Affliction - Part Three
by 'dalia

Keller walked back into Em City with a CO following closely behind him. He glanced around the room, and took a place at an empty table. He sat there silently, not attempting to make conversation with anyone else. Just sat there, staring aimlessly off.

Keller was pissed off. No, more than pissed off, he was enraged. Enraged with Beecher, but even more enraged with himself. Enraged that he showed himself to be as vulnerable as Beecher had been before, before...Keller didn't want to think about it, as much as he tried and justified that action to himself, it still pinched tight the insides of his body, and made it hard for him to breathe.

But he wasn't trying to think about that now, he was busy beating himself up inside his head. Why did Beecher mean so fucking much to him? Sure Beecher loved him, but he had three wives who had loved him too. When it was over between them, he didn't try and get them back, he went off and found someone else. So why is it that he was trying so damn hard to get Beecher back into his life? Why couldn't he just accept that it's just plain over and done between them?

Because it was not over. His heart snapped back, and Keller sank deeper into despair.

If it wasn't over then why was Beecher trying so hard to make it seem like it was over?

Keller couldn't figure that out. *Why* was he doing this? *Why* wasn't he letting him in?

Couldn't he see that if I didn't really mean what I said, that I loved him, I wouldn't have done what I did? I snitched on Schillinger and Metzger for you, I put my life in jeopardy for you. *Why???*

But Keller's thoughts were cut into, by several inmates shouting at the tv screen. Keller glanced up and saw the inmates crowded around the tv set - without earphones on - watching Miss Sally's School Yard.

His eyes scanned the crowd of inmates, and fell on Beecher sitting next to Augustus Hill, leaning both his hands on his cane, and his head on his hands, watching intently. Until his eyes locked on Keller's. He turned away lifelessly, back to the ditzy blonde bouncing on the tv.

When did he come back from the gym? Keller must have been sitting in that same position for over a half an hour. He realized that, as soon as he stood up. His body tensed - and he reached his muscular arms over his head and arched his back as he stretched out. He stood up, scooted in the chair, and walked across the crowd of inmates to his pod and slammed himself inside.

Keller attempted to sit down, only to find himself standing again, walking back and forth, feeling utter hopelessness wash over him. How was he to know the day he laid his eyes on Beecher, nothing would ever be the same? Keller paused in his place, and looked out of the pod at the rusty blonde. So completely unaware that Keller needed him, needed him so desperately. Or was he?

Keller had agonized the two months that Beecher was recovering in the hospital. The pod actually seemed huge without him there. To cope with what he had done, what he had destroyed, he never thought about the actual betrayal. He just thought about bits and pieces of the contrived romance. But it wasn't contrived. It wasn't, maybe it was meant to be, but it wasn't, not for him. He'd only realized that after he destroyed it. That always seemed to be the way things went in his life. He destroyed something good, and then he'd realize it was what he wanted after he couldn't get it back.

The moment he met Toby, the minute he saw him...if only he knew then what he knew now. If he knew then what he knows now, would he have done anything differently?

But Keller could hardly believe that Beecher didn't want him back. Beecher *loved* him, right? So what the fuck was wrong with him? He proved himself to him, Schillinger was sitting in his cell now, plotting against him. Keller would die at his hands soon enough, and Beecher didn't even give a shit. Was that what he wanted all along? Was that the reason he asked him to snitch, so he would be killed?

Beecher was smart. Instead of killing Keller himself, he would get someone else to do it. Keller chuckled to himself, shaking his head.

As he choked out laughing harder, Beecher walked into the pod. Keller looked up at him, and his laugh almost entirely disappeared. He didn't say a word, Keller didn't say anything either. Keller caught O'Reilly's eye as he strutted by their cell, his younger brother trailed behind him. Keller turned back to Beecher, who burned holes into his eyes as he stared at him.

Beecher twirled his cane around and stared at Keller. He limped passed Keller, brushing his arm against his side, as he made his way to the bunk and carefully climbed up to the top. He sighed heavily as he opened his book, and didn't look back at Keller who was frozen in his place by the accidental touch of Beecher's arm to his ribcage.

Keller glanced down, then out of the pod quickly. His heartbeat slowed as he got used to Beecher's ominous presence. Beecher wasn't willing to forgive him. He knew that now, he thought foolishly before. He truly believed that after Beecher got out of the infirmary, he could make him understand, make him see that he *did* love him.

Keller shook his head, Schillinger wanted him dead, Beecher won't listen, won't give him another chance. And Keller hadn't a clue what to do.

Beecher, on the other hand, knew exactly what he was doing. He looked down at Keller with a slight grin. How does it feel? He thought cruelly, as he flashed back to the day Keller was released from the hole. Although Beecher was drinking he remembered that day like it was yesterday. The memory of that day was so clear. He thought about it countless times while lying in that hospital bed.

Beecher let hate for Keller wash over him, when he was in the hospital. His arms and legs confined in casts, all because he fell in love with the wrong person. He hated Keller to the core. He was so determined to make Keller suffer as much he had made him suffer. But when Beecher walked into Em City and finally came face to face with Keller, he wanted to do nothing but fall into his arms again.

Despite everything.

Beecher hated himself even more for it. But he couldn't stop the feelings that made him sick. All he could do, was just try and ignore his feelings. Ignore him, ignore Keller.

Whatever he thought they had, it was over now. But had it ever really began?

Keller looked hollowly up at Beecher before throwing himself into the bottom bunk. He was through with trying to get Beecher to understand, to love him. If Beecher could stop, so could he.

* * * * * * * * * *

Schillinger stood gazing into the mirror in the darkness. He rubbed his hand over his face slowly, and then cleared his throat.

"Keller risked his life for Beecher." He said aloud, sounding unusually somber. Robson glanced at him. "Ratting us out, like he did."


Schillinger's voice deepened, his pale eyes turned darker. "We don't need to kill him. At least, not just yet." Schillinger turned and looked at Robson, who sat upright on the top bunk, staring intently at him. "We kill Beecher." Robson only smiled and nodded. "He's been a thorn in my side long enough. And Keller risked his life for the bitch, what better way to get back at him?"

"What happens when he testifies, Vern --" Robson began.

"He won't last that long." Schillinger interrupted with a grim smile. "Just long enough to see Beecher go down."

* * * * * * * * * *

Keller woke with a start. He gasped for breath and looked around the dark pod warily. He had expected to see a dark figure coming towards him in the dark. Wielding something that glinted in his right hand. His teeth were white - he could see them clearly, a maddening smile covering the figure's face. But he saw nothing. Just the clear walls, in front of him. Rows and rows of other inmates trying to sleep on thin mattresses.

Beecher was on the top bunk still sleeping, he could hear him breathing. Keller tried to fall asleep again, he closed his eyes tightly. But the image of Beecher coming towards him, ready to kill him, lingered in his mind.

* * * * * * * * * *

Beecher walked into Sister Pete's office the next morning. Sister Pete greeted him, and he responded quietly. He put his cane down by the computer table and eased into the folding chair, as he turned on the computer. She tapped her pencil on her desk and stared at the back of his head for a few moments.

Sister Pete found that Beecher had been like a different person when he came out of the hospital. She knew why, she knew the whole sordid saga about who Chris Keller really was, and his affiliation with Vern Schillinger. But what it had done to Beecher, and to what extent she wasn't sure of.

"Tobias," she began. He turned and looked at her, his eyes traced her face, which was heavy with concern.

"Something wrong, Sister?"

"You tell me." She replied softly. Beecher looked as though he didn't understand, then pressed on a smile.

"I'm fine. Dr. Nathan is going to take my leg brace off today." He turned and typed in the password on the computer "I feel stronger everyday."

"Tobias, McManus told me that Keller confessed." She could see Beecher stiffen in his seat. "Do you want to talk?"

Beecher chortled. "No."

She nodded silently, "I understand."

"Thanks." Tobias began typing as he took a deep breath. There was silence again, until Sister Pete's voice broke his concentration once more.


He turned and looked at her "Sister?"

She bit her bottom lip, unsure if she should say anything more. He looked completely worn out, but she pressed on. "I want to help you, but I can't if you don't talk to me. You were in love with--"

"*Were* being the operative word, Sister." Beecher took a deep breath again. "I know you mean well, but I just can't drudge everything up again. I just can't." Sister Pete nodded again as she cast her eyes downward.

"If you ever change your mind though, know I am always here for you." She told him, as he nodded looking at his feet.

"I know Sister. Thanks" Beecher turned back to the computer, but she called his name again. He turned once more and looked at her.

"You are going to show me how to use Windows '98?" she asked with a small smile.

"Sure, Sister," Tobias smiled back.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Hey Beecher - got your brace off." O'Reilly greeted Beecher as he returned to Em City later that day. Keller looked up at him quickly.

"Yep." He glared at Keller, and walked into his pod.

"C'mon, O'Reilly back to the game," Keller said, looking at the checker board. Ryan was more interested in Beecher, however. He snickered, flopping back down into a chair.

"Man," he gasped, looking at Keller. "He hates your fuckin' guts," O'Reilly said with amusement, shaking his head. Keller looked at him, with his eyes glowering. "Not that I blame him."

"Are you gonna play or what O'Reilly?" Keller growled. O'Reilly raised his eyebrows with a wicked smile.

"It really gets to you, doesn't it? You know, when you snitched out Schillinger and Metzger - I thought you had some plan, something up your sleeve. But you don't. You did it because Beecher asked you to, didn't you? And he hates you." Keller stared daggers at the Irishman, "You must be fuckin' pissed."

Keller stood up and threw the checker board into the air, the pieces landing in scattered places around the table. A few C.O.s ran over to Keller, waiting for him to do something more, while Cyril stared with scared eyes at him, and Ryan sat back with a smug smile. He glanced quickly into the pod, where Beecher had momentarily stopped reading to look at the squabble. Then he stalked off, telling one of the hacks he wanted to go to gym.

Beecher picked up his book again, and yawned tiredly. He wondered what that was all about, but quickly dismissed it as O'Reilly yanking Keller's chain for the pure hell of it. Which he had to admit, had been entertaining him some, for the past few days. And it was so easy to do.

Beecher hadn't known Keller would be so determined to win him back. And so reckless in doing so, he left himself wide open to attacks physically and mentally. Mentally was much more his thing than physically.

Though he had to admit, watching Metzger bleed to death was oddly satisfying. Metzger stood there, just...dying. Holding his neck as the blood gush rushed out through his fingers. Holding his intercom trying to get help. And Beecher just stood there, watching him die.

But Beecher didn't want Keller dead. Dead inside, maybe. He just wanted him to be as miserable as possible. And the fact that he had the ends and means to *make* him that miserable, meant he had power. Power over him.

It was even harder, however, to administer power over himself. Over his feelings for Keller. Push them down into the inner most regions of his soul and fucking *pretend* that he didn't feel shit for him. Make sure that Keller didn't know it was just an act, make sure that he couldn't see through the veil.

It was all about power.

Schillinger was a different story. He didn't have any power over him. No matter what happened, it seemed like Vern was always in control. Always.

Beecher tried not to think about those days. Those days with Vern. But he knew he would never be able to forget them. They made him who he was today.

He was a shadow of his former self. And every time he saw Schillinger, he was reminded of what he was, what he is now, and who *made* him this way. Perhaps, in the most twisted way possible, ole Vern did him a favor. He would have never been able to survive in OZ as Tobias.

Tobias was dead.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Well, hello there," Schillinger's voice rained venomously down on Chris Keller who put the barbell in its proper place on the weight bench, and sat up as he glared at the bald fuck, his breathing slowing a bit. Vern stood with the rest of his nazi fuckheads, smart shit, Keller would have broken his neck if no one else was around.

"Where's Tobias?" He inquired with a mocking sweetness. "Oh that's right, you two are having a tiff." Keller just stared coldly at him. He didn't even want to give him the satisfaction of actually tellng him to fuck off, he'd just show it in his eyes.

Schillinger stepped closer to Keller, his eyes dilating.

"I've got a proposition for you." His voice and tone lowered. The other Aryans looked at each other in confusion, and something told Keller that this was serious. Keller nodded over to the corner of the gym, and he and Schillinger walked over together.

"So what's this about, Vern?" Keller questioned, his voice menacing, his body language threatening. Schillinger was unfazed.

"You fucked up, *Chris*," he told him and smiled bitterly. "You sold me out. And for what...hmm?" Keller stared blankly at him, but clenched his fists. "You haven't even fucked him," he hissed."Tsk, tsk, tsk."

"I don't have time for this," Keller replied finally. Schillinger only grinned, but it faded instantly.

"Oh I think you have as much time as I say you have." He replied, no longer just talking about this moment in time, and Keller knew exactly what he meant. "So what do you say we let bye gones, be bye gones?" He asked, still sounding sinister. Keller folded his arms again, and raised his chin.

"I know you well enough to know that ain't gonna happen unless I do something for you."

Schillinger smirked. " know me too well."

"So, what is it?"

"I want Beecher...dead. I want you to finish the job." Schillinger caught the look on Keller's face harden. Keller looked down at his feet briefly and when he looked back up at him, his eyes were different. They had changed somehow.

"I'll be back in the fold? I won't have to watch my back..."

"The Brotherhood will do that for you."

"That's questions asked?"

"Well, there will be some other things you have to do in regards to the killing. In order for the Aryans to be clean of the entire thing. So?" Keller didn't need to think about it. "Okay. I'll do it."