Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Author's Notes: A slight break in source material. Technically, this is a song lyric, but they are poetry, and this one was simply too perfect to pass up. Besides, it makes me want to cry every time I hear it (or see the video. Hey, Tritt can ACT.)

Tired of Pretending
by Scribe

By Travis Tritt

I can't hide the way I feel about you anymore
I can't hold the hurt inside, keep the pain out of my eyes anymore
My tears no longer waiting,
my resistence ain't that strong
My mind keeps recreating a life with you alone
And I'm tired of pretending, I don't love you anymore

Let me make one last appeal to show you how I feel about you
'Cause there's no one else I swear,
holds a candle anywhere next to you
My heart can't take the beating, not having you to hold
A small voice keeps repeating deep inside my soul
It says I can't keep pretending, I don't love you anymore

I've got to take a chance or let it pass by
If I expect to get on with my life
And I'm tired of pretending I don't love you anymore.

My tears no longer waiting,
Oh my resistence ain't that strong
And my mind keeps recreating a love with you alone
And I'm tired of pretending, I don't love you anymore


It is a measure of how depressed I am that when the jukebox starts playing Garth Brooks I don't get up and leave. I do not listen to country-and-western, or country, or whatever the hell they call it these days. Jazz? You bet. Blues? Absolutely. Rock, techno-industrial-disco? Hey, if I can dance to it after I've had a few (or more than a few) beers, I'm for it. But this...

I do not want to listen to any of those hat-wearing, line-dancing, big belt buckled, red neck heaven, beer swilling, wife-done-left-me, good ol' boy serenades. Country music is heavy on the heartache, and I just don't NEED that shit. I gotta wonder... Of all the suicides they find each year, how many have the radio going, and how many of those are playing country?

Okay, I could see it if this was a shit-kicker bar, with the longhorn horns and mounted bass and neon Budweiser sign behind the bar. But this is urban all the way, friends. We're talking a serious, no-frills watering hole. You'd think people would have better sense than to play upbeat music, wouldn't you? If I'd seen whoever was responsible for the quarter that gave us first Two Pina Colladas, then Friends in Low Places, I probably would have said something off the smart-ass meter and gotten my lights punched out.

Actually, a little oblivion is what I'm looking for. It has suddenly occurred to me just exactly how alone I am in the world. Scully is off visiting her mother, Skinner is on a weekend camping trip with Hank, and all three of the Lone Gunmen are buried up to their beady eyes in getting together a new website on (surprisingly enough) government conspiracies. I offered to hang around and maybe help research, but I was firmly informed that there just wasn't enough computer space, so why didn't I toddle off like a good little Special Agent?

It's bad enough that I don't have anyone to hang with. What's making me knock back brews at a steady clip is the fact that I have realized that even when I'm with any of the people I just mentioned, I sometimes get the feeling that they aren't really aware of me. Not the real me.

I know, self pitying and self-involved as hell. Dana would tell me to get over myself. I can't help it. Do you know what it's like to realize that the people you know best are looking right at you, and not really seeing you? To Dana, I'm an obsessive. To Walter, I'm a loose cannon. To the Gunmen, I'm a visionary, and possibly a prophet. I don't know. I guess I'm a little of all that, but they can't seem to see past those things. Only one person I've known has that ability, and I don't want to think about him. That's one of the reason's I'm ordering another beer.

Oh, God, more Brooks. Who the hell slipped that monster more change while I was distracted? Shameless. Didn't Billy Joel do that originally? Well, I'll give him this: he sounds like he means it. But I'd better go put some money in the box. Call it a pre-emptive strike. There might be a track of Bubba Shot the Jukebox on there. I'm wearing my gun, and I can't swear that nothing would happen if they played it.

I rake a quarter out of the change the bartender left next to my last mug, and go over to the brightly lit box squatting between the men's room and the pool table. I'm not really concerned about WHAT I'm going to hear, as long as whoever recorded it doesn't wear a hat while he performs.

They have representative CD covers displayed over the selections. I glance at one that shows a tough looking guy with a beard and hair down over his shoulders. His recordings are right up at the front, so I don't have to go searching among the little paper slips that show which buttons you need to punch. I slot the quarter and stab B17. I do it twice, because I don't feel like making any more decisions tonight.

When the first plaintive strains come from the speakers, I mutter, "Aw, shit!" and look more closely at the CD. It's All About to Change, by Travis Tritt. Looks like I've just set myself and the bar up for a double shot of something called Anymore. I need to pay more attention to the media. How long have country singers been wearing hair like that? I consider unplugging the damn thing, but the bartender is watching me, so I just go back to my beer. I sit down, hunch my shoulder, and set myself to endure.

"Bartender," I flick my finger against the mug. "This seems to be defective, it's not working properly."

He sighs "Probably flat, what with you letting it sit so long," he says sarcastically, and starts to pull another.

I stop him. "No. Give me a shot of tequila instead." That raises his eyebrows, but I'm not drunk, so he pours it out. I pick up the shot, contemplating the amber liquid. If I can pound down enough of these, maybe I can get rid of that empty feeling for a little while. I'm perfectly willing to replace it with an aching head and a sour stomach. I touch the glass to my lips and, as I'm about to tip it up, I listen to a phrase from the song. Slowly I set the glass back down. It isn't going anywhere, it will still be here if I take a minute to listen to the music.

It isn't too bad. When it's done, and starts over, I listen to it. No, I mean I listen to it, to what the man is saying. When it's over, I rake a couple more quarters out of the change, go to the box, and set it up another four times. I need to study this a little.

I just sit and stare at the bar while the music plays, drawing patterns in the condensation my mug has left. I draw rings around the shot of tequila, but I don't touch it. The music finally ends, and I pull a dollar out of my pocket and ask for change. Looking apprehensive, the bartender hands it to me. I plop all four quarters in, and start pushing B17. By the time I've finished, the song has already started again.

I go sit back at the bar, and start my art work again. After the song plays another two times (six more to go), the bartender comes and stands in front of me. I know he doesn't have anything to say that I want to hear, so I ignore him for a chorus. Finally he says, "Friend, I don't know what it is you have eatin' at you, but no one is allowed to play the same damn song on that jukebox more than six times in a row, and you passed the mark on your last trip over there. Now, I'm going to be charitable, because I can see that you're hurtin' over somethin', but if you try to put any more money in that thing you end up on the street, and maybe not in an upright condition."

I nod to show that I understand. Oh, hell, it's a reasonable enough policy. I sit and listen till the music finally runs out, and I think. A lot. Finally I stand up, getting my coat from the stool beside me and slipping it on. "Thanks. Keep the change." I start to walk away.

"Hey!" I look back. The bartender is indicating the full shot glass of tequila. "You don't want your drink?" I shake my head. "You're not getting a refund for this."

"Did I ask for one?"

"Well, what the fuck am I supposed to do with it?"

I shrug. "Drink it. Pour it back in the bottle. Donate it to put an end to world sobriety, I don't care." As I turn to go, he's unscrewing the cap on the tequila bottle and tipping the shot glass toward its mouth. I make a mental note not to come back here again.

It's still early. That's good. I have to find something, and I know there will still be a few stores open downtown. I locate an all night record store and go in. I stand just inside the door, looking around uncertainly. It's pretty big. I'm sure there's some logic to its layout, but I'm not up to analytical thinking right now.

I'm approached by a slim young man in black. He has tiny handcuff earrings dangling from his earlobes, and I look away quickly. Those bring up memories I'm not quite prepared to deal with right now. He's very helpful and friendly, though. "What can I help you find?"

"I never thought I'd say this, but I need the country and western section." He winces. "I know. I think it's a temporary aberration."

"I'll pray for you." He leads me over to a section near the back, and abandons me to my own devices.

I locate MALE VOCALISTS, and find the T section. I flip past James Taylor, Pam and Mel Tillis, Aaron Tippen, Randy Travis, and finally come to Travis Tritt. I sift through his newer CDs, and finally locate one lone copy of It's All About to Change, and take it up to the counter.

The clerk checks me out, nodding grudgingly at my selection. "All right, if you must, he's the right one. He can rock his ass off when he wants to."

"I dunno. I bought it for a ballad." He was shaking his head sadly as I walked out.

I wasn't exactly drunk, but I smelled of beer, so I was taking a chance, driving around. That didn't seem to matter too much. Out in the car, I ripped the cellophane off the plastic case and took out the disc, then put it in the dashboard player. I started the car and drove away, just letting it sit there for the time being.

I drove out to the docks, and pulled into the parking lot. It had been pea-soup foggy the last time I was there, and I had parked near the entrance in fear of running off into the water. It was clear tonight, and I drove to the far side. I put the car in park and cut the lights, then sat there for a little while longer before shutting it off. I programmed the CD player to run track three continuously, then got out.

It might not be foggy, but it was still a little chilly, and I wrapped himself in my trench coat while the track cued up. As the lyrics were starting, I walked around to the front of the car, leaving the window rolled down so the music could escape, and sat on the hood of the Taurus. I stared out at the black, glittering water, and remembered. I remembered it all, from the very beginning.

I remembered the smell of donuts as I looked into his eyes the first time that misty, moisty morning before we officially met. I remembered wanting to wipe that bland, friendly smile off his face as he shook hands with me the day I learned that he had been sent to replace Dana. I remembered him on the roof of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the gritty wind whipping his hair, and in my kitchen, leaning in to me with his arms braced on either side of me, so close, but not touching.

I remembered the betrayal, my father. I remembered the times I beat him bloody. I remember standing in an alley not far from her with his gun against my throat, then with his mouth on my cock. I remember a long trek through a pitiless desert, and how he saved my life, and how he exacted payment afterward, taking me like...

No. I was going to say taking me like I was his bitch, but it wasn't like that. It's never been like that with Alex. Even when he's been forcing caresses on me while I spit curses at him, there's been a nugget of respect in the way he treated me. I know that sounds crazy and contradictory, but it's the way it is.

And I remember him telling me, more than once, "Some day, Mulder. Some day you're going to admit that you feel it, too. Some day YOU'RE going to come to ME, and you'll not just acquiesce, you'll seek my touch. I'll be waiting for that day. I can be very patient when I have to."

I remember the times he helped me, when it could have been easier, even safer, for him not to. I remember the times he just showed up when I was at my lowest ebb. He didn't try to tell me everything would be all right, he didn't go on about the wrong-headedness of the rest of the world. He just listened to me rant and whine. Then he held me, and touched me, and somehow soothed me. He got to a place deep inside me that most others never suspected, much less reached.

I don't know how many times the song played. I just know that the moon had advanced more than halfway across the sky when I finally got back in the car. My buzz was long gone, and that was good. I needed to be totally sober, totally in control. Totally believable.


It's two twenty-five when the knocking starts. I know, because I look at the clock by my bed, wondering who the fuck would be here at that time of the morning. Actually, I'm just wondering who the fuck would be here at all. I haven't given this address to anyone.

Well, I lie. (Not as often as I used to, granted, but it still happens). I gave it to ONE person, but it hardly seems likely that it would be him. He's been very resistant to coming to my home turf, and my fantasies tend to be a little more believable than Fox Mulder coming to my apartment in the dead of night for any reason except to beat the shit out of me.

I'm awake and out of bed by the third knock. In the league I play in, you don't wake up groggy, or you don't LIVE long past waking up. I just stand there for a moment, head cocked. But the 9mm I keep under my pillow is in my hand while I'm listening, safety off. When I'm fairly certain they aren't going to stop, or kick the door in, I pull on a pair of sweat pants and pad through the darkened apartment to the front door.

The only illumination in the room comes from the street lamp outside the front window. It slants yellow slashes of light across the floor, outlining the bulk of my few pieces of furniture. At the door, I tuck the gun in the back of my pants, put my hand on its butt, and cautiously open the door on the chain.

It's him. He's rumpled, tired looking, and beer fumes are reaching me all the way from out there. "Mulder, what the fuck do you want at this time of the morning?"

"Lemme in, Krycek."

I hesitate, studying him, trying to decide if doing this will get me another beating. If it will, that doesn't necessarily mean I won't open the door. I'm just trying to gauge the severity I'm risking. He doesn't say anything else, just waits. After a moment, I shut the door. Outside, he sighs when he hears me unhook the chain.

I open the door and let him in, shutting and locking it behind him. He walks into the middle of the room and turns back to face me. A slash of light falls across his face, striking those hazel eyes and making them look almost golden. I walk a little closer, and decide that he isn't drunk, even if he does smell like a brewery.

He must know what I'm thinking, because he says, "I'm sober. I didn't drink enough to get past a buzz, and that was hours ago."

I nod. "I'm going to be reaching for a gun now, Mulder. Just to get it away from my ass, not to shoot you. The metal is fucking cold." Slowly and carefully I draw the automatic, click on the safety, and lay it aside on a table. After a moment's hesitation, he draws his gun from his shoulder holster and lays it beside mine. So, we're having a truce tonight. I'm now even more interested in what Mulder has to say. "What is it?"

"Do you have a CD player?"

Well, that wasn't exactly the last question I'd have expected him to ask, but it's up there in the top thirty or so. I point at the small player sitting on the cabinet against the wall. He goes to it, and takes a plastic case out of his jacket. Opening it, he pulls out what looks like an ordinary CD, puts it in the player, turns the machine on, and starts to program it.

"What is it, Mulder? Some new bit of evidence slipped you by an informant? Something the Lone Gunmen stumbled over? Am I expected to confirm, deny, or just comment?"

"Just listen, okay?"

It starts. It's just music, ordinary music. No codes I can pick out, no voices whispering of conspiracies or mayhem. No deep dark secrets revealed. That's what I think, at first. But the song repeats after the first play, and I start to listen more closely. All I can think is that I've been hearing hoofbeats and looking for zebras instead of horses. Maybe it's just a song he wants me to hear.

He's still standing by the cabinet, his back to me, as I listen to the first verse. It's a strong, clear male voice, following a simple, but somehow elegant melody. I can't hide the way I feel about you... anymore. I can't hold the hurt inside, keep the pain out of my eyes... anymore.

My skin starts to do a full body crawl, starting at my toes and working it's way up to my scalp, till my hair is prickling. My tears no longer waiting, my resistance ain't that strong...

He finally turns toward me, and I can see his expression, even in this dim light. Yes, there's pain in his eyes. Whatever he's doing right now, whatever brought him here... It isn't easy for him. He's fought himself over it, long and hard, and Mulder is perhaps the strongest, toughest enemy that Mulder has ever come up against.

My mind keeps recreating a life with you alone. He closes his eyes at that line, but opens them again quickly, and looks me in the eyes as the next line flows from the speakers. And I'm tired of pretending, I don't love you... anymore.

He walks to me, and ends up standing before me, only inches away. Let me make one last appeal to show you how I feel about you. He lifts his hand, and I almost flinch, but I don't, and I'm glad I don't. Because he doesn't hit, he doesn't slap. His palm settles against my cheek gently, cupping it. Cause there's no one else I swear, holds a candle anywhere next to you.

My heart is pounding, my throat is dry. I lick my lips, and his eyes follow the path of my tongue, before returning to my eyes. There is such longing and heat in that look that I almost moan. My heart can't take the beating of not having you to hold. A small voice keeps repeating, from deep inside my soul...

He leans forward till our foreheads are pressed together. Oh, God, is this what I think it is? It isn't some elaborate game, is it? I don't think so. I don't think Mulder has that sort of calculated cruelty in him. He knows how I feel, I've told him. Is he telling me, now, how HE feels?

It says I can't keep pretending I don't love you anymore.

He puts his arms around me. As his lips touch mine for the first time in a kiss that is willingly given, not forced and not even asked for, I hear the man on the CD singing, I've got to take a chance or let it slip by, if I expect to get on with my life. And I'm tired of pretending I don't love you anymore.

The music soars, and he's kissing me, his tongue slipping past my lips to explore my mouth, his hands moving into my hair to hold me. But I'm not trying to pull away, God no. I meet him with every fiber of my being. I welcome him with body and heart and soul. Finally, finally, finally...

The clothes fall away, scattering on the floor. The sofa is wide enough, because we aren't going to make it to the bedroom. That can come later. I move him beneath me, and this time when he looks up at me, there is nothing negative in his expression. There is no guilt, no disgust, no hatred, thank God. There is nothing but heat, and longing... and acceptance.

I'm harder than I have ever been, because I'm being offered the one thing that I truly want in this life. Fox Mulder is offering himself, without reservation and without condition. And he wants me. He still hasn't been able to say it out loud, he's let the song say it for him. But he will, soon. I'm going to give him what he needs to actually say the words. I'm going to be everything to him, because he already IS everything to me.

We move together. There is a sweet urgency to this act. It is the first time we've made love, not just had sex. I don't have lube or condoms, and I'm sure as hell not going to break the moment to go looking for them, so we just slide together, skin on skin, and it's enough. It's better than enough. It's perfect.

He wraps those long legs around me, and lifts to meet my thrusts, our arousals rubbing together with an exquisite friction that would probably drive me mad if it went on. But it doesn't last too long. We've both been wanting and needing this too much for it to be drawn out. Before the next repetition of the song ends, we are arching together, and he cries out my name as I feel his hot seed splash against my belly, triggering my own shattering orgasm.

Then I slip down on the couch, pulling him half on top of me so that we both fit. He holds me as tightly as I hold him, his head resting on my shoulder. I stroke his back, and his hair, feeling the final tremors ease out of his body as the last chorus of the song repeats. My tears no longer waiting, Oh my resistence ain't that strong. And my mind keeps recreating a love with you alone...

There, in the dark, he finally speaks again, for the first time since the music started. As he reaches up again to touch my face, he whispers the last few words with the musician. "And I'm tired of pretending, I don't love you anymore."

Oh Fox, you said it. You said it after all.