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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 6/17
Part 6: First night out
Toby's out today. Out of Oz at last. Gambodge came through for us. I pick Toby up from Oz this morning at nine ...
I get there early, to miss the traffic and to make sure I am waiting when he comes out through the security checkpoint. I decide before coming to wait near the checkpoint to piss off the guards. I just hope that fucking Lopresti isn't on duty. Luckily it's Murphy and Mineo.
"It's not Visitors' Day," says Mineo.
"I've come for Beecher," I tell them.
"He's not supposed to be consorting with known felons."
"I was pardoned."
"Technically your sentence was commuted, Keller," Murphy breaks in. He doesn't look pleased. Mineo looks disgusted.
They don't bother me. Howell was the only hack who did. They don't even irritate me anymore. All I'm interested in now is seeing Beech again. Saw him last week at Visitors' Day, but it's not the same being in a room with everyone else for an hour and barely allowed to touch. I've been in Beecher-withdrawal ever since. I sit for an hour and a half, wondering what the fuck is going on.
At first the delay gives me a chance to calm down after the rainy drive, to make my breathing regular, like the shrink at Cedar Junction showed me. Then the wait makes me tense. Then tenser. I focus on my breathing. I watch the clock above the guard station. Mineo and Murphy watch me watching. Don't say a word. I hope Toby hasn't screwed it up already. I told O'Reily to keep an eye on him. He'd better have. I try not to think about what might have happened to Toby if that fucking Irish snake hasn't watched him closely enough.
If I'd brought Elliot they'd've told me what was going on by now. They'd've told him anyway. Where are the cops when you need them? Maybe I could've sent Elliot instead of me. Then when they thought it was me he could've flashed them his badge. `Course that's already happened, hasn't it? After Schillinger's goons bought it and everyone was evacuated, he came to Lardner looking for me. He told me. But I'd already been released from Oz before then.
Everything was in turmoil still and no one knew which prison any of the prisoners were in for sure, just that they were shipped off to other places. It took weeks for the computer systems to be updated. Most dinks went to Lardner, so some of the Em City hacks were seconded to Lardner to help out. That's why, when Elliot walked in the gate looking for me, one of the hacks recognized him as me. I don't know which one - he couldn't say. When he showed him his badge, the hack phoned McManus at home and told him he had to come down to Lardner to see this with his own eyes. Elliot says that's when he knew for sure he would find me at last.
Apparently when McManus arrived at Lardner he made them check Elliot's badge number and photo ID with SVU. Then he did an ID trade with SVU and emailed Cragen my file and photo. Thought Elliot was me impersonating a police officer. As if I'd be that dumb. Walk into a place where people know me, without any disguise and pretend to be someone else. Asswipe always thought I was an idiot. Despite his liberal bullshit, he never realized it wasn't stupidity that made me drop out of high school.
Wish I'd seen the hacks' faces when they found out Elliot wasn't me though. Fucks treat me different since then. I grin at Murphy and Mineo. Ain't quite sure who I really am anymore. Pity it took them so long to figure that out.
"Mineo, find out where Beecher is," says Murphy. "He should have been here by now."
Maybe he doesn't like my grin. I fold my arms, pull my chin down and stare at them. Elizabeth says that's a defensive posture. I don't care. So I'm defensive. So what are they goin' to do?
Before I know it, Beech is checking out his stuff at the checkpoint. Head down, concentrating on signing the forms. He's just shaved off the beard and his pale skin is still red from it. I can't take my eyes off him. I don't want Mineo and Murphy to see how much this means to me. A bit late after all these years, I guess. Beech was happy to see me last week. Hope it wasn't all just to get out of Oz. He hasn't looked at me yet. He picks up the big manila envelope with his stuff in it and puts the jacket over his arm, looks around at the reception room a bit. It's starting to fill up with hacks and a busload of new prisoners.
Toby's eyes flicker over me briefly. I can't read his expression from this distance. I took off my glasses before I came in, so no asshole would have anything to say about them. His gaze travels over the new prisoners and over the hacks. He turns back to me and walks on over, with a slight smile.
"Hey," he says surprisingly softly.
Suddenly we're holding each other and kissing the life out of each other. I can't stop. I can't breathe. I'm crushing him to my heart so hard it must be hurting him. He's got my face in his hands and his fingers in my hair. I keep my eyes shut. I don't want it to end. Ever. I forget Murphy, Mineo, everyone and everything but Toby.
The new guys are getting signed in, just off the bus. See us kissing. Someone catcalls at us. Someone else says, "Homo's". That used to piss me off once. It doesn't seem as important right now as kissing Toby. Oh God, he tastes so good. And Murphy and Mineo can do nothing about it - we're free. I realize I can kiss Toby all day in front of them now and they'll just have to watch.
"They were both straight when they first came in," I hear Mineo say to the new dinks.
"Shi-ite. No way, man! I don't want to be no fag!" The guy who said "homo's" sounds scared now.
Beech breaks off the kiss. I press my forehead against his. Still can't breathe. Beech glances over at the new prisoners and winks at me.
"Hon-ee, you waited for me-ee!'
How'd he get his voice like that?
"Bay-bee, you're the only guy in my life, you know that," I purr.
"Ah, fuck, man!" says the homophobe.
We stagger out of the building in each other's arms and get into the parking lot just in time before we pack up laughing. We laugh until we're gasping and tears are running down our faces. We must be hysterical. We're leaning against each other, propping each other up like drunks. McManus sees us as he arrives late for work. Can't see his expression either. But I can imagine it. The one that makes him look like he's got a carrot up his ass. He's been dodging me since I asked him for that interview for my new research project. Won't return my calls. I could corner him now. He scurries past me. Later. Beech is more important right now.
Like I thought, Toby likes the Mustang, wants to drive back, only his parole conditions don't allow him to drive for a year after being released. We throw his stuff into the back. I want to drive him back to my apartment and devour him. But we're expected at the Beechers. First for lunch, then an evening cocktail party for a few select guests. I don't want canaps. I want more kisses, his hands on me, his tongue... I get a hard-on just thinking about his skin under my hands. If I keep thinking like this, I won't be able to drive. As it is, my hands are shaking and I can't quite catch my breath. Even without my glasses, Toby seems to shine.
"I'm free, Chris," he says.
We're at the Beechers' residence, in the kitchen, alone for the first time since I brought him back from Oz. It's late evening, but some guests are still staying on. I'm staying on too. Toby seems pretty set to stay here tonight. He's finally found me. Took long enough. I've been sitting here alone on the counter for almost an hour. I can't cope with so many people. Toby seems fine. In his element, really, talking to everyone. I'd have expected him to seem more ashamed, but he's behaving as if he'd been away on a cruise and not to prison. He doesn't introduce me much and when he does, he doesn't explain who I am. He just says my name or describes me as a "friend". I really wish Elliot were here. Instead of me. Could've passed him off as me. Who'd've known? Who'd've cared?
"What are you drinking?" Toby stands in front of me.
He's moved in closer, standing between my legs. I almost check for hacks on reflex.
"Soda." I hold up the bottle to show him.
"I like root beer."
"You don't have to drink soft drinks on my account..."
I kiss him. He doesn't push me away, even though we're next door a room full of his mother's friends and he hasn't touched me since I collected him from Oz this morning.
"I like you more though, `cos you're not as sweet. Kiss me, Toby."
"Not again. Mother might come in and I don't want to rub her face in it, although she seems okay with it."
Ma Beecher likes me. Most of my mother-in-laws do to start with. Don't want to rattle Toby though. If I touch him I won't be able to let go. So I run my finger round the lip of my soda bottle. He watches my finger with widening eyes and licks his lips. He wants me bad.
"Can I see your apartment?" he asks.
We make our excuses and leave. But having him beside me driving back in the dark, I feel nothing more than lurking anxiety.
"You keep checking in the rear view mirror. Are we being followed?"
I tell him I'm just not used to driving at night. He checks the side mirror and sees no one. The roads are empty.
He's impressed with my building, likes the underground parking and private elevator to my apartment. Must introduce him to the doorman out front too. Probably should've come in that way to check if everything's been okay today. Toby hasn't touched me in the car or in the elevator. However bad he wanted me, maybe he really did want to check out my real estate. My lobby's empty. I half expected to find Elliot there. He's taken to showing up all the time to reminisce. Elizabeth (my shrink, not his daughter) says he's trying to bond with me. It makes me feel scared. Yeah. I'd never say it out loud. I told Elizabeth that it made me feel ambivalent. Before she started on that whole "fear of intimacy" crap, I told her I was intimate with Toby. Elliot and me, we may be identical twins, but we've grown up apart. I don't know Elliot. He doesn't know me.
I'm showing Toby the apartment. Not much to see. Like the agent said: Open plan "recreation area" and kitchen. Big window. Long drop. Bedroom-gym. Bathroom. Bedroom, bathroom en suite.
"Nice view," says Toby, opening the blind in the "recreation area".
I go to the kitchen.
"Like a drink? I got soda."
Elliot brought around some beer the other night, but we drank them. I made sure. Toby looks into the gym and shakes his head. He turns back to me, grinning.
"That's quite some equipment you've got in there. On a fitness drive?"
"I like to stay in shape," I pour two sodas at the kitchen counter.
"Why didn't you just join a gym?"
"I like to work out whenever I want." And don't like being followed.
"I can't believe that you'd sacrifice being watched while you work out for a bit of privacy and convenience."
I only like being watched by you. I shrug. Say nothing. Make patterns on the counter top with the condensation underside the bottle.
"You've got quite a prime piece of real estate here, Chris."
"Gambodge advised me. Knew some people."
Toby comes round to my side of the counter. Stands real close to me.
"I didn't really want to come here to see your apartment though," he says.
My heart-rate's been up all the way from the Beechers' house. I was just getting used to it. It goes up again. I try to tell myself it's excitement, but Elizabeth's done her work too well. I know it's fear. Toby steps back slightly, frowning.
"What's wrong, Chris?"
Trust him to notice.
"It's nothing." Should've kept some of that beer or taken Elliot up on his offer of a bottle scotch.
"I've wanted this as much as you have."
I doubt it.
"What's wrong? You can tell me."
He always says that. Like when he was paroled the first time. That makes my heart beat faster. He's got his hands on my shoulders, peering into my eyes, his face inches from mine. I can't move. What the fuck is wrong with me? It's not like we haven't done this before. He lets my shoulders go. Steps back a little. I gotta act fast.
"It's just... it's been so long, you know? Two years. More..."
He stops. A strange look passes briefly over his face.
"Closer to three."
Probably thinking back to his busted parole. Gotta stop that too.
"I just... I just don't want to screw this up."
His face softens and he comes closer again.
"We never screwed this up."
Then he kisses me. Slips his hands under my jacket, just above my hips. His hands burn me through my shirt. Actually, the jacket's Elliot's, so's the shirt. He leant me the suit for the cocktail party. Bet this is more action than it's seen in some time. Toby presses up against me sandwiching me between him and the counter. I can feel tension building. It's the wrong sort of tension, but maybe it'll go away if I just slide my hands around under his jacket shoulders, where his shirt is warm against his skin. Close my eyes. Feel his tongue brush across mine. Slide my hands down. Feel his nipples peaking, in time with mine. His lips gliding across my cheek to my left ear.
"I've missed you, Chris. I need you...Got to get you out of these clothes. Want to see you again. I've missed you so much..."
He's pulling away to take off my tie. Elliot's tie. I should take his off. I can't do it. I've taken off guys' ties before, years ago. But never Beech's. He never wore one in Oz, except when he was going to his son's funeral. I fumble with the knot. Should've left my glasses on. Can't see too well. Toby loosens his tie and pulls it out of his collar. Tosses it over mine (Elliot's) on the counter top. Undoes my second and third buttons. I'd undone the first at the party.
Stops to kiss me again. Stops.
"You're so tense, Chris."
Gotta relax fast.
"Want to try out the couch?" I say.
"Yeah, I guess you shouldn't take your cock out in the kitchen."
Never screwed this up before with anyone. But on the couch, it's worse. I can't breathe. Can't move. Never screwed this up before until now. Toby stops kissing me and sits back.
He rubs my shoulders. I don't even realize I'm crying until he strokes my cheek as if he's wiping something away.
"Hey, hey, it's alright..."
It's not. I feel as if I'm being crushed by rocks somewhere far away in the dark. He gets up. I try to speak his name, but no words come. Nothing recognizable anyway. He sits down again fast.
"Chris? Try to breathe normally, okay? I'm not going anywhere, okay? I'm right here. I've got you. Honey, don't... just breathe."
Shit. He's calling me "honey" for real now and somehow it's worse than at Oz this morning.
We sit for a long time, Toby leaning against the back of the couch, me with my head against his chest. He's holding me, talking to me. I can't make out what he's saying. Sooner or later we're going to have to get up and he's going to have to go. I bury my face in his shoulder. I want to howl, but I don't want to upset him more. I whimper.
"You okay?" he says at last. Sounds worried.
I can't raise my head to meet his eyes. I nod. He kisses my forehead gently. He's always gentle. I try to kiss him back, but my lips won't move properly. The first time we were together that New Year's Eve, he treated me like he thought I might break. Guess I finally have.
"Maybe we should go to bed," he says, adding quickly, "we can just sleep."
"Better call your mom. Tell her where you are," I tell him. Buy me time to pull myself together or get into bed and pretend to sleep before he comes into the room.
"I'm nearly forty..." he begins indignantly.
"She'll worry." I head off to the bedroom.
He follows me. Shit.
"Chris, she knows I'm with you and I've got a cell phone."
"What about your parole?"
I'm sure he's rolling his eyes behind my back.
"Well, okay then. I'll call Mother."
He stomps back to the kitchen counter. I can hear his cell phone's keypad beeping as he punches keys. He comes back to stand near the door, talking on the phone, checking me out as I undress. I turn my back on him. Don't want to see his face. His pity. His disgust.
"Angus? Yeah, I'm fine. Just at Chris's. I'm going to stay here tonight. I'm fine. Just tired. It's been a long day."
I hear him walking over to me. My anxiety spurts again. I pull my game face back. He strokes my back. I know he's watching me.
"Tell Mother, okay? Thanks, Gussie."
He disconnects. Puts the cell down on the bedside table. Sits on the bed in my line of vision. Picks up Elliot's shirt. Looks at it. Rubs the collar.
"When did you get this? It doesn't look new."
"It's Elliot's. So's the suit."
"Tie too?" His grin is impish.
"Does he know you borrowed them?"
He's teasing me. I play along. Neutral topic's safer.
"Yeah, he leant them to me. Didn't think I had anything appropriate for the cocktail party."
"Is he bigger than you?"
Why'd he think that?
"That shirt's quite baggy," he points to it.
"Yeah, he's a bit heavier. I'm taller though."
"Half an inch."
"You measured each other up?"
Sounds kind of dumb put like that.
"It was Elliot's idea."
"Chris, look at me."
"It's okay. We can take it slow. Wait till we're ready. It's been quite an emotional day for everyone. I'm pretty bushed myself. Come here." He pats the bed next to him.
I sit down next to him. I've been waiting for this day for years. And this is how it ends. This is one of the things I won't be telling Elizabeth. If she asks how it was, I'll tell her we fucked all night long. Actually, I'll just say it was fine.
Kind of popped out. He peers at me.
"You don't have anything to be sorry about, Chris, really, we've got all the time in the world now. Let things just take their course."
He caresses the back of my neck. Looks at my feet.
"Those Elliot's socks too?"
"Yeah. Match the shoes."
"Sort of. You wearing his jockeys too?"
I'm not wearing any jockeys. I unzip Elliot's trousers to show him. Notice I've started getting a hard-on. Wonder why I didn't feel it. Toby notices the hard-on too. His mouth twitches. He licks his lower lip. Oh yeah, I can feel it now.
"Want to try again?" he asks.
I wake up in my own bed in my own apartment and remember, "Toby's here - here with me". I reach over to him, but his side of the bed's empty and cold. He's long gone. Something empty and cold sits in my chest too as I get up and swing my legs over the edge of the bed. I chose the bed for him. What I thought he'd like. Maybe I should've waited.
I'm still sitting with my elbows on my knees, rubbing my hands through my hair when a slight shadow appears in the doorway. Toby. Toby dressed in my jeans and long-sleeved dark blue Tee, smiling down at me.
"Hey, thought you were going to sleep all day."
His smile gets a worried crease in it.
"You okay, Chris?"
I put a grin on that feels lopsided.
"Yeah, had a late night. `S all."
Seems to satisfy him, because he smiles back, that same open smile he wore when he snuck into the infirmary to see me after I'd been shot. If I let him see how much I need him, I'll scare him away.
"Wore you out, huh?" he smirks.
I let him smirk.
"You're fuckin' insatiable, Beech," I tell him.
"Nah, just got better stamina."
Our first real night together. We shared a pod on and off in Oz, but we never actually spent an entire night together in the same bed in all those years. Last night, as I held him, I didn't want to go to sleep. I wanted to spend the whole night watching him sleeping. I was afraid that if I dozed off he'd disappear. I managed to stay awake for hours and ended up dozing off as it grew light. I wanted to wake up with him, holding him and just watching him sleeping for a while. I used to do that in Oz sometimes, but never for long enough. I hadn't thought about what would happen next much beyond that.
Over breakfast ("Croissants? Didn't take you for a croissant kind of guy, Chris,"), Toby glances around my place. He hasn't seen it in daylight till now.
"You need some personal touches in your apartment, Chris. It hardly looks as if you live here."
I thought I'd wait until you got here. Didn't know what you'd like. I just grin at him. Show him a white smile. Say nothing. He thinks I'm being enigmatic. It's just `cos I don't have anything to say. How I started smirking in the first place as a kid. Kind of took off from there.
"Not really into decorating? Don't worry - nor am I. It's just... You should think of a couple of photos or a bit of color. This place is kinda..."
Like Oz? Hadn't thought of it that way. Lotsa gray. Maybe I should repaint...
"Didn't know how long I'd be staying," I lie through a mouthful of croissant.
"Ah...." He looks a bit worried.
"I didn't know if I'd like it here," I lie again. It's the best place I've ever lived in, even counting when I was married to Bonnie. Both times.
He looks ... relieved. Definitely relieved. He wants me around. I've been waiting for something to happen all morning. Our peace never lasts. And here it comes.
"Chris, we've got to talk about what happens next. It's not like it was before."
"I mean it's great and I'm glad we're together..."
"I'm really glad, Chris," he squeezes my thigh, "it's better than I could have hoped for."
"I just want it to work out and we're going to have to be careful, because there's no one around to keep control other than us."
Yeah, no fucking Kareem Said, no Sister Pete, no Timmy McManus. Should make it easier, I'd've thought. I keep this to myself. For now.
"I mean I've got to think about Holly and she's been through so much already and..." he's saying.
God, he's cute in the sun. I've never seen him in proper sunlight ever. It's making his eyelashes golden and he's crinkling up his eyes with the light. Those light little freckles are back on his cheekbones, that he had when he used to visit me in Oz after spending a day with his kids in the park. I just want to touch him and...
"So what do you think?"
"Yeah," I say.
He beams at me.
"Great. I'm glad you agree."
I've no idea what I've agreed to. At least it's made him happy. He kisses me - on the cheek - and stands up.
"I've got to go - got some things to do back home and I'd better give you a bit of space to work on that term paper you told me about yesterday. I'll get a cab. I'll see you later then."
What the fuck? Last night was our first fucking night together in over two years. Or three. Why the fuck's he going? Better let him go. It's what he wants. Don't want to make him stay. Or scare him off. Best just walk him to the door. Kiss him goodbye. He strokes my cheek.
"Later," he says.
"Yeah." I say. "Gotta get on with that paper."
I turn away because I suddenly can't breathe properly. The door closes behind me. And I just stand, staring at the floor, my heart in my boots. Can't move a muscle.
He's still here. He puts his hands on my shoulders.
"What's wrong? You've been acting funny since you got up...you're so tense...hey, look at me..."
He turns me around to face him, his hands warm on my upper arms and stares into my eyes. I don't want to look at him. I mean, I do, but I don't want him to look at me. He's trying to keep it light, a little smile quirking his mouth, but there's a worried crease forming between his eyebrows.
"Hey," he says gently, "c'mere."
He holds me tight. He still feels sorry for me - I can see it in his eyes - but at least he's not calling me "honey" like last night. I don't want him to see how weak I am. He probably does after last night though. I just want him to stay. Don't let me go, Toby - don't leave me again...
"Shh, I'm not going anywhere, Chris, I'm right here..."
Christ, did I say that out loud? Shit, I hope he's not going to start calling me "honey" again. At least he's here ... for now. He's going to stay - he's changed his mind. Oh the park - he wants to go to the park. With me. Right now. Oh shit. I can't tell him I'm scared of open spaces. Maybe I should tell him that I've developed a fear of public places after Oz. It's kinda true in a sense. But not for the reasons you'd think. He'll think I'm a complete asshole. Then he'll leave me for sure.
What's it with him and the great fucking outdoors anyway? Wait a minute...Fuck? Yeah, that should distract him. He was a real good boy those last nine months in Oz and Lardner. O'Reily told me. He must be permanently in the mood now. One thing I'll say for him, when he wasn't fucking with me, he was pretty much always ready for it.
Shit, he's an obsessive motherfucker. Who gives a flying fuck if it's a nice day? There'll be lots of nice goddamned days. What'd he expect? Why can't we just stay here, watch TV or something? There's that shopping channel and an exercise program that's almost as good as Sally-cise.
But agoraphobia ain't the reason I don't want to be outdoors. And I'm scared for Toby and Holly too. If they're seen with me. If certain people realize what they mean to me. Something happens to Holly and Toby'll leave me for sure. Never been much of a one for kids, but Holly's special. Reminds me of her daddy.
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