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Tobias Beecher's eyes narrowed. He ran a hand through his close-cropped hair, tapping his foot impatiently as he waited outside Dean Glynn's office. He'd only been in trouble once in the year and a half he'd been enrolled in Oswald Academy. He hadn't done anything wrong now. So why had he been pulled out of Algebra II to come down here?
This is bullshit, he thought, smiling at the pretty assistant across the desk. She winked at him warmly.
Toby rolled his eyes and let out a long sigh. They were reviewing for the midterm exam, and he'd wanted the chance to go over a few problems in class. He was a diligent student, never missing a chance to understand a concept more thoroughly. Now he'd probably have to bug Mr. Murphy during lunch. Not to mention the extra hour of studying tonight.
The assistant's phone beeped, and she murmured briefly into the receiver. "You can go in now," she said, gesturing toward the paneled oak door.
Toby quelled a nervous pang in his stomach... he wasn't in trouble, was he? There was no way Glynn could know about that midnight jaunt down to the kitchen with O'Reily. No one had seen.
Unless O'Reily snitched.
As he opened the door, all sorts of ripe names for his untrustworthy friend bounced around his head. They were cut short.
Someone was sitting in the chair in front of Glynn's desk. Someone Toby had never seen before. He knew all the students at Oswald by sight if not by name, and he would certainly have remembered the profile of the young man slouched unconcernedly before him. Would have remembered the brooding blue eyes, the handsome, hawk-like brow.
Toby felt like all the breath had been knocked out of him.
"Beecher," said Dean Glynn, "glad you could come down. This is Chris Keller, your new roommate."
Toby took a second to process this information. A roommate. He'd been enjoying living alone since Schillinger'd dropped out in the first few weeks of the term, unable to handle the fast academic pace of Oz.
"Hey," said Keller. His arm was in a cast; the standard issue Oswald uniform sleeve had been rolled up around it. He stood, snaking a backpack from under his chair in a fluid motion.
"Hi." Toby almost wished it had been disciplinary action he'd been called in for. That would have been less of a distraction.
Glynn cleared his throat as the two students sized each other up. "We don't usually accept transfers in the middle of the semester," he said, "but Chris is a special case. I thought he'd benefit from, well, a sponsor of sorts. Someone to look out for him, help him acclimate to the Academy."
"Sure," said Toby. He hoped his tone was light. Welcoming, but not too eager. Chris looked bored. His eyes flicked over to the wall clock, and around Glynn's bookshelf.
"Take the rest of the period to show him around," said Glynn. "He's in your Chemistry class after lunch. I expect him to be there on time." His voice became hard, and Toby glanced at Chris curiously. Was there some reason he wouldn't show up to class after applying for a midterm transfer to Oz? This sponsor business was odd, too.
Somebody wasn't telling him something.
Chris slunk out of the room ahead of him, observant gaze taking everything in. As Toby turned to go, he felt Glynn's hand on his shoulder. "Keep an eye on him," said the dean. "I'll consider it a personal favor."
Toby's eyebrows went up, and he nodded. Chris was already sitting on the assistant's desk out in the waiting area, flashing her a smile that transformed his entire face and once again stole Toby's breath from his lungs. The assistant's eyes were positively glassy; she was chattering away and her legs had opened subtly.
Toby began to feel resentment. He hated charming guys. The ones who skated through life on nothing but good looks and empty promises. He's obviously very good.
"Come on," he said. "I'll show you our room, and you can put your stuff away."
They didn't talk as they marched through the hallways of the administrative building and over the sunny green quad to the boys' senior dormitory. Toby led the way, growing more and more uncomfortable with every step. He trudged up the stairs of the dorm, flyers fluttering from the bulletin boards in the mild fall breeze. As he pushed open the door to his room and walked inside, Chris asked him a question.
"You a fag?"
Toby made a strangled noise in his throat. "No." He wrinkled his forehead, thinking furiously. "Are you?"
"Nah." Chris tossed his backpack onto the empty bottom bunk and turned around. "This it?"
Toby nodded. Chris turned around again, stretching his arms behind his head in a languid gesture. "Kind of small," he mumbled, with a half-smile. "Feel like I'm in prison or something."
"Have you ever been to prison?" Toby countered. Chris gazed at him steadily, but said nothing. His eyes were very intense, like two blue laser beams boring into Toby's body. Toby had to remind himself to breathe.
"It's almost lunch," he said, lamely. "If you... you know, eat." He gestured toward the door, silently furious with himself for being so awkward. He thought he'd caught Chris off-guard with his prison question, but he could see that - story of his life - he was quickly being overlooked.
Fuck it. He snapped mentally back into place. I'm through with this. Screw Glynn; I won't work too hard to be friends with this guy. Probably'd just use me to cheat off of and then fuck me over anyway.
It had happened with Schillinger the year before, and the memory was still burned indelibly into Toby's memory. He remembered the awful shame of being called to Glynn's office and dressed down. Since he was such a good student, and McManus had stuck up for him, he'd only been given a slap on the wrist. Shillinger had been suspended for a week for cheating.
That'll never happen again, thought Toby.
"Come with me." He gestured, and Chris followed him back out of the dorm, over to the dining hall that doubled as a second fieldhouse and general recreational building at the edge of campus. Again, Chris didn't say much. He winked and smiled at a few of the female students as they passed.
"Where's the girls' dorm?" he asked slyly, as they pushed their way into the dining hall. It was starting to fill up for lunch, but they were still early.
"Far end from the boys'," Toby answered. "Opposite side of campus. It's not easy to get into after curfew, if that's what you're thinking."
Chris flashed him a big grin and finger pistols. "Read my mind, Beecher." They grabbed plastic trays and joined the end of the line. Looked like macaroni and cheese today. Yum, thought Toby sarcastically.
"You ever get in?" asked Chris. His expression was innocent, but there seemed to be a current of intensity and focus underlying all of his apparently casual actions. Toby wondered if most people picked up on that.
"Never tried," he answered. "Well..." he lowered his voice. "Once, to see Gen."
"Gen?" Chris's eyes were off in a second, scanning the room. "Which one's she?"
Toby caught his throat again in exasperation. Why was he telling Chris this? To let him know that his new roommate wasn't a total dweeb?
"She's not here," he snapped.
"Oh." Chris backed down. He held up his tray to sniff at the lump of yellow pasta that had just been slopped onto it. "How'd you do it?"
"Never mind." Toby was finished with this. "See you back at the room." He reached the end of the line and strode purposefully toward the table where his friend Kareem was sitting with Bob Rebadow and Aggie Busmalis. He did not look behind him. When he sat down, Chris had disappeared.
"Who was that?" asked Busmalis.
"Chris Keller," answered his best friend, through slow, deliberate bites of a peanut butter sandwich.
"How do you always know everything, Bob?" asked Toby, cracking a slight smile.
Bob shrugged. "He's your new roommate, isn't he?"
"Then I would suggest that you keep on your toes."
"Why?" Toby had learned to ignore most of Bob's uncannily accurate pronouncements, the better to keep his sanity and worldview intact, but he couldn't deny that Bob was usually right about things.
This time, Bob leaned back in his chair and gazed at Toby for a long moment through hooded eyes. "I think he likes you."
Toby snorted, and the whole table burst into laughter. O'Reily sat down and started to bolt his food.
"Talking about Chris Keller?" he asked.
"Apparently," said Kareem, who was only half-listening, absorbed in his paperback copy of the Koran.
"Did you know he's been to juvie? He stole a teacher's car at his last school; took it for a joyride. My brother Cyril told me."
"He was expelled? And he did time?" asked Toby, puzzled. "Then how did he get accepted to Oz?" He frowned; he enjoyed the fact that he was enrolled in one of the most competitive prep schools on the East Coast, and didn't want anything - or anyone - messing with Oz's reputation.
Ryan shook his head. "No idea."
"He does seem to be quite the ladies' man," said Agamemnon, nodding toward what was rapidly becoming a large crowd of girls at the front of the dining hall. They were chanting something, sounded like...
"Thirty! Thirty-one! Thirty-two! Thirty-three!"
Chris Keller was doing one-handed push ups with his unbroken arm on the top of one of the dining hall tables. Toby groaned inwardly and turned back to his lunch, ignoring whatever happened to break up the vocal little bicep appreciation committee. Probably McManus, head of extracurricular activities and R.A. of the boys' dormitory. He usually hung around the dining hall during lunch and dinner, making sure order was maintained.
When Toby showed up to Chemistry, Chris wasn't there. He managed to amble in twenty minutes late, and claimed with a piercing grin to have gotten lost among the various campus buildings.
"Sorry, teach." His manner seemed calculatedly adorable, and Ms. Howell smiled back at him. "My roommate bailed on me," he added, turning his laser beam eyes directly on Toby.
Howell waved him to his seat (Toby sighed heavily when he realized he was next to the only open desk in the classroom) and went on with her lecture on buffers. Chris straddled the chair backwards and put his head down on his outstretched arm. His blue gaze flicked up at Toby again.
"Hey. She easy or what?" He motioned with his head up at Howell.
"Shh," Toby shushed him, waving his pencil dismissively as he tried to focus on the lecture. "Leave me alone."
Chris leaned over and took Toby's hand. His skin was extraordinarily warm, jolting electricity through Toby's body. All of Toby's muscles tensed; his heart leapt into his mouth.
Chris tipped Toby's wrist toward him so that he could read the face of his watch. "12:55," he said. "How long is this class?"
Toby jerked his hand away and put his head down, furiously taking notes. Chris didn't bother him for the rest of the class, and when Toby looked up again at the end of the period, he was gone again.
Toby was in the library, studying. A quick glance at his watch informed him that it was 8:30 p.m., half an hour until curfew. He stared at the numbers and the sweeping second hand a few moments longer than he needed to read the time. His wrist still felt tingly where Chris had touched it, almost as if it had been electrocuted by a live wire. Toby grimaced.
"Too much algebra," he muttered to the empty study room. He massaged his temples, shoving his long fingers through his hair and mussing it a little.
If he was being honest with himself, he hadn't needed to study this hard for the test. He was afraid to go back to his room. In his head, he briefly ran down a list of frightening scenarios, in order of likelihood:
1. Chris was already sleeping around, and had smuggled someone into Toby's bunk for terrifying sexual purposes.
2. Chris had turned the room into a black market for stolen goods, or drugs.
3. Chris had not returned to the room at all, but had skipped campus in Glynn's stolen car.
Toby swallowed carefully. His throat was dry, aching. Slowly he gathered up his books and made his way out of the library. Each step felt heavier than the one before as he trudged through the quad and up the dormitory steps. McManus was standing at the top of the stairs, pinning up a flyer on the bulletin board. It advertised a fifties-themed sock hop on Friday night at the fieldhouse.
"Cutting it close, Beecher," he said.
Toby held up his books like a shield. "Studying," he answered. "Big test tomorrow."
"Well, get some rest." McManus smiled benevolently and ambled off, clipboard under his arm.
Toby steeled himself, then pushed open the door. Nothing. There was a lamp on and Chris was sitting at his desk, head in a book. He was wearing round glasses, which gave him a surprisingly intellectual air. Toby cleared his throat.
"Hey," Chris mumbled.
Toby set his math books down and let out a long sigh. He didn't answer Chris, but took his shower caddy to the bathroom to brush his teeth before lights out. His own face stared back at him out of the mirror, sallow in the harsh fluorescent light. When he came back, Chris was still reading. Toby leaned awkwardly on the post of the bunk bed; he wanted to change into his pajamas, but felt self-conscious about undressing in front of a near stranger. In the end, he stood in the cramped closet and shimmied into his soft flannel pants and white cotton t-shirt as quickly as he could manage.
When he emerged, Chris was watching him.
Toby pursed his lips. "I just..."
Chris didn't wait for him to finish. He stood up and whipped his own shirt up, revealing an impressively muscled chest and cut abdominals. He stripped off his pants. In a moment he was standing in the middle of the room in nothing but thin white briefs. Toby tried not to look at Chris's crotch, but curiosity pulled his eyes there anyway. He blushed when he realized Chris had seen him look. There was a cocky grin on his face that Toby didn't like at all.
"You don't have such a bad body yourself," Chris said.
"Nah, I mean it. You're one sexy motherfucker."
Toby was livid. "Stop making fun of me!" he yelled, and vaulted himself onto the top bunk. He turned his back to the room, staring at the room. He fumed silently for a few minutes as he heard Chris shut his book and turn off the light. There was the slight whisper of fabric on skin - did Chris sleep naked? Then silence.
It was quite a while before Toby drifted off.
The next morning, Toby woke up early and got out of the room as quickly as possible. Chris was a lump in the bottom bunk, wrapped in wrinkled sheets, with his blankets kicked down into a tangle at the foot of the bed. Toby showered and then got dressed in the closet, careful not to make too much noise. He was back in the library by 6:30 am, stomach grumbling because the dining hall wasn't open for another hour.
It was hard to study. His mind kept wandering to the scene the night before, Chris standing almost naked in the middle of their room. He felt himself getting hard at the memory. Flustered, he pulled a notebook down over his lap and glanced around - but the library was deserted. Toby knew he'd always been somewhat attracted to men, and he accepted it. His relationships with women, like this last one with Gen, had been completely sexually satisfying... as much as they could be, in boarding school. He never imagined that he'd ever act on what he considered to be a passing interest in sucking cock.
But holy hell, Chris was something new. Toby had never had a physical reaction to another human being like he had to Chris. The place where Chris had brushed his skin the day before still throbbed, dammit, like a burning brand! Toby silently prayed that his erection would go down; he bit his lip and forced his brain back to Math.
"Shit," he groaned. It was no use. Toby toyed with the wire in his notebook, bending it back and forth abstractedly. He gave himself over to imagining Chris naked, standing there, bare pecs and strong arms. Jesus.
His stomach growled. Right, he was hungry. Toby shook his head and packed up his things. The dining hall was still closed, but he had a box of granola bars stashed in his room. Chris was probably still asleep. He'd just sneak in, grab a snack, and sneak out.
When Toby made it up to the second floor of the dorm, he noticed that Chris had left the door of their room unlocked and cracked open. Toby frowned. He would have to have a talk with him later. Oz was a pretty secure campus, but you never know. He took the handle and pushed it forward, stepping into the room.
Toby felt something wet in his hair. A plastic bucket slammed into his shoulder, banged onto the ground and rolled into a corner, and in the same moment he was covered with an odd, sticky substance. It was dark and thick, and the few drops that he'd smeared on his lips while trying to wipe it away tasted like...
Toby turned to see Chris standing naked and dripping in the hallway, but for a towel loosely slung across his hips. His eyes were wide with surprise and the hint of a mischievous smile.
"You've got to be kidding me," Toby said. "You asshole."
Chris held up his hands in mock surrender, causing the towel to slip even farther down his torso. "Hey, I didn't do it, Toby. I swear! I just left to take a piss and a shower."
His words flew through Toby's consciousness without making an impression. He wasn't thinking clearly. He stepped forward and shoved Chris hard in his chest, smearing syrup all over him as he stomped off to the bathroom. On second thought, he stomped back and grabbed Chris's towel away, leaving him completely nude in the hall. Other students were gathering now, but Toby ignored them, slamming the door to the showers. Chris didn't seem to mind his body being the center of attention.
Toby stripped off his syrup-ruined uniform and spent as long a time as he dared under the hot rush of water. All in all, he barely made it to class on time. His mind certainly wasn't on his Algebra test.
Chris fucking Keller.
He stared down the bastard from his lunch table, unable to breathe under the intensity of the answering stare from those blue eyes, but refusing to back off. Kareem tried to engage him in conversation, only to be answered in monosyllabic grunts. Toby eventually turned away for a second to explain what had happened that morning. Kareem was sympathetic, but understood that it was best to leave his friend alone. When Toby looked back at Chris, he found that Chris was still staring at him while eating his soggy cafeteria french fries. Slowly, he licked the salt and ketchup off his index finger. Even more deliberately, eye-fucking Toby the whole time, he slid the finger inside his mouth, sucking back and forth on it for a prolonged moment.
He's fucking with me. He caught me checking out his junk and now he's trying to scare me away, make sure he doesn't have to deal with a fag hitting on him. Coward.
Toby barely noticed when James Robson and Jaz Hoyt sat down on either side of him. He was still watching Chris, who had just broken eye contact for the first time, have a conversation with Bob Rebadow and Ryan O'Reily. What the fuck is that about?
He almost didn't hear when Robson whispered in his ear.
"Didja like your shower this morning, prag?"
Prag. Private school fag. An insult that was tossed around by the less agreeable members of the student body.
"Excuse me?" Toby asked.
"Mmm, yummy syrup," Robson continued. "Golden deee-licious."
"You could almost call it a golden shower," said Jaz.
They laughed. Idiots. Both had been in Schillinger's inner circle before he'd dropped out of Oz. Toby mostly tried to ignore them. There hadn't been any trouble since Schillinger'd been gone, but apparently that was at an end.
"What do you want?" he asked, sharply.
Robson lowered his voice. "We want you to know that Verne Schillinger blames you for getting him suspended. No suspension, no drop out. Now he's never gonna get into Yale."
"So the fuck what?"
"So he's having us do a few... jobs for him."
"He's gonna get you back," said Jaz, "hard. This morning was only the beginning."
"Wait," said Toby, suddenly confused. "You guys did that?"
Robson grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back, nearly wrenching it from its socket. Toby gasped as pain coursed through him.
"Fuck yeah," Robson whispered. "And there's more where that came from, prag."
At that moment, Toby caught a sudden movement from the corner of his eye. What looked like a blue and white blur leapt over two dining hall tables and piled on James Robson with the focus and fury of a sledgehammer. Toby sprang back, toppling over his chair as a circle formed around the fight. Chris was sitting on Robson's torso, pinning his arms to the floor and belting him repeatedly in the face with his heavy cast.
McManus shoved into the circle and broke up the fight.
"What's going on here? Keller! Come with me."
He managed to drag Keller away. Chris pointed at Robson threateningly with his good hand as he was escorted out of the dining hall - presumably in the direction of Glynn's office. Toby was stunned. He turned to look at Jaz Hoyt, who threw up his arms in utter bewilderment. "Shit," he said, before slinking off.
Ryan and Bob descended on Toby as he picked up his chair and sat back down, head buzzing with questions and adrenaline.
"What the hell?" he asked. "What were you talking about with Chris?"
"He's been on a mission all morning," said Bob, in his dry, calm voice. "To find out who doused you in maple syrup."
"I found out for him," said Ryan, with a huge grin. "Hoyt bragged to Timmy Kirk. Fuckin' weenie."
"I told you," said Bob. "He likes you."
Toby shook his head in wonderment and turned back to his food. His heart was in his throat. A hard lump of excitement radiated in the exact center of his chest. At the same time, waves of regret washed through him... he hoped Chris wouldn't get expelled.
Chris didn't reappear until dinner. Toby felt like he had gone through the whole afternoon with his heart banging furiously against the inside of his chest, wanting to break free. Chemistry was agony. Howell could have been speaking Klingon; Toby would have understood about as much of the lecture. He realized after a while that he'd been chewing on the inside of his lip, and his right heel had been bouncing so out of control under his desk from the nervous tension that it was practically numb. When he saw Chris grab a tray and shuffle into the food line, he let out a huge sigh of relief. Chris caught his eye.
"What the fuck?" Toby mouthed, grinning.
Chris laughed and came over.
"I cannot believe you did that," Toby said. "Thank you."
Chris shrugged. He flexed the fingers sticking out of his cast and sniffed, hunkering down to eat his dinner. "Can't have people fucking with my roommate, right?"
"What did Glynn say?"
Toby noticed Rebadow and Miguel Alvarez wandering over with their trays, and tried to head-motion them discreetly away. Bob caught his look and put his hand on Miguel's arm. They conferred for a moment, and then Toby saw Miguel flash him a bright, knowing smile before retreating.
He had Chris all to himself.
"Ah, pretty much the stuff you'd expect. Responsibility. Standards. How one behaves in civilized society. That crap."
"And?" Toby was dying to know what Chris's punishment would be.
"I have to work in Glynn's office for an hour every school day for the next month."
"Easy peasy," Toby smiled. "Slap on the wrist."
"Yeah... I get the feeling he wants to keep an eye on me more than anything else. He knows I don't respond well to punishment."
Toby let this cryptic comment pass for the moment. He wanted to apologize to Chris about his behavior that morning, but he didn't know how. There was a long pause as he ran through phrasing options in his head. They all sounded dickish or immature.
Chris pushed his tray away. "You don't have to."
"Apologize for before. I know how it is, making assumptions, getting worked up. I kinda got in trouble for stuff like that in the past."
"Yeah, well I never have." Toby grew even more ashamed as he reflected on this. "I don't know what's been going on with me the last few days. Ever since you came to Oz, I feel like I haven't been myself."
A hint of the old mischief flashed in Chris's sharp blue eyes. "In what way?" He scooped up some yogurt with his spoon and slid it into his mouth. He turned the spoon around and slid it out again, slowly.
Toby chuckled. He put his forearms on the table and leaned in conspiratorially. "I think you know what I'm talking about."
They stared at each other. Toby was waiting for Chris to back down, flirt, feign ignorance. Instead, he leaned in and kissed Toby on the mouth.
"Yeah," said Toby, dryly, feeling the other students' eyes boring into the back of his neck. "I'd say you hit the nail on the fucking head."
Chris smirked. He glanced left and right at the students who'd watched them kiss. "So that's Gen?" He gestured with the spoon. It was indeed Gen, standing with her tray beside the dessert station, her mouth hanging slightly open and a hurt, confused expression on her face.
"You're very astute," said Toby. All he wanted to do was take Chris back to their room and rip his clothes off. But Chris just sat back as if it were any normal dinner they were sharing, casually tapping his fingers on the table top.
"Astute," he repeated. "I don't like that word. Sounds like ass toot."
Toby rolled his eyes. "I'm glad you didn't get expelled."
"Why'd you and Gen break up?" Chris asked. His eyes were back to having that intensity that Toby found terrifying and sexy at the same time.
Toby almost snorted. "You find out, you let me know."
Why did Chris want to talk about Gen of all people? The relationship was over! She'd broken up with him over a month ago, right after the start of classes. Toby had hemmed and hawed over the reason for weeks, making himself crazy, and was just starting to let it go. Right now he didn't care at all. He could still feel Chris's lips on his mouth, and that was driving him more crazy than practically anything he'd ever experienced in his life.
"I'm done," Toby said. "I'll see you back at the room." He picked up his tray and walked in what he hoped was a casual manner toward the exit. He glanced back over his shoulder at Chris, still leisurely finishing his meal. Well why did he kiss me, then? Toby grumbled to himself. Like he was staking a claim or something...
On his way back to the dorm, Toby went over the kiss again in his head. What had prompted it? Had Chris just been joking? His stomach turned over at the thought. He walked faster, desperate to get inside all of a sudden, back to his room, where he could sort out all the questions that were bouncing around in his head. He barely registered the other pair of footsteps coming up on him from behind.
In an instant, Toby felt strong hands clamp his arms to his sides and whirl him around. His back was slammed against the wall of the Science building, rough red brick scraping his shoulders through his shirt as all the wind went out of him. The backpack dropped from his hand. Chris Keller crushed his mouth in a bruising kiss, tongue thrusting so deeply and powerfully that Toby nearly gagged.
Chris's hands slid up Toby's arms, massaging him so that it hurt, scrabbling desperately against the fabric of Toby's long sleeved uniform shirt. His body pressed up on Toby's, writhing against him, warming him. When he finally relented, Toby gasped for air.
"Why'd you have to leave so fast, huh?" asked Chris. His gaze was searching, a little accusatory; his hands were now on Toby's cheeks, holding his head, caressing his hair. Toby could feel the rough gauze of the cast graze his ear.
"I don't know. I - I thought you weren't being serious. Those questions about Gen upset me, and... you do want me, don't you?"
"Fuck yes," answered Chris, enthusiastically. "Can't you see that?"
Again he plundered Toby's mouth, arms reaching around to envelope him in a vise-like embrace. Toby felt his knees melt, felt himself giving back to the kiss this time. They breathed in unison, inhaling each other's scent, sighing together. Toby ran his hand up Chris's hard chest, feeling the heat of passion that had colored his throat like the rosy dawn. The back of Chris's neck was burning; Toby skimmed the short hair of his nape with dancing fingers.
As Toby leaned forward, Chris gave. They paused for a moment, breathing heavily. Toby felt Chris's heavy, wet panting at his ear, body thrilling where their bare skin came into contact. Then, with a quick glance around at the deserted quad, Chris thrust his body forward again, slamming Toby back against the wall, cushioning his head with the cast. His hips pressed against Toby's, urgent erections grinding against each other through layers of fabric.
Toby was lightheaded. His chest felt like a balloon filled with the lightest, brightest air in the world, tingling throughout his whole body. He could barely control his limbs, only knew he wanted more of Chris, right now.
"Take me," he whispered.
"Here?" Chris laughed. He shrugged. "Okay." He unbuttoned the top button of Toby's shirt.
"Back to our room," Toby finished, biting his lip shyly. "Take me back to our room. McManus or someone's going to come along in a minute."
They held hands as they half ran, half stumbled over the rest of the quad and slammed the door open. Later, Toby didn't remember how he'd had the patience to climb the stairs. The next thing he knew they were sprawled across Chris's bottom bunk, and buttons were flying.
Toby's fingers trembled as he worked each little pearl free and Chris's shirt fell away. He had to take breaks to kiss Chris on the mouth, to put rub his hands against the insistent hard-on beneath him. It seemed an age before the dress shirt was free, the undershirt was being torn open like a rag, and Chris's miraculous chest was bare before him. Toby ran his mouth down Chris's neck, left wet trails over his breastbone. Hesitantly, he took a nipple in his mouth, and heard the quick intake of Chris's breath. He sucked the little bud until it was hard, and Chris's body was writhing with sensation.
Now his own body felt constricted, and before he knew it (as if Chris could read his mind!) Toby was divested of his shirt and his pants were unbelted.
Chris had plunged his hand down Toby's waistband, not waiting for him to pull off his underwear, and grabbed his cock firmly by the shaft. Chris's hand was burning. He had a strong grip and pumped quickly up and down, spreading Toby's precum around like lube. Toby's breathing became faster and more ragged. Heat and ecstasy. It was almost too good to be true, too good...
"Stop," Toby gasped. "I'm gonna..."
It was too late. With a small cry, Toby came in his pants, spurting hotly over Chris's hand and the inside of his uniform.
"Shit," he breathed. "Shit!"
Chris only laughed. "You needed that, huh Beecher?"
Toby could only nod. Relief flowed through his body like warm water; all the tension of the past weeks was ebbing out of him in pleasurable waves.
He opened his eyes to see that Chris was fully naked. With another tender kiss to Toby's temple, Chris grabbed the frame of the top bunk and swung himself around until he was straddling Toby, brick hard cock poking into his belly.
Another kiss that was like a black out.
Chris pushed Toby's head down, showing him what he wanted. Toby's mouth found Chris's erection, lips sliding over and around, tongue tasting, teasing. Chris tasted so good, Toby never wanted to come up.
He heard Chris talking as if from under water, urging him on, words like "yeah" and "fuck" penetrating to his brain. Toby found a rhythm, concentrated on making his lips soft and then hard again, swirling his tongue. As he went on, he found he could accept more of Chris's length into his mouth, always stopping just short of his gag reflex.
Chris's pelvis began to shiver beneath him, gooseflesh rising on bare skin. Toby drew his left hand over Chris's thighs and reached down to fondle his balls, and felt them contract with his touch. Chris moaned with pleasure. His abs began to convulse, and Toby felt a mouthful of cum shoot down his throat. He swallowed carefully, lapping up the extra from around the head as it trembled, sinking down onto Chris's belly.
Toby ran his hand across Chris's waist, just above the line of his pubic hair, grazing softly with his fingernails.
"I've never felt like this," he whispered.
Then Chris's mouth was on his again, lazy this time. They curled up next to each other on the narrow bunk, exhausted and sweaty. Sated. Chris didn't answer, so Toby asked a direct question.
"When did you know you wanted to fuck me?"
Chris stirred beneath him. "Hmm?"
Slowly, Toby extracted himself. He was a little confused, now that his sanity had returned. Chris was still unpredictable. Violent. An unknown. Toby heard him begin to snore as he pulled on a new pair of pants and gathered some books for an expedition to the library. He had to get outside Chris's hypnotic range. But he couldn't help running his hand once more down the chest, into the curve where Chris's hip met his full ass, the muscular thighs.
Jesus, he was beautiful. At least Toby knew that.
When Toby woke up the next day, he felt like he'd been hit by a ton of bricks. Chris hadn't been in when he'd come back from the library close to curfew. He'd sat with the lights on and the window open for a while, staring out into the quad, looking for signs of movement. Midnight, no Chris. One a.m., two a.m., no Chris. Toby'd finally managed to fall asleep at around three, to fevered dreams.
He put his foot down on the bottom bunk to jump out of bed, and accidentally put all of his weight on something squishy and warm.
"Oops!" Toby was relieved to find Chris in his bed, blinking confusedly at the sun streaming through the window. "Sorry."
"What time is it?"
"Eight. We have class in half an hour."
Chris ran a hand through his hair and stretched. Toby noticed that something was missing.
"Um... your cast is gone," he pointed out.
"Oh, yeah," said Chris. "It was getting itchy."
"Were you supposed to take it off? I mean, is your arm completely healed?"
Chris shrugged unconcernedly and stood up, sheets falling away from his mostly naked form. "I'll be fine. I was gettin' tired of the fuckin' thing."
They dressed in awkward silence and hurried to class. Toby wanted to ask Chris where he'd been all night, and how he'd managed to sneak back into the locked dorm in the wee hours of the morning without getting caught. But he worried that he'd asked too many questions the night before... How casual had the sex been? Were they together now? Even if they were, did that give him a right to inquire into Chris's business? Toby wanted to give Chris a casual kiss, as though he were his boyfriend, but he stopped himself worrying about morning breath, and then there was no time. They didn't even get a chance to grab breakfast.
Latin, Algebra, English, U.S. History and Politics... Chris wasn't in all of his classes, but he might as well have been. Toby couldn't think of much else. He was a good enough student that he was able to take notes and still picture Chris's face, his confused expression the night before when Toby had asked when Chris knew he wanted to fuck him.
Was I assuming too much? Toby wondered. It was the sort of question you asked if you knew you were going to get into a relationship with the other person. Maybe Chris had just wanted to stick his dick into someone's mouth, and that was it. The sick morass of doubt opened up again in Toby's stomach.
On the way to lunch, something happened to jolt Toby out of his own head.
He was walking by the campus greenhouse, through a secluded little path bordered by flowers labeled neatly with their scientific and common names. A tree with long, heavy branches loomed over the path at the northwestern edge of the greenhouse, throwing bands of shadow over the glass. Toby was trudging along, lost in thought, when he happened to look up.
A face was watching him from the other side of the glass.
A woman's face.
Toby stopped. She was very obviously checking him out.
"What?" She had mouthed something, but he didn't understand. He waved awkwardly, not knowing what else to do. She put a gardening trowel down and slipped out a small side door.
"Hi," she said, striding confidently up the walk and extending her hand. "You don't know me. I'm Katherine McClain."
"Oh," said Toby. He was taken aback by the way Katherine had chosen to approach him. "Tobias Beecher." They shook.
"You're the talk of Oz, Tobias," she answered. "I saw that Chris Keller kid kiss you in the dining hall yesterday. How awful."
Toby was confused. He made a non-committal noise, trying to figure out what was going on.
"And then how you stormed out. I mean, good for you."
"Huh?" Toby's mind was a blank.
"You stood up for yourself." She clapped her hands together slowly a few times. "Congratulations."
"Oh, I wasn't... I mean..." Toby was beginning to catch up. Apparently the student body had interpreted the interaction in the dining hall as a rejected come-on. For a moment he breathed easier. He'd been slightly worried (worries that had naturally been pushed to the back burner during his lonely night vigil) that he and Chris would be reprimanded and split up into different dorms. But apparently he could relax on that score.
While he'd been working all this out, Katherine had slipped her arm into his and was leading them down the path under the leaves of the large oak, just starting to turn yellow with the autumn.
"I thought you showed a lot of pluck," she was saying, turning her small, attractive face up at Toby. "I thought it was kind of hot, actually."
"The kiss...?" Toby still couldn't see what she was getting at.
"No, silly. The way you stormed out. Definitely sexy."
"Oh. Thank you." Toby didn't know what else to say. The entire conversation was beginning to make him distinctly nervous.
"I can't believe I never noticed you before," Katherine continued. "But when Chris Keller came - I mean, all the girls were talking about him. Half of them are dying to sleep with him. And he wants you?"
"Er - "
"You're the hottest thing going right now," he said. They'd reached Parker, the girls' dormitory, without Toby realizing it. Katherine squeezed his arm. "Would you be interested in going to the sock hop with me on Friday?"
"Uh, well," said Toby, "Actually..."
An arm wrapped itself around his neck, pulling him away from Katherine.
"Actually, he's going with me."
"Chris!" Toby finally managed to snap back to reality and find his voice. "Where were you, baby?"
The glee he got out of seeing Katherine's frustrated grimace was a little mean, he knew, but he couldn't help it. He was so glad to see Chris; he didn't care about much else.
"Looking for you, baby," Chris answered, and consumed him in a quick, yet intense kiss.
Toby was about to crack up from the way Chris had said "baby," so smoothly, as if it were an established endearment with them. And he was genuinely surprised at how at ease he felt all of a sudden, in Chris's arms. Katherine hurried away to her dorm, shaking her head.
"Thanks," Toby muttered. He hoped Chris would stay with him this time, instead of running off. "Dinner? Or do you have somewhere else to be?"
"I'm free," said Chris, his voice now more measured.
Toby decided to throw caution to the wind and just ask some of the questions he'd been wanting to ask.
"Where did you go last night?" Chris grinned at that, steering them away from the dining hall. "Wait, I thought we were going to dinner..."
Chris didn't answer, but slipped behind Toby and slid his hands up to his shoulders, steering him toward the soccer field behind the fieldhouse.
"Seriously, Chris, what is this?"
"Shh," was all he heard. A few more yards, then, "Close your eyes."
Softly, a silk tie was slipped over his face, completely obscuring his vision. Chris tied it snugly, and took Toby's hand. "I don't want you ruining my surprise."
Toby walked unsteadily, unused to being in the dark. When he stumbled, Chris was there to support him. He knew that they'd reached the edge of the soccer field and were now walking through the forest at the edge of campus. It ran into a chainlink fence that skirted the edge of Oswald's acreage, highway on the other side, and then fields full of grain and the grazing livestock of upper state New York.
"Please tell me we aren't sneaking out."
Chris laughed out loud. "Good one, Beecher."
Dead leaves crunched underfoot, branches snapped. Once or twice Toby thought he could hear the whoosh of some animal retreating through the underbrush. It must be getting dark by now, he thought. The air had a chill.
Chris stood him in the middle of what felt like a clearing. "It was a long night last night, but I think you'll like what I did..."
He whipped the tie off, and Toby's mouth fell open. Chris had found a huge log, left over from when a tree had been cut down for growing too close to the power lines at the edge of the highway. A chainsaw and some woodworking tools lay on a tarp next to it.
It was a bench. It was beautiful.
"God," Toby breathed. "You did this in one night?"
"I thought we should have a place to come. I like being outside sometimes, you know?"
"Where did you get..." Toby gestured toward the tools.
"Borrowed 'em," Chris answered. "I might even give them back."
Toby approached the bench and ran his hands over the smooth wood. Chris had dug up a few pillows and blankets from somewhere, and arranged them to make the sitting surface more comfortable. The workmanship was exquisite. Most of the huge log remained, out of necessity, a log. The seat was carved from where it lay on the ground, a bit small, low to the ground, but functional. Chris had managed to preserve the natural whorls in the wood, while working around them to create an artistic, abstract carving along the top of the bench's back.
"Do you like it?" he asked.
"It's amazing," Toby answered. "I can't believe you did this in one night."
Chris shrugged. "Plus I skipped a few classes today. Not the ones you were in."
Toby shook his head, unbelieving. "Well, shall we try it out?"
Chris laughed at him again.
"What?" Toby had been about to sit down, but tensed suddenly, aware again that he'd said something completely dorky.
"Nothing," Chris said. "I like you, Toby."
He sat down too. The world disappeared as Chris kissed Toby, swirling blurrily into one sensory experience. Toby was almost dizzy with relief and desire. Then a stray thought hit him and he put his hands on Chris's chest, breaking their embrace.
"Chris?" he asked, in a worried tone.
"Did you chainsaw your own arm cast off so that you could have both arms free to work on this bench?"
Chris shrugged, looking down as he trailed his newly free hand up Toby's tricep, over his shoulder and up his neck to caress his cheek with his thumb. "So? I was sick of it anyway."
Toby shook his head again, and dove back into their kiss. This time they were unrushed. The kisses were long and deep, gentler than before. Toby and Chris explored each other's mouths, delighting in each other's taste and touch. Toby felt an upswell of romantic emotion in his chest as he allowed Chris's warm arms to envelope him - proof against the chill of the evening. Hands ran through short hair, down chests, around buttocks, massaged thighs over resisting fabric. Slowly, Chris shifted and they ground together. Hard bark cut into Toby's back as Chris bore down on him, but he didn't feel it; Chris's need was suddenly more insistent, his kisses devouring.
Toby growled as Chris moved against him, clutching at his own zipper with one hand and grabbing hair at the back of Toby's head with the other.
"My turn to go first," Chris whispered, bringing himself up to a kneeling position on the bench. "You got off too easy last time."
"Bastard," said Toby, but there was a smile in his voice. He didn't have time to say anything else before he got a mouthful of Chris's cock.
Toby paid more attention this time to what he was doing with his mouth and tongue. He experimented, varying the shape of his lips, his rhythm, the movements of his hands, and living for the moments when he made Chris groan appreciatively. He slid a thumb under Chris's waistband, struggling the pants down. Then reached around and took both of Chris's round buttocks in his hands and squeezed hard, eliciting a loud "ooohhh" from his lover. Toby laughed, Chris still in his mouth.
Chris started thrusting into him, harder and harder. Toby breathed deeply, pushing back against Chris's thighs, not allowing him to move as fast or as freely as he wanted to. Chris's muscled arms were at Toby's shoulders, hand at the back of his neck, sliding down his shirt. With a sudden grunt and one final thrust, Chris came in a hot stream on Toby's tongue, half-bare body quivering with pleasure.
"I'm gonna have to build up a resistance to you," Chris mumbled.
Toby sucked him gently until his erection went down, and then stood up and kissed him on the mouth. His own need was growing; he pulled one of Chris's hands down to his groin. It was there for a moment, and then...
Chris pulled it away. He disentangled himself from Toby's arms and hitched up his pants, glancing around the now twilight woods in his usual hyper-aware manner.
"Chriiiis," whined Toby affectionately, groping again for his waist.
Chris held up both his hands and backed off.
"Nope," he said.
"What?" Now Toby was really getting frustrated. His dick was throbbing; he'd just given Chris his all... what was going on?
Chris chuckled, but he was deadly serious. "I think you need to simmer for a while," he said.
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about a little game."
Toby was annoyed, and it showed on his face. He rolled his eyes and trudged off through the woods, fuming, still hard.
"Hold up, Beecher!"
Toby smiled grimly. Sure, act aloof. But when I start walking away, you run after me.
"Don't be angry."
"Shut up," Toby snapped. He hated being yanked around by people; he'd promised himself he wouldn't be a doormat anymore after all that stuff with Schillinger. That was in the past. At least, he hoped it was. Hoyt and Robson had been momentarily blindsided by Chris, but that didn't mean they would give up getting revenge on him. Suddenly, the world seemed black.
"Come on. It's just a game."
"Oh yeah?" Toby stopped short. No matter how mad he got, he couldn't seem to shake Chris. He had the sneaking suspicion that he'd gone past the point of no return. "And what are the rules to this game?"
"You don't come..." Chris snagged one of Toby's belt loops and pulled him in close in the gathering shadows, making his whole body shiver. "Until I say the word."
His eyes were playful now, almost luminescent in the gloom. There was a devilish little grin on his face.
Toby made an exasperated noise in his throat. "You're nuts."
Chris nodded carefully, cupping Toby's face in his hands. "No fucking. No masturbating. No wet dreams."
"No wet dreams? How - "
Chris kissed Toby and held him gently, as though they were dancing cheek-to-cheek. "I'm gonna check," he said, "to make sure you're not cheating."
"For how long?"
Toby breathed in Chris's scent, lightheaded, feeling his body begin to melt again. He wanted to mold himself to Chris's contours. "On what?" he managed to answer.
"On my whim."
Toby hugged Chris fiercely, growling into his chest. His unaddressed erection was driving him crazy. "Oh my god, you really are a jerk." But he laughed, heart full almost to bursting. "Fine! Have it your way."
Chris smacked him lustily on the ass and started crunching his way through the undergrowth, back to the dorm. "See you later, Beecher."
And just like that, Toby was alone in the woods.
Toby glowered at Chris from across the dining hall. His lunch salad felt dry and uninteresting in his mouth. Crunch. Crunch. He forced himself to chew.
When he'd gotten back to the room the night before, the lights were out and Chris was gone. He hadn't shown up until seven a.m., finger snapping the waistband of Toby's boxers to check his morning wood.
Toby was experiencing a ravaging cycle of erections, some lasting for hours at a time. He was helpless against Chris's psychological warfare. He wanted so bad to put a hand down there (or better yet, Chris's mouth), his brain buzzed, his vision swam...
But Chris had very carefully stayed away from him. He was ignoring him now, wolfing down a hamburger and laughing with some new friends he'd made oh so easily. He was paying attention to one boy in particular, Ronnie Barlog, ruffling his hair and grinning at some stupid joke.
If Toby were given to random emotional outbursts, he would have pounded the table in frustration. As it was, he gripped his fork so tightly that his knuckles turned white, and continued to eat his salad.
"What's up with him?" asked Miguel Alvarez as he sat down.
"Don't even ask," O'Reily answered.
"Sulking," snapped Kareem. "About having been set free from abomination."
Toby turned to glare at Kareem, but he didn't say anything. Bob Rebadow just chuckled to himself and shuffled a pack of cards. "Hearts, anyone?"
The rest of the day was no better. Toby couldn't believe it was only Thursday. It had already been the longest week of his life, and he still had one more day to get through before the relative relief of the weekend. He sighed heavily as he packed up his books after class and walked to the library, holding them in front of his crotch just in case. How many of his classmates had seen him in an 'embarrassed state' today? He didn't even want to think about it.
"Hey there, prag."
Something brushed Toby's arm, raising goosebumps. Robson had joined him. In a moment, Hoyt was at his other side. They stayed close, penning him in. He had no choice but to walk in a straight line past the library.
"Don't worry, we ain't gonna hurtcha," said Hoyt, in his gravelly voice.
"Not yet," Robson added, darkly. "But we want you to know that it's coming."
"Sure as shit."
Toby pretended to ignore them, which he realized after a few seconds was ridiculous. But they were already gone, and he was standing by himself on the sidewalk, feeling naked and vulnerable. The dorm was in front of him. The door opened.
Out came Chris and Ronnie Barlog, holding hands. Ronnie leaned up to kiss Chris on the cheek. Suddenly Toby was aware of Hoyt and Robson as they cackled to each other and pointed from the other end of the quad.
And all his lust turned to rage.
"How could you?!" he cried, regretting it instantly as tears welled in his eyes. He knew he looked like a fool, and all he wanted to do next was get out of sight. He shoved past Chris and Ronnie, roughly shouldering Chris in what he hoped was his solar plexus. Ronnie looked perplexed; Chris just smiled. Toby shook his head in anger and took the steps two at a time.
I knew he was going to be trouble. I knew the first time I saw him. He keyed open his room and locked it behind him, attaching the chain lock as well. Then he locked the windows from the inside and drew the curtains before climbing into his bed and curling up into a ball. Fuck him. Fuck him.
Toby felt like his insides had been ripped out and strewn all over campus. What a laughingstock he must be - first the maple syrup, then the public kiss, now this... I'm never going to live it down. He wondered if O'Reily and Alvarez wanted to be friends with a rejected prag. Kareem's friendship already seemed to be slipping away.
Suddenly Toby wanted to go home. He hadn't been prone to homesickness at boarding school, mostly because his home wasn't a very exciting place. But now the starch white walls, delicately dusted china and his father's private, untouchable art collection seemed comforting. He just didn't know what to do about Chris. He couldn't seem to put him into a category. One minute he was sweet, the next he was mean and withholding. Which was the real Chris? Was there a real Chris?
He just likes to fuck with people. He has this weird power...
Toby tried to forgive himself for falling so hard, but he couldn't. Had to beat himself up a little more; he knew it'd be a while before he could forgive and forget. The image of Chris smiling at him flashed back into his mind, made him almost retch. He buried his face in the pillow and let the tears come.
The room was dark. He heard the sound of a key in the door.
The sound of the door hitting the end of the chain.
"Hey, Beecher. Let me in."
Toby didn't sit up. He didn't want to turn around and see him.
"Oh come on, I've got somethin' for ya."
"Go away. Leave me alone. Never talk to me again." There was ice in Toby's voice, and he trembled, saying the words. Go away, he pleaded silently. Just go away. But when he heard the door shut, it was like the sound of a knife stabbing him in the heart.
He really doesn't care.
It was another long night.
Toby felt much better after he woke the next day. He managed to scrape together some respectable-looking homework before class, and spent the day focused on his studies. The part of his brain that would have been thinking about Chris seemed to be blocked out by a big black CENSORED sticker. He pretended not to hear the whispers in the hallways, pretended not to see the eyes following him. Toby supposed he had always been a survivor, and that was that. He was at Oz for school, after all, not sex.
From now on, that's what I'm concentrating on.
He even managed to ignore Chris's shenanigans in Chemistry. He felt a warm hand on his leg whenever Ms. Howell turned to the blackboard, and brushed it off every time. No embarrassing physical reactions, either.
He didn't respond. A folded note appeared in his pencil case after class, but he ripped it up and threw it away without reading it. At dinner, he barely registered Chris and Ronnie eating together again. He played cards with Rebadow and Busmalis, happy that it was Friday.
"You goin' to the dance?" asked O'Reily, grabbing a seat next to them.
"Sure, why not?"
O'Reily shrugged. "No reason."
"I'm definitely going," said Agamemnon. "I have my eye on Norma Clark."
Toby smiled. Norma was a sweet girl, and she and Agamemnon had been circling each other for what seemed like ages. "Bob, what about you?" he asked, slapping down the two of hearts. "Got a date?"
Agamemnon snickered. Bob glared at him. "I'm saving myself," he said, seriously.
"He's in love with Ms. Coffo."
"The librarian?" asked O'Reily, aghast. Everyone laughed and started ribbing poor Rebadow, who seemed unphased.
"Hey, she likes books... I like books..."
Toby was in a surprisingly good mood by the time they rolled into the fieldhouse. It was decorated in a fifties theme, with balloons, twisted crepe paper and giant cardboard records suspended from the ceiling with fishing line. There was even a blow-up jukebox in the corner. A fifties tribute band was playing in front of a heavy red curtain on the makeshift stage. The name on the bass drum said "Omar White and the Free-Tones." Students were already boogying to the oldies. Toby saw Miguel Alvarez spinning his date, Maritza, and grinning like a goofball. Agamemnon found Norma and led her to the punch bowl, talking excitedly. O'Reily rolled his eyes and loped off, presumably to disappear under the bleachers for some recreational drug use.
Toby was suddenly alone with Rebadow. Bob was looking at him with a twinkle in his eye. "Good luck," he said, before slipping away onto the crowded dance floor. Toby spun around.
Chris Keller was standing before him. Fast as a striking snake he grabbed Toby's arm and squeezed it, hard.
"Don't run off, now."
Toby frowned and tried ineffectually to shake off Chris's touch. "Keller, we're done."
Chris shook his head steadily. "We're not done until I say we are. Remember?"
"Oh right. Your little game, was that it? You put it an end to it yourself when you took up with Ronnie."
Chris laughed. "Didn't read my note, did you? Oh well, it's more fun this way."
"Shut up," said Toby, for what felt like the thousandth time. He was getting bored of this. His upper arm was beginning to hurt where Chris was gripping it. "Let me go."
Chris's eyes flicked up. He scanned the room, a look of intense concentration on his face. "We've got to get out of here," he said. "They'll be here soon."
Toby felt himself being pulled through the crowd. Omar White was singing "Jailhouse Rock." The kids were singing along and dancing up a storm. Toby flailed is free arm about, stumbling, trying to break Chris's iron hold on him.
"Seriously, what the fuck!" he yelled, voice almost drowned out by the music as they got closer to the speakers.
"Shhh," said Chris, fending off Toby's weak punches to his side. He pulled Toby close to him, so that it looked to others like they were slow dancing. Still Toby struggled. He extended his neck and tried to bite Chris's ear.
Chris jerked his head away. "Jesus!" Some kids danced by them, and he said, loud enough for them to hear, "Save that for later, baby." When nobody was looking, he dragged Toby bodily around the side of the stage.
There was a chair. Toby was thrown down into it. A moment later he heard a click, and realized that Chris had fluidly and expertly cuffed his hands behind his back. Where had he even gotten handcuffs? Toby didn't want to know.
The red curtain rose up beside them like a bloody tidal wave about to crash. Toby opened his mouth to yell, but there was a rrrrrip and duct tape slammed over he half-opened lips. He screamed repeatedly into the tape, but nobody could hear his strangled yells over the loud music.
"Toby," said Chris. His voice was measured. "Schillinger wants his revenge."
Toby's muffled protests died down. Suddenly Chris was running his hands through Toby's hair, cradling Toby's face against his stomach.
"So what?" he tried to ask, barely managing to make himself understood.
"So I have to keep you safe." He sat down on Toby's thighs, slithering his hands down Toby's chest.
Toby looked at him quizzically. "How?" he asked through the tape.
Chris stared at him with the full force of his ice-blue eyes. "What do you think I've been doing the last two days?"
And with that, Chris headbutted him. Toby's vision went blurry. Blood streamed from his nose; he could taste the metallic tang of it. The world spun, he felt as though he were falling...
Chris was gone.
Toby sat in a daze for some time, feeling blood drip down his neck to soak his shirt collar. He groaned feebly, but no one heard. Just when he felt as though he were about to go crazy, he heard the swoosh of the red curtain.
"See! I told you."
Toby opened his eyes. Hoyt and Robson were standing over him.
"Did you...?" asked Robson. He gestured toward Toby.
"No man, I found him like this." Hoyt's expression was grim. He shook his head. "Something's very, very wrong."
Just then, the curtain opened again and McManus and Glynn stormed in. The music had stopped; students were crowding the stage, trying to see what was going on. Chris was pointing. "They've been planning it for weeks. Ask anyone."
Glynn was frowning. His face looked like the marble mask of an angry god. He turned on Hoyt and Robson with an almost supernatural force. Toby managed to hear the words "expelled" and "permanent record" through the din. McManus untaped Toby's mouth and jangled the cuffs.
"There's no key," he said.
"Tell them to empty their pockets," said Chris. He had taken up a protective stance beside Toby, hand on his shoulder.
Robson snorted. But when he stuffed his hand in his pocket, his face paled. Shaking, he pulled out a tiny silver key.
"It's not mine!" he protested, as McManus used it to free Toby.
Toby rubbed his wrists, finally understanding why actors always did that in movies. Chris took his hands and rubbed for him, running deep, soothing patterns with his thumbs over the sore spots.
"Hoyt," snapped Glynn. "Empty 'em."
Hoyt turned up a bag of weed, and both were escorted out of the fieldhouse without any further ado. Toby's nose had stopped bleeding, and there seemed to be no permanent damage done.
"I don't think it's broken," said McManus, feeling it gingerly. "You're lucky we found you when we did. You can thank Keller, actually." He eyed Chris as though he were fairly sure the entire story hadn't been revealed, but decided to let it go. "Maybe you should take him down to Dr. Nathan's office, get him checked out."
"Good idea," agreed Chris. He pulled Toby up. "Can you stand?"
Toby managed to nod. Chris licked a Kleenex and used it to wipe the crusty blood from under Toby's nose. "Can you dance?" he whispered, as the music started up again. Chris led Toby onto the dance floor. Omar was crooning a Roy Orbison tune. It was kind of slow, and they swayed together.
Toby smiled at Chris, running his hand up the back of his neck. "Did you have to actually draw blood?"
"They would have done way worse. I heard what they were planning."
"And your 'game?'" Toby looked around doubtfully. Ronnie Barlog was watching them from across the dance floor, an expression stamped on his face that Toby knew all too well.
Chris shrugged. "I had to make it look like we'd broken up," he explained. "So that it would seem safe for them to make their move."
"Maybe." Chris drew him closer and kissed him deeply. Toby didn't want to break the kiss, but his chest was burning with more questions.
"I mean, I can't believe you planned all that out, just to get rid of them. Why did you do it?"
Chris smirked, but then his expression sobered. "I would have thought that was fairly obvious."
Toby's heart broke, and he kissed him. He breathed in Chris Keller, losing himself in sensation.
Back in the room, the lights were dimmed. Toby and Chris were making out on a blanket spread over the floor. Toby was in heaven; his whole body seemed full of a brilliant light, his limbs loose and free. His nose didn't even hurt anymore.
"I want to fuck you," Chris murmured. He slid his hand up Toby's shirt, rubbing circles on pale skin with his thumb.
"Yeah, I know." Toby laughed. Chris tickled his belly, causing Toby to squirm. "Jerk."
Chris brought his hand up to Toby's face, cupping his cheek. His tongue gently pried open Toby's lips. They kissed.
Toby felt Chris's hammering pulse, felt it at his throat, in his dick. He threaded his fingers through Chris's short hair and moaned softly, sucking on Chris's full lips. Their tongues danced, flickering through hot, wet mouths and the taste of sweet cherry punch.
Toby felt his shirt being unbuttoned - how did Chris move like that, so that you hardly noticed you were being touched? Until he wanted you to notice, of course, and then...
Chris inhaled Toby like a starving man, incapable of half measures. Light from the dimmed lamp touched his fevered brow like a halo. Toby raked his fingers through Chris's hair. They were fighting for dominance, leaning into each other with their full weight, and Toby's shirt was gone. Chris paused for a moment to strip his off, and his skin was like a burning coal, blazing as their bare arms enwrapped each other.
He unzipped Toby's pants and took his full length.
Toby gasped with sensation. He couldn't remember ever being quite this hard... It had been two very long days. Chris's hand was almost enough to make him come. Then it was gone.
"Not yet, Beecher. Game's not over."
Toby barrelled into him, almost upsetting their equilibrium and pushing them onto the floor. Chris's hands went around the back to claw his pants down, stripping Toby fully naked.
Chris laughed and slid his thumb over the tip of Toby's cock, swirling the precum with a maddening precision.
"You want to spoil the fun? Come on, Beecher, fuck me."
Toby felt Chris's hard hands pull him up off the floor. He was shoved roughly onto the bottom bunk, erection bouncing between his legs as Chris slapped his ass and got him into position. He shed the rest of his clothing and climbed in behind.
"I- I've never done this before," said Toby, looking over his shoulder.
Chris only smiled. He moistened his fingertips with spit and put his hand down to massage the small bud at Toby's entrance. His calloused thumb sent jarring notes of electricity through Toby's balls and down his dick. He gasped, putting one hand out to steady himself on the bedpost.
"Relax," Chris whispered. Toby sucked in a breath as he felt one of Chris's fingers enter him, exhaled slowly as he started to pump back and forth. The other hand fluttered around Toby's hips for a moment, then gave his ass another smack. Combined with the rhythmic penetration, it was a mix of physical pain and pleasure that Toby had never experienced, and never wanted to stop. He began to work with Chris's finger, shoving his ass back to get the full length of it.
Chris leaned down and kissed Toby's bare back. His finger went away; he was pleasuring himself, spitting in his palm...
When Chris entered him, Toby almost wept. A shiver wracked his body, and Chris moaned, leaning into it. His cock was huge; Toby couldn't believe the ease with which his body adjusted itself to accommodate.
"You're a natural," Chris said. He pushed himself in, burying himself in Toby's ass. If Toby had thought he'd felt something when Chris was finger fucking him, it was gone now, a drop in a new tidal wave of feeling. Both of Chris's hands were at his hips, maddeningly close to Toby's weeping cock, and pressing into his flesh so hard they'd probably leave marks.
Toby didn't care.
Chris thrust harder; Toby's legs could barely stand it. They went tingly and limp, and if the mashed bedclothes and pillows hadn't given him support he'd have slid down flush with the bed. Now Chris was slamming into his prostate, and it was as though all the choirs of angels were singing above them.
Harder and harder...
"Touch me," Toby begged.
Chris leaned down and nipped his shoulderblade, grunting, pawing at his ass with sweaty fingers. His other hand massaged Toby's upper thigh, back of his hand brushing at Toby's balls, causing them to retract, fanning the flames....
"Goddamn you," Toby whispered.
Chris thundered into Toby again, so hard and so fast that Toby began to feel lightheaded. He knew the first touch from Chris's hand would push him over the edge, and it did. As Chris buried himself one last time in Toby's ass, he slid his quick hand around and pumped Toby's cock. Toby came so hard he blacked out for a second. His come was spattered all over Chris's bedclothes. His cock was singing, his whole body clenched and contracted. A moan ripped its way out of his throat.
Chris slid out and they collapsed together onto the dirty sheets, taking no notice of the sticky spots.
"Game over," Toby mumbled. Chris planted a sloppy kiss on his mouth, sliding wetly onto his cheek. They both looked like hell, mussed and smelling of sex. Toby smiled. Chris was so beautiful, stretched out beside him.
"When did you know you wanted to fuck me?" he asked. This time he looked at Chris when he asked the question.
"First time I laid eyes on ya, Beech," Chris said. "Who wouldn't want to fuck you? Jesus."
Toby kissed him and slipped into happy dreams.
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