Sent: Monday, February 16, 1998

The Week After
by Rebecca Rusnak

DISCLAIMERS: Mulder and Scully belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen
Productions, and Fox Broadcasting.

SPOILERS: Kill Switch



SUMMARY: One week after the events of Kill Switch, Scully realizes her
partner is not doing so well.

MANY THANKS: To Jen Collins, for seeing me through the worst case of
writer's block I have ever encountered.


Mulder was sleeping.

Scully gazed at him, feeling an obscure relief at finally being allowed to
let her eyes linger. For nearly a week now Mulder had avoided eye contact
with her, growing increasingly agitated when he caught her looking at him.

She frowned, not happy with what her eyes saw now. Only a week, and Mulder
already looked thinner. Dark circles lay under his eyes, accentuating his
pallor. He no longer took the usual exactness with his appearance, and his
tie was sloppily knotted, his shirt wrinkled, his hair uncombed.

For the thousandth time that week, Scully laid her hand on the phone with
every intention of calling someone. And for the thousandth time her mind
spun like the wheels of a car in neutral, racing madly, but going nowhere.

Who could she call? Skinner? He had no idea there was even a problem.
Perhaps next week he would begin to wonder why his agents had not yet gone
out into the field on a new case, but for now there was nothing but silence
from his office.

Her mother? A humorless smile twisted her lips. Yes, that was it. Call
her mother and say what? That Mulder was not eating or sleeping, only
dozing at his desk at the office, where he finally felt safe enough to let
himself sleep?

A counselor? Mulder had bristled at her tentative suggestion earlier in the
week that he talk to somebody. Nothing had happened, he insisted. Nothing
was wrong. He was fine.

Mulder was moaning in his sleep now, and Scully snatched her hand off the
phone. She half-rose from her chair before sitting back down. No. She
could not. She had to sit here, pretend to be absorbed in something when
Mulder finally woke, pretend she had not heard his choked cries for help.

From the start, in the woods behind the burning trailer, she had known
something was wrong. Mulder had flinched from the explosion, his knees
buckling, pulling her down with him. "My eyes hurt," he'd said, so soft she
barely heard it.

"I know," she'd soothed, positioning herself between him and the bright
flames behind them. For hours his eyes had been forced open, forced to see
the horrors played out before him. "Keep them closed, Mulder. It will be
all right."

Like a child, he had allowed her to lead him through the woods and to the
house, his eyes closed, his hand limp in hers, trusting her to guide him.
At the house she had helped him into the car, then pulled out her cell
phone. She had only pressed the first button when Mulder's eyes had snapped

"Who are you calling?" he'd demanded.

"911," she'd answered calmly. "You need help, Mulder. You--"

"No!" With unnerving speed he'd bolted upright and out of the car. Facing
her across the hood, he had protested, "I'm fine, Scully." In the feeble
light from the fire in the woods she had seen him shaking, and the stark
terror in his eyes.

"Mulder, you're hurt," she'd replied. "I just want to have a doctor look at
you. Electrical burns are not to be taken lightly."

"No!" His voice had risen with every sentence. "No doctors, no nurses.
I'm fine, Scully. You're a doctor, you look at me." He had backed away
from the car, ready to run from her.

Nonplussed, she had stood there, her phone in one hand, the display
blinking, patiently waiting for her to finish dialing. Across from her
Mulder pleaded with her with his eyes.

"All right," she'd sighed, and put the phone away.

She shouldn't have done it, she realized now. She should have insisted he
see a doctor, should have finished dialing that number.

"Scully..." Her heart wrenched in her chest at the look of pain on Mulder's
face. What was he seeing? He had refused to tell her, saying little of his
ordeal, only that the computer had variated between periods of virtual
reality, and random electric shocks.

But she had watched him carefully this week, watched how he tensed up every
time he reached to turn his computer on, as if expecting a shock. She
observed how he sometimes sat with his arms wrapped tightly around his
ribcage, his eyes dark with a horror only he knew about. She noticed him
flinch at every electronic beep the fax machine made, every chime Windows 95

"No..." Mulder moaned, and Scully made an abrupt decision. If he did not
talk to her today, *now*, then she was calling someone. She still didn't
know who to turn to, but the thought of taking decisive action made her feel
stronger. She had regained control of this situation.

At his desk, Mulder sat up with a jerk, his eyes wild, hands patting his
arms, his chest. Sighing with relief, he slumped back in the chair. His
eyes found her, and when he saw her staring at him, he sat up straight.

She said nothing, and let him flounder for words. He could find none, and
dropped his gaze to his lap. She waited, saying nothing even when Mulder
stood up. "I'm going to call it a day, Scully." He reached blindly down to
his desk and picked up a file. She saw with an aching sadness that it was
empty. "I think I'll work on this at home."


He made it as far as the door before stopping. His back was to her, and she
could see the tremors rippling through him. "Scully--" his voice was choked.

"Mulder." Just his name.

He still did not turn around, and she got to her feet, moving quietly across
the office. "Mulder."

His eyes were tightly closed, and a muscle in his jaw jumped convulsively.
She held out a hand, but did not touch him. "Mulder."

He inhaled shakily, and opened his eyes. They glistened with unshed tears
as he looked down at her.

She took the empty file folder from him without protest, laying it on the
table by the door. Silently she took her coat from the rack and handed
Mulder his.

"I'm coming with you," she said quietly.

Mulder nodded, once, and then they left the office together.




"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity"
--Robert Heinlein