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Beta'd by Erin.

"Slide" (said the little penguin.) - Part 6/11: "down the rabbit hole"

by Ralu

(Days and nights and days and nights and days again... Let everything flow through your body like water; drown in it, enjoy it if you can. If you can allow yourself to... And think. Think, think. Like always. Too much, as Chris would say. Chris...who's probably doing some thinking of his own.)


Okay: he knows he's a liar, and a very good one. Chris lies like Toby breathes probably. A habit, an addiction. One of many, as it seems.

Take the other day for example. About 2 o'clock, with nothing to do but try NOT to go slowly but surely insane. Keller - looking at him from his bunk, resting his head and his shoulders on the pod wall behind him.

"Yeah, I did all kinds of shit."

And he's not talking about what he did to others but what he did to himself.

"You never did heroin before coming here, right?" Chris asks.

A short, not-exactly-amused snort:


Toby doesn't particularly want to talk about it; neither does Keller, apparently.

But the discussion lingers on. Just like the hours they spend locked up together in this glass-walled cage. Toby wishes this thing they've started here could just disappear. Evaporate into thin air. Just like he sometimes wishes his entire existence could just...erase itself.

Keller yawns and leans his head a little to the right. Then to the left. He's bored all right.

"First time I did heroin...I was about 16, I guess."

His voice is monotonous, a small tinge of...something Toby can't quite identify.

"16?" Beecher asks, a bit incredulous.

"Yeah... What?" Keller responds, lifting his palms in the air.


He's right. What the hell's so surprising about something like that when it comes to Keller? After all, he didn't grow up in a wealthy, well-educated family, in a nice house with strict rules and all... In fact, Beecher doesn't have a clue in what kind of a family Keller grew up in, but it surely wasn't like any of the above. *If* he grew up in a family, in the first place...

Still, Beecher's response seems to annoy Chris a little. He avoids his stare, looking down at his legs. Toby does the same thing.

"But I didn't get hooked then," Keller says after a long moment of silence. "It was just this one time, you know? I didn't like it, I fucking threw up."

He looks up at Beecher for a moment, then lowers his eyes again.

"I got hooked on heroin a bit later..." he adds with a little sour smile.

"How much later?" Toby asks, sensing that *something* again.

"Back in Lardner."

Lardner again, Toby thinks. Lardner fucking forever. (--'Ad nauseam.'--) I guess nobody forgets their *first time*... (--'Just like I'll never forget Oz.'--)

"Was Schillinger still around?"

Beecher's voice has the most soothing tone Chris has heard in a long time.

"Just before he got out."

Beecher matches Chris' faint smile with his own, nodding. Yeah, I guess it makes sense, he thinks.

"I guess it...it was just too much, you know?"

Toby knows.

"Sometimes you get fed up," Keller adds, looking again at his feet. He wants to be funny, casual about it, he needs to. And Beecher plays along.

"I know," Toby says letting out a quiet chuckle.

Chris just looks back at him. That fucking *something* filling up the pod again.

Was he honest? Can he ever be 100% honest about anything? And how can anyone trust a man who himself sometimes can't recognise the truth from the lies he whispers constantly?


(Let days out, let nights in...)


"I love you, Toby. I love you."

Murmuring in Toby's ear, Chris' face is buried in his hair. Feeling Chris' mouth barely touching the back of his neck. His breath. The comforting humidity between them, twisting around their bodies like hot summer wind.

Fucking terrifying, if Beecher takes a moment to really think about it. Toby knows the other man is half asleep; still, Chris instinctively keeps nuzzling his face into his neck and shoulders. And he holds him...(-- like Gen never did.)

Yep, this is fucking terrifying. And Toby...well Toby doesn't have the strength or the will to actually analyze that particular impression. Not right at that moment. Still, that doesn't mean the thought goes away. It is too powerful to just...vanish.

Is he lying? Is Chris lying to himself? Are both of them lying to each other? Are both of them fooling themselves?... (Isn't everybody?!...)


( Bits and pieces of never-ending days, reflections of days to never ever end...for some. Until they finally end. And that will probably be a blessing, no matter how that particular 'end' comes. For some.)


"I love this part of your body," Chris says, touching the nape of Beecher's neck while he's leaning against the sink, brushing his teeth.

Toby involuntarily smiles and he doesn't even know why. He looks up in the mirror, sees Keller's eyes looking down through lowered eyelids. And hears - from that secret part of his mind where he's locked up all the precious things he's had to brutally smother ever since coming to Oz - Gen's voice...smooth, caressing: "You look so fragile sometimes, Toby. You're so fragile." (--'I know. But...'--) Not anymore. (Maybe)

Gen. His kids. His parents. His life. All that this place has taken away from him. Or - better said - all that he's allowed this place to take away from him.

And all he's got now is this. This man, who sometimes looks at him like Toby's all he ever wanted, all he's never had. Like Toby's some kind of a...promise. A way out. Or a way *in*.

This man...and all his quirks, all his weirdness. Twisted as hell. The good, the bad and the ugly. Fucking EVERYTHING and NOTHING he could think of.


(May the all-encompassing days passing us by fill the air in our lungs with failures and regrets. And may it bloom into intimacy. For once.)


"I liked Bonnie, from the moment I met her. And I liked her even after I married and divorced her. Both times."

Chris has probably the most earnest expression on his face Toby's seen yet. He smiles and frowns a little bit. It's so obvious he loves his ex. Toby's a bit disorientated; he's never seen the other man like this.

"You know what I mean, right, Tobe? I don't mean being into her 'cause she was hot or something. You saw her..."

"She's big," Toby says, smiling back at Chris.

"Yeah, she's not exactly supermodel material..."-- Keller's outright laughing now. "But I always thought she looked nice. She looked good to me, I told her that over and over. Don't know whether she believed it or not, though. But...that was never the thing with us, you know? It was something else.... It was like...we sorta matched or something. She's just as screwed up as me. Or maybe I made her that way..."

"She gave you something you needed, you did the same for her," Beecher points out, running his hands slightly over the sheets of the bunk he's sitting on. His bunk.

"Up to a point, yeah..." Chris' face darkens a little, just for a second. "You know, I didn't give much of a shit about Kitty or Angelique, still don't. But Bonnie...she had scars. She could get a lot of things...she could understand."

"You were pretty close," Toby says, unsure of what to think about this weird, sudden flow of honesty.

"Yeah, well I married her twice, didn't I?"

Keller lets out a low chuckle, rubbing his palms on his trousers. That's all he's wearing. He's shirtless and his pants are stained and crumpled. He stopped wearing boots or socks a couple of days ago.

"The second time I married her...I wanted to make it work. I really wanted to make it okay. Get a nice place, get a decent fucking job. Have kids..."

He stops for a second and draws in a breath in a manner that makes Beecher realize just how difficult this is for him; still, it seems like he can't stop himself. Toby's noticed that whenever Keller launches himself into some twisted, seemingly incomprehensible confession, it usually doesn't come on request. It just appears out of the blue, like something inside Chris crumbles, or gets loose for a moment, and everything starts flowing out of himself like there's a broken tap inside him that he can't turn off. And Beecher knows that if he's going to actually find out *anything* about this man, he has to pay attention to Keller's ramblings, whenever he gets confused and lost like that. Whenever he gets vulnerable.

He suspects something is seriously wrong with Chris, on a psychiatric level, not to mention a moral one. He's even considered asking Sister Peter Marie if she thinks Chris' suffering from some sort of personality disorder, but - just thinking about *himself*, all the things he had handed to him on a plate - and the manner in which he semi-unconsciously did his very best to destroy them...well, it makes Toby think twice before asking for that kind of information. (--'Yep, the perfect combination: two fucking nutcases.'--)

Still, Keller could be really strange sometimes. And not in the dangerous, semi-psychotic manner Toby had already experienced. No, it was something else, something different. Some out-of-the-blue inexplicable, unspeakable sadness. There were moments when Chris looked even more depressed than Beecher himself did. And...that's saying a lot.

Yeah, you really do have a *thing* for screwed up people, Chris, Beecher thinks, seeing the other man crumpling the already-crumpled fabric of his trousers with his fingers as he leans against the wall across from Beecher.

Still, the trail of heat stretching between them is almost unbearable. Or maybe it's just the fact that they've been locked up for more than a week now, and the whole fucking pod seems to be set somewhere on the edge of hell's open mouth. It's really fucking hot. Suffocating. And even if Keller's given up on looking for clean clothes or even wearing those he obviously considers as being unnecessary, Toby's still in his sweaty gray T-shirt and his prison issue pants. He's even clinging on to wearing his sneakers - something that had sparked a small-scale, incredibly stupid fight about two days back.

"I really wanted to get something right for once," Keller says, dragging Toby out of his own thoughts.

"Why didn't you get it right?" Beecher asks, not knowing for sure if the question is for Keller to answer or for himself. Because Chris is not the only one who didn't get things right...

The other man looks at him smiling bitterly:

"Because I'm basically fucked up?..." -- he scratches his forehead and nods, looking at his feet: "It just didn't work... I guess I can't make anything work."

"That makes two of us."

"Nah," Chris says pointing his finger at Toby.

And...(--'My God! Doesn't he seem drunk all over again?--')

"You did something with your life. You've got your kids. That's *something*...and it won't ever go away."-- his voice carries a mixture of resentment and pride. And something else...hope, maybe. For Toby. "They're yours, no matter where you are," Keller adds, looking straight into his eyes.

And Toby knows he's right. He's got something Chris will never have. Something that's his and his alone. No matter what.

"I -- on the other hand...I didn't do shit with my life. I'm worthless."

Toby wants to tell him just how much he's wrong. Just how much he means to him. But...he doesn't. Deep down, he believes it would be useless. Evidently, Toby has no idea just how wrong he is.


( Let days pass like water. Make room for old scars to resurface and let them heal. Just give them a chance... Let days pass, and let nights come...)


Feeling his insides burning with desire.

"Jesus, fuck... Don't stop, don't..."

Close your eyes and drift away...drift away...drift away... Like always. Let everything explode into that sweet, slightly painful, overpowering sensation pulsating in your gut. Embrace it all; take everything you're being given. Cause he is...(--giving you all he has.) Which - in the end - isn't so much really. But, whatever. (--'Just go with it, To-by.'--)

"I swear to God, I've never been fucked like this my whole life."

Chris' voice is ragged, hoarse. He swallows a breath, a word, a curse... Everything, whatever; Toby. His lies. His own lies.

(--'Oh really, Chris... Not even by Vern? Give me a fucking break!...'--)

Toby almost spits the words right into his face. Just to see the result, just to see the pain. The little wince, the small lapse in his breathing; that almost audible *crack* inside him. He's got so much anger, so much resentment still lurking beneath his skin. He still wants to hurt him, to push his buttons the way only Beecher seems to know how. But he keeps his thoughts to himself. Better that way, nobody wants to go there. Not right the fuck now.

Later that night, Keller's crammed up on his side on the lower bunk with his back against the wall. Beecher has a far more comfortable position, lying on his back, trying to keep his eyes closed. Trying to...(-- ignore him.) Fat chance.

"I used to have this dream when I was a kid. Reccurring, you know?"

Toby nods. He used to dream about riding in a roller coaster and never getting to the top of it. Not to mention--later...having Cathy Rockwell's brains... Yeah.

"I kept dreaming I was drowning. All the time. There was something underwater...kept biting my legs and dragging me under."

"You should tell Pete about it," Toby says, turning on his side to face him and resting his head on his palm.

"I'm telling you."

Chris stares at him - eyes wide open - deep, engulfing. Liquid. An electric wave whirling inside his irises. Toby notices - maybe for the first time - just how different Chris' eyes look in the dark. And then he does that little thing with his eyebrows, frowning slightly, running his gaze over Toby's face, neck and shoulders. Lifting his eyes slowly back up to meet Toby's. There's something there...not intent, not desire. Not his usual self. A small tinge of...sorrow. Fear. Toby just HAS to put his arm around him.


(So you go back and forth, spinning inside a circle of half-spoken truths and truthfully whispered lies.)


Chris says he'll never hurt him again. He says it so slowly, so convincingly, Toby *almost* believes him. And later, that doesn't even matter. (--'Just let go. Just...slide.'--) Like always.

Hearing Chris' muttered words in his ear:

"Quit fighting. Just go with it." (--'It's better that way. Easier.'--)

His breath rolls over Toby's neck, over his left cheek like burning sand; feeling the other man's stubbled jaw rubbing against his own, raising his hackles as Keller pins him down on the lower bunk beneath the weight of his body. Acid running through his veins, poison and sugar -- too much of it. Making him dizzy. High. (Drunk)

Fear - the kind of fear only someone like Vern Schillinger can seed inside a man's body - springs up like an electric shock, making his body shriek under Keller's touch. His limbs stiffen.

Chris senses it but he doesn't back down; his mouth slides down on Toby's shoulders, gently biting at the crook of his neck. His hands clutch on to Toby's wrists - the same wrists he once broke - making it practically impossible for the other man to move.

"I'm not gonna hurt you, I'm not gonna hurt you... Just let go. Let go, Toby."

Just slide...(--down the rabbit hole.)

Let days and nights pass like water...

(--'Just FUCKING let go, bitch!...'--)

---end of part 6/11---
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