Notes: This takes place after "Communications Breakdown" but before "4giveness." It's my re-write of canon. Perhaps it's a bit too optimistic, but it just needed to be done. As always, special thanks goes to Mav for the thorough beta reading and the great ideas for improvement.
Disclaimers: Not mine. I'm just playing. No money changed hands. Feedback is like candy. I eat it up. And I respond to it quickly.
"I had a dream about you last night."
"It was more of a nightmare, actually."
Chris shifted in his chair and leaned forward. "How so?"
Toby couldn't look at him. He still had a sense of betrayal, even though it had only been a dream. Ridiculous, he knew, but he couldn't help it.
"Look, Chris, I've been thinking about some things I said last week. Stupid things. I wasn't thinking clearly and I want to clear the air here." He took a deep breath, trying to figure how he was going to explain this without sounding nuts.
"Beecher, will you just tell me what the fuck you're talking about?"
"I'm talking about Holly's teacher. Marian. It was insensitive of me to mention her. I should have kept my mouth shut. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings."
Chris sat back, his expression revealing nothing. "Beecher, you're entitled to live your life outside Oz. I got nothing to say about that."
Toby snorted. "Yeah, right. I know you better than that, Chris. My point is that we need to talk more about stuff. Not just legal stuff. Personal stuff. You need to tell me how your feeling and not worry about whether I want to hear it. You know?"
"No, Beecher. I don't fucking know. What the hell are jabbering about and what has this got to do with the dream you had?"
Beecher sighed heavily. "In the dream, you set me up to come back to Oz because you were jealous about Marian and about me being free. I ... I hated you for doing that. We said terrible things to each other." He shuddered remembering the dream.
Chris' eyes narrowed. "You really think I would do that?"
"I don't know, Chris. That's not the point."
"Then what is the fucking point?" he asked angrily.
"That we don't communicate well! We don't talk to each other." Toby rubbed his hand over his eyebrow and took a deep breath. "We just make assumptions and then we act accordingly. We gotta stop doing that or everything we've been through isn't going to mean shit."
Chris leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. "Is that right?" He was acting guarded, Toby knew.
"Chris, please take this seriously."
"Why, because of some dream you had?" He sounded skeptical.
"Yes! And it's not like we don't have a history of this kind of thing. Please?"
"What exactly do you want me to do, Beecher?"
"Talk to me. Tell me how you feel. In the dream, you were upset, but you didn't tell me. Instead, you went to Sr. Pete but that didn't help at all. It just made you more angry because she wasn't really listening."
Chris' eyes grew wide with interest and surprise. He leaned forward. "What did I say to Sr. Pete?"
"That you thought I was in love and you wanted a life like I had."
Chris' face turned white. "Jesus Christ."
"Did that happen, Chris?" But Chris didn't answer. "Did it?"
Chris nodded but didn`t look at Toby.
"See?! It could be a...a... whaddyacallit...a premonition."
"Tell me what happened, Toby. All of it. The whole dream," Chris demanded.
"You told me Bonnie was sick and needed some black market drug. You wanted me to go buy it for her. I told you I couldn't because I'd be breaking my parole. Then you told me you killed Winthrop. For me. To avenge my dad. Then you said you loved me and asked me to get this drug. So I did. And I was arrested and sent back to Oz for a parole violation. I knew you'd set me up and I hated you for it. We said horrible things to each other. You taunted me with weapons..."
"Stop, Toby. Don't say anymore. Please."
"Were you going to ask me to buy that drug?"
Chris hung his head, letting it rest in his hands.
"Chris? Were you?"
"Yes," he whispered.
"Fuck," Toby whispered. "Were you going to call the cops on me?"
"Yes." Even quieter.
Holy shit. Toby felt like he'd just gotten the wind knocked out him. His head was starting to throb.
"Is Bonnie even sick?" he spit out, barely able to believe that this nightmare was coming true.
Chris looked up at him then, his face stretched tight. He shook his head. "Her sister," he said.
Oh God. That did it. "You fucking prick," Toby snapped and stood up. His face flushed with anger and he felt like his head was just going to explode.
"Toby wait," he said, grabbing onto Toby's arm like a lifeline. "I'm sorry. I didn't know what else to do. I knew I was losing you and I couldn't stand it. I didn't know what else to do!"
"Losing me? Where the hell did you come up with that one? Because of Marian?" He pulled out of Chris' grasp and stood over him.
Chris nodded. "And your kids and your life outside of Oz. I knew you weren't going to be coming around here much longer. I knew you were going to leave me behind. I couldn't stand it. I just couldn't. I'm sorry."
"So you betray me to get me back here?! What the hell kind of love is that? You must have known I'd have figured it was you. How could you think I'd forgive you for that?"
"You did before."
Toby laughed. "Yeah, well those circumstances were a little different, don't you think? I get sent back to Oz again, I'd have to serve the rest of my sentence! I wouldn't even get to see my children grow up. How could you do something like that to me after everything we`ve been through?!"
"I need you, Toby."
"You listen to me, Chris," Toby said, his voice quavering with barely-controlled anger. "If you ever do anything to fuck up my parole and drag me back here, I will never forgive you. Never. You have to know that."
"I know, Toby. You're right. I'm sorry. It's just...I got no one else."
Toby face softened and he sat back down. He touched Chris' hand. "Chris, you've got me now. More so than if you ever dragged me back to Oz. I love you. You have to know that."
"But it ain't gonna be forever, Toby. You and I both know that. If it's not Marian, it'll be someone else. You're gonna find someone to share your life with and you're going to leave me behind."
The tone of pain and resignation in his voice cut through Toby's heart. "That's true of any two people in a relationship, Chris. There is always the possibility that one of them is going to move on. It's the risk you take when you fall in love."
"Don't give me that shit, Beecher. It's a hell a lot more risky for me when you're out there and I'm in here. And you fucking well know it."
"You're right. I can't deny that. But, Chris, I'm here now and I wanna be here. I did everything I could to get you off death row. I came back to Oz when walking through that gate was the hardest thing I've ever done. I did it for you. And I will continue to do that for as long as it feels right for both of us."
"What about when Marian gets wind of who you're visiting?"
"Marian already knows about you. She knows what you mean to me," Chris looked surprised and pleased by this revelation. "I told her in no uncertain terms how important these visits are to both of us and if she felt uncomfortable about them, then she and I couldn't see each other any more."
But Chris was shaking his head. "It just doesn't feel like it's going to work," he said, entwining his fingers with Toby`s. "Toby, you're everything to me. And maybe that's not fair to you, but that's the way it is. I climb the walls between your visits. I need you here with me all the time. I don't want you out there! I want you in here!"
Toby gasped at the desperation and anger in Chris' voice.
"I, uh, I don't know what to say to that, Chris. I thought you were happy for me."
"I am, Toby. I am, but I'm unhappy for me. And you said I needed to tell you stuff, right?"
Toby nodded. "I'm just a little surprised to hear that, that's all."
"I know and I've been trying not to let you see it, but it's eating me up inside. I'm sorry."
"No, that's okay. Talking's good. We need to do more of that. We do. Even if it's painful. And you need to talk to someone else, too, about all this."
"Sr. Pete ain't gonna cut it."
"No, no, you're right. She means well but you two have too much history. Maybe we can get someone from the outside to come in."
"Like a shrink? You want me to talk to a shrink?"
"Well, it couldn't hurt. I'm seeing one now to help me deal with the transition. It really helps to talk to someone who knows what they're doing. Couldn't you try it at least once?"
"What's it gonna look like to everyone?"
"We'll figure out a way so no one will know, okay? Please, just try it. For me?"
"Alright, Beecher, but I get to pull the plug whenever I want."
"Yes, of course. Thank you, Chris."
"You really think this is gonna work?" Chris asked, his tone lighter than it had been since Toby arrived.
"We'll never know if we don't try. Listen, I gotta run. I have to pick up Holly from dance class in half an hour," he stood up and Chris stood with him. "Are we okay?"
"For now, Beecher, yeah. We're okay," Chris said, running his hands along Toby's arms. He moved in for a kiss and Toby met him halfway. They pressed against each other as the kiss deepened. Toby felt Chris' hands on his neck and in his hair. He wrapped his arms tightly around Chris' waist. When the kiss ended (too quickly; always too quickly), Chris pressed his forehead against Toby's.
"I love you, Toby."
"I love you, too, Chris. I hope you believe that."
"I do, Toby. Sometimes ya just gotta remind me, okay?"
Toby nodded and kissed him one more time before whispering a quiet goodbye and heading out of Oz.