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Originally posted for the 2005 Oz Magi challenge on Live Journal.
Written for FanFromFla with the prompt:
Pairing/Character(s): B/K or B/Stabler
Keyword/Phrase: "Have time for a drink?"
Special Requests: Smut, please.
Reality of a Dream
"Have time for a drink?"
He wonders why he asked. He doesn't drink. He's a recovering alcoholic. As Stabler very well knows. And like Stabler would want to have a drink with an ex-con anyway. All he knew was that the trial was over, his consulting services were no longer required for this case, and Stabler was walking away, down the courthouse steps and out of his life.
Stabler turns back, looking surprised. "By 'drink' I'm going to assume you meant 'coffee'."
Beecher laughs nervously. "Yeah, of course. Just habit to say that. But you're probably busy anyway..."
Stabler shakes his head. "Not busy at all. Let's go to the caf around the corner."
Beecher smiles at his unexpected good luck. They walk down the street, shivering slightly in the cool air. They both wear suits and overcoats, but it's a depressingly gray and overcast day, and the chill seeps in.
"Were you happy with the verdict?" Beecher makes an attempt at conversation. Three years out of prison and he's still not very good at it.
Stabler shrugs. "We got the dirtbag, that's enough. A longer sentence would've been nice, but you take what you can get."
He sounds weary, beaten down, and Beecher wonders how many times he's had to watch criminals walk away scot free. He's glad he's not a cop.
"You know that going to prison is just giving him the opportunity to rape more men," Beecher says darkly.
Stabler stops and looks him in the eye. Beecher feels suffocated by the depth of feeling in those shadowed blue eyes, and it gets worse when he remembers just how familiar those same eyes once were.
"I know that, Beecher. And it makes me sick to my stomach. But there's nothing I can do. The law doesn't allow me to beat the hell out of him the way that I'd quite honestly like to. So, all I can do is take his freedom away. And hopefully that's enough. And hopefully I'll be forgiven for the future damage he inflicts." But the look in Stabler's eyes tells Beecher that he doubts his last statement to will come to pass, and he remembers a long ago night in a dark pod, the smell of cigarette smoke, and tears in those eyes, and he fights the urge to put his arms around the man in front of him.
"C'mon, let's go get that drink." Stabler continues walking, and Beecher silently follows.
Beecher sips his coffee and appreciates it's warmth. Across from him, Stabler seems to finally relax a little, slumping in his chair in a disconcertingly familiar way.
"You remind me of someone I used to know," he blurts out without warning.
Stabler raises an eyebrow and Beecher almost kisses him right then and there.
"Who?" Stabler asks.
"One of my cellmates at Oz."
"Friend or foe?"
"Sounds ominous. How do I remind you of him?"
"You look like him. Exactly. Seriously, you two could have been twins, it's uncanny. The first time we met, I almost keeled over from the shock."
"What, you thought he'd escaped?" Stabler smiles.
Beecher smiles back sadly. "No. I almost thought I was seeing a ghost. He's dead."
They're silent for a few minutes, drinking coffee and enjoying the silence. Once again, Beecher's the one who breaks it.
"I didn't want to get involved with this case. I wanted to say no. But then I saw you. And I said yes."
"Because I look like this guy," Stabler says thoughtfully.
"He must have meant a lot to you."
"He did." Beecher hesitates, but only for a second. After all, why else did he bring Stabler here? "He was my lover."
Stabler looks surprised and not surprised all at once. He glances out the window at the cars passing on the street and the rain that's starting to fall.
He looks back, pinning Beecher with that blue gaze. "What was his name?"
"My name is Elliot," he says, although they both know that Beecher already knows this. "Say it," he continues.
"Elliot," Beecher repeats solemnly.
"I'm not him," Elliot says.
"I know that, Elliot," he whispers, "You look the same, but you're so different. You couldn't be him if you tried."
"Considering he was a criminal, I'm glad to hear it."
"*I'm* a criminal." Beecher gives him a hard look.
"I know. But you're paying for your mistakes."
"What makes you think he didn't?"
They're both headed the same way, so they split a cab home. They both sit in the back, far away from each other, watching rain drops trickle down the windows and lost in their own thoughts.
This time it's Stabler who speaks.
"Why'd you ask me out for coffee?"
Beecher turns to him. His eyes are bright and his hair is wet and dripping, and Beecher wants to hold him so bad it hurts. "You were walking away from me. I thought I'd never see you again. I probably won't. And it hurts. I had to live without your face for years. I wanted to put off having to live without it again."
"Not my face. Chris's."
There's more silence. Nothing but horns honking and people calling to each other on the street. Then Stabler slides closer and puts his hand on top of Beecher's.
"I understand. I want you to know that. I understand how much it hurts to lose someone you love, how you'll do anything to hold on to even the tiniest scrap of them. The memories hurt the most. You know I'm divorced, right?"
Beecher nods silently. He can feel Stabler's skin, and his hand is burning and it's making him shake.
"When my wife asked me to leave, I accidentally packed one of her T-shirts in my bag. I ended up sleeping with it for six months. I told myself it still smelled like her, even when it didn't."
Beecher swallows and looks at Stabler's mouth as he talks.
"I've never told anybody about that. Just you. Because you probably get it. But I also want you to know this. I threw the T-shirt away."
Beecher understands what he's trying to tell him. "I can't throw Chris away. I've tried. And now I can't throw you away either. Even if I never see you again, I'll always think about you."
The sad expression on Stabler's face is so wonderfully, horrifyingly *Chris* that Beecher can't help himself. His lips are wet and cold, but his tongue warm and soft. Beecher explores that tongue and that mouth and that foreign taste until Stabler pushes him away.
"You shouldn't have done that."
"You kissed me back."
"I shouldn't have done that either."
"You liked it though."
"I'm lonely. Not gay."
"Me too," says Beecher, and it's the honest truth.
"This isn't good for you. Or for me."
"Fuck what's good and what's right."
"I'm a cop. I believe in what's good and what's right."
"Take me home with you," Beecher pleads.
"I can't. I shouldn't."
"You got six months with a T-shirt. Six months to hold something that wasn't there anymore. I just want one afternoon."
And Stabler looks at Beecher, and Beecher doesn't know what he sees, but all of a sudden they're kissing again, so he decides it doesn't matter.
They're sprawled out on damp, white sheets, skin and hair still wet from the rain. The cool air raises goose bumps every where, but Beecher doesn't care, because Stabler's mouth is hot on his, and his cock is thrusting into him so perfectly, he almost can't believe this is real. But he can, because this isn't Chris. He wanted it to be Chris so bad, but it's not. There's more bulk and less scars, and softer touches, and he smells different and tastes different, and it just *not Chris*. It's Elliot, oh dear God, it's Elliot.
Elliot kisses the tears that run down his face and whispers, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry I'm not him."
But he silences Elliot with a kiss, then cries into his neck, "It doesn't matter. It's you."
Elliot stills at this, but Beecher grabs his ass and pulls Elliot hard into him, urging him to move.
"Beecher - "
"Call me Toby. Please call me Toby."
"Toby," he whispers and starts to thrust again.
When Toby comes, it's with Elliot's name on his lips.
Elliot is still sleeping when he creeps out. He considers leaving a good bye note, but doesn't. He's not sure what this is. But he doesn't think it's good bye.
"Thank you," he whispers against Elliot's stubbled cheek, kissing his closed eyelids, "I think.... I think I might want to come back."
And he walks out without another word, leaving Elliot to his own dreams.
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