Heatwave in Cook County
AUTHOR: Shirley Yoshinaka
DATE: Completed July 29, 1999
CATEGORY: Crossover (X-Files) JC Humor
ARCHIVE: You’re welcome to download this story for your own reading, but please do not archive my fanfiction on any website without my permission.
DISCLAIMER: Characters from ER are owned by Warner Brothers, etc.. Characters from The X-files are owned by Fox and Ten Thirteen Productions.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story is a little strange. It's an X-files/ER crossover, though it concentrates more on ER. I had an idea one day that wouldn't go away, and this is the end result. I wrote this one with humour in mind, so please feel free to laugh!
SUMMARY: Mulder and Scully come to the ER in search of Carter. They want to warn him
about a dangerous woman in his life.
Dana Scully made her way down the hall, her heels clicking loudly on the tile floor. She was in a slightly grumpy mood this morning, not having slept well the night before. It was this heat and humidity. A large area of the US was experiencing a major heatwave and it was starting to affect her as well. The air conditioner in her apartment had broken down late yesterday afternoon, so she had spent most of the night tossing and turning. She had decided to come into work a little early, for the blessed cool air, if nothing else. She wasn't sure if her partner was in yet, but decided to check.
"Morning, Scully," a voice called out, just as Scully came to the office door.
"Morning." She leaned against the doorframe, seeing her partner flip through some files, his desk a total chaos area as usual. He continued to read, not even glancing up at her. "How did you know it was me?"
Fox Mulder finally looked up, grinning. "I can recognize the sound of your heels from a mile away. They sound very distinctive."
"Humph," was Scully's reply. She moved some papers aside so she could perch on a corner of his desk. She almost knocked over an open can of Pepsi and moved it to a safer location. How could he drink that at 8:30 in the morning? She then spied a half eaten hamburger and made a face as Mulder reached for it with one hand. "Where did you get a hamburger at this hour of the morning?" She watched with an expression of disgust as he took a huge bite, the various toppings threatening to spill over onto his tie.
"I have my sources," he declared, after swallowing a mouthful. "Confidential." He placed the burger down again, and looked up to find Scully pointing to her chin.
"Mustard," she said succinctly, rolling her eyes when he simply wiped it off with his hand.
"Is it gone?"
"Yeah. So what are you up to this morning?"
Mulder stood up and walked over to the slide projector. "We got a lead in a case I've been following for a while." The projector made a little whirring sound, and an image appeared on the screen. It showed a large, black mark against a light green carpet. "This is all that's left of Stuart Wilson. This charred, black stain." The image changed to an almost identical black mark, this time marring the seat of a couch. "And here lies Frank Andrews." He looked back at Scully with a wry smile. "I could show you a few more, but I think you get the picture."
Scully remained seated on the desk and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I suppose you suspect spontaneous combustion. A phenomenon that's never been scientifically proven."
"Au contraire. Combustion, yes. Spontaneous, no." He felt compelled to add, "Though it does exist, Scully. But that's a debate for another day." He pressed the remote control button and the screen now showed an attractive looking blond woman. "Here's our suspect. We'll just call her Roxanne since she's used various surnames in different cities. She's the common link between these men that have mysteriously combusted. She had a relationship with all of them. And I'd say they all ended rather badly."
Scully lifted an eyebrow. She said slowly, "So you're suggesting that this woman...Roxanne, was somehow responsible for killing these men? Did she set them on fire?"
"No. Investigations showed that in each case, no fuel of any kind was used to start a fire. And the heat was so intense, those charred stains were all that remained of the bodies."
"Yet you still think Roxanne is responsible? How?" Scully had a suspicion of where this was leading, but she wanted to hear Mulder say it.
"Pyrokinesis." He turned the projector off and came to stand by Scully, downing his soda. She said nothing and merely looked at him, so he said "It's the power..."
"I know what it is, Mulder," she interrupted. "I've read Firestarter."
It was Mulder's turn to raise his eyebrows. "Well, I never would have pegged you for a Stephen King fan. You're just full of surprises."
Had Scully been in a better mood, she would have come up with a witty retort. As it was, she simply fixed him with a withering stare.
"Geez, lighten up, would you Scully?" Mulder wondered what had put her in such a foul mood. "Yes, I believe Roxanne killed those men. She created a heat that was so intense, there was literally nothing left of the bodies." He threw the rest of his hamburger in the garbage and started to clear away his files. "So how soon can you get packed? We've got a flight to Chicago in two hours. Roxanne is working at an insurance company there."
Scully groaned. "Mulder, you can't be serious. This is not an X-file. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for how those men died. I'm not going to let you drag me to Chicago."
"I hear the heatwave isn't affecting the Windy City."
"I'll be ready in half an hour."
It seemed to be especially chaotic in the ER of Cook County General today. The board was full, and there were still quite a few people sitting in chairs, waiting to be examined.
Randi had the phone to her ear, and was trying to gather up the papers of a file she had dropped. She was crouched down on the floor and spoke into the phone. "Hello? Yeah, I...no, do *not* put me on hold again! Hello?"
"Excuse me," a male voice called above her head.
"Just a minute! Hello?" she said into the phone. "Aargh!" she exclaimed, shoving the last form into the file folder. She stood up and slammed the receiver down. "Of all the rude, inconsiderate..."
"Sorry to bother you," the voice spoke again.
Randi finally looked up and her annoyed expression turned to one of interest. She smiled at the good looking guy, snapping her gum with a particularly loud pop. "That's ok. What can I do for ya?"
"I'm Agent Mulder with the FBI, and this is my partner Agent Scully."
Randi glanced at Scully and wondered if her auburn hair was natural or dyed. She also speculated on whether these two had a thing going.
"Can I see some ID?" she demanded.
Mulder and Scully exchanged glances and produced their ID badges for Randi to examine. She nodded, indicating that she was satisfied.
Trying to hide his amusement, Mulder said "We're looking for a Dr. John Carter. Is he in today?"
Kerry Weaver had just walked up to the admit desk and overheard Carter's name. "What's going on, Randi?"
"These are FBI agents," Randi said, shrugging her shoulder slightly. "They're looking for Carter."
Kerry moved closer to them. "Perhaps I can help you. I'm Kerry Weaver, an attending physician in the ER." She looked from one agent to the other. "Is Dr. Carter in some kind of trouble?"
"Not at all," Scully said reassuringly. "We would just like to ask him a few questions."
"I'm afraid he's seeing a patient right now. Perhaps you'd like to wait in the lounge," Kerry suggested.
Mulder and Scully made their way around the admit desk and started to follow Kerry down the hall. Before they got too far, Mulder said "Dr. Weaver. I'd like to ask you a couple of questions, if I may."
Kerry turned around to face them. "Of course."
"Do you know Dr. Carter well?"
Kerry nodded. "Yes, very well." She was trying to act composed, but she was worried. Why would the FBI want to question Carter?
"Have you noticed any change in his personality lately? Mood swings or short temperament?"
"No, not that I've noticed. He's a fine doctor, quite mild mannered and easy..."
A loud metallic sounding crash made all three of them turn their heads.
"Damnit, Lucy!" a male voice roared.
A curtain surrounding a patient was flung back, and Carter stormed down the hall. Lucy Knight came running after him. "I'm sorry, Dr. Carter. I don't think it's too bad...let me see."
"Carter!" Kerry said sharply, causing him to stop in mid-stride as he was about to brush past her. He gave her an irritated look. "What seems to be the problem?"
He held out a corner of his coat, pointing to a dark brown stain. "Look at this! I finally got a brand new lab coat and Lucy spilled iodine all over it!" He glared at the poor girl who was glaring right back at him.
"I said I was sorry! It was an accident."
"Lucy, with you, everything is an accident." Carter quickly scanned some patient charts and grabbed one off the desk. He thrust it towards her. "Here, Mrs. Thompson is in Exam 3, complaining of abdominal pains. Get a history. But first, clean up the tray you knocked over." Lucy silently took the chart and turned on her heel. As she walked away, Carter called out "And try not to spill anything on her!"
"I don't think that was necessary," Kerry admonished. What was wrong with him? To be sure, it was hectic today for everyone, but this didn't seem like Carter at all.
"That girl is a walking disaster," he muttered.
"I seem to recall you spilling a few things in your med school days," Kerry said dryly, as Carter had the decency to blush. She suddenly remembered the FBI agents, who were standing by patiently. "Oh, Carter...these FBI agents..." She paused and turned to them apologetically. "I'm sorry, I didn't get your names."
Mulder introduced themselves and said "Dr. Carter, we'd like to talk with you when you have a moment."
Carter looked at the two agents with a frown. "What about?"
"We should probably speak in private," Scully said. "Dr. Weaver, you mentioned the lounge?"
"Yes, it's probably empty right now since everyone is so busy. If you'd like to talk in there, I'll make sure you're not disturbed."
"We'd appreciate it," Mulder said, looking at Carter expectantly.
Carter suddenly realized that he was the focus of everyone's attention, including several nurses and other staff that were standing around and watching them. He had no idea what this was about and felt uncomfortable under the scrutiny. "Uh, just give me a minute," he said hesitantly. "I'll meet you in the lounge."
Kerry showed the agents to the lounge, holding the door open for them to enter. As the door swung shut, Randi sidled up next to her.
"So, what's the scoop?" she asked in an excited tone. "Why do they want to question Carter?"
"Randi, it's none of our business," Kerry said firmly, although she was dying of curiosity herself. She addressed the rest of the staff that were still lingering around in a louder voice. "All right, everyone, get back to work please!"
Scully sat down on the couch as Mulder walked around the room.
"Did you notice how short tempered he was?" Mulder asked. "I think Dr. Weaver had been about to say that Dr. Carter is easy going, so I would say he's definitely showing signs of mood swings."
"Which confirms your theory that Roxanne is somehow controlling his personality," Scully said, enjoying the quiet of the room. The noise outside had not been helping her headache.
"Exactly. According to the reports, family and friends were concerned about personality changes shortly after Roxanne started dating her soon-to-be victims. I think the same thing is happening here, and we have to warn Dr. Carter."
"Come on, Mulder," Scully said in exasperation, gesturing towards the door. "Did you notice how hectic it was out there? No wonder the man has a short fuse today. I'm starting to feel the same way!"
Mulder chose to ignore that last remark. He spotted an odd looking jar on the low table in front of Scully and leaned in for a closer look.
"What is that?" he asked, peering at the strange object suspended in a muddy brown liquid.
Scully tilted her head to the side. "Looks like someone's liver. And not a very healthy one, at that."
Mulder jumped back. "That's disgusting!"
Lucy set the tray back in its place and surveyed the results of her cleanup. Not much damage had been done, except for the iodine stain on the floor. There wasn't much she could do about that, but hopefully one of the cleaning staff could take care of it.
She was still fuming over the way Carter had reacted. Well, over-reacted was a better word. The past few days he had been acting like a total ass. He had been barking orders at her, making sarcastic comments, and generally been miserable to be around. This last scene had been the final straw. He had completely embarrassed her in front of Dr. Weaver, and two strangers who looked like they were important members of the hospital. She wasn't going to let him get away with this.
"Don't worry, dear. It was just an accident. He shouldn't have yelled at you like that."
The voice broke into her thoughts and Lucy looked at the old woman, Mrs. Hamilton, who was lying on the exam bed.
"Dr. Carter's just under a lot of stress right now," Lucy found herself saying. *Why did I say that? I don't need to defend him!* she thought, slightly annoyed with herself.
"Even so, he shouldn't have spoken to you like that." Mrs. Hamilton raised her hand, motioning for Lucy to come closer. "Don't let him push you around," she advised in a low voice.
The corners of Lucy's mouth curled upwards. "Don't worry. I won't."
Carter rubbed at the stain with some wet paper towels. It wasn't helping any. The stain actually wasn't that large. And truthfully, he had had a lot worse spilled on him. So why had he gotten so upset? He had been feeling really irritable lately, and he didn't know why. The only time he felt any kind of relief from his bad mood was when he was with Roxanne.
Just thinking about her made him relax a little. He was off tonight at six, and Roxanne was going to meet him here. He checked his watch. Just four more hours to go. He couldn't wait to get out of here. Now, if only Lucy wouldn't drop anything for the rest of the day, he'd be thankful.
He felt a sudden pang of remorse. Kerry was right, he'd done a lot of clumsy things as a med student. He shouldn't have been so hard on Lucy. She just had a way of getting under his skin. He didn't quite know why, but it was a fact. He made a mental note to apologize to her the first chance he got.
He heaved a sigh, tossing the crumpled paper towels into the waste basket. Now he had these FBI agents to deal with. What on earth could they want?