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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: A Dark Place (3/17)
Toby was in the Hole. He'd been there for three days and was likely to be there for at least a week longer. He wasn't sure if his assault on Keller would earn him more or less time than average. His mood wandered once more between rage and fear. Strangely enough the Hole didn't upset him as much as it used to, other than the smell of shit, urine and desperation. The rage and fear were all about Chris. He'd only been back in Oz for a week and already all he could think about was Chris. No news, of course. No one would tell him anything. Sadistic pricks. He reasoned that he could not have killed Chris, because they'd have been sure to tell him that. Shit, how badly had he hurt him? How had he managed to overpower him like that? He never had the strength or skill to beat Chris Keller at anything physical. He wondered briefly if he'd been played again, but, in a rush of guilt, put the thought out of his mind.
He himself didn't have a mark on him. Other than a bruised back where the hack had knelt on him and grazed and swollen knuckles. Not a scratch. Chris had not fought back. Toby didn't know how long he'd been pounding Chris before the hacks broke them up. As hard as he tried, in the dark, he could remember nothing of what happened in the gym beyond a couple of flashes of his hitting Chris. Blind fury. Too much like blind drunk. And blind love. Toby started to shiver again, crouched against a wall. He was starting to make connections he didn't like.
Sometime on what Toby thought was the fifth or sixth day, he heard the slot slide open and saw his food tray slide in. He waited for the slot to close again, but it didn't. Instead he heard O'Reily's subtle voice whispering down to him in the shadows.
Toby felt confused. O'Reily had to call him twice before he responded, his own voice rusty from disuse.
"O'Reily?" Toby scrambled to his feet and pressed himself against the cold metal door. "Have you seen...do you know if Chris is okay?"
How had O'Reily got past the hacks? After years of experience, Toby knew better than to ask. O'Reily didn't speak on the other side of the door and Toby felt himself shrinking inside with anxiety.
"O'Reily?" he asked again.
"Keller's in the infirmary," O'Reily said at last.
"How is he?" Toby blurted out.
From the silence on the other side of the metal door, O'Reily appeared to be weighing his words.
"You hurt him pretty bad," he said at last. "My sources tell me Gloria hasn't said anything about discharging him yet."
"How bad is he...did I ...?"
O'Reily paused again.
"That's all I know. I gotta go, Beecher. Hacks."
"Can you get a message to him? Tell him I'm sorry...O'Reily?"
But there was only silence from beyond the door. Toby sank back into his huddle and his food remained untouched.
"How'd he sound?" asked Chris Keller.
He was propped up against a couple of pillows on the second bed from the infirmary's door. Ryan O'Reily was propped against Chris's bed, watching Dr. Gloria Nathan through the glass of her office as she took a `phone call. He returned his concentration to the less pleasing spectacle of Chris's battered face. In addition to Chris's facial injuries, he had a couple of broken ribs, a bruised kidney and a fractured wrist.
"Contrite," replied Ryan. "How about a little retribution?"
"Don't hurt Beecher, O'Reily," said Chris, watching him through half-closed eyes. "It was all part of the plan."
"He worked you over, K-boy, how could that be part of the plan? He pulverized you, man."
"Trust me," said Keller.
"Jesus," said O'Reily.
In the upheaval surrounding Glynn's murder, Toby found himself spending more time in the Hole than he had expected. It gave him time to think. To clarify some ideas he'd started developing. As long as the hacks didn't forget to feed him, he was feeling strangely unconcerned about being there. Sister Pete's check-up visit not long after O'Reily's had helped with that. She had been worried that the hacks might avenge themselves for Glynn on prisoners in the Hole. She hadn't seemed too pleased when Toby had shown no other reaction to Glynn's murder than to express disapproval for choosing Oz as a venue for the party. He seemed pretty casual about "Macbeth" being cancelled too, despite all the hard work the prisoners had put into it and how therapeutic it had been for them. However, she had got more of a reaction from Tobias when she'd supplied him with a tidbit of information about Chris, along with some pastrami sandwiches she'd brought, just in case the hacks had neglected to deliver meals.
"Discharged?" said Toby, munching. "When?"
"Soon - in the next couple of days," Sister Pete told him. "What possessed you, Tobias?"
"I've been thinking about that," Toby mused, wondering whether to save one of the sandwiches for later. The prisoners in the Hole had actually been fed regularly, but you never could tell how things might go in the future, in the light of Glynn's demise.
"How is he?" asked Toby after an interval in which he did not clarify what he'd been thinking.
"Chris Keller will bounce back," said Sister Pete in a tone that suggested Toby shouldn't spend too much time worrying about him.
"I've never done that before," said Toby, "I don't even remember what happened. I may as well have been drunk or high."
"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Sister Pete.
"Not really," admitted Toby.
As she waited in silence outside his door, Toby could imagine her expression. He could almost feel her raised eyebrows.
"Okay, later, when I'm out. Do you know when I'm getting out?"
She didn't. Toby wanted to ask for more sandwiches but didn't. He felt it would be overstepping some unspoken boundary. Besides, he wasn't sure he deserved any more, under the circumstances.
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