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Beta'd by Erin.
Go Straight to Hell, Boy - part 7/17
And, oh yeah, *this is your paradise*, that's for sure!...
"Hey, Keller! Went back to *daddy*?"-- one of the Sicilians, smiling like he'd just won the lottery, as Chris passes by on his way to the laundry room.
Carrying both his and Vern's laundry.
Those walls starting to slowly get thicken again, the smooth coolness, that feeling of innate danger lurking in his eyes under the cold, dissolving light of Em City...
Best way to keep yourself alive in a place like this, act like everything's fucking perfect.
"Fucking faggot!"-- that one coming from one of the black guys hanging out with Poet, as Chris feels like he's being engulfed in a sea of hissing and catcalls. Rebadow's look from under his glasses, punching him in the gut. Silent. Painful.
Keller feels like throwing up.
A slap in the face, a kick in the stomach.
That word, everything it brings with it, rolling inside his mind.
Knowing all too well that this had been his conscious decision. His choice.
He's got no right to claim any other treatment than the kind of shit any prag would get.
Just the way of the world, that's all.
And, besides, this is easier...
This was the easy way out of the place he'd been ever since fucking up Beecher's parole.
Ever since Toby had gotten out of Oz, if he's truly honest with himself.
Bonnie's death had only been the last straw.
Feeling - at the precise moment when one of the hacks had called him to see McManus the day Bonnie died - as if his entire being had been slowly dragged inside a black hole, some place devoid of anything that could be useful to someone still breathing.
A place for the dead.
He'd let himself slip inside, he knew that, it was no goddamn accident.
Fucking Beecher up, knowing, deep down, the other man was never gonna forgive him for taking him away from his kids. Leaving them fatherless...
Knowing it had not been love behind his actions, but fear. Envy. Selfishness. Need...
Love was just an excuse he used with Beecher, with everybody, really. With himself.
He wanted Beecher...like a drug, like insulin. Something you need to keep yourself going, to stay alive, for everything to still make sense.
That overpowering rage doing the thinking for him - like so many other times - choosing to do the one thing that would make Beecher suffer the most.
To take him away from his kids, from his life.
Breaking his heart.
All over again.
He just couldn't *be* without him, it was that simple.
Couldn't live knowing Toby had everything he'd never have.
His most profoundly destructive craving. His best ever high. His worst ever low.
Making him teeter on the edge of madness, killing people for him, killing people because of him.
Killing to keep himself BALANCED...
Fucking up Toby's parole for the same reason.
Call it boredom, call it pathological obsessive behavior, call him motherfucking borderline if you want, he just felt like he was living in slow-motion since Tobe had left.
Like an old black and white image captured on a dead man's retina, slowly fading away. Bleaching...
Everything suddenly starting to REALLY come into light - all that he'd run away from - using Toby as his best distraction, his shield: eighty-eight years - trapped.
The rest of his life - a big fat NOTHING.
Nothing more than waking up in the morning, going to sleep at night, waiting... Waiting for the whole thing to end.
Vern was his lifeline. His anchor. Probably nobody in Em City saw it that way, nobody but Vern himself. He knew...
He'd felt it coming a mile away, knowing Chrissie the way he did!...
No problem, just find someone interested, kneel down and everything falls back where it should.
Feeling as if the whole thing was, in a weird way, somehow predestined, predetermined, the way it always was supposed to be.
He'd never had much jizz, no real rep. Never really had any pride, either. Nothing to lose there, right?
So keep doing what you know best, back to that universal language of pragdom.
*You put out... I take you. I KEEP you...*
Keep you afloat. Keep you from drowning. Keep you...balanced. Safe.
And, besides, it doesn't hurt. Never did. Never even suspected it might. Or that it SHOULD.
Just something you do. As meaningless as everything else, at the end of the day. An unconscious jerk. A reflex.
"Come on, Keller, I don't have all day. Sister Pete's waiting for you, move it!"
Chris looks first at Schillinger, then at Murphy, knowing all too well one of the first rules of pragdom: before doing anything, first check with your rightful owner, see if he's okay with it.
And Schillinger just nods absent-mindedly, making Murphy almost roll his eyes with contempt.
A bit uneasy, Keller gets up and follows the other man, keeping his eyes lowered, hands in his pockets. With Schillinger (and Beecher) watching his steps.
"Why are you doing this?"
Cutting right to the chase, Chris thinks, staring somewhere beyond the woman's inquisitive, painful eyes.
"Because I need it."
And, shit! Didn't that come out right! But what exactly does he need?...
Keller rubs his forehead, leans forward and lets a weird noise out of his throat (the kind of noise Beecher would have made, not Chris).
Protection? Security? Reassurance? Reassurance about what?!... Shit! He really doesn't wanna talk to her right now. Not ever.
But before he could even consider whether to tell her to leave him the fuck alone, the words come slowly rolling out of his mouth:
"Things to make sense..."
Sister Peter Marie looks like she's about to have a heart attack, but quickly recovers and just manages to quirk her eyebrows in disbelief.
And, even though her voice seems to be just as calm and professional as ever (well, most of the time...), her shivering hands and that liquid wave hiding in her dark eyes give away her nervousness.
Especially since she feels like the man sitting across from her desk is actually being...honest.
"Things make sense? With Schillinger?! Chris..."-- a deep sigh, like she's trying to find the right words: "Please, tell me...why? What do you get out of it?"
(--'God! She DOES suck at her job, doesn't she?'--)
Keller says nothing, just sits there, like a piece of furniture.
Slowly, Pete notices that mask of his coming back up, the one thing he hangs on to more than anything else. Cracked, though. Still not looking at her.
Like talking to a blind man, she can't help but notice. And this is SO not the Christopher Keller she knows. The Christopher Keller everybody knows.
"Listen, Sister...I don't wanna talk about this."
(--'Or anything else, to be honest. Not with you, not with anyone.'--)
"You don't *want* to, or you *can't*?"
And now he does look at her, straight into her eyes, dark blue on brown - Pete senses something...unbearable hiding underneath that gaze, overwhelming. Opaque. Like all those sparks, all that electricity blooming like fireworks inside his eyes had been brutally stolen. All those lights...out.
Breaking eye contact:
"That too. I guess."-- standing up, and before turning his back on her: "Can I go now?"
Yeah, like talking to a dead man.
Later that day: same Sister, different patient.
"What did he say?"
Sister Peter Marie sits down in her chair, knowing just how hard it must be for Tobias to even talk about him.
"He's...he's in a very dark place. I honestly don't know what's going on with Chris, he's like a different person."
Beecher shifts his position, snorting:
"He's always a *different person*, sister. That's what he's good at."
"I know what you mean, but this is different."
"He's playing at something, he wants sympathy. That's what this is, just his usual self. Manipulating."
"I...think he's just given up."
Looking straight at her:
"He NEVER gives up."
Now it's Sister Pete's turn to shift in her chair. This thing between Tobias and Keller...she never could fully understand or control. Never.
"Let's...talk about you. How are you feeling?..."
With his most neutral tone of voice, thin lips tightening:
(--'What the fuck else's new?'--)
Getting a bit tense, rubbing his forehead:
"I spoke to that FBI agent yesterday. I'm gonna do it, you know. I'm gonna do it. Nothing's gonna stop me."
"I think that's your decision alone."
"Yeah...you don't think I should do it?"
"Like I said..."
Beecher leans forward, giving her that squint only someone diagnosed with myopia can deliver:
"I shouldn't do it, right? I mean, I'd be lying, he didn't tell me anything about those murders."
Pete breathes in deep, before whispering:
"Think about yourself, Tobias, first of all. What doing this would mean for you. How it would affect you... Think about you, your life, your children. Your future. That's what I think you should do. That's what matters."
There's a long moment of silence before Toby replies:
"I think he did it. I know he did. He...he kills people...and he doesn't feel bad about it, he doesn't... feel. He just acts. And then he moves on. Like nothing ever happened."
And they both know that's true. Or they think they do.
"What did you tell her?"
Keller doesn't even look at him.
Schillinger grumbles slowly, forcing the other man to look at him:
"Don't you fucking lie to me, Christopher. What did you tell her?"
"We talked about you."
"Why don't you ask her?"
"Don't get smart with me, Keller. Don't you fucking get smart with me, I run the show, you hear me?"
"So you keep telling... Look, I didn't tell her anything, okay? I didn't have anything to say, don't know why she still bothers," Keller says under his breath as he watches Beecher sit down near O'Reily in front of the TV.
And Schillinger follows his gaze, locking eyes on the same man, who ignores both of them completely:
"Look all you want, sweetpea. I guess you didn't matter that much to him after all, huh?," Schillinger whispers, smiling and nodding in Beecher's direction.
"Yeah, well he didn't matter that much to me either, did he? So I guess we're even."-- looking at Vern sitting right next to him, dark blue eyes slitted: "You didn't matter that much to me, either."
To that, Schillinger just shrugs, his monotone voice not letting out any of the anger building up inside him.
(--'Don't you get smart with me, bitch.'--)
"Yeah, you don't matter that much to me either. Never did."
"Is that why you're doing this?," Keller asks, moving his hand as if tracing an invisible line between them.
"I don't know if you've noticed, Chris, but you were never in the fucking limelight here, Beecher was. You're just...damaged goods, anybody can have your ass as long as you get what you think you need. Beecher's...something else. You're just a slut. Sluts are fun to fuck, but, beyond that, there's no satisfaction, you get my point?" Vern says, looking somewhere beyond Chris - like talking to himself:
"Anybody can have you, but once they realize you're nothing but that, well...there's no real reason to give you the time of day. There's no jizz, get it?"
"Is that why you fuck me every night, Vern? Because I'm *fun*?"
"Yeah... And because it pisses Beecher off. Now, THAT's satisfactory, Chrissie. That's where the jizz lies."-- leaning towards him, patting him on the shoulder, fatherly-like:
"You...you're just a good fuck. But I guess you discovered that a long, long time ago. Long before Beecher, long before me."-- leaning back in his chair, gazing over at Beecher:
"And, besides, I'm bored out of my mind. It's a good distraction."
Keller just sits there, staring at his boots.
He doesn't even notice Beecher's blue gaze measuring him for a second. Just for a second.
"He looks really bad," O'Reily mutters slowly, sitting right next to Toby.
"So?"-- Beecher's voice, smooth, but carrying a tinge of anger.
Ryan just shrugs, crossing his arms over his chest.
(--'If you don't care, why should I?'--)
And, besides, Keller's not the kind of guy anyone should give a shit about in the first place.
Later that night, nobody even bothers to watch Schillinger's pod anymore.
But, tossing and turning in his bunk, Beecher feels his entire body ache and burn, slowly realizing just how much this whole fucked up thing...hurts.
---end of part 7/17---
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