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Beta'd by Erin.
Go Straight to Hell, Boy - part 11/17
"Carry your own fucking tray!"
Keller's annoyed voice sounds determined enough to make some of the Aryans circling Schillinger stop talking.
A couple of steps away from them, O'Reily stops mid-way from serving some huge black guy; that big spoon of his - suspended in the air, mashed potatoes dripping from it on the table. Looking quite ridiculous, truth be told.
Schillinger thinks for a second about what to reply to Keller, but...can't really think of anything. His mind's gone totally blank; a sheepish, dumbfounded expression on his face gives away his...impotence.
So, Keller tries to walk away, but the minute he turns, he senses Vern's hand sharply grabbing his shoulder:
"Where the fuck do you think you're going?"
His voice is so loud, so unballanced - almost like a scream; it makes not only Keller turn to face him, but grabs pretty much everybody's attention.
As if God himself had thundered down from those mighty skies of his.
"Catfight!" one of the Gays squeals, making both Beecher and Rebadow instantly turn around towards the two men.
Keller's really in a foul mood.
And he's tired.
Tired of Schillinger, tired of his lame, pathetic quirks; tired of...(--*breathing*.)
And having Vern breathing down on him, all over him. Breathing...(--for him.)
He's pissed off; enough to not give a shit. About anything.
He's...well, he is actually strained enough (charged up) to want to welcome a showdown, right there, in that particular moment.
With fucking everybody watching.
This is how Beecher must've felt, Chris thinks, giving the man in question a short, meaningful glance. And...sensing his interest, his *invitation*. His dare.
(--'Go ahead, do it...'--)
Locking eyes with Schillinger, sensing - more clearly than ever - the other man's weakness:
"Come on, Vern, I know you need to pull this shit in front of everybody, just to save face. But...hell! Do you really think they're buying it?!..."-- lowering his voice, enough to sound intimate, but still keeping that mocking, condescending tone, flowing out of his battered throat: "Everybody knows YOU took me back..."(-- because you needed it. Wanted *me*.)
"No big fucking conquest there. So, why the hell do you need to act like you've got something to prove, when everybody knows - including you - you've got nothing worth showing off? Who do you think you're kidding? Everybody knows...this ain't pragging, baby. It's something else."-- shoveling enough strenght into the tone of his voice, to make everybody's ears perk up: "You want me to carry your fucking tray?!... Why don't you just ask me to carry YOU around? Shit, Vern, that's just old people talk!... Old. *Needy*, de-pen-dent. And...you're not OLD, are you, Vern?!..."
Shifting his gaze a little to the left, and meeting O'Reily's green eyes sparking like champagne, grinning like a kid watching cartoons:
And that seems to be pretty much the general reaction to Keller's little speech.
Sure, Schillinger hadn't been acting lately like the proprietor he was supposed to be. The proprietor he *claimed* to be.
Sloppy, careless - those would be the proper words to describe his actions, lately.
Absent-minded...like an old man.
An old man...(--who has nothing left.)
Nothing but a slowly-growing undisciplined, disobedient (younger) Brotherhood, and...Keller.
That prag, who was now showing everybody he was not HIS prag. Not exactly...
And Vern knows...he is so fucked. A rabbit caught in the headlights. Blinded. Incapable to react.
(--'An old man.'--)
He slowly, very slowly turns around, looking at the Aryans around him...looking back at him like they're somehow embarassed. By him. *For* him.
Looking at Poet and some black guys from Unit B, grinning.
Looking at O'Reily...sensing his pure, unrestrained satisfaction, a slow-running, admirative hiss slipping through his pretty teeth.
In the background, among faceless inmates...Beecher. Fucking BEECHER. *Smiling*.
Not even looking at him, but at...Keller.
His blue eyes burning up with...something Vern can't quite make out.
(--'What the fuck is this, 'prags from hell reunion'?!'--)
Right in front of him, barely restraining a smile of his own.
"What are you doing?" Schillinger lets out, almost like a whisper.
Keller doesn't answer.
Just sits there, looking at him.
He doesn't seem like wanting to smile, anymore.
His eyes are cold and sharp, but, behind that, there's a weird, annoying shadow of...regret.
Something resembling...understanding. Like the other man knows what's going on inside him.
And...feels sorry, as he turns his back on Vern.
Feels SORRY for him.
Schillinger's pale-blue eyes slowly bleach into an unclean white, his face contorting into something resembling an unusually large, unusually *ugly* scar.
Clasping his hands into fists, sensing his whole body melt into pure anger.
Letting his mind sink into it, feed on it; *purify* in it.
He's...not an OLD MAN.
And...nobody does THIS to him. NOBODY.
The words filling up the room with RAW POWER, as Schillinger almost *jumps* on Keller's dismissive shoulders, pushing him to the ground with the sheer weight of his body.
Growling like an animal, he starts hitting him repeatedly in the face, straddling the other man on the floor with his bent knees nudging into Keller's ribs; sucking in all the strenght spilling over from the other inmates' yells and cheers.
He is the center of the fucking universe now, he's the one in charge, and everybody acknowledges that.
Something's terribly, terribly wrong...
Keller's not reacting, he's not even moving.
He's not fighting back.
His bloody mouth's not putting on that familiar smile, his already swollen eyes don't even flinch, staring at him like razor blades.
Cutting right to the core, straight to Vern's enraged, *broken* heart.
(--'Oh, shit. Oh, shit...'--)
Making Schillinger slowly get back on his feet, half-staggering.
He feels his heart beating like a hammer, threatening to rip out of his chest, swallowing hard.
Blue-red flames licking his throat, hearing his own voice - hoarse, ragged - senselessly kicking the other man in the stomach, just before two hacks come throwing him to the ground:
"*You* don't do this to me, Chris! You hear me?! YOU DON'T FUCKING DO THIS! Nobody pushes me around!"
As Vern is carried out of the room - full-blown rage still rummaging through his body, making him swash and scream like an over-sized child - O'Reily jumps over the narrow table in front of him, and leans over to Keller, who's still sitting on the floor, watching Schillinger's figure disappear around the corner.
"That was quite a show, K-boy!" Ryan hisses, helping the other man get up on his feet.
"Yeah..."-- grabbing his stomach with one hand, shivering: "I think I might be bleeding internally, or something."
"You *think*?!" Ryan chuckles, watching Keller bend over, coughing hard and spitting blood.
"Jesus," he whispers, wiping his bloody hand on his shirt, looking up to find Toby's figure.
But Toby's gone.
He didn't even stick around to see if Chris was OK.
(--'Maybe I do feel like I deserve to suffer. Maybe Beecher feels like I deserve to suffer, also. Maybe every-fucking-body feels that, right now. 'Cause...I do. Deserve it.'--)
For Toby. For Bonnie. (For his mom.)
For fucking everybody he's ever hurt. Even for Schillinger. For...himself.
(--'If any of that makes sense.'--)
Sloutching on his bunk, trying his best to find the right position as to not fucking HURT all over from where Schillinger's rampant blows had hammered down on his defenceless body, Keller takes a long, painful breath as he watches (in amazement) Toby...walking into his pod.
He doesn't seem like his familiar uncomfortable self; he doesn't seem too preocupied about Keller's very visible pain, either.
Chris tries to lay on his bunk more *properly*, as if bracing himself for...something.
"What was that?"
Keller manages only to give away a small, contorted smile, wincing immediately and carefully touching his battered cheek with his fingers:
"I didn't wanna carry his tray. Don't know why he got so pissed off."
Toby can't help himself but smile at Keller's simplicity.
Jesus, that's what it always got him - Chris' secret weapon: that weird, completely out of place easiness. That feeling he always spread around, like a personal scent, a perfume - that 'stop taking everything so seriously, Beech' thing about him.
It may all be just an act (like always), but it feels so GOOD for Beecher to see it again, to sense that warm, careless, always slightly self-deprecating tone in his voice.
Almost like being grabbed by the sleeve and pulled back into one of those peculiar moments he and Keller shared, a long, long time ago, when Chris' awkward smile - stripped of any shred of arrogance, artfulness, or intent - would fill his heart with that precious feeling of security.
Like the man actually REALLY liked him, liked being with him.
"You know, he's not gonna stop just at *that*," Toby says, vaguely pointing at the other man's swollen jaw.
"Yeah, I know. So? Fuck him," Keller lets out, his tone getting a bit heavier now: "If he can't take a joke..."
"A *joke*, huh?"-- Toby snorts, pointing again at Keller's wounds: "I guess he didn't exactly read your intentions clearly, Chris."
(--'*Chris*! Be careful, just be careful. Just...be honest.'--)
"Well, Vern's not particularly known for his abilities to *read* people."-- and now is Keller's turn to point at Tobe: "You know...I thought of you. When I said those things, I thought of you."
(--'And if this is not fucking honesty, I don't know what it is.'--)
"Don't know...you were the first and the last thing that came into my mind. I thought about what you must have felt, when you were with Schillinger. And after."
Toby doesn't say anything, just lowers his blue gaze, biting those thin lips of his.
And Keller - who can read him so well - knows, he fucking KNOWS something he said has hit Beecher's psyche, enough to make him...reconsider. Everything.
(Or so he believes.)
(--'Shit! Honesty does really work, after all!...'--)
Hesitating for a second, Toby moves toward Keller's bunk and sits down next to the other man, with Chris carefully pushing his legs towards the pod's wall to make space.
Resting his elbows on his knees, Beecher whispers slowly:
"You know you got to stop doing this..."-- a considerable pause: "I don't know why you've been doing it. I don't wanna know. But...you gotta stop."
Chris' voice seems even slower:
"It will get you dead, that's fucking why! You, or Schillinger."
"No... Why don't you wanna know?"
Beecher looks back at him, then slowly shifts his gaze, staring at his clasped hands. It takes him some time until he finally answers:
"Stop trying to talk to me like we're friends, Chris. We were never friends...I don't know what the hell we were, but we were never friends, OK? So, stop it."-- his voice seems so slow, so monotone - lacking rhythm - it makes Keller squirm uncomfortably, rapidly realizing things are definitely not going his way: "I don't want to know because, frankly, I don't really care. I...I always had a hard time figuring out why you did the things you used to, even before all this... Honestly, I'm tired of trying to figure you out, to understand you, the things you do. It's too...fucking consumming. It's depressing, truth be told."
And, as usual, Keller misses the point:
"Yeah, well, you know what Beecher? If you don't fucking CARE, why the hell are you here?"-- he snaps back, trying unsuccessfully to hold back all that sudden rage boiling up inside him: "Why the fuck do you bother? Where do you get off telling me shit about Schillinger, when you don't give a flying fuck about me?!"
"Just what? Fuck you, Toby. Fuck you, ya hear me? I'm so sick of trying...nothing works with you, nothing would make you..."
Chris is suddenly out of words, trying to get up on his feet, pain and resentment (and something else...a residual instinct of defense, maybe) roaming inside him. Trying to push out in the open the old Keller...but the old Keller seems, at best, to have gotten rusted. Shit! He can't even move out of his bunk! Away from Beecher...
Toby doesn't look at him but, slowly reaches out and puts one of his hands on Chris' leg, squeezing gently his ankle, making the other man fall slack under his touch.
Jesus, he's been waiting for this for such a long time!...
To have Toby's touch on his body, again...so powerful, so soothing, so unspeakably RIGHT...
What the fuck was he doing with Schillinger?!
What the fuck...
"I don't hate you, Chris. You probably think I do... I probably should... I guess it would make things somehow easier for both of us, but I don't. I just don't want you to keep doing this to yourself."-- looking straight at him, throwing Keller into a warm, dizzy flashback of Toby's beautiful, determined eyes pourring magic all over, that very first time in the laundry room, fucking centuries ago: "I don't want you to suffer. I don't need it anymore. I don't think I ever needed it."
Keller suddenly realizes - clear as Vern's broken heart, painfully obvious as Schillinger's fists punching him senselessly - everything's lost.
Toby's not gonna forgive him, simply because he doesn't need to.
He's given up. He's moved on...
And nothing - old tricks, or honesty - not even love can ever make things better.
Nothing can make things the way they used to be.
"I'm sorry..." Chris mutters slowly.
So monotone, so complete. So...(--unlike Toby.) HIS Toby.
Beecher gets up and moves towards the door, making Chris' limbs twitch uncontrollably, his mind plunging deep into anger, fear and irrational denial. Into despair.
(--'I can't... I can't. I fucking CAN'T!...'--)
But the other man doesn't turn, he doesn't even stop.
"Toby, please...Toby, wait, fucking wait! I need..." (--'you... I need *me*...'--)
The sound of the pod's door smoothly closing behind him...
A complete, utter void...swallowing Chris' ragged breath, his heartbeat.
His entire being.
Pushing him right down where he belonged.
Inside his own making.
(Like a mother's womb.)
Devoid of...all, except of the deepest, most palpable, paralising nothingness.
(A perfect circle.)
---end of part 11/17---
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