A/N: I honestly thought Catherine would have a bigger fandom. OH WELL I'll write for it anyway.


Ash

The alley behind the Stray Sheep was a far cry from the tasteful, clean bar's interior. It smelled like old, molding food and too-stale beer, not including the hideous smell wafting from the general direction of the graffiti-covered dumpster.

Toby stared at that dumpster a little too long. One particular scrawl on the green surface, an eye-popping shade of pink, was almost as large as the side it was sprayed onto. It was in the shape of a heart, two names almost illegible inside of it. He thought one might have been Baby. The other could have been David.

It was both heartwarming and gut wrenching.

Love was supposed to be an everlasting kind of thing, so he wondered if Baby and David ever managed to pull through. Toby had been idealistic to a fault, presenting his heart on a string for his everything. The recipient had warmed up to him as planned and things had gone smoothly from there, and man, oh, man, did sex feel really, really good.

"Erica...had a dick," he murmured into the tepid air. "She was a man, once upon a time."

Conversations over the week really should have made it obvious, he thought, but he'd been so blinded by an excellent rack (too excellent, in hindsight; such round, firm breasts were too good to be true) and a pair of shapely legs and a bright smile beneath devil red lipstick. Erica was his prey back then, and he the predator, but lately it seemed to be in the reverse.

Once the cat was out of the bag, Erica had grinned slyly at him, winked one eye to accentuate her blue eyeshadow, and Toby had been at a loss for words. Had he been disgusted by the not-quite lie his friends had kept feeding him? Not entirely, no. Erica had looked and been great and Toby's heart (and other organs) had swelled for her, and no amount of surgery could ever alter a person's true self. Eric had become Erica in only name and shape. So, no, Toby hadn't been upset with Erica.

It didn't make things any less awkward. It got even more so when, just a few hours before, Erica had managed to pin him in the Stray Sheep's only bathroom and he'd had thoughts of bad porn flying through his head, but it seemed Erica only wanted to talk. She didn't want to talk about work or Vincent's problems, his relationship or his recent bone against Boss, and instead had brought him down the road of "What Happens Now".

He really was thankful that she had kept it to the privacy of the bathroom.

Erica was understanding. She knew full well that Toby had probably been so shocked that his dick might never work right again, and had calmly told him that she was okay with what they had turning into some one night stand that everyone could peacefully forget about. She had apologized for the deceit, hiding behind her hands as she bashfully flushed.

Toby had asked for time to think about it. He'd wanted to accept Erica's offer, but some inner gentleman in him felt that if he acted too hastily, he could end up in the same, lonely boat as his friends. Orlando was unhappily divorced, Vincent was having some kind of breakdown, and Johnny? Well, Toby didn't know what the hell that guy was getting himself into.

And Erica had given him time. Toby had retired to the bar's dingy back alley, the soft sounds of the jukebox muffled by the heavy steel door to his right, staring at graffiti that could have been recent or years old.

Love wasn't supposed to be this complicated.

Toby jumped when the bar's door screeched open on rusting hinges. He prayed Erica wasn't going to step out. He wasn't ready to run out of time to decide. A haze of panic assaulted him, eyes fixating on the door and heart thumping rapidly in his chest.

The panic dissipated easily enough when Johnny stepped outside, shrugged his coat higher onto his shoulders to fight off the chill of the outdoors. He shook a cigarette free from its crumbled pack before tossing it away into the muck of the alley. The lighter was halfway to the cigarette before he noticed Toby staring at him and he looked vaguely surprised.

"So this is where you got to," he mumbled after a minute, finally lighting the end of the cigarette and pocketing the lighter with the deft movements every chain smoker should have mastered. There was a certain elegance to it that Toby wished he had, nonsmoker or not. "What are you doing?"

"Thinking about Erica," Toby spilled before he could think to lie.

There was a slight lift to Johnny's mouth as he let out a chuckle. Smoke spiraled into the night sky. "You sure got a bomb dropped on you, buddy."

"Y-yeah."

There was something of a companionable silence between them as Toby let Johnny finish his last smoke and Johnny left Toby to his tornado of thoughts, but Toby could feel that there was a rumble of words waiting on his older friend's tongue. Johnny had never been the type to reign in all of his thoughts, always saying what needed to be said and uncaring of the consequences. He always figured his brutal honesty had been what made the others gravitate towards him, accepting him without problem. It was certainly a deciding factor for Toby.

Before Toby could grow concerned, Johnny seemed to swallow whatever lump of indecision was in his throat and he stubbed out the cigarette on the back of his boot. "Erica's a cool friend of ours, Toby. We don't want anyone getting hurt, you know."

Of course the conversation would cycle back to Erica. Instead of the predicted dread, Toby felt a hot rush of what could have been anger.

"I'm way more chivalrous than you think, bro," he defended. He couldn't possibly understand where Johnny had gotten the idea that he'd hurt anyone he cared about, and his face pulled into an annoyed frown before he knew it.

Johnny sighed. "Yeah, I know."

"Then why—?"

"Is it such a bad thing that Erica used to be a guy? This is where you're thinking in circles, right?"

Toby paused. Johnny's insight had been something he'd glossed over since he knew the man, always thinking him to be the lone wolf while Vincent was courting Katherine and Orlando was wasting his life away in a bottle. Johnny had always been a shoulder to lean on to them, but he'd always stuck to a face-the-consequences approach.

Like a parent, or something. Johnny didn't seem to fit the role, but Toby didn't think he'd ever have sex with a trap, either.

"I-I don't know, man. I never thought about it."

Johnny caught Toby off guard again that night by releasing an enormous, exhausted sigh. The expression on his face looked a little fed up and Toby winced. "What happened to that true love stuff you were spouting? Wouldn't ducking out be a step outside your morals, kid, or was it all bullshit?"

There was something in his eyes that told Toby that Johnny thought this was incredibly important, but the only thing Toby could think of was 'isn't Johnny's relationship with that girl he talks about going well' and that he was beneath the eyes of a starving beast.

"None of it was ever bullshit," answered Toby. His voice waved and he grimaced. Stronger, he said, "True love is unbreakable and undeniable."

"But you're still confused about Erica?"

"Wouldn't you be?"

Toby always remembered Johnny as the one to sit back and watch the show. He never acted, just observed and thought.

Well, Johnny had already pulled the rug from under Toby's feet several times that evening, so he was almost ashamed when Johnny managed to do it again.

Johnny's lips on his were a little chapped and his tongue was already brushing against his teeth. Toby obliged without thinking and his eyes widened to the size of planets when he realized what was happening and with whom. His next thought was that there was an ashy taste on Johnny's tongue and he couldn't tell if he liked it or not.

And the kiss was over. Just like that.

"Was that bad?" Johnny asked. He was staring at the dumpster art with the same bored expression he had when Orlando griped about the horrors of a married man's life, disinterested, but always listening. "Or did you learn something?"

Toby watched as Johnny opened the back door of the bar with a creak and walked back in, truly amazed by how the man was ignoring the fact that he'd just mauled his face amongst the choking scent of decayed trash.

Erica's lips had been eternally softer and her kisses immensely more sensuous in comparison to Johnny's. But, all the same, they still felt just like Johnny's rough one. There was another girl, back in high school, who had made butterflies flutter in his stomach and blood rush down to his groin, but she had graduated and left him seeking the true owner of his heart. Her kisses had been just as good.

Good. They were all good.

It didn't matter that Johnny was a man in order to be so affectionate and open. It didn't matter that the one girl who'd given him a chance at something, if not sex, had been a woman in order to light a fire beneath his skin. It didn't matter that Erica could have constituted as both in order to draw him and trap his heart in her steel cage.

And Toby smiled.

"I learned something, I think."


A/N: I like TobyxErica and TobyxJohnny. SO.

A little AU at the end, as Toby doesn't quite like Erica so much anymore in the game.