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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: The Feds Crack a Case (6/17)
Toby opened the door of Sister Pete's office, composing a reason in his head to excuse himself from work for half an hour or so. He could imagine how she'd react if he simply told her he needed to speak to Chris. Honesty wasn't the best policy in Oz. Toby froze in the doorway. He never imagined seeing Chris sitting across the desk from Sister Pete. And yet, there he was, his arms folded across his chest, his left leg sprawled out in front of him. Alarm shot through Toby, as Sister Pete stood up with a dubious expression on her face, saying she'd leave them alone for five minutes. She left with her lips pursed. Toby wanted to grab her arm and ask her to stay, but he just stood in the door, his mouth dry.
Chris stood up and came over to Toby, pulling him into the room by his ugly green T-shirt and pushing the door shut.
"I didn't tell Taylor anything," Toby blurted out.
"Course you didn't," said Chris soothingly, "I know you didn't, baby. We don't got much time, so listen up. I just needed to see you before I go. Make sure you're okay."
He was still holding Toby's sleeve. He stroked Toby's cheek and beard with his hand in the plaster cast. Studying him, head pulled back, eyebrows drawn together, as he focused on every detail of Toby's face. Wondering if he was going to be head-butted again, Toby felt himself wilting under the scrutiny.
"Taylor wanted me to put a spin on something you'd said, but I wouldn't, Chris, I swear," Toby began to babble.
"It's okay, Toby," said Chris, dropping Toby's arm and putting both hands on Toby's shoulders. "I just want you to know that I love you and that I'll make sure you're okay. I gotta go and talk to the Feds, tell them the truth about those murders..."
Toby was appalled.
"You can't!" he said. "You can't, Chris! They don't have anything on you. If you confess, they'll send you to Death Row."
Chris gave a small smile.
"Don't worry about me, Toby, just promise me you'll take care of yourself," he squeezed Toby's shoulders that had gone stiff with the news.
Voices were outside the office door. Chris looked in their direction.
"They're here. I've gotta go. Kiss me, Toby."
The hacks had to pry them apart, which hurt Chris's ribs almost as much as Toby's embrace had. But he didn't let it show then either.
"Christ," muttered Murphy, as he marched Chris out of the office, "you two can't keep your fucking hands off each other one way or another, can you?"
Toby went through the rest of the morning as if in a dream. He felt too dizzy with anxiety to concentrate on Pete's files.
"Do you want to talk about it, Tobias?" asked Sister Pete at last.
"The FBI questioned me today about Chris's role in those homosexual murders. They wanted me to twist what he'd told me so they could build a case around him. I told them I wouldn't, but he's gone to testify to them anyway. I've been so angry with him about my parole, but I never wanted him to do this."
Sister Pete just raised her eyebrows at him.
"Tobias, you're not responsible for what Chris does, anymore than he is responsible for what you do. But at least you didn't allow yourself to be manipulated into compromising your values."
Toby could hear the unuttered "this time".
At lunchtime he was free to leave. He hurried to the cafeteria, but no Chris was to be found.
"Still looking for Said?" asked Rebadow dryly.
Toby ate lunch as slowly as he could because he wasn't hungry and he hoped that sooner or later Chris would come in. But he didn't. Eventually, Toby trawled back to the common area to find O'Reily. O'Reily was sitting at a table by himself, while life whirled on around him. Most of it seemed concentrated around Torquemada's pod these days.
"Any news about Keller?" Toby asked, sitting down next to O'Reily.
"Nah, he's still with the Feds," O'Reily replied.
"Fuck," Toby said. "Why'd he just give in to them like that? They've got nothing on him, I know. I've just spent an hour listening to Taylor tell me that."
O'Reily studied him.
"K-boy didn't kill those guys, Beecher," he said, "not his style. He's rolling to the Feds about who did."
Toby gaped at him. O'Reily stared back.
"You didn't know, did you?" he said.
"Is he cutting some kind of deal?" asked Toby, with a growing sense of suspicion.
Not long after this, Chris came back to Em City, escorted by Murphy.
"Where's Beech?" Chris asked O'Reily, who was still lounging at his table, alone again.
Toby was sitting moodily in his bunk. He looked down to see someone at his Plexiglas door. Chris.
"I'm going into Protective Custody," said Chris. "Came to get my stuff."
"Your pod's downstairs," muttered Toby.
"Murphy's given me five minutes to talk to you," said Chris.
"Cut a deal with the Feds?"
For once Chris's guilty face gave him away.
"Parole?" asked Toby, swinging his legs over the side of the bunk.
Chris hesitated uncomfortably.
"I got my sentence commuted, Toby," he admitted.
Toby's feet hit the ground.
"You fucking cocksucker. Get out," Toby's voice was like a razor.
He shoved Chris out of the pod. He kept on shoving him until Chris was backed up against the railings on the landing. Toby grabbed at whatever part of Chris he could, while Chris tried to fend him off.
"Why did you fuck up my parole?" Toby hissed.
"Toby, I couldn't face the rest of my life living in here without you. Don't you see?
I did what I did out of love," Chris attempted.
The one thing Toby saw was that he wanted was to get his hands around Chris's neck. He wanted to squeeze the life out of him. His fingers itched to be around Chris's throat. They almost seemed to take on a life of their own, but Chris managed to grab his wrists. As he grappled with Chris, Toby heard himself yelling something about loving alcohol and heroin and having to put them behind him because they were poison.
"You are death!" he yelled at Chris, shaking him and being vaguely aware that he wasn't making sense anymore.
Something in Chris's expression changed. It was like a light going out and he stopped fighting Toby. As Chris dropped his arms, Toby felt the tugging of the wave building up again. As it receded before rushing back in, Toby felt Chris move backwards slightly towards the railings. Chris leaned against the railings, not taking his eyes off Toby, shifting himself almost imperceptibly higher against them, poising himself to do...what? Toby glimpsed the drop to the common area over Chris's shoulder and his stomach lurched. He was suddenly filled with dread. He fought to regain control of himself before he lost it again completely. Although he couldn't let Chris's arms go, he managed somehow to stop shaking him.
"Come away from the railing," Toby said.
He pulled Chris back into his pod and closed the door. They stood in the middle of the room, breathing heavily, and stared at each other. It was a while before either could speak.
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