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Unbeta-ed. Mistakes my own.
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 17/17
Part 17: Epilogue
Outside the courtroom, waiting for the verdict, Elliot watched Toby put his hands on Chris's shoulders and talk to him. Watched Chris relax. Must be explaining the legal odds to him. Elliot wasn't worried. Novak had done her work and so had SVU. There was enough hard evidence to convict Junior and keep him in New York State. He was going to be getting a special cell on Death Row in Oswald. His basement alone had turned out to quite a cemetery and his surviving accomplice had become remarkably chatty after being promised to serve his term far away from him in Attica. The Russians had disappeared. Andrei's sports car was still impounded and he hadn't stepped forward to claim it. Elliot couldn't see anyone abandoning a car like that. He wondered if Andrei ought to be declared missing.
"I owe you my life," Chris had said to Elliot on the way to see Kathy and the kids at Benchley Memorial.
"You never have to owe me for that," said Elliot.
"You saved Toby," Chris said. "I owe you."
"Beecher saved himself. He had a home-made shiv. A ballpoint pen, I think."
Chris laughed too.
"Toby's always full of surprises."
"I'll bet," Elliot said, as he wheeled him through the doors of the cafeteria.
A couple of loose ends remained. The dead accomplice, for one. He couldn't have been killed by the Russians if his time of death was a couple of hours before they arrived at the ware house. Chris insisted that when he'd arrived at the ware house he was met by Junior alone and that Junior had shown him inside. He hadn't noticed anyone else. Gambodge hypothesized that as Andrei used the ware house for some of his operations it was quite probable that he had had the man killed to cover something up before he was fingered by the Spook.
"Andrei likes to boast," said Gambodge, "which is probably how my other friend came to hear about it in the first place."
That didn't quite wash with Elliot, but in the absence of Andrei or any evidence, the death was marked unsolved.
Chris had been borrowing Elliot's suits for the trial, but Elliot could have sworn that he and Beecher were starting to co-ordinate their colors. Today they both had on light blue shirts, although Beecher's suit was brown and Chris's (Elliot's) was grey. Toby took a picture of Chris. Elliot knew it was because of his suit. They both laughed, looking at it. Chris looked over at him, pressed some keys on the key pad and predictably, Elliot's phone pinged. Chris had sent him the photo.
"We don't have a lot of photos," Toby said. "Have to take them all the time to catch up."
Elliot studied the photo. Chris looked better in it. Different. Happy? Maybe. He was right about those suits though. They had got to go.
Chris still watched every news bulletin and read every paper just to be sure. He even managed somehow to get word to O'Reily back in Em City to check on what was really happening with Junior. O'Reily had informed him that Lopresti had been baiting Junior, so Chris wasn't really surprised when Junior made the evening news again for killing him. The details on how exactly he did it were scant, to Chris's disappointment, but then again, it was Prime Time. O'Reily had also mentioned off-handedly that Howell's murder was no longer being investigated. Chris had lost track of that business when Junior had taken Toby.
Now, as Toby slept beside him, Chris was thinking about Oz and the irony of Junior being there. He felt safer in Oz than outside. Had all along. Missed the routine and the structure. But it was worse now. He missed the lights. Some lights were always on in Oz.
Chris lay in the dark as still as he could for as long as he could, and then slid rapidly out of the bed, so as not to wake Toby. His frozen muscles could hardly move fast enough. He tripped over Toby's sneakers as he stumbled into the passage way. His breath was short and he was clammy. His heart was pounding in his ears. He had to get to his gym.
Once there, he flipped the light switch, slid down the wall to sit on the floor and wished for some cigarettes. Rubbed his face in his bandaged hands - like Elliot did, he realized vaguely - and pulled his knees up to his chest. Breathed deeply. Rocked to and fro. Felt his heart slow a little bit. His mouth was dry and his back hurt.
He was exhausted, but he knew he couldn't go back to bed. Lying there in the dark made his mind race around things he didn't want to think about ever again. He had just reconciled himself to sleeping in the gym, against the wall, when he heard footsteps limping down the passage towards him.
"Chris? You okay?"
Toby stood blinking sleepily in the doorway, favoring his sprained ankle. Shit.
"Yeah," lied Chris. "Couldn't sleep."
The last part was true at any rate. Toby limped over to him and put a hand on his shoulder.
"You're clammy," he said, with a worried frown, "did you have a nightmare?"
"Nah," said Chris. "I'm fine, Toby. Go back to bed. I'll join you just now."
"You're not fine, Chris. Tell me what's wrong."
Chris got up and went over to the window. He fiddled with the blind's pull and opened the slats to reveal the city's lights gleaming in the blackness beyond. He peered out at them. He heard Toby get up and come over to him. This time a pair of warm hands squeezed Chris's shoulders.
"It's okay. You can tell me."
It wasn't okay and Chris didn't want to tell Toby, but Toby massaged Chris's shoulders encouragingly.
"Tell me what's wrong, Chris."
"It's nothing," Chris told him, parting the slats with the less bandaged of his hands, to stare into the midnight city.
Toby slid his hands down to Chris's upper arms and rested his chin on Chris's left shoulder, their cheeks close together, and gazed at the lights too for a while.
"You're safe now; we both are. Come back to bed."
Toby started to turn towards the door. Chris's back and shoulders missed Toby's warmth. Chris wanted more than anything to follow him, but he couldn't.
"I can't - I can't lie in the dark, okay?"
"Oh, Chris..." Chris heard realization in Toby's voice. "The coffin..."
Toby turned to look at him and Chris saw pity in his eyes. He recoiled from it and pushed Toby away. He glared out of the window into the night. He could feel Toby staring at him now and wished he'd worn Elliot's bath robe to protect himself from that pitying gaze. Then he heard Toby padding away, but not to the bedroom. Chris could feel himself shriveling.
"Where're you goin'?" he blurted out.
He could hear Toby in the spare room now. Was he going to sleep there? Toby hadn't been sleeping well again, since the abduction, and probably needed all the rest he could get. Chris wished he hadn't pushed him away. What the fuck? Sounded as if Toby was unpacking a cupboard. Where was he going to go at this time of night? He didn't want Toby to go and he really didn't want to be alone. In the amount of time it took Chris reach the spare room's door, he managed to run through several strategies to prevent Toby from leaving. Mostly they involved picking one or other sort of fight with him.
Toby had pulled several cardboard boxes out of the cupboard. Chris realized unwillingly that they were Gary's boxes. Toby, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of one box, was unpacking its contents. His slight smile was unreadable, as he turned to look at Chris in the doorway.
He sounded friendly, so Chris hey-ed him back, feeling too tired to start quarrelling.
"Gary was afraid of the dark," Toby said, pulling out something in bubble wrap, with a small gesture of satisfaction, "so we got him..."
Toby unwrapped the thing.
"...a nightlight. We got Holly one too. Hers was pink and white and played music. I think she's still got it. Gary's one has got a revolving light. He loved it. He called it his night circus."
Toby held up a round object encircled by blue and red arches and a procession of little elephants and camels.
"Come," he said, standing up.
"What's a night light?" asked Chris following Toby back to the master bedroom.
His skin was prickling at the thought of going back into the dark again, but Toby flicked on the wall light.
"I'll show you," said Toby, fiddling with the night light's electric flex.
He set the object on the nightstand at Chris's side of the bed, plugged it in and turned it on. It lit up with a soft glow. He got back into bed with a grin.
"Hit the lights," he said.
Chris did, reluctantly. The little glow filled the room. Toby patted the mattress next to him.
"Come back to bed," he said. "We can leave it on all night."
Chris hesitated, leaning against the doorframe.
"I'll show you how to make the elephants move," Toby said enticingly.
"The elephants move?"
"Oh yeah, and the camels too."
Chris pushed himself off the doorframe and climbed back into bed. As he lay back, Toby reached over him and pressed a button on the side of the night light. The little animals started to revolve slowly around the base of the light. Chris thought he saw a glimpse of something bittersweet in Toby's expression, but it was gone too quickly to be caught. Toby lay back beside him. They watched together as the little procession of animals went round the red and blue tent.
"Count the camels," Toby yawned, putting his arm around Chris. "I'll count the elephants."
So Chris began to count them as they passed by in front of him. He thought he fell asleep by the eighth camel, just as Toby kissed his ear.
The bathroom door's ajar and I'm watching Toby brush his teeth in front of the sink. From my vantage point, stretched out on the bed, I can't see him spitting. I shift my head to the side a bit. Better. He's wearing those geeky blue-and-green pajama bottoms Elliot gave me to wear in hospital. They hang low on his hips. Soon get him out of those. He doesn't like me to wear them because he says it makes him feel as if he's going to bed with my brother. I don't like to wear them because I've never worn pajamas. Those white things in Oz were about as much as I could take. I keep the pajama bottoms for staying over at the Beechers (means we don't stay over a lot now) and because they're Elliot's.
I switch off the bedside lamp before switching on the night light, just for the slight adrenaline spike and keep on watching Toby through my eyelashes. Never get tired of watching him. I still get sleepy early though, after years of early lights-out in prison. Conditioning, I guess. He's almost finished his routine, putting his toothbrush away, splashing water on his face. As he finishes drying his face, he seems to hesitate. He's been a little preoccupied all evening. He stands in the doorway, playing with the towel. He's got the bathroom light behind him, making the ends of his short hair golden. He looks like an angel.
"What did Pete call for today?"
Christ. I sit up, rub my eyes, put on the light again.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you..."
No, fuck, let's get it over with. Let's talk about it. Elizabeth would be so happy, so would Bonnie. So would Sister Pete, come to think of it. Must be a woman thing, talking about stuff all the goddamn time. Don't know how Toby got into it. Can't help wondering how he'll take what I have to say though. So I keep my voice neutral.
"She says the police found Father Michael's body."
I can see Toby's muscles stiffen. He purses his lips. Go on - say it. I ain't sorry. Just don't feed me a line about the fucking sanctity of human life. He doesn't say anything. Just stands there in the doorway, holding the towel. I don't say anything either. If this were Oz we'd be having a full-scale fight by now. Don't know which is worse. At least those fights ended sometime.
"Yeah?" he says at last.
He's studying my face from a distance. Trying to read me.
"Yeah. Apparently he'd been whacked and dumped somewhere."
I wonder if my nonchalant tone will make him think I'm more guilty or less guilty. It seemed to make Sister Pete more suspicious. Toby sighs and looks down at his towel. He looks kinda sad, so I decide to help him out.
"Sister Pete seems to think I did it."
He raises his head slightly to look at me from under his eyebrows, like he does when he's trying to make me tell him something. He still says nothing. So I tell him.
"I didn't do it though."
I get out of bed.
"Why the fuck would I whack him now after all these years? I was going to interview him for my research, but some cocksucker beat me to him. I..."
"I know, Chris. I know it wasn't you."
Huh? I break off in mid-sentence and stare hard at him. He's got an awkward sort of smile as he looks down at his towel again.
"You do, huh?"
"Yeah, because I know who it was."
I ignore the insinuation behind how he knew it wasn't me for now and just stare at him. He looks up at me again, apologetically this time. Light begins to dawn. But if it happened when the police think it happened, Toby was still in Oz... which means the little shit must have ordered a hit on Father Michael. Fuck. I can only hope whoever did it left less evidence than Pancamo's stooge did with Hank Schillinger. If I'd've done it, no fucking evidence would ever have been found. I've started to pace without realizing it.
"You're mad at me, aren't you?"
That doesn't begin to cover it.
"I don't know what to fucking say."
I could say a lot about learning from one's fucking mistakes. About not screwing up our lives. Our lives. Ours. His and mine. About what happened with that jizzball of a priest being ancient fucking history. About how he should've kept that fucking piece of news to himself... Toby drops the towel on the bathroom floor and pads over to me.
"Chris, I'm sorry. I just wanted to give you something meaningful. Something better than socks."
He stops my agitation by putting his hands on my shoulders and looking deep into my eyes. His forehead is crinkled up with earnestness and his eyebrows are pulled together.
"He had to pay for what he did to you."
Jesus fucking Christ. I thought he'd shaved off the goddamned beard. He gives a strange little smile.
"I also thought that if Gambodge took much longer getting me out, I could always use it as leverage to get you back in. One way or the other."
Whoa, Beecher. Way too much information. I don't pull away, although I should.
"Are. You. Fucking. Nuts?" I ask him.
"I'll make it up to you," he murmurs, massaging my shoulders.
My dick likes that. Traitorous little prick. Toby too. I can smell soap on warm Beecher skin. Then he takes my face in his hands and kisses me on the lips. I pull my face out of his hands.
"Chris, it'll be alright. It won't be traced to either of us, trust me. And he wouldn't have been any use in an interview. He wouldn't have told you what you wanted to know."
Oh yeah? My interviewing techniques have improved since I last saw him twenty years ago.
"You'll find someone else more suitable to interview. You'll see."
He strokes my neck, his fingers brushing my hairline. Runs them down my nape. I can feel my nipples harden even before he trails his other hand over the right nub and down my chest. His fingers burn down my abs and then move sideways to an unexpected stop at my waist. He pulls me close to him. Yeah, I guess there are plenty of people I could interview. Still gotta get hold of that slippery weasel, McManus, after all. I'm beginning to think old Timbo's dodging me deliberately. Don't really want to think about him now though, with Toby pressing up against me, nuzzling me just under my deaf ear. Through Elliot's pajamas, he's as hard as I am. He presses into my hip, whispers in my ear. I can't make out what he's saying, but I get the idea when he flicks the lobe with his tongue.
Shit, I think as his tongue continues its adventures, Toby's hopeless at presents. At least it's better than socks though...
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