Where Angels Fear to Tread

by Riley Cannon

Disclaimers: I don't own them, Fontana & HBO do. Summary: Spinning out those few moments of B/K screen time just a little further and tweaking certain things around to, possibly, make a tad more sense.

Thanks to pirl for the beta.

"Where Angels Fear to Tread"

Chris surveyed his new accommodations as Judge Lema's words worked their way around his head -- "This court sentences you to die."They were kind of taking their sweet time about sinking in. Funny, even though it was the exact outcome he had expected all along that fatalistic expectation wasn't making it any easier to wrap his mind around the reality.

Fatalistic expectation ... Yeah, he could use some fancy words when he wanted to. Maybe if he'd wanted to a little more often, if he'd ever made more of an effort, he wouldn't be standing here today? Yeah, well, Chris was pretty sure that was one of those moot points they talked about. Because this was it, the end of the line, no last minute reprieves. Despite everything, he'd really believed he might escape by the skin of his teeth one more time. Right until the judge pronounced that sentence he'd thought maybe justice would be satisfied with sentencing him to life with no possibility of parole. Hell, that's why he'd never kicked about his original sentence, no chance at parole until he was in his fucking eighties. Toby ... Toby'd always said that was excessive for armed robbery, even with the murder charge tacked on, but Chris had figured it was about right -- and probably a whole lot less than some people would figure he had coming.

Well, it'd all caught up with him now, he was facing the consequences of his actions -- and his mouth quirked with a bitter smile as he thought about the fucked up pointlessness of his entire life. Sister Pete'd probably try and sell him some bullshit about how this was all part of God's plan, but if that was true all Chris could figure was that had to make God the most twisted motherfucker of them all.

And like a little blasphemy was going to matter one way or the other now.

He sighed softly, looking around at the walls, trying not to dwell on how un-fucking-fair this all was. Because he knew that was stupid and he didn't have any business feeling like that. He wasn't some wrongfully accused, unjustly convicted innocent victim -- nothing like that. Landing on death row and facing the chair was nothing more than he had coming for his crimes. Those guys he'd killed, they hadn't wanted to die, they'd probably had all sorts of things to look forward to until they had the misfortune to meet up with him at his most fucked up. A life for a life, right? He had to pay, he'd always known he'd have to pay, but... But it'd been a whole lot easier to accept that when there hadn't been so much to lose.

Which was probably another part of that plan, right? Let him catch a glimpse of what could have been, what he might have had - a life with Toby -- and then yank it away as an extra special turn of the screw.

His mouth twitched with another smile, warmer and resigned and he sighed softly, giving
into the inevitable. He might as well try sprouting wings and flying out of here as not think about Toby.

Christ, he needed Toby. If he could just see him, touch him one more time, this wouldn't be so bad. He could handle anything so long as he knew there was Toby's love to count on. Letters were good, but he needed to look into those sweet blue eyes and make sure Toby wasn't just writing those things to make him feel better. Chris smiled with some real amusement then, reconsidering that. Yeah, right -- when did Beecher ever say anything just to make him feel better?

All the same, he couldn't die without ever seeing him again. Words on paper couldn't be all they would ever have now. That was fucking killing him, knowing Toby was so close but more frustratingly out of reach than ever. The other times they'd been separated, at least he'd always been able to see Toby; he'd always been able to count on the possibility of getting back with him. Now...? Chris didn't think he'd ever been this out of hope.

He'd come back here with so much of it, too, actually looking forward to getting back to Oz -- to Toby. It was going to be like old times, only better because they'd gotten through the worst of it together, cleared away all the doubts still lingering in the air. Geez, all the times he'd accused Beecher of living in some happy little fantasy world and yet he'd been doing exactly the same thing, forgetting this was Oz, forgetting the rest of the world didn't give a goddamn about him and Toby loving each other and wanting to be together. Well, reality had walked up and smacked him quick enough, thanks to the warden and Spanky, and it had been downhill from there.

That whole thing with McClain especially pissed him off. Not that she'd led him on and then dropped him, but that he hadn't seen it coming, that he'd actually bought her line about wanting to help. What the fuck had he been thinking, believing she was going to do her best to get him off the hook so he could be reunited with Toby? Fuck, he'd even known right off the bat, soon as he figured out who she was, that her main stake was in checking him out to see what kind of competition she was up against. She'd wanted to reassure her pea brain that, no matter what, she wouldn't have anything to worry about and that she had everything it took to keep Toby interested. Only she didn't, she never would. No way in hell was Beecher ever going to be satisfied with some kind of live-action Barbie doll -- Chris knew that even if Toby might not want to admit it. Someone like McClain, she'd never know Toby, never understand all the things that made him tick. She'd want him to go back to all that playacting that'd landed him in Oz in the first place. And if she ever caught a glimpse of the Beecher he knew, something that didn't quite fit her pretty picture of how things were supposed to be, she'd be scared out of her mind.

And fuck, Toby knew that. Beecher'd written about that in his letters, saying how he knew it was just a happy little daydream but he didn't have the heart to pop the balloon just yet. Chris had been interested in getting to see her, just to get an idea of what the attraction might be. He was mystified
on that score and suspected Toby was probably in the right ballpark, writing about how she reminded him of Genevieve. Chris just hoped to Christ Genevieve had been a whole lot more authentic.

Anyway, that was another one of those moot points; McClain was out of the picture completely. Toby'd written him about that in one of the letters Vern'd brought him -- which was something else he was trying not to dwell on too much. All Toby had told him so far was that he'd made this arrangement with Vern so they could exchange letters. That he'd left so much unsaid only convinced Chris he wasn't going to like the terms of the agreement. No fucking way was Vern doing this out of the goodness of his heart, because he wanted his ex-prags to be happy. That Nazi fuck had something up his sleeve, and imagining what that might be had provoked more than a couple of sleepless nights. Just went to show everything in Oz came with a price, even just being able to get a few letters to and from the man he loved.

He sighed, thinking about those letters, all the things Toby had told him -- and everything he was still leaving unsaid. Chris thought he'd gotten pretty good at reading between the lines, though. It was hard to be certain from just those stark black-and-white statements about McClain, for instance, but Chris hadn't gotten the impression Toby was too broken up about her dumping him. And given nobody'd ever have to know about it, Chris could admit he'd taken some satisfaction from that. It wasn't like he had a whole lot of other things to make him happy these days.

Well, he was pretty happy to be away from Officer Howell, of course. Lopresti was an asshole, but even so he was an improvement over that psycho bitch. Cozying up to her wasn't number oneon any list of stupid shit he'd done, but it had to be in the top five. He'd figured he could play her easy, though, pile up some rainy day favors that might include her getting him together with Toby somehow. That
iand imagining one of the ex-wives when he was fucking her, was about the only thing that'd made it tolerable. He'd tried thinking of Toby once to get him through it, but that had the opposite effect and just left him feeling sick to his stomach afterwards.

And the only thing he had gotten out of it had been those fucking Fireballs. He had a long old list of regrets, with those murders right at the top, but Chris was pretty sure he wouldn't have felt a twinge of remorse about snapping Howell's neck.

Funny, used to be he could get anyone he wanted wrapped right around his finger, usually without even that much of an effort. With him losing control of the situation with Howell -- yeah, more like never having any fucking control -- and not wanting to bother really turning it on for McClain, Chris had to wonder if he was losing his touch. Or maybe that was another way loving Toby had changed him? There was a concept, finally figuring out that sex could be about something more than survival. It seemed somewhat pointless for him to grasp that now, since he wasn't ever going to get a chance to share that little flash of enlightenment, but better late than never, right? he figured with another wry little smile as his thoughts worked their way back around to where he'd started.

He couldn't die without seeing Toby one more time, without ever hearing his voice again. And sure, he had about as much business wanting to plead for some mercy from God as he did in bitching about how this wasn't fair. But he guessed there was still some small scrap of hope floating around because, Christ, he sure wanted to offer up a prayer for that.

"Beecher," Said loomed in the pod door, brimming with self-righteousness, "you cannot do this to yourself."

Impatient to be on his way because he knew there would be mail today, he'd made sure of that, aided and abetted by Sister Pete, Toby was in no mood for another sanctimonious lecture. "Kareem, if you value our friendship at all, you won't say another fucking word."

Not that mere words would ever deter Said when in full petulant piety mode, of course. "You are throwing away all the progress you've made--"

Toby moved to quickly cut him off, "You're never going to get it, are you? Chris Keller is part of that progress. Loving him -- that's done more for me than any bullshit religion ever could. Loving Chris is part of how I love God."

Looking offended, Said repeated, "Bullshit religion? That's what it means to you now?"

"Yeah -- generic, across the board. We invent religion to try and put God in a box so we can control Him. Only He doesn't stay there anymore than we do." Funny, that idea had been bouncing around his head for quite a while now, but Toby hadn't known just how much he believed it until he spoke the words out loud. "And I don't want to be in a box anymore, Kareem -- not yours, not Schillinger's, not even the ones I used to make up on my own." He got right in Said's face then, enjoying the way the other man backed up and eyed him warily. Apparently all that Keller watching, noting how he operated and intimidated people had not been in vain. "Chris Keller is the only person who has never tried to box me in, define me, shape me to suit him. He knows me like no one else ever has or ever will -- except maybe God -- and if you think I'm going to turn my back on that then you are the fucking halfwit he always said you were."

"Oh, you're going to listen to the advice, the wisdom," Said made no attempt to disguise the contempt in his voice, "of this murderer, this worthless--"

"Kareem, I swear on everything I do hold sacred: say one more word and we're finished. You're my friend and I value that -- but you're getting on my last nerve." His smile was cold, not really meant to take the edge off. "As for advice... Kareem, do you really want me remembering how your brilliant advice ended with my son dead and buried in the ground?"

Said had the grace to look somewhat chastened by that at least, stepping further back. "You're going to regret this, going to Keller."

Toby's smile was a wistful little quirk now. "Yeah? So what the fuck else is new?"

And Said was probably even right about that. Seeing Chris was going to hurt, but it couldn't be any worse than the pain of not seeing him. It couldn't be worse than what he kept imagining, that Chris thought he'd been abandoned and no one cared. The least Toby could do was let him know he was not alone. And if Said, or anyone, didn't understand that -- fuck 'em.

Well, Chris figured he might as well get settled in, and he was about to check out his personal effects, make sure the hacks hadn't confiscated Toby's letters, when he heard something behind him. Just one word--


--but in a voice he was sure could only be in his imagination. Maybe it was some effect of his ear getting fucked up so now he was hearing some kind of echoes. Or... Or maybe...

It took everything Chris had to move, to turn and look knowing there wouldn't be anyone there. And it was the funniest thing -- even as he turned and saw him standing there it wasn't even that or the words, "You've got mail," that did it. No, it was that goofy little huff that followed, a sound that said Toby to him more than any other.

And it didn't matter that he had rehearsed this moment so many times in his head, planned what he was going to say -- no amount of preparation would have been enough, and there were no words that needed to be said. For a long moment Chris just looked at him, recommitting every feature to memory and feeling a profound joy in that. There had been so many nights, here and away at Cedar Junction, that he had lain awake at night trying to recall Toby's face, so afraid he was going to forget what he looked like. He needed to see Toby smile, though; too often he remembered him looking sad and wounded. He loved Toby's smile, the way it lit up his whole face and made you feel like you were watching the sun come out after a cold, rainy day.

A smile started as Chris moved toward him. It was soft, kind of wistful, but his eyes were warm with it. Like seeing Chris was his own answered prayer. And even if he'd never quite understand why that should be, it started a delicious glow in Chris' belly that he didn't want to stop. It brought a smile to his own lips and propelled him to close the remaining distance between them, to lay his hand atop Toby's where it rested on the bars and just savor the delight of touching him again. Oh Christ -- he couldn't believe how good it felt, how it always felt this fucking incredible. A year, it had been a year since he'd been this close to Toby, since they had kissed and he'd felt Toby's arms around him. A year of aching to kiss him again and wanting to hold him. And no matter that there were bars between them, nothing was keeping him from making that dream come true now. Bars didn't matter, nothing did when Toby was looking at him like that, his blue eyes so filled with love.

Chris reached through the bars, threading his fingers through Toby's hair and cupping his nape. Toby moved to meet him, lips parting, welcoming him home. They kissed like their souls were starved for each other. Once, twice, more, breathing as ragged as if they were making love. Unable to get enough, Chris slid his hand along Toby's shoulders, holding him as close and tight as he'd been longing to do all these months as they kissed the daylights out of each other.

At some point Toby dropped the mail he was holding and reached through the bars, his arms going around Chris to hold him just as tight. Chris shivered and groaned into his mouth, feeling Toby's hands rubbing up and down his back. Finally giving into the need to draw air into his lungs, he started to move back only to freeze, trembling again as Toby's open mouth grazed along his cheek. Toby's fingers brushed along his face and he leaned in close again, dropping soft kisses along his jaw and tilting Chris' head just a bit so he could run his tongue along his throat. Another soft moan eased out of him and he combed his fingers through golden, silky hair as Toby nuzzled lightly.

"...jesus christ, toby..."

He felt those lips curve in a smile against his skin and was treated to an even more dazzling smile as Toby raised his head to look at him. Chris knew that smile, the impish sparkle in those eyes so often heralding a memorable night of lovemaking. And he knew no one else had ever seen it, not even Genevieve -- and for fucking sure, not Katherine McClain.

It was probably time for words now, you never could avoid those too long with Toby. Chris didn't want to talk about anything important, though. Or, rather, he wanted to talk about the only thing that was important.

"You could use a hair cut," he said, to get the ball rolling, enjoying the predictable response: Toby drawing back just a hair's-breadth, eyes narrowing with a dubious little look -- another huff issuing forth.

"Uh-huh. Maybe you have some complaints about the brand of toothpaste I'm using, too?"

"Well," Chris reached through the bars, stroking his fingers along Toby's jaw, "now you mention it, you don't taste as minty fresh as you could. You did a real good job shaving, though," he added, almost as glad to see the laughter bubbling in Toby's eyes as he was to be touching him.

Growing more serious, he ran a hand along Toby's arm, feeling the lean muscle -- a little too lean. He gave him a serious look then, saying, "You been on a hunger strike or something?"

The laughter dying a little, some of that wistful look back, Toby said, "No. It's just been a l hard working up an appetite lately."

"You gotta take care of yourself, Tobe."

"I am -- don't worry about it." Toby reached through the bars, fingertips stroking along his face. "How are you doing?"

Chris dropped his gaze a little, shrugged. "Okay. You know, considering."

"Chris... " Toby's fingers stroked back through his hair, curving around the back of his neck and squeezing gently. "I'm so sorry."

Looking at him again, Chris shook his head. "You got nothing to be sorry about. I got no one but myself to blame for this one." Toby looked like he wanted to argue about that but Chris could think of a whole lot of other things they could be talking about. He could think of a whole lot of better things they could be doing, period, but that probably wasn't too practical. Not with Hoyt looking on and Lopresti liable to come back any minute. Well, he could do something about Hoyt at least.

"Hey, Jazz," he called over, "you getting a little charge outta watching me and Beecher? You want us to put on a real good show for you?"

"Fucking fags," Hoyt grumbled by way of brilliant comeback, but he moved on back into his cell, giving them what passed for privacy around here.

Smiling at Toby, drinking in every feature once more and reaching through the bars to knead his shoulders, Chris said, "The company around here kinda leaves something to be desired."

"You know, I've noticed that." Toby smiled back, hands pressing against his chest, rubbing. He moved in for another kiss, evidently very willing to linger over this and Chris wasn't about to discourage him.

"Cyril will be here soon," Toby said after a while, hands still hooked around Chris' neck.

"Yeah, I heard. O'Reily must be fit to be tied."

"Actually he almost seems resigned to it. It's taken a lot out of him." Toby rubbed his thumbs along Chris' collarbones. "I know how he's
feeling," he added with a wry lift of his mouth.

Fuck, this wasn't what Chris wanted. "Look, Toby, you don't gotta worry about me. I'm gonna be ... fine." He dropped his gaze again, realizing how stupid that had to sound. "What I mean is--"

"Chris, I know." Toby's voice was as gentle as his hands, cupped around Chris' face and raising him up again, coming in to kiss his mouth. "And in case you hadn't noticed, it is way too late for me to stop worrying about you." Toby stood back a then, looking at him for a long time, like he needed to soak him up too. "I'm sorry you had to go before Judge Lema," he said after another moment. "Sounds like she's still a cunt."

"Nah, it's not like she had much of a choice. Not with the case the prosecution put on."

Real serious now, Toby said, "How bad was it?"

"'Bout what you'd expect," he told him, trying to shrug it off. His mouth twisted with a sad little smile. "It's kinda weird sitting there and hearing yourself described as some sorta monster, though."

"Chris..." Toby's fingers brushed along his cheekbones. "You're not a monster."

"Yeah?" He gripped the bars of the cell, tight. "There was a court room full of people who'd disagree, 'specially...." The memory suddenly loomed before him, Bryce Tibbets' mother looking at him with so much hate and loathing, saying how him just getting put to sleep same as a sick dog wasn't good enough and he ought to have to experience a hundred times the pain and fear her son had. "Especially the family," he finished.

That wounded look was back in Toby's eyes, like he was hurting for him. Chris wanted to tell him not to, that he didn't warrant that kind of concern. It wouldn't do any good, though, and ... and it did feel good to know somebody cared, no matter what.

Toby dropped his voice to a whisper, asking, "Did you testify?"

Chris shook his head and answered just as softly. "My idiot lawyer," he didn't miss the way Toby winced at that, "thought it would be a pretty bad idea to put me on the stand, especially after Agent Taylor's star witness did such a bang up job. I wanted to say something afterward, at my sentencing, but..." he shrugged again, fingers curling even tighter around the cold metal, "but there wasn't anything I could say that would've made a difference."

No one wanted to hear about how bad he felt. Monsters like him weren't supposed to be capable of any kind of remorse, any sort of feeling, anyway. And he sure as fuck couldn't tell anybody why he'd killed Tibbets and those other two when he barely understood it himself. It would have sounded like he was trying to blame the victim for one thing, and that wasn't right. No way Tibbets or the other two, could have known that getting rough with him and trying to force him -- especially that, trying to force him to do something he didn't want to -- had just triggered so many fucked up memories, pushed all the wrong buttons. No one cared that he'd been self-medicating his anger and depression because even Bonnie had given up on him and all he could see was thirty-seven wasted years stretching out behind him, and nothing but that same bleak prospect out on the horizon. That Mrs. Tibbets, she didn't want to hear about how her son'd liked it rough, how he'd been cruising for someone to play games with, but had been too much of an asshole to know when he should have backed off. And who the fuck would care if he said it wasn't even Tibbets he'd wanted to kill that night? It was Vern and Uncle Phil and every other sonofabitch who'd ever used him like he was nothing that he'd wanted to kill. Hell, saying any of that probably would have just made them all feel even better about sentencing him to die.

And mostly it had been himself he was angriest at, that he most wanted to hurt for being weak, for having these feelings despite everything he'd been through. After Uncle Phil and Vern and those anonymous men he'd sold his body to just to get something to eat, somewhere to sleep -- how could he ever be attracted to another man? It hadn't made any sense, had only looked like proof he was some kind of twisted head case. Until Toby. The way Toby looked at him -- it was like he really mattered, like he was more than just a body to be used. Like there really was a difference between fucking and making love. Being with Toby had always felt like he was being given a glimpse of paradise.

Chris looked at him now, through the bars that separated them, wondering if he should tell him that. Probably not, probably it would just give Toby something else to feel bad about. Instead he reached for him again, tugging gently on those curls at the back of his neck as they kissed again. He guessed all those experts must know what they were talking about and he wasn't capable of really loving anyone ... but he thought he might have come real close with Toby.

He sighed into Toby's mouth and kissed his lips again, wanting to memorize their taste. "Oh, baby," he murmured against Toby's cheek, "I wish I could make love to you one more time."

Arms around him, holding on tight, Toby whispered back, "You are," and squeezed, one hand rubbing over his hair.

Toby set him back then, giving him another serious look. "I need you to tell me something, okay?" he said, whispering so soft.

Chris nodded. "What?"

"The eyewitness -- did he really see you?" Toby was looking right in his eyes, like this was the most important thing in the world.

It made Chris glad he didn't have to lie to him. "No. There wasn't any witness. I'd have noticed someone shining a light in my face close enough to get that good a look at me."

"And your public defender didn't challenge the testimony?"

"Nope. And," he hesitated a moment, "Katherine bought it hook, line, and sinker," he went on, watching Toby closely now, curious to see how he'd react to her name. He was more than a little gratified to see just a flash of irritation in the blue eyes.

"I know. She's an idiot."

Chris couldn't mask his surprise at that. "Toby--"

"You going to defend her to me?"

"No." Looked like Toby'd gone ahead and popped that balloon.

"Good. Now, listen," Toby clasped his hands, looking earnest and determined, "I've already got Angus checking into that. If we can prove this witness, Jerry Heekin, lied and if we can further prove some kind of collusion between him and the authorities -- up to and including Agent Taylor, we're more than halfway there. I'm going to get my father in on this, too. He may not be crazy about you and I being a couple," and he said that just like it was the most natural thing in the world, "but he's a long-time opponent of the death penalty, not to mention it makes him kind of cranky when anyone plays fast and loose with the law."

Chris frowned, following what he was saying but... "All of which means what?"

"I'm getting you off death row."

"You can't."

"Yeah?" Toby challenged. "Try and stop me." The look on his face was a familiar one to Chris, the prelude to every stubborn,
don't-even-think-about-talking-me-out-of-this occasion between them. "Chris," his eyes softened and warmed, "I owe you my life, my children's lives - and so much more besides." He reached up to curve his hand along Chris' face, fingers stroking the hair at his temples. "I'm always telling other people how much I love you," he said after another moment, looking thoughtful, "but I haven't said it or shown it to you anywhere near enough." His hands dropped to rest on Chris' shoulders as he looked deep into his eyes. "If I have any claim to sanity today, if I have any claim to being a decent human being," he got funny look at that, like he had some doubts about any claims that way, "a very great deal of that is because of you, because of loving you."

All Chris could do was look at him, taking that in. He didn't see how it could be true, how he could have given Toby anything like that, but... "Me too."

The corner of Toby's mouth quirked with a smart-ass smile. "Me too what?"

Chris frowned back at him. "You want me to write you a fucking poem?"

"Well, actually," Toby tugged another envelope out of his pocket, folded over and crumpled, and pressed it into his hand, "you're not completely off the mark there."

"What's this?"

"It's a special letter from me -- don't read it until you figure it's getting close to lights out, though."

Chris gave him a suspicious look. "How come?"

"You'll see."

"Well," he turned it over, trying to puzzle it out, "what's in here that you can't say to me right now?"

"You'll see," Toby repeated, that impish sparkle back in his eyes. "I'm predicting you'll enjoy it, too. I expect a reply in kind, by the way."

"You're fucking nuts."

"Nope." Toby snagged his shirt collar, pulling him forward. "I'm saner than I've ever been."

"That a fact?"

"That's a fact," he confirmed and kissed him, long and slow, like he needed to commit the taste of Chris' mouth to memory, too.

Pushing back after a bit, he said, "Now, Sister Pete and I are working on getting you on as many mailing lists and shit as possible, but I also want you to write to Bonnie and Kitty and Angie, anyone you can think of, and ask them to be sure and send you mail on a regular basis."

"You giving me an order?" Chris said, smiling.

Toby smiled back. "Fuck, yeah. Until we get this squared away -- and we're going to, Chris; I know you and optimism haven't been on very good terms but I want you to try and believe this - but until then I want to make sure we'll get to see each other as often as possible. That means you have to get mail as often as possible. Okay?"

"You're coming back again?" Chris needed to be sure he had this part right.

"Well," Toby was smiling some more, "only if you really want me to. I mean, if you've got such a busy schedule that--"

Chris shut him up the best way he knew how.

Thoroughly kissed, only regretting he couldn't be thoroughly fucked as well, Toby reluctantly drew back, smoothing his hands along Chris' shoulders. God, it felt so good to touch him again, just to look at him. A small frown started, though, as he lingered on the marks of Chris' recent beating and he reached over to trace the wound on his forehead with tender fingers. "I'm going to kill Howell."

Chris favored him with a disapproving look, however. "No you're not. You keep away from her -- and don't go huffing at me," he added, glowering back a little.

Toby sighed, reluctantly conceding he was probably right -- but not entirely giving up on the idea. "Well, even with that," and he drew him close, stretching up to brush his lips over the injury, feeling Chris shiver a little, "you still look good."

Predictably that brought a preening look to him, and Toby loved that too. "Baby, I always good."

And there was actually no disputing that since he'd even managed to make an orange prison jumpsuit look hot. "Yeah, I know -- you make all those sexiest men alive look like a bunch of pussies," Toby said, thrilled to see the kilowatt smile that brought to his face.

Christ, what had he been thinking, deluding himself for even five minutes that he could ever be content with the lukewarm and calculated affections of a Katherine McClain when he'd known passion like this? She couldn't hold a candle to this, no one ever could. And maybe that should make him sad, that the love of his life was this impossible thing and that they could never be together the way they wanted to. As much as that broke his heart, though, Toby couldn't regret it, and he knew he would fall all over again if he had it all to do over.

There was so much else he wanted to tell him -- but they would have time. He was making sure of that, no matter what. They might not have the life they wanted, not in this time and place, but they were going to make the most of what was possible. He wasn't budging an inch on that.

"Listen," he said, "is there anything I can get you, anything you need?"

"Just you," Chris said, looking at him with so much love shining in his eyes that Toby almost felt overwhelmed for a moment. All he could think was how did Chris do that, look at him like he was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

"You've got me," he managed to say after a moment. "Is there anything else? Books? What do you miss most?"

A rueful smile quirked a corner of his mouth. "Besides you?"


"I dunno -- my bike? It's the only possession I ever really cared about. Riding it was when I felt the most free."

Damn, Toby had to blink away a sting of tears as he saw that in his mind: both of them free of Oz and on Chris' bike, racing away to freedom. He nodded, saying, "I'll see what I can do."

Chris grinned, shook his head. "You gonna get a bike in here?"

"Well, maybe just a reasonable facsimile," he said, hearing the approach of footsteps -- probably Lopresti coming back. "I'll see you," he promised.

"Yeah?" Chris reached for him, grasping his hand.

"Yeah." Toby squeezed Chris' hand, kissed it. "Nothing's over, baby -- not ever. God doesn't have the balls, remember?" he added, smile turning wry, as he felt another sting of tears.

His own beautiful eyes bright and at odds with the brilliance of his smile, Chris nodded. "I'll see ya."

"Hey, Beecher," yep, there was Lopresti, "you done delivering the mail?"

"Just finishing up, Officer Lopresti," Toby said, scooting his cart over to hand Hoyt a package.

Chris snagged his arm as he passed by again, looking at him for the longest time. "I love you."

Nodding, Toby said, "I love you, Chris."

Lopresti rolled his eyes, giving him a nudge. "Geez, you guys think you're in a fucking soap opera or something?"

Toby sent Chris one more smile, for now, then headed out.

"Aww, that just gave me a warm glow all over," Hoyt said, leaning against the bars as he opened his package.

"Go fuck yourself," Chris returned, sitting down on his bunk and looking at the crumpled envelope, wondering what the hell kind of bombshell it could contain. He wasn't sure he was up to many more surprises right now. He was pretty sure he'd be a while sorting through everything Toby had already told him.

And how the fuck did Toby expect him to wait hours before opening this? he thought, turning the envelope over and over, not enjoying the suspense one little bit.

continued in "Dream Weaver"

Where Angels Fear to Tread

Well I'm wrapped around your finger
I'm never letting go
you know I'm happy just to linger
and let the feeling flow
This must be an illusion
I know this can't be real
but right here and right now
this is paradise I feel
I never thought I'd find someone to move me someone who could see right thru me
you found your way into my head
where even angels fear to tread
Don't wanna go out walkin'
don't wanna to take a drive
don't wanna move from this sweet spot baby while this feelin's still alive
The way we fit together
it's like we're meant to be
and right here and right now
this is paradise to me

Written by: B. Adams
G. Peters

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