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It was never completely dark in Em City. No, there was always that sliver of light shining out from hack central in the middle of the common area. And that lack of darkness was fine with Chris Keller. He had enough darkness in his own soul, so he really didn’t mind the light. Sometimes, it gave him that dangerous and rare thing — hope. If light could pierce its way through Em City at night, a place where pain and fear tried to hide in the shadows, maybe, just maybe, it had found its way into his soul. Besides, that little sliver of light meant he would be able to see the expression on Toby’s face while they made love.

Chris took a step back as Toby lifted off his t-shirt. His eyes briefly followed the path of the green shirt falling to the floor beside their bunks before returning to gaze at Toby’s chest, now bare. The eerie yellow-green light flickering across skin made things look unreal, and Chris felt a twinge of fear jump in his stomach. Was this real? Did he really have Toby or was this just another dream that would shatter with the morning buzzer? Over the months, he had had so many of those dreams, so many mornings of disappointing reality.

No, this was real, and you would think by now that he would know it for sure. After all, it had been weeks since Toby had asked McManus to move them back into the same pod. Still, sometimes it seemed too good to be true, and that frightened him. And as always when that fear resurfaced, the need to touch Toby, to feel the reality, overwhelmed him. He placed his hands on Toby’s chest, and the solid smoothness of it calmed his unease. Toby’s skin felt cold, and so Chris sought to warm it. He massaged tense muscles, the friction heating the skin beneath his fingers.

His hands slid over Toby’s shoulders, and then he was being pulled close. Chris heard the thankful sigh that slipped out of his mouth as Toby kissed him. He couldn’t help it. God, he needed this. He found himself in the wet heat of Toby’s mouth, or at least what he hoped was himself.

Kissing Toby always felt so incredible as it brought him such a wonderful mix of emotion. There was the desire that sped through his blood sensitizing his skin and making his entire body ache for Toby’s touch. But there was also that strange feeling of lightness that washed through him. He felt clean, as if all the years of dirt that cluttered his soul had been swept away. It might be silly, but Toby’s kiss made him feel good, pure. He could almost believe that with each kiss, his soul entwined with Toby’s, and he found his true self, the one that wasn’t a piece of shit.

Chris slipped a hand into Toby’s hair, pressing their mouths even closer. As their kiss grew in force and passion, the emotions overwhelmed him. He was warm, safe, wanted — loved. Yes, this was what love felt like. Dear God, this is what it felt like. They should fucking never stop kissing.

That thought had barely flickered through his mind when Toby broke off their kiss. Chris groaned, but the sound had barely left his mouth before his breath caught in his throat, as Toby’s lips found and sucked at the place between his neck and collarbone. He tilted his head to the side allowing those lips better access to traverse his flesh.

Chris felt a hand slide into the waistband of his boxers, tugging them down a bit as it went. He grinned. “Eager for something?” he asked. He swore his voice sounded strange in the silence of the pod, softer and rougher, somehow.

As Toby took a small step back, his legs pressing against the bottom bunk, Chris reached out a finger and traced the smirk that was currently gracing his lover’s face. Toby licked the finger as it slid across his lip, sucking in the fingertip for just a moment. The light, wet touch of Toby’s tongue went straight to Chris’s groin. He felt Toby’s hand slide into the fold of the boxers and pressed into the touch.

“Just as eager as you,” Toby whispered, his smirk widening. He swirled a finger over the tip of Chris’s penis, before returning his hands to the boxer’s waistband and carefully sliding them off. Chris didn’t see any reason to object. When the boxers reached the floor, he stepped out of them, and kicked them out of his way.

He moved in closer, causing Toby’s hands, which were resting on his waist, to slide around his back. Chris wrapped his arms around Toby, and their chests touched. Yes that was what he needed, Toby’s skin against his own. He pressed his hips forward, and his penis came into contact with Toby’s thigh, but instead of meeting skin, he felt the cotton of boxers. Those had to go.

Chris pulled back slightly so he could look at Toby. “And these?” he asked, tugging at the bottom of Toby’s boxers with one hand.

Toby pressed his lips together, as if he was considering his answer very seriously. His gaze raked over Chris tantalizing with its intensity. Toby’s lips curved slightly, and he said, “Well, they’re not going to remove themselves. So?”

Jesus. Toby was so damn hot with that small smirk on his face and that self-assured look. It made Chris picture what Toby must have been like in a courtroom. He could imagine him wearing a perfectly tailored suit and oozing confidence, as he tried to sway a judge or a jury, with the twists of his argument.

Toby sure of himself, going with his mood, whatever it might be, completely fascinated Chris. Whenever they kissed, it often seemed like a challenge met, but Chris never knew how Toby would meet that challenge, hot and hard, slow and soft, or in some new and delightful way. He could never completely follow Toby’s moods, but they never left him bored.

He matched Toby’s smirk and reached for the article of clothing that was keeping Toby from being naked. Slowly, he removed the boxers, his fingers gliding along skin ever so lightly. Toby shivered, and Chris felt the vibration travel through his fingertips and into his own body.

When the boxers finally hit the floor, Toby stepped out of them and pushed them out of the way with his foot. He waited for Chris to stand, and then pressed his hand against Chris’s chest, hard, as he kissed him even harder.

Chris slipped a hand into Toby’s hair, threading his way through the curls, and returned the kiss with equal force. As his mouth dueled Toby’s, conquering and surrendering, the thought briefly ran through his mind that at least when it came to sex, he and Toby had managed to banish any demons that lurked between them. Or actually it would be more accurate to say that Toby had banished those demons, and it seemed he had done so in one night.

It was a night Chris remembered vividly. Toby whispering about a fantasy he had of the two of them making love in some house by the beach, as he demonstrated exactly what they were doing in that fantasy. The whole thing had been fucking incredible. There had been no tentative gestures that night. Toby had gone after what he wanted, and Chris had been shocked and elated to learn that what Toby wanted was to be inside him. He had thought at the time that it couldn’t get better. He was wrong. Every time he touched Toby, every time they made love, it was better. Once the lights were out, Toby gave into desire fully, be it his own or Chris’s.

It was always fucking incredible, Chris thought as he and Toby paused in their kissing, both breathing heavily. “Incredible,” he whispered against Toby, as he licked his way along the collarbone and over to the middle of Toby’s neck. From that point, Chris lazily licked a straight line downward, over the navel, and directly to the penis.

On his knees now, Chris licked at the tip of Toby’s penis, teasing little strokes, before taking just the tip into his mouth and sucking on it. As he removed his mouth, he heard Toby strangle a moan, and he gazed upward. The sight that greeted him was stunning. Toby had leaned back, and his hands were gripping the top bunk. His head was tilted to the side exposing every inch of his neck. Chris could hear Toby’s shallow breathing, and he watched the rapid movement of his chest.

He spared one last glance at Toby’s closed eyes and flushed face before returning his attention to Toby’s penis. Chris stretched his hands up so that they were resting on Toby’s back, and then lowered his mouth slowly over his lover’s penis. He heard another strangled groan from above, but this time he didn’t look up. He didn’t need to. In his mind, he could picture the flushed pleasure on Toby’s face.

As his mouth continued its relentless massage, Chris could feel Toby’s penis thicken. His tongue lavished attention on every area — both sides, the tip, and the underside of the shaft. Chris ran his hands down Toby’s back until they reached his butt where he began to knead each cheek. He traced a finger along Toby’s crack, sliding down until he found the opening he was seeking. He pressed teasingly against the sensitive spot, and Toby began to rock his hips, thrusting slightly into Chris’s mouth.

Chris felt so empty and free. The feel of Toby, the way he tasted, how he smelled, all of it wrapped around and through Chris. No one had ever made him feel like this. It was as if in this moment, he was part of Toby, and Toby part of him. Nothing else mattered, but this. For right now, they were free.

A low moan reached Chris’s ears, and he felt Toby stiffen, and then he could feel the shaft in his mouth pulse. He swallowed as Toby came, and a short while later, he removed his mouth. Toby’s hand grabbed his shoulder, urging him to stand. Chris did, and he was immediately pulled into Toby’s arms and kissed.

Toby was still trying to catch his breath, so the kisses were short, and Chris thought also a bit desperate. He could tell that Toby needed something tonight. He didn’t yet know what it was, but he knew he would before the night was through. And whatever Toby needed was fine by him, because all he needed was Toby.

They moved into the lower bunk, still kissing. Toby pressed Chris onto his back, and then began an exploration of Chris’s body using his mouth. He licked, he sucked, and he nibbled practically everywhere except Chris’s penis. It was exquisite torture. Chris ached with arousal, and several times he almost begged Toby to just fuck him, but he held his tongue. Even though he was so aroused that it hurt, Chris didn’t want Toby to stop. The longer he could endure, the longer this would last, and maybe if it lasted longer, the feeling of Toby wrapped around his soul would linger longer. Maybe it would linger fucking forever. He just hoped to Christ that one of the goddamn night hacks didn’t come by on their nightly rounds anytime soon.

With no warning, Toby stopped his teasing, and in one motion, engulfed Chris’s penis with his mouth. The sudden pressure in a spot where he craved it the most almost made Chris scream. His hands grasped at the bunk’s sheets as he bit down on his bottom lip. He couldn’t stop the involuntary jerk of his hips.

Then, just as quickly the pressure was gone. Toby had stopped. “Fuck,” Chris muttered. Jesus Christ. Now he was going to beg.

He felt Toby’s penis, hard again, graze against his stomach, and Chris arched upwards, needing Toby to finish this. He started to tell Toby that he wanted him *now*, but the words froze on his lips when he looked at Toby. The expression on his face was so desperate.

“Toby?” Chris said, his voice a bit breathless. He reached out a hand, and ran it down the side of Toby’s face. He watched Toby shake his head slightly, almost as if he was trying to dismiss some thought. He smiled, but Chris thought that smile looked a bit strained.

“Hey…” he started to say, but Toby cut him off with a kiss. Then, he moved to lie beside Chris. He reached for Chris’s arm, guiding him to lie on top of him. One arm slipped beneath the pillow, and he pulled out a tube. He pressed it into Chris’s hand.

Toby had just told him what he needed.

As he flipped open the lid to the lube, Chris wondered if something had happened today that had gotten to Toby. What was going through his mind? Now wasn’t the time to ask. He coated a finger with lube, but as soon as he pressed it against the opening, Toby’s hand grabbed his wrist, halting him. He looked up, surprised.

“Chris…Please,” Toby said, his voice cracking, even as he spread his legs wider.

Chris rested a hand briefly on Toby’s thigh before picking up the lube again, and this time coating his penis. He understood clearly that Toby didn’t want to wait a longer. Shit, neither did he, but still Toby’s behavior concerned him.

He wiped his hand on the sheet before turning back to Toby who lifted his legs, placing his right leg over Chris’s shoulder and wrapping his left around his back. Chris positioned himself and pressed in slowly. Fuck, yes.

He heard Toby release a long hiss of breath, and he leaned down and placed a light kiss on his lips. Chris pulled back a little, and then started to move slowly, watching Toby the whole time. Toby’s eyes were closed, and he was making short, low sounds that Chris could barely make out.

Toby pressed his left foot against Chris’s back and arched upward, pulling Chris deeper into him. “Oh God yes, Chris. Yes. I need you. Oh God, I need you.”

Chris was stunned by Toby’s words. It overwhelmed him that Toby trusted him enough to admit that he needed him. This time he’d be worthy of that trust.

He placed another gentle kiss on Toby’s lips and said softly, “I’m here. Whatever you need, I’m here.”

“Harder, Chris, fucking harder. I want to feel all of you,” Toby said gasping between each word. “I need you inside me. Make me part of you.” He pressed upward capturing Chris’s lips in a hard, bruising kiss.

With Toby’s mouth sealed over his, Chris felt like he was breathing in Toby and letting Toby breathe him in. He wondered how he could feel like he was floating, flying somewhere above, while at the same time being fully aware that every inch of his body burned, yearning for a physical release. Coherent thought left him, and all that remained was feeling, which was all that was needed.

Chris rocked into Toby hard and fast, guided by the pressure of Toby’s foot on his back, which urged him to increase the pace. Their lips parted only for short breaths; they swallowed each other’s moans. Chris’s hand was entwined with Toby’s in a grip so hard that their fingers were leaving marks on the each other’s hands.

His muscles clenched, and then Chris felt pleasure release through his body. He started to call out “Toby,” but only managed to get the “T” out before Toby cut him off with a kiss. When Toby released his mouth, Chris gasped for air. Seemingly from a distance, he heard a low moan as Toby came.

When Chris was able to breathe, he started to pull out, but Toby held him tight, keeping his legs where they were and wrapping his arms around Chris. They stayed that way for a minute or two longer, before separating. Chris lay on his side and pulled Toby into his arms.

“I love you, Toby,” Chris said.

Toby’s hand massaged Chris’s arm, clenching and unclenching. “Yes,” he said, with a long exhale. His hand stopped moving, but his grasp was still firm. “Yes,” he said again, stronger.

Chris’s lips quirked. It hadn’t escaped his notice that every time he said, “I love you,” Toby responded by saying, “yes.” For whatever reason, Toby didn’t seem able to say those words, yet. Still, the way he said “yes,” conveyed it just the same. Chris could wait to hear those words again. If Toby needed more time to feel comfortable saying, “I love you,” that was fine. He knew Toby loved him. It was in his eyes, in his touch, and in the way he trusted him.

He had worked so hard to regain Toby’s trust and love, and it was so unreal that he had it again. He wouldn’t fuck this up. That Toby not only forgave him but also was willing to trust him again, to need him, had to be a miracle. God had never shown Chris any miracles before, but he thanked him for this one. No, he wouldn’t fuck this up.

Toby stirred beside him, and then slipped out of the bunk. He walked to the front of the pod and looked out for a minute before heading over to the sink. Chris felt a twinge of disappointment as he watched Toby clean himself off. They’d both be in separate bunks in a few minutes, and Chris couldn’t help wishing that, just once, he could fall asleep with Toby in his arms. Yeah, it might be a bit uncomfortable, but he’d deal with that if it meant waking with Toby next to him. The fucking hacks would never allow it.

Chris spread out on the bunk, tucking his hands behind his head. He was surprised when Toby came back over to him, a towel in his hand, and sat down on the bunk. Chris closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of Toby wiping him clean. Toby had never done that before. He opened his eyes when he felt a light kiss on his lips.

“There, you’re all clean,” Toby said. He smiled and trailed a finger on Chris’s chest.

“Thanks.” Chris smiled back. He watched as Toby placed the towel in a laundry basket. He waited, expecting soon to see Toby’s feet dangling as he hauled himself into the upper bunk, but Toby surprised him again.

“Move over,” Toby said, getting back into the bunk. Lying on his side, he rested his head on Chris’s chest.

Chris slipped his arm over Toby, and he wanted nothing more than to just close his eyes and lay there like that, but he couldn’t risk it. He didn’t know which fucking hack was on duty tonight, so he didn’t know if they were risking being yelled at or tossed into the hole.

“Toby,” he said reluctantly. “You should go back to your own bunk. It’s gotta be time for one of the hacks to patrol.”

“Nah,” Toby said lifting his head. “Carter’s on duty tonight. I heard him complaining yesterday to Sister Pete about this cold he had, and how he couldn’t afford to call in sick, even though he felt like death. He whined to her for fucking forever. I looked out before I cleaned up, and he’s down there, sitting in a chair, his feet up. Trust me, he’s not planning on doing his job anytime soon. We’ve got time.”

“I’m glad you keep track of the hack’s schedules,” Chris said with a grin.

“One of us has to,” Toby said and yawned. He placed his head back on Chris’s chest and closed his eyes.

Chris relaxed, enjoying this rare opportunity. He wondered what had been bothering Toby earlier. Had something happened or was it just Oz getting to him? Whatever it had been, it didn’t seem to be bothering him now. He seemed at peace, and as Toby had so much trouble finding peace, Chris was reluctant to question him. Toby’s mind rarely cut him a break, and if it was relatively quiet now, Chris didn’t want to chance triggering nine million thoughts. It could wait. He’d watch Toby carefully tomorrow, and if something seemed wrong, he’d ask him about it then.

His gaze fell on the sliver of light that was coming through the front of the pod. It struggled its way through the darkness, illuminating the dingy floor. Throughout most of his life, it had always seemed to Chris that the darkness was never ending. Even in the daylight, it was there, waiting on the edges to swallow you.

Toby sighed, and Chris looked down at him. He placed a kiss on the fair head and then closed his eyes. The darkness didn’t consume he tonight. In his mind, it didn’t even seem dark, just comfortingly warm. Chris yawned. It was nice to be able to rest in the light.