Posted to TS October 2001
Summary: Keller spends a
restless night during Operation Andy.
Spoilers: Season 3
Notes: This was originally intended to be a Lyric Wheel fic. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get it written on time for the wheel, but the lyrics were too good to go to waste, and it ended up as sort of a prequel to my
First Time for Everything series.
My thanks to Mav for sending the lyrics, and inspiring this. Thanks also to Christy and Grackle for their insight and suggestions. I am so not worthy.
Keller shifted restlessly, cursing under his breath as he struggled to find a comfortable position on the narrow bed. In the bunk below him, Hill slept without making a sound, a far cry from the muttering and the tense, restless movements that Keller had grown used to, living with Beecher the past few months. The silence in his new pod was driving him nuts. Keller found himself filling the empty space with his own racing thoughts, and that was a bad fucking idea.
He rolled onto his stomach, gazing out over the common room that separated him from the pod he still considered his own. Shit, he was *tired*… too many nights spent staring at the underside of Beecher’s bed, lying all alone and restless in his own bunk and wondering how the hell he was going to fix this mess. And now this. But despite his exhaustion, he knew there was no way he was getting any sleep, not tonight. He folded his arms under his chin, wincing at the soreness in his jaw -- a little reminder of the sucker punch Beecher had planted on him earlier, the one that was supposed to have caught him in the stomach, where he’d been ready for it. Fucking bitch.
Keller was still pissed, but pissed was nothing new -- it was pretty much a regular thing now, ever since Beecher had decided to raise the stakes in his little game of hard-to-get. Ever the pragmatist, Keller figured he’d probably had it coming, so at first he wasn’t concerned by the way Toby’d been holding out. Hell, he could even be a little generous and admit that he’d been getting a kick out of watching Beecher play this game – *Keller’s* game -- even if the crazy motherfucker was an amateur at best, and no match for Keller himself. But things were getting out of control.
He slid off the bunk and stalked to the glass, leaning his forehead against it and staring out into the darkness of Em City. He hated this whole fucking arrangement. It had seemed like a great idea at first -- Beech had stepped out of his silent little corner in the laundry room, shocking the hell out of Keller and O’Reily with a simple yet effective strategy for revenge. He’d tossed out one of his twisted little smiles, looking for a moment there exactly like the lunatic Keller had heard all those rumors about, and even O’Reily had taken a cautious step backwards. But once he began to talk, Beech’s eyes were clear and sharp, and merciless. He’d laid out a plan that would have made even Schillinger proud – that is, if he hadn’t been the one standing directly in Beecher’s line of fire.
Watching him, listening, Keller had been unable to suppress a wicked grin. Beech had learned his lessons well. The guy who’d been left shattered in the gym was *not* the same one who’d returned three months later, sneering and sharpening his claws… something had been let loose in him, something vicious and wild that reminded Keller of himself. And all that had only made him want Beecher more, made him more determined to *have* him. Because getting a beaten-down Toby to surrender had been satisfying, oh, hell, yeah… but Keller wanted more from him now, way fucking more, now that he knew there was more to be had.
His grin had faded fast, though. Once again, Keller had failed to figure things all the way through… he’d forgotten one very important thing, something Vern taught him a long time ago: Once the lessons are learned, there ain’t really much use for the ‘teacher’ anymore.
Which was why he was awake in the middle of the night, standing at the door of his new home and searching the shadows that shifted in his old one. He stared at Beecher's pod -- at the top bunk, which was empty, and at the bottom one, which was *not* -- and wondered for maybe the hundredth time just what Beecher was doing in there. And remembered the moment he’d learned – firsthand – exactly what *this* Beecher was capable of.
* * *
“Beecher, tell me. Was it you?”
“You know, I’d never realized just how *easy* it is. How fragile the human body really is. I mean, here we are, all of us walking around like we own the planet, you know? We don’t realize that all that protects us from the coffin is just a few layers of skin, a bone or two. And all it takes, all it really fucking takes, is just a little pressure -- a sharp-enough blade, just a single twist in the right direction. The perfect combination of timing and intent, and – poof! – it’s all over.”
“Toby, was it you?”
Toby slid down from his bunk, approaching Keller from behind. “Turn around,” he said softly. “Look right there.” He pointed at the mirror. Chris turned, staring at Toby’s reflection.
“No. Not at me – look at your own face.” Leaning over Chris’s shoulder, he whispered, “It
was me. There -- now look. See that? That expression?” Toby pivoted around to face him, angrily. “Now you tell me. Is that what my face looked like when I walked into the gym and saw you with Schillinger?”
Chris closed his eyes briefly, half-turning, pushing Toby away.
Toby laughed bitterly. “Tell me, Keller, is it? Is that what I looked like? Confused?
Keller jerked his head back, his jaw tightening, but he remained silent.
Toby went on. “Shattered. Like my fucking arms. You get it yet, Chris? The bones, they heal. But that -- ” he pointed to the mirror – “that isn’t going away. It’s not
ever going away.” Disgusted, he turned his back on Chris and limped toward the sink. He glanced up as he switched on the water, and met Chris’s eyes in the mirror. “I spent three fucking months in that hospital. I had to learn to use my body again. And for what? Fucking
“Toby, he wanted you dead. I fuckin’ saved your life.”
Toby laughed humorlessly. “Why? Why’d you do it? Why not just go along with the original plan, get me out of the way? You can’t expect me to believe you had some moral revelation….”
Chris hesitated, staring at Toby silently for a long moment before sliding his gaze away from the mirror. When he raised his eyes again, the game face was fully in place and intact, but his cool smile didn’t reach his eyes. “Ahh,
well…” He gave a short laugh. “After that kiss, you know -- all bets were off, after that.”
“Oh, don’t give me that shit, Keller.” Toby snorted. “I’m sure that was planned too. Tell me – what would you have done if the hacks hadn’t broken us up? Would you have gone through with it? Was fucking me part of the game plan?” He laughed bitterly. “Anything for the cause, right? You know, I’m not proud of what I’ve done since I’ve been here. I’m not proud to say I was Schillinger’s prag.” He turned off the water and turned to leave, tossing his last words over his shoulder as he strode toward the door. “But at least I was never his whore.”
* * *
And now Beecher was over there, somewhere inside that double-wide shadow being cast from the bottom bunk, and whether any of them liked it or not, Keller was right there with him,
in whatever soft, soothing words he was saying to Andrew, in the way he was stroking him, comforting him, convincing him to trust the hands that held him. Keller closed his eyes, and his hands clenched on the doorframe. He could actually see the smile of satisfaction that would be curling Beecher’s lips, he could feel the sweet anticipation Beecher would feel when Andrew finally surrendered to him. A junkie like Beecher would lap that right up, no fucking doubt about it. And little Andrew would never know what hit him.
He climbed back up and threw himself across his bed, tossing one arm over his eyes, and tried to banish the vision in his head that he was never able to erase, no matter what he did:
Beecher’s face, in the laundry room. Astonished, eager, those blue eyes dawning with a new understanding, a new kind of need. Keller reached into his shorts and began to touch himself, picturing that look, and remembering the powerful rush he’d felt, seeing it.
We're not done, baby, he promised silently. We are not fucking done. His hand moved faster, harder, and he closed his eyes. No matter what was going on in that pod, no matter what Beecher was saying or doing or thinking, Keller knew one thing for sure -- Andrew wasn’t seeing that face. No fucking way. That one was real -- and only for him.
Just for him... for him... for him... for him...
He came into his hand with a jerk and a sigh… and Toby’s name on his tongue.