The silence whispered. True silence was rare and a state few wished to experience, but Keller thought he might be willing to face an eternity of silence if the goddamn whispering would go away. Beecher was alive, surely that counted for something. Still, some things never grow quiet no matter how much you beg or threaten.
Keller leaned against the bunks, his gaze unseeing as the lingering sounds washed over him. Nightmare screams and the soft words of reassurance and false comfort echoed in the pod. The sins of the last few weeks leered at him, each a reminder of a precious opportunity that he had shattered.
He'd played Beecher's senses tuning them to recognize every look of longing. Touch had been added to words to create a physical connection of comfort. It sung the lie of you're not alone. Even the rough grab he'd made one night had been intentional. The tangy smell of fear and arousal had filled his nose, and while Beecher had recoiled from that brush against his cock, the first chord had been struck. Keller had known that eventually Beecher would replay that touch in memory. In a soul yearning for comfort, abhorrence would quickly turn to possibility.
Yet while he'd been doing this little song and dance for Beecher, he'd also been falling for the performance. The shared confidences were almost endearing; the wrestling was arousing; and Beecher's gazes made him feel worthy.
Keller had refused to believe, though, that the warmth he felt when he ate next to Beecher could be anything besides lust. Beecher was an attractive mix of fire and need, but his being anything more than a temporary distraction wasn't part of the plan.
The day Beecher had shown up in the laundry room and confessed his love, Keller had felt his blood tingle with victory. I love you, Toby, words mentally rehearsed so many times, had flowed effortlessly from his lips. Then he had leaned in for his conqueror's kiss and relished in Beecher's surrender.
Something strange had happened during that kiss. He had felt Beecher giving everything over to him, and he had devoured it, only to realize that he was giving everything back. Keller had surrendered to that kiss, and it had felt so fucking good. For one moment, he had trusted someone and let go. It had been a greater high than he had ever known.
Then the hacks had come.
As they were broken apart, he raged at the loss, but even as he fought, his senses began to return. His mind coldly reminded him that all of this was a con. He was playing a mark, whistling a deceptive tune.
By the time he made it to the Hole, he was already congratulating himself on a job well done. Schillinger couldn't have pulled it off so perfectly. All that was left was to give Beecher the final shove by shattering this carefully crafted illusion.
Keller had pushed aside the memory of that blissful surrender, telling himself he was too smart to fall for a mark. Once the plan was played out, he'd see how little he actually felt for Beecher. The stupid shit would mean nothing to him.
The job was now done. Beecher had been left shattered on that gym floor where they had once wrestled. Pain had replaced arousal. It should be over, but he still felt that kiss. It wouldn't leave him the fuck alone. Keller ran his hands over his face and wondered what he'd have to do to be worth another kiss.
He'd risk anything, do anything, to feel the freedom of that surrender again. Keller had a feeling that kiss was never going to let go of him. He'd been marked, but Beecher had been marked too. He just needed to convince Beecher that the violence and pain were only a test, a mere stumbling block to their love.
This kiss that haunted him was evidence of a stronger connection. If that connection survived violence .
Maybe, it's love, Keller said.
The whisperings of silence grew softer as he climbed up to the top bunk and lay down. Sliding his hand into his shorts, Keller stroked his cock and replayed the memory of that kiss again and again.
He murmured, Toby, as he came in surrender.
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