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by Anne

Title: Denied

Author : Anne

Notes: A response to Star's fic challenge -- a letter from Toby to Chris. He writes this letter and mails it before the explosion at the end of the season finale.

March 5, 2001

Dear Chris,

Don't know if you heard but I was denied parole. I shouldn't have been surprised but somehow I was. Katherine, my lawyer, had seemed so certain that the board would rule in my favor. She was wrong. The one time in my life I should have listened to my self-doubt, I didn't. I let myself get carried away in her optimism and now....well, now I have to deal with at least another year in Oz.

The worst part was not hearing the word ``no,'' from the parole board via Katherine. It was having to walk back through Emerald City, feeling everyone's eyes on me, knowing I wasn't going anywhere. I knew some of them were hopeful for me, while others were quite gleeful when they discovered the news. Schillinger wastes no opportunity to mock me every time he sees me. At lunch, in the gym. I know that the next few weeks are going to be hell if I have to deal with his smirking face every day. But I'll cope. I always do.

My Dad is bringing Harry to see me this week. It will be the first time since I've been at Oz. I'm kind of scared. I know he's not going to know me. I'm a stranger to him. He wasn't even a year old when I got here. Now he's almost five. Luckily, my Dad has sent photos of him or I wouldn't even know what he looks like. I wish you were here to give me a pep talk like you did that first time I visited with the Holly and Gary.

Well, that's not the only reason I wish you were here but it's one of them.

I miss you, Chris, and I wish you would write back to me. Even once would be enough to hold me until I get out of here. I keep remembering that phone call in January and how you told me to forget you. I don't know how you could ask me do that. Hell, I don't know how you could expect me to forget you. Even with all the hurt we've caused each other, I've never loved anyone as deeply or as intensely as you. I don't know if we're meant to be together or if we should even try, but for me, there is no other choice.

I know you told me not to, but if I ever do get parole, I am coming to Massachusetts. I will come to Cedar Junction every visiting day whether you agree to see me or not. I'll move Holly and Harry to Massachusetts and I will come every week even if it takes years.

I know what you're thinking right now. I'm stubborn. I'm selfish. I'm a pain in the ass. Yup, all true. Guilty as charged. I don't care. I'm coming anyway. You probably think it would be too painful for us to see each other every week and then have to say good-bye all over again. But how could seeing me every week, even with the good-bye part, ever be as painful as never seeing each other again? I just don't buy it. To me, there is nothing worse than the thought of never seeing you again. So I hope you will eventually relent and let me see you, cause I think it will be worth whatever pain comes with it.

I have a confession to make that may be disturbing to hear. I want you to know I am not making it just to clear my conscience but to prove a point. When Katherine first came to help me prepare for the parole hearing, she was very interested in me and in who I was. She never judged me. We talked a lot about our common interests and, of course, she is a very attractive woman. She began flirting with me and I responded to her.

I started thinking that maybe I could have a normal life with Katherine. We could raise our kids together and be happy. Hell, I even had a dream about her the night before my parole hearing. And I let her kiss me before I went into the hearing.

But I know now that I'm not in love with Katherine. I never was. I was in love with an idea of a happy, normal life. Ironically, the same kind of life that led me to drinking and, eventually Oz, in the first place. I'm not meant to lead a ``normal'' life, whatever that means. I know I have to be true to me, to my feelings. My heart belongs with you, Chris, and it always will. I know you feel the same way after what you did for me. I just hope you won't deny those feelings again.



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