by Riley Cannon
Title: Sunday in the Afternoon
Author: Riley Cannon
Subject info: B/K; canon based AU
Posted to: Oz Lyric Wheel
Lyrics provided by: Actizera
Song & Artist: "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" - Crosby, Stills & Nash
Story notes: Toby's been home from Oz for a few days, when he's gets a phone call. I guess this is an alternate S6, although the only thing retained from all that is that Toby's been paroled. And I don't think Chris has ever been on death row in this universe, or Toby already took care of that a long time ago.
And a big thank you to Actizera for an amazingly perfect set of lyrics. Hope this does them some kind of justice. The only idea I held onto, as various plots cycled through my head, was that somehow this had to be a duet since the song just works too well for both of them.
Thanks, also, to Maverick for setting another Lyric Wheel in motion and never failing to have an encouraging word.
~Sunday in the Afternoon~
"Thanks, sweetheart," Toby took the telephone from Holly. "Go help Harry and your grandma with the groceries." He smiled as she hurried off to the kitchen, and put the receiver to his ear. "Hello?" Silence. "Hello? Is there someone..." He paused as he heard a soft breath, like someone was caught by surprise and maybe on the verge of hanging up. He shook his head, a sad smile curving his lips. "Chris?"
Another shaky, hesitant breath, then, "Hey."
"What--" What's up? How are you doing? Want to go grab a pizza and catch a movie? Christ, there was nothing he could say that wouldn't be inane. "What are you wearing?" he said just before the silence would have grown painful. And sure, that was as stupid as anything else, but at least he bet it made him smile.
"What?" Chris said around a quick snort of surprise.
Toby shook his head at himself in the mirror above the telephone stand. "Never mind."
"Yeah." He could picture the expression on Chris' face right then, a match to that look he'd shot him that first time in their pod when he'd unloaded the nursery rhyme on him. He smiled at the memory, filling in all the other details. He knew how Chris was dressed; he could see him leaning against the wall in the Em City phone pod, one leg crossed over the other, probably aiming a fuck off look through the glass at O'Reily or whoever might be waiting in line for their turn. Chris would be wearing one of his wifebeaters, the white one, the soft cotton molded to hard muscle and opulent pectoral swell; gray, prison issue pants would fit just as snug, hugging an equally luxurious ass. This time in the afternoon too, he'd have a stubble of beard going, and it would feel soft and scratchy when Toby rubbed his cheek against it and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth...
"Who was that answering the phone? Holly?"
Chris' voice yanked him back to reality and Toby stared at the mirror for a second, certain he had seen his dreams playing out there across its silvered surface. "Yeah, it was," he said, striving for a firmer grip on reality.
"Sounds like a polite kid."
"Thanks, she has her moments." This wasn't what they should be talking about. There were so many important things to say, things they both needed to say and hear, and never enough time for them.
"So whatcha been doin'?" Chris said, comfortably drawling the words and dropping his g's, pretending he couldn't quote Shakespeare.
Toby would never call him on that. He knew how fond Chris was of that particular persona. And maybe this was what Chris really did want, what he needed, a touchstone to ordinary life. Toby had certainly discovered that it was all of the small and everyday things he treasured most. They could also be some of the hardest to get used to again.
"We just got back from the grocery store," he said.
"Yeah? You get your Cherry Garcia?" Chris said, and Toby thought he could hear a smile in his voice.
He smiled back, let him hear it. "Yeah, I did."
"Think of me when you eat it." This time a soft growl of sex rumbled underneath the words. If there had a trace of doubt about whom he was talking to, Toby knew that handful of words, that tone, would have chased them all away.
"Count on it," he told him, knowing he couldn't help but remember being tangled up with Chris in that bottom bunk, talking about what they would have for a first meal, if they got out of Oz. The conversation had started because of the cafeteria serving chicken nuggets three days in a row, Chris grumbling that if he never saw another one as long as he lived it would be too soon ~~
"So what's the first thing you'd eat if you got out tomorrow?" Toby said, fingers tracing a curve of bicep, skimming over the blank ink that decorated smooth skin.
Chris didn't even have to think about it. "A pizza," he said with conviction.
"Yeah. There's this little place, Angelo's, down at the corner of 12th Street and Main - makes the best pizza you have ever tasted in your life. One bite and it's like your mouth's having an orgasm."
Toby laughed softly. "I can see why that would appeal to you." He stretched over to brush his lips along that ink, on up along his throat, face burrowed into the crook of neck and shoulder as he just breathed him in for a moment. "I miss ice cream."
"We get ice cream sometimes."
His huff was rich with indignant snootiness, the kind only a connoisseur of ice cream could summon up. "That frozen glop of chemicals is not ice cream. Cherry Garcia is ice cream."
"That right?" Chris said, a smile of fond indulgence on his face.
Toby leaned in to kiss the smile. "You bet your ass."
"All that pizza and ice cream," Chris murmured, long fingers combing through Toby's hair, "that's a lot of calories to burn off."
"I bet we'd think of a something we'd both enjoy."
"I'll take that bet," Chris whispered, pulling him in for a longer, deeper kiss, as if the taste of Toby's mouth topped every other flavor.
~~ "What's it look like outside?" Chris said, and Toby had to haul himself back again.
"Uh, it," he heard a rumble of thunder off in the distance, "it's getting ready to rain, but it was beautiful earlier. The sky was so clear and blue, it was like I'd never seen it before."
"I'll bet." Chris didn't sound like he thought that was crazy. "Tell me how the sun felt on your skin."
He closed his eyes, remembering. "Good, it felt ... good. Warm and rich, like it was seeping right into my skin." He looked into the mirror, seeing himself stretched out on that bunk, knees raised and spread wide, hands gripping Chris' broad back as his lover pounded into him. "It felt like making love with you," he murmured into the phone, a sharp intake of breath making him worry he'd said too much. "Chris--" God, I miss you.
Chris sighed, and Toby imagined him closing his eyes and leaning his head against the phone for a second. "Babe, you're makin' this hard."
"I know." He fiddled with a vase on the table, the cut crystal filled with the bluest violets he'd ever seen. "I'm just all kinds of fun these days," he said, hearing the bitter undercurrent in his voice but knowing he didn't have to apologize.
He shrugged, flashed himself a wry smile in the mirror. "It's nothing really, I just ... I thought it would be easier, Chris."
"Toby, it will be. You gotta give yourself time."
"Maybe." He appreciated Chris' reassurance and wanted to believe him, but that first burst of elation and optimism at being free was slipping further and further away.
"Your folks givin' you a hard time?"
"No. No, they're great. A little overprotective, but guess you can't blame them." And it didn't feel smothering - yet. "It's just," Christ, he didn't want to unload all this on Chris, but he felt like keeping it bottled up was going to kill him, "it's all the little things, you know? The way the point keeps being driven home that nothing's ever going to be the same."
"Like what?" Chris said, as if prepared to be infinitely patient with him.
His reflection wore a worried frown now. "You really want to hear this?"
"Yeah, I do."
He wanted to pull out the straight-back chair tucked under the table and sit down, but there was no place in that box for Chris to relax, so he stayed on his feet as well. "It's stupid stuff really," he began. "Dad took us to the country club Friday night, and you'd think that would be a nice break, right, a night out, seeing some old friends?"
"Somebody say something?"
His short bark of laughter was angry, hurt, and he hated himself for feeling that way, for letting it get to him. "That's just it, nobody wanted to admit they ever knew me. People I've known all my life, guys I went to school with - they looked right through me like I wasn't even there."
"Toby, why do you care what a bunch of assholes think?"
"I don't." Oh yeah?
Chris called him on it. "Doesn't sound that way."
He sighed, shrugged again. "It's just ... I have to live in their world."
"Who says? Toby, you're free. Maybe you can't do everything you want to but, babe, you got chances other people can't even dream about."
He nodded to his reflection, hearing what Chris didn't say, what he never would, because as everyone knew it was Tobias Beecher who mattered, about whom the world revolved. The feelings and hopes and impossible dreams of a Chris Keller were of no consequence beside that. Fuck.
"Chris," he touched the mirror, fingertips tracing his own features, longing to feel his lover's skin, "I'm sorry, you're right, I've got nothing to bitch about." Jesus, why didn't Chris ever just tell him to go away, that he was tired of him and the perpetual trials and tribulations of Toby? Smile sad and wistful, he acknowledged the reason wasn't exactly a mystery. "It's just ... sometimes I want to fly away," he admitted quietly.
Just as quietly, Chris confessed, "Me too."
He nodded again, blinked to clear his vision. "I wish you were with me." Hell, sometimes he wished he was back there in that narrow bunk, skin branded with hot kisses, leaving his own mark on the beautiful, powerful body he ached for every night. "I wish we could fly away together."
"Yeah, well..." Chris paused, a catch in his voice, and Toby heard him clear his throat; he could see him turning his back to the rest of Em City, not wanting any of them to see his mask slip.
"Chris," he whispered the name, longing to be able to reach out and wrap his arms around him, "baby, it's okay."
Voice rough, Chris whispered back, "It isn't fucking okay, Toby, it's never going to fucking be okay. Oh Christ..."
Toby listened desperately, hearing his breathing, hearing him fumbling around, afraid he would just hang up. "Chris? Chris, are you still listening?" Oh God, don't leave me, please don't just leave me.
He pressed his free hand against the wall, Toby's voice anxious against his ear - "Chris? Chris, are you still listening?"
Pulling in a deep breath, he nodded to himself; he could do this, he could see it through. "Yeah, Toby, I'm here," he said, glad to hear his voice calm and steady. That meant he could turn around again and show his face to the crowd, the face he wanted them to see. The rest was only for Toby.
"I'm sorry, Chris," Toby was saying, guilt singing through his voice. And Chris didn't want that. He'd known before he punched up the number that he was making another stupid mistake. Drawing this out was a bad idea; they needed a sharp, clean break - he winced at that, the brutal memory conjured up, and turned his back on Oz again. That was past, yeah ... it all was, had to be. A couple minutes more, get a memory of Toby sounding happy stuck in his head, and then he could walk away.
"Nothin' to be sorry about, Toby," he said easily. He could picture him so easy, standing there in some big, fancy room, the corners of his wide mouth turned down and that bottom lip sticking out just a little, always making Chris want to nibble it, want to kiss him until he wasn't feeling anything but good. His eyes would be sad too, shadowed with guilt, beating himself up over things he couldn't control and hadn't done. "What're you wearin'?" he said. No hope that made him smile, but if it made that complicated mind shift some gears that would be enough.
He smiled. "What are you wearing? Bet I can guess." He could too. Not a suit, not for going to the grocery store.
"Bet you can't." If his heart wasn't quite in it, at least he was making the effort.
"Khakis, and a polo shirt, blue to bring out your eyes?" He didn't need any confirmation of his guess beyond the tiny huff that came over the wire. He grinned, really able to picture it, wanting to see it so bad: Toby in clothes that really fit him, days in the sun turning his hair to gold, maybe a sprinkle of freckles across that cute little nose... He sucked down another deep breath, bit his lip, knowing he'd sell his soul right that minute if he could just see Toby and touch him, and kiss those freckles.
"You're saying I'm predictable?"
"Nah," he put a teasing snark in his voice, "I'm sayin' your mom picks out your clothes." There, that got a smile out of him; Chris could hear it. "Listen, Toby, I'm about out of time here--"
"Chris, no, don't go yet."
Christ. He touched the wall again, rubbed his palm along it, the texture slick and smooth. "Toby..." He sighed, all his hard work coming undone, the hurt crashing back in on him. "We gotta let it be, Toby."
He shook his head, not even close to an answer. Funny, before Toby he'd always figured loving someone was a sure ticket to happiness. He hadn't been prepared for the sting in the tail that came with it. Wouldn't have mattered, though. He would have reached for Toby anyway.
"This ain't goin' nowhere, Toby."
"Who says?" Toby sent his own words back to him, and he had to smile at the way he'd always do that. "Just ... just tell me how you are."
He snorted. "Ah, well," he leaned back against the wall, one foot raised and braced against it as he looked through the glass, "aside from being locked up and bored out of my mind, not too bad."
"No fandangos with O'Reily?"
"Nothin' in the wind right now."
"Keeping away from Vern?"
"Much as possible."
"Keller, will you fucking talk to me? It's your dime - say something."
He sighed again, shook his head. Talking had never been his strong suit, not about things that were real. Spin a hard luck yarn to advance a con? Sure, no problem. Sweet-talk someone out of their pants and into his bed? Piece of cake. Lay himself open, drag all his deepest secrets out into the open for the man he loved? Yeah, whole other ballgame there. When all was said and done, though, he couldn't say Toby had ever given him cause to regret taking that risk.
Fingers tangled in the phone cord, shoulder pressed against the wall, he said, "I love you, Toby. I ... I miss you, every night."
"Me too," Toby said right back, like he hadn't even needed a second to think about it.
"I keep dreaming about you," Chris went on with his confession, the cord wound around his hand now. "It's almost like havin' you there in the night." He pictured Toby's face listening to that, bet his eyes were bright, that bottom lip trembling a little bit. Just like him.
"Tell me," Toby said, sounding hoarse.
He looked off to the side, nothing but blank wall there. "We're outside somewhere," he said, seeing the park from his dreams, the sky blue just like Toby'd described it, everything green and fresh and open. "Just walking along, not even talking. We're," he paused, cleared his throat, "we're holding hands." He said it softly, feeling stupid until he heard the smile in Toby's face.
"Sounds good. What else?"
"We sit down on the grass, lay down," he went on, the cord slipping free as the tension seeped away, "and we start making out." And sometimes it was so real he would swear he could taste Toby's skin and smell him, and feel his skin, warm from the sun and slick with sweat from making love; so real he'd wake up believing Toby was back in his arms and if he wanted he could just lean in and claim another kiss.
"Bet we keep making out," Toby said, sounding like he wouldn't object to that.
"Yeah, we do," he said, trying to hold onto the picture of Toby stripped bare and sprawled back in the green, green grass, holding out a hand to Chris, wanting him down there too. "Right there in the open, the sun keepin' us warm, and no one else in the whole wide world." Eyes closed, he leaned his head against the phone, that dream image already slipping away. "Then I wake up and remember that's never gonna happen," he finished.
"Chris..." A deep sigh, then, "Maybe not, but we can have something. What have you got to lose?"
Just his heart - but Toby already had that anyway. "You really wanna do this?"
"Yeah, I do. This is forever, Chris, for always."
"Toby ..." Christ he wanted to believe that. "You can't promise me that."
A huff, forecasting a bout of aggravation. "Don't tell me I can't do something, Keller."
He had to smile at that, nodding. "I'm just being realistic, Beech." One of them had to be.
"I'll tell you what's real, Chris: I love you, and I'm not going to forget that."
"Gotta draw it out to the bitter end, huh?" Chris said, rueful but loving him.
"Will you have some faith, Keller?"
"It's hard, babe," he admitted.
"I know it is, Chris. Don't they say anything worth having never comes easy?"
"Yeah, well, they say a lot of motherfucking half-assed things," Chris returned, and this time was rewarded with a laugh. "So you'll come see me Thursday?"
"Yes, I will. Try and stop me."
He laughed back then, letting go of the rest of the tension knotting him up. "Mineo's headin' this way, babe, I gotta go."
"Okay. Give him my love."
Chris snerked again. "I'll ... see you."
"You will, I promise. Love you."
"Love you," he said, accepting that, still certain it would all end in tears, but ... not right this minute, not today.
That was enough to keep him going.
"You got a lot of balls coming back here, Beecher," Chris whispered against his ear, arms around him tight.
Toby held him back just as fiercely. "Had a promise to keep." Nothing else - no one else - could get him to set foot back inside these walls.
Chris set him back a step, watching his face. "No one would've blamed you for breaking it," he said, understanding how tough it was for him to come here, admiring him for it.
Face scrunched up, Toby rubbed Chris' shoulder, said, "I would have," and knew Chris understand that too.
His lover nodded, expression solemn as he touched his face, thumb stroking along his cheek. "Love the freckles," he said, smiling like that really did make him happy.
Toby made a face at that too as he pulled out a chair at a table. "That's about as close as I get to a tan."
"Nah, you look good." Chris sat beside him, close, legs and shoulders brushing together, intent gaze never leaving his face.
"Thanks." Toby smiled and covered Chris' hand on the table. Expression turned wistful, he said, "I'd love to see you in the sun."
Instead of trying to shrug that off, Chris nodded and accepted it for it the simple truth it was, and turned his hand to clasp Toby's. "That'd be good, yeah." He searched Toby's eyes, like he needed to make sure of something. "You okay being here? Truth."
He squeezed Chris' hand, raised it to press a soft kiss just inside his wrist. "I'd rather be at Disneyland - but I can do this."
A corner of Chris' mouth quirked upward. "I'd rather you were at Disneyland."
"Yeah? Sick of me already?"
Eyes sad and haunted, Chris shook his head. "Just scared of you being here, scared how much I don't want to let you go again."
Not caring what any on-lookers thought, almost oblivious to there being any, Toby reached over to cup his face. "Want to hear something crazy?"
The smile he got wasn't exactly one of those light-up-the-room ones - but it was a start in that direction. "What?"
"Part of me doesn't want to go."
"You're right, that's fucked up." Chris sighed, smile fading as he looked down at the table for a moment. "You think loving someone's always this hard?"
Mouth thinned out, Toby shrugged. "I don't know. I've never been in love like this, Chris," he said, drawing a sharp look from the other man, surprise flashing in his blue eyes for a second.
"Me neither," he said, an almost visible weight lifting from him as he saw Toby believe him this time. He nodded, as if to himself, eyes locking with Toby's again. "What do you think would happen if I kissed you here?"
"Don't know," Toby said, considering it, smiling, curving his hand around the back of his neck. "Let's find out," he whispered in the moment before their lips met.
It's getting to the point
Where I'm no fun anymore
I am sorry
Sometimes it hurts so badly
I must cry out loud
I am lonely
I am yours, you are mine
You are what you are
You make it hard
Remember what we've said and done and felt about each
Oh babe, have mercy
Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now I am not dreaming.
I am yours, you are mine
You are what you are
You make it hard
Tearing yourself away from me now
You are free, and I am crying
This does not mean I don't love you
I do, that's forever, yes and for always
I am yours, you are mine
You are what you are
You make it hard
Something inside is telling me that
I've got your secret. Are you still listening? Fear is the lock, and laughter the key to your heart And I love you.
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard
And you make it hard
Friday evening, Sunday in the afternoon
What have you got to lose?
Tuesday mornin', please be gone I'm tired of you. What have you got to lose?
Can I tell it like it is? (Help me I'm sufferin') Listen to me baby (Help me I'm dyin')
It's my heart that's a sufferin', it's a dyin' And that's what I have to lose
I've got an answer
I'm going to fly away
What have I got to lose?
Will you come see me
Thursdays and Saturdays?
What have you got to lose?
Chestnut brown canary
Ruby throated sparrow
Sing a song, don't be long
Thrill me to the marrow
Voices of the angels, ring around the moonlight Asking me, said she so free
How can you catch the sparrow?
Lacy, lilting lady
Losing love, lamenting
Change my life, make it right
Be my lady.