"More Than Friends, Less Than Lovers - Betrayal"
By:  Melissa and Cathy

He reflected later that when Carol had asked him about his summer, he hadn't told her the whole truth.  "I spent a few weeks on a Pedes rotation at Children's, then spent a few weeks kicking around St. Barts."  Yeah, that was one way of putting it.  Doug had turned up at Children's one afternoon to talk to a buddy of his, and was surprised to see John.  Surprised, but undeniably pleased.  Even though they had both enjoyed their time together, when John had discovered he did not get the surgical sub-I, they had called a halt to things.  Mainly because they thought John would end up at a hospital away from Chicago.  It wasn't until John's last day at County that he discovered that the surgical sub-I was his and he would be staying.  It was obvious that Doug had not heard about the change in John's status.  He gave him his sympathy upon hearing that John would have to continue working with Benton, then asked John to join him for lunch the next day.  During that lunch, John found himself remembering with extreme vividness the weeks they had spent together and he impulsively asked Doug to join him in St. Bart's for a few days. 

John spent the next couple of weeks in an agony of anticipation, not sure what to expect.  Would they just check out the women together, have a few laughs, and return to Chicago as the friends they'd been?  He'd planned to pick Doug up at the airport and give him a quick tour of the island before bringing him to his family's condo, but Doug surprised him by taking an earlier flight.  John smiled as he remembered opening the door, finding Doug there, and pulling him inside the room.  Their hands started roaming over each other instantly, and John had his answer.  Definitely more than friends.

The sex had been incredible, certainly, and that was no surprise.   The sensations were intense - the scratchy feel of the stubble on Doug's face rubbing against his stomach, the devastating strength and heat of Doug's body when it covered him, the gentleness of his lovemaking. 

The emotions, however, were new.  He knew he wasn't in love with Doug, but there was a connection there that neither of them was willing to break.  It wasn't just about sex now.  They spent long hours talking - about their hopes, about their disappointments, even about their families.  John realized that they had some surprising things in common.  Granted, growing up with a mostly-absent father in small-town Kentucky was very different than growing up in a house filled only with servants, but the longing for a father, a real one, was felt by both of them.

Too soon, their time in St. Barts came to an end, and Doug had to return to Chicago. John was staying on an extra week.  By previous agreement, they'd decided that they would return to being friends and colleagues-nothing more--once John returned to work at County.  

Still, a tiny part of John couldn't help being hurt at Doug's casual greeting that morning.  He'd just mentioned to Mark Greene that he'd been away, when Doug walked up, clapped him on the back, and asked him about his vacation. 

"So, Carter, how was it?  I went to Bermuda with Linda Farrell once, and all those women in their bikinis were tough to ignore.  Luckily you didn't have to."

John forced a smile.  "Well, it wasn't Bermuda with Linda Farrell, but St. Barts does have its charms."

He and Doug had run into each other a couple of other times that afternoon, but were never alone.

Later that day, John had met Harper Tracy.  She was exactly his type - beautiful, intelligent, confident, and yes, blonde.  He'd always had a weakness for blonde women.  In a way, it was actually a relief that he found her so attractive.

He said none of this to Carol...just, "It's good to be back."  As she walked away, an ambulance pulled up, and John was called back to work and away from his thoughts.

His interest in Harper Tracy and the way that Benton kept him busy didn't leave much room for Doug Ross in his thoughts.  Things had returned to normal with them, a casual friendship that John knew would never grow to be anything like the one Doug shared with Mark Greene.  John reasoned that it didn't really matter.  No one that he had ever cared that much about had ended up staying.  His brother had died, his parents couldn't bother to stay around, even his sister had left Chicago and headed for Europe.  John hated being alone, but he hated being left behind even more.

As John and Harper got to know each other better, he found that he truly liked the woman.  She was bright and funny and made no excuses for the mistakes she had made in the past.  She never asked him about his past lovers or mistakes.  She simply took him for who he was, not caring that his father was one of the wealthiest men in Chicago.  They had dated a few times, nothing really serious, just going out to places where they would be surrounded by a lot of people.  Their efforts to go out alone were always stymied by either his schedule or hers.  John knew that it wouldn't be too long before they ended up in bed together and he was looking forward to finding out if she really did have a pierced belly button.  His anticipation was dashed the day that she approached him, ruining his lunch with her words.  "I slept with Doug Ross." She had told him.  It had been unintentional she said.  Something that happened because the two of them had been through a painful ordeal of caring for a little boy who was dying from AIDS.  She had needed to be with someone who understood how she felt and Doug Ross had been that someone.  John had not taken the news well.  She didn't think he would understand?  He had sat with people as they died, and she didn't think he would understand her pain and frustrations over not being able to help the little boy?

Later that day, John had tried to work out his frustrations on the basketball court.  He had not been obvious about his feelings for Harper, but he thought that everyone knew he liked her.  Benton had noticed it.  So had Mark Greene.  Didn't Doug see that?  Had he seen it, but not cared?  Was the man too caught up in his own little world of pain and loss that he didn't care who he hurt as long as he got the comfort he felt he deserved?  There were no easy answers there for John.  He had told Harper that it didn't matter because they had only gone out a few times and weren't committed to seeing only each other.  His dismissal of their feelings for each other had hurt her, he could see that immediately.  But, he didn't really care.  He also didn't care too much for the fact that Doug Ross was headed his way.  How dare he tell him how to treat Harper!  Don't blame her, he said.  Blame me.  There was nothing behind it, nothing to come of it.  Forget it happened and forgive her.  John had angrily told Doug that he was happy that Harper and he had gotten over it so quickly, but it was going to take him more time.  The two men had ended up in a game of basketball that turned into a shoving match.  John had won.  Like that was a big deal.  It didn't change the fact that Doug and Harper had been together.  He managed to avoid the two of them for the rest of his shift, and he was eager to get out of the hospital when Benton told him he could go home.

As he walked home, John tried to examine his feelings.  Did he really have the right to be so angry with Harper?  After all, they weren't even really dating, and had certainly not made an agreement to see only each other.  He sighed, then angrily thought of Doug's hands, his mouth on her.  It was like a slap in the face when he realized that he didn't really care that it was Harper Doug was touching.  Oh, Jesus, he couldn't be angry because Doug had been with a woman, could he?  After all, they'd both acknowledged their continuing and dominant attraction to women, and had agreed to stop their own relationship.  John had never felt jealous when he knew that Doug had left Diane Leed's bed and come to join him in his, so why would he feel jealous now that they no longer had a relationship?  John was still lost in thought when he saw Doug waiting outside his door.  The instant flash of relief at seeing him was quickly replaced by the previous anger, and he shoved past him into the apartment.  Doug walked in after him, unasked.

"I think you said all you needed to say earlier today, Dr. Ross.  I'm not interested in hearing it again.  Please leave."  John held the door open, waiting for Doug to walk out.

Doug jerked the door out of his grasp and slammed it.  "So, we're back to me being "Dr. Ross" are we?"

"We're not back to being anything.  I did not invite you in here and I asked you to leave.  You should go now or I might have to call the police and have you arrested for trespassing."

Doug grinned that lopsided grin that made John's insides get all twisted out of shape.  "I don't think you really want to do that to me, do you?  I just wanted a chance to talk to you in private.  We weren't able to have a real conversation out there on the basketball court."

John shrugged out of his coat and hung it in the closet.  "Fine.  Talk.  I can't guarantee that I'll listen."

Doug sat down on the couch, "I don't suppose you have any beer, do you?"

John went to the kitchen to get two bottles of beer.  He angrily twisted the caps off, wishing that Doug would get the hint and just leave.  When he returned to the living room, Doug had taken off his jacket and was looking relaxed as he lounged on the couch.  He thanked John for the beer.

"You might want to sit down," Doug said, gesturing to a chair.

"I prefer to stand.  Okay, you said you wanted to talk.  So, talk."

"I think you should go easy on Harper.  I knew that I was taking advantage of her emotions when I asked her to go out for a drink.  I even made sure that we ended up at my apartment for that drink.  If you're going to hold anyone responsible for last night, then it should be me."

"Is that a habit of yours, Dr. Ross?  Asking someone out for a drink and then luring them to your apartment so you can seduce them?" John didn't try to keep the disdain from his voice.  Hell, at one time he had felt special because Doug had done just that to him.  He was such a stupid fool.

"No, it's not a habit of mine.  And since when did I become "Dr. Ross" when we're alone?"

"Since you started screwing the woman I was interested in, that's when."

"I swear to God that I had no idea you felt that way about her."

"Would it have made a difference?  Would you have told her to seek me out for the comfort you thought she needed?"

"I don't know."  Doug shrugged, "I'm sorry, but I just don't know.  I'm an asshole, okay?  I know it and you know it.  Now Harper knows it.  Hell, everyone in Chicago knows it."

"So that makes it okay?  You think that you can just fuck up and then admit that you're an asshole and everything will then be okay?  Well, it doesn't work that way in real life.  You can't just go around screwing with another person's emotions and head, then tell them you're an asshole, so forgive me if I don't give a damn about you."  John was pacing, his words forced and angry.

Doug leaned forward on the couch, "Are we still talking about Harper Tracy?'

John stopped in front of Doug, his eyes dark with anger.  "No.  Didn't it ever occur to you that..."

"That what?"  Doug looked up into John's eyes, wondering just what it was that had him so upset.

John stared at Doug, then decided that maybe it was time to give him a taste of his own medicine.  He would make him beg for it this time.  He briefly thought that he would feel like a fool if Doug didn't respond to him, but that was a chance he was willing to take.  He suddenly grabbed Doug by the upper arms and pulled him to his feet, then bent his head and kissed him, thrusting his tongue into that unsuspecting mouth, ravishing it with abandon.  Then he pushed Doug back down to the couch.

"That's what."  John took a few steps back, wanting Doug to come to him.

Doug looked stunned.  John was jealous because he had slept with Harper and not with him.  He had been careful around John once the student returned to work.  He didn't want to scare him away, but he had hoped that they might be able to get together.  Those days in St. Barts had been fantastic and there were certain things that he wouldn't mind repeating.  But, John had remained distant and Doug had gotten the hint that there would be no friendship and definitely no more sex between them.  He had been mistaken.  That was as obvious as the way his throbbing penis was pushing against his pants, wanting to be let out.  Wanting John to let it out.  Shaking his head in an attempt to try to rearrange his brains so he could clearly think, Doug took a good look at John.  He was still angry, that much was obvious.  He was also hard.

Doug sat back and patted the cushion next to him, thinking that it wouldn't be so bad to have sex on the couch.  "Come and sit down."


"John, I think that it's pretty obvious that you want me and I want you."

"Yes.  But, I'm not coming over there.  If you want me, then you're going to have to tell me."

Doug grinned, remembering the first time he and John had been together.  He stood, then walked over to John.

"Kiss me again."

John shook his head.  He should have known that it would be near to impossible to get Doug Ross to beg for anything.  His "Kiss me again" was a demand, not a request.  If he was going to literally bring Doug to his knees, then he would have to use a different tactic.  It didn't take him long to figure out what to do.

"Get back on the couch.  I want to give you a blow job."

Doug sauntered back to the couch, unzipping his pants along the way.  Before he sat back down, he dropped his pants and briefs to his ankles.

John took a deep breath, hoping that he would be able to stay in control of the situation.  He went over to Doug and knelt in front of him, running his finger lightly along the length of his penis, then without warning, he took it into his mouth, sucking and teasing.  He nipped at the tip with his teeth as he massaged Doug's balls, ignoring Doug's continued protests about doing this without a condom.  Fuck the condom.  He wasn't going to allow Doug to come anyway.  Finally, Doug quit talking.  He didn't quit making noise though.  That was quite all right with John; the more that Doug enjoyed this, the better his revenge was going to be.

Doug was finding it difficult to think.  He had been taken by surprise when John had suddenly gone down on him.  No time to get protection.  Provided that John even had any in the apartment.  He would have thought that by now, John would have had enough sense to use protection at all times.  He moaned as John's tongue tickled the tip of his penis.  He was still amazed at how hard he usually got when he was with John.  That was one of the reasons he had put the halt on their sexual escapades.  He was too afraid that one day he would wake up and not want to let go of John.  It was difficult feeling that way about Carol and he wasn't sure if he could handle feeling that way about another person.  About another man.  A groan escaped his lips as he imagined the perfect answer to his dilemma - Carol, John and him, all living and loving together.  It would be as close to Heaven as he could get without being dead, that was for sure.

"Oh, God, John.  Yes, that feels so good."  Doug could feel the tension increase and knew that he would be coming soon.  Then he would be able to have his way with John, just like before.  Suddenly, the only thing he was feeling on his engorged penis was cold air.  He opened his eyes and saw John standing by the front door, his hand on the doorknob.

"Get out," John firmly said.

Doug blinked hard, then grinned.  John was teasing him.  "Very funny, John.  Now, come back over here and finish what you started."

"I'm not joking, Dr. Ross.  Get the Hell out of my apartment.  Now."

Despite that fact that it was now plain that John was still angry with him, Doug's erection refused to subside.  He needed release, dammitt, and he needed it now.  "John, I don't want to go now."

"Too bad.  I don't want you here."

"Liar.  You're still hard."

"I can't always control my body.  I can control my brain though, and it is telling me that you should go.  Just as your brain should have told you last night that taking Harper to bed was wrong."

"Are we back to that again?  Fine, I was fucking wrong to do that, John," Doug snapped.  Then he got his temper back under control, knowing that he couldn't be angry and get what he wanted from John.  Not tonight.  "I've already apologized to you for it.  I even gave you a chance to hit me.  What more do you want?"

"You haven't gotten down on your knees and begged for my forgiveness, Dr. Ross."

Doug stared at him.  He wanted him to beg?  Hell, there was no way that he was going to beg him for anything.  Well, there might be a few things he would beg John for, but forgiveness was not one of them.  It wasn't his fault that John was jealous and it wasn't his fault that he didn't know the kid was crazy about Harper.  That sparked an idea in Doug's brain.

"So, tell me something, John.  If you're so hung up on Harper Tracy, then why do you have a hard on for me?"

"Stupidity, I guess."

"Ouch.  Thanks a lot."

"You're welcome.  Dr. Ross, you have a choice.  You can get up and go or you can get down on your knees and beg.  I will not wait all night for your decision."

Doug slipped off the couch and to the floor, keeping his eyes on John's face the entire time and not missing the triumphant look in those eyes.  "John, please forgive me for screwing Harper Tracy.  Please come back over here and finish what you started.  Please, let me stay here tonight."

"That wasn't bad, Dr. Ross.  But, I didn't hear any begging in there."

Doug took a deep breath.  "I'm begging you, John.  Forgive me and suck me off.  Please?"  Doug was very grateful that his voice didn't break on that last word. 

John let go of the door and crossed over to the couch, kneeling in front of Doug.

"I suppose that I can forgive you."  He reached out and unbuttoned Doug's shirt, then pushed him to the carpet and proceeded to fully undress him.  He stood and gathered up all of Doug's clothes, dumping them on the couch.  He stood above Doug and slowly undressed, dropping his own clothing on the couch as well.

"Lay on your side."  He told Doug.

Doug rolled to his side, grinning as John lowered himself to the floor, but in the opposite direction.

"Why don't we make this more intense, John?  The man who makes the other one come first gets to call the shots for the rest of the evening.  Bet?"

John considered that.  He knew how close Doug had been just a short while ago and it probably wouldn't take long to bring him to orgasm.  Plus, he knew he could make himself last longer.  All he had to do was think about surgical procedures and he could keep himself from coming.  He nodded, confident that he would win.  "It's a bet."

Doug's reply to that was to inch closer to John and take his penis into his mouth.  When John did the same to him, he sighed deeply, then began to suck with renewed vigor, determined not to lose.

It only took a few minutes before John could sense that Doug was getting ready to come.  He knew that he wasn't anywhere near that point yet.  Victory was shortly within his grasp.  His mental celebration was short lived though as he felt Doug's finger push its way inside of him.  His moan was muffled by Doug's penis, as was the groan that quickly followed when Doug added another finger.  The man was cheating, John thought.  Spikes of pleasure emanated from down there as Doug stroked his penis with his tongue and his prostate with two fingers.  By the time John had recovered his senses enough to do the same to Doug, he had lost.  But, Doug did come quickly after him, and the two men collapsed upon their backs on the carpet, laughing.

"You cheated."  John finally said.

"I had to.  You were doing such a wonderful job and I had no intention of losing that bet."  Doug sat up and reached over to caress John's stomach.  "So, now that I'm not only forgiven, but also in charge, I want you to go to the bedroom.  And John, there had better be some condoms in this apartment somewhere."

"I have some.  In the bedroom."

"Good.  You ever pull another trick like that on me, and I'll...well, I don't know what I'll do you, but, you won't like it.  Now, get to the bedroom."

They helped each other to their feet and John headed for the bedroom.  Doug made sure the door was locked, then he turned out the lights and followed him into the all too familiar room and bed.  They talked for a little while, cuddling with each other, caressing and teasing each other's bodies.  Or, to be more accurate, Doug kept himself occupied by teasing and caressing John's body.  Their desire and need for each other was quickly rekindled and it wasn't much later that Doug made John lay on his stomach while he put on one of the condoms that he had found.  He had let John have his revenge and now it was time for his revenge for being made to beg.  Not needing any lubrication because John had bought the pre-lubricated kind, Doug took his position behind him and slowly entered him.  Doug's thrusts were long and slow and John could feel nothing but the pressure of Doug's penis inside him.  His arousal was reaching a new level, one he had never before experienced.  He thrust his hips back to
meet Doug, the impact sending waves of pleasure through his body.

"Faster," he whispered, wanting a quick release from the exquisite tension.

"Not this time," Doug said, his mouth right behind John's ear.  "This time, we're doing it my way, all the way."

Doug's tongue slipped into John's ear, probing the folds and sending waves of pleasure downward where they crashed into the ones that were coming from down there.  They met in a violent explosion and John whimpered, then cried out as the pleasure center of his brain exploded and obliterated every other part of his mind.  Conscious reality escaped him and as he gasped for air he was unaware that Doug was still moving within him.  John finally opened his eyes, making note of the fact that he was indeed, still in his own bed, in his own apartment, in Chicago.  He had not died and gone to Heaven.  Doug's rough breathing against the back of his neck let him know that Doug was finally reaching his own climax.

As Doug's orgasm ended, he collapsed on John's back and it was a full minute before either one of them could speak.

Doug kissed John's shoulder, "I think you liked that."

"Yeah, I did.  A lot.  I've never had an orgasm quite like that."

Doug pulled out and got up to throw away the condom and clean himself.  John rolled to the center of the bed and listened to Doug as he moved around the bathroom.  He closed his eyes, remembering their lovemaking.  Of course, for Doug it was only sex, but he knew that for himself, it had been so much more.

"You should get under the covers," Doug said as he came back into the bedroom.

John opened his eyes and looked up at Doug, "Are you going to get into bed with me?"  He was afraid that Doug would just get dressed and leave.

Doug sat down on the edge of the bed and began to gently wash off John's stomach and penis.  John hadn't even noticed that Doug had a washcloth in his hand, but he was glad that Doug had thought of getting one.  The cotton was soft and warm and felt good against his skin.

"Do you want me to stay?"  Doug smiled down at him, one eyebrow arched as he awaited an answer.

"Yes."  John replied quickly, not even bothering to think about it. To think about it would mean that he would have to acknowledge the feelings he had for Doug and he wasn't ready to do that.  Not yet anyway.  Maybe never.  He knew that Doug didn't love him.  He was nothing more than a pleasant diversion.  An exotic dish to interrupt Doug's steady diet of women.  A dull replacement for the woman that he knew Doug valued and loved - Carol Hathaway.

Doug leaned down and kissed him quickly on the lips, his smile still in place.  "Then I'll stay."

Doug got onto the bed beside John and pulled the covers up over them.  He reached out for John and John snuggled into his arms, resting his head in the crook of Doug's arm.  If morning never came, he would be a very happy man.

For his part, Doug was more relaxed than he'd been in months - since St. Bart's in fact.  He began to pour out his problems to John, knowing he was a good listener.  There seemed to be so many problems at the moment. Mark, he felt, was being an ass, letting the power of his new attending position go to his head; Carol was involved with that meathead paramedic.  Doug had been crushed when Carol didn't reconcile with him after Tag had called off the wedding, but it was adding insult to injury when she turned to this guy.  And to top it all off, his job seemed to be in jeopardy, since he was constantly fighting with the head of the Pedes department.   

John pointed out that his job would be history if it became known that he'd slept with two medical students in as many days.  Doug chuckled involuntarily at that one.   "You have always been able to make me laugh, John.   That's one of the things I've missed about being with you."

John looked at him archly, and decided it was time to take Doug's mind off his problems.  They'd been talking for a couple of hours, and it was time to lighten the mood.  "One of the things?   Tell me more." 

"I'd rather show you, I think," Doug smiled.  "And I did win the bet, as I remember, so I'm still calling the shots."

He'd always loved tying John up.  Not tightly, not so that he couldn't escape, but, in a playful way.  They'd always kept their props in the nightstand, and Doug looked there hopefully.  Sure enough, that cord John had bought was still there.  He raised John's hands above his head, and tied his wrists together.  "Well, I've missed tying you up, for a start."   He nipped John's neck lightly.  "I've missed biting you."

John shuddered.  God, he'd missed being touched like this.  The feel of Doug's hands on his body had always been enough to practically send him into a frenzy.  Being tied up just heightened the experience.

Doug flipped him over abruptly, and lightly traced his tongue down John's spine.  "I've missed licking you."  He heard the sharp intake of breath as his tongue touched John's anus.  "And I've definitely missed this."  He had John's legs pinned down, and forced him to lie still as his tongue got more aggressive.  He inserted his finger, and felt John flinch.  He added another finger and dragged them across the prostate.

As the moans grew louder, Doug moved back up to John's neck."I've really missed making you scream, you know.  And you know how much I like making you ask for what you want."

Doug was surprised when John twisted, then quickly pinned him on his back.  "Obviously I didn't tie you tightly enough, " he laughed.

John smiled.  "My turn.  Now I'm going to show you what I've missed."  He tied Doug's wrists together a little tighter than his own had been, and considered what to do first.  His body had craved Doug's in so many ways.

He didn't get his chance.  Doug twisted free almost instantly, and had John on his back again, his arms pinned.  John threw his head back and laughed, gasping, "Dammit - I knew I should have bought handcuffs instead."

Doug laughed too.  "I said I was calling the shots tonight, and I meant it."  He decided that what he'd missed most was having John inside him.  After he unrolled a condom onto John - he was going to have a serious talk with him in the morning about using these - he had exactly what he wanted.

The sadness overwhelmed him again afterwards.  As he lay on top of John, he buried his face in his neck.  "I've missed you so much, John."  The tears started coming, and Doug was powerless to stop them.  He felt so overwhelmed by everything.  John held him close and whispered in his ear.  "Everything's going to be all right."

Doug lay awake long after John had drifted off, trying to decide what to do.  He wanted, needed to be with John, but wanted the younger man to have a chance with someone else, someone who could love him the way he deserved to be loved.  He lay awake long into the night, trying to find an answer that wouldn't tear them both apart inside.  He finally reached a decision that he could live with and he dropped off into a troubled sleep.

It was still during the early morning hours when Doug felt John's lips upon his neck, kissing and licking, trying to arouse him and awaken him at the same time.  Doug wanted nothing more than to allow John's seduction to succeed, but he knew what he had to do.  He backed away from John's touch, hating the fact that he was going to see disappointment in John's eyes.

"We need to have a serious talk, John.  Now."

John nodded, then tried to snuggle closer to Doug.  They often cuddled that way when talking and he was surprised when Doug pushed him back to his side of the bed.

"We need to keep our hands away from each other for this.  Okay?"

"Okay.  Since you're the one who wants to have a serious conversation, I'll let you start."

Doug took a deep breath, trying to get his thoughts in order.  "I've really enjoyed being with you, John."

The two men now lay on their sides, facing each other.  John's heart had done a strange little leap when Doug had said he needed to have a serious talk with him.  He was afraid that Doug was going to tell him that he wanted to see him again and he was afraid that Doug was going to tell him that he never wanted to see him again.

John looked away from Doug, not wanting the older man to see the confusion in his eyes.  "I've enjoyed being with you, too.  Last night, well, I've never felt like that."  John knew he was blushing and he hated himself for it.  Doug would certainly tease him about that.

Doug reached out and gently stroked his cheek with his finger.  "I'm torn between hoping that the future will change that for you and wanting that to be the best sex you've ever had."  Doug smiled sadly, then continued, "I don't think we should do this anymore.  The sex is great, but you need to concentrate on your studies and building a good relationship with a woman you love.  Someone who will love you back.  Maybe that someone is Harper and maybe you won't meet that woman for years to come.  But, you'll never be able to do any of that if we keep falling into bed together."

"If the sex is so great, and we're both currently unattached, then why can't we just keep on having sex?"

Doug shook his head, "I know that you've heard all the stories about me, John.  I'm bad news.  I always end up hurting the people I care about.  I hurt Carol.  I hurt Diane.  Hell, I hurt Mark just about every day, but for some perverse reason, he still wants to be my friend.  I'll only end up hurting you and I don't want to do that."

"I don't think there's a chance of that happening.  We don't have any romantic feelings for each other."  John hoped that Doug couldn't tell he was lying.  He looked up into Doug's eyes, surprised to see pain there.  But, the pain quickly disappeared.

"I don't have romantic feelings for Mark, but, I still care about him.  Besides, I've already hurt you by taking Harper to bed.  It doesn't matter if you care about her or about me, either way, you were the one that got hurt.  Contrary to popular belief, I don't make it a habit to go around purposely hurting people.  I tend to follow my Dad's example and do it out of sheer negligence."

Doug raised up on his elbow, then leaned down and slowly kissed John on the mouth.  John immediately parted his lips, inviting Doug to take more.  It was an invitation that Doug declined.  He broke off the kiss, caressed John's cheek once more, and then got out of bed.

"I need to go home and change before work."  Doug's eyes looked sad as he gazed down at John and said, "I'll never forget you, John, or all that we've done together."

John entertained the idea of asking Doug to reconsider, but he managed to keep his dignity and refrained from jumping out of bed and falling to his knees in front of the man and begging him to stay in his life.  John knew it was better to end this now.  He sat up and silently watched Doug dress and walk out of the bedroom.  As he heard the front door close, a single tear escaped from his eye, following the path that Doug's finger had traced on his cheek.  It was definitely better to end this now, before he found himself any more in love with Doug Ross.  So, if it was the right thing to do, why did it hurt so damn much?

Chapter Four - Forgiveness

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