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Beta'd by Maverick, who also cheerleads and inspires and keeps me sane and the fics alive, and suggested putting Toby's scribbles in quotes because that really does look/read way better. Any lingering goof-ups are mine, mine, all mine.
Been There, Done That - Chapter 5
by Riley Cannon
"Been There, Done That"
Uh oh. That was the first thought that worked its way through Chris' sleep-clogged brain as he woke up with Toby snug in his arms. Probably this was not a good development. Probably he shouldn't enjoy it quite so much. Hard not to when this felt really good, however. He didn't want to move, didn't want to disturb Toby when the guy was sleeping so peacefully - didn't want to put up one ounce of resistance as Toby moved closer, face burrowed against his neck, breath soft and warm against his skin. Oh yeah, a guy could really get used to this.
Time ticked by, enough for Chris to wonder how they had both wound up under the covers, enough for more sunlight to filter into the room and paint shadows across the ceiling. Toby stirred in his arms, waking up at last, and Chris held himself very still in hopes of not startling him. Blue eyes blinked open to gaze at him, their focus growing sharp and intense as memories clicked into place and recognition dawned. In fact it was only then, as full comprehension of the situation flooded Toby's eyes, that Chris realized he had been holding his breath over that well: would Toby remember him, remember what was going on. He was only just beginning to grasp how very much he wanted that, how much he would hate for Toby to forget him.
To put Toby more at ease, questions already filling those summer sky eyes, Chris smiled and said, "Good morning." He had to fight to keep the smile in place as he watched Toby struggle to return the greeting, frustration clouding his eyes now. "Hey," Chris wanted to kiss the vein standing out in his forehead, "don't blow a gasket on me here."
That got him a grumpy look and one of those hmphy sounds, but that was world's better than fear in Chris' book.
"Guess we should get up, huh?" Toby shrugged back a reply, as if he might be very content to stay right there, but Chris had a hunch his interpretation might not be precisely unbiased on that score. Even so, it was harder than he expected to let Toby go and kick back the covers, sitting up on the edge of the mattress. Despite the sunshine, there was a chill in the air and he shivered, rubbing his hands over his arms.
He shivered more violently as Toby reached out to touch him, sturdy fingers following the black ink lines of his tat, curiosity in the touch and in his eyes.
"I...got that a few years ago," Chris told him, trying to convince himself the touch was impersonal. His stubborn brain wasn't registering it that way, though. "It seemed appropriate," he went on, never finding it easy to explain the tattoos.
Toby reached for his hand, turned it over and traced "Why?" in his palm.
Chris shrugged, his palm tingling. "I liked the symbolism, sacrifice and rebirth, staying the course." He looked away, embarrassed as he imagined how dumb that probably sounded.
Toby squeezed his hand and he turned back, seeing appreciation and understanding in Toby's eyes.
"We should get up." Because if they didn't, Chris knew something would happen they both might regret.
As he stood up and looked at him, creamy skin warmed by the sunlight and almost glowing against the dark blue sheets, Chris had to admit that might be a regret he could learn to live with.
Toby sat up and sighed, bemused as he scratched a hand back through his hair. He hadn't at all minded waking up in Keller's arms; would have had no problem staying right there - and would have sworn he saw that same longing in Chris' eyes. Just his luck to run into someone who still believed in chivalry, he reflected with a wry smile as he got up and stretched. The detective was right, he did know that; as tantalizing and tempting as these feelings were, until he had filled in some blanks they both had to resist.
He studied his reflection in the mirror over the dresser, assuring himself there could be no harm in keeping his fingers crossed for this all to be resolved in a way that would allow them to give into temptation -- soon.
He picked up the clothes he had been wearing the night he'd shown up at St. Audrey's, well laundered by the nuns, and went out into the hall just as Chris was coming out of the bathroom. Shaved and showered and in form-fitting jeans, he flashed him a smile that chased away the morning chill.
"Left you plenty of hot water."
Toby nodded his thanks, suspecting he might require the cold water if he didn't stop himself from admiring the other man's jeans-clad ass.
"I'll get some breakfast started," Chris added, awkward for moment as he realized Toby couldn't reply beyond another nod. Nodding back, he headed down the hall to the stairs, and Toby let himself into the bathroom, the air still steamy from Keller's shower.
He stripped off his borrowed sweats and t-shirt and stood under the showerhead, working up a double handful of lather as he pictured that: Keller standing here, soaping up that spectacular body as hot water pounded down on him. Face turned up into the spray, Toby let his imagination wander, pictured himself slipping up behind Chris and taking the soap from him, treating himself to the intimacy of washing him, familiarity in every touch, his hands knowing every square inch of the other man.
He shook his head, scattering water, and opened his eyes. Was that a memory or a dream?
Maybe it was both?
Unable to puzzle that out, he tried to concentrate on washing himself, watching the sudsy water swirl around his feet and disappear down the drain - just like his memories.
While the coffee maker did its thing, Chris booted up the computer and checked the LAPD missing persons site again before running a search on amnesia. Still no reports matching Toby's description, and not a whole lot more on amnesia. The little bit of info available kicked up more cause for concern than anything else. He found himself thinking it really might have been a good idea for Toby to stay at the hospital. Not in the psych ward, no, but long enough for the docs to look him over good.
One condition didn't sound too bad and seemed to fit the details - so far as they knew them. Retrograde amnesia, the site informed him, was the inability to remember what happened prior to the occurrence of some traumatic incident. Not something merely upsetting, but including a head injury. Didn't say how severe the injury had to be, and he just has to hope a fairly harmless bump on the head might suffice, just like in the movies. Toby seemed healthy enough, beyond the obvious; no complaints of headaches, dizziness or nausea. Who knew how long he might have lain unconscious somewhere before making his way to St. Audrey's though? Those bruises on his body were a red flag the guy'd been in some kind of altercation.
Chris shook his head, worrying his lower lip as he read on, optimism rising just a bit as he discovered lost memories could be recovered; the older ones tended to return first, working up to the present until everything had come back. He'd have to keep an eye on Toby and check if that was panning out.
There was nothing associating memory loss with the inability to speak, and a search on that condition came up empty. Had to be related to the trauma, some kind of shock, but hell if he'd ever seen anything like it.
Maybe O'Reily could help out? Chris thought about that as he shut down the computer and went back to the kitchen, getting out a couple of mugs. Be easy enough to kill two birds while he was running some errands: stop at the bodega and stock up on some groceries and persuade O'Reily to hazard a diagnosis of Toby's condition. Really tempting, but ... he watched the blond come downstairs and pulled up a smile for him ... but maybe that, and a trip to the hospital could wait until Monday. Might all be a moot point by then anyway.
Thinking of that, wishing he could feel only happiness that someone would turn up to claim Toby as their long lost son-brother-husband-boyfriend, he poured out the coffee and said, "Paper should be here. Want to see how your photo came out?" He tried to sound as cheerful and optimistic as possible.
Toby sat down at the table, hands curved around the red enamel of the mug. He shrugged, like it didn't make a difference to him.
Chris went on trying to put the best face on it. "Hey, you could be back in the bosom of your family before the day's out. That'd be a good, right?"
Toby's nod didn't have a lot of enthusiasm.
Hating himself for being glad about that, Chris checked for the paper, slipped off its plastic wrapper as he brought it back inside. "Should be on page ... yeah, right here," he opened it to page three where the photo of Toby and a box with all the pertinent details appeared right above the fold. "Looks good, huh?"
Toby looked it over, nodded, reached for the pad and pen and wrote: "Thank you."
"Hey, it's my job," Chris said without an ounce of sincerity in the impersonal words. Up to now this had only been job to him, now though -- everything was different this time.
"So what happens now?" Toby wrote.
"Well," Chris opened the fridge to see if the dismal state of its contents had taken a miraculous turn for the better, "that depends on if you're hungry or not," he said, expression rueful.
Toby craned his neck for a look, noting the sparse contents of one bottle of beer, half a tomato, and two slices of petrified pizza in plastic wrap. He scribbled out: "That's really sad."
Chris nodded mournfully, cautiously prying open a carton of what had once been Chinese takeout but was now evolving into an alien lifeform. "We might want to go out for breakfast."
"And groceries," Toby wrote.
"Yeah." Chris sat down and stirred some sweetener into his coffee, fixing Toby with a thoughtful look. "Might not hurt to pick you up a few things, too." The Gap clothes fit him a whole lot better than the odds-`n'-ends Sister Pete had thrown together for him, but in case this turned into a longer stay it would be good for him to have some more things of his own. Little touches like that might even go a long way toward helping him get some memories back.
"I don't want to be any trouble. Or at least, no more trouble," Toby wrote.
"Hey," Chris laid a hand over his wrist, squeezed, "none of this your fault. You're not being any trouble."
Toby looked at him, wide blue eyes sad but accepting. He nodded, wrote, "If you're sure."
Toby thought it over, taking his time deciding, but finally wrote, "OK."
Glad that was settled, Chris patted his arm again, fingers lingering. Toby had the sleeves of his white oxford rolled up to expose sinewy forearms, hairs glinting like gold in the morning light, and it took a tremendous effort for Chris to pull his hand back and resist the tantalizing impulse to caress. He wanted to stroke his fingers along that forearm, absorb the warmth and strength, clasp Toby's hand and lean in for a kiss ... He tore his gaze away from Toby's, reading all those same desires in pale blue eyes, and looked at their hands, twined together on the polished tabletop.
It felt like the hardest thing he'd ever done to carefully draw his hand away, the sensation of slipping his fingers free of Toby's grasp a delicious torment.
"We should, uh," he swallowed, couldn't risk another look at Toby, "we should be hitting the road."
He heard the pen scratching over paper and welcomed the prosaic question posed: "What if someone calls about the ad?"
"That's why God invented voice mail," Chris said, taking refuge in the breezy comment. Getting up to check the phone was set up right was a good distraction too, giving him a chance to pull his composure back together - let Toby have a breather that way as well. "The calls probably won't start until the afternoon."
More pen scratching, Toby showing him the pad: "You think there will be some?"
"There'll be a response, always is." It felt good to get onto something impersonal; just the facts, ma'am. "Most of them are going to be cranks of one kind or another. That's why I didn't put too many details in the ad; we'll use those to weed out the nutjobs."
"What do you mean 'nutjobs'?"
Chris shrugged, came back to the table and sat down. "Most of `em are harmless." He took a drink of his coffee, made a face at it's going cold. "Some old lady will call and insist you're her son who died twenty years ago. A guy working on his second six-pack of the day will call and insist you're his frat brother and owe him twenty bucks."
"And the others?"
"Well," Chris scratched his shoulder, "if you were a girl there would be a strong kink factor to some of them. Might still be," he added with a wink.
Toby gave him a grumpy look and wrote: "Gee, thanks."
Chris laughed, and then turned serious just as quickly. "Whoever roughed you up might see the photo too, try and make contact." He didn't want to alarm him, just clue him in on all the possibilities, and hastened to put him at ease. "I don't think that's likely but we gotta be prepared just in case. I plan on sticking real close to you, Toby. You'll be safe."
Toby looked like he approved of that strategy and wrote: "Thank you. And don't tell me it's just your job."
"Well it is ..."
He sighed, fingers curled around the cooling mug as he looked out the floor-to-ceiling window that gave him a view of the Pacific, the water glinting silver in the sunlight. The peaceful, soothing rhythms of the ocean were at complete odds with the tension coiled tight in his belly. Toby's hand touched his arm, strong fingers curled around his wrist, and he looked at that as pleasure shot through him. This was crazy. Lusting at first sight, yeah, he knew all about that, had all kinds of experience in that arena. This ... he locked eyes with Toby, almost couldn't breathe because the sense of connection was so tangible and intense ... this felt like so much more and it was knocking him for a loop.
"We gotta keep focused on the job," he finally said, the words sounding hollow and lame to him. "That's what matters right now."
"And later?" Toby wrote.
Chris gave in to one infinitesimal temptation and reached over to touch Toby's face. "Maybe we'll cross that bridge then," he said, fingertips brushing one golden eyebrow before he pulled his hand back, feeling his resolve weaken by the nanosecond.
Toby looked like he didn't think there was going to be any maybe about it, but that didn't bring quite as much consolation as Chris would have thought.
"So," Chris forced a brisk note into his voice as he stood up and carried the two mugs over to the kitchen sink, "shall we get going? You want to grab your jacket?" he added when Toby nodded.
Smile lopsided, Toby flashed him an OK sign and headed back upstairs.
Chris watched him go and breathed out a deep sigh, wondering how he'd got into a situation like this. Oh, yeah, something to do with how he could never tell Sister Pete no.
When Toby came back downstairs with his brown, distressed leather jacket, he watched Chris slip a black one on over the deep purple polo shirt he had on, the fit as snug as the jeans. He wanted to tell him how good he looked, although something told him Keller probably was not unaware of that state of affairs. Still would have been good to say.
Chris looked over at him, flashed one of those brilliant smiles, dimples cutting deep into his cheeks, and said, "Ready to hit the road?" as he pulled out his keychain.
Curious, struck by the novelty of the item, Toby tapped Chris on the arm and mimed that he wanted to look at the keychain. A puzzled but obliging look on his face, Chris handed it over, watching as Toby examined it. Made of pewter, it was in the shape of a musical note, a G-clef - and how the fuck did he know that?
Chris was giving him an anxious look now, asking, "What's up? This mean something to you?"
Baffled, he shook his head, handed the keychain back and crossed quickly to retrieve the pad and pen from the dining room table. "I don't know," he scribbled out. "I know what it is, though."
"Okay," Chris nodded. "Something else to file away."
"Probably just means I took piano lessons when I was six," he wrote.
Chris smiled, like that rang a bell for him. "Well I did anyway. Sister Pete wanted us exposed to some culture and made sure things like that were included in our lessons. Even used to drag some of us off to field trips to the Hollywood Bowl to listen to classical concerts."
"You like that?" Toby wrote.
Nostalgia warming his gaze, Chris nodded as he opened the door and ushered Toby out and down the walkway. "I did, actually," he said, as if that surprised him. "Kinda forgot about it for a while, but ... I don't know," he shook his head as he unlocked his car, "lately it's been coming back to me, how good that music can be."
Toby circled around to the passenger side, giving him a curious look across the top and wrote again: "I noticed you have a lot of classical and opera in your CD collection."
Chris warmed him with that smile again. "Yeah, kinda hard not to, huh?" There was a faint note of self-deprecation in his voice, but more a sense of being ever so slightly puzzled. "Guess maybe you go through cycles with things like that. Anyway I found this keychain in this antique store I like and," he shrugged again, "I don't know, it reminded me of St. Audrey's. You know how it's got that same note on the front gate?"
Toby nodded, remembering, wondering if that's what had sparked his interest. That seemed to cover it and yet he couldn't shake a feeling there might be more going on. Damned if he could pin it down any further.
"You're into antiques?" Toby scribbled and showed him.
"Yeah," Chris answered slowly, cheeks colored with a tinge of embarrassment that he covered up by donning his sunglasses. "Kinda sorta... When I moved in here, the place was California modern all the way but, I don't know, it never felt right to me so little by little I've been refurnishing with some older pieces."
Toby nodded to himself. He thought he could understand that. The older furniture might provide a guy some comfort, give a sense of being connected and grounded, to someone who didn't know where he came from.
"Isn't that more expensive than buying new?" he wrote, tempted to venture a question he'd had on his mind for a little while now.
"Can be. Depends on the item."
He nodded again, taking note of the house, the general look of the real estate fronting this slice of Pacific beach - the candy apple red '65 Corvette Stingray they were standing beside - and wrote: "So can I ask you something?"
Chris slipped his sunglasses off, looked at him across the ragtop. "Okay, what?"
"Well, no offense, but this all looks pretty pricey."
Chris laughed, not appearing the least insulted. "And you want to know how a PI - and ex-cop - can afford it?"
It was his turn to be embarrassed, but he nodded, never breaking eye contact.
"Get in the car," Chris told him, answering at they drove along. "Actually that hooks up with how I got the idea for this line," he said, passing a slow-moving Town Car. "Few years ago, this private dick from back east looked me up, said he'd been hired by a law firm to track me down and give me my slice of my parent's estate - not the biological ones, never did find them - but Jack and Connie Keller, the couple who'd adopted me. Seems they were pretty well-heeled and even though they hadn't had me long when they died, they'd made provisions for me in their wills. Only the rest of the family wasn't too supportive of that and tied things up in probate. When the case was finally settled, it was in favor of the family, cut me out completely. The old broad who would have been my grandma, though, she had a sliver of a conscience and felt bad about going against the wishes of her son. When she kicked the bucket, turned out she had reinstated the provisions of Jack's will, and all they had to do was find me then. Anyway," he made a turn off, navigating the sports car along another stretch of beachfront property to a little restaurant, "turned out I got the house back there, plus enough money to let me quit the force and set myself up in this new line of business - and have enough left over to stash away so I never have to worry. Feels pretty good knowing that," he finished as he eased the car into a parking space.
"I guess it would," Toby wrote. "But you don't work for free."
Chris grinned. "That's so I don't gotta dip into the nest egg. Seems fair."
He nodded, guessing it did. "So if nobody claims me you won't miss your finder's fee too much?" he wrote, smiling to let him know he was teasing.
Chris gave him a serious look, though, the kind that made him feel like the most important thing in this man's life. "Toby," those long, slim fingers touched his face again, sending sharp spikes of excitement through him, "if nobody claims you, money's gonna be the last thing on my mind."
He nodded again, wishing Chris would touch him some more.
As if reading his mind, Chris reached around to cup the nape of his neck, fingers playing with his hair. "It's gonna be all right, Toby, it's gonna be fine," he said, genuinely wanting him to believe that. "You okay?" he added, searching his eyes for the answer.
He indicated that he was, and it was true - as long as Chris was with him anyway.
"Wanna go eat?" Chris nodded at the restaurant --Eugenia's.
"Yeah, I do," he wrote. "And thank you - and I know: it's just your job," he added, smile crooked as he watched Chris read the words.
Still serious, Chris shook his head. "It's more'n that, Toby," he admitted, wistful now as he opened the door and got out.
He was glad to hear that anyway, no matter how it all turned out.
~~to be continued in Chapter Six~~
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