Alestar gave me the title when she hadn't even read any of it. She's a marvel.

waiting gives the devil time.


"Toby, Toby, baby-- listen. Just listen. It'll work, I promise."

"You remember when you told me not to lie to you, Chris? Well, I'm asking you to return the favor. Don't fucking lie."

"I'm not. Baby, I promise."

But he is. He is lying, he will always lie if he thinks it's the right thing to do. And Toby, he'd had just about enough of the Nazi's shit. But there was no way to find him, no way to find him in the depths of the night and the depths of his soul said, 'no', really quietly. Chris owed Vern, whether he wanted to admit it or not.

Toby grins, looking at the hands holding his, and the faint scars tracing little patterns around the knuckles and palms, whorls of apologies. "Fine. Then let's kill the fucker."

"Okay. Tomorrow."

It's always tomorrow, with Chris.


But earlier on, before they went on a little parade around the forest carrying a burden too heavy for any earthly mortal to bear, something else happened to push these two scared-for-their-lives men into honesty. Toby, walking around in nothing but tube socks and a scowl, came apon the corpse of another dead dog in the middle of him and Keller's front hall-- there's something he never thought he'd be sharing with the sexual and holy St. Christopher, but here they were.

And here was a dead dog -- most of a dead dog -- too. Waiting for last rites.

This was the third in as many days, and he barely moved his head before the ritual heaving started; oh, yes, Vern was going to bite it, and good. Just as soon as they could catch him, or whatever inside him that said, 'no', they'd catch it all, and then they'd kill that motherfucker good.

The vomiting started the first time Toby had seen anything dead. Or--the first time he'd seen an animal with its head cut off. The dead guys in the riot didn't do much for his bowels one way or another. But Ross was worse than an animal, and Toby... he'd been certainly animalistic himself, those days.

He stepped away from the little puddle, ignoring it as just another thing that would probably disappear before morning. Another dead dog.

"Time to get out the shovels."

That it was.

At least this one didn't look like the neck had been gnawed as well as drunk from. Two little puncture marks, nothing really messy. The first little poodle had had its skull bludgeoned to death and barely holding together, and some of the tendons and ligaments still holding it onto the base of its neck. And the flesh that remained attached to the bloodied stump was--

It had teeth marks in it. Not canine, not animalistic. Very omnivorous teeth-marks.

The vomiting had seemed necessary at that point; purification, revulsion, a deep-seeded need to get rid of everything in himself that might possibly have any connection to the body in front of him. There is a need, a driving need, to get rid of bodily fluids in acts of cleansing, need that pushed both of them to do things.

Chris bled, out little self-inflicted wounds, and Toby, he threw up.


Toby sniffled. "Tell me you love me."

"Of course I do, baby."

Sniffled again. Is the weak one, today. "Tell me that all of this is a bad dream."

"Somewhere, yeah."

Toby stands up, now, looks around. Wonders how Chris got an apartment without the help of anyone who lived in this world. Wonders how Chris, a predator and a criminal, ended up dragging a graduate of law school around by the lapels in order to keep them both upright. Wonders, a lot of things.

"Hey, Chris?"


"You ever have a dog when you were a kid?"

Chris laughs. Lays down on the bed, stares up at his lover through eyes that don't really want to be witnessing this conversation. Closes his eyes-- there, that's better.

"Naw. Wanted one."

"What kind--"

They are interrupted by a loud banging on the door of their place, then O'Reily's huffing body throwing itself inside, shutting the door with a sharp bang. "Pack up. We've gotta get going, K-boy."

In an instant, Chris is on his feet, and wary. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Ryan had grabbed a few beers from the fridge, and tossed Toby a duffel bag, waving the bottle around to suggest urgency. "That fuck's comin' here, I think, and you don't wanna be here."

"Why would you tell us?"

A charming grin. "Can't a guy try and help his friends?"

Chris smiles back, just as charming. Toby is motionless on the bed, as if all the life has already drained out of him. Chris glances at his body, and bites his lip-- but now's not the time to worry about it, really. "No."

"Well, I am. And I need you two. Shit's going down, and there aren't enough of us--"

Another bang on the door. O'Reily jumps, and gets a glazed, headlight stare. From the other side of the wooden door came, "Open up, you buggers!"

Chris got into motion. "Yeah?"

"It's Spike, fucker. Invite me in, for gods sake."

Toby is still holding a dark blue duffle bag in his lap. The color seems to be very, very important to him, his well-being, his sanity. Dark blue. Dark. Blue. He says, "God's got nothing to do with this place. Don't you know that?"

Regardless, they let Spike in. Check the time. Look outside. Make some noises that mean, 'Fuck.' And, 'Let's get out of here.' And even, 'Look, I've got a last resort, but I don't want to use her yet...'

"Well, Christ, Spike. It's not like we've got many other choices, right?" Chris leans back against his headboard-- their, headboard-- and smokes casually. His face is calm, and only Toby knows his worry. Because it's Toby's hand he's got wrapped around his fingers so tight, each fingertip on both their hands are going numb. "There's three of us mortals. You."

O'Reily is watching out the window of the apartment. "I hate to admit it, more'n any of you, but we're fucked right now unless we think."

Spike sighs. He's more used to admitting defeat, but with this particular bird, it *stung*. "Right. So I go and beg for mercy. Won't your playmates from the other side want to have you put in chains and whipped, come day break?"

It's Toby's turn to surprise the other three. And he does, by standing up and smashing his fist through the plaster wall of their home, into the leaky bathroom. "I'm not going to let that fucker win."

It's said coldly. Calmly. Ryan sips beer in the silence, and watches Toby pace, waiting for dawn.


He thinks it was the first night they ever spent in the New World, that Chris realized he was already dead. No job, no hope, no power. Nothing for an addict still trying to stay clean to look forward to, nothing for an ex-con to gain, everything dirty, for everyone he'd ever pretended to be.

Waiting for death, it just wasn't his style, most of the time.

And so, this new development, of uber-villains, it stung in places he'd forgotten about. Little pieces of ego that he barely remembered, little pieces that he hadn't remade over and over and over again, maybe a piece or two that still had some real substance, that weren't just glue.

And there was no religious significance attached to this ego. Nothing of the cloth to subscribe Chris' newfound realization of worthlessness on... nothing of God to hang himself with. This, this was all hell. Every, little, piece.

So, waiting, it became his addiction. The way he hated it, the way he did way too fucking much... we are each of us dying, in little pieces of minute. Something Toby said, some time. Must have been.

Toby says everything worth remembering. Chris, he just sits and keeps his mouth shut. He remembers Hell. He knows that no matter how many Hail Mary's he tries to swallow down, that gaping maw of death is still waiting to snatch up his soul. If he's even got one, still.


"You think yet--"

"No. It's still mostly dark out. We'll have to wait another hour or so."

Spike kicks the broken chair, removes another leg from it. Toby and Chris watch it clatter to the floor, distanced. It's their stuff, but somehow, it's not their life anymore. "Fuck! You know, I'm stuck here with you wankers until sunset, now."

Chris gets a wicked gleam, and starts running his hands up and down Toby's thigh. Light. Barely felt. Tongue stuck out of the corner of his mouth, barely, he feels, god-like. He's got a lawyer under his thumb.

Toby grabs Chris' hand in a death-grip. Why is it called a death-grip, is it because the one giving it is doling out death-- like rations at dinner time? Or is it, because the one encased by Toby's hand is dying, slowly.

"Get your fucking hands off me."

Chris shrugs, but he felt that, deep down. Yeah, and that's why this is different. Toby's got him under his thumb, too.

"Yeah, and Chris?--"

"Fuck. Off."

They're locked together. O'Reily, Ryan, whatever-- he's feeling the glass. Fuck. Just like EmCity. Just. Like. That. Shithole.

"We have to figure this out, Keller. Think."

And Chris is thinking, and most of it's along the lines of, 'Fuck. Working with people. And O'Reily, moreover-- I don't trust him as far as I could throw Beech.' And he's also thinking about stabbing Shillinger, and giving the body to Toby as a wedding present... and he's picturing the headstone over his grave, right after something gets him in the back. It's always the back.

Because, it'll happen. He's waiting.