Heatwave in Cook County






"Sorry to keep you waiting," Carter said as he entered the lounge.

"No problem." Mulder smiled, trying to put Dr. Carter at ease. "We know how busy you are, so we won't take up too much of your time."

Mulder and Scully were seated on the couch, and Carter sat down on a chair across from them.

Carter cleared his throat. "So, what is this all about?"

"You've been seeing a woman, whom you know as Roxanne Please. Is that correct?" Mulder asked.

Carter was totally baffled now. But he answered the question. "Yes, that's right. How did you know?"

"We went to her office today, but she had left early. We talked to some of her co-workers and your name came up. She's going to be meeting you here after your shift?"

Carter nodded. "Yes, at six."

"How long have you known Roxanne?"

"About a month. Why are you asking me about her?"

Before Mulder could start in on his interesting theory, Scully thought she should make Dr. Carter aware of some facts. "Are you aware that Roxanne has used several aliases in different cities across the US?" She withdrew a small piece of paper out of her pocket and unfolded it. She read out loud from the list. "Collins, Taylor, Steele, Warner, Ellis, and now Please."

Carter shook his head slowly, looking confused. "No, I had no idea. Aliases...is she some kind of criminal?" He couldn't even comprehend the thought.

"Nothing that's been proven...yet," Mulder stated, a little ominously.

Scully shot him a disapproving glance. "Under each alias, Roxanne has had a relationship with a different man. All five of those men have died under mysterious circumstances," she explained.

"We're concerned that you may become her next victim," Mulder continued. He considered his next words carefully and decided he should be blunt. "All that remained of her victims were black, charred stains. There were no bone or teeth fragments to be found. Their bodies simply combusted under enormously intense heat."

Carter visibly gulped. "You're saying Roxanne...burned them to death?"

"Yes, though not in the way you're thinking..." Mulder took a breath. "I'm convinced that Roxanne has an inner power, something akin to pyrokinesis."

Carter stared at him. "Pyro what?"

"Pyrokinesis," Mulder repeated. "It's the ability to set objects on fire. I think Roxanne possesses an even deadlier form of it, being able to control the body's internal temperature...raising it so high that the body simply combusts and burns itself up. I also believe that she has been influencing your personality, though I don't know for what purpose. Perhaps to bring you more under her control. Have you been experiencing changes in mood lately? Irritability for no reason?"

"Uh...I've been a little stressed lately," Carter muttered, still trying to grasp what he had just heard.

Scully quickly added, "Although my partner's theory may be debatable, it is a fact that all of Roxanne's previous boyfriends have died mysteriously. So we *are* concerned about your safety."

Carter sat there blankly for a moment and then smiled, waving a finger at them. "This is a joke, right? Jerry must have put you up to this. You're not really FBI agents."

"I assure you, we are," Mulder said.

"Come on, give it up. It must have been Malik, then." Carter was still smiling. He had to admit, these two actors were pretty good. They really had him going for a while. His smile faded slightly as he looked from one serious face to the other. "You're not putting me on? You're really from the FBI?"

"Would you like to see our IDs?" Scully asked, not blaming him in the least for questioning their credibility. Sometimes she wondered the same thing.

Carter shot to his feet. "This is absolutely ridiculous!" he exclaimed, looking at them incredulously. "You don't actually expect me to believe this!" He waited for a response, but was met with silence.

Mulder finally spoke up, trying to muster all the sincerity he could into his tone. "Dr. Carter, I know this is difficult to take in, but if..."

"Difficult?" Carter snorted. "Excuse me, but I have patients to see. I think you've wasted enough of my time." Without a second glance, he stalked out of the room.

"That didn't go over very well," Scully stated dryly. "If he doesn't believe he's in danger, there's not much we can do for him."

"We can't give up that easily," Mulder insisted. "We at least have to talk to Roxanne when she gets here."

"All right," she agreed, thinking it couldn't hurt since they had come all this way. And there was no question that with five boyfriends dying in apparently the same way, suspicion pointed to Roxanne.

Mulder pulled out his cell phone, and Scully warned "You shouldn't use that in a hospital. It may interfere with equipment."

"Right, I wasn't thinking. I'll be back in a minute then."

Scully closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the couch. "Sure, take your time."

**********

Mulder approached the admitting area and saw the desk clerk working at the computer. "Hi," he said. "Randi, isn't it?"

Randi smiled up at him. "Yeah, that's right." She was pleased that he had remembered.

"Unusual name," he commented. "May I use your phone? I promise, I won't be long."

She hesitated, but then gestured towards it. "Yeah, go ahead. You're not supposed to, but I'll make an exception for you."

"Thanks." Mulder fished in his pocket for an address book, completely unaware that Randi was giving him a once-over. She liked what she saw.

"I didn't catch your first name, Agent Mulder."

He picked up the receiver and started dialing. "It's Fox."

Randi raised an eyebrow and stopped chewing her gum for a moment. "Fox," she repeated. "Talk about unusual names." She paused. "I had a friend named Bambi, once."

Mulder was now engrossed in his phone conversation, and Randi turned back to the computer screen, disappointed. What would she have to do to get him to notice her?

As promised, he wasn't long on the phone. "Thanks again," he said, as he hung up. "Is there somewhere close by that my partner and I could grab lunch? I'm hoping the hospital cafeteria isn't the only option."

"Well, there's a diner across the street, Doc Magoos. I don't know if you'd like it much better." Randi was guessing that FBI agents had more cultured tastes.

He grinned. "Do they have good burgers?"

"Yeah, the best."

"Good enough for me."

Mulder went down the hall to get Scully from the lounge, as Randi gazed after him wistfully. Lydia had caught their last few words together and gave Randi a smile.

"Have a thing for FBI agents, do you?" she joked, adjusting her purse strap.

"I do for this one," Randi sighed, looking back at Lydia. "Think I have a chance?"

"Nope." Lydia looked over Randi's shoulder to see Mulder coming back towards them. "Then again, here he comes. Without his partner."

Randi whipped her head around as Mulder approached them. "She's fast asleep in there. I didn't have the heart to wake her. She had a really lousy night's sleep. Well, I guess I'll go check on that diner." He started to walk past them, saying "If Agent Scully wakes up before I get back, could you tell her where I am?"

Randi stood up. "Agent Mulder! Would you like some company? I'm just about to go on my lunch break."

Mulder shrugged. "Sure."

"Just give me a second," Randi said, taking Lydia's arm and leading her to where Mulder couldn't overhear.

"What are you doing?" Lydia hissed. "You already *had* your lunch break!"

"I know!" Randi looked at her pleadingly. "But you're going on your break, right?"

Lydia started shaking her head. "Ohhh, no...I'm not going to cover for you! I haven't had a break all morning!"

"Please, Lydia!" Randi begged. "I really like this guy. He'll probably be gone tomorrow, so this is my only chance. I'll pay you back somehow!"

"I don't know..." Lydia could feel herself caving in. "What if Weaver finds out?"

"She won't! Please? Just twenty minutes."

Lydia finally nodded and Randi gave her a quick hug. Lydia poked her in the shoulder. "You owe me. Bigtime."

"I love you, Lydia! You're the best!"

Lydia watched the two of them leave, and she shook her head again. That man had no idea what he was in for.

**********

Lucy finished up Mrs. Thompson's medical history, letting her know that Dr. Carter would be with her as soon as possible. She opened the door and collided with a solid body. "Sorry," she said automatically, looking up. "Oh, it's you." Her tone clearly stated her displeasure.

Carter gazed down at her. "Lucy, could I talk with you for a minute?" He glanced over at Mrs. Thompson, who now had her nose in a magazine. "Mrs. Thompson, I'll be with you in just a few moments."

They stepped out into the hall, and Lucy started to read her notes from the patient's chart. "She has a history of..."

"Wait," Carter interrupted her. "Before we get into that, I want to apologize for the way I acted earlier. It was totally uncalled for. I completely over-reacted, and I shouldn't have talked to you like that, especially in front of Dr. Weaver and those two agents. I'm sorry, Lucy."

Lucy was slightly taken aback. She hadn't expected such a thorough apology so soon. But she wasn't about to let him off the hook that easily.

"It wasn't just today. You've been a total...jerk for the past few days. Maybe the last week. What's going on with you?"

Carter looked away, staring down at the floor. He nodded. "I know...I've been a real pain lately. I don't know what it is..."

"You want to talk about it?"

He looked back up into her intense blue eyes. "With you?" The surprise was evident in his voice.

"Look, I know we haven't worked together that long, but...I'm a good listener." Carter just continued to stare at her and Lucy rolled her eyes. "Forget it!" she said abruptly, focusing on the chart again. "Just forget I said anything."

"No!" Carter blurted out, as Lucy looked at him with raised eyebrows. "I mean...yeah, maybe we could talk sometime." He gave her a small smile. "I'd like that."

Lucy returned a tentative smile. She was honestly concerned about him, and hoped that she could somehow help him. Maybe all he needed was a friend to talk to.

"Ok, Lucy, you can give me that history now."

Something that Carter had mentioned earlier finally sank into her brain, and she gave him a questioning look. "What did you say about agents?"

He barked a short laugh. "I *definitely* have to tell you about that later. It's a good one."



Part 3
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