~*~ The events of this story will incorporate external added elements from the author's imagination into the already rich and exhilarating canon narrative of the HBO original series, Oz. For the most part, the canon of the series will remain intact to preserve a sense of realism to the plot, while also being sensitive of the time flow of events occurring within Oz.

~*~ Although the characters to be featured are prominently factual in their given genre, they are the sole property of Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, and are copyrighted to Rysher Entertainment and HBO. All original characters are of the author's creation and belong to him alone and, as with the rest of the story, may not be replicated or redistributed in any way without formal consent from said author.

~*~ Underage reading or any other illegalities is neither encouraged nor condoned in any way by the author. He also will not tolerate any form of plagiarism towards any of the words to come, as they are his and his alone. The principal objective is that of enjoyment and entertainment to you, the reader.

~*~ Address any type of question and/or feedback to jc71883@hotmail.com, making sure to add a relation to the story on the subject line of the e-mail to guarantee its reception.

 

 

It was mainly quiet, with the exception of O'Reily's voice, as he sat against the wall in the janitor's closet by the AIDS ward and listened to him talk. This was different contact---it had nothing to do with touching. The Irishman was shaken by Meehan's death and Alvarez knew he had been questioning himself as to why it had happened. He had spoken about memories and conversations they had and how he had been fighting to get Cyril's case overturned. Alvarez wanted to give him a hug to offer some kind of comfort but resisted because he was not sure if it was the right time to be doing so.

The Latino had found himself being even more drawn to the man since they had started rehearsals for the play together. He saw how O'Reily was with his mother---had seen him smile and laugh more when he was with her than he had ever done in his entire stay in Oz. They truly cared for one another and Alvarez was a little jealous that he was able to spend so much time with his mother. In a short amount of time, he and Meehan had become very close so the man's death had to be affecting him more than he had thought it would.

"He believed there was good---some good in me," O'Reily just talked. "After all the shit I've done in here, he still believed my soul was worthy of God, you know?"

"I know how that feels, papa. Mukada believes that about me and sometimes, it was the only thing that kept me alive when I was locked away in Solitary, you know," he said because he knew the exact feeling. "It feels good when someone believes that about you---especially in a place like this, you know?"

"Yeah. I should've done more---listened more."

"What more could you have done, Ryan?" Alvarez asked him. "It was his time."

"I should've prayed with him. He wanted me to---kept asking me to."

"You blame yourself---for his death? You do, don't you?"

O'Reily looked away because he felt uncomfortable, but said, "No---not anymore. The best you can hope for in Oz is a peaceful death."

"And he got that, vÝbora. No one touched him."

"They wouldn't be breathing right now if they did."

He had that gleam in his eyes that Alvarez knew all too well and pitied anyone who was on the receiving end of those flaring green pools. The man got intense and even more dangerous when it came to the people he cared about. He wondered if O'Reily would get that defensive and protective over him---if he felt that way. Silence fell into the room as they both sat in the corner. It was a less awkward silence and a more comfortable one. They were becoming more comfortable with one another.

"You know, this is how I thought we were going to prove our trust to each other---by talking about stuff that no one else knew about," Alvarez said what was on his mind. "I didn't think---"

"I know," O'Reily cut him off and said. "I got desperate because I hate fucking losing. I need a strong ally on my side I know I can trust. The other fucks in here are starting to lose my interest."

"What's going to happen when---when you lose interest in me?"

"Haven't thought that far ahead yet."

"Fuck you!" the Latino said and wanted to get up to leave. "I fucking told you I'm not one of your goddamn pieces. You can't move me how you want and then get rid of me if I stop being useful."

"Relax, all right. Geez---can't you take a joke?"

"It wasn't fucking funny! I'm sick of people thinking they can use me and then get rid of me whenever they want."

"You're not expendable, Miguel. Not to me," the Irishman said when their eyes met. "I'm not going to treat you the way Hernandez or Morales did. I already told you---those cocksuckers had no idea of how valuable you are. Look at all the shit we've done and this is only the beginning of our partnership. We could run Oz if we wanted, loco."

"That's not what we want, though. It's not what I want, you know. Did something change for you?"

"No---hell no!" O'Reily said and was sure. "I don't need that fucking huge ass target on me. We could---that's what I was saying."

"We equal, right?" Alvarez seriously asked because lines had to be drawn in the sand now before anything went further. "None of this pulling rank bullshit or, you know, mind-fucking between us, right?"

"Alvarez, I got on my goddamn knees for you. What the hell do you think?"

The words tasted awful as they slipped out from his tongue, but he had to say them to make sure they both knew exactly where they stood with each other in the partnership. It was an equal partnership because they both had the same amount to contribute. Alvarez got a look on his face at the comment and he looked as uncomfortable as O'Reily had been when he was on his knees with the man's dick in his mouth. Sucking his dick had not been entirely unpleasant---talking about it was, though. It was always awkward when they talked about the closeness that was forming between them.

"I didn't want it to happen that way, you know?" Alvarez said.

"But, you---you wanted it to happen, right?" he asked, almost as if he was searching and hated that he needed confirmation.

"You were down there," the Latino smirked sexily. "You tell me if I wanted it to happen or not."

"Shut up!"

"Now who can't take a joke?"

"That's not what I meant. Don't make me fucking spell it out," O'Reily did not want to express himself properly.

"Wouldn't want you risking your manhood there, O'Reily. Even though it's all in your head."

"Don't lecture me," he warned.

"I went along because I wanted it to happen," Alvarez said to him. "It wouldn't happen if I didn't want it to."

"All right, then. Same here."

The look in each of their eyes said that both men wanted to say more on the subject but something was stopping them from doing so. Expressing feeling and emotions internally was one thing---it was a completely different one to talk to someone else about it, however. The Latino looked on and knew he had to change the subject because this one had become too deep for either of them to be comfortable with. There were lingering feelings about the word `fag'. Maddening thoughts of how far there were going to push boundaries. It constantly kept each of them on edge. It was too difficult to discuss or even create the idea that maybe real feelings were starting to form themselves. That cannot be an option---especially not in Oz.

"What the fuck is going on with that prick Schibetta?" Alvarez asked to lighten the mood somewhat. "I see him eyeing you at rehearsals."

"Oh shit, I forgot. I need you to do something for me."

"Dealing with him---what?"

"Go to Chucky Pancamo and tell him you heard Schibetta is giving him the evil eye---putting a curse on him," O'Reily told him.

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"I don't have time to explain now---I have to get to the kitchen for lunch. When you see Pancamo, give him the message."

"Hey," Alvarez stopped him before he went to open the door to leave. "Hey, you're going to be okay---with his death, I mean."

"Yeah. It's good I got it out now. Can't appear weak out there."

"So, I was your outlet, then?"

"I'm yours too, loco," O'Reily said back.

It was true. He always felt better after he spoke to Alvarez and imagined it was the same vice versa. O'Reily went in for a quick kiss and then left the storage room behind to get to the kitchen in time. Things were evolving between them as time went on and the partnership continued. Alvarez had tried to leave it at that, but it was obvious that there was something between them. He still had to play it safe and watch his own back because he knew the vÝbora was capable of anything---as was he.

The Latino passed through the lunch line without so much as a look to O'Reily---there had been enough of that earlier when they had been alone together. He still tasted those lips on his though. Since coming back from Solitary and separating himself from El Norte, Alvarez felt some kind of peace in his life for the first time in a long time. It was odd that he felt that way in Oz, but he did---and he was not sure if it was because of Ryan O'Reily. That was crazy, though.

"Man, I wish to Christ I could figure out what Redding is up to," Morales said as he looked over at Redding.

"Rumor is he's walking away from the kitchen---that he's going to be foreman of the telemarketing business," Guerra said.

"That don't mean he'll stop slinging. And, what we need is more information," the leader of El Norte said and noticed Alvarez walking past them. "Alvarez, join us."

"You want me to sit with you?" Alvarez asked.

"Yeah. I figure, you and Guerra made peace, you won't be stabbing each other with the silverware. Besides, I got a question."

"Nine inches, baby," he made the crude but true remark.

"You friendly with any of the niggers?" Morales ignored it and asked.

"No. Poet a little, maybe."

"Yeah---he knows you and us have been at war. I want you to talk to him, find out what Redding's real plans are."

"Spy?"

"Well, yeah," Morales said.

"I ain't hungry anymore," Alvarez said as he pushed his tray forward and got up from the table.

"Do this, Miguel---we'll welcome you back into El Norte."

"You know, I'm---I'm glad me and Chico aren't at each other's throats anymore, but that's as far as it goes, man. I got my parole in three years. Until then, I'm Mahatma fucking Gandhi. You want the peach cobbler?" he questioned before he walked away.

There was no way he was getting involved with those backstabbers again. They may have the same skin, but Morales only wanted him to be a subservient lapdog like Guerra was. And, Alvarez was serious about trying to make his parole this time. Oz was not going to take any more of his life away. He waited by himself until lunch was over and headed back to Em City with the rest of them. He did not want to be in a public alliance, so the partnership with O'Reily was perfect. He was going to have to play the game more like the Irishman---not get his hands dirty as much while still getting shit done.

Hours had passed and he was sitting in the quad watching TV as he thought about the nerve Morales had to approach him like that. He didn't give a fuck about El Norte or the homeboys anymore---they could all kill each other for all he cared. Alvarez was not going to be his pawn to use against Redding. That was a dangerous spot to be in, even if Redding had been off his game lately. A hack told him he had a visitor so he headed out to the visitor's room to see who it was.

"Miguelito---you look great," his mother Carmen greeted upon his entrance.

"Yeah, and you look really young," Alvarez replied as they hugged. "What's up with the visit after all this time?"

"Do I need more of a reason than you're my son?"

"Yeah. It didn't matter much before, did it?" he coldly replied.

"Well, maybe I haven't been here because you're always in Solitary or in the hole or escaping and not even coming to see me," his mother said with a twinge of hurt in her voice. "When would I have a chance to visit, huh?"

"You just came here to make my life more fucked up, right? Thank you."

"Be Mr. Macho Muchacho all you want, but, if you're so tough, think what that says about the bitch that bore you."

"You are a tough bitch. Yeah," Alvarez told his mother. "You do bore me. Okay, I'm glad you came. You know, when I escaped, I didn't come to see you because I thought that'd be the first place the cops would look."

"It was," Carmen reaffirmed her son's thinking.

"How's Maritza doing?"

"She's wonderful."

"She fucking anybody?" he had to know, even though he was being a bit hypocritical about it.

"She's working as a travel agent---sending people to Europe, Japan, Australia."

"Ma, I asked you a question."

"I speak to her once, maybe twice a month. I don't think she is," she said.

"You tell her that she got to come visit me."

"That would mean a lot more coming from you," Carmen made the point.

"I ain't going to ask---I aint going to beg. She should just show up," Alvarez replied, even though it made no sense.

Carmen left shortly after and had given him a lot to think about. He did not want to beg her to come to Oz, but he wanted her there. She was his last link to the outside world. Things with O'Reily were confusing---it felt good, mostly, but it was all confusing. Alvarez never imagined that he would share the kind of closeness he shared only with women with another man. He thought that maybe it was the desperation of Oz. He needed to talk to Maritza, to see her. Alvarez thought about everything that his mother had said as he headed back and immediately went to the phone room to make a call.

"Shit," he cursed as the phone kept ringing.

"Hey, it's Maritza. I'm not home, so please leave a message," an answering machine greeted him.

"Hey, Ritz. Thinking about you a lot lately," Alvarez spoke to the machine. "Ma told me how good you were doing, you know, sending people all over the world and stuff. You know, I hope you don't forget that I'm still a part of yours because, baby, you're still most of mine. I know that I haven't been the best, you know, of anything the last couple of years, but if, um---you could use some of that travel agent, you know, magic to arrange for a car, go to Oz, damn, I'd make that trip worthwhile, I promise. All right. I love you---and, I miss you, Maritza. Yeah, I really do. Please come. Yeah---please come."

The phone went back to the receiver and he put all his emotions away to leave the phone room behind. No one was in there when he left the heartfelt message so it was safe. Alvarez walked back out to the quad and saw O'Reily's eyes on him. He smiled a little but did not bother to keep the gaze for too long. The Latino headed back up to his pod but was sidetracked when he saw a few members sitting on the table outside of Pancamo's cell. The man himself was there too and Alvarez walked over to get Schibetta off his partner's back.

"Yo, Pancamo, I need a word," the Latino said when he approached the group.

"We got business, spic? No," the Italian leader asked and answered his own question. "Get on."

"You'll want to hear what I have to say, chica."

"What the fuck you call me?" Pancamo said as he quickly stood up. "You starting some shit, Alvarez? You ain't under Morales's protection anymore. Think before you speak, motherfucker!"

"Hey---I'm here to offer information to you," Alvarez played it cool. "Something I heard---overheard."

"Morales know you over here?"

"Don't care if he does. I ain't one of his boys anymore. He don't concern me."

"Big words, Alvarez," he said. "Maybe you got some balls after all."

"It ain't maybe."

"Say what you got to and get on."

"I was in the gym yesterday and heard Schibetta talking about the Italians--specifically, you," Alvarez expertly planted the seed and he knew the vÝbora would be proud. "Said some shit about curses and putting the evil eye on you."

"Did he now?"

"I don't know what the hell it means and we all know old Petey hasn't been the same since Adebisi and Schillinger stuck it to him, but he sounded serious."

Pancamo looked him up and down and said, "What the fuck you getting by telling me this shit, huh?"

"Dick, man. I'm solo in this piece---don't owe these fucks anything either way. But, I know that evil eye bullshit is serious to you guys."

"How you know that?"

"It don't take a genius to figure out," the Latino said. "Evil and eye don't belong in the same sentence."

"Yeah---it don't. Because we all know your ass has too many screws loose to be a genius."

"It's all right, man. Be cool."

Alvarez smirked and walked away, particularly proud of the job he had done. Pancamo talked a big game to him, but the fear was already there in his eyes about curses and the evil eye. He knew all the Italians' eyes were on him as he walked back to the pod but it did not matter---the job was done. The Latino returned to his cell and went onto his bed as he thought about the message he left Maritza. In all the time she had been out of prison, she had never come to visit him. His mother was right, though---visiting him was difficult because he had been in and out of Solitary so much over the past years. But still, she should have made an effort. They lost a child together.

 

It was a few days later and O'Reily was in a bad mood because the warden was not allowing him to see Cyril. There was no news on the appeal and he was starting to get frustrated and angry that his brother was still sitting on death row. He was on a bench in the gym lifting weights to free up at least some of his mind. It was easier said than done though because all the thoughts in his head wanted to engulf him---drown him and wash him away. It had become easier to wonder what that would feel like.

"Hey, O'Reily, I heard your pal Father Meehan crashed and burned," Schibetta said in a vile tone. "That must be tearing you up inside, huh?"

"Yeah---he was a good man."

"Yeah. Well, I guess now you got a little taste of what it felt like when you murdered my father."

"We're done talking, bitch," the Irishman said dismissively.

"Oh, okay. I was just wondering how you're going to feel when Cyril dies," he kept dangerously provoking the viper.

"We're appealing Cyril's case."

"And, your ma."

"What?"

"Your ma."

O'Reily bolted up to his face and warned, "You go anywhere my mother, I'll fucking skin you alive."

"I don't have to touch her. I got the evil eye, remember?" Schibetta still sounded crazy as he said.

"Yeah---whatever," he backed off and looked away because the conversation was boring him.

"Okay---that's what killed Meehan, you know. My wife's grandmother put the evil eye on the fat fuck and he was dead within hours."

"You know, Schibetta, you really do belong in the psych, man. You're fucking nuts."

"Meehan gave me his rosary," he continued to talk. "That's all you need---a possession of the person you want cursed. I gave the rosary to my wife to give to her nana---arrivederci, Meehan. I'm going to put the curse on every single person you love, and when you can't stand the grief one more second, I'm going to put it on you, and I'll be smiling when you're twisting in your own shit."

"Hey, you fucking dago! You motherfucker! Fuckin---" O'Reily yelled and started to approach him again but saw a guard walking closer so he calmed himself down. "It's okay, man. Momentary lapse."

"Yeah?" the hack responded.

"Yeah," the Irishman said back.

"Okay, come on. Let's take them down."

He put the weights back in their spot and gave Schibetta one last look before leaving the gym with the officer to go back to Em City. Now was the time to water the seed that Alvarez had already planted for him. Since neither of them were connected or allied with one another to the outside world, Pancamo had to believe him when he told him about Schibetta and the evil eye business. As usual, the Italians were sitting at the same table upstairs when O'Reily walked up to them.

"Hey, Chucky, you got a minute?" he said.

"For you, O'Reily, I got only twenty-eight seconds," the Italian leader said. "But the way you doubletalk, it should be plenty."

"Peter Schibetta. He's walking around saying he can put curses on people."

"The evil eye---sure," Pancamo said and became more interested in the conversation.

"Well, he says that his wife's grandmother---she's got the power."

"Petey's got two screws loose."

"Oh, man---I feel a lot better hearing that," O'Reily feigned worry. "Because, um, not only did he say that he put a curse on me---he said he put a curse on you. Yeah, that's what he said. I think he still blames you for him taking it up the ass---twice."

"That fucking little prick," the sucker fell right into the plan.

"Maybe you should go talk to Peter, huh?"

"Yeah, maybe I should."

"Yeah," he agreed.

O'Reily left the group and went down to his pod, laughing on the inside at how easy that was. The Latino had to have worked him over pretty damn good because as soon as he said evil eye, Pancamo's eyes clenched up as if he was in some kind of danger. Again, Alvarez had proven himself a valuable asset---and that he had a knack for mind-fucking as well. He certainly was already way ahead of most of the other scumfucks in here. O'Reily had to admit that the man impressed him yet again.

They were all at practice and he was busy painting the scenery as Alvarez controlled the room with his voice and firm hand. It was sexy what a little power and confidence did for him. O'Reily had caught himself staring more than he should have and, each time, he had shaken his head and mentally reprimanded himself for having such thoughts. Practice was almost over and Schibetta had been on his best behavior throughout the entire rehearsal. They had not spoken more than two words to each other---it was the opposite of what had happened in the gym between them earlier.

"You see, when you say `screw your courage to the sticking place,' what you're saying is to have some balls---keep on track," Fitzgerald coached.

"Oh. `But screw your courage to the sticking place. And will not fail.'" Stein repeated after he took in the criticism.

"Good."

"Then I explain the murder plan?"

"Right," she said.

"All right, that's it," Alvarez commanded attention in his loud voice as he said. "We start up again tomorrow at three."

"All right, thank you very much---we'll see you later," Fitzgerald said to the inmates.

"Suzanne, I've got to tell you, I'm having the best time," Schibetta falsely stated. "I've got to go meet my wife right now, but I can't wait to tell her all about you."

"Thanks. We'll see you later."

"Hey, have you heard from the lawyer about the exact date of Cyril's appeal?" O'Reily stepped down from the stage and asked his mother.

"Well, all Zelman said was sometime this week," she said as she rummaged through her purse. "Damn."

"What's the matter?"

"I can't find my car keys."

"What?"

"Yeah---I was sure I left them right here," Fitzgerald looked a bit confused and said.

"Oh Christ, mom---I bet Schibetta stole them. He's going to put a curse on you. I got---I got to go," he said in a panicked tone.

"Oh, Ryan."

"No, I got to go," the Irishman said as he ran to the gate.

"Slow down, O'Reily," the guard ordered him.

"No---I got an emergency!"

"What emergency?" the hack asked.

"I can't explain it---just let me go."

"You ain't going anywhere."

"Fuck!"

He was trapped and was growing more frantic by the minute. If what Schibetta had said about Meehan was true, his mother was going to be next. But, he could not explain himself to anyone without looking like he needed to be committed to the psych ward as well. They all walked back to Em City and Alvarez slipped his arm across his shoulder for a short while when he was positive no one was looking. O'Reily welcomed the touch, and the distraction to his mind, but it was gone as quickly as it had come. His mind was a jumbled mess.

"Lockdown! Lockdown!" Murphy yelled upon their arrival in Em City.

"What the fuck is going on, man?" O'Reily asked, but was ignored.

"O'Reily. Catch," Pancamo called out to him amidst the madness of inmates being rushed to their pods.

He threw a small bunch of keys and the Irishman immediately caught it and smiled to himself because the deed had been completed. The reason for the lockdown was now apparent and he gladly entered his pod to wait it out because Schibetta was dead---he and his evil eye were not more. Pancamo and his boys had wasted no time to airhole the little bastard. All pod doors were sealed shut and the buzzers stopped ringing as O'Reily went to his door with the keys still in his hands. He looked across the pod and up to the second floor to see that Alvarez was looking down at him and had that sexy grin plastered on his sexy lips. Only a momentary piece of pleasure could be afforded.