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Title: Texas Death House Blues
Author: Mice
E-mail: just_us_mice@yahoo.com
Category: LGM, Byers/Jimmy; ep related: Maximum Byers
Rating: NC-17, violence
Summary: missing scenes and post-ep -- Byers and Jimmy deal with life on death row
Archive: Glass Onion, all others ask
Disclaimer: If you think they're mine, you're delusional. I recommend a psychiatric exam.
Notes: Thanks to Anndie & Surreal for beta.


DAY TWO
MORNING

Byers sighed quietly as he leaned his arms against the bars, hands and wrists sticking through into the passageway that separated the two walls of cells in the block. He stared at his hands in front of him, joined so that no one would see them shaking. It wouldn't do for anyone to see his fear. It was a weakness in a place like this, and he knew that any weakness displayed would be studied and used by the men behind these other cell doors.

Far off, in an adjoining cell block, he could hear the echoes of guards walking. The oppressive silence served only to further unnerve him, making even the smallest sound a startling event.

Yesterday had been awful. He'd dealt with body cavity searches before, with rough handling by the cops, and the depersonalizing experiences of being booked into cells in jails from Maine to Oregon in pursuit of their stories. It had almost become routine, as had Langly's erasing any traces of his and his companions' police records. But the process of being booked into a prison like this, into a Texas death row, had redefined depersonalization. Every moment, from getting onto the prison bus with Jimmy until they'd stepped back into their cells with booklets in hand, had been an exercise in his worst nightmares. He wasn't sure what had been worse, the openly predatory stares of the men in the group shower as they assessed him, or the humiliation and toxic exposure of "delousing" by being doused with insecticide. It had taken hours to get the sharp, bitter taste off his lips, though he scrubbed with soap and the thin, white washcloth left hanging over the sink in his cell.

He'd have to face the showers again this evening. He'd be able to scrub the insecticide from his skin, and start to feel vaguely clean again, but the thought of the eyes of dangerous strangers on his naked body...

"Morning, John."

Byers jumped and uttered a muffled "ah!" at the quiet sound of Jimmy's voice from the next cell. He could see his friend's hands sticking through the bars. They were larger and stronger than his own. He was certain that no one would bother the former linebacker, though they might throw furtive glances his way. Jimmy was tall and physically impressive, and it would be obvious to even the smallest brain around that he wasn't one to be messed with.

His voice was quiet and private near Byers' head. "Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you like that." He reached over and took Byers' hand.

"It's okay, Jimmy," Byers replied softly, answering the reassuring squeeze with one of his own.

"You okay?"

Byers sighed again, letting go of Jimmy's hand. "I will be."

Jimmy shifted his weight and leaned closer to the wall dividing their cells. Byers leaned his own head in closer, to avoid anyone overhearing in the echoing cellblock. Other inmates had started to rise and were moving around now, and the increased movement echoed enough for their conversation to feel more private.

"You sleep okay?" Jimmy asked.

"I... no, not really," Byers confessed.

"Me neither," Jimmy said. "It's scarier than I thought it was gonna be."

Byers pressed his forehead to the bars, wishing he could see his friend. "It's unlikely any of the inmates will try anything with you, Jimmy. You're bigger than most of the rest of these guys. I suspect that size is the one thing they understand and respect. It's an advantage to you here. You should use it if you need to."

The sounds of the cell block grew louder and denser, making the space echo less, as breakfast was brought around by the trustee. Byers watched silently as his food and a cup of coffee were shoved through the slot in the bars, then took his tray. The scrambled eggs were tinged a suspicious green around the edges, as though they'd been made from an off batch of egg powder. The coffee had been lightened with powdered creamer as well, and the lumps floated in a slow swirl in the viscous, muddy brown liquid. It didn't even hold a candle to Jimmy's breakfast drip coffee misadventures. He silently wished he were home, sitting in the middle of a pile of daily papers, with Jimmy serving slightly burnt pancakes and maple-flavored syrup substitute.

Breakfast didn't take long, and there wasn't much talk as the men on the cell block ate. Byers left the remains of the greenest powdered egg on his plate, and strained the hard pebbles of creamer out with his teeth as he sipped. 'You could probably strip the floor with this,' he thought, grimacing.

Bored, he sat on his bunk reading the inmate orientation booklet until a guard smacked the bars of his cell. Byers startled, looking up.

"Recreation time," the guard snapped. "Present your hands."

Byers slid his hands through the tray slot in the door, and the guard cuffed him. Another guard cuffed the hands of the man occupying the cell next to his on the other side from Jimmy.

"Stand away from the door," he was ordered.

Obediently, Byers stepped back.

With a loud mechanical noise, the two cell doors opened and Byers looked for a moment at Korowski, the inmate next to him. Slightly shorter, he was much broader shouldered, with shoulder-length black hair tied in a tail, and a barrel chest. He reminded Byers of Frohike, if he were a very mean drunk. Byers barely concealed a shudder as the guards prodded him and his unchosen companion down the passage.

Korowski walked close behind Byers. Much too close, as far as Byers was concerned. The guards walked behind both of them silently. Byers wished for eyes on the back of his head, feeling the other man's presence in his space and wrinkling his nose at the reek of stale cigarette smoke that emanated from the man's body. At the end of the cell block, they moved through the barred doors and into a smaller hallway, ending in an elevator.

As the two guards talked quietly, facing away from Byers and the other inmate, Korowski pushed John into the wall beside the elevator door with his body.

"I'm gonna have you, pretty boy, make you my bitch," he whispered coarsely. His cuffed hands slid across Byers' crotch and squeezed, and John yelped.

The man backed away as the guards turned, and stared at the two men in their custody. "Don't you two be gettin' fresh there," the blonde guard growled, "we don't take to that faggoty behavior in here."

Byers remained backed flat against the wall as Korowski grinned at him. The elevator door opened, and Byers slid quickly inside, followed by a guard, then stood as far as he could from Korowski until they stepped out on the ground floor.

After being locked into their small, fenced in areas, Byers stayed on the far side of the cage while Korowski practiced karate katas. He spoke quietly as the guards stood inside the door, watching from a distance.

"Don't make it hard on yourself, pretty boy." He turned sharply, with a punch and a block in Byers' direction, leering as he moved. "You be nice and I'll make sure you get some extra perks in here."

Byers turned away, but Korowski's voice was inescapeable.

"You got real soft lookin' hands there, pretty boy. If you don't be nice for me, I'll break 'em for you."

Byers turned again and stood silent, watching carefully, deciding to study this enemy and trying not to allow his face to betray his nervousness.

Korowski began doing deep knee bends, his words punctuated with sharp inhalations between each dip. "Gonna bend you over, pretty boy, fuck your ass. Make you beg for me, pretty boy. Make you suck my dick."

After the deep knee bends, Korowski leaned up against the fence between them. "You look like you got soft little lips, pretty boy. Soft little tongue. Bet you suck good, too." Korowski pulled at his jumpsuit as though he were scratching his hip, but Byers knew Korowski was displaying his erect cock. It stood at attention under the now tight, moving fabric. If Byers could have backed further away, he would have.

The day wasn't hot, but Byers was sweating, his heart hammering. He knew that the only thing keeping him marginally safe right now was the chain-link fence and the presence of the two guards. He swallowed uneasily and tried to defuse the situation.

"That supposed to be your dick, Korowski? Looks more like a crayon."

Instead of humiliating the man and making him back off, as Byers had hoped, it angered him.

Korowski's face went from the predator's smirk he'd been wearing to cold fury. "You're gonna pay for that one, pretty boy. Watch your back. I'm gonna bend you over and ream your ass like you'll never forget. Ain't nothin' gonna keep me off your ass, pretty boy." Korowski backed away from the fence as the guards approached. "You watch your ass, pretty boy."


EVENING

Byers had spent most of the day curled up on his bunk with his back to the wall, trying to regain some fragmentary sense of safety. When opportunities presented themselves, he attempted to get information about Douglas Pfeiffer. Very little was forthcoming, but Jimmy seemed to have struck up something of an acquaintance with the roach-man in the cell across from them.

He'd been unable to say anything to Jimmy about what had happened with Korowski in the exercise pens. He was too afraid of someone overhearing them. John hoped that he'd have a chance to speak with him in the shower shortly, the only place where the ambient noise level might cover a quiet conversation entirely.

Now and then throughout the day, he'd heard Korowski's quiet, gravelly voice muttering "you're mine, pretty boy" in the cell next to him. Much as Byers wanted to talk to Jimmy, and to scrub the insecticide off his skin, he anticipated the shower with growing dread.

When the guards finally came to bring the men in his cell block to the shower rooms, he watched as Korowski spoke quietly with two other inmates, and saw cigarettes and a book of stamps change hands. Korowski looked over at Byers and grinned. "Your ass is mine," the man mouthed silently.

Byers walked as close to Jimmy as he could. As they were herded naked into the showers from the locker room, he was separated from Jimmy by several men rushing by. When he looked up, Jimmy was halfway across the room.

Byers moved to join him, but one of his arms was grabbed by a large, powerful hand. John pulled against the grip, making some progress, when another hand grabbed his other arm. Looking around quickly, he realized that Jimmy still hadn't missed him, and that the men flanking him were the ones Korowski had given the cigarettes and stamps to.

Shaking the men's grip off his arms momentarily, he backed toward Jimmy, only a few yards away. He was almost there when he was stopped by a body behind him. It reeked of stale cigarette smoke. Looking quickly around, panicked, he realized he was in a blind spot, where the guards were unable to see what was happening.

"Your ass is mine, pretty boy," Korowski growled into Byers' ear, grabbing him by the throat.

Byers gasped as the other two men flanked him again, pinning him by his arms. Korowski's hands grabbed him by his hips, digging his fingers into John's flesh as the two men forced him to bend over. Korowski's knee slid between his legs, forcing them apart.

"Jimmy!" Byers called out. He could feel the weight of Korowski's body against his back as he fought, the man's hard cock sliding into the crack between his cheeks and thrusting fast and rough against his ass, trying to find his anus.

"Shut up, fag boy," Korowski said quietly. "You struggle, it's only gonna hurt more. Then again, I might just like that more."

A shadow moved across them as the water fell from the showers, and Korowski's weight suddenly shifted. The men pinning John let him go and he stumbled as they backed rapidly away.

"You boys don't mess with him," Jimmy snarled. "He's mine, and don't you forget it." Jimmy shoved Korowski away from Byers. "You touch him again and I'll rip your arms off and stuff 'em down your throat."

Byers reached out to steady himself, and found Jimmy's solid chest.

"Hey, Dillinger, sorry," Korowski said hastily, backing away from Jimmy's threatening posture. "I didn't know he was your bitch, man. It was just a joke, okay?" Korowski's eyes showed no concession. Byers saw only undisguised malice as the man who had just attempted to rape him glared at him.

Jimmy slid his arms around Byers' back and waist as they stood under a shower head. "You okay John? Are you hurt?"

John slid his own arms around Jimmy, grateful for the shelter after what had just happened.

"No," he whispered. His legs were trembling.

"No, you're not okay, or no, you're not hurt?" Jimmy looked at him with the puzzled expression that usually brought out John's irritation, but at that moment, the only thing he felt was intense relief and a sense of safety.

Byers shook his head. "Both. I'm... I'm not sure if I can stand by myself yet. My legs are shaking. Just... just let me hang on for a minute until they steady again."

Jimmy tightened his arms around Byers' body, mumbling quiet words of comfort as John shook and the hot water soaked into his bones.

A few moments later, Byers' legs were solid again, and he turned his entire concentration on scrubbing the insecticide from his body. No amount of soap or the application of the washcloth removed the unclean feeling left inside, though he stood under the water rubbing his skin raw until the showers were turned off. Jimmy remained only inches from him the entire time, keeping watch.


NIGHT

It was almost lights out, and Byers leaned against the wall that separated him from Jimmy. The sounds of the other inmates getting ready for bed echoed in the wide hallway. The two men stood with their heads next to each other, hands through the bars, whispering.

"We've gotta find a way for the guys to get you out of here," Jimmy insisted. "We can't take a chance on Korowski getting near you again, John. I don't want you getting hurt. He's out to get you, and this was too close."

Byers sighed and shook his head. "We have a mission to accomplish. I can't back down. You can't do this by yourself, that's why we're both in here. It takes both of us to make sure we get out of here with the information."

"What if I'm not close enough next time?" Jimmy asked, his voice cracking.

"There won't be a next time," Byers said, sounding far more confident than he felt. "I'll be okay. Really. We just have to talk to Pfeiffer and get out of here, that's all. From there, everything will take care of itself."

Jimmy reached a hand to Byers. "I hope you're right."

Byers slid his hand over and touched Jimmy's, fingers entwined for a brief moment, standing in silence.


SAM HOUSTON MOTOR LODGE SEVERAL DAYS LATER NIGHT

Byers and Jimmy silently entered the dimly lit room.

Langly looked up from the hand of poker he had been playing with Frohike, observing their solemn mood. "You guys gonna be okay?"

Jimmy helped Byers remove his soaked trench coat, and Byers ran his fingers through his wet hair.

Jimmy looked up at Langly. "In a while, maybe."

Byers didn't reply. Frohike and Langly both looked at their friends quietly.

"C'mon, Langly," Frohike said, laying his cards down. "Let's give these two some space to deal with this."

Langly looked at Frohike. "I thought you said they'd want --"

"Shut up Langly. Let's go find an open bar somewhere."

Langly looked over at Jimmy and Byers. John was standing quiet, blankly facing the wall, his face and neck still bruised from the beating Lowry had given him. Jimmy looked up at Langly with big, puppy eyes. "Oh, man. And I had a good hand too," Langly muttered. He tossed his cards down and he and Frohike stood.

As Langly slipped past Byers to grab his jacket, he paused. Laying a hand on John's shoulder, the one that hadn't been sprained, he squeezed gently. "I'm sorry, dude," he said softly. Byers looked over his shoulder at Langly, then turned toward him as Langly embraced him. Langly could feel his friend shaking and held him tight for a moment before reluctantly letting him go.

Frohike did the same, silently holding the bearded man, wishing they'd been able to accomplish their mission any other way; wishing Byers hadn't suffered such abuse, and that they had been nearer to keep him safe. He was grateful, for once, for Jimmy's presence.

After the door closed behind the departing Gunmen, Byers sat on one of the beds.

Jimmy tossed his own coat on the rack and sat beside Byers. Neither spoke for a long time. Finally, Jimmy slid an arm around Byers' shoulders.

"It's not good to hold it all in, John."

Byers looked up. He shifted himself slightly closer to Jimmy, then, cautiously, put an arm around the man's waist.

"I haven't felt safe anywhere since..." his voice broke into silence.

Jimmy nodded, pulling Byers into a hug. "I know. I can tell."

Byers closed his eyes and leaned his head against Jimmy's broad shoulder.

"It'll be all right," Jimmy said, stroking the curve of John's face with the backs of his fingers. "We're out of there. We'll be home again in just a couple of days." He traced the line of John's beard along his jaw with a fingertip. "You're safe here, John. Nobody's going to hurt you. I won't hurt you."

John shuddered silently.

Jimmy rocked Byers gently back and forth as they sat together on the bed. "It's real late," he said. "I'm pretty tired. Are you sleepy yet?"

"No," Byers whispered.

Jimmy looked into John's face. "You look real tired. I think you just don't realize how tired you are. Why don't you get into your pajamas, and I'll get you some hot chocolate or something?"

Byers looked back into Jimmy's eyes, and after a moment, his nearly blank expression broke, and something vaguely approaching a smile appeared.

"You're right, Jimmy. That sounds like a good idea." He squeezed Jimmy tightly, and Jimmy grinned. With one last squeeze, he rose and headed for the tiny kitchen.

"I hope the guys didn't use up all the milk," he said.

Byers snorted. "That's unlikely. Neither one of them drinks the stuff."

Jimmy heated the milk and mixed the chocolate, then poured two mugs and returned to the bedroom, where Byers sat in the bed under the covers, now clad in his pajamas.

"Here," Jimmy said, proffering one of the mugs to John.

"Thanks Jimmy."

Jimmy sat next to Byers, atop the covers, and the two sipped their chocolate.

Byers looked up a while later, and Jimmy waited patiently for him to say something. He knew that John would eventually. Byers was a really private guy, but this wasn't something he thought John would be able to hold in all by himself, not something anybody could hold in without going crazy.

"Nothing... nothing like that has ever happened to me before," John said, finally. He set the mug on the windowsill and pulled the covers around him as he sat.

Jimmy set his own mug next to John's. "I hope it never does again," he said.

Byers nodded. "I was terrified every minute I was in there." His voice was small, almost inaudible. "I thought that Korowski would find some way to bribe a guard to let him into my cell at night, or look the other way when we had to go anywhere."

Jimmy took John's hand. "Korowski's not here. He's still on death row. There's no way he's ever going to see you again. He'll never be able to hurt you."

"I know that in my head," John sighed, "but my body keeps telling me he's right there on the other side of the wall."

"Is there anything me or the guys can do for you?" Jimmy wrapped his arms around Byers again, and John burrowed into the covers and pressed himself against his friends' body.

"I..." He stopped.

"What?"

Byers sighed. "I can't ask that of you."

Jimmy looked at him. "How do you know? You haven't even asked."

Byers looked up and blinked. "You'll think it's stupid."

"Come on, John. This is me. I don't think anything's stupid."

Byers chuckled. "Well, there is that."

Jimmy smiled. "So what were you going to ask?"

Byers blushed. "I really... I..."

"Oh, come on John, just ask, okay?"

"I'm just afraid to sleep alone right now. Would you stay with me tonight?"

Jimmy nodded. "Yeah, I can do that," he said. "Do you want me to... ah..."

"No," Byers said. "I just want you here in the bed with me. The only time I felt at all safe in there was when you were close by, and... I just... I just need you close right now."

"Okay," Jimmy said. He held John for another long moment, then got up and turned out the lights. Stripping down to his shorts, he slid into bed next to Byers.

John slid to one side of the bed so that Jimmy would have room, then pressed himself up against Jimmy's body. John was warm against Jimmy's skin, and he wrapped an arm around Byers protectively.

"I'd do anything for you, John. I just want you to know that."

Byers shifted closer, holding Jimmy's arm around his waist. "Thanks." He sighed, relief in his voice. "The only thing I want right now is this." He settled his back against Jimmy's broad body.

Jimmy nodded, glad for the chance to be so close, and held John tight as they both drifted into sleep.

end


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