The Smallest Part
Originally posted to TS in February, 2001
Disclaimers: They belong to TF and HBO. More's the pity.
Spoilers: Set immediately after the end of "Cuts Like a Knife": contains major spoilers for that
Note: This was the result of a personal challenge. I was actually *trying*
to write something sappy. It's a first for me.
THE SMALLEST PART
That night, Toby has a dream. He dreams of things he hasn't seen in years - of trees, tall and strong; of sweet, verdant grass lush under
his feet; of huge cotton-candy clouds drifting lazily overhead.
And in the middle of it all, there is Chris. There is always Chris.
He is standing in the grass, a solitary figure in the center of an emerald-green field. And he looks absolutely beautiful - lighter,
somehow straighter, and happier than Toby has ever seen him. The
striking light from the full sun gilds his dark hair, flashes in his blue, blue eyes, and turns his skin a healthy, glowing gold.
"You look like an angel," Toby breathes.
Chris' face breaks into a grin. "Me? I'm no angel," he says.
"What, dead?" The grin widens. "Hell, no. I told you, Toby, they're gonna
need an army to take me down."
"I'm going to miss you so much," Toby whispers, aching.
Chris nods. "C'mere," he says, pointing at the grass by his feet. "Come
on, Beecher. Right here."
Toby starts to move toward him but finds himself clumsy and slow. He glances down in confusion, only to find his legs enclosed in casts,
and his arms held still by slings. He looks up. Chris simply looks on, waiting.
Slowly, lumbering, Toby begins to move. It seems to take forever to take just a few steps, with little gained by each. Somewhere in his
semi-conscious mind, trapped between dream and daylight, he despairs that he'll never get there at all -- that instead he'll just walk and
walk, never gaining any ground.
"Look," Chris says, pointing to the sky. "Looks like it's waiting, don't it?"
Toby glances up. It's just a cloud. There are dozens, and to Toby they all look the same.
"Waiting for what?" Toby asks.
"For us, Toby." Chris' smile is deep and unrestrained. "You and me."
And that is the moment when it hits Toby, with a jolt. This change he sees in Chris -- it comes from being free.
*Free*. The word glides softly across the wind-blown grass, floats over and above the tops of the trees, and soars across the great,
unending expanse of cerulean sky.
Father Ray sat in the chair beside Toby's bunk. "Since you've been in Oz, you've been searching for faith," he said. "Tell me, Tobias, are
you any closer to finding what you've been looking for?"
"I've been looking for a meaning," Toby answered. "Some way to make sense out of everything that's happened." He looked up, searching
Father Ray's face. "And now, it seems further away than ever. Am I supposed to believe that everything that's happened was part of God's
plan for me? That I was destined to love him, and then let him go?"
"Is that what you think?"
"I don't know what to think," Toby sighed. "All I know is that Chris gave up everything. How can I accept a God that sacrificed him to
Father Ray nodded slowly. "I see." He clasped his hands together, watching Toby solemnly. "Has it ever occurred to you that loving you
might have been part of God's plan for *Chris*? That you, in fact, were *his* saving grace?"
For a long moment, Toby said nothing; he simply sat, staring at his hands. Finally he lifted his head, the pale eyes haunted and
sad. "Would you be able to live with it?" he asked the priest. "Knowing that someone gave up his life for you?"
Ray smiled. He lifted the cross from his lap, holding it reverently. "I live with it every day, Tobias."
"Then tell me. Does it ever get any easier?"
Sliding deftly off his chair, Father Ray settled himself on his knees at Toby's feet. "The best way you can thank Chris for what he's done
is to take the life he gave you and make something of it." He gripped Toby's hands in his own, squeezing them gently. "Don't you see?
Christ died so that we, his beloved, could live. And Chris --" he paused, his own tears threatening to surface, "Chris did what he had
to do." Toby shook his head wildly, but Father Ray only clasped his hands more firmly. "Don't bury yourself in guilt, Tobias. To do so
would be to negate the sacrifice he made for you."
"So I'm supposed to just go on with my life, and forget about him?"
Ray shook his head. "No. No, you'll never forget him," he said. "But to remember him, to honor what he did for you and what he meant to
you, you have to *live*."
"I'm not sure that I can," Toby said hoarsely.
Father Ray rose. At the door, he turned one last time. "Tobias. Do you love him?"
Toby squeezed his eyes shut. "More than I ever knew."
"Then be happy for him," Ray said gently. "God is."
When he was gone, Toby dropped his face into his hands and wept.
That night, Tobias dreams again.
This time, there are no casts, and there are no crutches. This time when he sees Chris, he runs.
In the moment of contact, they reach simultaneously. Arms wrap, lips join, bodies bend like fronds whipped by the wind. They lean into
each other, unified, linked by the past, and -- if Chris has it
right -- by the future as well.
After a time, they turn together, side by side, and head toward the horizon. They walk for what seems like an eternity, with the grass
and the sky stretching endlessly ahead. The sun is high, generous and warm.
Shielding his eyes with one hand, Toby asks, "How long does it take to get used to the light?"
Chris stops short. He lifts his face to the sky, closing his eyes. "You *never* get used to it, Toby." He spreads his arms wide
and breathes deeply, nostrils flaring; a fine, feral animal released from his confines, abandoning himself to the light. Toby can only
watch, transfixed -- it is a movement so natural, so inherently sensual, that Toby's body remembers, and instantly responds.
My Chris, he marvels. He would seduce the sun, if he could.
Finally Chris turns and reaches out, sliding a hand across Toby's neck and pulling him close. His eyes are clear and guileless, full of
such tender emotion that it takes Toby's breath.
"I love you, Toby."
Toby's eyes drift closed. The light, and the love - it's all too much. It's too much.
"I know," Toby whispers. And wakes.