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Fic: Dear Abby

This is my Lyric Wheel fic - many of you had already read it, but as I posted my other stories here I had to do the same with this one.

Title: Dear Abby
Author: Adriana B.
Characters: Christopher Keller/Agamenon Busmalis
Summary: Agamenon needs some advice and Keller is the right man to give it.
Notes: this story is about lost scenes involving Keller and Busmalis in season 4 "Conversions" episode, in which Agamenon proposed to Norma (Miss Sally’s former secretary). desert_rifka suggested the title, about a popular advice columnist. "Dear Abby" is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. It’s the most popular and widely syndicated column in the world -- known for its uncommon common sense and youthful perspective (http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby)
Rifka is the most patient and amazing beta in the world, I’ll never thank her enough for helping me so much – and this story is for you, because you believed in it!
Lyrics Provided By: Debbie – thanks, sweetie!
Song Title and Band/Performer: "Another Lonely Day" - Ben Harper


Dear Abby

Keller: He's one of the TV evangelists.
Rebadow: One of them? Before the scandal, he was bigger than Falwell.
Busmalis: He cured my sister of leprosy.
(Keller and Rebadow glare at him)
Keller: Liar.
Busmalis: Pneumonia?


"Hey Keller, do you mind if I sit with you?"

Keller glanced up at Busmalis standing across from him, his tray loaded with what passed for food; looking at him like an anxious puppy. Rebadow wasn’t anywhere around, so obviously he thought keeping Keller company wouldn’t be such as threatening as eating with any of the other factions of inmates.

"Sure," he shrugged, chewing a chicken nugget that felt like rubber against his teeth. It was lunch time and every inmate who wasn’t in the Hole, at the infirmary or bleeding to death somewhere was in the cafeteria, eating that crap from hell that passed for food. Generally it was awful but fellow cookers would never disappoint you: nuggets were a solid threat to teeth, smashed potatoes didn’t have any taste, buns were burned around the edges and on the bottom, the Jello was solidified colored water with a little bit of sugar, the fruit juice... well, he’d bet his life that not a single fruit had been squeezed into the plastic container, only more colored water. Oh, the joys of being incarcerated, he should remember to thank O’Reily for the shitty job he and the others had been cooking.

"Thanks," a smiling Busmalis said, proceeding to sit and digging into his food. "Aren’t you going to eat your nuggets? They’re delicious today."

//What the fuck?!// Keller glanced at Busmalis, thinking the guy had really gone insane. For a brief moment he’d forgotten about the inmate just to be startled by a comment like that. "Busmalis, if I didn’t know better I’d think you’re on drugs, ‘cause you have to be using something to think this shit is delicious."

"Oh no, I never used any drug, in my business a guy has to have sharp senses to feel if there’s any problem with the tunnel, you have to know how she behaves all the time. You know, just like miners."

"Yeah, just like miners," Keller mumbled, sipping purple colored juice and grimacing. “Where’s your shadow?"

"Bob went to infirmary, he had a headache and Dr. Nathan had told him to look for her if he didn’t feel well," Busmalis answered chewing a mouthful of the bun.

"Oh," was all Keller managed to say, a trace of boredom in his voice. Was he supposed to be friendly to Busmalis since Rebadow wasn’t available? No way, man, he had better things to do, like... like what? If only Toby was at his side and not at the other end of table, stubbornly avoiding eye contact... better stop thinking like this. He decided to stand up and throw the contents of his tray in a trash can, no sense staying in the cafeteria anymore. When he’d started to move Busmalis started speaking again.

"Ahh Keller, can I ask you something?"

"Ask me what?" That was out of the blue. Of all the people in this place Busmalis (and Rebadow, he must add) was the last one he could think of needing to ask him something specific. The older inmate didn’t look like somebody in need of a strong arm to watch his back, although he’d heard about Schillinger spitting in his food on a daily basis some time ago. What kind of thing would he ask?

"Yes, well, I think you’re the right guy to help me in... huh, how can I say it..." Busmalis said, now looking a little embarassed, slowly getting a pink tone over his face.

"Just spit it out!" It was really getting kind of funny. "What do you need, man? Tits? Better ask for O’Reily’s help. Protection? Maybe Pancamo or Morales can do that for you, if you’re paying, of course. A quickie? Sorry, you’re not my type. Try one of the gays."

"No, no, I’m not looking for that type of help," Busmalis now seemed positively embarassed, especially because Keller’s little speech had been heard by some inmates at the table, attracting unwanted attention. "You have three ex-wives, don’t you?," he asked, almost whispering.

"Yeah, so what?"

"I’m going to marry soon..."

"So I hear," Keller asked raising a quizzical eyebrow.

"Well, I need some... hints... about all this marriage thing..." it was said in such a low voice Keller almost didn’t hear, but then he smiled, feeling quite amused.

"You need the opinion of someone who had been there, a person who can tell you what married life is like? The things nobody’s gonna tell you before you marry this woman?" There was a trace of mockery at Keller’s voice, but Busmalis didn’t seem to notice it.

"Yes, kind of... Bob didn’t marry before coming to Oz, my parents died when I was a kid, I never had too many married friends. I don’t know... well, I don’t know how to be a husband, and then I thought you could tell me one or two things about it..." Busmalis whispered staring deeply in the smashed potatoes on his tray, as if they held answers to his doubts.

"Busmalis, I was married four times. It doesn’t mean I was a good husband, I was just clever enough to convince three women to cook and do my laundry while I fucked them. Is that what you wanna know, how to make her cook and spread her legs for you? If that’s the problem I can help. You know, cause I’ve been with witches too, I can also tell you how to treat them," he said, an arched eyebrow preventing the smile that was threatening to appear on his face.

"No, Keller, Norma is special... she’s been visiting me for awhile now. She writes me letters, she cares about my life here. I’m not worried about this cooking thing, but I wanted you to teach me how to make someone feel special, to feel loved. I think you’re the right person to show me how to do that," Busmalis said, glancing casually in Beecher’s vicinity. It was a very brief movement, but Keller noticed it. It seemed the older guy wasn’t as stupid as he had thought.

"Ok, I can explain to you how to make someone feel loved, but not now. I’ve got work detail after lunch, if you’re interested in the fine art of how to lovingly treat your wife you can meet me in the storage room," Chris said acidly, standing up and leaving the table, looking one last time at Toby. He didn’t like how Busmalis glanced at Beecher, he didn’t need another inmate wondering about their relationship. //I thought I knew how to make him feel loved, but I was wrong// – the bitter thought crossed his mind while he left the cafeteria.

* * *

"Hi Keller, you really waited for me!" Busmalis said excitedly, with a dumb grin over his face.

For a second Keller thought of laughing at the ridiculous statement, but Busmalis seemed pleased in meeting him. He just sighed and continued to remove paper stacks from a box in the ground, stacking them on shelves.

"Yeah, I’m all alone here just waiting for you. Were you talking seriously, Busmalis? Do you really expect to learn something from me?"

"Oh yes, I want to do things right with Norma, she’s such a lovely lady, I need to know how to make her feel good just because she’s with me. You know how to make someone feel like that, don’t you?"

//I thought so// "You don’t have to marry her to make her feel happy. After all you’re gonna stay here for some time before going home and starting to act like a real husband."

"Oh no, I won’t stay here forever, I’ll be out soon," the older guy said, a wide smile over his face.

"You’re digging another tunnel!" Keller stated, an amused tone in his voice.

"Oh no, I’ll be paroled soon, I mean, I know I’ll be out..." a rather uncomfortable Busmalis answered, not looking at Chris’ face.

"Well, good for you," it was Keller’s reply, not giving a damn to the other man’s obvious lie. "Anyway what do you really need? Sex advice?"

"No, I hadn’t thought about it...," Busmalis blushed while speaking. "Your ex-wives keep coming to visit you, and I think you must have done something right to receive their attention."

"Something right, indeed. Let me tell you something, Busmalis, I’m just like any other married bastard here. I wasn’t a good husband, I kept pissing them off royally. I had fights with each one of my exes, ugly ones. I used to go home late, drunk and high very frequently. I cheated and lied to them. Does it make me your perfect teacher? I doubt it," Keller said, unpacking officer supplies and storing them on a shelf.

"But why do they still come here to meet you?" Busmalis asked, confused.

"I don’t know, it’s sort of complicated. See, they’re outside, they can live their own lives and put the past behind them, but they still need to see and touch me from time to time. Even though we’re divorced there’s still some sort of bond that’s still there. There aren’t conjugals anymore and I can’t fuck them, but it wouldn’t have worked out any way, as I’m not a married man. Speaking of which how are you and the blushing bride gonna spend your wedding night, when do you get to consummate it?," Keller paused his work for a moment, looking straight at Busmalis’ eyes.

"I don’t know, I hadn’t thought about it yet," Busmalis answered, blushing a little more. "We’ll decide about it later.”

"Do you really love her?"

"I want to marry her, Keller!" a puzzled and slightly annoyed Busmalis answered.

"That’s not what I asked, of course you know that people marry for different reasons. Do you love her?"

"Yes, she makes me feel happy like I never felt before."

"And does she love you?"

"Well, she wants to marry me, it must say something!" a definitely annoyed Busmalis said.

"Do you trust her?", Keller asked in a very serious tone, narrowed eyes examining Busmalis’ face.

"Of course I trust her, I’m going to m..."

"Busmalis, you didn’t even know this woman a year ago. I’m not saying you know a person only after lots of time, but you meet her only on visiting days, at what? A half hour at the most? A few moments, and surrounded by fuckin’ hacks. How can you be serious about this thing? And what if she changes her mind?" Keller asked, kicking empty boxes to a corner of the room.

"Norma would never do that, Keller! I know we can’t be considered an average couple, but other inmates had already married women they met at prison. I think it can work, because I love her so much, I want to fulfill every one of her wishes..." Busmalis answered, looking a little dreamy eyed.

Keller sighed. "Mark my words, it’ll be hard on her. Many people are mean to inmates’ relatives, and as you pointed out, she met you while you were incarcerated. You weren’t married before, you have met here and then decided to get hitched. It makes things a little different, and can be difficult for her to explain it to her family and friends."

"I hadn’t thought about it," Busmalis said, seeming concerned. "I don’t want to cause her any problems. But why would people be cruel to her? Norma’s a nice person, you should see her smiling, it lights up a room."

"It doesn’t matter if her smile lights up a room or the damn neighbourhood, they’ll only see the con’s wife. They’ll never let her forget that you’re a criminal, probably a dangerous one or you wouldn’t be at Oz, and what the hell possessed her when she decided to give you a chance? There will be always somebody to tell her to be careful around you, because you can be unpredictable. It can change her perspective about you, she might wonder if you’re worth the trouble, if she really wants to keep going to an empty home after work because you’re not there waiting for her, or think when you’ll find a decent job instead of the ones you’ll have because you’ll be an ex-con..."

"You’re pessimistic, Keller, things won’t be like that, I know our marriage won’t be that easy in the beginning but we’ll make it work, I believe that," Busmalis said in a sad voice, knowing there was some truth in what Keller said.

"All right, think about it later in your pod, let’s get back to the fun stuff. Her smile lights up a room, right? Be sure to tell her that Busmalis, women love to hear shit like that," Keller said, a cocky grin on his face

"It’s not shit, it’s true! Her face is so beautiful, she’s like an angel, all blonde and soft!"

"A blonde? You hadn’t told me she’s a blonde beauty."

"Oh, but she is, and her skin is so smooth..."

"Tell her that too. Women need to hear compliments, but not so often that it becomes routine. Pay attention to her hair, if she cuts it say she looks wonderful. If she’s wearing a new dress tell her you like the way it shows her tits, even if you think it’s the worst dress she could have possibly picked out," Keller stopped for a moment, resting against a copy machine.

"Is that what you used to tell your wives?"

"Sometimes. I used to say that I needed them, but I didn’t mean it. Somehow they sensed I wasn’t being honest after some time. That’s important, mean what you say, always. And remember why you fell in love with her."

"I think it was because she kept coming here to talk to me, nobody was ever so kind to me."

"Whatever, one reason is as good as any other. Keep that in mind when she starts trying to change your habits, because married women always do that. It’s annoying, but try to handle it. Or get a divorce like I did over and over again."

"Why didn’t you try to change a little to make them happy?"

"Nobody changes just to make someone happy, Busmalis. You do that if you want, or don’t do it at all. Believe me, I’ve been there and that’s how it happens," Keller said, a serious _expression shadowing his face.

"But hadn’t you ever changed to show you love someone?"

//Once I did, and it didn’t work. // "It only works if the person trusts you. Or he won’t believe you’ve really changed, no matter how hard you try. Does she trust you?"

"I think so..."

"You can’t ‘think so’, Busmalis, you have to be sure he’ll be there for you, handling your bullshit, yelling at you, making you regret the day you met but never, ever distrusting you."

"I’d never cheat on Norma, I want to be with her for the rest of my life, other women are nothing to me!" Busmalis looked very offended by Keller words. How could the guy believe he’d cheat on that sweet gal?

"Women love it or this sort of shit this kind of thing, the ‘I-only-have-eyes-for-you’ idea and so on, but that’s not what I’m talking about. To be with somebody... you have to trust him, and be trusted by him, do you know what I mean? Cause in the end, when it’s all said and done, he still has to believe you’d never harm him by words or actions. Not intentionally, anyway. He still has to understand nobody will ever love and trust him unconditionally like you. Even if you lie to him, even if you say bitchy harsh things, he has to know it’s also part of who you are you, an ugly part maybe, but that’s who what you are. If he loves you, really loves you, it’s gotta be unconditionally," Keller said seriously, unreadable dark blue eyes looking intently to Busmalis’ face.

"Unconditionally... it sounds a little overwhelming. I... I’ll be stay in Oz for some time, I don’t want to make her feel suffocated even without my presence, it’ll look like I’m obsessed with her," Busmalis said, looking confused.

"Suffocated?" Keller asked, a strange glint on his eyes. "Have you ever loved before, Busmalis?"

"Well, no, but..."

"Love is never a suffocating thing. You can do stupid things sometimes, say things you’ll regret sooner or later, but you never suffocate the person you love, got it? You want to take care of the person, to make him feel safe and loved with you, and all you want back is to see your reflection in his eyes and to be trusted..." he said, staring to an unknown point behind Busmalis’ head.

"His eyes?," Busmalis asked cautiously, Keller’s words finally penetrating his brain. He suddenly wondered if it had been a good idea to meet Keller in such a small and dark place after all.

"I wish there was something else I could say but the only thing you really need to know about marriage is this: don’t let anybody step between you, making her doubt you. As long as both of you believe in each other, you’ll be fine. You can fight, you can yell, you can even divorce someday, but never let someone else’s opinion about you and your relationship be the reason behind that," Keller said quietly, almost to himself, as bad memories flooded his mind.

"So that’s how it works? Making her trust in my love? Just that? It seems so simple really," a rather incredulous Busmalis asked.

"Yeah. Nothing else matters. Keep her at your side, show her your inner self, don’t let anybody threaten your love. Remember Busmalis: she has to believe in you. Every day, every minute. If she does that your marriage will be fine," Keller said, starting to work again, back to arranging reams of paper on a lower shelf.

"I think that... that you gave me some good advice, thanks Keller. I better go now, I still have to mop in the infirmary," Busmalis said, walking to the door. Before he had handled the doorknob Keller spoke again.

"Hey Busmalis, there are things you can’t forget after you’re released and at home with your little woman: remember special dates, like her birthday and your wedding day. Buy her flowers and chocolates. Take her to a fancy restaurant. Let her have the remote control. Say ‘I’m sorry’, even if you’re not sorry at all, but make sure you sound like you mean it. It’s just another ponzi! And never ever forget to satisfy her in bed. Fuck her often and make sure she comes every time. Makes her leave nail marks on your back and screams your name, got it?"

"Oh thanks Keller, I won’t forget, I swear!," a glowing Busmalis left the storage room, feeling hopeful and invincible. Keller had just shared his secret techniques of pleasing the one you love, if Busmalis made good use of the information Norma would love him even more, he was sure of that.

While watching the door slowly close Keller thought how bizarre things are at Oz. There was a time in which he’d have dismissed Busmalis without a second thought. The guy couldn’t be of any help to him, but their talk somehow had provoked a sensation of having a weight taken off his shoulders. He realized that many ugly things he’d said and done to his ex-wives hadn’t bothered him a lot, but he truly regretted every single word that had hurt his former podmate. From all the lies during Operation Toby to verbal sparring when the late Mondo Browne was fucking Beecher, he wished he could take back everything that made Toby feel bad. In fact he wished he could have Toby at his side, not only at night, sweaty and sticky in his bunk but every day during his entire life. But, especially during the days, when he felt lonely even in the crowd of inmates. //Yes indeed I’m alone again, but not for long, I’ll find a way to get Toby back// He didn’t know how, but Toby would be his once
more, and soon. The killing times were over, he just had to find a way to get moved back to Toby’s pod and then they could talk. Yeah, they would talk again and forget all that shit that had been separating them. Then they’d be together eating lunch in the cafeteria once more, and guys like Busmalis wouldn’t bother him with their stupid problems. Chris Keller a marriage counselor! Sister Pete would hate that.

Ben Harper - Another Lonely Day
Yes indeed I’m alone again
And here comes emptiness crashing in
It’s either love or hate
I can’t find in between
Cause I’ve been with witches
And I have been with a queen

It wouldn’t have worked out any way
So now it’s just another lonely day
Further along we just may
But for now it’s just another lonely day

Wish there was something
I could say or do
I can resist anything
But temptation from you
But I’d rather walk alone
Than chase you around
I’d rather fall myself
Than let you drag me down

It wouldn’t have worked out any way
And now it’s just another lonely day
Further along we just may
But for now it’s just another lonely day

Yesterday seems like a life ago
Cause the one I love
Today I hardly know
You I held so close in my heart oh dear
Grow further from me
With every fallen tear


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 31st, 2005 07:15 am (UTC)
Loved the way Keller swerved into talking about his relationship with Beecher. Poor Busmalis got more than he bargained for. Nice job!
Jul. 31st, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, girl! This one wasn't coming easy to me, but after some time (and desert_rifka precious help) I could finish it on time to be posted at LW group.
Jul. 31st, 2005 12:10 pm (UTC)
This is so nice Adriana. A really creative way of helping Keller process Toby.
Jul. 31st, 2005 05:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks! In the beginning I didn't know how Keller would help Busmalis but in the end I was pretty happy with his advices, *g*
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )