by Lisa H
Chris lay on his side, his head propped up on his bent arm, his free hand moving over Toby's hand, laying on his stomach as he slept.
He loved Toby's hands. His fingers were long and large and very strong. Chris could attest to that. He had felt the strength flow through them as they had attacked him anger, the forceful determination of them as they wrestled, and even in love, they left their mark. Chris had several sets of small circular bruises all over his body in varying shades of healing. On his shoulders, his hips, his ass, and he thought, if possible, on his skull. Chris smiled, thinking of the times he had held Toby's cock in his mouth, with the other man's hands on his head, urging him on, sometimes squeezing painfully as Chris toyed with him.
He softly traced the veins that ran from the back of the hand up the slim arm. This is what really turned him on. During sex, Toby would sometimes grab the sheet, desperately hanging on as he was pushed to his climax. Often Chris would glance down at those hands as they clenched harder and harder, the muscles straining, the veins rising. The sight of that strength, mixed with Toby's moans of passion and need, and the knowledge that he was responsible for it all would often bring Chris to orgasm.
Chris looked at his own wrist and the fresh bruises there; this is where his lover left his mark most often, and most recently. Sadness marked his face as he recalled the day past, which had ended not long ago. So much shit to go through, to get to this point with Toby finally free of his monstrous guilt, if only for a little while.
Toby had definitely been in a mood this morning. He was withdrawn and quiet; Chris' questions of concern were answered with a curt "nothing". So Chris had let him be. It wasn't that uncommon for Toby or any of them in here to go through these moods. How could anybody in this place not? The fact that this was the exception instead of the rule was pretty amazing. Toby had pleaded illness with Murphy and spent most of the day in bed, staring at the ceiling, or flipping the pages of a book.
Chris spent most of his day outside the pod, continually looking over to see if Toby had pulled out of it, maybe searching him out, ready to talk or just be together. But as far as he knew, Toby never looked for Chris, never glanced in his direction.
The time between lockdown and lights out was an eternity. Chris offered to play cards or chess; he asked Toby twice if he wanted to talk, but after being met with silence or a barely audible "no" he quit trying and attempted to read. His attempt didn't last long. He ended up wondering what was going on with Toby. This was turning out to be more than the usual "my life sucks" depression they all went through. It bothered him that Toby was shutting him out so totally.
/What did you expect/
Things had been going pretty good the past few weeks that they had been back together. Had he really thought they'd stay that way?
Several minutes after lights out, Toby was still staring at his reflection in the mirror as water dried on his face. Chris decided one more time to try and connect with him. After stripping to his boxers, he stepped up behind him, placing his hands gently on the slim hips, not wanting Toby to think of this as a sexual overture.
`Although', Chris thought, 'if it goes in that direction, I won't complain.'
He was a little disconcerted at how much he had missed being with Toby today. During their previous periods of forced separation, Chris had had a continual ache in his body for Toby. The first two times he had been aching for what he hadn't yet had, and after that for what he knew he was missing.
/and others were getting/
Today, the door was open to him, and the effort of making himself stay away had taken its toll, causing him to be tense as well as worried.
He missed the atmosphere of Toby. The smell of him, the looks and whispered comments that passed between them. The slight touches. Whatever the circumstance, whether a deliberate hand on his arm, or the brush of hip against hip as they moved around each other in the pod, any contact with Toby sent a charge through Chris' body. He hadn't realized how much he had come to depend on the two of them being in each other's orbit.
He was jonesing for the guy after only one day apart, and that bothered him. But it was an addiction he would never consider giving up. The sex since he had moved back in was fantastic, but it was more than that. Even though they hadn't talked about it, he was sure that Toby finally, really realized what Chris had known long ago; as hard as it might be sometimes, the fact was that they belonged together. Bad things happened when they were apart. Of course, bad things happened when they were together.
The feel of Toby's hips under his hands was delicious, and he leaned forward to place a gentle kiss on the bare shoulder in front of him. At that moment, Toby shrugged violently, displacing Chris' hands and hitting him square on the bridge of his nose with the back of his head.
"Fuck!" Chris stepped back, one hand going to his nose, the other clenching tightly as he fought the urge to grab the back of that dark blond head and smash it into the mirror.
He had had a lot of practice fighting such urges. Beecher knew how to push his buttons, and Chris was surprised that he didn't have an ulcer from all the times he had swallowed his anger.
Through the tears in his eyes, he stared holes into the back of Toby, waiting for him to turn around or at least say something. When he realized that he wasn't going to, Chris sat down on the edge of his cot, giving a quiet snort of wry laughter as he thought about how fast he had gone from wanting to pound the son of a bitch in the ass to wanting to pound him in the head.
He sat a few minutes longer, wondering if Toby was going to stand there all night. The silence was almost painful, but Chris was damned if he was going to break it.
As the tears in his eyes dried, Chris looked once more at Toby, who was no longer looking at himself but had dropped his head. For the first time, Chris noticed the tension in the muscles on Toby's back and shoulders. His gaze traveled down one of Toby's arms. The veins which he so admired were standing out so far it looked as thought there were thin ropes of steel under the skin. Chris could see why....his hands were gripping the edge of the sink so tightly the tips of his fingers were white.
/what the fuck/
Starting to rise, then deciding he was safer where he was, Chris softly spoke. "Toby? Toby, you don't have to talk, but if you wanna, it's ok. I ain't mad. You can't hurt this nose, ya know?" He gave a small chuckle, which died in the space between them. No response. "Fuck it," he mumbled under his breath. He lay down, turned his back to the pod
and desperately wished for sleep.
Some time later, Chris was startled from the sleep which had taken so long in coming. He opened his eyes and jerked as he saw the blue eyes of Toby only inches away from his own as he knelt beside the bed.
"Shit! Don't do that! You scared the crap out of me!" Chris rolled onto his back, rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just heard you making some noises.....you were moving around and I thought you might be having a bad dream."
Chris rested his arm across his eyes and thought for a moment. He had been having some kind of dream. It was pretty much faded now; he was left with only a bad feeling. Nightmares were par for the course, though. "Yeah, well, I'm all right. Go back to sleep."
He tensed as he felt Toby's hand rest on his stomach. The warmth of it spread through his body. "I wasn't asleep," Toby said. "Actually, I was hoping you would wake up so that we could talk."
"You wake me up in the middle of the night so that we can talk? I seem to recall giving you several opportunities during the day." He pushed the hand off his stomach and glared at the other man. "Leave me alone, Beecher. I'm tired and my nose hurts. You really don't want to get into anything with me right now."
Toby looked at him with that look, his bottom lip pushing up, giving his mouth that little pout. His eyebrows were knit over his searching, wounded eyes. "Chris, please....."
Chris jumped off the bed and got away from him in a hurry. A sick feeling of deja-vu passed through him. `If he says, you've got to forgive me,' Chris thought, ` I'll go over there and knock his teeth down his throat.'
Fortunately, Toby didn't say anything, at least for a moment. He sat on the edge of Chris' bed with his head in his hands.
Finally, he said, "Today was Gary's birthday."
Chris leaned his head against the back wall of the pod where he had ended up. `Why does he do this?' he thought. `Would it have been so goddamned hard to say that to me this morning? Or tell me yesterday, or last week? Why do you do this to yourself, Toby...and to me?'
He stood warring with his emotions, yet again. His desire to comfort was pretty evenly matched with the desire to shake the man until his teeth rattled. Toby looked up and over at him. Chris could barely see his features in the dim light, but he could see the glitter of tears on his lashes. `Fuck you,' he thought and then moved to kneel at his side, taking his face between his hands and softly kissing those trembling lips.
He wondered if Toby knew what a fine line there was between what Chris was doing now and what he had been thinking of doing just moments before. Did Toby realize how much restraint and will-power he used in dealing with him? Toby gently pulled away from the kiss, and by the look of gratitude on his face, Chris knew that he did.
He moved to sit next to Toby on the bed, slowly pushing him down. The smaller man slipped out from under him and stood up. "Chris, I really want to talk about this."
Chris sighed and sat up on the edge of the bed. He was suddenly so tired, he didn't think he could handle anything else, especially not another of Toby's "talks". He knew that Chris knew he was sorry, why couldn't that be enough?
Chris sighed again, and leaned back on his elbows, looking at the slim golden man, clad in just his boxers. Fuck, he was beautiful....Chris wished with all his heart that he had been here when Toby first arrived. That they could have come together without Vern being the middleman. But then, would they have even ended up together? All the possible scenarios had gone through Chris' head hundreds of time without him ever being confident of their outcome.
And now he had to deal with the reality of what their relationship was....he had meant it when he told Mukada that it had begun in brutality and had ended, briefly, the same way. That would always be a part of it. But love had never been the smallest part. If it had, Chris would never have gone through all the shit that he had, enduring the heartache that was loving Toby. God, the man was work. But Chris knew all this. When he had been put back in their pod, he had accepted the way things were. He would love Toby completely, easily. Toby would give what he could, and Chris would take what he could get; he really didn't have a choice.
And of course it wasn't just Toby, it was all the other assholes who seemed to make it their mission in life to come between them. Although they had been left relatively alone since their reunion. After Said had come back from the hole for stabbing Adibisi, he wasn't the same old sanctimonious, self-righteous prick he had been. And Mukada and Sr. Pete had been keeping their unsolicited advice to themselves.
Chris realized that Toby was talking to him. He was looking down at him with a questioning look on his face. "Are you in there?" he was asking.
Chris stood. "Toby, I know you need to talk. But honest to Christ, I don't think I can handle it right now. Let me talk for a minute." He walked over to Toby and put his hands on his shoulders. In response, Toby placed his hands on Chris' bare chest. /Oh, Christ, please don't do that/ "I'm serious. I need you to keep your mouth shut for just a few minutes and let me talk. Then, if you need to pop me in the nose again, or feel like you have to say something, go ahead."
Toby stared Chris in the eye, nodding his agreement. `If anything, please let it be the nose,' thought Chris. He took a quick step back and broke contact before he couldn't.
He walked to the door of the pod and leaned on his hands against it. It would be easier if he wasn't looking at Toby while he did this.
"You didn't tell me it was Gary's birthday, because you were afraid I would try and talk you out of wallowing in self-pity and guilt.
"Chris, that's not....."
"Fuck!! Can't you do this one thing I'm asking you and keep your mouth shut?" Keeping his back to the man, he went on. "You wanted to have the freedom to sit in here and imagine a birthday cake with no one to blow out the candles, to count in your head all the unopened presents. To picture the balloons that your parents will leave at his grave. And to say over and over and to yourself, `It's all my fault'."
"You are a fucking bastard. A mother-fucking cock-sucker." The voice was low, but the level of rage in it caused Chris to turn. Toby stood in the middle of the room; his hands, his jaw, every part of his body was clenched so tight he looked ready to simply explode. Chris stayed put. He wasn't stupid enough to put his hand into the space of a wounded animal. And he wasn't done.
"You also wanted to punish me. You wanted to keep yourself distanced from me. Let me wonder what was happening with you, and not give me the chance to help. Make me go through the whole goddamned day wondering why the man I love..." The catch in his voice caught him by surprise, and he stopped a moment to swallow the lump in his throat He went on, his voice low and harsh. "Why the man I love couldn't turn to me for comfort, couldn't let me in on what he was going through. You would rather suffer alone than let me get any satisfaction out of helping you. You want to punish me for being right about Vern, for not forgiving you right away, and for killing your fuck-buddies."
Chris was surprised that Toby was still standing quietly (although his breath was coming so fast and so hard it looked like he might start hyperventilating at any moment); surprised that he wasn't arguing, but even more surprised that he hadn't flown at him intent on murder.
Chris supposed that he should stop while he was ahead; his intention hadn't been to start a fight. In fact, he wasn't even really mad, just so frustrated and tired of it all. But God! it felt good to let it out. They had never really discussed any of this after Chris had moved back in. They both had been so relieved to be together, they had a tacit agreement to not bring any of it up. But it was out in the open now, and there was no stopping.
"I know you don't care that those men are dead. In fact, you got a little thrill out of it, didn't you? Someone actually committed murder for the love of you, and it gave you a hard-on. That's what you want to punish me for.....you feel guilty that you Don't feel guilty, and you're trying to lay it at my feet. Well, pal, I ain't accepting it."
Toby did come at Chris then. With a cry of rage, he hit Chris square in the chest and slammed him against the door, causing it to shake loudly. Chris immediately grabbed his wrists and squeezed so hard, Toby's knees buckled from the pain. Out of the corner of his eye, Chris could see a light making it's way toward them.
"You are going to sit down now and keep your mouth shut," he said. "You'll have plenty of time to kill me later.....I just want to keep us out of the hole for now." He released Toby's hands just as the hack showed up. She shone her light around the room, then onto Chris.
"What's up?" she asked through the wall.
He gave her his best charm-their-panties-off grin. "Sorry officer. We couldn't sleep, and got into a little debate. I got a little, uh, agitated and hit the door." He rubbed the side of his hand for good measure.
She shined the light onto Toby, who was now sitting on the bottom bunk. He was making a pretty good effort of controlling his emotion, and nodded at her.
"Well, get to bed, both of you. Now."
"Sure thing," Chris said.
After the hack had walked away, Toby moved to climb up to his bunk. Chris walked over and put his hands on his shoulders, preventing him from doing so. "This is not over."
"It sure the fuck is," said Toby through clenched teeth. "Get your hands off me. You know she'll be back to check on us."
Just then, the alarm buzzer began going off, and they could see all the guards running to one end of the quad.
"There," smiled Chris. "Divine intervention, baby. Let's finish this thing."
Suddenly, all the tense muscles in Toby's shoulders relaxed and he dropped from Chris' touch onto the bed, sitting hunched over, his head in his hands once more. Chris stepped back, appraising the situation. Toby looked whipped, all the fight gone from him. Chris realized that he felt the same way. He suddenly wanted nothing more that to push Toby across the bed and climb in beside him. Instead he settled for sitting down next to him, leaving plenty of space between.
After a few moments Toby spoke, his voice strained and breaking.
"Chris, everything you said is true. I am a fucking mess, and I wanted someone to share the responsibility for that. The closest person was you. After all I've been through in here, all I've seen and done, I still thought I could manipulate things to go my way. Do the right thing for Vern, he'll respond in kind...tell you I'm sorry and you would forgive me, just like that. All of that was based on the life I used to lead. A life where I was somebody, somebody who could control the world around him. I was a master of manipulation back then."
He lifted his head and ran his hands through his hair. Chris could watch him do that all day. Toby went on. "Oh, I guess I still am; look at the great job I did with Andy." He smiled sadly and shook his head. "But after that, everything I did was shit, while someone like....." Toby paused and looked over at Chris.
"While someone like me, a career criminal, knew the score, tried to warn you, and look what happened when you wouldn't listen. And when you realized that you were wrong about me you thought it should be enough to tell me you were sorry, because you were you, and I was just me."
The look of pain on Toby's face was almost enough to make Chris regret his words, but not quite.
"Yes, and look how fucking wrong I was," he whispered. "But now I know Chris, I know. All my values and morals and knowledge of the world I used to live in are worthless. I wanted to hurt you for making me see that."
Chris' hand shot out and grabbed Toby's arm. "Nothing about you is worthless, Toby. You fucking got that? Nothing! You have to hang on to all that is good in you. You're going to walk out of here soon, and you can't let this place beat you before you do."
"Yeah, and what about while I'm still in here? All that good in me just ends up stabbing me in the back."
Chris moved across the space between them and took Toby's face in his hands. He stared into those sad, beautiful eyes. "I'll protect you in here, baby, if you'll only let me. Will you let me do that? Can you?"
Toby tensed, and something fearful flashed through those eyes. Chris held on, stroking the soft bottom lip of Toby's mouth with his thumbs.
"I'm not looking to take anything away from you....I just want to give you some rest. Toby, don't you know how much you give me? It could be so much more, for both of us, if you would only let it."
"I want to Chris, I really do. God, I know how crazy I drive you, and how I let you get to me when I shouldn't. I wish I wasn't like that all the time....I just.....I don't know why it's....."
Chris interrupted by pulling him into a hug, which Toby returned, desperately hanging on. "It's okay, I understand."
And Chris did understand. He knew there was a part of the man that he had to keep to himself. It was part of Toby's self-preservation. He could probably never give himself completely to anyone, certainly not to the man who had broken him, mind and body. It would scare him too much to let go of everything. But Chris could accept that. He had accepted it, and as much as it sometimes pained him to know that he would never get the type of love he so wanted, /needed/, he also knew that he was lucky to be the recipient of all that Toby was capable of giving. He was the one that had what all the other fucks in here would sell their mothers for. As long as Toby understood one thing; they were together for the long run now.
He whispered into Toby's ear, "It's okay as long as you remember this; only me, baby, from now on. From this moment until you make parole, only me.....no one else."
Toby pulled back and stared so intently at Chris that he felt a sudden twinge of uneasiness.
Toby softly kissed Chris on the lips and then breathed into his mouth, "Only you, no one else, from now...... until always." Chris closed his eyes as tears filled them for the second time that evening.
Toby kissed away the tears as they rolled down the rough cheeks, then gently pulled Chris down with him.
As Chris ran his fingers across Toby's wrist, he smiled sadly at the set of bruises he had put there earlier, and at the fresh marks on his own wrist, left there less than an hour ago. Matching bruises, one set made in anger, the other in love. How fucking appropriate for us, he thought. It was all worth it, though, because this is where he was meant to be.
"Hey, you're tickling me."
Chris bent and kissed Toby softly. "Sorry, go back to sleep."
Toby sat up instead. "What are you doing still awake?"
"I dunno. Thinkin'. I do need to move though; I think my arm is in this shape permanently."
As Chris sat up, Toby grabbed the pillow and moved behind the other man. He sat the pillow up where the bed frame met the wall and leaned against it, his legs stretched out at an angle. He then held out his arms to Chris, who slid back between Toby's legs and gratefully leaned his head on his shoulder. Toby began massaging the large, muscular arms.
/oh, baby, that feels good/
Chris' eyes closed, his body limp with relaxation.
After a few minutes, Toby moved his hands across the wide chest and lay them flat. "I can feel your heart beating," he said.
"Hey, that's a good sign, right?" Chris asked sleepily.
"Go ahead and sleep Chris. I'm going to stay awake for awhile and make sure it doesn't stop."
Chris smiled at that and then again as he felt Toby kiss his cheek. "I love you, Toby."
"I love you, Chris."
Chris drifted off to sleep, his heart in Toby's hands.Toiby