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Other characters include: Murphy, Rebadow, Busmalis, mentions of O'Reily and Said. This was written for the one and only comasisters at oz-magi (2009). The prompt was, "Chris is driving Sister Pete and Toby crazy, angst."


by levitatethis

"I want your loving And I want your revenge, You and me could write a bad romance. I want your loving, All your lover's revenge, You and me could write a bad romance. Caught in a bad romance." -Lady Gaga, Bad Romance


Toby hears the faint hint of an apology in his hitched tone even though he doesn't feel the need to ask for one. Chris had known better, all the while pushing for more, and now, the following morning, he is acting as if Toby is the one who has committed the egregious wrong.

Toby sighs at the strained act of avoided eye contact that greets the uncertain request. He is left watching Chris push past him to get to the sink, where the stubborn man splashes a handful of water on his face (wetting the collar of his white t-shirt) and stares at his damp reflection in the mirror, gazing at himself as if considering whether or not to shave. Toby steps up behind him, placing his hand on Chris' shoulder. Immediately Chris tenses then turns and walks to the front of the pod without a backwards glance.

"Chris," he says again, this time more forcefully, but the sound of the pod doors unlocking interrupts any attempt at a, much needed, heart-to-heart.

Toby follows Chris into the lineup for morning count and wonders how the hell they keep ricocheting between such unbelievable extremes. When it's good it's like the most intricate pieces of a puzzle have been fit into place, revealing a striking picture that Toby never thought possible. It's a love that, quite honestly, scares him at times. And when things are bad, that frightening reality is all the more pronounced, not the least of which is an emotional distance that leaves Toby feeling off kilter and free falling.

Today...today Toby has no idea where they stand with each other. One minute everything was business as usual, then it was too much, and now...now it's nothing.

Out of the corner of his eye he sees Chris staring straight ahead. Toby pays little attention to the inmate identification numbers being called out for attendance (as much as it is to ensure no one has been shanked in their sleep) but once Murphy has gone by them, Toby shifts slightly to the left and presses his shoulder lightly against Chris. In return, Chris steps away from him.

Toby drops his gaze to the floor, then up to Chris, as everyone heads back to their pods or begins milling about for another delightful day in Em City. Toby follows Chris into their pod and watches him go through the motions of making sure the blanket on the bottom bunk is straight.

"So, what? You're not speaking to me now?" Toby is incredulous, at a loss for what to do next.

Bent over the bottom bunk, Chris looks up at him with a blank expression. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Toby moves forward, pausing only when Chris stands up and wordlessly stops him with a defiant stance and unblinking eyes.

"Really? Because that's the first thing you've said to me since, 'Go to bed, Beecher,' last night." Toby scoffs, aware that there is something tumultuous brewing beneath Chris' uncaring faade.

Pursing his lips, Chris shrugs in a nonchalant manner. "Guess I don't have anything to say."

"That's never stopped you before." Toby holds the challenging gaze Chris has fixed on him. Lowering his voice (out of habit when bidding for privacy in this place), Toby takes a tentative step forward and asks, "Is this because of yesterday afternoon?"

Chris doesn't reply but his clenched jaw answers the question.

"Christ," Toby laughs with frustration. "You are pissed because of yesterday. It was the middle of the day! Everyone could see us."

Chris narrows his eyes, muttering in a low voice, "Yeah, that's it."

The loaded sarcasm isn't lost on Toby and has him immediately reconsidering what they are fighting about. He is fairly certain it goes back to the impromptu (and quickly aborted) hand job Chris tried to give him, cornered against the back wall of their pod while all of Em City was a glow in bright lights and all-seeing eyes; until Toby was able to snap out of the pleasurable reverie and push him away.

Running a hand through his hair, Toby looks over his shoulder into the quad, then back at Chris. "You know how I feel about...public...it's just--,"

"Don't worry about it," Chris says coolly and, walking away, leaves Toby alone in the pod.

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

"Something on your mind, Tobias?" asks Sister Pete, perched behind her desk.

Toby stares at the computer screen, wanting to channel all his focus into work, but it is impossible with Chris' punishing treatment and general attitude weighing heavy on his mind. Dropping his shoulders, Toby pushes back the chair and turns to face her.


"Why am I not surprised?" she says with a tired sigh, but the small smile she gives is full of understanding, imploring him to continue.

Toby rests his hands in his lap, staring down at them for a minute. "He's mad...annoyed with me."

"What makes you think that?" Sister Pete leans forward, bracing her elbows on the table.

Toby takes a deep breath and glances over at the open office door. "You mind?" he asks her and, with her nodded okay, closes it and sits back down. "He's being very distant with me, and not just physically but..."

He thinks over his words, a task made more difficult under Sister Pete's inquiring and judging eyes. "He won't talk to me about what's bothering him."

He slides the chair up to the side of her desk. "Chris doesn't have a lot of trouble expressing himself. He uses his body and his words to get what he wants, all the time, in different ways." Toby searches her eyes for understanding.

"I'm well acquainted with Chris Keller's...masterful eloquence," she muses.

"Yeah." Toby nods then shakes his head. "It's thrilling and scary all at once, and sometimes you don't realize what he's up to, saying, until it's over and done with."

Sister Pete furrows her brow. "I'm afraid you're going to have to use Layman's terms with me. I'm not sure what you're saying."

Toby leans back in his seat and looks around her office, unsure of the words he is normally so good at using. He settles his gaze on her and hunches forward, playing with the straight lines of the papers on her desk, feeling out the sharp edges against his fingertips.

"Being raped by Schillinger, being forced to humiliate myself in front of everyone, trusting the wrong people--or the right ones at the wrong time--has made me very...protective of myself."

"And the way people see you."

"...yes. And I've done a pretty good job of it up to now. But then Chris comes along..."

"And the two of you are in a relationship."

Toby regards her closely. She is clarifying the difference between his relationship with Chris at the beginning, when it was predicated on lies and destruction, versus now, when willingness and a desire to share in the truest of feelings, has tossed everything on its head.

He nods and offers her a tightlipped smile. "He's a force of nature. Sometimes it's like he's never learned to censor himself. It's easy for him; no one is going to screw with him. But me--,"

"You think others will follow his lead, think they can force you?"

"No, that's not it. I wouldn't let that happen, and Chris..." Toby sits up straight. "Chris can be pretty damn clear about what lines are not to be crossed."

He laughs abruptly and stretches his upper body, relaxing. "That's part of the problem. People can tell where his lines are drawn, but I've gotten use to having to restate my own, time and time again. I love him. I do. And when it's just the two of us at night, I want to feel and show him exactly how much. But during the day? When everyone is around and he wants to--,"

"Details aren't necessary." Sister Pete sits back. "I can fill in the blanks."

Murmuring contemplatively, she adds, "As you know, Chris' upbringing was very different from yours. He's good at telling people what they want to hear or what he believes will guide them in a specific direction, one that's beneficial to him."

She folds her arms across her chest and rolls her head back, biting her bottom lip thoughtfully. "When it comes to showing genuine affection, however, he tends to rely on the one thing he thinks won't fail him: physical action. He's hurt people for you."

"I never asked him to."

"You didn't have to. It's how he saw fit to prove his love to you. And as I recall, you accepted those gestures in your own way. Now you've rejected him--again."

Toby groans at the confirmation of what he already knows. "So what do I do? He's barely talking to me as it is. My intention wasn't to say no to everything, out right, I just...don't always like being so public with it."

He raises his hands then grips the armrests. "He can run so hot and cold, and I don't know how to deal with it."

"Have you thought about making him deal with you?" Sister Pete posits with a coy smile.

"What do you mean?" Toby frowns, his interest piqued.

"You're reacting to Chris, giving him the upper hand. There's something to be said for playing hard to get."

"You mean ignore him?"

"I mean," she stands up, resting her palms against he table, "Go about your regular day but without trying to engage him. You have other people you can talk to. Show him that you can't be controlled; that if he wants to be with you he has to see you as you truly are and accept that, work with it."

"You really think that will work?"

Sister Pete smiles. "I was married once, remember?"

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

"Are you and Chris not getting along?" A concerned Rebadow leans towards Toby, neither of them paying much attention to the card game at hand.

"What?" Toby is caught off guard at the question.

"You can cut the tension with a knife," Busmalis pipes up from across the table.

It is a scarily astute comment and Toby lowers his cards, face down. He looks up to the second floor landing to see Chris and O'Reily gazing down at the quad. To be fair, 'gaze' only applies to O'Reily. Chris is glowering, intermittently directing his heated stare at Toby. The current stalemate they are in is a consequence Toby should have seen coming ever since taking Sister Pete's advice to play hard to get.

It worked at first.

Going out of his way to hang out with the select few he regarded as friends (at least within Oz), Toby managed two things at once: becoming reacquainted with the people who had witnessed his fall and rise, his sludge through shit to salvation, and had supported the journey (even if they remained relatively quiet on the sidelines); and keeping Chris finely attuned to him going about his daily life.

Staring, across the quad or down the table from each other in the cafeteria, took on a demanding declaration. Touches involved deliberate invasions of space, with Chris pushing by him on his way to the library or Toby choosing the washing machine next to his but not speaking (besides an offhand comment regarding the detergent), which enticed and annoyed especially when a proper conversation followed if Said or O'Reily showed up. Yet, with neither willing to truly breach the no mans land in between, unrealized desire manifested into a state far darker than it should have.

Toby sought out Said for guidance, the calm in the middle of a riddling storm, but where he found comfort with his friend; Chris grew colder and pulled back more. He and O'Reily became thick as thieves, a fact that wouldn't have bothered Toby if not for the jealousy that flashed green in his eyes. It didn't matter that O'Reily and Chris' conversations related to the happenings of the prison and nothing else, just the fact that they were talking at all while stony silence bred contempt with Chris and Toby was enough to rankle Toby's pride. It made him all the more adamant about not giving in, which in turn made Chris more withdrawn.

At least during the day there were other distractions while trying to ignore each other. Back in the pod for hours before lights out was a test of will power. Yes, Toby missed the sex, but it was more than that. There was an intimacy Chris shared with him that made Toby feel safe and wanted, with no questions asked. He couldn't articulate the depth of what Chris made him feel, except to say it infused his bones, burned his blood and freed his mind. Given the rather chaste affection Toby knew on the outside, it was a wonderment to be so openly--blatantly--wanted and loved. And by Chris, of all people, who carried himself like sex on two legs.

Before this mess, any time Toby questioned the authenticity of Chris' feelings, Chris took it upon himself to show Toby how wanted he could be. He would press up against Toby, daring anyone to say something out of line or get between them. He laughed with Toby, leaned in close or sat back, while never drifting his eyes elsewhere. And at night he worked his way up Toby's body--naked and revered--marking him with light bites, sucking skin until it was broken purple; exciting each pleasure point to the brink, again and again, until they crashed over the edge together.

Losing that, part of Toby wanted to get it all out in the open, but he could foresee the fight that would explode, ensuring one of them a trip to the hole. Having Chris treat him like a nobody, played on Toby's already shaky confidence. With anyone else he was unwavering, but the increasing disconnect with Chris made Toby second guess a slew of decisions, including ones that had nothing to do with his current predicament.

Toby felt unsure and angry.

He was unsure why this mess of misunderstanding was consuming them and angry with Chris for refusing to grasp why Toby hadn't wanted the whole world to see their personal business in the first place. He was unsure about taking the risk and putting all the cards on the table, making his feelings clear until Chris had no option but to hear him, and angry at Chris for making it seem like Toby's reaction to an unsolicited sexual dalliance was the reason for the subsequent fallout.

On the one hand, it suggested callous indifference to Toby's past that he was sure Chris would never be so cavalier about. On the other hand, who knew what the hell made Chris tick on the odd occasion. He wouldn't talk to Toby but anyone else who did drew a stern glance. Twice Chris was called to meet with Sister Pete, but his behaviour when he returned to Em City showed no signs of what they spoke about, leaving Toby perplexed. In turn, when he went to work she would vaguely dance around the question of how things were with Chris, and his reply of, "Same as always," left her scrunching her nose contemplatively.

The deeper the rift, the more overcome Toby was by the need to understand Chris while not compromising himself in the process. It made for more confusing behaviour on both their parts, resulting in increasingly strained relations. The eyes of Em City--and Oz for that matter--watched in curiosity from a safe distance, and though Toby hated the scrutiny it also gave him disturbed hope.

After all, if others could see the breakdown then it meant that Toby wasn't suffering delusions. It also made him more susceptible to the reckless whims of others. Under normal circumstances those would raise Toby's defensive walls, but the slip of possibility through cracks in the mask superceded that. A fight near Toby (but not, thankfully, involving him) almost landed him a visit to Dr. Nathan, but he acquitted himself well enough to avoid harm. At the same time, it did not escape his notice that Chris swiftly approached the altercation, ready to jump in, but the second Toby was clear, he backed off and walked away with a careless stroll.

So Chris did still care.

Which only served to irritate Toby further. If Chris' feelings were the same, then why the act of insolence? Why the arm's length barricade that only served to let the worst thoughts run wild and ferment? Why was Chris refusing to deal with them? There was a level of numbing mindfuckery Toby could do without. In this place happiness was fleeting, so why contribute to its disappearance?

The more Chris didn't want him, the more Toby clung to what was, even if now it only existed as images against the black backdrop of his mind and remembered touches ghosting his skin. If his mind was consumed with thoughts of Chris, his body craved him. Toby found he wouldn't be opposed to Chris pushing him along to the laundry room and fucking him hard in the small dark corner in back.

A part of Toby would welcome Chris grabbing him in the middle of the quad and kissing him demandingly and unapologetically in front of everyone, with no regard for the hacks, catcalls or insults from the other inmates. Toby desperately missed the sensation of Chris inside him; hard at first then stilled, forcing them to simultaneously feel the shared space where one came to an end and the other began.

The other part of Toby wanted to punch Chris in the face, breaking his nose and cracking his arms in half, spilling his blood, just to know he could do it. He wanted to slip into "crazy" mode again and spout riddles while slamming his food tray against Chris' face or ramming his head into Chris' chest and clawing bloody bruises into his body; to know he could knock Chris down to his level, to know that Chris couldn't ignore him if he tried.

Toby wanted Chris to feel the unyielding want--love--that pulsed between them, playing Jekyll and Hyde with their lives. He needed Chris to hit him back, with anger and unrestrained love behind furious blue eyes, leveling Toby decisively; proving Chris cared beyond a reasonable doubt.

Or Chris could do everyone a favour and go to hell. Another part of Toby wanted to brand Chris a cocksucker and wash his hands of the entire thing, dropping Chris like a bad habit, all in a bid to save the last tattered pieces of sanity.

To be free of Chris...


Either way, the whole thing is giving him a headache. Everything is a goddamn nightmare now.

Toby meets Chris' dispassionate gaze and glares back. Throwing his cards on the table he says, "Everything is fantastic."

He ignores Rebadow's worried eyes as he stands up and retreats to his pod.

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

"Hello Chris. Please take a seat."

Startled, Toby turns away from the computer to see Chris standing in Sister Pete's doorway with Officer Murphy peering into the office from behind. Chris flicks his eyes to Toby and squares his shoulders before sitting down and staring straight ahead with an unreadable expression on his face.

Sister Pete, a mix of undeterred professionalism and anxiety, glances at Toby before speaking to Murphy. "You can close the door behind you."

Murphy looks at all three of them, drifting his discerning gaze from one person to the next, as if deciding whether to take Chris right back to Em City or not. Toby knows Murphy has seen the deterioration with him and Chris over the last few days and is readying for a more severe turn of events.

Meeting Toby's confused eyes, Murphy says, "If it's all the same, Sister, I'd prefer to keep the door open."

"This is a private session."

Murphy raises an eyebrow at her insistent stance then stares at the back of Chris' head before stating matter-of-factly, "I'll be right outside," and shutting the door behind him.

Taking a deep breath, Sister Pete says to Toby, "Please join us."

Tentatively Toby turns his chair around and pulls up next to Chris, all too aware that Chris, as expected, is purposely looking elsewhere.

"I wanted to talk with you both about what's going on--or not going on between you two."

Toby awkwardly swallows. His throat is dry and he flits his eyes to the side, but Chris remains still, with his hands firmly wrapped around the ends of the chair's armrests. Sister Pete looks expectantly between them; only silence greets her patience.

Finally she rests her attention to the left of Toby. "Chris?"


"Can we talk about what's bothering you?"

"Nothing's bothering me, Sister."

Toby snorts and draws her chastising look.

"Let him speak, Tobias."

"Why? So he can lie and twist his words so you don't know what's real anymore?" Toby sits up straight and turns to look at Chris who refuses to budge.

"Is that what you think he'll try to do?" Sister Pete asks.

Toby stares at Chris, then faces forward again. "He's the expert."

Sister Pete rests her elbows on the desk. "Then why don't you tell the story in your own words?"

Toby considers taking the opportunity to make Chris hear the detailed confession of what has run his mind in circles and aches his body with withdrawal, yearning. Toby could offload the suffocating weight begat of unending uncertainty coupled with a want so intense it cripples and frees him from the chains of expectations.

Pride is a jagged pill, however. It slices as it goes down, leaving a trail of blood. It takes prisoners.

"He's punishing me," Toby states firmly, clipping the words. "For not being like him."

"I'm respecting his wishes," Chris suddenly speaks up.

Toby turns to him, eyes wide in disbelief. "Bullshit. You're mad at me for not letting you do whatever you want, screw how I feel about it."

"How are you respecting his wishes?" Sister Pete interrupts. "By ignoring him with no explanation?"

"He's the smart one. Beecher said don't touch." Chris raises his hands in a mocking gesture of surrender. "So I listened. I can't help it if he can't make up his mind."

Toby cringes inwardly at Chris' use of his surname. It's a distancing gesture and symbolic of the invisible wall growing higher between them. But Toby refuses to let it distract him from the fact Chris is trying to steer the direction of the session in a manner that makes Chris the good guy. Toby knows this game--too well--and though it proves a challenge each time, he will not back down.

"Why is it all or nothing with you?" Toby exclaims, scooting to the edge of the chair and channeling his frustrations at the person at its center. "I know you don't care what others see or think, but I don't like being put on display."

"I think what Toby is trying to say is that given his history in Oz, certain gestures or acts of affection can conjure up bad memories." Sister Peter returns Toby's gaze. "Not to mention, he's naturally a private person."

"And I'm an open book?" Chris retorts as he slides down in his seat.

"Not even close," Toby mutters. "But you..."

Chris rolls his head in Toby's direction, with a look that yells, 'surprise me.' "I'm not Schillinger," he says.

Surprised at the assertion, Toby replies in a hushed tone, "I know that."

The pronouncement by Chris is unexpected and it rushes a flood of questions through Toby's head as to why Chris would consider that theory to be a factor. As far as Toby is aware, he has moved past such extenuating conjecture--Chris and Schillinger are a part of the past, broken down and buried, never to rise again. Still, maybe subconsciously--

"Do you?" Chris questions.

"Yes. I..."

And then Toby is seeing Chris take back his love in the gym, making a sacrifice of Toby's body for his own self-preservation. But the Chris that leered crudely at his mangled form is not the same one who waited his return from the infirmary, the one that offered himself up publicly for absolution; the one who loves Toby to a fault. Yet, when Chris retreats--in love or war--insecurities from wayward dreams and plaguing nightmares worm their way to the surface.

It is unfair to Chris, but those conflicting versions of him come wrapped up in one package. It's enough to leave Toby wondering if Chris is using their missteps and cruel deeds against him, diverting attention from their current pitfall. It is a gamble of manipulation, well played and irritating to the core.

Toby narrows his eyes. "Don't make this about me."

Chris considers him a moment. "You want what you want, when you want it." He leans into Toby's space. "And I'm not interested anymore."

Heavy silence fills the room and Toby isn't sure what he wants to do more--punch Chris in the face, unleashing the hurt brewing within, or call Chris' bluff by pulling him into an uncompromising kiss. A fury of words wrestles on Toby's tongue, but the uncaring look in Chris' eyes keeps them at bay.

"I don't believe that," Sister Peter finally says.

"Oh you don't?" Chris smirks.

"No." She is resolute. "I think you want Tobias to believe that because it's easier than dealing with what's really bothering you."

"Is that so?" Chris commandingly angles himself forward.

"Yes." Sister Pete refuses to back down, raising her voice emphatically. "Tell him how you feel."

Toby watches Chris. He sees the strong lines that accentuate his clenched jaw and the tension racing through his rigid body. He sees the darkening blue eyes fixed in a piercing stare that runs a chill of fear and lust across Toby's skin.

Suddenly Chris relaxes and gives her a smile. "I bet you're loving this."

"Loving what?" Sister Pete asks; confusion etched in her furrowed brow.

"This little act of concern you've got going." Chris gestures between the three of them. "Maybe if you can fix us--," he points at Toby and then himself, "You don't have to feel so guilty."

He draws out his words slowly, suggestively, and the hairs go up on the back of Toby's neck at the careful reference to another one of Chris' games that left Sister Pete as a casualty when Chris was first trying to get Toby back. Toby can't help but muse that the three of them make for a messed up threesome, with the third party always playing messenger and getting hurt.

There is a strain in Sister Pete's voice when she replies, "I don't feel guilty. But I am human."

"Aw, but you did," Chris continues. "And now you get to sit in the middle of this with your words of wisdom, telling yourself you tried to do the right thing and that's all that matters."

Her breaths deepen as she attempts to calm her nerves and temper her reaction. All at once what started as a misunderstanding between Chris and Toby is transformed for the hundredth time into something far grander and seemingly insurmountable. It was one thing when it was just the two of them, but now that Sister Pete is in the mix (and not an abstraction existing on the periphery), Toby needs to diffuse the situation--to protect her from the antagonism meant for him, and out of the latent envy that anyone else would figure significantly into Chris' fixation.

"Chris," Toby says but snaps his mouth shut in worry when Chris glares his way.

"There's nothing to say, Beecher."

The second Chris is on his feet, Toby follows suit, refusing to drop the burning stare that stretches from one to the other and back again. Chris steps right and Toby shifts left to block his movement. A hint of surprise mixes with a mocking upturn at the corner of Chris' lips. After a pause, Chris steps left, closer to the desk, but Toby matches him, invading his space. Any suggestion of a smile disappears from Chris' face and he stands still, tilting his head back.

"Believe me, you don't want to do this." Chris is steadfast.

"You sure about that?" Toby replies.

Chris leans forward. "Fuck yeah."

Standing up, Sister Pete puts on her best authoritative tone. "The two of you need to sit down."

"You see what he's doing." Toby breaks away from Chris' icy gaze. "It's what he always does--imposing himself and forcing others to get out of the way or suffer the consequences."

"You got all the answers, don't you?" Chris baits him, putting them chest-to-chest.

"Stop it!" Sister Pete reprimands them and her raised voice brings Murphy quickly into the room.

"Everything copasetic in here?" Murphy asks.

"Everything's fine," Sister Pete sighs, her voice hard.

"We're done," Chris says, but to whom and what he is referring is unclear.

Murphy looks to her. "Sister?"

She exchanges a quick glance with Toby who shrugs his shoulders. "Fine. Take him out of here." When Toby begins to follow she adds, "Tobias, stay."

He watches Chris walk away without a glance back, then looks at her with exasperation. "No offense, but playing hard to get and this surprise counseling session are not exactly your best ideas."

She rolls her eyes. "I see that..."

Toby can see the wheels spinning in her head. "But?"

She parts her mouth then pushes her lips together thoughtfully, traveling her gaze up the ceiling and back to his. "Reading between the lines, you may want to consider another approach."

"Why?" Toby huffs, feeling exhausted and disjointed by the way everything has unfolded.

Sister Pete walks around the desk and sits on the front edge, gripping it on either side. "Because you love him. And the more he pushes you away, the more frustrated you get, the angrier you are, the more you want him. And vice versa I imagine."

"Jesus," Toby scoffs, running his hand through his hair. "Am I that obvious?"

She gives him a small smile. "You're that much in love."

Her words linger between them. When Toby looks over to the door, she says, "I was wrong to tell you to distance yourself from him."

Toby looks at her in surprise.

She raises her hands apologetically. "I'm a nun not a saint. As a lawyer you've always been more comfortable with your words, but we both know that those can lose their meaning when the person they're intended for isn't ready to hear them. Chris speaks with his body. You need to speak to him in a language he understands."

Toby muffles a laugh. "You think I should come onto him?"

Getting to her feet she grasps both his arms. "When playing hard to get doesn't work, there's something to be said for throwing yourself at the person."

"I have to say, Sister, I never expected to hear that from you," Toby comments wryly.

She smiles. "Don't forget, I was married."

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

Ten minutes after lights out, Toby hops down from the top bunk. Uncertainty grips him as he walks to the front of the pod and stares out at a darkened Em City. His heart is racing in anticipation. This will either be the worst mistake or the crucial beginning of he knows not what.

Turning around, he spares a brief glance at Chris (naked except for his boxer brief's, a slight contrast to Toby who is also in boxer's but with a navy t-shirt) on the bottom bunk, and walks over to the sink. Gripping the basin with tight hands, he stares at his reflection in the mirror and is struck by how--young, innocent, scared--he looks.

Deep breaths, he repeats in his head and moves to the bunk, stopping to stare at Chris who is obviously not sleeping. Toby can tell by his shallows breaths, so when Chris opens his eyes, Toby doesn't jump.

"What the fuck do you want, Beecher?"

Toby rests his left knee on the mattress, nudging at Chris' side. "I want you to move the fuck over."

"Go the fuck to bed," Chris mutters, sounding belligerent.

Toby takes a deep breath. "Then stop being a bitch and move over. Now."

Chris says nothing. In fact the empty few seconds that stretch out only serve to twist the once dormant panic in Toby, screaming this is a terrible idea and Chris really wants nothing to do with him. Chris' eyes stab through the faint light that streaks the darkness and Toby's breath catches in his throat.

If looks could kill--

He won't beg or plead, but this can't be the end.

The answer he's awaiting finally comes when Chris silently shifts over, rolling on his side close to the plexiglass wall. Toby barely muffles the relief he feels. Before he can climb in, he casts a quick look outside of the pod and meets Murphy's inquisitive gaze as he walks by for rounds. Murphy makes no move to stop them and with the silent permission, Toby imagines this is the rush that comes from fate falling into place.

Sliding into the bunk, Toby curves himself up against Chris' back. The heat between their bodies is almost too much. It leaps off Chris' skin and rests on Toby's, then seeps inside. Chris' smell--soap, the barest hint of laundry detergent, and the musky scent of sweat--choke the quiet groan of familiarity in Tobias' throat as he breathes in slowly, deeply, lightly nuzzling the tip of his nose against the back of Chris' neck.

Toby's cock twitches the neglect he's put it through and he licks his lips, biting the lower one in an attempt to focus and not plow through things. This is too important to risk losing through reckless abandonment.

Toby cautiously hovers his right hand over Chris' body, then slowly moves it along the length of Chris' arm; close enough to feel the electricity between them, but not near enough to touch. He keeps his voice low and steady.

"I've never been use to the kind of touch that lingers for days. I never had reason to. With my mom and dad, hugs were brief and pats on the back were common. It was supportive and encouraging, warm, but forgettable."

Toby softly moves the thin blanket covering their lower bodies until it's at their feet. He touches his fingertips to the exposed skin on Chris' thigh, just below where his boxer's end, tracing a circular pattern on the warm skin.

"Even with Gen it was very proper and respectful. I liked it. It was...easy and comfortable. It was very safe."

He gently pushes his right foot against Chris' right calf, then drapes his leg over top.

"And then in this place, my body was turned against me."

Once again, Toby drags his right hand up Chris' side, starting up his arm, and stops at the inside curve of his elbow.

"I was exposed for the single purpose of complete humiliation. Even you took part."

Chris goes momentarily tense and his sharp intake of breath sounds out with a hiss, Toby encouragingly squeezes Chris' bicep and then places his hand over Chris', but makes no move to hold it.

"I hated you for that, for making me believe that someone could want me that much, when it was all nothing but a lie."

Toby senses Chris beginning to turn and presses a kiss to the back of his neck; simultaneously exerting enough pressure with his body to keep Chris where he is. "I know," Toby whispers reassuringly, then raises his voice a hint louder. "But it wasn't a lie. It took me awhile to get that, to truly believe it. And I know there are times when you think I don't get it, or feel the same way, but I do. I love you. I just show it differently."

Lifting his head off the pillow to give himself a better view of Chris' profile, Toby reverently adds, "I need you to know that, Chris."

Chris' hand turns beneath Toby's until their fingers are interlocked and he rolls onto his back, meeting Toby's eyes for the first time. His own have never looked so crystal blue to Toby, as if stripped away of all the bullshit and pretense that has been allowed to fester. Without a word, Toby lets go of his hand and maneuvers his body until he is lying on top.

With little help from Chris (they both know that it has to be Toby initiating the physical conversation), Toby uses one leg to push Chris' apart so he can settle between them. At the undeniable feel of Chris getting hard, Toby mutes the smile that threatens to light up his face. He doesn't want to take anything for granted and he knows Chris can feel his stiffening cock in return.

Chris' arms lay slightly ajar at his side and his eyes remain on Toby's. With Chris' mouth parted, the deep breaths create a hypnotic and soothing rise and fall to his chest that Toby instinctively matches, reveling in their being one after so long.

All at once, Toby is paralyzed with self-doubt. He wants this--to be with Chris--more than anything, but paranoia runs deep and the indecipherable expression on Chris' face has Toby's nerves begging for retreat. All it takes is Chris raising his hips and rubbing their erections quickly against one another, to let Toby know Chris is right here with him, begging him to keep going.

Two tiny, hardly noticeable, smiles greet each other, then it's back to the task at hand.

Toby props himself up on his left elbow and teasingly trails the fingertips of his right hand down the side of Chris' face, punctuating the journey with carefully placed kisses on Chris' temple, cheek, forehead and chin (anywhere but his mouth); then it's down Chris' neck and across his collarbone to the centre of his chest (making sure to suck in the overheating salty skin) and over to one nipple, which Toby grazes with his teeth, eliciting a salacious groan from Chris' lips.

Chris places his hand on Toby's thigh, where it stays until Toby continues down Chris' body, doing his best to undo Chris' stoic resolve until he's careening to Toby's will. At his stomach, Toby licks and sucks lightly, feeling the strain of Chris' cock trapped in his boxers, against Toby's chest.

A quick glance upward; and Toby is riveted by the pair of lustfully hazy eyes staring down at him. He sucks in his lower lip before gently inching down the waistband of Chris' boxer's, but not to free him of the garment. Rather, it is just enough to reveal the top patch of thick, course curls that mark his groin. Toby nuzzles his nose to the dark hair and breathes in the distinct smell of sex that he has come to liken to Chris; the scent Toby imagines is for him and him alone.

Toby runs his right hand across Chris' thigh, over the hard, covered bulge below and begins lightly massaging it. The moan that escapes Chris is music to Toby's ears. While he tries to stop the now almost writhing man from moving too much, Toby is increasingly aware of his own erection begging for attention. But seeing as this moment is all about Chris, making amends and showing him how he feels, Toby appeases himself by rutting against the mattress, truthfully wanting little more than to fuck Chris or be fucked by him, while Chris strokes him to climax at the same time.

Toby stops his ministrations and drops his hand from Chris' tenting boxer's, taking what he can of Chris' straining cock into his mouth. Moistening the fabric and tonguing the hard lines beneath, Toby works his mouth around it, mindful of Chris' inability to stay put.

Without warning, Chris pulls Toby back up with a tight grip around the back of his neck. Their bodies are realigned, their mouths a millimeter apart. He winds his arms around Toby's shoulders, running one hand up through the back of his hair. The overwhelming sensation of Chris, hard and wet against Toby's own stiff erection has them both gasping loudly. The sound is muffled a second later when Chris's mouth is on his.

What follows is the deepest kiss Toby has ever experienced. There is a fleeting thought that if this is the result of pent up sexual frustration they should have gone a few more days for added measure. It would be suffocating if Toby's mind weren't already spinning and his body wasn't already vibrating with every sense on high alert.

When he thinks he can't take much more (his tongue is being sucked and caressed wantonly and urgently with an expertise he is sure Chris is famous for in some circles on the outside), Chris flips their bodies, effectively trapping Toby beneath him. Toby grunts against Chris' mouth and Chris grinds against him before pulling out of the kiss and gazing longingly into Toby's eyes. Toby wraps his legs around Chris' hips, locking their bodies together at the groin, ensuring the most torturously incredible thrum of power coursing through them.

He rubs the thumb of his right hand across Chris' mouth. With a smirk, Chris parts his lips and sucks in the tip, swirling his tongue around it while beginning a steady, yet gentle rhythm rocking against Toby. Together they move, breaths becoming shallow, and Toby closes his eyes, getting lost in the sensory overdose. Chris lightly bites his thumb, forcing Toby's eyes wide open, and recaptures his mouth once more in a searing kiss.

Toby cups Chris' neck, holding him close when he pulls back a bit, making sure their eyes never leave one another, and feels the pulse pounding under the skin. Pushing his hips up harder in response to Chris' movements, their pace picks up until they are both thrusting hard, racing to the edge together. Toby wraps his arms around Chris' body and raises his ass off the mattress, allowing Chris to fit his hands underneath. Their bodies firmly held together, they move in tandem, pounding against each other--powerfully and wondrously; it is perfection.

This is everything. It is forgiveness and promises. It is every hurt unleashed, exorcised, and declarations of intent bestowed, sanctified. This is their mistakes set aside, apologies accepted, and love rendered fully without compromise.

Toby comes first, with Chris following a few seconds later. Their gratified moans stifled by their mouths and sticky warmth spreads beneath already sweat soaked boxers. Chris collapses on Toby and fits his face into the crook of Toby's neck.

Deep breaths.

Toby smiles into the darkness as Chris' breath spills against his skin after so long and the fantastically crushing weight of his exhausted body on top. Toby runs one hand through Chris' hair and murmurs appreciatively when Chris places a wet kiss on his neck, at the same time lightly dragging his fingers under Toby's damp shirt, running them up and down the side of his torso.

After a few minutes, Toby quietly says, "Chris?"

"Toby," is whispered into his skin.

With an amused smile at the sound of his name spoken once again with profound importance, Toby repeats a bit louder, "Chris."

At first he hears nothing in return. Then he feels Chris shift, his lips at Toby's ear.

"I know, Toby."

Fighting back tears--of relief and happiness, of angered frustration finally vanquished--Toby hugs Chris tighter. No matter what happens, they know that this is real. Their love, in all its indefinite forms, is true; fucked up as it is.

They are a fact--a natural disaster and their own new world order.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

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