slashsmut single el beecher alvarez

Fiending

by El


He opened his eyes and groaned into the tiny room. The sound echoed and faded as the dull grey walls seemed to press closer.

He was alone.

His chest felt constricted.

And God, he was *hungry*.

It wasn't just that the hacks didn't feed him...that was a hunger that he could learn to ignore. What is food anyway? It kept you alive, sure.

But what is life when you're all alone?

So yeah, his stomach growled and griped. But physical hunger wasn't his real problem.

No no no. He was hungry for someone to - talk to, someone to touch him. Someone to look at, for fuck's sake.

What happens when a man is so sooooo hungry for company that even a beating by a cranky hack is relished? Even sort of...asked for? Maybe even a little bit...hoped for?

Hell. At least it was some kind of touch.

Even if it wasn't *kind*.

Oh Miguel. You are so so soooooooo fucked.

***

Day after day after day. The same day as everyday. Maybe broken by a random beat down. But, as the days wore on, he could tell that the even the hacks were losing interest in him. His pain no longer amused them.

It was torturous.

He felt muffled in layers of...something soft.

So, he was bewildered by the visitor, and he listened in amazement to Sister Pete. Wow. A visitor. It was such a surprise that it had actually taken a few minutes for her presence to pentrate those layers.

She talked to him. She even touched him, once, briefly. It was a happy day. Such as happiness is, anyway.

Eventually, it dawned on him. Getting out, out out. Back to Em City. What a treat. And, so he went, back to the seething roiling hell of people, away from the silent hell of solitary.

***

So, he got out of solitary, not entirely sure what to expect.

Back in Em City, no one wanted to talk to him. They just avoided him. He could feel their stares, and he knew what they were thinking. Time alone does that to a person. He could suddenly read everyone, it was so obvious.

Miguel Alvarez, worthless and crazy. Spineless and dull. Only good for being avoided. He knew their thoughts.

Either that, or he was paranoid. Or the combination of pills and long term isolation had made him just that extra little bit strange.

***

They put him in with Beecher. How fitting. The two inmates that had a penchant for mutilating people. Maybe McManus was hoping they would cancel each other out. Or maybe he was feeling extra sadistic these days, and wanted to see what little games they would play with each other.

McManus? Sadistic? Naaaaaaaaahh. No-fucking-way.

'Cause McManus *cared*. And don't you forget it Miguel.

***

Beecher stood outside the pod and watched Alvarez make up his bunk. He noted how thin the man looked, and how fucking tired. He went inside.

"Hey Alvarez, tell you what - you don't take out my eyes, and I won't bite off some body part."

Miguel looked over, and saw the barely contained sanity of the other man. Beecher had a fucked up aura - he could almost taste it. Not that he believed that new age shit. He tried to get up the energy to speak, tried to push past the muffling walls that surrounded him. "Whatever."

Beecher took another look. This guy wasn't the Alvarez he remembered from the past. This guy was totally out of it. Was it the drugs Nathan had him on? Or was he just completely broken?

But... who really cared?

"Good." He walked away, back to the TV bank, and settled in for a good watch of the fabulous Miss Sally and her fucked up puppets. Love thy neighbour. *bounce bounce* Oh yeah, baby. Don't mutilate your roommate. You got it.

For now, anyway.

***

And so, Miguel spent the days being ignored or jeered at, but no one wanted to touch him. Out here, he thought he would be less hungry. But actually seeing people made it worse. Before, there was no one to see ( except the occasional hack, if you want to call *them* people ), so he could blame his hunger on that. Now - there were people, but no one to talk to him. To...like...him. Now he knew it was his fault.

He was unlikable.

He was scum.

He leaned listlessly against the wall, a little hidden from view. And no one even noticed him.

He was a ghost.

He might as well be.

And he was still so so so HUNGRY.

So, imagine his surprise when he saw two guys looking at him. Two Aryan guys.

Hmmph. They were coming closer.

Oh....

Shit. He finally clued into what was going on as the first punch landed in his gut.

Ooowww.

But...it was a touch.

Followed by another. And another....

And, because it was touch - a reminder that he was alive - he just let it happen.

It almost felt good.

***

He woke up to the whiteness of the infirmary, and the latest incarnation of the fucked up facial hair on Beecher's face.

"Hey Alvarez. Feeling ok?"

"Mmmph."

"Well, you look like shit. What the fuck happened?"

"Nothing....fell"

"Yeah, right...whatever. Well, no one else came in with any injuries. Did you even fight back?"

A long pause. Beecher searched his roommate's face.

A sigh "Fuck. You just let it happen, didn't you? You just took it." He shook his head. "Why, Alvarez? You suicidal? 'Cause there's gotta be an easier way to go."

Miguel looked away. Almost absently, he whispered "I just wanted to be touched"

Beecher let out a long breath. This guy was more screwed up than he thought. He felt a little stirring of sympathy. This was not good. He tried to quash the feeling, but it came right back. "Fuuuuuuck. Next time you want to be touched, man, let me know, ok? This way is just going to get you killed."

Miguel sighed again /So? Who cares? Maybe it's the best thing/.

"I gotta go. I'll come see you later. You're here for a couple of days at least."

Miguel watched his roommate leave, and wondered why he had even bothered to come in the first place.

***

And Beecher walked away, feeling a little out of sorts...

His new roommate was even crazier than he, Toby /good old Toby!/. Alvarez wasn't like Beecher. Beecher had sharpened his insanity to an axe sharp edge. The perfect edge for cutting away all those fucks that tried to touch him.

It was lots of fun.

/Oh Toby. Everything is twisted for you now, isn't it?/

Huh. Miss Sally's voice was in his head and asking questions. THAT was unusual. Guess he'd better answer.

/You got it, baby/

Alvarez though - his insanity wasn't sharp at all. And it just screamed 'Come and fuck with me. I'm a fun toy'. At first, everyone had been wary of Alvarez. Who wants to fuck with a guy who carves out eyes? But this beating, the total lack of response, it would get around fast, and then Alvarez would be fair game for anyone.

Beecher understood what it was like to, deep down, want someone to touch, to talk to, to trust. But, he had been too mesmerised by his own little dance with Keller, his fucked up feelings of hate and lust and love, to notice Alvarez' signals.

And damn it if he didn't feel a little bit...

guilty.

Fuck.

***

So, he visited Alvarez in the hospital, and he talked about nothing. Toby figured that was the best way to calm the other prisoner. Idle chatter about intrigues, speculation about sex lives of the hacks, and of course, details of Miss Sally. Safe subjects.

Miguel would listen to Beecher's innane talk, occasionally muttering a comment or two. But mostly, he just liked to listen to the voice of someone else, someone who didn't live in his head. Beecher's voice slowly penetrated the layers that seemed to muffle him.

And then, one afternoon, he felt a strange warmth on his arm. He turned his head, and looked down. Was he bleeding?

No.

Beecher was touching him. Touching him. He closed his eyes and sighed.

Toby looked at the suddenly relaxed man, and left his hand where it was. "Hey Beecher, whatcha doin' here?"

"Ryan. I was talking to Alvarez."

They stood outside the infirmary, Ryan hunched into himself, clearly lurking.

"Huh. What's up with that guy?"

Beecher sighed. O'Reily was soooo nosy. "Who knows. He's out of it. Makes me look like the model for Miss Sanity 1999."

Ryan snorted, a twisted image of Beecher in an evening gown and crown invading his thoughts. Christ. Beecher in a dress was sooo not a pretty sight. Seeing that once had been *more* than enough. "Yeah well, you got your own problems to worry about, man. You don't need a leech on your ass with Keller skanking his way around you."

God. The mick just never knew when to shut up. "Thanks for the advice Ryan. I can deal with Keller."

Right. You can. Nooooo problems at all.

Ryan rolled his eyes a little. "Sure. Goin' back to Em City?"

"Yeah"

"Want to get Cyril from Sister Pete's first?"

"Fine O'Reily. You owe me." And off he went to get the slower O'Reily brother, not an inherently unpleasant task, no matter how he griped at Ryan. Cyril made him feel kind of human.

Not like Keller. Keller made him feel like prey. And a predator.

It really was disturbing. And it was kind of

...fun.

Beecher giggled to himself as he walked down the hall. Then he smiled inside as some anonymous prisoner sidled to the side at the sound of that feared laughter.

Tomorrow he would go and see Alvarez again. Alvarez almost made him feel human too.

How fucked up was that?

***

Miguel was in the hospital for a week, and Beecher visited him everyday, sometimes twice. He couldn't figure out why Beecher showed up, but it was nice. Sometimes Beecher would lightly touch his arm. The talking, the touching - it breached those muffling layers more and more.

Even if Beecher was a crazy fuck.

Beecher found himself actually beginning to kind of like his fucked up roommate. When Alvarez actually talked, he was funny. And pathetic. And clever. It was a sort of an endearing mix.

And, he had to admit, it was nice to have someone to talk with. Without the scheming and posturing of Ryan. Without the innocence of Cyril. Without the overflowing, sometimes cloying concern of Sister Pete. Without the sexual innuendos and needy lust of Keller.

Sure, Alvarez was a scary guy. The whole eye thing...it was just GROSS.

Unbidden, a thought came - what *had* Alvarez done with the eyes afterwards?

Eeeeewwww. He really didn't want to know...did he?

But, Toby was sure as fuck no innocent, and he knew all about gross /a sudden flashback to the coppery-iron salty taste of someone else's blood in his mouth/.

So, in a way, they approached each other as...well, equals. Both walking along the edge of sanity, both driven there by power hungry sadistic fucks.

All in all, they had alot in common. It was kind of neat.

***

When Miguel was released from the hospital, Beecher came to get him. They walked back to Em City, and when Miguel stumbled /wake up legs/, Beecher held him up. Miguel regained his balance and kept moving, and Beecher kept his hand lightly on Miguel's arm. It was a nice gesture.

"You want to go and lie down?"

"No. I've been lying for days."

"Ok"

Miguel allowed himself to be steered to a table, where Ryan O'Reily and his brother sat, looking around. Well, Cyril was looking around, unfocused. Ryan was more actively, but surreptitiously, observing everyone in the room.

They sat.

"Hey Beecher, Alvarez. What's up?"

"Not much. Hey Cyril, think you and Alvarez here could play a game of checkers?" Beecher looked over at Miguel, who half nodded, then at Cyril who happily smiled and bounced his head.

"You going to be here for a while, Beecher?" Ryan was looking around again.

"Yeah"

"Would you mind.." he looked meaningfully at Cyril.

"Ok. But not for all day, Ryan."

"Just for a little bit, I promise. I owe you." He flashed that patented grin, that one that promised everything, but gave nothing. "Cyril - I'm going for a walk. Stay with Toby, ok?"

Cyril looked up from setting out the checkers pieces. "Ok Ryan."

Ryan stood, and slowly moved away, but not before quickly stroking Cyril's head.

Miguel saw the touch and felt a pang of envy. It must be nice to have a brother. Someone who would always touch you, love you. He sighed. Cyril was so so lucky.

Toby heard the sigh, and saw the reason for it. Without really thinking, he reached out and patted Miguel's shoulder, briefly.

Miguel sighed again and leaned into the too short touch. Then he turned his attention to the checkers game.

And, from cross the quad, Chris Keller watched it all, noted the stroke on Alvarez's arm, and turned and walked away, unnoticed by the three men.

Not unnoticed by Ryan though. The day when Ryan wasn't aware of the undercurrents in a room would be the day he died. He filed away his little observation for later analysis.

***

Beecher spent the day making sure that everyone knew Alvarez was not for their personal amusement. It was fun to eyefuck everyone, to meet their cruel interest with an evil (toothy) grin and a low cackle. He felt like he should take care of his semi-functional roommate. It was strange to have someone to care about, even if it was just a little bit.

It was useful having the reputation of a crazy man, even if he was limping crazy man. But hell, the cane was a fun accessory that people had learned could *hurt*.

A cane and his teeth. Unlikely weapons.

Beecher was a well armed man.

It made him smile.

***

They sat in their pod, waiting for lights out. Beecher reading a book, chair against the door, while Alvarez stared at the wall.

"Beecher?"

"Yeah?"

"How crazy are you?"

"How crazy are *you*?"

Miguel sighed. How could he answer this question? "I don't know."

"You seem better than before."

"I guess. Why did you visit me?"

Beecher sighed and closed his book. He really wasn't in the mood for a discussion of his motivations. "I don't know. You needed it."

"Oh. Um...thanks."

Toby looked over, surprise on his face. Huh. Alvarez was sort of smiling.

And then the expression was gone, and his face rearranged itself into its usual blank, muffled appearance.

Huh.

Toby got up to brush his teeth.

Lights out.

***

A couple of hours later, Toby woke up with a parched throat and a full bladder. He shook the lingering nightmare images out of his head. The usual themes continued to be played each night, now occasionally mingling with Andy images and lingering guilt for his (their) actions. Would he ever have a night without waking in this hellhole? Yeah, right. Wishful thinking.

He got off his bunk, trying to be quiet. After attending to his bladder, he drank some cold water, then stared at himself in the mirror for a few minutes.

His facial hair was totally fucked up. It was an artform. Abstract art. He liked it. Did Keller like the bizarre patterns that Toby created on his face? Or was he more of a clean-shaven guy? Toby shook his head. Why did it even matter to him what Chris thought? The guy was a total fuck. Even if he did claim he was sorry....that he *loved* Toby.

Even if he was so totally sexy that every time they were in the same room, Toby wanted to run over (well, maybe saunter over) and fuck his brains out.

Hmmph. And then maybe *spill* his brains out.

Sighing, he turned from the mirror, noticing that Alvarez was curled into a tiny ball in one corner of his bunk. Through the blankets covering him, Toby could see that his roommate was shivering, could half hear a stream of quiet words.

Tentatively, he moved towards the bunk. "Alvarez? Hey, Alvarez? You ok?"

There was no clear response, only the sound of Miguel's shaking breaths and a continual stream of whispered Spanish words he didn't understand.

Toby sat on the edge of the bunk, then slowly moved closer, until he was almost touching Alvarez. He reached out his hand and gently stroked a trembling shoulder. "Hey...hey...it's ok. Everything's fine. C'mon man, snap out of it."

Miguel felt the touch, the warmth of Beecher's hand. Slowly, it burned a small tunnel through the nightmare visions in his head. He leaned into that touch, trying to calm his breathing.

Toby felt Alvarez relax just a little bit, so he took the chance and pulled him into his arms. Alvarez just slid down, until his head was on Toby's lap. Toby stroked his fingers across his roommate's forehead and shoulders, trying to calm the man. "What happened?"

After a while, Miguel sighed. "A dream...it was dark and I woke up and... I thought I was still there...in solitary...alone...and the room kept getting smaller...pushing on me from all sides. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't wake up properly. Your hand woke me up."

They sat still for a few moments, and Toby let his thoughts wander. This wasn't entirely unpleasant. It was nice to lean into someone for a little while. Miguel smelled good.

Good like Chris.

A little tremor ran through his body.

Oh fuck.

Here he was, trying to calm down his seriously fucked up roommate, and he was getting totally aroused. What kind of bastard was he?

Obviously the aching-for-a-fuck kind.

***

Still in a half daze,Miguel felt Beecher move away from him. He turned his head to follow the movement, and saw Beecher leaning with his back against the concrete wall, arms crossed and head thrown back a little.

Miguel looked again, and his new found perception let him see what was going on.

Beecher was lonely. Beecher was horny.

Beecher was a crazy fuck who just happened to care a tiny bit about Miguel.

And he was trying to keep himself from scaring Miguel off.

Shaking his head to keep the muffling walls away, Miguel smiled.

Beecher liked him.

He liked Beecher.

All in all, it made a pretty picture.

Toby leaned against the cold wall, eyes closed, trying to calm himself down. He was *not* going to make any moves on Alvarez. The guy was fucked up enough.

Toby knew that if he applied just the right seduction techniques, that little mix of caring and concern that he had so much personal experience with, he would be able to get Miguel to willingly be his prag. Well, at least for a short period of time. It would be a little bit of a challenge, but he knew he could do it. And some part of him wanted to do it, to make this man *his*.

It would be fun.

But, a bit of conscience remained, and he knew that he shouldn't, couldn't fuck with Miguel's head. He might be crazy, but he wasn't a total ass. He wasn't like Schillinger.

Or Keller.

So, instead he leaned against the wall and tried to think nicer thoughts.

He felt a shift in air currents around his face, and opened his eyes.

And saw Alvarez leaning inches from his face, a small smile playing on his lips.

Oh *fuck*.

*Exactly* the eyes staring at him appeared to be saying.

***

Miguel looked into Beecher's open eyes, seeing the mix of desire, panic and self doubt in them. He moved closer, so that their pelvis' and chests were touching. Then he wrapped his arms around Beecher's waist, and snuggled his face into his shoulder. He held still in this position until he felt Beecher's arms tentatively close around him, felt hands stroking his back.

Beecher was very warm. Miguel sighed and pulled himself in tighter.

***

Toby breathed in the scent of Alvarez' hair. What the fuck was he doing?

This couldn't end well.

***

Miguel held still a little longer, enjoying the soothing touch of Beecher's hands on his back.

Then, he turned his lips to Toby's neck, and began a series of nipping kisses along the soft skin. He felt Toby tense just a little bit, then relax with a sigh. Slowly, Miguel moved his mouth to Toby's.

God, his lips were soft. His scratchy beard was a nice contrast.

Teasingly, he nibbled on the bottom lip, then slipped his tongue into Toby's soft mouth. Toby held still for a few moments, then, with a groan, began to return the kiss. He moved his hands to cup Miguel's face, and pulled him even closer, kissing deeply, frantically.

In turn, Miguel moved his hands inside Toby's shirt, feather light strokes a counterpoint to the movement of their tongues and lips.

They broke apart for a moment, and Miguel used the time to pull off his shirt, then tug Toby's shirt over his head. Pressing their flesh together, he gently pulled Toby's head back, so that he could better kiss his neck.

"Oh.....fuck......

Miguel. Stop. Stop now."

"Why?" a whisper, slightly tinged with hurt.

"This...this is not good. I can't do this. You're a mess. I'd feel...

...bad."

Miguel pressed his forehead into Toby's, and looked into his eyes. They were nice eyes. He gently pushed his groin against Toby's, and watched those eyes close, listened to the soft groan.

"Shhh. You need this. It's ok. Don't feel bad. Just...feel good." Again, he ground their hips together, gratified to feel Toby's hardness meet his through the thin material of their boxer shorts.

He kissed Toby again, then started to make a kiss trail down his neck, across his chest, and to his nipples. One at a time, he sucked and licked, nibbled and sucked again, until Toby's breath was ragged, and he was making little noises in the back of his throat.

He kissed across Toby's stomach, pausing briefly at the navel, then hovered for a minute while he pulled down the cotton boxers which were blocking his exploration.

Fascinated, he watched Toby's cock, weeping small drops of precum, move gently. He listened to Toby's ragged breathing, and took note of hands gently grasping his hair.

He could do this. He'd done it before. Only this time, he wanted to do this. He *needed* to.

He circled his hand around Toby's cock, taking time to explore, to feel the texture of the so soft skin. His thumb gently applied pressure along the shaft, and he moved his tongue slowly over the head of his roommate's cock, tasting him for the first time.

His free hand moved to Toby's ass, and he moved the other to gently squeeze Toby's balls, one at a time, hearing the soft moan that was released as a response.

He circled his tongue around the head, then moved his mouth down Toby's shaft. He withdrew completely, and placed a series of nips and licks along Toby's cock, then moved back to the head.

He took his time.

He *wanted* to.

***

What is the relationship between want and need? Do they fuel each other? Do they complete each other? Or are they shields from other thoughts, even from each other?

Toby wondered if Miguel really wanted to do this. Or did he feel that he had to, to repay him for his little pieces of attention?

Was now the time or place for this kind of thinking?

It should be. But...no.

Miguel's mouth was warm, and his tongue was driving Toby insane. More insane. He bucked his hips as shocks of pleasure ran through him. He reached down and tangled his fingers in Miguel's silky hair, and groaned, long and low, as Miguel's mouth completely enveloped him. Miguel's hand on his ass pulled him closer and deeper, and Toby felt himself let go, biting back the yell of ecstasy as he spurted into Miguel's mouth.

His body spasmed once, again, and again, and Miguel swallowed it all.

Toby started to sag against the wall. Miguel slowly slid up, and supported Toby with his own body. The leaned against the wall as Toby's breath slowed, still sagging in Miguel's arms.

He let his mind wander. Miguel was warm and he smelled great. Warm, clean, a tiny bit like pine. These things, combined with a post-coital haze, relaxed Toby to a degree he hadn't felt in a long long time. It was nice.

He felt great.

Oh God...

So warm.

Like floating in the sea.

Right next to another warm body.

Right next to...

....Chris.

Oh *SHIT*

Toby's eyes snapped open, and the guilt and self disgust came rushing in.

***

Miguel held Toby up, a strange parody of Toby holding him up when he'd stumbled on the way back to Em City. Toby was warm. His warmth kept the walls away. He smelled good - clean and sweet and good enough to eat. He listened as Toby's breath slowed down, and felt his strong arms around his waist.

He wasn't hungry.

Not at all. He was full. It felt great.

He nuzzled Toby's neck, and felt a light kiss on his cheek, a hand lightly resting on his hair, occasionally stroking.

He loved it when people touched his hair. When he was younger, he'd had this girlfriend who was learning to be a hairstylist. They taught her how to give scalp massages, and she used to practice on him. It had been amazing. Relaxing.

Arousing.

***

Toby stared at the glass door, and let the guilt wash over him.

What kind of ass was he? Miguel was clinging to him like a lifeline, and all he could think about was Chris. He was totally fucked up.

And he felt bad.

He stroked Miguel's hair, absently appreciating it's texture. Miguel was a warm solid figure, real.

Keller was distant. Sexy, but cool. He affected Toby like a drug, calling him, whispering sweet comments in his ear. Tempting him.

But, in the end, leaving him screaming.

Toby wondered if Keller really did love him. If he had changed in some fundamental way, and actually *loved*. What would happen if he gave Chris just one more chance? Would it be ok, good? Would it be love?

Or would it mean broken bones and heart, self hate and self doubt, and spiralling darkness again?

He couldn't risk it.

Miguel shifted against him, and Toby felt lips on his neck again. He could feel that Miguel was aroused.

Huh.

Well. Maybe he couldn't work out his feelings about Keller. But he *could* give Miguel something to feel good about.

He moved his mouth to Miguel's forehead, kissed it, and then raised Miguel's mouth to his lips.

"Hey Alvarez. You smell great."

He turned Miguel so that his back was against the wall, and slowly kissed and licked his way across his neck, shoulders, chest, stomach. Miguel had a great stomach. Thin, sure, he was still gaining weight back. But hard, sculpted, even after his time in solitary. Toby liked the texture of his skin.

He wanted more. He wanted it all.

Falling to his knees, Toby moved to subsume his need for Chris in his want for Miguel.

And, he took his time.

***

Afterwards, he guided Miguel to the floor, and they sat, entwined, for a good long while.

"We should maybe get some sleep. You don't want to exhaust yourself while you're still healing."

Miguel sighed. He wished he could just fall asleep here, lying with Toby, nice and warm. The nightmares would stay away then. But if the hacks found them like this, it would be the hole for both of them. He didn't think he could handle the hole now. Not for a long long time.

"Ok."

Toby pulled him close, kissing his hair. "You'll be ok."

He snuggled in, just for a moment, then got up. "I know."

They went to sleep, each with his own thoughts.

***

The artificial light and alarm of morning woke him up. He lay in bed for a few moments, wondering why he felt lighter, less muffled.

The memories came flooding back. They made him smile.

He saw the mattress above him shift, and then Toby was leaning down over him, a small smile playing across his lips.

"Hey sleepy. Gotta get up for count."

"Mmmph. Mornings suck..." He got up, threw on a shirt and they went to stand outside the door. Exhausted and shaky, he leaned into Toby just a little bit, until the hack walked up to them, a little frown on his face. He shifted his weight to the wall instead, and caught the stare of another.

Keller was watching them, and he didn't look pleased.

He looked over at Toby, and saw that he was watching Keller too. Abruptly, he turned back into the pod, and after a beat, Miguel followed him.

***

a little later.....

Toby sat on his bunk, and watched Miguel wash his face.

"You feel ok today?"

"Yeah...you?"

Toby grinned. "Yeah. I feel great."

Miguel turned around and answered the grin with one of his own. "Good."

Miguel looked alot better. Less muffled, more animated. This was good. It was a relief, even. Toby slid down, walked over to the sink, surreptitiously kissed Miguel, and then started to brush his teeth.

He didn't notice Ryan lurking outside the door, so he missed the smile of satisfaction on his face. Now Ryan understood why Keller had been so pissy this morning.

The 'ho had a broken heart. Or whatever. Well, it served him right.

Beecher and Alvarez. Interesting. And fitting. Ryan was amused by the similarities between the two. He also remembered the pre-El Cid, pre-solitary Alvarez, smart and fast, dangerous and cunning. If Beecher could straighten Alvarez out /so to speak/, he would be a great ally.

He would have two of the most unpredictable and cunning men in Oz with him.

It was a sweet thought.

He knocked on the door, and entered.

"Beecher, Alvarez. You two look relaxed. Good sleep?"

Toby answered the cocky grin with a sly one. "So to speak. And you?"

"Oh...somehow, I don't think it was as full as yours."

All three men grinned. Then, Cyril came bounding in, babbling about his latest ball or some fucking thing, and the subject was effectively changed.

***

Later, Alvarez went off for his first meeting with Rivera. Toby went and did his laundry.

He stood, staring at his clothes moving in circles, and considered the night before. He couldn't help but smile. Alvarez had really surprised him.

He'd surprised himself.

He couldn't wait until lights out.

A sound from behind made him turn. Keller was leaning against the door, looking really pissed.

"You look better without a beard, Beecher. You should shave."

"Go away Chris. I've got nothing to say to you." Toby turned back to the laundry, willing Chris to just walk away, to leave him with his happier thoughts.

Oh course, that would never happen.

"Got a new playmate, Toby?" Chris moved closer, until his chest was almost pressed against Toby's back. Softly whispering "You think you can trust that fuck, Toby? The guy's a nut. He's unpredictable. He'll never love you..."

"What - the way *you* do? Great. That's reassuring. I guess I won't have to worry about him breaking my arms. Fuck you Keller."

Keller breathed softly in his ear, voice silky. "You could baby...I'd let you. I'd let you do anything you wanted. Anything you needed...."

Toby closed his eyes. Keller smelled so good. His weight against his back was reassuring, warm, and familiar.

Memories invaded his head. Chris stroking his back after a nightmare. Their brief kiss....

Keller holding him down while Schillinger broke his legs.

Miguel's arms tightly around his waist. Miguel's mouth....

Toby opened his eyes and turned around. His voice took on a sharp edge. "I want you away from me. It's over. It's all over. Just stay the fuck away from me." He shoved Keller away, and stared him down until he walked out of the room, a look of disgust on his face.

Toby unloaded the dryer and started to fold his laundry.

***

From the space under the stairs, Ryan watched it all, his blond shadow oblivious.

As Keller stalked out of the laundry room, Ryan smiled. Beecher really knew how to attract the freaks. Just one of his special skills.

Ryan would never admit it if anyone asked, but he liked Beecher. Toby was a nut, sure, but in a crunch, Ryan knew he would be there for him. Beecher's special brand of insanity, that cunning, sly, volatile disposition made for alot of fun. They shared history. They shared a total, consuming hate for Schillinger.

Beckoning to Cyril, Ryan moved to go and have a little chat with his friend.

*** Later...

Toby stood in front of the mirror and shaved his face. He had a new idea, but he needed to get rid of this pattern first.

Miguel leaned in close, from behind. "You're shaving."

"Yup."

Miguel moved a little closer. "I liked your beard. It was like....art."

Toby smiled. Miguel was great. "Yeah. But I have a new idea. Gotta clean the canvas first, you know?"

"Sure."

Toby continued to shave, and Miguel's finger moved to stroke his shoulder.

"You know...Schillinger once tried to hire us to kill you."

"You said no?"

Miguel smiled and moved his finger to Toby's neck. Quietly, he breathed "Obviously. You're still alive, aren't you?"

Toby smiled. Alvarez was getting cocky, and this was a good sign.

Lights out.

Thank fucking god.

Toby put down the razor and turned to Miguel with a smile. "What now...?"

Miguel's half smile, and his tentative touch on Toby's chest were a clear answer. "Whatever..."

It was a tiring evening. Afterwards, Toby actually slept through 'till morning. It was a first.

***

Continued in Equilibrium


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