Keeping Time


It's been eleven days.

Eleven fucking days... and even if Beecher has his reasons, whatever the fuck they are, it won’t be enough to take the edge off Keller’s irritation, or smooth out the ripples of fear that he’ll never admit to. Eleven long, boring days, with no one to play with, no one to talk to but hacks and the town idiot over there, nothing to break up the lethal injection of mind-numbing boredom that is life on Death Row. And nothing to reassure Chris that Beecher will *ever* come back -- nothing but a promise, and Chris
isn’t one to put much faith in those.

Eleven days. And the only thing pissing him off more than not having Beecher around is knowing that Toby hasn't been spending a week and a half wishing he were here.

But now he *is* here. Keller can hear him, down the hall somewhere; talking to someone as he makes his way down the maze of hallways that leads to this cell. And according to that cocksucker Lopresti, who takes some kind of sadistic pleasure in passing these juicy tidbits along, Beecher's been here
half an hour already, in with Sister Pete, doing whatever lame, lawyerly shit he does now that he's a free man, while Keller paces like a caged lion waiting to be fed.

His hands clench on the bars of his cage when Beecher finally appears, and something sinks in his gut at the sight of him. Quick-fire shocks of *non*-recognition: Beecher, yeah, but a Beecher Chris has never seen before, wearing glasses, with hair that’s been hacked way too short, and Jesus, he’s wearing a *suit*. A dark blue, old-school motherfucking conservative-republican suit, that makes Toby, *his* Toby, look like one of them -- all those do-nothing do-gooders who are responsible for Keller
ending up in here in the first place.

Chris rubs one hand over his eyes, but the scene doesn’t change. Beecher, strolling in with a big, easy smile, looking exactly like one of those worthless, tight-assed lawyers that have managed to fuck up Chris’s life time and time again, the kind who blow their fat paychecks on expensive cocktails and black BMW’s while they send guys like Keller downstream without batting an eye. A bitter voice in the back of his brain pipes up to remind him that Beecher had, in fact, been one of them once -- but this, this is all fucking wrong. Wrong enough to stir up a vague sense of panic, the kind you feel when you wake up from a nasty dream and can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.

Eleven days -- and nobody, *nobody* can change that fast, but this is a whole different Beecher, standing in front of Chris now. Tidied up, buttoned-down, looking like he just stopped by on his way to some big thing in court, waving at Lopresti to open the gate as if he’s already forgotten the five years he spent taking orders from him. As if his old life in Oz now means nothing at all.


And when he moves in for a hug, Chris can *smell* the changes in him. Some kind of new soap, good clothes that have never been inside a prison laundry, fresh air and sunshine and cool winter wind. And something else, too: aftershave. Not the mild, middle-aged spice that used to cling to his neck after visits from Daddy, but something new, something darker, something that makes Keller think of forests and pine trees and other things he’ll never get to see again. He closes his eyes, pissed off at his own weakness, even more angry at Beecher for changing things -- and runs greedy hands over the body he once knew as well as his own, instinctively searching for something he knows. But already, it isn't the same.

Beecher's been outside. He's spent eleven days doing things Keller will never be a part of, things he'll continue to do long after Keller's body lies cold in the ground.

Chris’s fingers itch to tear the fucking suit to shreds.

"God, I missed you." Beecher turns his head, aiming for a kiss, but Chris dodges it, pulling away.

Toby seems surprised by his coolness. "How are you?” he asks.

"How the fuck do you think I am, Beecher?"

“Play nice, girls,” Lopresti calls.

Chris turns to glare at the hack, but Toby, he doesn’t respond -- not to Lopresti, and not to the edge of anger in Chris’s voice. Another sign of just how much he's changed. The old Beecher, Beecher-still-in-Oz, would have snorted and huffed and called Chris on acting like a grade-A shit. Instead, he’s just standing there, gazing at Keller sympathetically. Waiting it out.

And *that* --

That smacks of something that Keller will never accept.

“I've got some things for you to sign."

Keller watches, silent, as Beecher sits down on the bunk, pulling a pile of papers from his briefcase. He takes off his glasses, sliding them into his jacket pocket, and then glances briefly at the new, pricey watch on his wrist, as if Keller is simply a client who gets an occasional hour of his expensive time.

Finally, he looks up, smiling. “I think we've got a good chance -- "

“Shut up,” Chris says flatly. There is no "we," not anymore. There is only Chris in his prison blues, with eleven days of silence and uncertainty behind him, and Beecher, in that fucking *suit*.

Toby’s smile fades into confusion. “Chris, what is it? What’s wrong?”

Chris looks him over, slowly. Deliberately. Different in a hundred ways, and Keller resents every one. “Nice watch,” he says coldly, and Toby’s pained, vaguely guilty expression is suddenly the most familiar thing he’s seen all day.

It’s a small victory, considering.

“It was a gift,” Toby explains. “From my mother. To celebrate my parole.”

“Yeah?” Chris flashes an insincere smile. “That’s real nice, Toby. Tell me -- how much would a beauty like that set her back?”

“It’s not about money,” Toby states defensively. “It’s – a symbol.”

“How much?” Chris asks again, his voice soft.




Keller lowers his voice to a sultry whisper. “Don’t what?”

“Don’t do this. Don’t be an asshole.”

Chris narrows his eyes, studying him. ‘I suck his cock, he sucks mine,’ he had once told his good friend, Agent Taylor -- and wouldn’t that voyeuristic fag of a Fed love to see how things had finally turned out? With Keller on one side, hanging onto his life by a thread, while Beecher’s free to come and go as he fucking pleases, looking like five years in Oz never touched him. As if he’d never been in here at all.

But he *is* here. Right here, with Chris. Where he fucking belongs.

And somewhere, underneath all this new shit, underneath this cleaned-up, G-rated version of Beecher, is *Toby*. His Toby. Bitch, slut, off-the-fucking-wall crazy killer ex-con... the same guy who'd once sold a piece of himself to a devil named Vern just to *see* Chris again. The one who’d actually cried real fucking tears on the day he left Oz, leaving Keller behind.

Right now, right this minute, Chris wants to find him. To have him. To have him make up for every goddamn day he was gone – and not because he feels like he should, but because he still wants to.

Because he still wants Chris.

Toby is watching him, waiting for some kind of explanation, but Chris ignores the questions in that gaze. Talking never got them anyplace good. Instead, he drops down on the bunk next to him, pressing close, so close his left leg brushes Toby’s right. He leans in a little bit more, practically resting his chin on Toby’s shoulder. Tiny skitters of electricity, wherever they touch.


Toby turns his head slightly, a small smile tugging at his lips. “Keller.”

That’s new, too -- that smile. There was a time when Chris would have killed to get Toby to smile at him like that. Hell, he *had*.

They share a long look, as if Toby is silently acknowledging all of it without saying a word. Chris dips his head low and whispers, into the tiny bit of space between his lips and Toby's ear: "How long has it been since we fucked?"

The quiet words hang in the air between them, setting something in motion.

How fucking long has it been? How long since he’d held Toby down, listening to him cry out -- greedy, needy bitch that he was, once he’d finally learned to let go – and taken what both of them knew Toby wanted to give? How long since he’d managed to push his way through all the things that kept trying
to come in between them, pushed his way in to where only he belonged, while Toby moaned and muttered crazy words that still, to this day, are the only promises Keller will take at face value? How fucking long?

Toby exhales, slowly. He drops his gaze to Chris's mouth, then back up to meet his eyes. "It's been -- a long time."

Fuck yes, it has.

Chris nuzzles Toby’s warm neck, inhaling deeply, remembering. He can feel the sandpaper-scratch of Toby's cheek, the heat rising from his skin, and knows it all works both ways when Toby sighs, and leans into him.

"Where do you sleep now, Beecher?" Chris asks.

Toby laughs softly. “What?”

"Now that you’re out of Oz. You got a nice bed? You sleep good?"

“It’s -- big,” Toby admits. “Maybe a little too big.”

Chris curls one hand around Toby’s neck, squeezing lightly, while his other hand takes up a soothing, circular rhythm on Toby’s thigh. “Feels empty?”

Toby turns to face Chris on the narrow bunk. The expression on his face is familiar, now – a little lonely, a little sad, a whole lot of that famous Beecher self-pity, as if life on the outside isn’t quite what it was cracked up to be.


Chris nods sympathetically. “So, you lie in that big bed all alone -- you start thinkin’ about things.” His hand travels higher, moving up and over Toby’s warm thigh, and the quick hitch in Toby’s breath makes his own dick grow hard. “Remembering things...”

“Chris...” Toby’s voice is strained.

“You miss it,” he murmurs. “You want it.” He lowers his head, tonguing the hollow at the base of Toby’s throat, while down below his fingers trace the hard outline of Toby’s growing erection through the soft cloth of his pants. “You think about what it was like."

Toby reaches for him, but Chris shrugs him off. “Tell me,” he demands. “Tell me what you think about.”

“You,” Toby says, tight. “Fucking you.”

Chris bites Toby’s neck, hard enough to hurt, and is instantly rewarded by that hot, helpless gasp that he swears he can still hear sometimes, in his dreams. Toby’s arms go around him, tugging him closer until there’s barely an inch of space left between them. Toby is hard, everywhere, and Chris is right there to feel it, all of it.

He ducks his head, his lips brushing Toby’s jaw. “You want to fuck me, Beecher?”

“Jesus, yeah.” Toby’s voice is deeper now, as if something in him has loosened.

Chris stamps a hot kiss against Toby’s neck, and abruptly releases him. “Give me your money."


Chris rolls to his feet and turns to find Toby staring at him. Still so easy to read -- annoyance, suspicion, hostility, thwarted desire, all flashing in those pale blue eyes. Keller can’t hold back a short laugh. Tobias Beecher in his Sunday best, sporting solid wood and glaring at Chris like he’d willingly kill him if a weapon was handy -- and Keller loves that, feeds on it, because it’s familiar. The old status quo.

“I said, give me your money, Beecher,” Chris repeats softly.

Toby sighs, straightening his clothes. “Fuck you, Chris. If you needed cash --”

“Shut the fuck up,” Chris says coldly. “It’s not for me.”

The wallet is soft brown leather, brand-spanking new. Chris hates it on sight. A tangible symbol of the life Beecher lives now, a real-world accessory that has nothing to do with Oz, or Keller, but everything to do with Tobias Beecher Attorney at Law, and that’s something Keller just can’t let himself think about right now.

Toby’s staring at him, mutinous, but still he reaches into the wallet and pulls out a thin stack of bills, pressing the money into Chris’s hand. Chris takes it without even looking, stalking over to the bars.

“Hey. Lopresti.”

The hack appears, stony-faced. “What do you want?”


Chris flicks the wad of bills against the bars. Lopresti’s gaze shifts from Keller to Beecher, then down the hall, and then back to the cash. His expression never changes. He takes the money from Keller’s fingers in a quick, subtle movement, nodding almost imperceptibly. Behind them, Chris hears Beecher snort softly.

“Fifteen minutes,” the hack snaps. “Anyone gets hurt, it’s your ass.”

Keller's grin is sharp-edged. “You’re a man among men, Lopresti.”

Fifteen fucking minutes. Nowhere near enough time, but better than nothing. Keller turns back to the bed and plants himself directly in front of Beecher, who is suddenly looking a lot less like an angry child, and a lot more like a co-conspirator.

Just like old times.

Chris gestures at him. "Take off your jacket.”

“Why?” Toby asks, his smile spreading.

“Just do it.”

His gaze still fixed on Chris, Toby peels the jacket off, letting it fall behind him on the bed. The anger is gone, Chris realizes. Now there’s nothing but this. And there will always *be* this, long as he’s still
breathing -- Chris knows that. 

Now he just needs to make sure Beecher knows it, too.

Slowly, he tugs his own shirt over his head, watching as Beecher's gaze falls to his bare chest. Reaching down, he flips his pants open with one hand, and Toby’s nostrils flare, as if the air in the room has suddenly grown too thin.

A look passes between them. "What now?” Toby asks, innocently.

Keller flashes a grin, reaching down to trace Toby’s face with his fingers, so lightly -- then he grabs the hair at Toby’s nape and yanks his head back, watching those blue eyes widen in semi-shock. Beecher swallows, hard, as if maybe he’s just a little bit nervous. Which, Keller figures, is just as it should be.

“Suck my dick.” 

Chris’s smile slides into a smirk when Beecher’s mouth falls open in surprise. Oh, yeah, baby. Like that.

Bending down now, nose to nose, practically breathing the words directly between Toby’s parted lips: “I want to fuck your mouth, Beecher. I want you to take it all, just the way you know I like it. You remember how?”

Toby licks his lips, reflexively, and Keller takes that as a yes.

“Then show me.”

Toby’s hands are warm on his waist, dropping down to lower the zipper.  Keller watches, silent, victorious, as Beecher pulls him forward without saying another word, gazing up at Chris, his expression inscrutable, and then bends his head. And then – ohh, warm, wet mouth, a tight core of heat surrounding Chris’s cock as Beecher quickly takes him all the way in.

So fucking long since he’d had this, since he’d felt this. Chris closes his eyes, but quickly opens them again because he has to look, needs to see.

And then he’s faltering. Teetering on the edge of some invisible wire, poised for a nasty fall; staring down at Toby’s head bobbing up and down over his cock, his slightly tanned nape, the short, neat hair, the stiff collar of his unfamiliar shirt.  And suddenly it’s as if Chris is being sucked off by a stranger, by someone who isn’t Toby at all.

And -- ahhh, fuck, that used to be enough. Sometimes, even *more* than enough.

But now -- it just isn't. Not anymore.

"Wait." Chris’s voice is hoarse.

It’s almost a physical pain when Beecher pulls back, surprise evident on his face. Chris stares down at him, at those eyes -- those same eyes that have turned to Chris full of just about every feeling he can name, from love to hate and then back again, anger and sorrow and everything that's ever been
in between.

Right now, those eyes are wide, and unfocused. Dark only with want, all shadows gone.

“You want this,” Chris says.

Toby laughs unsteadily. “You have to ask?”

Chris shrugs. “Maybe I do.” He reaches down with one hand, touching the short hair, that upturned face, watching Beecher's eyes drift closed when his fingers brush over them, lightly. Lower, and then lower, trailing a soft line over Beecher’s throat and the strong, steady pulse that flutters beneath the skin there.

Toby opens his eyes. “Chris, I want this. I want you.”



“Always is a long time, Beecher.” Chris reaches for Toby’s tie, yanking it loose, and opens the top two buttons of the white shirt, spreading it wide. Warm skin and bone underneath, hard muscle, body heat -- Chris knows it all, even before he sees it. He moves his fingers over the slope of that neck, the curve of that throat. Toby shivers, closing his eyes, and leans into Chris’s hand.

One more twist, one more button, and then Chris is pushing the starched cloth aside, brushing his fingers over Toby’s skin. The curve of a shoulder, the sharp ridge of a collarbone -- still the same, all of it. Warm. Solid. And, finally, familiar.

“Toby,” he growls.

And then, suddenly, it’s just like it always was between them -- the good kind of assault, the one thing they could always get right. This is Toby -- Toby’s hands gripping his hips, Toby's warm mouth moving over him, on him... Toby, using those lips and that tongue the same infuriating way he does everything
else, all suction and tension, torturing and soothing, until Chris is panting so loudly the whole fucking prison can probably hear him. Eleven fucking days, and finally, it's Toby, just as Chris has pictured
him hundreds of times: his eyes closed in concentration as he sucks on Chris's cock like he'll starve if he stops. Moaning a little as he moves up and down, familiar noises that Keller's body remembers and responds to. Toby, wanting this. Eager to *give* this. Toby, trembling as he curls one arm around Chris, grasping his ass and pulling him close -- and who gives a fuck if it's all an illusion, long as it doesn't stop? Freedom and parole and sane, civilized lawyers in fancy suits -- none of it fucking matters
because it’s Toby, underneath it all. Because Toby came back.

"Harder, goddammit.” Chris grabs hold of Toby's head, thrusting hard with his hips, fucking that warm, willing mouth until Toby hisses and snarls, so determined to take it all. A fresh wave of heat spreads through Chris's limbs at the sound. "Yeah, baby. Oh fuck yeah, like that..."

Toby makes an impatient sound, and Chris opens his eyes, watching as Toby drops his free hand down to his own crotch, tugging at his pants. Just once, only once, before he seems to stop himself, lifting his gaze to Chris as if asking for permission. Ahh, fuck... Toby, with his suit and his tie and his watch and his fucking life on the outside, begging Chris to let him touch himself as if he can’t -- as if Chris has to be the one --

"Do it," Chris snarls.

Toby's answering moan is so *grateful*, it pushes Chris dangerously close to the edge. So close and he isn't ready, not fucking ready for this to be over, to end. But Toby is jerking himself off through his pants, making those soft, mindless noises that say more than any of the words that he loves to use, and it's going to be over for both of them soon, way too fucking soon --

Chris digs his fingers into Toby's hair, much harder than he knows is necessary. "Don't come yet."

Toby groans, but his hand goes still. He looks up at Chris, blue eyes hot, and there’s no fucking way Chris can *not* come, not with Toby looking up at him like that, all challenging and pleading at once, like he knows he'll get just as much out of it as Chris will, and he just can't fucking wait.  The tide rises, and Chris is helpless to stop it. Toby curls his tongue around the head of his cock and suddenly he's there, at the top of it, riding the crest of it, the orgasm ripping through him like a blade to the
base of his spine and exploding outward. Tightening his skin, flooding his limbs with so much heat it feels... it feels... ahh, fuck, it feels ---

Panting, Chris keeps his eyes closed until Toby releases him, then opens them to watch Toby rise to his feet.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Toby breathes. He drapes himself over Chris, his body practically vibrating. Even through their clothes, Chris can feel him. His cock is rigid against Chris’s thigh.

Almost sweeter than his own orgasm, knowing how badly Toby wants this. Wants him. Chris pulls back, pushing Toby up against the wall, and just gazes at him, taking it all in. Toby, wanting him. Desperate with wanting him. Sweat sheening his brow, his mouth swollen and glistening, his breath coming in
short little pants. And those hungry eyes.

Chris presses against him, licking those slick lips, plunging his tongue inside. Kissing him, finally, and tasting himself, tasting himself inside Toby -- and it’s not so hard to imagine that Toby will taste like that forever now, as if Keller has marked him, more permanently than anyone else ever has.

He lets his hand wander, fingertips gliding across Toby’s stomach, and Toby’s moan drifts over him like a cloud.

“Is this for me?” he whispers into Toby’s ear. His knuckles graze Toby’s groin, and he smiles, slowly, as Toby bends and arches, straining forward against his hand. “Tell me, Toby. Is this for me?”

“Jesus. Yes.”

“Say it again.” Because he has to be sure. Has to be sure *Toby* is sure, once and for all. He lets his hand fall still, and Toby moans again. “Say it, Toby, or I’ll stop.”

“Chris,” Toby hisses. “I want this. I want you.”

“Nobody else.” He leans in, just a little bit; hardly touching him, really, not in any way that counts, but it’s more than enough because Toby belongs to him, and they both know it. Still separated by layers of cloth, Chris raises one knee, pressing it lightly against Toby’s cock, watching intently as Toby clenches his teeth, grinding helplessly against him.

No sign of the neat and tidy lawyer, not anymore. This is Toby, *his* Toby -- and this Toby will always belong to him, always, because he is the only one who knows how to get to him, way down beneath the surface; he is the only one who will ever get to him there, down deep where no one else gets to go.

“No, no one else. Fuck, just, please --”

Finally, Chris presses fully against him, flattening him against the wall, rocking into him with his hips. Generous now, because he can afford to be. "Come, Toby," he says, roughly. “Right now.”

Toby throws his head back, shuddering wildly, shouting Chris's name. 

The single word seems to bounce off the stone walls, echoing throughout the quiet halls beyond. Smiling, Keller imagines they can even hear it outside.

They sag against the wall, tangled together, until Chris can’t tell who’s holding up who and doesn’t care. He buries his face into Toby’s neck, and Toby sighs, angling his head, digging his fingers into Chris’s back and holding him close.

"Eleven fucking days, Beecher,” Chris growls against his skin.

Toby laughs softly, a warm stir of the air against Chris’s nape. "I told you I'd come back."

Chris doesn’t reply. He turns his head, kissing Toby hard, letting his rigid body reveal the hunger that will never be completely satisfied, no matter how long they have. Toby pulls his head back, his eyes searching Chris’s face, and whatever he thinks he sees there has him tightening his grip on Chris’s waist.

“I'll always come back.” It could be an apology, or a promise. Whatever it is, Toby presses a kiss against Chris’s mouth to seal it. “What do I have to do to make you believe that?"

Chris shakes his head. He’s done talking, and they’re almost out of time.

Without saying a word, he runs his hands down over Toby’s arms, and encounters the watch. He looks down, studying it for a long moment, then lifts his head again to meet Toby’s questioning gaze. He hooks a finger over the watchband and slides it off Toby’s wrist. His cool smile dares Toby to

Toby seems to hesitate only for a moment and then he’s reaching down, taking the watch from Chris's fingers and dropping it into the pocket of Chris’s pants.  He reaches for Chris and pulls him in for
another kiss. Chris closes his eyes as Toby folds around him, as warm as the sun he’ll never get to see.

Lopresti bangs on the bars. “Time’s up, ladies! Let’s go!”

“Cocksucker.” Chris turns back to glare at the hack, but Toby grabs him by the waist and pulls him back, distracting him with his mouth. Chris shivers a little as Toby’s hands roam over his bare back, and his heart beats strong and steady against Chris’s chest.

When they finally break apart, Chris steps back and watches, silently, as Toby straightens his tie, shrugs his jacket back on.

“I have to go,” Toby says quietly. “A meeting in court.”

“Like that?” Chris eyes Toby’s crotch.

Toby glances down at his pants, ruefully. “Pretty obvious?”

“Should’ve brought a spare.”

Toby laughs. “Next time.” He picks up his briefcase, and leans in for one more kiss. “I’ll see you soon.”

Lopresti opens the gate, and Toby walks out. Chris wraps his hands over the bars, and silently watches him go.

Afterwards, Chris drops back on his bunk, staring at the ceiling, listening to the unnatural silence. The room still seems full of Toby, vibrating with the aftershocks, but Keller knows that won’t last.

Soon, any minute now, the cell will be empty again. Chris will be alone again. No one to talk to, no one to play with – and no way to know how much more fucking time will go by before Toby returns.

If Toby ever returns.

Reaching into his pocket, Chris pulls out the watch. The leather band is still warm. The second hand moves smoothly, steadily, across the gilded face. Marking time.

Not a promise.  A symbol.

Chris lies back on the bunk, rolling the watch between his fingers, and settles in to resume the wait.


Author's Notes

  • Originally posted to TS/TSXF in February 2003.
  • Although this story is archived under my name, much of the credit belongs to Christy. The story was brought to life as a result of her irresistible story idea, her keen eye for powerful details, and her relentless faith in these boys. If I am the scribe, she is creator, producer, director, and editor. I am grateful that she brings me along for the ride. Ironically, we began this story long before Season 6 began, so any resemblance to canon is accidental, and any departure from canon is also accidental. C'est la vie. (Or la guerre, as the case may be. Damn TF, anyway.)
  • My thanks, as always, to Christy, for whom this bitch toils, and to Grackle, the fastest beta in the West.
  • Dedicated to Actizera. 

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