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Beta'd by Erin.


by Ralu.

"Okay, Toby...what do you wanna know?"

Keller stood leaning near the sink, his arms crossed over his chest, one leg casually bent a little under the other, eyes locked on Toby's shadowy figure. His ankles hanging out in the air, his white knuckles wrapped on his knees, sitting on his top bunk. Lazy, mean-spirited, pissed. Tired.

Lights have been out for quite some time now, but Keller has kept him awake, asking him, obsessively now, what seemes to be the new patented *Keller chorus*: "Was it you?"..."No, it wasn't you, couldn't have"..."Did you do it, Toby?"

(--'After that whole *please-forgive-me-I'm-sorry-I-love-you-I'll-do-anything-to-make-it-up-to-you* shit he kept repeating like a broken fucking record all the time...like anyone could ever believe him. Anymore.'--)

It was making Beecher regret having even *suggested* he'd been the one stabbing him in the back (*Boom! Boom! Baby!*-- not exactly subtle...); made him regret doing *it* in the first place, and, sometimes,

(like right the fuck now, 'cause Toby really felt like sleeping rather than listening to Keller's rumbling...)

made him silently curse himself for not having done a better *job* with that fucking shank in the first place. At least, he'd be getting some sleep, now.

But this sudden, though reluctant, willingness to answer questions just about himself, not about *himself and Beecher*,

(--'He sometimes wouldn't shut up about that subject, like a fucking school girl: *You love me? I know you love me. Tell me you forgive me! Tell me you love me!*, or, my all-time favourite: *Do you realize we've only kissed once?!*--Give me a motherfucking break! How pathetic, how fucked up in the head, how *delusional* can one actually be to ask that kinda question after all that's happened?! But then again...'--)

made Toby give him a whole lot more attention than usual... This could actually be *interesting*! So, why the fuck not?!

"You were 17, right? When you first met Vern."


Both their voices calm, low...it was the middle of the fucking night, after all. Both trying to play it cool, but...

(--'You're not looking too *cool*, there, Chris...why the distance?! Oh, yeah, forgot, cause I've told ya so. And since when do you listen to anything I say?!'--)

"You fucked him."


A small, mean smile on Toby's face, utterly pointless, but still...his darkened face coming into that ever-present dim light floating through Em City late at night, as he leans a bit forward, towards Chris, strangely predatory. Eyes glimmering like gas light:

"You mean, HE.FUCKED.YOU. Isn't that what you're actually trying to say here?"



Fuck, Toby, it's not like a skinny 17-year old was gonna be able to pin down a strong 30-something bastard like Vern and fuck him up the ass, was he? It don't take a genius to realize that. But anyway, go on, amuse yourself, I guess you fucking earned it. And me...I guess I deserve anything you might think to dish out at me.

"Did he force you? Did he *force* you to let him fuck you?"

OK, Tobe's voice's just lost a bit of *pace*, here...not that *cool* anymore. Bad memories, 'guess... But not for me. Never, no memories whatsoever, blank as a sheet of paper. 'Cause I can make them go away...or just make them up. Not that it really matters, at the end of the day, not that it really mattes at all. You are what you make of yourself.

(--'You are what others make of you, Chris. Be fucking honest.'--)

That too. If you let them. And I guess I do. Let them. All of them. All the time. Or, then again, maybe not...


(--'Cause I ain't no fucking victim, don't play this like you do, never had. Never will.'--)

Hitting his head slightly, playfully, against the wall behind him, biting his lower lip, just a tiny bit, not enough light for Beecher's myopic eyes to notice, though. But he'd noticed Keller's body language for quite some time now - the man didn't like to talk about Lardner. At all.

To his answer, Beecher just lets out this little *sniff* of his, (disbelief? disgust? like having been confirmed something...) his mouth curling slightly up, looking straight into his eyes:

"You just *let* him do whatever he wanted?"


"And...why is that?"

A bit uncomfortable, now, Keller shifts his position, sitting down near the sink, knees to his chest.

"Not...everybody's like you, Toby. People are different, situations are different."

"Yep, sure they are!"-- voice mock cheerful: "So, you sucked his cock, *willingly*, and that cunt never, not even *once*, had to punch you in the gut 'til you spat blood, 'til you threw up all your fucking dinner all over his boots, to get you to do that?... Cosy fucking marital arrangements!"

Keller stood silent for a moment or two that seemed to last forever. What the hell was he to answer to that?!

'Yes, we were like two fucking peas in a pod, me being such a natural-born slut and all, so motherfucking obedient and *generous*, and him being sooo *understanding*, as long you didn't dare to even *think* of crossing him, or at least even dare to disagree with him on...anything?'

Or:'No, Toby, you fucking whiny bitch, you're not the only one around here knowing how that Nazi bastard likes his *desert* to be served...and, by the way, didja swallow?! 'Cause I sure did, honey, always had!'

Or maybe the most accurate/truthful observation anyone can make about the whole thing:

"Shit happens."

"Yeah, shit happens, allright..."

Toby had blown off steam, and now seemed to realize, to finally acknowledge the other man's slow-running tone, his voice, barely murmuring.

And something inside him...softened. After so much time. That tender spot inside Tobias Beecher, again.

"Fuck, Keller,it's late, I'm fucking half asleep already,"- (not anymore, but...)- "forget it".

But Chris doesn't move, doesn't even look at Toby, his eyes staring at something on the floor...like he's paralyzed or something. Or resentful. Or just sad.

"You hate him?"

At this, Chris does look up, small contact with Beecher's gaze, then looks away, eyebrows raised like he's about to laugh or something. His lips curling up, just for a second.

"Well, the man's not that easy to love..."-- a small, sour smile: "Can you hate the only thing standing between you and certain death?"

(--'The only man that ever made *sense* in my entire goddamn life? Up until you, that is. Because you stuck around long enough. And so did he. Although I suspect it had to do more with the particular circumstances of our *encounters*, than my *charming* personality...but, still...'--)

And Toby, turning his back on the other man, covering himself with the blanket:

"I think you hate him".


Suddenly, out of fucking nowhere (or so it seemed to him), Chris feels the most amazing, powerful urge, NEED to cry. A sense of...solitude? Complete and utter loneliness? Abandonment? Desperation roaming inside him like sharp claws, anger, fear.

And seeing this image he had since he was a child (didn't even know whether it had ever happened or his always over-active imagination had produced it) of hiding inside a musty, humid hole in the ground and tasting blood and dirt in his mouth, suffocating...the sky, icy-blue slit (like Beech's eyes, heartless), like a breathing wound, closing up on him...

Tears. Hot, burning. Pouring like raindrops. Salted. Ice-cold. Silent, like his body had just given up any kind of resistance, had gone all slack, everything suddenly turning into pure emotion, pure release... Instinct.

One pure moment.

And Beecher, hugging himself on his top bunk, limbs tired, a tense humming feeling seeming to slowly spread through his aching body. Sensing his ankles strain as if tightly squeezed between flagstones. Crushed.

Bringing it all back. All over.



Hopping around like a puppet. That fucking cane.

His need for revenge, apparently self-sufficient, pure. Above everything.

This...almost perfect emptiness... Ravaging.

And Toby can't forget, never will probably. Forgive? Maybe. But forget...that's another story.

'And Chris', Tobe muses, 'probably knows it. He doesn't want me to forget it, he knows I can't. He wants me to forgive. He wants to be forgiven. Same as me.'

But Tobe's not gonna reach out, not yet. It would be a lie, he knows that, probably Keller knows it too, but he just can't help himself.

There's just too much rage, too much hurt inside Toby. And he can't give Chris what he wants. Not yet.

Hearing the other bunk slightly squeak, sensing Chris' unsteady breathing. Knowing the other man's trying his best not to attract attention on himself.

Softly, in the middle of the night:

"Good night, Chris."

Painful. Powerful. Magical.

A promise.

"Good night."


the end.
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