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This was my attempt to rework the "Chris sets up Toby to break parole" storyline in the final season.


by levitatethis

Make me good, God, but not yet.

Chris was not the forgivable type.

Love `em and leave `em (wanting more) was the creed he subscribed to. It was the mortar in his protective walls, the insulation that braved the elements, serving him exceptionally well. Throughout his short life (stretching out unfathomably long ahead of him within the stagnant existence of Oz) he practiced what had been ingrained since childhood. Looking out for number one meant everyone else fell away.

It worked because it did not require him to have a conscience. He did what he wanted, what he had to, with no apologies. Well, with as few as he could muster. On occasion he felt bad for the hurt he caused--Bonnie and Sister Pete quite notably--but he was fully aware that that self-reflection was more a comment on himself going after those who had never set out to take anything from him. It wasn't a conscience that gave him pause, but the acknowledgement of an uneven playing field. They were too good and he was too bad.

Being unforgivable did not mean he didn't want forgiveness. Only once had that ugliness reared its head, but it was enough to bind his hands and tether him to an irrefutable truth he had never given a waking thought to before--

He wanted to be understood and absolved of all the wrongs that clanked out a sorrowful tune in chains around his limbs. He needed to be excused his trespasses, believed in for his intent; loved unconditionally for his passion; beyond reason or any applied wayward logic. It was everything to ask and Chris, as he lived and breathed, demanded that answer.

It was housed in one person. The same person who had unexpectedly proven to be his most challenging match was the very one who had burrowed into Chris' soul and uncovered the remnants of an actual, honest to goodness, feeling heart.

Toby induced a need in him, which in itself was unforgivable (but that was neither here nor there). The desire Chris felt for him was all consuming, body and soul, and as much as he wanted to do right by Toby, possessing him proved to be as intoxicating a drug.

Toby was the mistake that haunted for all eternity. With him, Chris had made his biggest blunder, the one he could not control or rein in, the one he could not take back.

Chris fell in love.

As was always the case with a life that played hard and fast with the rules: destruction begat creation begat destruction.

There was beauty in the breakdown.

********** ********** ********** ********** **********

Loving Chris came at a steep price.

It was a lesson Toby learned repeatedly, committing the rules to memory. His own survival depended on being able to play the game and with Chris it all teetered precariously on the razor's edge of `all or nothing,' a fact Toby could not afford to swallow for the risk it posed to himself and all the others he loved.

Holly. Harry. Gary--oh God.

With Chris it was anything but easy. Life could be reduced to the most basic of human desires that, ironically, made it all the more complicated to negotiate and maneuver. Toby's mind was split--when he wasn't wanting to give in to the delicious rapture of Chris' relentless want, he was trying to distance himself from it just enough to still feel like he was his own person, not one half of an underworld creation.

In a sordid way Chris may have considered it a betrayal, a lack of trust. But it was that fissure that saved Toby and kept Oz from claiming another chapter of his life. Chris had asked him (so genuinely) to smuggle drugs (illegally from Canada) for Bonnie who was dying. Toby had felt the pull (on his heart) to do it for Chris, to prove that even though they were apart Toby had not left him behind.

But the mind knows.

They were both fools in love.

But not blind.

Toby didn't make the drop. He called Bonnie instead. In one minute Chris' lie was exposed and Toby was left stumbling wildly while Bonnie offered a comforting shoulder and played devil's advocate, trying to spin Chris' ruse in context. It fell on deaf ears. For everything Toby had done for Chris--getting him off of death row--the token of appreciation from Chris was to symbolically end Toby's life on the outside. Yet again Chris had selfishly tried to take over Toby completely, ripping him away from the family he had worked so desperately to be part of again.

It was unconscionable.

With clear eyes Toby saw the deadly truth and the future that would have been. Everything that Chris did was for himself, and so it was only right that Toby returned the sentiment. For his own good, and to punish Chris the only way Toby knew how, he severed all ties with him. Visits to Oz were halted, phone calls were not accepted, and letters were returned unopened.

I rescind my invitation.

If only it were that simple.

********** ********** ********** ********** **********

Rejection was not something Chris took particularly well.

However, where he normally struck back hard and swift before walking away, now he found himself in an endless cycle. Why or how Toby had such power over him he could not say, but Toby's outright denial of him--cruelly severing ties--flipped a switch.

Chris lashed out viciously, over and over again. He didn't let questioning or taunting stares go unnoticed, anyone daring to infiltrate his personal space (even accidentally) was on the receiving end of punishing fists. All he needed was an excuse. The hole, then solitary became a home away from home. He familiarized himself with monotonous monochromatic gray walls and floors and the dank musty smell of once upon a time and forever.

Chris considered that when Toby was in Oz and they weren't on speaking terms, he could still gauge the retractable distance between them, tugging at it--toying with it--until they settled back into whatever state their relationship had progressed to. But being alone...

He had no way to check himself so he retaliated, unflinching and brutal, until he was too exhausted to simply be anymore.

The bottom of the bottomless pit.

Then it was Sister Pete to the rescue, trying to shovel away all the crap he had willingly buried himself under. He was indifferent at first, then resistant, and eventually resigned. She forced him to see why Toby had finally walked away.

Chris hated her. He despised Toby. He was disappointed in himself.

He had allowed another to stake a claim on his heart and mind and as much as he had advocated conditions on it (while simultaneously demanding it be unconditional), the truth was he loved Toby through thick and thin, for better or for worst. Chris' love was infinite--and thereby all the more radioactive.

Sister Pete worked with him tirelessly to forgive Toby for choosing a chance at a real life on the outside. And she pestered him to forgive himself for loving Toby so much he risked destroying it. It was a (too) tall order and Chris couldn't do it. But he could pretend.

Sometime the accepted con was the most merciful.

********** ********** ********** ********** **********

Like any addict worth his salt, Toby transferred the obsession. It certainly wasn't the healthiest attitude to take but he convinced himself that at least it was positive.

Aiding prisoners for more fair--and ultimately reduced--sentences became the calling he truly felt that the universe groomed him for. It was a `hindsight is 20/20' revelation. Finally he had the expertise and the tools to do something truly profound.

While working with convicts at different prisons, Toby exposed the judicial cracks that ultimately degraded what should be a beautifully rendered system. There was no naivety on his part that the men and women he helped were innocent, but he held firm to the belief that everyone was entitled to a fair trial. In his drive to `right egregious wrongs' he allowed the cause to consume him.

Angus unwittingly helped by continuing to act as a legal guardian to Holly and Harry alongside Genevieve's parents. The idea of very slowly reintroducing the children into a regular life with Toby went into a holding pattern with the kids happy and flourishing where they were and Toby thriving as he got back on his own two feet alone. The communal effort to raise the children then became the primary effort by which to keep them all in good spirits.

Long hours led days into nights and back into days. Toby ran on adrenalin and good will, as well a the constant nag at the back of his mind to atone for all the wrongs he committed, whether he had been caught at the time or slipped by unnoticed. He could never be completely absolved but he could try.

Chris was an ever-present fact but the invisible stronghold he had on Toby loosened over time. Love and hate were painfully intertwined, bound and gagged, and knowing he couldn't outrun it didn't mean he couldn't lock it away from the glare of scrutinizing sunlight.

Bonnie left him a few messages (less frequently as time went on) detailing Chris' plea for forgiveness but Toby was clear in his refusal to be fucked over once again, and by the one person he really did love through hell and high water.

It was easier to deal with Chris as a memory. Toby could rip into him, then edit and try again. He played antagonistic and seductive, dangling forgiveness in front of his ex-lover only to snatch it away. He imagined punching Chris in the face and shanking him (again) in the back--letting Chris fuck him up against he wall--throwing his sorry ass back on death row--lying back while Chris licked up his hardened length and took him into his mouth--tossing him over the railing in Em City--caressing Chris' face as they drew out a long kiss--sending him straight to hell for all eternity--whispering `I love you' against each others skin.

Toby hated Chris, but it was difficult to convince his body and mind to fall in line.

********** ********** ********** ********** **********

One day and suddenly three years had passed since they last saw each other in the same visitor's room, since they had last spoken words of endearment garbled up by ones of repulsion, the betrayal complete, the devastation suffocating.

The room smelled the same, its banal walls sterilized to anything resembling feeling, but the positions were different. Toby knew it would only be a matter of time before a case brought him back to Oz and he had been tempted to pass it over to a colleague to handle. The overwhelming panic (love) and anger of accidentally seeing Chris while he should be paying attention to his client--Marcus Schleitzer--almost proved too much to bear.

For the first time in years Toby contemplated a stiff drink the night before he made the trek to a world he tried to leave behind but was engraved into every cell of his being. Instead he went to an AA meeting and slipped into bed early. He spent the night staring at the ceiling while willing strength of mind to grace him.

It wasn't that he seriously thought he would see Chris again, but that he may be tempted to seek him out, even from a distance, and for what? To yell obscenities? To declare feelings that refused to go the fuck away?

The old ghosts of sentences past whispered incantations in his ears but five minutes into his meeting with Marcus and he was in full lawyer mode. And so he would have remained if not for the shuffling arrival of a latecomer behind him muttering apologies to the hack and pulling up a seat at the table in the far corner. Toby risked a quick glance to the left to take in a sweet looking, heavyset woman straightening her top and anxiously glancing at the door. It wasn't until he was focused back on Marcus and heard the woman's laugh (presumably greeting the prisoner she had come to visit) that Toby's body flushed hot and cold with recognition.


Deliberately Toby rigidly angled his left shoulder down as a barricade between himself and their table. He heard nothing that was coming out of Marcus' mouth, not while his entire being was suddenly tuned into Chris walking behind him over to Bonnie. He wanted to look, but--

Pillar of salt.

********** ********** ********** ********** **********

Chris grinned at Bonnie as he moved towards her, thrilled to see a friendly and undemanding face in a place that traded on ill will and malcontent. Trying to find some peace of mind again, he looked forward to the monthly visits from his various ex-wives. No matter what bullshit went down in his relationships with them there was a bond that could not be ignored. It would not longer amount to anything more, but for what it was it sufficed adequately enough.

For the most part he had been keeping himself clean. He fucked when he felt like it, but mostly he enjoyed hanging out with O'Reily and playing mind games with the other assholes. A blowjob here, fucking some guy up the ass there--it was random and pleasurable and void of any feeling beyond uncensored lust.

Of course, living that way didn't mean he stopped hoping that one day Toby would be the one waiting for him in the visitor's room. One of his favourite times on visiting day was the walk to the room before he knew for certain who it was. He admitted to no one but himself that he was happy to have that, to still want that.

He watched Bonnie stand up, but even though his eyes were on her his attention was unexpectedly drawn to another table. As he hugged Bonnie, Chris narrowed his eyes questioningly at Marcus' visitor.

Jesus Christ.

********** ********** ********** ********** **********

They did a piss-poor job of ignoring one another. Neither could keep track of the conversations they were supposed to be having, rather their bodies and minds were too charged with the presence of the unforgettable.

From what Toby could (awkwardly) ascertain, Chris was his usual overly cocky self, doing what he did best--charming the unsuspecting (and even willing) into submission. A rush of conflicted feelings flooded through Toby and the anger that had been rooted in him for so long, that had become its own animal, suddenly felt misplaced. It cracked under the weight of unbridled love, hurt and punished but still lit nonetheless.

Chris' self-assured smile was as much for Toby's benefit as his own. Toby looked so together, professional, handsome, and so goddamn fuckable that Chris fought the urge to walk over and bend him across the table, taking them both to the most familiar of places. Though not wanting to appear weak (insistent that he needed to maintain an air of indifference towards the man who had ably reduced him to a volcanic and broken mess), being so close to Toby again--finally--gripped Chris in a chokehold that hissed of his love, desperate and hopeful, sorry and uncensored.

Their voices drifted across the uncharted territory between them, filling both men with yearning and contempt. Years apart should have done the job of making them strangers. Instead they were more intricately entwined than ever.

Toby was still mad for the attempted betrayal, but he had never stopped longing for Chris and in the end he knew it was himself he was trying to deny, not Chris. Chris' desire for him was arousing, but it came with poisonous thorns. Falling blindly into it was no one's fault but Toby's. It was Chris' nature.

Chris was still bitter at being dismissively left behind like a piece of trash not to be missed, expendable and replaceable, especially when his (misguided) actions were being given more leverage than his reasons. Yet Toby inspired that (small) human part of him to be better, to be a person worthy of loving and being loved. Only for Toby would he flagellate himself for perceived wrongs.

It had all gone to hell but now--

God works in mysterious ways.

The end of visiting hours brought everyone to their feet.

"Hey Keller, who's the hot stash?" Marcus joked with a laugh.

Toby groaned quietly and instinctively looked over to see Bonnie roll her eyes at the ridiculing comment and Chris fixed Marcus with a `you're dead' stare.

"Shut the fuck up you piece of shit," Chris toned sternly and then, for the briefest of seconds, he met Toby's gaze.

Words that should be said hung stagnant in the air. Touches meant to be completed, instead remained restrained and unrealized. There was no forgiving and forgetting, but maybe something more them.

The clamor for the door brought Chris into Toby's space--close enough to kiss or kill. Toby's heart ratcheted up its pace and Chris leaned into him in an action that walked the line between casual and deliberate--unflinching--and spoke soft words against Toby's ear. "Come back to me."

The words were just for Toby and, as usual, loaded in too many meanings to give a definitive answer. They said: Come visit me again--be with me again--sacrifice yourself to be back in my world--let's try again with you out there and me inside and let me show you that I've changed--

The ball was in Toby's court; Chris' heart was in his hands to do with it as he pleased. He could pound it to pieces or slice it in half by telling him to fuck off and never looking back. He could hold it close to his chest, gently but reverently, and smile acceptance with soft eyes. The question was, did he want--need--desire--believe that Chris was part of his life? Was he willing to accept and deal with the good and bad that came as one, just to have a taste of rocky bliss?

As Marcus pushed Toby's back lightly to force his steps forward to the door, Toby turned his face to Chris and whispered against his cheek the one and only answer that came to mind with no fight or second guessing before he faced forward and walked away. "Yes."

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