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When Thou Dost Go

To an Absent Lover
By Helen Hunt Jackson

That so much change should come when thou dost go,
Is mystery that I cannot ravel quite.
The very house seems dark as when the light
Of lamps goes out. Each wonted thing doth grow
So altered, that I wander to and fro
Bewildered by the most familiar sight,
And feel like one who rouses in the night
From dream of ecstasy, and cannot know
At first if he be sleeping or awake.
My foolish heart so foolish for thy sake
Hath grown, dear one!
Teach me to be more wise.
I blush for all my foolishness doth lack;
I fear to seem a coward in thine eyes.
Teach me, dear one,--but first thou must come back!


Motel rooms, motel rooms, motel rooms. How much of my life have I spent in fucking Motel 6 and Best Western, or Holiday Inn when I'm flush? I examine the hair I taped across the gap between the door and its frame before I left this morning. Still intact. I'm not here on any significant errand--nothing that would matter to the Old Men or the ones they served, but it's better to be careful.

In the room I quickly throw the deadbolt, not trusting the automatic lock that the management has provided, then kick a small wedge of wood under the door. Let's see anyone get in without a SWAT battering ram.

Finally satisfied with the security precautions (can't do a damn thing about that fucking window, but at least it's small), I twitch the curtains shut a little tighter. Drawing my gun from the holster that hangs under my arm, I flick off the safety and give the room a quick, but thorough check. I even look under the low-slung bed (Mulder told me about that weird-ass family of incestuous mutants who kept Mom on a scooter board under the bed. Talk about a mental image.)

When I'm sure that the place is clear, I lay the gun on the night stand, not bothering to put the safety back on. After all, I'm the only one in this room, and I'm not going to accidentally blow my foot off. Anyway, in the event that someone else DOES get into the room, and I have to use my gun, well... I don't want the safety on then, do I?

Sighing, I start to undress. Let's see, it's nine here, that means it's around midnight back in D.C. Damn, I guess I'd better not call Fox, since he has to go to work tomorrow. I wish I'd thought of it earlier.

When I'm stripped to my dark blue jockeys, I flip the spread down to the foot of the bed. Sitting on the edge of the mattress, I debate showering now, or in the morning. If I were back east, I'd see if I could drag Mulder in with me. Damn, he's fun when he's wet.

I stretch, grunting as cartilage cracks, feeling the tightness in my muscles. I better get to a gym pretty soon. This gig isn't as vigorous as my old action was, and I don't want to get out of shape. Not only would it be dangerous, but now I have someone to stay hard for.

The phone rings. I'm startled, and it takes me three rings to answer it. It's either my contact in the security company, or... "Hello?"


I smile, feeling the tension begin to ease from my body. "Hey, yourself."

"I got the number off the answering machine. Where have you been?"

"Remember, mother, it's later for you than it is for me. I just got back from supper. What are you doing up so late?" There's silence on the other end. "Babe? C'mon, what are you doing?"

"Just feeling kind of lonely."

I settle back on the bed, propping myself on the pillows. There's a wistfulness in his voice that I know I need to deal with. Just hearing it makes me feel lonely, and I don't need any help for that. "You've been alone before."

"I know." He's silent again. When he speaks, his voice is low, and almost puzzled. "It's different now."

"Why is it different?"

"You know."

"Tell me."

There's a soft laugh. "That so much change should come when thou dost go, is mystery that I cannot ravel quite."

"Oh, and you're an expert mystery raveler, Mulder. Mm, not Teasdale?"

"Helen Hunt Jackson. To An Absent Lover."

"You're so good at this, Mulder. Yes, I've heard that one."

"The very house seems dark as when the light of lamps goes out."

"You telling me that you're lying there in the dark?"

"Yes. All alone, in the dark."

"What are you wearing?"

Again he chuckles. "The checked boxers you gave me for April Fools Day."

"Take them off." I hear his soft intake of breath. "You missing me, Fox?"

"God, yes."

"Then take them off--slowly." I hear the rustle of cloth, and I run my fingers lightly over the bulge that is starting to rise inside my shorts. "Close your eyes, and touch yourself." Quiet breathing. "I'm touching you, Fox. Can you feel it? Can you feel my hands on you?"

A quiet moan. "Yes."

I push my shorts down, freeing my prick. *Amazing. I'm already half-hard. Oh, Fox, what you do to me.* "Keep talking to me. I want to hear the rest of the poem."

"Each wonted thing doth grow so altered, that I wander to and fro bewildered by the most familiar sight. That's what I did tonight--I just roamed around the apartment. The couch wasn't right, because you weren't sitting on it. The bed isn't right, because you aren't lying here with me."

I stroke myself, eyes closed, as I imagine Fox in that bed that we've shared so often. "Are you touching me, Fox?"

"Yes, Alex. I'm holding your cock. You're so warm."

"I'm with you now. I can see you, and you're beautiful. Your mouth is swollen from where I've been kissing you. You make me crazy." I pull at myself quickly and firmly, imagining his long-fingered hand wrapped around me. "I feel like one who rouses in the night from dream of ecstasy," my voice catches, and it takes me a moment to continue. "and cannot know at first if he be sleeping or awake." He moans, and I grow harder. "Keep talking. You're slick now, aren't you?"


"Your pre-come is delicious, Mulder. Let me taste it." There's a soft, wet sound that makes me twitch. I know that he has lifted his hand to his mouth and is licking away the warm, salty fluid.

"My foolish heart so foolish for thy sake hath grown, dear one!" he breathes, his voice husky, wavering.

I hear the quick, patting sounds of flesh-on-flesh as he masturbates, and the thought of him touching himself, imagining that it's me, almost brings me to the edge myself.

His voice is strained, almost sobbing now. "Teach me to be more wise. I blush for all my foolishness doth lack." He gasps deeply, his voice a whimper. "I fear to seem a coward in... in thine eyes."

"Now, Fox! Come for me now, sweetheart! Now, with me."

I hear the choked cry that has become so dear and so familiar. "Alex!" The sound of my name called with such passion and longing does it. I answer him as I come, my seed spilling on my belly.

For a few moments there is silence, except for the sound of our breathing. Even though we are thousands of miles apart, we are close enough now for it to mingle. At last I say, "Better?"

I smile when I hear the purr. "You've got such a good touch," Mulder sighs.

I laugh. "We ought to hang up. This is long distance, and I know how much you make. It would've been cheaper if you'd called a 900 line."

"Alex!" The tone isn't hurt (he knows I'm joking), but it's mildly exasperated. "How much longer are you going to be out there?"

"Two more days, maybe three." There's a pause. "I'll call you tomorrow. I can put it on my expense account."

"They won't give you grief over it?"

"They know I'm worth it. Are you going to be all right now?"

"Yeah. But call, okay?"

"Sure, babe." Silence. We aren't good at saying good-bye to each other, Fox and I.

At last I hear him whisper, "Teach me, dear one,--but first thou must come back!" There's a click, then the buzz of a dial tone.

I put the receiver back on the hook and reach for a tissue from the box on the night stand. As I begin to wipe myself down, I murmur, "That so much change should come when thou dost go..."

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