Date: Sun, 25 Jan 98

Category: S, A,
Rating: PG13 for some language
Spoilers: Through season 5
Keyword: Fire

Summary: One of Mulder's most frightening foes returns to torture Mulder some more, because it's the thing he likes to do best, and because he can.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Mulder and Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris Carter. Since I have learned to play nice in the sandbox, I am only borrowing them and promise to return them at the end of the story. Honest. I promise. Believe me. Please, because I couldn?t afford to be sued on my salary.

Introduction: This little ditty popped into my mind as I watched Pusher 2(who the heck can remember how to spell its real title?) I figured if Pusher could come back, why not another of my favorite MOW's? So, here it is- have the marshmallows ready..;-)

Special thanks to my cybereditor and best bud, Vickie Moseley, for checking it over and generously offering a few wonderful ideas to make it more in keeping with the characters and for giving this shell-shocked author (here's where I gratuitously plug Vickie's and mine first of what I hope are many collaborations, "Life Cycles IX:Journey") a pat on the back.

Thanks Vickie!

Lovely Warm Thoughts

by Susan Proto (

Part 1/2

Mulder jerked up as he awoke with a start. It took him a moment to get his bearings, but when he looked around he realized he'd spent the night in the basement office having fallen asleep at his desk.


"This is getting to be a helluva habit," he said aloud to the empty room.

He looked at his watch and noted the time was 4:30 a.m. He wondered if he should go home, shower, and change, or if he should just 'fess up and deal with Scully and her worry wart attitude toward his inability to find any comfort in sleeping in his own bed, or couch, as the case may be.

He decided he was ripe enough that he really could do with a shower and a change of scenery for an hour or two. He decided to leave the briefcase where it was and merely grabbed his overcoat and keys. He locked the basement door, and left the building.

Mulder didn't notice the shadow that was cast from around the corridor.

He had no reason to look in that direction, for at 4:30 a.m. the building was usually void of any visitors, especially in the basement. But the gentleman, (which of course is how he liked to think of himself) lurking in the corner of the corridor considered himself more than just a visitor.

In fact, he saw himself as an old friend of Agents Scully and Mulder.

Just the thought of them filled him with lovely warm thoughts.

It was his intention to leave them with a little reminder of their relationship with him. It wasn't that long ago when they were together, first in the hotel, then back in that lovely Cape Cod home.

He was especially intrigued with Agent Mulder's reaction to him and his, shall we say, rather unique talent. He had always wondered why something could fascinate one person completely, and bring another person to his knees in total, all encompassing, fear.

His talent did that for himself and for Mulder. In that order.


Cecil L'Ively was fascinated by fire. Agent Mulder, on the other hand, feared it with all his heart.

He adeptly unlocked the door with a small pick he carried for just such occasions. He walked into the office and did a perfunctory surveillance of the basement office Mulder laid claim to for the past five years. He noted, it being in the basement of course, had no windows, and only the one door exit.

Piece of cake. The room wasn't terribly large and wouldn't require that much material to set up. He would be able to set off any fire he so desired, as he would only be a short distance away. He would be able to control them whether he was found out or not, because Mulder would be his to play with. The pretty partner would be there too, but she didn't possess the same desirous qualities that her male partner possessed.

Fear. Fear of the fire was something Mulder had, and Agent Scully did not. Oh, she of course had a healthy respect for it; of that he was certain. But she wasn't terrorized by it, nor paralyzed by it like Agent Mulder was. The look of terror was something he was going to have to make sure was captured for all of eternity, for if he missed that expression, he would never forgive himself.

He'd bought two small monitors. One would allow the dear victim to hear and see L'Ively give his orders and ultimatums. The other would allow L'Ively to see the agent's expressive face as he put him through his paces.

He also bought a state of the art camera that swiveled via the remote control device which he'd thought came with the setup, but alas, did not.

It was, however, an integral part of the plan, so though he didn't want to fork out the extra money, L'Ively knew he didn't have a choice. Perfection had its price, didn't it?

He looked at his watch again and noted the time was 4:50 a.m. He knew Agent Scully did not usually get to the office before eight o'clock and what with Mulder sleeping the night away in the office, L'Ively didn't figure on his returning before that time as well. Plenty of time. Plenty of time.


As Mulder walked into his apartment he started stripping his clothes off so he could get into the shower as quickly as possible. By the time he actually made it into the bathroom, he was down to boxers and socks. He started the water running, and as it heated up, he pulled off the dark dress socks and underwear. When the steam started to rise from the shower head, Mulder stepped in and pulled the curtain closed.

While the water cascaded over his head, Mulder tried desperately to clear his mind of everything that crowded it and prevented him from relaxing and enjoying life. So many things had gone on in his life in just the last few months that he didn't know when one thought ended and the next thought started.

First it was discovering that the damned microchip was probably the cure for Scully's cancer all along. If she hadn't had the thing removed, all of the heartache that went along with her illness could have been avoided.

Of course, if she'd never been abducted, then she wouldn't have had to worry about the damned chip in the first place. *But she was abducted because she worked with me,* he thought helplessly to himself.

So the roller coaster ride of pretending he was dead so he could find the cure which was ultimately within their reach all along was a long ride indeed. Mulder discovered even a fake suicide could prove taxing. He had to deal with Skinner and then Blevins at the hearing. He almost couldn't believe it when the words came pouring out of his mouth as he accused Blevins of being the FBI insider for ROCHE.

Thank God he was right. Too bad about Blevins. He was curious, in a sort of detached way, to learn more about his part in the scheming and undertaking of the conspiracy.

Too bad about Cancerman. No. Not too bad about Cancerman. Except for her. Samantha.

The water poured down his face now and he felt his own tears intermingle with the shower drops. He cried a lot in the shower these days.

He cried for the eight year old sister that he realized was now, forever, lost to him. He cried for the twelve year old boy who blamed himself for that loss, and for not having parents who could relieve him of that grief.

He cried for the adult Samantha who never realized she was lost in the first place, but could now find no place in her life for him.

And he cried for the adult Fox, who now felt more lost than ever.

He had always thought he could count on Scully to help find him whenever he was lost, but she now had her own path to find. When she discovered the child, Emily, who was created from her own being, Mulder could see the ambivalence of wanting her career versus taking in this child and mothering her. The devastation he witnessed Scully go through when, in order to save her child, she had to choose death for her, was too much for both of them to bear at the time. But Scully was strong. She would deal with it in her own inimitable way, with or without his help. When it came to very personal issues, it most likely would be the latter.

Which left Mulder, alone, on his own diverging road, and he didn't know which way to go. Hell, he couldn't even see the path half the time.

For what purpose did his life have now? Why did everything seem to be void of meaning now? Why did he feel so empty, so alone, and so scared all the time now?

The water lost all of its heat, so he stepped outside and toweled himself off. As he just finished drying his hair, Mulder heard the telephone ringing.


"Hey you. It's me."

"Hey you. What's up?"

"Just checking to see if you actually got home last night or if I was going to walk into the office and find you catching forty winks at your desk again," she said wryly.

"Aw Scully, it's just my way of letting you know how dedicated I am to my job, that's all," he responded in kind.

"Yeah, right, Mulder," she replied with a huff. After a moment, her voice softened and asked, "I'm gonna stop at the bagel place before I go to the office. You want anything?"

"Your treat?" he asked with a grin.

"Yeah, Mulder, my treat," she replied with as big of a grin.

"Toasted Everything Bagel with cream cheese, an extra large coffee, and a carton of O.J. Okay?" he said as one stream of consciousness.

"Got it. By the way, you're buying lunch," she said with a chuckle and hung up.

He smiled at the phone before he hung it up. *Maybe this day will be better,* he thought.


After hanging up with Scully, he dressed quickly and arrived at the office shortly thereafter. It was almost 8:20 a.m. which by his standards was late, but having spent the night there he hadn't felt terribly guilty. He knew Scully wouldn't be there yet because she was stopping off to pick up breakfast.

He went to unlock the basement office door when he realized the door was unlocked. This disconcerted him enormously, since he was quite sure he had locked the door only a few hours before. He peered into the doorway before he actually stepped inside the office. His "trouble radar" should have gone off, but he wasn't himself of late, continuously doubting himself and his abilities, so he walked into the office.

Yet something didn't feel right, but Mulder wasn't sure what. He felt almost as though he weren't alone.

"Hello?" he asked. Mulder realized this was ridiculous since his office was so small, how could anyone be in here without him actually seeing them.

Suddenly, he heard a click. It was the lock to the basement office door.

Then, Mulder heard a second click, and then the sound of clipped, accented words.

"Hello Agent Mulder. How are you? Dare say, you're looking a bit better than the last time I saw you, ain't you?" said the British accented voice.

"What the hell?" was his only response.

"Ahh, look up on the cabinet, Mulder. You'll have a much better sense as to what this is all about," he directed.

Mulder looked up and saw the television monitor. When he saw the image that was poised on the monitor, Mulder froze in his place.

"Cecil L'Ively. I thought you were put away for life?" Mulder whispered.

"Eh? What's that, Mulder? Sorry, but you're gonna have to speak up a little. Tough to pick up on everything you say if you whisper, ya know? The microphone is good, but it ain't that good," he said with a bit of a chortle.

Next, Mulder started to look around the room frantically. L'Ively could see exactly what Mulder was up to and decided to have a little fun with him.

"Uh, uh, uh, Agent Mulder. You don't want to be messin' around with me expensive equipment, now do we?" he chided.

"L'Ively, what the hell do you want from me?" demanded Mulder, all the while looking for the camera and microphone that was obviously in the room some place.

"I want to have a little fun with ya, after all the fun you had with me, you know? I mean, if it weren't for you and your sweet little partner, I wouldn't have had to _suffer_ so much, you know mate?"

Mulder looked up at the monitor in panic when L'Ively said the words "sweet little partner." *Scully!* he thought. L'Ively watched him as he reached for the telephone. The line was dead. Next, he picked up his cell phone and was about to dial when he heard L'Ively's voice.

"Oh dear me, Agent Mulder, now what could we be doing here. Are we warning your partner? Well, that's fine. In fact, I think you should warn her. Let her know she mustn't enter the office, because you never know what a hot little dish like her could do to me, you know? So, do go ahead and warn her, eh mate?"

Mulder dialed the phone frantically and listened for her to pick up her cell phone. *Thank God, it's on,* he thought to himself. He looked up at the monitor and watched L'Ively. His face was expressionless, as if he were storing up his emotions for when the real fun began.

"Scully. Mulder, if that's you, I swear you are either the hungriest man in the world or the most impatient. I'm coming____," she began.

"__Don't!" he cried out in a frenzy.

"What? Mulder, what's wrong?" she asked anxiously.

"Don't come here. Please Scully, don't come here," he pleaded. "Mulder, talk to me. What's going on?" she begged.

"I've got a visitor, Scully. An old acquaintance from merry old England," he replied tremulously.

"Phoebe? That bitch is here again?" she fumed.

"What?" he paused to collect his thoughts. Of course she would assume it was Phoebe Green. Scully believed L'Ively was incarcerated as he had believed. "No, listen to me Scully. It's our pyromaniac friend, Cecil L'Ively."
"How could that be?" she asked incredulously. "He's in the office with you, Mulder?"

"Well, yes and no. He managed to escape and decided to pay me a visit.

But he told me to tell you to not to come into the office," he explained.

"Mulder, I don't understand. How could he tell you? Is he talking to you on the office phone?" she questioned.

"No, he apparently rendered that line dead," he responded with just the slightest hint of defeat. "He was very busy here this morning between the hours of four thirty and eight o'clock installing a monitor and surveillance camera. So, I now have the pleasure of not only seeing and hearing him, I get to put on a show for him as well." He paused for a moment before he said what was upper most on his mind at the moment.

"I'm not sure what else he's done to the office, Scully."

Dana knew immediately what Mulder meant. She remembered the last time they dealt with L'Ively in the New England home that L'Iively had turned into the ultimate fire trap. It was within his power to start a fire where ever he'd placed an accelerant. Room by room, the house went up in flames, which forced Mulder to face one of his worse fears.


He had once told her he hated fire. _Hated_ it. Scared to death of it. And she saw the fear on his face on that day, but he hadn't hared out on that day. Not like the previous time when he went to save the kids the first time, fell apart and was downed by the smoke and fear of the flames.

*But now. What could L'Ively have done now? And why? Why did this have to be happening to Mulder now?* she wondered in anguish.

"Mulder, listen to me. I've just walked into the lobby and I'm coming right down to the office. Don't panic. We'll think of something, I promise you," she replied in what she hoped came across as calming and in control.

"Scully, please__, "he began.

"__I'll be there in a moment," she said and then cut off.

"So Agent Mulder, is your lovely redheaded darlin' going to heed your instructions, or am I going to have to prove to you that I mean business?" L'Ively asked.

"Prove to me? How could you prove to me anything, L'Ively?" Mulder answered, desperately trying to sound as though he were in control, but knowing that he was failing miserably.

"Oh, why don't we just wait for Agent Scully to show up, shall we?"

Mulder suddenly startled at the clicking sound of heels walking down the hallway. When they got to the door, the clicking stopped.

"Mulder, it's me. I'm coming in," she said and turned the doorknob. The door was locked. Scully called out again, "Mulder, unlock the door."

"Don't do it, Agent Mulder," directed the ominous British voice.

"Scully, he told me I shouldn't unlock the door," called Mulder.

"Then I'm going to use my key, Mulder," she informed.

"Don't let her, Agent Mulder," he commanded with a threatening force. "Scully, don't_!" Mulder cried out.

As Scully turned the key in the lock, she heard a panicked scream come from inside the office.


"Mulder! Mulder! I'm coming in!," she called out desperately. "NO!" he shrieked, "please Scully, stay out!"

Mulder took his jacket and beat down the flames in the waste basket. L'Ively obviously cleaned out one of the trash bins and planted just enough material that would start a lovely, but relatively harmless, little fire. It was enough to give Mulder an idea as to just how quickly he could react to everything he saw and heard.

"Okay, Mulder, I'm not coming in! Are you okay? Answer me, God damn it!" she cried out.

"Yes, Scully," he sighed heavily at the door, "I'm okay. It was just a little fire in a wastebasket." He was breathing way too fast, but he didn't know how to calm himself down. He finally slid down the back of the office door, until he was sitting on the floor with the right side of his face leaning heavily on the door.

"Mulder, talk to me Mulder. What should I do? What does L'Ively want?" she asked nervously. Scully felt so helpless. She, too, as if she could see through the door, slid down the front of the doorway until she was sitting on the floor with the left side of her face leaning firmly against the door.

"I don't know, Scully," he said. "I don't know what he wants other than to have a little fun with me," he said with a hint of a sneer.

"Ask him, Mulder. You have to ask him what he wants," she advised him.

Mulder sat on the floor and wondered what L'Ively would say when he did ask him again. He didn't have a clue. He didn't know if he even cared at this point. The thought of facing a fire made him want to crawl into that spot inside himself he would always find when life became particularly difficult for him.

Fire. He hated it. He __hated__ it! Ever since___. It scared the shit out of him. Mulder took his gun out of his holster. A funny thought came to him. Well, not funny, as in 'ha-ha' funny, but funny as in ironic. He'd been shot at so many times and actually hit a few times too. He knew the pain a bullet could cause. Yet the notion of taking a bullet, of eating his gun, didn't cause him half of the fear he felt while putting out that ridiculously little wastebasket fire.

He held the gun in his right hand and traced its outline with his left.

He observed it with his keen eye, and noted the detail of it. The shape and the indentations in the handle and in the chamber.

He looked at the barrel of the weapon and wondered how many seconds it would take for the bullet to leave the chamber, go through the barrel and reach the back of his neck.

Or would it be milliseconds? Yeah, milliseconds. Mulder held the gun so the end of the barrel now traced his the outline of his face and neck.

It felt cool. The metal felt cool against the heat of the wastebasket fire. Cooling. Yes, it felt cool. Not hot. Not scary. Not hopeless. It felt cool.

"Mulder? Mulder are you still there?" she asked anxiously.

He shook himself out of his revelry, and listened to the words coming from the other side of the door.

"Yes, Scully, I'm okay," he lied. He had been lying to her for so many weeks now, it had become second nature.

"Did you ask him? Did you ask him what he wants?" she reminded.


"Ask him, Mulder. Ask him what he wants, and what can you do to get him to let you go," she cajoled.

"Okay. I'll ask," he said with little conviction that it would help.

He stood up and walked over to the monitor. He saw the smile appear on L'Ively's face and it made him feel physically ill. It was all a game to this lunatic. A fucking game! Just like__, just like before. He used to treat it as though it were a game too.

Mulder hated him for that. He desperately hated him for using something that made him feel so vulnerable in the way that he did. Even as an adult he wasn't absolutely sure what the bastard had gotten out of the way he had treated him.

Now this man was using something he feared soo much against him too, but Mulder could tell from the look of L'Ively's expression that there nothing else on the agenda other than to get his rocks off by terrorizing Mulder.

"What do I have to do to get out of here, L'Ively?" he asked as impassively as possible.

"Why you don't need to do anything special, Mister Mulder. You just got

to follow me instructions, that's all. Think you can do that, Mate?" he replied.

"Give me a hint, L'Ively. I may actually have to go to the bathroom one of these days," he said sarcastically.

"Ah, well you can always take a whiz in the wastebasket, now can't ya! Might come in handy if it goes up in flames again, ya know," L'Ively replied equally acerbic.

"C'mon! I don't plan on waiting around forever for you to get your jollies by watching me play with your campfires, L'Ively!"

"Oh my, getting touchy now, aren't we Mate?" L'Ively said.

"I'm not your God damned mate," Mulder answered back harshly.

"Oh? But me thinks we are, Agent Mulder. Me thinks we could make fine mates. Ya see good friends, as you like to call 'em here in the States, they have a give and take type of relationship. Well, that's what I think you and I have going here, ya know?

"I give you some fire to play with and then I take the energy you use in trying to hide your fear and take it as my own. Oh, I do love these give and take relationships, don't you mate?" he chided.

"I'm not your fucking mate!" Mulder shouted back in frustration.

"Tsk, tsk, Agent Mulder. We can't have you using this kind of profanity, 'specially with a lady present," he admonished. "So, I must teach you another lesson. Let's see__," he began.

"L'Ively, wait!" Mulder began an impassioned plea.

But Mulder's pleas fell on deaf ears as L'Ively had already initiated the next fire. This time it was on the wall over his desk where he hung his bulletin board. Mulder stopped in his tracks for a moment and froze, then grabbed his now smoky coat, and began to beat out the flames.

"Stop it, God damn you, stop it!" he repeated over and over each time he hit the wall of fire. Once Mulder had finally put the fire out, L'Ively spoke to him.

"Now do you believe me when I say you're my mate, Agent Mulder?" L'Ively asked.

"Yee_es," he stammered only slightly, but it was just enough for L'Ively to realize his latest lesson had an impact.

"Good. Now, go and tell your lovely partner that you want to play with your mate," he said with sugarcoated overtones.

Mulder stepped over to the door and sat back down. He moved his palm directly below the lock and splayed his fingers open. "Scully? Still there?" he asked softly.

"Of course I'm still here, Mulder," she replied.

"Did you hear?" he asked.

"Mulder, what should I do?" she asked, ready to cry herself. She heard the argument that ensued between him and L'Ively. She knew Mulder had to put out another small fire. Scully wondered how many more could he handle without losing it? Also, she wondered how many more would be small?

"I want to you to hold my hand," he said with a small sob,

with his hand still palming the door,

She put her hand up and palmed the door from the outside, with her fingers spread wide opened just below the doorknob. "I want to hold you too, Mulder. Soon, I promise you, soon," she pledged.

Now, if she only knew how to make that happen.

end of part 1/2 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Disclaimers in Part 1.

Part 2/2

"Mulder," Scully called softly, "I'm calling for help." "Who?" he asked helplessly.

Scully's mind whirled at that moment, for she realized Mulder really didn't know at that very moment who he could call for help. "Oh Mulder, you're not alone. I promise you, I'm going to get help and we're going to get you out of there."

"Scully? Oh God! OWW!" he cried out, as the tips of his fingers suddenly felt the blistering heat that emanated from the door. His palms also warmed over, but his finger tips took the brunt of the heat attack.

"Mulder, what's wrong?" she called out. "Are you hurt?"
"No," he began, "okay. The door, Scully. It got hot. Don't you feel the heat coming from the door?"
"A little," she replied, "but obviously not as much as you're feeling."

"Oh God, I don't know how much longer I can handle this. I mean, when we were dealing with him last time, I had the kids uppermost in my mind. I had to save the kids. But now, he wants to get me, Scully. Just me." He took a deep breath at this point in an attempt to regain control of his emotions.

He failed miserably.

"I have to get out of here," he moaned. Then suddenly, he stood up and moved his hand toward the doorknob. As he placed his hand around the spherical shape, he heard the booming voice of the English intruder.

"DON'T DO IT!" L'Ively shouted out, and then, once he gained Mulder's attention, spoke in a more reasonable, if not equally sinister voice, "You won't be happy if you try to open the door."

"I don't care, L'Ively," he cried out with a defeatist attitude. "I don't care," he repeated only this time with the slightest of sobs escaping from his mouth.

But Mulder would care. As he moved to turn the doorknob, a great sheet of fire flew up from the door. The sheer force of heat threw Mulder back about five feet, possibly more if the room were bigger.

He fell back against the cabinets, which caused him to cry out not only in horror but in pain as well. Mulder's head cracked against the metal cabinet, which caused him to become dizzy and disjointed. When he next looked up, he saw the flames leap up and out towards him.

Scully heard him scream in terror, and that, in turn, terrified her. Scully had witnessed Mulder in states of frustration, anger, and even anxiety. But the last time she'd remember seeing absolute panic on his face was when L'Ively booby-trapped the Cape Cod house.

The only thing Mulder really seemed to fear was fire. And the only thing that separated Mulder from Scully at the moment was a wall of fire.

"Mulder, I'm calling for help," she cried out. "Hang on partner. Hang on." She pulled her cell phone out again and dialed the office number of her boss, Assistant Director Skinner. When Kim, Skinner's receptionist answered, Scully informed her that it was an emergency and that she needed to be put through to the AD immediately.

"Skinner," the voice said brusquely.

"Sir, this is Scully. We've got an emergency situation down in the basement. We need you down here. Now!" she cried out.

Skinner was about to ask what in hell's name was going on that she felt the need to basically order her superior out of his upper floor office down to the basement when he heard what amounted to a crashing sound in the background.

"Scully! Are you all right?" he demanded.

"Mulder! Mulder talk to me, damn it!" he heard her shout.

"Scully," called out Skinner, "what's wrong?"

"Mulder!!" he heard her cry out, and then he heard another loud clatter of sorts.

"I'm on my way Scully. Hang up so I can call you back on my cellular," he instructed.

Skinner hung up his office phone, grabbed his jacket and cellular, and walked hurriedly out of his office. He told Kim there was an emergency in the X-Files department and to be on standby for any instructions he might have for her.

He dialed up the X-Files basement phone number, but was informed that it was out of service at this time. Skinner next dialed up Scully's cell number, which rang once and was then picked up and opened for conversation.

"Scully," the voice gasped.

"Scully, talk to me. What's going on? Where are you? Your office phone is out of service. Where the hell is Mulder, and what the hell is all of that noise down there?" he ranted in almost one anxious breath.

"Outside the office__, fire__, Mulder's inside___, the fire!" she rambled on.

"Scully? Where's the fire?" he asked.

"The office. He keeps setting off fires in the office," she cried out. "Who the hell is setting fires?" he demanded.

"L'Ively. Cecil L'Ively!" she answered.

"Who?" he asked unfamiliar with the name.

By the time Scully was ready to respond, he was on the basement level. Skinner told Scully he was on the floor and walking down the hallway towards her. He noted the distinct aroma of burning paper and wondered why hadn't any of the smoke alarms gone off.

"Scully?" Skinner said in question. "Who is this Cecil L'Ively?"
"Sir, do you remember some years back Mulder assisted an Inspector from Scotland Yard, a Phoebe Green?"

It did not go unnoticed by Skinner that Scully practically spat out the name of Phoebe Green. "Yes, I seem to recall something to that effect.

In fact, I believe you somehow managed to get yourself involved in the case as well, right Agent Scully?"

She nodded and blushed slightly in acknowledgment of Skinner's observations and continued. "Cecil L'Ively was the arsonist involved in the case, Sir. He had a rather unique ability, or rather I should say has a unique ability. He can start fires in an area without actually physically being in the area.

"L'Ively's doing it now," she continued. "In the office. It's locked. I can't get to Mulder. Every time I try to use the key, L'Ively sets another fire. I can't get to Mulder, Sir. We've got to get to him," she pleaded.

"Get to him? Who? Where?" Skinner felt as though he was hearing only one side of a conversation, he was so confused by the circumstances.

"Mulder!" Scully replied exasperated. "Didn't you hear me? I can't get to him because that bastard keeps lighting a fire to keep me from going in. We've got to get him out of there. He can't__," Scully started, but then felt compelled to stop herself so as not to betray Mulder's trust.

"He can't, _what?_" Skinner asked, not letting her hesitation slip by him.

"He can't deal with fire," she said in hushed tones. "He's frightened of fire, and L'Ively knows it."

Meanwhile, inside the office, Mulder held his bleeding head with his handkerchief pressed against the open wound in an effort to help it clot.

He felt nauseous, not only from his latest head wound, but from the overwhelming smell of smoke within the confines of the small, windowless, basement office.

"L'Ively? What do you want from me? How can we end this now?" he asked empty space.

"Ahh, but Mate! You're under the mistaken notion that I want to end this.

Oh no, Agent Mulder! The fun is just beginning! Just beginning!" L'Ively taunted. He began to laugh aloud for Mulder's benefit, and was delighted with Mulder's reaction.

He watched the agent slowly slide down the side of the cabinet, sit with his legs stretched out in front of him, and close his eyes. L'Ively could see the defeat in his face already. "No rest for the weary, eh, Mate?" he announced, just as he set off the next in the series of fires. This one was directly behind him, in the filing cabinets.

"My files__! he cried out. "Please! Not the files!" As the flames began to shoot upward and out toward him, Mulder cried out in fear once again. He hated the feeling of not being in control. He knew his reactions and behavior were worthless to Scully and whomever she decided to call. But he honestly couldn't control the unending sense of panic and fear.

"Scully?" He called out. "You still there?"

"Yes, Mulder. I'm still here. AD Skinner is too. We're going to get you out of there," Scully promised.

"Don't let him burn me, Scully. Please," he sobbed, " Don't let him burn me."

Scully looked at the Assistant Director and asked aloud, "How do I stop him? We've got to figure out a way to stop him," she railed.

"Okay, Agent Scully," said Skinner, going immediately into AD mode, "what are the facts of this situation as we know them?"

Scully realized Skinner was right. They had to maintain cool heads and try their best to be rational and think things through.

"Sir, I know there's television monitor of sorts that allows Mulder to see Cecil L'Ively. I know the monitor is wired for sound and allows Mulder to hear him as well.

"But I also know that when Mulder speaks, he says that L'Ively responds to him, which means there is a microphone in there that is picking up Mulder's voice. Also, there must be a camera that can follow Mulder about, because L'Ively has indicated to Mulder that he can see Mulder moving about the room.

"L'Ively has set up some kind of electronic surveillance system, but I also think he's relatively near by. I know he has the ability to trigger fire, what I don't know is how close he has to be to the target for it to trigger.

"I would guess that he's somewhere in the building with his own monitor and camera. I would venture to say he installed the camera in Mulder's office during the predawn hours. I would guess it's in the ceiling somewhere. Probably in the middle of the office so that he would have the best possible angles of Mulder, no matter where he moved within the office," Scully concluded.

"Okay, so we need to get someone down here to go crawling through the air duct to get into the space above the ceiling of the basement office in order to find the damned camera," deduced Skinner.

"Sir, we don't have time__," Scully began.

"__But I don't know of any other way of finding the camera," interrupted Skinner.

"Oh, no I agree with you in that regard, Sir. What I was referring to was that we don't have time to wait for anyone else to get down here. I'm small enough to get into the crawl space. I'll go in and disconnect the camera," she volunteered.

"Agent Scully, I don't think so," determined Skinner.

"And why not? You don't think I'm capable of crawling through a small area in order to save my partner?" Scully demanded.

"If he got wind of you disconnecting the camera, don't you realize what would happen?" Skinner proposed.

"Sir, the possibility remains the same if another agent goes in."

"But Scully, there are agents who are members of SWAT teams that are specifically trained for this kind of detail!" he replied emphatically.

"Yes, but I'm here right now, and they're not," she responded in kind.

"He can't take much more, Sir."

Skinner did indeed stop to listen to Mulder. He was apparently talking back to L'Ively and Skinner could hear the agitation on both men's parts increase as the minutes passed.

"L'Ively, jus' tell me wha' you wan' from me?" pleaded Mulder, whose speech was now slightly slurred as a result of the concussion he suffered when he was thrown back into the cabinets.

"Oh Agent Mulder, don't you get it yet? You're giving me exactly what I want from you! You're giving me your fear, mate! You're showing me just how terrorized my beautiful fire can make a person. And I love it! I love it!! Oh, maybe I should have let your pretty little partner into the office, but I don't think she'd have been as frightened as you, now would she mate?" L'Ively returned to his manic still life grin as the close-up camera angle showed only his face.

Mulder's head jerked up as soon as L'Ively mentioned his partner.

"Scully? You leave her out of this. Damn you, if you hur' her__," he began.

"__You'll do what, Agent Mulder? What will you do if I hurt your Scully? Do you think I might do this?" he cackled as he also started another fire on top of Mulder's desk.

Mulder tried to move quickly to beat it down with his coat, but his head injury and the lack of ventilation was causing him to become lightheaded and nauseous. It was also slowing his reflexes down, and the fire started spreading a little more to the far side of the desk.

"What's the matter, Mate? Can't get the fire out? Here, let me give you a 'and," L'Ively offered.

Mulder watched as the fire slowly but surely died out. Mulder now realized that L'Ively had not only the ability to start the fire, but to stop them as well. He moved slowly to the door. He wanted to share this latest revelation with his partner.

"Scully, you still ou' there?" Mulder called out.

Skinner was ready to respond that she was indeed right there, only to discover her heading toward the nearest air duct at the end of the hallway. She took off her suit jacket, but pulled out her cellular phone.

"Damn it Scully, what the hell are you doing?" he demanded.

"Sir," she said in a conspiratorial whisper, "while I'm getting ready to crawl into that little passageway, why don't you call up your SWAT team. Then, I'll dial your number and we can keep in constant communication. When I find the camera and disengage it, that will be your cue to knock the door in and get Mulder," she outlined succinctly.

Skinner looked at her thoughtfully and then said, "And what about you, Scully? What about you?"

"Sir, when I let you know the camera's been unplugged, you're going to get in there fast and get Mulder, while I high tail my tush out of the air duct as fast as possible too. I'll be fine, Sir, if you're just ready and waiting for your cue to get Mulder," she replied calmly.

"Scully, I don't like this."

"Call the SWAT team in case they're needed," she replied in a hushed, but then added in a more urgent tone, "Oh, and keep talking to Mulder___, please. He needs to hear a voice that will help him stay grounded.


"No, but you're not giving me any other choice, are you?" he replied and then quietly alerted the SWAT team that they were needed down on the basement level on emergency standby.

He next gave a boost up into the air duct to one his very best agents.

She managed to dial the AD's cellular phone number once she was up in the duct. "Sir? Can you hear me?" she asked tentatively.

"Yes, I can hear you," he replied anxiously as he walked back to the office door of the X-Files Division. "Scully, just keep talking to me, okay? Scully, check in with me," he ordered in a forced whisper.

Mulder startled at hearing his partner's name coming out of his boss's mouth.

"Scully? Where are you?" he called out.

Cecil L'Ively, on the other hand, had heard just about enough about the little red head. "Agent Mulder! I think it's time to get your mind off of the little woman, don't you think?? Mr. Mulder! It's time to get me marshmallows out!" At this point, Mulder saw, via the television monitor,

L'Ively pull out a long skewer and place three plump, white marshmallows on top.

"Okay, Agent Mulder. Let's start toasting!" he proposed with an evil laugh.

The corner area against the far wall, opposite of the television monitor, suddenly shot up in flames. L'Ively had a perfect view of Mulder's expression of horror as he the flames danced closely to his body. He zoomed the camera angle in close enough to see the Mulder's arm hairs singed off from the heat of the flames.

"Oh, Agent Mulder! Ain't this just lovely? Look at all of me lovely flames! Don't it just leave you with the warmest feeling in your heart?"

L'Ively asked with dark laughter.

"Oh God, please make it stop! Please!" Mulder cried out.

"Mulder?! Mulder, talk to me? Are you all right?" called out AD Skinner. "What's going on in there?"

Mulder heard the deep voice calling him from the other side of the door. He wondered where Scully was and felt a heaviness in his chest at the thought that she was no longer out there to save him.

"Scully?" he wept aloud. "Scully, please come back. Don't leave me. Oh, please, don't you leave me too. Don't leave me alone with him. Come back, please. Scully, come back to me."

His mind was now clouded by the pain of the concussion, the burns on his arms, and the fear he felt at being helplessly trapped in a room that was rigged to go ablaze at the whim of a madman.

And he was a madman. Mulder knew L'Ively was crazy, but there was nothing Mulder could do about it. There was never anything he could do about it. Suddenly the pain in his head became overwhelming.

Through the pain, he heard the harsh baritone voice call out from the other side of the door. Mulder' heart started beating faster. His breathing now came in rapid, shallow pants. His pulse was racing beyond anything resembling healthy. Mulder knew he had to hide. He couldn't let him get to him now, or he would hurt him again. He didn't want to be burned anymore.

Why was _he_ doing this to him, he wondered. Why was he always trying to hurt him. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't. Why did he have to scare him, and hurt him, and humiliate him in front of his friends.

The night his friend's house burned down, the maniac said Mulder had to help his friend by staying at the house all night to prevent any looting. Even though he knew how Mulder felt about fire, the madman still insisted he do it, in front of his friend and friend's family. There was no way he could gracefully back out. There was no way he could say no without admitting to what a coward he was.

And his father knew it. His fucking father knew exactly what he was doing when he told Fox he had to stay up and help watch the house. He knew, and he didn't care. Or perhaps he did care, and it was his intent to see

just how far he could push the child before he broke him. Perhaps. But not now. Now he had to protect himself.

>From him. From the fires. From the fires and from him. From his father.

His father and the fire. Father and fire. Fatherandfire. Fatherfire. Fatherfirefatherfirefatherfire. Mulder heard the chant over and over in his mind. He had to escape his father's fires in anyway possible.

"What's going on in there!" Skinner called out more frantically.

"Go away," he replied in a monotone.

"What?" Skinner asked. "Mulder, what the hell is going on in there?" "Go away," he now moaned. "I'll be good. I promise."

"Mulder, it's Skinner. It's Walter Skinner," he responded.

"I'll be good. I promise. Please go away. Please don't burn me anymore.

I won't touch your papers anymore. I won't touch your coffee cups. I'm sorry I broke the cup. I'm so sorry. I won't do it again.. Please don't hurt me anymore," he sobbed.

Walter Skinner stood outside of the office, and listened helplessly to the younger man's pleas. He put the cellular to his ear and spoke to the only other person who could possibly make sense out of what he'd just heard. And hopefully tell him what to do.

"Scully? Did you hear?" he asked. "Scully, he's haring out in there. I'd seen it all too often in Nam. God damn it! What can I do?" he ranted.

"Just keep talking to him, Sir. You need to ground him back into the present. You've got to talk to him, Sir," he heard her respond over some static.

"Mulder? Mulder, listen to me. It's AD Skinner. I'm not going to hurt you, Mulder. I want to help you. Do you hear me? I want to help you.

Talk to me, Agent Mulder."

"Sir?" replied the tremulous voice. "Where's Scully?"

The AD breathed a sigh of relief. If Mulder was asking about Scully, then his mind was back in the present. "She stepped away for just a moment, Mulder. She'll be back in just a few minutes," he said with as much confidence as he could muster. He silently prayed that she found the damned camera quickly, because he didn't know how long Fox Mulder's grasp on reality was going to last.

"Mr. Mulder! Come to attention here, won't ya Mate?" demanded L'Ively. "Looky over here."

Mulder looked up at the camera and saw L'Ively's face depict an expression of pure evil glee. I think it's time for the grand finale, don't you, Mate? We've been having a fine time of it with these little piddling offerings, but now? Now me thinks it's time to go for the whole shebang!

What ya say, Mate? Here we go!" he shouted.

As quickly as L'Ively uttered the words, that's how quickly he made good on them. The flames began to rise from one floor's corner of the room. Mulder saw the flames begin to dance at the other end of the room and he tried to stand up quickly. Too quickly, as he experienced the ramifications of having yet another concussion.

He swayed and then tripped over the leg of Scully's chair. He landed with a loud thump which caused Mulder to shout out in more pain. Skinner reacted by talking into the phone frantically, telling Scully they were running out of time.

"I've got it. I've got it!" Scully shouted into the phone. "Sir, get ready to go in and get him. On my count. One. Two. Three. GO!" she yelled out as she ripped the camera from the ceiling.

Meanwhile, the flames were increasing in area, square foot by square foot, and they rose to higher and higher heights as well. Mulder laid on the floor, unable to get up and protect himself from the quickly spreading fire. As a last resort, Mulder cried out angrily to L'Ively, demanding him to commit an act that was indeed, quite physically impossible for him to do.

Mulder listened to the beginnings of L'Ively's raucous laughter in reaction to Mulder's demands, when suddenly, the laughter stopped. And the sound of a crash filled the room. The flames were all over now, and in fact Mulder's shirt was caught in the flames too.

He felt someone throwing something heavy over him and then Mulder felt himself being pulled along the floor. He felt cool air on his face.

Every other part of his body felt hot, so intensely hot, but his face felt cool. Refreshingly cool.

"Where's Scully?" Skinner shouted. "Where the hell is she? Did she get out?

"She's right here, Sir," came the reply of one of the members of the SWAT team that was standing by.

Dana Scully came running down the hallway in her stocking feet. Her face was filthy, smudged from forehead to chin, cheek to cheek. Her hair was a tangled mess, and her clothing was dusty and torn at the knees. But she was neither concerned nor even aware of her own appearance and well-being.

She had eyes only for her partner.

"Sir? Is he__?" she began.

"He's safe, Scully. We got him out. The ambulance is on its way," he replied.

"What about L'Ively? Has anyone been able to find him yet?" she asked softly.

"Not as of this moment, Agent Scully," he answered soberly. "But this investigation isn't over yet. We'll find him."
"I don't think this will be over for a very long time, Sir," Scully said softly as she bent down to take her partner's hand. "It's been going on for too long to end so soon."

"Scully?" Mulder rasped out at the touch of her hand to his.

"Yes, partner. I'm right here. I'll always be here for you, Mulder. I'm not going anywhere," she told him tenderly.

And with that lovely warm thought, Mulder blissfully passed out.

The End.

No flames, please- the story had enough of them! ;-) Comments to