A Fire Ignited Within



Disclaimers: These characters are made up from bits and pieces of personal experiences. They bear resemblance to Xena and Gabrielle property of MCA Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copy right infringement is intended. This story was written for fun only.

Violence: Some mild violence, although nothing out of the ordinary for life as a human being.

Subtext: Yes. It does eventually involve women who grow to care and love each other.

General: There are mild obscenities used occasionally. This is my first attempt at fan fiction, so don't be too rough on me. Thanks.

Sorry folks, this really is Part 2. I'll get the hang of this soon.

Comments? Email nanook88@hotmail.com

A Fire Ignited Within

Part 2

Bud sat in his chair and pulled it up close to the desk. He turned to Ms. McGuire and asked her if she would like to take the floor as he knew she had to catch a flight out of the city this morning. Ms. McGuire smiled as she rose from her seat and approached the desk. She said, "We will all be working closely together for the next week or so and I suggest first that we can the formalities and get on a first name basis. Don't you agree Alex?" Alex who was seated in front of Bud's desk almost dropped the cup of coffee she had in her hand as Mackenzie eased her slender body in front of Alex, turned and perched her rear on the edge of Bud's desk. She crossed her short nyloned legs at the knees and she looked down at Alex with the most seductive smile Alex had seen displayed at her. Alex swallowed hard before speaking, " Whatever will speed this whole process up, I have no objection to....Mackenzie." There was a slight mumble from Cassandra's vicinity and Alex turned to look at her. She had a smug look on her face and her blue eyes blazed at her. Alex thought to herself, boy this is going to be so much fun I can hardly wait and then she returned her attention to Mackenzie as she was going through her plans for Cassandra's research and subsequent articles on the department. Alex was to take Cassandra with her in her daily routines. Articles would be written for each day she was with her. Those articles, after being reviewed and approved by Mackenzie would be published in a special section to the following Sundays paper. It seemed straight forward enough. We scratch the Mayors back and he scratches ours. What could possibly go wrong?.

The meeting was over and Mackenzie came over to Alex to say goodbye and good luck and as she shook her hand, pressed a small piece of paper into her palm. Bud escorted Mackenzie out of his office and it left Cassandra and Alex alone. There was an awkward silence between them and finally Alex got up and said, " Let's get going I don't have all day to sit around here and chat with you. Please try to keep up with me, but most importantly, keep out of my way." Alex walked out without another word, Sparky following in suit and Cassandra hurried to catch up. Alex went down to her office and went in. She cursed to herself that she'd have to be in her dress uniform all day. She hoped the guys wouldn't rib her too much in front of the newspaper reporter. She grabbed the clip board off her desk and proceeded downstairs to the rec room where most of the guys were and where she had left Sparky.

All of the duty crew was in the rec room. Alex appeared briefly at the door frame and yelled in for everyone to report to the briefing room now. Alex walked to the front of the briefing room were there was a podium set up. She walked behind it waiting for the duty crew to settle into their seats. Cassandra leaned on the door frame. Alex spoke, "Hi everyone. I bet you are all wondering what I'm doing dressed up in my best. Well, it's a long story which I won't go into now. Before we go over our normal work assignments, I have an announcement and an introduction. This is Ms. Cassandra Hall. She will be here over the next few days to gather information for a series of articles on the department. I want you all to be courteous, respectful and professional to her or you'll answer to me. No fooling around, no heroics. Just be your normal selves...whatever that may be for you." There was gentle chuckling over that statement. " Okay, now we will take a few minutes and critic some of our recent calls" Alex stated.

When the meeting adjourned every crew member introduced themselves to Cassandra and shook her hand. Alex looked on proudly at her team members. Cassandra seemed to be less abrasive by the time the last one was done and she actually looked like she had a half smile on. Alex thought she was a beautiful person physically, but would be so much more so if she only smiled more. Alex was so intent on her thoughts that she didn't realize she was staring at Cassandra, until Cassandra asked her. "Why are you staring at me? Is something wrong?" Alex stumbled over her reply, "No, I'm sorry. I was just thinking I didn't get any breakfast only that cup of coffee at the other meeting and I'm starved. How about we get some lunch? Look I'm sorry I have been such a bear about this, but I'd really like to get along and get through this. I'm just not used to having someone around me all the time." Cassandra nodded her head in agreement and offered her hand. Alex took her hand and had all she could do to control the gasp as she felt the heat from Cassandra's hand radiate up her arm. Cassandra replied, " Yes , I am hungry and I'll try not to get in your way or aggravate you any more than necessary." and she gave Alex a lop sided grin.

After they had lunch in the kitchen upstairs, Alex, and Cassandra returned to Alex's office so she could show her some fire statistics on her computer. Just as Alex logged on to the computer the siren went off. She was up in a flash and out the door. Cassandra was still sitting at the desk when Alex rushed back to the door way and yelled in " Come on Cassie, that's your first fire call." In the time it took Cassie to get down to the truck room, Alex had put on her white bunker pants, short coat and bunker boots and she and Sparky were waiting impatiently for her. She waved her in to the passengers seat in the red Ford Explorer and took off , not waiting for her to buckle her seat belt. Alex picked up the microphone and talked into the receiver that Car 88-L1 was responding to the scene. A confirmation message was received and they could hear other apparatus responding to the scene as well. As they drove swiftly, but cautiously down the streets, landmarks were becoming familiar to Cassandra.

They smelled the smoke before they saw the red-orange flames licking high into the sky. Cassandra was vaguely aware of Alex once again talking into the mic, something about fully involved and a 3 alarm blaze. All she knew as she gazed out the car window was that they had pulled up in front of her apartment building and it was on fire!!

Alex pulled the Explorer over by the portable van that would serve as the Incident Command Post. She swung out of the Explorer and ran inside not waiting for Cassandra to catch up. Cassandra sat frozen in her seat gazing out at the raging fire and screamed out to herself, "Oh my God, Clia and Inky are in there.". It was at this point that the scream nearly deafened Alex as she was just leaning in to tell her to get inside the command center and stay put until she assessed the fire scene and got things set up. Cassandra blue eyes were saucer like with fear as she grabbed for Alex's arm. "You've got to save them. I think they're still in there." Cassandra begged. Alex leaned back a little and grabbed the claw like grip Cassie had on her arm and slowly pried the hand loose. "Who the hell are Clia and Inky?" she yelled. Cassie replied " Inky is my cat and Clia is a little girl that lives in the apartment across the hall from me." Alex shook her head disgustedly and backed herself out of the car. Alex walked around to the front of her car and headed back to the Incident Command Center.

Cassandra caught up with her pleading, "You don't understand, this is where I live and Clia, a little girl across the hall from me always cat sits for me in the afternoons to make a little extra money to bring home." Alex grabbed her roughly by both upper arms. "Why didn't you tell me this earlier? Is she there now?" Cassie finally found her voice and replied, " Yes she is always there now." Alex asked, "What floor and what apartment number do you live in?'" She answered, " Eighth floor, apartment H-12. It is an outside apartment with a view of the park." Alex's portable radio was attached to her coat and the mic was pinned to her shoulder. She keyed the mic and talked into it to see what the actual location of the fire was. After she got off the radio she simply said "Oh, shit. Follow me." Alex grabbed her hand and literally dragged her the rest of the way to the van that was set up as the Incident Command Station. Once they were inside, Alex nodded to a young woman who sat at the command desk , as she slide behind the computer. She quickly introduced Cassandra to Susan, who was in her last year at the fire academy assigned to intern with Alex's department for several months.

Alex looked at the computer screen. One of the projects she had been working on was putting blue prints of public structures on file so they could be assessed easily and efficiently. The blue prints detailed gas lines, water lines, electrical wiring and exits of apartment buildings, museums, schools and any other public buildings in her district. Cassandra came over to stand next to Alex by the computer screen. Alex had accessed Cassandra's apartment floor and was zeroing in on her apartment number. Alex pointed to the screen and Cassandra leaned down near Alex's right shoulder. Alex could smell Cassie's distinctive perfume, a subtle musky smell that blended with her wholesome clean smell. Alex shifted slightly away as she spoke , " Your apartment has a balcony. That's good for us. The fire is burning on the floors above and below yours. A search inside from the floors above or below are risky and time consuming. You said she sometimes takes the cat over to her apartment?" Cassandra's dark blue eyes meet Alex's green ones as she turned to look at her. "Yes, I'm not exactly sure where she'll be, but I know she is in there."

Alex stood up and keyed her mic, "Car88-L1 to Ladder Truck 88-1.What's your location?." After a little feedback on the mic, a broken up voice responded, "We're heading over to the south side." "Good," Alex replied, "I'll meet you there. I have reason to believe there is someone in apartment H-12 on the eighth floor. Get a team geared up and ready to go in as soon as I arrive. Car 88-L1 over and out." Alex stood up and proceeded to leave the van. Cassandra was so close behind Alex that when she stopped, Cassandra ran right in to her. Alex turned and questioned "Where do you think you are going?" Cassandra replied, "I'm going with you to the fire. That's my life up there burning to ashes." Alex sighed and when she replied her voice was colored with irritation, "Oh no you're not going with me." Alex turned to Susan, "Make sure Cassandra stays here and don't let her out of your sight. I have enough to worry about without wondering where she is or if she's safe." Susan replied, "I'll try and do my best." Alex replied gruffly, "Don't try...just do it."

Alex and Sparky rushed out to the ladder truck to find that two of the firemen assigned to it had been pulled for smoke inhalation. They had arrived earlier and had been some of the first ones to go on top to vent the building. Alex radioed back to the Incident Command Station that she was going up in the ladder truck to see if they could access Cassandra's apartment from the outside. Inside access was not possible due to the intense fire inside the floors above and below Cassandra's.

Bud Brewster was anxiously greeted as he walked in to the Incident Command Center by Cassandra. Bud had heard about the fire call after he had come out of a meeting and had come directly over to the fire scene. Bud didn't know that the building that was now on fire was where Cassandra lived or that Alex was on her way to the ladder truck.

The radio came alive with Alex's voice telling Susan that she was going in with the team to do a search and possible rescue. The smoke was heavy around the building and visibility was not good from the outside. They would have to do a physical search and she would take Sparky in as well. Bud walked over to the mic, keyed it and after a few seconds began speaking in to it. "Alex, Bud here, make a quick sweep and then get out of there. The fire isn't knocking down as quickly as we would like. I'm not sure you have much time before that floor will be fully involved. Be careful, be thorough and be quick." Alex replied, "Ten-four, over and out."

Bud turned to Cassandra as he hung up the mic. She still had on her gray pin striped business suit with a white blouse and blue tie, but the person before Bud bore no resemblance to the confident ,all professional, condescending newspaper reporter he had met that morning. Her long dark hair was mildly dishelved as her hands kept going through it in worry. Her dark blue eyes were large with fear. "What if they don't find them? What will happen? How will I ever forgive myself?" Cassandra voice cracked as the last statement came out. Bud took her by the elbow and guided her to a chair by the wall. "Sit down. Relax. Let me get you a glass of water." Bud returned with the glass of water and Cassandra sipped at it gratefully. When a few moments had passed and it seemed like she had collected herself some, Bud said, "Now tell me what happened and who is Alex searching for?." Cassandra proceeded to fill him in on all that she surmised to be true about Clia cat sitting her cat Inky. When she was finished Bud put his arm around her shoulder and simply stated, "You have nothing to worry about. If they're there, Alex and Sparky will find them."

The ladder trucks' platform had risen to the level of Cassandra's balcony. They would be able to access her balcony sliding glass doors and enter the apartment through them. The deck gun was positioned and ready if needed after they went inside to keep things wet and cool outside for their exit. Three fire fighters with a charged line stepped onto the balcony with Alex and Sparky following close behind. The sliding glass doors were easily unlocked with a halogan bar. There appeared to be no fire in the living room area although visibility was not the greatest due to smoke seeping in through the hallway door. Alex gave Sparky the command to research the living room area while she directed the other fire fighters to check and make sure the rest of the apartment was safe to search and to do the search if it was okay. Alex checked the closets in the hallway as young children will often hid in an enclosed space out of fear. She found nothing. She checked the kitchen area, still nothing. Sparky was at her side so that meant she had found nothing in the living room area. The other fire fighters came back in to the hall area and said that they had searched the bathroom and two bedrooms and found nothing.

Alex keyed her mic and said, "Car88-L1 to Incident Command." Susan replied , "Go ahead Car88-L1." "We have done a thorough search of the apartment and there are no signs of the child or cat. I'm going to investigate out in the hall and the apartment across from this one. I just want to be sure of the correct apartment number." Bud looked at Cassandra and she said, "Apartment H-11." Susan gave the number to Alex and she signed off.

Alex checked her watch. It had been fifteen minutes since they had put on their scott air paks. Depending on what your size was and how fast and deep you breathed, a tank would last anywhere from twenty to thirty minutes. They didn't have much time left before they would be forced to leave and replace their oxygen tanks.

Alex felt the door to the hallway. It was not hot even though there was smoke coming in through the bottom. The guys were ready with the charged line and she opened the door slowly. She looked out after a few seconds and could see the apartment across the hall. Next to the door someone had left a laundry cart As she walked near the door, Sparky made a bee-line to the cart and started barking at it. She stood up and put her front paws on the edge of the cart. Alex went to the cart and started pulling clothes out of it. Underneath a pile of laundry curled up in a little ball was a young child and she was holding on to a black cat as tight as she could.

Alex pulled her mask off and leaned down to the child. It was scary enough being in a fire without some person looking like an alien from another planet was after you. Alex spoke gently, "My name is Alex. Is your name Clia and the cat you are holding is her name Inky?" The little girl nodded her head, too frightened to speak. Alex continued in a calm voice, " Your friend Cassandra Hall asked me to come and find you. She was worried that you and Inky were still in here. I'm going to lift you out of the cart and take you with us into Cassandra's apartment. There is a ladder truck waiting for us there to take us down to the street, okay?" The little girl nodded, and then asked "Are you a lady fireman?" " Yes, I am ." Alex replied with a smile. And with that she lifted Clia and Inky out of the cart and into her arms.

Continued in Part 3

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