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Twist of Fate: Alternate Ending
Twist of Fate - Alternate Ending
Notes: This is an alternate ending to the story "Twist of Fate," although it picks up after the events chapter 24. This chapter requires some suspension of disbelief. The main one being that Ronnie Barlog is not the dimwitted fellow from canon, but a clever, cunning and vengeful man.
There is also some reference to something called False Memory Syndrome. I am not an expert, so take what you read with a grain of salt. This chapter was just for fun. If you want to read more about False Memory Syndrome, here is a site - http://www.fmsfonline.org/
Dedication - This chapter is dedicated to Dan and Mav and all the sibs who prefer the view from the River Denial. Thanks to Dan and Mav for the betas!
Officer Lee Thormann patrolled the evidence room for the 5th time that night and he`d only been on duty for an hour. He hated being on third watch but he owed Parsons a favor. Parsons had taken one of Thormann's shifts last week so Lee could be home for his son's first birthday party.
Patrolling the evidence room on third watch was as boring as it got, but it was an important job. Almost no one ever came to request access to evidence on that shift, but someone had to be here in case they did. And to make sure no one made undocumented visits.
Thormann glanced through the call window and down the empty hallway. It was going to be a long night. I should have brought something to read, he thought for the tenth time. He stood up and wandered through the stacks again, glancing at the collections of evidence, which were categorized by crime codes and by date. Burglaries were toward the back of the room, rapes and assaults were in the middle stacks, and murders were toward the front.
As he walked toward the front of the room for the 6th time, he noticed a pile of books in one of the evidence units.
Books? What kind of evidence could books be? Thormann wondered. He looked at the identifying tag. Barlog, Ronnie, it read. Hmm, that one doesn't ring a bell, he thought and picked up one of the books. Technically speaking, he wasn't supposed to touch anything in the evidence units but Thormann's curiosity got the better of him.
The first book he pulled out was a hardcover, black with no identifying marks. It looked like one of those blank books artists used. He opened the cover and saw the word journal written on the inside. He flipped through the pages and saw lots of writing, some drawings, some pictures. This guy was some kind of nut. Maybe a writer, the officer thought.
He took the book over to the desk and sat down, opening it to the first page of writing.
November 15, 1998
Saw Chris for the first time in about four months. Found out he was working in a bar. A fucking bar of all places! What the hell is up with that? He doesn't come around to see me for months at a time, then he gets a job as a bartender?!
Chris and me been running scams for years and he now he wants to go legit? Looks at me like I'm some kind of lowlife. Fucker.
Then this guy comes in to the bar. Some upper class blonde bitch and Chris is fucking staring at him like he's the second coming! So Mr. Rich Guy gives Chris some clothes and gives him this moony look, like too bad things didn't work out.
So after this asshole's gone, I ask Chris about him. What does he do? Gets up in my face! Tells me to back off! After all the shit we've been through. All the shit he's told me! The shit I've told him! I couldn't believe it. If I didn't love him so much, I woulda fucking choked him on the spot, just like those assholes he fucked.
Hmm. Who is this Chris? Thormann wondered. Hmm. Well, Barlog refers to Chris as a "he." He wondered if this Chris person had any connection to Barlog's murder. Were they lovers? Or just close friends who'd had a falling out?
Lee flipped forward several pages and stopped on a page where there was a crude drawing of a long, lithe man with curly hair. There was red marker all over the picture. Blood, Lee thought.
December 20, 1998
I just get Chris back into my life and now he slips away again. This Toby guy has got to go. Chris is in love with him. I know it in my gut. Chris called me a few days after I stopped in the bar and the next thing I knew we were out running a crew, going out for beers again, talking all night. I couldn't get over how back to normal things got.
Then something happened. I don't know what. But Chris tells me he's getting out of the car-theft business. Just like that! It's over. No more hanging out. No more drinking together. I know
Toby is behind this and he is going to pay but good.
Thormann stopped reading for a minute. He needed to find out more about this case before this journal made any sense. He radioed the squad room and asked for Officer Dayton. He showed up at the evidence room a few minutes later.
"Yeah? What do you want, Thormann?"
"Can you get me the Ronnie Barlog file? I want to check something."
"Oh yeah? Anything interesting?"
"Nah, I'm just bored."
"Alright, I'll be back when I get a chance."
It took Dayton almost an hour to come back. In the meantime, Thormann couldn't resist thumbing threw a few more pages.
February 23, 1999
I just got home after spending a couple of days in jail thanks to that fucker Toby.
So I'm out one night with my crew and it's been a lousy week so we are working almost til dawn to make up for it. We were on a fancy street in Highland Park and I saw Beecher at his car. He ran back into his house to get something and I took the opportunity to steal his car. Stupid asshole left his kid in the car.
Actually, I didn't even know the kid was there, but when I found out, I was glad. This was even better than I'd planned. I wanted Toby to suffer, just like I was without Chris. Less than a year ago, Chris was all mine, under my control and then Toby came along and fucked it all up. I hated him like I've never hated anybody. Not even those boys Chris fucked last summer when he should have been fucking me.
I would have killed the little pansy but there was no way I could have made Chris believe he'd done it. Not this time. Not since he'd been clean.
Thormann wrinkled his nose in disgust. This Barlog guy was seriously twisted. And what did he mean, "not this time?"
The sound of paper slammed hard on the desk surface startled Thormann and he jumped. He looked up to see Dayton standing at the evidence window. "Here's your file. You owe me."
"Thanks," Thormann said, standing up to retrieve it. Dayton was gone before Thormann reached it.
He glanced over the facts of the Barlog case and his memory of the case came back to him. Barlog was in a theft ring headed by Enrique Morales. He ended up confessing to accidentally kidnapping the child of some guy named Beecher. Tobias Beecher. Oh God. That must be Toby in the journal. The child was returned by one, Christopher Keller. Well, that`s gotta be the Chris Barlog mentioned. Then Barlog got whacked a few days later by Morales, who later got ratted out by one of his underlings.
Keller, he remembered, recently got sentenced to life at Oz just a few weeks ago. It got a lot of press in the paper. He'd plead guilty to killing three young men last summer. Could those boys be the ones Barlog wrote about? The ones that set off his jealous tirade? He needed to find some of the older journals.
He flipped through a few until he found one with 1998 dates in them. He tried to remember when Keller had murdered those boys, but no luck. And he wasn't about to ask Dayton for another favor. He began reading random entries in 1998 to see if he could find any reference to them.
Nothing in December or November. He decided to go back to the beginning of the year. Bingo. January had a very interesting entry.
January 21, 1998
I followed Chris tonight when I saw him leaving the bar with that kid. He'd been hanging with me all night. That bitch, Bonnie, had just dumped him, and I was happy to finally have him back in my life again. He was kind of depressed and I wanted to put him in a good mood. We stopped at CJs and had a few beers. Then I brought out some X and Chris was only too happy to indulge. I thought maybe, just maybe, tonight would be the night. Chris would be mine. I'd been waiting so long. Too long. Since we were kids and I thought this is finally it. We were laughing. He kept putting his arm around me and looking at me with those gorgeous blue eyes of his. I felt like the world revolved around me for a couple of hours.
Then he got up to piss and he was gone for so long. I found him in the back, pressing some kid against the wall. They were making out like I wasn't even there! Like I hadn't just let Chris cry on my shoulder all night. Like I wasn't his best friend in the whole world. I got so pissed, I saw red. Chris must have heard me or sensed me behind him. He turned to look at me and smiled like my whole world hadn't just shattered into a million pieces. This kid with short, dark hair and midnight blue eyes, like Chris, was running his hands up and down Chris' chest like he owned him. He couldn't have been more than 20, 21 years old.
So then Chris stabs me right in the gut and tells me he's going home with this Mark.
What was I going to say? No, you can't cause you're supposed to come home with me? I couldn't do that. So I let him go. He was pretty fucked up, so he let Mark drive his bike. Some kid he didn't even know. He won't even let me drive his bike. I waited a couple minutes and followed them. They traveled Rt. 137 and crossed the state line near Burlington. I kept following. Mark pulled over near some trees and they started making out like the last two lovers on earth. I parked a few blocks back and walked quietly near where they were. Chris was all over the guy and it wasn't long before they were both naked.
The kid liked it rough and Chris was in no mood to argue. Mark begged Chris to tie him to a tree, so Chris obliged. The kid even provided the ties. He came prepared. Then I watched while Chris fucked him hard. The kid was whimpering but he never told Chris to stop. When they were done, the kid has scratches and welts all over his stomach, where he'd rubbed up against the tree. Sick fucker. Chris was looking pretty dizzy at this point and sat down to rest. Then he fell asleep. The kid tried to wake him, but no go. That's when I made my move. I picked up the tie they'd used to pin Mark to that tree. I walked up behind him, careful not to snap any twigs and swung the tie around his neck. He tried to fight me off but he was on his knees before long and then he was dead.
I left then. Left to let Chris wake up and find the body. Wondering what had happened. I hoped he would come to me for help. That he'd need me so desperately. But he didn't. Not that time anyway.
Jesus Christ, Thormann thought, could this possibly be true? Is this all some fantasy in this guy Ronnie's head? Or did he really do this? If he did, why would Chris confess to the crimes? He certainly wasn't protecting Ronnie cause he was already dead.
He wondered if anyone in the D.A.'s office ever got around to reading these journals. Probably not before Barlog died, he figured. Thormann decided he need to bring the content of these journals to someone's attention. But first, he needed to find out more, so he continued to read, marking important passages with paper clips.
He read the details of a second killing in March. Ronnie identified the victim as "Byam" but mentioned no last name. Didn't take a genius to figure out it was Byam Lewis, the second victim of Chris Keller's killing spree. Only it seemed that Chris hadn't been the killer. Ronnie had. Chris had taken Byam to the same wooded area, a mile or so down the road from the first killing, and repeated the whole rough trade scenario. What could have possessed Chris to go back to the same place a second time. If he had woken up and found Mark Caraci dead and somehow believed he'd done it himself, why would he repeat the same pattern? Thormann couldn't quite figure that one out.
Ronnie indicated he'd waited again for Chris to come to him for help but no luck.
May 29, 1998
Chris finally came to me last night. He was in tears. He needed me. What more could I ask for?
I had been with him the night before at CJ's, just like always. And he, of course, got his sights on another lookalike college boy. This one was a guy named Bryce. Where the fuck do these parents find these names? I followed him again and what does that moron do? Goes back to the same fuckin woods where I killed the last two guys!
So he comes knocking on my door about 3 in the morning and he's all upset and remorseful. So I calm him down and he tells me what happened. Or what he thinks happened. He thinks he killed all these guys while he was high. He remembers bringing'em to the woods. He vaguely remembers tying them up and fucking'em, but then he blanks out on the rest. Wakes up with a dead body.
So I comfort him. I tell him what he wants to hear. It wasn't his fault. It was that prick father of his, who made him hate. He was killing himself over and over through those boys. He hated himself and that's how he was dealing with it. He bought the whole story hook, line and sinker. He's mine, now. I own him. Nothing's going to change that. Nothing and nobody.
Jesus H. Christ, Thormann thought. This Barlog is, or was, fucking psychotic. How did he get away with this? Why did Chris believe him? Thormann read the journals all night long. When his shift was over and his replacement came in, he signed the journals out and brought them to his Sargeant. Before the morning was over, the D.A.'s office and the FBI were filling up office space.
"This has got to be some sort of ruse," Agent Pierce Taylor insisted. "Keller confessed. We have his DNA on the bodies!"
"That doesn't mean he killed them. It only proves he had sex with the boys. But Barlog killed them and then convinced Keller than he'd done it," Detective Ziegler said.
"How the hell could an idiot like Barlog convince Keller of something like that? It's impossible."
"What else could have happened? You think Keller wrote the journals and planted them or something? They've been in the evidence lock-up for weeks!" Captain Jonas Duane argued.
"Regardless of whether it's true or not, we have to investigate this. We can't let it lie. And we need to inform Keller's lawyer," said Terry Lugar, the assistant district attorney.
"Oh no. No one informs Cowan until we do a thorough investigation. First we need a search warrant for Barlog's home."
"Done," Lugar said and picked up his briefcase.
"Make sure it covers everything from the garage to the doghouse."
"I've got a surprise for you." Toby had just arrived for his weekly visit at Oz. Chris stood to greet him, giving him a tight hug and kissing him quickly on the neck. The room was crowded with visitors and he knew Toby got embarrassed by any overt displays of affection.
"Oh yeah? What?" Keller asked, sitting back down.
Toby reached inside his jacket and held up the photos furtively, shielding them with his body.
"What are these?" Chris asked and leaned in closer and saw himself and Toby making love. Chris inside Toby. Toby inside Chris. Kissing. Touching. Sucking. He drew in a deep breath. "Where did you get these?"
"I made screen caps from the video. You were right about that. I'm glad you turned the camera on."
"You made screen caps of us fucking?" Chris asked. He was highly amused and slightly aroused.
"Shh," Toby warned, looking around. His cheeks were flushed red. "I knew you wouldn't be able to see the tape, so I thought you'd like to see, you know, some stills. Are you upset?"
"No, just surprised. Did you have someone do this for you?"
"No! Gary showed me how to do this."
Chris raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Gary?"
"Not with this tape, you jerk! He showed me how with another tape and I did these on my own."
Chris spread his fingers out over Toby's thighs. "You do surprise me sometimes, Beecher," he said and then lowered his voice. "How many times have you watched it?"
"I don't know."
"Come on, Beecher. Tell me." His hand moved higher, but Beecher halted him by covering it with his own hand.
"I didn't keep count." Toby's cheeks were tinged red and he tried to sound nonchalant.
"So, it was more times than you could count," he asked, giving Toby a trademark Keller leer.
"You're pretty pleased with yourself, aren't you?"
"You better make a copy before you wear it out," Keller joked and sat back. No sense getting them both worked up.
"Already taken care of. I made three copies," Toby said with a straight face.
Chris chuckled. "You better keep those pictures."
"But bring'em back with you next time you visit."
"So tell me what's going on, besides you beating off three times a day to images of my gorgeous ass."
"Ha. Ha. What a comedian."
"Seriously. How are the kids?"
"They're good. They miss you. They keep asking to come with me, but Gen doesn't think they should. Not yet, anyway. I'm trying to wear her down," he said, smiling sheepishly.
"You don't have to do that, Toby. You should listen to Gen. Kids shouldn't see the inside of a prison."
"But they want to see you. And what's wrong with kids seeing the inside of a prison? Maybe they'd learn not to do anything stupid enough to send them here," Toby said, his voice took on that irritated tone. Then he realized what he'd said. "I'm sorry, Chris."
"Nah, you're right. I was stupid."
"Well, well, well. Who's this?" Toby heard a voice behind him and turned to see a man standing behind him, looking at him. He was in his late 40s, with short-cropped white hair. He had an ugly leer on his face. "This your bitch, Keller?" he asked, indicating Toby.
"Fuck off, Vern."
Vern, Toby thought, panicking. He turned to look at Chris.
"Better watch your mouth, sweetpea. I still own you."
"You wish," Chris said under his breath.
Vern ignored him and looked at Toby again. "I bet he's a sweet piece, eh Keller?"
Keller stood up then. "Enough, Vern. You've had your fun. Now why don't you wander over to your visitor. Looks like he's about to fall over."
Toby followed Vern's eyes over to the table where he saw a young man with glassy eyes, who looked like he was about to nod off.
Vern began walking toward him. "Andrew! I thought I told you never to come see me when you're high on that shit!" Vern growled, grabbing the boy by his shirt.
"Fuck you, pop," Andrew slurred. Just then the guard came up and warned Vern to sit down or the visit would end.
"Jeez, what was that all about? Is that the Vern you told me about?"
"Why didn't you tell me he was here?"
"I didn't want you to worry, Toby."
"What did he mean, he still owns you?"
"He thinks I still owe him for Lardner."
Toby's eyes opened in surprise. "What?! You owe him for being raped? What the fuck does that mean?"
"Toby, chill out. Take a deep breath. Don't worry about Vern. I can handle him."
"I just don't understand how you owe him."
"For protecting me from the other prisoners."
Toby shook his head. "That is just....just..."
"Toby, take a deep breath. That's just the way things are inside. I can handle it."
"You shouldn't have to. You shouldn't even be here."
"Yeah, I should and you know it. Now, let's talk about something else. I don't want to think about Vern while you're here visiting me."
Toby nodded. By the time their visit ended, they had talked about everything from Toby's work to Chris' therapy sessions with Sr. Pete, as Chris called her. When the guard informed them the visit was over, Chris noticed that the number of visitors had dwindled down to just two others. Vern and Andrew were long gone, thank God.
"Come here, Toby," Chris said and pulled Toby into loving embrace, pressing their lips together. His lips glided over Toby's mouth, tasting him again. It was too much and had been too long since the last time. These snippets of time with Toby were short and infrequent. They were both torturous and rejuvenating at the same time.
"Alright, you two. That's enough," the guard said, interrupting them.
Chris pulled his lips reluctantly away from Toby. "What's the matter, Mineo? Jealous?"
"Shut the fuck up, Keller, unless you want to end up in the hole."
"Yes, sir," he mocked Mineo and mouthed "I love you," to Toby as he was led out of the room.
"See you next week," Toby called after him.
A thorough search of Barlog's home turned up a Tupperware container in his freezer containing hair, torn bits of cloth and a man`s ring. Taylor sent them off to the FBI lab. The hair samples belonged to Byam Lewis and Bryce Tibbets. The ring belonged to Tibbets. There wasn't anything from Mark Caraci.
The cloth was torn bits of clothing that matched what Lewis and Tibbets had worn the nights they died. There was also some extra cloth that was torn from a sheet. One of the cloth strips had Tibbets' DNA. Another had Lewis'.
A handwriting analysis was done on the journals and compared to the writing in Barlog's checkbook. It was a match.
Taylor hung his head when the final DNA tests came back several weeks later. "I guess we have to call Cowan now."
"Mr. Beecher, Marcus Cowan is on line 3."
Toby picked up the phone quickly. "Marcus? What's up?"
"I'm heading over to Oz to see Chris. Can you meet me there?"
"Yeah, sure. What's this about?"
"I'll tell you when you get there."
"Toby?" Chris said, surprised and stood up. He'd been told he was meeting with his lawyer, so he only expected to see Cowan. When Toby came in the door behind Marcus, Chris' heart jumped up in the throat. "What's wrong? Why are you here?"
Before Toby could answer, Cowan said, "I asked him to come. I have news and I wanted Toby to be here to hear it."
They both turned concerned glances toward Cowan. "What is it, Marcus?" Toby asked.
"A few weeks ago, a police officer named Lee Thormann was guarding the evidence room. It was a duty he didn't usually pull and he was bored, so he picked up Ronnie Barlog's journals and started reading them."
"Barlog? What the...What does that have to do with me?"
"In the journals, Barlog claims he followed you the nights you took those boys to the woods."
Chris gasped quietly and Toby touched his hand.
"He wrote that he watched you have sex with those boys; watched you fall asleep. And then he killed them."
"What?" Toby and Chris echoed together, surprise and shock in their voices.
"Ronnie claims he killed them."
"Wait. Wait. That doesn't...why would I...Why didn't he..." Chris rambled, but couldn't finish his thoughts aloud.
"Ronnie Barlog was obsessed with you. He was jealous when you chose those boys over him."
"Ronnie? Obsessed with me? That doesn't make any sense. We've known each other since we were kids. Ronnie never expressed any interest in me that way."
"I have copies of the journals here for you to read. He goes on and on about you." He slid the Xerox copies across the table to Chris.
Toby shook his head. "If he wanted to get rid of all of Chris' lovers, why didn't he come after me?"
Cowan took a deep breath. "He was planning to, Toby. Stealing your car was just the first step. He wanted to draw out his revenge on you. He knew you meant more to Chris than the others." Chris squeezed Toby's hand. "It's all in the journal."
"If he was so obsessed with me, why did he let me think I'd killed those boys?" Chris asked.
Cowan shook his head. "I'm not sure. Perhaps he got tired of waiting and wanted revenge on you, too."
"Jesus," Toby said quietly. "Does this mean that the conviction will be overturned? Chris will get to home, right?" Toby asked eagerly.
Cowan sighed. "It's not going to be quite that easy. A new search of Ronnie's place turned up evidence linking him to the crimes, but only Tibbets' and Lewis. There was no evidence tying him to Caraci. The FBI doesn't want to lose this; especially since Barlog is dead and they can't prosecute anyone else."
"Fuck," Toby said.
"In the meantime, Dr. Watson is coming to Oz in a few days and is going to try hypnosis to see if he can get you to remember what really happened on those nights. Taylor and some other feds are going to witness it. It that okay with you, Chris?"
He nodded. "Whatever gets us to the bottom of this."
The hypnosis sessions, which were attended by Pierce and an FBI psychiatrist, showed that Chris couldn't remember anything beyond having sex with the boys and then waking up to find them dead.
Pierce expressed his frustration after the sessions, insisting that Chris' lack of memory about the killings did not prove his innocence. Dr. Watson explained that Ronnie most likely planted the idea of Chris' guilt when he was at his most vulnerable, using Chris' memories of his abusive father to bolster his story. He referred to this phenomena as False Memory Syndrome. Pierce scoffed but the bureau's own psychiatrist showed him documentation of real cases.
With testimony from Dr. Watson, Barlog's journals and the souvenirs, two of the murder convictions were overturned. But the court would not overturn the conviction in the Caraci murder.
"Marcus, there must be something else you can do!" Toby pleaded at yet another meeting with the beleaguered lawyer, who had been putting in countless hours on Chris' case for the past six months.
"I wish there was, Toby. But until we can somehow tie Ronnie Barlog to Caraci, Chris isn't going anywhere."
"Why didn't Ronnie keep a souvenir from Mark? It doesn't make sense."
"Mark was most likely his first victim. He hadn't established a pattern yet."
"What about another hypnosis session? Maybe if Dr. Watson digs a little more, Chris will remember something that can connect Ronnie to Mark."
Marcus was shaking his head. "No, Toby. That kind of testimony isn't generally allowed in court. Hypnosis can create it's own false memories in victims. The only reason Dr. Watson was even allowed to testify about the ones he already conducted was because Pierce and the FBI doctor were there."
"But maybe Chris can remember some detail that would lead the police to a piece of physical evidence that hasn't been recovered."
"They went over that apartment pretty thoroughly, Toby. I think they even pulled up some floorboards. I don't think there's anything left to find."
"Please, Marcus, it's worth a shot."
Marcus sighed. "Alright. I'll talk to Watson. Then we have to call Pierce before we do anything."
"Chris, what happens after you finish with Mark?" Dr. Watson asked.
"I'm so tired. I can barely stand."
"I untie him from the tree. Then I sit down to rest. I just need a minute."
"What does Mark do?"
"Uhhh...he starts to pick up his clothes." Chris' words became slurry.
"Do you watch him get dressed?"
"Too tired..." Chris really does sound exhausted, Toby thought as he listened. Pierce and the FBI doctor were also there, in a meeting room at Oz.
"Mmm?" Chris answers groggily.
"Where are you?"
"In the woods."
"Who's with you?"
Chris paused as if looking around. "No one. It's quiet. Mark's gone...oh no."
"What is it?"
"It's Mark. He's lying on the ground." Chris' voice got stronger suddenly as if he was hit with a surge of adrenaline. "He's...oh god, he's not breathing."
"What are you doing, Chris?"
"I...I'm checking for a pulse. He's not...he's not breathing." Chris' voice sounded panicked and Toby's heart went out to him.
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to give him mouth-to-mouth."
"Then what happens?"
"Nothing. He's dead. He's dead. I...I must have killed him."
"Are you sure?"
"I don't know. I don't remember."
"Chris, I want you to look around and notice anything that might be out of place or unusual. A broken branch, a shoe print, anything that might be missing. Do you see anything."
"Have to...have to do something." Toby thought Chris sounded like he might hyperventilate.
"Chris, I need you to breath deeply. Okay. One, two, three. Breathe. Now hold it." Dr. Watson waited a moment until Chris followed his instructions. "Now, I want you to look around and see if you notice anything unusual. Anything out of place."
Chris was quiet for a minute or so. "I need to get him dressed."
"Yes. He's still naked. I thought he was getting dressed, but his clothes are still on the ground next to him."
"Okay, Chris. I'll wait while you dress him."
Chris paused again while his mind went through the motions of dressing Mark. "I...uh...I can't seem to find his underwear."
"Did he have any on when you both arrived in the woods?"
"Uh, yeah. I remember because they were orange."
"What brand, Chris?"
"Brand? I, uh, don't remem...Calvin Klein, I think."
"Are you still looking for them?"
"Can you find them?"
"No. They aren't here. I just have to finish without them. I have to bury him and get home. Fast."
Dr. Watson took Chris out of the hypnosis then and Chris remembered everything they had
"It's possible the police could have overlooked the underwear when they searched Ronnie's place."
Dr. Watson nodded. "Possible, but doubtful. If Ronnie kept the underwear as a souvenir, he wouldn't have put them in his underwear drawer. They would have to be someplace special. Any ideas, Chris?"
"I'm not sure."
"Was there anyplace he spend a lot of time besides his apartment? A friend's place? Girlfriend?"
"Nah, not that I can think of." Chris thought for a few minutes. "He sometimes hung out at my place, but I would have remembered if I came across orange underwear. The only other place he ever went to was his mom's house."
"Maybe it's there?" Toby said.
"Maybe we should call Ziegler. He seemed like he was more interested in the truth than keeping you in jail." Toby added.
A few phone calls later, Toby accompanied Ziegler to the Barlog home. He decided against a search warrant and simply called Mrs. Barlog and asked for permission to search the home without telling her why. She agreed, hoping it would help the police put away her son's killer. Morales' trial was coming in a few months and she wanted the police to make sure he was put away for the rest of his life. The underwear were found in a Ziploc bag under Ronnie's childhood bed.
A lab analysis showed Mark Caraci's DNA on the underwear, which allowed Marcus to file for an appeal of the conviction. They were able to get a court date in late March.
"It's about time you got out of here. I can't believe it took so damn long for them to release you. Almost a year in jail for something you didn't do!" Toby said during his final visit with Chris before his release. He had brought Chris a bag with some fresh clothes for him to wear when he was released.
"Yeah, well, maybe I didn't kill those boys, but I'm not exactly some kind of innocent. There was the grocer, remember?" Chris said.
Toby grimaced and shook his head. "I don't want to think about that."
Chris told hold of his lover's arm. "Toby, we can't just pretend it didn't happen."
Toby sighed. "You're right. I know that. I just want today to be...We've been in this serial killer nightmare for I-don't-know-how-many months and I just want it to be over. Okay? I want it to be morning and the bad dream is gone."
Chris nodded, understanding.
"I know you're not perfect, Chris. Nobody is. I know you've made some mistakes - horrible ones. So have I. I love you for who you are; not for what you've done. Okay?"
Chris smiled. "Okay, Toby."
"So, I'll be by tomorrow to bring you home."
"Home? That is like the best thing I've heard in months," Chris said.
Toby gave him a quick kiss and stood up.
The next day Toby was waiting at the gate when Chris strolled up to him, dressed in jeans and a snug-fitting t-shirt. Toby smiled, glad to know he picked out the right His eyes opened wide when he saw his motorcycle.
"You brought my bike!" Chris said, after giving Toby a warm kiss. He ran his hand over the long-missed treasure.
Toby smiled at Chris' reaction. "You want to drive?"
"Nah. I'll just hang on to you and relax."
Toby slipped onto the bike and waited until he felt Chris' arms around his waist. His hands never stopped moving and Toby could feel Chris' lips on his neck. "Mmmmmmm. It feels so good to hold you, Toby, without prying eyes and interruptions."
Toby groaned and leaned back against his lover. "I can't wait to get you home."
"Hey, maybe we could stop somewhere along the way," Chris whispered, rubbing his hand over Toby's burgeoning erection. "A field, maybe, or by that lake in Freetown? I don't think I can wait two whole hours to get my hands on your naked flesh."
"Jesus, Chris," he hissed, trying to calm his erratic heartbeat. "We need to calm down here." He took a deep breath and grabbed Chris' helmet and handed to him.
"Don't want to calm down," Chris said, ignoring the helmet and keeping his hands moving over Toby's heated groin. "I wanna fuck you `til you scream my name. It's been too long, baby."
Toby twisted his body sideways slightly, so he could look at Chris. "Well, maybe we can stop somewhere, but we are getting out of here now! Take this helmet." Chris did and Toby kissed him long and hard before kickstarting the engine. They put their helmets on and left Oz behind.
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