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This is set during season 3, heading into season 4.
"He ate my heart and then he ate my brain."
-Lady Gaga, Monster
Toby is in a constant war with his body.
It's forgiven Chris (if it ever really hated him) long before his mind considered considering the matter. Each step may whisper the ache of newly mended bones, but his limbs, the blood which courses through him, his physiological self, is not beholden to bad memories and twisted betrayal. That part of him reacts of its own free will; thoughts to the contrary be damned.
Ultimately he can will himself to break eye contact and walk away--but the heart wants and it drives him mad, knocking against the floorboards beneath his feet. The burn of Chris' eyes against his back, the light waft of Chris' scent as he approaches, tentatively breaching the no man's land Toby insistently maintains between them, the rumble of Chris' voice across his skin, tickling up the hairs on his arms and neck and vibrating a rhythm of some far too familiar calling card; all challenge Toby's resolve--to inflict vengeful damage, to deny himself.
Mind over matter is a staple of a recovering addict. Toby is good at it. He has to be because the consequences are far too destructive. But Chris is relentless, and even when he's not trying, his very presence arouses a change in Toby like he's thirteen again and Sarah Atwood is kissing him on the lips in her parents study during a game of Truth or Dare; and all Toby can think is `more' as his body craves the very touch he once undulated in back when Chris first slipped by his protective walls; desiring the warmth he once thought to be genuine so much so he believed it to be once unattainable salvation.
Toby wishes his body weren't so weak (or his mind so strong it settles on stubborn refusal that gnaws a sickening pit in his stomach), reminding him of a baseness to his humanity he must come to terms with during his every waking hour.
Love is a goddamn vice.
Forgiveness is a sin, Toby thinks. It opens doors better left shut tight.
The problem with granting it, honestly, isn't the glint in Chris' eyes (a wolf in mountain lion's clothing) already planning his next move further into Toby's crumbling fortress, but the growing want for Chris which grows exponentially within. The storm may still be exploding around them, but all it takes is the glimmering light of calm at the periphery to undo steadfast resolutions.
A cacophony of `what ifs' are unlocked in the simple act of embracing Chris, and Toby knows all too well nothing is black and white; nothing is free. He has placed a bounty on both their heads and it's only a matter of time before fate comes to collect.
Kiss me, says the serpent.
Toby wants to do a whole lot more than that. He wants to drown in Chris, arch in response to his surely exact ministrations--the parable of a rather wicked tongue--and allow pleasure to rip his soul and body to shreds. He wants Chris to wrap him up in strong arms, needs to feel Chris' heart pounding against his, their chests pressed tightly together; he wants to be protected, needs to feel safe; to be loved.
It's pathetic, but he can't stop those feelings from getting stronger and making demands of him, commanding him to kneel.
Peace be upon you.
And Toby genuinely means it--peace, for both their sakes--yet laced in those words is an invitation he doesn't want to hear. He needs to protect his heart at all costs.
But his head is already looking for excuses.
Like clockwork, he feels their judging eyes on him from morning count to lights out.
They are the uninvited, the uninitiated in this dance with the devil that swirls Toby with Chris at its epicenter. They have born witness to his transformation, his forced metamorphosis from prag to fighter, always "Other."
He is of his own making.
Then along came a spider.
Chris is the misdirect of what should have been versus what is. He has (carefully) turned himself inside out for Toby (on his own terms--can't lose face even when being penitent) but never lost his swagger or overconfident smirk hiding discerning intuition in the corner crease of his lips. Toby envies the ease with which Chris moves, and hates him for it all at once.
Even in subjugation, Chris is all encompassing--all over Toby--no more so than with the most powerful weapon in his arsenal: his words. Chris keeps his shared opinions to a minimum, but they are sharp, on point and unapologetic. He uses words with precision, striking deliberately. Antagonistic or confessional, he has let Toby gaze behind the curtain to see the flash of what deeply penetrates his soul, laying himself bare in offering on Toby's pyre. It's privileged information that Toby could use against him, but he's awed instead, disturbingly appreciative of what Chris chooses to show him (and only him), aware of the implications behind the act.
Chris is an infection with no cure. He takes root in the heart and works his way through the nervous system, tripping the cerebral fandango until Toby can't--doesn't want to--remember what life was ever like without Chris so permanently infused in it.
Everyone can see the change, the alteration of time and space between them--impenetrable in nature. Chris is unlike anyone Toby has ever known.
He is "Other" too.
They're a match made in heaven.
A leap of faith.
Toby trusts himself to land on his own two feet, to know right from wrong, to not lose sight of what is real. Beyond that, he lets go.
In the murky half-lit pod, untouched by the constraints of the hourglass, the setting of the sun and the moon's tides, he is free for the first time in his life. Laid out on the bottom bunk, Toby loses himself in the weight of Chris on top. Their clothes have been tossed aside in a frenzied haste that slowed at sporadic increments only to speed up again, while they took inventory of every detail of the other's body--smooth planes, rough edges, sensitive peaks; what elicits a gasp versus a moan, an abrupt cry of ecstasy instead of a whimper--as if it's their first time again and again.
Toby feels the slight movement of Chris' chest against his, with every breath matched. Chris' eyes, unblinking, hold Toby captive and drink him in. He trails his fingers up the sides of Chris' torso, senses the subtle twitch of a smile across the tiny space from Chris' lips to his, and works his legs over the back of Chris' calves, dragging them up to his thighs and back down again. Chris shifts, knowing the friction of their bodies sparks Toby's nerve endings, and nips at Toby's lower lip, letting Toby know he feels the same way.
They will fuck. Soon. Later. Hard. Gentle. Each time a new chapter, picking up where the other left off and leading into the next.
Being naked in front of Chris, and not only literally but metaphorically, is the risk he believes every choice and experience in his life has led him to. It's the most open and truthful Toby has ever been--ironic, considering the lies and masks which marred their beginning. He once thought it impossible to feel this much.
He needs the heaviness of Chris on top. It's what reminds Toby this is real, within his control, as much his choice as a destined fate. With Chris, Toby has learned to love beyond reason. In return, he has been taught he is worthy of the same. Chris sees Toby's flaws and mistakes, he calls Toby out on them, and still--still--he loves everything Toby is.
Through thick and thin.
Only now does Toby actually grasp those vows.
The words aren't empty.
For once Toby is caught in the beautiful predicament of all or nothing.
Toby dreams in riddles and paradigms.
He is a man of faith and science, the theory of relativity and karma rolled into one. Chris has egregiously wronged him and even though they have found a space for forgiveness it rests on a splitting fissure. Toby worries the opposite reaction distantly blowing in the wind will have him hurt Chris just as devastatingly at some point. He muses fate is another word for inevitability, try as one might...but try no matter what.
Chris brings out his passionate side, something Toby only applied to fictional characters or faceless names in office gossip, never himself. Yet here he is, defiant and compliant, unwavering against Chris' challenging censure, yielding beneath Chris' heated touch; a battle-scarred soldier refusing to lie down and the shy over-thinker weary of unsolicited attention.
With the long hoped for (yet unexpected) uncovering of this other side, the man he now believes he always was but was too stifled and afraid to give free reign, Toby has to also give thought to the consequences of living in absolutes. It comes with ticking time bombs just waiting to go off. As worrisome as it is, however, it also gives urgency, a definitiveness to every action, an emphatic declaration to each word, uttered or thought.
When Toby first arrived in Oz, he only wished to numb himself to existence. He wished to feel little more than the false pleasure of a self-medicated high in the hopes of passing his incarceration in the blink of a hazy eye. Not anymore. He's wide awake now. He feels every exquisite natural high and frustrating low; he consciously takes a hold of his life, refusing to sit passive anymore.
And Chris...Chris is the pulsing core that made Toby stare down his reflection in the mirror and be honest with the truth revealed in exhausted lines and hopeful eyes. He is the one who makes Toby smile brightly, spins his mind with brain teases of debatable thoughts and quiet admissions, rushes a wave of heat up his body just by being near or simply pinning Toby in a deep blue gaze. Chris is proving to be the kink in Toby's armor.
No one should have this kind of power over another person--but Chris does. Toby tells himself to put off until tomorrow what he doesn't want to worry about today. It may not be the smartest move, but it's the most truthful to who Toby is. And in this place, in these times, with these `rules,' being honest is the most he can ask for.
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