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Beta'd by Erin.

Go Straight to Hell, Boy - part 10/17

by Ralu

Sitting at a table in Em City, shuffling cards seemingly absent-minded, Chris suddenly realizes he's...all alone. Nobody's sitting next to him, nobody wants to play. With him. (As if awakening from a long sleep.)

When the fuck did this happen?

He sure as hell ain't gonna be sitting next to the only remaining Aryans in Em City. Actually...(--they don't wanna sit next to him.) Fine, whatever.

And O'Reily, Rebadow and Busmalis (the old gang-- yup, he's getting *sentimental*, alright) are all gathered around Beecher, at a nearby table.

Like a fucking highschool feud, or something, Keller thinks, bitterly. Nobody gives a shit about good old Keller anymore. If anybody ever cared, in the first place.

Nobody except Schillinger - who's out of the picture, momentarily. And...(--he doesn't want Schillinger's *mouth* anywhere near him, right now. Or ever.)

(--'Fine. Whatever.'--) So: keep shuffling your cards Chris, keep fucking shuffling your cards. Play some...Solitaire or something.

(--'Cause you fucking well deserve it.'--)

But...what's the big deal, anyway? He's always been alone, he fucking *grew up* alone; he can handle it. The obvious dismissal. Or...(--maybe not that obvious.) Not obvious at all. 'Cause that would imply that they're actually doing it on purpose. And, most likely, they're not. They just...don't care.

Keller starts spreading the cards on the table, not playing anything, just...spreading. And shuffling. And spreading them again. (--'You know, like when you were a kid.'--)

Not even trying to give away the appearance that what he's doing ain't nothing but a lonely kid's play. Playing by himself, with himself. Like nobody wants him to join the fucking *team*. Nobody even thinks of asking him to... Yeah, like he was ever a team player!... (--'Jesus! Stop doing this, Chris.'--)

But...what the fuck else is there to do, anyway?

Throwing a short glance at the other table - Beecher's table - almost like he's afraid the other men might see him looking. (--'Just keep playing, just keep playing...'--)

Shit, he almost wishes Schillinger would come back from seeing the mockary of a family he still had.

But...(--at least he's got a family.) No matter how fucked up, he still has someone coming to see him.

Just like in Lardner. Even his father would occasionally come up to see him, back then. And everybody knows how fucked up things between Vern and his dad have always been. Still...the old bastard would fucking visit him.

Even if that brought along hell's fire...usually spilling all over Keller's ass. Because he was the closest, the easiest fucking punching bag available back then.

And even if it pissed Keller off big time, in a strange manner, it also made him feel somehow...important. Like Chris was - in a way - an extension of Vern's family. As if screaming at him, saying the lowest, most awful things to him, calling him any fucking names he could come up with - all that brought Chris and Schillinger (family included) closer. As if Vern was his big brother, or something. His dad. Vern passing on to Keller all the shit the other man's family kept coming up with - like blood. A bloodline, flowing between them. And Chris would welcome it all, with open fucking arms. Because he surely didn't have anybody coming to visit him in Lardner. He didn't have anybody in the first place, so...he welcomed it.

Like he welcomed any stupid, annoyingly cute thing Beecher would say about his family. His...kids. And the man definitely did like to talk and talk and talk...

(--'Shit, what the hell are you doing? Snap out of it, fast!'--)

Glancing over to Beecher and the gang again. Longer, this time around.

*They* were like some kind of a fucked up family, too. They sure did function as one: trying to keep each other's backs safe, laughing, joking. Hangin' out. Giving a shit about one another. (--'Well, fuck that.'--)

And...what do you have now, Chris? Now, that you've managed to fuck yourself out of that *club*, out of Beecher's life?

Fucking Schillinger? His merry bunch of retards? Those retards...(--that don't even wanna sit next to you?) Great fucking...choice.

Because...(--it was *your* choice, remember?) Yeah, it had been him, picking sides.

Great fucking choice, indeed, Chris thinks, watching Busmalis and Rebadow. And O'Reily. Watching Beecher. Not looking back at him. Not once.

(--'Play some fucking Solitaire, already.'--)


Sister Pete's dark gaze again, roaming all over his being. Those metaphorical tiny, sharp pieces of ice replaced this time with...something warm - like an invitation. A plea. With...(--*worry*.)

Keller knows things are finally falling back where they used to be, a long, long time ago. So fucking long ago...(--he has a hard time remembering.) (--'You're worried, Sister? *Concerned*?... Fine, 'cause I sure do feel up to it, now.'--)

Old tricks starting to slowly resurface...and Keller doesn't even know whether he's 'OK' with that or not. 'Cause, old tricks...well, she's seen them before; she's experienced them, intimately. (--'She can't be that big of a fool.'--)

And, even if he'd actually wanna *play*, well...what the hell was there left to play for? (--'Toby.'--)

Yeah, Toby. Like THAT worked the first time around! But...(--'do you really wanna play, now, Chris? Is it even a conscious decision? 'Cause you sure did it all your life, with fucking everybody - even Tobe. Like you couldn't help yourself.'--)

And that didn't get him too far...with almost nobody. Just didn't have enough...skill. Not like O'Reily, for example. But...(--he doesn't play for the same reasons.) (--'Maybe.'--)

One blunt mistake after the other, going from trial to error, always hoping to find the exact path to whatever he wanted. And never quite succeeding. Playing all the fucking time, even in those moments when a small part of himself told him he didn't need to. That he should stop... (--'Yeah, you can't help yourself.'--)

But, this time is different. For the first time in his life, he doesn't feel the need to play. He just feels like...sliding. With Sister Pete, anyway. 'Cause...(--maybe that's the best strategy, right now.) To get what he wants. Beecher. (--'Maybe.'--)

Okay, maybe he doesn't want Beecher, not the way he wanted him the first time around. He wants something out of Toby, something the woman sitting across from him might be able (willing) to help him get. Even without her knowing. (--'And...ain't that 'playing', Chris?'--)

Shit, he wants forgiveness all over again. And, after he gets that, well...all the really good parts would come flowing naturally. Getting back bits and pieces of Tobe, using whatever he can, 'til the whole *package* finds its way back where it belongs. Where it always belonged. Around him. Near him. Inside him. (--'Yeah, you definitely are a piece of shit.'--)

But there's another side of Christopher Keller, like the man's some fucked up version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A side Keller is aware of, a side probably only Beecher dimly knows. Of all the people he's met, of all the people he's fucked and fucked over, only Beecher. And...(--that says a lot about which of these two sides usually wins those inner, twisted battles raging on inside Chris' soul.)

Keller knows pain. He knows what being fucked over by the one person you put your trust in feels like. He knows the bitterness, the sour taste it leaves behind. And how that sour taste never quite fades away; how it lingers on, altering everything. Morphing every sensation, every feeling, every goddamn relationship into something unbearable. Alien. Forcing...change. And, not for the better. Nobody becomes kinder or wiser, or...more forgiving, after shit like that. Nope, that kind of change brings with it only the worst in people. Makes them...harder. Tougher. Unpenetrable, almost... *Almost*.

And Beecher knows that. 'Cause, just as Keller had found a way to get inside his heart, Toby had done the exact same thing with Chris. He'd found that breach in the armour, that small crack, and, once inside...hell and heaven had broken loose.

Now, the thing was that maybe Toby's breach had disappeared. Because the other man had oppened up to Chris, had given him all that he could. Beecher had shed his armour, had fucking thrown it away, like useless junk. For Keller. So, now, this Toby, this *unchained* Toby had...changed. For good. Bare chested, stripped down, raw. The new, reformed and improved Toby, the UNFORGIVING Toby. That steel core shimmering like a weapon... The power of...indifference. Of not giving a shit. About Chris.

Then...how do you slid yourself back into someone that has given up trying to protect, to shelter himself...to hide? How do you break into someone who's thrown away his armour? (--'Oh, just be fucking honest, Chris.'--)

Just...by being honest. (--'If you remember how to do that.'--)

With Toby. And the ones that matter.


"Okay, everything's not *fine*, Sister."

Peter Marie gets that 'oh, finally, the start of a breakthrough' expression on her face, leaning over towards him, as Keller continues:

"I...I do feel guilty. For what I did to him, for getting him back in here."

"For betraying his trust, you mean."

"Yeah. For taking him away from his kids..."-- Keller rubs his palm across his leg, looking down, frowning a little: "That's what bothers me the most, really. I mean, how could anyone..."-- looking up straight at her: "Nobody can forgive that, right? That's...beyond forgiveness."

Pete reluctantly nods in agreement, but replies softly:

"Tobias has forgiven you before."

"Yeah, but that was different. This...this is..."-- a small, restrained sob, making Pete shiver a little: "Nobody deserves forgiveness, for shit like this. Nobody, no matter the reasons."

A long moment of very uncomfortable silence.

"Chris...is this why you're with Schillinger?"

Keller gives her a powerful, penetrating gaze, letting his eyes slip a little to the left, settling on Pete's desk. (--'Play? Oh, fuck it.'--) He just...can't.


"Do you feel like you deserve to suffer?" (--'Are you punishing yourself?'--)

That's one huge fucking mistake you've made there, Mrs. Reimondo, Keller thinks. Not very subtle of you - shrink, or nun, or whatever you wanna define yourself as. *Saviour*. In a place where so few wanna be saved. Shit, Sister! You should know by now...(--none of us CAN be saved.) By you, or anybody else.

Keller just shrugs.

"You've told me, the last time we talked, that you needed things to make sense... Well, do they?"

"Kinda..." (--'Can we go back to the 'Toby' subject, now?'--)

Still, this could be more than convenient... To get sympathy, to get her to think... Hell, she's halfway there already, and he didn't even say shit about Vern.

But...he doesn't wanna play, doesn't wanna lie to her. Just doesn't feel like it.

"Listen, Sister...the best thing Vern's good at is following his own routine. He's got this *rhythm*...and I know it. I know him, okay? I know what he's like. If you give him what he wants, when he wants it, the way he wants it... The man can't surprise you too much, you know? I just have to keep in mind what I already know."

Sister Pete finds herself a bit too amazed by Keller's slow, monotone voice, speaking with such clarity, it feels almost...like a text he knows by heart. But...what in the name of God is he talking about? (--'Oh, yes, *things making sense*.'--)

"So, you think you can keep things under some kind of control, by doing this?"

"Yeah." (--'You bet your sweet, faithfull ass I keep things under control, Sister. Keep myself under control.'--)

"Having sex with Schillinger keeps you ballanced? Keeps you...stable?"

Keller's face contorts into something between rage and insane, bitter amusement, moving in towards her, way too close:

"Having Schillinger FUCK me every goddamn night keeps me ballanced."-- his voice, ragged and filled with dangerous anger: "Yeah, it sure FUCKING does!..." (--'Keeps me fucking stable. *Sane*.'--)

You don't seem to ballanced, now, Chris, Peter Marie thinks, leaning back in her chair, cautiously. (--'Maybe this is too much breakthrough for one day.'--)

"It gives me what I want", he says, falling back into his monotone rhythm.

"Do you even know what that is?" Pete whispers slowly, knowing, no matter what Keller might say or believe...he doesn't have a clue.

Chris lets out a long sigh, looking down. His entire being seems tired, wore down. No sign of his usual boredom, though. He's just...broken.

No, he definitely doesn't have a fucking clue. Not...exactly. 'Cause, no matter how easy to control, no matter familiar the whole thing is to him, he doesn't like it. It's not even what he wants, if he's to be honest. But...(--what you want and what you need is not one and the same thing.)

---end of part 10/17---

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