Anyway here's the story:
"The sands of time were falling
from your fingers and your thumb
And you were waiting
For the miracle to come..."
(Leonard Cohen - "Waiting for the Miracle")
He winces and rolls, tucking one hand under the pillow, burying the other one under the sheets. His knees almost touch his chest, his shoulders are crouched forward.
A woman leans forward, holding his face in her cold hands. He can't see who she is, but he knows it's her. Long dark hair tangles between his fingers, her scent fills up the room, choking him. She never says anything. She just holds him tight, tighter. Too tight.
Sometimes she's not even there. Sometimes *nobody's* there.
Toby wakes up in silence, eyes always fixed on the clock near his bed.
He never wakes up screaming anymore. Cathy Rockwell's gone, she's left him. Instead, his wife's made sure to take her place.
Toby spends the rest of the night thinking about Chris. Not Gen, not Cathy Rockwell, not Julia Meyers, the young teacher he's met at his parents' house. Chris.
She smiles. He smiles back and looks at his feet.
"So...we're gonna do this? All over again?"
A quiet, amused little chuckle:
"Why not? We're quite good at it, wouldn't you say?"
Yeah, they're very good at it. Sister Peter Marie wonders for a tiny second if she's ever had a patient as good at spinning in circles as him. Stupid thought.
They have established an almost non-verbal agreement a couple of months back: no Beecher, no Toby, no "how do you feel about it, Chris", no "what do you think Beecher's doing right this moment, Sister". No Toby.
Better for everybody.
And the weird thing, the surprising thing - for Keller - was finding out just how *little* he actually has to say to this woman who's supposed to be his psychotherapist or whatever. The surprise wasn't mutual, though.
He looks at his feet again and takes a long, ragged breath. He silently waits for the magic buzz that coordinates every single person's life in Oz to *fucking* BUZZ already.
"Chris...why do you keep coming here if you don't want to say anything?"
This gets his attention. He looks up, eyebrows knitting for a second.
"You want me to stop coming?"
A couple of years ago, she would've most likely been exasperated by this stupid defensive technique of his. Now she just nods in annoyment. Because that's what it is, right? That's what it ALL is - was.
A childish, very well elaborated, beautifully skilled, but still incredibly childish protective mechanism. She failed to see it back then. Probably she knows him a bit better now.
Pete puts her hands on her desk and and half-raises out of her chair.
"You know what I want? I want to give you an assignment. And you'll do it, you hear me?"
Her determination always gets him. This woman's beautiful.
"Kinda like...homework?" he snickers.
"Well, giving your school record, I'd say 'homework' is not the most appropriate word."
"Homework," he says, nodding. She can't help but smile. "What?" he asks.
"Write a letter."
Oh, yeah...this is psychotherapy, baby!...
"She wants me to write a letter."
"Yeah. To myself."
Both Hill and O'Reily break up simultaneously. Rebadow shuffles the cards and smiles that weird, enigmatic little smile Keller's gotten used to over the years.
"You know, Chris," Bob says looking at the cards: "There's a reason why the sessions you have with Sister Peter Marie aren't called 'group counseling'. What she tells you and what you tell her is supposed to be just between you and her."
"Don't think Keller over here knows the difference," O'Reily snickers.
Ryan spreads his legs under the table and crosses his arms over his chest:
"Not in this lifetime, K-boy."
There's a little suspended moment of eerie silence hanging between the two men. Everybody at the table senses it. The type of shit that used to happen when Beecher was still around. But this time around it is faded, eroded. That doesn't mean they can't feel it though.
"Whatever," Keller mutters.
And the moment's gone.
Chris puts his head over his fisted hands on the table and Beecher's voice is right there, right next to him. He could look at his left sideways, he could reach - just a little to the left. He's there.
'What are you gonna write, Chris? You're going to tell her just how much you hate yourself? You're gonna tell *yourself* just how much you hate?...'
(Me. Yourself. Everything and everybody. Yourself. What you did. What I did. What I didn't do...)
Beecher's voice, slithering like fire inside:
'But this isn't about me, Chris. It's about you.'
(Remember, you stupid fuck?)
I'm gonna tell her - gonna tell myself - how much I love. Because I do love.
I love you.
Nobody's there to answer.
Beecher's voice doesn't melt into his own on this one.
He doesn't even know if it is his voice. Or Beecher's.
In the meantime, miles and miles of Miles Davis away from Emerald City, Tobias Beecher is dancing. Yes, dancing.
Moon Dreams spin around him as Julia wraps her arms around his shoulders, with his own arms knit around her slender waist.
She's a jazz fanatic and he loves taking long walks and watching the sunset. She's great with Holly and Harry and he enjoys holding her tight in his arms when watching "Halloween" for the 4-th time in a row. She's his kind of romantic and he's hers. Her kind.
The world starts making sense again. Or so it seems.
Anyway, it's better than what he had before.
Dear Chris. Dear, deadly, dearly departured Christopher Keller, you outstanding piece of shit you. What, you can't write? You can't even write to yourself?...
What a surprise.
"Ahhh, fucking Christ!"
"What's the matter, Keller?" O'Reily leans over his bunk to look below but quickly retreats remembering the shit that happened the last time he did that. "Can't spell your own name?"
"I don't know what this woman wants from me," Keller whispers almost to himself.
"Just write some bullshit, man. You're good at that." Ryan grins wickedly, looking into the mirror at him. "Form letter, 'member?"
Keller doesn't reply.
After a couple of moments O'Reily looks back into the mirror.
"You don't have to write anything," Ryan says in his usual off-hand manner. He sees the other man smirking, but not looking up.
"You ever saw that "Dangerous Liaisons" movie?" Keller asks. "You know, the one with that Uma Thurman chick?"
"Whoever wrote that guy up must've written me too." His voice is barely a whisper.
"Nothing." He lies down in his bunk and closes his eyes as the lights go out for the night. "Form letter, huh?"
"Yeah, man." O'Reily stretches his arms over his head and smiles in the darkness. "What the fuck else?"
Chris Keller, Christopher Keller - Convicted June 16, 1998. Sentence: 88 years. Up for parole in 50. What the fuck else?
And Toby holds her and her body is soft and tender under his fingertips and she whispers in his ear words that filter through sand and water and ice and break into little pieces falling through his body.
And he knows Gen's there, right next to him, beneath his skin, whispering just as softly.
And he is. Finding his peace. In her arms.
She's giving it to him with every touch, every whisper. She's right there with him, for him. Taking him whole, taking her whole. Breathing in through her mouth, melting.
And it feels right, it feels safe. Sane.
True and present and right there, right inside him, inside her. Holding her and feeling her warm hands holding him back. Suspended.
And that little girl on her bike, and Vern Schillinger and that soulless, faceless, empty body still sliding across Em City's glass walls like a smeared memory of pain and guilt and dark, blinding lunacy and lust - they all shriek into a corner and silently laugh at him.
(Stop doing this.)
Chris just stares. Hands in his pockets, back against the wall. Quiet and motionless.
(Are you gonna fuck this up too?)
---end of part 3---
It just hit me right now...what the fuck happened to Schillinger?!...
I really need to work on this shelter of oblivion fic...