Walking After Midnight

by Riley Cannon

Title: Walking After Midnight
Author: Riley Cannon
Subject info: B/K, AU; contains NC-17 m/m loving, so if you're underage please go away. Disclaimer: Tom Fontana & HBO own 'em; I only take them out for non-profit angst & romance. Story info: This has been in progress for a couple of years, actually; the opening scene has been around at least that long anyway. It took that long to figure out the rest of it, and then several months to pull it together. With some helpful suggestions from the marvelous Mav, though, it finally came together.

Summary: Chris and Toby take a wrong turn on a Halloween night.

If you need an idea of how Toby's dressed in this, check here Pirates!

Also beta'd by Mav; all remaining mistakes are solely my own..

And dedicated to Actizera, who loves a spooky fic; and maybe Rod Serling too. ;)

~Walking After Midnight~

"You okay?" Toby said as soon as the first shock had dissipated.

Chris was slow in answering, but Toby assured himself that was only because he was still gathering his wits and not because he'd been hurt. "Yeah," Chris said slowly after another moment, one hand braced against the dashboard as he peered out into the dark. "What the fuck was that about?"

Toby relaxed, taking comfort in Keller's crankiness. "Something dashed out in front of the car, I was trying not to hit it." It wasn't like he'd stepped on the gas, shouted, `Whee!' and deliberately sent them hurtling off the side of the road.

Taking a moment to clear his throat, something decidedly skeptical in the sound, Chris said, "I didn't see anything." There was a mildness to his voice that didn't quite ring true, either.

"Well I did. It was a cat. Or a squirrel." He sniffed. "It had a fuzzy tail."

"Uh-huh." Chris sighed and shook his head. "Come on," he opened the passenger door and climbed out - almost literally, "let's see the damage."

Any optimism still lingering in the air evaporated pretty quickly, however, as Chris played the weak beam of a flashlight over the remains of the silver Lexus. Crumpled hood and fender, shattered right headlight, and that actually looked fairly mild compared to the way the front right tire was at a pretty funky angle now, the whole front end hung up on an old log. There must have been some considerable damage under the hood as well because even as they stood there looking at it, the flashlight dying, there was a hiss and a pop and the whole thing shuddered, the single headlight crazily piercing the darkness flickering a moment before going dark.

Chris sighed again. "Yeah, you can't get fun like this back in the city."

Toby let out a quiet huff but bit back any comment about how Chris had less cause for complaint since he wasn't the one standing there dressed as a pirate. Preferring to go the constructive route, he dug his cell phone out of his pants, glad he'd gotten pirate pants that came with pockets, and punched in a number. "We'll just have Dad send Angus out to pick us up."

"Angus know the same great shortcut?" Chris said as he leaned against the car.

Toby glared at him in the dark and then aimed the frown at the unresponsive phone. "Try yours, mine's out." He watched his partner fish around in his leather jacket, betting he was really warm in that jacket, and the jeans, and the blue flannel shirt and thermal undershirt - and scarf. Lot warmer than him in his pirate pants and poofy shirt.

"Huh," Chris scowled at his phone like he could intimidate it into working, shaking it for good measure, "mine's dead, too."

Well, that was...inconvenient. No cause for screaming panic, though. "Okay, so we'll just walk back to that gas station we passed and use the phone there."

"You mean the gas station you didn't want to stop at for directions?"

"I didn't stop for directions because I'm not lost." That was his story and he was sticking to it. Everything simply looked different in the dark. And the fog. He sighed, breath misting in the chilly October air. "It could be worse," he said as they locked up the car and hiked back up to the road, rustling through dry leaves and weeds.

"It could?" Chris canted a skeptical look at him. "How?"

"It could be raining."

The sky was clear and cold, the moon high and bright, but off in the distance came a rumble of thunder.

Chris gave him another look, unreadable except for what might have been a glimmer of amusement in his eyes, shook his head and started walking.

"I am going to get you into that costume," Toby vowed as they stopped for a moment under one of the streetlamps that were spaced too few and far between along the road, the light weak and sputtering.

Chris' snort was dismissive of the implied threat. "You and what army?" he snarked back, but maybe that had something to do with how lonely and deserted it was out here, ground fog creeping over the landscape, not a sound to be heard except the crackle of the dried grass and weeds, the fallen leaves piled along the roadside. Not one single car had passed by, no warmly glowing houselights beckoned anywhere in the distance. Even a Chris Keller might come down with a case of the whim-whams in such a situation; Tobias Beecher certainly was not proving immune to such feelings.

So he replied with infinite patience, "What's your problem with the costume?" He had picked it out with even more care and consideration than he'd expended on his own get up - and he shivered again, hugging himself tighter, wishing he'd brought a coat.

"You mean besides how it'd make me look like a gay vampire?"

He might have snarked back this time except Chris picked that moment to take off his jacket and sling it around Toby's shoulders. "Thank you, and it would make you look like a sexy vampire," he pointed out. "It doesn't even have to be a vampire, just don't wear the cape." He was fond of that cape, true enough, but he felt an equal degree of attachment to the ruffled shirt, especially how it would look sliding off Chris' shoulders and down his arms. The snug, form-fitting pants and high leather boots evoked tantalizing visions as well. "It's not like it comes with a set of fangs."

"Probably `cause you didn't think of it."

Well... maybe. He had had an interesting conversation with the lady running the costume shop, about how she knew a guy who made fangs, and how erotic it could feel when your partner nibbled on you. He wasn't sure he liked the idea of actual biting and drawing of blood but nibbling - yes, nibbling, might be interesting.

One step at a time, however: first, get Chris in the costume, then work up to fangs.

"Hey, headlights comin'," Chris said, stepping closer to the road and waving.

Toby joined him, glad to see some indication they weren't all alone in the world out here. The headlights grew brighter, the car slowing for a moment as the driver spotted them but then zooming on by, tires kicking up gravel and leaves that spewed back at Toby and Chris.

"Cocksuckers!" Chris yelled after the rapidly departing red taillights.

"Well," Toby tried to put the best face on it, although generally agreeing with Chris' sentiments, "maybe they're just cautious about picking up strangers on Halloween."

"Yeah, maybe." Chris looked up and down the road, shook his head again and started walking along. "Might've thought we were like Ascension Amy."

"And who the fuck's Ascension Amy?" Toby said, falling into step beside him.

"Ahhh, she's no one you'd want to give a ride to on a Halloween night, Beecher."

"That a fact?"

"That is a fact." Chris walked along quietly, just as if he had no intention of saying anything more.

Knowing his leg was being pulled but unable to restrain his curiosity, Toby asked, "So what's the story?"

"Well," Chris gave him a cautious look, like Toby'd better brace himself, "back after the war, my Uncle Lou was driving along a stretch of road just like this. It was Halloween but he didn't think too much of that. I mean, fuck, guy's been over whackin' Nazis, gotta figure no kinda spooks and goblins're gonna rattle his cage. So, Lou's heading for home, makes a turn, just like this one we're coming to, and sees this girl standing by the edge of the road, all dressed up like she's heading for a party. Lou stops and rolls down the window, checking if she's okay. She says she needs a ride a home and could he be so kind as to take her there. Uncle Lou figures what the fuck, opens the door and she climbs in beside him. She's shivering from the cold so he gives her his coat, they drive on along and she doesn't say much except for giving him an address and telling him her name's Amy."

A miniature whirlwind picked up some of the dried, fallen leaves, dancing them along the pavement, their rustling sound and the moan of the wind the only accompaniment to Chris' voice as he went on. "Well, Lou gets to the address, it's an old house, porch light on. He gets out and goes around to open the door, only Amy's gone, must've got out on her own when he wasn't looking, that's what he figures. Only she'd left her purse behind and he'd better return it, so he goes up and rings the doorbell and this old woman answers it, asks him what he wants at this time of night. Lou shows her the purse, says he gave Amy a ride a home but she left this in his car. The old woman goes pale, takes the purse from him and tells him Amy was her daughter and she died this very night twenty years ago, out where Uncle Lou'd picked her up, just down the road from Ascension Cemetery where she's buried.

"Well," Chris went on, just as they came up to a set of padlocked iron gates, a brick wall crumbling, enough light to make out the old graves and headstones inside, a marble angel toppled over on the ground right near the entrance, "Uncle Lou doesn't know what to make of that but he can't quite let it go, so in the morning he drives out to the cemetery and looks up her grave - and he finds his coat there, draped over her headstone."

Of course the only reason Toby shivered was because it was getting colder by the second and an owl chose right that moment to flap, hooting, out of a tree; it had nothing to do with him catching a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye, a flicker of movement back there among the graves. "Charming story," he said as he tore his gaze away from visions of gamboling ghouls. "Uncle Lou really got around, didn't he? Wasn't he at Roswell, too, back in '47?"

"Yeah," Chris nodded, rubbing his arms, "little diner just down the road." He flashed Toby a quick smile and a wink, the smile dimming ever so slightly as he cast an uneasy look over his shoulder, through the gates at the deserted graves shrouded in shadows and moonlight.

And it was only those shadows and the chill breeze shuddering through the tree branches that created the impression of movement back there -- only that and nothing more. "Yeah, well, Halloween's not official without Uncle Lou and Ascension Amy," Chris went on, scanning up and down the road. "And if we don't get moving we're gonna be as stiff as the gang in there," he nodded back at the cemetery. "We should've made that gas station by now."

Toby had been thinking that same thing. Come to that, he didn't remember passing this cemetery before, and yet there was no way they could have taken a wrong turn anywhere. "Well, there has to be a house or something around here - with live occupants." He looked around the lonesome stretch of road, optimism wavering just a tad. "Let's try this way," he started off again, casting another dubious look skyward at a louder rumble of thunder, a sharper crack of lightning as clouds began to scud across the dark sky.

Preferring not to dwell on the possibility of topping the night off by getting soaked in a storm, Toby said, "And for the record, getting stiff with you is the idea behind that costume."

"It is, huh?" Chris slipped an arm around his waist as they walked along.

"Better believe it." Toby leaned into him, soaking up his body heat.

Chris' hand squeezed his waist. "Thought getting me out of my clothes was your agenda."

"That's the other part of the idea." He felt Chris move even closer, breath warm against his cheek, the soft brush of lips even hotter, and Toby turned to face him and encourage him to keep turning up the thermostat. One hand massaging the small of his back, Toby ran the other up to cup the nape of Chris' neck, angling his head to deepen the kiss, a whole other kind of shiver running through him as Chris' tongue flicked against the roof of his mouth.

Snuggling into him as they parted for air, Toby said, "Admit it, you're turned on by the costume."

"Oh yeah," Chris nuzzled his temple, rubbed his back, "I've always wanted to see you decked out like Blackbeard."

"Actually I was going for something more in the dashing Errol Flynn/Captain Blood line." Toby sniffed. "So how fruity do I look?"

Chris smiled at him, hands cupped around his face as he leaned in for a kiss. "You don't look fruity at all. You look sexy and dashing," he assured him, punctuating it with another, longer kiss. "You can shiver my timbers any day," he added, with a wink.

"Yes, well, that's the rest of the idea."

"Yeah? That's my treat tonight?"

"Umm hmm." Toby burrowed his face against Chris' neck. "You know, unless you would rather go around, ringing random doorbells and wind up with a sack full of Kit-Kats and gummy bears." With one last nuzzle, he drew back and gave him a thoughtful look, imagining the response of random homeowners as they opened their doors to find a real life Chris Keller standing there.

"Nah, I fucking hate gummy bears," Chris murmured against his cheek.

"You like Kit-Kats."

"I'm not in the mood for anything sweet right now."

"No?" Toby turned his head, giving Chris better access as he nibbled along his throat. "What are you in the mood for?"

"Something hot," Chris kissed his lips, "something spicy," he pushed his tongue inside to taste his mouth.

Damn - Toby'd never actually heard fireworks go off as Chris kissed him before.

As the popping and sputtering sound continued, they both looked up and watched with some dismay as the streetlamps went out, one after the other, the empty stretch of road plunged into complete darkness.

"Yeah, this just gets better and better," Chris remarked, a fairly unmistakable long-suffering note in his voice.

Toby sighed, his eyes adjusting to the dark. "I'm sorry, we should have begged out of the party and stayed home." They could have had the entire weekend all to themselves and been warm and naked in bed by now.

"Nah," if Chris was exasperated he didn't let it show in the way he hugged Toby close and kissed his temple, "this is good."

"It is?"

"Sure. Hey, if I gotta be stranded in the middle of nowhere with Jason and Freddy Kruger liable to come along any minute, there's nobody else I'd rather be with."

Uncertain if that comment was sweet or snarky, although inclined to suspect the latter, Toby started off again, straining his eyes for some welcoming gleam of light. "Jason and Freddy only go after horny teenage virgins, so we should be safe there."

"Yeah?" Chris was a welcome presence beside him, footsteps holding steady with his own.

"Umm hmm. We're far more likely to be zombie bait."

"That's a comfort."

The wind was picking up, moaning through the trees and blowing dry leaves clattering along the pavement, the first fat drops of rain plopping down as well. Toby shivered even with the leather jacket, knowing Chris had to be feeling the cold cutting sharp by now. He rubbed his hands together, blowing on them, blinking his eyes. "Did you see that?"


"Thought I saw a light." He looked again, willing that glimmer to come back, a burst of lightning cracking across the sky. "There," he pointed, "I saw something, I'm sure of it." And granted he had insisted that several times already tonight but this time he really meant it.



"Babe, I can't see where you're pointing."

Oh. Toby fumbled for his hand, caught it and tugged him along. "This way. It's a house, maybe a hotel."

"Okay, but if Norman Bates comes to the door you're on your own."

"Fat chance," Toby said, absolutely confident in that.

"Yeah, maybe not," Chris conceded, squeezing his hand, "but there's gonna be payback for all this."

"What did you have in mind?" Toby said, interested. After all chances were good there would be aspects of said payback that he would actually enjoy quite a lot.

"Well," Chris ran a hand over Toby's ass, "how long can you keep this costume?"

He laughed, leaning into him for a moment. "You've got ideas?"

"Baby," Chris rasped against his ear, "I've always got ideas."

"You do, huh? Maybe you want to ... make me walk the plank?

Chris said, "No," very definite.

"Hmm," Toby sidled closer and stroked a hand down to his crotch, "do you want to ... make me swab your deck?"

"Close," Chris whispered back, hands slipping around Toby's hips and squeezing. "I was thinking more along the lines of plundering your booty."

"Yeah? Think you can find some buried treasure?"

"Yes I do," Chris' voice was low and rough. "And I know exactly where X marks the spot."

Toby cackled, liking the sound of that, and even more anxious to get them out of here and somewhere a lot warm and cozier and conducive to that sort of activity. "Hold that thought, huh?"

"Give you some incentive to keep my ass from freezing off?"

Toby rubbed his hands over the extraordinary anatomy in question. "Keller," he growled, "I would lay down my life for this ass." He sighed and stepped back, trying to locate that will-`o-the-wisp light once more and tugging Chris along as he found it. With the moonlight breaking through the clouds, in fact, he could make out quite a lot: another gate, with a paved drive that curved up to an old mansion. "See, told you there was something there."

Beside him, Chris pointed out, "The place is deserted, Toby."

"Maybe," although he felt convinced Chris was wrong about that, "but there's bound to be a telephone in there. Come on," he pulled at the gates and felt them move, ponderously swinging open with a rusty creak.

He was positive their luck was about to change.

Chris wasn't so sure of that. In fact he was thinking Toby really might have seen a black cat back there because their luck was on a definite downward spiral far as he could make out. "So we're topping the night off by getting arrested for breaking and entering?"

"We are not going to get arrested."

"Yeah, well," he stepped carefully along the cracked and pitted pavement, cascades of fallen leaves and branches cluttering the way, "sharing a cell with you wouldn't be so bad."

"That's very accommodating of you."

"Locked up with you, 24/7?" Chris bumped up behind him, holding his waist as he nuzzled the nape of his neck, nose tickled by the silky curls clustered there. "Kinda sounds like paradise."

Toby laughed. "This another fantasy you've been storing up?"

"Could be."

"So let's hurry up and find the front door of this place. Then we can start working on some of your ideas."

"I'll settle for finding the servant's entrance," Chris grumbled, increasingly doubtful they were going to find much help here.

He sighed and rubbed his hands together, following along as Toby maneuvered unerringly through the derelict landscape of the old estate, glad one of them knew where he was going. "Toby, there's nobody here." Chris doubted anyone had been around this place in years, decades even.

"Christ, Keller, is there anything you just take on faith?"

"Only you, babe." And sure as hell not a place that looked like it had materialized straight out of a story by Edgar Allan Poe.

"So trust me, okay?" Toby caught his hand and tugged him closer. "See?"

"Yeah, I see..." A dark and decrepit shambling hulk of a mansion long past its heyday. At least that's what he meant to say. Between one blink of the eye and the next, however, lights filled every window and spilled out across the well-groomed lawn. The sound of cheerful voices and raucous laughter, accompanied by boisterous jazz music reached them as well, just like someone had flipped a switch. "Now you see it, now you don't? That's fucked."

"It's called a surprise party, Chris. You have heard of those, right?" Toby cast him an amused if exasperated look as he cut across the lawn to the front door.

"On Halloween?"

Toby shrugged, pressed the bell. "Maybe it's somebody's birthday," he said, handing Chris back his jacket as they waited.

That still sounded screwy to Chris, but so long as this place had a phone he wasn't complaining. Loud as the music and carrying on was he doubted anyone had heard the bell and was about to give the polished wooden door a sharp knock when it opened up. A guy loomed there in the doorway, about Chris' height but a whole lot scrawnier, decked out in white-tie-and-tails and with what looked like a Mardi Gras stick mask in one hand, a fantastic creation of purple feathers that didn't strike Chris as suiting the guy's sharp and distinctive features.

"Good evening." His soft baritone carried a hint of a British accent, too vague to identify. His gaze passed over Chris, lingering for a moment before fixing upon Toby with a lot more interest than Chris liked. "How may I help you?" He aimed the question exclusively at Toby; Chris may as well have been a shadow.

"Ah," distracted, flustered, Toby acted like he was having a hard time stringing words together - and like he'd forgotten all about Chris as well - "we had a little accident and wondered if we might use your telephone."

The guy smiled, inclined his head slightly. "Of course. Will you come in?" He stood back, holding the door open.

"Thank you." Toby was the first across the threshold, their host crowding him so Toby had to brush against him.

Chris met no such obstacle and shot their host a hard look that warned him to back the hell off Toby. Although he wasn't sure what bugged him more: that the guy was paying Toby so much attention, or that Toby wasn't exactly freezing him out. Not that Chris could blame anyone for looking; even tricked out in his pirate outfit Toby made for a very enticing and tasty vision. No, what stuck in Chris' craw wasn't this guy ogling Toby for all he as worth, but that he came across like he meant to move in and stake a claim and had every right to do so. And, yeah, fat chance of that happening; he knew that. What he didn't get was how come Toby wasn't picking up on the vibes and smacking the guy down. Fleetingly, the idea crossed his mind this might be Toby's idea of payback, give him a taste of what it was like to stand by, teeth gritted, while someone fawned over and eyefucked the man he loved.

But ... no, Toby'd be letting him know if that's what was going on. His lover could be poker-faced enough when it suited him - but this would not be one of those times, Chris knew that in his bones.

"So," Chris cut between Toby and their host as they walked along a carpeted hallway, "I didn't catch your name." Annoyance flared in the hazel eyes that cut his way, but that was fine by him, long as it got the guy's attention off Toby.

"I beg your pardon," the tone was civil enough, but ice underscored every syllable. He inclined his head again as he said, "I'm Edmund Durant."

"Chris Keller." He put his hand out, not surprised when Durant eyed him suspiciously. He didn't smile as Duran gingerly clasped his hand. No, he had to struggle to hide his reaction to the man's cold and clammy skin. It was like shaking hands with a corpse. Toby didn't seem to mind, though, introducing himself and letting Durant hold onto his hand seconds longer than was necessary.

"So what's the shindig?" Chris said, physically interposing himself between Toby and Durant again, slinging an arm around his lover's waist. Toby shot him an annoyed look at that, like he was put out with him, and that didn't improve Chris' mood a lot.

Durant paused at the foot of a magnificent staircase that hugged the wall as it curved away to the upper floors of the mansion. Long, white fingers stroked the gleaming mahogany as he said, "Halloween happens to be my favorite holiday, Mr. Keller."

Yeah, Chris could believe that well enough.

And even though he couldn't quite put his finger on what was raising his back hairs about all this, besides the obvious, Chris found it impossible to let his guard down and simply go with the flow. Maybe Durant was only being a gracious host with his invitation for them to make themselves at home and join in the festivities. Maybe - but Chris didn't think so. There was nothing to back that up, though, nothing except every gut instinct

Led into the grand ballroom, Chris took in the surroundings - the pricey antiques and glittering chandelier, all done up in a black-and-white color scheme right down to the checkerboard floor, the costumed revelers providing the only color. One extravagant couple whirled by -- her looking like a drunken ballerina, him like an equally soused musketeer - as Chris' gaze roamed over the jazz band playing up a storm at the far end of the room. Maybe it was that distance, or this place had funky acoustics, but the music had an artificial quality to it, fading out for a second and then skipping like a bad record another instant. In fact this whole set-up struck him as fake, like an elaborate stage or movie set replete with all the necessary accoutrements but lacking some vital spark to lend it authenticity.

Not that Toby seemed to notice, and Chris was rapidly losing patience both with his lover's oblivious air, and with Durant's dogged persistence in monopolizing him. Tearing his attention away from the increasingly out of synch jazz band, for instance, Chris realized Durant had drawn Toby across the room, over by a doorway framed with velvet black drapes hanging to the floor. Chris reached them just as Durant snagged a champagne flute from a passing waiter. Their host was holding it out to Toby when Chris claimed it, shooting Toby an angry look even as he moved in on Durant. "He doesn't drink."

Durant didn't betray any sign of discomfort at Chris invading his space. He wasn't making any attempt to disguise his irritation, either, his desire to have Chris disappear pouring off him in waves. "Perhaps Tobias would like to choose for himself." The tone was still civil enough but the words were clipped and tight.

Toby blinked, like he was having a tough time focusing on anything, gaze leaving Durant just long enough to send Chris a cranky look. "Yes, perhaps Tobias would." His tone of voice matched his expression. "Have a little faith, huh?"

"I do - in you." He didn't believe for a moment that Toby would fuck up now and think one sip of champagne would be all right. It was Durant, the whammy he was putting on Toby that had him concerned.

Durant's lips curved in a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "I fear Mr. Keller suspects me of disreputable intentions toward you, Tobias."

"Is that right, Chris?" Toby said, still looking like he felt out of focus, making Chris worry he hadn't intercepted the booze quickly enough. "Are you afraid Edmund's going to take advantage of me?"

Edmund? "I just think it'd be a good idea if we moseyed on our way," Chris said, dearly wanting to simply grab Toby and drag him out of this house. What made him check that instinct was knowing he'd be a long time hearing the last of it in the event he tried a caveman move like that. It was the same reason he couldn't just punch Durant in the grill. "You said there was a phone?" he said to Durant.

A pale hand pointed languidly down the hall, to a table where an old-fashioned candlestick phone sat, quaintly out of place anywhere but this Jazz Age mausoleum. "Just there. I'll keep Tobias company while you place your call."

Oh yeah, there was a comforting reassurance guaranteed to warm the cockles of his heart. Still - what could happen in the couple minutes it would take to call Toby's dad? He nodded, troubled gaze tracking them as Edmund led Toby over to a table of refreshments. He lost them for a moment, the pair of them swallowed up amid the gaily costumed throng madly dancing the Charleston as the band played on, the musicians long since forsaking anything resembling harmony. Chris took a step forward, fending off the advances of a young woman tricked out for the dance of the seven veils, eyes intently scanning the room until he picked up Toby and Durant again, the former lounging against a white column and smiling down at Toby, who had taken a seat on a chaise-longue set back there. Watching them, Chris honestly couldn't say he detected anything predatory in Durant's gaze, try as he might. No, what he saw, just for a split second, was something a lot more akin to wistfulness.

Not sure what to make of that, not really that inclined to give a damn, he sighed and headed for the door, pausing once to look over his shoulder - and narrow his eyes, feeling dizzy for just a moment as the whole ballroom shimmered and wavered. It was over just as fast as it hit, but it took him a few more moments longer to steady his breath, clutching one of the velvet drapes for support. His stomach did a flip, though, at the musty and mildewed odor rising up from the cloth. When he moved his hand, a fragment of the fabric tore away, filthy and rotten with dirt and damp.

Okay that made it official: this place was creeping him out big time.

He wiped his hand on his pants leg, cast one more worried look back at Toby, and hurried over to the telephone stand, spinning the old rotary dial, and holding the earpiece up as he listened to it ringing - frowning at the flat tone, at all the crackling interference sizzling along the line. He let it ring, four times, five, six, more anxious than he ever would have imagined to hear Harrison or Vic or Angus come on the line. Nine rings, flat and dull like a muffled bell, and he was thinking maybe he'd just fucking dial 911 - when it just went dead. No amount of jiggling or whapping the grimy old phone, wrapped in cobwebs, could get it to give out any kind of response ...

What the fuck?

Chris dropped the dead receiver and stepped back, footsteps creaking on the weathered and sagging floorboards. The phone, the whole stand was draped with cobwebs; the frayed cord had been wrenched away from the wall decades ago, dangling uselessly on the dirty, rotted-away carpet.

O-kay ... He hadn't slugged back one drop of booze, so what the hell was going on in this fucked up funhouse?

He pushed open the door just to the side of the dilapidated phone and fumbled for a light switch. For a split second a flickering bulb revealed a library, cobwebs trailing like streamers from the ceiling, shelves tumbled and books spilled out across the tattered carpet - and a portrait over the ruin of a fireplace. The canvas was ripped and the frame hung askew on the wall, but just before the bulb popped and went out Chris would have sworn he recognized Toby in that wrecked portrait, dressed in the costume of a long gone century.

He backed into the hallway, the lights sputtering out there as well, but not before he'd glimpsed wallpaper peeled away in strips, and the grand staircase half-crumbled away. Not before he had become aware of the absolute silence that engulfed the house now, and of a draft as cold as the grave seeping through broken windows to tickle the hairs on the back of his neck. At least he wanted to believe that's all the uncanny sensation was.

One hand dragging along the wall for guidance, Chris made his way back to the ballroom, stumbling a couple of times over debris that littered the floor. He grabbed one of the velvet curtains and felt it tear away, experiencing a moment of panic as it smothered him. Clawing at the rotted fabric, he got it off and kicked it away, coughing on the dust so hard he couldn't even curse. As he got his breath back, he searched out every dark corner of the room, shafts of moonlight spilling through shattered windows to provide the only illumination. The glittering chandelier lay in splintered pieces on the floor. There were no other remnants of the party, not one whisper of voices or music - no Durant, no Toby.

"Toby!" His shout thundered through the empty halls. "Toby!"

That portrait ... Durant's fixation all evening on Toby ... Chris didn't know what it meant, except his gut instinct that it wasn't anything good for Toby.

He made his way back to the hall, to the stairs, tripping over treacherously loose steps, jerking his hand away as another portion of the banister came away. Back pressed against the wall, he chafed at having to move so gingerly, adrenaline surging through him with the anxious need to find his lover and keep him safe. As he got to the landing, he could feel the whole house shudder under his feet, just like a tremor, and pitched himself forward, arms up to cover his head as plaster rained down on him.

"Now, see, was this so bad?" Toby said as he sprawled out across soft white sheets in the big, four-poster bed and looked around the bedroom, lit by nothing but candlelight.

"There are definite points of interest," Chris replied, something in his voice just a fraction off, a trace of accent that struck him as odd for a moment.

Toby watched him move around, just as sexy and desirable as he had imagined when he had picked out that costume earlier. Maybe that was it; his lover was trying to get even more into the role-playing by attempting a Bela Lugosi imitation. He smiled and got up on his knees, appreciating the effort anyway. "Come here."

"You have something in mind?"

"Why yes, I do," he said, smiling. "I think there's something of mine you vant to suck." He laughed at his own atrocious accent and caught Chris around the waist, tumbling him down to the mattress. "I knew you'd look good in this." He frowned for a moment, though, something striking him as odd. Oh, wait - where was the cape, and the open, ruffled shirt, and those boots that were supposed to go right over his knees? Long fingers stroked his cheek and he looked back into deep blue eyes, the piercing intensity of that gaze going deeper than ever and banishing any concerns. So there had been a mix up in the costumes. No biggie. It wasn't like a Chris Keller decked out in white tie-and-tails didn't quicken his pulse just as much. The only thing better was Chris bare-assed naked, and his pulse raced faster in anticipation of that.

Toby stretched out over his lover, lowered his mouth for a kiss, let himself be shifted over onto his back and moaned as that talented mouth trailed along his cheek and jaw to his neck. He pushed his head into the pillow, arching his neck and moaning louder as Chris nibbled along his flesh, sharp teeth grazing the skin...

Brushing himself off, coughing again, Chris stumbled to his feet, rapidly making his way along the hallway, the dark and the debris hampering every move. He threw open doors, discovering only more decay and desolation, real fear starting to coil and knot in the pit of his stomach. "Toby! Toby!"

Another door, down at the end of the hall, but this one wouldn't budge. He backed up, kicked it hard, felt it give and crash back against the wall. Candlelight flickered in the room beyond and Chris followed that light, brushing more spider-webs out of the way, wondering why this was the only part of the house that was still intact - if you didn't peek too closely into the shadowy corners. That mystery was forgotten in a flash the next instant as he saw two bodies entwined on a big, four-poster bed, his brain taking way too long to register that one of them was Toby - Toby, eyes glazed over, head pressed into a pillow as Durant, mouth open wide and lips drawn back to expose long fangs, bent his head as if about to bite him.

Chris was at the bed in two quick strides, grabbing Durant and hauling him off Toby, shoving him across the bed to tumble to the floor. "Toby? Toby! Fuck it, what's the matter with you?" he growled as his lover stared back him glassy-eyed. If that cocksucker'd done something to him - He caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of an eye and turned just as Durant came at him, knocking him back to smack into the floor, Durant on top of him.

Fuck this. Chris wrenched one arm free, fist crashing into Durant's jaw, following up with a quick, sharp undercut from the left and a swift, hard knee jammed in his gut that had Durant reeling back, dazed as Chris scrambled to his feet. A long white hand darted out, trying to snag his ankle, and Chris kicked out at it, aimed higher until his boot connected with Durant's chest and set him sliding across the floor to crash into a tall old dresser. Not waiting for more, Chris grabbed a still-dazed Toby and dragged him out of the room, down the treacherous stairs, a shaft of moonlight showing him the big front door hanging loose on its hinges.

"Come on, come on," he urged Toby, sensing more than hearing something coming up behind them.

He shoved at the door, felt it blocked by something - crashed into it as something hit him in the back. He pushed off from it, turned and slammed his shoulder into Durant just as the guy came at him again. Durant fell back, one hand latching onto his Chris, both of them smashing into the floor, the rotted boards giving way. Chris struggled free as he felt the floor give, jumped back as the worn out wood broke and splintered, Durant shrieking like a crazed banshee as he tumbled through, tumbled down into a pitch black abyss.

On his knees, out of breath, Chris crawled away from the edge of that gaping hole, unable to keep himself from flinching when a hand touched him.


He blinked, pulled in some deep breaths, looked around and up at Toby. "Beech?"

"What the fuck's going on?"

He had to laugh, short and breathless, hanging onto Toby as he got to his feet. "I don't know. Let's just get the hell out of here," he said, Toby's hand firmly clasped in his as they pushed their way through the doorway, stepping over a big tree branch that had been ripped loose in some storm and wound up wedged against the door.

It was all like before, the driveway cracked and filled with weeds and potholes, the grounds wild and unkempt, and the house nothing but a long-abandoned, burnt out faade looming there like some fantastic and foreboding thing. They didn't linger to take it all in, Chris hurried them down along the drive toward the gates, only wanting as much distance between them and the house as possible.

"Fuck." The gates were fastened tight now, a heavy, padlocked chain securing them. Didn't matter. "C'mon," he hauled Toby over to the wall, high and choked with desiccated ivy and thorny rosebushes. He stretched up, got a firm hold on the stone and clambered up, Toby right beside him, both of them dropping to the ground on the other side.

"What time is it?" Toby said, sounding normal - or trying to.

"Don't know." Chris kept an arm around his waist, anxious to put more distance between them and the house. "Come on, the car's back this way," he said, heading off in what he hoped was the right direction. They could talk about this, think about it later. A lot later.

He didn't know how far they had gotten when headlights cut through the fog, the rack of flashing blue-and-red up top announcing the approach of a police cruiser, and they stopped, waiting by the side of the road as it pulled up and stopped and a man in a sheriff's hat climbed out.

"You boys Tobias Beecher and Chris Keller?"

They exchanged a look, nodded, and Toby answered, "Yes, we are. Why?"

"Found a car off the road a ways back, registered to Beecher," the guy said, coming closer, fishing around in his coat for something. "Got a call about the same time from a Mr. Harrison Beecher saying his son and a friend were missing and did we have any reports of an accident or something." He showed them the ID he'd found, saying, "I'm Sheriff Vern Schillinger."

"So," Sheriff Schillinger angled the mirror to keep a look on them in the back of the police car, "who'd you say was driving the car?"

"That was me," Chris said, sticking to his story. The last thing Toby needed to cap off this night was the humiliation of being suspected of drunk driving, especially when that wasn't remotely relevant.

"And you went off the road because you swerved to avoid a deer?"

"That's right." Chris wanted to be alone with Toby and make sure he was all right, make sure he knew everything was all right. He looked at him in the dark, worried at him being so quiet and withdrawn; that just wasn't like him. "How you doin'?" he whispered.

Toby shook his head, shoulders lifting in a half-hearted shrug as he looked away out the window.

In the cover of the dark, Chris clasped his hand, squeezed it, and tried to accept that he was going to have to be patient. "Guess I took quite a wrong turn," he said, more to keep Schillinger from becoming too interested in them than anything else.

"Guess you did," Schillinger said as the police cruiser went around a familiar curve. "Must have turned left instead of right at Orchard and 12th Road."

"Yeah, must've been what happened." It felt like they had taken a left turn straight to the Twilight Zone all right. He felt Toby grip his hand and would have sworn he heard a thrum of tension run through the other man's body, every muscle drawn taut as a bowstring, and it wasn't hard to figure out what was wrong as the car's headlights picked out the old, padlocked gates of the mansion. "What's up?" he said as Schillinger stopped the car.

"Just want to check no one's been around the old Durant place," the sheriff said as he got out, taking the keys with him. "You boys wait here," he told them, adjusting his gun belt as he walked off to have a look around.

Toby finally spoke up, sounding worried. "What if he finds something?"

"Nothing to find." Phantoms didn't leave much of a mark, far as he knew anyway.

"You're sure of that?"

He shrugged, not feeling particularly sure of anything at the moment - except that he wanted to be home alone with Toby, both of them snug as bugs under the covers. "Like I said, being locked up with you ain't the worse thing I can think of." He watched, held his breath, as Schillinger stopped to examine a stretch of the wall where he and Toby had climbed over, flashlight beam playing over the weathered stone and gravely, weed-choked ground. "Besides, I don't think we're exactly dealing with Columbo here," he added, trying to lighten things up. Hard to tell if he succeeded, although he thought he could feel some of the tension easing out of Toby.

Schillinger came back to the gate, shined his flashlight through the bars, then shook his head and came back on over to the car. "Place looks okay," he said as he climbed back behind the wheel and started her up. "Least much as a goddamn ruin can look okay."

"What is it?" Chris said, positive his voice and manner didn't betray anything but the most casual interest.

"Old house, belonged to this guy named Durant," Schillinger said as they drove on. "Supposed to have been built back at the turn of the last century. Story goes this Durant threw a party for all his friends back in the `Twenties, wanted to have one last fling and say goodbye to them all before he offed himself." Schillinger threw a look over his shoulder at them, like he had hold of some really juicy secret. "Bet you can't guess how he's supposed to have died."

"Yeah, we're mystified," Chris replied, not wanting to sound too interested.

"Walked outside and burned to ashes as the sun came up." Schillinger chuckled, shook his head. "See, that's what brings the nutjobs around every Halloween. According to them this Durant was a vampire, all broken up because his one true love had died, and he just couldn't carry on anymore." He laughed again, like he'd never heard anything funnier.

"Quite a story," Chris said, looking at Toby and seeing him hanging on every word. "What kinda nutjobs we talking about?"

"Ahh," Schillinger dismissed them, "ghost hunters, freaks who think they're vampires. Even got a goddamn coven of witches comes out to do their Satan-worshipping bullshit." His contempt for all parties was crystal clear. "Makes a man wish witch burning would come back in style," he added with another gleeful cackle. "They're all the same, though, go around swearing they can sense some kind of paranormal vibes around the place, and going on how this Durant's haunting the place until he can be reunited with his true love." He shook his head again. "Goddamnednest things you ever heard. But it never fails: every Halloween some cocksucker comes into the station and reports they had an encounter with Durant's ghost and he tried to suck their blood."

"Takes all kinds, huh?"

"You got that right," Schillinger agreed, slowing as they came to a crossroads.

"You ever go out and check out these reports?"

"Nope, waste of man hours. Now, see, this is where you boys went wrong - you should have turned off here," Schillinger turned onto 12th road, "would have saved yourselves a mess of trouble."

Well, the redneck motherfucker had that much right at least.

"Oh man."

Chris turned from watching the sheriff's taillights fade in the distance to follow Toby's gaze, and had to smile at the lights on downstairs, the front door opening even now. Harrison and Victoria waited there, peering out at them anxiously. "Your folks never waited up for you before?"

"Yeah, but I could never fool them then either."

"Don't have to fool them. We had an accident, got lost, end of story. Come on." Chris urged Toby along with a hand at the small of his back. "Besides, we've had worse welcomes tonight," he said.

"Chris, I--"

"Shh." He rubbed his hand over Toby's back in a comforting circle. "Smile, like everything's fine," he whispered, and didn't have any trouble pulling one up himself at the quiet huff that answered him. That had to be a good sign Toby was really shaking off the whim-whams. Bound to be some kind of delayed reaction going on. He'd probably come down with a case of raging heebie-jeebies before too much longer himself. Just not in front of the in-laws.

Speaking at once, Harrison and Victoria said, "Are you all right? What on earth happened? We've been calling everywhere we could think of."

It took a while to settle them down and reassure them all was well, nothing to get excited about, best thing was for everyone to sleep it off and everything would look better in the morning.

"Yes, of course it will," Harrison agreed, worried gaze lingering on his son - including Chris as well. "You look like you got the worst of it, Chris. You're sure you don't need a doctor?"

"Nah," he waved off what he could already feel was shaping up to be a fine collection of bruises, "hot shower and an aspirin'll do for me. And about twelve hours sleep," he added with a smile.

"Well, I think all of that can be arranged." Harrison included him in the shoulder pats bestowed on Toby, and he and Victoria watched them head upstairs.

Chris just hoped they wouldn't feel the need to check in on them sometime in the middle of the night. He smiled at that, pretty sure they would be safe, as Toby looked in on the kids.

"They okay?"

Toby nodded. "Looks like."

"That's good." Chris slung an arm around his waist and pulled him close. "Want to go to bed?"

With a deep sigh, Toby looked at with earnest and heartfelt sincerity, and nodded again. "Yeah, I really do."

"Yeah, sounds good," Chris said, smiling and pressing a soft kiss to his temple before leading him into their room and firmly closing the door. He already felt a million times better as he shrugged out of his jacket and tossed it and his scarf on a chair, watching Toby cross to the windows and peer out into the night for a moment before checking to make sure they were locked, and drawing the curtains shut.

"You mind if I hit the shower first?"

Chris shook his head. "Not a problem," he said and watched him nod, guilt brimming in those blue eyes as Toby made his way to the bathroom. He sighed and shook his head again, anxious to let Toby know there was no reason to feel guilty, nothing to beat himself up over. Whatever had happened tonight, none of it was Toby's fault.

Well, there was one way that always got through to him, no matter what, and Chris stripped off the rest of his clothes, quickly cataloging the bruises and scratches he expected to see. Nothing hurt so bad it could keep him away from Toby, though, and he let himself into the bathroom, steamy warmth already filling the small space. He noted the remains of the pirate costume strewn across the floor, and pulled back the curtain, stepping into the tub as Toby turned to face him.

"Here," he whispered as he took the soap from him, "let me get your back." He urged Toby back around, filling his hands with rich, frothy lather that he worked over his lover's sexy back. Head lowered as the hot water beat down on them, he nuzzled the nape of Toby's neck. "Feeling better?" he said, rubbing soapy hands along broad shoulders and down the sweep of his back in slow, firm strokes.

A deep, pent up breath eased out of Toby as all the tension began to seep away. "Yeah, I am."

Chris ran his hands back up to knead Toby's shoulders. "Good." Both arms wrapped around him, holding snug but not so tight it felt like being confined, he rubbed his cheek against Toby's wet hair. "There's nothin' you gotta blame yourself for, Toby. We walked into something fucked up tonight, that's all."

With a snort, Toby turned in his arms, not quite meeting his eyes. "That's an understatement." He sighed, slipped his arms around Chris and pulled himself in good and snug. "Chris, what Sheriff Vern said - you think there's anything to that?"

Tightening his own hold just a bit, Chris shrugged. "I don't know. Something happened, we didn't both dream it up." He rubbed his hands over Toby's back, keeping the banished tension at bay. "I read something once," he murmured against Toby's ear, "how Halloween started `cause people used to believe this was the one day in the year when the borders between our world and the afterlife were at their shakiest, and the dead could come back to the land of the living for a while."

"You think that's what happened tonight?"

He shrugged again, kissed the corner of Toby's mouth. "Don't know. Good as any explanation."

If Toby's smile was half-hearted, at least it was a start in the right direction. "So do you have some interest in otherworldly matters you've never told me about?"

"Nah," he returned the smile easily, "I was just helping Holly with a homework assignment."

Toby's smile brightened some more, and then dimmed as he stood back and looked Chris over, worried gaze tracing every bruise and scratch. "I should be the one taking care of you," he said, gentle fingers grazing a bruise on his ribs.

"Knock yourself out," Chris told him, keeping his own smile tuned up and holding his arms out to his side in invitation. He didn't want to stare too long at the bruise that marred the creamy skin of Toby's throat, a mark he hadn't put there. A stain that was going to require a lot more than soap and water to wash away.

Retrieving the soap from the caddy, Toby worked up a generous lather and spread it over his lover's chest, blunt fingers slippery with it as he soaped Chris up from nipples to groin. "Chris, I ..." Tiny sigh, the corners of his wide mouth turning down as mournful blue eyes looked at him. "I thought it was you, Chris. I swear, I thought it was you."

"Toby -- it's okay." He cupped the side of Toby's face. "You were caught up in some kinda, I don't know, a spell."

"Yeah," Toby answered with a soft bark of self-deprecating laughter, "I just couldn't help myself. Jesus Christ, Keller, will you get mad at me for once?"

"For what? `Cause some ghoul zeroed on you?"

Toby returned a look that managed to be apologetic and cranky at the same time. "Yeah. That's supposed to piss you off."

Chris massaged both hands along Toby's arms, following the curve of lean, hard muscle. "You do it to piss me off?"

"No, not that, but..." Toby's lips compressed to a thin line, way more guilt that was called for shadowing his eyes. "Earlier, when he was just paying me so much attention ... I kind of wanted to piss you off then," he confessed, voice so soft Chris barely heard it above the rush of water.

"Yeah, ya liked that part?" Chris knew his reasonable tone was only going to provoke Toby, but a ticked off Beecher was a good thing right now. Besides, the admission didn't exactly come as a thundering surprise.

A grumpy huff preceded Toby saying, "Yeah, I liked that part. It didn't mean anything but," a little steam started to go out of him, "but it felt good to be the one someone was ogling for a change." He finished with his gaze dropping to the bottom of the tub, soapy water swirling around their feet. "Because it really pisses me off that we can't walk down the street without a half dozen people eating you up with their eyes."

"Yeah, and the other six are wishing they could jump your bones." Chris got him to meet his eyes again, familiar with the disbelief he saw there. "Beech, we just gotta accept it: a whole lotta unwanted attention is gonna come our way `cause we're so fuckin' hot."

Fighting a smile, Toby shook his head, droplets of water scattering, "That's just our burden to bear, huh?"

Solemn expression at odds with the twinkle in his eye, Chris nodded. "That's exactly right. And you know what?" He leaned close, lips right against Toby's ear. "It don't fucking matter, Toby, `cause I only got eyes for you." And that was nothing but the God's honest truth.

Toby rubbed a spot clear on the fogged over mirror, studied his reflection in the glass, one corner of his mouth lifting as he watched Chris come up behind him and start to towel him off. He sighed, breath misting the mirror again, but not before his eyes had picked something out that spurred him to wipe a patch clear for a closer look. Oh fuck.

He reached up, covering the black-and-blue spot on his neck, knees feeling wobbly with relief as his fingers encountered nothing more. It was sore, but the skin was unbroken; that fucking ghoul hadn't actually bitten him. He raised his eyes to find Chris watching him in the mirror, blue eyes somber with the knowledge of what might have happened and with the relief of what they had escaped.

He watched Chris' hand come up and cover the mark, long, slender fingers stroking it. Chris bent his head - and Toby tilted his own in helpful accommodation - to brush his lips across the bruise, the tip of his tongue caressing it as if even that was something to be treasured and held dear.

"I love you, Toby." The words caressed him right along with Chris' hands, the right one gliding over his collarbone to rest against his heart while he watched the other hand stroke his nipples, rub along his belly, and scratch through the damp hair at his groin.

Yes, Chris loved him, desired him, and that was better than any amount of anonymous eyefucks. "I love you, Chris," he said, turning from the beautiful picture captured in the mirror to face him, one hand curved around the back of his head to draw him in for a long, slow kiss.

Chris pulled back, not very far, forehead pressed to Toby's. "Wanna go hunting for buried treasure?"

"Tell you what," Toby rummaged in the medicine cabinet for a bottle of Advil, "you take a couple of these and I'll treat you to something special." He kissed his shoulder, the corner of his eye, his mouth. "You are my hero, after all," he added with another soft, fond kiss.

Expression deadly solemn and serious, Chris looped his arms around him and said, "Couldn't let anything happen to you, Toby."

He nodded, accepting that even if he wasn't quite convinced he deserved that kind of devotion. "Come on, take your pills," he filled a Dixie cup with water and handed him, "then you get a Beecher deluxe."

"Wow, a Beecher deluxe." Chris flashed his brightest smile, evidently liking the sound of that, and downed the painkillers. "So what exactly is a Beecher deluxe?" he purred, arms back around Toby again. "Are there any tricks involved?"

"Mmmm, could be." Toby walked him backwards into the bedroom.

"How about treats?"

Toby lowered him down to the bed, settled over him. "Baby, you won't be able to keep track of them," he promised and lowered his mouth to Chris'. One hand smoothed over short, dark hair that felt like wet silk between his fingers, and pushed his tongue between Chris' lips, flicked it against the roof of his mouth until he had pulled a deep, rumbling moan from him.

Yes, this was real; the taste of Chris, the sound of him - Toby rubbed his face along his lover's neck and buried it in his armpit even as Chris laughed. He didn't care. He needed to breathe in the fresh, clean smell of him, the warmth of him.

"What're you doing?" Chris said as he raised back up.

"Making sure you're you," he answered simply. He saw those deep blue eyes understand that as he sat up, straddling him, simply looking his fill for long moments. He had to smile at the expression in those eyes as Chris watched him. There was no trace of the usual smug confidence of a Keller who knew just how sexy he was and much Toby lusted for him. No, this was the other Keller he loved best, the one who got him and was always ready to give him whatever he needed.

What he needed now was to look and touch and taste, and he ran his fingers over the sumptuous body on display. His caress was slow and firm, savoring the warmth of smooth skin and the coarser texture of body hair, the steady beat of his pulse. He sought out the white imperfection of a scar across his ribs, and bent to trace the mark with his lips as Chris sighed and stirred restlessly beneath him. He found the butterfly tat and smiled as if meeting an old and well-loved friend. Lips brushing across the fluttery blue wings, he chuckled softly as a soft gasp indicated his pleasurably squirming lover was enjoying this lazy exploring. The dick growing hard and erect against his cheek was a firm indicator of that as well, and undeniably real. Toby turned to rub his mouth the length of it and swipe it with his tongue, mouth and mind flooding with delicious tastes and textures that washed any lingering shadows and doubt away.

Lifting his head, Toby's own breath caught at the look on Chris' face: eyelids drooping, lips parted, cheeks flushed with richer color from how turned on he was, completely in the zone. Toby's own excitement soared at that, like always, and his fingers curled around the shaft, stroking him as he leaned down to kiss those parted lips. Chris' tongue darted out to meet his, one hand holding the back of his head, long fingers tangled in his hair as Chris kept him there. Not that he wanted to get away. Not from this, their kisses progressing from tender to hungry as Toby pumped Chris' cock. He needed that in his mouth, needed to suck it and lick it and swallow it down until his nose was buried in short, rough silk still damp from the shower and smelling of soap and musk.

Chris' hand at the back of his head, the nape of his neck, guided him and followed him as he worked at him. He could feel pleasure shuddering through the strong body, hear it in the panting groans welling up; he knew he was bringing him close as Chris kneaded the back of his neck and pulled at his hair, fingers digging into his scalp, imploring him to finish.

Dragging his mouth up to the tip, he licked it, mouth saturated with the salty wetness. "I need inside you, Chris," he whispered, hand replacing his mouth, tickling the underside, fingernails scratching over his balls.

"Oh, Christ yes, Toby." Chris panted the words out, knees raised and parted to welcome Toby between his legs. "Toby..." He reached for him, pulled him in for another kiss, rubbed his cheek against Toby's. "Anything you need, baby, anytime."

Toby nodded, accepted that pledge. "Love you." He kissed his forehead, his cheek, his lips, slipped down to lick and suck one hard, sensitive nipple. "Baby, where's the lube?"

A rich, breathless laugh, hands stroking his back, then, "In my jeans."

Damn. Toby raised his head to look around, gratified to see the jeans discarded in heap right by the bed. Half a minute later he snagged them, dug the lovely tube from a pocket, and was back between his lover's legs. The desperate look in Chris' eyes, the ache of his own hard cock, was all the urging he needed to hurry it up. He took enough time to bury his face between those legs, tongue flicking around his balls and tickling along his perineum and anus to pull more heartfelt, shuddering groans from him. He licked the opening again, stretching it more with fingers and tongue, squeezing out generous dollops of lube to coat them both before he guided his dick to that opening and pushed inside, Chris already demanding more and faster and harder.

"Yes, yes," he gasped, feeling both of them slick with sweat in the cool night, the springs of the old bed creaking as he pumped harder, faster, loving Chris the way they both wanted. One hand wrapped around Chris' cock, he pumped that too and looked into his eyes, needing to watch him as he came, both of them trembling with the force of it as he spilled over Toby's hand. That was all it took to set Toby off, hips pumping as he shot off into his lover, collapsing on top of him and content to stay there as the last glorious sensation leisurely ebbed away.

Only it wasn't the last. There never was an ending; there was still the warmth of flesh, the soft, sweet feeling of Chris caressing him, soothing him. There was Chris' protest as Toby slipped free of him, and then a quiet sigh of total contentment as Toby moved to fit alongside him.

Stretched out on their sides, legs tangled, heads so close they shared the same pillow, they watched each other, smiles warm. After a moment, Chris reached to cradle his head and pull him closer, enough to kiss.

"Okay now?"

Toby nodded, kissed him back. "Waaaay fucking better than okay."

"I'll tell ya one thing," Chris said, clasping his hand, "next Halloween we're staying home."

Toby squeezed his hand and nodded again, in complete accord on that. "This is lots better."

"Damn straight."

"We'll just stay home, pop some popcorn, watch some scary movies--"

"Pop some popcorn, watch something about as scary as The Sound of Music," Chris corrected.

"I don't know; it's got Nazis."

"Yeah, but they ain't vampire Nazis."

That was true, and Toby sighed and nestled closer, feeling loved - feeling safe.

~the end~

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