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Emptiness

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The door sealed, and Toby was locked in for the night — alone. He gazed through the glass of his pod, watching as a new hack, a shocked expression on his face, hurried over to Murphy. Ah, so they found my podmate. Let me guess, he's dead. No need to come tell me about it until the morning, after all, I already know. But you don't know that, do you? For all you know I could be in here pacing, wondering what the fuck happened to my roomie Ronnie, not likely, but hey you could consider the possibility. Give me a little fucking consideration. That's all I ask.

He chuckled softly, and the harshness of it seemed incredibly loud in the empty pod. It sounded as if all the bitterness in his soul was bubbling out, screaming insanely at him. His laughter died, and he eyed the new hack one more time. Bastard wouldn't last the week if he didn't stop looking so appalled.

With a sigh, Toby moved away from the wall, resisting the urge to glance upward. Keller wouldn't be there, not yet. Oh no, he'd wait until lights out before he'd resume his nightly routine of staring down into his former pod. Every damn night since their relationship had come crashing apart, Toby had looked out of his pod to meet that accusing gaze, to feel those eyes marking him.

The worst part was that he had come to look forward to seeing that glare. His greatest fear was that he would look up one night to not find Keller staring at him. If that happened, then he'd know that Keller no longer felt anything for him. Just the thought of that possibility caused the emptiness, his daily companion, to swell, momentarily choking him. He swallowed hard and felt the panic recede. Keller would be there tonight; he was sure of it.

Toby climbed up into his bunk, lay on his back and closed his eyes. It would be another endless wait for lights out. Once that wait would have been filled with sexual tension, as he and Chris tried to kill time until they could touch each other in the darkness. Now, he wished away the hours until he could just look at Keller. It didn't matter if the other man's expression held only anger or spite. No, what mattered was that he still had some connection with Chris Keller; that their two lives were still tied together in some crazy fucked up path.

“Chris,” Toby breathed softly, wishing that he could hear Chris's voice drift up from the bottom bunk, “Yeah, Toby.”

Of all his addictions, this one he had for Chris was the strongest. And surely it was an addiction. Nothing could get that man out of his mind, his blood. It would be this addiction that would either kill him or save him from his own self-destruction. He had always felt a hollowness within him, a desolation that on the outside he had kept at bay with alcohol. In Oz, that emptiness had grown and neither alcohol nor heroin had been able to rein it in and keep the madness away.

Sometimes with Chris, though, it had felt like that emptiness had just disappeared. Chris had the power to fill that void that lurked within him, but he also had the power to split the chasm wide open so that Toby could feel that emptiness reaching out to embrace him again. He hated Chris for having that power over him, and he loved him for that same reason, but even more than that, he needed Chris. He needed Chris like he had never needed anything else in his life. It didn't matter if they were fighting or fucking, as long as Chris was near, his attention focused on Toby.

Withdrawal from a drug, any drug, was brutal, but if you could get through it, there was a possibility of breaking that addiction. Toby knew that from experience, but withdrawal from Chris Keller — that was a death sentence. There was no moment where it got easier, eventually he had to break and do something, anything, to gain Chris's attention. He had to let Chris know that whether you want me or not, I'm still here. Notice me, damn it.

Lying on his bunk, Toby felt a shiver go through him as he remembered the coldness that had moved through his chest when Chris had refused to forgive him. His heart had frozen, and later it shattered in that burning cold when he had heard Chris basically give Mondo Browne rights to him. Chris had to know that by saying, “I don't give a fuck what you do or he does,” he might as well have announced that Toby was nothing more than a prag he had gotten tired of.

Toby had wanted to scream that it wasn't like that. It had been about love, or had it? After all, it wasn't very loving to falsely accuse your lover of murdering your son and then try to shank him. But he had been out of his mind what with the nightmares, the lack of sleep — the grief. He had been crazy, right? Hey Toby, haven't you been nuts for most of your time in Oz. Is being crazy an excuse, an escape or just way overused?

He groaned and bit down on his knuckle, wishing for once he could stop his mind from digging up everything. Why did his brain have to catalogue each hurt, mistake and self-doubt? Why was it so good at clipping just the right set of memories to remind him of his failures? Toby didn't want to recall how it felt to believe that Chris felt nothing for him.

He remembered the despair that had settled on him — his son was dead, his daughter traumatized, and Chris out of his life. You were supposed to protect your children, and instead he had brought them harm. His actions had let the evil of this place reach out and harm his family. You were supposed to have faith in your lover, but his doubts had stripped from him the one thing he cared about in this godforsaken prison. Once again, he was alone.

That nothingness had threatened to swallow him, so he had reached out for something to fill it, and you know what, in a pinch, self-hatred always came through for him. Toby gave away his body willingly, offering it up to any who wanted to help him indulge his need for self-punishment. The first time had been the hardest. When Browne had kept whining to him to suck his dick, Toby had wanted to push the bastard through the glass. Obviously his reputation as a dick-biting psycho had lost its luster long ago.

Staring up at Chris while Browne's voice continued to grate on him, Toby had felt anger shiver through him. Son of a bitch, you gave him permission. Well if you don't fuckin' care, neither do I. That's when he had turned and let Mondo kiss him. This what you wanted, Chris? I hope it hurts like hell to know that I had no problem touching him and having him touch me.

Oh and it had hurt, at least for him. As Mondo's lips had touched his, the self-loathing had struck him forcefully, making him want to vomit. What the hell was he doing? Images of Schillinger, raping him, burning him, had flooded his mind, and he had almost pushed away, but then the thought had come to him that he deserved this. He was the one who should hurt. That frightening nothingness had retreated slightly as waves of self-hatred pushed forward.

Rather than face that emptiness, the vacant but brutal introspection, Toby had chosen to feel something. It was easier just to let them take what they wanted, give them what they wanted, and let his sense of self be ripped away. Hey, at least he was feeling. So what if every harsh caress made him ache to feel the swipe of Chris's hand across his neck, and if the taste of some stranger's skin only reminded him of how he would never taste Chris on his lips again — that was right, how it should be.

Toby sat up. There had to be some way to just make his brain stop. He didn't want to remember any of this. He didn't need to think about how each meaningless body he had touched had reminded him of what he had lost with Chris. Nor did he need to recall the tortuous, dream-filled nights where Chris's saying, “You actually thought in your heart that I could do such a thing? Order the murder of a child?” was mixed in with his children screaming, “Daddy, no, help us.”

He scooted over to the corner of the bunk, wrapping his arms tightly around himself as if he could squeeze the memories away, but still they came. He had been drowning in his misery, adrift on another path of self-destruction, when who should stop his tumble into the abyss but the Almighty Chris Keller. Toby's eyes slid close as he pictured Chris leaning against a bunk as he spun a convoluted tale about how he had gotten his tattoo. Not a word of Chris's story had seemed relevant, but it wasn't Keller's tangent that had put the tenseness in his voice. No, it was the way his body had responded to being that close to Chris, and the sudden picture in his mind of halting all this nonsense with one deep kiss while his hand caressed that damn tat.

Toby was breathing heavily as he remembered that moment when Chris had admitted that Toby's sleeping around bother him. It mattered. The emptiness and self-hatred that battled for what was left of his pitiful soul had made a temporary retreat as hope had coursed through him. And how fucked up was that? To find hope in discovering that the man you love has killed someone because you slept with him.

He swallowed hard and opened his eyes. He tried to pull his mind from the memory of Chris leaning over the railing and saying, “You should take care of where you stick your dick. That baby's lethal,” by forcing himself to focus on the drabness of Em City. She was silent, her center empty now that her prisoners were all contained in their tiny glass cages. Did that floor remember each foot that had stepped across her, each body that had tumbled to its death on her, or did they blur together like they did for him? Too many faces and names that held no emotional attachment to be worth remembering.

Chris had killed both Shemin and Browne, a testament to just how much it bothered him to see Toby sleeping around. Toby should have been appalled by those murders, but he wasn't. Browne had been a mean bastard that no one would miss, and Shemin, Toby barely even knew the man. He was just one more face swallowed up by this place that devoured the weak.

So what did that say about him that those deaths didn't horrify him? He guessed he had actually mastered a few of Oz's survival lessons. You didn't waste time worrying about dead bodies that meant nothing to you. It also hadn't taken him long to figure out that the reasons for Chris killing Shemin and Browne were two-fold. Oh, Toby had not doubt those deaths were meant as a message to him, but he also knew that Keller and O'Reily needed a few dead bodies to show up so that the warden would start questioning Querns' run of Em City.

Some twisted part of him felt a certain appreciation for the economy of the murders. Unfortunately a few people had to die in order to push Querns out, so why shouldn't they be men Toby slept with? Toby laughed, a short huff of air. Keller had a certain flair for getting what he wanted. Too bad Toby couldn't figure out what it was Keller wanted from him.

“How is Browne in bed?”

Toby rocked softly, his back hitting the pod wall. He swore he could actually hear Chris saying those words. That question had made him want to vomit, made him want to beg Chris not to taunt him like that. Toby had wanted to say, “He sucked. He wasn't you. Is that what you need to know,” but the words had stuck in his throat.

He should have pushed his advantage once Chris admitted that Toby's sleeping around bothered him. That was the opening he had been waiting for. Instead of baiting Chris with threats and leaving with a smart remark, he should have said, “You're right, I do love you too much to tell.” What had he done, though? He'd gone off alone to lick his wounds, to try to deal with the combination of hope, desire and hurt that Chris had dredged up, never realizing the opportunity he had missed. Brilliant Toby, that sharp lawyer mind takes fucking weeks to tell you that you screwed that one up.

His jaw tightening as he ground his back teeth, Toby thought about how after their little run in over the death of Shemin, Chris had exchanged his silence for evil smirks and sharp barbs. Not to mention that in between the taunting, Toby had felt Chris's eyes tracking him, wanting something, but he still had no idea what that was. There had been days where he had just wanted to scream at the top of his lungs, “I'm sorry. Jesus Christ, I'm so sorry. What else do you want from me? What more can I say? Please tell me what I need to do to make it right. Please.” Yet he had kept his mouth shut, afraid Chris would smile maliciously and say, “Nothing.”

The worst part was that as the nastiness between them had continued, his faithlessness had struck again, and he'd begun to wonder if Chris being bothered by him sleeping around had nothing to do with love but with power? Was Chris trying to tell him, no I don't want you, but I have no intention of letting anyone else have you? How pathetic was it that even though a part of him believed Chris's taunting was just a power play, it hadn't mattered. At that point he would have played any game Keller wanted, so long as Chris was paying attention to him. He could handle anything Chris dished out, except indifference.

While he had played the game willingly, easily matching Keller's snide remarks, he hadn't been able to help growing annoyed. The whispered comments in his ear, and the way Keller would brush up against him, knowing that Toby's body would respond, had started to drive him nuts. Then there had been that goddamn air that Chris had about him that said there was something Toby was supposed to figure out. His inability to gain even a clue as to what he was supposed to know had infuriated him. Sick of being toyed with, Toby had been so close to losing it when Ronnie Barlog, that good friend of Keller's, had come along.

Toby's lips twisted slightly as he remembered the look on Chris's face when he had told him, “Ronnie's cute. Does he like to fool around?”

That expression had been sweet. He had finally gained the upper hand, and Chris's full attention. Ha, ha, ha, Keller, what you gonna do now? You see I know you better than you think. You're not going to kill Ronnie for sleeping with me. Browne, Shemin, they meant nothing to you, but Barlog, he's a pal. Someone you knew on the outside, a partner. You can't get rid of this one, Keller. Now what?

Toby took a deep breath and let it out. What kind of bastard had he become? He had felt such glee using Ronnie to torment Chris. That first night after he and Ronnie had messed around, Toby hadn't needed to glance up to make sure Keller was watching. Toby had no doubt that he was, and that not knowing what was going on was killing Chris. The morning afterwards, Toby had felt Chris's eyes drilling holes in him, but he had resisted the urge to look up. He had wanted to let Chris have a taste of how it felt to not matter.

Oddly for a short time, he had believed he actually had control over something in his life. He foolishly thought that he had found the perfect way to get Chris back. Chris's accusation in the cafeteria that he was using Barlog to make him jealous had delighted Toby. He had found a weakness in Chris's armor, and he had had every intention of exploiting it until he got what he wanted.

When he had taunted Chris with his inability to do anything about Barlog, Toby had felt a rush at seeing the rage in his ex-lover's eyes. He had thought, “That's it Chris. Get angry, very angry.” There was a fine line between anger and passion, and Toby had planned to drive Chris over that line. It had seemed like such a simple, perfect plan. After a few confrontations, there was no way Chris wouldn't do something to reassert control.

He had had it all planned out. Toby laughed bitterly as he thought about the ridiculous way he had imagined things. Chris would start by yelling at him, getting right in his face. Then he would grab Toby harshly and kiss him. Oh sure, at first, Chris would be kissing him just to prove a point — that he wouldn't be forgotten. In his little fantasy, though, Keller's reasons wouldn't matter, because once Chris's lips met his that would be it. In Tobyland, there was no way Chris could forget what it had been like, and once he lost control, no way he could halt the desire. Even if he couldn't get Chris to forgive him, he could get Chris to want him again.

Toby was sure if he told Keller what he had been up to, his sometimes lover and tormentor would give him that wicked smile and say, “So Toby, how'd that plan work out for you? Not too fuckin' well, huh?” No, it hadn't gone well at all. He had underestimated Keller, a very stupid thing to do.

Clenching at his stomach as if he'd been sucker-punched, Toby remembered Ronnie telling him that he and Chris had fucked, and that Chris had asked Ronnie not to do anything with Toby. The thought of Chris and Ronnie together had filled him with jealousy, but even worse then Chris sleeping with Barlog was the fact that he had told Ronnie he loved him.

The anger he had felt then returned in full as he heard in his mind Ronnie's voice saying, “He says he loves me.” His mind went further back, and he pictured Metzger holding him while Chris patted his face and said, “I never loved you.”

I never loved you. I really do love you, Toby. Oh wait, I just told Barlog I loved him. What the fuck do you know about love Chris? The hand Toby had been clenching his stomach with turned into a fist, and he pressed it hard into his side, feeling it bruise. What kind of bastard are you Keller?

Like a shock of cold water, Toby remembered how much he had enjoyed fooling around with Ronnie. He had the answer to his question. You're the same kind of bastard I am, dear God. Bile filled his throat as he admitted to himself that he had enjoyed having sex with Barlog. Ronnie gave and took, no strings attached. Sex with Ronnie hadn't made him feel dirty or repulsed. There was no real emotion, negative or positive, invested in the act; it was just a diversion and a release.

And he had needed that release; it had briefly helped ease some of the tension that constantly lurked within him. Of course, the relaxation factor of sleeping with Ronnie had only been a small part of the charm. His twisted mind had loved the idea that while he couldn't fuck Keller, he was using a friend to fuck Keller over.

Jesus Christ, was it possible that it had only been a matter of hours since he had been watching TV, trying to figure out a way to break his addiction to Chris. As if that was possible. Days, even weeks, sometimes went by in Oz in a dulling monotony, and then there would come a day when more pain and confusion then you ever imagined fell on you. The monotony shattered without warning, and your emotions were sent on an out of control ride.

While it felt like ages, it really had not been that long ago that he had been trying to keep his mind Chris Keller free when Ronnie Barlog had showed up and blown his hard fought efforts. Ronnie's kneeling down near him as he watched TV had instantly made Toby imagine Chris kissing Barlog and then saying he loved him. That little image hadn't exactly made Toby feel like being generous to Ronnie when he had asked for a little legal advice. Did he look like he held office hours?

Then Ronnie had run his hand along the inside of Toby's thigh offering a little exchange for the requested advice. All thoughts of trying to get Chris out of his life had fled; the game was back on. He had almost giggled aloud as he thought, so Keller you're not as memorable as you think. Old Ronnie boy is back in my court.

Toby recalled that as he and Barlog had walked back to their pod, he had already begun to think about how he could toss Ronnie's betrayal in Chris's face. He had figured that he should wait a few days so that he could really catch Keller off guard. Toby bit the inside of his cheek, drawing blood, as he remembered that he had also thought about trying to convince Ronnie that this shouldn't be a one shot deal, so that he could enjoy himself while he waited to start the next round with Chris. He really was a faithless bastard, wasn't he?

Because his goddamn mind had been so caught up with running possible scenarios of how to let Chris know about this latest development in their little game, Toby had only been paying partial attention to Ronnie's tale of the FBI offering him a reduced sentence if he played the snitch. The matter really didn't need his full attention because there wasn't much advice he could give Barlog.

Toby moved over so that he was now sitting on the edge of his bunk. He rested his head in his hands as he shook with anger. Just thinking about all that had gone on with Barlog made him wish the bastard were still alive so that he could rip his tongue out. He wondered too how he could have been so stupid. He had been so caught up in trying to get back at Keller that he hadn't realized until the end of the conversation that the man Barlog was talking about selling out was Chris.

He groaned softly as he thought about Ronnie's answers to his questions on how much he knew about this “friend's” crimes. Had he actually seen the murders or been told by his friend that he committed the murders? Well, no, but he had seen his friend go off with two of the three guys that had been found dead, and each time on the day that they were supposedly murdered. Not only that, on one of those nights, Ronnie claimed he and this friend had been pulling a late night con, and he had seen him burn something that looked like a bloody shirt.

Toby had told him that the evidence he had was circumstantial at best. What kind of deal he got would depend on what other evidence the FBI had against this guy. He recommended getting a lawyer who could work with the FBI to draw up a deal before agreeing to anything. Ronnie had thanked him, and said he had some time to consider whether he would try to make a deal.

Then Ronnie had said the words that stopped Toby's heart. “You know, Chris is a friend and all. We had some good times, but still I never *really* knew him, and then after his last divorce, he got odd. Scary almost. I mean I'm pretty sure he did it, so…”

Ronnie's words had dropped off, and Toby had struggled to keep his tone casual. “You mean Chris Keller? I hadn't realized it was someone in Oz.”

“Yeah. Don't mention this to anyone, 'kay?”

“No problem. Attorney-client privilege, remember.” Of course, I'm a disbarred attorney, idiot.

Ronnie smiled. “Cool. We'll settle up payment tonight after lights out.”

Somehow Toby had managed to dredge up a smile, those years in front of a courtroom paying off. The smile had disappeared the instant Ronnie left the pod. Toby had no doubt that Ronnie would snitch on Chris. He seemed unsure at the moment, but the FBI would keep at him and sooner or later, most likely sooner, Ronnie would capitulate.

The FBI couldn't base a case on Ronnie's information alone. A good lawyer would discredit Ronnie in a snap. And if it came to a trial, Toby would make damn sure Chris had a good lawyer. There was no way he was ending up on death row. Still, he had no way of knowing if the FBI had other information that if collaborated by Ronnie would make a good case against Chris. He couldn't take that chance. He knew he had to find Chris and tell him.

He had feared that Chris wasn't going to believe him because of these bloody games they'd been playing with each other, but he was pretty sure by the time he had left the library that Chris did believe him. At least enough to give it some serious thought. Toby had already decided, though, that if Chris had ended up not believing him and left Ronnie living, he would take care of Ronnie, particularly if Barlog continued to sleep with Chris. The thought of Chris sleeping with anyone made his stomach turn, but the thought of him sleeping with someone just waiting for the opportunity to sell him out made Toby murderously angry.

Toby lay back down, this time on his side, curling up near the edge of the bed. His hand twisted and untwisted the sheet. Well, he didn't need to worry about killing Barlog, that deed was already done. He wondered how Chris had done it. No, he didn't need to know, and he wasn't about to ask Chris to tell him. It couldn't have been an easy thing for Chris to do.

Funny, he really believed that killing Barlog had hurt Chris, even after he had just received proof that Chris had killed those three men. The truth had been in Chris's eyes when he had told him Ronnie was selling him out. Hell, he had known it was the truth from the moment the FBI had told him during his kids' kidnapping investigation. He hadn't needed Chris to confirm it. It wasn't a case of doubting Chris; it was just that somehow he knew it was true.

He wished he could say the knowledge hadn't mattered to him, but it had. He remembered Ronnie saying that he hadn't really known Chris, and it made his skin crawl. Still, he couldn't deny that his finding out about the men Keller had killed had made him question how well he really knew Chris.

The FBI had expertly manipulated the native distrust he had of his own emotions. Could his mind, his decisions be trusted? Obviously, he had come to the conclusion “no,” because he had believed Zabitz's information that Chris was responsible without question. Grief, lack of sleep and his own self-doubt had made him an easy target for planting questions about Chris. Did he really know this man who had broken his arms and then claimed to truly love him? This man who had saved his life, whom he had made love and fought with. This man who had killed three homosexual men. What was a man who could hurt you so viciously and then turn around and love you so deeply capable of?

Toby took a deep breath and let it out in short bursts. His trust in Chris had wavered so easily. It had done so even though deep down he had known Chris hadn't ordered the kidnapping of his kids. He had been as sure of that as he had been that Chris had killed those men. Why was it he could trust his instincts on the evil Chris had done, but not on the depth of Chris's love? Maybe because it wasn't Chris he doubted but himself, or rather the idea that he could inspire such love.

He surely wasn't worthy of it, and he had proved that with the way he had treated Chris. He had said that he should be forgiven because he had forgiven Chris, and only now did Toby see the arrogance in that thought. Only now did he think that Chris had been right not to forgive him. He didn't deserve that forgiveness, but still he wanted it. He would give anything to have it.

Of course, too late, he now could answer the question of how well he knew Chris Keller — better than anyone else. He knew Chris better than any of his wives, better then so called friends like Ronnie Barlog. He knew Chris as well as he knew himself because Chris was a part of him. He was a part of Chris. Nothing that happened and nothing they could do to each other would ever change that.

Did he know why Chris had killed those men? No. Did he know what Chris's father was like or anything about his childhood? No. Oh sure, he had hints from things Chris said and from the occasional cries Chris would make in his sleep. Still, there was a lot he didn't know about Chris's past, but that didn't mean he didn't know Chris. It wasn't that anything Chris had done or had been on the outside didn't matter, it was just that the connection they had had changed them both. He knew Chris better then anyone else because he knew what it meant to love someone so much that it hurt — that it could drive you to do just about anything.

Because he knew Chris so well and because he knew how their love could hurt, he was the one person who shouldn't have doubted that love. He was the one person who shouldn't have been able to let Chris down, yet he had. Chris had thought he had found someone who would care no matter what. Toby thought it was too bad that Chris had put his faith in a person so unworthy of it. Maybe that was what Chris had wanted him to figure out, that his lack of faith hurt just as much as having your bones broken. Chris's betrayal, his betrayal, they didn't cancel each other out. They just made Chris feel like a fool.

Toby rubbed his fists into his eyes, wiping away the dampness as he tried to breathe past the heaviness in his chest. Oh God Chris, I really am sorry. I do trust you. I did forgive you. I'm just so good at fucking things up. Please, Chris, you've got to forgive me. I feel like a piece of me has been cut out, and yet I still feel it there aching.

How much he loved Chris was part of the problem. He thought he knew what love was. He had loved Genevieve, right? Yet, it had never felt like this. He knew what she would say, how she would act, what she would order at dinner. Love was safe, comfortable. What was between he and Chris was anything but safe. It was a rush, a thrill, but also comforting, yet frightening. The attraction was so damn strong that he swore it couldn't be love. Love didn't mess with you like that.

Toby knew he had been wrong. This was love, and maybe the problem had been he'd never truly been in love before. He'd never known what it was like to love someone so much that you just wanted to be able to look at them, to touch them. He couldn't have imagined how it would feel to want the taste of another's lips so badly that you would do anything for that kiss. He didn't know that you could love someone enough that you would do anything for them, and that whatever they did or had done couldn't dim your love.

It was time to stop fighting his feelings for Chris. His fear of their love had brought so much pain. Maybe if he gave into this frightening desire, the freedom of it would save both him and Chris. They could love instead of hurt. He didn't know if he could give up that control, but he was willing to try if Chris could forgive him.

“Lights out.”

Finally, Toby thought, as he sat up and hopped off the bunk. He made his way to the front of the pod and gazed up. Sure enough, Keller was already there. He met Chris's eyes fearing he'd see some reproach there, but all he saw was sadness. Was that what had always been in that gaze? Had he only imagined the scorn? He supposed he had made it worse than it was.

Even from this distance, he could tell that Chris was exhausted. Toby could see the tiredness in the set of his shoulders and how he propped himself against the pod wall. When he had talked to Chris in the library, he had thought then that Chris had seemed tired and now he seemed even more so. On many of the nights when he had stared up at Chris, Toby had gone back to bed after awhile, only to wake a few hours later to find Chris still staring down. How much sleep could he have gotten over the last few weeks? Toby thought it was very little.

Toby ran his hand sideways across the glass, slowly back and forth. In his mind, he was moving that hand across Chris's shoulders, easing the tension out of them. He watched as Chris closed his eyes and tilted his head sideward, almost as if he could really feel Toby's touch. Toby stopped moving his hand and pressed the palm hard against the glass-like substance that was the current barrier between him and Chris. His eyes opening, Chris locked gazes with Toby again, both his palms pressing against the clear wall.

This has to end, Toby thought. We can't keep doing this to each other. He needed Chris, and Chris needed him. That was all that mattered. Tomorrow, after they asked the inevitable questions about Ronnie's death, and he played dumb, he would ask McManus to move Keller back into his pod. At least by lights out tomorrow, they wouldn't be staring at each other in separate pods, and if he was very lucky, maybe he could convince Chris to at least try to forgive him.