Scully found herself talking to her computer screen as she read the email from Mulder. It was funny how much of him came through in the words. The shape of his elegant mind was laid out on the screen; she could almost hear him speaking back to her. There was an argument against the twin paradox: no matter how far he went without her, they would never outpace each other. Their minds kept a sort of universal time together despite their differences of opinion.
He sent her his profiles, or at least, the outlines of them. The place he'd left for her in his thought process was evident. The way he paced was in the rhythm of the sentences, and the cracking of sunflower seeds served for punctuation. She sent him the autopsy reports and her hypothetical conclusions, laid out with scientific precision. She thought of the epistolary novels she'd read for a college English course, the carefully-crafted letters sent back and forth by the characters. Dana Scully's cordial correspondence, a new interpretation. "Dear Mister Mulder, I regret to inform you that the autopsy revealed no conclusive new evidence. I know your fondest hopes lay in some astounding revelation…." She smiled at herself and sealed the folder in an envelope for the courier. He would read it, brooding, pinching his lower lip between his fingers, his feet propped up somewhere. After he read it, her phone would ring, and they would talk about LSD, about experiments on mice, about large-scale, low-dose applications and their hypothetical consequences.
"Now who's psychic?" she said aloud to herself, and was glad she was alone in the office.
+ + + +
"Doctor Scully, there's a message for you," said one of the junior agents.
"Thank you," she said, and hurried back with her notes from class. The message was from Mulder, and all it said was, "Exposed." She picked up her keys and hurried out to her car. There was a flight to Pittsburgh; she rented a car and drove the hour and a half to Franklin. Mulder was at the hospital, coughing. His wrist was bandaged, but that would have been a souvenir of his encounter with Mrs. McRoberts.
"How long ago?" she asked, going to him, pulling on latex gloves from a box on the counter of the examination room.
"About four hours," he said. "I was conducting surveillance on a field. There was an unmarked helicopter."
"And they haven't let you shower?" she asked, brushing his hair gently back and checking his eyes. His pupils looked dilated; his skin was tacky under her gloved fingers. The scab under the gauze on his wrist looked normal. She hoped the bandage had protected the wound from contamination by the spray. Mulder was too vulnerable already, too susceptible to the slings and arrows of the world.
"I couldn't destroy evidence before you got here, Scully," he said, smiling faintly. "If this stuff is similar to LSD, how do I know what I know is what I know unless you back me up?"
"I'll try to make this quick," she said. "You need to get this residue off your skin before you absorb too much of it. I should to take some blood."
He rolled up his sleeve without a word, exposing the tender skin inside his elbow. She swabbed the area with a cotton ball, thinking of how trusting he was. "Trust no one," he told her, but accepted her authority without a second thought. The paradox of Mulder, who made her the repository of his beliefs. They carried their safe space between them from case to case across the country, an autonomous nation with rules of its own. She sometimes felt like an emissary from their strange land, trying to explain the esoteric customs of her tribe of two.
"I gave Frohike your phone number," he told her. She soaked a second cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and went over his skin again, raising an eyebrow at him as she watched the seconds tick by on her watch.
"Do I need to burn my phone?" she asked. "I doubt the Bureau will accept that as a reason that I need a replacement."
"Just the landline," he said. "And he could have looked it up anyway."
"Why did I even bother getting an unlisted number?" she asked the air.
"He won't call you," Mulder told her. "He's just gonna memorize your number and your address just in case."
"In case of what?" Scully asked, tossing the cotton ball in the garbage.
Mulder shrugged. His eyes were twinkling. "Who knows? Frohike's pretty inscrutable."
"Mulder…" she said.
"Relax, Scully," he told her. "Byers has his disappointed face pretty fine-tuned at this point. Frohike won't show up on your doorstep unless something truly bizarre is going on."
"I hope you got something good for it," she said sternly.
He held up a pair of night-vision goggles, giving her his best sheepish little-boy expression. She sighed.
"Some things never change," she said, and slipped the needle into his vein. He tensed and she checked the insertion automatically, but it was only that Spencer and Winter had come in, and they had become diplomats again, wearing formal faces that resembled their own.
+ + + +
Her phone rang and it should have been him, but on the other end of the line was only silence.
"Mulder? Mulder, where are you?" she asked.
When he finally answered her, his voice was shaken and abstracted. "I'm here. I'm at the college."
"Mulder, stay put," she told him, getting into the car. "I'm coming to get you."
"We need to go to the hospital," he said. "They're taking Funsch there. It's over, Scully."
"I know," she said soothingly. "I'll be there soon. We'll go together."
"There's a lot of blood," he said.
"It's all right," she said, "it's all right," and she knew he was listening.