Disclaimers: not my characters, just playing. no money being made.
Notes: my take on "Revenge is Sweet" from Toby's POV
"I've given up my ghosts
Barely breathe your name
Offer up myself
Pray you'll do the same
For the love that might escape
Well that's the biggest fear
It grinds me to a pulp;
Grinds me in the gears"
- Edwin McCain
"Finally." Toby put down the book he had been reading and looked over at his podmate, who was already lying in bed. Beecher moved across the room, whispering Ronnie's name seductively, sliding a hand across the man's hip and pressing against his cock.
Ronnie told hold of Beecher's hand, whispering "No, no, no," like a chant. Toby was confused. Just last night, Ronnie had been an eager lover; giving pleasure as well as receiving. He was unlike either Shemin or Brown, who had only been concerned about their own satisfaction.
"What's the matter?"
"Keller," Ronnie said, as if that explained everything.
"What about him?" Toby asked, wondering where this was going.
"He and I fucked this afternoon."
"What?" he asked so softly, it came out more like an exhale than an actual word.
"Yeah. And it was great..." Ronnie said, rambling on but Beecher barely heard him. He felt like he had been gut punched by his one-time lover, now nemesis. How the hell had this happened?
Toby thought he had been playing the game so well. Just that morning, Keller had accused Toby of fucking Barlog to make Keller jealous. He was right and Toby thought that maybe finally his plan was working. Toby wanted Keller to forgive him; to take him back.
Beecher now realized he should never have tried to force Keller's hand; especially using sex. After all, Keller was the master of using sex to manipulate, wasn't he? Now Chris had turned the tables on Beecher.
Fuck! he thought. I've been outfoxed by Keller again. And fucking Ronnie was still jabbering about childhood memories.
"...he says he loves me."
That caught Beecher's attention. He shook his head and chuckled. How well he remembered being sucked in by those very words out of the same traitorous mouth.
"He made me promise you and I wouldn't do it." Oh, this is choice, Beecher thought. Not only had Keller fucked Ronnie, he was making sure Toby wasn't going to be getting any. Vindictive bastard.
Beecher reached out and touched Ronnie's face. Maybe he could still turn this around. "He doesn't love you, Ronnie. It's just another ponzi."
But Ronnie took Toby's hand and placed it on the mattress. "Probably. Beecher, we're in Oz. So, what the fuck is the difference?"
Toby didn't know if he was more upset about - Keller turning the tables on him or the fact that Chris had fucked someone else. Toby knew he certainly had no right to be jealous. He had slept with anyone who asked. But Chris hadn't up until now.
Not that long ago, Chris said that it bothered him seeing Toby fucking other guys. Toby really thought he was making headway and now this.
Toby stood up then and walked to the front of the pod and looked up, where he knew Keller would be watching and waiting. As soon as Toby came into view, Keller turned, pulled his briefs down and spread his cheeks. Game, set, match. To the victor goes the spoils.
Fuck you, Chris, Toby thought. But he didn't move. He just stood there and stared until Keller went back to bed.
The next day, Toby was watching t.v. in quad when Ronnie Barlog came up to him. He moved his earphones and asked Ronnie what he wanted.
"You're a lawyer, right?"
"Let me run something by you," he said and then stage whispered, "A deal that the feds are offering me."
Fuck you, Ronnie, Toby thought. But he said, "I don't work pro-bono." Then he moved his earphones back in place.
"I'll, uh, make the consultation worth your while," Ronnie said and reached across Beecher's lap, pressing against his cock. Toby was so surprised, he snorted out a strangled snicker. Looks like Keller just doesn't inspire loyalty, Toby thought smugly.
"Maybe we can work something out," he said and followed Ronnie back to their pod.
"So, what's this about?" Toby asked when the door was closed.
Ronnie looked around, nervously before answering. "The FBI interviewed me today. They offered to cut my sentence if I could help them link Keller with the murder of three college guys that were murdered in early 1998."
"What?" Toby asked, his hearting beating faster. Fear gripped his heart and his mind started racing. Could it be true? He had feared it was but now to come face to face with this. If Ronnie was even considering the deal, he must know something. "Who did you talk to?"
"An agent named Pierce Taylor. He doesn't seem to have any evidence connecting Keller to the murders."
"Do you?" Toby asked, trying to sound detached but his heart was in his throat.
"Yeah. And they said they would reduce my sentence to 5 years."
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. "Well, what can you give them? It's probably just circumstantial, right?" Please, please, please, Toby prayed, then wondered why the fuck he should care.
"Well, I stopped by his place the night he killed Bryce Tibbits - that was the last one - and I could see he was high and all agitated. So I asked him what was wrong. I remember he had this piece of cloth and he kept wrapping it and unwrapping it around his hand. He told me he had just fucked and killed some guy, which totally blew me away. I never even knew he fucked guys. Hell, he'd only been separated from Bonnie for maybe six months. She had filed for divorce but it wasn't final yet."
Oh fuck, Toby thought, panic setting in. He had to force himself to breath normally. "Go on."
"Well, I guess my surprise showed because he started going on about Bonnie being a bitch and not understanding. Then he confessed to killing the other two guys. I was scared, man. Thought I might be next, what with him tripping. But he just started crying and he kind of just collapsed into me and I held him until he fell asleep."
Think, Toby, think. "Did he give you any details about the crimes? How they were committed or where?" So far, it was only hearsay, and any good lawyer could get it thrown out.
"Yeah. He told me everything. It was like I was his confessor or something. I guess he trusted me. We'd been friends a long time and we'd gotten into some deep shit together. But even I did not know how bad Chris' dark side was."
Shit, now what? Toby's mind was racing ahead of itself. I have to find Chris. I have to tell him and make him believe me.
Ronnie stood there, waiting for Beecher to say something. "Okay, Ronnie. Okay. It sounds like most of what you know is hearsay and most lawyers could get that thrown out. Unless you know where there's any physical evidence, the FBI might try to screw you on the reduced sentence promise," Beecher said, trying to sound like a lawyer but wanting to run screaming from the room.
"Well, Chris was always careful about the physical stuff. That's why they haven't caught him yet. And he didn't keep any souvenirs, like some do, ya know? Still, I was thinking if the descriptions Chris gave me match the crimes, then won't a jury believe that?"
They just might, Toby thought. "I don't know. It's possible. You'd better find out if the FBI will make the deal on just circumstantial evidence before you commit to anything," Toby said, pausing. "Are you sure it's worth betraying a friend?"
Ronnie cast his eyes down. "You trying to make me feel guilty, Beecher? I don't see why you'd care. There's no love lost between you and Keller."
Oh, if you only knew, Toby thought.
"Besides, he killed three college kids. Shouldn't he be punished for that?"
But Toby couldn't speak so he just nodded.
Ronnie stepped closer then, placing his hand on Toby's waist and raised his eyebrows suggestively. "So, shall I settle up my account?"
Toby looked at him, surprised and horrified. The last thing on his mind was having sex with Ronnie. He felt a wave of nausea come over him. "No, Ronnie. That's okay. Maybe later."
Ronnie smiled. "We'll save it for lights out. You just gotta promise not to tell Keller," he said, laughing and walked out of the pod. Toby followed Ronnie with his eyes, hoping Ronnie would find some kind of distraction.
Ryan, who was sitting at a table with his brother, saw Ronnie walk by and invited him to play a game of chess. Thank God, Beecher thought and headed out of the pod to find Keller.
Where could he be? Toby checked the copy room but no luck. As he looked, Toby felt his gut churning. What am I doing? he thought and stopped to think under the stairwell. If I tell Keller what Ronnie's planning to do, Chris will kill him.
Ronnie may be a rat but does he deserve to die? And if he does die, will I be able to live with myself? Toby wondered. What about the sanctity of lawyer-client privilege? Fuck that. I've been disbarred, anyway.
Besides, what's the alternative? Let Keller end up on death row, which was distinct possibility. No, Toby decided. There was no question, for Toby, whose life had more value in this particular equation. Toby didn't care if Chris had killed a dozen men. I love him and I just couldn't bear to lose him, not forever. At least, with him still in Em City, there's a chance we might reconcile. God, I need that hope.
He walked out from under the stairwell and headed toward the library. Toby knew Chris liked to read there. He walked in behind Chris and sat down facing his ex-lover. He waited for Chris to look at him but Keller just kept his nose in his book.
"Keller," Toby said quietly.
Chris looked at Toby. "Oh are we speaking? I thought we were fucking with each other," he said with a smirk on his face.
Oh Jesus, this is going to be harder than I thought. Just get to the punchline, Toby. "Ronnie Barlog is about to sell you out."
Chris closed the book and leaned closer. "You're a goddamn liar," he whispered menacingly.
Toby leaned back. "The FBI offered him reduced prison time if he testifies against you in those homosexual murders," he whispered, hoping that he could convince Keller to believe him.
Keller sat back in his chair. "You're just saying that cause you're jealous."
Toby let out a half-chuckle, half-snort. Can't argue with that, he thought. *But I have to make you believe me, trust me. So you can go and kill Ronnie and I can carry the guilt around with me for the rest of my Goddamn life. It's now or never. Come on, Beecher. Pretend Keller`s a jury*. "Believe what you want to believe. Write me from death row." Toby stood up and walked out.
Toby stopped in mid-stride and turned to see Keller in the doorway of the library. Chris walked up to him.
"Why'd you tell me?"
Toby sighed and closed his eyes, felt his heart hammering in his chest.
"Do you really have to ask?"
"I wanna know."
"You already do know," Toby said, pressing his hand against Chris' chest. "In here. But you're too damn stubborn to see it."
"Maybe I just want to hear you say it."
Toby chuckled and shook his head. "You want me on my knees?" he asked rhetorically. "Okay, fine. I would do anything to keep you near me, Chris. Even with all the mind games and this empty feeling in my soul, having you here to torment me is somehow strangely more palatable than losing you forever. I love you more than I could possibly tell you. I can't even explain why you have this hold over me but I don't care. What's more, you know how much I love you despite my one, admittedly egregious, error. Even when I tried to kill you, I loved you. But I loved Gary more and maybe that's why you can't forgive me. I don't know.
"I would kill Ronnie Barlog for you if you asked. If I have to live with his death on my conscience for the rest of my life, then so be it. It's a small price to pay by comparison," he finished, his voice shaking with emotion, his eyes wet with unshed tears.
Chris reached up, placing his hand on the crook between Toby's shoulder and neck. He looked into Toby's shining blue eyes and nodded as if he understood. Then his hand dropped and he walked down the hallway.