with a guy, plenty of girls, but never a guy, and I was nervous. What if I wasn't any good at it, you know? What if I did something wrong?"

"Well, if he talked you through it like you talked me through it," John said, "then I'm sure you did just fine."

Dave looked away, not one to take compliments well. "Yeah, I guess so," he said, brushing it off. "Anyway, I couldn't wait for that night to come," Dave said, his elbows leaning on the counter. He glanced up at John, glad to see that the older man was interested and had been hanging on to his every word. He just wanted to make sure John knew that it was okay to feel a little odd but good about what had happened. "I mean...don't get me wrong. I was scared as hell too. But...Steven made me feel all right," Dave continued, hoping that he'd make John feel all right too.

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And all the more I want

All the more I need

All the while you want something more

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

Dave stood in front of the mirror in his bedroom, studying himself, trying to figure out which shirt he should wear. Tonight was going to be very special, and he wanted to make sure everything was perfect, right down to the blue shirt or the gray shirt. Gray shirt. He swiftly stripped off the blue shirt in one fluent movement, pulling on the gray shirt, and then stood in front of the mirror again, quickly running his fingers through his hair. Blue shirt?

The doorbell rang out throughout the house, echoing off of the walls of the empty hallway, leaving Dave with the decision of wearing the gray shirt, and he bounded down the steps, jumping the last few. He was soon at the front door, smoothing out his shirt and rubbing his hands together before opening the door, smiling brightly.

"Hey, Steven," Dave said, moving over to allow the older boy passage into his house. "I hope you're hungry. I made dinner."

"Great," Steven replied, then pulled out a dozen roses from behind his back. Dave's expression showed his delight as his eyes went wide with surprise. Steven, though usually cool and confident, seemed suddenly self- conscious. And the fact that Dave could make Steven self-conscious thrilled him, because Steven was always so calm and collected, unlike Dave, who was nervous as hell when it came to romance. "I got you these. Do you like roses?"

"I love them," Dave said, standing flush to Steven as he closed the door behind him, the only thing separating them being the roses. He looked up from the flowers, a smile on his face as he leaned forward and closed his eyes, his lips meeting Steven's. Dave felt the older boy's hand move to the back of Dave's neck, something Steven always did when they kissed like this, almost as if he were claiming Dave as his and his alone, and it just drove Dave wild. Dave pulled away, nodding towards the kitchen as he licked his lips. "Don't want dinner to go cold."

Steven smiled as Dave walked away from him, shaking his head at the fact that Dave was deliberately teasing him. He attempted to make the bulge in his pants disappear by walking it off as he moved into the kitchen, pausing in the doorway to watch Dave place the roses in a vase, which he promptly filled with water. Steven knew why he was here tonight, and he couldn't wait for that moment to come, though he knew he had to be patient and take things slow, because this was Dave's first time being intimate with another guy.

Dinner was fun and long, lasting hours, wherein both boys flirted and talked and laughed, occasionally touching and kissing, but each returning to their food or conversation before anything serious could happen. But, as Dave began putting dishes into the sink, Steven knew that it was time to take things further. He approached the younger boy from behind, wrapping his arms around Dave's waist, nuzzling Dave's neck with his cheek before kissing it, sucking it gently at times.

Dave turned in Steven's arms, his lips enveloping the older boy's as he draped his arms over Steven's shoulders, running his fingers through his jet black hair. He felt Steven's hands tugging at the gray shirt, soon pulling out from his pants, then he felt Steven's fingers trailing up his chest, brushing gently over his nipples, sending a chill down Dave's spine. Dave pulled away now, smiling up at Steven, now nodding towards the upstairs, towards his bedroom.

The reply was another kiss, and soon, Dave was leading Steven up the stairs, and very soon after that, they were on the bed, their clothes strewn about the floor. Dave was straddling Steven, who was lying underneath him, and their tongues were clashing together in Dave's mouth, fighting for control, and Dave could feel his heart hammering in his chest.

Steven placed an open palm on Dave's chest, feeling the younger boy's heart beating rapidly underneath it. "Dave...just relax. We'll take things slow and steady, and it'll feel real good, and soon your heart will be pounding for a different reason. Okay?"

"O...okay," Dave replied, nodding, taking a few deep breaths to calm himself down. He smiled reassuringly at Steven even though he was still quite nervous, glancing down briefly before looking back up. "You know I've never done this before. What...I mean...who's going to be doing the doing tonight?"

"You've had sex with a girl before, right?" Steven asked, knowing that the resident lady-killer had, indeed, had sex with girls before. Dave simply nodded, though answering was unnecessary. "Well, it's kind of like that, except a little different. So why don't you try doing the...doing tonight?"

"I think I can do that."

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

All the more I want

All the more I need

All the while you want something more

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

"And then what?" John asked, needing to know what had happened next, needing to know that he wasn't the only one who felt like this after his own first time.

"Then...we had sex," he replied, shrugging slightly, staring into his empty coffee cup, the images of that night flooding his memory. "It was different...it was weird...it was..." He glanced up at John, catching the Chief Resident's eye. "It was nice."

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Thought I found the words to say

Just to get you feeling fine over heels my way

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Hands roaming, running down sides and over chests and backs, everywhere, touching and caressing and teasing and tickling, finding those sweet points and sensitive places, never ceasing to miss a spot and never ceasing to neglect an area of import. And, now, one of Steven's hands was gently trailing behind Dave's thigh, the younger boy lying down next to him, both boys on their sides. Dave's hands, however, were clutching at Steven's back, never wanting to let the older boy go, because this was exactly where he wanted to be, safe in the arms of his lover, away from the danger of the world that lie outside of this bed.

Steven raised his own leg slightly, bringing it to rest on Dave's hip, and then guided Dave inside of him, gently, slowly, telling the inexperienced teenager what to do and what he was doing, and then showing him...showing him a world that he'd never seen and one that he never wanted to leave.

Starting with a slow rhythm, they soon moved to a quicker-paced one, and for the first time in his life, Dave actually felt *alive*, felt like every single cell and atom of his body was active and moving, living and breathing. When he was with girls, he never cared about how they felt and he only wanted release, but now...with Steven...he wanted to make sure he was doing it perfectly and he wanted to feel the way he was feeling right now, but more importantly he wanted to make sure that Steven was feeling good. And it was the best feeling in the world, one that he never wanted to forget and wanted to relive over and over and over again.

And they came screaming, collapsing in each other's arms when it was over, boneless and breathing heavily, but still wanting more more more.

"I love you," he suddenly heard Steven whisper. He looked up at the older boy in surprise, who simply smiled softly at him. "You think I'd just let anyone make love to me?"

"But..." Dave said, his brow furrowed in deep thought. "You've been with guys before...you told me that."

"But I've never let anyone do that to me before," he replied, his eyes displaying just how much this had meant to him.

"Wait..." Dave said, a smiling coming to his face. "So...I'm your first?" Steven bit his lip, nodding, and Dave's smile broadened as he kissed the younger boy firmly on the mouth. "I love you too, Steven."

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But it don't matter how

I lost the word and nerve and now

There's nothing more for me to say

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"So..." John said, the word curling into a question. He looked up at Dave. "You'd been Steven's first?"

"Yeah," Dave replied, smiling. "God, I was so in love with him then."

"Dave..." John said, trying to gather his thoughts into coherent words. What Dave had just described to him was almost exactly how he was feeling, right down to the awkwardness and fear in the beginning, and how natural it felt as the night progressed. But love? John didn't love Dave...did he? Love was something John hadn't experienced before...love was something for those other people, the lucky people...certainly not him and certainly not someone like Dave. He ran his fingers through his hair in an act of frustration, and then looked back up to the younger man. "Can I think about this?"

"You can take all the time you want to think it through," Dave said, much to John's surprise. He was glad that Dave understood, and would allow John time to understand, himself. "But I hope that you don't ignore it or try to hide from it, because it's who you are, and you should never be ashamed or scared of who you are."

"Dave...if...if...if we...what would happen?" John asked, hoping Dave would be able to make sense out of that.

"I'd hope that we'd be able to be in a relationship," Dave replied, then quickly added: "But not just sex...more than that."

"More than what happened between you and Luka?" John blurted out, unable to hide the fact that he knew any longer.

Dave looked up at John in surprise, a thousand thoughts racing through his mind at once. John knew about Luka and him. John knew. But how? Did Luka say something to him? Was Luka telling other people too? Did John just figure it out? If he figured it out, could other people figure it out as well? Obviously assaulting himself with questions was going to get him nowhere, so Dave finally said: "How do you know about Luka and me?"

"I figured it out, Dave," John replied, only partially lying. If Dave had reacted in this way about him just knowing, he wasn't sure how he would react to Luka actually inquiring about Dave with him. Seeing Dave's surprised expression turn to concern, he quickly said: "Don't worry, Dave. I would've never even guessed if you hadn't...come on to me. It's just that you guys were in an argument, and I didn't even know you were friends, and I just put two and two together, I guess...Dave, don't worry, no one even suspects anything. I'm the only one."

Dave shook his head, looking up at John with a sigh. "I don't care if anyone finds out, but Luka might. That's all I'm concerned about."

John narrowed his eyes, his head tilting in confusion. "Do you still care about him?"

"Luka?" Dave asked, almost as if the thought were incredulous. He shook his head fiercely. "No, no...he...he used me when he knew I really cared about him, and...what happened between us was a while ago, over the summer. We should be trying to deal with it, but we just choose to be irrational about it and not talk to each other. I just don't want him to blame me if someone else finds out. It could get really ugly."

"Are you...afraid of what Luka might do?" John asked, not realizing how bad it was between the two men until now.

Dave glanced up, and said slowly: "What do you mean?"

"I don't know..." John said hesitantly, not sure how exactly to explain the feeling that was creeping up into the back of his mind. "I mean...are you...afraid of Luka?"

"Afraid of him?" Dave said, as if the notion were incredulous. He smiled, though John wasn't sure just how genuine that smile was. "John, I may be shorter than him, but I'm stronger than him. If things got physical, I think he'd be the one who should be afraid."

John held back any other thought he might have had, sensing that Dave was uncomfortable on the subject. And, since he barely knew the younger man, he had no right to ask such questions. A thought suddenly came to John. "How did you get here?"

"Huh?" Dave asked, the shift in topic leaving him slightly confused.

"You need me to drive you back to your apartment," John stated. "You didn't take your bike here?"

"What, are you kidding me?" Dave asked, tossing John a look. "Yeah, sure. And I parked it in the living room. You're mother would've really loved me then... Abby drove me here, she's keeping my bike at her place until I pick it up."

"Abby drove you," John stated rather than asked. He looked down, biting his lip, before turning back to Dave. "She wasn't too sore about not being invited, was she?"

"No..." was the slow reply. "Why? You two had a thing, or something?"

"No," John said, shaking his head. "Sort of. I mean...over the summer, we kind of saw each other, but neither of us took it any further...and then when she tried, I kind of told her I wasn't interested anymore."

"Really?" Dave asked, unable to help the smile that came to his face. He crossed his arms over his chest, thinking that perhaps he'd been the reason that John had told Abby to back off. Maybe he had a better chance at this than he'd thought! "Looks like everyone had their regretted flings over the summer, huh?"

Glancing at the clock and noting the time, John stood and started to gather the plates. "I think I should drop you off now," he said, not really liking the direction this conversation was heading in. He didn't want to talk about Abby with Dave, someone who he'd had sex with the night before. And it was only because he didn't know if Dave was the reason he'd told Abby he wasn't interested in her anymore, because he still wasn't sure if he wanted in this or not. "Do you want me to drop you off at Abby's place?"

"Yeah, sure..." Dave said, watching as John busied himself with the dishes, his brow furrowed in worry. Carefully, he approached John, standing close to him, and took John's arm, turning him to face him. "John...I don't want to push you, and I don't want to rush you into anything. Take all the time you need to figure out what you want...I'll wait."

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

Feels like I'm wasting my time

Hanging on this same old line

There's nothing left for me to find

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

"Do you think it's something I ate?" Mr. Foster asked, holding his stomach and rubbing his hand back and forth over the gown, glancing up at his doctor with a concerned expression.

Dr. Dave Malucci ignored the question for now, noting down the tests he wanted to run on his chart for this guy who'd been passing blood in his stool. CBC, hemoglobin/hemocrit, cell count, type and cross, bleeding times, abdominal series, IV access, NPO...God, that trauma across the hallway sure looked exciting.

See, since coming back from his suspension, he'd been barred from taking any traumas as part of his punishment, which seemed a little harsh to him. He loved traumas, everyone at the hospital knew that, and taking them away was like taking away his oxygen supply. But the Chief had said that it'd give him a chance to brush up on his bedside manner and slow down a bit. Yeah, sure. She just wanted to watch him suffer as he suffocated.

"Dr. Malucci?" He looked up at his patient. Oh yeah, that's right. He *had* asked him a question before. But what was it again? "Do you think it's something I ate?"

"It could be," Dave replied, shrugging. "It's probably lower GI bleeding. I'm just going to run some tests, and then call in a gastrointestinologist, and they'll probably admit you."

"Admit me?" he asked. "Should I call in sick to work tomorrow?"

"Yes," Dave said in exasperation, glancing out the exam room window and across the hall at the trauma Luka and a few nurses were working on. From what it looked like, they were having trouble stabilizing the patient, and, God, he was just itching to get in there and right in the action. Unable to take it in this room any longer, Dave moved towards the door, briefly calling over his shoulder: "A nurse will be in to draw some blood, and someone'll take you up to Radiology for some x-rays."

"Thanks, doctor!" his patient called gratefully, but Dave was already heading down the hallway towards his other patient in the next room: a kid who'd swallowed a toy. That sure seemed like fun.

"Dave!" he suddenly heard from behind him, and turned to see Abby standing in the doorway of Trauma One. "We need you in here! Now!"

"I can't," Dave replied, holding his hands out in a helpless gesture, but he moved towards her. "I'm off of traumas for two weeks."

"Get in here!" she said, grabbing his scrub top and jerking him into the room as he shook his head. "We got a girl OD'ing on Heroin and Luka can't stabilize her."

"If I get in trouble, I'm blaming you guys," he said, pointing at everyone in the room. He approached the trauma room table, seeing that the woman on top was already arresting. He pulled on a pair of gloves. "How do you know it was Heroin?"

"Her friend found her with this sticking out of her arm," Abby explained, holding up a hypodermic needle with some residue still inside. "Given all her other symptoms, we're almost positive it is Heroin."

"I see," Dave said, nodding sadly. "Do you think she took anything else?"

"We're not sure," Luka answered, without looking up from what he was doing. "She's been down for a half-hour."

"A half-hour?" Dave asked, as he took over squeezing charcoal into the ET tube. "Don't you think we should call it?"

"No. She's only 18. Administer the Narcan," he said, looking up at Dave.

Dave did as he was told, and they waited to see if one drug could save her life from another. He was about to suggest calling it again, when, as if on cue, the young woman on the table shot her eyes open, looking around the room in horror. Dave began to open his mouth to explain to her where she was, but she just flung her arm towards him, knocking the charcoal out of his hand and causing it to spray at him, right before pulling out her tube. "Shit!" Dave called out as he brought his gloved hand up to his eyes, only to realize that he couldn't wipe it out of his eyes and off his face with the glove. Dave brought his arm up to his face and tried to wipe it off that way, but his eye began to sting, and not being able to do anything about it was frustrating. "Get some restraints in here!"

"Please, calm down," Luka said gently, trying to get her to calm down as the nurses applied the restraints to each limb. Dave blinked hard, backing away from the table as he ripped off his gloves and began rubbing his right eye with the back of his hand, letting out a grunt. "Let's get an NG tube. Dave, are you all right?"

"I think I got some in my eye," he stated, rubbing it fiercely to get it to stop stinging. He let out another grunt of pain. "God, that hurts like a bitch."

"Dave, sit down," Luka instructed, motioning towards the next room. He glanced at Abby. "Abby, get Dr. Chen in here to take over." The nurse quickly left and came back with Jing-Mei in tow. "Here, let's go into Sutures and flush it out," Luka said as he removed his trauma gown and threw it into the garbage, leading a partially blinded Dave into the next room. He sat the younger man down onto the exam table, and then sat down on a stool in front of him, preparing an irrigation kit with warm saline. "Stop rubbing it, you'll only make it worse. Open your eye. Let me see it."

"It hurts," he stated, his eye squeezed shut.

"Don't be such a baby," Luka teased, a smile on his face. "Let me see it." Dave leaned forward, towards Luka, and opened his eye, but kept blinking in pain. "Stop blinking."

"I can't, it hurts," he said, pulling back as he once again rubbed his eye. "God."

"I said, stop rubbing it," Luka stated as he brushed Dave's hand away from his eye and cupped the Junior Resident's face in his hand, pulling him towards him once more. He opened his eye, trying his best not to blink so much and letting out a small sound when he failed to do so. Luka leaned forward, as well, examining Dave's eye to make sure there was no damage. "It looks fine. You'll just have to flush it out and I'll give you some local anesthetic eye drops."

"Thanks," Dave said, but neither man moved from their positions. Instead, Luka gently brushed over Dave's cheekbone with his knuckles, then leaned in closer, but Dave abruptly pulled away, closing his eye tightly and rubbing it again as an excuse to create distance between them. He looked up at the older man apologetically, wanting to say something. "Luka..."

"Dave, we need to talk about this," Luka said suddenly, unable to let Dave ignore the subject any longer.

"I know," Dave replied, nodding. He let out a deep breath, then: "Look, Luka. What happened between us happened months ago, in the summer. I know I introduced you to something new, but there's a lot more than what I *did* introduce you to...other people, people you want to be with. People you're not ashamed of."

"I'm not ashamed of you, Dave!" he quickly said. "And I'm sorry that you think that, because it isn't true."

"You were ashamed of us, Luka. I can't...I won't live like that," Dave interrupted.

"But I don't want anything or anyone else," Luka said, his eyes pleading with the younger man, telling him exactly what he *did* want. "Dave, I was stupid before. I realize my mistakes now, and I'm willing to correct them."

"Luka..." Dave started, trying to explain. He looked away briefly before looking up at Luka, his own eyes now pleading. "I've moved on. Now you need to."

Then, suddenly, Dave hopped off of the gurney and stood, leaving the room without looking back. Sitting back on his stool, Luka ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. How was he supposed to "move on"? He couldn't just turn off his feelings with the flick of a switch. Letting out a sigh, Luka stood, tossing the opened irrigation kit inside the trash, wishing he could throw his feelings for Dave away just as easily.

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

And all the more I want

All the more I need

All the while you want something more

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

Dave stepped out of the room and into the hallway, not daring to look back at Luka inside Sutures. He ran his fingers through his hair, sighing as he did so. God, how did he get himself into things like this? If only Luka had wanted this months ago...why had it taken the Attending so long to realize he had feelings for him? Why did things have to be so complicated all the time?

"Dr. Malucci!" he suddenly heard from behind him, and he turned to face Dr. Weaver, though he certainly didn't need to see her to recognize who'd snapped at him in that unruly tone. She shoved a chart at him, and he took it before it could jab him in the stomach, and she pointed at a specific line in the chart. "What does that say?"

"Dr. Malucci administered Narcan at 6:05pm," he recited, and then glanced up at her.

"Why would you do that?" she asked, her usually pretty face contorted with anger.

"She was overdosing on Heroin..."

"No, I mean why were you in the trauma at all?!" she barked, startling him. "If I remember correctly, I specifically forbade you from traumas for two weeks. Now I'm going to have to change it to until further notice."

"Dr. Weaver!" he exclaimed, desperation in his eyes. Further notice?! He wouldn't have traumas for another month - if he was lucky!! "A nurse dragged me in! Dr. Kovac needed assistance, and I was the only doctor available!"

"If you have a problem, Dr. Malucci," she said, "then you come and get me."

"We all know what happened last time I tried that," he spat without thinking, recalling the previous month's patient with the Marfan syndrome.

"Don't you dare talk back to me, Malucci," she snapped, her eyes glaring daggers at him. "You are skating on thin ice! Don't forget that I can always revoke my decision to keep you working at this hospital. And don't forget that I won't hesitate to do so."

"How can I forget? You remind me every time you see me!" Dave yelled.

"Don't push me Malucci," she muttered, rubbing her forehead with her fingers. She glanced up at him, watching him carefully, remembering finding him on the roof in tears a month or so ago, remembering him in the lounge near a breakdown a few weeks ago, remembering John noting that something was wrong as well. Perhaps she shouldn't have laid it into him that hard, she thought to herself. But sometimes he just made her so angry... It was no excuse, she thought to herself. If she really cared about him, it wouldn't matter how angry he made her if his mental stability were in jeopardy. But was it really? He furrowed his brow, watching her watch him. "Dave..."

"What?" he snapped, wondering what the hell she was looking at. He could see the concern in her eyes, wondering if he was really fit to do this job or not, wondering when his mental breakdown was going to happen. Quite frankly, he was wondering too. But she didn't need to pretend to care.

"Just..." she began, but trailed off with a sigh. It was obvious that he didn't want her help, so she couldn't give it. But she could offer it. "If you need help with anything, just come to me. Okay?"

He narrowed his eyes. "Are we still talking about what just happened?"

She turned and walked away from him tiredly, leaving the question to hang in the air. He hated it when she did that: getting the last word without actually getting the last word. He clenched his jaw as he watched her walk away from him, and bit back any comment that might cause her to carry out her threat. He placed his hands on his waist and closed his eyes, taking a minute to just breathe and calm down. Halfway through his countdown from ten to zero, someone interrupted his exercise that he'd noticed he'd needed to use more and more often.

"You look like you could use a pick-me-up," he heard the recognizable voice of Abby say, who was walking next to him. She'd noticed that things between Luka and Dave hadn't been quite right - hell, everyone had - and from the way it looked, the two had really been friends, and one of them had done something to hurt the other, and she just had this gut feeling that Dave had been the victim. She knew how Luka could get. And she was sure that that cheeking he'd just taken from Dr. Weaver hadn't helped any.

Dave glanced down at her, offering her a small, nervous smile. "What? What do you mean 'pick me up'?"

"Want to grab some coffee from the cafeteria?" she offered, looking up at him with a strange expression on her face.

"Uh...I..." He sighed, pausing to think. "It wasn't exactly the pick-me-up I had in mind, but I guess it'll do for now."

"Why?" she asked as they moved to the elevator alcove together. "What did you think I meant?" He smiled slyly at her, his eyes traveling up and down her body before winking, and she smacked his arm playfully. "Get outta here!"

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

All the more I want

All the more I need

All the while you want something

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

"Has anyone seen Abby?" Luka asked, holding up his chart. He'd asked her to administer atropine to his patient in Three, but she hadn't written it down, and though he was pretty sure that she'd given him some, he couldn't take the chance. So, now, he was on his search to find her, though he hadn't seen her since the trauma with Dr. Malucci earlier. "Randi, have you seen Abby?"

"I *saw* her," she replied in that same terse manner that she served everyone with. He tossed her a look, and she glanced up from the phone just in time to catch it. "She went up to the cafeteria. She was with Dr. Dave."

"Didn't she drive him to that party last night?" Cleo Finch inquired, briefly looking up from the discharge papers she was filling out.

"I saw her this morning with him on my way to work," Chuny quipped, causing the three to look at her, Cleo and Randi raising their eyebrows, silently urging her to continue. "He was leaving her apartment with his bike, wearing the *same exact* tux he was wearing when he left the hospital yesterday."

"Are you serious?" Cleo asked.

"Abby and Dr. Dave??" Randi said, all three gossipers smiling, too enveloped by the latest romance of the hospital to even notice Luka set his jaw and walk away, seething with every step.

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

There's nothing left for me to say

Wanting what I need this way

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

The same Dr. Dave and Abby that just moments ago had become the latest story for the hospital Rumor Mill were sitting in the cafeteria drinking the sludge that Cook County tried to sell as coffee and eating a couple sandwiches from the vending machine that *looked* like ham and cheese, though one could never be sure. They'd just sat down at about the same time they'd become the latest story, and therefore hadn't gotten wind of it. But they soon would, as would the rest of the staff, and most people wouldn't like it, including the new "couple."

"So..." Abby began, glancing up at him from the Styrofoam cup she was cradling in her hands. "Why are you and Luka fighting?"

"I'd prefer not to talk about it, if that's okay," Dave replied, glancing off briefly before looking back to Abby.

"Okay," she said, nodding. She bit her lip, something she always did when she was thinking, not knowing how much to pry because she didn't know this man sitting in front of her at all. She decided to ask a simple question and see where things went from there. "Is Luka the only thing that's been getting you so down lately?"

Dave glanced up at her from his coffee. Abby sure was perceptive - unless she really cared enough to actually notice. Well, he thought, she cared enough to go out of her way and share a coffee with him and ask. And, glancing into her eyes, seeing the genuine concern, he was pretty sure that she was the only person in this hospital who actually gave a damn about him. Perhaps he could actually refer to her as a friend in time.

"I'm fine," he said, shrugging it off.

"Dave..." she said, tossing him a look. "No, you're not. Everyone knows it."

"Everyone?" he asked, tossing her a look of his own. "Like who?"

"Dr. Weaver's been asking around about you," she said, not sure whether she should tell Dave about this or not, but knowing that it might be the only way to get him to open up to her.

"No, she hasn't," he said, but the conviction even rung false in his own ears. He could see in her eyes that it was. "She has?"

"I would've done the same thing," Abby argued. "You've just been acting strange lately."

"How so?"

"You're not yourself."

"Then who am I?"

"Stop it, Dave," she said, exasperated. "You're not the happy-go-lucky guy in the ER that drives us crazy any more. You're always on edge...you're different..." She hesitated. Then, finally, softly, "I'm worried about you. We all are."

"Don't be, I'm fine," he said tiredly. "I'm always fine. And judging by the way the Chief just laid into me, I don't think she cares if I live or die, Abby."

"That's not true. She's really worried about you, Dave. I think you just make her mad sometimes," Abby said, trying to convince him that people cared about him - like Abby. Others, such as their coworkers, didn't care about him because he had always shown them that he was a heartless smart- ass. But she had no doubt that if they saw this side of him, they would care too.

"Yeah, whatever," he said softly, and offered another casual shrug.

"Please, Dave, talk to me. I have this feeling that you need someone to talk to," she said. "You don't have to tell me everything, just tell me something. Let me help you."

He looked at her for a moment, then let out a sigh. "I'm sort of involved with someone," he said, leaning forward with his elbows on the table. He suddenly smiled. "I know, hard to believe, me of all people, actually involved with someone, but it's true."

She ignored his comment, knowing that he'd tried to use humor to mask the seriousness behind his situation. But she began to wonder if this was something that he did often. Perhaps this was his way of keeping everyone away from him: The funny guy who didn't need anyone or anything. "Sort of?"

He hesitated, trying to think how best to put this without giving too much away. Then, finally: "We went out for a drink, and then we went back to my place. One thing led to another, and things started to get serious, but nothing happened. Then last - " He quickly stopped himself before he almost said "night," immediately realizing that that would be a terrible, terrible mistake. "Last week, we had sex...and I think it meant more to me than it did to them."

"Why don't you ask?" Abby asked, tearing off a bit of her sandwich before popping it into her mouth.

"I did..." he replied. She looked at him expectantly. "They're getting back to me."

"What do you think the answer's going to be?" she asked around her food.

He sighed. "I'm not optimistic."

"Why not?"

"They've never done this sort of thing before." He leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Been in a relationship?" she inquired, slightly confused.

"It's...complicated."

"I'm pretty understanding, Dave," she urged. "Try me."

Another sigh. "I'm not in this person's league. They've never dated someone like me before. We are so different, night and day really. This person is so special, smart, funny, good looking, rich, and I'm...I'm just me," he said sadly, looking down at the cup. "I'm just stupid, wise-ass, poor, average...Dave."

Abby looked at Dave for a minute, who looked so defeated and lost. So unconfident. So not the Dave she knew. But did she really know him at all? "Dave, you are special. You're a good doctor, you're a good person."

"I think we both know that I'm a terrible doctor, Abby," he said interrupting her. "And as for me being a good person...? I'm not so sure of that anymore."

"You are a good doctor, Dave. And you are a good person." She tried to make him make eye contact with her, but he would not look at her. "Do you love her, Dave?"

"What?" he asked, looking up at her.

"Do you love her?" she repeated softly.

"I..." He paused, his brow furrowing in thought. "I don't know..."

"Go for it, Dave," she said, knowing the answer even if he didn't yet. "If she doesn't see what a good, special person you are, then *she's* the one that isn't worth it, not you."

"Thanks, Abby."

"Sure," she said, watching him. "So...do I know this lucky lady?"

He smiled. "No comment."

"So I do know her!" she said, leaning forward. "Who is it?" Dave simply looked at her, shaking his head. "You're not going to tell me, are you?"

"Nope," he replied, shaking his head, ripping little pieces of the bread off of his sandwich and dropping them haphazardly on his plate. He wasn't hungry at all...he just had the irresistible urge to head right to the drug lockup and break into the locked cabinets if he had to. And he didn't like that image at all. It scared the shit out of him to know that this was what it'd come down to when he couldn't deal with something. Nevertheless, when he was finished speaking with Abby and was back to work, he still found himself hovering around the drug lockup, waiting for the ER to slow down so he could slip inside unnoticed, waiting for the opportunity to forget once again.

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

And when I'm feeling low I know

I need to stop

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

Standing outside in the backyard of his mansion, John smoked a cigarette in the silence of the evening. He knew he shouldn't smoke, something about trading one kind of addiction for another, but at least this addiction was a little better than the one he'd had previously, or so he tried to tell himself. Leaning his head back as he exhaled, he watched the smoke rise in the twilight. By now, the sun was setting a lot earlier than it had during the summer, so by five o'clock it was already getting dark.

John was home alone, as he had been all day, and hadn't found many things to keep himself busy. He'd tried working out, swimming, boxing, watching television, and even reading a book, but he could never keep his attention occupied for very long before his mind wandered back to last night's and this morning's events.

I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait... Those words keeping ringing in John's ears as he remembered Dave saying them this morning after breakfast. Just how much was Dave attracted to John? He'd said so himself, that he wanted something more than just sex, but how much more did he want? He wanted to be John's boyfriend? Be in a long-term relationship with him?

And then there was this annoying voice in his head that told him that Dave was - for lack of a better term - a male whore. Sure, Dave wanted him right now, but what would happen when Dave found someone better? Everyone in the hospital knew that Dave couldn't commit to anything or anyone, why would this relationship be any different?

But what if it was? What if he and Dave became a...couple?

What would that be like? John wondered. Would it be much different than having a girlfriend? Sure, it'd be different because Dave was a guy, but besides that? They liked each other, and they got along good, just as a regular couple did. They enjoyed each other's company and had similar interests, too. They seemed to have chemistry in bed, which went along with Abby's crazy "second-date" rule that she'd tried to explain to him one day while walking on the pier together. So why was John so hesitant to get involved in this?

Maybe it was because he'd finally gotten his life in a place where he'd liked it, stable and secure, no problems abounding or on the horizon, and then Dave had just thrown this monkey wrench into it, sending him out of orbit and into some kind of crazy. He'd been very comfortable with his sexuality, thank-you-very-much, until the younger man had come along and opened up a door to another world that John had never even *considered* before. And he was supposed to just give in to it? Just accept it, just like that?

Scrubbing his face with his hands, John let out a sigh when he heard someone approaching. Turning, he saw his grandmother emerge from the house to join him in the backyard. "Gamma?" he asked, his brow furrowing in confusion. "What are you doing back so soon?"

"Your grandfather had a heart attack on the way to the mountains," she reported, standing beside him as he quickly put out his cigarette, knowing she didn't like it when he smoked around her. "He's in the hospital."

"Is he going to be okay?" John asked in alarm.

"The doctors think he should be fine."

"Think? They're not sure?" John asked, clearly concerned for his grandfather's health.

"They said he should be coming home in a few days."

"So he is going to be okay?" John asked again. "Are *you* okay?"

"He's strong, he'll be fine," she stated, nodding as she wrapped her thick shawl around her tighter, feeling the chill of the cool fall air. "I'm fine too, just a little worn out. I was going to head up to bed after I saw you, but it seems as if I'll be staying awake a little longer."

"Why's that?" he asked, looking down at her in puzzlement.

"Because it seems you still have your problem hovering over you," she stated, looking up at her grandson. He opened his mouth to protest, but she immediately silenced him. "Don't think you're getting away without talking about it, John. And don't try to deny it either, I know you probably better than you know yourself. And you're going to talk about whatever it is that's bothering you or, so help me God, I'll stand out here with you all night."

Pause. Then: "Doesn't sound like I have much of a choice."

"That's because you don't."

John let out a silent sigh, thinking about how to word this in the best way. Finally: "One of my coworkers came on to me, and I'm not sure if I'm ready for a relationship with hi - them - *her*."

"What's holding you back?" she asked, and if she'd noticed his faltering then she didn't show it as she looked into his brown eyes with her clear blue ones that still reflected her youth, no matter what her exterior displayed. "Are you concerned about the difficulties that might occur with it?" John nodded, tempted to pull out another cigarette. "John, every relationship has its problems, no matter who you get involved with. But it seems to me that the only thing holding you back here is yourself, and you'll never find out what could've been by just standing here, smoking your life away. Jump into it, John, before your chance is gone."

The silence between them lasted for several moments. Then, finally, Gamma gave his arm a gentle squeeze before turning to move back into the house. "Good night, John."

"'Night, Gamma," John said, as he looked away from his grandmother and studied the garden before him, unable to respond to her advice. What if she was right? What if he was happy with Dave, the way he hadn't been happy in years? But what if she was wrong? What if this new world that John had been introduced to wasn't right for him? What if...God, what if? What if??

Finally making up his mind, John turned and moved back into the house as well.

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

And someday you will see

All the more you want

All the more you'll need me

All the while I'll be on to something more

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

Exhausted after dealing with a double shift at Cook County General, exhausted after dealing with doctors and nurses, exhausted after dealing with patients, exhausted after dealing with drunks and addicts and the ungrateful, Dr. Kerry Weaver still had one more matter to deal with before she went home for the night. But she could not, for the life of her, locate Dr. Malucci, whose shift had ended only minutes ago. Had he left that quickly? She couldn't have missed him, she'd been watching the exit to the hospital like an eagle stalking a mouse, waiting to pounce on her prey. Had he used a different exit, knowing she'd be waiting for him?

She hoped that perhaps he hadn't left yet. So she traveled down the halls of the emergency department, searching through exam rooms and curtain areas, bathrooms and staff rooms, just looking not asking if anyone had seen Dr. Malucci in fear he'd get wind of it if he hadn't, in fact, left yet, and elude her, leaving right away. And who could blame him really? She'd been really terse with him earlier. But wasn't she always? She was ashamed to admit it, but she was.

She moved to the Lounge again, doubling back and rechecking each room, but still not finding him anywhere. Shit, he must've left. Pushing open the door to the Lounge, she found Abby inside, gathering her things and getting ready to head out for the night. She quickly ducked out, not wanting to draw attention to herself.

And Abby hadn't appeared to notice her, until: "Dr. Weaver, you've circled the ER twice now. Who are you looking for? If it's Dave, he's already left."

Dr. Weaver turned back to her, unable to hide her surprise. "How did you know I was looking for Dave?"

The nurse turned to the chief, her eyes portraying her genuine concern. "Because I'm just as worried about him as you are," she stated. Her expression then suddenly hardened, but her words weren't edged with anger, as Kerry had expected them to be. "And if you really are that worried about him, maybe you should stop laying into him so much. Whatever is going on with him, it isn't helping."

"Do you know what's going on with him?" she asked, remembering hearing about Abby and Dave going up to the cafeteria - and also hearing about how Dave had skipped John's congratulation party to sleep over Abby's last night, and not in the slumber party kind of way. Perhaps she knew more than she was admitting, because Dr. Weaver had always had the impression that Abby wasn't the kind of woman for a one-night stand, so she could know Dave better than Kerry had previously thought. "I mean...you two are close, right?"

"We are," Abby said, noting Dr. Weaver's tone when she'd asked, the Chief of the ED wondering if they were lovers. "But, no," she replied sadly, wishing that she did. "I don't know what's wrong with him. Dave won't talk to me about it. He won't talk to anyone. He thinks nobody cares, and frankly nobody *does* care. Except for me, maybe."

"I care," was the first thing Dr. Weaver thought to say. But was it because she *did* care, she though to herself, or because it was her job to care?

"He doesn't think so," Abby said. "And your constant harping certainly doesn't prove him wrong."

Dr. Weaver sighed, knowing Abby was right in every sense of the word. She looked up at the nurse, immediately blurting out her previous excuse, but the words sounded lame to her own ears. "Sometimes he just drives me crazy, Abby. Sometimes it seems like he doesn't want to learn, and I end up wanting to grab him and shake him until he listens. He's got to learn. " Abby tossed her a look, as if to say, "You don't honestly believe that, do you?" She sighed again. "Look. I know that I shouldn't yell at him like that, and I know something's wrong. But I can't help him I if I don't know what it is."

"Well, yelling at him isn't going to make him trust you enough to tell you," Abby said quickly. She sighed then, putting her hand to her forehead, briefly looking down before looking up at Kerry again. "I'll make a deal with you. We'll both try to get to the bottom of this, and then we'll take things from there. Once we both know what's wrong, we'll decide what to do then. Okay?"

With a seriousness that Abby had never witnessed in Dr. Weaver's voice in a very long time, she asked hesitantly, slowly, fearfully: "Do you think he'd hurt himself?"

Abby was almost taken aback. And she would've been had that same question not been on her mind as well. "I...I hope not." She paused. "And I'd like to say no, but I'm not sure any more, Dr. Weaver. Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of this before he...does."

"Dave's lucky to have a friend like you," Kerry found herself saying, wishing that sometimes she didn't work so much and had more friends than the few that she did have. And she wasn't sure what she expected Abby to say in reply, but it certainly wasn't what she did say.

"He's lucky to have a friend like you too."

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And all the more you want

All the more you'll need me

All the while I want something more

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

Dave unlocked his apartment door, then opened it and stepped inside, tossing his knapsack haphazardly to the side. He turned and closed the door behind him, locking it and then leaning his forehead against it, sighing as he did so. All he wanted to do right now was forget forget forget. But he couldn't even do that, because the ER had been so busy he hadn't gotten any chance to get to his locker and take the Dexedrines to help him get through the shift, or the drug lockup to get the Percocets to help him forget afterwards. God...this day had just about been shitty enough to get on the list of Worst Days of Dr. Dave's Life.

Forgetting was something that desperately needed to happen, and it needed to happen now. Why? Because John hated him. Well, the Chief Resident may not have *hated* him, but he sure as hell wasn't interested in him. Surely, if the older man were, he wouldn't have acted so strangely in the morning. Asking about Abby and if she was offended that he had invited "Dr. Dave" and not her. Why would he be so worried about her if he were interested in Dave? And what was so bad about inviting Dave to the party? Yeah, so he'd seen that look that Eleanor had given him...was that it? He wasn't refined enough to be there? Sophisticated enough?

So he wasn't rich, and he wasn't cultured, and he may not know the right people, but he'd gotten through high school, he'd gotten through college, and he'd gotten through medical school. He'd even gotten through his internship, and he was halfway finished with his residency. And he'd gotten through all of those things not through money and not through whom he knew, but on his own. Could John say that about himself?

Dave suddenly slammed his open palm against the door, a resounding boom echoing through the dark apartment. He was thinking too much, and he was getting angry too much, and he was forgetting too much, but he didn't care too much, either. Today had been another hectic 12-hour shift in the ER, but the only trauma he'd gotten was that girl that had overdosed and knocked charcoal into his eye, which was no longer red from irritation, but it still hurt like a bitch because he'd never gotten those local anesthetic eye drops from Luka.

Luka...God, why couldn't he see that Dave just wasn't interested in him anymore? The young doctor had really cared about him, but his feelings had dissipated once the knowledge of him being used by the older doctor had come. And now Luka thought that since he had feelings for Dave that everything was just going to turn out the way he wanted it to? And Luka didn't even realize how much he had hurt Dave. A month ago, Dave would've taken Luka up on his offer of something more, but now, since his feelings for John had grown into something that he'd never even felt before - something wonderful - he didn't even want to give the older man a second thought.

Dave let out another sigh as he turned once more and scrubbed his face with his hands, trying to clear his head. "Rowrr??" he heard from below, and opened his eyes to see Kermit standing at his feet, before the cat started brushing against Dave's legs to gain his attention.

"I bet you're hungry, little guy," Dave said as he bent down and picked him up, cradling him in his arms as he moved through the living room and into the kitchen, allowing the light from the full moon to guide him through his apartment. He turned on the kitchen light, setting the cat down onto the floor before he pulled open one of his cabinet doors and took out a can of cat food. Opening the can, he squatted down, tapping the can facedown until the food dropped out of it and onto the paper plate. The cat immediately dug into it, his tail up in appreciation, and Dave gave Kermit a gentle pet on his head. "There you go, furface."

He left the kitchen, turning off the light, and moved down the dark hallway and came to the bedroom. He undressed, leaving his clothes in a pile on the floor, and then moved to his bathroom naked, turning on the shower and stepping inside once the temperature was comfortable.

He stood under the showerhead, the water rolling down his body and loosening his taut muscles. Turning his head towards the water, he felt the hot water hit his face and wet his hair. God, he'd been waiting almost his whole shift to just step into his own shower and finally relax. About an hour later, when the hot water was practically all used up, he finally stepped out of the shower, grabbing a towel from the counter. He dried himself off and wrapped it around his waist, but paused momentarily to look in the mirror before he left the bathroom.

Dave worked out regularly, mostly kickboxing at the local gym and running on his treadmill, so his body was almost perfect, or at least perfect to his standards. He was just about where he wanted to be, and was pretty happy with the way he looked, as vain as that may sound. But despite how perfect his physique was it could never draw attention away from the scars that marred his body. They were deep and clear, noticeable even in the light of the night moon, reminding him every time he looked in the mirror or someone mentioned them just what he'd gone through to obtain them.

John hadn't mentioned them, but Dave knew that he had seen them. He had to have in the light of the Chief Resident's bedroom lamps. But he hadn't said anything, and Dave had been grateful for that. He didn't want to explain in the heat of the moment where he'd gotten them from, something he had to often do with strangers, though he made up different excuses, most of them either a car accident or something of that sort. It had helped that John could guess where they'd probably come from, but it still hadn't made it any easier for Dave to be undressed in front of him. Don't think he hadn't noticed the look of sympathy and pity flash over the older man's eyes. And Dave didn't want sympathy or pity, and he certainly didn't need it.

Running his hands through his wet hair in an act of frustration, Dave saw his kitty watching him from the doorway. "What are you looking at?" he asked it, though received no reply as he moved into his bedroom, finding a pair of boxers and a beater to wear to bed. Once changed into them, he pulled back the bedcovers and lay down, trying to get comfortable and letting out the sigh of contentment he mechanically let out once he was. Kermit jumped up on the bed to join him, curling up on Dave's chest, purring contently as the doctor stroked his head gently. Closing his eyes, he was relieved that he'd gotten through another day, and hoped that he got through tomorrow.

And when the doorbell rang, he realized that his day hadn't ended just yet.

Dave glanced at the clock as he sat up, and clenched his jaw. Twelve o'clock at fucking night, and someone was ringing his doorbell? He'd finally gotten to go to bed after the long day he'd had, and someone was ringing his goddamn doorbell?? Getting up from his bed, he swore to God that if it was one of his neighbors needing something, or the landlord complaining that he'd used up all the hot water, he was going to punch them right in the face, and it was going to feel good.

Grumbling inaudible obscenities to himself, the Junior Resident didn't even bother to grab his robe as he stepped out of his bedroom and into the hallway, Kermit sensing the doctor's rage as he scurried away. Moving towards the living room to the front door, Dave stood before it, unlocking it rather angrily, and swung it open roughly, fist ready to fly into the unsuspecting face of whoever was behind the door.

But no fist flew, and Dave blinked in surprise once, twice, as he saw who was behind the door. Standing there was John Carter, his long jacket open to reveal a thick turtleneck and khakis, looking absolutely gorgeous. But what could he possibly be doing here at twelve o'clock at night?

"It's midnight," was the first thing Dave said.

"I know," John said, nodding as he looked at Dave. The younger man had obviously been sleeping, as he was just standing there in boxers and a beater, his hair mused and damp as if he'd just taken a shower before going to bed. "But I just wanted to..."

"I was sleeping," Dave stated before John could get in another word.

"I...I see that," John replied, slightly stuttering. He looked Dave in the eyes, needing to say what he came here to say, desperate to say what he came here to say. "Look, Dave, I was thinking, and..."

"*I* was sleeping."

"Would you shut up and let me talk?" John asked, holding his hands out in a pleading gesture.

"I'm not interested in talking."

"Fine," John said, nodding, looking down. "Fine...you don't want to talk?"

"No." Dave shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest. He knew he was taking a chance here, but he couldn't wait any longer for John to come around. If John didn't want him, then talking wasn't going to change anything, it was just going to be a bunch of bullshit that would end in the same result. Dave watched John carefully as the older man let out a sigh, before glancing up at Dave once more, and he prepared for the inevitable.

If he won't let me talk, John thought to himself, then how the hell am I supposed to say what I need to say? He suddenly smiled, knowing exactly how he was going to express what he needed to. Leaning forward, John reached out and took Dave's face in his hands, kissing him hard. Pulling away, he was pleased to see the surprised expression on the younger man's face.

"I guess you made up your mind," Dave said once he regained his thought processes, as he'd been totally expecting to be rejected once more. John simply nodded, a smug smile on his face. Dave found himself smiling too as he pushed the door open further to allow the older man passage. "Would you like to come in?"

John's smug smile turned into a broad one. "I'd love to."

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

I want something more

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

Dave's bare back hit the mattress softly, John's arms guiding him down onto it in the glow of the moonlight. Both men had removed their clothing on the way to Dave's bedroom, leaving a trail of garments behind them as they kissed passionately, never allowing their lips to leave each other's unless it was necessary, and now all that was left to do was what their bodies and hearts wanted, needed.

Scooting up towards the head of the bed, Dave lay on his back, his head resting against the pillows as John straddled him between his legs, their erect cocks touching each other's and rubbing against each other's at they gently bucked their hips against one another. John leaned forward and kissed Dave on his lips, opening his mouth to allow Dave's tongue inside, and he began to suck on it gently. He'd noted in the back of his mind that Dave had liked it when he'd done that last night, so he didn't even hesitate to do it again, and it paid off when he heard Dave let out a moan of pleasure.

John ran his fingers through Dave's hair, gently tugging at it as he leaned his head back, still moving against Dave, needing some sort of friction between them. Dave tilted his head in the direction John was pulling his hair in, the feeling of John's fingers on his scalp driving him crazy. John moved his hands to cup Dave's face, and Dave turned to kiss one of John's palms, before looking up into the older man's eyes and seeing the intensity in them. God, how much he loved this man.

Love? Where had *that* word come from? Sure, Abby had mentioned something about love during their coffee break together, but did he really love John? But as John moved his hands to brush over Dave's nipples, that thought was totally pushed to the back of his mind if not eradicated from it. Reaching his arm out to his nightstand, Dave opened it and pulled out a tube of lubricant, clumsily uncapping it as he felt John's mouth encase around one of his nipples. "Fuck..." Dave breathed as he twisted off the cap of the lubricant and squeezed some out on his hand.

"I think that's the idea," John whispered as he leaned back again so Dave could reach his member. Dave wrapped his hand around his own penis, coating it liberally with lubricant because he knew John had only done this once before, and he didn't want to hurt him in any way. When that was finished, Dave put more on his hand and warmed it between his fingers to use it on John. Suddenly, John wrapped his hand around Dave's lubricated cock, pumping it slowly and teasingly.

"Stop..." Dave said huskily, breathing roughly as he closed his eyes, a small moan escaping his lips with each breath. "I can't...I can't concentrate."

"What do you need to concentrate on?" John asked, a puzzled smile on his face. "Oh!" he exclaimed, wide-eyed, as he felt Dave slide one finger inside of him. He smiled sheepishly. "That..."

Dave smiled good-naturedly as John's greedy ass just took his finger right in, moving his hips with it each time it slid in and out of him. Soon, John felt two fingers inside of him, and he waited for what he knew Dave was going to do, what Dave loved to do to him, but even when expecting it, John gasped in surprise and closed his eyes as he felt the younger man brush over his prostate, sending a wave of pleasure through him. Opening his eyes, he saw Dave watching him carefully, making sure that John was enjoying himself. It was almost as if he got pleasure by *giving* John pleasure, and none of John's lovers had ever been like that.

Finally, three fingers were easily sliding in and out of John, and Dave knew that it was time to move on to the real thing. Removing his fingers from John's ass, he placed both hands on John's waist and guided him carefully to his erect cock, which had been ready and waiting rather impatiently, pre-cum already dripping from it. Getting the drift of what Dave wanted to do, John lowered himself over Dave's cock, remembering to relax and moaning in pleasure as he felt Dave inside of him, a feeling that John loved and hoped to never get used to because it was so unique and he'd never felt anything like it in his whole life.

As Dave started thrusting against John, the older man took Dave's hands in his own just as he'd done the night before, holding them tightly as the two men started moving in harmony. An idea came to John's mind as Dave raised his hips off of the mattress once more to thrust against him, and the next time Dave moved to do that, John lifted himself higher, disabling Dave from moving higher into him. And the younger man raised his hips even higher, but John just lifted himself higher.

"That's not fair," Dave said, frustrated, as John smiled mischievously. Trying again, he once again failed, and immediately pouted, looking oh-so- very cute to John. Then, suddenly, Dave smiled mischievously, and he pulled John's hands down, pulling John down as well, and started thrusting again.

"Cheater," John said with a smile as they regained their rhythm once more. When John felt Dave grasp his hands tighter, he knew that the younger man was going to go over the edge soon, so he removed one of his hands from Dave's to pump his own cock, hoping to time it perfectly so they would come at the same time, just as they had the night before. But when Dave saw this, he slapped John's hand away, and the older man looked at him questioningly. "What?"

"You don't touch that," he said, wrapping his own hand around it, causing John to gasp in pleasure. He started pumping it himself, twisting and tugging and jerking him off better than John could do himself. And through his pleasure, he barely heard Dave say: "It's mine. You're mine. All of you. Forever. God, you're mine, John, you are mine..."

And when words turned into intelligible phrases, when breathing became harsh and rapid, when thrusting became quicker and more intense, when eyes closed and heads were thrown back, when the world faded and nothing was left but two men in this moment, here and now, John and Dave came almost perfectly in tune with one another, hard and fast and screaming in pure ecstasy.

When it was over, John collapsed against Dave's chest, the younger man's cock sliding out of him, leaving him to only want more, and Dave reached over to the nightstand with one hand, grabbing some tissues out of the box. He guided John to his side, cleaning up both of them with the tissues, and then discarding them by balling them up and placing them on the nightstand to be thrown away later. Then, Dave wrapped his arms around John, holding him close, once again touching the scars on his back gently with his fingertips. No lover John had had touched his scars at all, let alone like *that*, and it sent a chill up his spine.

"Does it still hurt?" Dave asked quietly.

"Sometimes. Lately," John replied just as softly. He could see Dave's questioning eyes in the light of the moon, which was shining through the open curtains. "I was going to lunch with Abby at Doc's a few weeks ago when I slipped in the street and fell."

Another chill passed through John's spine as Dave caressed his scars. The younger man looked up apologetically. "I'm sorry. Does that hurt when I do that?"

"No," John stated. "No one's ever done that before, and...just the way you do it..." He broke into a sheepish smile, almost embarrassed to admit that he could melt under another man's touch. Dave just simply smiled softly.

And, lying side by side, wrapped in each other's arms, touching each other's bodies with their hands gently, eyes sliding closed in exhaustion, Dave said: "You know, this is the second night in a row we fall asleep together, like this."

His eyes closed, John simply kissed Dave on the lips tenderly, the kiss saying everything without John having to make a sound. And Dave was listening to every word he wasn't saying. "Goodnight, Dave."

"Goodnight, John."

And for the first time in a long time, David Malucci fell asleep with a smile on his face.

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

I want something more than this...

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



Part 9
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