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This is set during their "fucking with each other" phase in Season 4.
Trust Is A Four Letter Word
"He's never enough //
And still he's more than I can take"
-Kelly Clarkson, Beautiful Disaster
He doesn't understand why Toby makes it so damn hard. His life seems a relentless exercise in steadfast hope and futility, and if Chris didn't know better he would think Toby was a glutton for punishment. Everything results in absolute extremes--but not in a vacuum.
Toby doesn't run hot or cold but the million degrees stretched in between. There are no definitive assertions lounging on his tongue that Chris can cling to, the ones he silently needs to hear; to know as gospel and taste as sacrament. By comparison Chris is less subtle. When he wants something--someone--he lays daring yet unchallenged claims, devouring whole and infusing every ounce of available space with his essence, bending into its angles and curves, needingly, infuriatingly. When he wants something he takes it without apology, with no stutter in his voice or stumble in his step.
On the flipside, when Chris says `no' he rejects unwaveringly, with a coldness behind unblinking eyes that threatens to destroy all those in his path. He is an impenetrable stonewall, unmovable, rooted deeply to the core. His clipped tongue rips flesh from muscle and spills crimson red and tainted copper. When he refuses, carnage litters the path.
Chris doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve but he willingly--instinctively--drowns himself in the fermented taste of brutality and lust (love), indistinguishable, ripe and intoxicating.
Toby is a kaleidoscope of wondrous and destructive contradictions that brings out Chris' insidious nature, making him the personified example of human sin, the very kind that laws were enacted to fight against; the Devil in wolf's clothing that fairytales were told to forewarn.
Toby is his test and he fails every time.
He spoke to Sister Pete about unconditional love the first time he was the subject of Toby's wrath, but hypocrisy has never been a friend to him and she had slapped him in the face with it, pointing out the unspoken rules he insisted Toby abide by while expecting to be completely accepted in return.
What Sister Pete still does not or cannot see is that he does love Toby unconditionally. He can't help himself. Somewhere in the middle of a `sure thing' con the rug was pulled out beneath his feet, sending him spinning, unbalanced; a rush of blood to the head, his cock, the soul he was alleged to have, lit skin on fire and achingly twisted his mind. You can't con a con--but you can beat him at a game he doesn't know he's playing.
How the hell did love find a way into Oz? In this dank and depressing gray zone? Into his life?
It is unreasonable and unfair. A far greater punishment than any sentence a judge could hand down. Because once he has tasted the sweetness of it, he won't let go. Can't. He is driven by a hunger stronger than any he has ever felt before. It is more than want that courses through his veins like a runaway train, but a need so strong that he hates how vulnerable, it makes him no matter the `don't fuck with me' mask he fits firmly into place. He needs Toby.
He is the mistake at the end of the tunnel and the punishment to an already badly timed joke.
On paper Toby was the perfect mark. Over-privileged, over educated, set for life and dissatisfied at every turn. So what if he had surprised everyone by renouncing his status as Vern's prag with deliberate humiliation against the head of Oz's Aryan Brotherhood? Once a prag, always a prag.
But there are always exceptions, the ones that redefined the rules and tilted the world upside down. Chris lives those broken rules every single day in this repetitive cycle enclosed in blank walls, steel bars and plexiglass barriers.
Toby should not be the type of person who nearly consumes Chris' waking thoughts and listless dreams. He's too analytical, thinks too much, talks even more, about everything--family, life, aspirations, and always has a question ready, either burning on his lips or formulating in his head behind shifty eyes or a thoughtful stare.
He doesn't fit in Oz amongst the sordid lot of familiar types Chris is accustomed to. Yet Toby is precisely the kind of guy Chris enjoys seeing fall apart, succumbing to the darker elements. There is pleasure to be found in the breakdown but the learned lessons of a confused existence render this upside down, because Chris doesn't want to destroy Toby. He wants Toby--the unexpected enigma--to love him with every single thing he can muster, to the edges of the world and back again. He insists Toby love beyond reason, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a blind leap of faith playing a Piper's tune.
But Toby refuses those barbwire expectations. He does not yield easily, instead he shoulders his body back against Chris and forces him to deal with the undeniable presence of that which cannot be ignored, that which refuses to be contained.
If there was ever going to be someone--and three wives, four times over (even the second time with Bonnie wasn't a charm)--Chris imagined the faceless entity to be as hardwired as him. Toby is an anomaly. He feels as much as he thinks--too fucking much. Scheme, scream and cry, Toby's emotionless face details his rapidly spinning mind and when he falters it is his soul lay bare, yearning so openly it hurts to look but is impossible to turn away from.
Chris watches him with Mondo, Shemin and a few others who mistake Chris' grandiose declarations of `whatever' and Toby's dead man walk, for blessings of consent, none of them realizing that Toby's body and mind belongs to Chris and no one else. At first when Toby is a mess, Chris revels in his ability to turn the man inside out by withholding the affection he never stopped feeling and once gave more readily. Now it is leverage.
Nothing like making a point with blood and tears.
Toby is a quick study, however, and in retrospect his ability to survive any and all shitty circumstances is the spark to Chris' flame. While Chris remains stoic and jeering, Toby slips into aggressive resistance, which only makes Chris harder as he leans into Toby's unforgiving trap (and isn't it suppose to be the other way around?) complete with deliberate touches, lingering, fiery gazes and very specific tonal inflections, suggestive and luring; reminiscent of better times.
Unlike Chris, Toby has other people in his corner to anchor himself to, to live for. Chris fights himself for needing all of Toby and despises the jealousy that flares within at sharing him in any capacity. Still that's only half the truth. He needs more than Toby could possibly give him. Body and soul? Yes. But it's not enough.
He can't (or refuses) to consider where that urgent desire for affirmation comes from. He could easily settle it on the distant childhood that informed much of his life. Dad, step-dad, it was all the same. "Real men don't cry Chris. Or should I call you Christina? Suck it up you fucking fag." He lived his life outside the four walls of his house, unable to breathe within while counting down the days until he could eventually, finally, escape. Lardner, in all its technicolour horror, helped speed up the process. It was a harsh price he willingly paid.
Then it was the miseducation of Christopher Keller, where lessons about not showing weakness proved to come in handy. Going through the motions was a requirement and pain was a fact. Inside, the tiny seed of need dug deep but did not distract. He sought that missing companionship through his marriages but knew the whole time that the physical could not make up for the lack of true connection, the kind he would die for, fight for, sacrifice his very being for. To put it bluntly, he never cared much about it. When time was up he moved on, only looking back for a quick fuck when the need struck, although Bonnie at least made him smile and laugh. Toby...
Toby challenged him, which was a pain in the ass and a body thrilling turn on. He saw into Chris in a way that was frightening and enthralling. The broken, worthless piece of shit was made whole in Toby's eyes. He wasn't just a warm body next to Toby's, passing the arbitrary time handed down to them both. Toby engaged him in actual conversations, laughed with him, fought with him, saw him cry and slipped comforting arms around his shoulders. He made Chris feel like the only thing that mattered. But Toby came with an amassed collection of others, distractions.
The details are always in the overdose.
"Do you know what it's like to want somebody? To long for them, and I'm not talking about sex. Just to touch them."
Most people avoid his calculating gaze, the one that turns covetous when Toby is nearby, except O'Reily who regards him curiously before rolling his eyes and making a sarcastic comment (a careful one, nonetheless, since Chris has made it clear that Toby is absolutely off limits). O'Reily is no idiot when it comes to approaching points of no return without necessarily crossing over. They have both been burned before by their own malcontent.
Close by or far away, Chris drags his gaze along the curved lines of Toby's body, remembering the heated touch beneath his fingertips, fit against his own body; the salty taste of wet skin across his tongue. If home can be found in a person, Toby is his, the north star he can't take his eyes away from; trapping him along the way.
"I did what you asked! Do you know what that means? Toby, do you know what that cost me?"
Chris risked everything. The self-regulated protection that he had worked so hard to develop (ensuring it stayed in place) came crumbling down with the purged confession. With anyone else the lifetime of charm worked and with Toby he was sure honesty, some well-timed flagellation, would by the key. But Toby saw through him and demanded a pound of flesh, if not more.
"When are you going to figure it out? You and me, we're never going to happen."
Never was a long time and promises were made to be broken. Something in Toby, the openness with which he gazed upon Chris, seeing and accepting the imperfection as a perfect design, twisted Chris to be more, to not give up or in, to believe in the possibility of maybe.
Even with the depth of perception to not give up his all at Toby's altar, a cocktail of self-defense, indifference and insatiable yearning; Chris felt the questioning eyes of those who watched them like some soap opera couple, better than anything Miss Sally could offer, save for a great pair of tits.
It boiled the rage inside that anyone might consider him to be at the mercy of Toby's whim. But he couldn't get out. He didn't want to. That was then and although the perimeters may have changed, now with Toby twisted inside out but ready for a fight all the same, the story remains much the same.
Distance makes the heart grow--
Ten times larger than he ever thought possible.
"You have plenty of reasons to assume the worst about me but I worked very hard...to regain your trust, your love. I thought I had but this proves that I haven't."
"I don't, I can't--,"
"I never will--,"
"No, we're over. We're finished. We're done."
"Chris, you gotta forgive me."
"I forgave you."
"Well I guess that makes you the better man."
Toby is going to be the end of him. No good can come of another person imprinting himself on Chris' tattered soul, and now it's as if their genetic make up is melded into one. They are a Frankenstein creation, misunderstood and destructive. Chris would kill what owns him but when he actually thinks on Toby being gone forever, sickness turns his stomach.
Toby is the air to his lungs.
He is the suffocation to Chris' breath.
He makes Chris do crazy things.
"You should take of where you stick your dick. That baby's lethal."
"You know, I liked it better when we weren't speaking."
As long as they are still orbiting each other, Chris doesn't necessarily disagree with the declaration. He could work around the silent treatment because it still depended on Toby being hyper aware of Chris at all times. He killed for Toby and because of him. He wore his intent like a coat of arms.
Denial was simply protestations run amuck, meant to convince others of what he couldn't will himself to believe--an insistence made more difficult when Toby was spiraling into self-destructive tendencies.
"You want me to do the honourable thing, the selfless thing. Say I'll help Beecher out. Hey, Mukada, where in Oz."
But he does want to reach out, after the anger and hurt have subsided. He wants to slay the monsters that have trapped Toby's mind and turned his body against him. He battles the temptation to push Toby up against the wall of the laundry room and thrust against him while twisting his fingers into Toby's shirt and claiming a kiss that runs hard and deep. He wants Toby pressing back as hard as he can, arching up into the touch; moaning and gasping while whispering, "I love you," against his lips.
"My relationship with Beecher started in brutality and that's where it's ended. Love was the smallest part."
The lie was bitter gliding off his tongue, disbelieving what it was forced to unfurl. Such a falsehood as it was it didn't even choke him as he stated it flatly, daring to be called out. With no visceral emotion tied to the words Chris could speak them (too) earnestly.
"The two of you loved each other."
Still do, dammit. That's the problem. Love is too complicated. It asks too much and takes without checking first. It forces itself on him, pressing his head face first against the mattress, making him see the error of his ways and the completely screwed up nature of what inspires and drives them. Love goes down on him, licking up his hardened length and flicking a tongue across the top before taking him in whole. It lays kisses along his neck, nuzzling close, and holds him in a death grip.
"Don't let go."
There was never any intention of that. Toby isn't going anywhere--not if Chris has anything to do with it.
He's never letting go.
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