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Remembrance and reminder

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"Yes, I'll remember," he said, drawing something that was intended to be a turtle on one of the scraps of paper lying by the computer. It turned out the wrong shape and he set about making it into a hedgehog instead. You can't draw.

"...highly suspicious," Frohike's voice said from the other end of the telephone line, and Mulder realized that he had lost a large chunk of the conversation, or rather of his friend's monologue about squirrels carrying radio transmitters.

"Send an anonymous tip to the SPCA," he suggested idly.

"What?" Frohike squeaked. There was a short pause. "Is that some kind of coded message?"

"No. I'm sorry. I got a bit distracted." He raised his head to look over his computer screen and out of the window. It was a dark, dull evening turning into a darker, duller night. And tomorrow would be another gray day. He could feel it waiting for him. "When are you going to ask Scully on a date?"

There was a pause, and then a deep sigh. "You don't have to make fun of me," Frohike said in a small but dignified voice. "I know it's hopeless. That's not the point. If you'd ever felt like this, you'd know."

It hit him hard, an unexpected punch to the solar plexus, and he hunched forward, curling around himself as best he could in the chair. Mulder sucked in air slowly. That had been cruel. "I'm sorry," he said again, feeling a dreadful urgency race up his spine and seize the muscles of his neck, tease across his face, prick the back of his eyelids. "I'm sorry, I — I have to go — I'll call you back, okay?"

He hung up without waiting for an answer. Fuck. His hands were shaking. Mulder stood up and turned the desk light off. He walked across the room slowly, taking his clothes off as he went, dropping the tie on the floor, the shirt on the coffee table, the pants on the couch. When he stepped into the bedroom he was naked, and shivering a little.

Everything here was as it had been before.

Crossing the room, he opened the closet and reached inside, reached up, to the top shelf. His fingers closed around soft, worn fabric. He pulled it out carefully, hooked his fingers into the waistband and let the sweatpants unfold until they reached the floor. Mulder hesitated for a moment, and another shiver ran through him. He scrunched the pants together between both hands and lifted them to his face, closing his eyes.

When he pressed them to his face everything went soothingly dark and he just stood there, breathing. Parts of him hurt, the pain flaring into occasional burning urgency and then fading down again into a low pounding hum. Wordless longing lay coiled like a poisonous snake in his belly, ready to strike and send its venom flowing through his body. He dragged the cloth away when he knew he had to breathe, though he did not really want to.

Mulder put the sweatpants on. He went to the bed and lay down, curling into the center of it and wrapping himself in the covers until he was hidden beneath them. Even the dim light in the bedroom was closed out. Then and only then did he acknowledge that he was hard, achingly hard.

One hand moved, brushing over his face in an attempt to establish his own identity. But it was a lost cause here in the dark. He tested his pulse beating hopelessly in the hollow of his throat, stroked his chest. Nipples tightened under his questing fingers and he made a sound of desperation, of shame. He was so hard. Closing his eyes, he remembered. A bed and darkness, and kisses. Wanting more than just kisses. He pinched his left nipple, then his right, and in the dark it was another's hand and he gasped.

Oh God, Alex.

He had to uncurl a little to let his hand move down along his torso, fingers sliding in under the waistband of the sweatpants with the slow curiosity of first-time visitors. The sudden contact with the wetly weeping head of his cock shouldn't have been a shock, but it was. Circling it with is fingertips, he rubbed the wetness in, using it to measure the shape of the head. Then he slid his hand down, holding the shaft in a steady grip. He was trembling.

Images flickered through his mind, moving too fast for him to grasp, leaving only suggestions of themselves behind, dirty smears, dirty thoughts, all of them wrong. Crude and unrefined and unconnected to reality, any reality. The heat inside him was shame now, not excitement.

That he could want so badly, that he could have these cravings, succumb to the temptation of fantasy again and again, it could not be borne. It could not be allowed. His hand stopped moving, even as something in him cried out for that touch and for the touch he really wanted. Mulder felt his body grow tight with unfulfilled longing, drawing together until his forehead was nearly touching his knees and his hands clenched into the covers that hid him.

He wanted to come. He needed to come. But that wasn't the point. He wasn't going to touch himself like that tonight. This bed, he couldn't sleep here. But he would. He would put his head on the pillow. He would draw the covers around himself. He would sleep, wearing washed-out cotton, and the touch of it did not in the least resemble that of another's skin against his.

Rolling over on his back, he tried to make himself relax, muscle by muscle, but he knew if he let go he'd fall, and there was nothing but emptiness to fall into. Tomorrow he could put his suit on, put his self on, put one foot in front of the other and make it look like walking. Call Frohike again.

And apologize.