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Beta: Fantastically, encouragingly and speedily beta-ed by Dorilon. Thanks!
Copyright: Edgar C. Gambodge, Elizabeth Lightbody and Martha Grosbeak are mine. Sadly so are Father Michael and Gruner.
Warning: In my Oz universe, many of the events from the last two episodes of Season Six are fictitious.
Settling the Bill: Toby Goes Back to Therapy (12/17)
Toby received a lot of counseling after Chris left Oz. This continued even in Lardner, although unofficially. He spoke mainly about Chris, while Sister Pete tried to redirect him to talk about himself and his feelings. He also spoke to O'Reily (who was his cell mate in Lardner too) about his moral dilemma that resulted in his breaking his parole. Those conversations revolved around Toby explaining to O'Reily how Chris fucked up his parole and O'Reily pointing out that after all these years Toby should have known better than to believe Keller. After a few sessions of this, Toby started wondering if it would even have been preferable speaking to Said about his relationship with Chris. McManus had a couple of chats with Toby too, but did most of the talking. Toby felt his attention wandering during these meetings and was at a loss afterwards to explain to O'Reily what they'd been about.
Toby worried about Marion, but she refused to return his calls. He tried to clear things up for himself, in the absence of Said, by dividing the top page of his yellow legal pad into two columns, one headed "M" and the other "C". He filled the columns with the pro's and cons of both relationships. There weren't really any cons for Marion's column, other than the fact that she didn't want to have anything to do with him again. Chris didn't seem to fit into his column very well. For one thing, nothing was simple with him.
For instance, Chris had saved Toby from life in Cedar Junction. But Toby had got Chris off Death Row. As it turned out, Chris could probably have got himself off Death Row, if he'd been able to wangle something with the crime lord whose son he was protecting. But surely Toby's action still cancelled his debt to Chris? Damn, he was thinking like a con. Would he ever be free of Oz?
Under what heading would one put Chris's strange tattoos and stranger tattoo stories? What about the contrast between his creative cursing and working-class grammar, on the one hand, and, on the other, his sophisticated vocabulary when discussing irony or religion? Or his ability to make prison-issue clothing look exciting? Toby didn't feel this was really a point in Chris's favor any more.
And Chris really wouldn't fit into Toby's world outside Oz. He wasn't exactly the sort of date you could take to cocktail parties. Toby's blood ran cold at the thought of Chris lounging against a wall, bored and eye-fucking the guests, dressed in clothing that revealed more than absolutely necessary of his considerable anatomical charms. Or asking a senior partner at the law firm how big his penis was. Or, more likely, Toby unwillingly admitted to himself, breathing down his neck at the cocktail bar and sniffing his drinks for alcohol.
Toby had spent a significant amount of time inside Oz and out of it, while on parole, contemplating his own sexual orientation. He had concluded that the relationship he'd had with Chris was purely situational - Toby had been needy and emotionally deprived when Chris came on the scene. Besides, a gay relationship outside Oz was just too complex. It made Toby tired even thinking about it. How would his children handle it? What would people in his social circle and at work think? Especially considering where he'd met Chris and Chris's background. He and Chris had been apart more than they'd been together, Toby rationalized again in Lardner, just as he had when paroled. The relationship was honestly so rocky. What did psychologists call that sort of thing? Troubled? Dysfunctional? And now, of course, he didn't trust Chris anymore.
While there were, as Toby saw it, no real pro's in Chris's column, there were a number of cons. Other than Chris himself, thought Toby bitterly. Numerous marriages, overly fond ex-wives, his flirtatious relationship with the truth, a long and colorful prison record, to say nothing of all the crimes he'd never been caught for and the trail of corpses he left in his wake. His seductiveness and ability to make Toby do things he never dreamed of (and seldom in a good way). Chris was like a drug to Toby and Toby hated it.
Chris filled him with a maelstrom of emotions so scrambled they could hardly be sorted out from one another. Toby wasn't sure which scared him more: the fury he felt towards Chris or the unbridled lust. Alcohol, heroin and Chris. How could another man make him feel that way? He didn't want to be mindless anymore. He wanted his mind back for the first time in years. He wanted to stop feeling off-kilter and zoned out.
"You can't blame Chris," Sister Pete told him rather severely, one Visiting Day in Lardner. "If you feel addicted to him or to this relationship, that is your addictive personality coming into play. You have to make a choice about how you're going to behave."
"I'm not sure I can with Chris," Toby admitted unhappily. "He seems to do that for me and I just follow him. I used to like being out of control. Now it scares me because I know what I'm capable of. He's capable of anything, but so am I. I don't trust myself around him. And I hate it. The relationship is the drug. I need to get clean. Go back to normal relationships that are not contaminated by Oz. People who share my background, education and values. Get my life back."
"You can't leave and pretend the last six years never happened," Sister Pete said, "because that would be as if Kathy Rockwell's death and everything that happened as a result was meaningless."
(Toby added a few more deaths to the list mentally.)
"But he's so damn seductive," Toby protested. "You've no idea."
He could have sworn Sister Pete rolled her eyes.
"But he is. Chris was always afraid of going to Hell, but I'm sure he'd get out if he did. Even if he had to break out. Although he'd probably just seduce Satan. And as for keeping him out of Heaven ..."
Seeing Sister Pete's expression, Toby decided to leave Heaven out of the mix for now.
One Visiting Day, Toby was told he was to meet a visitor in an interview room. A list of possibilities for who this visitor might be flashed through his mind. He guessed it was most likely to be one of two people. He hoped like crazy that it was Gambodge from whom he hadn't heard in a while, but dismally suspected it was Taylor with a new trick up his sleeve. He clenched his bearded jaw, as he waited in the room, too anxious to sit down. After ten long minutes, Sister Pete arrived with a parcel. She looked very serious. What now?
"What's happened?" demanded Toby, making a new mental list, this time of his surviving loved ones who might have come to harm.
Sister Pete sighed and put the parcel and her basket on the table.
"Nothing's happened, Tobias," she said. "I didn't mean to alarm you. I was delayed while signing in and I asked the CO to relay a message to you, but clearly that didn't happen."
She looked as if there would be consequences to this when she left.
"I asked for a separate room, because I've brought something you may want to listen to."
She took a portable cassette player out of her basket and put it on the table next to the parcel.
"It's from Chris."
"He's sending me tape-recorded messages now?" inquired Toby, feeling annoyed at the drama of it all and his own lingering unease.
"He's been seeing a therapist and arranged with her that she send me some recordings from his sessions with her. He wanted me to bring them to you and arrange that you could listen to them. I won't be allowed to leave you on your own here, so I guess that's why he gave me permission to listen to them too."
"Which you've already done?" said Toby.
"Why would he want me to listen to his therapy sessions?" Toby asked at last.
"He's written you a letter. Maybe that will explain it," Sister Pete handed Toby an envelope.
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