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Beta'd by Erin.
Go Straight to Hell, Boy - part 14/17
"Fucking in a place like Oz turns you into a fag," O'Reily blatantly points out, in the middle of a drug-counseling group session with Sister Pete.
Around him, the usual suspects: Beecher, Hill, Keller and some other guys they barely know, even though they're all residents of Em City.
"You know, Beecher might have a thing or two to say about that," Hill chuckles, making Toby give both of them one of those patented ugly squints of his.
"That's of course, if you're not screwing some very well known, barely female C.O.," Keller replies, staring at Ryan.
Who - by the way - doesn't seem too pleased with Chris' not so subtle innuendo.
"What you're trying to say, Ryan, is that there is a lack of choices, right?" Sister Peter Marie says, sensing where the exchange of arguments might lead.
"Yeah, Sister. That's what I'm getting at. Being in here does limit your range of choices," O'Reily replies, looking suddenly morose.
"And you've made yours, we already know," Beecher snaps back, shifting in his chair: "Blah, blah..."
"Yeah, well at least I didn't get it up the ass from half of the fucks in here," Ryan sneers nasty, making Keller - who is sitting right next to him - quietly chuckle for one brief second.
"What the fuck are you laughing at?" Toby snarls, as he seems to be on the verging point of unleashing that 'Beecher from hell' everybody knows so well.
So, Sister Pete tries - again - to calm things down:
"Ryan, stop it!" she says harshly, looking from underneath her glasses at the man in question, letting him know not to (metaphorically) fuck with her: "I don't want this to turn into a fist fight."
"Well, I guess you should have picked a different topic, Sister," Keller whispers under his breath: "And, besides, this ain't about whether you're a fag or not. It's about something else."
"Oh, really? Why don't you enlighten us, Chris, since you're such an *expert*?" Beecher asks, throwing a mean smirk, obviously in a pissy mood.
The two men stare at each other for what seems like an eternity, neither of them backing down. Finally, it's Keller who lowers his eyes:
"It's about power..."-- biting his inner cheek, smiling a little: "It's not even about that, really... It's about trust," he says slowly, locking eyes with Toby: "Intimacy."
He sees something flickering in the other man's blue eyes: a shadow, or a shiver.
(--'Yeah, you know what the fuck I'm talking about Toby.'--)
But Beecher snaps back machine-like, cold:
"Intimacy gets you a shank in the back. From the asshole you least believed to do it."
"Hey, it's a prison Beecher," Chris says, dismissive: "What did you expect?"
A heavy silence falls over the room; they all know what the hell the two men are talking about, and nobody feels like interrupting them.
"Chris..."-- Sister Pete tries breaking the standoff, but gets silenced by Beecher's sly tone:
"It's about weakness..."-- leaning in his chair towards Keller: "Isn't it, Chris? Weakness and need. And I'm not talking about sex, but something else. Something beyond it... You DO know that there's something beyond fucking, right?"
Keller's eyebrows quirk for a second, a quizzical smirk spreading on his face:
"Yeah, I know. Do *you*, Toby?..."
The tone of his voice, the way he barely whispers his name, his unreadable stare...
Beecher's smoothness suddenly disappears, giving ground to confusion, anger and...(--something *else*.)
That fucking stupid cocky smile of his, the confidence...when the fuck did all that come back?!... Beecher senses he can't win this...(--whatever *this* is.)
"Fucking bitch," he hisses, seeing the other man's smile widen with satisfaction.
"Thought so," Keller says, smile freezing halfway through, like a mask.
He looks down at his feet in what seems to Beecher as being...disappointment.
And that's the end of the session.
Too much of a bad vibe in the air for Sister Pete, apparently.
Making O'Reily wonder what the fuck are these sessions good for, in the first place...
If sex in Oz is a matter of power and weakness...then who's got the power, and who's weak?... Who's driven by need?
Keller's leaning against a shelf in the storage closet where he's supposed to be having his regular up, close and very personal *date* with Schillinger, yawning and looking beautifully bored.
Still, Vern's late, and a barely noticeable tinge of...(--fear?) makes his hands shiver a little.
He's NEVER late...
(--'What the fuck?!...'--)
His weekly screwing sessions with Schillinger have a monotonous, familiar pace, and Keller likes that. Stability. Just like in Lardner.
Only that...this time is different.
Meet, fuck, and then part ways, without saying much to each other.
There ain't much to say, anyway.
And that's just fine with Keller.
Vern gets off, and so does Chris.
No needless complications.
He knows the game; he can play it, and he can (almost) pretend it doesn't mean shit to him.
But...why is he doing it?
And why is *Vern* doing it?...
He wonders if that's what Beecher felt after his kid had been murdered. Fucking all those guys and not even trying to hide it.
Letting everything run through his body like poison, deliberately hurting himself. Keller too.
And...(--'if you're doing this to hurt him, why are you hiding, then?'--)
He's not the one that's hiding, though... Vern is.
And - by doing this - he's vulnerable. Weak.
Vern's not doing it to show off; he's not doing it to display power.
He just wants to fuck him.
And the really disturbing thing is that he's not projecting his power not even over Keller.
He's accepted an offer that only provides him with...*this*.
A small, restrained grin comes over Chris' face. Vern's doing it because he needs it. Needs *him*.
(--'And you're doing it because of the exact same reason...'--)
But he knows Schillinger's not the one he really needs; Toby is. And Toby is not giving him the time of day; Toby...doesn't need him. Not anymore.
Chris just needs for Schillinger to fuck him. To keep him going. To force him to breathe.
He knows he depends on the other man for that; he depends on all his feelings for Schillinger to keep resurfacing to just get him through the day.
That almost visible leash...
Something to hang on to, to keep him sane.
(--'Letting a man you hate fuck you, that's *very* fucking sane, Chris!...'--)
A man...that won't show the fuck up already!... (--'Where the hell is he?'--)
And...speaking of the devil, Schillinger is in his pod, casually talking to a Brother, a wide, chilling smile settling on his face.
He doesn't need to fuck Keller up; he knows the other man will eventually do that by himself.
(--'You think you can play me, Chris? Think again, you stupid low-life slut.'--)
Vern's the one doing the mindfucking now. He's running the show, and -if he knows Keller the way he does - he's probably gonna have him lurking outside his pod any moment now, like a stray puppy.
Simply because Chris is nothing like his other ex-prag, Beecher.
He's got no pride, no backbone.
He's never really escaped.
Chris is still fucking 17, locked up in Lardner, in the darkest corners of his mind; he's still Schillinger's - body and mind. And soul.
Only now, Vern doesn't want him anymore. The older man's just gonna kick back and enjoy the show...
For he knows...Keller - even if he seems to be a smooth, sly bastard, capable of making it on his own - is craving for *anything*, deep inside.
Anything Schillinger - or Beecher - or anybody else could come up with: pain, hate, humiliation, affection, care, love...
Beecher's not giving him any of those things lately. And neither will Schillinger.
Keller's gonna sink into dismissal, oblivion...
And that's the one thing the man can't handle. He's gonna crumble like a castle made of sand...
Schillinger smiles even more widely, looking at Beecher, leaning over the railing outside his pod.
(--'Yes, life is good.'--)
Meanwhile, back in the storage closet, the earlier oh-so-confident Chris Keller slowly slides down on the floor, holding his knees to his chest. Schillinger didn't show up; he didn't come...
He'll never come.
He gradually realizes Vern doesn't need him. Just like Beecher. Or his wives.
NOBODY depends on him anymore.
The one thing he's been after all his life...to have people needing him.
So he could safely need them back.
Need turned into craving; craving turned into possession. Possession into surrender. And love. And hate. And pain.
All that he's asked for, ever since he could remember: just for someone to *stay* the fuck with him.
All that he's managed to let slip through his fingers. What he has instinctively groped for in the scrambled, meaningless, black and white puzzle his life has been; and what he has consciously...(--ran away from.)
Scared of getting *too* close, terrified of *never* getting close enough.
(If that makes any sense...)
Bonnie needed him...and she died all alone. His mom needed him. And he can barely remember her face. Toby did...he'd given him what he could.
The one time when Chris had wanted *everything* - crushing his inner fear, his own demons - blinded by the promise of something meaningful, something lasting. Something he could hope for, look forward to.
His surrender turning into the other man's trap. His prison.
"I don't hate you, Chris..."-- Toby's soft voice resounding in Keller's ears, making him cover his face with his hands.
(--'You don't hate me 'cause you don't feel anything for me anymore. You're done needing me.'--)
Beecher had gotten what he needed from Keller, the moment he needed it.
Toby had given him all he could.
And Chris had intentionally misread everything about the other man.
Trying desperately to hang on to the only thing that had given his life a meaning. Sense.
The man shielding him from death.
From eighty-eight years of oblivion.
He's lost everything.
---end of part 14/17---
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