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Quid Pro Quo: A Solace Interlude

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"Hey, Beecher - got something I think you'll like."

Ryan O'Reily held up the Mason jar, liquid contraband sloshing inside, and watched Tobias Beecher's eyes widen, noted the sly, instinctive glance as the other man took in the stillness, the silence of solitude around them. O'Reily stepped back, smirking, waggling the jar, reeling the other man in and drawing him deeper into the prison kitchen.

This was better than he'd hoped. It was almost comical - no, it was definitely comical - and Ryan snickered to himself. If he'd known this leash could hold Toby, he'd have used it a long time ago.

"Shit, O'Reily, is that what I think it is?" Beecher, hypnotized, followed Ryan through the gate into the supply area screened by rows of shelves behind the mesh wire fence.

With a sharp twist, O'Reily unscrewed the jar's lid, releasing the rich, full scent to roll through the space between them, heavy enough to taste on the air, drowning out the pervasive smell of old grease and boiled, pulpy vegetables. The very colors surrounding them deepened, the wash of scent saturating the blue of Beecher's eyes, bringing them to life. The Irishman watched the sallow light of the kitchen catch in the strands of dark blond hair and gild Beecher's features, liquid gold running across a sharp cheekbone and full lower lip as the other man tilted his head to catch the savory essence. Ryan tossed the lid on a nearby table with a clatter and pressed his free hand against Beecher's broad chest, holding him back as he made a grab for the jar.

Beecher stilled, drew in a long deep breath ... and turned away.

"You're right," he said, rummaging on a shelf. "We have to do this right ... Where's some sugar?"

"Sugar, you pussy? Ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee?"

"Cream, too." Beecher scowled at the industrial-sized box of non-dairy creamer on the shelf, then shrugged in resignation and dug his hand in, sifting some through his fingers and into the styrofoam cup he'd found before holding it out to Ryan.

"That's not coffee, that's fucking dessert," Ryan scoffed, pouring some of the dark liquid into Toby's cup from the wide-mouthed jar before splashing his own portion into another cup - black, unsweetened, the way coffee should be.

"Where did you get this?" Beecher scooted his ass back until he was sitting on the cold metal tabletop behind him and swirled the liquid in a vain attempt to unclump the creamer whirling around on top of the brew.

Ryan snickered out loud this time and tapped his cup against the other man's.

"Warden Leo Glynn's personal stock."

The idea had taken root and grown quickly, planted by Beecher's sour response to the sticky-sweet fruit drink served up morning, noon and night in Oz's mess hall - "I would kill - or die - for a decent cup of coffee," the blonde man had said, shoving away the plastic bottle in distaste. Initially, Ryan had been amused - trust Beecher to complain about coffee. It was prison for Chrissake, not a country club. Next thing you know, he'd want a mint on his pillow.

"Not up to your standards, lawboy?"

"That ... that is for children," Beecher had said snottily, waving a hand at the overturned bottle and the spreading orange pool around it, working himself into a snit. "That is what I would give my kids with their breakfast cereal before I kissed my wife, got in my car, drove to my office and sat down with my colleagues at a meeting where we would strategize and plan over cups of coffee like adults."

And despite the ludicrousness of the situation, Ryan found himself nodding. He could understand, in a raw, instinctive way, the craving of not Beecher's body but his soul for the simple pleasure of a cup of joe, a morning ritual taken for granted by so many, one of the myriad small freedoms lost inside the walls of Oz.

He still remembered a hand over his eyes, sunlight on his face, a husky voice painting verbal pictures of blue sea and salt spray and the wind on his skin - freedom, if only for a moment. Ryan wasn't a pretty talker - but he could make things happen. And if something as simple - and symbolic - as a cup of decent coffee could help Beecher remember what it was like to be a goddam human being outside these walls, Ryan certainly had the connections to manage that.

And none of that industrial sludge from the staff room would do - like anything else Ryan pushed, this would be the best. He had waited until the kitchen was almost empty after lunch before offering to finish up, sitting Cyril down with potatoes to peel and pulling out the stash. Pouring the steaming water through the grounds, he had found himself almost obscenely pleased over such a small thing.

He felt the stirrings of that same pleasure as he watched the other man's face, saw the look of hopeful expectancy hovering just beneath the surface, waiting to break free, banishing their drab grey surroundings, a hint of warmth against the cold steel and concrete that hemmed them in. A thrill washed through Ryan at the thought that he had put that look on ordinarily sharp, wary features, and he wrapped his fingers around his own cup, feeling residual heat against his palms through the styrofoam and basking in Toby's admiration. Even Beecher's body seemed to soften, relax. He sat swinging his legs like a kid, and Ryan grinned, saw the corner of Beecher's mouth quirk in response. The smile was lost in an expression of ecstasy as the blonde man lifted the cup to his face and sniffed again.

"I don't think I've ever seen that look on your face, Beech."

"Maybe you should try opening your eyes more often." And Beecher took a delicate sip of the brew.

"Fuck!" Ryan choked, spluttering his own coffee back into the cup, uncustomarily flustered. Jesus, he was losing his edge, letting his guard down like that. He couldn't let Beech shock him that way.

"You're wasting it." Beecher looked vaguely disapproving. He reached out to brush a drop of coffee from Ryan's chin and brought his thumb back to his mouth, sucking the pad between his lips and catching the flesh lightly with his teeth.

Ryan's breath caught with a sudden hitching sound, the small noise seeming to awaken Beecher from a reverie of simple animal delight in the rich, bitter taste of the liquid on his thumb, to arouse him to the innocent eroticism of his actions. He looked up, meeting Ryan's gaze, and O'Reily saw the blue of those eyes darken. He shifted, sensing sudden tension, the air between their bodies charging as Beecher's eyes held his own.

Of course. Hadn't he known, somewhere in the back of his mind, that this was where the path would lead them, again?

Coward. You act like it's a surprise every time, but you know, you know.

Like those girls back in high school - before Shannon - who would never bring along any birth control, and Ryan lifting rubbers from the corner drugstore to keep from shelling out money again. Couldn't any of them for fuck's sake take some time to take care of things on their own if they were so worried about getting pregnant?

But then they'd have to admit that something was going to happen, wouldn't they?

Yes, he knew that he would turn to Beecher again, would seek the heat found in the other man's arms, the rush that pushed everything else aside, the blessed feeling of connection to save himself from dancing so close to the edge that he fell. But when had it become this, when had it become about pleasure and desire, rather than simple raw need? When had he crossed the line into not just needing Toby, but wanting him?

A fluttering in his stomach, moment of panicked terror ...

"Tastes good," Beecher murmured, setting his own cup down carefully on the counter and sliding to stand beside Ryan, dreamy look on his face.

Beecher had always been too pretty for his own good. Not in makeup - never in that garish mask that Schillinger had slapped on his face like spackle. That had blunted and dulled Beecher's particular beauty, the softness that still peeked out in those moments when he believed he had scratched a small, safe bolthole for himself, when he could let down his guard. Snubbed nose and baby-face under lowered brows, lush bottom lip, all waiting to be coaxed back to fullness from the unhappy lines they were set in too often here in Oz - the hard planes and edges of a puzzle box, waiting for the right hand to tease it open. There might be a certain primal appeal in Beecher's own pathetic brand of misery to men like Vern Schillinger, but Ryan preferred the challenge of coaxing the bird to his hand, of seducing Beecher into freely giving what others had to take.

But who was coaxing who in these games of seduction Beecher played out, keeping Ryan bound to him through need and desire?

A tongue flicked out, lashing Ryan's chin kitten-like, small delicate tastes rasping against stubble, and O'Reily felt his legs tremble, felt his cock harden, aching. He pressed his palm to the curve of Beecher's cheek, smoothed a thumb across the sharp bones under the skin, met a half-lidded gaze.

"My eyes are open," he said, surprised by the huskiness of his own voice.

He tasted Toby's breath on his lips, sweet and milky, and maybe there was something to be said for sugar and cream after all. Beecher's mouth was scalding against Ryan's, still warm from the coffee, but with an additional liquid heat that flowed from the blond man into O'Reily's mouth, thick on his tongue. Soft scrape of stubble against his fingertips as he caressed Toby's cheek, and he slid his hand around to the back of the other man's neck, weaving it into the raw-silk strands of blonde hair at the nape. He pulled Toby deeper into the kiss even as his free hand slid up the rough cotton of Beecher's shirt to work the buttons free, rapid-fire, moving on instinct the way he always did in the face of a threat, of loss of control.

No time to think, no time to plan, running on hormones and adrenalin, tugging Toby's shirt open to run a palm over hot flesh already flushing and dampening. Brief moment of shock - too angular, too solid, no curves here - but Ryan pushed it away, even as he pushed Beecher back toward the table. And oh, Christ, they moved together too well, too many small touches teaching them each other's bodies, imprinting sense memory so deep they fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

Floating, disembodied, in the drug haze as the call for count rang out, and the emptiness at his side as Beecher staggered up, reaching back down to pull Ryan up with him, curl of strong fingers around Ryan's own, a tug and a stumble, and sudden full-body contact as he fell against the other man, into arms that supported him, held him up and held him close. Beecher had been softer, fuller-fleshed then, but with the same heat, molded against Ryan's body, chest to chest, hips pressed together and arms locked around each other as they fought for balance. Fingers had ghosted through Ryan's hair as he buried his face in the exposed curve of neck, breathing deep and flicking out a tongue to capture a deeper sense of the other man's rich skin layered with salt - a dark tang in his mouth ...

One of Beecher's arms around Ryan's back, the other hand cradling Ryan's face, one of Ryan's hands burying itself in blonde hair and the other curled in a familiar curve around Toby's waist, legs tangled as Ryan pushed, lowered him onto the table, covered the sturdy, muscular body with his own. Beecher's harsh gasp against Ryan's lips as his bare back met the cool metal of the table, and O'Reily tore his mouth away, bracing himself on his hands, trying to clear his head, to think about how he could wring the same response out of the other man that was firing his own limbs, leading him along in Beecher's wake.

He groped out blindly for the cup sitting a few feet away, lifted it.

"Don't you fucking waste that, man, I don't care how much you want to lick it off me."

Ryan laughed and raised the cup to his lips, let the bitter burning liquid trickle across his tongue and down his throat. Bending down, he latched onto an earlobe, feeling Beecher squirm against him at the added warmth lingering in Ryan's mouth. He worked his way down the other man's throat, tiny kisses accompanied by flicks of a hot tongue, pressing Beecher into the table with his body to control him. Pause for another mouthful of hot liquid, then placing a sucking kiss against the Adam's apple before moving down to the dip of flesh at the base of the throat, necklace of light nips before biting gently but firmly on the collar bone, hearing the whimper that accented the expected buck of Beecher's hips against his own.

Ryan brushed one hand across the other man's stomach, felt the flesh shiver under his touch as he traced the sensitive skin under the waistband of Beecher's pants. Raising his head, he watched in fascination as Beecher arched into his touch, head thrown back, pale column of his throat exposed. Ripple of satisfaction through his own body at the sound of Toby's soft gasps for air, at the movement under the strokes of his hand as his fingers painted a rosy flush and a sheen of sweat across the golden-furred skin as if he were creating the body under him, bringing it to life.

Heady rush as Beecher raised his head, blue eyes glazed, pink tongue licking across his lips, leaving them moist - he, Ryan, had done that. Continuous feedback loop, urging him to touch, to taste his creation, and he paused to take another quick sip from his cup, studying the body spread out before him through half-lidded eyes, unconsciously predatory. Toby reached up to him with one hand, and Ryan caught it - captured both wrists while he was at it - pinning them above the blonde head. He bent over again, breathing hot onto one nipple, and Beecher moaned low in the back of his throat. The sensation of crisp hair against his lips was still strange, a little unnerving as he closed them around the tiny peak, but Beecher's reaction was worth it.

O'Reily traced a finger over the other man's zipper, seeking and finding the reassurance that he could affect Beecher as much as the other man seemed to be able to seduce Ryan, despite all better judgment. The zipper caught with short little clicks, loud against the backdrop of Beecher's panting breaths as Ryan pulled it down.

Still strange, to feel everything backward, a mirror image as he faced the other man, fingers curled between Beecher's cock and furred belly, thumb tracing the thick seam on the underside instead of ghosting across the top of the sticky head. Mirror image, funhouse twist, and Ryan shivered suddenly, the discordancy sending a cold wash of sanity through him.

You've got your hand on another man's cock. It was Alvah Case's voice in his head, the same leering tone that had accused him of being Scott Ross' lover, and was this so different from what he had vehemently denied?

Beecher shifted under him as he tensed, eyes opening again to look at O'Reily, concern etched across his features. And yes, Ryan had put that there, too, and he was too shaken to keep his grip on Toby's wrists as other man pulled his hands free and half sat up to reach out again with supportive arms.

"Ryan ..."

Beecher pulled him, down this time, catching him as he fell and laying light kisses across his face, down one cheekbone to his lips, the warm flutter almost - almost - distracting O'Reily from the fingers tracing down his stomach. Ryan slipped to one side, straddling a strong thigh, feeling his own cock trapped hard against Toby's hip as he shifted to a position that allowed him a more familiar angle as he reached out again, taking warm, sold flesh in his palm, feeling silky slickness coat his fingers. Couldn't think, and he didn't want to think, didn't want to bring any considered or circumspect thought to bear as he ground himself against Beecher's hip, painful pleasure as he fell into the well-known rhythm with his hand, hard quick strokes around hot heavy flesh. He heard the other man bite back a cry, felt the body against him strain wire-taut, and a hand clenched the T-shirt at the small of Ryan's back before Beecher collapsed limply.

Then that hand was slipping against skin, under his T-shirt, fingers searing into the small of his back, urging him on. Beecher's breath feathered against his ear as Ryan buried his face in the other man's neck, picking up that dark tang of sweat-slicked flesh that he remembered, pumping his hips, barely stopping himself from biting down hard as he exploded, flashes of red behind closed eyelids.

Later, he leaned against the table, swirling the last of the coffee in the jar and looking over at Beecher with a raised eyebrow.

"Only one cup left."

"We can split it," the blond man suggested, swinging his legs again as he perched on the edge of the table.

"I suppose you want cream and sugar in it."

"It is my birthday." Beecher looked pensive.

"Yeah." Ryan handed the jar over. "Don't say I never did anything for you."