<> Mise en abyme <>


"mise en abyme": a text or a picture where the author shows himself writing or painting what you're reading or admiring.

chapter 1

Six days of lockdown and Toby hadn’t quite envisioned things that way. Of course from the beginning he’d been sure there would be sex; lots of it; hey, he was trapped there with *Chris*. Furtive but good sex; moans of delight smothered against the other’s shoulder, deep into the pillow; the one on top looking out for a hack – they weren’t that zealous after a week, spent doing nothing, though. Yeah, the sex was something.

But the story… It had started as a joke, something to keep the maddening boredom at bay, keep a frustrated and restless Chris from shattering everything inside the pod, from banging his head against the wall and maybe hurting himself.

From the beginning Chris had looked puzzled, asking lots of questions, trying to read above Toby’s shoulder.

And the first night after Toby stopped talking he’d frowned and said, “Is that all?”

“For today. To be continued tomorrow.”

“Shit. Can’t you make it last a little longer?”


“Hey! I’m not even in the first part! It’s all about you!”

“Tomorrow will be about you.”

“Yeah;you'd better make sure of that!”

Toby hadn’t expected him to be so curious and enthralled with the story; lying on his bunk, his eyes closed, his hands under the nape of his neck, relaxed, every emotion showing on his face… Wasn’t it endearing, that man, Chris Keller, lost in a story like a kid, enjoying it so visibly?

Sometimes when he asked too many questions like Gary and Holly used to, Toby frowned and said what he used to tell them, sitting on the edge of Gary 's bed.

“You know, if you keep interrupting me, Chris, I won’t be able to keep the thread; it’s complicated enough like that.”

“Yeah. Yet I’m not sure I like the idea of being Vern’s son in your fucking story, right? Do I get to kill him in the end, at least?”

“We’ll see that.”

“And remind me… What does Krysandros mean?”

“Man of gold.”

“Man of gold.” Chris purred and stretched, “and that name of yours, Thoas?”

“Something to do with the god of wine.”

“Toby, you don’t have to make you worse than you are in your own story.”

Toby threw his head back and laughed –was it happiness? Had he found it here, in this hell hole of a place?

“Ok, Ok.”

“And I don’t like too much the idea of you being lusted after with those guys, you know; even if it’s only a story.”

“Hey, I deserve some fun, right? I’m the one who tells the story.”

Jesus fucking Christ if he’d known it would be such a job maybe he wouldn’t have started it; or maybe chosen an easier period; a good thing he’d followed as an auditor a whole year of Greek language and civilisation when he was in Harvard; although it had been just some kind of entertainment he realized now he still remembered a lot of it. Actually, when he'd started writing the story he’d thought it would fit; 2000 was an Olympic year.

He'd even thought of going to Sidney to watch the Games, before… Fuck that.

“When do I get to fuck you?” Chris asked, rolling on his side.

“Not yet.”

"In the story?"

"Not yet."

Chris sighed, “Shit,” he said and rose to sit in front of Toby, their knees touching, and leaned forward to snake his hand up Toby’s thigh under the legal pad covered with Toby’s thin an cursive writing, clumsy drawings.

“See, I don’t know anything about those cities and Greece but somewhere I’d always pictured those guys like fags, fucking like minx all day. After all they more or less lived naked, uh?”

Toby opened his mouth for a lecture about the 5th century bc and Chris shut him down, pressing his fingers against his mouth.

“I understood; I’m not that dumb.”

“I know you’re not dumb.”

“OK. I understood the stuff about war and Sparta and hair and beard; the fact that it was something about education from an older guy to a younger one. Still I guess some of them still felt something for guys their age, right? Just like we do?”

Toby sighed and put his pen down.

“Yeah. It’s exactly what I’m writing about.”

“I knew that; so, I get to fuck you, right?”

“Yeah. You get to fuck me.”

Chris’ expression grew dreamy.

“Maybe you need some real stuff as an inspiration.”

“I’d say I already have enough real stuff to write a whole encyclopedia about sex, Chris.”

Long fingers brushed against his mouth again, cupped his cheek and Toby turned his head to rub his face against Chris’ warm palm like a cat; licked it and heard Chris’ breath catch.

“We could do that thing, you know… Rubbing against each other… The way it’s painted on those vase in that book you have. That’s good and stealthy enough for here.”

Toby snorted and pushed lightly against the hand teasing his crotch.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it, Chris. As great as it sounds, if you want your story tonight, you’d better give up the sex for now.”

Chris shrugged, stretched himself out on the bunk, mumbling something about being unfairly treated; jerked off without much discretion under his blanket, whispering Toby’s name as he came while Toby tried to focus on writing the story he’d be telling him during the long hours before lights out.

Later Chris’ voice broke the silence.

“Promise me something, Toby.”

“Yeah? What kind of promise?”

“Promise me we’ll end together in your fucking story. We sure won’t here but in the story, please… Promise we will.”

Hand shaking suddenly, Toby had to put his pen down and take a deep breath. Sometimes Chris’ resignation to the worst possible fate made him angry; but after all he was probably right; there wasn’t much to hope and anyway hope was a heavy and dangerous burden here.

“OK. We’ll end together, you have my word on that.”

Chris leaned back on his bed and closed his eyes, waiting for the moment when Toby would be ready.

And looking at him Toby thought it might a good idea to write the story down for good and ask his father’s secretary to type it, print it and give it to Chris. Well as soon as the fucking lockdown would end.

Yes, he’d do that. He wouldn't tell his father it was for Chris though. Not yet.

With a satisfied sigh he went back to the fic, looking for Greek names that would suit Ryan and Cyril.



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