Magic (Stuck With You challenge)

AUTHOR: Victoria May
RATING: pg-13 (language)
SPOILERS: Be Still My Heart onwards
DISCLAIMER: er/ characters are property of nbc, warner, constant c, amblin, etc. I'm just having fun with them. no money involved.
SUMMARY: Response to the renewed challenge--"stuck with you" on atec. John and Dave get stuck in an elevator with a mysterious stranger.

"That was the worst pudding I have ever had! If it was pudding." Dave grumbled as he and John got on the elevator to go back down to the ER.

"What did you expect, Jello? And no one told you to eat three bowls of the stuff Dave. We'll probably be treating you for gastroenteritis in a couple minutes." John joked.

"That's not funny. And anyway, I was hungry. I forgot to eat breakfast."

The elevator stopped and the doors opened on the fourth floor. A man wearing black jeans and a black tee-shirt got on the elevator. John and Dave eyed the man warily. He was definitely creepy. He eyed them back, and slowly withdrew a pack of playing cards from his pocket. He began to shuffle them and leaned against the wall in a nonchalant way. John looked nervously at Dave who shrugged in return.

The elevator suddenly jolted and stopped moving. The three men stumbled and fought to maintain their balance. The stranger had been caught off guard and his cards flew into the air, raining down around them. "Shit!" he muttered as he quickly scrambled to gather his cards. John and Dave leaned over to help and their heads knocked together.

"Ow! What the hell Malucci! Watch what you're doing!" John cursed.

Disgusted at being blamed for the mishap, Dave replied, "Look who's talking. Bump into any walls lately Carter?"

"Shut up." Was all John could muster in response after being reminded of his ever present clumsiness. John folded his arms and slumped against the wall, pouting.

Dave absentmindedly crossed his own arms and leaned against the opposite wall, avoiding John's eyes. He was sorry for even making fun of John after everything his friend had been through. If he had ever met the epitome of misfortune, it was John Carter. Dave was surprised John managed to get to work every day without being run down in the street or mugged, if not fall down a manhole or something.

Neither doctor noticed as the stranger finished gathering his cards and stood up. He looked at one doctor and then the other. Slowly, the man began to smile.

"So, either of you like magic?" The sound of the man's voice in the silent elevator made both doctors jump. They looked at him blankly.

"Magic, you know, hocus pocus?" The man began to shuffle his deck of cards again.

John nervously cleared his throat before answering. "Um, yeah, I guess I like magic. Malucci?"

Dave looked at the strange man sharing the elevator with them. "Sure, I like magic. Why, you gonna pull a bunny out of your hat? Oh, right, you're not wearing a hat." He replied sarcastically.

The man laughed at Dave's comment. He was used to being ridiculed far worse than this. "No, I don't do that kind of magic. But, I do have some pretty neat tricks up my sleeve-interested? It'll help pass the time 'til the elevator starts up again."

John answered, interest peaking in his voice. "Why not?" He extended his hand to the man. "Dr. John Carter. And this is Dr. Dave Malucci. We work down in the ER."

The man shook their hands. "They call me the Street Magician."

Dave's eyes grew wide. "No way! I've seen you on t.v.! No way! A real celebrity. How do you do it? I know it's all staged somehow. Come on, I won't tell."

The man laughed. "It's magic, that's how I do it."

John began to feel nervous again. He'd heard of this magician also. He also knew that many of the people he performed for thought he was the devil incarnate. But he was also intrigued and leaned ever so slightly forward to see the first trick.

The man shuffled his cards and asked Dave to pull one out of the deck. Dave pulled the jack of diamonds and held it tightly so the man couldn't see.

"Okay, now put the card back in the deck anywhere. Don't tell me what it is and don't let me see it." Dave gently pushed the card back into the deck and stood back.

The man shuffled the deck again. He flipped over the top card. "Is this it?" It was the ace of spades. Dave shook his head 'no' and laughed. 'Busted!' he thought. The man turned over another and again it was wrong. Finally, the man told Dave to tell him when his card came up, and he continued to turn over all the cards. Finally, he reached the last card. It wasn't Dave's.

"Hmmm. John, maybe you could help us out here. Did you see Dave pocket the card at all?"

"No, he put it back in the deck, I saw him do it."

"Are you sure?" The man asked. "Dave, just to be sure why don't you check your pockets for us."

Dave began to pull out his pockets, starting with his pants. Nothing. Then he reached into the pocket on his scrubs top. Slowly, he pulled out a playing card. "Shit!" he exclaimed as he turned it over. It was the jack of diamonds, his card.

"That was great! But I bet you can't levitate can you? I know that's a trick." Dave dared the magician.

"I don't want to scare you too. Are you sure you want me to?" the man asked.

"Hell yeah! Right John? You want him to float don't you?"

"Okay, yeah." Was John's short reply. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck begin to rise. He was getting scared, but he wasn't about to show that. This was just a magician. It was all fake. He knew that. It's not real. But that fact that he was trapped in this elevator with him made him uneasy.

The man gestured for the two doctors to stand back. He closed his eyes and began to breath deeply. He clenched his fists and his face began to contort from the obvious effort he was putting into this.

'Great show' Dave thought, 'but he'll never do it. Not in a million years.'

Suddenly, John gasped. It looked like the man's feet were beginning to rise off the ground. He looked at the man's hands and they were no where near the safety bars. He was floating.

"Holy shit!" Dave exclaimed. The man's eyes snapped open and he dropped back to the floor.

"How was that?" He asked his companions.

"No way. No way. I don't like this." John closed his eyes and wished the elevator would begin moving again.

"Jeez, John. It's just a trick. What else can you do?" Dave asked.

"One last trick." The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a small notepad and a pencil and handed them to John. "Write down the name of someone close to you. Then rip it off and fold it up. Don't let me see it. You can hold onto the notepad until I am done. Got it?" John nodded and wrote something on the paper with trembling fingers. Slowly he ripped off the page and folded it several times. He handed the paper to the man.

The man pulled out a lighter and began to burn the paper. Then he took the burning paper and slapped it against his bare arm.

"Hey!" Dave said, "What are you trying to do, burn yourself? We may be doctors, but we can't treat you here." Dave was beginning the suspect the man needed a psychiatric consult. 'Great, I'm stuck in an elevator with a psycho and John. Hmmm, which one is going to snap first?' It was a crude thought, but worried Dave just the same.

"Don't worry, I'm not hurt." The man responded. He lifted his arm so the men could see. Printed on his arm in ash was the name "Lucy". Both men gasped.

"Is that the name you wrote John?"

"Yes." John whispered. "Oh my God! How did you know?" He stared at the magician, his eyes wide.

The man stepped closer to John. Softly he said, "Lucy has a message for you John. She wants you to know she doesn't blame you. She is happy. She wants you to be happy too. She's not in any pain. She said that she loves you John." The man stepped away. Suddenly the elevator began to move again. The doors opened and the man said, "This is my floor. Thanks for letting me pass the time doctors." And then he was gone.

Dave looked at John. His face was white. "Are you okay John?"

John turned his head and looked at Dave, "Yeah, I am now." He smiled and for the first time in months, felt relief. Free of some of the guilt he had built up. Lucy was happy. Now he could be too.

The elevator stopped at the ER and both doctors got off the elevator. Kerry walked up, concern on her face. "Are you both okay? You've been stuck in that elevator for over an hour!"

Dave and John looked at each other and laughed. Dave answered Kerry's question. "We're fine chief. Better than fine. We're great!" They walked away, leaving Kerry with a bewildered look on her face. Slowly she shook her head and thought, 'I don't even want to know.'

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