Heatwave in Cook County
Kerry knocked on the lounge door and entered, somewhat surprised to see Agent Scully asleep on the couch. She was sitting up, but her head was lolled back and her mouth open. Kerry heard a gentle snore.
Trying to make as little noise as possible, she made her way to the coffeemaker, and leaned her crutch against the table. She made herself a cup and as she turned, her hip bumped into the crutch. It clattered to the floor.
Scully's eyes flew open and her head jerked forward.
"Sorry," Kerry apologized, bending down to retrieve the crutch. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"No," Scully said, trying to clear the cobwebs from her mind. "I'm the one who should apologize. I didn't mean to monopolize your lounge." She checked her watch. "Do you know where Agent Mulder is?"
Kerry shook her head as she took a sip from her mug. "No, I assumed you were both still talking with Carter." She hesitated. "I know this may be none of my business, but...why were you asking me about his temperament earlier? It's ironic because I hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary until that rather unpleasant exchange he had with his med student."
"I'm sorry, but I'm really not at liberty to discuss this with you." Scaly got to her feet. She suddenly realized that her headache was gone. The nap had really refreshed her. "I had better find my partner."
"Someone at the admit desk may know where he is," Kerry said, leading the way out. She was disappointed in Agent Scully's response, but had to respect it.
Lydia hung up the phone and her eyes widened as Kerry approached her.
"Lydia, where's Randi?" Kerry asked, looking around.
"Uh...she's taking a break."
"Now?" Kerry stared at her. "And you're covering for her?"
"Well, yeah...it was a bit of an emergency, so..." Lydia's voice trailed off nervously under the scrutiny of Kerry's intense gaze.
Scully wasn't sure what was going on but as she turned her head, she spotted her partner coming down the hall with the missing desk clerk. Kerry saw them at the same time. Randi had not yet noticed that she was the center of attention. She flinched when Kerry called out her name, a little too loudly.
"Hi...Dr. Weaver." Randi was frozen to the spot.
"Care to explain yourself?"
Randi quickly glanced at Lydia, who gave a tiny shrug of her shoulders. Kerry placed a hand on her hip and soundlessly started tapping one foot on the floor.
Randi gulped, frantically trying to come up with a brilliant excuse. "Well...I was just..."
"She was just showing me to the diner," Mulder cut in, feeling sorry for her. Considering he had just consumed the tastiest hamburger of his life, he figured he owed her one.
"Oh, really," Kerry said flatly, not believing a word of it.
"Yeah," Mulder lied easily. "I asked her to come with me, otherwise I would have been hopelessly lost." He glanced at Scully and saw she was trying very hard not to laugh. He could see her lips twitching. "If you'll excuse me ladies, I need to speak with my partner." As he walked away with Scully, he raised his hand and said "Thanks for your help, Randi."
"No problem!" Randi called out after him.
"Lydia, Randi...I'd like to speak with both of you, please." Kerry placed her coffee mug down on the desk a little too forcefully, and liquid sloshed over the side. She started off down the hall, not noticing that neither of the two women she wanted to speak to were following her.
"I'm sorry, Lydia," Randi said in a low tone.
"It's ok. So how'd it go?" Lydia asked curiously.
"Not so good. He's a nice guy and all, but not really my type. *Plus*, he says I remind him of his little sister." Randi made a face. "If that's not a turn-off, I don't know what is."
"NOW!" they heard Kerry bellow.
"We're in trouble," Lydia muttered.
"Oh my God!" Lucy burst out laughing. "You're kidding me, right?"
Carter shook his head, chuckling softly. "Nope. He was dead serious."
They were sitting up on the roof, finally able to get a few minutes away from the ER. Things had calmed down considerably and they were waiting to get x-rays on a patient. Carter had been telling Lucy about his meeting with Mulder and Scully. He had just told her about Agent Mulder's theory on how his girlfriend was a pyrokinetic serial-killer.
"But that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! It's *beyond* ridiculous." Lucy gave Carter a skeptical look. "They can't really be FBI agents."
Carter grinned. "That's exactly what I said. I figured Jerry was playing a joke on me."
"But they're for real."
"Apparently." Carter was still smiling. He hadn't felt this good all week. Lucy was right. She really *was* a good listener, and talking to her had helped.
"What about the other part? About Roxanne using aliases and...all her boyfriends dying?"
Carter's smile faded. "Well...that's almost just as hard to believe. I know we haven't been together for very long, but..." His voice trailed off.
"Yeah." Lucy patted Carter's knee reassuringly. "I'm sure it's some sort of mistake. I mean, I've never liked Rox..." She felt her face go red. "I mean, even though she sometimes...oh hell," she murmured. "That didn't come out right at all."
"I get your meaning, Lucy," Carter said dryly.
"I'm sorry. It's just that she's never been very nice to me. I don't think she likes me."
"I know Roxanne can be a little..." He searched for the right word. "Abrasive at times. But I hardly think that qualifies her as a killer."
"Of course not," Lucy agreed quickly. "I'm sure it's just a mistake."
Neither of them spoke for a minute. Then Lucy asked "Do you want to talk about why you've been in such a bad mood all week?"
Carter shrugged. "I honestly don't know. Although...according to Agent Mulder, Roxanne is responsible for that too."
Lucy looked puzzled. "How so?"
"He says she's somehow influencing my personality. I believe his exact words were 'to bring me more under her control'."
"I think we should call a psych consult for Agent Mulder," Lucy said, only half joking.
He didn't know whether he should laugh or cringe. It was easier to think Agent Mulder was a fruitcake than to give any credit to his theory. But truthfully, Carter was starting to feel a little uneasy. Why had he begun feeling so out of sorts for no reason? And why did he only feel better when he was with Roxanne? *Because she's your girlfriend, you idiot!* his inner voice replied. Come to think of it, that wasn't quite true. He wasn't with Roxanne right now, he was with Lucy. And yet, he found himself feeling calm and relaxed. Carter wasn't sure what that signified, but he decided not to question it.
Although there was a cool breeze blowing, there wasn't any shade to speak of on the roof. Lucy had to shield her eyes against the sun, and it was starting to feel too warm. They sat in silence for a while, simply enjoying the peace and each other's company.
Carter had his hands clasped together, and was staring into space. "Thanks, Lucy," he said suddenly.
"For..." He waved a hand around the air. "For being here...talking to me." He turned to look at her directly. "For being a friend."
Lucy looked into his warm, dark eyes and smiled. "I'm glad I could help," she said softly.
Carter's beeper went off. "The x-rays must be back. I told Randi to page me."
Lucy sighed. "Back to work," she said, standing and stretching her arms out wide."
Randi looked up from her nails, and then returned to her filing. "Hi."
Roxanne resisted the strong urge to stick her tongue out at the desk clerk. "I guess Jerry's working the night shift?"
"Uh huh." Randi continued to file her nails.
Roxanne wished someone would fire this rude, incompetent woman. Or at the very least, someone should arrange that Jerry was working whenever she came by. At least *he* was friendly. "Is John around?"
"He's taking a break."
Roxanne waited for more information but none was forthcoming. Honestly, talking to this woman was like pulling teeth! "Sooo...when do you expect him back?"
Randi finally relented, growing tired of her game. But she sure liked yanking Roxanne's chain. Nasty woman. "He'll be down any minute. I just paged him."
"Fine. I'll just wait here."
She didn't have to wait long. She heard giggling first, and then John's unmistakable, warm laugh. John and Lucy turned the corner and walked towards her, not even noticing she was there. She folded her arms in front of her chest. "Hi John."
Carter looked at her in surprise. "Roxanne!" He crossed the space between then and gave her a quick kiss. "You're early."
"Yeah, I know. I got my errands finished early and thought I'd just come straight here." She tugged on his sleeve, and he leaned his head down. "I don't suppose you could leave soon?" she whispered into his ear.
Carter laughed uncomfortably, realizing that Randi, Lucy, and several others were staring at them with obvious interest. "You know I can't do that," he said quietly, glancing at his watch. "I get off in another 45 minutes. Why don't you wait in the lounge?"
Roxanne released his sleeve with a small pout. "Fine. I guess I could make a few phone calls from there."
"You know," Randi spoke up. "You really shouldn't tie up the hospital phone."
Roxanne shot her a nasty look. She opened her mouth to say something, but Carter spoke first. "Randi, I don't think a couple of phone calls will matter."
Randi couldn't ignore the pleading look in Carter's face and she gave in grudgingly. She told herself she was doing this for Carter. "Fine. Use the phone."
"Gee, thanks," Roxanne snapped.
"Um, Dr. Carter? The x-rays?" Lucy looked at Roxanne pointedly, hating to be ignored. "Hi Roxanne. How are you?"
"Great, Lucy," Roxanne replied, without even looking in her direction. "John, I'll be in the lounge." She whirled around and marched away.
Randi handed the x-rays to Carter. As he accepted them, he said "Randi, do you have to be so hard on her?"
A defensive retort was on the tip of her tongue, but when she looked into his eyes, she couldn't say it. "Sorry," she muttered.
Carter and Lucy made their way to the x-ray viewing room. He stuck the film into place and they looked at it together. "Well, Lucy? What do you see?"
Without hesitation, she replied "It looks like a compound fracture of the left tibia and fibula."
"Very good." He was pleased, and looked down at her. "What's wrong?"
Lucy was holding her right ear lobe and had a stricken expression on her face. "My earring! I lost my earring somewhere!"
She had her hair up in a loose bun today, and Carter could see the other diamond stud in her left ear. "Any idea where you might have dropped it?" he asked.
She looked back towards the open door. "I know it was there when we were with Roxanne in the hallway. I don't know why, but sometimes I'll check to make sure they're still in...kind of a habit," she explained. "They were a gift from my mom when I got into med school. I've got to find it!"
"Don't worry. We will." Carter turned on the ceiling lights so they could see better. "If it's not in here, it must be down the hall. We'll just retrace our steps."
They knelt down on the floor and started inspecting every inch of it on hands and knees. "Ugh, I never realized how grimy this floor is!" Lucy muttered. Both of their hands were getting filthy. She was grateful she was wearing dark coloured pants.
Carter chuckled. "I guess this room doesn't exactly have to be sterile."
Lucy was concentrating on the floor and didn't realize how close she was to Carter. "I've got this area covered, Lucy. Why don't you start near the door?" he suggested.
"Yeah, ok," she replied, not even looking up.
"I got it!" Carter said triumphantly.
"You did?" Lucy jerked her head up, connecting solidly with the underside of his chin.
"Ow!" He held out the earring with one hand and rubbed his jaw with the other.
"I'm sorry!" she exclaimed. "Are you ok?"
"I'll live. How's your head?"
Lucy grinned. "My head's fine. You know what they say about stubborn people." She took the earring from him and placed it in her pocket. She would have to clean it with some alcohol before wearing it again. "Thanks, Dr. Carter. I would've been really upset if we couldn't find it."
Carter was still absently rubbing his chin and Lucy took pity on him. "Oh, it still hurts?" Without even thinking, she placed her hand on the side of his face and kissed his jaw. "There, all better now?" she teased.
He gave her a crooked smile, covering her hand with his own. "Lucy..." he said quietly, intending to remove her hand.
"Well, well...isn't this a cozy scene?"
They both jumped at the sound of a sarcastic voice by the door. "Roxanne!" Carter immediately got to his feet, followed by Lucy. "This isn't...It's not what you think!" He could plainly see that Roxanne didn't believe him.
"I'm really disappointed in you, John," she said sadly. Without another word, she ran out of the room.
Carter groaned. "Great! Just great!"
"Please believe me when I say how sorry I am," Lucy said sincerely. "Should I go talk to her? Maybe I can explain what happened..." What had she been thinking? She had just become a little over exuberant when he'd found her earring. She hadn't meant to kiss him. It had just happened. *Calm down! It's not like you kissed him on the lips* she thought.
"No, Lucy. You'll only make things worse." Carter realized how insensitive that sounded and he quickly looked at her. Although she said nothing, he could see the hurt look in her eyes. "I didn't mean it like that." He lightly brushed his hand against her arm reassuringly. "I know you're only trying to help. But we'll give her a chance to cool down. Then I'll try to explain that...she just misunderstood an innocent situation."
He placed the x-ray back into its protective envelope. "Let's go talk with Mr. Matthews about his leg." He had briefly considered going after Roxanne but he knew he wouldn't be able to reason with her when she was so upset. He would have to find her later.