Title: Fate Makes a Man
Pairing: B/K
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: HBO owns Oz.
Summary: Beecher meets a new CO and starts looking at prison in a new light.
Note: This is AU.


Toby leaned into his hands and suffered the attentions of the new CO on his body. Random searches were a bitch, and he was dirty. He flinched as the hands lingered, brushing him.

"Like that, huh?"

Toby ground his teeth. Sadistic bastard needed to get his hands off!

"What's this?"

Toby didn't turn to look at the drugs. "Nothing," he mumbled. He was busted, headed for the hole.

"Right." The CO paused. "Schillinger, what's your problem?"

"That's my prag." Schillinger sounded so damn smug. Toby looked over his shoulder.

The CO smiled and shrugged. "Well, I'll let it slide this time, but I'll keep this."

Toby's mouth fell open, and Schillinger smiled. "Thanks, Officer Keller. Good to see you again."

Keller grabbed Toby by the shoulder, jerked him away from the wall, and shoved him at Schillinger. "Take your prag home for the day."

Schillinger caught him easily, and Toby waited for the blow. There it was, right on schedule. He hit the floor, and Schillinger pulled him up. "Pod. Now."

Toby wiped his mouth, clutched his stomach, and staggered up the stairs. He shook, and he tried to bury himself on his cot. If he sobbed, he tried to ignore it. Schillinger had a CO in his corner. It was just so unfair.

"I told you to get clean!"

"Yes sir," Toby choked out. He put his arms over his head. Schillinger would hit him again. "Sorry sir."

"You're making me look bad, and now I owe him a favor!" Schillinger wrapped his fist in Toby's hair and yanked him off the cot. Toby saw it coming, but there was nowhere to go. He hit the cot again, hard. The lights twirled for a moment, and he couldn't draw a deep breath. His face exploded in pain, and Schillinger slapped him for good measure. "No more tits!"

"Yes sir!" Toby yelled. He stayed down, held his face, and made sure his groin was protected. Schillinger had been known to put a boot there for fun.

Schillinger growled, "Fucking prag. No dinner. Stay here."

"Yes sir." Toby quivered and waited for more, but Schillinger marched out, joined up with his Nazi buddies and was gone. Fucker. Toby rocked and held his face until the worst of it subsided. Only then did he get up, wet a towel, and hold it to his face. It'd help, some. He shuffled over to the door, opened it, and looked down the walkway. Robson smiled at him from the top of the stairs. Toby shut the door fast and went to sit down. He was in for the night, and he'd no doubt get a hard fucking. His hands twisted the towel tight, and he pretended it was Schillinger's neck.


Keller peeled off his shirt and glanced at Wittlesey. "Hey, what's the story with Schillinger's podmate?"

Wittlesey sighed heavily. "That's Tobias Beecher. He's a lawyer, and he sure as hell got sent to the wrong prison."

"Easy pickings for someone like Schillinger." Keller nodded. He'd figured that Beecher was some corporate type. "Beecher do drugs?"

"Don't they all?" Wittlesey shrugged. "Who can blame them?"

Keller fingered the tit in his pocket and went to flush it. Wittlesey was gone when he returned, and he slipped off his pants and sat down on the bench. Beecher was in deep shit. It'd pay to keep an eye on that situation. Schillinger's prags had a way of showing up dead, not that anyone cared, but Beecher was wealthy. Someone would care, and there'd be a real investigation, and Keller didn't need that. He'd lost his last CO job because of 'suspicions,' and he didn't intend to lose this one. Bonnie was counting on him to bring home a paycheck.

"You the new guy?"

"Chris Keller." Keller stood up and stuck out his hand.

"Tim McManus, Unit Manager for Emerald City." They shook hands firmly.

Keller smiled his most charming smile. "First day is over."

"Good. It's always the worst one. Any problems?" McManus didn't look like he'd spent one day in a uniform.

"Ran into Schillinger and Beecher. Quite a pair." Keller danced around the topic. Where did McManus stand?

"It's a shame." McManus lowered his head slightly. "Beecher had a chance in Em City, but he wasn't strong enough."

"A lawyer? Forget it." Keller shrugged. "He'll live."

McManus opened a locker and pulled out his coat. Keller found his wife-beater and jeans and got dressed. They didn't speak for a long minute, but McManus looked guilty. Well, it was his fault, in a way.

Keller picked up the topic again. "Considered moving him?"

"Oz is full, completely. For now, he stays put." McManus's voice was firm. He had made up his mind on that. Keller shrugged and shut his mouth tight. It wasn't any of his business. He grabbed his duffel bag, nodded at McManus, and began the trek home. Bonnie was waiting.


Toby put his back to the corner and waited. If he'd have glanced in the mirror, he'd have seen the face of a terrified man, but he didn't look. He knew who he was.

"Get on your cot, Bitcher."

"Yes sir." Toby got on it fast. The lights would go out soon, and he'd be right where he usually was, taking it up the ass. Schillinger's smirk was ten miles wide tonight. He seemed very pleased, and that was always a bad thing for Toby.

"I've been thinking."

Toby doubted it.

"Now that I have Officer Keller behind me, my position in this prison is more powerful than it's ever been." Schillinger paused. "Follow me?"

"Yes sir." Of course, Toby understood. He wasn't a Nazi fool.

"You know I'm gonna have to whack you, sooner or later." Schillinger laughed. "Now I can have Keller do it."

"Kill me?" Toby didn't follow that convoluted fucked up thinking. Why would Schillinger kill a man that did everything he said? It didn't make sense. Well, now it sounded like Schillinger.

"Of course! You're a pain in the ass." Schillinger slid off the top bunk. "Didn't you know?"

Toby sighed. He did every Goddamn thing he was told. "I obey orders."

"When? You're always sneaking off to get high with O'Reily. Luckily, Keller is here to keep you in line, right up until he kills you--accidentally, of course." Schillinger started the water.

Toby rolled, stared out the glass wall, and refused to look at the Nazi fucker. He did get high, but who wouldn't? Damn place. He hadn't deserved this hell. In the morning, he'd have to buy another tit. Fucking Keller. The lights went out, a horn blared, and he felt that familiar quiver in his guts. Some men enjoyed the relative darkness, but he wasn't one of them.

"Get naked, prag."


Keller was assigned to work the floor today, and he didn't mind. It gave him a chance to figure out who had jizz and who was just a problem. He wandered the area and had the confidence to keep his hand off his stick. These fuckers noticed every little thing.

"Good morning, Officer Keller," Schillinger said.

"Really?" Keller crossed his arms. He'd done a favor for Schillinger yesterday, but he already regretted it. It must have been the surprise of seeing a familiar face. "What do you want?"

Schillinger smiled. "Nothing. Of course." He strutted off towards the cafeteria. Keller dismissed him immediately, but watched Beecher. Beecher was supposed to be trailing behind Schillinger like a good prag, but he was barely managing to walk. Keller followed slowly and watched. Beecher walked like he had a sore ass.


Keller glanced at Mineo. "Nope."


Toby didn't bother to eat. He sat down where he was told and waited to be humiliated. Everything always went Schillinger's way. Toby rubbed his face. He didn't give a damn. It all meant nothing to him.

"Don't blow through this tit too fast," O'Reily whispered and slipped it to him. "I have a supply problem."

"I'll make it last." Toby tucked it away and was glad for the information. "Thanks."

"You sorry fucker." O'Reily smiled and trotted off to serve more pancakes. He wasn't a bad guy, for a murderer and a drug dealer. Toby had a new appreciation for criminals in general. Some of them weren't so bad, and then, then, there was Schillinger. He was the worst of the bad--the meanest, the dumbest, evil incarnate. Toby plotted to kill him every day, but it would never happen.

"Put my tray away, prag." Schillinger was back from taunting one of the homeboys.

"Yes sir." Toby did what he was told, again, but all it would earn him was a shank. He had seen Officer Keller. Officer, right. Keller was no better than the rest of these fucks. He probably snorted that tit before he got home. Home. Toby threw the tray hard and strolled back to Schillinger.

"Feeling bitchy, Bitcher?"

"No sir." Toby made sure to keep his eyes down. "I hate the damn Hispanics."

"Spics, you fool. They're spics." Schillinger slapped the back of Toby's head. "Now say the word 'nigger.'

Toby glanced over at Augustus Hill and said nothing.

Schillinger hit him again. "Say it!"

Toby refused to say it. He'd done everything else asked of him, but not this, not this. Schillinger looked like he was chewing nails, and Toby laughed. "Sorry, ain't gonna do it!"

Said was suddenly behind him. "Schillinger, perhaps Beecher is more enlightened than the rest of your associates."

"He's gonna be more dead!" Schillinger shoved Toby towards the door. "Move it! Shower!"

Toby lowered his head and got moving. He'd get his ass whipped now, but he wasn't saying it. Said went back to his group. He was lucky. He was strong. Toby had nothing. Schillinger pushed him into the doorjamb. Toby gasped at the pain, but he didn't fall down. He held onto it and pulled himself upright.

Schillinger lowered his head. "No one's looking. Do it."

Toby put up his hands, but it was wasted effort. All the Nazis took a shot at him, and none of them missed. He went down and stayed down until Schillinger yanked him up. The pain, the tit, and the ass fucking, all ran together in Toby's mind, and some part of him whispered, 'You're done, Tobias.' He giggled. He knew that!

"Crazy fucker." Schillinger tossed him back down and delivered a kick. Toby took it. He was in no rush to get to the shower.

"Is there a problem, Schillinger?"

Toby didn't try to get up. Fuck it. He saw the Nazis fade away, leaving Schillinger to face Keller alone. They weren't worried. Schillinger grinned. "No problem. We're headed for the showers."

Keller reached and pulled Toby to his feet. Toby swayed, and Keller didn't turn him loose until he was steady. "Okay, Beecher?"

"Sure," Toby lied easily.

Schillinger's dead eyes never left him. "He's fine."

Keller shrugged. "Quit blocking the doorway then."

Toby waited until Schillinger was past him before walking after him. If he were smart, he'd run the other way, but he wasn't smart, or he wouldn't be here. Schillinger looked back. "Keller, meet us in the shower later. Bitcher here owes you one."

"Move it," Keller snapped.

Toby cringed and trudged along. His mouth and ass would be busy, and he'd definitely need a shower when they finished with him.


Keller didn't even seriously consider going to the shower. It was his second day, for chrissake. A blowjob was not worth losing his job, not with Bonnie riding his ass about money all the damn time. He did watch Schillinger drag Beecher's ass in there, and of course, someone kept watch, but he was staying out of it.

"Nice and quiet today."

Keller didn't argue with Wittlesey. She saw what she wanted to see and didn't worry about the rest. Keller glanced at the shower again. They'd beat Beecher in the hallway, and now they were fucking him? Damn. Keller opened his mouth. He'd regret this later.

"Since I'm new here, I was wondering--do the Aryans always post guards at the shower?"

"Only when Schillinger is in there." Wittlesey's eyes were dead. "He's the boss."

Keller nodded. "And Beecher is his wife."

"Beecher's in there?" Wittlesey's lips tightened. "Let's go break them up. No fucking allowed."

"Sure." Keller smiled tightly. He put his hand on his stick and went to work. It was something he was good at--busting heads.


Toby leaned against the wall, spread his legs slightly, and waited. He was clean, and Schillinger was about ready to fuck him. The Nazi's hands gripped his hips. What was the bastard waiting for?

"Should we give Officer Keller first crack at you?"

"No. Please, sir!" Toby shook his head. This was bad enough. Get it over with! Schillinger chuckled in Toby's ear and edged closer, his hard cock slipping between Toby's thighs, but not inside, not yet.

"Beecher, if you're done, I want you out." Wittlesey banged her nightstick against the wall. "Now!"

"Yes, ma'am." Toby got away from Schillinger fast and grabbed his clothes, but he had to slide past Keller.

Keller handed Toby a towel. "Put this on."

Toby wrapped it around himself and fled the scene. This had never happened before, and Schillinger was going to be furious. Lights out was going to be hell. He dressed quickly, hung up his towel, and tried to escape to the library, or the computer room, or anywhere.

Schillinger grabbed hold of him at the top of the stairs. "You're getting it later."

"Yes sir." Toby didn't struggle against the big fist. "I have to go to work." He did. He'd be a little early, but he was due there soon.

"Go on, prag." Schillinger thrust him backwards, and Toby caught himself on the handrail. Toby went down the stairs fast, and Keller was right there. Fucking hack.

"Hell being a prag."

"I'm due at work." Toby shoved his hands in his pockets.

"What's your assignment?"

Toby didn't appreciate any interest in his life, but he mumbled, "I work in Sister Pete's office."

Keller looked surprised. "Well, go on then, before Schillinger gets dressed and has another whack at you."

"Yes sir." Toby walked as fast as he was able, took a big sniff from his tit, and slipped into Sister Pete's office.

"Everything okay, Tobias?"

"Sure." Toby opened the first file and booted up the computer. He didn't understand this Keller guy at all. Why had he snitched on Schillinger? And he had, even Schillinger had to know it. Toby didn't get it. Keller had saved him from another fucking. It didn't make any sense.

"Are you clean?"

Toby glanced at her. He hated to lie. "I'm trying." A simple truth. He did try, but it was impossible.

"Group tomorrow." She'd remind him again. "You have a bruise on your face."

"Schillinger." Toby didn't feel the need to elaborate, but she kept at him.

"Why did he do it?"

Toby clicked the correct database and began to update the Alvarez' file. "Does it matter?"


He sighed. "I wouldn't say the word 'nigger' at breakfast."

Sister Pete sighed. "Good for you."

"Right." Toby adjusted his glasses. It hadn't been a complete lie, but he was not going to mention Keller, tits, and bedtime to a nun, not even her. He kept on typing, moving on to Adebisi, now that was one crazy motherfucker, but he didn't comment. Toby shifted on his seat a couple of times as the hours passed. His ass ached.

"Schillinger?" It blurted out of him.

"Yes. Please update his file. He's up for parole soon, so he has to meet with me regularly." Sister Pete came over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "You don't mind?"

"No. No problem." Toby didn't care, but he read each word twice as he typed it. Parole. The Nazi fucker. It wasn't fucking fair, but maybe he'd be gone. Of course, Toby would probably have to bunk with Robson then. He sighed softly and worked.

"Sister Peter Marie?" Keller's voice seemed loud in the office, and Toby had to control the urge to run to a corner.

"Officer Keller." Sister Pete smiled at him. "How can I help you?"

"McManus wants Beecher when he's finished. I'll wait for him." Keller smiled, she nodded, Toby groaned, and Keller shut the door behind him. He stood just on the other side of it. Toby knew the truth. He was fucked. Keller would probably drag him into a supply closet and fuck him to make up for missing out in the shower.

"About done?"

"Sure." Toby shut the last folder slowly, saved all the information correctly, and wanted to play a game of solitaire. He was in no rush. He stood up with a soft groan and stretched.

"Should you see Dr. Nathan?"

Toby turned and smiled at her. "If I went to see her every time Schillinger hit me, I'd spend part of each day there."

"Not funny, Tobias." Sister Pete walked him to the door. "Stay out of trouble."

Keller took him by the arm, and Toby felt trapped. "I will." He didn't struggle as the larger man took him away towards McManus' office, but he didn't believe it either. They'd detour into a closet. Oz had plenty of those, and they were always unlocked.

"What's McManus want?" Toby slowed down.

Keller's hand squeezed Toby's arm. "Don't give me any trouble."

Toby laughed bitterly. "You're new here so I'll give you a clue. I'm a pussy bitch. Try to remember it."

Keller opened the door, nudged him through, and stood close by. McManus nodded. "Thanks. You can wait outside."

Toby sat down and was glad to see him gone. Keller might hit him. "What's this about?"

"I spoke to Officer Wittlesey earlier." McManus frowned. "Fucking in the shower? Come on, Beecher!"

"What?" Toby reacted honestly. The one time he hadn't been getting fucked in the shower and this happens?

"Don't play innocent." McManus pointed. "Officer Keller confirmed it."

Toby rubbed his eyes. "I didn't!" Not this time.

"Right. A week in solitary and you're damn lucky I'm not throwing you in the hole!" McManus stood up and moved around the desk. Prick.

"And Schillinger?" Toby stood up fast. A new kind of anger burst through him.

McManus leaned into it. "Worry about yourself!"

Toby lost it. "Fuck you! Fucker!" He pulled his fist back, but it never landed. Keller burst through the door, hauled him up, and let him struggle.

"Where do you want him?" Keller sounded calm, and Toby wanted to kill them all. Anger pushed away every reasonable emotion he'd every had. This was new, this anger, and he drank deeply. It felt fucking good.

"Solitary. Two weeks. Make sure and search him for drugs." McManus pointed. "Get him the fuck out of here!"

Toby fought to get loose, but it was like fighting an avalanche. It didn't help that he hurt everywhere, and he gave up about halfway down the hall. He'd had enough. Keller thrust him against the wall and cuffed him. "Pussy bitch, huh?"

"Fuck off!" Toby tried to wrench away. It wasn't smart. Keller took two good handfuls and marched him to solitary. Another officer opened the door, and Keller forced him inside.

"Stay with me. I have to search him," Keller said. Toby's knees hit the bunk and he was down. Keller's hands worked fast. "Another tit? You are in for a rough couple of weeks."

"Fuck you. You're nothing but Schillinger's bitch!" Toby tried to kick him, but it was useless.

"Use your stick!"

Keller pulled Toby's shoes off and tossed them out the door. "He's harmless."

The other hack snorted, and Toby grunted when Keller flipped him over. The cuffs fell away, and Toby roared up. Keller knocked him down, effortlessly. "Pussy bitch."

Toby lay there stunned and listened to the hacks laugh. The doors slammed shut, and he realized that he was alone, completely. His anger drained away. Instead of getting up, he put his hands behind his head and listened to his heartbeat. Alone. Weird. And he had his own shower, and no one would fuck him in it. And a cot that Schillinger hadn't orgasmed on. Hum. Solitary. McManus had done him a favor, in a way. He fumbled for his tit before it all crashed in on him. Two weeks of nothing to do but think, sweat, and pray for a tit. He was screwed.


Keller took a shower after work. He felt filthy today. Whether it was the shower scene or Beecher's rage didn't matter. Schillinger had been furious with him, but Keller didn't give a damn. He wasn't Schillinger's bitch, and Beecher could go fuck himself.

"Hard day, huh?"

Keller shut off the water and grabbed his towel. "Busy."

McManus nodded. "Thanks for watching my back."

"Beecher couldn't hurt a fly," Keller lied. "It's Schillinger that you better watch out for. He's dangerous." He regretted the words instantly.

"You know him?" McManus stepped closer. "From before?"

Keller cursed himself, but told the truth. It was in his file. "He was in the first prison I worked at."

McManus frowned. "Shit. This complicates things."

"It don't complicate nothing. I do my job. Schillinger ain't gonna put one over on me." Keller went to his locker, but he knew McManus would be right behind him. He certainly had fucked up this day.

"How about this--until you get your feet under you, work solitary. Then, later, if you think you can handle it, you can move back to Em City." McManus opened his locker. "Schillinger is pissed at you."

Keller put on his jeans and snarled, "I don't work for him."

"Good point, but let's be careful. Tomorrow, report to solitary." McManus put on his coat. "I'll tell the warden."

"I can't argue with you." Keller wanted to pound his locker. The shit was already starting!

"Right." McManus strolled away, and Keller glared after him. This day had sucked royal. A work transfer on his third day was going to look like shit in his file. Damn that Schillinger and that prag Beecher too.


Toby didn't stay on the floor all day. He stumbled up and lay on the cot, shivering a little. A tit would be nice, and withdrawal was going to suck. He'd been taking regular hits for too long. Addiction. He liked it. It made his miserable life bearable. The silence grated on his nerves. This was like sensory deprivation. All that noise, and now, nothing.


Toby flinched when the tray came through the slot. The hack checked him and left. Food. Not a tit. Toby stared at it for a long moment before pulling the tray onto his cot. He fiddled with the food, eating some of it. Milk. He wasn't thirsty enough to drink it. Solitary. He rubbed his face. Damn that Keller. And Schillinger had better be down here somewhere. Toby had been confused a lot since he got here, but Keller's behavior made no sense. He was Schillinger's buddy? That didn't hold much water now. Schillinger had been bragging again. Of course, maybe it was all on Wittlesey. She didn't like fucking, that's for sure.

"It doesn't make any sense!" Toby wiped some sweat from his brow. He put the tray on the floor and curled up to shake. Was the day over yet?


Keller slammed his locker shut.

"What's your problem, Keller?"

"Nothing." Keller threw Wittlesey a smile. She hadn't done anything. "Glad to be here."

She laughed. "Em City will be quiet with Schillinger in the hole."

Keller shrugged, made sure he had everything, and set out for solitary. Today would be damn dull, and Bonnie was already giving him that look. The one that said, 'I expect you to screw up any minute now.' Bitch. She pushed him too hard and too far. He shoved her out of his brain and reported for duty. Solitary wasn't full, but they were getting there. He checked everyone as soon as he took over.

"How's it hanging, Beecher?"

Beecher threw his shirt at him. "Go fall on a shank!"

Keller wasn't stupid. Beecher was going through withdrawal, but it was his own damn fault. Keller slammed the window and kept moving. He would keep a close eye on Beecher, he might do something stupid like try to hang himself, and Keller did not need that shit, not on his shift.


Toby crouched down inside the shower and shook. He was going fucking crazy in here. How could they do this to people? Fuck people. How could McManus do this to him? It's not like he'd begged Schillinger to fuck him. He didn't even look when he heard the door open. He didn't care one damn bit.


It was Sister Pete. She'd come to check on him, and Toby was willing to look at her. "I'm fine."

"You're not." Sister Pete came inside. Toby could see Keller right behind her. He looked bored. Sister Pete held out her hand. "Get up."

Toby wrapped his arms around his bare legs. "No. Thanks." He shook. Vomiting was easier in the shower. "It's his fault I'm in here! I didn't do a fucking thing!"

Sister Pete sighed. "You have to accept responsibility for what you've done."

Toby banged his head against the shower wall. She was so stupid, but nice. "Well, I didn't do anything!"

"Tobias, use this time to really think. Get clean." She stepped towards the door. "Keep a close watch on him, Officer Keller," she whispered.

"Sure." Keller sounded pleased. He was probably laughing his head off. Toby leaned over and threw up again. Whatever else they said was lost in the roaring of his head, the incessant shaking, and the chattering of his teeth. He ripped off his glasses and smashed them against the wall, ignoring the shards of glass that stuck in his hand. The shower turned on, and he looked up. It was Keller, and Toby watched the blood and vomit swirl down the drain.

"Feel better?"

Toby snarled something incoherent even to himself before choking out, "Isn't Schillinger gonna miss his bitch?"

"Schillinger's in the hole." Keller pushed Toby's head under the water; it was lukewarm, at the very best. "And that's your next stop, if you don't shut up."

"Fuck off." Toby pushed his hair back away from his face. The water snapped off, and a towel landed on him. Five seconds later, the door slammed. Toby made it to the cot and curled up. He would pray for death. Of course, God never gave him what he wanted, but he could give it a try. Maybe God was feeling generous today. After all, Schillinger was in the hole, and that was an answer to prayers.


Keller tried not to give in to his anger. It always got him into trouble. Working solitary was fine, even if he was stuck with a bunch of loonies. It was a paycheck, and if he put in his time down here, he'd get moved somewhere better--as long as he didn't lose his temper. He checked on Beecher every hour. He was alive--it was enough. When it was time to deliver dinner, he took Beecher's last and opened the window. "You want some food?"

Beecher didn't move. Keller put the tray on the floor and opened the door. He went inside, but carefully. "Dinner."

Beecher still didn't move, and Keller had to touch him, check him. Shit. Keller nudged him with the nightstick, ready for anything. Beecher snarled, "Leave me the fuck alone!"

"Fine. No food." Keller was more relieved than he'd admit. He stared at the man a minute longer. Beecher didn't belong here. He was like a fish out of water, flopping around, dying a little at a time. Keller shut the doors, but went ahead and stuck the tray through the slot. Beecher might change his mind, if he still had a mind left.


Toby dry heaved before reaching for the tray. He was thirsty for something other than water. Keller had left it. An act of kindness or just stupidity? Toby didn't know, and he couldn't understand why Keller banged around in his brain. Keller was Schillinger's hack, nothing but another fucker. But, the fucker wasn't predictable. Toby fumbled open the apple juice and drank deeply. It stayed down, and he leaned against the wall. He really should get dressed. He'd be warmer, and he put on his clothes slowly. He moved like an old man, and that's how he felt. Old. Tired. Dead. But on the bright side, he wasn't getting fucked up the ass.

Schillinger claimed he wasn't a faggot, but Toby wasn't convinced. The Nazi liked it too much. Toby buttoned his pants and sank back down on the cot. He chewed a piece of bread and took several deep breaths. His hands shook, and he wanted to roll up into a ball, but he was better. Twelve more days of this? Shit. He rubbed his face, wincing a little at the pain on his cheekbone and his hand. His glasses were destroyed. He shrugged. He'd get along without them.

"Tobias is dead." Toby laughed softly. He leaned against the wall and smiled. Schillinger didn't know it, but his prag was dead. Dead. All that was left was Toby, and he was pissed off. Toby stared at the puncture wounds on his hand. He could live with pain, but the Nazi ass-fucking parties were over.


"Hey, Keller!"

Keller turned at the entrance. McManus trotted up. Keller smiled. He had to, but he already didn't like this guy. "Hey, McManus."

"How's Beecher doing?"

Keller mulled it over. "He ate a little. He's detoxing."

"You're keeping a close watch?" McManus looked worried.

"Yeah, and I told the next guy to check him hourly." Keller nodded. "He broke his glasses on purpose, but his hand isn't cut up too bad."

"Shit." McManus zipped up his coat. "Tomorrow morning, take him to the infirmary, first thing."

"Can't have a rich lawyer dying on us." Keller continued walking, and McManus fell into step beside him. "Right?"

McManus was silent for a moment. "Oz has enough trouble."

Keller wasn't sure he wanted to know everything. He had enough trouble of his own. "See ya tomorrow."

McManus nodded and went off towards his car. Keller straddled his bike and put on his helmet. He had to go home. Home. Not out drinking and whoring, but home to Bonnie. He could do it.


Toby covered his eyes and groaned when the lights snapped on. Couldn't they leave them off, just for one day? He sat up and shoved his back into the wall. No reason to turn the lights on, it wasn't as if he was supposed to do anything. Idiots.

The outer door opened, and Keller was there. "Turn around, put your hands by the slot."

Toby shuffled up, turned around, and waited. The cuffs clicked on. "You ever go home?"

"Shut up." Keller opened the other door and pulled him out. "Come on."

"Well, okay. What the hell." Toby padded along with him and didn't much worry about it. He didn't have anything on his schedule, besides vomiting. Keller looked downright surly, and Toby bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. "Guess 'ol Vern is pissed at you."

Keller gave him a look that was nothing but mean. "Shut up."

Toby chuckled and kept moving. Keller might knock him around otherwise. The walk wasn't too long, and Keller took him straight to Dr. Nathan's office. She looked up from her paperwork. "What's up?"

"McManus wants you to look him over," Keller said. Not much for words, that one. He took the cuffs off. "Want me in here?"

"Wait outside." Dr. Nathan smiled. "You look like hell, Beecher."

"Thanks." Toby grinned. He rubbed his wrists and tried not to wince. She led him to an exam room. "Where is everyone today?"

"You're early. The rush hasn't started." She pointed at a gurney. "Take off your shirt and sit."

Toby peeled it off and gingerly got on the gurney. He was a wreck, but he didn't need to be here. "I'm fine."

Dr. Nathan snorted. She snapped on gloves and examined him thoroughly. "Cracked rib, bruises, contusions, and I'm going to have to take a piece of glass out of your hand."

"Well, other than that." Toby flinched at the gentle touches. At least his ass didn't ache this morning.

"Take off your pants. I might as well see it all." She turned away to get something.

"No fucking way." Toby shook his head. "No."

"I can have the guard look away." She was trying to be reasonable, but he didn't want to hear it.

"No!" Toby nearly got up, but she was back and putting her hands on him. A woman's hands on his chest was heady, almost like a tit. The gloves didn't seem to get in the way at all, and he gasped, "Please."

"Okay." She gave him a pat. "Let me take the glass out."

Toby nodded. "Thanks," he whispered. He didn't curse or move as she removed it. It hurt though. She bandaged his hand tightly. Toby smiled at her. "You're gentle."

"My job." She tilted his face to the side. "That'll heal. I'll get you a strap for your ribs. It'll help."

"Got anything for my headache?"

"You suffer from migraines?"

"No." Toby didn't think so. He shrugged. "It'll go away."

Dr. Nathan seemed to understand. She worked quickly, putting him back together like Humpty-Dumpty, and then she gave him two Tylenol. "No more drugs."

"Whatever." Toby swallowed them quickly. He didn't want to hear it. He might buy a tit the instant he was out of solitary, or maybe a big bottle of Jack Daniel. He'd ask the Italians, they could get anything.

She gave him a smile. "You're done."

Toby slid off the gurney, put on his T-shirt, and by the time it slithered into place, Keller was there. "Turn."

Toby turned and sighed at the cuffs. "Scared of me?"

"Right." Keller smiled at Dr. Nathan. "Need him back?"

"I'll schedule him for next week." She nodded. "Thanks, Keller."

Toby tried to jerk his arm away. Unsuccessfully. Keller nodded and started walking. He didn't seem to notice that Toby wasn't completely cooperative. "Asshole. Charming Dr. Nathan like that."

Keller kept going, but he hissed, "I could throw you in with Schillinger for an hour or two."

Toby blanched. For a second, he'd forgotten that Keller had all the power, but he had an answer for that. "It'd be tough to explain the body though."

"Yours." Keller walked faster, and Toby didn't try to keep up. No rush getting back to his six by nine slice of hell.

Sister Pete came around a corner. "Officer Keller, one moment please."

Toby waited to hear her preach at him. No tits, yeah, yeah. Keller didn't look happy either. "I need to get him back."

"This'll only take a minute." Sister Pete looked slightly embarrassed.

"Did you touch the computer again?" Toby rolled his eyes. "Tell me you didn't."

Keller whacked him across the back of the head. "Some respect for the nun!"

Toby filed that information away for later and wished he could rub his head. Sister Pete sighed. "I touched it. Officer, could I borrow him, just for a minute?"

Keller shrugged. "I guess it's okay." They went as a group to her office, and Toby waited patiently for the cuffs to come off. Keller went outside. He was good at that.

Toby laughed softly. "What did you do?"

"Nothing!" Sister Pete laughed. "Fix it. Please. And print off the current files for Schillinger, Alvarez, Smith, and yourself. Then, I'll grudgingly give you back to him."

"Sure." Toby sat down and started. She had messed it up, but he straightened every thing out and started the printer. "You're hopeless. I have eleven more days!"

She smiled. "I won't touch it again. I promise."

"Right." Toby examined his bandage. He had a few questions about Schillinger, but he knew better than to ask. "Has anyone ever really hung themselves with a shoestring?" He wiggled his toes.

Sister Pete groaned. "Yes. Unfortunately. And solitary is luxurious, compared to AdSeg."

Toby hadn't been yet, not yet, but he'd get there. The first file finished, and he started the next. She puttered at her desk, and he sat quietly while everything printed. When he finished, he stacked everything neatly and turned off the computer, correctly. "When you update mine, make a note. I was innocent."

"I'll tell the truth." Sister Pete smiled up at him. "Thank you."

"Nice break from staring at the light." Toby opened the door and turned around. Keller cuffed him again, and they were walking again. This time they made it back to solitary with no interruptions.

Keller removed the cuffs and said, "For a convict, you got it easy."

"Right. Bend over for Vern, and then we'll talk." Toby took his breakfast tray to the cot. He half-expected to get whacked with a stick, but Keller shut the doors and was gone. Toby opened his milk and sipped it. He wasn't very hungry, but he chewed a pancake. What he wanted was a tit, but they'd left that off the tray. He laughed. Now that would be something.


Keller was bored, so he stared at Beecher's door and fantasized about beating the shit out of him. Of course, Schillinger's boys had taken care of that, but Beecher could use a fat lip. Beecher was very mouthy for a prag. Schillinger might have his hands full when Beecher got out. Keller smiled. That'd be something to watch. Of course, Schillinger would kill the lawyer. Maybe. Beecher was smart, he might think of something.


"Yes." Keller gave Glynn a nod. "But that's a good thing."

"Now that's the right attitude." Glynn smiled. "Is Schillinger about how you remember him?"

"He's older, tougher." Keller shrugged and tried desperately to look as if he didn't care about this conversation.

"And meaner."

"Seems that way." Keller could only hope that Glynn wasn't down here to fire him. Bonnie would take a skillet to him.

"You'll rotate out of here soon. But my advice is to stay away from Schillinger. If he thinks he has his hooks in you . . ."

Keller was surprised at the subtlety. "Schillinger ain't got nothing."

"Glad to hear it." Glynn looked up and down the hallway. "Stay bored."

Keller smiled and nodded. Glynn strolled away, back to his plushy office. Keller thoroughly regretted not throwing Beecher in the hole the first time. Schillinger already thought he had Keller in a corner. Shit. So he looked the other way when it suited him? No big deal. He glared at Beecher's door again. He was not Schillinger's bitch.


Toby put his tray on the shelf by his sink/toilet and lay down on his cot. He was tired, and he ached for a tit. His hand throbbed in time to his heartbeat, and he rolled to his side so he could raise it up. After a few minutes, some of the hurt oozed away. It was too damn quiet in here. He shut his eyes and tried to remember when silence was his friend. After a long day at work, when the kids were in bed, he'd go into his office, sit with a scotch in his hand, and sigh. Peace and quiet, at last. It was vague, but squatted in the depths of his mind. The pain of Oz hadn't driven it away yet. Had he enjoyed the silence or did he only love the scotch? He licked his lips and had his answer.

"Still breathing?"

Toby snapped his eyes open. "Keller, you married?"

"Yeah." Keller should've slammed the window, but he paused.

"Poor bitch." Toby smirked. Now the window shut. He laughed. Now, anyone in Oz would tell him that antagonizing a CO was the worst possible move, but the way he had it figured, Keller was already in Schillinger's corner. Toby had nothing to lose, except his life that sucked anyway, and Schillinger was going to take that as soon as he was able. Yep, Toby had nothing to lose. He might as well enjoy himself.

********Chapter Two

Keller didn't take Beecher his lunch. The cocksucker could go without, and he didn't bother checking on him regularly. Pussy bitch could go ahead and die.


Toby slept as long as he was able. He didn't worry about the lack of lunch. Keller was being an asshole. There was plenty of time in here to think about where he'd gone wrong, and after about three hours, he thought he had it. When Dino had pushed him--that was the moment that he'd shown how weak he was. A real man would have gone straight to the hole for fighting, but no, he'd just picked up his stuff and dropped his jaw at the sight of his new home. And Adebisi? Toby should have shanked him, or at least kicked him in the nuts. And white people can not be trusted just because they're white. He laughed softly. That was more than enough introspection for one day, maybe the week. He had to deal with now.


Toby smiled at the slot. "Hey, Keller!"

"What?" Keller didn't open the window.

"Fuck your wife for me!" Toby grabbed his tray and put it on his cot. Baiting Keller would be his new hobby, instead of licking boots. He got to his feet when the outer door opened.

Keller's eyes looked damn evil and he clicked along the bars with his nightstick. "If I send you to the infirmary, you'll be there awhile."

Toby flip-flopped between real fear and amusement. "I have the power to get you fired, and you know it."

"You got nothing." Keller slapped his palm with the stick. "But you're gonna have a fat lip."

"I'll tell the warden you took drugs off me and kept them. They'll believe me. I'm a lawyer." Toby smiled. "And I'd be willing to bet the fact that you and Schillinger know each other is in a file somewhere. Don't fuck with me, Keller. It won't pay."

Keller went still as stone. Toby swung back into fear. The CO was a dangerous man, and Toby was a fool. Keller smiled. "You really don't understand prison. I could snap your neck, and no one would care. I could beat you until your eyeballs bled out, and no one would give a damn. I can push Schillinger in your cell and watch the fun. No one cares about Tobias Beecher. Nobody!"

"Nobody gives a fuck about you either," Toby snapped right back. He sat on his cot and leaned against the wall. "You're just like me. Alone and fucked up."

"You don't know dick."

"Oh, Keller. That's one thing I do know." Toby reached for his sandwich and took a bite. Tasted like shit. "Show me your dick."

Keller put his nightstick away, and for a bare instant, Toby thought the CO would do it, but the door shut and quiet descended again. Another satisfying end to a day. Keller had groped the wrong inmate.


Keller hit the gym before going towards home. Lifting the heavy weights accomplished two things: it cleared his mind of wanting to kill that prag lawyer, and it kept him in shape for handling trouble.

"Easy there, Keller. The weights have feelings!" McManus laughed at his own joke.

"Tell me something." Keller dropped the bar into the slots and sat up. "What the hell is a smartass lawyer like Beecher doing in maximum security?"

McManus put on the gloves and started on the heavy bag. "He's in for vehicular manslaughter. Fifteen. Judge gave him the maximum."

"DUI, huh?" Keller went over and steadied the bag. It really didn't need it. McManus was weak.

"How'd you guess?"

"Judges seem to get kinda pissy about that nowadays." Keller watched the smaller man try to sweat. "I can't see him getting out of here alive."

"You know something?" McManus stopped instantly.

Keller shook his head and went to work on his biceps. "I know prison, and Beecher is weak."

"He's stronger than he thinks." McManus began to skip rope. Keller didn't watch. That was for pussies. He flexed and pushed his arm as far as it would go before switching. McManus continued, "Schillinger branded him on the ass."

"Motherfuck!" Keller stopped and stared. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and started over. "Well, Beecher will go back to being a good, little prag or someone's gonna die. Matter of time."

"I hate to have to agree with you." McManus stopped, got a drink of water, and leaned against some equipment to watch. "We'll do everything in our power to prevent that."

Keller wondered who exactly 'we' was, but didn't ask. He didn't want to know. When Glynn turned up, Keller bowed out. He was done, and he'd shot off his mouth enough. A brand? Damn. That was cold. And tomorrow, when Beecher got mouthy, and he would, Keller would ask to see it. He got in the shower and frowned. Time to get on home. Bonnie was waiting, and she was never happy with him.


Toby stared at the light. They didn't seem to turn it completely off, just dimmed it. Funny how he hadn't noticed that when he was drugged out of his mind. He rolled to his stomach and put the pillow over his head to block out some more light. Solitary sucked. It was almost as bad as rooming with Schillinger. Na. Nothing was as bad as that. It made him think. When he got out of here, he'd still be Schillinger's podmate. Damn. There had to be something he could do about that. Maybe, maybe he could use Keller, somehow. And that was the moment that Toby quit tits. It was a matter of survival. He couldn't think when he was high, and only his brain was going to keep him alive in this shithole. He could lift weights until he died, and he'd never be tall or bulky. His intellect would have to do, and he would workout occasionally. Everyone else did, even O'Reily. The hours of the night bled away, and finally, Toby slept.


Toby waved his middle finger at the window. He was awake. Keller was moving down the long hallway, making sure everyone was breathing. Breakfast would arrive soon, and Toby knew he'd be in here all of this day. No lovely vacation in the infirmary, unless Keller ripped him apart. He glanced at the shower and took off his shirt. He'd take a quick one before he ate. When the window opened again, he was naked, wet, and didn't appreciate Keller's eyes on him.

"Need something?"

"Just wanted to see your brand." Keller smirked.

Toby turned the other cheek and showed him. If Keller thought he'd get some mileage out of that, he was in for a shock. The laughter seemed forced, and Toby leaned into one hand. He took his cock in the other and stroked. There was time when he dreamed of his wife. Ex-wife. But now, all he wanted was a gentle touch, a kiss, and someone to hold him. The harsh fact that he no longer cared if it was a man or woman had been hard to swallow. He kept an even pace, and his eyes met Keller's. The air in the cell was suddenly heavy. Keller didn't move, look away, or sneer. He watched, and Toby gave an extra twist and orgasmed on the shower wall.

"Damn. Shit." Toby sagged. "Sweet." He threw Keller a smile. "I do know dick."

Keller flushed. He was gone very quickly, and the breakfast tray pushed through. Toby dried off, hung up his towel, and rewrapped his hand as best he could. It was better. He ate some food and lounged around naked. Why get dressed? He didn't have any meetings today, and it might bug the hell out of Keller.

Toby rested after he ate and then he did some exercises. He was a pussy, he realized after about twenty-five sit ups. Well, he had time to work on it--plenty of time.


Keller paced the hallway until his cock gave up. The image of Beecher, naked, wet, and hard, seemed blazoned across the stones in front of him. Keller ran a hand across his short hair and sighed. No more men. No more. He'd promised Bonnie. She'd find out. Women were tricky. When they'd dated, he'd hooked up with some guy, and she'd known it. Had it been the aftershave or had she seen him drive away? Keller didn't know, but he'd promised.

Beecher was soft. Not strong. Not muscled. Soft. Keller groaned and kept moving. He had made a promise.


Toby stopped teasing Keller. It wasn't fun anymore. Keller looked somewhere between desperate and furious, and he always managed to show up when Toby was in the shower. It was no longer cute. Toby had no desire to take it up the ass in solitary, so he stayed dressed and shut his fat mouth.

"What? No dick today?" Keller's eyes were greedy for it, but Toby just stared at him. The window would shut eventually, and it did.


Keller told himself again that he didn't like Beecher. He didn't feel sorry for him, and he wasn't going to touch him, even if he had the chance. Which he wouldn't. He shut the window and went back to stand watch at the end of the cellblock. Beecher was being polite now, and it didn't make any sense. Was he scared? Keller licked his lips and leaned into the wall. It was this assignment, making him crazy. He didn't want Beecher. No, he didn't. Shit. Beecher wasn't like the rest of the dickheads in this place. He was smart. Keller groaned softly. He didn't want him.


Toby raised his voice when Keller shoved the tray through the slot, "Keller! I need to see McManus!"

"I'll tell him, but I ain't promising anything." Keller didn't linger. Toby sighed and ignored the food. He wasn't hungry, but he was bored. A man could lose his mind easily in one of these cells. He wasn't actually sure time was passing at all.

"Turn around and give me your wrists," Keller snapped as he opened the metal door. "Beecher, you gotta eat. You might starve."

"Thanks, Officer Sarcasm." Toby didn't turn back until he felt the cold steel on his wrists.

Keller laughed. "Come on." Toby went along easily, but Keller wasn't through with him. "Why are you so polite? Last few days, I've been bored."

Toby managed to meet dark, blue eyes. "I don't want your dick up my ass."

"You are smart," Keller whispered. He pushed Toby into McManus' office and into a chair. "I'll stay here this time."

McManus nodded. "What's up, Beecher?"

"I had this thought, and I need your help with it." Toby adjusted his arms in the chair.

"Go on."

"Are you putting me back with Schillinger?" Toby paused. "I want to know before my days are up."

"Cells are full." McManus nodded. "He's your podmate, for now."

"How about Gen Pop?"

"Full." McManus picked up a pencil. He didn't give a damn.

Toby tried harder. "Then transfer me to another prison. Please!"

"What do I look like, your travel agent?" McManus threw the pencil down. "You still claim you weren't fucking?"

"I've never fucked anyone in this hellish place that you call home," Toby snarled and stood up. "Fine. Forget it. I'll take care of this myself."

"Care to share?"

Toby smiled. "I'm sure you like surprises." He went towards the door and caught Keller's eye. "Officer, please take me away from this asshole."

Keller's eyes bulged. "Want him gone, McManus?"

McManus shrugged. "Get him out of here, and I don't want to see him until the morning of the fifteenth day, not for any reason."

Toby was glad to hear it. He pushed into Keller to get out the door. Keller took a rough hold on him. "You're headed for a beating."

"You were laughing. Give me a break." Toby kept up with Keller's long strides. "It's kinda funny, but of all the people I've met in Oz, I like you the most and you're a cunt."

"What about Sister Pete?" Keller slowed down marginally.

"She's a nun, not people." Toby smiled. He had been alone too long and was losing his mind. "What's the hole like?"

"We throw you in naked. Bucket for piss and shit, but other than that, it's not bad." Keller gave him a gentle shake. "It ain't for you."

Toby nodded. He was a pussy, and pussies didn't belong in the hole. "Schillinger still there?"

"Got out today." Keller rounded a corner, the next long hallway was deserted, and he pulled Toby to a stop. "I thought I hated you."

"Change your mind?"

"Maybe." Keller slipped a hand up Toby's body and wrapped itself around Toby's neck. Toby breathed in the smell of a clean man. He sighed softly. Keller groaned and said, "All that teasing was mean."

"Yes." Toby leaned closer and didn't know why. "But it kept you from being bored."

"It did." Keller's lips were close, but he pulled away. "I can't do this."

Toby knew ten or fifteen good reasons not to, but he was willing to ignore them all for a touch that wasn't harsh. He waited and just let himself feel the man near him. Keller was a hack and a fool, but he was being kind, and Toby was drawn to it irresistibly. No one in this place had ever been anything but a brute. Keller seemed to shudder, and they were walking again. Toby cursed, "Damn." He wanted something.

Keller laughed. "Glad to hear it."

"Why'd you rat out Schillinger to Wittlesey?" Toby dragged his feet. He wanted to know, and they were getting close.

"They'd beaten you. I was angry." Keller shrugged. "And Schillinger doesn't own me."

"I guess not." Toby went inside his cell and presented his arms. Keller's hands lingered before dropping away with the cuffs. Toby absentmindedly rubbed his wrists. He knew now how to get what he wanted. "You get me a podmate that's not a Nazi, and I'll give you everything you want from me."

"Everything?" Keller's eyes were hooded, and hot, very hot.

"The whole enchilada." Toby spread his arms and turned a full circle.

"I love Mexican food." Keller shut the bars. Toby watched both doors shut, and Keller was gone without another word. It was worth a try. Keller wanted him and Toby really only had one thing to sell. Some twisted part of him enjoyed the fact that Keller was desperate for him. It was a kind of power, and he'd use it to his advantage.


Keller wasn't bored any longer. He spent the rest of the morning frantically thinking. Bonnie would kill him. Hell, she'd never know. This was perfect. He could get his rocks off with Beecher, carefully, of course, and go home happy. No more bars, no more chances. Beecher's mouth and ass would keep him satisfied. Keller smiled. It was a matter of manipulating McManus and the warden--and he was good at that sort of thing.

When Keller took Beecher his lunch, he was exercising. He'd been doing that lately, maybe he was serious about surviving now. The hours between lunch and dinner gave Keller enough time to make his plan. All he needed was some encouragement to put it into action. He took away Beecher's dirty lunch tray and got the dinner tray off the cart.

"Hey, Beech," Keller opened the outer door. "Hungry?"

Beecher shrugged. He took the tray and put it on the shelf. "Not really. Bored out of my mind. I'd pay more than money for a book."

"For real?" Keller didn't read all that much. No time. "I have a plan."

Beecher moved to the bars quickly. "Tell."

"I'm gonna let it be a surprise." Keller smiled. "Tell me again what I get." He jutted out his hips and put his hands on Beecher, but gently. Beecher's eyes narrowed and he looked at Keller's equipment belt. Keller caressed Beecher's arms. Trying to force him would be a mistake. Beecher would make up his mind. Keller whispered, "What, exactly, are you going to give me?"

Beecher leaned his head against the bars, and Keller eased his lips across Beecher's face. Grabbing him and thrusting was tempting, but seduction tasted sweeter, and Beecher was about there. Keller groaned softly in Beecher's ear, and Beecher broke down the middle. Beecher folded to his knees, fumbled open Keller's zipper, and took it willingly. Keller laughed softly in triumph and pushed against the bars hard. Beecher didn't look up. He licked, sucked, and stroked. Keller twined his fingers through long, blond hair, but was careful not to yank.

"Yeah," Keller breathed. He was completely convinced now that Beecher did know dick. Beecher grunted softly and reached inside his pants. Keller watched him work on both cocks. Everything boiled up in him too fast. It had been too long, and he popped off deep in Beecher's mouth. Good. Fuck. Yeah. Keller managed to stay on his feet and keep thinking. He pulled Beecher up and turned him. Beecher leaned back against the bars, his cock thrusting out, and Keller stroked him. Not too hard, but hard enough, and his other hand roamed around Beecher's nipples and mouth.

Beecher gasped, "Damn!" And come shot from him, landing on the floor and cot.

Keller laughed in Beecher's ear and licked it. "Thanks for the sample."

"You better not be fucking with me." Beecher tried to move away, but Keller held him tightly one more minute because he could, and it felt good. Beecher quivered, and Keller turned him loose.

"Later, I'll do exactly that," Keller promised. He straightened his clothes and shut the door. He'd keep his end of the deal, and Beecher's ass was going to feel good under him. Keller smiled and delivered the rest of the food.


Toby waited until the door shut before sagging down to his cot and groaning. That had been terrible. He laughed. Right. It had felt great. He rubbed himself and laughed some more. Keller could seduce anyone, even Sister Pete. Toby had wanted to snarl warnings and make promises of violence, but having someone touch him had driven it all from his mind. Even if Keller didn't come through on his promise, that had been something to write home about. Toby wiped his hand across a wet spot and sighed. He was hungry now.


Keller went to the library after he clocked out. He picked two books at random and went back to solitary. Beecher looked up in real surprise when the window opened. He took the books without a word, but there was gratitude on his face. Keller didn't chat. It was Tuesday, and Glynn always worked out. The gym was the place to put the plan in motion, and it wouldn't be long until he'd driving his cock deep in that sweet ass.

"How's it going in solitary, Keller?"

"Quiet." Keller didn't stop doing his reps. All the other CO's avoided the gym on Tuesday nights, but not him. Glynn wasn't too bad, even if McManus was a dickhead. Keller was glad of it now; it'd look more natural this way. "Em City sent us a couple of their finest today."

Glynn barked a short laugh. "One way to look at it. Too much violence in that unit."

Keller didn't say a word. These things had to be approached just right, and his ears had picked up the sound of a door. McManus tossed a towel down and said, "There's violence in every unit."

"Not Keller's." Glynn smiled. McManus made a rude noise, and Keller banged his weights down. This conversation couldn't be going any better.

Keller listened to them argue through another entire set before pushing his agenda. "When I worked out in Las Vegas, the unit manager there reduced violence by twenty percent." He managed to control his smirk when both of them looked his way. Moving to the heavy bag, he started punching and wasn't surprised when Glynn got behind it to hold it steady.

"What did he do?" McManus was such a wimp.

Keller looked at Glynn. "He assigned new cellmates regularly. Men that know each other are less likely to shank each other." It was enough. More than enough.

"You mean, he kept them moving," Glynn said.

"Sorta." Keller stepped back and wiped his forehead with a towel.

"Stupid idea," McManus grumbled. "I can't put a Nazi in with a homeboy!"

"No, but you could move a Nazi in with a biker." Glynn sounded enthusiastic. Keller stayed out of it. His job was done. Glynn went on, "It's a good idea. Shakes things up, McManus. Keep them from getting comfortable. The men in Em City have more freedom than any of the others, and they're abusing it."

Keller faded back to a bench that was out of the way and started working his arms. They'd argue for two or three days, but it would get done. Beecher was on the move, and Keller would be enjoying that ass.


Toby read until lights out. He was ridiculously grateful for the books, and it was embarrassing. Was he so easy? Yeah. He was. Any touch or hint that he was somehow appreciated made him weak in the knees. It was terrible to feel such loneliness, and it left him so vulnerable. On the outside, he'd drank to fill up the void, and in here, he'd used tits, but now he had nothing but an emptiness. And Keller knew it. He did. And he'd use it to get everything he wanted.

"I won't let you," Toby whispered. He stretched out on his bunk and put his books under his pillow. Not many days left in here, and he needed a plan--a survival plan. No more tits and no more booze, he'd live lonely, but at least he'd be alive.


Schillinger looked up and frowned. "What the fuck?"

The CO snarled, "You're getting a new roommate. Get used to the idea."

"I like Beecher just fine."

The CO gathered Beecher's things and shrugged. "Too bad. Everyone's on the move."

"This is bullshit."

"Gonna have to find a new girlfriend." The CO laughed and walked out.

Schillinger groaned at the sight of his new roommate. "Hoyt."

"Keep your dick in your pants, and I won't kill you." Hoyt smiled.

Schillinger ground his teeth. Nothing was going right lately.


"Time to go home, Beecher," Keller said as he opened the door.

Toby did his best to look as if he didn't give a damn. "Okay. Let me pack."

Keller looked around. "I think you're done. Turn."

Toby went through the cuff routine without complaining. He was going to wait and see if Keller had come through for him, and if that hadn't worked, he was going to straight to the hole, because he'd be fucked in the head before he'd bend over for Schillinger again.

Keller pulled Toby back and whispered in his ear, "Your ass is mine."

"We'll see." Toby controlled a quiver. He wanted proof and one night in Em City without getting butt-fucked before he was coming up with his end of the bargain. "You'll be working here."

"Not much longer." Keller grabbed the books. "Were they good?"

"Yes. Thank you." Toby was polite, even though it was out of place. It had been nice of the prick. He walked along without a fuss. "Thought we were going to Em City?"

"Dr. Nathan first, and then home." Keller squeezed Toby's arm. "If I were you, Beech, I'd find a group to belong to."

"I'm not a Nazi, black, a biker, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Muslim, or gay. I'm fucked."

"Exactly." Keller smiled charmingly. "Beecher is a German name, and you got a swastika. Live the dream, baby."

"Fuck off," Toby growled. He had to agree though. "Think there's a lawyer gang?"

Keller laughed. "They don't hang out in this place. What about your mom? What's her ethnic background?"

Toby didn't know for sure. It was something to think about. He had a shot at the Irish or the Italians, of course, being in the Italians was dangerous, and they had a tendency to turn up dead. "I'll call her later."

"Good idea. It's that or get some religion." Keller pushed him through the door into Dr. Nathan's office and removed the cuffs. "He's all yours, Gloria."

She turned and smiled at Keller. Toby rubbed his face. Women were idiots. Keller went out, and Toby got through the exam quickly. He was fine, even clean, and she knew it.

"I'm proud of you, Toby. Getting off tits is hard."

"No shit." Toby shrugged. "I gotta find another hobby."

"Sister Pete plans to tie you to the desk and work you to death is what I hear." Dr. Nathan laughed and gestured for Keller. "Go back to Em City and stay away from here."

Toby nodded and put his wrists back. It was time to see if Keller was a man of his word.


"Not really. I have a backup plan." Toby was reminded of his first day here. His stomach hurt and this time, he knew what he faced. "I need a drink."

"I like bourbon."

"I like anything in a bottle."

They laughed softly together. The doors opened, and Keller took the cuffs off. "Have fun."

Toby started walking. He didn't have a choice about doing this, so he might as well get started.

"Hey. It's Bitcher!"

Toby went up the stairs first. "Where am I at?"

Wittlesey checked her chart. "You're with Hill."

"God fucking damn!" Toby couldn't fucking believe it. He owed his ass to a CO. Damn you and thank you, Officer Keller. At least Keller was in solitary, and his chances of collecting were slim. Wittlesey glared at him, and Toby went down the stairs to face the Nazis. It was easier now that he wasn't living with one.

"You're still my prag, Bitcher," Schillinger spat. "And it's shower time!"

Toby shrugged. He had to play this right. "You better lie low, sir. Wittlesey is watching. Later, you can fuck my ass."

"Listen to that, boys. He's glad to be back!" Schillinger threw an arm around him. "I was in the hole because of you. I'm gonna have to hurt you."

Toby leaned closer, even though he hated it. "Dr. Nathan took photos of my face, broken ribs, and bruises. McManus has been pressuring me to tell him who did it. What should I say?"

Schillinger's eyes grew crafty. "Blame it on Keller. He fucked us both up."

"I might do that." Toby smiled and got his body away from the Nazi jizzbag. "You have a parole hearing coming up. You don't need a mess on your hands."

"Yes." Schillinger got the message loud and clear. "Any little prick that fucks it up is going to die."

Toby smiled and spread his hands. "I'm going to go check out my new pod, sir."

Schillinger glared, but didn't say another word. He was stymied, for the moment. It helped that he was stupid. Toby went to his new pod. Saying 'sir' to that turd had nearly killed him. Hill looked up from his magazine when Toby stepped inside. "Hey."

"Hey, Beecher," Hill said. "Welcome back."

"Thanks." Toby climbed up on the top bunk to try it out. "Good to be here."

Hill laughed. Toby laced his fingers behind his head. Things were looking up. He might have to start a lawyer gang tomorrow.


"Okay, everybody, listen up!"

Keller put his thumbs in his belt and waited for it. He hated staff meetings; they were the worst part of the job.

"New assignments today. Make sure and check the board." Glynn smiled. "The governor is stopping by tomorrow. Try to keep the shankings to a minimum."

Everyone laughed as they were supposed to. Keller smiled and hoped his transfer sent him towards Beecher, but either way, he had a plan for after work.


Toby stretched out with Hill's Hustler and smiled. Tonight, he was safe. One night. For him, it was huge.

"Bet you're glad to be away from that Nazi fucker."

"You have no idea." Toby smiled. "I'm thinking about starting a gang. Want to join?"

"We can be--'The Losers.'" Hill laughed.

Toby laughed along with him. "I'll get Rebadow too. And . . . who else is there?"

"That's about it." Hill rolled over to the door and stared out. "Anyways, you're a Nazi prag."

"Yeah. We'll see." Toby turned the page. He liked the articles, but the naked chicks were great also. "I might have to shank a few of them. The way I see it, I got nothing to lose."

"Except your life."

Hill was right, but Toby was past caring about that shit. If he died, he died. Fuck it.

"Don't you got kids?"

"Three." Toby slipped his hand through his hair. He'd thought of that, but it wasn't going to make him bend over again. Their dad was going to die like a man. He laughed softly at the melodrama, but it had a pinch of truth in it.


Keller dropped his gym bag at the top of the stairs and smiled. "Hey, Wittlesey, can we talk?"

"Talk? Yes." She gave him that look that said back off, but he'd expected it--no big deal.

"Talk." Keller went to lean against the rail and stare at the pods. He wanted to know which one was Beecher's. "You're working doubles, right?"

"Right. I bunk here and go home on weekends. Why?"

"Well, you know, money is tight right now." Keller kept looking. Schillinger gave him the finger, and Keller didn't bat an eye. "You do know."

"Sure do." She sighed. "Get permission from Warden Glynn. I work two assignments, and then sleep for eight."

Keller nodded. He could do that, and it might be worth it, for more than the money. It'd get Bonnie off his ass, and maybe he'd have a chance to score Beecher's ass. "They wouldn't make me work the hole for sixteen hours?"

"Nope. That'd be hell." She laughed. "You married?"

"Sure am. Nice lady." Keller turned briefly and smiled as if he still loved her, and Wittlesey seemed to relax. She knew he was safe now. Keller moved to the other rail and spotted Beecher. He was reading, again, and he was bunking with the black guy in a wheelchair. Well, Beecher's ass was safe after all.

"I'm divorced."

"Yeah. Me too." He laughed. "But I always seem ready to get back in the ring again."

She stood up and walked over. "Schillinger has made some threats against you."

"Nothing new." Keller had eyes only for Beecher, trying to force him to look up. "He'll get over it."

"Well, if you get assigned here, be ready."

"Thanks for the advice." Keller tossed her a smile, but not his best one. That would be a waste. "He made the mistake of thinking he owned me."

"No one owns you, huh?"

Keller pulled his eyes away from Beecher's pod. "Not yet. Bonnie keeps trying though."

Wittlesey went back to her chair. "Get with the warden."

"Will do. Thanks." Keller went to his gym bag and picked it up. "I'm going to cut through to the gym. Okay?"

"Sure." She nodded. Keller went down the stairs slowly and past the pods. He knew Beecher would look at him. Their eyes met, and he didn't smile or lick his lips or make a rude gesture, no, he just stared until he was sure Beecher got the message. That ass belonged to Chris Keller.


Toby quivered deep in his guts when Keller prowled past the pod. The fucker was prowling--like some sort of jungle cat.

"Looks like Keller has it in for you." Hill sighed.

"He was in solitary." Toby forced out a laugh. "I gave him shit about being Schillinger's bitch."

"You are one crazy fucker." Hill shook his head. "When they kill you, I want your clothes. We're about the same size."

"Sure." Toby stared out the door until Keller disappeared. No doubt about, Keller wanted Toby's ass and soon. Toby got on his bunk and thought about it. Would Keller hold him again, stroke him, and touch him gently? Or would it be slam, bam? He buried his head in his pillow and refused to wish for something he couldn't have.


Keller rose from his bed and kissed Bonnie gently. "I'm starting doubles today."

She smiled, and her chins wobbled. "We need the money. You'll call?"

"Every night. I'll be home Friday around ten." Keller kissed her again, bearing her back flat. "We'll make up for lost time."

"Good." Bonnie wrapped a big leg around him. "Be careful."

"Always." Keller got off the bed again. "You proud of me?" He blushed red when he realized what he'd said.

Bonnie shrugged. "Your damn fault we need the money. The down payment on that stupid Harley took every last penny!"

Keller turned away quickly so she couldn't see his face. "Right. Friday." He dressed, packed more clothes than usual, and bolted out the door of the trailer. The fact that he'd rather be in prison over this place wasn't lost on him.


Toby strolled into the library to get a new book. He wasn't looking for trouble. Today had been relatively good. Sister Pete had worked him half to death, but the Nazis were confused, and his mom was Irish. Things were looking up. Of course, she wouldn't admit she was Irish, but her last name was enough to get him a hearing in front of O'Reily. His blond hair would help. He found a book and slid down in a chair to read. No one here but him and the librarian.

"How's it hanging, Beech?"

Toby turned to look over his shoulder so fast his neck groaned at him. "Keller." Their faces were close, and there was a bookshelf between them and the librarian. Keller's lips grazed his before pushing down. Toby tasted a tic-tac, and when Keller pulled away, it was in Toby's mouth. "Shit."

Keller rubbed Toby's shoulders. "She's taking her break in ten minutes. Don't try to leave."

Toby didn't have to be a brain surgeon to figure out what would happen then. "I-"

"I know you want it." Keller kissed him again and then strutted around the bookcase. Toby gasped softly and rubbed his lips. No one had ever kissed him like that. Like they needed him, right now. He opened his book and stared mindlessly at the pages. Ten minutes. Oh God.


Keller had never come closer to pushing someone down and just taking what he wanted. He was right on the edge. And Beecher looked ripe for fucking.

"We'll be on break in five minutes," the librarian said softly. "Please tell Tobias it's time to leave."

Keller smiled at her. "I don't really need a break, so it's okay with me if he stays. He's harmless."

She nodded. "If you want. Tell everyone, I'll be back in thirty."

"Don't worry." Keller leaned his hip against her desk. "Cigarette break?"

"And a Coke." She laughed.

"I'll keep an eye on the place." Keller wanted to toss her out on her ear, but he could wait five more minutes. Maybe. "Go ahead and go."

She stood up and looked him up and down. "I will. Thanks."

"Don't worry." Keller walked her to the door. She took off as if her lungs were depending on her, and Keller got rid of two bikers that tried to shove their way inside. He'd waited. Beecher was getting it. Keller locked the door and went to get his piece of ass.


Toby rubbed his face and listened to Keller get rid of the men who wanted inside. In about three minutes, he'd be doing this again. He bit his lip, clasped his hands together, and tried to remember how to pray.

"Sorry it took so long." Keller pulled him up and kissed him hard.

"Want your tic-tac back?" Toby tried to make a joke to control the panic.

"That one's yours." Keller eased his hands the length of Toby's chest. "You been surviving?"

Toby had expected a fast fuck and nothing else, but Keller was talking to him as if he were a real person. It made him tremble, and it wasn't fear. "Yeah. I like Hill, and O'Reily is nearly convinced that I'm Irish."

"Are you?"

"Half." Toby smiled. "I hope it's enough."

"Should be. O'Reily's tough. He could watch your back." Keller rubbed Toby's back, and it felt good. "I want you."

"I thought maybe so." Toby groped down and grasped Keller's rock hard cock through his blue trousers. "You sure about this?"

"We're safe. I locked both doors." Keller fiddled with one of Toby's curls. "Turn around."

Toby drew a breath that shuddered, but he did it. He'd made this deal, now he'd live up to his end of the bargain. Keller kissed the back of Toby's neck, pushed his shirt up, and his sweats down. Toby made a soft noise, and Keller kissed his way across Toby's back.

"I've had lube in my pocket for a week," Keller breathed.

Toby knew he was supposed to laugh, but he couldn't. He did manage a gasp as hands, lips, and tongue moved all over him. "God."

"Yeah." Keller wasn't just fucking him. Toby swallowed hard, and his knees shook. The fucker was making love to him. Shit! No. He didn't want to feel these things. Keller's tongue was killing him. Toby blinked when his chest suddenly met the table. Keller spread Toby's legs and rubbed the small of Toby's back.

Toby looked at him. "Please. Don't do this."

Keller cocked his head. "We had a deal."

"I mean," Toby whispered, "don't make it nice."

"Babe, I don't know any other way to do it." Keller trailed kisses down Toby's spine, and his hands did wonderful things. "You can complain to the warden later."

Toby pressed his hands into the table. He should try to run, but Keller pressed a slick finger inside him, and it pinned him to this decision. "Just hurt me."

Keller stroked one hand down Toby's back and began to thrust with his finger. "How about next time?" Toby groaned and relaxed back into it. He didn't really have a choice, and that would have to comfort him. Two fingers spread him to three, and then his head flew back, his hair brushing his skin. Keller rubbed, kissed, and swiveled his hips. "Relax."

"Easy for you to say," Toby choked out. "You don't have a nightstick up your ass."

Keller laughed softly. "I'll take that as a compliment." He moved, and Toby squeezed his eyes shut. His body adjusted quickly because Keller waited. The fucker waited, and then he started fucking Toby through the table. Toby tried not to enjoy it. He tried not to groan or want more. He did try. It didn't work.

"Yeah, tell me you want it." Keller took a good hold on Toby's hair, pulled back, and shoved his way deeper.

Toby's eyeballs rolled away. His own cock thickened, and he gasped in complete shock when Keller took hold of it. Pleasure crashed in on him from two sides, and he bucked back into it.

"Fucking hot damn." Keller's hands never seemed to stop and Toby orgasmed in Keller's hand. He pushed his face down into the wood and drifted away. It went on forever and it was good for him. Keller came with a grunt and held Toby's hips tightly into him. Toby thought for sure Keller would yank out and stride off laughing, but he was wrong again. Keller laughed softly, leaned against him, and kissed Toby's neck. "I think I'm going to need you back in solitary." The words were a soft murmur and flowed over him.

Toby didn't have strength to laugh. He managed to lean up, and Keller turned him for another kiss that seared down into Toby's soul. It hurt that it hadn't hurt. Toby nearly dropped to his knees from intensity of it all, but Keller held him and wiped him off with a handkerchief that appeared from nowhere.

"You a fucking Boy Scout?" Toby tried to sneer. It was lame. He wanted to beg for more, kiss Keller senseless, and do it again.

"Sure am. I've been prepared for this, and it was worth waiting for." Keller kissed him again. "Sit down. Read."

"Yes sir, Officer." Toby had to get some distance from the overwhelming presence of Keller. He pulled his sweats up and sat down to quiver. The sound of Keller arranging his clothes was loud in the quiet room. Toby groaned, stuck his hand in his sweats, and eased out the last of his come. He'd never thought it could be good like that between men. Being gay suddenly made a lot more sense, and he flushed.

Keller laughed and kissed him one last time. "Next time, let me do that."

"Leave me the fuck alone, Keller." Toby knew he had to make a statement right now. He wrenched his face away and refused to look at him. "Consider yourself paid in full."

Keller's black nightstick poked Toby right in the chest, and he flinched. Keller leaned into it. "You're my bitch now, Tobias Beecher."

Toby forgot how to think and talk. A new kind of fear spread through him. The fear that he was going to enjoy and crave every minute of it.

"And you're gonna love it." Keller smiled, and the stick fell away. He strode away to unlock the doors, and Toby put his eyes on the words. If his mind was running around like a hamster on a wheel, it didn't matter. He didn't look up until Keller was occupied with other things, and then he got out of the library. He left the book and a small pool of drool on the table.


Keller saw Beecher run for his life. It was fine. They were finished, for now, and he had a job to do. But Beecher couldn't run far enough to escape how good it had been for both of them. Keller smiled as he broke up a minor scuffle. Oz was turning out to be a great place to work.

********Chapter Three

Toby skipped dinner, lay on his cot, and stared at the ceiling. He ached, and it was all good.

"Bitcher, you and me, in the shower. Now!"

Toby swung his legs over. He should do it. It would destroy any trace of the good feelings that Keller had left inside him, and he didn't need that shit, not in here, but some stupid part of him clutched at them and refused to give them up to this Nazi fucker.

"Leave me alone!"

"Right now." The words were soft and deadly.

Toby knew exactly who was on duty. He'd made it a hobby to watch them. He slipped off the cot and faced Schillinger. "Mineo doesn't allow fucking, but he loves to throw us in the hole. I've wanted to visit there."

"Listen, prag, if you want to keep breathing, you'll take your clothes off." Schillinger grabbed at him.

Toby lashed out with his foot and followed it with a shove. His blood sang in his ears, and he rejoiced in the violence. Schillinger went out the door and landed flat on his ass. He grabbed his balls and yowled. Toby didn't wait; he kicked him in the jaw. It felt so good, almost like a tit, and he had nothing to lose, not a damn thing.

"Get him, you Irish mutt!" O'Reily yelled.

Toby threw himself at the Nazi and let all his hatred out. It was heady, like the sex earlier in the library. He never saw the nightstick that hit him. He went down hard, but still managed one last kick to Schillinger's balls. Mineo jerked back his nightstick, Toby raised his hands to block it, and it dropped. Nothing else.


Keller unbuttoned his shirt and opened his locker. All in all, it had been a good day. His balls were happy with him. Beecher was a perfect fuck. His body tightened at the thought, and he wanted more soon. He'd have never guessed working in the library could be so much fun.

"You should've seen it, Diane," Mineo said excitedly. "Beecher beat the shit out of him!"

"I don't fucking believe it." Wittlesey was coming on shift.

Keller wandered over. He'd missed the first half of the conversation, but he didn't think Beecher could beat anyone. "Neither do I."

Mineo nodded. "Yep, I had to drag him off. Beecher went postal on Schillinger, and the Irish guys jumped in and kept the Nazis back!"

Wittlesey whistled. "And he's not dead?"

"Schillinger never had a chance. Beecher nearly kicked those Nazi nuts through the roof!" Mineo laughed heartily. "I almost stood back and cheered for the little fucker."

Keller tried not to laugh, but couldn't help it. "Beecher won?"

"Completely. In fact, Schillinger's in the infirmary having his balls sewn back on, and Beecher's in the hole." Mineo began to take off his shirt. "Schillinger lost some jizz today."

Wittlesey smiled. "Good. Good for Beecher."

Keller nodded. "Schillinger was due." He stripped to naked, ignored Wittlesey, and got in the shower. She'd look away. He soaped his cock and balls and laughed softly. Beecher had had a busy day, and tomorrow morning, he'd get a visitor in the hole--a horny visitor.


Toby wished he had an ice pack. Mineo had left a knot the size of Manhattan on Toby's head. It had been worth it--twice over. He looked up when the door pulled open. His vision swam, and for an instant there were two of McManus, and that was two too many.

"Tell me what happened, Beecher." McManus had his clipboard, and he came all the way inside.

Toby leaned against the wall. "I beat the shit out of him," he bragged. It had felt so good.

"I noticed, but why?"

"What does he say?" Toby wanted to know before he fucked up.

"He says that he was walking past and you jumped him." McManus frowned. "I have a hard time believing that story."

Toby shrugged. Schillinger had his parole hearing coming up. "It's true. I fucked him up but good. Payback for this!" He turned and pointed at his ass, but he saw McManus flinch in disgust.

McManus sighed. "Month in the hole."

"Good." Toby smiled. "Give him my love."

"Right." McManus went out, and the hack slammed the doors. Toby crouched down and held his head. He'd probably take a shank for today's work, but he'd do it again, the first chance he had. He smiled.


Keller checked the board before reporting to the hole and saw that his schedule had been flip-flopped. Library in the morning. Hole in the evening. Oh well. Beecher would have to wait. He wasn't going anywhere. Keller opened the library and went to stand by the window. The Irish lads came through the door. They were rowdy, but settled down after a minute.

"Hey, Keller?"

"What, O'Reily?" Keller looked, but didn't go over there.

"You working the hole today?"

Keller shrugged. "Why?"

"You tell Beecher--blood in, blood out." O'Reily laughed. "Okay?"

"Maybe. If I'm bored." Keller pointed. "Now shut up and read."


Schillinger cradled the ice pack and cursed, "Damn that pussy. I'm gonna kill him." He said it three or four times, it would help the swelling go down.

"Yeah. What now?" Schillinger snarled when McManus walked up,

"Beecher took the rap. When you're done crying, go back to your pod." McManus smiled. "Lucky for you, what with a parole hearing coming up."

Schillinger clenched his teeth around another curse. Beecher had done the smart thing. He'd saved his own ass from getting shanked, but he was still due a beating. Jonesy, the CO that ran the hole, always needed money. Schillinger smiled. They'd never pin it on him. He sat up, gasped, and lay back down. God damn that prag!


Keller went on shift in the hole just in time to deliver dinner to all the poor fucks down there.

"Only three tonight and Beecher's more unconscious than he is awake. So it's only you. Be careful." Jonesy was going off-duty, and he was the boss.

"Thanks." Keller nodded and made a show of checking his radio. He wasn't worried, even though he was always careful. The other two got their dinner first, and he took Beecher's meal to him. "Hey, Toby, you okay?"

Beecher pushed himself so he was sitting. "Don't ever call me that!"

Keller put the tray over Beecher's cock and balls and took a good look at him. "Hey, fuckhead, you okay?"

"My head feels like it's on backwards, but I'm fine." Toby stared at the food. "I'm going to puke."

"You have a concussion from the look of your eyes." Keller picked the tray back up and moved it to the door.

Toby slumped back down. "Fuck off, Keller."

Keller left him. It wasn't anything personal. The other CO's had thumped him pretty good. In a couple of days, Beecher would be back to normal, for him. Keller smiled. Beecher was going to be here awhile, and that was fine by him.


Toby stared up at the light. Pain. His head was killing him. Didn't they ever shut it off? He staggered up, grabbed a bucket, and threw it straight at it. Damn. That was cool. And it was dark in here now. Pain. Pain. He curled up in a corner, put his head on his arms, and tried to sleep.


Keller heard the crash. Beecher was turning into a real convict, nothing but a pain in the ass. Keller opened the window and groaned. Beecher had put out the light. Again. The crazy fucker. The first time, Keller had moved him, but obviously this called for a better solution, like leaving him in the dark for a day or two. Beecher belonged in the infirmary, but Jonesy had said 'fuck no' and that was the end of it. Damn it.

"What's the problem, Keller?"

Keller had heard the authoritative steps, and he turned to face the warden. Beecher was the problem, and Keller wanted it out there. "Beecher put his light out again. He keeps yelling about having a headache."

"Does he have a headache?"

"Probably." Keller shut the window. "He has a knot on his head, and I'm sure he has a concussion. Jonesy said to leave him alone."

Glynn rubbed a hand across his face. "Well. You're the boss down here. What's your decision?"

"Me? As of when?" Keller didn't smile. He was never promoted, only fired.

"As of about thirty minutes ago when Jonesy quit. I'm putting you in charge of AdSeg. You can still double up, if you want. Wittlesey wants you in Em City." Glynn smiled. "Yes, there's a pay raise."

"Damn." Keller was slightly ashamed that he broke out into a smile. "Thank you, Warden."

"I know you won't let me down." Glynn pointed at Beecher's door. "So, what's the verdict?"

"Infirmary. He might be bleeding into his brain or something stupid like that." Keller sighed. "Since you're going up, send Charlie down, will ya?"

"Will do." Glynn smiled and left him. Keller put his hand against the wall and leaned. His head felt funny. He'd done something right. He hadn't fucked up, not yet. And more money would keep Bonnie quiet. Keller let out a whoosh of air. He'd done something right. Now to get Beecher some help. Fast.


Toby kept his head down and tried to walk. He did. He was just so fucking tired. "Keller? That you?"

"Yeah. Keep walking. You can make it." Keller had a tight hold on him. Toby appreciated it. He wouldn't be moving without it. Six more steps. He counted them. Keller said something. Toby didn't hear it, and he had a feeling he wasn't moving any longer.

"Let me lie here," Toby mumbled. Keller growled in Toby's ear, but it made no sense, and suddenly, the floor was gone. Toby relaxed and let the magic carpet take him away.


Keller was worried, but not panicking until he saw Beecher's eyes roll away. Beecher slumped down Keller's leg and didn't move. Keller cursed, but he didn't have any more choices. He scooped Beecher up and went as fast as he was able with a good-sized naked man in his arms.

Dr. Nathan came running, took a look, and shouted, "Shit! I need some help over here!"

Keller put him down on a gurney gently.

"Why the hell didn't you bring him sooner?"

Keller stood up straight. This wasn't his fucking fault. "Jonesy wouldn't let me!" He stepped away as a team of nurses swarmed over Beecher. One of them made sure that he knew he wasn't welcome, and he moved far back. Beecher would live, hopefully. Keller felt helpless, and he didn't like it one damn bit. He turned on his heel and left the infirmary. Beecher didn't need him hanging around.


Keller reported to Em City after a long night of not sleeping on the cot they provided to CO's. Wittlesey smiled, not much, at him, and said, "You look like hell."

"Thanks. The hole was hell last night." Keller yawned and stretched, shaking himself awake. "I'll get a cup of coffee and be fine."

"You can stay up here with me today." Wittlesey nodded. "Tomorrow, I'll send you down."

"Thanks." Keller went to the lounge, grabbed some coffee, and went straight back. He needed Wittlesey on his side. He walked the rail and sipped the dead black coffee. If it didn't wake him up, he was dead.

"What happened?"

Keller didn't look at her straight on. "Jonesy quit. Beecher about died. Nothing major."

"Damn!" Wittlesey sat up in her chair. "You want to take the shift off?"

"Need the money." Keller shook his head. "Thanks though."

"Beecher never catches a break." She went back to checking charts, and then stood up. "I'm getting them up."

"If you have to." Keller drained his coffee fast and felt the burn. "I'll be dead soon or awake."

"That's my coffee you're insulting." But she laughed, and Keller smiled at her. She was immune to his charms, but he liked her. Keller did as little as possible throughout the day, and no one gave him a hard time. It was Friday, and he could go home and get some sleep. Bonnie might even be glad to see him. He skipped the gym, dressed, grabbed his shit, and went to his bike. It felt good to be out of there. He looked back and cursed at himself for being a pussy. Beecher was nothing. Keller rubbed his face and went back inside.

"Dr. Nathan?" He knew he was on her shit list, and he deserved to be there.

"Hey Keller." She frowned at him. "I thought we were friends."

Keller stuck his hands in his pockets. "Well, I know you're mad about Beecher."

"Not your fault. I know you tried." She rubbed her forehead. "He's over at Benchley Memorial. He'll be back in a few days."

"I knew it was bad." Keller smiled, not too much. "I'll see you Monday."

She smiled and waved him away. Keller laughed and got moving out to his bike. Beecher was in the hospital. They'd take care of him. The ride home seemed longer somehow, and as he whipped into the trailer park, he saw a car leaving his trailer. It was a man and not one of his few friends. He stopped his bike and stared after it. Bonnie was cheating on him, again. For a fat woman, she was faithless. He took off his helmet and rubbed his hand through his hair. If he'd have skipped seeing Dr. Nathan about Beecher, he'd have caught them. How careless of her. Keller put his helmet on and turned his bike around. He knew where the hospital was, and he wanted to check Beecher. He felt responsible, and he didn't much like it.


Toby woke up slow and easy. He couldn't figure out why there wasn't a light in his eyes or concrete under his back.

"He's coming around, Doctor."

That jolted Toby to a more conscious state. "Where am I?"

"The hospital." A doctor opened Toby's eyes wide and shined a light in them. "That hurt?"

"It's bright." Toby could feel a tube going in his arm, an IV, or something. He should ask what he was doing here, but it seemed like a lot of work.

The doctor continued to examine him. "Keep a close watch on him. The bleeding is stopped, but it could start again."

"Yes, Doctor."


"You cracked your head, son." The doctor said nothing else, and the nurse made Toby more comfortable. Toby sighed and tried to think. He hadn't cracked his head open. He'd had help, but he didn't remember exactly who had done it. He lazed away the day, sleeping, eating a little, and watching TV. The nurse helped him shower. Every time his head began to pound, they gave him something that made it all go away. He heard voices in the hallway after dinner, but thought nothing of it, until someone stepped in the room.

"That you, Keller?"

"They must have hit you pretty damn hard, if you can't remember this ugly face." Keller smiled and moved to stand by the end of the bed.

"It's the clothes. You look almost human." Toby used the bed to help him sit up. "Did McManus send you to check on me?"

"Fuck no." Keller pulled up a chair and sat down. "You gonna live?"

"I guess." Toby didn't understand why Keller was here, but he was too tired to get upset about it. "The nurse seems to think so."

Keller grabbed the remote and changed the channel. "Game's on."

"Uh, Keller, what the fuck are you doing here?" Toby didn't like basketball, and Keller was settling down as if he was going to stay.

"Bonnie's fucking some guy, so I thought I'd check on you." Keller stared at the screen. "I might as well watch the game, and you can't say no because I'm a CO. Simple."

"Great." Toby alternated between watching Keller and the game. Was this what it as like to hang out with other guys? Except for the headache, maybe. They needed some beer though. He laughed softly. "Get me a beer, will ya?"

"Can't do it, but I'll grab us some soda." Keller left, but came right back and popped open a couple of Cokes. "Good enough?"

Toby nodded and sipped it. It was good. He'd forgotten how it tasted. He was shaky, and he sat it down carefully. "Who's winning?"

"Knicks." Keller glanced at him. "You should sleep."

"I will." Toby let his eyes drift shut.


Keller drank both sodas and watched the entire game. Beecher was out like a light, and he should be. Guy looked about dead, but he wasn't. Keller got up, stretched, and went to look out the window. He should go home, and yet, he wanted to be here. He didn't get it. So they'd fucked, no big deal. It wasn't like they were friends. Beecher was nothing but another convict, facing time, and Keller was just a fucking hack. "You gonna be here awhile?"

Keller turned from the window. "What's up, guys?"

"We have an incident." They were hospital security.

"Sure. Go on. He's not going anywhere." Keller nodded. "I'll watch him."

They looked relieved and left quickly. Keller sat back down. He was asking for overtime, and he switched over to Jay Leno.


Toby woke up when the sun came through the blinds. He was confused until he saw Keller, asleep in the chair next to him. "Good. He's asleep. I can escape."

"Better unhook that IV first." Keller yawned and stretched. "Hurry, the hacks are coming."

"Funny." Toby curled to the side of his head that wasn't a bloody mess. "You should go home."

"I will." Keller stood. "You wouldn't believe the paperwork when a prisoner collapses on your shift."

"I was a lawyer. I believe." Toby groaned. "I gotta piss. Get the nurse."

Keller came around and lowered the bed rail. "It's easy. I'll unplug this. Hold onto the pole."

"Thanks, Nurse." Toby didn't understand this Keller guy at all. He hobbled to the bathroom, pissed, and swayed. Keller steadied him and helped him back to the bed. Toby trembled at the touch and tried not to cling to Keller's strength. It didn't mean anything except that he was weak. "If you think I like you because we fucked, you're as dumb as Schillinger."

"I don't think nothing." Keller tucked the covers, plugged the cord back in the wall, and raised the rail. "I know exactly what we are. Security had to leave last night. They asked me to stay. It don't mean dick."

Toby bit his lip. He'd heard the voice change from mild concern to flat and cold, and it made part of him ache. "I'm your bitch, but nothing else."

Keller smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. He picked up his jacket from the chair and put it on. Toby saw the emblems and patches. Keller rode a Harley, and it wasn't a surprise. He left the room without another word. Toby shut his eyes. Why did he feel like such an asshole?


Keller went home, parked his Harley, and threw his shit on the couch. He was tired and wanted to hit someone, and he wasn't going to think about why he felt that way.

"About time you got home, asshole," Bonnie drawled.

"Guy nearly died. Nothing but trouble." Keller hesitated to tell her about the promotion. She'd make like he didn't deserve it, and he didn't, so he didn't want to hear it. "You stay busy?"

"Always something to do." Bonnie smiled. "You smell like a hospital instead of a bar."

"Told you I was working." Keller stripped off his wife-beater. "I gotta shower."

Bonnie changed the channels and ate her cereal. She didn't give a damn, and neither did he, not any longer.


Toby spent another day sleeping, eating, and watching TV. He took his meds when they told him to, and he didn't complain about the food.

"Feeling better, Toby?"

"Hi, Dr. Nathan." Toby wished that he could call her 'Gloria.' "I'm doing okay."

Dr. Nathan pulled his chart and looked it over. "Let me give you the long and the short of it. Your skull was fractured, and there was some bleeding on your brain. The surgeon repaired your skull."

Toby about lost his lunch. He choked it down and said, "They did put the manhole cover back on, right?"

"Yes." Dr. Nathan sat down and put on her stethoscope. Toby didn't bother to talk to her with her ears plugged. She smiled. "Better. A couple more days and you'll be back to Em City."

"You mean the hole." Toby knew he sounded like a spoiled brat.

"That's going to have to wait until you're completely healed." Dr. Nathan shook her head. "I spoke to McManus, and he agrees."

Toby was surprised. He figured they'd toss him back in on his head and laugh about it. Someone had put some pressure on McManus. "My dad's been raising hell, huh?"

"Visitation was yesterday. I understand that the fur was flying." Dr. Nathan shrugged.

"Never fuck with lawyers." Toby smiled at her, and she tentatively returned it. "Keller was here." He threw it out to see her reaction. "They put him to work."

"He was?" Dr. Nathan stood up and took his blood pressure. "He came to see me also. Jonesy wouldn't release you to the infirmary. And then Jonesy quit, Keller was promoted, and he brought you right to me. I'm guessing that for him, it was a hard day."

Toby didn't say anything smart ass. He wanted to think about all that. "Guess Keller saved my life."

"Guess so." Dr. Nathan made a few notes and put the chart away. "Stay in bed. If the guards see you up, they have orders to restrain you."

"Yes, ma'am." Toby didn't want to be strapped down. "They'd probably hit me in the head a few times for fun."

"They might. Stay put. I'll check in with you in two days." Dr. Nathan left with a bare wave. Toby stared after her and thought it all through. Keller had cared enough to keep him alive, and he'd come to visit. Didn't Keller know they were supposed to hate each other? Toby reached, turned the light out, and shut his eyes. His traitorous mind took him back to the library. Keller had made it so good that Toby had beaten Schillinger rather than lose those feelings.

"I'm his bitch, nothing more," Toby said so he could hear it. He couldn't believe anything else because it would hurt too badly when it wasn't true.


Keller gave Bonnie the finger and took off on his Harley. He was about done with her, and she was making it clear that she wanted him out. There were plenty of places to go, but nowhere that he wanted to be, and he didn't argue too long with himself when his bike turned towards the hospital. Beecher had been a shithead earlier, but he was still better than Bonnie, and the lure of a bar just wasn't that strong tonight. Sure, he could pick up some fuck and screw him, but he knew he'd be thinking about Beecher.

The hospital was quiet, and the security guys were back outside the door. They gave him a smile. "Night shift?"

"Pretty much. Take off. I got it covered."

"If he gets out of bed, strap him down. Orders from the boss over at the prison."

Keller nodded. It was standard procedure. "I'm sure you guys have things to do."

"We do." And they were gone. Keller got two sodas, a bag of chips, and pushed the door open with his foot. Beecher looked asleep, and Keller put the stuff down on the table.

"Back so soon?"

"It's your charming personality." Keller turned on the TV and opened the food. "I'm working here. Don't make me whack you."

Beecher laughed and moved the bed until he was upright. He drank some soda and ate a chip. "Dr. Nathan was here."

"She's pretty, ain't she?" Keller found the game and started to watch.

"Very. If you ever fuck her, I want to hear about it." Beecher stared at the TV and wished Keller would change the channel. "I like murder mysteries."

"Like Law and Order?"


"Forget it. That's too much like work." Keller helped himself to some more chips. "I like movies and sports."


"You bet." Keller smiled and suddenly wished he hadn't. He shouldn't be nice to the little prick. "You still my bitch?"

Beecher gave him a look. "Sorry about that."

"Better be true." Keller wasn't going to accept that apology. He watched some more basketball. "Did you like beating up on Schillinger?"

"Wow. It was great. Almost better than sex." Beecher looked away fast.

"With me." Keller laughed. "Hey, at least I got an almost!" He laughed some more at Beecher's expense. "Beech, you gotta loosen up. Prison sucks, but you'll get out."

"Maybe. Maybe not." Beecher drank some soda and shrugged. "I'll probably get shanked."

Keller didn't want to hear it, and he didn't want to think about what he'd do to the asshole that shanked Beecher, but it would be bloody. He concentrated on the game again. It was safe. "Knicks are up by five."

Beecher suddenly smiled at him. "Thanks."

"For what?" Keller hadn't earned any thanks, not for anything.

"The soda." Beecher settled back, and Keller didn't watch him fall asleep. The Knicks lost, and Keller flipped off the TV when all he could find was infomercials and reruns. Beecher was out. He looked better, less like he was going to die. Keller stretched and got up to stare out the blinds into the parking lot below. It was dark. The lights from the helicopter pad blinked at him. The thing with Bonnie sat heavy in his guts. He should get on his hog and leave town. Blow it all off and hit the road. Fuck Bonnie, and fuck Oz.

"What's wrong?"

Keller heard something that unsettled him in Beecher's tone of voice. Beecher couldn't care about him. "Not a damn thing."

"Can you help me piss?" Beecher fumbled with the railing. Keller nodded and gave him a hand. Beecher wasn't steady on his feet yet, and Keller kept him from falling once. Beecher gasped, "Damn."

"You'll make it." Keller got him back to the bed, resisted the urge to kiss him, and straightened the blankets.

"You worked in a hospital?"

"I've done about everything." Keller raised the rail and plugged the IV back into the wall. "Get some sleep."

"You ever sleep?"

"Try not to." Keller absentmindedly cleaned up the mess from today. This hospital needed some more staff, or they were staying out because Beecher was a prisoner. Keller found the newspaper and sat down to read.

"Congrats on the promotion."

Keller shut his eyes for a moment and told himself the words weren't sincere. "I'm just the last man standing."

Beecher laughed softly. Keller tried to read, but he had the feeling that Beecher was staring in his direction, so he dropped the paper. Beecher looked away. "Shouldn't you go home to your wife?"

"She don't want me," Keller growled. For some reason, Beecher's eyes made him feel vulnerable, and he didn't like it.

"I know the feeling," Beecher said softly. Keller waited for an insult or for laughter, but Beecher shut his eyes and went to sleep. The hospital settled into the night, and Keller dozed. Voices in the hallway woke him up, and he thought he recognized one of them. He stood, made sure everything looked as it should, and waited.

"Keller, what the fuck are you doing here?"

"Good morning, McManus." Keller didn't look at the pipsqueak. The other man was the one that mattered. "The guards needed a break, and I had stopped in to check on him."

"Is this one of the men responsible for nearly killing my son?" the older man, it had to be Beecher's father, asked.

Keller knew it was time to fade into the woodwork. Beecher fumbled up, and that was the distraction Keller needed, he slipped over by the door and leaned against the wall. He was out of the line of fire, but close enough to hear. Part of him whispered that he should leave, but he ignored it.


Toby reached his hand out to his father. "Please, Dad, get off your lawyer high horse."

"After a lawsuit or two, these so-called prison officials will learn some restraint!"

Toby nearly laughed. His dad was pissed, and he held his father's hand until he had to let go.

McManus had to jump into the fray. "We followed proper procedure. Your son brutally attacked another inmate."

"I'm certain he was provoked."

Toby sighed. He was too tired for this. "Dad, let me explain. McManus give us a minute alone, and the lawsuit will go away."

McManus frowned. "Fine. I'll be right outside. Come on, Keller."

Toby found himself watching Keller leave. Keller had stayed all night. His father pulled up a chair, sat down, and yanked Toby's attention back to him. "Tell me the truth, Tobias."

"I can't, Dad." Toby fiddled with the bed until he was comfortable. "You can't sue them. I did beat up another inmate."


"Yeah, me." Toby nearly smiled at the disbelief. His dad knew he was a pussy. "The CO's used what is considered normal force against me."

"Well, then that needs changed. They can't beat a man to death!"

Toby understood what his dad was saying, but it was prison. "They have to keep order. Drop the lawsuit. It'll just make things tougher for me."

His father frowned. "It's the principle of the thing."

"You'll get me killed. How will your principles feel when you're burying me?" Toby lashed out. He saw the jerk and heard the slight gasp. He'd hurt his father, but it was necessary. "It's time you face the fact that I'm in maximum security, Dad. It's not a cake walk."

"I want charges brought up against the guard who did this."

"Mineo? He's not so bad. He's one of the better ones." Toby sighed. He didn't think Mineo had cracked him open, but his memory didn't supply him with anyone else. He wanted to touch his father, but he'd never come close enough. "Tell me about Mother." It was time to chat and make light of all this. His father didn't understand and couldn't. Thank God.


Keller stuck his hands in his pockets. He had to get out of here fast before McManus started asking a bunch of stupid questions. "I'll go get the security team."

"What the hell are you doing here?"

"I came to check on him." Keller shrugged. "They needed a break. Simple."

McManus made a wild gesture. He was on the edge. "Are you here from guilt because you're the one that beat him?"

"If I'd have beaten him, he'd be in the morgue," Keller lowered his head and hissed.

"I'll remember that!" McManus snapped. He paced back and forth. "If he'd have ratted on Schillinger, none of this would have happened!"

"Beecher likes living. You and I both know that Schillinger was trying to fuck him, but it don't make a damn difference." Keller kept his voice low. "Beecher won that fight. Give it to him."

McManus stopped and rubbed his face. "Go get security."

Keller nodded and went off to find them. He'd take care of this and then he'd go home to pack. It was time to get the fuck out of town.


Toby took his meds obediently and smiled as the young nurse dashed from his room. She probably thought he was a murderer or something. He stopped smiling. Manslaughter and murder were much the same, and after a few years in Oz, he'd be totally without morals. They'd beat them out of him, and he'd throw away everything he held dear to survive. Not long after he'd been incarcerated, a young man had killed himself, and he remembered the shock clearly. Now he understood why the prag had done it, but he'd never do it. He was too big a coward. Schillinger might kill him, and he was fine with that, but he'd never hang himself.

McManus burst back in the room. "I'd thank you, but it was all your own damn fault."

"You're right." Toby smiled. "Keller still out there?"

"He went to find some security for your room." McManus paced. "I have to get back to Em City, and you still owe me time in the hole."

Toby didn't give a damn about that. "Tell Keller I want to talk to him."

"Why?" McManus bristled. "If you're covering for him, I want to know."

"The fucker was nice enough to get me a bag of chips. I wanted to thank him. Forget it." Toby nearly threw something at the prick. "Oz beats the humanity out of all of us, doesn't it?"

McManus stopped. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. Toby turned away, he was sick of looking at him. The door shut, and he heaved a sigh of relief. Dr. Nathan would come see him tomorrow, and he'd be on his way back, but today, he could rest.

"What is it?" Keller sounded pissed. McManus would do that to a man.

Toby considered his next words carefully. He turned, eased himself up, and controlled a gasp of pain. "Knicks playing tonight?"

Keller narrowed his eyes and shifted his weight. In those ripped jeans, wife-beater, and leather jacket, he looked more dangerous than half the inmates in Oz. He shrugged and said, "Yeah."

Toby wasn't sure what else to say. Keller was a hack and the man who'd leaned him over a table and fucked him. It was also barely possible that Keller had cracked Toby's head open. Toby shivered. He needed a touch that meant something. "Kiss me."

Keller's head snapped up. He looked back at the door. "Gotta go."

That was a clear answer. Toby let his eyes linger on Keller. He shouldn't care one way or the other, but he did, and it hurt like hell.

"You like Mexican, Toby?"

"Chinese." Toby wouldn't let himself look hopeful. Keller turned, left, and Toby tried not to notice the ass in those jeans. Shit, he wanted to be Keller's bitch. How pathetic was that?


Keller rode his Harley too fast and too far. He didn't know where he was running, but the going felt good. It'd feel better if Beecher was on behind him. And that was the dumbest thing ever. They were from two different worlds, and Beecher was using him. Keller pulled into a roadside stop and whipped off his helmet. The memory of fucking Beecher's ass grabbed his groin and he groaned. That ass had been paid for in advance, but the honest man that lurked deep inside him found it hard to believe that Beecher had liked it. He'd come like a freight train though.

"You were moving pretty fast back there."

Keller jerked out of his daydream. "Too fast?" He wouldn't try to charm his way out of a ticket today.

The officer gave him another hard look. "I ran your plate. You work over at the pen."

"Yeah." Keller got off the bike. "Need my license?"

"I'm just warning you to slow down." The officer pulled his shades off. "Okay?"

"Sure. Thanks." Keller smiled and went to piss. He washed his face and took a deep breath. Time to quit fucking around. He had to find a place to live before work in the morning.


Toby ran a finger over the bandage on his head. They'd shaved some of his hair off, and he looked dumber than usual. He heard the door push open, and he quickly flushed the toilet. Stepping out, he ignored the guard's glare and got back into bed. The nurse got him settled again and took his vitals. She wouldn't look at him. He didn't blame her. More meds. He had to say something. "Is the doctor going to see me today?"

"He makes rounds later." She poured him some water and put it close. He watched her put on a new bag of fluids. Her hands shook. Did he look so dangerous? He shut his eyes and ignored her. She'd appreciate it.

"Stay in bed," the guard growled. He hadn't been fooled. Toby pretended he was asleep, and soon it was true.


Keller packed two duffel bags, ignored his wife, and took one last look around the old trailer. Shit pile.

"Don't even think about taking the TV!"

"Bonnie, I don't want any of this shit!" Keller stowed his gun and made sure he had the permit. He had damn little and wanted even less. She continued to yell about stupid shit until he slammed the trailer door in her face. Finished. They were finished, and he'd be damned if he'd marry her again. He tied everything down and didn't look back. The sun was going down, and he wasn't going to pay rent at a rundown hotel when he would be at the prison until Friday. Instead, he headed over to Oz.

Mineo was working the front desk, and Keller stopped there. "Hey, Mineo, I have a problem."

"Don't we all."

Keller smiled. Mineo was a funny guy. "Wife threw me out, and I'm carrying."

Mineo sighed. "So?"

"Can I bring my gun in?" Keller tried to be patient. He'd had a spectacularly crappy day.

"I'll get the warden." Mineo made the call. "For some reason, he's here."

Keller nodded in satisfaction. They'd work something out, and then he'd go pick up some food--Chinese and Mexican.

********Chapter Three

Toby controlled a flinch as Officer Sipowicz tuned up a suspect. For some reason, this show had lost a lot of its charm. He gave up and watched Scooby Doo on the cartoon network. This show never went out of style.

"Scooby Doo?"

"Hey, Shaggy." Toby tried to keep from smiling. "I was watching NYPD Blue, but it was too much like work."

"I hear you." Keller scooted the chair close, dropped bags of what had to be Chinese food on the table, and flopped down. "Hungry?"

"Yeah." Toby reached tentatively for the first bag. He wouldn't have been surprised if it disappeared in a puff of smoke or Keller pulled it out of reach. "Damn. You got crab rangoon."

"I like them." Keller smiled. "The guards said you were causing trouble today."

"Maybe, some. I wanted to see my head."

"It's shaved. Well, part of it." Keller appeared to be engrossed in Scooby, so Toby opened the food. Did he have to share? Keller laughed. "I always thought Daphne was hot."

"I liked Velma."

"You would. She's a lesbian, for God's sake!"

Toby laughed. He'd never heard that before. "You eat?"

"Yeah. I had Mexican." Keller grinned. "But I want some rangoon."

"Don't make me shank you." Toby quit feeling guilty and started eating. "How much do I owe you?"

"I'll get it out of you." Keller looked at him now, and his eyes smoked. Toby swallowed hard. Not only did he believe that, but he was also looking forward to it. Keller reached over and grabbed the chopsticks. "I better confiscate these. You might turn them into shanks."

Toby ignored that and shoveled in some chicken. Heaven. He moaned softly and forgot about everything but eating.

"Damn, Tobias, think you were in prison or something."

"Shut up, Christopher." Toby handed him the last rangoon regretfully. He opened the last lone bag and groaned. "Sugar donuts!"

Keller laughed. "Got any room?"

"I'll save some for the morning." Toby sobered instantly. He was going back tomorrow. Damn. Well, the donuts were good tonight. He had a sudden weird thought. "You know, I think I like being your bitch."

"Good," Keller growled softly. "And the name is 'Chris.'"

"It doesn’t matter since all I can call you is 'Officer.'" Toby shut the bag and took a big drink of water. "Did I thank you?"

"Not really." Keller shot him a glare.

"Thank you, Officer." Toby licked his lips and used his napkin twice. "Really."

"You're welcome." Keller pulled a Coke from each pocket. He put them down and opened his. "Bonnie threw me out, so I'm flush."

Toby didn't think he should comment directly. Keller wouldn't appreciate sympathy. "Did you find a place to live?"

"I'll be at Oz until Friday. I'll find something then." Keller started clicking the channels. Scooby Doo was over. Toby watched the CO rapidly find the game and settle back with a sigh. Keller didn't seem to upset about Bonnie. Of course, he was most likely lying. Toby opened his can of Coke. He was racking up quite a debt, but Keller would have years to collect, if he stayed at Oz that long.

"What made you decide to be a hack?"

"Why'd you become a jizzbag lawyer?"

Toby didn't have to think about that. "My dad made me."

"Yeah. You got that right." Keller reached in his inner pocket and pulled out some white tic-tacs. Toby felt his face turn red. Keller smiled at him. "Want one?"

Toby saw the devil in that smile, and it made him blush harder. "No."

"Chicken." Keller laughed and went back to the game. Toby fidgeted and watched Keller more than the Knicks. When Keller shrugged off his coat, Toby gasped softly. Keller turned his head. "What?"

"Christ." Toby pointed.

"Oh yeah." Keller rubbed his tattoo. Toby waited for more of an explanation, but it wasn't forthcoming, and he didn't want to ask. After all, he had a swastika on his ass, and Keller hadn't asked about that. Of course, Keller knew about that.

"Did McManus tell you about my ass?"

"He did." Keller still watched the game. Toby wondered if this was the way Keller had treated Bonnie. Probably. Toby had never done this to his wife. No. She'd have made his life hell, and he was usually at work in the evening, or at a bar. A nurse interrupted his thoughts. It was time to check his vitals and have another round of meds. Keller smiled at her. "He's behaving."

She smiled at Keller. Toby controlled a snarl. He hated being worse than nothing. She got busy, didn't talk to him, but laughed with Keller. Keller charmed the socks off her. He'd have her in the storage closet naked in a minute.

"Would you like a shower before I leave?" Her reluctance was obvious. Her attitude was an insult to the profession.

"How about after you get your pretty ass out of here?" Toby snarled.

She blanched and looked at Keller. He said, "It's okay with me." He walked her to the door, and Toby listened to them whisper and laugh. Toby wanted to sharpen one of the chopsticks and plunge it into Keller's back. Too bad that he'd taken them. Fucker was smart.

Keller came back, dropped the rail, and growled, "Pissy little fucker. Get your ass in the shower before I bust your head open again."

Toby pushed the table away and got up. He throttled down his anger--some of it. "Fuck off, Keller."

Keller ripped the plug from the wall. "Move."

Toby yanked off the gown and grabbed his package. "You gonna watch this time?"

"Sure am." Keller's hand gripped Toby by the neck and took him there. "Were you always psychotic?"

Toby clenched his fists, but the look on Keller's face dared him to do it, so he didn't. He wasn't completely stupid. "No, drunk."

Keller pushed the machine to a comfortable distance and sat down on the toilet. Toby turned on the water. He was careful not to get his head wet, but he washed the best he could. He gasped in shock when Keller took the soap and washed Toby's back and ass. Keller didn't seem inclined to linger, and Toby rinsed fast. He dried off with the towel Keller tossed him.

"You don't know what it's like being nobody." Toby tried not to whine, but it needed to be said.

"You're so fucking wrong." Keller stepped out of the bathroom and returned with a clean gown. "You've always had money, a good job, and a pretty wife. Why're you complaining again?"

"It never meant shit!" Toby shivered and fumbled with the strings. None of those things had ever filled the ache in his soul, and he wished he knew why.

"And that's why you drank and killed someone," Keller said softly. "If you're nobody, it's because of you."

"Thanks." Toby stumbled to the bed. He was suddenly achingly tired and could no longer deal with any of this shit. "Tell me who wins the game."

Keller stood over him, but said nothing. Toby pushed away the guilt, shut his eyes, and slept almost instantly.


Keller cleaned the room and watched the game. Beecher was a piece of work. Gentle one minute, raging the next. He switched from the lawyer to the inmate in a blink. Oz had fucked him over, but he'd been screwed up when he got there. Keller ate the rest of the food and threw out the trash. The donuts, Beecher could eat in the morning. He thought he was nothing. Poor fucker. He didn't have a clue what it was to be nothing. Maybe after he got out and had no friends, no job, no wife, and no family that would look at him. Then he'd know what it was.

Keller sat down and didn't watch the Knicks lose. Beecher's father had been willing to sue the entire prison system for Beecher. That was love. Sure, the old man was inflexible and domineering, but he loved his son. Beecher needed too damn much. He wasn't willing to settle for what he could get.

"Can you step outside please?"

Keller nodded at the doctor. "No problem." He grabbed his coat and went to stand outside the door. Leaning against the wall, he waited patiently.

Ten minutes later, the doctor emerged. "If you're not in the room, I want him restrained."

Keller had expected that. "Will do. He's healthy, huh?"

"Hardly, but if he's well enough to scare my nurse, he's well enough to cause trouble." The doctor frowned. "Shouldn't there be two of you?"

"Budget cuts." Keller opened the door. The doctor hurried away to his other patients. Keller went to sit down. Beecher didn't look at him, and that was fine. Jay Leno started telling jokes, and Keller didn't listen. This time he had a job. He'd try to save some cash before he got out of town.

"That doctor patched my skull back together." Beecher didn't open his eyes.

Keller wasn't sure he wanted to hear it. He was leaving. He was. He waited a second, but Beecher didn't say anything else. "I have to go to work in the morning. When I leave, I have to restrain you."

Beecher opened his eyes. "Why?"

"You're well enough to yell at nurses." Keller drank some more soda. "I'll see you over the rainbow."

Beecher shut his eyes again. "It's your fault. You were practically fucking her."

"Jealous, huh?" Keller smirked. He had thought Beecher wanted the nurse. "I am a pretty sexy guy."

"You could seduce a priest."

"Nope, too old." Keller laughed. "I could manage a nun or two though."

Beecher laughed softly. "What's next on your agenda? My mouth or my ass?"

Keller sucked in a deep breath. He'd been trying not to think about it, and it was easy with Beecher so fucked up. "I'll let you choose," he purred.

Beecher made a soft sound that could have been protest or anticipation, or a bit of both. He tugged the blankets higher. "Thanks again."

"Been fun." Keller turned off the TV and two lights before settling in to rest. He slept some and got up from his chair around five a.m. After stretching, he gave in to his desire and brushed his lips across Beecher's mouth. Beecher returned the kiss, but sleepily, and Keller used the restraints. It was stupid, but it'd be his ass if he didn't.


"Yeah." Keller kissed him again, this time deeply. Beecher made it very nice, and Keller pulled away. "Sleep some more."

Beecher nodded, and Keller went to get security. It was time to go to work, and Beecher would be fine. Keller went faster. He couldn't afford to be late.


Toby stiffened his spine as he walked through the archway of Em City. The place was damn loud, and it didn't smell all that good, and it was easy to forget even after a day or two. Oz sucked, and he had never really hated anything, except himself, until he got here.


Toby slowed down so O'Reily could catch up. "Hey, O'Reily? How's business?"

"You buying?"

"Na. I'm clean." Toby checked out who was on duty and sat down in front of the TV--same old Oz.

O'Reilly slumped down next to him. "Keller give you the message?"

Toby pointed at his head, still bandaged. "If he did, I forgot it. What?"

"Blood in, blood out. You're one of us, mutt." O'Reily held out his hand, and Toby didn't hesitate to slap it. "You got balls, and Schillinger don't!"

Toby smiled. "Thanks for keeping his buddies off."

O'Reily laughed. "Schillinger's still limping!"

Toby knew he shouldn't be proud for beating a man, but he was, and he'd do it again, or at least try. "I owe McManus a month in the hole."

O'Reily shrugged. "Fuck him." Toby agreed with that. McManus was trying to be a hard ass, and Toby was going to have to try to charm him into a reduced sentence. Toby rubbed his head. Pity might work. O'Reily nudged him. "Schillinger."

Toby didn't even glance at him. Even that much would make it look as if he cared, and he didn't. He waited. O'Reily stood up. "He's one of us, Nazi."

"You collecting prags now, O'Reily?"

"You got balls, Schillinger?" Toby drawled, and he still wouldn't look at the fucker. Everyone laughed, and Toby continued, "They never were very big, so you might not have noticed that they're gone!"

Schillinger tried to grab him, but O'Reily shoved him back. "Mess with him, and it's all of us, and the Italians."

Now Toby took the time to grin at the Nazi prick. Schillinger strutted closer, and Toby made sure not to react when Keller was suddenly there.

"Move along, Schillinger. O'Reily, sit the fuck down." Keller didn't even have to touch his stick. He was dangerous, and everyone knew it.

O'Reily eased back down, and Schillinger left after a glare. Toby felt a keen sense of satisfaction, and that was a first here in Oz. That thing with Keller in the library didn't count. "The Italians?"

"For some reason, Schibetta says you got juice." O'Reily laughed.

Toby couldn't figure that out. Did his dad have some Italian buddies? Wait a minute. He laughed softly. "I'll be damned," he muttered. Beecher, Allen, and Spigarelli was the name of the law firm his dad had founded. For years, Toby had wondered who Spigarelli was. His father always said that Mr. Spigarelli was a silent partner. Silent. Right. Toby threw a quick glance at Keller. "O'Reily, what's the deal with Keller?"

O'Reily leaned closer. "He ain't dirty, I tried. He's also quick and mean. Robson kicked up some shit with Said yesterday, and Keller hit him so hard he bounced."

"With a stick?"

"His hand." O'Reily shook his head. "No one messes with him, not even the niggers."

"Damn." Toby was impressed because O'Reily sounded impressed. "I guess he won't be bringing in smack for you."

O'Reily shook his head. "No. Damn it."

Toby stood up. He had a few things to do. "I'm headed to the barber and then I have to see Sister Pete."

"Later." O'Reily was gone in a flash. Toby gave himself a minute to stare at Keller, and it was completely his imagination that made him taste tic-tacs.


Keller didn't watch him, and yet he did, and he wasn't sure he liked it. Beecher was a pain in the ass. With a great ass, and a mouth that knew how to suck. He was also a nice guy, but that wouldn't last in here. Beecher got up, and Keller strolled in that direction.

"Scare any nurses lately?"

"I begged her forgiveness, and she fucked me." Beecher smiled.

"No accounting for some people's taste." Keller went to check on the Nazis. They were always up to something.


Toby smiled as he walked through Sister Pete's doorway. Her expression was priceless.

"Tobias! Your head!"

"It's a different look for me." Toby sat down in his chair and booted up the computer. "They shaved part of it. I just had the barber finish the job."

She came around her desk and stood so she could see his face. "You're feeling okay?"

"Still tired, and a little dizzy if I stand up too fast, but overall, not bad." Toby flipped through the stack of files. "Thank you for not using the computer."

Sister Pete laughed. "I'd never!"

Toby smiled at her. She went back to sit down, and he opened the first file. Schillinger. It was always Schillinger. He started typing, answering her questions at the same time. She wanted to know everything, and he didn't mind talking to her. The only topic that was off-limits was Officer Chris Keller, but she didn't know that, he hoped.

"You think Schillinger will make parole?"

"If he keeps his nose clean." Sister Pete didn't sound very sure. "It helped that you started the fight, not him."

"I bet." Toby laughed.

"You can still tell the truth."

"Forget it." Toby shook his head firmly. No way. Not even with the Italians behind him. He wouldn't mind screwing up Schillinger's parole, but he'd have to do it quietly. Of course, if Schillinger were gone-.

"I heard your father dropped the lawsuit."

Not so subtle. Toby turned his chair marginally so he could see her face. "I talked him out of it. Mineo was doing his job."

"Not many men would admit that." Sister Pete nodded. "There was talk that Keller beat you in the hole."

"If he did, I don't remember it," Toby said flatly. He wouldn't believe that. Damn it. He started the next file and waited for her to go on. There was always more, but she was quiet for the longest time, and he was glad. It was too easy to open up to her. The stack of folders got smaller, and he began to get tired. He glanced at the clock. It was early, but maybe she'd give him a break. "Sister, can I quit for the day?"

"Of course! I don't expect you to do all that in one sitting." Sister Pete came to him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Go rest. And don't forget group in the morning."

"Thanks." Toby got up and waited for the spurt of dizziness to pass. She stared in his eyes, and he nodded. "I'm fine."

"I'm not so sure about that." She walked him to the door. "Officer Keller?"

Toby looked everywhere but at him. Keller was everywhere today. "I'm good," Toby hissed.

"See that Toby gets back to his pod, please." Sister Pete rubbed Toby's shoulder. "Without incident."

"You sure that's Beecher? Beecher has hair." Keller, the smart ass, was in fine form today.

Toby flipped him off where she couldn't see, and she chuckled. "It's him. And thanks." She disappeared in her office, and Toby rolled his eyes.

Keller laughed. "Poor baby."

"I don't like you," Toby stated, hoping it was true, but it wasn't.

"You like my tic-tacs." Keller gave him a smug smile. "Move it. Before I pull out my nightstick."

Toby blushed. "Everyone thinks you beat me."

"I know. What do you think?" Keller's smile wasn't on his face now.

Toby started walking. Keller was right behind him. It made Toby nervous, and he looked over his shoulder. "If you'd have beaten me, I'd be dead."

Keller didn't answer, but his eyes agreed with that. He signaled for the gate to open. Toby quit talking. He stopped in front of his pod, and Keller opened the door. His eyes were intense, but he didn't speak. Toby climbed up on his bunk and shut his eyes. He'd sleep until dinner and worry about his future with Keller later.


"Diane, I'm headed to AdSeg." Keller watched Beecher sleep for the last few minutes of his shift. Beecher looked like hell.

"What was up with Beecher? Was he causing trouble?"

"Sister Pete asked me to give him an escort. He about fell down in her office." Keller shrugged as if he didn't care, and he wouldn't admit it if he did. "McManus have him on the schedule for AdSeg yet?"

"No." Wittlesey flipped through a chart on a clipboard. "Dr. Nathan has to okay him first."

"Good. I don't want him croaking in my section." Keller was glad to hear that. McManus was being smart, for a change. "You make the coffee?"

"Sure did."

Keller pulled away from the rail and went on upstairs. "I need some jet fuel in my belly." She laughed, and he went to get some coffee from the lounge. He'd take fifteen, and then get down there. Long day, but it was good to see Beecher back, and Keller was positive that Beecher wasn't happy about it.


Dr. Nathan pulled on her gloves and gave Toby's head a look. Toby wasn't exactly worried, but he figured the day's end would see him naked in the hole. His head was well, and he felt pretty good, which meant something bad was going to happen. Life, since he'd attacked Schillinger, had been better, if not great. He hung out with the Irish, and they were tough enough. Keller left him alone, except for some looks that could kill, but Toby knew the truth. It was lust shining through those blue eyes, not hate.

"Hurt here?"

"No." Toby held still. McManus had just moved them all again, and Toby's new podmate was Rebadow. That had been fine, and Toby was still surprised. He'd assumed he'd draw a Nazi, again. Schillinger was rooming with Mark Mack, not that Toby cared, but keeping an eye out was always a good idea.

"Any dizziness or vomiting?" She touched the skin.

"Na." Toby managed to catch those brown eyes. "You like Keller?"

"As a friend, yes." Dr. Nathan stared him down. "Are you being nosy?"

"Curious. I heard he's getting a divorce." Toby went way out on a limb.

Dr. Nathan smiled. She'd known that, so it was true. Toby refused to consider why he wanted to know what was going on with Keller. Dr. Nathan gestured for a CO. "He can go back. Beecher, stay out of my infirmary."

"Will do." Toby went back to Em City, had lunch, and took a nap. Might as well relax, hell was on its way.


McManus caught Keller in the hallway. "Keller, pick up Beecher. I need to see him."

"Sure." Keller checked the clock. "I'm due in AdSeg soon."

"I know." McManus smiled and went into his office. Keller didn't smile. Beecher still seemed weak. Of course, he was a lawyer, but he wasn't a prag any longer. Schillinger still claimed him, but everyone knew the truth. Beecher was no prag. Keller went to the cafeteria and spotted him near O'Reily. Beecher gave him a look. He knew what was coming.

"McManus wants to see you, Beecher." Keller didn't make the mistake of pulling him up. That kind of thing was never a good idea.

"That fucker!" O'Reily growled.

Beecher looked over his shoulder. "Can I finish?"

"Yeah, and then don't give me any trouble." Keller went over to the door to wait. He didn't mind making McManus sit at his desk and wonder where they were. Beecher ate, he didn't drag it out, and he came over when he was finished. Keller nodded. "If you play this right, you can get it reduced."

"You're the boss over in the hole. Put in a good word for me." Beecher didn't drag his feet.

"Okay." Keller would give it a try, but he wasn't going to stick his neck out. He pushed Beecher into a chair in front of McManus and stepped behind him.

McManus frowned. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Eating dinner," Beecher said.

"Keller's taking you to the hole." McManus made a note on his clipboard. "One month."

Keller jumped in before Beecher could talk. "He served four days already, and some of the days at the hospital, he was restrained to the bed."

McManus seemed to think about it. Beecher spoke up. "Two weeks?"

Keller nearly groaned. Beecher had torpedoed his own ship. McManus shook his head. "No fucking way. What kind of message does it send? If you beat someone up, you go to the hole!"

Beecher slumped in his chair, and Keller gave it one more try. "He deserves it, but three weeks is fair."

McManus leaned back in his chair. "Three weeks. Get him out of here."

"Thanks, McManus." Beecher got up. "Call my father and let him know, will ya?"

Keller grabbed Beecher by the shoulder and marched him out. "You need to learn when to shut up."

"Turn me loose, fucker." Beecher tried to jerk his arm away. "You know this isn't fair!"

"Life ain't fair." Keller turned him loose but crowded him to the wall. "The last time we did this, you lost."

Beecher glared at him. "I'll go quietly."

Keller nodded and waited for it. Beecher kept his word, and Keller processed him, instead of giving the job over to Charlie.

"Okay. He's clean." Keller put Beecher's clothes in a laundry basket. "This way."

Beecher hesitated, and Charlie stepped in quickly. Keller got between them and pointed. There was a moment where he thought Beecher might fight it out, but in the end, he went, and Keller made sure no one hit him.

Keller kept his hand on Beecher's shoulder during the walk down the narrow hallway and nudged him through the door. "You can do it."

"I don't particularly want to." Beecher didn't turn around and face him. "You'll be here?"

"Some of the time." Keller tried not to care if Beecher wanted to see him. "We're just as bored as you on the other side of the door."

"But you get to leave." Beecher went to the corner and sat down. "Get the fuck out."

Keller heard the stress and upset in Beecher's voice, and he slammed the door. Beecher was turning mean, and Keller didn't blame him.


Toby decided at some point that he'd never complain about solitary again. The hole was ten times worse and getting worse every minute. He tried everything but he was losing it.

"Lunch." The tray pushed through. It was Keller, and Toby pulled the tray inside and stuck his hand out. It was stupid, but he was Goddamn alone. Some stupid part of him had thought, and hoped, that Keller would demand daily blowjobs. He kept his hand out, but gave up. Keller was gone. He didn't give a damn, and who could blame him. Warm skin suddenly enveloped his hand. "One more week. You can make it."

Toby didn't answer, and it wasn't long before the touch was gone, but there was a tic-tac in his hand. He popped it in his mouth, shut his eyes, and let the flavor take him back to the library. Who was Keller's bitch now? Toby seriously doubted the human sex machine was going without. Maybe Wittlesey or Dr. Nathan, probably not Sister Pete, but Toby wouldn't blame her. He smiled and curled up to sleep.


Keller wanted to rip Beecher through the door and put him on his back, but he walked away.

"Beecher whining again?"

"Yeah." Keller knew he was supposed to laugh, but he didn't. "Lawyers aren't cut out for maximum security prisons."

Charlie nodded and went the other direction. Keller looked back at Beecher's door and started to make serious plans. After tomorrow, they'd be down to three inmates, and there was no reason for him to schedule two officers. He smiled. Tomorrow. It'd work.


Toby just stared when the door actually opened. He was keenly aware of the fact that he'd lost touch with reality, but had it been long enough? Keller came through the door with a killer smile on his face and eyes that burned. Toby scrambled to his feet. He wasn't going to bolt over there and beg for a touch to drive away the bitter loneliness.

Keller crooked his finger. "Come here." His voice reminded Toby of tequila, with salt and lemon. Toby abandoned what little intellect he still possessed and went. Keller ran his hands through Toby's dirty hair and kissed him, and Toby lost himself inside the taste, smell, feel, and sensations. Keller groaned in Toby's mouth. "I want you."

Toby wanted to ask why, but he didn't have the courage. He nodded and would have gone to his knees but Keller held him up.

Keller kissed him again. "Did you decide if I get your mouth or your ass?"

"Take it all." Toby trembled from the hands on him and the body so close. "Just don't hurry."

Keller laughed and made it all go away. Toby forgot the walls, the shame, and his own failures. He could only hope it all never came back.


Keller pushed Beecher through the gate. "Stay out of trouble."

Beecher ducked his head and rushed off. Keller watched him leave. Was Beecher angry? It shouldn't matter a damn bit, but it did. Sure, the hole sucked, but he was out, and it hadn't all been bad, at least, he hadn't complained when Keller held him, kissed him, and . . .

"Keller, pull your head out of your ass and get back to AdSeg!"

Keller threw a salute at McManus, instead of a finger, and went back to work. Beecher could wait.


Toby lay on his bunk, stared at the glass, and tried to forget him. He had to pretend it never happened. It was nothing. Nothing. Covering his eyes didn't help.

"Are you okay, Tobias?"

"Not really." Toby turned away from Rebadow.

"Being in the hole can change a man forever." Rebadow sighed loudly. "If I were you, I'd try to stay out of there."

"Good advice." Toby looked out and up. Keller's eyes went straight through him. Toby slowly put his hand against the glass. He was completely Keller's bitch.


Keller didn't push his luck. If he got caught with his dick in Beecher, it would be more than his job.

"Your divorce go through?"

Keller nodded at Wittlesey. "Bonnie got everything, even my nuts."

"Well, you work so much, you don't need them." Her eyes sparkled for one second before turning flat again.

"Sad, but true." Keller sighed. "Schillinger and Beecher haven't had a fight for months, and that means we're due."

"I know what you mean." Wittlesey never smiled, but she did look less serious. "I'm going to grab some coffee."

"Sure." Keller didn't poke fun at her coffee, even though it was awful. He saw McManus coming and quietly groaned. "What's up, boss?"

"Don't suck up." McManus reminded Keller more and more of a squirrel--a crazy one. "Tomorrow, I'm moving Beecher into pod six."

Keller didn't have to look to know that was a Nazi pod. "Beecher pissed you off, huh?"

"No, but it's the only free spot we have, and I need Rebadow to sponsor an older inmate." McManus looked at his clipboard. "There's no place else."

Keller didn't argue that it would be okay to shuffle several people around. That would show favoritism, and McManus was against that. "Okay, but have Wangler ready."


"To mop up the blood." Keller smiled as McManus took off. Prick. There was no way to get Beecher out of this. He was going to have to be tough. Shit.


"Moving day, Beecher."

Toby finished pissing before giving Keller his attention. "Give me the good news."

Keller stepped inside the pod. "Ain't any. Get your shit."

"Just me?" Toby got his things together and stripped his bed, instead of arguing. He trusted Keller to put him somewhere safe.

"Yeah. Rebadow is sponsoring some old fellow." Keller smelled good. Toby had begun to notice every little thing about him.

"Where are you living now?" Toby had wanted to ask him that several times.

"I move around." Keller tossed Toby his pillow. "Just like you. Now, come on. I got better things to do."

Toby gathered up his stuff and went out first. Keller pointed. "You're with Mack." And he walked off. Toby nearly dropped everything. He'd be damned if he'd do that. He shook his head, prayed this nightmare would go away, and didn't take a step. Mack would kill him, or rape him, or both.

"Keller, you fucker!" Toby tossed his stuff down. He'd trusted him!

O'Reily put his hand on Toby's shoulder. "Don't mess with him."

"Fuck that!" Toby saw Mack's smiling face and did the most stupid thing he could think of. He woke up, naked, in the hole.


Keller poured himself some coffee and mulled everything over. Warden Glynn had given them the bad news this morning--no more double shifts. Wittlesey had taken it hard. He'd get by, but she had a kid to feed. He liked her, and he was sick and tired of living out of a different seedy hotel each weekend. The divorce was final, and he had a little more money, not much, but maybe enough to help her.

"Hey Keller." Wittlesey took a chair. "We got screwed."

"We sure did." Keller sipped his cup. He was careful not to smile. "You going to move closer?"

"Can't afford to." Wittlesey shrugged. She looked tired, but they all were. "You?"

"I need a place. I'm sick of hotels." Keller looked at her now. "Rent. Nothing fancy. A bed."

"Nothing but a bed?" Wittlesey gave him a look that would have killed some men.

Keller nodded. "Nothing else. Nothing." He would fuck her if she made him, but he wasn't attracted to her.

"What about food?"

"I'll eat elsewhere." Keller didn't want anything that resembled a wife. "And I do my laundry here."

"Deal. Three hundred a month."

Keller did the math quickly. He'd have plenty for his Harley payment, and that was all that mattered. "Deal."

She gave him a small smile. "Look at my daughter and I'll kill you."

"I'm gay, from this moment on." Keller immediately thought of Beecher, and he pushed it away. Wittlesey nodded and went back to work. Keller had some more thinking to do. He had to pick a job--the hole or Em City?


"Tobias, do we need to start having regular sessions?"

Toby's fingers paused over the keyboard. He'd been out of the hole for one day. He was strung tight, and he didn't need any grief. "For what?"

"First you attacked Schillinger, and now Officer Keller. You will come up for parole, and you have to think of your family." Sister Pete came over to him. "Let me help you."

"Help me what? Avoid Nazis?" Toby didn't like to think about parole. It was still far off, and it was too much like Christmas morning. Exciting to dream about, but it never seemed to get there, and when it did, he never got what he wanted.

She sighed. "You need help."

"Okay. Schedule it." Toby gave up. He was here anyway. "I haven't seen Keller in Em City, which is good because I know he's pissed at me."

"He only works in AdSeg now." Sister Pete frowned. "You don't have a vendetta against him, right?"

"No." Toby made sure to look her in the eyes. "I fucked up. I'm lucky Keller didn't kill me, accidentally, of course."

Sister Pete went back to her desk. Toby waited for her to talk, but she didn't, and after a few minutes, she left the office. He sighed. She was pissed at him too. It didn't pay to mess with a CO. Toby shrugged. He'd made his point though. His podmate was O'Reily, and that suited Toby fine. McManus had done a lot of screaming, but Toby had stood firm. He'd rather spend time in the hole, and he'd gone back there before McManus had caved. Forty-five days in the hole had to be a record, but it had been worth it. Keller had stayed away every one of those days, and Toby felt guilty. He'd apologize, when he saw him.

"About done?"

"Yes, ma'am." Toby shut down the computer. "I'm sorry I let you down."

She sighed. "You let yourself down."

Toby didn't agree with that. He'd played by the system's rules to survive. She still looked disapproving as he slipped out the door. He rubbed his face and went back to Em City.


Keller got on his Harley about the same time that Wittlesey came out the front door. She went to her car, but he waved her over. "Diane, get on. As long as we have the same shift, we might as well carpool."

"On your bike?"

"Yep. Cheaper." He opened the seat and handed her the extra helmet. "Chicken?"

"Hell no." She got on the back. "Don't even think that I like you."

"I'm gay, remember?" He laughed, revved the engine, and took off. She held on, and he found himself in a very uncomfortable position. He wished it were Beecher on the back.


Toby put on the headphones to watch the news, but O'Reily sat down and wanted to talk. That was the bad thing about being in a gang. They expected him to hang out with them.

"You heard?"

"What?" Toby never knew anything, and what he did know, he didn't tell.

"Keller's living with Wittlesey." O'Reily nodded. "It's true!"

"I wonder what getting laid regular feels like."

Schillinger laughed as he walked by. "Don't you remember?"

"Fuck off, ball-less wonder!" Toby wished Keller were fucking him every night. Wittlesey was a lucky bitch. Schillinger laughed again, and Toby remembered the file he'd worked on this morning. "I need your opinion, O'Reily. Let's say, a certain Nazi were up for parole, and it was looking good. What would you do?"

"Get him whacked." O'Reily grinned. "But you're new at all this. Pick a fight with him, and this time, blame him."

"Too obvious. Robson would kill me the first time you looked away." Toby still wasn't sure. What he'd like was to watch someone fuck Schillinger up the ass, but that wasn't going to happen. "Guess I should forget it."

"Get Adebisi to fuck him." O'Reily's grin was huge. "It's all in the timing."

Toby liked that idea. He leaned back to think it through. "I'm gonna need some help."

"I'm with ya." O'Reily barked a laugh. Toby wanted to think about this long and hard before he made a move. There were always consequences, repercussions, and he had to decide what he really wanted: revenge and Schillinger gone, or revenge and Schillinger rotting here. It was a tough choice. Toby skipped dinner and went to do a load of laundry. It was the safest time of day to do it, but he stopped in the doorway and almost changed his mind.

Keller looked asleep. Toby didn't believe it, and he went inside slowly and threw everything in a washer. He added the soap, shut the lid, and sat down across the room. Taking a deep breath, he said softly, "Sorry about jumping you."

"Really? Or are you just afraid that I'll knock you out--again?" Keller didn't open his eyes, but he knew what was going on around him.

"I felt guilty about it, after I regained my ability to reason." Toby brushed his hair back off his face.

"Good. It was cheap." Keller opened his eyes. "I told McManus not to do it."

"I believe that." Toby put his head in his hands. "I guess I trusted you not to put me in that position, and when it happened, I went crazy."

Keller cocked his head. "You trusted me? I think you were crazy before it happened."

"Probably." Toby rubbed his eyes. "McManus was fucking me over again. Nothing you could have done."

"Or I'd have done it." Keller's eyes told the truth. Toby felt some part of him stitch itself back together. He needed so much from Keller, and he had to remember to take what he could get.

"Oz sucks."

Keller nodded. "You got what you wanted out of McManus. It took balls. So why are you dragging around like a lovesick girl?"

Toby shrugged. "Prison presents a new set of dilemmas every day. Let's say you were a prag-"

"Right." Keller rolled his eyes.

"And the man that had fucked you over was getting out. Now, even though you're a prag, you still have some power, but . . ."

"Let's say he does get out, and he's very pissed at me, and he goes after my family, including my cute, little girl. I'm still in prison, so what can I do?" Keller snapped out each word. "Pray my daddy protects them?"

Toby gasped. His heart skipped two or three beats, and he wanted to puke. How could he have not considered his family? Was revenge worth the risk? He swallowed hard. "Schillinger told me once that he could make one phone call and his sons would kill my family."

"He was lying, or he'd have done it." Keller leaned forward, pulled out his stick, and began flipping it. Toby watched the quick, easy movements and was glad that Keller had used his fist on him. Keller grinned. "Revenge is always a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways."

Toby blinked in sudden understanding. Keller was advising him to kill Schillinger and live with the guilt. "I guess pissing off your worst enemy is rather stupid."

"Rather." Keller mocked him gently. "You sucking O'Reily's dick?"

"Fuck no!" Toby burst out. The quick change in the conversation made him blurt out the truth. Keller was out of his chair and across the room before Toby could jump up, and the nightstick jammed under Toby's chin and lifted. Toby tried to keep breathing. He was scared.

"I don't want to share your mouth." Keller smiled down at him.

"I didn't think you cared anymore," Toby whispered.

"Well, I do. I do." Keller put his stick away. "I gotta go take care of something. Put my laundry in the dryer when it stops, will ya?"

"Sure," Toby managed to say. He didn't mind, at all. Keller left with his customary strut that Toby had tried hard never to stare directly at, and he heaved a sigh of relief. Keller wasn't mad, any longer. Toby rubbed his neck. He had to think clearly, but his gut was telling him to leave Schillinger alone, unless he could make it look like an accident. Keller's washer quit, and Toby went to put the clothes in the dryer. He tried not to notice that Keller only seemed to wear wife-beaters, different colors, and he was a brief's man. The jeans still had holes in them, but there was a new pair.

"Once a prag, always a prag," Schillinger drawled from the doorway. "That ain't your laundry."

Toby started the dryer and made his choice--that fast. "I guess so. You know, if you hadn't burned a swastika on my ass, made me lick your boots, and totally humiliated me; it might not have been so bad."

"I enjoyed all that though." Schillinger laughed and leaned against the doorjamb. "I'll miss fucking with you when I'm gone."

Toby sighed and slumped into a chair. He tried to look pitiful. "I'm sure someone will keep the home fires burning."

"I can guarantee that. I'll be fucking your ex-wife, slapping your kids around, and Robson will be ripping you a new one. Sounds like heaven." Schillinger's voice was sharp, deadly, and Toby considered believing him.

"Don't you have a life of your own?"

"I'll make time."

Toby tried to tromp down on his temper, but it seemed to get the best of him lately. He shoved his finger in Schillinger's chest and growled, "Well, then, I guess it's time for me to break your balls again. After all, you can't fight back. It'll ruin your parole!"

Schillinger sneered down at him, "I have time to do this!" And Toby saw the shank slip into the Nazi's hand. Toby jumped back and knew he was going to die. Schillinger took a crazy swing at him, and Keller was there, pulling him around, away from Toby. Toby felt as if he fell into a trance, and the shank hit Keller hard. Keller jerked, Schillinger yelled, "Fuck!" and Toby had one second to decide what to do. He caught Keller right before he hit the floor. Schillinger ran out fast, and Keller gripped Toby tightly.

"Don't pull it. I'll bleed out," Keller choked.

Toby knew that, and he pressed hard at the point of entry, trying to ignore the blood that was spreading over the both of them. "Hold on, please."

Keller whispered, "Don't touch the handle." And he passed out.

Toby clutched him tightly and grabbed his radio. "Officer down! In the laundry room!" He held him and whispered, "Hang on, Chris. Don't die. I couldn't bear it." The pounding of footsteps was loud, and he braced himself for what he knew was going to be a beating.

Mineo got there first. "Beecher! You little fucker!" His stick was out and up. Toby wouldn't leave Keller, not even to save himself, and he waited for the blow to fall.

Keller raised a bloody hand and gasped, "Don't! It was Schillinger."

Mineo stared down at them, and everyone was suddenly there. They rushed Keller to the infirmary, and Toby didn't struggle when they roughly cuffed him to a chair. Mineo stopped two CO's from beating him by stepping in front of him and saying, "He didn't do it."

Horns blared, people ran past, and Toby hunkered down to wait. McManus strode angrily in the laundry room. "What the fuck happened?"

Mineo spoke up. "I found Beecher holding Keller. Keller had been shanked."

"You shanked him?" McManus threw his clipboard. Toby shut his eyes for a second. He could see it all so clearly. "First you jump him, and now you shank him? You're going to grow old in the hole!"

"Keller said Schillinger did it. I sent them to get him." Mineo shrugged. "Beecher made the call over the radio. That ain't the act of a guilty man."

Toby watched his status change in McManus's eyes. "I was doing my laundry. Schillinger tried to kill me. Keller pulled him off. It happened so fast."

Mineo looked around. "Two loads?"

"One is Keller's." Toby reluctantly told the truth. "He went to do something, and while he was gone, Schillinger showed up."

McManus threw up his hands. "As if I didn't have enough problems! Mineo, put him in solitary until we get this straightened out."

"The laundry?" Toby felt as if he'd been shanked. Shock was hitting him hard, and for some reason, the clothes were important.

"Get Keller's stuff, Mineo. And Beecher, take yours with you." McManus stormed out.

Mineo patted Toby on the shoulder and took the cuffs off. "Show me which is which, and don't worry, I won't let anyone hit you, not right now."

"I'm not worried." Toby pointed. "That's Keller's clothes." And Mineo tossed it all in a basket. Toby wiped his bloody hand on his pants. "I should've run or let him shank me. I just stood there." He yanked his stuff from the washer. "This is mine."

"Let it dry. I'll bring it along later." Mineo watched him do it and took a good hold on him. "Let's go to solitary. You'll be safer there until everyone settles down."

Toby looked down at his blood-soaked shirt and cringed. "If Keller dies, it's my fault."

"No. It's that shithead Schillinger, and he's gonna pay." Mineo walked fast, and Toby struggled to keep up at first. The doors seemed to slam very hard, and he was alone, covered in blood. Keller's blood. Shit. Toby sat down on the bunk and watched the blood on his hands dry.

********Chapter Four

Schillinger headed straight for the shower. It was his word against Beecher's since Keller was gonna die.

"Schillinger!" It was O'Reily, the fucker.

"Fuck off!" Schillinger didn't slow down, and he pushed a guy out of the way. He had to get the blood off, fast.

"Damn! Schillinger shanked someone!" Hill, the nigger, needed to shut up. Schillinger looked up, and Wittlesey pointed at him. Horns blared, and he spun in a circle. No escape. He waited for it. Beecher was taking the fall for this, the stupid prag.


"You with me, Keller?"

Keller didn't try to open his eyes. He could feel the motion of the ambulance, and he whispered, "Beecher didn't do it. Tell them!"

"I'll tell them. I promise." Dr. Nathan held his hand. It would have to be enough, and Keller let himself fall into the darkness.


The door to solitary opened, and Toby wrenched his eyes off his hands. It was Warden Glynn, and he looked pissed. "Beecher, did you shank him?"

"Absolutely not." Toby made his voice firm by will alone.

"You jumped him in Em City. Now this. What the fuck is going on?"

Toby's head felt big with fear. He was in such deep shit. Swallowing hard, he said, "No. He saved my life that time in the hole. Keller's alright, for a hack. I lost control that one time. It didn't mean anything! I--I couldn't do that to a man."

"I'm inclined to agree with you, and lucky for you, Dr. Nathan is swearing that Keller said you didn't do it." Glynn sighed heavily. "I'm keeping you in here for your own protection until we find out from Keller exactly what happened, but your ass is still in trouble!"

"He's going to live?" Toby stared again at the blood. "I didn't pull it. I knew he'd bleed out."

"We'll see. Take a shower. Try to sleep."

The door slammed, and Toby frowned. If Keller died, they might get him for accessory to murder, or something else ludicrous. And Keller would be dead--the one person in the world that didn't make Toby feel like a pile of shit. "Don't die, Chris. Please."

Toby sat there forever, but finally, he got up, yanked off his shoes, and got in the shower. The water ran pink, and he slowly peeled off the wet, bloodstained clothes. He shivered and tried not to replay it in his mind a hundred times. Keller's smile popped up in front of his eyes and he moaned. It was his fault. He shouldn't have taunted Schillinger. Grabbing the soap, he scrubbed himself, dried off, and went to lie down. He shivered and shook, but finally, he slept.


"I don't blame them for blackening the eyes of a few Nazis!" Glynn shouted. "Keller was violently shanked and hovers near death. Did you want the CO's to thank them?"

"Schillinger or Beecher did it! Not all of them!" McManus shouted back at him. "They're also laying into the bikers."

"We both know that Schillinger did it." Glynn sat down hard in his chair and pointed his finger. "Give the mail room to the Muslims and don't argue. And get Beecher out of solitary, two weeks is enough."

"He was involved, somehow." McManus shuffled his feet. "I'm worried for his safety."

"That's the first intelligent thing you've said." Glynn rubbed his eyes. "Put him in protective custody for now."

"That's a good decision." McManus slammed the door behind him. Glynn sighed. What a crappy day.


Toby picked up his stuff and didn't ask where they were taking him. He didn't care. One bunk was as good as another.

"In there. You can work for Sister Pete, but meals will be here. You'll shower on my schedule."

Toby didn't answer. He didn't care. He tossed his stuff and lay down. Another cell, but this one had bars on the door. He was alone. It was fine.


"That's me." Toby had begun to wonder if it was, but it had to be. He didn't look at her.

"Why don't you come work for a few hours?"

"Sure." Toby got up and shuffled after her. He didn't think, he walked, and then he typed, and at some point he realized she was talking to him. "Excuse me?"

"What's wrong with you, Tobias? Are you high?" Sister Pete caught him by the chin and looked deep in his eyes.

"I'm here. I'm not high. Isn't that enough?" Toby pulled his face away. "Am I supposed to care? Just let me work." Sister Pete lowered her glasses. "It's enough. For now."

Toby typed faster. He had no energy for her expectations of what his life in prison should consist of. It was prison. It was fucked. He was fucked. She stayed quiet, and he was grateful. When he finished, he stood and said, "Can I go?"

"Of course." She smiled. "Try not to worry so much."

He grunted and stepped out the door. A CO took hold of him immediately and started walking fast. He had the feeling that he wasn't going back to his cell, and he wasn't surprised when they shoved him inside a storage room. Two CO's, he didn't know who the fuck they were, grabbed his arms, and another loomed over him. He tried to dredge up some fear, but he didn't give a damn.

"Is there anything you want to know before you beat the shit out of me?" Toby asked.

The CO glared. "Why didn't you take off running?"

"He'd have bled to death." Toby sighed. "Keller had saved my ass, it seemed the least I could do."

"The way we see it, you were there, fighting with Schillinger, so part of this is on you." The CO balled up his fist.

"I agree. Have at it." Toby shut his eyes and took it. He tried to limit himself to grunting, but several times, they forced a yell from him. When they stepped back, he looked up from the floor and whispered, "You missed my face."

"That's our way of thanking you." They laughed and left him there on the floor. Toby tried to breathe shallow. For some stupid reason, he felt better about all this. Prison really had fucked him up. He put a hand against a shelf and managed to stand. When he was steady, he stumbled out the door. His CO smiled at him. "Ready to go back?"

"If you don't mind." Toby was grateful for his cot, and he fell on it.

The CO laughed. "Welcome to protective custody."

Toby enjoyed the irony, and he had a sudden thought. "I need to make a phone call."

"Fuck that." The CO walked off, but he wouldn't go far. Toby held his ribs and wished for a tic-tac. He slept, groaned, and slept some more. The lights went out, and he was hungry. Protective custody was a huge joke.


"How's Chris Keller?" Sister Pete sat down in the chair opposite of Dr. Nathan.

"He's recovering. It was close, but he made it to surgery." Dr. Nathan smiled. "He has legions of nurses, waiting on him hand and foot."

"I can well imagine."


They laughed together. "I'm a nun, not dead." Sister Pete broached her next topic. "I think Tobias Beecher is depressed."

Dr. Nathan frowned. "It doesn't surprise me. He's been through a lot since he got here."

"Yes. He has, but I think he's given up." Sister Pete drank her coffee before continuing, "He needs someone to shake him."

"I think that's the problem. He needs a routine, some quiet, and no more shaking." Dr. Nathan pushed her chair back. "I could go check on him. I have five minutes."

"Would you?" Sister Pete smiled up at her.

"I'm so easy." Dr. Nathan laughed. Sister Pete stared into her coffee and thought it all through again. Someone in this prison had given Tobias some hope and the courage to stand up for himself. Who was it? And why was it gone? She had more questions than answers, and it was frustrating.


Toby leaned against the wall and practiced breathing. He heard voices long before he saw them. The CO smirked at him and let Dr. Nathan inside.

"Sister Pete asked me to check on you."

Toby was careful not to move. He'd groan if he did. "Forget me. How's Keller?"

"He's making a nice recovery. They removed his spleen, but he's going to be fine." Dr. Nathan moved closer.

"Thank God." A rush of pure relief swept over him. He hadn't killed him. Hadn't killed the only man that had ever shown him an ounce of kindness in this place. "Thank God."

Dr. Nathan spoke softly, leaned, and touched him. "They beat you, didn't they?"

"No." Toby flinched and met her eyes. "Go away."

"Let me look."

"I have a right to refuse treatment. Leave me alone." Toby hated the look in her eyes, but he knew what he had to do. "Take good care of Officer Keller."

Dr. Nathan stepped back. "I will." And she was gone back down the hallway.

"You're smarter than I gave you credit for." The CO slammed the bars shut. "Hungry yet?"

Toby scooted down on his cot and tried to find a position that didn't make him want to gasp. After not eating lunch, he'd go to work, and maybe Sister Pete would leave the room long enough for him to send an email to his dad. Maybe.


Keller smiled at the cute nurse and flipped on the game. He glanced at the empty chair and for one brief moment wished that Beecher were sitting there, but that was stupid. Even if Beecher were out, he wouldn't hang around with no low-life like Chris Keller. Beecher would be at the country club, having a martini and laughing at fools that like the Knicks.

"Anything else?"

Keller winked at her. "Later." She giggled and swayed out. The wedding ring winking on her hand didn't seem to make her any less flirty. The door opened again, and Keller knew his mouth dropped open. "Uh, can I help you?"

The delivery boy put everything down on the table. "Paid in advance!" And he went out. Keller took a deep breath and grinned as the heavenly smell of enchiladas rolled over him. "Beecher, you never stop surprising me." He laughed and started opening bags. He'd start with the tacos.


Sister Pete was giving him those eyes, and Toby wanted to curl up in the corner. He could not handle it today. Shutting a file, he rubbed his face and prayed for strength to deal with all of this.

"Schillinger will be arraigned on several different charges." Sister Pete paused dramatically. "McManus wants to see you when you're done. I think you have to testify."

That wasn't what he'd been praying for. He nodded though. His stomach growled, and he got up off the chair carefully. "Anything else before I go?"

Sister Pete shook her head. "Visitation day is tomorrow. Anyone coming to see you?"

"Not likely." Toby hoped not. No one in his family needed to see him like this. He went out the door and down the hallway to McManus' office with his CO shadow right behind him. Shutting the door, he stood and waited. If he sat, he might not get up again.

McManus looked at him a moment before speaking. The silence made Toby want to scream.

"Will you testify against Schillinger?"

"I have to think about it." Toby didn't have enough experience in prison to know if it'd get him killed or not. If he didn't testify, the CO's might kill him. If he did, the Nazis would for sure. Either way, he was dead.

"You have to." McManus motioned to the chair. "Sit."

Toby bit his lip and sat down. It hurt, and he bit back a gasp. He rushed his words to cover it up. "If I testify, the Nazis will kill me."

McManus made a few notes. "We'll protect you."

"I need to talk to my lawyer." Toby shifted on his chair. He was about done for the day, and the smell of the coffee on McManus' desk was killing him.

"I'm keeping you in protective custody until after the trial. Schillinger still swears it was you." McManus pointed at him. "Your testimony is crucial to our case against him!"

"Didn't you check the shank for prints?"

"That information isn't available to me." McManus shrugged.

Toby didn't believe that. It was more likely that the shank had been tossed aside in the confusion. His stomach growled angrily, and he thought a few more days in protective custody might kill him. "Can I go back to my pod?"

"No. The Nazis will try to kill you." McManus glared. Toby gave up. Someone was going to have his ass, no matter what. He rubbed his bruised legs and forgot to listen as McManus grumbled about things that he couldn't handle. "Beecher! Get out!"

"Fuck off." Toby got up and went out. Wittlesey opened the door for him, and she favored him with a small smile. He nearly said something as she slipped a small item in his hand, but he covered it up, nodded at her, and began the long walk to his cell. The tiny clicks as he walked made him smile, and he popped one in his mouth as soon as the guard slammed the door. Keller had received his Mexican dinner. Toby laughed. He'd have to thank his dad.


Keller stretched, looked out the window, and muttered a small curse. He was bored of this shit. It was time to get out of here.

"Ready to go home?" Wittlesey came through the door without knocking and sat down. She looked tired, nothing new.

"Two days ago," Keller grumbled at Wittlesey. "He get them?"

"I delivered them. I don't get it though." She was curious. "You saved his ass, not the other way around."

"Yeah, but he likes them." Keller laughed at her confusion. "I bet they beat him pretty bad."

"They did. I stayed out of it."

Keller understood. She didn't need that shit. "And Schillinger?"

"Schillinger looks worse than you, and every Nazi in Oz has a black eye." Wittlesey leaned back and stretched. "Beecher's in PC. Schillinger is still in AdSeg, and Em City has been in lockdown for two weeks."

"I bet everyone loves me." Keller fiddled with his IV. "I keep thinking that I should've moved faster."

"If it'd been me, Beecher and I would both be dead." Wittlesey sighed. "I gotta get home. You'll get out soon."

"Thanks for stopping by." Keller smiled. "Don't forget to cash my paycheck tomorrow."

"Don't worry about that!" She laughed. "And I had one of the guys drive your Harley to my house. It's safe."

Keller was glad to hear it. He had worried. "Thanks." She scooted out the door, and he leaned back. Poor Beecher. Prison just kept fucking him over.


Toby didn't move. He didn't have the energy, and he didn't care.

"Tobias, aren't you coming to work?"

"No. Leave me alone." Toby put his arms over his head and refused to look at her. He'd gone as far as he could, and he was done. They could take him out in a box. He could hear her breathing, but the door slammed, and he was alone. Nothing mattered any longer. Couldn't she see that? Was it so fucking hard?

"He should have a breakfast tray. When did he eat last?"

"I offered it to him. He told me to fuck off," the CO lied.

Sister Pete said nothing else that Toby could hear, and he curled tighter around his empty stomach. It had only been three days. They'd feed him soon. They had to, or he'd starve, and that would look bad or so Keller had said once or twice. Toby doubted it. He knew the rates of suicide among prisoners. Right now, he also knew why some of them considered it.

"Don't cry, Beecher."

Toby really didn't like this particular CO--a real bastard. He mustered the strength to sit up and pushed his back to the wall. "Is this revenge? Or do you fellows have a particular agenda?"

"We're taking care of the problem of you and Schillinger our way." He laughed. "Keller gave us the go ahead himself."

"Great." Toby banged his head against the wall and shut his eyes. He could not survive on tic-tacs. There had to be a solution, but he was too tired to think of it. "You know, I think I'll go to work after all."

The CO unlocked the door. "Keep your mouth shut."

"Don't worry." Toby made it up and got moving. He'd try to get some coffee out of her. Sister Pete's mouth dropped open when he sat down, and he smiled at her. "Changed my mind."

"You look awful."

"Thanks." Toby turned on the computer. "My chances of parole are looking worse and worse. I'm beginning to think I should shank someone, get the electric chair, and call it a day."

"Tobias!" Sister Pete didn't think that was funny at all. "Don't say that or even think it."

"Just joking." Toby laughed. "I remember the good old days when I got high so fondly now."

Sister Pete made a disgusted noise, and he began updating files. "I'm going to get some coffee. Would you like some?"

"Please. Cream and sugar." Toby gave her a big smile. "You'd save my life."

She gave him an odd look and went to the lounge. Toby opened her bottom drawer while she was gone. Everyone stashed something there, and he found a package of crackers. He ate them quickly, hid the evidence, and sat back down. His stomach was shocked at the food, and he licked his lips for every crumb. He was back at his little desk when she came back through the door.

"Here you go." She handed him the coffee, and he wanted to slug it back, but he forced himself to sip it slowly. "Tobias, I think I'll ask McManus if you can come to group."

"Good idea." Toby nodded. If he got one minute alone with O'Reily, things could start to look up. O'Reily could get anything done.

"I'm glad to hear you agree."

The phone rang, and she picked it up. Toby always pretended he didn't listen, but he did, and he doubted she was fooled.

"Chris Keller! How are you feeling?"

Toby's heart beat faster. Keller.

"Bored, huh? Yes, he's right here." She paused. "I'm sure he's willing to cooperate. Would you like to speak with him?"

Toby grew light-headed at the thought, and she held out the phone. He took it, and his hands shook. "Yeah?"

"Hey, Beech. Thanks for the chow."

"I did the right thing?" Toby picked his words carefully. She was listening.

"You sure did." Keller laughed. "Are you okay?"

"No." Toby tried not to look at the nun. Curiosity was eating her alive.

"I talked to Mineo about five minutes ago. I fixed things, but you have to testify against Schillinger. Understand?"

"I do. I will." Toby took a deep breath. He didn't have any choice. "Thanks."

"For the tic-tacs or for me taking a shank for you? Never mind." Keller paused for a second. "Get with your lawyer and make this happen, or they'll find a way to kill you. Forget the Nazis."

"Yes." Toby didn't dare say anything else. "Here's Sister Pete." He handed her the phone and went to sit down. He trembled. Testifying was a big risk. He could be in protective custody forever, or they'd transfer him to another prison. Shit. He was going to do it, but he was doing it for Keller, not food.

"Tell me what he said." Sister Pete wasn't fooling around. She wanted answers.

"He told me to testify, or I'd regret it." Toby frowned and finished his coffee. "I'm going to need to see my lawyer."

"He threatened you?"

"Of course not. He's too smart for that. He explained prison and the realities to me." Toby pointed at the phone. "Can I make the call?"

"Yes." Sister Pete sighed. "Keller seemed like a nice guy."

"He is." Toby picked up the receiver. "For a hack." He called his dad. It was time to find out what was really going on and how best to stay alive. Coffee always perked him up, and that coffee could raise the dead.


"Get lost for a few minutes."

"My pleasure."

Toby got off his bunk and tried to wake completely up. The lights had just come on, and he rubbed his eyes. What was going?

"Hey Beech."

"Keller?" Toby rubbed his eyes again. Was he seeing things? He almost took a step, changed his mind, and stayed where he was. Keller pulled the door back and came over to him. Toby took in the jeans, ragged shirt, jacket, and tried not to groan. The spark in Keller's eyes told him that he'd failed to suppress it. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Keller gently put his hands on Beecher's shoulders. "You're pretty thin."

Toby could feel every finger and the heat of the hands on him. He inched closer and breathed in the clean smell. Keller kissed him, and it made him want to drop to the floor. The kiss moved across to Toby's ear, and he groaned loudly. "I was worried."

"You worry all the time." Keller pulled back, but didn't turn him loose. "They feeding you?"

"Usually. That guy hates me." Toby tried not to whine. He felt like there was so much to say, but all he wanted to do was stand there next to him. Keller pulled him closer, and Toby slipped his hand under the shirt to feel skin.

"Easy," Keller whispered.

Toby gently touched the bandages. "Sorry about this."

"I heard you paid for it." Keller kissed him. "Sorry about that."

Toby shrugged. "Prison sucks. At least, that's what I hear." He curled that much closer to the warmth of Keller. "You can't stay long."

"No." Keller ran his hands down Toby's back and rubbed. "The depositions are tomorrow. Schillinger is going to be in solitary forever."

"We'll see." Toby knew the case intimately, and Schillinger had a chance. It didn't matter though right now, and Toby kissed him. Keller returned it fiercely. The moment stretched, lasted, and tasted damn good.

Keller ended it, sighed, and said, "Now I have to hit you."

"Damn." Toby smiled. "Are you really banging Wittlesey?"

"Do I look like a crazy man?" Keller smiled back at him. "Do not smile like that at me tomorrow."

"I may spit on you." Toby laughed. "Okay, I'm ready. Hit me."

Keller set him away. "I doubt it." Toby saw it coming, but it didn't matter. He hit the wall hard, felt his lip burst open, and hoped they were finished. They weren't, and he crumpled to the floor, holding his guts. Keller ran a hand over him. "Still mine."

Toby wished he were able to answer or at least act like it didn't hurt, but he couldn't breathe. He watched Keller slam the door.

"That's the least of what he deserves."

"Make sure and feed him. If he passes out tomorrow, the trial will be delayed, and he wants to cooperate with us." Keller's voice was fierce. "Feed him!"

"Will do." The CO might. Toby shut his eyes and rocked with the pain. He'd cooperate, for all the good it would do.


Keller washed his hands and sighed. Prison did suck, on both sides of the bars. They didn't pay him enough for all this, but he wasn't quitting, not until he knew Beecher would be safe. Safe? Right. In prison. A lawyer.

"Good to see you back, Keller."

"Thanks, Warden." Keller made sure the blood was gone from the sink. "What's tomorrow looking like?"

Glynn rubbed a hand through his hair. "They lost the shank. It's basically Schillinger's word against yours and Beecher's."

Keller groaned. Stupid fuckers. "Can't really count on Beecher. He may crack up against Schillinger."

"He might." Glynn nodded and started washing his hands. "I was a CO once. I understand what you went through, but punching Beecher probably wasn't all that smart."

Keller had a moment of panic. He shoved it down and shrugged. "Sometimes a man needs to know who his friends are."

Glynn looked skeptical. "We'll do the best we can. You're not up to working AdSeg. How about you start in the infirmary?"

"Thanks." Keller nodded. It was a good idea. Glynn nodded and left him to change clothes. Keller didn't hurry. He had to think. If Schillinger got off, he was dead, but what about Beecher?

********Chapter Five

The state lawyer looked like he hadn't taken a shit in days. Toby had seen it all before. He knew what was coming. Did anyone else?

"There is simply no evidence in this case. The shank is missing, and I have two prisoners that have a history of hating each other! The only reliable witness is Keller, and even he admits that Schillinger was trying to kill Beecher not him." The lawyer paused for effect. "At most, this is aggravated assault for Schillinger and an accessory charge for Beecher."

Toby's dad tensed, and Toby shook his head slightly. They had to play it out. Keller looked dangerously angry, and Schillinger looked smug, of course. How he managed it through all those bruises was a mystery. The Nazi did have balls.

Schillinger's lawyer stood up. "My client wants a trial to prove his innocence."

Several people laughed. Toby's father got to his feet. "My client is innocent. Doesn't that matter?"

Toby pulled him down and whispered, "No, it doesn't. Shut up." The bickering began, and he kept his father out of it until the right moment. "Now." He sat back and watched his dad tear them apart. The old man was much better at this lawyer shit than Toby had ever been, even on his best day. It took fire in the belly, and Toby liked scotch in his belly. He smirked at Keller. This might turn out fine.


Keller knew he was out of his element. He'd been a fool to think it would be cut and dried. He should have had them whack Schillinger weeks ago. The only good news was that Beecher's dad was tearing them all new assholes. Keller saw the smirk and fondled his nightstick. When Beecher's eyes went there, Keller knew he'd won that round. Beecher's mouth was nothing but a bruise, and Keller wanted to slide over there and kiss the pain away. It was stupid to want a man so much, but he did. He did.

"That's it for today. Present your plea bargains by next Thursday and we'll begin negotiations."

Keller stood up immediately. He no longer cared. Glynn and McManus crowded around him. They did care.

"Schillinger is going to solitary." Glynn shot the Nazi a glare. "Until hell freezes over."

"That should be long enough." Keller caught Beecher's eyes. "What about Beecher?"

Glynn turned and looked at Beecher. "What do you think, McManus?"

"He did cooperate, not much, but some." McManus didn't know what to do, Keller was sure of that. Beecher walked over to them, and they all waited to hear what he had to say. Keller hoped it was rude.

"If this is how you treat a guy who saves a CO, I'm not sure you value them enough." Beecher looked pissed. "More time, for doing the right thing. Thanks a lot."

"You were fighting," McManus hissed.

"I was running." Beecher threw up his hands. "Send me to the chair for it!"

Keller did the sensible thing. He used his body to encourage Beecher away. "Go talk to your father. He's the brains of your operation."

Beecher gave him the finger, but went to his father. Keller stepped back to Glynn. "He's a shithead, but he has a point."

Glynn nodded. "He's also about twenty pounds underweight. He looks like a skeleton."

Keller was impressed. Glynn was no fool, he knew what the CO's did. McManus grumbled, "Send him to Em City. We'll see if he can get along."

"No. Keller, take him to the infirmary. I want him checked out, and then solitary. He needs some time to cool off." Glynn put his hands on his hips. "Agreed?"

"Sure," McManus said.

Keller nodded. He strolled over to the Beecher boys and said, "When you're finished, I'm to take you."

"Give us another minute," the elder Beecher said. Keller shrugged and went to wait by the door. Schillinger was laughing at him, but it wasn't going to last.


"Find the shank, Dad. That's the best use of your time. I can't fight this charge unless you find it." Toby spoke quietly. "It was in him when they transported him, and we both know they wouldn't have taken it out until they had him on the table. It's at the hospital. Forgotten. Somewhere."

"What does it matter?"

"It matters. If Schillinger gets off with assault, he'll be back in Gen Pop before the end of the year, and I have two more years before I'll even be considered for parole." Toby lowered his head. "And we both know that's a long shot. Find the shank. If anyone can do it, it's you."

Toby's father nodded. "I'll do it. I'm proud of you, Tobias. You did the right thing--saving him."

Toby tucked the words away to savor later when he was alone. "You raised me right. I have to go."

"Officer Keller looks angry. Don't cause trouble."

"I'll be good." Toby shook his dad's hand, wished for a hug, and went to the door. "Ready, prick?"

"You betcha." Keller took him by the arm and squeezed. They walked. "Seems like old times."

Toby laughed softly. "Got a tic-tac?"

Keller looked over his shoulder, opened a storage room door, and shoved Toby through. For one second, Toby wanted to panic, but then Keller was all over him. Their mouths consumed the other, and Toby gripped strong muscles, as he felt hands dive inside his trousers.

"Shit," Toby whispered. His mouth hurt.

"You're nothing but bones." Keller rubbed him. "They're moving you to solitary. I'll see that you're fed."

Toby groaned. He didn't much care at this instant. "I told you we'd get screwed."

"I want to screw you." Keller pulled back. "Damn. We don't have time."

"You can beat me with your nightstick later." Toby smiled. Keller laughed, looked out the door, and pulled him out. Toby tried to hide his hard on. Damn was right. He didn't understand the fire that burned between them, but it was all he had to warm his hands by when the nights were cold, and Keller gave him a tic-tac.


"Good God!"

Keller leaned against the wall and waited. He wasn't leaving them alone this time. "Yeah. He's skinny."

Beecher flexed his arm, nothing but muscle. "I prefer toned. Are we done?"

Dr. Nathan ran her gloved hand over Beecher's ribs and mouth. "Who did this?"

"Keller." Beecher smiled at him, jizzbag lawyer. "To his credit, he didn't enjoy it."

Keller smiled when she shot him an accusing look. "He acted up, what was I supposed to do--kiss him?"

Beecher made smoochy noises. He sure was feeling like a dick today. Keller wanted to stick his tongue down that lawyer throat. Dr. Nathan rolled her eyes. "Lie down. You're here tonight. I want to run some tests and get some fluids in you."

Keller thought that sounded like a good idea. He walked over and fingered one of the restraints. Dr. Nathan gave him a nod, and he said, "Don't give me any more trouble."

Beecher lay flat, and his ribs stuck out. "Scared I'll take you down?"

"You couldn't fight off a swarm of flies." Keller took his time fastening the straps. He wanted Beecher to feel the heat, and when he stepped away, the look in Beecher's eyes satisfied him. "I'll tell McManus."

"Thanks, Keller." Dr. Nathan gave him a signal, and he followed her into her office. "They didn't feed him, at all?"

"Not much." Keller wasn't going to rat them out, but it was apparent that everyone knew.

Dr. Nathan furrowed her pretty brow. "Schillinger?"

Keller wondered about that also. "Don't know. He looked fine, except for a bruise here and there." She didn't need to know how many.

"You feeling okay?"

Keller grinned. "This job is easy. I'll be back to whacking heads soon."

"From the look of Beecher's face, you're already back." Dr. Nathan made a fluttery motion with her hands. "Go to work."

Keller laughed and left her office. He'd like to fuck her, just once. McManus had. She was a fine woman. Keller walked over to McManus' office, gave him the news, and headed back to the infirmary. He had all day to tease Beecher.


Toby tried not to grin at Keller and beg for a kiss. Keller lounged about, and he knew exactly how to make Toby want to yank on the restraints and scream for it. Asshole hack. Didn't he have a real job? Busting heads in the hole?

"Keller, you enjoy being on bed pan duty?" Toby gave him a crazy grin.

Keller didn't even bother to look over at him. "Your nose could match your mouth."

Toby laughed to himself. He wasn't getting to him, but it was fun trying. The infirmary had about five patients, and he was on the last bed. There were always nurses and orderlies about, so why did he feel like Keller was the only one in the room? Dr. Nathan had told him to rest, but all he wanted to do was stare at Keller, lick his lips, and thrust his hips at him. Shit. He was losing it. Keller was a hack. A prick. And he liked basketball. And Mexican food. He was . . . Toby took a deep breath. Keller was gorgeous. No. That was stupid. Women were gorgeous. Keller was bottled raw animal sex, and Toby wanted to uncork him and drink deep.

"Doing okay, Beecher?"

"I have to piss." Toby smiled at her.

She nodded. "Keller. Take Beecher to the restroom. Oh, and Beecher, when's the last time they let you shower?"

"A long time ago." Toby flinched when Keller's hands touched him. "I could do that too."

"Good idea. Keller, take him to the showers. I want him back without any more bruises." She swatted Keller's hand, and he probably liked it. "When he gets back, I'll put in an IV."

"Great," Toby complained. He rubbed his wrists and looked down. "Can I get some clean clothes?"

Dr. Nathan rubbed her forehead. "Keller, pamper him." She went off to her other patients.

Toby gave Keller a big smile. "Pamper me."

Keller snorted. "You're moving anyway. We'll get your shit and then head to the showers."

"Where to?" Toby didn't bother hoping for the best.

"Back to solitary."

"Shit!" Toby stopped walking. "What did I do?"

"Think about it while we walk." Keller slapped his hand down on Toby's shoulder and got him moving again. Toby groaned. He should've kept his mouth shut around Glynn. Keller nodded. "Yep. You mouthed off in front of the warden. Stupid."

"You put me in with Schillinger, and there's going to be blood." Toby never thought he'd wish for his little pod, but it would feel like home, if he ever got back there. "All this because I did your laundry. God damn I'm an idiot."

"Excuse me?" Keller pulled him around. "Say that again."

"I was doing your laundry. Schillinger laughed at me, said I'd always be somebody's prag, which is true, since I'm your bitch, and I, well, lost my temper. That's when he came after me."

Keller's eyes hardened. It was scarier than Toby would ever admit. Keller growled, "You always let him get to you."

Toby swallowed hard. "My fault. I took the beating from your pals. I even said thanks."

"Very stupid." Keller started moving again. Toby wondered what was stupid, besides him. He gathered his clothes quickly and didn't give his usual CO the finger, but it took extreme effort. That CO made Keller look like a saint, and he wasn't.

"Are they going to feed me in solitary?" Toby sniped.

"If you're lucky," Keller jabbed right back at him. "Get moving."

Toby moved faster. Anything to get out of what had turned out to be non-protective custody. Keller took him to the shower, and Toby put his things down. Keller found a spot to lean, and his eyes were sharp. Toby didn't need more than a look to get hard. He got in the water and sighed happily.

"Stop groaning."

"Shut up." Toby turned and waggled his cock at Keller. "You know you want me."

Keller adjusted his belt. "It ain't safe, or I'd fuck you into tomorrow."

"You're still recovering." Toby soaped all his parts. It felt good to be clean. He stuck out his tongue and wiggled it. "Come on. Take a chance."

"Forget it." Keller wouldn't budge. Prick. Toby touched himself and had no trouble jacking off with Keller's impossibly hot eyes watching him. Keller never looked away, and his bulge was obvious.

"Show me," Toby whispered.

Keller checked the hallway, came back, and took it out. He stepped close, but not close enough to get wet. Toby ached to touch it, but Keller wouldn't allow that, and he stroked himself. Come struck Toby and he slipped his hands through it. Keller groaned, "Damn you."

Toby knew exactly what Keller meant. He washed again and quivered.

"Let's go."

Toby shut off the water and caught the towel. "Later, kiss me."

"I might." Keller didn't seem to watch him dress.

Toby needed a touch. Something. No one ever touched him in this place, unless they were beating on him. He slipped on his shoes, picked up his things again, and went back to the infirmary. Keller strapped him down, but not too tight, and Toby shut his eyes so he didn't have to look at him so close, so close.

"What is it with us?" The question was soft and low.

"I wish I knew," Toby muttered. Keller left him, and he tried to relax. He didn't know why, but he liked it--liked the energy, the passion, the hotness. He wanted it often, and it was dangerous. There was no time for this kind of thing, and it was wrong. Wrong to want him so badly. This was prison, for chrissakes. Keller wasn't too far away, and Toby knew the CO was listening. "Sorry."

Keller shrugged and went out of sight. Toby told himself to relax again. He tried to block out the noise. After living in protective custody--what a joke--it was overwhelming to hear voices, yells, and see people hurrying about. And about the time he got used to it, he'd be off to solitary. Shit.


Keller handed Wittlesey her helmet. "Let's get the fuck out of here."

"I'm with you."


"You bet." Wittlesey held on tight as he got the Harley moving. "First day back sucked, huh?"

"You can't imagine." Keller kicked it into high gear. He didn't want to think about fucking Oz for a few hours. The beer helped, and she was smart enough not to talk. When she'd had enough, she caught a cab home. Nice woman, but he didn't want her. He caught the eye of a blond at the bar, and they got on his Harley together.

"My place is about three blocks from here."

"Good." Keller kicked it over. He quivered when muscular arms wrapped around him, and for an instant, it was Beecher.


"Here's your mail, Beecher."

Toby sat up as much as he could, but it wasn't possible to open the letter. "Said!"

"There was talk in Em City that you had been killed." Said always looked serious. "I'm glad to see that you are still among us."

"Glad to be here." Toby looked down. "Read it to me. Will ya?"

Said nodded and pulled the letter out. No words, just a drawing, and from his daughter by the looks of it. Toby smiled, and Said put it on Toby's lap. "Are you coming back?"

"Solitary." Toby stared at the picture. It was beautiful. "I said the wrong thing in front of the warden."

Said gave him a crooked smile. "The Nazis are broken, and for that, you have friends."

Toby shrugged. "I'll be in solitary forever, but thanks. Tell O'Reily I'm still kicking."

"I will." Said pushed his cart away, but Toby didn't watch. He lost himself in the crayon park his daughter had made for him.


Keller told himself not to even look at him, but it only lasted three minutes. Fucking that blond through the wall hadn't helped at all. It hadn't been Beecher groaning for it, and his cock had known it.

Beecher had a goofy smile on his face. Keller saw the reason immediately. Mail. No way he'd gotten his mail down in protective custody. Beecher looked up at him, but the smile stayed on his face. Keller tried very hard not to make any reaction, and after a moment, he went to find Dr. Nathan.

"What's up, Chris?"

"Hi, Gloria." Keller smiled at her. She did want him. "You want Beecher out?"

"One more day. I want to make sure he doesn't have AIDS, and let's face it; they may not feed him in solitary." Dr. Nathan frowned. "I have an appointment with the warden about it later today."

"Okay." Keller acted nonchalant. AIDS? Shit. That hadn't even crossed his horny mind, and it should have. "Restraints?"

"Not today. Tonight, yes." Dr. Nathan turned that beautiful smile back on. "Oh, and Sister Pete wants to see you."

"She probably broke her computer again." Keller smiled. "I better get back." She nodded, and he went straight to Beecher and turned him loose. "How are you today?"

Beecher took hold of his picture. "Good. Thanks." He was completely somewhere else, and Keller let him stay there. It had to be better than here.


Toby lazed the day away. He didn't want to think, or worry, or stare at Keller. Two out of three ain't bad--isn't that what the song said?


"You wanted to see me?" Keller rolled his neck on his shoulders. He was tight as a drum after a day of Beecher staring at him.

"Yes." Sister Pete smiled. "Sit down. How are you?"

Keller eased down and stretched. "Pretty good."

"When a CO has been attacked like you were, I always offer my services when they return to work." She paused. "If you want to talk about it, we can, and it all stays here."

"The warden?"

"Highly encourages it." She emphasized each word, and he realized that he had no choice.

Keller loosened his top button to stall. "Okay. What next?" He would say as little as possible, but try to keep her happy.

"Tell me how it feels to see Schillinger and Beecher." She leaned back in her chair. "Are you angry?"

"I thought I might be, but I'm not. Shit happens." Keller was careful not to fidget. She looked like the kind to notice everything.

She nodded. "I've been concerned for Tobias. You threatened him on the phone and now he has a cut lip. And even I know they didn't feed him regularly."

"I merely explained the situation to him. I had no control over events while I was in the hospital. Some people were angry that he refused to testify, and as soon as I found out what was going on, I put a stop to it." Keller regretted each word. She'd twist them. They always did. "And he gave me some trouble, so I shut him down."

"But you're not angry."

Keller snapped, "Angry that he kept me from bleeding to death? Angry that he held me and told me not to die? No. I'm not angry!"

She folded her hands and looked satisfied. "There's more here than meets the eye. Why would Tobias do those things?"

"He's stupid." Keller hated psychologists. They thought they had all the answers. "This prison is killing him inch by inch. The judge that sent him here should be ashamed."

"I might be willing to agree with that, but that's for another day. How do you feel about Schillinger?"

Keller grabbed his tongue and measured his next words. "He screwed up. He's going to pay for it."

"That sounds like a threat."

"No. I don't make threats." Keller smiled tightly at her. "Solitary can be hard on a man, even a Nazi."

Sister Pete nodded. "I think that's enough for one day. I'll schedule you again for next week."

Keller got up and glanced over at Beecher's desk. "Beecher is headed for solitary."

"You could bring him here first. It'd be our secret." She smiled her best.

"Okay, but I want a couch at our next session." He turned on the charm. "With pillows."

"Keep dreaming." She laughed. "Go on home. Get some sleep."

Keller went out the door and didn't look back. Sleep. Right.


Toby didn't hurry to solitary. He wasn't looking forward to it in the least. Keller didn't seem to be rushing him either.

"I'm taking you to Sister Pete's office first. Be careful what you say to her. She suspects." Keller's voice was right in Toby's ear. "Understand?"

"Not really. No." Toby nearly dropped a shirt, but Keller pushed it back on the stack. "But I'll be careful."

"Good. She's nosy." Keller opened the door for Toby. "Sister, I'll pick him up in a couple of hours. Okay?"

"I'll keep him busy." Sister Pete smiled.

Toby put his stuff out of the way and surveyed the disaster. "You're making me old."

"I don't think it's me." Sister Pete came over to him. "Did Dr. Nathan give you a clean bill of health?"

"Sure. I'm fine." Toby narrowed his eyes at her. She knew about the AIDS test? It had been negative. Thank God. "Let's talk about you."

She laughed softly and went back to her desk. "First, I want to know if you're angry at Officer Keller."

Toby put his back to her and fussed with the computer. She was after something. Keller was right. But what? "Angry? About this?" Toby pointed at his face.

"Yes. To start with." She paused. "You and he have bumped heads more than once. You attack him, he nearly dies in your arms, and then, he hits you. Tell me how you feel."

Toby leaned into his hand and went for the simple answer. "Tired, mostly. I regret what happened with Schillinger. Angry? That seems like a waste of time."

Sister Pete didn't answer right away, and that was worrisome. Toby started working on the folders and hoped they were finished talking. Explaining about Keller would take forever, wouldn't make any sense, and would end up with him in the psychiatric ward.

"Are you worried that he's angry enough to hurt you?"

Toby looked over his shoulder. "We talked about it. He worked it out."

"On your face."

Toby wasn't going to answer that. It wasn't true, but the truth was ridiculous. "Prison is interesting, isn't it? All these little cliques and each have their standards and rules, even the CO's. There are always a few outsiders. People like me. And those poor fucks always end up taking it up the ass."

Silence. Complete. Toby hoped she hadn't passed out, but he wasn't looking directly at her. The next few minutes stretched, and he sighed softly. How many more years of this shit? And wow, a tit would be nice about now. The door opened, and he didn't look over there. She'd tell him to get out if it was necessary.

"Can I help you, Glynn?"

Toby tried to shrink. He wasn't supposed to be here. Glynn's voice rang out. "Beecher is supposed to be in solitary!"

"He took a small detour." Sister Pete had balls. "He'll get there."

"Sister Pete, you, of all people, are supposed to follow the rules, but I understand." Glynn chuckled. "Give me a minute with Beecher--alone."

"I'll go get some coffee." Sister Pete slipped out the door without further protest. Toby decided to take this standing and got out of his chair to face Glynn. His stomach started to ache. It had to be bad news.

"No, you're not in trouble, but I am going to talk to Keller about letting Sister Pete sweet talk him into breaking the rules." Glynn put his hands on his hips. "They found the shank at the hospital. Apparently, your lawyer did a thorough job of tossing the place!"

Toby controlled his grin. That was good news, for him. He waited for the rest of it.

"Officer Mineo has testified to your conduct during the incident and all charges against you have been dropped." Glynn didn't look totally happy about that. He held up his hand. "However, your part in this shouldn't be overlooked."

"It hasn't been." Toby rubbed his hand over his busted up mouth, but he saw no trace of guilt on Glynn's face.

"One week in solitary and then you can return to Em City. One more fight and I'm putting you in Gen Pop, and I don't care what McManus says." Glynn stepped close and lowered his voice. "And stay away from Keller. Some of my CO's are still suspicious that you were responsible."

"Thank you for giving me this news." Toby couldn't think of what else to say. He didn't want to stay away from Keller. Would Glynn tell Keller to stay away from him? Keller would do it. He wanted to keep his job. Shit.

Glynn gave him a hard look and opened the door. "Get your work done and then get to solitary. Seven days from the moment you finish."

"Yes sir." Toby sat back down, but he took a minute to shut his eyes and let a small feeling of happiness work through him. No more time added on, Mineo had come through for him, and his father had found the shank. Schillinger was in deep shit now. Toby laughed softly. That was right where the Nazi belonged.


"Stay away from Beecher." Glynn frowned. "His safety may depend on it."

Keller ignored the small clinch in his guts. "After I take him to solitary, I shouldn't bump into him again, unless you assign me to Em City."

"You've been doing a good job of supervising AdSeg. I want you to take over solitary also." Glynn suddenly smiled. "Yes, there's a small pay raise."

Keller didn't smile. He'd have rather been in Em City. "Sounds good. I can always use a few extra bucks."

Glynn kept talking, and Keller made all the right answers, but he was thinking about only one thing. How was he going to keep his hands off Beecher?


Toby shut down the computer. "I'm ready."

"I'll call Keller." Sister Pete picked up the phone and made the brief call to the infirmary. She put the phone down and pointed her finger at him. "Tobias, you will stay away from him, right?"

"Why would I want to see him?" Toby gathered his things. "He's a hack, and he's got a strong right cross that I recommend everyone avoid."

Sister Pete went to the door with him. "I'll see you in a week."

"Right." Toby saw Keller coming with his usual strut that made Toby's palms sweat. Keller looked pissed, but he smiled at Sister Pete. She raised her hands.

"Yeah, yeah. Get me in trouble and then look innocent!" Keller had enough charm for three men. "You owe me a favor."

"I'll think of something." Sister Pete ducked back inside, and Toby figured she was putting an ice cube on her head to cool down. Keller gave him a push, and Toby reluctantly started walking.

"I was enjoying watching you charm her senseless."

"Shut up." Keller was angry.

Toby shut his mouth. He had to stay away, so he might as well start by being quiet. The walk seemed longer than it should have been, and Keller opened the doors slowly. Was he hesitating? Why? Toby tossed his few clothes on the bunk. Keller gave him a look that could catch grass on fire. "I have to search you."

Toby faced the wall and leaned into it. He was clean, and he wanted to be touched. Keller waited another second and then his hands pressed into him. It felt good. It shouldn't have, but nothing about this made any sense. Keller breathed right in Toby's ear, "Damn. You're a slut."

"For you." Toby pushed his ass back into it. "Warden Glynn says we're finished, so get your last feel."

Keller did a thorough job, and Toby nearly came in his shorts. Now they were both breathing hard. Keller pulled him around, crushed him into the wall, and kissed him. Toby tasted blood between them, and his world spun around on him when Keller suddenly abandoned him to four walls, a cot, and nothing else.

"Wait," Toby said softly. He needed him like no other. The warden could go to hell. Toby didn't want to be alone in this place.

"You're nobody's bitch now." And Keller was gone. Toby slumped down on the cot. He didn't wipe the blood away. The kiss lingered in it, and he wanted to keep it.


Keller dropped Wittlesey off and said, "It's Friday. I'll catch up with you Monday."

"Why don't you come in? Take it easy for a weekend." She smiled and put a hand on him. Keller didn't want to hear it. He had to go somewhere. Fast. He shook his head and revved the engine. She stepped back, and he got out on the highway. When the night fell, he was still going.


Toby tossed his stuff on the top bunk, ignored his podmate, whoever the fuck it was, and went out to watch TV. O'Reily appeared almost immediately, and they slapped hands.


"It's me." Toby didn't smile. He put on the headset and listened to the news. It helped block out some of the noise. Several people pointed at him, and one of the bikers gave him the finger. He didn't give one shit. O'Reily was still talking, and Toby tuned it out. Everyone and everything moved around him until he heard, "Count!" He yanked the headset off, groaned, and got in line next to his podmate. When the door shut, Toby climbed up on his bunk and put his back to the corner.

"Are you, uh, gay?"

"One more word about that and I'll beat you until you cry like a little girl." Toby watched the young Muslim flinch. "Adebisi fucked your ass yet?"

"I'm a Muslim."

"Right. Watch your ass." Toby stared out the glass and watched the guards. Wittlesey would know where Keller was, but he couldn't ask her. Keller must have gotten smart and left town. Left him. Alone. In here. Toby banged his fist against the glass, and Mineo glared at him. Fuck him. Fuck them all.

"So, you're not gay?"

Toby clawed at the thin strands of his patience. "Shut up." The Muslim did, thank God or whoever, and the hours crept by.


Keller used all his vacation days and two sick days, and it wasn't long enough.

"Hey, don't leave." The guy reached and grabbed. Who the fuck did he think he was?

"Fuck off!" Keller shoved the young man down and went out to his bike. Nothing was working. Nothing. Beecher was always with him, and it sucked. Keller blamed himself for letting Beecher get under his skin. It shouldn't have happened. It never had before. What did Beecher have that the rest of the dumb fucks didn't? Keller rubbed his face and sighed. He didn't know, but he was out of time. He could go back or he could go on and find something else. Shit. He turned his Harley around and got moving. If he drove all night, he could make it to work in the morning.


"Hey Bitcher, come suck my cock."

Toby put his hand on O'Reily's chest and kept him down. The week in solitary had driven home the lessons he'd learned in Oz. He didn't care about shit anymore, and it felt good. Keller was gone, nothing mattered, and that was the way it was going to stay.

"Ignore the Nazi fag."

O'Reily laughed. "Let's push him down and braid his hair."

Toby had to admit that sounded like a good idea. "In the gym. Later." He reached in his pocket and popped a tic-tac in his mouth. "I stole some electrical tape."

"A plan." O'Reily scurried off. Toby went the other direction. A little revenge was a very good idea, even the CO's did it, and Mark Mack had it coming. He'd look pretty in braids.


Keller buttoned up his shirt. He could do this. This was nothing.

"So then what happened?"

Mineo laughed. "Mack comes staggering out from the gym. His hair was braided, and he had lipstick on!"

Wittlesey snorted. "And he just left it on? I don't believe it."

Keller tucked in his shirt and listened.

"Someone had used electrical tape on his hands. Taped them to his thighs. No pants, just a sign, written in lipstick, on his ass that said, 'Fuck the prag!'" Mineo sat down. "I nearly spit coffee on the floor."

Wittlesey rubbed her forehead. Keller choked back a laugh. "That's some serious revenge."

"Calculating. Someone had a plan." Wittlesey checked her radio. "We better watch the gym a little closer for a week or two."

"I'll be in AdSeg, if anyone's looking for me." Keller wondered if Beecher ever asked about him. He laughed. "Braids? Damn. The Nazis have no luck lately."

Wittlesey shut her locker door. "And Beecher looks like a cat with a fat canary."

Keller made sure he was ready. "He's smart enough to get it done."

"I'll watch him. He might be headed your way."

"That'd be a damn shame." Keller smirked and went to work. He was back, and he wasn't leaving, not until Beecher went home to the safety of his family. It was stupid as hell, but he'd given up fighting it.


Toby listened to his Muslim podmate cry. It had been bound to happen. Adebisi loved sweet, black ass, and the young man was sweet. "He get you in the shower?"

"Yes!" The Muslim cried some more. "I am defiled!"

"Yeah. Get used to it." Toby rubbed his eyes. "He'll be back for more. Get tough or get fucked. This is Oz, not a health spa."

The boy sobbed, and Toby stared out the glass at Wittlesey. She'd been watching him lately, and he knew why. Things were happening to Nazis. Well, wasn't that too damn bad? He smiled on the inside. Three down, one to go, and the last was going to be sweeter than the ass crying underneath him.


Keller made an excuse to go see Wittlesey on the platform that overlooked Em City. He hadn't seen Beecher in months, and it was to the point that he was wearing out the concrete in AdSeg from pacing. Glynn had said to stay away from him, but he hadn't meant forever. No one would care now. Hell, half the CO's had quit, and the other half didn't give a shit. Keller had to believe that because he couldn't stay away any longer. He leaned against the rail and searched for Beecher.

"What's up?"

"You about ready to go?" Keller kept searching. He had to see him, just to be certain that he was still among the survivors. Oz had a way of killing people.

"I think my relief is late." She sighed. "Go on, if you can't wait. I'll get Tim to take me."

"Your choice, but I can stay." Keller spotted him, controlled a sigh of relief, and moved to the rail closest to that pod. Beecher was on his bunk, doing nothing, but he had a very small smile on his face. "You catch Beecher yet?"

"He's too damn smart. Three incidences, no proof, and he looks like a saint." She barked a laugh. "Gotta give him credit. He's learned how to survive in Oz."

"I wonder if that makes him more of a man, or less." Keller noticed the young, black man on the bunk under Beecher. "Who's his podmate?"

"Isad Yamim, a Muslim. Young." Wittlesey shrugged. "Why?"

"He looks like he's crying. Probably misses his mom." Keller remembered that feeling all too well and he suspected that most of these guys missed their moms. "Want me to check on him?"

"If you want. Be careful. Beecher has a shank, I'm sure of it." Wittlesey smiled. "You knew that."

"Yeah." Keller went down the stairs, and she opened the door. "Hey, Beech." The sobs of the young man lessened, but didn't stop.

Beecher didn't even glance at him. "What do you want, hack?"

Keller heard the hard edge in Beecher's voice. The lawyer had grown fangs, and Keller had to fight the urge to yank him off the top bunk and crush him in an embrace. "What's wrong with him?"

"Got fucked in the shower." Beecher sounded completely bored. "Imagine. Getting ass fucked in prison."

"You would know better than me," Keller lied. He was surprised at this version of Beecher, but prison built walls inside a man. "You don't feel sorry for him?"

"Why should I? I warned him. He thought he was safe, since he's a Muslim." Beecher laughed, and it was mean. "How's Schillinger?"

Keller heard a trace of eagerness now. Beecher still wanted his revenge. "Beecher, if you were half the man you used to be, you'd do something about this because it was you there." He pointed at the Muslim.

"Well, fuck you." Beecher looked out the glass, his face a mask of indifference. "You should have stayed gone. It was nice."

"You should have stayed human. It was nice." Keller went out quickly before he got angry and smacked him upside the head. Wittlesey locked the door. Beecher's eyes were on him, and Keller went back to staring over the rail. Beecher never looked away. Was he really such a bad ass now? Or was it all an act? Only Sister Pete would know, and Keller told himself he didn't care, but it was a poor lie. Beecher stuck out his tongue and licked the glass.

"He's turning into a problem."

"I'd have never guessed." Keller didn't look away. He liked that tongue, especially on his cock. "Any Nazis left that haven't been publicly humiliated?"

"Robson." Wittlesey strolled over and watched with him. "And he looks worried."

Keller could believe it. Beecher was a little scary, in a crazy way. Events had twisted him, or had Keller done that? Keller shrugged. "Oz is never dull."

"Not by a long shot."


Toby waited nearly two months, until things had quieted down, and then he put it all in motion. Robson was going to pay today for the grief and pain he'd caused a prag named Tobias Beecher. O'Reily gave Toby a thumbs up, and he casually started for the classrooms. The Christians were on their way out, and he lounged by the door.

O'Reily delivered his package right on time, and Toby took one second to appreciate the look of terror on Robson's face.

"Paybacks are a bitcher, aren't they?" Toby snapped on some latex gloves that Alvarez had stolen for him and worked fast, but with an eye to detail. The red lipstick was important, and spitting on Robson's exposed asshole was too much fun to skip. The Irish lads took turns spanking him, and Toby knew they were out of time. "Let's go."

They took off, but Toby could see Adebisi's gang, coming to get high like they did every day. They'd have plenty of fun. Toby made one quick stop and shoved the electrical tape under Adebisi's mattress. He was careful to leave no prints. Shake down was due and might happen today after the Nazi shit hit the fan. He slid down in a chair next to his ex-podmate. "You doing okay?"

"Said has been helping me," Isad said softly. "Thank you for getting me moved into his pod."

"No problem." Toby leaned back and enjoyed the gagged screams that only he could hear. Revenge was sweet. Keller would understand. Toby rubbed his lip, the part that Keller had busted wide open. CO's understood all about revenge. They'd taught him several valuable lessons. He bit his lower lip, pushing away any thoughts of Keller. Keller was a prick hack, nothing more, and Toby didn't give one shit about him.

*********Chapter Six


Keller turned on his heel. "What?"

McManus always looked on the edge of collapse. "We need some extra people in Em City. We're going to have a shake down right before count."

"Okay." Keller volunteered himself and two others he could spare. He'd have a chance to body search Beecher, and that was irresistible. "What's going on?"

"Later!" McManus rushed off. "Move on it!"

Keller got his guys and reported to the tower. Wittlesey rolled her eyes at him. "Ready?"

"Sure." Keller surveyed the crowd watching television. Beecher looked asleep.

"Shake down!" Wittlesey's voice boomed out, and she pushed the horn. "Shake down!"

SORT moved in, and Keller got moving, searching and pushing men to their knees on a line. Beecher felt good. He'd been working out and had a few more muscles to fondle.

"Beecher, put your hands on your head!" Keller shoved him to the line.

"My arms are tired!" Beecher snapped, but he did it. "And Miss Sally is on!"

Half the guys laughed, and Keller smacked the back of Beecher's head and pushed him to his knees. "I have a feeling you're going to miss an episode or two." He personally tossed Beecher's pod, but it was clean. Beecher was too smart for it not to be. Keller did wonder what they were looking for besides shanks and drugs, which they found plenty of. The hole and solitary were going to be full. Oh well, he'd been bored.

"Beecher's clean," he muttered to Wittlesey.

"Fucker is smart." Wittlesey put a shank in her bag. "He's going to get away with it again."

Keller didn't ask what had happened. He'd find out, and he started on another pod. He found some tits, confiscated them, and went out.

"It is not mine! I swear to you!" Adebisi screamed, but three guys put him down and dragged him away.

"What the fuck?" Keller knew he'd missed something big.

"The electrical tape was under his cot," McManus spat. Keller stared past him to Beecher. Beecher looked bored, and yet, smug. The fucker had planted it. Keller had no doubt. McManus continued, "And we know Adebisi fucked Robson. Wangler rolled on him."

Keller went over to Beecher and stared down at him. "You finished?"

"With what?" Beecher licked his lips. "Got a tic-tac?"

Keller listened to O'Reily laugh and went to find Wittlesey. McManus was on a tear. "No TV for two weeks!"

"Are we grounded, Daddy?" Alvarez asked.

"Fine. A month! Get this shit cleaned up. And forget dinner!" McManus stormed off. Keller put the tits in the evidence bag and went to harass Beecher.


Toby slammed the mattresses, such as they were, back on the bunks and started folding clothes. It was a good thing he'd hidden his shank in Sister Pete's office today because Keller had torn through the place like a tornado. Of course, that was his job, and he was good at it. If he'd been in Em City, Toby would have had to postpone his revenge, but McManus was an idiot, and Wittlesey did her best, but she wasn't strong enough.

"Who's your podmate?" Keller stood in the open door.

"Don't have one right now." Toby put his clothes in his locker. "Isad went to bunk with Said."

Keller played with his nightstick. Prick. "I have to admit. You're one smart fucker."

"I went to Harvard. They don't let just anyone in." Toby sniffed. He made his bunk and didn't look at Keller. "Go stalk someone else."

"I almost quit this job." Keller's words were almost inaudible. "I'm beginning to think I had the right idea."

Toby shot him a glare. "You should save yourself--again. It's what you're good at, besides cracking heads. Get on that Harley and don't look back for anyone."

Keller's eyes were like hot coals. "Keep it up and I will." He sauntered away. Toby sighed and sat down on the bottom bunk. He would not feel an ounce of guilt for all he'd done. Those Nazis were barely human, and where the justice system had failed, well, he'd picked up the slack.

"You showed those fucks." O'Reily was inside the pod quickly. "And you took out our major competitor. I'm fucking impressed!"

Toby straightened his shaving stuff and found his toothbrush. He wasn't ashamed, no matter what Keller said. "I'm done."

"I'm thinking you need to use that brain of yours to take on the Italians." O'Reily smiled and stepped close. "Take out Schibetta for me."

"No. I owe him. I'm done, unless Schillinger gets out." Toby nearly smiled at the thought. "I gotta lay low. Keller knows I did it and is looking to fuck me over."

"That prick." O'Reily went to the door. "He's next on our list."

Toby moved fast and caught him by the arm. "Ryan, touch one hair on his head, and I'll take you out."

"What the fuck?"

"I mean it. I'd be dead if Keller hadn't taken that shank. Don't fuck with me on this." Toby snapped his fingers. "You'll be gone."

"Hey, fuck you, Beecher."

"Give it a try, but leave Keller alone." Toby scooped some girly magazines off the floor and handed them to O'Reily.

O'Reily looked at them and grinned. "One word to McManus and you'll rot forever."

"So will you. Blood in--blood out," Toby snarled. "And I know how you get your tits inside."

"I never told you dick!"

"I know dick, O'Reily." Toby grinned in his crazy way. "Ask anyone."

O'Reily hefted the magazines. "Have you worked out a deal with Said yet?"

"I'm about there." Toby saw Keller coming inside. The dumb hack just couldn't leave it alone. Toby pointed. "Get out, O'Reily!"

Keller thumped his nightstick on the door. "Move it, O'Reily. This ain't your pod, and it's almost count."

O'Reily left with a smirk and the magazines. Toby didn't care. He'd read them. "Can I help you, Officer Keller?"

"Cute. Very cute." Keller banged his nightstick against the bunk. "Are you anybody's bitch, Beech?"

Toby took a breath that shuddered all the way down to his groin. "Don't think you can provoke me into hitting you. I learned my lesson."

"I think you learned your lessons too well." Keller frowned. "You're a fuck now."

Toby clenched his fists. He could take about anything but condemnation from Keller. It hurt, and it hurt that it hurt. Keller had left him. So what that he was back. It meant absolutely nothing. "I'm not your fuck. Is it killing you?"

Keller went out the door, but Toby thought he heard. "Yeah."


Toby went out to stand in line. The hacks were all pissed, and several guys took a hit, but he behaved, and they overlooked him. He went in the pod, found Keller's eyes on him, and settled down to stare back at him. Keller still looked good enough to eat. He definitely knew it was Toby behind all the troubles the Nazis had suffered lately, and he disapproved. Well, fuck him. He didn't have a swastika on his ass, and Schillinger hadn't fucked him up the ass every night.

Keller went upstairs to talk to Wittlesey, and Toby was tempted to moon him, but that would be stupid. If the CO's got angry at him again, they might kill him. He didn't want to test them--bunch of pricks. Toby sighed and nearly stretched out his hand. Would he ever stop missing what he'd never really had? And yeah, he was a fuck now, but no one fucked with him. Oz turned men into animals, and he wasn't any better than anyone else in this shithole.

'I'm proud of you.' His father's words echoed in Toby's mind, but he knew it wasn't true any longer. His father would cringe in horror at the things Toby had done and enjoyed doing.

Wittlesey was staring at him now, and Toby gave them a small smile. Operation Nazi was over, and now he could concentrate on Said and smuggling in small bits of contraband to sell for O'Reily. Isad had been the key, and now Said would be grateful that Adebisi was out of the picture. Toby lay flat and shut his eyes. He still loved tic-tacs, but he couldn't have them.


"You know he did it--somehow."

"Sure as shit he did." Keller nodded. Beecher's words had hit him hard, but it was too late to argue with them. He had run off. "I don't know whether to be angry or impressed."

"I'm a little of both." Wittlesey consulted her clipboard. "Those Nazis deserved it, but still, the way he did it was cold, very cold."

Keller agreed. Beecher had come back strong after his prolonged stay in protected custody and solitary. Anger was fuel that drove him now. Keller understood it. He'd been there, but he couldn't help but wonder what kind of man would emerge from Oz--the lawyer, the prag, the manipulator? Or some bizarre combination of all three. Keller sighed softly. He still wanted him. His body needed him. "I'm going to run by Sister Pete's office. We're officially off-duty."

"I'll meet you at the bike." Wittlesey made some final notes. "I want to talk to Tim."

Keller nodded. He didn't understand her fascination with the little weasel, but he could hardly throw stones. Sister Pete was at her desk, and she smiled cautiously at him. Keller shut the door and sat down. "How are you, Sister Pete?"

"I'm well. Is this business?" She hadn't been too happy with him since he'd skipped out on their sessions.

"Can we talk? You know, you said we would." Keller was careful not to lay on the charm. It made her suspicious--must be the nun in her.

"I thought you'd decided against it."

"I thought you were scheduling me," Keller deadpanned. He had her.

She pulled her glasses down and pointed a finger at him. "You took your vacation time, and a few sick days."

"I'm back." Keller leaned back in the chair and stretched. "And you promised me a couch."

"I did not!" She laughed softly. "Okay, what's on your mind?"

Keller shot her a sideways glance. He had to play this just right. "I worked Em City today. They needed some help."

"I heard there was trouble." She folded her hands neatly. "You saw Beecher. First time?"

"Yeah," Keller lied and rubbed his face. It'd make her think he was more upset than he was. "He's different somehow."

"Not the man that saved your life?"

"I about whacked him with my stick." Keller threw up his hands. "And I felt guilty about it."

"Don't." Sister Pete frowned. She was getting to the good stuff. "He's changed, and not for the better. He's hard now. He has an agenda, and no one is going to slow him down."

Keller thought about that and told some truth. "I can't help but think we did that to him. We're responsible. We beat him until he broke."

Sister Pete sighed and relaxed back. She was upset about this also. "I think you're probably right. When he came out of solitary, he was a different man. He simply doesn't care about anything but surviving now."

"Hard to blame him." Keller didn't blame him--much. "What choice did Oz give him?"

"There are always choices. Always paths not taken." Sister Pete was in full nun mode now, and Keller didn't try to stop her, but he didn't listen either. Beecher had made his choice. He was safe, or as safe as a man could be in Oz, and that was all he'd wanted. Sister Pete stopped talking, and he smiled at her.

"Has Beecher's father been to see him?"


Keller took a minute to think. Beecher needed to be shaken to his soul. It was the only way to force him to be a man and not the man he was, or had been. It wasn't any of Keller's business, but it was. He'd helped hurt Beecher, and now it was time to put it right. Beecher wouldn't thank him, might hate him, but that was okay.

"A sneaky nun might arrange for that. Shake Beecher up. Make him fly right."

"I've about given up on him."

"Nuns never give up, but psychologists do. Which are you?" Keller stood up and stretched again. He wanted to get out of this uniform. "Next week?"

"I'll pencil you in." She glared at him. "Show up!"

"Put a post-it on my locker." He smiled now and left her wondering if he cared about Beecher. This one time it wouldn't hurt. He could claim concern. But he could never ask again or she'd figure it out quick. He shrugged and went to change. His Harley was lonely for a long ride.


"You'll do it?"

"No guns, no drugs." Said glared at him. "Agreed?"

"You have my word." Toby stuck out his hand, and Said shook it. "You get twenty percent."

"A deal." Said smiled tightly. "Adebisi is still in the hole."

"Good. Prick deserves it." Toby pushed his last agenda for the day. "Did you convince Isad to rat him out?"

"I did. He will be convincing." Said glanced about. "You have my thanks. Isad was close to killing himself."

"That would be a waste." Toby felt a spurt of satisfaction. He'd done one good thing this year, even if it had been for the wrong reason, and he wouldn't even consider that he'd done it because Keller had told him to. "As-salaam-alaikum."

"As-salaam-alaikum, my friend."

Toby meandered back towards the gym, but he stopped dead in his tracks and leaned against the wall when he spotted Keller. Keller--sex in blue. Toby wished he didn't want to lean over for him, because it wasn't going to happen. Ever.

"Don't you have somewhere to be, Beecher?" Keller's voice was seductive. It always was, and Toby hadn't forgotten how much he'd enjoyed being seduced.

"You're not on duty yet. And you work the hole." Toby smirked. "I don't think you can complain about my loitering in a well lit area."

"Lawyer prick." Keller leaned against the opposite wall. "You're really angry with me for taking some vacation time? It's sweet to know you cared."

Toby's smirk fell away. He had meant to hurt him, not compliment him. "Where'd you go?" It was all he could think of, and it showed how weak he was.

Keller smiled. "I just drove, no place in particular. I was trying to get away. It didn't work."

The honesty in those few words hit him hard. He'd wanted the same thing, but he'd succeeded where Keller had failed. Toby had left it all behind, but here it was again--right in his face. "I don't give a damn."

"I think you do." It was Keller's turn to smile. "And the fact that I came back is going to keep you awake at night."

"Bullshit." Toby started staring at the floor, giving Keller his eyes seemed too intimate.

Keller pushed away from the wall. "I saw the schedule. You have a visitor today."

"Fuck off." Toby didn't believe that. He didn't have visitors, and he didn't want them. Keller was a liar, and that hurt most of all.

"They'll tell you later." Keller shrugged. "My Harley rides two."

Toby sniffed. He didn't want to hear that. It was nothing but a cruel tease from a man that could ride away any time he wanted, and had. "Does Wittlesey hang onto your cock when you two ride together?"

"No. I've saved that for you." Keller laughed and strolled away. He glanced over his shoulder and finished, "Come see me in the hole."

Toby was more tempted than he'd admit, but one more fight and he was headed to Gen Pop. He refused to believe that Glynn had forgotten that.

"Move your ass, Beecher."

"Good to see ya, Mineo." Toby pushed off and started walking. He'd go lift weights for a while. A visitor, right.


"New assignments are up. Everyone check the board!"

Keller sipped his coffee and tried to wake up. He didn't rush over there. "Diane, you staying in Em City?"

"No. Moving to Unit B." She shrugged. "Tim and I, well . . ."

"He's an asshole," Keller whispered in her ear. "Did you just figure that out?"

"Pretty much." She gave him that look of death. "Good news for you though. Em City is all yours."

"Motherfuck." Keller shook his head. "Don't say that."

"True. The warden thinks you're ready." Wittlesey shrugged. "You are. You can handle it."

"Thanks for the loud vote of confidence." Keller chuckled. "I may have to quit."

Wittlesey sighed. She looked tired. "Me too." They sat together in easy silence.

Mineo broke it. "Congrats, Keller!"

"Liar. You think it's funny." Keller finished his coffee. "For that, you have to work in the cafeteria."

"Sorry I said a word." Mineo laughed and swaggered off. Keller tossed his cup in the trash without looking. He didn't want to do this, but he was stone bored in AdSeg. Keeping an eye on Beecher might be fun.

"You've got that look that means trouble."

"Do I?" Keller winked at her. He quit when he realized that Glynn was coming his way. "Act serious now."

She laughed. "You deal with him." And she scurried away.

Keller unfolded from his chair and faced Warden Glynn. "Em City?"

"You're ready. The only thing that concerns me is Beecher." Glynn went right to it. "If you want, we'll move him to Gen Pop."

"Warden, I think Beecher needs a wake up call. He needs to remember who runs this prison. Don't you think?"

Glynn gave him a slow smile. "I think you're right. Remind him. Daily."

Keller nodded. He would take some of the piss out of Beecher and find the good man that still lingered. It would take some work, but he was up to the job.


Toby stretched and didn't particularly want to get up. It had been two weeks since he'd seen his father, and the words still echoed in his head. His father was worried. Toby never called anymore. His father was upset. Toby didn't seem to care about his family anymore. Shit. Didn't his father realize that those things made it all hurt that much worse? His father had scheduled a day to see his children, and he cringed at the thought. They missed him. They loved him. They wanted him to make parole. He about moaned at the thought. Pie in the sky. It'd never happen. Not to him.

"Get up, sunshine. Face the day." Keller laughed at him, and the door shut. Toby threw a magazine it. Fucking hack. Keller had started working Em City three days ago, and he was all over Toby like a cheap suit. O'Reily was pissed, and Toby hadn't had a chance to sell a damn thing, not that he cared all that much.

Toby slipped off his bunk and washed his face. His podmate was long gone, which was fine. Mondo Browne was a fuckhead. He'd wanted sex, but Toby had shown him the business end of a shank, and that had been the end of it. He wasn't bending over for anyone.

"Come on, Beech. Breakfast." O'Reily shifted from foot to foot.

"I'm coming." Toby dressed, ran his hand through his long hair, and headed out the door right behind O'Reily.

"Random search!" Keller snapped at them, and they both groaned. They assumed the position, and Keller divested them of several items. "A watch, that isn't either of yours, because you two dumb fucks can't tell time. The remains of a tit, otherwise known as a condom, and two packs of cigarettes. You boys are dirty."

"Give us a break, Keller." O'Reily was that close to whining. Toby rolled his eyes and knew they weren't headed for the hole. Keller had them right where he wanted them.

"Move along. I'll be watching." Keller took himself off, and they both glared at him.

"He's a complete prick."

"He's going to put me out of business," O'Reily growled. "I think this is all about you. For some reason, which we won't talk about, he's got it in for you. After breakfast, dump your shit in Flanagan's pod."

"Good idea. He'll settle down in a day or two." Toby nodded. He was in trouble, and he knew it. Keller was out to prove who was in charge, and it sure as hell wasn't Toby.

"Maybe. You lay low." O'Reily slammed his fist into the door. "We should have gotten him fired."

Toby didn't bother to argue. O'Reily was being an idiot. After breakfast, Toby used Isad to clean out the contraband while he distracted Keller. It was simple. Keller wasn't that smart. Toby emerged from the shower naked. Lots of guys didn't wear towels. Big deal.

"Beecher, I'm not the fool you think I am," Keller purred at him--right there in the commons area.

"Oh really?" Toby thought he had Keller pegged pretty well.

"But I like your swastika." Keller laughed and strode off. Toby went to his pod to dress and had a clear view of the hacks dragging Isad off to the hole. God damn it! He hadn't fooled Keller for one minute. Shit! O'Reily was going to be pissed. Toby brushed his fingers through his hair and sighed. Keller was making Toby's life hell again, and it was going to have to stop.

O'Reily burst inside his pod about five minutes later. "That's it! You're getting him!"

Toby scratched his stomach and leaned against the wall. "How do you suggest I do it? He has all the power."

"You'll think of something!" O'Reily threw his hands up. "Half of my operation is done, as of now!"

"O'Reily, settle down. We'll take a break. Keller will eventually have his hands full of other things. He's playing with us." Toby kept a smile on his face. He was headed for fucked, but he wasn't going there. "Stay away from me for a couple of days."

"You have a plan?"

"I always have a plan." Toby didn't bother with a shirt. "Pretend you're pissed and I'm on the outs."

"I don't have to pretend!" O'Reily stormed away, and Toby cleaned his nails. He was tired of selling for O'Reily, so this was working out fine, but Keller didn't need to know that. Keller could have his moment of fun. Toby licked his lips. He had a plan, and it involved Keller's mouth doing things it hadn't gotten around to doing before. Risky, yes, but worth it ten times over. He needed a bitch, and Keller would be perfect for the job.


Keller watched the drama unfold, and he saw the calculating look on Beecher's face. Beecher had a plan. He was too fucking smart, but Keller had resources that Beecher didn't, and he'd use them all. Now things were going to get interesting.


Toby spent the rest of the day watching Keller. That was all he wanted to do. It was all about revenge though, nothing else. It didn't matter one shit that Keller had come back for him. It didn't. It was Keller hoping for a piece of ass, lying sack of shit. Toby rubbed his lips. He would skip the gym and Sister Pete could suck his dick. She wanted too damn much from him. Nag this and nag that. Cunt.

Keller was happy with himself, it was easy to tell, and he had Em City under his thumb. Even the Italians were lying low and that wasn't something Toby had ever seen happen. Toby moved his chair so he could watch Keller and the TV at the same time. There had to be a way to get to him. Finesse him. Make him understand that he should look the other way. After all, Keller had done it before. He'd let Toby off when he was carrying a tit.

"He's tougher than you are," Hill said softly.

"Maybe." Toby reached in his pocket, but his container of tic-tacs was empty. "He's going to try to fuck me over."

"That's his job."

"I noticed," Toby snarled. He would not remember any good feelings. Keller was a fucking hack and not a damn thing more. Toby watched him stride across the commons area. Look at the strut. Prick. That ass. Damn.

"You mess with him again, and he'll kill you." Hill nodded. "Dead."

Toby shrugged. He wasn't going to do anything stupid. Keller just needed to back off. He had left once; he could do it again. The afternoon eased away into dinnertime, and Toby went to eat. When he came back, he stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

"Officer Keller?" It didn't kill him to act polite.

Keller stalked down the stairs. "What do you want, Beecher?"

Toby let him wait one minute while their eyes locked and held. "You still like Mexican food?"

"Not all that much. It's been giving me heartburn." Keller was practically on top of him. Toby wasn't intimidated. He should have been, but he wasn't.

"Too bad." Toby smirked. He had what Keller wanted. "I have a killer recipe for enchiladas. I could slip it to you while you were looking the other way."

Keller leaned in that much closer. "The only thing I want from you is some cooperation. You think you'll make parole if you shirk your job, skip group, and fuck over everyone in sight?"

"Fuck parole, and fuck you." Toby's chest ached from the words so casually thrown at him, but he'd be damned if he'd show it.

"Can't have both. Now get to your fucking pod until count. I'm sick of you staring at me." Keller didn't touch him, but it wasn't necessary. Toby slunk over to his pod. That had gone poorly, to say the damn least. Keller didn't want him. Keller wanted to nag at him about parole. Another stupid cunt. Couldn't he see it wasn't going to happen?

Toby replayed the words again in his mind. What did 'Can't have both,' mean? He put his back to Keller and mulled it all over again. Keller didn't give a damn. He couldn't, no matter what he said or did. Toby put his face in his hands and shuddered. He had that feeling in his guts that said he was about to get fucked.


"So tell me how it is, seeing Beecher every day," Sister Pete had danced around the subject, but she must have gotten tired of waiting.

Keller shrugged. "He's cocky, but he's learning the rules again."

"His attitude in here hasn't changed." Sister Pete obviously wasn't happy with him.

"Fire him." Keller needed that done, and it was the reason that he was here talking to her. After Beecher had tried to manipulate him, he'd made up his mind. He'd strip everything from him. It was easy. Keller reached out and touched her hand gently. It would help convince her. "This is a cushy job. He doesn't deserve it. I'll have McManus give him something else."

"There isn't anyone else!"

"Isad just got out of the hole. He knows computers. I've seen him in the lab. Get him. He'll work hard for you, and he needs a break. Beecher don't need nothing." Keller had her. He could tell. "Trust me. It's for his own good."

"I agree." Sister Pete nodded. "I'll tell him."

"Let me." Keller stood up. This had gone easily. "Don't argue. He might get angry, and I'm not taking a chance with you."

"If you think so." She wasn't sure.

"I do." Keller smiled at her, turning on a little charm. "Isad needs your help. Beecher needs a smack upside the head."

"You're right."

Keller was satisfied. Beecher's smug face was going to turn sour. The prick might even feel a little remorse, and it would be good for him.


Toby dozed until it was time to go to work. O'Reily was leaving him alone, and it was nice. No more running around trying to make a buck all the time. He didn't need any more money. After all, he wasn't buying tits, but he wished he was. Keller hadn't spoken to him in three days, and that was a relief. If Browne would leave Toby alone, his life wouldn't be half-bad.

"Time for work, Beecher." Keller strolled over and looked at his clipboard.

"I'm going." Toby yawned, stretched, and got out of his chair. "Sister Pete always has a shitload by Friday."

Keller pushed a mop and bucket at him. "That's nice, but you don't work for her. Your new assignment is to mop the floors in here."

Toby stopped dead. Six or seven emotions that he tried not to feel anymore coursed through him. Indignation burst out. "That's Wangler's job!"

"Now it's yours." Keller smiled. "You treated her like shit. She got tired of it. Isad will do a good job for her."

"Motherfuck." Toby ignored the mop. He wasn't going to do it! "You did this to me!"

"I did nothing." Keller was a fucker. "You were stupid. Now mop or report to AdSeg. I'll escort you there personally."

Toby took the handle and considered going to the hole the hard way, but Keller hoped for it, and everyone watched, hoping for it. He pulled it out and slopped it down. "She likes me." It was weak, even stupid, but he couldn't believe it.

"Liked you." Keller walked off. "Stupid fuck."

Toby tried to shove the shame away. He'd been short with her a few times, but . . . crap. He had fucked it up. Well, fine. He didn't give a damn. But he did. She would write up one of his parole reports, and she was pissed at him. For one moment, he leaned against the mop and cursed, "Damn this place."

Browne laughed too loudly, and Toby started mopping. It'd give him time to think of a way to get Keller fired. When O'Reily was right, he was right.


"You've been riding Beecher hard," Mineo said and laughed.

"What the fuck does that mean?" Keller pushed away images of riding Beecher bareback.

"You took away O'Reily, the money, his job, and some of his respect. Beecher's going to come back at you." Mineo always knew everything that went on, he just wasn't willing to do much about it. That's why he wasn't a boss.

Keller sighed. He used to be like that. What had happened? He knew the answer. Beecher had happened. "It's been fun. I leveled the playing field. I also convinced McManus to change food suppliers to the kitchen. The Italians ain't happy."

"Now you're fucking with the big boys." Mineo leaned close. "And Said?"

"He's been behaving since Isad spent time in the hole." Keller drank his coffee. "O'Reily isn't happy, and that suits me fine."

"You on anyone's Christmas card list?"

"The bikers don't seem to mind me all that much." Keller had made a point of wearing his jacket through Em City once. "The Nazis all sit around and cry."

"The ones in Unit B want Beecher dead. Or so says Wittlesey." Mineo shrugged and stood up. "Prison is fun, ain't it?"

"Never dull." Keller had heard that from Wittlesey, but he wasn't worried. Beecher wasn't ever going to Unit B. Beecher was going to work for his parole. He might not want to do it, but he was going to do it. Keller would have to turn the screws a few more times, but it would happen. He wasn't quitting until it did.


Toby slid into the library and found a quiet spot to read. It was starting to feel like the old days, and that was bad. People were laughing at him, and that always led to trouble. Eventually, someone would decide he should suck their cock, and he'd be back in the hole, and then straight to Gen Pop, and he could forget parole, not that he hadn't already. Damn that Keller.

"You my bitch again?"

Toby jumped, and his heart raced out of control. He had to pay more attention. "Fuck you, Keller."

Keller's nightstick traced its way down Toby's neck and chest, and Toby tried to keep breathing. Keller smiled. "Feel the heat?"

"If you take away all my jizz, my podmate is going to come after me. When he's dead, I'll be no fun at all on death row." Toby slowly raised his hand until he was close to the stick. Would Keller allow him to touch it? He wanted to touch it.

"Stroke it."

Toby wrapped his hand around it loosely and made a motion. The glint in Keller's eyes was hot. "If I fuck up, I'm headed to Gen Pop. The warden made a promise, and he'll keep it."

"Don't fuck up. The Nazis there want your ass dead." Keller pulled the stick away and placed the tip of it on Toby's forehead. Toby nearly jerked his face away, but Keller flipped it back. "You have visitors today, Beech. Be nice to them."

"God damn you. You're making me crazy!" Toby threw the book at him.

Keller put it down with a slam. "Act like a man again, and I'll leave you alone."

"Act like a prag, you mean." Toby shoved his chair back and got to his feet. "Forget it. You can kiss my ass."

"I might later." Keller grabbed him and marched him out the door. Several men thought it was funny. Toby tried to shake him off, but got the stick in the gut for his trouble. He folded to his knees and tried to breathe. Keller snapped, "Don't fuck up!" And he was gone down the hallway. Toby got to his feet and struggled for calm. He had to stay in control and push away everything but his hate and anger. That he could live with, but nothing else.

"Suck my cock later?" Browne stroked his hand down Toby's hunched back. "I'm big, you know."

"Fuck off!" Toby shoved him and started walking. His plans went out the window, now, he had to survive.


Keller only went as far as the nearest corner, and he watched. Browne was a problem. Beecher needed a hand there, and Keller was willing to give it. The arrangements were in place.

Beecher was shaking a little, Keller could see it, and he made sure Browne backed off. Keller waited and then sent Browne back towards Em City. All this fun and a pay raise--things were looking up.


Toby trembled and hated himself for it. Seeing his children always shook him to the core. They were so beautiful, and he was so fucked up. He moved in a haze of hurt as he went through the archways, and he barely noticed that he stopped walking. Moving day, again.

"Get moving, Beecher."

Toby snarled a curse word at Mineo, "Asshole."

"Don't complain at me. I just work here!" Mineo laughed. Toby clasped his hands together. He had to get tough. No feelings. No thinking even, unless it was revenge. Push the pain away. Damn it. Shove it down. Keller had done this. Keller was making him feel it all again. Fuck. Toby hated him. Hate. Love. God. Damn.

"No!" Toby raged.

"Beecher! Get your ass in gear!" Keller. Always Keller. Toby wanted to kill him and drag him down to kiss him. There was nothing in between. Keller walked closer. "You deaf? Move it!"

Toby clenched his fists. He hit the wall hard, the stick jammed under his chin. Hurt, pain, and anger made him want to scream and fight. Keller was in Toby's face. Their breath mingled. Their hearts beat near each other. Their lives had intertwined for reasons that neither understood, and both of them had tried to forget the other with no success. And here they were--Toby on a wall and Keller with a stick.

"Don't. Even. Think. It."

Toby breathed hard, but he didn't struggle. He wanted to lash out with his shank, God he did, but he stared into Keller's eyes and didn't. Wouldn't. Couldn't. Not with him. "You're hurting me." It was true in more ways than one.

"You're doing it to yourself." Keller stepped back and away. "Get moved."

"Fucker," Toby muttered, but he finally managed to walk to his pod. The smell of Keller was still in Toby's nostrils, and he only saw blue, blue eyes. He shook his head and shoved it all away. One more time. He could do it.

Robson was on the top bunk. "Your shit's in the corner. Get the fuck out."

"Sure, prag. No problem." Toby picked up his stuff. Hate was easy, and he gathered it around himself like a favorite jacket. "Browne and his big cock will keep you happy."

Robson threw a magazine at him. "Get out!" What a tough guy. Toby smiled and left him to take a black one up the ass. The Nazi had earned every hard inch.

"Hey Keller! Where the fuck am I?"

"Pod eight!" Keller pointed.

Toby wiggled his tongue at the hack and went to throw his shit on the top bunk. "Hey, Hill."

"Crap. I was worried it was you." Hill groaned. "I used to kinda like you, but now you're nothing but a prick."

"Thanks." Toby made his bed and stowed his stuff. "I didn't do anything!"

"Right." Hill rolled his eyes. "You cheat, steal, sell, and find ways to hurt people. You're a fuck."

"I'm living in Oz." Toby couldn't believe this shit. He'd been put with the one guy that would nag him.

"Yeah. So am I." Hill managed a sneer, "You even fucked with Sister Pete!"

Toby climbed up on the top bunk and put his back to the wall. He didn't want to feel anything, and Hill needed to shut his pissy mouth. "So, I'm a bastard. Fuck off."

Hill and his wheelchair went out the door, and Toby was glad. His arms still tingled from holding his children, and he had to forget the rush of good feelings. He had to push it all away. Keller smiled at him from across the commons area. It was a true smile not a fuck you smile, and Toby groaned. He was officially fucked.


Keller took a shower, wrapped a towel around his hips, and hummed.

"You seem happy. Should I alert the media?" McManus, smart ass.

"Things are going well." Keller managed a small smile for him.

"Yes. Drugs are down, and we haven't had a major fight for a week."

McManus seemed happy about it, but he wasn't. He was jealous. Keller could smell it. He dressed and felt the pleasant burn from a good workout. McManus got his jacket and left without another word. He didn't like Keller and eventually, it would be a problem, but right now, things were fine. It didn't make any sense to think about Beecher as he slid up his jeans, but his cock always did. Keller smiled. He had flipped Beecher's world over today. Shutting his locker, he laughed at the post-it note. He popped it off and went to Sister Pete.

"Got my note?"

"Sure did. Glad you reminded me. I've been busy." Keller slumped down in the chair and smoothed down his wet hair. "How are you doing?"

"Good." Sister Pete smiled. "Isad is working out well, and frankly, it's been a relief."

Keller smiled back at her. "Beecher ain't happy with his mop, but he earned it."

"He comes up for parole in six months. I have serious doubts." Sister Pete shook her head. "If we're here to rehabilitate people, we certainly failed with him. He's worse than when he walked through our doors."

Keller shrugged. "I think it's an act. He got tough to survive."

"He's forgotten who he really is, but . . . enough about him. How are you holding up?"

"I like working Em City. AdSeg had lost its charm." Keller always told her cautious truths. "Did you hear about Schillinger?"

"No. What happened?" She leaned forward.

Keller almost laughed at her eagerness to hear the good gossip. "He's in Unit B."


"Yep. They moved him today." Keller nodded. He'd been angry at first, but that had faded into a much more dangerous emotion. "Didn't you know? Hell froze over last night."

Sister Pete shook her head. Keller agreed with that, and tomorrow at breakfast, he had to cut Beecher off at the knees. She sighed. "This is wrong."

"This is Oz, baby. I gotta fly. Thanks for talking." He got up and out before she realized that they hadn't really talked. His Harley looked good, sitting in the sun, and he got on. Looking back at the cellblock, he made his plan.


Toby sat down to eat his breakfast, looked over, and choked, "What the fuck?"

"Welcome me home, sweetpea."

"You Nazi fuck!" Toby threw his juice, but only managed to hit Robson.

"Your little reign of terror is over, prag." Schillinger smiled in his awful way. "You'll be dead or sucking my cock by the end of the week."

Toby lunged, but a nightstick caught him and held him. Some sane part of him knew it was Keller. It had to be, but he struggled as Keller dragged him from the cafeteria and threw him inside his pod. The door shut, and Toby got up fast. "Fuck!"

"Tobias Beecher, shut up and listen." Keller raised his stick and held him back. "Vern Schillinger is my problem, not yours. You are going to be lily-white for your parole hearing in six months. Do you understand?"

"I'm going to kill him!" Toby spat. He felt like a wild animal, trapped in a cage, and desperately wanting to get out and kill.

"You're going to spend a lot of time in your pod, and you're going to counseling, and you're going to group. Other than that, you can mop." Keller pushed his stick into Toby's chest. "Say yes."

"No, you fucking hack." Toby would never say that!

"Then I'm taking you to Adseg, which will fuck up your parole." Keller put his stick away. "Make your choice."

Toby put his hands on his hips and tried to find some sanity. Nope, it wasn't going to happen. "Nothing matters but him dead!"

"Your kids matter. I matter." Keller opened the door. "You decide. When you step out, tell me."

Toby pulled his hair and moaned. He paced and threw things. God damn! God damn! Keller thought he mattered. What a pile of shit! Toby pushed against the glass. It was all too damn much.

"You okay, Beecher?"

"No!" Toby hit the glass hard. "No!"

Hill fiddled with his gloves. "Schillinger's in Unit B. Word is he's going to kill you, after he fucks your ass one more time."

Toby slid down to the floor and rocked. Years of shit crashed over him and sunk him. His children needed him? Him?

Hill rolled over close and put a hand on Toby's shoulder. "You have some hope for parole. Don't trash it."

"What the fuck is hope?" Toby wanted to cry for the first time in two years. Two years. He looked out at Keller's back and choked on a wail of grief and longing.

Hill made a soft sigh. "I ain't never met a man so fucked up as you. Schillinger shanked a CO, and you have to stay out of it. They'll take care of business. They always do."

"It isn't that simple." Toby refused to believe that, even if they had done their best to starve him to death.

"You fucked up all those Nazis. I think you've had enough revenge for one man."

Toby looked deep in his raging soul and wondered. It had felt good, but he wanted Schillinger to suffer. "Get out, will ya?"

"I'm gone."

Toby put his head on his knees and tried to think, not feel. It was hard to think rationally. Flashbacks of him writhing in pain were all he could see. He heard the door and looked up.

Keller's eyes blazed at him. "What'll it be?"

"You still want me?" Toby thought he'd never said anything quite so stupid. And why did it matter when he wanted to kill that fucking Nazi? He had no idea. Keller shouldn't matter, not that much. But he did. God. He did. "Even after all this?"

"Yeah, but you have to let this go, or it'll see you dead, and I don't want that." Keller shrugged. "Trust me?"

Toby shuddered. The concern stabbed at him. Tore at him. Made him feel terrible and good at the same time, and he wanted to cry, but he wouldn't. He brushed a tear from his face and said, "I'll mop, go to counseling and group, but when he shanks me, it's on your soul."

"Deal." Keller's eyes stripped the skin off Toby's body, exposing his flaws. "I've been looking out for you. This is nothing new."

"Right." Toby rubbed his face. He'd do this. It would hurt him, but for Keller, he'd do it. "Get your smirking face out of here."

Keller went out the door, and Toby got on his bunk. He felt as if he'd already been shanked, and it had gone right through his heart. His head felt heavy with hurt, and he saw it all again. The things that had happened to him and the things he'd done. The grief of it all finally hit home. He'd become no better than Schillinger. No better than a Nazi. Keller should hate him. He was less than nothing. Oz had won, stripping him of his morals and his decency. He shut his eyes and prayed for the first time in too long. Prayed that Keller wasn't lying and someone cared for him, in spite of what he'd become.


Keller pulled Wittlesey aside. "What's the deal with Schillinger?"

"He's behaving, acting all sorry." She pushed her hair off her face. "But I've heard twice that Beecher is getting airholed the next time he takes a step from his pod."

"Figures." Keller moved his mouth to her ear. "If Schillinger has an accident . . ."

"I'm taking some vacation time." She edged even closer. "I haven't forgotten all those times you watched my daughter, paid the rent, and bought groceries."

"She's a good kid." Keller rested his head on hers for a moment. They were friends, nothing more, but sometimes that was a lot. "Watch him."

"Will do."

He gave her a gentle peck, nothing sexual about it. He had to think about all this, and then he'd make a plan.


Toby mopped the floor again. It was always dirty. He tried not to think or feel, just swish the damn thing back and forth.

"Schillinger is after you," O'Reily said. He was watching TV. "This time you're on your own, prick."

"I've always been on my own." Toby stopped and leaned against the mop. "I made you a lot of money. What are you complaining about?"

"It stopped!" O'Reily got in Toby's face. "You should whack him first."

Toby nodded. He should, but he wouldn't. "You want to fuck, O'Reily?"

"Shit no!"

"Then get out of my face." Toby went back to mopping. He had to trust Keller, and it hurt. It hurt like hell. O'Reily slunk off, and Toby didn't watch his back. Keller was doing that.


Keller opened and shut his cell phone twice. He wasn't this kind of man. He wanted to grab Schillinger and snap his neck, but spending the rest of his life on the other side of the bars in Oz wasn't a good idea.

He made the call.

********Chapter Seven

Toby stared at the glass instead of out it. Weeks of not thinking were crumbling away, and lately he'd found himself contemplating any number of things. Keller, mostly. Reliving each incident, each conversation, and each time that they had touched. It all added up to something bigger than he was. Something special. He understood now that Keller's leaving had thrown him into anger so deep that he was lucky he hadn't killed anyone. That fact disconcerted him. Made him want to squirm. Keller didn't deserve to work this shithole just so Toby could feel special. And yet, Keller had come back for him. Toby rolled to his side and stared at another part of the cell. Keller came back for him. Didn't that imply that Toby had a responsibility? He chewed his lip and nodded to himself. He did.

Schillinger would kill him, but he had to fulfill his promise to Keller. Keller had earned it. Toby watched his fingers fidget. He was strung so tight that he had a hard time walking forwards. Always looking over his shoulder for a shank wore him out.

"You're damn odd, you know that?"

Toby nodded at Hill and started doing sit ups. "Thanks. I thought maybe I was."

"Now Schillinger is telling everyone that he'd going to prag you again, before he kills you."

Toby rolled his eyes. "From Unit B?"

"One fight and you're there. That's the rumor." Hill rolled closer. "Is it true?"

"Yep." Toby wondered who had been shooting off his mouth. Keller? McManus? His money was on McManus. "Why do you think I stay in my pod all the time?"

"I thought you liked stinking up the place." Hill laughed and fumbled in the locker for a magazine. He didn't wait around. He left, and Toby stopped exercising, lying back flat and staring at nothing. Prag. Bitch. Whore. That was him. He should hate Keller for making him love it. That wasn't possible though. What he felt for Keller could easily be summed up with one word that Toby had to tell someone. It was important because he'd be dead, and Keller would never know.

"You dead?"

"I wish." Toby sat up and wiped the sweat from his forehead. "Go ahead and bitch at me. It's what you do best."

"You're on the schedule to see Sister Pete." Keller stared down at him. "So get your lazy ass up off the floor and get moving."

Toby smiled at him. "I love it when you talk dirty to me." He got up and went to wash his face and hands. "I still think you should get smart, get on your Harley, and ride off into the sunset."

"Too bad." Keller smiled in that way that made Toby's guts ache. Toby dried off with the towel and got moving. His back itched, and his neck hurt, but he made it there without dying. He waited and tried to ignore the fact that she was talking to Schillinger.

"Your turn, prag." Schillinger moved so close that Toby could smell him. The Nazi reeked of death and rape. "Tell her how you miss my big cock."

Toby's rage and hate pounded on his forehead. "Like you miss your little balls?"

Schillinger hissed in anger, and Toby slipped past him. Sister Pete was right there. She shut the door in Schillinger's face, and Toby sat down in the chair. That had been close, too close.

Sister Pete moved around her desk, sat down, and got right to business. She wasn't happy with him, and she wasn't shy about showing it. "This is your first parole hearing, Tobias. Chances are slim that you'll get it. Are you ready for that?"

Toby nodded. He was wringing his hands, and he couldn't seem to stop. Seeing Schillinger had shoved him over the edge into a dark place. "I know. Forget parole. It doesn't matter, but listen, I'm sorry for how I treated you."

"Are you?" She thought he was sucking up to her.

"Yes." Toby didn't have to lie. She hadn't deserved the shit he'd dished out to her. "I was thinking of other things. I'm sorry. Very."

Sister Pete made a soft noise that meant approval. "It's a step in the right direction. Keller tells me that you're staying away from O'Reily. That's also good. Are you taking responsibility for all you've done?"

"I am. It sucks." Toby tried to sit still, but it was impossible. It had been one month since they'd transferred Schillinger, and he'd died a little each day, waiting to be killed. Seeing that smirking face at mealtime was almost enough to drive him insane. And Keller? Keller was always there. His presence made Toby wretched and happy at the same time. It didn't make any damn sense. He wanted to cry again, but he throttled it back. "I wanted you to know I was sorry before Schillinger kills me. When I'm dead, will you tell my parents that I was sorry for the things I'd done?"

"I will, but, Tobias, he's been out a month. Nothing has happened. Nothing will happen." Sister Pete had no idea what she was talking about. Toby put his head in his hands and rubbed his temples. He hoped that at some point a sense of calm would come over him. They said that happened to people who were about to die.

"I'm going to tell you something." Toby tucked his hands under his thighs. He had to say it. He had to tell someone. It ate at him, day and night. "It stays between me and you, okay?"

"You have my word." Her face couldn't get any more serious.

Toby got up, paced, and stopped right next to her. He went to one knee so they were eye to eye. "I love Chris Keller, and I'm doing this because he wants it."

Her face went through more emotions than Toby could count. Her jaw actually dropped.

"I love him, and love is a hateful, bitter thing." Toby got up and wrapped his arms tightly around himself. He hurt. "I fought it. I denied it. I was angry, but now, I can only accept it. It's going to get me killed, but I never expected to walk out of here, not after Schillinger branded me."

She opened her mouth again.

"Don't tell him, please. It'd make him laugh," Toby interrupted. He was glad he'd told someone the truth, and now it was time to lie, or he hoped these next words were lies, but he couldn't be sure. "I'm nothing but a jizzbag to him, and I don't blame him, not after the things I've done."

Sister Pete swallowed and nodded. "You're doing what because of him?"

"I'm not going to kill Schillinger." Toby shook his head. "I'm not even going to try. Keller told me to work for parole, so I will, while I wait to die. Stupid, huh?"

"I don't know what to say." Confusion was easy to hear.

"I've said too much." Toby looked out the door. He should have stayed quiet, but he'd wanted someone to know before he died on a shank. "Group is tomorrow?"

"Yes." She looked like she'd been struck with a hammer.

"I'll be there, if I'm alive." Toby left her. He was finished.


Sister Pete had the answer to all the questions that had nagged her for so long, and she still needed to click her teeth shut. It all made a bizarre sense. Beecher loved Keller, and he had for some time. It had given him the strength to survive, and then when Keller had been gone, Beecher had lost his way. Now that Keller was back, so was Beecher. She gasped softly again. And Keller? He had pushed Beecher to visit his parents, children, and take responsibility for his crimes. Keller was the only person that Beecher listened to, cared about, and wanted to please. It was more than amazing.

"You look as if you've seen the face of God."

"Father Mukada!" Sister Pete jumped, laughed, and put her hands on her face. "Oh dear."

"Does he really have a white beard?"

She laughed again and buried her head in her arms. When she looked up, she tried to talk, but nothing would come out. Shock was a good way to describe this. Did Keller love Beecher? Could he? There had to be a delicate way to discover the truth.


"I think you're right. God showed his face in Oz." She stood up and went to him. "And in the last place I expected it."

"That's His way." Father Mukada patted her hand. "Care to share?"

"Can't. But someday I will, and you will gasp." She opened the door. She had a post-it note to put up. "My faith has been renewed."

"In this place, that's a miracle." Father Mukada walked with her, and they laughed together.


Toby avoided the library and the gym, ate quickly, and spent more time than he liked lying on his cot praying that Schillinger would just get it over with and kill him. When he wasn't staring at the ceiling, he did sit ups and push ups to keep in shape. It was mind numbing, and he needed that. Thinking about Keller got him nowhere, so he gave up on it. He was the perfect prisoner--polite, quiet, and non-violent. Even McManus had commented on it, but Toby wasn't doing it for him. Keller wanted him gone. Wanted him to make parole, so he'd do his best. It was for Keller.

"The floor ain't mopping itself!" Keller banged the pod with his nightstick.

Toby got the mop, bucket, and started again. He did give himself the satisfaction of licking the handle when Keller glanced at him. The look he got back made it worth his while.

"Hey, prag." Browne grabbed Toby's arm.

Toby shrugged him off and kept mopping. "Fuck off, prick."

"I still want your ass." Browne caught the end of the mop, his eyes were wide, and his tongue flicked out. He was high. "Robson cries, but I think you want me."

"Not now. Not ever." Toby turned the mop loose. He couldn't afford one fight. "Can I get back to work?"

"Give me a kiss, and I'll meet you in the shower later." Browne pulled Toby into an embrace, and before he could react, Keller was there, pushing between them. Toby caught the mop handle as Browne hit the floor.

"Move on, Browne, and I won't make you cry." Keller's body completely blocked Brown from Toby. Browne spat on the floor, but he left, and Keller glanced at Toby. "If you'd work faster, shit like this wouldn't happen."

"Yes sir, Officer Keller." Toby mopped up the spit. He only had one thing he wanted to say, "I won't get parole."

"Never know." Keller strutted off. He'd be close. He always was, and it gave Toby something he'd never had in this place. He wasn't always sure what it was, but it felt pretty good. When the floor was done one more time, he skipped dinner and went to his pod to read a magazine that had appeared like magic on his bunk yesterday. It was probably the first time that The New Yorker had seen the inside of a prison.

"Skipping dinner again?"

"Yep." Toby dropped the magazine in his lap. "Tell Schillinger hello."

"Fuck that." Hill laughed. "Have you met Mr. Nappa, the new Italian boss?"

"Nope. Saw him though." Toby hadn't asked any questions of O'Reily after Schibetta had turned up dead. "He's a tough guy?"

"Looks that way. I would have sworn they were talking about you." Hill spun his chair in a tight circle. "They shut up when they saw me."

"Everyone knows you're a gossip." Toby grinned, and Hill gave him the finger before going to dinner. Food wasn't worth putting up with even one smirk from Schillinger. Toby read slower than usual and enjoyed each sentence about people and places far away. Once or twice, he looked out and stared at Keller. Yeah, he was Keller's bitch again. It sucked, but there it was. He'd try not to care. He'd done his best, and he'd failed miserably. Keller could make Toby do anything. Toby put his magazine down, slowly slid off the bunk, and started doing some sit ups. He hadn't wanted to love him. Love hurt. It wasn't Toby's fault. It was Keller. Always him.


Keller almost ignored the post-it note. He had the last one, but it was time to make nice. He slouched through her door and leaned against the wall. Her smile was radiant, and that was suspicious.

"Keller, you've been avoiding me!"

"Nope, just working." Keller stretched and read the diploma on the wall. "What's up?"

"I met with Beecher last week. I'm pleased that he's buckling down and working towards parole."

Keller had to play this right. She was fishing for information. "He's not as much of a problem as he was. This thing with Schillinger has got him scared."

"Do you think Schillinger will try to kill him?"

"I do." Keller believed that--no doubt about it. "He's waiting for the right moment, and he's going to use Robson."

She stared up at him. "Why haven't you done something?"

"I have. I found out he's planning to use Robson." Keller went ahead and sat down. It seemed he was going to be here for a minute or two. "Now, unknown to Schillinger, Robson has been playing the prag for Mondo Browne."

"So?" She furrowed her brow.

Keller sighed. She really had no idea what went on in this place. "Browne is, uh, black."

"Oh." Her lips formed the letter. "Does McManus know?"

"Yep." Keller had covered his ass there. "It's all in the timing, love." He winked at her, and she blushed. That was fun.

"Chris Keller, I know you're Catholic. Behave."

"Yes ma'am." Keller tucked his St. Christopher away and turned the conversation to what he needed to know. "Beecher knows he won't get parole, so he won't be disappointed."

Sister Pete looked serious again. "The family of the little girl he killed has decided not to fight it. It's a step in the right direction, but he needs a good report from the warden, and I can't see him getting it."

"Maybe if he shows the review board his swastika, they'll let him out." Keller barked a laugh. He had to sound like a bastard or she'd catch on, but Sister Pete had a strange look on her face.

"Keller, I know you like him. You don't have to pretend," she said softly.

Keller took a breath. Beecher had been giving up too much. He was having a hard time, and Sister Pete had wormed the truth out of him. Damn. "Sister Pete, he's not a bad guy, but he's nobody I'd take home for Thanksgiving." Especially since he didn't have a home.

"Do me a favor and don't tell him how you feel." Sister Pete fell for it. "He's right on the edge, and I don't want to see him backslide."

"It's not likely to come up while he's mopping." Keller stood up. "I gotta get. Wittlesey is waiting."

"Thanks for stopping by." She escorted him out past the point where she should. When they were alone, she said softly, "You have a girlfriend? Or . . ."

"Diane doesn't let me bring anyone home." Keller made a joke out of it. She needed to keep her nose out of his sex life, whether male or female. "But if you're asking me out, it might be okay."

She laughed and gave him a tiny shove. "Go home."

"Later." Keller put on his helmet. He felt like he'd dodged a bullet or a shank. Tomorrow, he'd have a talk with Tobias Big Mouth Beecher--a private one.


Toby didn't have to pretend to look sullen when Keller dragged him through the commons area, under the arch, and down the hallway. He was sullen, even bitchy. Waiting to be shanked was wearing on his nerves. Keller used his key on a door that Toby had never been through, pushed him, and slammed the door behind them. If it were anyone but Keller, Toby would have watched his life flash in front of his eyes. As it was, he leaned against a wall and waited--the intense look on Keller's face slowly dissolving his bad mood away.

"You've been blabbing to Sister Pete!" Outrage tinged his voice.

"I have to meet with her weekly, remember?" Toby crossed his arms and frowned. He'd been dragged in here to talk about the nun? "And it's confidential."

"Not as confidential as I'd like!" Keller pushed an iron finger into Toby's chest. "She thinks I'm gay!"

"Uh, well, geez." Toby wanted to burst out laughing, but instead, he proved his point by facing the wall, spreading his arms over his head, and waiting. He was at three before Keller's body covered him, and lips kissed the nape of his neck. Shivers skipped around him, and he enjoyed every one. "You're not?"

Keller grabbed Toby's ass and squeezed hard. "I fucked two women last weekend."

"Were they blond and muscular?" The joy of being desired was like a tit. Toby gasped and quivered. He had to have more.

"Oh, shut up." Keller whipped him around and kissed him.

Toby sucked on Keller's tongue as if his life depended on it, and he grabbed Keller's ass. He slowly slid down the wall and unzipped him. Sucking Keller's cock was a great idea, and Toby took it greedily. Keller groaned and shoved, and Toby wanted it all. He sucked him deep, hard, and he shut his eyes. The scent and sounds of Keller washed over him. So fucking good.

"Fuck." Keller leaned into one hand and caressed Toby's face with the other. "I figured you'd be out of practice."

Toby didn't try to answer. He worked Keller's cock over, lavishing his attention on every inch and enjoying each small gasp. Keller suddenly held him tightly, and he swallowed the results of his hard labor. Keller said some more curse words and pulled him up to kiss him. Toby shared the flavor, quivered, and whispered, "Suck me back."

Keller kissed him again and shoved Toby's jeans down. Toby exulted. He nearly burst at the thought. Keller's mouth took him deep and he bit his lip to keep from coming, but Keller pushed his finger up Toby's ass, and that was it. God. Christ. Shit. Toby sagged, nearly fell, and found plenty of Keller to hang onto.


"You have no idea." Toby heaved out a breath. "You get laid all the time." He panted and tried to find his brains. So good, but now he had to pay for it. Oh well, it had been worth it. Damn it. "Now hit me."

"I won't enjoy it." Keller laughed softly and held him. "I don't want to. You hold onto your guts, and I'll act casual."

"I like that idea." Toby groaned as Keller touched him because he could. "You're not gay?"

"No," Keller growled. "I like some of each. It's not against the law."

"It is in Texas." Toby laughed, fixed Keller's clothes and then his own. "Okay, I'm ready. In case they ask, why did you thump on me?"

"For fun." Keller grinned. "We'll think of something. Come on, and from now on, shut up around Sister Pete. If I get fired, your ass is dead."

"Got it." Toby would try. He had to say, "I tried my best to hate you."

"I know. I was pretty pissed at you for it." Keller pushed him against the wall and kissed him again. "You can be a real dickhead."

"It's a fault of mine." Toby sighed and held him for one second longer. Keller felt so good, and Toby whispered, "Sorry."

"Don't whine at me. You have parole in your sights." Keller got out his keys. "Buckle down."

Toby refused to believe it. He'd get fucked. He always did. "It doesn't matter, Schillinger is coming for me."

Keller shoved him out the door. "He's using Robson, but I've got it covered. Just do what you've been doing."

Toby clutched his guts, stumbled down to his knees, and groaned loudly as Keller yanked him up. Browne and his buddies saw it all and laughed. Mineo came around the corner. "Everything okay here, Keller?"

"Fine. Beecher had a problem with mopping today, but I think he's over it."

"From the looks of it, I'd agree." Mineo took care of Browne, and Keller made sure Toby was moving. Toby didn't overdo it, but when he collapsed on his bunk, that was real. His head spun like a top. Keller's mouth. God damn. That was heaven on earth. A slice of pie in prison. Motherfuck. Toby curled and gasped. He had needed that more than a man needs oxygen.

"Keller fucked you up?" It was Hill.

"Some. Yeah." Toby tried to look awful, instead of giddy.

"Fucker hates your guts." Hill kept talking. He needed no encouragement. "You should file a protest, or a lawsuit, or just tell the warden!"

"Right." Toby held his stomach and balls. Damn. He still felt good, but he managed a groan. "The only thing standing between me and Schillinger is that big, dumb fucker."

Hill was quiet a moment. "I hadn't thought of that."

"Believe it. Schillinger has to go through Keller to get to me, and that isn't easy stuck in Unit B." Toby sat up, but tried to look like it hurt. "Keller's a prick, but he hates Schillinger more than he hates me."

"That's something." Hill nodded. "You better keep Keller healthy."

"I try." Toby wasn't lying about that. What jizz he had left with the Italians all went to keeping Keller walking and talking. Luckily, the bikers had adopted Keller as one of their own. The Harley had done that; Toby couldn't take credit. "I gotta get to work, or I'll get a worse stomping."

Hill sighed, and Toby went out to his dancing partner. Miss Sally was on, and he took the time to stare at her tits, but he kept moving, slowly. Why rush?

"Lunch!" A horn blared. Toby kept mopping. He'd had breakfast, and he'd go to dinner. He was sick of nuggets anyway. The commons area emptied, and he scooted chairs out of the way to get it all. The quiet was unsettling, but nice.

"Missed a spot!"

Toby didn't look up at Keller. "Thanks!"

Keller and Mineo laughed. Toby leaned against the mop. "Don't you hacks have anything better to do?"

Mineo shook his head. "Not really."

"Me neither." Keller smirked. "Beecher, you need some more motivation to mop?"

Toby tried to look scared, instead of wildly enthusiastic. "Not today," he muttered. But he was free tomorrow, the day after, and this evening. In fact, right now would be fine. He tried for a sneer, but was interrupted when all hell came tearing through the commons area. He'd swear later that he didn't move the mop handle an inch, but it was a lie--a big one. Keller moved fast, and for some reason, Toby watched him.

"Traitor! Prag! Nigger fucker!" Schillinger raged. His boots and fists struck repeatedly. Robson writhed on the floor and screamed. Blood spurted. Toby moved away and groaned. He was going to have to mop that shit up! Keller took out Schillinger with two blows--leg and back. And that was it. Schillinger was down. Robson continued to scream and cry. Hacks converged, and Toby found himself pressed and held against the wall. He made sure not to breathe deep.

Robson left on a stretcher, and they dragged Schillinger out, but they were still hitting him. That was a better show than Miss Sally. Toby held his breath, and slowly, the hack let him off the wall. He went back to his mop. Blood everywhere. Shit. He breathed slowly and tried to look as if he didn't care. Keller had the meanest look on his face that Toby had ever seen.

McManus showed up late, as usual. "Schillinger? Again?"

"He attacked Robson." Keller's voice carried easily. "Robson's on his way to the infirmary."

"Shit!" McManus threw his clipboard. "I told the warden not to let that prick out!"

Toby doubted it. He slopped the mop down and pushed it. Pink streaks ran, and he listened.

"Was Beecher involved?"

"He's mopping. Schillinger didn't even see him." Keller started up the stairs. "I gotta start the incident report."

"I'll go make sure everyone got where they were going."

Toby nearly laughed. McManus was nearly incoherent. Why? Because he was guilty. He had recommended Schillinger get out. It was his style. Rehabilitation. Right. What a stupid fucker. The blood came up off the floor, and Keller yelled at him, "Beecher, get finished!"

Toby threw him a salute, worked on the last section, and whistled a happy tune.


Keller did the paperwork and made sure not to look satisfied. That had gone off without a hitch. He had been surprised that Robson ran like a pussy, but who could really blame him. Schillinger would be back in the hole for a while, and then maybe another stint in solitary. It was possible, and the Nazis would flounder again.

"Tell me what happened, Keller."

Keller put down the clipboard. Glynn didn't usually come here. "Let's go upstairs."

Glynn nodded, and they walked. Keller explained the situation quickly. He didn't mince words or pretend Glynn was stupid.

"So, Schillinger found out that Browne was fucking Robson and went crazy?"

"Yep. Browne shot his mouth off in the cafeteria. It was bound to happen. Robson has been playing with fire." Keller pressed his point home. He didn't want Glynn to misunderstand. "Robson is in real danger from the Nazis."

"I'll move him--somewhere." Glynn rubbed his face. "It's Schillinger. He's trouble. I should have left well enough alone. McManus convinced me that he deserved another chance, and I listened."

Keller wasn't surprised, at all. Little prick. "No disrespect, but McManus wasn't ever a CO, was he?"

"No." Glynn looked away from guilt. "I saw Beecher in the commons area. If he was involved, in the slightest way, I'm moving him."

"He wasn't. He was just standing there, mopping the floor." Keller shrugged. "If he had so much as blinked, I'd have thrown him in the hole so hard he'd have bounced."

"I believe you." Glynn stepped closer. "Are you recommending him for parole?"

"If he stays out of trouble, yes." Keller would make sure of that. He'd reinforce the message again, right after count.

"All that stuff with the Nazis doesn't bother you?"

Keller made a show of thinking about it. "No evidence that he did it. None. Is he that smart?"

"I couldn't say." Glynn rubbed the back of his neck. "I'll think about it."

"I gotta get back there." Keller took off, but he'd planted the seeds where they'd do the most good. It would have to be enough.


Toby lined up for count. He'd had a pleasant dinner. The lack of Nazis was refreshing, and for once, he wasn't going to bed nauseous. He ignored Keller.

Hill tugged on him and whispered, "Tell me what happened."

"In the pod. It'll take a minute." Toby smiled. This was a story he'd tell more than once. When the hack was finished, Toby opened the door for Hill, but Keller shut it after he went through. "What the fuck?"

Keller pressed Toby's face into the glass with a strong forearm to the back of Toby's neck. Toby tried to breathe, while his brain scurried in circles. He could hear the laughter, and Keller's voice was loud in his ear.

"The warden is this close to moving you to Gen Pop."

"I didn't do a fucking thing!" Toby grunted. This hurt!

"I disagree." Keller had seen him move the handle. Shit. Toby tried not to squirm. That would be unhealthy. Keller pushed harder. "Absolutely no trouble. Do you hear me?"

Toby felt his face start to give against the glass. He got the message. Any fool would. "None. I swear. Shit!"

"Do not fuck with me."

"Okay!" Toby wanted that more than anything in the world. Keller pulled him off, yanked open the door, and pushed him through. Toby didn't even bother to flip him off. He'd gone from a blowjob to being crushed against the glass in the space of a day. Weird damn day.

"Damn, Beecher!"

"I know. I know." Toby rubbed his face and sat down in the chair. He shivered. Keller was seriously pissed off at him. Toby would have to fix that. "This is what happened."


Mr. Nappa pulled Pancamo aside. "Do it. Now."

"He's in the hole."

"I know. We'll look innocent, and the CO's, like our Officer Keller, won't." Mr. Nappa smiled. "Get it?"

"Got it."


Toby knocked before going in Sister Pete's office. It was time for his weekly meeting with her, and she smiled. Well, that was encouraging. "How have you been, Tobias?"

"Pretty good." Toby sat down and put his hands in his lap. "You?"

She laughed. "We're here to talk about you and your parole hearing. Three months to go."

"I'm not nervous, because it isn't going to go through." Toby waved a hand at the computer. "Is Isad helping you out?"

"He's a good boy. I like him." She pointed at him. "Are you clean?"

"Sure am." Toby didn't smile; part of him wished it weren't true. "No booze, no drugs."

"No fighting?"

"None." Toby didn't think that broom handle thing counted. That had been an accident, after all.

"And you've been, um." She blushed. "Celibate?"

Toby blinked in astonishment that anyone in this prison knew that word but him. "I bunk with Hill."

"That doesn't mean that you haven't." Her face couldn't get any redder, but she persevered.

"Fucking is against the rules, and Keller loves the rules. Wow, does he." Toby rubbed his face from the memory. He was being careful not even to look like he was arguing with anyone.

"Do you still love him?" That shot came out of nowhere, but Toby had expected it at some point. He took the time to think. Because she had hinted around with Keller, she couldn't exactly be called discreet. Toby got up, went to stare out the door, and let her stew about it for another couple of minutes.

"I don't know. I probably have that syndrome. What is it?" He knew. Oh, he knew.

"Stockholm Syndrome." Sister Pete looked sympathetic. "It is possible."

"How many Harvard graduates do you know would fall in love with a high school dropout muscle bound meat head like Keller?" Toby was so glad that Keller wasn't in here to hear that. "It can't be real."

"The only Harvard graduate I know is you." Sister Pete came over to him. "Let me get you some coffee. We'll talk some more."

Toby nodded. It would give him time to think of his next answer. The coffee had cream and sugar in it, and it could still tear the hair off a man's chest. No wonder Keller was always alert, even when he looked bored. Damn. "You drink this stuff? And sleep?"

"None of us sleep." She laughed and took a sip. "Whoo! That is stout."

Toby drank it anyway. He deftly changed topics, just to throw her off her game. "And anyway, Keller's not gay."

Coffee nearly came out her nose, but Toby pretended not to notice. She sputtered, wiped her mouth, gathered herself, and said, "Do you think you are?"

"Gay? Na. If I were, I'd have enjoyed bobbing for apples with the Aryan Nation. I like to think of myself as flexible." Toby took another drink. He was going to be up all night. She had to think about that for a minute, but eventually she got it, and she looked very uncomfortable. Toby smiled at her.

"Then why Keller? Why not Wittlesey? Or Dr. Nathan?" She kept at it. He had to give her credit.

"Hard to answer." Toby stalled by sucking down some more of what should have been coffee, but clearly wasn't. "He saved my life in the hole, and he came to visit me in the hospital. He was nice, in a tough guy way. No one else gave a damn. No one."

"I did."

Toby didn't argue with that, but she hadn't bothered to get out of her chair and come to see him. "He took a shank that was meant for me, and he didn't let them beat me senseless. When they were starving me, he called them off."

"He's threatened you, hurt you, and thrown you in the hole."

"Yes, but it was never personal." Toby knew how stupid that sounded, but she'd fall for it. She was a romantic. He shrugged. "If one person in hell gives you a hand, shouldn't you grab it and hold on?"

"Maybe." She stared at her coffee. "You know he was only doing his job."

"I know Keller doesn't love me. I don't even think he likes me. He knows me too well." Toby finished his coffee and put the cup on her desk. "Eventually, he'll wise up and leave town, again, and I'll still be rotting here." Now that was hard to live with. "I can live with it." But not easily.

She pursed her lips. "Do you think you've suffered enough for taking that little girl's life?"

Toby instantly told the truth. "I never will, even if I stay here until I die. No amount of suffering can bring them peace."

"An honest answer that you've obviously thought about." Sister Pete put her coffee aside. "What's your biggest regret over the last years?"

"I should have found a path that caused less suffering." Toby got up and turned away. "In Oz, the strong survive, and I should have been stronger."

"You're strong now."

"No. I'm not." Toby shook his head. He knew better. "I'm just another fuck. Ask Keller."

She said nothing, and Toby turned around. "Can I go now?"

"Next week, and group tomorrow." She nodded. Was she glad to be rid of him? Toby thought she was, and he walked out. She wanted simplistic answers to questions that had none. Did he feel guilt for fucking over those Nazis? Yes, but no. They'd earned it, but it had still been wrong. He hadn't killed them. He'd done less to them than they'd done to him, but it had been wrong. Said was right. The path of peace was the most difficult. And Schillinger? Toby's hands were clean there. No guilt. None.

"Did she get you to confess?" Keller swiveled his chair around. "She's good at that."

Toby stuck his hands in his pockets and glanced over at Keller at his workstation. "We talked. Parole isn't looking good."

Keller shrugged and pointed. "Your mop is waiting."

"No wonder your wives divorced you. I wish I could." Toby went down the stairs before Keller could whack him. He popped in a tic-tac--some had shown up on his cot--and started mopping.


Schillinger turned as the steel door opened. "About fucking time." But it wasn't the hacks. What the fuck?

"That's what I say." Pancamo laughed. "Get him."

Schillinger fought. He fought hard, but he ended up on his knees in front of the dago bastard. "Fuck you!"

"That's not what we're here for." Pancamo shoved Schillinger's head back. "This is what happened. By some unlucky circumstance you branded the wrong man."

"Beecher?" Schillinger couldn't believe this was about the little prag.

"Tobias Beecher is a friend of Mr. Spigarelli, and he's unhappy with you." Pancamo pressed the shank to Schillinger's throat. "Mr. Spigarelli is also a close, personal friend of Mr. Nappa. You fucked up."

"Wait! I didn't know!" Schillinger fought. He hadn't known! How could he have known? This was stupid! The prag had friends? Wait!

"Too late." Pancamo struck.

Schillinger yelled a protest, felt a thud and nothing else.


"Schillinger's dead!"

"Motherfuck," Keller whispered. "He was in the hole!"

Mineo smiled and nodded. "We both know what that means. Nazi took a shank to the brain. Execution style."

"Damn." Keller couldn't believe it. This was incredibly bad timing. "Who was on duty?"

"Clipboard vanished. No one is sure." Mineo sat down and tied his shoes. "The warden is mad as fucking hell."

Wittlesey sighed. "I may have to take some vacation."

"The shit is going to fly." Keller grabbed his coat.

"You have an alibi?" Mineo gave him a smirk. "A good one?"

Keller didn't answer that. He gave Wittlesey a look and left the locker room. She'd find a different way home, and she'd take that vacation she was due. Keller was surprised at the lack of satisfaction in Schillinger's death. It should feel better, but it didn't. Had he put the wheels in motion? He didn't know. He never would know. Breaking the fucker's neck would have felt good, but this sucked. He couldn't even go to confession because it might not have been him. It was possible.

The Harley roared to life, and Keller went for a long ride. He had Mexican food for dinner and found a whore to bang on. It was enough. The tequila helped, and he'd live with the guilt. Beecher did.


Toby sat down in the big, leather chair in Warden Glynn's office. He should have remained standing, but his ass hadn't felt leather in forever.

"Beecher, if you had anything to do with this, come clean and I'll find a way to keep you from the electric chair." Glynn pointed at him, trying to intimidate.

"Generous offer, Warden." Toby rattled his cuffs. They were too tight. "I'm as shocked as you are, maybe more. He was in the hole. I didn't do it, obviously, and I don't know who could have."

"You could have hired it done!"

Toby smiled. He could have, but he hadn't because of Keller, and Glynn didn't need to know that. "I've been mopping, nothing else."

Glynn glared. He was fucking crazy pissed off. "Why should I believe one word you say?"

"Because it's the truth." Toby enjoyed the leather some more. "If I did it, I'd be bragging and strutting. I'd confess and fry happily, after penning my memoirs--Murder of a Nazi Cunt."

"Your parole hearing is in one month!" Glynn leaned into it. "You're fucked now."

"I know. I've been a model prisoner, but it doesn't mean dick." Toby leaned forward. He was working on pissed also. "You guys preach it. Better yourself and we'll give you a second chance. Bullshit. A prisoner dies on your watch and my parole goes down the shitter. Why? Because it's easy. Blame Beecher, no one will give a damn."

"Your father will."

"I doubt it." Toby shook his head. "He's quit me, just like you, McManus, and all the others. So I got into some trouble. This is prison, not daycare!"

"And because it's prison that gives you the right to fuck with people?"

Toby grabbed his temper quickly. "Does it give you the right to keep me here when I've paid my debt? Have you ever been branded?"

"Answer my question first." Glynn's finger was pointing again. "Answer it!"

"I live with my guilt. Will you? On my ass, I have the mark of a prag. It's a matter of time before I'm dead or someone's bitch. Now answer my question."

Glynn leaned back. He was thinking, and he didn't hurry. "I decide when you've paid your debt, and I'm not so sure you have."

"Fair enough." Toby stood up and put his cuffed hands on his waist. "Want to see my ass?"

"No." Glynn rubbed a hand across his face. "You didn't make a call?"

"Ask Keller if I've even been near the phone." Toby played his best card. "Your pet CO has kept me on a short leash, on your orders. And now you want to blame me for this?"

Glynn stood up. "Out. I should send you to solitary just for talking like a damn lawyer."

Toby went before the CO could grab him. The CO still took a good grip and hissed, "Settle down or I'll fuck you over."

"Too late. The warden already did." Toby didn't fight though. The CO took off the cuffs inside the archway, and Toby went to his pod. Fucked didn't begin to describe his situation. So close. So fucking close, but it was all gone.


"You know you're the prime suspect."

Keller didn't sit down. He stood at a rough approximate of attention. "I'm sure of that."

"You were in Em City when it happened?"

"No one has told me when it happened." Keller didn't fall for that. How dumb did Glynn think he was?

"Doesn't matter." Glynn stood and came around his desk. "I think it was Beecher."

Keller narrowed his eyes. He had thought of that himself, but he knew better. "Beecher might have made him wear a dress, but kill him? With a shank to the head?"

"He hired it done."

"His account hasn't been touched for weeks. I checked. And then, it was small amounts. He bought some clothes." Keller had checked. He'd been curious. "You knew that."

"Yes. Beecher also hasn't used the phone in months." Glynn sighed. "I even had his father's law firm accounts looked at. If he did it, he's the smartest man on earth."

"I don't think he did it. He doesn't have the jizz." Keller had to play this right. "And he knew Schillinger would never get out of solitary again. Everyone did. If Beecher did it, he's an idiot, and we know he ain't."

"Damn." Glynn went to stare out the window. Keller stayed where he was. He was this close to being fired, not that he'd care once Beecher was out. Glynn stuck his hands in his pockets. "Tell me who then."

"We did it." Keller put it out there. He might as well. "Either for cash or revenge."

"Exactly. Who do I charge?"

"I can't help you there." Keller balanced on a high wire, and he didn't sweat. "When he attacked Robson, I almost snapped his neck. I wanted to. No one would have blamed me."

"You're right. You had a golden opportunity to get some revenge. Why didn't you?"

"Schillinger didn't shank me on purpose. It was an accident. We stomped him good. It was enough." Keller laughed nervously--on purpose. "If I were supervising AdSeg, you'd fire me."

"I fired Charlie today." Glynn nearly smiled. "I might fire you also. It'd look good for the press."

"I respect that, even if it does suck." Keller rubbed a hand through his hair. "Bust me back to the library. That'll teach me."

Glynn actually laughed. He turned from the window and sat down at his desk. "Everyone is getting their pay docked two days. And McManus wants you gone from Em City. He's bringing in someone new."

Keller looked at his boots, trying to show remorse that he didn't feel. "I could move to Unit J. They're short-handed."

"My thoughts exactly, and take Beecher with you. He's innocent of this, but I need to make a point." Glynn shrugged. "He complained that you had him on a short leash. Keep him on it."

"Why?" Keller didn't get it.

"He has a parole hearing every six months from now on." Glynn let out a long sigh. "He shouldn't find any trouble over there, but you make sure of it.

"Six months? Isn't that unusual?" Keller thought they were yearly. Six months was doable, another year would suck.

"Judge set it up that way." Glynn picked up a pen and started writing. "I think she felt guilty, and I'm not immune to it. I want Beecher out of here in seven months. Now, get moving."

"Thank you, Warden."

"Get out, you suck up." Glynn laughed, and Keller did too, but not loudly. He didn't give into the temptation to sag against a wall in relief. Who had done it? Keller didn't know, but there had been lots of money involved. Unit J wouldn't be so bad--something different and Beecher would be there.

Keller spotted McManus as he went through the commons area and nearly gave him the finger. Little prick was on his own now. He'd fucked up with Schillinger. McManus would be fired before the year was out.

"Beecher!" Keller snapped, louder than he'd intended.

"Yeah?" Beecher pulled off his headphones. "Let me guess--I have to mop."

"No. Get your shit." Keller pointed at the pod. "You're out of Em City."

Beecher flew out of his chair. "Fuck! God damn it! Shit!"

Keller nodded. "And all the saints. You have five minutes."

"I didn't do a fucking thing!" The veins in Beecher's forehead popped out, and Keller wanted to scream right back at him.

"You're the victim of bad circumstances. Get your stuff. Now!" Keller held onto his temper by the thinnest of margins. He would not beat on Beecher, not for this. Beecher threw the headphones, but got moving, and Keller kept his hand on his stick. Keller should have left the door open, but he shut it. They needed to talk.

"Fuck the warden!" Beecher threw his laundry basket at the wall.

"No. Thanks." Keller leaned against the door. He didn't blame Beecher for being pissed off. This looked bad for both of them. "I got busted too. We're both guilty by association."

"Big words that mean my parole is fucked!" Beecher shoved some clothes in his laundry bag. "I did what you wanted!"

"I know. It's fucked, but next time you'll be sitting pretty." Keller hoped so, at least. He pointed at the shelf. "Get your picture."

Beecher folded it carefully and tucked it away. "He really busted you?"

"Yep. Lost my job here in Em City. We're going to Unit J. Might suck." Keller didn't worry too much. He opened the door. "Good thing my Harley is almost paid off, because I'm taking a pay cut."

"You and me?" Beecher's voice dropped to almost a whisper. "Both of us?"

"Yes." Keller was careful not to smile at the expression on Beecher's face. "Us."

"Have I mentioned that I loved it when you hit Schillinger in the back with your nightstick?" Beecher abruptly changed the subject and laughed. He was over it. That fast. Keller nearly laughed. Beecher was more worried about him, and it felt good. He tossed a book on the pile and scooped it up.

"No." Keller gave him a small push out the door, just for show. "Made you hot, huh?"

"Yeah. And taking out his thigh like that?" Beecher grinned. "Wonderful use of pine."

Keller signaled for the gate to open. "Keep talking. You're cheering me up."

Beecher turned and gave McManus the finger. Keller made sure not to laugh, but he was glad to see it. Fuck McManus.

*********Chapter Eight

"Is Tobias Beecher going down for it?" Mr. Nappa smeared the shaving cream on his face and made sure to get all the spots.

"They moved him to Unit J. Nothing else." Pancamo shrugged. "He's in the clear. His parole was fucked, but he didn't have a chance anyway."

"Good. Cause he had nothing to do with this. Orders are orders." Mr. Nappa picked up his shaver and rinsed it. "This was business."

"I also heard they busted Keller out of Em City, bringing in a new guy."

Mr. Nappa smiled. "Mr. Spigarelli is happy, and I'm happy. That's a win-win."

Pancamo laughed. "I hated Schillinger."

"Hate is bad for business." Mr. Nappa was careful on his chin. He had hated the pretend Nazi also. Fool should have known a real Nazi or two. "With Keller gone, we'll be back to full speed in about a week." He smiled.


Toby rolled up the sleeves on his new, blue shirt. Had his number on it and everything. He was moving up in the world. Or down. It didn't matter. What mattered was that Keller wasn't too far away. Something good out of bad. He put his head in his hands. Seven more months before he even had a chance, and the only reason he wasn't in the pysch ward right now was standing at the end of the cells with a bored expression on his face.

"Are we going to introduce ourselves?"

Toby finally looked at his cellmate, really looked at him. The prick looked brand new and nervous. Was he worried that Toby was going to fuck him? Toby didn't smile. He frowned. "Toby Beecher."

"Nate Shemin."

Toby took another good look around, ignoring his cellmate. Bars, no glass. Not as bright. Now this was what he'd imagined prison would be like--concrete and steel. Unit J was mostly for convicted cops and other inmates that stood a good chance of getting a shank in their back. He'd heard ten thousand times how lucky he was to be in Em City and not Gen Pop. Well, he'd find out how tough it was soon, and who to watch out for, and who had all the jizz, but Keller was here. It couldn't be all bad.

"What're you in for?"

Standard question. Toby had heard it a hundred times, and he always told the truth, well, not any longer. "Murder. You?"

Shemin's eyes widened. "Felony assault, but it was an accident. I swear."

"Right." Toby laughed. "And I'm innocent." He went to stick his hands out the bars. This was different. Keller was at the other end of the cellblock, and he did look bored. Toby suspected it was all an act. "Why are you in this unit? Seems pretty tame for a tough fucker like you."

"I am, well, was, a district attorney." Shemin didn't seem proud of it, and sarcasm was lost on him.

"You are definitely shank bait. If I were you, I'd just say you were a lawyer." Toby didn't share his own past. "And own it, fucker. You nearly killed someone. Be proud."

Shemin flinched. "He's on life support. He could recover."

"Good as dead. Bump yourself up to murder. It'll sound tougher." Toby knew he sounded like a bastard, but he was, and Shemin had better get tough fast. "Any rules I should know?"

"Sometimes they smack you when you stick your hands out."

"That'll make the day interesting." Toby turned and rubbed his back against the bars. Shemin didn't look dangerous, but then again, neither did he, and he was, occasionally.

"I'm hoping to get into Em City." Shemin took two steps, and Toby's head went back. That was too close. Toby raised his chin and narrowed his eyes. Shemin looked away and climbed up on his bunk. Good enough.

"Em City is the land of milk and honey," Toby said dryly. He stuck his hand out and gave Keller the finger. It was a suggestion, not an insult, and Keller would know it. Toby pulled his hands back and gripped the bars tightly. He felt buffeted by the winds of fate. Schillinger was dead, and the urge to dance on his grave was a strong one. If anyone had ever deserved a shank in his brain, it was that Nazi fuck. Why had the warden busted Keller? Because Keller was the prime suspect, right after Toby. Keller could have done it. He might have done it. Toby didn't much care if Keller had.

"Get back," Keller drawled. He had a mean look on his face.

"You want me on my back?" Toby licked his lips. "Keller, you faggot."

Keller hit the bars with his stick. "Watch your mouth, Beecher, or I'll shove something in it."

"I bet you would." Toby laughed and leaned against the bunks. Schillinger's death made life in Oz that much easier. Keller kept walking, and Toby stared at that beautiful backside. Seven months of staring at that might make him want to stay. He slid down to the floor and started exercising. It always helped him not think.

"Who is that CO?"

Toby didn't look up at Shemin. "That's Chris Keller, hack extraordinary."

"He doesn't look exactly friendly."

"He's not." Toby kept moving. Keller had better not look at Shemin twice, or one of them would get a shank. "Don't mess with him. He'll fuck you up. I should know."

Shemin slid off the bunk and moved a little too close. "What'd he do to you?"

Toby got up and brushed his hair off his face. "Get back, or I'll push and twist."

"What?" Shemin didn't understand.

"I'll push and twist." Toby palmed his shank, pointed it at the fucker's guts, and backed him up against the wall.

"Hey. Wait. No. I thought we could be friends." Shemin's voice trembled.

Toby glared at him. "You aren't going last long in this hellhole if you want friends." He put his shank away before Keller came back past. "Try to touch me and I'll airhole you."

"I won't!" Shemin gulped. Pussy.

"Good enough." Toby smiled, lifted his hand, and ran his fingers down Shemin's scared face. "Now that doesn't mean I won't touch you."

Shemin nodded. "Okay. I get it."

"I don't think you do." Toby moved back close to the bars. "But I have time to teach you a thing or two about Oz."

"I've been here a week. I know-"

"You don't know dick." Toby laughed. "But luckily for you, I do." He pushed and pulled at the bars. They were nice, much better than plexiglass. "Relax. We're going to get along fine."

"Beecher, don't fuck with me. I'm in a bad mood." Keller again. He did look pissed. He'd probably seen Toby stroking Shemin's face. Well, jealousy was good for a man.

"I know why." Toby took his hands off the bars. He chuckled and stuck his hands in his pockets. This was going to be fine. "I'll be good."


Keller packed his things and loaded his motorcycle. He still didn't have much, some new jeans and a shirt or two. He'd sold his gun to make the last payment on the Harley. It was his, and it was plenty. Bonnie still called him for money all the time, and fool that he was, he gave it to her.

"Bye Chris."

Keller smiled and gave the young girl a hug. She was a lot like her mom, and that was all to the good. "Don't worry. You'll love England."

"Everyone talks funny." She smiled though.

"You will too after a week." Keller had said goodbye to Wittlesey earlier, and he was still surprised that he'd miss her. "Write me."

"Will do!" She dashed off, and Keller got the motor running. He just rode for an hour or two and didn't look for a place to live. Five more months until Beecher had another chance. Was it worth waiting for? Was one night with him, on a bed, somewhere, worth five months? Stupid question.


Toby leaned against the chain links on the stairwell and waited for his favorite CO to come down the stairs. He did it every day after lunch, and he wouldn't miss it for anything, not even a blowjob from Shemin.

"You fucking Shemin?" Keller came down the stairs slowly and growled at him.

"Not yet." Toby stared at Keller's crotch and nightstick. "Maybe tonight. He wants it."

"You ever topped?" Keller shot him a skeptical look. "Never mind. Better push hard."

Toby turned, and they walked down the stairs together. "I plan to. You care?"

"Yeah." Keller shrugged. "But I got laid last night, and you didn't."

"Good point." Toby stopped at the bottom of the stairs and wished there was a closet nearby, not that Keller would do it. They'd kept their hands off each other, but not by Toby's choice. Unit J was full of snitches, and it sucked. He lowered his head and whispered, "Guy or girl?"

Keller smiled. "You care?"

"Yeah." Toby did, but he strode off in the opposite direction of his favorite obsession. Sister Pete thought he was over it. Not likely. He didn't understand why, but it was an itch he had to scratch. Shemin was a good cellmate--easy to get along with and educated, but boring as hell. He did want to fuck though, and Toby was about ready to take him up on it. It wasn't about being gay; it was about being in prison.


Toby stopped and turned to face her. What was she doing over here? "Hi, Sister Pete."

"How are you?"

"Fine. Thanks." Toby was careful not to snap. He'd seen her yesterday. What did she want now? "You?"

"Well. I'm in a bit of trouble."

Toby tried not to laugh. This was unexpected. She glared at him, and he smiled. "How can I help?"

"Isad started in the mail room last week, and I . . ." Her voice trailed off. "I hate to ask."

"Do you really?" Toby was curious. She did look uncomfortable.

"I asked the warden if you could work for me again. He agreed." Sister Pete crossed her arms. "But it's up to you."

Toby saw her nervousness. She knew he wanted to blow her off. "It's better than mopping, I guess."

She frowned. "You don't have to."

"I know. I'd like to help." Toby was slightly surprised that he meant it. Maybe he wasn't a complete fucker. "Now?"

"For an hour?"

"Sure." Toby followed her through the cellblock and over to her office. "You did clear it with the CO over at my cellblock, right?"

"I did. It's no problem." She waved helplessly at the computer. "I think it crashed."

Toby sank down in the chair and put his chin on his fist. "If Isad was surfing the internet, it might have a virus."

"He wouldn't."

"Right." Toby turned the computer on and started working on it. There were a few problems, but nothing he couldn't fix. "And I never sent emails to my dad."

"You did?"

"Of course not." Toby grinned, and his fingers went to work. "I thought you knew."

"We have the internet?" She came over to him. "I think it's time I take a class."

"Good idea. Pull up a chair." Toby motioned at it. "You have time?"

"No, but I have a feeling I should make time." Sister Pete moved the chair and sat down.

Toby nodded. He was getting paroled. He could feel it. This time. This time. "Let me train Shemin to take over for me. And I'll teach you how to keep track of everything he does."

Sister Pete put a gentle hand on his arm. "Thank you."

"I owe you one or two, but listen, if you can, get Shemin into Em City. He's, well, not a hardened criminal." Toby put her hand on the mouse. "Like me."

"I'll do my best." Sister Pete nodded seriously. "Keller was right about you."

Toby didn't want to know about what. The fact they talked about him made him nervous. He whispered, "Is Keller gay?"

"No, Tobias. He's not." She gave him a hard look. "Stop teasing me."

"Okay. Here we go. Now pay attention."


"She moved to England! And you didn't tell me?" McManus threw his baseball cap in his locker. He was always throwing things. Fucker needed some anger management.

Keller was tempted to ignore it all and walk out, but he had to change clothes, and he never ran away from a fight. "Why would I? You didn't give a shit about her."

"How the fuck would you know?" McManus rounded on him.

"I know." Keller pulled his shirt off and considered a shower. Yeah. He needed one.

McManus kicked a locker. "If it hadn't been for you, she'd have looked to me for help."

"So it's my fault that you're a loser?" Keller took his pants off and grabbed a towel. "She wrote you a letter. Feel good about yourself. It's what you're good at."

"Fuck you!" McManus slammed the locker door. What a piece of work little drama queen. Keller wanted to strangle him. McManus bolted the short distance and threw a wild punch. Keller got out of the way and let his fist slam into metal. McManus yowled and came right back at him.

"Break it up! Break it up!" Mineo didn't mean it. He was laughing and watching, not moving a muscle.

Keller could have killed him, could have broken him in half, but he mostly pushed him back until McManus tried for Keller's balls. That was the end of it. Keller feinted with his left and let his right fly. Almost immediately, Glynn wrapped him up, and Keller quit fighting.

"Settle down!"

Keller nodded. "I'm good." He shook Glynn off and looked at McManus on the floor.

Mineo leaned over and pushed McManus' head to the side. "Geez, Keller. I think you knocked him out!"

"No shit." Glynn kept one hand pointed in Keller's direction. "Mineo, call the infirmary and get him there. Keller, take a shower!"

"Okay." Keller started the water and washed the blood from his fist. He was gone now. He'd nearly made it to Beecher's parole hearing. It could have been worse. Keller grinned. That had felt so fucking good.


Toby heard the news. It was the talk of the prison. Keller had knocked McManus on his ass, landed him in the infirmary, and everyone was laughing about it. The only bad thing was that the warden would probably fire Keller, and he'd be gone. Gone.

"Toby, I have news," Shemin said softly.

Toby knew already. Sister Pete had told him. "You got into Em City?"

"Transferred tomorrow." Shemin came close and put a hand on Toby's shoulder. "I owe it to you."

"You might not thank me in a week or so." Toby laughed. "Get with Said before you do anything else. Tell him I sent you, and don't tell a soul that you were a D.A."

"Okay. What else?"

"The Italians run the place. Stay out of their way." Toby intended to spread a little jizz for Shemin in that direction. It couldn't hurt. He smiled and pulled his cellmate closer. "O'Reily will want you to do something for him. Don't. And get a shank."

"A shank?"

Toby nodded. "I'll give you mine. If anyone tries to fuck you, use it."

"I couldn't." Shemin shook his head.

"You've seen my ass." Toby smoothed his hand across Shemin's ass and squeezed. "Don't let it happen to you."

Shemin looked scared. He should be. "Okay. Thanks."

"No problem. I'll get another one." Toby kissed him. Keller would see it.

"Break it up, girls!" Keller banged the bars with his stick. "I ain't gone yet!"

Toby shoved Shemin away and pressed his face through the bars. "Give me some stick, baby."

Keller did just that, and Toby groaned when the long, black length slid over his tongue. "Damn! Sweet!"

"Slut." Keller flipped his stick and wiped it off on his shirt.

"Asshole!" Toby laughed and went to lie down. He wanted to suck Keller's stick, both of them, for about ten hours straight.

"What is it with him?" Shemin sounded confused.

"He's like a Tootsie Pop." Toby rubbed himself and groaned. "I want to see how many licks it'd take to get to his center."

Shemin laughed, but it was nervous. "He'd kill you."

"He might." Toby smiled. Death by fucking. Shit. He'd been in here too long because that sounded good. Shemin was a pretty good cocksucker, but nothing like Keller, and it was Keller that Toby wanted, needed, craved. "Admit it. Keller's ass is killer."

"I haven't looked."

"Lying sack of shit." Toby saw Keller's ass in his dreams. Shemin didn't answer, and they listened to the noise of the prison around them.


"I'm keeping this incident out of both of your files." Glynn glared. "But McManus, if you so much as look at Keller, you're fired. And Keller, try not to hit other members of the staff so fucking hard!"

Keller made sure not to grin. "I'll work on it."

"Good. Both of you--get out!" Glynn went back to work. Keller opened the door and let McManus go through first. They walked down the hallway together.

"You're a stupid prick."

"And you're a piece of trailer trash." McManus laughed. "I'll be here long after you're gone."

"Not if you don't get the Italians under control." Keller smirked. "How's your head?"

McManus flipped him off and went the other way. Keller went back to work. He wanted to run his nightstick across Beecher's tongue again.


Toby sank down on his bunk and let the reality of it crash over him. He was getting out. They were letting him out. He took a breath that was more like a sob.

"You did it."

"You did it," Toby whispered. "You."

"I'm proud of you."

Toby rubbed his face. He would try to sort out all these feelings later. Moving quickly to the door, he put out his hand. "I owe you."

"I agree." Keller smiled at him and shook his hand. It was a beautiful thing. "You have time before count, why don't you go thank Sister Pete?"

"Good idea." Toby would do exactly that. "Walk with me?"

"I'm not letting you go until they make me." Keller laughed softly. Toby couldn't feel his feet hit the floor. He was going home.


Keller tapped his pencil on the table. "Sister Pete?"

"You need some help?" She sat down close.

"No, but will you be a reference for me?" Keller pointed at the application and prepared himself to be disappointed. "I need three."

Sister Pete frowned. "I'd rather you didn't leave."

"Chances are I'll never get the job." Keller sighed. He had to try. "Don't worry."

"I'll do it, and so will Gloria and Glynn." Sister Pete touched him gently on the arm. "You have friends here."

Keller wasn't sure he'd ever had friends like these. "Not McManus."

"No." Sister Pete took the pencil and filled out her information. Keller smiled. He had a chance now.


Toby looked up when Keller strolled past the bars. "Hey, Keller, you gonna kiss me goodbye?"

Keller stopped and blew him a kiss. "A suit? Loser, man."

"I always dressed like this before I came here." Toby adjusted the cuffs again. His parents had sent him a suit to wear home. He did feel like a loser, but that wasn't news.

"Get some jeans, and maybe I'll talk to you on the outside." Keller shrugged. "Maybe not though."

Toby doubted Keller would. Keller would ride past him without a glance--maybe. Or maybe Keller would . . . Toby pulled his brain out of the gutter. He'd forget Keller, or he'd try. Keller would still be here, busting heads, and Toby hated this place. "Are you taking me to processing?"

Keller gave him a smile that made Toby's heart flip. "It's time for me to let you go. I have business upstairs. See ya, Beech."

"Keller, I . . ." Toby stretched out his hand. Keller didn't turn around, and he was gone. Toby put his hands on the bars and squeezed. He'd wanted a kiss, a goodbye, something. Anything.


Keller put on his helmet, licked the last of the frosting off his lips, and didn't wave goodbye. All things considered, the years hadn't been wasted. It was time to move on though, and he kicked the engine over. Oz got smaller in his mirror, and he smiled.


Toby did everything he was supposed to do. Parole meant that he had to behave or go back. He was out, what he'd always dreamed about, there was still nothing on TV, and the house was empty. His dad was at work. His mom was at the country club, and his kids were at school. He'd resisted going back to the law firm as a lackey, do-nothing, someone to feel sorry for consultant. He had to find a job, and he was thinking about becoming a janitor. His floors shined. Keller had given him a career. Right. Keller. The thought of Keller lived with him every other minute of the day. Just like prison, except that the hack wasn't standing nearby. Damn. Toby threw the remote. He had to do something, but he didn't know what. Happiness had quickly turned into helplessness. Staring at the whiskey decanter, he licked his lips and groaned. He was still dry, but he didn't think it was going to last much longer.

The roar of the motorcycle coming down the street was loud, and it was right outside the window. In this neighborhood, it was an act of sacrilege. Fucker must be lost. "Asshole bikers."

The engine revved and again. It was right outside. Toby got up, yanked open the front door, and yelled, "Hey! Fucker! Move on!"

The fucker took off his helmet and grinned at him, and Toby's heart stopped. He looked down at his clothes and held up a finger. The grin nodded at him, and he went upstairs to dress more appropriately for the occasion. His hands might have been shaking, but he was hurrying too fast to notice. Out the door and down the steps, he made sure he had his pager, fucking thing.


Toby didn't hesitate. He put it on and straddled the bike. "You'll drive like a crazy man, right?"

"Yep. Come on."

"I'm right behind you." Toby wrapped his arms tight under the black, leather jacket. The Harley picked up speed, and he leaned into it. Now this was freedom.


Keller was tempted to take him all the way to Vegas, but the authorities might notice. He didn't stop though until the sun was setting, and they were both wind blown. Beecher's arms never loosened, and it felt so right. He'd waited for this, and he wasn't disappointed.

"My place ain't as fancy as yours." Keller looked over his shoulder and shoved down the kickstand. "You can let go now."

"I can?" Beecher hugged him once more before getting off. They both laughed. "That was something!"

"I aim to please. I saw where you live. You need some excitement." Keller stowed the extra helmet. "Coming inside?"

Beecher looked around the neighborhood. "I always pictured you living over a bar."

"Done that. Hard to sleep." Keller decided not to rush him. It would be a mistake. Beecher looked strung tight, and he had a temper. Keller smiled at him. "Nice jeans. Could use a hole or two."

"You can cut them if you want." Beecher finally took a step towards the front door. "This is weird."

Keller nodded. It was, but he could get used to it. "Found a job yet?"

"Nope." Beecher stuck his hand in Keller's back pocket. Keller unlocked the door and set his helmet on the bench. He watched as Beecher wandered around, looking. "Chris, you got nothing, but this is a nice, little house."

"It's comfortable, and having nothing makes it easier to move." Keller went to the kitchen and grabbed a beer. "Want a Coke?"

"Sure." Beecher took it from Keller's hand. "I'd rather have a beer."

"Go for it. You're a big boy." Keller wasn't going to argue. He knew Beecher was an alcoholic, but it was his life to fuck up. Keller took a drink, pulled off his jacket, and hung it on one of the hooks over the bench. Beecher sighed and popped his soda. He wandered off, turning on lights and poking in corners. Keller trailed after him. Was it habit or desire? He wasn't sure.

"Bed's not bad."

"Could be worse. The sheets are clean." Keller leaned against the doorjamb. He had put them on this morning, just in case.

Beecher sat on it and stared up at him. "No questions about how I am, huh?"

"Nope." Keller took another drink. "You're sick of hearing it. And I can see how you are."

"Confused, mostly." Beecher drank some Coke. "How is-" he broke off, but managed to finish, "Oz?"

"Fuck if I know. I quit the day you left." Keller grinned at the look of disbelief. He'd been looking forward to that. "I run security at a high school about three blocks from here."

"Damn." Beecher stood and stretched. He still looked surprised. "I bet no one gives you shit."

"Kids got no respect today, but it's a good job." Keller's fingers itched to take those new jeans off him, but it could wait. Beecher had to come to him or he might take off. Keller finished his beer and belched. "How's your dad?"

"His usual self." Beecher slid over to the closet and poked around--nosy lawyer. "You met him."

Keller backed away from the topic. He shouldn't have even asked. "Yeah."

Beecher stripped off his shirt. Keller waited for him to make the move, but they both heard a beeping sound. Beecher groaned, dug in his pocket, and pulled out a pager. "It's my dad."

"Here's my cell." Keller tossed it over. "You should get one."

"I refused, but I gave in on the pager." Beecher opened the phone, and Keller went back to the small living room to give him some privacy. Why wouldn't Beecher carry a cell phone? Sounded stupid, and Beecher was never stupid. Keller flopped down and clicked on the TV. It was Friday night. Should be a game on somewhere.


"I'm out, Dad." Toby tried not to snap each word.

"Where are you?"

Toby nearly threw it out the window. This is why he didn't carry one. "I'm with a friend. I'll be home late."

"Don't do anything your family will regret."

Toby snapped it shut and went to toss it on Keller's lap. He stared at the number on his pager in pure anger. They treated him like a child, and he didn't blame them. It made him furious, but he understood it and allowed it. Keller reached for the pager, and Toby let it slide away. Toby laughed a little hysterically when Keller crushed it under his boot.


"Much." Toby sat down to watch the game. Destroying the pager had been a good idea. He should have thought of it. "Football?"

"Arena." Keller put his cell on the table, but Toby noticed that it was off now. "How are your kids?"

"They're doing pretty well." Toby smiled. He did love them. "My ex-wife never lets them down."

"That pity I hear?"

"Yeah." Toby didn't understand this game at all. The players could hit the walls? "Can I call you Chris?"

"I like that better than fucking hack!" Keller put his hand on Toby's knee, and it felt good. Toby smiled. He had said that several times. Keller squeezed. "You told me never to call you 'Toby,' and I didn't."

"Yeah, well, I prefer 'Tobias,' or 'Hey, prag!'" Toby put his hand on top of Keller's hand.

Keller smiled at him. "So, Tobias, pizza or Chinese?"

"Both." Toby flinched as a player spun in the air and crashed down. "No wonder you like this game."

"Yeah." Keller made the calls. The fact that the numbers were on speed dial wasn't lost on Toby. Keller snapped it shut and off again. "Got any money?"

"Some." Toby dug out his wallet and tossed it to him. "Go for it."

"Sweet." Keller laughed and flipped it open. "No condoms?"

"Not since high school." Toby smoothed his hand the length of Keller's thigh. "I got tested."

"I didn't ask." Keller got very serious. "Hanging out with me is a fucking bad idea, you know that. I'll take you home now, if you want."

Toby wasn't sure what to say about that. His parents would think it was, but fuck them. "You were outside my door."

"I knew you'd never come looking for me." Keller moved his hand to Toby's chest and rubbed. "And I had to know."

"Know what?" Toby had wanted to find him, but Oz had stood in the way of that.

"If it felt the same." Keller's hand crept up until it rested on Toby's face. Toby groaned softly. He didn't feel the same. He felt more. Keller's face was suddenly close and they kissed. Toby exploded and reassembled before the lips were gone. He had to have more, and he cradled the hand on his face. Keller eased away. "Remember that time you licked my nightstick?"

"Of course." Toby was beginning to have a hard time following all these conversations, and he was hungry.

"I was supposed to turn it in, but it came home with me." Keller reached and touched Toby's lips with his fingers. "After we eat, I'll take you back and show it to you."

Toby stood up suddenly. He ached when the hands fell away, but he needed a minute to make sense of everything. Walking to the front door, he stared out into the night and tried to think. Keller had left the same day Toby had. Oz was behind them both. Could he get past it? Hadn't Keller saved him, over and over again? Did any of it matter?

"You and I forged bonds inside that prison that I'm not sure can be broken."

"Fancy words."

"Yes." Toby turned quickly. "I treated you awful more than once."

"It was prison, and men do that." Keller seemed to be watching the game, but he was listening. "I got you fired from Sister Pete's office."

"I know." Toby had deserved it.

"I set up Robson."

"Didn't take me long to figure that out." Toby went to find his shirt. He slipped it on and Keller was there. Toby took the initiative and grabbed him for a quick feel. "Poor fucker got it from both of us."

Keller kissed him. Toby saw him start to confess again, and he slapped his hand over Keller's mouth. "I never want to hear his name, not for any reason, ever."

"Okay," Keller mumbled. Toby took his hand away, ignored reality, and the doorbell rang. Keller went to get it, and Toby followed. They ate in front of the game, and Toby didn't share the crab rangoon.


Toby laughed. "Want to go to Kiddieland tomorrow with me and the kids?"

"No." Keller grabbed the last piece of pizza. "And you don't want me there, so shut up about it."

"Refreshingly honest." Toby had almost forgotten about bluntness. His father and mother danced around every topic. "Why don't we fuck all night and in the morning you take me home?"

"Deal." Keller snatched a sugar donut and shoved it in Toby's mouth. "And if you want to see me again, your dad has my number."

Toby chewed and laughed. When it was down, he abandoned the food. "I want to fuck on the bed, and then we can eat some more."

"We'll take it." Keller grabbed some, and Toby got the rest. They put it on and by the bed. Toby waited to be shoved down, but Keller gave him a look. "Tell me what you want."

"How about instead of us talking, we fuck." Toby took off his shirt again and removed Keller's more slowly. "No words. No threats. No promises. Nothing but skin."

Keller nodded, and Toby smiled when strong hands tore his new jeans right off. It was a good sign of pent up lust. Toby groaned, gripped, shoved, kissed, and did his best to cover every inch of Keller's body with his tongue. He had wanted to do this so badly, and now he was, and he couldn't seem to feel it. Damn. Spotting the scar where Keller's spleen had been taken out, Toby gasped softly. He was responsible for that. Keller held him tightly, and he wanted to struggle, get away. Some part of his brain kept telling him that they'd be interrupted or bars would spring up between them. Keller managed to get on top, and he thrust his cock.

Toby yelped and shoved him away. "For God's sake, get some fucking lube!"

"Sorry." Keller stopped instantly. "I got carried away."

"And get a damn condom." Toby wanted to pull his hair out. He was having a hard time concentrating or something. Keller came back from the john. His cock was hard as a flagpole. Toby laughed. "All that's for me?"

"Every inch of it." Keller laughed. "Guess we're talking now."

"Yeah." Toby picked up a piece of pizza and took a bite. "What?"

"You don't want to do this." Keller tossed the condom and lube near Toby's hand before taking his own slice. "You go hetero on me?"

Toby nearly choked, swallowed, and glared. "I'm just distracted. I keep thinking someone's gonna bust in and haul me off in cuffs."

"The fuck police?" Keller smeared his greasy fingers on Toby's leg and then licked it. "I guess you're still in remission or something."

"Transition and don't act stupid, you're not." Toby finished his slice. "It was always so fucking noisy there, and now, it's like I can hear myself breathe."

"And the stink of the place."

"And the constant supervision. Someone always staring at me, even when I took a shit." Toby gently stroked Keller's hair. He'd never done that before and it felt good. "Now, I'm alone, all the time, and I want to scream."

"Just to be heard." Keller kissed Toby's chest and down lower. "And food? Why isn't someone feeding you? And making sure your bunk is made, and how about the television? You can watch whatever you want, even porn."

"Yeah. All that." Toby gasped softly as Keller's mouth licked and then sucked him. "I hated it every fucking minute I was there."

"So why do you miss it?" Keller's eyes glinted at him. "Because you do. No reason that makes sense."

Toby nodded, someone understood, thank God, and Keller's mouth sucked him again. "And I can use the phone whenever I want."

"But you don't because you're not sure you should." Keller nibbled Toby's hipbones. "And the lights."

"It's so damn dark all the time," Toby whispered. He reached down and touched all of Keller that was close enough. "Please."

Keller sucked him in a strong rhythm. Up, down, lick, geez, Christ, what the hell was the man doing to him? Toby watched him avidly and felt consumed. His orgasm burst out of him, leaving him to grunt and pant. Keller took it all and kissed his way up. Their mouths connected and a deep sense of contentment swept over him.

"How do you know?" Toby put his hand down and stroked over the scar to Keller's cock. "You got to go home."

Keller sat back on his heels and tore open the condom. "My mom turned me over to the system at eight. Foster homes led to juvenile detention. They had to cut me loose at eighteen."

"And the records were sealed." Toby understood so much now, and it all reassured him.

"Want to roll over?"

Toby woke up, stared down the barrel of Keller's loaded cock, and flipped over. "You could have skipped the condom."

"I haven't been tested." Keller eased over and finally inside him. Toby relaxed, found a comfortable position, and let himself feel it deep. He wanted it. It was Keller on him, and it was okay. Keller whispered, "Feel good?"

"It does." Toby smiled. "You can do it like you wanted to when we were there."

Keller bit the back of Toby's neck and said softly, "I might kill you."

Toby reached, got hold of a strong thigh, and pulled. He arched his back, and Keller made him quit thinking. It was a relief.


Keller flushed the condom, washed, and went back for more food. And maybe a nap. Beecher was eating again, and he didn't want to share. Greedy. Keller stopped at the closet, found his nightstick, and tossed it on the bed. "A souvenir for ya."

"Ugh." Beecher picked it up and stared at it. "If I look at that every morning, I'll walk the straight and narrow."

"Maybe. You got a streak of rebel in you a mile wide." Keller found something to eat before it was all gone. "I like that about you."

"A rebel, huh? Everyone figures me for a pussy."

"You survived Oz, baby. You ain't no pussy." Keller watched him fumble with the stick. "Hold it along your forearm. Strike this way."

Beecher gave it a try. It was hopeless. Keller smiled and was glad about it. Beecher put it down and went back to eating. "Not something I want to be good it, even if I was happy that you were a couple of times."

"Makes perfect sense." Keller finished the food and put the container on the floor. He wanted more from Beecher, but he had the feeling he was going to have to give first, and he didn't mind it. "You want to fuck me?"

"Excuse me?" Beecher's jaw dropped. "Me. Fuck. You?"

"Why not?" Keller lay on his stomach. "Feels good." He suddenly had a thought. "Shit, Toby. You never did top Shemin, did you?"

Beecher looked away and back. "I was going to, but I knew you'd know, and you might have whacked me with your big stick."

"Liar." Keller spread his legs a little and pushed his cock to the side. "You were worried you'd hurt him. You let him suck your cock for hours though. Don't think I didn't notice."

"Well. Yeah." Beecher's hands rubbed Keller's ass and it felt good. He groaned and pushed back into it. Beecher seemed cautious at first, but he picked up speed fast.

"Get another condom." Keller wasn't going to argue about that. He might get tested, or he might not. Beecher went and was back, fast. He put it on and used the lube. Keller smiled at him. "Push hard at first. Then easy."

Beecher swallowed hard. He hesitated. Keller pulled him, and Beecher got the hang of it. Keller moaned softly. It had been a long time, but it was right with Beecher. No. Toby. It was Toby doing this to him, and he loved it. Loved Toby.


Toby stopped moving and licked Keller's back, pure enjoyment washing over him. Keller. Damn. No, it was Chris underneath him. Chris wanted him. Chris understood him, and he loved Chris.

********Chapter Nine

Chris went to make coffee. He puttered around the kitchen, throwing shit out. It was about six a.m., and he didn't need to be up, except that he had to take Toby home.

"Damn. How come you never brought me coffee in Oz?" Toby was suddenly there, leaning against the doorway.

"Diane made it. It'd tear the hair off your ass." Chris laughed at the memory. "I called it jet fuel."

Toby sat at the little table and laughed with him. "Sister Pete got me a cup once or twice. I always asked for cream and sugar."

"Chicken." Chris poured two cups and sat down with him. "I talked to Sister Pete the other day. She's doing fine."

"Good." Toby grimaced at the taste, and it was funny. "I thought you didn't know what was going on!"

"I lied. I'll do that." Chris took a big drink. It tasted fine. "McManus was fired. She called to tell me."

"Hot damn!" Toby pumped his fist in the air. "Suck on that, Timmy!"

Chris laughed. "Punching him in the face was one of my finest moments."

"I wish I'd have seen it." Toby sipped some more and stuck out his tongue. "Get me some milk at least!"

Chris took pity on him and got out the milk and sugar. "Pussy."

"Prick." Toby smiled, poured, and ruined perfectly good coffee. "We should hate each other."

"Don't we?" Chris had thought the same thing a time or two.

"No." Toby leaned and put his hand on Chris's hand. "You waited for me when I know you wanted to leave, and then you quit for me. Not to mention that you put up with me when I was the meanest bastard in Em City."

"Oh, shut up." Chris rolled his eyes and snorted. "You weren't that bad, and I had to pay off my bike!"

"Now I know you're a liar." Toby shrugged. "Don't worry. I won't tell."

Chris slugged his coffee back. He had to take Toby home before they got too cozy. Chances were good that Toby would never call, and Chris wouldn't blame him. "Toby, you need a leather jacket. I know a place that'll give you a good deal."

Toby's cup stopped in mid-air. "That'd be different. I'll think about it."

"You can wear mine this morning. Let's go." Chris grabbed the keys, threw the coat at Toby, and put on his boots. Toby slipped inside the coat, and he looked good, but he didn't know it. Chris moved in for a kiss and took it with no apology. He stuck his hand in his own coat pocket and found his tic-tacs. "Want one?"

Toby opened his mouth. Chris used his tongue to deliver it and told his cock to settle down. "Don't forget the nightstick."

"Right." Toby went back to the bedroom and came out with it. "You sure?"

"I think you need it more than I do." Chris smiled and kissed him as they went out the door. The Harley seat was cold as Chris got it started. "Ready?"

Toby got on the back and shivered. "Coat. Right."

Chris laughed and took Toby home.


Toby got off the bike and handed Chris his coat and the extra helmet. "Thanks, Chris."

Chris revved the engine. "See ya, Toby."

Toby watched him leave. Everything in his life had changed last night. He swung the nightstick gently and laughed. Chris had a way of roaring in and out of people's lives. The big engine shook the quiet neighborhood, and Chris was gone, but everyone was awake now. He went in the house and poured himself another cup from the tray the maid always set out. It would be nice and weak. He stared at it for a moment. The coffee was like him, and the thought was bitter. He gripped the nightstick tightly. He wasn't weak, not any longer. Strength was inside him, he just had to push it out into the daylight. Be strong, but not a fucker.

"Toby?" His father's voice came down the stairs.

"It's me, Dad!" Toby tried very hard not to sound resentful. He was though. His father liked him weak. It made him easier to control. Alcohol had made it possible to live that way. He glanced at the decanter. No. He was not going to do it.

"We paged you three times!" His father came striding into the room. He took up a lot of space, and Toby should have been intimidated, and before Oz, he had been, but after Schillinger, it just seemed weak.

"I told you I'd be late." Toby didn't smile an apology. "I was busy."

"Your mother was worried!"

Toby shrugged and refused to apologize. His father lied about that stuff all the time. His mother might have been asleep. "My pager had an accident." He added real cream and sugar, laughed softly at Chris's attitude, and took his coffee to a chair. "I'm going to get a cell phone, but it's not always going to be on."

"I have an extra one. Take it."

"I will do it myself. Thank you." Toby knew he was capable of getting a phone. Events jumbled together, smoothed out, and his lawyer brain turned on and worked. He awkwardly spun the nightstick in his hands.

"What is that awful thing?" His father looked repulsed.

"This is a CO's nightstick from Oz. I've been hit with it more than once." Toby put it in his lap. It was awful, but necessary, like Oz, and it would serve as a potent reminder not to drink. "Dad, do you have Chris Keller's cell phone number?"

His father stepped back. He straightened his tie. It was Saturday. Where was he going? "Yes. Do you need it?"

"I will." Toby watched the pieces fall into place--links in a chain. "Have you spoken to Mr. Spigarelli lately?"

"No, but he sends his regards."

Toby knew the matter should never be discussed again. His father wouldn't want thanks, and Spigarelli had done all the work. All Chris had done was call Toby's father and tell him that Schillinger was out and dangerous. Chris was innocent, mostly. Toby rubbed his forehead. He'd always assumed . . . Well, he'd been wrong, and he took a swallow of coffee.

"Do you trust Chris Keller?"

"No. However, I respect him."

Toby wasn't sure his father would say the same about him. He finished his weak, bland coffee and looked around the room. This house represented everything he'd been, but it wasn't who he was, not any longer. His father seemed oblivious. The family was important, but not Toby. He put his cup down gently and went upstairs. Removing the picture from the wall over his bed, he hung up the nightstick. That should work. The maid might fall over dead, but what the fuck. He caressed it with a finger and acknowledged a host of uncertainties that lingered. Drinking wouldn't make it better though, just blurrier. There had to be a path through this forest of doubts. He glanced at the clock and went to shower. Today, he'd spend the day with his kids. Tomorrow, however, would be different.


Chris snapped open his cell phone. "Talk."

"What a lovely greeting you have."

"Traffic. Where are you?" Chris eased off the throttle. Light ahead.

"Home." Toby sounded desperate, for something.

"Give me ten." Chris stowed it way, swung around a huge ass SUV, and kicked it through a yellow light. It had been a week, but he hadn't worried. Toby was still getting used to the world again. Chris braked to a stop and revved the engine. Toby came out the door as if he'd been waiting right on the other side of it. He had on a leather jacket, ripped jeans, boots, and a wife-beater.

"That you, Beech?" Chris rubbed his eyes.

"You forget my ugly face?" Toby did look different, but good.

"The clothes almost make you look human." Chris got out Toby's helmet, and so what if it was a new one that Wittlesey had never worn. "Where are we going?"

"Just go." Toby's hands slipped under and found skin. It felt good, and Chris got them moving. "Fast."

Chris got out on the highway where they could go seventy, and it felt like the wind was going to rip them apart, but it didn't. If Oz couldn't do it, the wind didn't have a chance. Toby held on, and twice, he pointed. Chris followed the finger and knew where they were going. What he didn't know was why. He stopped his bike out on the road, but the security cameras could see them from here.


Toby took off his helmet and smoothed his hair back. It was short again. Chris put his hand on Toby's thigh and waited. Toby sighed. "Fucking place."

Chris decided to say nothing. He did point at the security camera that had moved to point right at them.


Chris laughed softly. "Feel better?"

"I think it'll take more than that." Toby got off the bike.

"Toby, one rock, one finger, one move that is threatening, and we'll be arrested." Chris yawned. He cared, but acting like it was a mistake.

Toby just stared at the bricks and wire. "I did that to myself."

"Yep." Chris went ahead and put down the kickstand. He got off and stretched, but he was careful to keep his helmet on and his face away from the cameras. "We got about five minutes before they come out and question us."

"The only reason I'm standing out here is because you gave a damn."

"You'd have gotten out. It might have taken a little longer." Chris didn't mention that Schillinger would have killed Toby. No reason to say it. Toby knew it.

"Some days I want to go back to Oz, where nothing mattered, especially not me." Toby finally looked away, at Chris. "I'm going to need you to talk me out of it when I feel that way."

Chris wasn't going to deny the truth in all that talk. Toby was his own worst enemy, but he would find the strength. He had to, and Chris would help. "I can do that. If you want."

Toby put his helmet on. "I'm moving out of my parent's house."

"Any chance you'll give me your forwarding address?" Chris didn't wait one second past the moment that Toby's ass hit the saddle. They were coming. He knew it, and if they ran his plate, they'd realize it was him. Well, fuck it. They hadn't done anything wrong, not often, at least. Toby held on, and this time Chris picked the direction and took them to his house. They went inside put their helmets on the bench. Toby tossed his coat. Chris noticed that it wasn't brand new.

"Thanks for the helmet."

"No problem. The other one wasn't your style." Chris shrugged off his jacket and put it on Toby's.

Toby laughed. "Wittlesey looked cute in it though."

"No fucking way you could know that." Chris wouldn't put it past him though. It was possible, but not likely.

"Believe what you will." Toby smirked. "Chris, you know I have money."

"It's why I date you." Chris got comfortable on the couch. He couldn't wait to hear this. "Did you buy something good? A plane?"

"I bought this house." Toby gave him a shitty grin. "Say hello to your new landlord."

"Damn." Chris hadn't expected that. He felt almost cheap. "The toilet runs."

"I'll get someone to fix it." Toby sat down next to him. "You mad?"

"Hell, Toby. I can always ride away, if the rent gets too high." Chris made a rude noise. He didn't care about the house. "Why did we go out there?"

"I'm not the man I was when I went in that place. I can't just go on as if nothing fucking happened!" Toby exploded.

Chris nodded. That made sense. "Who's asking you to?"

"My parents! My ex-wife! The few friends that will talk to me. Even my brother. They all just want to forget it." Toby got to his feet. "And I can't. I need different things now. Fuck the maid. Fuck the country club, and fuck everyone who thinks I'm going to do what they say!"

The anger was easy to hear, but also pain and suffering. Chris didn't look at Toby for a moment, just to give him some space. "So, you've finally figured out that what you want is important. Was it so fucking hard?"

"Yes!" Toby got up and began to pace. "It's easy to be nothing but a drunk."

"Or a prag." Chris tried not to notice that Toby took three steps--the length of a cell. "So, what'll it be? You somebody or a big pile of nothing?"

Toby clenched his hands together. "Damn it all."

"You have to believe that you have something. You are something." Chris got up and held him, stopping the motion. "Nothing will see you right back to Oz, and I'm not going."

"Fuck." Toby buried his head in Chris's shoulder. "Why are you the only person that understands?"

"They ain't been there. It ain't their fault." Chris nuzzled Toby's hair and tried to comfort him. "Give them a break."

Toby's blue eyes looked at him. "You wouldn't go with me?"

Chris kissed and held him. "Sorry. I'm counting on you to stay out where we can get our hands on each other whenever we want."

"Oh." Toby smiled, but there was sadness inside it. "I'll try not to let us down."

Chris kissed him again. They'd do this together, and maybe it'd be all right.


Toby leaned into Chris and tried to find a spot that didn't hurt his heart so much. Chris believed in him, and he could do it. Stay clean. Stay out. He could do it, for himself as much as Chris. Toby sighed softly and rubbed his cheek against him. So much between them, and not all of it good, but it was real, and it was theirs.

"Can I move in?" Toby didn't beg. He asked the question firmly. Chris would tell him if he wasn't wanted. Chris was an honest man, except when he lied.

"If you want. Your half of the rent is three hundred." Chris pushed Toby's head back and kissed him on the neck. "But I hear the landlord likes cock."

Toby felt a shiver race down him, and he smiled. Chris was through being serious, and that was fine. No reason to talk this to death today. After all, there weren't any bars between them any longer to keep the words to a bare minimum. Toby groaned softly as lips worked their way across his throat.

"Maybe he'll give us a break if we fuck him," Toby said. Being fucked sounded pretty good about now.

"Always a chance. It's worked for me before." Chris suddenly pulled away. "Game's on."

Toby groaned again. The game? "Fuck."

"Later. Football first." Chris sat down and turned on the TV. "Get me a beer, roomie."

"Shit." Toby had a feeling he'd be doing a lot of this. He went to the fridge and got a beer and a Coke. He plunked his ass down right next to Chris and handed it over. Living here had to be better than his parent's house, even if they had to do the laundry and clean. "I gotta get a job."

"Good idea. Rent's due on the fifteenth." Chris gave him that sweet smile. "No pets allowed."

"I've been thinking about being a janitor--all that on the job training." Toby raised his hand and slipped it through Chris's short hair. "You fuck."

Chris looked away from the game, and his blue eyes snapped. "I don't remember you ever liking that job. All I heard were complaints."

Toby shrugged. "Yeah. I forgot that part. Good thing you're here to remind me, prick."

"Yep." Chris grabbed Toby and pulled him into a scorching kiss. Toby gasped. His body instantly responded, and he wrapped his fists in Chris's T-shirt. Chris drew away and smirked. "You still know dick?"

Toby laughed. "It's only been a week." He shook him. One thing had nagged at him the entire week, and he confessed, "I told Sister Pete that I love you."

"What?" Chris put his hands over his eyes. "Tell me you're fucking with me."

"I thought that Nazi prick was going to kill me, and I had to tell someone. Sorry. She knows."

"She'll call." Chris slumped lower on the couch. "I might as well go to confession later today."

Toby didn't quite get that, but he'd think about it. He kissed him through his hands. Chris gripped him by the face and kissed him hard. Toby forgot how to breathe and think. He sighed when Chris pushed him away. The game was still on, and Toby got comfortable with his soda. The couch really wasn't big enough for the both of them. He might have to buy a new one, or not.

"I want a Harley." Toby thought he'd throw it out there, even though he liked riding on the back.

"Better start with a Honda--a small one." Chris opened his beer and wrapped a long arm around Toby. "And this is my couch, ya hog."

Toby ignored the insult. He'd do what he wanted. He put his boots on the coffee table because it was his. "Not any longer, prag."

Chris surprised him by laughing. Toby settled back to watch Chris watch the game. He had a ways to go, but he'd get there now. He'd get there. Today was a step in the right direction.


"Sister Pete?"

Sister Pete looked up from her book and coffee. She was on break for a few more minutes. "Can I help you, Glynn?"

"I want your opinion on something." Glynn slapped two photos down on the table. "Take a look."

She put on her glasses and stared at the first photo. "That's Tobias Beecher. His hair is short, and the clothes are a shock, but it's him."

Glynn nodded. "And the other man standing by the motorcycle?" He pointed at the second photo.

"I can't tell with the helmet on." She looked up. "What? Tobias didn't break his parole, did he?"

"No, but he came damn close," Glynn growled, "We ran the plate. That's Chris Keller!"

She stared at it again. "You're right. I recognize the jacket." She crossed herself.

"Exactly!" Glynn got up. "What the hell was going on with those two in here?"

"Glynn, I can't break patient confidentiality, but I don't think they did anything wrong." She tried to act certain, even if she wasn't. Keller was one of the best liars she'd ever run across. He needed to go to confession, fast. She'd call him later and check on him.

Glynn snorted. "They'd better not of!" And he stormed away, leaving the pictures behind.

Father Mukada sat down and pulled the pictures across to look at them. "Sister, I think it's time you restored my faith."

"I do need to confess." She smiled. "God does work in mysterious ways."

"Keller and Beecher. Together. That's not mysterious. That's a miracle."

"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," she intoned. Had she? She wasn't sure, but it was a miracle. God was in Oz, and He had chosen Keller to save Beecher from himself. Those two would do good things together. God was never wrong.


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