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Good for the Soul

by Riley Cannon

Inspired by HT100 Challenge #31: Confession

~Good for the Soul~



"Tell me something?"

Chris moved against him, warm and comfortable with Toby's hand slowly stroking along his arm. "Okay - what?"

"I don't know, anything. Something you've never shared with anyone." And Toby held him closer as if he could sense just how much he was really asking here. "It's okay," he said as long seconds ticked by and Chris remained silent, "don't worry about it."

"No, Toby, I..." He wanted to tell him, give him what he asked for; he just wasn't sure what to pick out of all the possibilities. Something he'd kept hidden from everyone, even himself? That did narrow it down considerably, and he held very still as the words came to him, scared of them but spurred on by the tiniest glimmer of hope that the sky might not fall if he spoke them here, in Toby's arms. "Toby - you know how I was married all those times, right?" he began, slow and halting. "But it...it never worked `cause I," he pulled in a deep breath, forced himself to just say it, "'cause I'm ... gay," he finished, voice barely a whisper.

And nothing terrible happened; the rejection he anticipated didn't materialize. Instead of pushing him away, Toby held him closer and shifted around so they faced each other on the narrow bunk. "You've never told anyone?" he said, gentle fingers stroking his face.

"No," Chris said quietly, eyes lower. "I ... I couldn't."

"How come?"

"Because it ... because it's wrong."

Toby cupped his chin and lifted his face, fingers curving along his cheek as Toby moved close to kiss him. "Chris, does this feel wrong?"

He shook his head, fingers threaded through Toby's hair to keep him close and kiss him again. "No. No - Toby, nothing's ever felt this good." He'd never even known to expect it could be like this.

Toby smiled, knuckles brushing his cheek. "Well I'm glad to hear it - the feeling's mutual." He searched Chris' eyes in the dark, worried furrows between his eyebrows. "How long have you been beating yourself up over that?"

"I don't know - forever?" He sighed, resting his head against Toby's shoulder and feeling better than he ever would have dreamed about finally saying those words, admitting the truth to himself as much as Toby. Of course being so close to Toby, feeling those blunt fingers slowly stroke his hair, might have a little something to do with the pleasurable buzz he was feeling. "I can't remember when I didn't feel I had to deny it anyway."

"Want to stop now and let it go?"

"Yeah, that'd be good," Chris breathed out, the quiet words heartfelt. Even if he could only experience that freedom here in this bed, with this man who erased so many old fears and half-healed wounds every time they touched, Chris would still count that as a miracle.

"I'll bet," Toby said and shifted him over onto his back. "You know what I've learned in here?" he went on, lowering his head to kiss the corner of Chris' mouth, brush his lips over an eyelid.

Lips curving with a broad smile, Chris said, "That you have a deep abiding hankering for hot guy-on-guy action?"

"Smart ass," Toby returned as Chris snagged his head and held him still to claim another kiss. "*Besides* that."

Hand cupping the nape of Toby's neck, ruffling his hair, Chris watched his face and wondered where this was going. "Tell me."

"I have learned," Toby idly traced a circle on Chris' chest, "that the labels we slap on ourselves, that we let others use to define us, really don't amount to a hill of beans.

"That a fact?"

"This *is* a fact, yes." Toby kissed him again, both hands coming up to cradle his head, keeping them there as he dropped more kisses along Chris' face and down over his throat. "Chris, do you want to know a secret of mine?"

"Yeah," he murmured, neck arched as Toby's tongue and teeth rasped against his skin.

"I'm really glad you're gay because it saves me all the work of having to convert you," Toby whispered back between swipes of his tongue against Chris' skin as his mouth trailed further down.

A gasp of pleasure mingled with a quiet laugh as he felt that wicked tongue stroke a nipple. "Yeah?" Chris reached for his head, ruffling the soft blond hair. "You been in the closet all this time, Beech?"

"Mmmm, looks like, yeah." Toby ran the tip of his tongue down over Chris' belly, nuzzling the scattering of fine hairs trailing along to his cock - raising his eyes to watch his lover's reaction as his hand encircled that swelling cock, rubbing his thumb over the tip.

"Yeah, but..." Chris pumped his hips, loving that contact but needing more. "Toby, it's `cause--"

"Chris," Toby interrupted, never still his caresses, "if you say it's because this is Oz I'm going to give you a Robson special." He looked at him in the shadowy light, eyes hot with desire and frustration. "I love touching you, I love sucking your cock. When you're inside me, I feel more completely loved and accepted and ... and *known* than in all the years before I knew you." His free hand stroked up and down the length of Chris' body, voice soft and urgent with the truth of his words, with his need to be believed. "And you can quadruple all that, all that feeling, when I'm inside you, Chris."

And Chris believed that, he did, it was only... "But that only happened `cause of Oz, `cause of Vern," he said, wishing he could wipe that out, knowing he never could.

"*No*," Toby loomed over him again, hands cradling his head. "Chris, I would love you, I would want you, if we ran into each other walking down a street in Timbuktu. Don't you dare tell me otherwise," he finished, lowering his head to pledge his declaration with a kiss.

"Toby..." He paused to catch his breath, to search for words he didn't know. "That what you mean about labels?"

Toby nuzzled his cheek, burrowed against his neck. "Yeah. I *am* all those things stamped on the labels, Chris, it's just ... I'm *more*, so are you. And this, us - Chris, this is beyond anyone's definition, and it sure as fuck isn't because of Vern Schillinger."

"I wanna believe that, Toby," he said, stroking his hair again.

"Can you imagine knowing me and not loving me?"

"Christ, no," he said with feeling. Anytime, anywhere - he would want Toby, need him like he needed air to breathe.

"And are you all wrapped up in the idea of tragic, unrequited love?" Toby shifted over on his side, facing him, one hand laid along his face.

"Not particularly, no." Chris turned his face and pressed a kiss to Toby's palm.

"Then believe me, huh? *That's* my confession, Chris, that I love you - that I cannot imagine a life where I would not find you and be with you. Baby," he came in even closer, "you're so deep inside me you could be in my DNA," he said and kissed Chris' lips.

Chris smiled and kissed him, and held him tight, believing.

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