Beecher was unaware of the look of concentration on his face as he sat reading. He was lost in the story of two historical figures who had fought for the same cause and had loved each other during their quest. The story was romantic, but descriptive. The sex scenes were numerous and steamy.
"Whatcha' readin'?" asked Chris Keller, Beecher's podmate. "It must be good."
"It is," Beecher answered impatiently.
"Tell me about it."
Beecher looked up at Keller. "Not now, Chris. Just let me finish."
Keller's blue eyes bore into Beecher's face. "Sure," he said, finally.
Beecher sighed. He'd pay for the slight, but he wanted to finish the story. He knew it would be more difficult with Keller watching him read.
The story was tragic in the end. The lovers were parted, one dying bravely but horribly. Beecher's eyes were filled with tears as he finished; he sighed and leaned back on his bunk. Keller moved toward him.
"You shouldn't read things that make you sad," Keller said softly.
"It was a good story, Chris. I'll tell you about it tonight after lights out."
Keller moved away without touching Beecher. He went to the sink in the tiny room and started washing his face. Toby could hear the ablutions, without seeing them. He heard the sound of Keller's zipper and the stream of urine that followed.
"Get ready for bed," Keller told him finally, and Beecher realized he had drifted off for a moment. He looked at Keller, surprised. "You okay?" Keller asked. Beecher nodded as he climbed out of the bunk. Sometimes he still felt stiff and awkward, like he was the warrior who had been tortured. He avoided Keller's helping hand and took his place at the sink and toilet.
It was Keller's turn to sigh as he climbed in bed. In a moment the lights were dimmed, and Beecher pushed Keller over as he joined him in the small bunk. They adjusted arms and legs so they could be comfortable, pressed tight together. Then Beecher told Keller the story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce as written in the novel he had just finished. It was a slight twist on the Braveheart theme, one that appealed to two prison roommates and lovers. As Beecher related the betrayal and ultimate death of Wallace, Keller wept quietly. His wet face was pressed into Beecher's arm, and Beecher kneaded the muscular back and shoulders as they shook with emotion. Beecher was a good story teller.
Finally they lay silent, each thinking his own thoughts. Beecher could only guess what hurt Keller the worst. Was it only the tragedy of the story, or was it being reminded of his own betrayal of Beecher? There was no way to ask. It was enough that they had shared the experience.
Finally Keller's breathing was slow and rythmic; he was asleep. Beecher continued to touch the strong body of his lover as he slept. It was hard to believe that even William Wallace was as muscular or beautiful as Chris Keller. Beecher had tried to resist the man, more than once. It was impossible.
Beecher was awakened from his own slumber by Keller's warm breath on his face. "Toby, wake up," Keller was saying softly.
"Was I snoring?" Beecher asked, sleepily. "Sorry."
"No. I want to make love."
The words sounded strange to Beecher. 'Make love,' not 'fuck'? Keller must be feeling romantic.
"Okay, baby," Beecher answered. "Let me get ready."
"No," Keller protested. "I want to pretend we're them -- from the story."
"You want to be William Wallace and Robert the Bruce?"
Beecher could feel Keller's nod. "Yeah, let's be them."
Beecher smiled. "Okay, why not? Let's skip the Scottish brogues, though."
Keller was starting to breathe hard. "I'll be Wallace. You be the noble guy."
Beecher took hold of Keller's shoulders and squeezed tight. "I wish I didn't want you this way, Wallace. I know you'll think I'm decadent, just like you think I'm a coward. But I can't help but touch you."
"I don't think you're a coward," Keller/Wallace said. "But I don't know your ways. You think I'm just a barbarian."
"I can show you, if you'll let me, William. It's not that different from loving a woman." He closed his mouth over Keller's.
They kissed for a long time, their lips softly exploring one another at first, then becoming more insistent and passionate. Their tongues started to play tentatively together, then they began to fight for possession of one another's mouths.
Keller moved on top of Beecher. He pinned him down, kissing away his breath. Beecher pulled his face away, gasping. "William!" he said in a loud whisper.
"I can learn to love a man's body," Keller/Wallace said in a soft, seductive voice. "I can learn to love your body, Robert." His left hand lowered from Beecher's head to his chest, his fingers running across the taught skin, barely flicking a rigid nipple. Beecher made a sound of pleasure and pulled Keller's neck even closer; Keller's beard felt rough against his cheek.
Keller's hand had found Beecher's shorts and was fumbling inside. "I don't think they wore these," he said, pulling at the cloth.
Beecher laughed and wiggled out of the shorts. "Forgot my kilt," he said. "Sorry."
Keller's hand closed around Beecher's erect penis. "I've never touched a man like this," he said, back in character.
"It's just like your own," Beecher/Robert said, "only a sight smaller, I'm sure."
"It feels like a long spear," Keller/Wallace answered. "Made of the hardest wood." He stroked and squeezed the engorged organ, first slowly, then more insistently. Beecher was gulping air.
"Oh, god," Beecher/Robert cried, digging his fingers into the strong arms. He welcomed the kiss as Keller/Wallace once again possessed his mouth, but he was completely out of air. He thought for a moment he'd faint, as his orgasm overcame him. For a brief instant he lost all senses, the room fading away, the air feeling strange and cool.
There was a loud buzzing in Beecher's ears as he started to regain himself. Keller's arms were still around him, Keller's face was still against his, Keller's fingers were still wrapped around his now flaccid organ. Beecher marvelled at the intensity of the experience, at his lover's ability to make the fantasy so real. He hadn't believed Keller would be able to do it -- to sustain the character. He still had a lot to learn about Chris Keller.
"Robert, are you all right?" Keller/Wallace asked. "I think you fainted."
Beecher smiled and shook his head. "You would think that. You probably make the women faint when you touch them."
"No. I've never made anyone faint, unless it was from a loss of blood. But you fainted, admit it!"
"No, William. I didn't faint. But I was transported."
Keller snorted. "Same thing," he said.
"Maybe . . . "
Keller was nuzzling his neck, still aroused. Beecher felt light-headed. "I love you, William," he said.
"I love you," Keller/Wallace answered. "And I forgive you."
Beecher felt his eyes fill with tears. His mouth sought and found Keller's; he kissed him tenderly. "I hope this is the way it was," he said softly, speaking into Keller's ear.
"Me, too," Keller answered.