And They Say Romance Is Dead.
The Beecher/Keller pod on a typical gloomy Oz night.
"Do you ever procrastinate?" Tobias Beecher asked.
"Not unless I'm really horny, no," Chris Keller grunted, as he turned over in his bunk.
"I'm serious..." Beecher sighed.
"Me too. I never indulge in nuthin' I can't spell."
"I can see that you're not prepared to talk tonight."
Keller sat up and rubbed his face, "Beech, whaddya want?"
"You've got that 'whiny' tone in your voice, man. You want something."
"I don't whine."
"Beecher, you fuckin' woke me up. Now tell me what you want, or I swear I'll fuckin' whack you."
"I just wanted a little conversation, that's all," Beecher turned over in his bunk, noisily punching his pillow.
"Fuck, Beecher, I ain't no 'conversationalist'."
"Just forget it. I'll go to sleep."
Keller climbed from his bunk, and peered through the darkness, at the figure above. "Now you got the 'offended' tone. You're worse than any one of my ex-wives for makin' me feel like a total shit, you know that?"
"Just go back to bed, Chris," Beecher mumbled.
"So, you wake me up, then tell me to go back to bed because you changed your mind?" Keller reached out and grabbed Beecher's crotch.
"What are you doing?"
"Checkin' you still got a dick, and some fucker ain't swapped Beecher for my ex-wife,Bonnie," Keller cackled.
Tobias Beecher began to smile, as he playfully slapped away the hand.
"So, what's buggin' ya?" Keller rubbed his eyes and rested his chin on his arms; leaning heavily against the bunks.
"I've just been thinking about all the stuff I should have done since I've been in here, and I've put it off because I'm...I'm...ashamed."
"What you got to be ashamed about?"
"Er...you mean other than having killed someone, and ending up in prison?"
Keller rubbed his nose insolently, and thought for a moment, "You mean there's people out there got a problem with that?"
"Now you're mocking me." Beecher's smile melted away.
"No, I'm not. Your problem is that you still care what people think of you. You gotta quit that idea, Toby."
"I can't. I was raised to believe that your reputation was everything."
"Fuck, everyone here thinks you're crazy. That's a pretty hot rep to have."
"Look, man, I been in and out of prison since I was seventeen. If I'd given a flying fuck about what people thought of me, I'd have strung myself up in Lardner, just after I got fucked up the ass by Schillinger for the first time."
"But, I'm not you. I can't just forget everything I was. I can't forget my mistakes."
"Life's just a series of mistakes, you should accept it."
"I don't believe that."
"I ended up in Larder because of an unfortunate accident. Ever since, my life has been a string of random fuck-ups," Chris Keller explained, with his own brand of infinite wisdom.
Keller yawned loudly, "Yeah, I accidentally got caught."
Trying not to smile, Beecher pulled the thin blanket up around his chest and settled into the pillow, "Go to sleep, Chris."
"I ain't tired now. You wanna fuck?"
"No!" Beecher spluttered, pulling the blanket around himself in almost virginal disgust.
"Because I'm not in the mood."
"Shit. You know, I think the romance has gone out of our relationship." Keller pouted impressively.
"Romance? Was that the part when you said, 'Fuck, your sweat smells good tonight,' a while back?"
A dreamily innocent expression softened Keller's usual scowl, "Yeah," he drawled.
"You really should work for a greetings card company, you know that? With your talent..."
"Yeah? You mean stuff like, 'Tell someone you love them today...Or we'll ice your grandma'?"
"That's very touching, you're a natural," Beecher laughed as he reached out, and stroked his hand through his partner's hair, "Now go to sleep, or you're going to be so fucking mean and grumpy in the morning, I'll be forced to shank you in the shower."
"Aw, you got such a sweet turn of phrase, you know that? Definitely one of the benefits of a classical education."
"Why do you pretend to be so dumb sometimes?"
"Who says I pretend?"
"I saw you reading Nietzche in the library the other day, so don't give me that 'I'm stupid' crap."
"I wasn't reading it, I was looking at the pictures."
"It doesn't have any pictures." Beecher pointed out patiently.
"Shows how stupid I am then, huh?" Keller shot back with a grin.
"Okay, I give up."
"So, you do wanna fuck then?" Keller's hand was worming its way beneath the cover before Beecher had time to answer.
"No. I mean I give up on you. But, you don't fool me, you know?"
"I don't, huh?"
"So, you think you know me, eh, Beecher?"
"Do I what?"
"Do you know you. Really?" Beecher watched the familiar mask slip into place, and immediately he sensed Keller becoming defensive.
"I don't think I want to. I ain't got nothing inside of me worth studying."
Pushing himself up onto his elbow, Beecher sighed, "You have a really low opinion of yourself, don't you, Chris?"
"Hey, you should know all about that." Keller's cold smile was visible, even in the dim light, "You're the one hating yourself because you made a mistake. Just one mistake."
"It was a hell of a big mistake. It cost someone their life."
"Yeah, well, I was born a mistake, man. The first thing I ever remember my mom saying was 'Christopher, you were a mistake. You ruined my life.' You're paying the penance for your mistake, Toby. I gotta live mine." Keller moved away and sat back on his bunk.
Biting his lip, Beecher felt a wash of sadness for his deceptively flippant pod-mate. "I'm sorry, Chris."
"Don't be sorry for me, I ain't worth it. Save it for someone who deserves your pity." Keller lay back on the bunk, and pulled the blanket over him. "G'night."
Beecher slid from his bed. Checking that the hacks were otherwise engaged, he ducked under the top bunk to touch Keller's arm. "Move over..."
"What? You said you weren't in the mood."
"So, I changed my mind. Move over."
"You are worse than my fucking ex-wife," Keller grumbled, but he slid over against the wall, to make room for Beecher to slip in beside him.
"So now you're bitching because I do want to have sex?"
"No. I'm bitching because I like bitching, okay?"
"You are such a miserable fuck sometimes," Beecher grinned as familiar arms slipped around him.
"It's all part of my charm."
"Yeah, I guess so." Tobias Beecher groaned slightly, as Keller's fingers slid into his shorts, "And you are worth something. You're worth something to me." He reached out and caressed Chris Keller's rough cheek.
"Toby?" Keller's breathy tones whispered, as he took the hand and sucked each finger slowly...lovingly.
"Shut up and turn over."
Beecher bit back a strangled laugh. "Y'see. There's still romance in our relationship after all," he sighed.