All disclaimers apply from the previous chapter.

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Diagnosis Murder/ER crossover by Nicol Leoraine

Second Chapter

"Oh, man! I thought you´re working in the ER," gasped Jesse, when he saw the residence they were heading to. The gate automatically opened and the three passengers openly stared at the spacious estate.

"I am," answered John feeling at least amused by their display of wonder. Yeah, someone has money, other love. He would change all his wealth for a loving family in a second.

The inside of the residence was spacious, the walls in the hall were decorated with old portraits of the Carter family.

Both Sloans along with Jesse, were looking around in amazement.

"John?" Millicent Carter was walking down the stairs, in elegant costume.

"Ah, Gamma. Let me introduce you my friends... Dr. Mark Sloan from Los Angeles, I think you remember him. His son Steve is working as a detective at the homicide, and Dr. Jesse Travis - an intern of ER medicine in Community General. Gentlemen, my grandmother, Millicent Carter."

"Dr. Sloan? Yes, I remember few telephonates with you, when John was at the hospital, and later..." Mark, like a real gentleman, kissed her hand.

"I thought your son is a little... younger?" she told with a smile on her face and Steve looked confused. Mark grinned.

"Well, I just said, that sometimes I think he´s only ten. It wasn´t his exact age,"

"Dad!"

"Dr. Travis, I see you like our portraits," quipped Millicent, seeing the young doctor watching them. Jesse let out a nervous chuckle.

"I´m sorry, Mrs. Carter. I´m just a little... surprised. John didn´t mention we´re coming to such a... wonderful place."

"John, you didn´t warn your friends?" Millicent shot him a glare.

"Sorry, Gamma. I think I forgot," apologized John, even if everyone saw the amused grin on his face.

"Why don´t we go to the living-room, while Charles prepare the dinner,"

The blinking blaze in the fireplace had an hypnotizing effect on John, when he made the drinks and sit on the couch. The Sloans and his grandmother were talking in a light tone, while Jesse observed the room closely, his eyes stopping at the family photo. John walked to him.

"Who´s this girl?"

"My sister, Barbara. She´s in London right now."

"She´s a doctor too?"

"Nah," John laughed. "She´s interested in art, not medicine. I´m the first of the almighty Carters who took this path," said John bitterly and drank the juice. He didn´t drink alcohol these days.

"I heard the job in LA is pretty risky those times."

"Ah, you mean the bombing?"

John nodded.

"It was pretty scary. We almost lost one of our colleagues. But it seems, that all big cities have their danger."

"Did Steve told you?" asked John nervously.

"Told me what?"

"Nothing."

"Boys, the dinner is ready. John, some policeman wanted to talk with you this afternoon."

"Yeah, I know."

"He said you should call him."

"It isn´t necessary. We´ll meet at the hospital, tomorrow morning."

"Is everything okay, John?"

"Yes," The conversation was quiet and the guests didn´t hear it, but Mark saw a crease of worry on the woman´s face.

After the wonderful dinner, they moved back to the living room, talking about everything and nothing. Mark was deep in conversation with Mrs. Carter, as they remembered the life in sixties, while Steve, Jesse and John were sharing funny stories. The evening altered into night, and only when Jesse tried hard not to yawn, did Mark look at his watch.

"Oh, I didn´t know it´s so late," he began to apologize. It was almost midnight. "We should return to our hotel."

Jesse yawned. "Yeah, even those bumpy beds seems pretty inviting, after that boring conference we had."

"Why don´t you stay here? This house is quite empty, and John and I will only welcome the company."

"Sounds cool," exclaimed Jesse enthusiastically, but Steve nudged him to the ribs.

"It sounds pretty inviting, but we don´t want to trouble you, Millicent," said Mark. They had been on familiar terms by now.

"Ah, no trouble, Mark. I would be glad. John, darling what do you think?"

John, who was a little shocked by the idea, coughed and shook his head.

"No, it´s a good idea. We can use some company," his smile was a little awkward.

"Our chauffer will bring here your luggage from the hotel tomorrow morning, gentlemen. I´m going to tell Richards to prepare the guest rooms." With that, she was gone and Mark turned at John.

"I hope it wouldn´t bother you, John. We can call a cab and return to our hotel,"

"No, it´s okay," smiled John. "I was just surprised. Gamma isn´t always so inviting. I think she likes you, Dr. Sloan," joked Carter and along with Steve and Jesse smirked, as Mark´s face turned red.

"Pretty, making fun from the older person," grimaced the doctor.

"Well, misters... do you want to see your new accomodations?"

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The hospital seemed empty. He was slowly walking through the corridors, abandoned rooms, past the admission desk without patients, without doctors. There was no sound, no motion. The lights were blinking in the rhythm of his heart, and the shadows were lurking everywhere. Anyone could hide in them. John took shallow breaths, his hands in alert, waiting for the attack that would surely come. His legs were moving on their own, shaking slightly, but leading him to that hated place, where everything started.

And there was no one to help him.

The noise made him jump and stop. What was it? The rhythmic melody flowed through the corridors of the ER, making John frantically looking around himself. He was trembling, the music was coming from the lounge, and he could also hear the voices of his colleagues.

"Hey! Is anyone here?!" he yelled, without response. Turning for the lounge, his mind screamed all the warnings he could think up.

Don´t go there! It´s a trap! Someone is waiting for you, with a big butcher knife. Someone is waiting for Lucy...

John halted himself, shaking his head.

"No, Lucy is dead. This isn´t real,"

But the music was playing, and he could hear Luka and Dave, laughing. There was also Chen and Abby, giggling. His feet were taking him where he don´t wanted to go. The music was roaring inside his skull, he could feel the vibrations on the doorknob. Slowly, he opened the doors and everything went quiet. The lights were illuminating the table, where the cake should be, but there was only the knife, red with blood.

"No!" whispered John in horror.

"It´s her blood, Doc," said the voice behind him and he spun around, but there was no one there.

"Going crazy? Don´t you want a little shot?" and the knife changed into syringe, full of some liquid. John backed into the wall, vehemently shaking his head.

"No! W-ho are you? Where are you?!" he screamed in panic and sobbed, as something hit the wall next to his head, sending little pieces of plaster flying at him.

"Will she live?" asked the voice of the woman, than shots rang out, and John covered his ears, willing the voice to vanish, but it didn´t go away.

"What are you doing to me? No, you´re stabbing me! Stop it!" the voice of Paul Sobriki sent shivers through his body as John curled up and began to rock.

"No, go away! Stop it! Go away!" he mimicked the words of his patient.

"Dr. Carter - help me. Call for help, please,"

"Lucy?"

"Dr. Carter," he didn´t see her, but heard clearly the voice.

"Lucy! Where are you? I´m coming. Hold on!" And he stood, shakily and walked out of the lounge. Because he knew, where she was. The corridors were blurred, but he could make out the numbers and signs on the rooms. He stood before Curtain three, hands on the doorknob, listening.

"Lucy?" he whispered. "Are you there?"

"Dr. Carter... help me," was her cry and he stepped inside. The room was dark and John fumbled for the switch. The lights turned on and John was facing the barrel of an automatic pistol. It was Sobriki, who held the gun.

The cold grip on his heart was like death. John couldn´t move, couldn´t scream. All his insides were turning and he felt only the thumping in his temples, saw only the snicker on Sobriki´s face.

"John... John!" Someone was calling his name. Sobriki let out a howl and grimaced, his finger gently squeezing the trigger.

"Carter?"

John´s head shot up, his eyes wide in the horrible anticipation of a bullet he saw coming. He couldn´t breath, couldn´t talk. The fear was too strong.

"John! Come on, wake up!"

Someone was there, shaking him, holding his arm in tight grip and trying to wake him. The hospital was gone, more important - Sobriki was gone. John blinked and let out a breath he was holding.

"Here, drink it," a cup of water was handed to him and it took a moment to register the face.

"Dr. Sloan?" asked John and looked around himself. What was he doing in the kitchen? He didn´t really remember his trip there, perhaps he was still asleep at the time. But why is Dr. Sloan here? Did he scream out loud, waking him up? Mark saw the panic and shame in his eyes, and sit opposite to him.

"I couldn´t sleep, and I´ve this strange habit to linger in the kitchen, eat cookies and drink warm milk. I didn´t want to woke anyone by my pacing, and I saw the lights are on."

"Oh," John felt a little relieved. "So I didn´t... talk or anything?"

"Well, you murmured something, but I don´t think anyone else heard it."

"I´m sorry, Dr. Sloan. I don´t really remember coming here, but I use to do it, so perhaps I did it on autopilot."

"Don´t apologize, it´s your kitchen. You want to talk about it?"

"Not really," was the reply.

"It must´ve been pretty scary. I was afraid you stopped breathing for a second."

"Just a nightmare. I´m used to them by now."

"I don´t think a person can get used to them," retorted Mark and walked to the refrigerator, pulling out some cookies.

"You don´t mind if I take some?"

"No, of course not. "

"Great. These are really good. You should try them, you seem a little thin for my liking." John only grimaced. "Sugar is good for nerves," added Mark. John took few cookies, and eat them without really tasting. He looked at the watch on the wall. It was only four in the morning.

"I need some coffee," muttered John and stood up, wincing. Sleeping on the chair wasn´t the best thing for his back, he realized as the old ache returned.

"Are you all right, John?" Mark saw the grimace on his face.

"Yeah, just my back didn´t appreciate the nap. I should know better by now."

"Back is bothering you?" asked Mark, concerned. John looked at him, realizing that Steve probably didn´t told him about the stabbing.

"I had some accident few months ago. Hematoma around the lumbar plex. It´s okay now, but sometimes I tends to forget that the bed is better than a chair or old couch."

"What happened?"

"A schyzophrenic patient stabbed me," blurted out John, while he waited for the water to boil. He wasn´t looking at Mark, cursing himself for telling him.

"So, that´s the nightmares are about," said only Mark, trying to contain his shock.

"Mostly," admitted John, filling his mug with hot coffee. He turned and sat down, his hands playing with the coffee spoon, making regular circles in the liquid.

"But I didn´t have the nightmares for almost a month. Now they´re back, but somehow mixed up."

"What happened this week?"

"My patient get killed," answered John bluntly, not knowing, why he´s talking about it.

"It happened straight before my eyes. It was a shock, you know. I just started to feel normal, maybe even secure in the ER, when this happens. A woman just came in, asked about the condition of my patient, then took out the gun and shoot the girl straight to the head. I saw her brain, Dr. Sloan. I couldn´t save her anymore. And in the moment I thought, I´m dead. That me surviving the first attack, was just a mistake, and someone sent her to correct it. But the bullets missed me, and I stayed alive. Once more." He felt anger and frustration. Anger at everything that happened, frustration, because of the reoccuring nightmares. He felt like being trapped in a vicious cycle.

"Some things can´t be changed, John. I know that. I was trying for four months to get out of that prison - feared every day, that I can´t do it. Feared for Steve, because he was only recovering, but had to do everything to try and solve my case. But I know I´m grateful that he survived. Just as grateful is your grandmother and your friends. You can´t beat up yourself because you´re still alive. How many lives did you save in the hospital?"

John was silent.

"I think enough. And you can save more. I can´t help you with the nightmares. I´d enough of them to know, that it takes time. But if you need a break, don´t be afraid to ask for it. Don´t push yourself only to prove, that you´re all right. It´s not healthy," ended Mark with a smile.

"Now, my old body need some more rest, before I´ll be ready to face up Dr. Robert Romano. My advice is - turn on the tv - it will surely make you sleep."

"Thanks, Dr. Sloan."

"It´s Mark, John. Uh, while I´m here - could you please tell me, where´s my room? I don´t think I´ll be able to find it myself."

John laughed and turned off the light.

"I´ll lead you, Mark. It´s on my way, anyway."

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"Malucci! Where the hell are you?" bounced the red haired woman on the crutches, waving with the chart. A wearily looking man with tanned skin walked from the men´s room, grinning.

"Yeah, chief? What´s up?"

"What´s up?" mimicked Kerry Weaver, her eyes blaring.

"Your patient is up! He´s waiting for you almost an hour!" and she threw him the chart.

"Mr. Pacewick? I sent him home. Why´s he still here?"

"You tell me."

"Well, I hadn´t found anything wrong with him. I think he´s hypochondriac."

"So why the hell did you order him to an x-ray and MRI?"

"What? I didn´t!"

"It´s in his chart, Malucci,"

Dave looked closely at it, then frowned.

"I didn´t order any tests for him. This isn´t even my handwriting! The guy´s a real nut,"

"So call a psych consult or kick him out of my ER. But do it now!"

John smirked.

"This is my chief, Dr. Kerry Weaver. She tends to be a little cranky, after a long shift..."

As if on cue, Weaver spotted him.

"Carter! Grab a chart and work. Concussion and broken arm in Curtain 1. There are some flu cases and an oncoming MVA - ETA eight minutes. Did you see Dr. Green?"

"I just came,"

Weaver wasn´t listening anymore, she turned to Frank.

"Get me Green. Where is Chen?"

"Curtain 2, with a kid who fell down the stairs."

"Dr. Weaver? Sorry to interrupt you," started John awkwardly, "I want to introduce you my friends from L.A. They´re working in Community general, Dr. Mark Sloan a chief of internal medicine, and Dr. Jesse Travis an intern of ER."

"Welcome in Chicago,"

"Uh, they were attending the conference at the University yesterday and met Dr. Romano," at the name, Weaver frowned. "He invited them for an excursion at our hospital."

"We had a little "conversation" about leading the ER," quipped Mark and Weaver snorted.

"I can imagine. Well, if you´re still curious - Dr. Travis, I believe that Carter won´t mind some company. Maybe you can teach him something. Dr. Sloan? You can help us with the MVA."

"Gladly,"

John sighed and led Jesse to the Lounge, while Mark scrubbed in for the oncoming accident.

"What´s our first patient?" asked Jesse with more enthusiasm than John felt.

"That concussion sounds inviting," sighed John.

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The meeting at eight was quick. The detective needed only some details about the case, and wanted to inform Carter about the possibility, that he will be called to bear testimony at the court. John was only glad when the cop left, and he returned to work with Jesse. Dr. Travis proved his capability, when diagnosing an uncommon illness in a child. Mark was also helping, and after half of the shift was over, and the doctors had a break, the trio headed for Doc Magoo´s to grab some food. After the break, Jesse stayed in the ER (Weaver was glad, because Kovac was nowhere to be found and they was short of one doctor), while Mark was discussing with Romano.

At seven, Jesse along with John, left the ER, parking themselves in Doc Magoo´s. Dr. Sloan left the hospital few hours ago, as he had to attend a meeting with Dr. Horvath, arranged the day before.

"Man, I´m beat," complained Jesse.

"It was a little crowded today," agreed John.

"Crowded?" snorted Jesse. "Three MVA, two GSW and one stabbing. I don´t even mention that bunch of simulants, who were sitting at the admit because of a flu."

"They want antibiotics, nothing more."

"Yeah, and we´re soon facing a resistent strain of flu, probably mixed up with some deadly strain of chicken-pox. How can the people be so ignorant?"

John only shrugged and waved at Steve, coming in.

"We can´t change the human race."

"Hey, boys... how was your day? Some exciting stuff?"

"Nope, but we had a lot of constipation to deal with," said Jesse looking serious. Steve grimaced and both doctors burst out laughing.

"Ha, ha, making fun of a poor detective, are we? Where´s dad, anyway?"

"On the meeting."

"And I think he will be a little while longer," quipped Jesse.

"So, what are we gonna do? Go see a movie?"

"Uh, guys... you go, I heard they´re giving some good thriller. I have some program."

Steve looked at him.

"The meeting?"

"Yeah," nodded John. "It starts in a hour."

"What do you say, we drop you there, and pick you up later?"

"Don´t bother, Steve,"

"Nah, it´s no problem," argued Steve and John nodded, not really feeling for a lonely ride through town.

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The room was only half filled. John seated himself in the middle - not very close to the podium, but not too far away. The meeting was running smoothly, with the usual rate of tales about the human life and its misery. John noticed some new faces, but didn´t pay them too much attention. As the meeting headed to end, they all heard an angry voices, coming from the men´s room. The supervisor stood and opened the doors to see what´s going on. He quickly backed away, as an angry faced youth emerged, pointing the gun at everyone. His eyes were wide and John saw, that his pupils are dilated. He was probably intoxicated.

"Get away!" he screamed, aiming at the man who was next to him, and kicked at the nearest chair. "Get away from me, you bastards!"

People nearest to the exit quickly obeyed, while the others were too stunned to move, or simply too afraid. John was one of them.

"Listen, Alex," started the supervisor in hushed tone and John realized, that it´s the same boy he saw two days ago. But then he was clean and regretting his actions.

"Shut up, you bastard," yelled Alex, wagling with the gun towards the man. John winced, but couldn´t run. "You, it´s all your fault! Why did you let them in? They are trying to kill me, and you let them in!"

"Who? What are you talking about, Alex?"

"Them! The Shadows! The fucking shadows! Don´t you see? They´re everywhere!" As if to prove it, Alex fired out, two times. John was frozen in place, as one of the bullets missed him only by inches. The room was almost clear now - besides John and the supervisor, whose name was Peter, there were only two other men, and one woman. They were slowly making their ways to the exit when the boy fired - now they were all lying on the ground.

Peter, an older man with dark skin and white beard, was trying to calm the boy, but wasn´t really succesful. John saw the sweat covering his face and felt a twing of pity for him.

"Alex, please... put down that gun. Nobody will hurt you,"

"You do, you bastard!" he screamed and shot Peter in the chest.

"No!" screamed John and took few steps toward the injured man, when Alex turned to him, his eyes blazing with rave. John abruptly stopped and held out his hands, indicating that he´s unarmed.

"Hey, man... relax. I´m a doctor. Let me see the man, okay?" tried John but Alex shook his head.

"You stay where you are! Don´t move!" The youth looked ready to shoot, and John don´t wanted to risk it. He saw that Peter was holding his shoulder, and shook his head. Even in pain he knew it was too dangerous. John blinked and slightly turned as he felt a draught coming from behind. The people were gone. They crawled to the exit and left. At least, they wouldn´t get killed, thought John in dismay, when his eyes caught some movement in the shadow. Blond hair appeared then vanished in the darkness.

"Damn, Steve...go away!" thought John angrilly. The youth eyed him suspiciously.

"You a Doc?" he asked, voice high in panic.

"Yeah," answered John, hoping, that it wouldn´t be a reason to kill him.

"So you can get me the stuff?"

"What?!" it wasn´t what he awaited. The boy smirked.

"I know you can. Some of my friends get it from their Doc´s. You get me the stuff, and I let you go. Okay?"

"But... I don´t have it here, Alex," John tried to reason, when there was a flash of anger on Alex´s face and with a scream, he aimed the gun behind John and pulled the trigger. It was only a second, maybe less, while John realized, that the guy is aiming at Steve. It was a reaction. He launched himself at the boy with a shout and knocked him down, hitting the ground with him. It took away his breath for a second - it was enough for Alex to kick him in the side, which left John totally winded and curled up in pain. With a ravaged yelp, Alex took advantage of the situation and landed the barrel of his gun at John´s head. He was trying to do it again, when Carter´s knee connected with his groin, and Alex let out a pained yell, curling into a little ball and crutching his private parts, sending all hell to Carter´s head.

The gun still in his hands, he turned and aimed it at the doctor, but he never pulled the trigger. Steve was there, kicking it out of his hand, than incapacitating the boy with few short but effective blows to the head. At the time, John was getting up, massaging his head, but nevertheless heading for the injured man. He was checking his pulse, when Steve put a hand on his back.

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah, but this man need a ride to the hospital."

"The ambulance is on the way, along with the cops."

"Great. Is Jesse-?"

"I´m here," the young doctor crouched next to Peter and they assessed his condition. The shot wound wasn´t as bad as John thought - there was an exit wound and after the paramedics listened to him by stethoscope, they stated it´s probably a simple penetration wound. The lungs sounded good, there wasn´t any shattered bones. The man was lucky.

As for John, he brushed aside the questions about his health and readily gave the police his statement. Thanks to Steve, he didn´t have to ride to the station immediatelly. After a hour of questions, they were free to go. John wearily sit into his Jeep, not protesting when Steve asked for his keys. As the car started, John winced because the roaring of the engine sent thousand of little knives through his head and side. He wanted only lie down in his bed and sleep, but the motions of the car made him nauseous. They rode for fifteen minutes, when he opened his eyes and turned to Steve.

"Stop the car!"

"Why?"

"I´m gonna be sick,"

Steve stopped and John jumped from the car, falling to his knees and leeting out his dinner.

"Look at him, Jesse," said Steve. Travis get out of the car and seeing John kneeling, he realized what was going on, but though it´s only a reaction to shock. Only when he wanted to help him up, did Jesse in the lights of the passing car saw the strain of red running down his neck.

"What´s that?" he asked and touched the place, John hissed and pulled away.

"Just a scratch," muttered John, spat out the remains and tried to clean his face with a handkerchief.

"Were you unconscious?"

"No," John tried to stood, but his vision flickered. Jesse grabbed his arm as he swayed and led him back to the car, pushing him to the back seat.

"You have a medical bag here?"

"In the back," told him Carter and despite his protest, Jesse grabbed it. He opened it and rummed through the contents, taking out a gauze and a penlight.

"What´s going on, Jesse?" asked Steve.

"Your buddy here forget to mention us he´s injured," answered Jesse and shone the penlight into John´s eyes. He squinted and cursed, trying to turn away, but Jesse held his face.

"Don´t squint!" he told him harshly. "I need to see your pupils so you better cooperate, or we´ll turn back to County."

"I´m not going to a hospital!" stated John, angry. "I´m all right!"

"Sure," snorted Jesse. "I see you taught him your pig-headedness, Steve."

"Hey, is that an insult?"

"No, I´m just saying that for a doctor, you´re quite uncooperative. Now tell me, are you feeling sleepy?"

"Of course I am. I worked a twelve hour shift and had to tackle down an armed druggie. What do you think, the only thing I want to see right now is my bed."

"Are you feeling dizzy?"

"No, I´m fine," grumbled John. Sure, he was a little sick, but that wasn´t a reason to go to County. That was the last place he wanted to go right now.

"Okay," sighed Jesse. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"

"No," another lie.

"How´s it I don´t believe you?"

"Don´t have a clue. Can we now go home, please? I think few people can get a little nervous. It´s almost midnight, if you didn´t notice."

"Jesse? You say - if he needs a hospital, I´ll turn the car."

"Hey!" protested John, but Steve didn´t listen to him. Jesse grimaced.

"No, they would only keep him for observation then send him home. That can be done in the house, too. Anyway... I´m sure that Mark will examine him," added Jesse with a smirk and John frowned. He didn´t think about Mark Sloan. Knowing the man, he wondered if it wouldn´t be better to get admitted at Mercy.

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On the end, John was glad for Mark Sloans presence, because his grandmother was ready to send him to the hospital, once she get a clear view at her grandsons face. Under the sharp lights, his skin was unnaturally pale and the red stain drying on his neck quite visible. Mark took one look at him, shook his head and turned at Millicent Carter, trying to calm her, because she was on the verge of tears. After few minutes of quiet talk, which none of the three men heard, Mark motioned for Steve to come.

"Mrs. Carter want´s to hear, what happened. We heard something from the news, but there wasn´t any details or names mentioned. But some reporters were calling here. Can you talk with her, while I take a look at John?"

"Sure, dad."

"Good. You´re okay?"

"Yeah, not a scratch."

"Jesse... go with Steve."

"Eh... I wanted to help,"

"It won´t be necessary," said Mark, looking at John, who was leaning to the wall. He knew it would be uncomfortable for the boy to let the others see the scars.

"We can go to your bedroom," suggested Mark and gently led him up the stairs, taking notice of the quick breath and grimaces along the way. Once in his room, John sit on his bed, leaning his head against his arms. Mark left him, going for his own medical bag which he brought to every vacation or conference for the last twenty years, knowing that emergency could happen anywhere.

"Steve told me you took some beating. I think it would be best, if I examine you completely - to make sure that your older injuries weren´t aggravated."

"Whatever," muttered John. "If you then leave me alone,"

"Take off your shirt." John tried, even if it was hard to unbutton, when your hands were shaking. Mark helped him and supressed a hiss, when he saw the raw scars on his abdomen, and the red bruise building right below his left ribcage.

"Your doctor should see this,"

"Well, you´re my doctor now."

"No, I thought the one who´s supervising your recovery. It wouldn´t be bad to do an MRI because of that back."

"It´s allright, Dr. Sloan. I took only one hit. Nothing is broken and I feel fine."

"There could be bleeding. I don´t know your case, John. Seems to me like there could be some problems with renal artery or with a kidney, but I can´t tell."

"Look, if it will make you sleep better, I´ll talk with Dr. Benton - or someone else. I´ll have to go to work, anyway."

"I don´t think so, John," argued Mark. "You´ve a concussion. And your BP is a little high."

"I´ll do anything tomorrow, but now I´m too tired and beat. Please, Mark... I need some rest. Today wasn´t the best day of my life and I can´t face the rush of ER just now."

"Okay," sighed Mark. "On one condition."

"Yeah?"

"You stay in bed. Me or Jesse will wake you every two hours, as a precaution. If anything gets wrong, you´re going to County. Tomorrow, you´re going to County and see your physician. Is that clear?"

"It was more than one condition," quipped John with a smile, but agreed.

"Okay. Now I´m gonna talk with your grandmother."

"Good luck," said John, slowly pulled down his pants and lay down, immediatelly falling asleep.

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The night was pretty uneventful. Surprisingly, John wasn´t doing any problems and after Mark woke him at four in the morning, they even talked a little.

"Steve mentioned, that you saved his life. I wanted to thank you for that."

"What?" John asked, taken aback by the words. "I didn´t..."

"The man was shooting, John. If you wouldn´t knock him down, someone would´ve been hit. It was really brave and really stupid! You could´ve been killed."

John only shrugged, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. The headache was bothering him and he knew it will be there next few days, only slowly abating. But his mood was much better then the morning before. He somehow felt relieved - as if another near death experience helped him realize the wonderful opportunities the life brought him.

"It was... reflex. First I was stunned - frozen with fear. But when I saw Steve, and Alex aiming at him, ready to shoot, I reacted. I couldn´t let anyone else get killed, not one of my friends. Not the kid."

"Steve told me about everything, John. It wasn´t hard to understood, because there was enough informations in the news." Mark was talking about his addiction, of course.

"I´m sorry, Mark. It happened, and I can´t take it back. But I know I won´t let it happen again."

"That´s all I ask. So, you´re feeling better?"

"Well, my head´s still throbbing," John smiled, "But I´m feeling better than in months. I´d stopped someone from getting killed, and it´s a good feeling. It´s also good to know, that I can help others, and not be only a burden."

"You´re not-"

"I know, Mark. I just felt like it, after the accident. But hey, nothing can change someone´s life perspective more than a blow to the head,"

"Hm, I´ll think about it. Some of my patients may appreciate the idea," smirked Mark.

"Better not tell Steve," they both laughed and when John yawned, Mark left him to sleep.

The next morning, after Mark checked John, he and Jesse took a cab to the University, for the last day of the conference. Millicent Carter was flying to New York to open some theatre built from the Carter´s fund. John was sleeping through the day and Steve wandered the halls of the big house.

It was almost ten and Steve got bored, so he prepared breakfast and get up the stairs to John´s room. After a knock to the door which wasn´t answered, Steve peeked in. John was still asleep, snoring. Steve smirked and put the tray with breakfast on the table next to his bed, then went to wake him up. Gently shaking his arm, he was rewarded by a grunt and John pulled the blanket on his face. Touching the tender spot on his head, he winced and opened his eyes.

"What?" he grumbled, not really wanting an answer.

"Breakfast. You know, we´re alone and I´m quite bored."

"Geez, go swim or to the gym..."

"There´s some pool?"

John only rolled his eyes and lie back, massaging his temples.

"You said breakfast?"

"Well, it can also be an early lunch,"

"What? What´s the time?" Looking at his watch, John quickly sat, instantly regreting the movement, when his brain turned inside out.

"Gosh,"

"Yep, this is why we didn´t wake you sooner. Dad told me to bring you to the hospital when you woke up."

"I changed my mind. I´m gonna call in sick."

"You´re already on the sick list, Carter."

"What?"

"Well, when you didn´t came in this morning, Weaver called here. Dad talked with her. Uhm... I think you´ll have an appointment with Dr. Green at... in a hour."

"Shit!" cursed John and once again tried to get out of the bed. This time he was more careful. "That´s a thanks for saving someone´s ass. I should know better," mumbled John to himself, as Steve put the tray with breakfast before him.

"First eat. Doctors orders."

"You´re enjoying this too much," scowled John.

"And you´re right," replied Steve.

After John eat the breakfast, changed and somehow managed to get himself into his car without as much as stumbling, they headed for County. John dragged himself out of the car without much enthusiasm, and even Steve´s comment about some extra days couldn´t light up his mood. The walk through the ER was torment for him, even if most of the staff didn´t know about the incident, or simply didn´t connect it with Carter. So John only smiled, trying not to grimace as the headache climbed to extra proportions, and told everyone that he just came to get something from the lounge. Mark Green was waiting at him in Curtain 2 with grim expression.

"Hey, Dr. Green. Sorry for the trouble... I wanted to cancel it, but Dr. Weaver was quite clear about it. Said that I can look for another job, if I´m not here at eleven." Mark let out a sigh.

"Kerry can be a little overreactive, but after she heard that it was you who unarmed that guy..."

"Not quite, Dr. Green. There was also Steve and... ah I wanted to ask, how´s Peter doing?"

"Benton? Good, I think-"

"No, not Dr. Benton. The man they brought in yesterday with that shot wound."

"Oh, I think he was already released. Carter, sit and take down your shirt," started Green. "You´re here because of an exam, so quit delaying the subject. I can see from here that you´ve a headache. Sooner we end, sooner you can go home."

"Okay," agreed John with a sigh and let himself be probed and questioned, but when Mark wanted to order a bunch of tests, he quickly refused them.

"No!" he said vehemently. "First, it will take all day, second - I´m not going to explain everyone, what happened."

"Carter-"

"No, Dr. Green. I´m all right, I can tell so much. You ordered those tests only to satisfy your conscience, but I don´t need them. Now, let me go or I´ll leave AMA."

Mark took a deep breath and let it out.

"Okay. But you´re on medical leave for three days. And I want you to talk with someone about what happened,"

"What?!" exclaimed John. "I talked about it with Dr. Sloan. I´m feeling really good, Mark. I´m not depressed or anything,"

"You´re too cheery, John. It can be a reaction to the shock. Anyway - you talk with someone, otherwise I´ll not get you off the leave."

John thought about it and get to a conclusion, that Mark could really do it. He grumbled the response, grabbed his coat and get out of the hospital, without saying so much as hello to Kerry.

"I thought you´ll stay in here," joked Steve, looking at his watch.

"I almost did," grinned John, immediatelly in better mood. "I´m off duty for the next three days. You can´t stay a little longer, huh?"

Steve thought about it.

"Well, if I could arrange my duty roaster with my partner, maybe yes."

"Great. What do you say, if we get out of this city? My family owns a little cabin near the Canadian border. It´s in the woods, next to the river."

"Sounds good," smiled Steve. "But I don´t know if dad or Jesse can come."

"We will ask them. Even if not, it could be fun. I need a little relax and I don´t think you had much fun all alone."

"Nah, it´s a good idea. But uh... what about you? I mean - you think it´s good for your health?"

"Sure better than laying in the bed, totally bored and thinking about life."

"I´m for it, man," answered Steve full of enthusiasm. He didn´t get much relax in Chicago - not at all what he had planned. Sure, there was some adrenalin, but it dissipated quickly. The duo returned to the residence and Steve called his partner. While he tried to coax her, John arranged for the cabin to be ready, and began the search for fishing tools and packing his bag.

Mark and Jesse returned in time for the dinner.

"We thought about a little trip to the woods, Dad. John knew about a cabin, and already arranged it. Care to come with us? Dad? Jesse?"

"I´m sorry, son, but I´ve already arranged some patients. Maybe Jesse...?"

"Cabin? You mean a house, not some camping trip with tents and all?"

"Nah, Jesse, it´s a cabin. I don´t feel fit enough to climb up the mountains," laughed John.

"Okay," replied Jesse, his eyes shining with excition. "I´ll go."

So when Mark was sitting on the plane heading for Los Angeles, John, Steve and Jesse sat in the car heading to the north.

The End The End

Well, folks that´s it. This was a sequel to my first DM/ER crossover - Crossroads. I left it somehow open, so if anyone of you want to read about the trip, mail me or review.

Author´s notes: I know there were gramatical mistakes, and I´m sorry for them. Please tell me, what am I doing wrong, so I can learn. Uh, as for the story... not much happened there. I would´ve gladly write about the interaction of the LA doctors with the Chicago staff, but I know minimum about medical stuff, and as this is a medical show, I didn´t dare to write too much of it. As for ER - I didn´t see the first few series of the show - well, I saw some episodes, but it was rather erratical, and I´m a fan from the seventh season and up. But I read reviews and scripts (hey, if you know about good link, where I can download some transcripts of episodes, please, write me...). Uh, well, that will be all from me. You have questions, ideas, advices? Send me.