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Unbeta-ed. Mistakes mine.
Disclaimers: I am only playing with the people from Oz and SVU. They do not belong to me and I am making no money from this.
Copyright: Edgar C. Gambodge, Elizabeth Lightbody, Chris's professor and Mrs. Keller are mine.
Theme: B/K. What happened after what really happened at the end of Season Six. This overlaps with my previous story, "Settling the Bill.
Warning: In my Oz-verse, many of the events from the last two episodes of Season Six are fictitious.
Coming in from the Cold 16/17
Part 16: Return
"Why couldn't they send us to Bellevue?" Toby inquired of Olivia as they waited for Chris to finish being examined.
They were sitting side by side on blue plastic chairs in the emergency room. Beecher was massaging his strapped ankle.
"Benchley Memorial's closer."
"It's just that I spent months here when I was in Oz."
Beecher grew quiet, remembering.
"When Chris broke your arms?" It was in his rap sheet, that Olivia had turned up for Elliot's perusal.
"It was Schillinger's idea. Chris owed him. Anyway, Schillinger broke my legs far worse. Compound fractures. At least Chris's breaks were clean breaks."
Olivia digested this.
"Did he hurt you after that?"
Beecher shook his head a little too emphatically, Olivia thought.
"Don't you want to know if I hurt him?" He watched for Olivia's reaction with a grin that showed lots of little sharp teeth below his little-boy-lost face.
"Did you?" asked Olivia, betraying nothing.
"Let's just say I got even," said Beecher.
Olivia wondered what getting even for limb-breaking and betrayal involved. She didn't remember anything jumping out at her from either of their jackets. She wished she could check Keller's medical records because she was pretty sure he would never tell Elliot anything about it. She also wondered how long Beecher continued to get even. He struck Olivia as a long-term person. He was looking about him at the passing night staff.
"Every second person round here reminds me of someone in Oz. Mobay, Schillinger, Robson. I see them everywhere. I actually spoke to Dr. Nathan. She was our infirmary doctor in Oz. She's doing a night shift here, standing in for Prestopnik. Don't think he's ever worked a full shift anywhere. That guy there is the spitting image of our priest, Father Mukada."
"It's Dr George Huang. He's our tame Fed. Helps with profiling. Probably here to get the lowdown on Junior from Cragen. He's going to stand trial in four states."
She handed something over to Beecher.
"You might want this," she said.
"What is it?" asked Beecher, wrinkling up his forehead.
"Your mobile phone," she said. "We found it on the floor of the room where they buried Chris. Elliot took it with him when he came to look for you. He must have left his own back at the apartment."
In their private ward, as soon as the nurse was gone, Toby hopped out of his bed and squeezed into Chris's.
"They won't let you stay there," said Elliot.
"Fuck `em," said Toby, pulling the blanket and sheet better over him and Chris. "If you want to stay, why don't you use my bed?"
"Yeah, maybe later," said Elliot tiredly, not finding enough energy to argue with him. "Don't fall out."
Or let Chris fall out.
"Our bunks in Oz were narrower."
Elliot pulled a chair up to the other side of Chris's bed, in between his brother and the door and settled down for the rest of the night. He wanted to stay awake and watch over Chris, in case he was afraid, but realized he himself was half-asleep already. Chris was breathing steadily. Toby fidgeted a bit, shuffled his arm into a more comfortable position under Chris's neck, rubbed his own nose and sighed.
"Night," he mumbled.
"Night," said Elliot.
Chris and Toby were apparently out like lights, facing each other, twined in each other's arms again, like in the ambulance. Elliot leaned forward onto the bed and cushioned his forehead on his arm, near the small of Chris's back. He put his free hand onto Chris's side and was surprised to feel Chris move his arm from Toby to squeeze his hand with his bandaged mitten.
"Hey," Chris whispered.
"Hey," said Elliot. "You go to sleep now."
"Yeah, you too. You okay, `Liot?"
"Yeah, I'm great. Shh."
"Okay..." Chris sighed. "When I was lying there in the dark, I remembered something about where we used to sleep over at the old lady you told me about when we were kids. Meant to tell you earlier."
"The blanket on the bed was yellow, like the sun. You never told me that, right?"
"Yeah, that's right. It was exactly like the sun and I never told you."
Elliot wasn't sure that he himself remembered the yellow blanket, but something about it sounded comfortingly familiar, so he decided the blanket must've been yellow, like the sun. He held Chris's hand until Chris's breathing deepened and his grip relaxed. He was dog-tired, but couldn't settle. He must still be working off the adrenaline.
It was the protective detail, Larsen, at the door in a shaft of light. Cragen had ordered a uni to be at the door at all times.
"There's someone here to see you."
Elliot got up quietly and left the ward. It was Kathy, standing alone at the nurses' station, a big, cream-colored jumper over her arm. She looked anxious and rather small.
"Hey," said Elliot cautiously.
"Hey," she replied.
"Did Liv call you?" he asked after a pause.
"No, a friend of mine in Emergencies said she'd seen you admitted. When I called there was no one under your name, so I tried your brother's. Is...is he alright?"
"He's out of danger. Beecher's with him."
"Are you alright, Elliot?"
"I'll survive. How are the kids?"
"My mom's with them. Dickie and Elizabeth have been building a diorama for history. They're quite proud of it. Maureen showed them how to research costume on the internet."
"That's great," said Elliot a little sadly.
"They'd like to show you when it's finished. Kathleen is really focusing on her grades this year. She brought home an A yesterday for an English paper. Maureen's thinking of changing one of her majors. I guess she told you that."
"Yeah," said Elliot.
"I've been wanting to call you. I was hoping we could maybe spend some time together alone. We need to talk about some things."
Elliot slumped a little.
Kathy hurried on: "I actually saw Chris a couple of days ago. He explained everything. We spoke for about an hour. I'd like to give our marriage another chance."
"What did he say?"
"I can tell you later. We talked through a lot of stuff. It made a lot of sense."
Chris as marriage counselor? Elliot's mind boggled.
"I thought he was you at first, come to make up." Kathy sounded wistful. "He was wearing your dark blue NYPD sweatshirt."
She looked in at Chris and Beecher.
"They let them sleep in the same bed?"
"Don't ask," said Elliot.
"They're safe now. Why don't you come home?"
"The kids are there and they're worried about you."
"Let's take this slowly," said Kathy.
The doctors would not discharge Chris for four days after the kidnapping. Toby was free to go after the first night, but stayed on with Chris, and, after lights out, in Chris's bed. The night staff turned a blind eye, as the hacks used to do, long ago in Oz. The nurses called it the Honeymoon Suite.
During the day, Toby lounged on his own bed and read or watched TV, while they enjoyed a steady stream of visitors, who were mainly for Chris. Elliot brought Chris a pair of his pajama bottoms because Chris had none. Elliot was working on the house - painting the outside with the kids - and would come by the hospital early in the mornings. He also stopped by in the mid-afternoon, if he could (and also when he couldn't really, Toby guessed). He'd always come for the evening visiting session and sneak in supper for them all. Sometimes some or all of the kids would come too. Even Benson came once. Daily meals from Gambodge were delivered by people they never met.
Elizabeth Lightbody came. She looked exactly as Toby had imagined her from that time Chris had sent him the tape-recordings of his sessions with her. All of the exes came. Bonnie came twice and brought her husband and some cheesecake. Toby's family came often, usually in the mornings, because Grandma had kept Holly out of school in the days immediately following her father's disappearance and recovery. Toby was quite relieved, but not all that surprised, that neither Marion nor Katherine came to see him.
Sister Pete paid them a surprise visit one evening and found them lying asleep together in Chris's bed, where they'd been watching TV and eating trifle and lasagna that Mr. Gambodge had claimed in his note was peculiarly therapeutic when he had been hospitalized for gout. Toby woke up as she entered the room and twitched when he saw her, but didn't get up. He merely shrugged, with an apologetic smile. Chris slept for the duration of the visit. A gift arrived from an unknown sender. It caused a stir amongst the security, but turned out to be nothing more dangerous than a couple of tickets to Fiji which had recently been featured in National Geographic. The tickets were booked for the day after Toby's parole finished. It reeked of O'Reily, but neither Chris nor Toby volunteered this information to the police.
Toby found himself a little jealous of all the attention Chris was getting, not because he lacked attention himself, but because he felt he had competition for Chris's attention at last. The reporters had been the last straw. One woman was practically throwing herself at Chris. She'd ignored Toby completely and even left Chris her number "in case there was anything he needed to add to his story". In all fairness to Chris, he'd done nothing other than lie in the bed like a living wet dream and smile at her, but it made Toby ... uncomfortable. He hoped it didn't show. He didn't want to worry Chris or have to imagine the mileage he'd get out of this if he knew how it rattled him.
"That reporter's coming round again," said Chris, reading his text messages. "Still got that ugly green T-shirt or did your mom take it to wash?"
His voice was still hoarse.
"So you think I should dress up for her?" Toby inquired snidely.
"I want to borrow it. Need a top. Elliot only brought bottoms. `Sides, it smells of you."
"Are you patronizing me, Keller?"
"I think it's sexy."
Toby was often amazed at how guileless Chris's smile could look.
"If you get a hard on, she'll think it's for her," he muttered as he helped Chris pull the shirt over his head.
The T-shirt helped a little, but not all that much. Chris was more gorgeous than ever now that he was on the road to recovery and the green T-shirt just begged to be peeled off. Toby resolved not to touch Chris at all during the interview and to stay on his own bed behind a book. Chris flirted with him the entire duration of the visit. Kept catching Toby's eye, running his tongue over his lips, parting his legs subtly, but suggestively. Half way through the interview, Toby was reading with his hands blinkering his eyes and a pillow in his lap.
"Hey, Beecher?" Toby looked up at Chris's call.
"Yeah?" he said.
Chris blew him a kiss.
"Later," said Toby, sitting cross-legged with his book resting on his pillow. "Honey."
Chris recovered his poise like a cat that has landed wrong-footed and stretched out on the bed.
"I hate it when he calls me that," he purred.
The reporter looked as if she hated it too.
Toby was talking to his mother and daughter when Elliot arrived. Perfect.
"I got you something." Elliot held out a dark blue bundle to Chris. Chris took it. It felt like a blanket. Chris shook it out. He grinned at it.
"Thanks, Elliot. Never had a bath robe before."
Elliot grinned too, wryly.
"You hate it, don't you?"
"No, it's great. Really."
"You gotta put it on, `cos I'm taking you somewhere."
Chris pulled the robe on. He caught Elliot watching him and sighed a little as he pulled it closed over his bare chest. Elliot stepped out of the ward and came back wheeling a wheelchair.
"Fuck," said Chris.
"Kathy and all the kids are here. I told them to wait in the cafeteria so we didn't get thrown out of your room. Take your phone, so you can call Beecher if you want to."
Chris took it with a grimace. Slouched in the chair. Leaving Toby in order to see Elliot's brood. Fuck. Benson was outside the door.
"I'm going to wait here while you're gone," she said, looking as if she wanted to add, "So you don't have to worry."
Shit. He hated pity. Chris cracked his face in a grin.
"There's something that's been bothering me," said Elliot as he turned Chris's chair around in the elevator to face the doors.
There would be. Chris wondered what it was.
"It didn't really register when I was examining you in the ambulance. I was too focused on the damage done to your hands. Took me a while to see it."
"See what?" Chris slipped automatically back into his "who-me, stupid-dink" routine. He stared at the doors. What the fuck had Elliot seen?
A woman carrying a small girl got in and mother and daughter stared at Elliot and Chris.
"Are those men twins, Mummy?" asked the little girl.
"Your hands were all bloodied and torn from trying to dig your way out," Elliot continued, "but there were no defensive wounds on them. You didn't fight back when Junior put you in that coffin. You could've taken him. Why didn't you?"
Chris relaxed a bit.
"I took Toby's place. Junior told me if I'd agree to change places with Toby and let him do to me what he was going to do to Toby, he'd let Toby go. But he changed the plan when he buried me. He drugged me enough to stop me fighting back and then told me what he was going to do to Toby as he put me in the coffin."
"What did he do to you, Chris?"
They'd been through this before in the emergency room. Chris stared at the elevator doors. Back in the emergency room he'd said Junior hadn't raped him, but he hadn't wanted Elliot there when he was being examined and afterwards the doctor on duty wouldn't tell him what she'd found. All she'd say was that Chris would be alright and needed rest. But Elliot knew what Junior did to his victims. Afterwards, back in the private ward, Elliot told Beecher what Chris had said.
"He'll say that anyway," Beecher had said. "Said it about Schillinger. They shared a cell when he was seventeen. You can imagine what actually happened there. Of course, I don't have to. I shared a cell with Schillinger too."
Chris was still staring stubbornly at the elevator doors. Probably counting the seconds until he could get back to Beecher. Elliot hoped that when Chris was ready he'd tell him everything that had happened, but he suspected that wouldn't be happening any time soon. He'd actually made himself discuss Chris's silence with Kathy. It had been really hard. He didn't realize how little they'd been talking in recent years.
"He was buried alive and left to die. Isn't knowing that enough?" Kathy had asked him.
"You'd die for Beecher?" He asked the back of Chris's head.
Chris couldn't see Elliot's expression, but heard the intake of breath and a muttered, "Jesus Christ." Chris wondered if Elliot disapproved of his willingness to sacrifice himself or his willingness to sacrifice himself for Toby.
"Mummy," said the little girl, "that man said a naughty word."
"Why didn't you call the cops?" was all Elliot said.
It was clear to Chris that what he meant was "Why didn't you call me?" Hadn't occurred to Chris to do so. He now realized they could have pulled quite a good ponzi on Junior by working together.
"It was Beecher," he said in explanation.
Chris heard the woman draw in her breath now. He turned to look up at her with his most dazzling smile.
"He's my evil twin," he told her.
"We're not identical anymore," Chris was looking at his damaged hands.
Toby was looking down at them too. The nurse had been changing the bandages and had left to help sort out a situation in the ward next door. Toby took Chris's hands in his and stared at them. His mouth pulled down and his forehead wrinkled. He looked as if he were about to cry.
"Kiss me, Toby," said Chris. Three days later, his voice was still slightly hoarse and he had not yet been discharged.
Toby raised Chris's left hand to his lips, but Chris pulled it out of his grasp.
"No, not my wounds. Kiss me."
"Chris..." Toby began.
"I don't need you to kiss me better," Chris said, moving his hand away as Toby reached for it again. "I need you to love me."
"I do, Chris," Toby stretched out his hand to Chris's face, cupped it, stroked his cheek. He could feel the muscles in Chris's jaw start to tense.
"I love you, Chris," he insisted.
Chris's eyes were dark.
"I need you to stay with me, Toby."
"I'm not going anywhere, Chris. I'm right here. It's just... it's been hard for me too."
"I know, Toby. That's why you don't need to worry about me as well."
"That's exactly why I need to worry about you. I've almost lost you too many times. We've been... I've been very careless with you, Chris. I should have looked after you better."
"I can look after myself, Toby. Don't worry about me. Nothing's going to happen to me."
"It already has, Chris. You nearly died."
"I ain't going down, Toby."
A ghost of Chris's old cockiness made Toby smile and he kissed him on the lips.
The following day Toby packed up their stuff and Elliot's pajamas too, after Chris changed into his sweats for the ride home. He felt Chris's eyes on him, as he folded clothes. Chris was almost obsessively tidy about his personal stuff and this had been the cause of many disagreements when they had shared a pod in Oz. Toby tended to bundle things up when packing. Chris liked everything symmetrical. He even used to hang his towel symmetrically on the peg in their pod, on his side of the mirror and Toby knew Chris would have liked him to do the same with his, but, while he would do a lot to please Chris, he just couldn't succumb to this. Toby's towel always seemed to bunch damply or trail from his peg.
Sharing the hospital room with him for the past few days brought back a lot of memories that living in Chris's apartment hadn't. Toby told himself not to catch Chris's eye. Chris was probably itching to refold the T-shirts. But Toby'd told him he wouldn't take him home unless he promised to take it easy. So Chris was lying propped up with pillows on the hospital bed, fully dressed, his bandaged hands folded on his stomach, a picture of relaxation and ease. Toby wondered how long it would last.
"Beecher - you mad at me still?"
Toby turned to Chris and looked at him. Chris stared back, unmoving. There was no point in asking about what. In spite of everything that had happened since then, Chris was still preoccupied by their fight that had caused Toby to walk out. The question really was: "Are you going to leave me again?" Toby sighed. He'd hoped to leave this discussion for later, when they were home and when Chris was stronger. He hobbled over to Chris's bed.
"Listen -" he began patiently.
"I'm not stupid, Toby."
Chris's face was impossible to read. All Toby could tell for sure was that he wasn't happy. He could have been mad or scared or unhappy or anything in between.
"I know, Chris, nor am I. So don't lie to me, okay?" He took Chris's face in his hands and looked directly into his eyes. Chris held his gaze, although Toby could feel muscles tighten beneath his fingers. "We nearly died because of what you didn't tell me. Is there anything or anyone else I need to know about?"
"You sure? Because you've got to tell me now if there is."
"Good," said Toby.
"Kiss me, Toby," said Chris.
So Toby did, holding Chris's face.
"So are we going to your place or mine?" he asked.
Chris grinned at him.
"You got a place of your own now, Beech?"
"Shut up, Keller, and get into the wheelchair."
"No way, man. I'm walking outta here."
"Chris, if you want to be discharged, you have to leave in a wheelchair. It's regulations."
Toby wheeled the chair around next to the bed. Chris looked at it suspiciously.
"I'll wheel you," said Toby.
"How come you're not in a wheelchair?" Chris demanded.
"I was discharged the day after we got here. I arranged to stay on in the ward so I didn't leave you alone."
Chris tried a smile that faltered around the edges.
"You stayed here for me?" he asked.
"I'm sure I told you. I'm not going anywhere without you. So you've got to get in this chair, or I'm not going home either. There's no other way, honey."
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