Title: The Promise
Author: Ramius
Finished: February 1, 2001
Rating: PG-13 for language, sorry, nothing explicit
Summary: Immediately after "Cuts Like a Knife", Toby's not happy.... but then again, would you be?
Disclaimer: They don't belong to me, they belong to Tom Fontana and the wonderful people over at HBO. But if they did, well, you guys probably wouldn't be seeing them....
Spoilers: Through season 4.2 #4 Cuts Like a Knife
Warnings: Well, seeing as I've been seriuosly yelled at by my two betas, I'll give a big warning here and now. This is your last chance. This is a sad fic. It is not happy, it is not sappy, it is not filled with hot b/k monkey lovin. Don't blame me, I just wrote what they told me. This is your last chance, from here on out, I take no responsibility for the reaction of the reader.
Notes: Thanks to Lily and Dori, you rock. Thanks to the Sisterhood for being there to cry with and listen when everybody else I know thought I was nuts. The song lyrics are from the songs "Without You" and "Your Eyes" from the show "Rent" by Jonathon Larson. I think that's about it, on with the show!
Notes pt 2: Since we are now Post-4.2, I think I should make mention that I wrote this before "THE phone call" and decided not to change it after we saw the one that took place on the show.


January 28, 2001 Receiving Area

"Tobias. Tobias, are you ready? We really should be getting you back to Em City."

"Huh? Oh, okay." Sister Peter Marie's words had dragged Toby out of a semiconscious state. He wasn't even sure how long he had been sitting on the bench in the receiving area. "Yeah, I'm ready to go back," he said, trying to muster some kind of enthusiasm. Truth be told, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to stand up.

"Okay, then, let's go. Are you sure you're okay, Tobias? Would you rather we go talk?"

"No, really, Sister Pete, I'll be fine. Just need to get some rest." And with those words, Beecher headed back to Em City, to his pod, to a world that was now completely devoid of Chris Keller. It wasn't until he took a good look around - the common area, the computer room, the laundry room - that it finally hit him. Chris was gone, and he wasn't coming back.


February 5, 2001 Sister Pete's Office

"So, how are you doing, Tobias?" Sister Pete asked. Other than a question about a file here or there, Toby hadn't spoken a word to her in a week.

"Is this you asking as a therapist? Because I really don't think a counseling session is what I need right now," Toby snapped angrily.

"No, I'm asking as a friend. I'm concerned."

"Well, I'm coping. Doing the best I can. It's just... it's just so goddamn hard walking around Oz every day and not having him there. Even when we weren't... together... he was always there for me. Even if he did show it in fucked up ways." Toby was on the verge of tears.

"It's completely understandable-" Sister Pete started to say, but was quickly cut off by Beecher, who didn't even seem to notice she was there anymore.

"I mean, I know I should be grateful for everything he did for me. But all I feel is this intense void inside of me, and the most I can seem to be thankful for is that there isn't a Keller around - the old Keller - because all I really want right now is to take a long hard drink and fade into oblivion. For all the hard work I've done, all the counseling, group session, if there was a bottle around, I'd grab it in an instant."

"Now, Tobias-"

"Yeah, I know. Drinking won't help anything. It won't bring Chris back, and it won't do me any good. So I'll just come to work, read my books, go to sleep, and what? Try to ignore the fact that he's gone and it's my fault? The only person I've ever truly loved and it's my *fucking* fault that he's gone! Just another person I've driven from my life." Now Toby was crying.

"Tobias, can't you see? Chris did this *for* you, not *because* of you. So you could have a fresh start with Schillinger. So you can be safe."

"Yeah, well, maybe I don't want to be safe if it means I have to be safe without him," Toby yelled as he jumped from his chair and stormed out of Sister Pete's office.


February 6, 2001 Beecher's Pod

"Hey. Beecher." It was Murphy, pounding on the door to his pod.


"You're wanted in Sister Pete's office. C'mon."

"What does she want?"

"How the hell am I supposed to know. Prob'ly wonderin why you didn't show up for work today. Let's go already." Murphy was already walking through the common area, not waiting to see if Beecher was following.


Sister Pete's Office

"Here you are, Pete. One Tobias Beecher. At your service."

"Thank you, Sean. Now leave us alone, please." Sister Pete shot a sideways glance that told Murphy to get the hell out.

"Whatever," and he was gone.

"Tobias, I was seriously concerned about you yesterday, and then you don't show up for work today. It's not like you." Sister Pete looked towards Beecher expectantly, but he remained quiet, opting for a silent shrug. "I was wondering if there was anything I could do to help you."

"Really, Sister Pete, it's okay. I just got a little over emotional yesterday and, honestly, I was ashamed to face you this morning. It won't happen again."

"I know it won't. But I didn't call you here to reprimand you. I have someone... a friend, I think you should talk to him."

Before Toby could say anything, she picked up the phone and dialed a number from memory. "Hello, this is Peter Marie Reimondo, I believe you were expecting my call... Yes, I realized my name is Peter and I'm female, could you just put him on the phone, please?" Sister Pete shot a look of bemused frustration at Beecher and rolled her eyes, whispering "every time... Oh! hello," she said to the person on the phone. "Yes, I've got him sitting right here. Hold on." She cupped her hand over the mouthpiece and handed Beecher the phone, saying, "Just give him a chance."

"Hello, this is Mr. Tobias Beecher," Toby said tentatively.

"Hey! Don't you sound all high and mighty!" The voice on the other end came booming back at Toby. "So I guess Sister Pete was able to lure you into her den after all."

Toby looked over at Sister Pete, all the sadness drained from his eyes. He was again happy, filled with energy. "Chris! How...? What...? Did Sister Pete call you?" Toby couldn't seem to get his words to form sentences.

"We do have pay phones here, ya know. I called Sister Pete yesterday, and she told me how you stormed out. So, I tried again this morning. Then we cooked up our little scheme. Are you mad?" Chris asked, and Toby could picture his grin across the telephone wires.

"It's just, I mean, wow!"

"You know, I thought you used to be a lawyer. Aren't they supposed to have a way with words?"

'You've always been the one who was great with words,' Toby thought, but just said, "Yeah. It's just I was caught off guard, that's all."

"I wanted to check up on you, see how you were doing, make sure you hadn't shacked up with somebody else," Chris paused for effect, while Sister Pete thought Toby was going to choke. "Just kidding."

"No, Chris, I'm fine. How are you? What's the prison like? Are you in any danger from the Aryans?" It was obvious that this last one was the one that worried Toby most.

"Nah. This place is a cakewalk. Stupid fucks up here don't know dick. Somebody should show them a video on how to make shanks."

"Well, be careful anyway. You never know."

"Yes, mother. But I really called for another reason. We need to have a talk."

"Okay, Chris, What do you want to talk about?" Toby asked nervously.

"We need to talk about you, Tobe. You're going to be paroled in a couple of months. I think you should take Holly and the baby and go on a long vacation. Somewhere nice. Forget about all your worries."

"Well, that sounds nice and all, but I'm not sure I'll be in much of a vacation mood. Besides which, I've got you up in Massachusetts to worry about..."

Keller cut him off, "That's the other thing. I don't think you should have to worry about me."

"But, Chris-"

"No, let me say this again - *don't* worry about me. You've got your whole life ahead of you. Don't fuck that up by living in the past. I want you to forget about me, Tobe. It's best."

"How could that *possibly* be best?!?" Toby yelled into the phone. "I can't just leave you up there."

"Yes, Toby, you can, and you will. This is my life. I chose it, and I've gotta live with it. You, you've got so many other things. A whole other life."

"But that's not who I am anymore, Chris!"

"I know. But when you get out, you can't just spend the rest of your life as 97B412. You've gotta move on."


"So, Toby, this is our last phone call. Don't ask about me. Don't call. Don't write. If you do, I won't answer. You've gotta promise me- "

Toby just slammed the receiver onto the hook and, for the second day in a row, stormed out of Sister Pete's office.


February 14, 2001 Sister Pete's Office


"Yes, Tobias?"

"You used to be married, right?"

"Yes." Where was this going?

"Did you and your husband celebrate Valentine's Day?"

"Well, actually, no, we did not."

"When I was a kid, we'd give each other cards. We'd make a mailbox at school out of paper and stickers and other kids would put their cards in it. Then I got a little older, and I would usually have a steady girl. Get her flowers or a present, something nice. Then, when I was married, every year it was something big. Nothing was too nice or too expensive. But in Oz, it just seems to disappear. It's no different from the other 364 days."

"You really miss him, don't you?"

"God, you don't know how much. I would give everything I have just to see his face, to hold him in my arms again. But he wants me to forget him. How the hell am I supposed to do that?"

"Tobias, he was only thinking about what's best for you."

"I really don't care what's best for me anymore."

"Just give him some time. Let him cool down. If you really need to express yourself to him, why don't you write him a letter?"

"He said not to."

"But that doesn't necessarily mean he won't read it. It can't hurt."


February 14, 2001

Happy Valentine's Day! I know you told me not to
write, just to leave you alone. But I can't stop thinking about you.
I don't care how long you're locked up, you will always be a part of
me. I can't sleep at nights, I can't eat. You know, the year of the
accident, for Valentine's Day, I took Gen to see a new show on
Broadway, called "Rent." Ever since you left, I can't get this song
out of my mind.
Without you, the hand gropes, the ear hears, the pulse beats
Without you, the eyes gaze, the legs walk, the lungs breath
The mind churns, the heart yearns, the tears dry, without you
Life goes on, but I'm gone, 'cause I die, without you.

Write me back, or don't write me back. Either way, I can't go the
rest of my life without you. Without knowing you're okay.




March 12, 2001 Sister Pete's Office

"Pete, I'm gonna go now, if that's okay."

"That's fine, Tobias. Give Holly a big hug."

"I always do. Sister?"

"Yes, Tobias?"

"You sent that letter soon after I wrote it, right?"

"Yes I did. The next day."

"And you haven't heard anything back? Not even a phone call."

Actually, Peter Marie *had* received a phone call, but not one she was going to tell Tobias about. The frantic call had come early in the morning, the week after she sent the letter. Chris had been in a panic. Little did Toby know that Chris was just as depressed as he. And if Chris had any say in it, Toby would never know. "No, I haven't heard anything."

"Okay. Thanks." Nothing? Toby couldn't even imagine Chris sitting there with his letter. Not even bothering to open it. Maybe Chris was right, maybe it was all for the best.


April 19, 2001 Em City Common Area

McManus strolled up to Beecher with his 'I'm concerned for your well- being' look on his face. "Beecher, I need to talk to you."


"Can we do it somewhere more private? Let's go to your pod."

"Okay, whatever."

The two of them walked over towards Beecher's pod, which was currently occupied by his new pod-mate, Mark Wheeler.

"Do you mind if we could have a minute alone?" McManus said to Wheeler in a tone that implied he had no choice.

"Yeah, sure, I'm outta here. Good luck with the principal," Mark said to Beecher on his way out.

"We've had some bad news, Tobias. Chris Keller died."

Toby sunk to the floor of his pod, he couldn't even make it to the bed. "Chris? Dead? When? How? What happened? Who did it? I'm gonna shank him myself!" All of a sudden Toby was full of life, he jumped up and started pacing in frantic circles before finally succumbing to the rush of adrenaline and collapsing on his bunk.

"They found him yesterday, in the shower. He had been poisoned. Apparently they don't know yet if he was killed or if it was suicide. Apparently he'd been depressed since he arrived, and it got worse last week after he was handed down a life sentence for the Schillinger murder."

Toby could barely get out the word. "Suicide?" No, not suicide, not Chris. Chris was always the strong one. Chris was the one who could take anyone, anything. He said so himself. "They stab me, they shoot me, I ain't going down." But now he was down, and there was nothing Toby could do about it.


May 17, 2001 Beecher's Pod

Sister Peter Marie was knocking on the door, awakening Toby from his much needed nap. In the past month, he had gone from very little sleep at night to none at all. He hadn't eaten a meal in the cafeteria in as long. Sister Pete sometimes brought him food, sneaking it past the COs, and he would pick at it, eating just enough to satisfy her, then throwing the rest out.

"Tobias? May I come in?"

Toby rolled over and mumbled an incoherent answer. She took this as a yes.

"I have something for you."

"Huh?" Toby replied groggily.

"It's a letter. I'll just leave it here on the table for you. Go back to sleep."


April 16, 2001

Your eyes, as we said our goodbyes
Can't get them out of my mind
And I find, I can't hide

From your eyes
The ones that took me by surprise
The night you came into my life
Where there's moonlight, I see your eyes

How'd I let you slip away
When I'm longing so to hold you
Now I'd die for just one day
Cause there's something I should have told you
Yes there's something I should have told you

When I looked into your eyes
Why does distance make us wise?
You were the song all along
And before this song dies

I should tell you, I should tell you
I have always loved you
You can see it in my eyes

I do love you, Toby, and I always will. And we'll be together
soon, I promise.


Reading the letter from Chris, Toby knew he was right. Chris Keller always kept his promises

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