by Anne

Disclaimers: All characters belong to Tom Fontana et al. I'm just borrowing them.

Notes: This story takes place after Ronnie Barlog's death and before Hank Schillinger's body is discovered. This story was inspired by a comment made by Dori - and I quote "I think Toby telling Chris about Barlog was his penance.`'

Warning: m/m, explicit sex

Pairing: BK

Rating: NC 17

"If losing sleep were any indication
of the loving that I've missed
I would wrap myself around you
but how likely can that be when I feel like this? And if life were not unfortunate and
reason blew like summer through the trees I would stop to let you catch me
but I think that you would find me on my knees'' -- Shawn Colvin

Ronnie Barlog was dead and Toby felt the blood on his hands. If he had just kept his mouth shut, Ronnie would be alive right now. But Chris would be on trial for his life; probably get the death penalty. So what choice did Toby really have?

Chris is part of me, Toby thought, as he walked across the quad. I could never just let Ronnie turn him in.

He needed to find someplace quiet to think. Keller always told him he did too much thinking. But right now, Keller wouldn't stop to give Toby a drink if Toby was dying of thirst. Chris was so damn aloof, so cool. About the only thing that could get a rise out of him was if Toby fucked some guy he didn't give a shit about. Toby laughed out loud as he reached the copy room and opened the door, because even that wasn't enough to make Keller take him back.

Toby slept with those men because he wanted Keller to suffer; to ache, to feel the emptiness that was eating away at Toby. He felt like a cat backed into a corner. What else am I supposed to do? He didn't know how else to get Keller's attention; didn't know what kind of penance he was supposed to perform to win Keller back. So he punished them both.

Said was right. He had this "thing'' with Keller. It was unhealthy, all consuming. Toby knew it but he couldn't pull himself away from it even when Keller refused to forgive him. Because he knew when they were in it together, all bets were off and Toby had never felt so deeply or so much with another human being. All the pain, all the anguish were worth the moments they held each other, touched each other's souls. Toby needed for it to happen again; he wasn't ready to give up on it yet.

He sat down in a dark corner and leaned his head on his hands. With Ronnie, Toby thought he might be able to keep his obsession with Keller at bay. He felt a kind of status quo with Ronnie. No pressure, no love just simply fulfilling a need. No battles, no head games, just a kind of easy peace. That he could have lived with. After all wasn't that what he and Genevieve had all those years? But Ronnie was gone and Chris was still here, haunting him. Could a living person haunt someone? Yes, he realized.

Oh fuck, I do think too damn much.

The door opened and a shaft of light flushed across the floor. Toby tensed, wondering if anyone had seen him come in earlier. One of Schillinger's soldiers looking to exact vengeance for some imagined insult?

"Toby?'' came the whisper. Shit. Wait, that sounded like...

"Toby, you here? I saw you come in." Chris!

Toby stood up then and Chris looked in the direction of the noise. "What do you want, Keller? To taunt me some more? To blame me for Ronnie's death? Play some mind games?'' Toby asked bitterly.

"Jesus, Toby, no."

"What, then?"

"I just wanted to thank you."

Toby scoffed. "Thank me?"

"For warning me about Ronnie."

"Yeah, well, what choice did I have?"

"Beecher?'' Chris asked, puzzled. "What does that mean?"

"Oh come on, Chris. I couldn't very well not tell you. You'd have ended up on death row." Toby said, sighing. "Despite that, Barlog didn't really deserve to die. I mean you're a killer. He's just a thief and he's the one who's dead,'' Toby said sadly.

"So, then why'd you do it?"

"You're kidding, right?" Toby asked and shook his head. "Sick, demented thing that I am, I'd rather live with the guilt of Ronnie's death than have you on death row, where I wouldn't be able to see you, to hope that...'' he let his words trail off.

"To hope what?"

"Never mind. It's not important."

"So you sound pretty sure about me killing those guys. That doesn't that bother you?"

"I would think you'd know me better than that, Chris. My feelings for you are unconditional," Toby said, sounding defeated. "If they weren't, I would never have forgiven you for breaking my arms and ripping out my heart.''

Chris swallowed, trying to get a hold of his emotions. "If that's true, why did you push me away for so long?''

"I needed to be certain about your feelings, Chris. But I never doubted my own. I loved you even when I was lying in that damn hospital bed with four casts on and I hated myself for it. I knew if I was wrong and you fooled me again, I couldn't live with myself,'' Toby explained. "When you stabbed Schillinger in the gym to save me, then I knew the truth.''

"Which is what?"

"That you were willing to sacrifice your safety for mine; that you loved me as much as I loved you."

"Oh yeah?" he snapped, all false bravado. "Then why can't I forgive you for accusing me of Gary's death?''

"Because I haven't done my penance yet," Toby said and shrugged helplessly. "I can't even figure out what it is.''

Chris sighed and reached out to touch Toby then, at the curve of his neck. "Oh, but you have, Toby," he said, moving his hand to the center of Toby's chest. "I know what it cost you - here - to tell me about Ronnie knowing that he was going to die if you did.''

Toby closed his eyes and focused on Chris' touch. He felt it burn him right through the shirt he wore. Toby prayed Chris wouldn't move his hand. He exhaled; his breathe rattling and shaky. "I would betray a thousand Ronnie Barlogs for the chance to touch you again,'' he whispered so quietly that Chris had to bend closer to hear him.

"Oh Toby," Chris breathed and let his head hang down. He didn't know what to say; wasn't sure what to do.

Toby lifted Chris' hand off his chest and brought it up to his mouth. Feeling no resistance, Toby pressed his lips against Chris' palm. Icy tingles shot up Chris' arm and plunged into his heart; he felt his wall crumbling.

Toby let his tongue caress Chris` skin, groaning at the familiar yet too-long denied taste of his lover. "You belong to me, Chris. And I belong to you. We're soul mates.''

Chris looked up at Toby then, his eyes watery with unshed tears. "You know, Toby, you really crushed me when you thought I was capable of killing Gary,'' he said, letting his arm fall by his side.

Toby nodded sadly. "I know. We've both hurt each other too much, Chris. But we can end that. Right here. Right now,'' Toby said quietly, waiting to hear what Chris would say.

"I don't know, Toby. I think too much has happened."

Toby sighed sadly and then a thought popped into his head. "Why'd you believe me? When I told you about Ronnie?'' Toby asked, switching tacks.


"Just answer the question."

"Well, I didn't want to. So I asked Ronnie about it. He swore he didn't say anything to the feds. I told him I believed him and that might have been the end of it if he had just shut his mouth. But he just kept jabbering and I knew he was lying.''

But Toby was shaking his head. "No."


"No. You knew I was telling the truth before you talked to Ronnie. How did you know?"

"I guess I'm not following you."

"You've known Ronnie your whole life. You've known me - what - three years? And you believed me. You believed me because you know I'm the only one who's ever loved the whole Chris Keller; even the parts of yourself you hate. You believed me because we are connected, Chris. I'm inside your skin. And no matter what you decide to do; no matter what directions our lives take us in, nothing is ever going to change that. You love me, Chris. And I love you with everything that I am and everything that I'm ever gonna be." He paused then, waiting for Chris.

Several minutes went by and Chris said nothing. Toby felt defeated but he was certain his words had somehow sunken in. At least Chris knew how he felt. Toby shrugged and started to walk around Chris to leave the copy room.

But Chris grabbed a hold of Toby's arm to stop him. "Don't go, Toby. I don't want you to go," Chris whispered and leaned toward his lover. He pulled Toby into a tight embrace. He pressed his face against Toby's neck.

"I can't fight it anymore, Toby." Chris' body relaxed against Toby. He wondered if this was how Toby had felt that New Year's Eve.

Toby felt Chris' surrender. I'll be your strength, Chris, if you'll just let me, Toby thought. He found Chris' mouth and pressed his lips against it. A jolt passed between them then, and Toby was stunned by it's power. He knew that no memory would ever measure up to this feeling; this living animal they created only when they came together.

Toby's lips were ferocious, devouring Chris' mouth, desperate to blot out the memory of the empty weeks and even emptier sexual encounters with the men of Oz. Toby's tongue invaded, licked, tasted, glided, claimed ownership.

Toby slipped his hands under Chris' shirt, absorbing himself in the feel of the silken skin. Too many barriers. Jesus, he thought impatiently. Toby reluctantly pulled his lips from Chris and swiftly yanked Chris' shirt off and then allowed Chris to do the same for him. Ready to dive back into the kiss, Toby was surprised when Chris leaned into his lover's neck.

He felt Chris' hot, wet tongue against his throat. Toby's entire body responded instantly and he groaned aloud. Chris' mouth worked its way across Toby's sensitive neck, moistening the skin and setting Toby's nerves on fire. Chris found the suprasternal notch at the base of Toby's throat, tracing the hollow. Toby moaned and reached for the waist of Chris' pants.

Toby unzipped Chris and slid the pants down, over his lover's exquisite ass. He stroked Chris' cock, already slightly moist. Chris shook his pants off and kicked them off to the side and helped Toby out of his.

Their lips met against as they pressed together, the sensations spreading through them like wildfire. "Chris," Toby whispered into his lover's mouth. "I want to fuck you."

"Yes," he breathed.

Chris turned and braced himself against the wall and Toby wrapped his arms around his lover's waist. He pressed his erection to Chris' muscular ass, rubbing against him. Then Toby spread the leaking fluid over his penis and pushed himself inside Chris' tight hole.

Chris let out a small hiss and tensed briefly. Toby leaned into Chris' strong, broad back, smelling his lover's scent, tasting him. "I love you," Toby whispered in between kisses. Chris sighed and Toby began to move again.

Toby reached down with one hand and cupped Chris' balls, causing him to gasp. Then he moved his hand up the hard shaft, pumping Chris to the rhythm of his own thrusts. Toby drove himself harder, wanting to fill Chris; wishing this would never end. Chris spread his legs wider and pushed his ass back against Toby's thrusting cock.

Toby felt his body rock and throb; tiny fingers of exquisite sensations humming through his nerves, his muscles, his skin. The vibration spread to Chris; his muscles clamping around Toby's cock, sending them both over the edge. He felt Chris' erection pull and jerk, then he felt the delicious liquid slide over his fingers.

As he poured himself into Chris, Toby knew he was right. All the weeks of anguish; the horrible, aching need were all worth it for this single moment in time. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, Toby thought. "Penance," he whispered into the darkened room, grateful that Chris had accepted his.

*the end*

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