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Beta'd by Erin.

Human Touch - part 3/10: "may all your dreams come true"

by Ralu

He's doing it again: that lower-lip biting thing. Revealing a lot more about Keller than anything he might say; just like that little shiver arching his back and making his head slightly jerk without him even being aware of it. Vern KNOWS him. Just like he knows his *other* former prag: slant, blue gaze; myopic hazy stare trying to project a protective shield around him - 'don't fuck with me, 'cause I'm crazy and I might bite your dick off'...(--'and, besides, I'm a whole lot smarter and more devious than you'd imagine'.) All of it - a lie. A farce. (Well...*almost*.) Because - if there's one thing Schillinger has learned to spot in other people throughout all his life, just as a precautionary measure - it's fear. And Beecher - when he's not employing his patented *look-at-me - me-so-crazy* survival skill - is swimming in fear. Probably has done all his life, for different reasons though. But...who the fuck cares about *his* reasons?!...

Keller - leaning over the table, pretending to read something (--'Oh! There's an image: Chris the *intellectual!*...'--), chewing on his lower lip, with Beecher by his side going through the letters Schillinger's just delivered him.

No more fucking with the mail - not for a while, at least - the bitch's opened his mouth about not getting his fucking letters to the *higher authorities*, and Vern got himself a serious slap on the wrist. That holier-than-thou Nun/shrink, probably... Whatever.

Beecher's going through the letter sent by his daughter like there's no tomorrow. Jesus, he so fucking easy to *read*...

All the time he's spent in this goddamn place, all the shit he went through - he's still incapable of concealing his real emotions. Fucking pussy... Fucking weak-ass, yuppie bitch...

And Chris - Chris-to-pher - so laughable in his attempt to NOT show his very obvious interest in his *boyfriend's* mail: quick glances at the other man, just to catch - if only for a second - what Vern already knows. Beecher misses his kids; he misses them 'cause he loves them. Just like...Vern - *one-armed* and everything - misses his. The one thing both men have in common, the one thing Keller could never identify with: parenthood. Probably Chris' biggest regret; even bigger than fucking up his life irremediably by landing himself on an eighty-eight year sentence. He was alone all his life. Now he's gonna die all alone too. Well...too bad for him.

But...maybe, just maybe... (--'Just fucking *maybe*.'--)

Beecher will make parole; it don't really matter if he's gonna be out in a year, or two or fucking ten. He will eventually get out. That sly bitch knows how to tango around death and mayhem, flirt with insanity and addiction -- and still, STILL come out as CLEAN as a fucking newborn, safe and sound.

And - once he's out - Chris will be history. (--'Old news.'--) Beecher is using Chris-to-pher...and that poor dumbass doesn't even realize it. He'll hang on to him for as long as he needs to. The moment Toby feels *man enough* to fucking stand on his own two feet instead of crawling and crouching like he usually does, Keller's gonna be one major embarrassing memory... I mean, what the hell is he gonna tell his kids?!...

And poor, *lovestruck* Chrissie doesn't even see it, or doesn't WANT to see it. A ludicrously bad investment of...anything into...whatever. (--'*Whatever* you don't have; never got from that junkie. Thought you took everything humanly possible from him, only to realize - too fucking late - you got NOTHING. Nothing important.'--)

Just like Vern didn't get anything from Keller either; but...Keller never had anything worth getting, or *giving*. A street kid, a scruffy punk: no family, no history, no roots - nothing. Completely different from Beecher, or Schillinger himself. A kid coming from nowhere, with no connections whatsoever; boundless, shameless, worthless. (Harmless.) Yeah, if you only knew how to take him, bend him. Break him. Didn't take much, Chris probably already knew...what was to be known. Something which - beyond the nagging feeling of...disappointment that Vern sometimes experienced when he tried to push Chris over the edge, only to discover that...there was NO edge in the first place - was NOT that bad. He knew his place, and he fucking stayed there. Sure, for as long as he felt it was necessary, no fucking bone of loyalty in his whole body.

Chris knew the rules - or so he pretended - and acted accordingly, for sheer survival. Something that Vern appreciated - survival skills were never Keller's weak point. And besides...he was funny. Always good company to have around; nothing like Beecher, with his constant whining and bitching.

So once Toby's out of the picture - one way or another - who knows? Who knows?!...

*Vern* does. 'Cause he KNOWS Chris like no one else. His hidden insecurity. His *need*. The unconscious search for a proper father figure to provide him with what he wants. (Whatever that might be.)

Yeah, he knows him better than Keller knows himself. (Or so he thinks.)


He's awake.

It's the middle of the night, Em City's unnaturally sunken into the deepest silence, the blackest darkness...and he can't sleep. Tired and weary, worn down...completely fucked up.

It's funny, Beecher's sound asleep in his bunk, no nightmare to keep him awake, hardly any in the last few weeks. Which is okay...except when it's not. Like right now.

Chris has been having a dream - more like a nightmare - the same one he used to have in Lardner. The same one he's had all his life: drowning, being dragged by his feet into darkness, pushed underwater. He doesn't know who or what's dragging him; he just knows it's out there, and it's inside of him. Always has, always will be, probably. His own inner monster. It didn't start with Schillinger, and it didn't end with him either. Just *is*...

He wants to wake Toby up. To talk to him, to hold him; to fuck him. To have the other man cast away the demons, make it all better.

But...he doesn't.

Toby...he doesn't need to know, he shouldn't. It wouldn't do any of them any good. And...Toby's got his own nightmares, his own demons. No need for him to worry about Chris' too.

Still...he wants to hold him. To feel him. The intimacy - his high, his release, his comfort.

He didn't get any with Vern, and God knows he tried even that!... Hell! He'd try to get it with fucking anybody...



A quiet, barely perceptible response; the upper bunk squeaks as Beecher rolls over and leans down to look at him.


"I can't sleep."

"I'm tired, Chris. What's wrong?"

Keller just shrugs. His face is carefully shrouded in shadows.

Toby knows, he's learned to decipher Chris' cryptic, annoyingly ambiguous messages: he needs him.

He slides down from his bunk and Keller automatically moves over towards the pod's wall as Toby lays down next to him. Neither of them mutter a word. Beecher simply puts his arm around the other man's waist and holds him close, while Chris buries his face in the crook of his neck.

They both know Toby can't spent the entire night on the lower bunk, but even a couple of moments are as precious as eternity.

In a place like Oz. Devoid of days and nights and heartbeats. Devoid of soul. Of touch.

A moment like this is eternity. (For now, at least.)

---end of part 3/10---
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