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Completed: January 8, 2002
Author's Notes: This is an attempt to preempt whatever TF has in store for us this season. So. I have been keeping my ears virginal to spoilers, thus, making this utterly of my own mind's musings. Anything that resembles actual spoilers was a fluke of kismet, or whatever, and totally unintentional. I apologize in advance for whatever nasties in punctuation and grammar you might find. As always, enjoy or send raspberries!

Idle Reverence

by pirl

Toby lay there, in a hopeless tangle of arms and legs, wondering if he willed it enough, Chris would wake up. As usual, his restlessness had gotten the better of him, waking him from a dream that left him with slightly unsettled feeling. Of course, he couldn't remember it now. He just remembered the overwhelming sense of relief when he woke up.

Regardless of being imprisoned, he'd felt lately that he had a lot to be thankful for lately. He was still alive, that was always a plus. He started to have visits with Harry, now his only son, for the first time since he was sentenced. Holly was even helping him, showing Harry around the playroom and reinforcing the idea that the strange man was his "daddy."

The most recent thing he was thankful for was now desperately wrapped around him. Chris had returned to Oz. Though at first it wasn't such a thankful homecoming.

::::: Two Weeks Ago :::::

"Sister Pete, I gotta tell ya, starting up again with these sessions is useless." Toby abandoned the computer he had been staring at for the last few minutes to turn towards her.

Sitting at her desk, she had to admit that it was a stretch. But she had to be diligent if they were to finally work through this; they had come so far to give it up now. "Tobias, you have no idea that Schillinger's motive in the library was to kill you."

"No, just taunt and torture me some more. If Said hadn't been there who knows what him and Robson might've done." Looking down he weighed the situation in his head. "Did I tell you my father's bringing my son Harry tomorrow?"

"That's wonderful Tobias. When was the last time you saw him?"

He let out a contemplative sigh, pushing up his bottom lip in thought. "Ahhh... gosh. Probably the morning I killed Kathy Rockwell." He offered Pete a pitiful smile and turned back to his work. But before she could scold him for his defeatist attitude he solemnly added, "I'll continue the sessions. I need to keep my kids safe."


Ryan was winning this round of poker. Of course, that was because the dumb bastard across the table didn't know he had a whole mitt of aces up his sleeve. "Well, that's his own damn problem," Ryan thought, "can't help it if the new guy doesn't know shit from Sherlock. I can probably unload whatever cash this guy's mommy sent with him by the end of the day."

Ryan showed his hand with an air of annoyance, just to pour salt in the wound. "Straight flush, ace high." He watched with concealed glee when his opponent indignantly threw his cards down in yet another defeat.

Ryan decided to taunt. "Shit. Not your day, huh cuz?" All he received was a pathetic sneer. Grabbing the deck, Ryan decided to feel out the new guy a bit more.

"So, Grady... that Irish?" The rookie eyed him warily. "Hey, just curious." Ryan held up his hand, brandishing the tiny shamrock tattoo. "Gotta know who your friends are, right?"

"Guess so." His eyes followed the other man's deal. "My dad's dad was on the boat, I think. We really didn't follow that sorta thing."

"Huh." Ryan immediately filed Grady under the 'Useless Piece-of-Shit' column. "So, how's the roommate?"

"Beecher? Oh, he's okay I guess. Doesn't talk much." Grady frowned yet again at the cards he'd been dealt.

"Yeah, but you should watch it. That guy's nuts. You know he shit on a guy's face?"

Grady graced him with a completely incredulous look. "What?"

Ryan went in for the kill. "Yeah. He also bit off a guy's dick too. He's one crazy motherfucker. I'd keep an eye on my piece if I were you."

Then, as if on cue, Toby walked into the quad. Looking over at their table, he gave the two a nod. Horrified, Grady forgot about the game. Ryan reached over and inspected his cards. "Wow, tough shit Grady. Looks like my full house beats you again." Slouching back into his chair, eyes sparkling, Ryan thought it was way too easy sometimes.

On the way to his pod Toby noticed Ryan already had his new roommate in his charms. Poor guy. He's already got O'Reily robbing him blind, and the poster boy for sanity as a bunkmate. Toby had to admit this Grady guy already had a much better introduction to Oz than he had. He shook his head remembering his own misfortune; Dino, Adebisi, Vern. Vern. Christ, what a fucked up web that's turned out to be lately.

A chill in the air made Toby shiver. He half believed it was from his trip down memory lane, until he realized that he had left his sweatshirt in Sr. Pete's office. Turning on his heal he headed back toward the gates. Halfway to her office he ran into her. Distracted and obviously surprised to find him in the hallway, he startled her.


"Hey Sister. I forgot my shirt in your office."

"Oh... yes. Actually, I was on my way to find you."

Toby saw in her reaction that she was oblivious to his forgetfulness. Immediately his guard went up. She was on her way to find him. His mind drifted back to part of a conversation he'd had with Chris, long ago.

If you do something wrong, you're summoned to McManus' office. He comes to deliver bad news.

But he found his mind idly wondering what it means when those possibly carrying bad news meet you halfway, like he and Sr. Pete just had. Bracing himself, he allowed her to continue.

"I got a call right after you left, from Dr. Keyes at Cedar Junction..."

Please... oh God... please don't tell me he's dead.

Occupied by looking down at her clipboard, as if reading notes, she missed his stricken look. "Apparently the charges against Chris have been dropped..." not dead, he's not dead! "...somebody else the Massachusetts Police picked up confessed to killing Hank Schillinger..." wait. Oh fuck! They're going to find out it was Pancamo, then me. "...and they're transferring Chris back here."

Looking up, she waited for his response. He was still focused on being found out when his brain kicked him. "Wait... what?"

"Chris is coming back to Oz." Sr. Pete was expecting a much different reaction than the one she got. She watched as Toby looked like he was about to panic. "Tobias, are you all right?"

He half shook his head, feeling as if he were just plucked from reality. It was a delayed reaction he was feeling. But what reaction was it? Toby stood there, his brain cataloging his emotions as if they were animate objects that could be sorted. In the beginning, when Chris first left, Toby was lost. He dragged himself from one day to the next, only to be lifted and crushed with one single phone call. After the explosion, when he was in the hospital, Chris finally reached out. With one letter, they had renewed the relationship. The feelings were still there, in leaps and bounds, but the distance made it a challenging process.

After pulling a few strings, and quite a few favors from Sr. Pete, they'd maintained their correspondence. It only amounted to a handful of letters to this day, but Toby had cherished the wrinkled, half-illegible scrawlings from Chris. But in their letter trading Toby had found a safeness, a sort of backwards anonymity that he found comforting. The reactions were never immediate from Chris because he wasn't standing in front of Toby to tell him, to show him, or to stop him from the heartfelt confessions. That made it all too easy for Toby to tell Chris anything and everything he had wanted to without consequence.

Now Chris was coming back, and Toby felt shockingly indifferent.

"I... I'm not sure." He slowly closed and opened his eyes in a slow-motion blink. "I'll see you tomorrow." He turned and left, leaving Sr. Pete unsure what to do. The misplaced sweatshirt was now an afterthought.


Toby lay on his back, staring up at the blank ceiling above him. It was about three in the morning, he figured. He had yet to close his eyes for any meaningful amount of sleep. Hopping down, he gave in to his full bladder.

When finished, he turned and looked over at the now occupied lower bunk. It's been a while since they guessed it was safe to put someone in with me again. Toby eyed his roommate. He was shorter, about five foot eight, longish brown hair, somewhere in his late thirties, and had a fairly trim build. Must belong to a gym. From earlier conversations he found out that Phil Grady was in for possession of stolen property and narcotics. Basically, he was a dirty pawnshop owner who used the store to sell stolen goods and some coke from time to time. If he survives long enough, no doubt he'll be using in here. Just my dumb fucking luck. I don't need an addict as a roommate. I bet O'Reily already has his number. Toby started to wonder about Chris and reminded himself to ask Pete exactly when he would be coming back.

"Wha...?" Grady opened his eyes to find his roommate staring down at him. Strangling out a curse that sounded more like a frightened cry, Toby watched as his podmate moved his hands down to protect his groin from what he thought was going to be an obvious assault.

Toby reminded himself to have a word with O'Reily tomorrow as well.


Toby entered the visiting area. He found his father standing in the hallway, staring into the play area.


"Toby. Oh, it's good to see you again." Harrison enveloped his son in his typical bear hug. "The kids are here."

Toby let go of his dad and entered the room. Holly immediately squealed in delight as she ran the short way across the room into her daddy's arms. As he bent over and gathered his daughter in his arms, he looked across the room to the toddler she had deserted.

Harry was busy pulling out blocks and Legos from the toy bin. He had seen pictures, the progression his son had made from the infant he left behind to the nearly unrecognizable young boy he had become. Toby felt as if he were in a time warp, maybe even the Twilight Zone-there was no way this could be his son.

"The lady said I hafta help Harry. She said you were a stranger and he might be 'fraid." He looked at his suddenly vocal daughter and smiled sadly. No doubt the 'lady' she spoke of was her therapist. A wave of sadness threatened, but soon vanished when Harry decided to join his sister. Toby felt as if his heart were about to leap out of his chest as the toddler approached them.

Harry held his hand up to his mouth, and promptly began to chew on the cuff of his shirt. The slightly tattered edge implied of a habit. His large eyes stared warily into a pair as pale as his own.

"Hi Harry, I'm you're daddy." Everything in him wanted to reach out and smother his son with kisses and tickles, but he kept himself folded and rigid in his spot.

Holly then grabbed her brother's hand, the one not being devoured, and pulled him closer. She reached with her other hand and patted Toby's knee with it. "Daddy."

"That's okay Holly, don't force him." He covered his daughter's hand, giving it a squeeze.

"But that's what the lady said I should do, she said it was very important." She looked up at her father, obviously confused with grown-ups and their rules. Again she tugged her brother's arm to get his attention and patted Toby on the knee. "This is your daddy."

Harry shook his head and pointed a chewed up sleeve at the door. Holly then peered around her father to see what Harry pointed at. Seeing Harrison in the window of the door, she shook her head. "No, silly! That's grampa. This," patting Toby's shoulder now, "is daddy."

Toby couldn't think of anything to say. It broke his heart to have Holly reassure her brother that he was his daddy. He looked, his heart simultaneously full of love and grief, as his only son stared at him again. He could see him searching to understand what had just been said. Then, in a way only a child could, he opened up to the possibility that this strange man kneeling before him was in fact his daddy. He ran clumsily back to the toy bin, grabbed a plastic dump truck, and returned to offer the truck to Toby.

Toby took it, laughing away the wetness that had collected in his eyes.


Vern was being escorted down to his newest session with Sr. Pete. He had protested loudly when Pete approached him with the idea of continuing. He absolutely had no wish anymore to try and mend fences with that prag. That little piece of happiness that had searched for was a fleeting memory. Sure, he had his grandson; the tests had proven that it was Hank's after all. But that daughter-in-law... he could never forget that she had sex with niggers. That had put a definite strain on their relationship, so she hardly came to visit anymore. Rather, she just sent him pictures and short letters in the mail.

It wasn't until he had been released from the hospital and back into Unit B when he was struck with the idea. It had actually come from Robson. He mentioned how much more vulnerable Beecher had been when he and Vern were doing their 'psycho sessions,' easy to get to and too goddam trusting, that it could be useful in the future. But of course he would never let the half-dicked dimwit ever know that it was solely his idea.

He limped ever so slightly along the hall. His wound was still pulling a little, but healing nicely all the same. When he finally reached the door, he heard Beecher inside the room asking, "He doesn't know?" when the escorting officer opened the door.

"Who doesn't know what?" He gave the two a smile full of false intentions. Looking at Beecher, he reveled in the reaction he got. The yuppie obviously had something on his mind, and it wasn't settling with him all too well. He nonchalantly crossed the room over to the chair, and sat with an air as if he already knew what they weren't telling him, but didn't care.

Sr. Pete gave Toby a look, telling him with her eyes it was okay to sit. She finally took her chair and told Vern what they were just discussing.

"Vern, Tobias is concerned because of your possible reaction to some news."

He huffed out a short laugh, "What could you possibly have to tell me? Both of my sons are dead, remember." He caught the wince on Beecher's face at the mention of his sons.

"Well, Chris Keller is returning to Oswald." She began to explain that the charges against him had been dropped due to lack of evidence when Vern interrupted her.

"You mean a judge let the son of a bitch go?" Toby felt each word slicing through him. His heart was pounding and it was all he could do to not show how afraid and confused he was at that moment.

"No, Vern, the case never went to trial."

"What the fuck do you mean 'never went to trial?' He confessed to killing my son!"

Sr. Pete raised a hand, willing it to buffer some of the rage that was coming off Vern. "Please, try to calm down."

"You did this." Vern had a finger pointing right at Toby's head. "You and that nigger, Said! First he stabs me, then he helps you get Keller off."

"He never..." Toby started.

"Fuck you! Fuck both of you. You better watch your back Beecher..." Vern then turned and pounded on the door to be let out.

When he was gone, Sr. Pete looked at the dejected Toby. "I'll talk to him."

"It's not going to work. He'll either end up killing me or Chris or Said. Fuck, maybe all of us."

"That's not going to happen." Her voice was stern.

"You can't guarantee that."

She sighed, deciding that there was no way to turn the other man's head. "I'll talk to him." Toby just shook his head and left silently. She leaned forward in her chair, placing her head in her hands, her voice quiet, "...shit."


Toby opened his pod door, exiting into the common area. Seeing Rebadow alone at a nearby table playing solitaire, he decided to join him and settled heavily into the plastic chair.

"Nice workout?"

Toby shrugged. "Not really. Can't concentrate when you're worried about bloodthirsty Aryans."

"Ah." Rebadow reshuffled the cards and dealt out another game. "Is that why you're not seeing your kids tomorrow?"

"At least until this thing with Schillinger blows over. I'm not going to put them in danger."

The old man's eyes lit up when he spotted a good play. "And when do you suspect that will be?"

Toby huffed. "Never, once Keller returns."

"Sounds like you're not looking forward to him coming back."

"How could I be? Schillinger thinks he's getting off for Hank's murder and assumes I'm involved."

Rebadow moved a couple cards around, flipping up a few in the process. "Sounds like you need a plan."

Toby huffed again, a little surprised at the suggestion. "Anything short of killing Vern won't be enough. And even if that happened, one of the Aryans would kill me in retaliation."

"Can't say that I envy you." He dealt a few more cards up. "When does Keller return?"

"Tomorrow." Rebadow answered with a "Hmm."

"Yeah," Toby stood from the table, "been nice knowing you Bob."

He watched as the younger man walked toward the televisions. "Likewise."


"So, when do we get the little bitch?" Robson's eyes were glowing with shear bloodlust.

"Tomorrow. And I want to do this myself, so we'll have to wait until he leaves Em City."

"He cancelled his visit with his kids, and he probably has O'Reily or Said babysitting him in the gym."

"Yeah, and meals are too open. We gotta get him when he's alone. If we could get that nun to leave the office for a little while..."

"Nah, no can do Vern. Hack's already did their rotation. Lopresti's no longer the guard there, it's Dempsey."

"Fuck!" Vern threw the book he had been holding against his cell wall. Bracing his hands against the bunks, his voice determined, "Just give me some time. I'll figure something out."


"Isn't there something you can do?" Sister Peter Marie was exasperated. Most days, she put up fairly well with the on-goings of working in a prison full of murderers, rapists, and every other sort of bad individual. But this had gone on long enough and more spilled blood was inevitable.

"Pete, we can't lockdown the prison or send Beecher to protective custody whenever Schillinger gets mad. Besides, it's already full up there." McManus felt only a slight pull of guilt about the situation, always has, but not enough to rationalize any excessive precautions.

"But Tim, I heard him threaten Tobias. He's going to go after him, Said, and probably Keller when he comes back tomorrow. He thinks they're all involved in his son's trial getting thrown out."

"They probably are." Sr. Pete was not amused with his cute remark. "Besides, Keller and Said are more than able to take care of themselves. And Beecher, well, now that Keller'll be back, he's got one more person on his side." He paused while an idea sparked in his head. It wasn't a solution, by any means, but he thought it just might help alleviate tension from building up in Em City. "I'm going to have my balls handed to me with this one, but I'll switch Grady out and put Keller back into Beecher's pod. Statistics show that I have less dead bodies if they're together."

"I don't know..."

"What other choice do I have? You said they've been exchanging letters, right? So at least they're still... whatever." Tim shifted in his chair and added with a conceding tone, "even if we did put all the Aryan's in the hole, somebody would still get killed."


Toby eased onto his bunk, settling his body but not his mind onto the mattress. That day had been eerily uneventful. He had plodded his way through the tasks of the day without one bump or curve in the road. Yet it left him exhausted now that he was safely in his pod for the night and he could finally drop his defenses. Yet, he waited still for the other shoe to drop.

I shouldn't be feeling this way. I should be excited, overjoyed even, that Chris was coming back. Right? Instead I feel myself getting angry at him for... what? For not killing Hank? Well that's just fucked up because that's mine to own... forever. Huh. Maybe Vern did figure it all out. Toby sat up, knowing he would never be able to sleep with the thoughts racing banging around in his head that night.

It really doesn't matter if Vern does piece it together or not. He's got his own ideas and that's more than enough to get me killed. Toby fleetingly wished that he had killed Hank with his own hands, somehow. Poetic fucking justice.

He hopped down off his bunk, angry at his own thoughts and how easily they reverted to violence. There were many things in Oz that were going to leave a permanent impression on Tobias Beecher, literally and figuratively. The one that he found most ironic and hardest to live with was that he came into Oz a person who made a bad decision and had a bad situation thrown at him. It wasn't until he had been locked within these walls that he made bad situations happen with his fledgling and alarmingly unsated penchant for violence.

Looking at himself in the mirror, Toby marveled yet again at the path his life had chosen. He used to be a believer in the idea that one chose their own destiny and nothing was set in stone for this man or that man. But as he looked into his tired and weary eyes, he saw a man who believed in fate staring back. No one in their right mind would ever have chosen this life. It was his twisted fate that had brought him there, to be staring at himself in the middle of the night, locked in a cell, awaiting his ex-lover's return.

A creak from the bed springs behind as Grady shifted in his guiltless sleep tore Toby from his thoughts. Hope McManus knows what he's doing. Chris... back here... with me... Toby shuddered with apprehension. I shouldn't be feeling this way.


"Hey Ryan. You're not going to the gym today?"

The lanky con was already making a beeline to the gates. "Nah, I might be coming down with something."

Toby shook his head, knowing exactly what O'Reily's problem was-lovesick for a certain doctor. Tossing his towel over his shoulder he made his way to the gym, thinking he could get a head start before Said got there. The two had made plans to meet there, but not till an hour or so later.

Entering the gym he saw Lopresti on the far end talking to a couple of Cloutier's followers, and some homeboys from Unit B playing basketball on the other side of the gate. He decided to walk over to the free weights and begin his warm up.

A while later, and a few hundred pounds in total lifted, Toby walked to the back of the room so he could stretch out his complaining legs against the space open on the wall. He leaned forward, his hands resting on the cool wall, and placed his left foot behind him, feeling the pull in his calf. His mind wandered slightly, thinking about Chris again, wondering when exactly he was scheduled to return today. He thought about the letters they sent each other over the last several weeks, and about the tape he made for Chris when he couldn't see to write. He thought about the nights he spent wide-awake, trying to make sense of his life and how Chris fit in it exactly now that he was gone.

Like a puzzle piece that you think fits, but really doesn't. Seems no matter how much we push and pull, we'll never get it right. Toby shifted to the other leg, relishing in the slight pain the stretch gave him. Maybe we should just cool it, call it quits, whatever. Maybe then, Vern will leave me alone... Yeah, and pigs fly. He'll still try to get to me and Chris and Said, and I can't have that on my conscious. Speaking of Said, where the fuck is he?

Toby was about to turn around and search for Said when the door separating the gym from the court was slammed shut, startling him. Whipping his head around, he was face to face with Vern.

"Well, well, well, lookie here. All alone with no one around to hear you beg for your miserable fucking life."

Toby's eyes darted around the room, seeing no one except Robson coming at him quickly from the side. He tried to duck out of the way, but was too slow. Robson had him, a metal wire between his thick hands that was now fast around Toby's throat, choking him.

Panic set in instantly. He reached up to grab at the wire, but his hands found nothing to grab on or pull at. He felt the air trapped in his lungs start to burn as the wire cut into his neck. It felt as if the wire was going to cut all the way through hi throat, making Toby wonder if it were possible that decapitation would kill him before asphyxiation.

"You're the first sweet pea. Once you're dead, we're going after your BOY-friend and that nigger. No one kills my sons and lives, you hear that bitch?" Vern couldn't believe it was going as easily as it was-to have the brothers leave the gym right before he bribed Lopresti to take a hike with the Christians-it was kismet. Now, watching Beecher turning redder and redder, spitting out his last breaths, it damn near made him hard.

Toby saw the stars start dancing in front of his eyes and shut them tight, wishing them away. He felt the hot, stale breath of Robson on the back of his head. His head and lungs screamed for the oxygen he couldn't give them. He thought of his kids and how they were going to grow up orphans, and his heart ached with more than lack of air. As his vision started to blur, and the power to which he futility fought start to ebb, Toby marveled at the knowledge that he was truly going to die.

"Say good night, motherfucker!" The words were hot in his ear. His eyes flew open once again, and Toby hoped the hate he had for the man standing in front of him, taunting him, could be seen in them.

Fuck you! FUCK YOU! His mind told him it was over and to give up; there was no way out of this one. He was about to concede to death when a swift motion, far behind Vern, caught his blurry vision.

You're late Said... Toby felt one last spark of life in him, now that help was possibly on the way. He took everything in him and leaned back into the solid body behind him, lifted his leg, and kicked Vern as hard as he could in the chest. The move startled Vern as much as it apparently did Robson, because he fell backwards pulling Toby down with him. If he could have, Toby would have cried out in pain as the wire was twisted and torqued around his neck as they fell.

Half lying on top of Robson and still pinned under the wire, Toby could see the figure overtaking Vern through his barely open eyes. Still unable to take a breath, he wished with a heavy heart that he could have had just one last day with Chris. And as he closed his eyes, feeling the thick, heavy hands of unconsciousness pulling him down, he apologized to no one in particular.


Chris sat on the bench in the admitting area, still in his bright orange jumpsuit. It wasn't too long ago that he held the same pose, but that time he was leaving instead of arriving.

After a while, someone came by to unlock his shackles and hand him his new, prison-issue clothes. He stood to shed himself of the coveralls, and the standard uniform he still wore underneath from Cedar Junction. Pulling on the new cotton pants and tee shirt, he felt eyes on him. As he looked over to the admitting desk, he caught Said's cold stare.

He gave the man a classic smile, the warmth of it never reaching his eyes. "Glad to see you too, Said." He sat back down and set to pull on his boots.

"Keller," Said smiled and shook his head, "you have no idea what you've already done, just by coming back here."

"Not my decision, remember? I'm sorry that the feds don't take confessions as seriously as they used to."

"Do you know that Schillinger has all but declared war on Beecher?"

Chris' eyes narrowed. He stood and walked over to the desk. "I told you, outside of being able to show them the blood on my hands they still let me walk. What the fuck am I supposed to do about it?"

"Stay away from Beecher."

Chris laughed, "You can't be serious? I'm the best protection he could ever have. Why the fuck would you want me to stay away? Oh... wait..." Chris raised his hands and thrust his index finger into the hole made by his other fist.

Said winced in disgust. His voice was harsh, "What I mean is that he doesn't need any of your ideas planted in his head."

"Yeah, you've got the market on that one. Some real winners you had, too. Don't you ever feel guilty, Said. I mean, you're pretty much the reason Gary was killed." He watched as the tiny muscles around Said's eyes contracted and his breathing became more forced. Chris felt very tired all of a sudden. Tired of the fights, tired of strutting. He just wanted see Toby. "Fuck, forget it." His voice had lost all its menace and taunt. "Stay outta my face, I'll stay outta yours... and we'll both look out for Beecher." Grabbing his bedding, he left the Muslim stunned, yet wary of this sudden change in demeanor.

Climbing the steps up to McManus' office, Chris wondered when all this bullshit would be over and he could get back to his pod, wherever that is now.

"Keller, have a seat."

Plopping down on the chair, he gave McManus an annoyed look and began going through the motions of a conversation.

"You're not here one minute and already I've got shit hitting the fan."

"So I hear."

"So you know Schillinger's got it in for you?"

"Figured as much."

"What are you going to do about it?"

Chris gave him a look that said, 'as if I'd tell you anyway.'

"Yeah, I figured. Well," he shifted a pile of papers, reaching for a file, "I'm putting you in Beecher's pod."

"What?" Chris couldn't help the little slip in his indifferent faade as his eyes widened at the news.

"I'm doing it because I'm counting on you to watch each other's backs. The C.O.'s can only do so much. And, as always, I don't know the while story and I'm sure I never will." Tim sighed a little, "So, I'm putting the responsibility on all of you that this won't get out of hand. Deal?"

Chris regarded the other man, wondering what his ultimate angle was. There simply was no way that he was just that lucky. As McManus got up to open the door for him to leave, Chris did something he never thought in his wildest dreams he would do.

He thanked Tim McManus.


After exchanging forced pleasantries with a rather glum O'Reily, Chris decided to seek out Toby in the gym. Even though Ryan had informed him that he was planning on working out with Said, it was better than sitting and waiting for him to return and catch him alone.

He was full aware of the fact that this rosy feeling he had would soon be replaced with apprehension, guilt, and everything else associated with the 'talk' he and Toby were bound to have. But it could all wait, because Toby was just on the other side of that door.

When Chris opened the door to the gym, his starved eyes quickly scanned for what he had fitfully dreamt about for so many months. But when his eyes did finally fall upon Toby, his feelings of excitement and anticipation were quickly replaced with rage and fear.

It took Chris no longer than a second to cross the gym and pounce Vern. Totally unaware of actions, Chris only stopped punching once Vern stopped fighting back, and was immediately at Toby's side.

Robson's eyes were wide. A large gash where his head had hit a barbell in the fall gaped open at his temple, the blood that had spilt from it in a large pool nearby. His hands were still twined around the wire, pulling with the gravity of his lifeless arms at Toby's neck. Chris quickly unpinned Toby, feeling his gut leave him when he thought for a second that he might have been too late. But as he watched Toby take meager, shallow breaths, his relief overwhelmed.

"Toby? Come on Toby, wake up." He knelt on the floor, pulling Toby onto his lap. "Toby! Fuckin' wake up!" Chris shook him a little, feeling helpless as to what to do. He eyed Toby's neck, wondering if he had lost too much blood, but no, there really wasn't that much blood, it's only a shallow cut. But the wire would have been sharp, and Robson's a strong guy, maybe he broke something inside his neck, or something, and he can't breathe right, so that's why he can't wake up...

As Chris' mind raced, he hadn't noticed Toby's eyes open and barely focusing on the face in front of it.


Chris' eyes whipped back up to Toby's, "Oh, thank Christ! Toby... Toby, you're gonna be okay."

"...ch..." He coughed weakly, unable to speak.

"Shh. I know baby, I know. Just sit tight, don't talk. Hacks'll be here soon." Toby slowly blinked his eyes in a sign of recognition. The two of them waited, looking into the other's eyes, until the hacks pulled them away.


Chris had been on his new job assignment, helping Busmalis mop the floors, for two days and they had yet to make it to the hospital ward. McManus had been sympathetic and told him that Toby was going to be fine, but that was it. Ryan could only tell him what he saw, which was a sleeping Beecher, when he got kicked out of Gloria's office yesterday.

Chris had explained the whole incident to McManus and Glynn right after he had been hauled to the warden's office. He offered no story, because he figured there would be no repercussions since Robson's death was more or less and accident, and he hadn't done any permanent damage to Schillinger, just a nice black eye. Schillinger had done all the damage himself when the Warden slapped an attempted murder charge on him and sent him to solitary. Glynn then locked down the rest of the Ayrans, stating that if any further violence started that involved them, he wouldn't hesitate to keep them in lockdown indefinitely.

Rumor had it that Toby was being released today, but they had him talking to whatever authorities they still had investigating the incident, so Chris wasn't sure when they would eventually see each other. He plodded through the day, putting all his pent up anxiety into his job. The floors in Ad Seg and Psych never looked so nice. When Chris finally lined up for evening count, Toby still wasn't back. About an hour before light's out, he heard the distant clanking of the gates. The last few hours had weighed heavily on him, his stomach was in knots and his muscles tense. He felt like a wound coil, almost crazed with his anticipation of Toby's return. It had been so long...

Seconds later, Toby was standing at the pod door, waiting for his escort to give the okay to open the door. The familiar hiss and groan of the door and he was there, he was actually there, standing in front of Chris. They stood, looking at each other, analyzing each others' faces, twitches, breathing patterns, anything for a sign, any sign. I'm tired. I'm nervous. I'm afraid. I forgive you. I still love you.

Finally, it was Toby who moved. He simply reached for Chris and pulled him in. His arms were fast around his neck, his nose buried under Chris' ear. Feeling Chris wrap his own arms possessively around his waist he sighed, emptying his lungs with it. He felt contentment in his heart; he was loved.

"Chris..." His voice was pained and raspy, more from raw emotion than a raw throat.

"I know... me too."

And that was all they needed. Whatever rift there had been, it was filled.

Chris pulled back a little, his brow furrowed in concern. "You okay." He brought up his hand and traced a finger gently along the angry looking scar that marred Toby's neck.

Nodding, his voice thick, "Yeah."

Chris bent slightly and kissed the wound. A sigh eased out of Toby that seemed to originate from his toes. Chris' tongue licked the bruised flesh, both of them remembering the similar action Toby had taken after Chris was shot.

Toby's arms relaxed and slid down Chris' back, gently rubbing and caressing, grabbing at handfuls of t-shirt and the flesh that lay underneath. Needing to taste Chris for the first time in way too many months, he groaned and pulled the larger man off his neck. Chris knew exactly what he wanted and offered his mouth whole-heartedly.

They tasted and re-explored each other with lips, tongues and teeth. Inhaling ragged breaths full of his lover's scent, Toby felt as if he were dying on Chris's lips. He felt the surge of life and the pull of mortality all at once. And incredulously, it all resided in the man who was now deftly peeling off his shirt. Separating to pull the shirt over Toby's head, Chris was breathless. "I missed you so fuckin' much Toby... so much."

Toby's hand snaked around Chris' neck, pulling their foreheads together. "Me too, I missed you too."

"I don't think I can leave you again."

"Then don't."

"You're gonna leave me."

Toby's chest ached at this. They both new it was true, and they both knew it would happen someday. But Toby didn't want to think about it, not now. They needed this. They needed to heal their wounds.

"I'm not leaving tonight."

Toby looked in his eyes, a thousand words on his lips and none of them the right one. The pain shown so clearly on Chris' face nearly overwhelmed him. "Chris..."

He placed his fingers on Toby's lips, silencing his words of comfort, or love, or whatever they were going to be. Words wouldn't help; all they had had for months were each other's words. It was time to touch, to feel, to smell, to taste, and to listen to what each other's bodies were saying.

Toby heeded Chris' request for silence and turning, pulled him quietly to the rear of the pod. He kept pulling even as his back hit the wall, and not wasting a second, Chris pressed his entire body onto Toby's. Chris felt his skin flush and his lungs fail him at the contact. He felt Toby's hungry lips on his; that wicked tongue searching for his own. The pressure in his groin was building every second, and Toby's hands still tugging at his hips did nothing to alleviate the sweet pain.

Chris let one hand burrow under Toby's arm to grab at his waist. His other hand finding purchase on his neck, fingers twining around fair hair, pulling Toby's mouth impossibly closer to his own. Toby breathed harshly through his nose, not thinking for a second that ending the kiss was an option to breathing easier. The lack of oxygen combined with all the blood rushing to his groin made him gracious for the rough wall behind him, holding him up.

Canting his hips out, Toby pushed Chris away barely enough to bring his hands around to the task of undoing his pants. Following cue, Chris reached for the hem of his own shirt and tore it off as if it had offended him. The action separated the kiss, both now breathless.

Toby continued his cautious removal of Chris' pants, gently pulling the boxers over his leaking erection, careful not to do any harm. Leaning his head on Toby's, Chris started taking off Toby's pants. His fingers too eager, and his own body reacting to the hand that was now massaging his cock made the task daunting.

"Ahh... oh Christ... Toby... I'm so fuckin' hard..." his breath puffed against Toby's face while his hands finally found their way inside his pants, "I can't wait... I can't..."

Toby felt those hands start to pull and rub and it triggered a wail of a moan to escape him. Chris lunged at his lips, as if he wanted to capture the noise in his own mouth and swallow it down. Needing to feel skin on skin, Toby's hands abandoned the cock that occupied them, and swiftly pushed his own pants down to his knees. Batting the hand away that was greedily stroking him, Toby reached around Chris and placed his hands firmly on his ass and pulled their lower bodies together.

"Oh God... Chris, ahh..... Chris..." Toby was thrusting himself against Chris, feeling the other man's cock rubbing against his. Closing his eyes, he arched his neck as far back as it could go with the wall behind him, feeling the pull of his wound surging through him, exciting him even more. He listened to Chris panting in time with each thrust. He felt his heated breath against his neck, caressing the straining tendons and angry flesh with invisible fingers.

Abruptly, Chris stopped his own movements and reached his hand behind Toby's head, pulling his eyes level with his own once again.


"Look at me." Toby felt a hand reach between them, trapping both men low and tight against Chris' stomach. "Toby... look in my eyes... like the first time..." Chris' hips started their movement again, his hand keeping a firm pressure on both of them while it to moved in tandem. "Watch, Toby... unghh... Toby.... don't close your eyes..."

Chris anchored his liquid eyes in Toby's, daring him to close them. He wanted to watch the pupils flex in those pale eyes. Watch as the lids sagged at the corners in pleasure. Watch as the space between his eyebrows knit in incredible tension. This was his Toby; raw, open, and loving beyond all else.

Chris increased the pressure from his hand, forcing them tighter against his stomach. The sensation drew a keening noise from Toby's parted and swollen lips. He felt Chris' other hand still cradled the back of his neck as his fingers flexed with each thrust, massaging as he was holding him. He thought back the first time they had been like this. Initially keeping each other's eyes open to scare away the demons that threatened them both, but immediately becoming a way to bond on a level neither had ever expected. Seeing each other, watching and knowing that it was this man making you feel this good, this coveted; it was the best drug either had ever known.

Toby watched as Chris' eyes never wavered. They bore into him, holding him up against that wall as much as anything else. His breath came low out of his mouth, as his eyes never strayed. The tiny muscles around each eye were the only giveaway that he longed to close them out of sheer pleasure; not to shut out Chris... ever.

The pressure was building and Toby felt as if he would die if it wasn't released soon. "Chris... please... please..." His left hand reached up and grabbed the shelf, needing something to anchor him even more, and knocking over a shampoo bottle in the process.

"Tell me... what ya need ..." Chris' voice was low and rough like sandpaper. His cheeks flushed while his tongue occasionally licked out, nearly capturing Toby on it.

His head was buzzing. All Toby could feel was Chris, on his neck, in his eyes, and on his cock. He felt the skin between them burn. "Unhhh... God!" His other hand reached for Chris' face, his fingers spread along his cheek while his thumb pressed at the corner of his mouth. Chris licked his tongue out, capturing the thumb with it. His lips soon followed, drawing the fleshy digit deep within his sucking mouth. Something snapped in Toby's head and he no longer wished to control the word's coming out of his mouth.

"Oh God, oh God... Chris... uhh, fuck... make me cum... I wanna... uhhh, cum on me." Toby was panting, keening noises escaping along with his words. Chris never let go of his cock or his thumb, as both were benefiting from his caresses. "Please... oh God... I wanna taste... I wanna fucking lick... uhhhh... lick it off you..."

Chris felt as if Toby's words were sucking his cock. His hand moved in time with Toby's thrusts, finally bringing both of them off within seconds of each other. They never closed their eyes, both staring as the other came. Chris watched, as Toby's already dilated pupils seemed to grow wider, making his pale eyes look bottomless. Toby watched as Chris' tongue could no longer savor him and his teeth clamped down slightly as he groaned open-mouthed around the digit. The twinge of pain ran through Toby like jolt, making him buck against Chris on last time.

Toby removed his hand, dropping it to Chris' shoulder. He lazily ran his hand along the skin there, flushed and slick with sweat. They breathed heavily, the air between them heated by their bodies' exhalations. Chris was the first to break the eye contact, as he shut his eyes, falling into Toby and resting his head on the wall next to Toby's. He felt Toby stir, felt the hand that was previously clutching the shelf now burrowing between their bodies. Chris pulled back slightly, curious as to Toby's actions. The hand that had been holding their softening cocks was now being pulled towards Toby's mouth. Chris' breath caught when Toby began to lick his palm, tasting the mix of both of them he found there.

Chris groaned out, "You are one dirty fuck Beecher," and lunged for his mouth, tasting each other on his lips. The kiss started violently, biting and sucking each other, but as it continued, it got gentler and gentler until they were lazily brushing their lips against together.

After a while, Chris said, "We should move. Hack's overdue for rounds."

Toby shook his head, now resting against Chris', "New night hack's too lazy. Just sits there until he hears screaming."

"Or moaning?"

"Or moaning." Toby grinned, feeling entirely sated and complete for the first time in ages.

"Guess we better keep it down the rest of the night." His smile was taunting.

"Guess so."

Chris pulled him in for another lazy kiss, tugging him over and down to his bunk. Falling on top of him, Toby kissed his way around Chris' body, reacquainting himself with it until they were both up for round two.


Toby listened to Chris breathe, feeling the soft puffs as they warmed his neck. He could hear the lazy heartbeat in his chest as it was pressed up against his shoulder, and the quiet gurgling in Chris' stomach. He mused that these would be the only noises he would be able to fall asleep to for as long as he lived. He committed this exact moment to memory, so that no matter where he ended up, he would never forget the rare moment of content he had felt in a place that never allowed it.

It was just over a week ago that they had touched again for the first time in months. It had been the missing piece that each had been searching for, ever since they parted, and they vowed to never let go until they had to. No fights, no games, no taking each other for granted, because the time they had left was too precious to be wasting it. They were to live for each day, not dwelling on the future and what it held for them.

Chris let out a slight groan, shifting a little as he stretched out. Toby was only then aware of which limbs were his in the pretzel he and Chris had turned into. A moan of content escaped him when Chris' tongue began to lick his neck.

"I could hear you thinking." Chris' voice was still heavy with sleep.

"Sorry to wake you, but they were good thoughts."

"Mmm, good."

"Care for me to demonstrate?" Toby rolled Chris over, his mouth latching onto his neck.

"See me protesting?"

They lived again for that moment, just like they had promised each other. Toby knew that they were just wearing blinders, ignoring the inevitable day he would be paroled, like a kid covering his eyes thinking that no one could see him if he couldn't see them. But he didn't care. They would deal with it when they had to. Until then, they would live for each day, and each night, like there was no tomorrow.

::::: End :::::
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