Disclaimer: Disclaimer: Dr. Mid-Nite, Sandy the Golden Boy, the Sandman, their civilian identities and Myra the nurse do not belong to me. They belong to DC Comics/Time Warner. No copyright infringement is intended. I am not making money from this story. Please do not sue. All I have is a Black Canary figure with only one head and a Starman figure with a rod that won't light up.

Whispers in the Dark
By Smitty

"Dr. McNider?"

"Hmm? Yes, Myra?"

"Sir, Sandy Hawkins is here to see you," the pretty nurse replied, patting Sandy gently on the shoulder. Sandy smiled at her, his stomach jumping—not because of her proximity, but because of his reason for visiting.

"Oh, send him in," Charles McNider encouraged.

Myra guided the boy through the threshold and Charles met them halfway.

"Glad you came by, Sandy," he said, taking over the grip on Sandy's shoulder. "Do you mind if we leave the lights off? I like to be able to see, but I know you can't."

"Oh, that's ok," Sandy replied, noting the large medical journal in the doctor's hand and the warmth and strength of the man's hand on his shoulder. It felt heavy and reassuring…like Wesley's. "I don't mind."

"Thank you, son." Sandy thought he saw Dr. McNider smile at him as Myra closed the door, drowning them in total darkness. "You look worried, Sandy. Is there something you need to talk about?"

"I, um, yes sir. I…I wanted to ask a question." Sandy's mouth suddenly went dry.

"Go ahead." Dr. McNider's voice was gentle but guarded. "Is this a medical question?"

"Um…no." Sandy took a deep breath and squeezed his eyes closed and blurted it out. "I heard someone say that you're not married because—because you're—" He shouldn't do this; he couldn't do this. It was disrespectful. It wasn't any of his business. Wesley would be so angry if Dr. McNider said anything to him!

"Because I prefer men?"

The words were calm and matter-of-fact. Sandy dared to peek.

"You can look at me, Sandy. I'm not angry."

"You're—you're not?"

Dr. McNider shook his head slowly—Sandy could see the movement in the dark.

"I'm not mad because it's true and because I'm sure you have a very good reason for asking."

Sandy felt pinned to the back of his chair like a fly. He was suddenly, painfully aware of the fact that Dr. McNider could read every facial tick and that Sandy himself was completely blind. The long, dark silence stretched between them for several moments.

"Curiosity is as good a reason as any," Dr. McNider finally said, giving Sandy an out from this awkward position.

But Sandy wasn't sure he wanted an out.

"Were you curious about me?"

Sandy nodded, almost involuntarily. "Yes," he admitted in a voice barely above a whisper. They sat together in the dark a while longer. "But, I was also curious about me," he said, choking on the words.

The silence ebbed deep again and Sandy was chastising himself heavily for his words when the doctor spoke.

"At your age," he said, "it's perfectly normal to have strong feelings for someone, male or female. Sometimes it indicates a sexual preference. Sometimes it doesn't. I take it Wesley doesn't know about this visit?"

"He's…kind of the reason," Sandy admitted, flushing. He felt the tips of his ears go hot and pink.

Dr. McNider sighed. "I was afraid of that," he murmured. He sighed again. "I can understand why you feel the way you do about Wesley," he said quietly. "He's been a very good role model for you—the driving male influence in your life. But he is not and can not ever be considered a potential partner."

Sandy felt as if he'd been struck by something heavy. The firmness in the doctor's voice had left no room for argument.

"He's many years your senior," Dr. McNider continued, "and he is an authority figure. A truly loving relationship between two males must be as mutually beneficial as a relationship between a male and a female." He paused for a moment. "Wesley loves your Aunt Dian very much," he reminded Sandy. "And he loves you, too. But he loves you as his own son. That is something that must not be destroyed."

Sandy bobbed his head woodenly.

"Sandy—if this is a road you choose to walk, I caution you. There may be one day in the future where homosexuals are not hated and persecuted. But this is not that day. It is not an easy way of life. It's like having still another secret identity. But if you are like me…" He sighed before continuing. "If you are like me and unwilling to suppress your true nature, I urge you to make your choices wisely. Discretion shall be your byword. And do not allow overwrought emotions cloud you from—truths. You should be loved, my boy. Do not settle for less than that."

"Sir," Sandy asked timidly. He was surprised he was even able to talk at this point, let alone ask another potentially humiliating question. "You—you like boys…do you…would you—"

"I like men, Sandy," the doctor's voice came from the darkness. "And while you are fast becoming one, you still have many years ahead of you to explore your…preferences. No matter what you discover about yourself, I am and will always be too old for you."

"I—I just wanted to know for sure," Sandy defended himself, flushing even harder.

"Then you will find out for sure." Dr. McNider's voice was very gentle. "In your own time."

Sandy found himself nodding. "Yes—yes, sir." He stood, wiping sweaty palms on his pants. Dr. McNider stood, too, and put a hand on Sandy's shoulder, guiding him to the door. Sandy found himself half disappointed the doctor wouldn't at least kiss him and half relieved that he did not have to find out for sure tonight. The door opened, letting in the light that blinded Dr. McNider. For the first time since entering the room, Sandy saw his face. He was still a handsome man but the lines around his eyes and mouth made him look a little sad. He looked just like any one of the other members of the JSA. "Thank you, sir," Sandy said dutifully. "Thank you for taking the time to talk to me."

"It was my pleasure," the doctor replied. "I'm glad I was able to be here for you."

Myra came to escort Sandy away and Dr. McNider carefully closed the door.

"Because no one was there for me," he said softly.

Fin

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