Fic: They Said He Was Depressed 5/5
Subject: Last chapter of this saga of Chris surviving the fall in Season 6.
Posted to: TSXF/TS
Beta assistance: Sandra Numb and Tingly in Seattle, thank you.
They Said He Was Depressed 5/5
Note: This wasn't easy to write but they wouldn't let me stop. It's a little angst-ridden but it's Beecher and Keller after all. And I'm dedicating this to Paula because next week will be better.
"Cowwnn-nnt" Mineo yelled out as all the pod doors simultaneously swooshed open after he manipulated the switches on the console. Then he noticed an envelope that had fallen on the floor in the guard station. His name was written on the front in big blue letters and he could tell Murphy had written it. He used his foot to get the envelope closer and then bent over to retrieve it. Inside he found:
We gave Beecher a sleeping pill or some other kind of pill for his high anxiety. So if he's still sleeping when you read his number off, just let the poor fuck sleep. You don't want Rebadow after you again, remember last time?
`Shit, let poor Beecher sleep. Rules is rules but we bend `em when it's convenient for these dinks' Mineo thought to himself. He took his clipboard and started the daily count as the men were still coming out of their pods to stand in front of their goldfish bowls. And sure as shit! Beecher was snoring so loud everyone could hear him even with the pod closed. Mineo stood by the door, listened and shook his head. As he checked off 97B412 some of the inmates remembered another time when Mineo let Beecher be. He moved on.
"65R814, 98B242, 96J332, 97P468."
"Sister Pete? What are you doing here? I thought you were off today, it's Sunday."
"Well, normally I am Chris but someone told me you were still a little...ah...rocky and Tobias. Well Tobias is having a rather difficult time."
"You know Sister, last night I think my memory came back. I was in the bathroom and I saw Toby staring back at me in the mirror. I started shaking and I broke out in a cold sweat. When I laid down I remembered a lot of shit. So don't tell me Tobias is having a difficult time. Mukada once told me something similar and well, I'm not doing it again, it's not a pretty picture."
Sr. Pete moved closer to Chris and said. "I was thinking Chris. Years ago you asked me to set up one of my `victim interaction programs' between you and Tobias. Do you remember? Well, I think now's the time."
"Oh do you?" Chris asked her.
"Yes, I do. I think you and Tobias need to clear the air. You said you were "jealous" of Toby's new life and you wound up ruining his parole. Once again he trusted you, Chris. And you betrayed him, for a second time."
"Sister, you don't know the half of it. You only see Toby's side. You wouldn't give me the time of day. You've never really listened to me. I mean really listened and now you've already made up your mind about what went down between the two of us. Your golden boy screwed me over and he doesn't come out smelling like a rose this time. Ever hear of free will, Sister?"
"Of course I have, Chris, but I don't see what..."
"And why would you, Sister? I mean after all, Tobias is having a difficult time. So what's he doing? Is he in his slut mode again, growing a beard? No don't tell me... he's rhyming again. I'm right? See, you don't even have to say it. I know Toby. I know that mutherfucker better than anyone else. Better than you think you do." Chris stared at her, waiting for her reply, wondering what role she was playing today, the good Sister or the serious psychologist.
"Of course you know him and he...knows you, that's why we need to put an end to this thing that's between the two of you, Chris." She was beginning to lose her patience with him.
Chris shrugged his left shoulder and placed the tip of his tongue on his top lip as if he were wetting his lips but the action got stalled in midstream. He watched her and was pleased he was still able to make her uncomfortable but at the same time, he no longer cared.
"Sister, this `thing' between us used to be called love."
"Chris, I believe you are still deeply in love with Tobias. You've not come to any resolution yet," she said.
"What was that, Sister? You're talking to my bad ear." Chris told her as he turned his right ear into the pillow.
Sr. Pete stood up, sighed and patted Chris on the shoulder. "Just think about it, Chris. I'll talk to you later."
Dr. Nathan and Sr. Pete were sitting in the employee lounge drinking their coffee and discussing the case in front of them. Dr. Nathan was concerned about both men, Beecher and Keller, and she was well aware that Sister Pete favored Toby. She knew the mind games Chris had played with the nun/psychologist in the past and knew she still harbored an undeniable loathing for Chris. For all the times she spoke about what was right and wrong, forgiveness and intolerance and other idioms from the bible, she was a hypocrite. Gloria dealt in facts; issues were black and white, just like she was taught and trained to do in medical school.
"Gloria, do you think we need to put Chris on suicide precautions? Maybe we should put him in protective custody for his...safety?" She asked not looking into Gloria's eyes while taking a sip of coffee.
"Pete! You mean Tobias's safety don't you? No, I don't think Chris is suicidal, depressed...yes, but he's not going to hurt himself and I don't think he's going to hurt Tobias unless unduly provoked. And I do think it's safe to send him back to Em City, today." Dr Nathan said while looking directly at her. "But I would like to check on Toby and see how he is this morning. I heard he was quite entertaining last night before that pill kicked in."
"Yes, and when I called Mineo this morning Tobias was still sleeping. He even missed breakfast. Why don't I go check on him? I'll tell him about the interaction I'm setting up between him and Chris. It's best that I do this now. I'll let you know how he is." She said in a condescending manner as she stood up to leave.
"Yes, you do that!" Gloria mumbled into her coffee. `Why do I let her get to me when she's so patronizing? Damn her!'
"Chris, Chris?" Dr. Nathan called then remembered he had lost some of his hearing. She gently placed her hand on his shoulder until he turned to look at her.
"Chris, Sister Pete told me about the interaction between you and Toby. And...I think sitting down with Tobias is really a good idea, more for you than for him. And, I'm here if you just want to talk. I'm also going to be sending you back to Em City this afternoon. Are you ok with that?"
Chris nodded and she smiled. "So... why don't you go ahead and take a shower, Sr. Pete is going to set up the interaction after she speaks with Toby. I would think she'd have it in about an hour or so."
"Well, I guess it's already been decided for me. So much for listening to me." Chris said dejectedly as he swung his legs over the side of the bed, `Fuck, Fuck, Fuck'.
Sister Pete walked through the quad of Em City while the men watched her climb the stairs past the guard station to Beecher's suite. It had been obvious to a lot of the C.O's and some of the men who had spent some time in this special unit that Tobias Beecher, the has been ex-lawyer, was her "pet project." Similar to Tim and Omar White but where Tim failed, she would succeed. She could see Tobias sitting on the side of the bottom bunk with his head in his hands and quickly knocked on the door but didn't wait for a reply and she entered.
Toby knew who it was before she walked all the way in; the C.O.'s didn't knock softly. He rotated his head to the left without moving his hands.
"Good afternoon, Tobias." She said as she sat down next to him.
"It's afternoon?" He questioned her.
"Yes it is. Do you remember anything about last night?"
"Sort of, but it seems like a dream. I still feel like I'm in a dream, sort of like a hangover but...I didn't drink, Sister. I swear I didn't!" He emphatically told her.
"Don't swear Tobias."
"Oh yeah, sorry. I remember Murphy coming in here a couple of times and yelling at me."
"Well only Murphy can give you all the details of that, Tobias, but let's just suffice to say you were a little stressed out so we gave you something to help you sleep."
"Sleep? I think I was unconscious. I don't even remember count this morning."
"Yeah, well, Officer Mineo was left instructions to let you sleep and I guess he did."
"Let...me...sleep?" Toby snorted and then rubbed his face vigoursly to help himself wake up. He stood up, walked over to the metal sink, turned on the faucet and splashed cold water on his face. He grabbed a towel to dry his face then turned around to face her.
"Chris! That's what happened, Sister. Is he...is Chris ok?"
"That's why I'm here, Tobias."
"No, oh no. Chris is ok. In fact I just got through talking with him and I asked him to think about an interaction between the two of you. What do you think? You know, clear the air, get everything out in the open. Years ago, Chris had asked for this, remember? You turned him down or I did, I don't remember but don't do it again, Tobias. Whatever the outcome, you at least owe it to him."
"Owe it to him? Just what exactly do I owe him, Sister. I didn't push him over that rail."
"My dear Tobias. You know I have...well you know that you're special to me, don't you? And I haven't always been there when you needed me and I certainly haven't been there for Chris. After you were paroled I met with Chris a couple of times. He knew you had...fallen in love with a woman and he was...he said he was "jealous" of your new life. I should have given him more time but as usual...I only gave him the minimal amount of time required."
"An interaction? Well, what's one more interaction? I probably hold the record for doing more interactions than anybody else. I'll do it but I'm not real hopeful. Chris can hold a grudge when he thinks he's been wronged."
"Just give it your best shot. Why don't you shower and get something to eat and I'll work out the time, probably in an hour or so? Does that work for you, Tobias?"
Toby sighed and nodded his head in agreement. "I'll shower but I don't have an appetite right now, Sister."
Tobias Beecher and Christopher Keller were escorted separately into the room where Sister Pete held the victim/offender interactions. She nicknamed this process the "Voice" because, "well because both parties could talk and listen to each other, sometimes for the first time". She was running a little late, concerned that the men hadn't eaten, so she stopped in the cafeteria and got a few oranges and apples. She figured if nothing else peeling oranges could occupy some nervous hands. She patted the pocket of her sweater; she had it with her this time. When Chris was transferred to Cedar Junction she didn't have time to give it to him. Everything had happened so fast that day and Tobias had needed some consoling.
Chris stood in the middle of the cold unoccupied room with his back to the door and his hands in his pockets. There were three chairs in the room, two were placed next to a small table and the other one was next to the door. He was the first to arrive and hoped they would get this thing going soon so it would be over and done with. Then he noticed a small bookcase against one wall that had two fake dusty plants sitting on the top and some even older looking books on the shelves.
He heard voices and footsteps in the hallway and by the increased noise level he knew they were getting closer by the second. Chris's heart was pounding and he felt like he was going to throw up. He looked around to see where the trashcan was, if he actually needed it. He leaned over, slightly bent at the knees and braced himself by placing both palms on his thighs. Slow, deep breaths he kept telling himself, slow deep breaths. After the nausea subsided he straightened up and realized he was beginning to feel better; he had passed the first hurdle.
The door opened and he saw the C.O.'s right hand on the doorknob. The man's right foot helped brace the door open and Tobias Beecher entered the room. His startle reflex kicked in when he saw Chris standing in the middle of the room. Where was Sister Pete? He expected Sr Pete to be here, not just the two of them. The C.O. looked at both men and Chris said, "It's cool, we're cool."
"I'm going to be standing right outside this room and if I hear anything coming out of here, I'm hauling both your asses down to the hole!" The C.O. wasn't expecting a reply to what he said; he was just stating the facts as he saw it. He closed the door and they could see his silhouette on the frosted window.
"Beecher." Chris simply said. He stood rocking slightly on his heels with his arms folded across his chest. His heart was still pounding but he felt he was in control of his emotions. Keller had his game face on.
"Chris." Toby was nervous, his reflexes told him to run, run as fast as he could. He started pacing. He could feel Chris's eyes boring into him.
"What was that rhyme you said when I first met you? You know the day you were my sponsor, something about rats in a garden, cows in the cornfield and a fire on the mountain? What the hell was that all about? We never did talk about that. Talked about a lot of other shit but never that. Sister Pete said you were rhyming again."
"She told you that? Why would she tell you that?" Toby asked nervously.
"Why, Toby? Why? How can you stand there and ask me why? Well, she told me that Tobias is having a difficult time with this Chris situation. Ding, ding...does it ring any bells for you, Tobias? It sure does me!" Chris spoke softly but with an air of disdain in his voice. He wanted his message to be loud and clear and while he had the chance to deliver it, he was going to take it.
"Chris?" `No, take a deep breath Toby, you've stood your ground with him before.'
"Chris, Said once told me to embrace my guilt or it will eat away at me forever. I guess when my guilt gets the best of me and when I can't hold it together anymore my mind sort of caves in and...I...start rhyming. I've done that since I was a little kid."
"Like protection or something?" Chris was perplexed by the response. He thought he would get some lame excuse like when Gary died, something about his grief process or some other shit.
"Yeah, I guess so. I make rhymes and everyone thinks I'm fucking nuts and they leave me alone." Toby snorted. He then took in a deep breath and heaved a sigh of relief; they were at least talking.
"Come here." Chris said barely above a whisper as he unfolded his arms.
"What?" Toby was taken aback, where was Sister Pete?
"I said, come here, Toby." Chris realized that Tobias Beecher might be a little more fragile than he ever expected.
"Are you giving me an order?" Toby asked Chris for the second time in his life.
Chris shook his head, "No. No, I'm not. I just..."
Before Chris could complete his sentence Toby had walked the few steps towards this man who at one time had made him feel safe and protected. They stared into pools of blue, dark and light, eyes that had seen too much but were still able to communicate. Toby closed the distance and put his arms around Chris' neck. Chris closed his eyes, he could smell Toby and oh man...he smelled so good. He hugged him back. Toby buried his face into Chris's neck and felt the pressure of Keller's arms sliding around him. But it didn't feel the same, it felt like a hug from his dad or Said, not the hug of a lover.
Sister Pete knew she was running late and arrived to see the guard standing outside the room she used.
"Officer, what do you mean by leaving them alone in there?" Sister Pete chastised the officer who had positioned himself inside the small corridor that was filled with four other rooms. He stared at her; she didn't give him time to respond as she opened the entry.
They didn't hear the door as it opened but Sister Pete had finally arrived.
"Ah...Gentlemen, I'm glad to see that you're both...talking?" They separated and she felt a different tension in the air, not the usual one she felt with the Beecher/Keller case. "Why don't we all take a seat?"
She placed the apples and oranges on the table. Chris grabbed an orange and sort of caressed it then he began slow, gently squeezing, trying not to bruise it.
"Ok, now, Tobias is familiar with the rules Chris but I'll go over them with you. This session is for both of you to discuss your feelings of anger and the guilty person gets to express remorse and you both get a chance to put the past behind you. There's no interrupting when the other person is speaking and I'm here as a... moderator. Any questions?"
"Sister, who is the guilty person in this session?" Chris asked as he leaned back in the chair and stretched in legs out propping them on the small table. "You don't mind do you if I..." he pointed to his legs.
"No, make yourself comfortable. And to answer your question, I don't know the whole story, only you do. You, both of you, have to decide who's guilty, who's the victim and try to resolve this. Are we clear on that?" she responded. "Ok now, who wants to go first?"
Silence. The men stared at each other, facial muscles relaxed, no challenge issued. Finally Beecher said, "I will."
He scooted to the edge of the chair and clasped his hands together, "Chris, sometimes, most times, I wish I could wipe away everything I've done and everything I've said to hurt the people that I loved. I wish I could look at people and not see the hurt they've caused me."
"This is bullshit." Chris was quick to answer. It felt like dj vu all over again. "Toby, will you ever take a look in the mirror and really see the hurt you actually cause instead of just saying you wished you could?"
"Chris." Toby pleaded.
"No, Toby. I came close to dying again this last time. Don't you think this dying stuff would have an impact on me? I tried to tell both of you the first time after I was shot. I asked you not to let me go and you didn't hold on Beecher, and the shit hit the fan! And you," he turned and glared at Sister Pete. "You wouldn't even see me so I could tell you I was sorry. I keep trying to tell you but neither one of you...you don't seem to hear me."
"Chris I am listening. But I don't know what you mean by that." Toby said staring into Chris, watching as his eyes narrowed and he got `that look' on his face.
"Toby, I finally get it. I can't control the universe, only my reaction to it."
"That's nonsense. There's things we can control and I should know."
"Like jobs and children? Has that worked for you? If it has then hey man, keep on truckin..."
"No, like guilt, I feed on it like a seven course meal."
Sister Pete: "Toby, you know the rules, let Chris continue his thought."
Toby sat back in the chair and tightly crossed his arms in front of him; he lowered his chin like a chastised child.
"Toby, you can't change anything because it's already happened. You may as well stop and smell the flowers along the way." Chris said.
"What flowers, Chris. Is this some metaphor you learned?" Toby questioned.
"What's the alternative?"
"What the hell does that mean?" Toby was totally lost. `Damn, I'm back in his pod looking for the shank and he's telling me his Las Vegas story.'
"Let me stop this for a minute, I think both of you need to take a break. And Chris, I have something for you." She reached into her pocket and pulled it out. Cupped tightly in her small right hand she extended it to him, waiting for him to accept it. He did and she dropped it in his hand. Chris quickly closed his fist over it and then she grasped his hand with both of hers and gave it a little squeeze. The nod was barely noticeable as he placed his tightly held fist on his thigh. His breath quickened and his heart was pounding again.
Toby didn't like the idea of not knowing what was going on. "Wh...what'd she give you Chris?"
Chris shook his head no; he wasn't ready to speak yet. `What kind of game is she playing now?' He braced himself and turned towards her and said, "Why did you give me this now? You could have given it to me before I went to Cedar Junction. Yeah, that would have been an appropriate time. Or what about those times you visited me in protective custody? I could have used it then. So Sister, why're you trying to throw me off? Game advantage...Toby, is that...?"
"What the fuck are you guys talking about?" Toby asked both of them.
"Tobias, do not interrupt! I gave it to you, Chris, because I came across it in my desk, it's yours to do whatever you want to do with it. I certainly was not going to throw it out!" sister Peter Marie had not planned for this outburst from Chris. She had assumed Chris would be happy to have it back.
Chris opened his hands to show Toby. "It's my St. Dismas medal. Obtain for prisoners the same grace to repent their wicked ways and receive the same reward, eternal life with Christ, Amen. Isn't that right Sister?" He kissed it and put it over his head and laid the medallion on his chest. He had taken control back again.
"I remember that, you used to wear it all the time. When did you stop...wearing it?" Tobias looked puzzled.
"It doesn't matter anymore. Beecher, Jesus, come on just listen to me, just listen to me ok? When you talked about Schillinger's unborn grandchild growing up and finding your grandchild and killing him... Toby, I was hit with a ton of bricks. All I could think about was you getting yourself killed and what did I do?"
"You head banged me then slugged me." Toby snorted.
"Is that the way you remember it?"
"Of course not Chris, but I can still feel my left cheek being sore but how could I not remember that day and what you did for me and my family?"
"Then tell me how, after telling me you loved me over and over again, I asked you not to forget me and you said `Never", right? Well, how could you fall in love so fast after you got paroled? You asked me once if I ever felt this way about another man and I told you no, I never felt this way before and you called me a liar. How come, Beecher? Even though I've been married I never knew what real love was till you, Toby. You're all I got. I just want you to love me but I can't make you do it. That day after the play when you came back after they cleared you of Schillinger's death, you...talked to me. The words you said hurt me more than anything you've ever done or said to me. More than shanking me! I remember you calling me Death and asked me to let you live and I...you broke my heart and I was there by the edge and it just happened. I never stopped loving you Toby, I never did."
"Tobias, you shanked Chris?"
Toby turned to her and said, "Don't interrupt us, Sister."
`That's my baby, score one for our team,' Chris thought as he had never heard Toby speak back to Sister Pete.
"Chris, everyone's definition of love is different. Yes, I love you and you know that I didn't fall in love with you at first sight but... when I did you and..."
Chris glared at Sr. Pete, daring her to open her mouth as he interrupted, "Toby I'm not doing this. Give it a break, man. I've paid my dues for that over and over again. If you can't move on from there, well, there's nothing more I can say here. We're through. We're done, it's over. Forever. What's it gonna be?" Chris asked with his heart on his sleeve. He stood up ready to walk out and find the guard. He would ask McManus to move him to another unit, away from Em City.
Toby sighed and looked up at Chris. He saw the hurt he was causing again and it ripped through his heart. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry Chris. Please sit down, don't leave."