The moment Chris walks into Em City, Toby steps out of his shadowed
corner and grabs him by the upper arm, steering him into the laundry
room. Keller is never easily led, nobody knows that better than Toby
himself, but this time he goes along without comment, offering only a
raised eyebrow and a pointed glance at the spot where Toby’s fingers dig
into his arm.
But Toby says nothing, not yet. Every moment that goes by is a wasted
one, and there’s simply no time for words. He opens two of the dryers,
one on top, one on bottom, knowing that as long as they stay behind the
opened doors, the two of them are practically invisible. Without saying
a word, he shoves Chris against the wall and kisses him, while his free
hand reaches for the zipper at Chris’s waist.
Don’t think, he warns himself. Chris’s mouth, his body, every part of
him is familiar, painfully so -- and this could end up being so much
more than it needs to be. Or so much less.
Either way, it has to be done.
But Chris is shoving him away. “Beecher, get the fuck—“
“Shut up,” Toby tells him, and kisses him again, hard. “Just shut the
fuck up.” He can’t win if they fight and he knows it, so he does the
only other thing he can think of to make Keller cease and desist. If
nothing else, Toby has learned how to press what few advantages he has.
Through the skirmish, he manages to get a good grip on Chris’s cock, and
starts to jerk him off roughly.
It doesn’t last long. Toby knows exactly how Chris likes it best, and
he’s determined. Within moments, Chris is coming all over his hand.
“You fucking slut.” Keller’s breath is shallow, but the words are clear,
and angry. “What, you can’t go without it for even one day?”
It hurts, but Toby accepts that as his due. “This wasn’t about that.”
“Then what the fuck was it about?”
Toby takes a step back and meets Chris’s gaze steadily. “An alibi.”
The cafeteria is bustling with the dinner crowd; two hundred voices
combined into one annoying drone. Toby glances up briefly, taking in the
sea of blue shirts and pasty faces, and then turns his attention back to
his tray. Processed cheese on a slice of white bread; one apple,
slightly bruised; watered down purple juice-stuff. Standard Oz fare;
just enough protein and carbs to keep a body from keeling over in the
halls. Why waste money on good, solid food when so few of them ever make
it out alive?
When he looks up again, Agent Taylor is standing in front of him.
For a long time Taylor says nothing, just stands there, staring down at
Toby in that cocky, ‘We-both-know-what-you-did’ way he has; hoping, most
likely, to make Toby feel so uncomfortable that secrets will spill from
his mouth like jewels. But Toby has come a long way since his first days
in Oz, and words carry a hefty price. Instead of speaking, he reaches
for his plastic juice bottle, brings it to his mouth, puts it back down;
every movement measured, deceptively casual. It’s a testament to months
spent watching Keller, and secretly coveting the ease with which he
inhabits the dangerous world they live in.
“Ronald Barlog is dead,” Taylor says, and then waits for a response. And
then: “You have nothing to say?”
“Life in Oz.” Toby shrugs. “It’s a bitch.”
Taylor cocks his head to one side. “And here I thought you’d have the
inside scoop, Mr. Beecher. After all, you were Ronnie’s... what?
Lawyer?” He uses scorn like a weapon, but Toby is determined to remain
“Now, that would be impossible,” Toby points out, “since I was
disbarred. As you already know.”
Taylor drops down onto the bench across from Toby. His smile is
snake-like. “But you did perform some kind of service for the
dearly departed Mr. Barlog. Isn’t that right?”
”So I hear.”
Toby smiles at him, licks his lips suggestively. “So many men, so little
time... really, who can remember them all?”
“You’re a cool customer.” Taylor leans across the table. “But I’m only
going to ask you this once. Did you have anything to do with Ronald
“Do you know who did?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Mmm, that’s too bad.”
Taylor sits back in his chair. “I think you fucked him, and Keller got
“Well, if you’ve done your research,” Toby says mildly, “and I’m sure
you have, then you know that my relationship with Keller ended months
ago. And trust me, Barlog didn’t want anything to do with me.”
“Because of Keller?”
“Maybe.” Toby shrugs. “Or maybe my reputation preceded me.” He lowers
his voice to a confidential whisper. “Some people say my dick is
“Don’t underestimate me, Beecher. I have the potential to become your
Toby snorts at that. “Look, let’s save some time, okay? Chris was with
me when Barlog died. I’ll swear to that.”
“Very noble. Keller put you up to it?”
“There’s nothing noble about it,” Toby shoots back. “It’s the truth. I
don’t know who killed Ronnie, but I do know that it wasn’t Chris.”
Taylor watches him for a long moment, and then shakes his head, slowly.
“He must be some piece of ass.”
This time Toby’s laugh is genuine. “Hardly relevant.”
“Do you really think a jury would believe you?” Taylor asks. “You’re a
convict. A murderer.”
“They won’t have to believe me,” Toby says coldly. “Run the tests.
You’ll find Chris’s DNA all over me. Saliva, semen... I bet you’ll even
find some of his skin under my fingernails.”
A pause. “If you’re lying, I’ll find out,” Taylor warns. “And believe
me, Mr. Beecher, if that happens, I promise that you’ll regret it.”
“Is that supposed to be a threat?”
“Consider it more of a friendly piece of advice.”
“We’re not friends, and I didn’t ask for your advice. If you want to
punish me for something, Agent Taylor, go right ahead. Throw me in the
hole, add more years to my sentence, do whatever the fuck you want to
do." Toby stands, pushing his tray aside. "But don’t ever lecture to me