Toby looked up from the book in his lap. He was sitting on
the top bunk, which only hours before had been stripped bare
of all evidence of the late, unlamented Mondo Browne. In the
doorway stood Chris, blanket and pillow rolled under one arm.
"You've got to be kidding me," Toby said. "You?"
Chris scratched his chest. "How `bout that? I guess McManus
thinks I'm the only one who can keep your crazy ass in line."
Toby snorted. "Fuck you."
Chris raised an eyebrow. "What was that?"
Toby just glared at him. Chris stepped into the pod, tossing
his stuff onto the top bunk.
You wanted a challenge that's calling you higher
I landed on my feet by crawling
I remember standing alone trying to forget you, idling
I hate to admit it, that's my reference point
But there it is
You say you want me...
"This is bullshit," Toby said. His head was beginning to hurt.
He looked out toward the common room, where all of the pawns
in McManus' sick chess game were puttering around uselessly.
"Fucking bullshit. What was he thinking, putting you in here
Chris leaned one shoulder up against the beds, his arm
grazing Toby's leg. "Who knows?" he said mildly. "You're the lawyer. What do *you* think?"
Toby jumped down to the floor, breaking the brief contact. "I think McManus is as crazy as I am," he muttered. "You,
"You might be right." Without warning, Chris half-turned,
closing in, pinning Toby against the bed frame. He leaned
forward until their bodies pressed from chest to groin, caging
Toby behind a solid wall of scorching heat and muscle.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Toby snapped.
Chris smiled slightly, his dark eyes hooded, unreadable. One
of his hands came up but he didn't quite reach, just splayed
his fingers in the air over Toby's shoulder and neck, as if
he couldn't decide exactly where to touch him first. "Toby.
Did you miss me?" he murmured.
The words flowed over Toby; smooth, dark, suffocating. "Christ, I missed you."
where have I heard that before?" Beecher asked snidely. "Oh yeah.
If I remember correctly, I was the one who said that to *you*.
Right before you broke my heart." He paused. "The *first* time, that
Chris nudged even closer. "Yeah? Then maybe you remember the
The memory came, sour as stale alcohol, brittle as broken
bones. His own voice, besotted with love and bad booze, pleading: Come on, Chris. Let's
Toby said nothing.
"Do you?" Chris prompted, his voice soft, ripe with sexual
promise as only Chris' could be. "Remember what you said to me?
I wanna hear you say it again." His hand finally made contact,
a feather-soft caress just left of the center of Toby's chest,
barely hard enough to feel through the t-shirt Toby wore. "I
won't push you away this time," he added. "I swear."
Toby simply stood, stock-still, staring. Mesmerized; not only
by the shock of it but also by the familiarity, the sense of
being back in the place where he had once wanted so badly to
stay. Chris' body was pressed full against him, and despite
his anger his cock was twitching and tightening in response.
He closed his eyes, knowing full well that Chris could feel it,
close as they were; sure enough, Chris' smile widened, Cheshire-smug. And even then, Toby said nothing.
Suddenly, as quickly as he had started, Chris stopped. He
stepped away, smile fading into thoughtfulness, before turning
and walking out of the pod.
What the FUCK?
I'm what you found, I'm upside down, you're in the air, you're in the air and I am breathing you
The air in the pod was oppressive, weighted with the words
they weren't saying. Toby thought he might actually lose his
mind -- what was left of it anyway -- if he sat there for one
more minute with the ghosts and the memories that shared this
space. For more than an hour he had been pretending to read,
pretending he wasn't aware of every move Chris made and every
breath he took. Even more frustrating was the fact that Chris seemed completely unaffected by the tension – in fact, he seemed
to be enjoying it, cultivating it. Toby conjured a mental
image -- Chris as a big ol' blue-eyed alley cat, infinitely
patient, tail flicking dangerously as he waited for the right
moment to pounce.
For the hundredth time that night, their eyes met in the
mirror. Toby had had enough.
"You should get rid of that thing," he said, pissily.
"That fucking Chia-Pet you've got growing on your chin.
Chris smirked. "What, you mean this?" He rubbed his chin,
admiring his pseudo-beard in the mirror. "I thought you'd like
it. You seem to have a thing for fucked-up facial hair."
Toby frowned. "You look like McManus."
Chris' head jerked backwards in surprise. His eyes narrowed.
"Fuck you," he growled, reaching for his razor. "Take that
And for the first time since Chris had entered the pod, Toby laughed.
Brighten the stars, the weather is lifting
The heavens love a love like this
It's pulling you higher -- twist it and turn it around
It felt good to laugh with Chris again. Which, of course,
was why Toby couldn't leave it alone.
"We need to talk,
Chris groaned. "No," he said, shaking his head. "We do *not* need to talk."
"Yes, we do." Ignoring the glower Chris sent him, he pressed
on. "Okay, well I do. Chris, listen..."
Chris spun around, grabbing a fistful of Toby's shirt and dragging him forward. They stood face to face, so close Toby
thought he could breathe in the words as Chris spoke them.
"Talking is what gets you into trouble, Beecher. Talking to
Said, talking to Mukada, talking to that fuck Schillinger."
He released the shirt, sliding his hand up and laying a finger
across Toby's mouth. "What you need to do," he said
softly, "is listen."
Toby huffed. "Listen to what?"
"Shhh. Don't talk. Just listen. Ready? Here it comes..." He moved in, only a hair's breadth away. The call came just seconds before Chris' mouth descended.
I'm what you found I'm upside down you're in the air
you're in the air and I am breathing you
"This is crazy," Toby muttered, in between deep, plundering
kisses. "We'll end up killing each other."
Chris laughed, the sound muffled into Toby's mouth. "Tell
you what," he said, pulling away slightly. "You watch my back,
an' I'll watch yours." He slanted his head and devoured
the length of Toby's neck, tugging at the sensitized skin, drawing
it in and releasing it in a rhythm that whipped the breath right
out of Toby's lungs.
"Fuck," Toby hissed. "So, what, we'll save each other, from each other?"
"Somethin' like that, yeah."
I want the stars to know they've won, if only to beguile
The sky has opened up again, in heaven reconciled
I want you naked, I want you wild
I want the stars to know they win
Give me that smile, just give it, just turn it on –
I'm lost again
Somehow, and Toby was too dazed and high on desire to realize
exactly how it had happened, they ended up on the bottom bunk; naked,
horizontal, with Toby shedding his protests as quickly as he had his clothes. It felt like it always had with Chris, as if all
the pieces of himself had been blown apart but then were somehow
drawn back together in a way that made more sense. Why fight
it? This is what he had been aching for; what he had been trying
to find ever since that horrible last day. Just Chris, and all
the good and bad that came along with him.
But I won't think about that, Toby decided. Not yet. Not now.
Because 'now' meant Chris' strong arms bracketing Toby's
body to the mattress, Chris' hands roaming without restraint
over his overheated body, Chris' incredibly mobile mouth swiping
his breath. It meant their limbs twisting and tangling as they
battled to get even closer, to somehow capture each other, as
if then they could stay like this. And it meant feeling the
warmth of Chris' body seeping into his own skin, Chris' heart
rapping fiercely against his own chest, and the heat and
hardness of Chris' cock sliding between Toby's own thighs.
Everything else could be before, or after, and Toby swore he
wouldn't care -- that was then, and this...and this...oh yeah,
...is now, Toby thought, silently giving thanks. Then louder, so Chris could hear:
And then there was no more thinking at all, just the weight and
the fullness of Chris, everywhere: on him, in him,
and even *through* him, to the other side where only Chris had
ever been, and where only Chris dared to go.
A whisper, raspy with desire. "Toby, you sure?"
"Oh, god...fuck. Fuck, yes. NOW."
I'm what you found I'm upside down you're everywhere
you're in the air and I am breathing you
Afterwards, they lay side by side in the blackness. Toby listened to Chris' breathing, feeling renewed. "I still
can't believe McManus put you back in here," he mused.
Chris chuckled. "You complainin'?"
Toby shook his head. "No. But I can't help but wonder what he
was thinking. What exactly did he tell you?"
"He said, 'watch your back and guard your dick'."
"Fuck you. He did not."
Chris grinned. "Maybe not in so many words. It's good advice,
"Asshole. What did he really say?"
Chris closed his eyes. "Toby, don't you *ever* shut the fuck
up?" He sighed. "It wasn't him who wanted me in here,
okay? It wasn't his idea."
"Then whose idea was it?"
A pause. "Mine. Now go the fuck to sleep."
Toby's head jerked sharply sideways. He stared at Chris in
profile, but Chris' expression revealed nothing. "Does this
mean you forgive me?" he asked, hating himself for asking, and
for needing to know.
"Shit, Toby...what the fuck difference does it make? I'm here, aren't I?"
Toby leaned up on one elbow, gazing down at the shadow that was
Chris. "It matters," he said softly. "You know it does.
All the shit that's happened... I need to know if you can forget
it. If you can forgive me." When he got no response, Toby dropped
back down onto his back, staring at the ceiling. "No?"
Chris rubbed a hand over his eyes. "Maybe." He nudged
Toby lightly. "And maybe there's nothing to forgive. Maybe all
that matters is right here, right now. Fuck the rest."
Chris turned onto his side and reached for him. Toby allowed it,
giving himself up to the kiss -- he could do that now. He felt
himself growing hard again, and he decided he could do a lot
more. Make up for lost time, and all that.
Finally, Chris pulled his mouth away. Toby tried to drag him
back, but Chris pushed at him. "I'm fucking tired," he
said, yawning. "So who gets the top bunk?"
Toby smiled. Then he leered. "Wrestle you for it..."