Throwing Stones

What begins as a new way to pass the time becomes a ritual. It starts with Sex and the City, but then they discover G-String Divas, and then Real Sex, and by the time McManus figures out that signing a year-long contract for premium cable probably wasnít such a good idea, the inmates are threatening to riot again if he tries to pull the plug. The Italian faction alone has already made plans to stage a minor coup if they take ďThe SopranosĒ away, and in a rare moment of pre-catastrophic insight, McManus tells the warden that the cable company changed their basic line-up, strategically leaving out the words ďoptional upgrade,Ē and locks himself into his office with a bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol.

Beecher sits with the rest of them, but he doesnít pay much attention to the TV. Instead, he watches Chris. Watching Chris isnít optional at all.

Keller shows a marked preference for ďSix Feet Under.Ē This takes Toby by surprise. At first, he wonders if itís the gay thing, but then it occurs to him that Keller would watch anything in which thereís a chance someone might potentially end up naked, so it isnít really that surprising at all. Personally, Beecher thinks the show is macabre, not to mention unimpressive. A new death every week isnít entertainment, itís just real life, and all of that stylized angst canít compare to the real thing, which theyíve honed to a fine craft here in Oz. Besides, itís the same thing every week: eerie music, cue creepy opening credits, somebody dies, and everything fades to white.

Chris saunters in just before it starts, just like always, walking past Beecher without a sideways glance. Toby can tell exactly how long itís been since Chris showered, how many hours since he shaved, and when Chris drops himself into a cheap plastic chair two rows ahead, Toby knows exactly how many steps it would take to get to him. He spends the rest of the evening staring at the back of Chrisís neck, at that slightly flushed spot just above his collar, where Toby used to rest his hand while Chris sucked him off.

ďIím surprised you donít like this show, Beecher,Ē Hoyt calls to him, over one shoulder.

ďYeah? Why is that?Ē

Hoyt smirks. ďItís full of fags. Right up your alley.Ē

ďAnd yet youíre watching,Ē Toby counters, smiling sweetly. ďThinking of turning over a new, rainbow-colored leaf? Iíll take you on.Ē

Hoyt snorts and turns back to the TV. On-screen, somebody dies, in some stupid way that is equal parts predictable and preventable. Toby glances at Chris again. Heís slouched in his seat, gazing fixedly at the TV. If heís heard a word, it doesnít show.

When the show is over, Chris gets up and heads into his pod. Toby watches him go. He watches the sleek roll of Kellerís hips, the sway of his shoulders, the way his cock demands space as he moves. Itís not much, but itís enough to save for later; an image to conjure up the next time Beecher presses Shemin against the laundry room wall, or when he drops to his knees on the cold floor in front of Mondo Browne.

Eventually, Ronnie comes, and everything changes.

Itís different right away. While fucking with Shemin and Browne was merely self-destructive (at least, until they ended up dead), fucking with Ronnie is impulsive and spiteful and infinitely more dangerous. Beecher tells himself Ronnie is actually safe -- he and Chris have a history, they share a past, Chris says he loves him -Ė but the simple truth is, curling up and playing dead hasnít gotten Toby anywhere except sitting in the quad watching Chris walk away, and anything has to be better than all of this fucking indifference.

But Ronnie, as it turns out, isnít safe at all.

Beecher learns the grisly details from Hill, after dinner, as they shuffle back to the quad. Not the who, of course, but the how. Toby refrains from looking at Chris throughout the conversation, but he doesnít have to -- every inmate in Oz knows exactly how Barlog died, and why. There are no secrets in here, even when there are.

Later, when the show starts and everyone is distracted, Toby finally glances at Chris. He looks almost the same -- almost. Thereís a tautness to his shoulders, a tensing in his jaw, a change that nobody else would be able to see who hasnít spent all these weeks staring at him.

On-screen, a clueless hiker gets jumped by a mountain lion. It happens so fast, the poor guy dies without ever looking surprised.

Eight steps later, Toby is standing beside Chrisís chair. Itís the closest theyíve been in weeks.

Chris turns to look at him, finally. Heís smiling.

Theyíre under the stairs.

Toby is pushed up against the far wall, in the shadows; Chrisís hand is shoved halfway down his pants. He wants to ask, but he doesnít; Chrisís mouth is rough and desperate against his, and besides, he already knows. He knows, and if Chris killed him right now he would die without looking surprised, but Chris isnít going to kill him. Ever. Toby squeezes his eyes shut and pushes back at him, kisses him back just as hard, just as desperate, shoving his own hand deep into Chrisís pants. He comes when Chris comes, warmth spilling over both of their hands like blood, everything fading to white.


Author's Notes: Written for the "Worst Case Scenario" challenge, September 2005. The challenge scenario appears below. Thanks to slodwick for her fabulous challenge, and to maverick4oz for giving this a title.

comments | home