~*~ 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.



Dependence on D-tabs had become too much of a struggle for him. Having Torquemada watching him every night made him feel like a prag. There were never any sexual encounters aside from light touching and fondling on the queen's part---Alvarez was performing for him, and the sick fuck got off on it. As hard as he tried to escape, the grip of D-tabs kept him firmly in place and practically under Torquemada's thumb.

Then, there was the steady evolution from partnership that was occurring with O'Reily. They had both willingly done something that should have severely threatened their manhood in here---threatened the Irishman's manhood. It had felt good---great even. The warmth and pulsing flesh of O'Reily insides coupled with his throbbing hard dick made Alvarez crave it even more. D-tabs could never offer that kind of satisfaction to him, but it had still given him a regular break from life in Oz.

He sat at that same upstairs table and thought about what his life had become since that queen had sashayed himself into it. His precious D-tabs were able to subdue him. Alvarez had never been that weak or easily manipulated before, though. His ears drifted in and out of the conversation that was going on at the same table. Torquemada, Pancamo, and Urbano were talking strategy and about going into overdrive. D-tabs had already made its mark on the prison. Now it was time to expand that mark into domination.

With Keller's final act of sadistic love to Beecher, he had gotten rid of all the Nazi inmates and their blind racism. There was no Aryan group among the cliques anymore because of their severely diminished numbers. Robson was not going to cause any problems from the AIDS ward. Redding had temporarily regained control of the homeboys and had committed them to a straight life through the telemarketing program, but Poet, Rawls, and most of the other niggers were not too happy with their newfound life of honesty.

Latino numbers were growing in Em City and throughout the other cellblocks, but with Urbano in charge, El Norte was reduced to nothing more than gofers and slingers for Torquemada and Pancamo. Urbano still stupidly believed that he was a part of the grand plan---as did Pancamo. The crafty queen was going to take care of them both when the time was right. Alvarez smiled to himself as he listened to them talk around the table as if they all were equal partners.

"Poet's got most of the other niggers slinging on the side. Redding doesn't have a fucking clue," Urbano said to the table and then looked at the Latino. "What the fuck are you smiling at, Alvarez?"

"Nothing, man. I'm cool," he suavely replied.

"Yeah, it better be nothing---fucking fag."

"How about I make it so you breathe permanently through your mouth this time?" Alvarez said, but had no interest in expending any more energy on the stupid lapdog.

"Bring it on, cocksucker. I ain't scared of a bitch like you."

"Yo, Urbano, calm the fuck down," Pancamo said to him.

"You need to control your temper," Torquemada said to Urbano. "You're not going to lay a finger on Miguel."

"I don't need your protection," Alvarez sternly said.

"Not protection, dear. Think of it---think of it as insurance."

"I was never good at paying my premiums," he said and jerked the flamboyant man's hand away from his arm.

"Enough of this bullshit," the big Italian said. "None of this has anything to do with controlling Em City."

"Chucky's right," Torquemada said. "Now that the niggers are working for us, we have to focus our attention on the bikers."

"The bikers? Their numbers are small," Pancamo said. "They're no threat to anyone."

"Maybe not, but it couldn't hurt to have them on our side. At the end of this takeover, if you are not standing with us, then you are against us."

"What about the Muslims? They'll never sling," Alvarez said and ignored Urbano's stupid glare.

"We don't have to worry about the Muslims just yet," the queen said. "They don't start trouble---even when provoked. Once we acquire the bikers into our little---family, our numbers will be more than enough to handle them were they to stage a revolt."

"The Muslims have been weak since Said got himself airholed," Pancamo said. "They won't be a problem."

"So why not take them out now---start getting rid of all who oppose us?" Urbano said.

"Doing that would cause a war---a riot, you dumbass fool," the Latino replied.

"What?" he angrily spat.

"Miguel's right," Torquemada said. "And I have no interest in genocide. The Muslims are the only group I am willing to overlook in our conquest. As long they stay out of the way, they will continue to receive this---free pass. My dear Arif will be wise to accept the terms of this arrangement."

"Fuck them," Pancamo said in agreement. "They don't sling so we got no competition. If they do step to us, they'll be stomped out."

The siren wailed and the gate shifted aside for another presence to pass beyond it. Not many inmates paid much attention to the new face among them. The man walked into Em City with a purpose and with only one destination in mind. His face was unreadable as he made his way to the stairs and started ascending them to get to where he wanted to be. Alvarez glanced down to see those evil eyes approaching and felt a sting of exhilaration and dread. Oh, fuck!

"Is this a private party?" the unknown man said after he approached the table.

"It was---until now," Pancamo replied in an irritated tone. "Who the fuck are you?"

"Which one of you is the leader of El Norte?" he said and scanned all their faces.

"Oh, sweetie, I believe we are the ones who will be asking the questions," Torquemada said. "Shall we make introductions?"

"Nah---fuck that," the Italian said. "Get the hell out of here, motherfucker, before you get hurt."

"I hear this is the place to be," he said in a dry voice. "Tell me what I want to know."

"A demand?" the queen said with his horrid overacting. "Oh, no---we don't respond well to those. Not at all."

"Leave---while you can still breathe," Pancamo stood up and threatened again.

"I will have to make you all respond, then," the man said and walked away.

"What the fuck was that about?" Urbano asked the table.

"Shit," Alvarez said.

"What is it? You know him?" Torquemada said as he looked at the man walking into his pod.

"I know of him. He's a bloodthirsty warlord that does a lot of business in my neighborhood now. They call him El Cartel."

"You're lying," Urbano stupidly said.

"Hey, Urbano, shut the fuck up, all right?" Pancamo ordered him. "Alvarez, what else do you know?"

"Nothing. He's a dangerous man and, from the looks of it, Urbano's the first one on his list of getting to know," the Latino laughed as he looked at him and said. "Lucky you."

"Kiss my ass, Alvarez. I ain't scared of that prick."

"We'll have to keep an eye on him," Torquemada said and then looked at Urbano. "Have one of the Latinos get close to him to find out what his intentions are."

"If this asshole's going to be a problem, it'll be fun getting rid of him," Pancamo said.

Alvarez had an uneasy feeling and his instincts were on razor-sharp alert from the newest arrival to Em City. Before Reynaldo had betrayed him by sleeping with Maritza, he had spoken about El Cartel on more than a few occasions. The drug lord's gang had infested and flooded his old neighborhood with so much drugs and was the cause of so much violence. Alvarez knew now more than ever that he had to watch his back from this man. From the conversation, El Cartel looked like he had come to Oz with a purpose in mind.

Later in the day, he was in the computer room surfing the net as his eyes glanced over to O'Reily from time to time. The other man was sitting at the TV area watching something, but their eyes had met a few times. The Latino wondered how he was doing with his father and the man's likely trip to death row. His emotions were obviously haywire for him to turn to the prescription pills the way he did. He and O'Reily were drugged up messes---both for very different reasons, though. The other inmate quickly got up and left as someone else entered.

"Alvarez, right?" the man greeted and took the computer right next to him. "They say you're the one to talk to."

"Talk to about what?" he said without looking away from the computer screen.

"Information I need to know. Ramíro Calderón," El Cartel introduced himself. "Are you going to look at me---shake my hand?"

"Don't need to. I already know about you---El Cartel."

"I see. So you know why I've come to Oz."

"I know who you are. I don't know anything beyond that," Alvarez said without emotion.

"I thought it would've been clear from the encounter at the table earlier. I'm here to reclaim El Norte for us."

"There is no El Norte---and there is no us. The gang is dead and gone."

"And you stood by and watch this happen?" he asked with an eerily collected voice.

"Didn't give a fuck. Still don't."

"You are of Latin blood, aren't you?"


"It is your responsibility to protect the reputation of our gang inside these walls," El Cartel said with a hint of anger. "It is the responsibility of all the Latino inmates to see to it that El Norte never fell from its powerful position inside Oz."

"Spare me this bullshit," Alvarez stopped him and said. "El Norte was as corrupt and destructive as you are."

"This makes me the perfect candidate to bring it back to its glorious seat of power."

"That's all you. Bringing El Norte back don't interest me."

"It should. I plan to make it the most powerful of all the gangs in here," Calderón said with a wicked smile. "You will be placed second in charge to make this happen."

"You deaf or something? I want no part of you or that fucked up gang. Go resurrect it from the dead yourself."

"You are making a dangerous mistake by refusing my offer. I am not one to be made an enemy of."

"I'll take my chances," Alvarez said in an uncaring tone. "We're done."

"Who leads the remnants of the gang?" he got his last question out.

"Don't know."

It was not that he lied to protect Urbano---he already made up his mind that he did not like Calderón and was not going to give him any type of information. The feeling seemed to be mutual as El Cartel got up and shot him a dangerous look before he left the computer room. Alvarez took a deep breath and exhaled through his mouth as he watched the man through the large glass windows separating the computer room from the rest of Em City.

That look was there in his eyes. El Cartel was out for blood and Alvarez was positive of whose blood it was going to be. The man had those fatal brown eyes and an even more dangerous way that he carried himself. He looked to be around the same age and have the same body type as Alvarez. His hair was as black as the darkest night and his skin glowed a healthy caramel hue. He was unconventionally handsome, but his ice-cold eyes and deadly body language made it impossible for anyone to get too close without having that fear inside them.

The Latino remained mainly to himself for the rest of the day but knew El Cartel had been sneaking looks at him since their unsuccessful meeting in the computer room earlier. He was not going to be ruffled or used by this power-hungry warlord as he had allowed himself to be in the past. Torquemada and Pancamo would take him out if he became a problem---or he and O'Reily would. El Cartel was not going to get what he had come to Oz to get. A huge target had already been drawn on his back.

After lights out, Torquemada slinked around the pod as if he was looking for something---as if something was on his mind. Alvarez had swallowed a D-tab shortly after dinner and was still feeling its effects as he rested on his bed and stared anywhere that interested his eyes. O'Reily had been avoiding him since what had happened between them. Alvarez knew he needed time to figure out what was going on inside his head so he was not going to push. But, they needed to talk about El Cartel and what his arrival meant to the game.

"Miguel, honey---" the sick queen began to say.

"No---I'm not doing that," the Latino answered back because he knew what the bastard was going to say. "All my clothes are staying on."

"You're so cute---even when you're wrong. I'm not talking about that," Torquemada said and sat on his bed---next to him. "I need some information."

"About El Cartel? I already told you all I heard about him."

"I have no doubt he will make the first move against us. Nevertheless, I'm not worried about that. He will be dealt with when that time comes."

"Listen," Alvarez seriously said and gave them some space from one another. "I'm ain't one of your fucking lackeys. I ain't Urbano."

"I would never begin to classify that inbred fool as being anywhere near the same league as you. He'll get what is coming to him."

"Doesn't concern me the least bit."

"A blind man could see that, sugar," the flamboyant man said with a slight giggle. "I need information on one Ryan O'Reily."

His pulse quickened at hearing the name, but he remained cool and said, "What makes you think I know anything about O'Reily?"

"Well, you two have been in Em City for years now. Surely you must know something about him."

"He and I don't cross paths very often. We were allies during the riot---but that was a long time ago. We got no business with each other."

"I see," Torquemada said without any expression on his face. "I need for him to ally himself with us. His skills of persuasion and record of getting what he wants in here are invaluable to me. They are, after all, legend in this place."

"Go convince him, then. I'm sure he'd like to get his ego stroked," he said and cringed inside of the thought of Torquemada being so close to the Irishman.

"I'd like you to do that."

"Do what?" the Latino said and was on the verge of being defensive.

"Encourage him to join us---sling D-tabs. I know you can be persuasive when you want to be as well."

"I told you---I ain't some fucking grunt to be moved around however you want. If you want him dealing D-tabs, go talk him into doing that shit yourself," Alvarez said and did not like what the conversation had turned into.

"This is disheartening. I need you to do this for me, Miguel---for control of Em City."

"Already said I wouldn't. You think you can trust him?"

"About as much as Pancamo and Urbano will trust me after I'm through with them," the queen snickered and got up from the bed. "His reputation precedes him. He is a wild card I must have on my side. I can't take any chances where he is concerned."

"Your funeral."

"Will you cry, dumpling? Will you cry if I were to meet with some unfortunate fate?"

"We both know the answer to that," he dryly replied and turned away to get some sleep.

"I suppose we do," Torquemada said with a sad smile. "So tell me, Miguel---who is víbora?"

Alvarez felt his heart do a somersault against his ribcage when he heard the Spanish word that only he and one other person inside Oz knew about. He did not bother to turn back around or give an answer as his mind was reeling with treacherous possibilities. Torquemada had heard him say his codename for O'Reily. It had to be while he was on Destiny because his brain could not remember ever spilling the codename otherwise. The Latino felt a jolt of panic at the possibility of what the queen could possibly know.

The partnership would be exposed and used against them both if Torquemada ever found out what was really going on between him and the Irishman. Now, more than ever, he had to watch where he stepped and how he handled himself around everyone. There was no doubt that the queen had other inmates monitoring him---both of them. Alvarez had to think fast to come up with a plan, but Destiny was still ravaging his mind.

He could not overreact to the situation. If he panicked, it was all going to be over and Alvarez knew this better than most of the other inmates in here. He was not going to let Torquemada get under his skin and get the answers he was searching for. The man had a suspicion and nothing more to go on. It might just be a big fantasy inside his head, but outside of it, nothing was going on between Miguel Alvarez and Ryan O'Reily. There was no proof of anything to suggest otherwise. They were both extra careful to cover their tracks for this reason.

"That's all right, darling," Torquemada said before he prepared to go up to bed. "The answer's not important anyway. Sweet dreams, my angel."


It was quiet in the interview room as he waited for the lawyer to come and explain his plan to keep Seamus O'Reily from ever seeing one day on death row. Per his father's request, O'Reily hired a new lawyer to head the case. Zelman was not able to save Cyril and his father feared that the same outcome would be his as well. The stress and worry was festering inside him and threatening to take control again---as it had when he was with Alvarez.

That encounter weighed heavily on his mind. It had forced him to think about being in that small room---Alvarez being inside him. His body had healed from the encounter, but his head was still a cloudy mess about the memory itself as well as the experience. As a result, O'Reily was avoiding him for the time being---at least until he figured out what his next move was going to be. He body fell under some kind of spell every time he was alone with the Latino.

The door opened and an older man greeted, "Mr. O'Reily? I'm Bryan Rockford."

"Skip the introductions and get down to business," he said and ignored the other man's extended hand. "I need you to make sure my dad never sees death row."

"Well, the state's adamant about their case."

"I don't give a fuck. That's why I hired you. Get it done."

"Mr. O'Reily," Rockford said as he opened his briefcase to retrieve files. "Your father killed another inmate in cold blood. And, from what I've read, this was his second attempt at Jahfree Neema's life."

"Look, spare me the details, all right. I know what happened," O'Reily annoyingly said.

"Seamus O'Reily had malice in his heart---ill will towards Neema. Malice implies premeditation. His prior attempt on the man's life practically cements this."

"So, you're saying you can't do anything?"

"I'm saying to be cognizant of the facts of the case," the lawyer said as he resumed perusing the files. "It will be an uphill battle. You need to prepare yourself for that."

"I don't need to prepare myself for anything," he snapped. "Do whatever you have to do to get him cleared of death row."

"But, Mr. O'Reily---"

"Ryan! My goddamn name's Ryan!"

"I'll---I'll get to work on it," Rockford said with a bit of trepidation in his voice.

"That's what I'm paying you for."

The new attorney had laid out a few options and scenarios for him before their meeting had ended. The trial was scheduled to start in a few days and O'Reily had some nerves. This entire process did not end well the last time. He thought about Cyril as he made his way back. He remembered their last conversation and the entire fantasy he and his mother made up to keep him calm in his final days of life. He still had not let go of his baby brother.

Inside his pod, the Irishman paced around as he waited for his word to get back. Upon entering Em City, he had seen Torquemada buzzing around Alvarez and his blood had gone cold---as if ice water was running though his veins. A hint of envy and revulsion had sparked inside his system upon the sight. The Latino had seen him, but their gaze could not be kept for long in such a public place. O'Reily wanted to rip the queen's hands from his body and beat him to death with them. The door stabbed through air and opened.

"You wanted to see me?" Meaney announced himself.

"Liam---hey. Yeah, come in---come in."

"You heard about the new guy---the spic? His name's Calderón," he said.

"I heard in passing about him---El Cartel. He's no concern to me---yet. That's not why I asked you here."

"What's up?"

"Has Torquemada approached you?" O'Reily asked while remaining as vague as possible.

"The faggot? No. Why?"

"Shit. That means you're not on his radar."

"What's going on, man?" the grunt asked and was confused.

"Listen, I need you to do something for me---something very important. You can't fuck it up, Liam."

"What the hell is going on, Ryan?"

"You have to be a double agent for me," the Irishman said as he stared outside at the quad. "Go to Torquemada and tell him you want to start slinging D-tabs."

"What? I don't want anything to do with that fag," Meaney disparagingly said.

"Listen to me---listen to me. Torquemada's gained a lot of power since he first came to Oz," O'Reily tried to explain without giving away too many details. "I have a plan to slow him down for a while. That's where you come in."

"But---but the warden said it's an instant trip to the hole for anyone who gets caught with drugs."

"That's why you won't get caught."

O'Reily was in no mood to go this deep into the conversation but he could tell that Meaney was apprehensive about the whole idea, so he needed to be patient. It was crucial that someone other than him approach Torquemada to start pushing his precious D-tabs---someone O'Reily knew he could easily manipulate to get the job done exactly how he wanted it done. The loyal grunt was the perfect person for the job.

"You won't get caught by the hacks or anyone else," he said in a convincing way. "Collect the supply of D-tabs he gives you to push and bring them all to me."

"Bring them to you---why?" Meaney asked.

"Look---don't question me right now. Just do what I'm telling you to do. You want that cocksucker and his D-tabs running Em City?"

"No---hell no. I don't understand."

"When have you ever understood any of my plans?" O'Reily said---his patience gone. "I don't need you to understand anything. Just do exactly what I told you to do. Can you handle that?"

"Yeah. I got it," he said. "Wait---what if he asks me about you?"

"Tell him you see D-tabs as the future of Em City---and that I don't. The fuck will buy that. His ego will love you."

"I'll do it during dinner tonight."

"Make sure you talk to him---not Pancamo or Urbano. And, only bring me up if he does," he said.

"What about Alvarez? You see how he lets that fag touch and hang all over him? I always knew he was a fag, too."

"Liam---focus on what I told you to do!" O'Reily retorted to the underling. "Alvarez isn't our concern---Torquemada is."

"All right---all right. I hear you."

"Don't fuck this up!"

He sent the grunt on his way and felt some sense of relief when he was alone again. O'Reily always knew this about himself, though. He always felt better when he was working an angle or had some plan in motion to give him the upper hand without anything ever being traced back to him. It made him feel secure for all these years in Oz. His mind-fucking was evolving and getting deeper and more convoluted. That way, his desirable results was practically the only option left.

The Irishman had felt it again and wanted to hate himself for it. Meaney's harsh words about Alvarez had taken him to that same protective place he found himself increasingly spending more time in. Now that Torquemada had made it known that he wanted to share some kind of twisted bond with the Latino, O'Reily's concern and protectiveness for the Latino had skyrocketed into the stellar regions of his mind. It was a place inside his head that was previously only reserved for the likes of his mother---and Cyril.

Later, those emotions had stuffed themselves away because he was in the hospital ward working. Some inmate he did not know had gotten into a fight in the cafeteria during lunch so Dr. Nathan and a nurse were patching him up when he came in. O'Reily felt weird because he thought there were residual feelings for her, but also wondered if it was just his mind's safe place to go to because of what he had done with Alvarez---how sexually bonded he had allowed them to become.

Much of the experience he remembered but there was still so much that was fuzzy or just made no sense at all. Mostly, all of the raw emotions and sensations his body had experienced throughout it all had remained intact. It was the words said between them that eluded him---if he had begged to be fucked. O'Reily leaned against the counter in the medicine room and thought about the electricity his body had felt when Alvarez was inside him---how the colored spots had danced in front of his eyes. He shuddered at the thought of it all.

"You look a million miles away," Dr. Nathan said as she came into the room to get some medication.

"Huh, oh, no---no. Just thinking," he recovered himself and said.

"About your brother?"

"I know he's gone, but---but part me still believes he's here."

"That's your faith," she said warmly. "The ones that die never really leave us. I know it sounds strange---coming from a doctor and all, but when you take away science and technology, what are we left with? Faith---our souls."

"I guess."

"Your brother knew you did everything you could for him. Cyril knew how much you loved him."

"It wasn't enough to save him," O'Reily sadly said.

"Maybe---maybe it wasn't meant to save him. Maybe it was meant to save you. Help you find your way."

"There is no way for me to find. I'm stuck in this pisshole for the rest of my life. You know there's no such thing as hope in Oz."

"Ryan, there's hope everywhere. Even in the darkest and most desolate places in the world, there is some hope," Dr. Nathan said to him and then addressed the nurse that walked into the room. "Get him started on this and we'll see how his wounds react."

"Yes, doctor," the nurse said and left.

"I don't want to talk about it anymore," he said.

"Okay. I hear you hired a new lawyer for your father. How's he doing?"

"I'm going to see him after I'm done here---tell him about the lawyer and stuff."

"I'm proud of you, Ryan," she said and gave a small smile. "I see that you're really trying to fix your relationship with him."

"We'll never be like other fathers and sons out there," O'Reily said and knew it was true. "It's good enough where it is now."

"Don't worry. I'm sure the lawyer will do everything he can think of to keep your dad from getting sent to death row."

Dr. Nathan left him alone when another patient was calling for her and he used the opportunity to build back up the brick wall that protected him. Everything---from his thoughts and emotions about Cyril and his father to his feelings about Alvarez went behind the wall while his bravado and manipulative ego stood out in the forefront. This was how people knew not to mess with or double-cross him. He was the viper for this reason.

O'Reily continued working through an otherwise uneventful afternoon in the infirmary. He had begun to have second thoughts about his plan, and Meaney's involvement, but had to put that all aside because everything was already in motion. Even if he told the grunt to back off and forget it, Torquemada was still a growing problem in Oz. His fingers were being outspread to more and more of Em City---they were touching Alvarez far too much.

A hack escorted him away from the hospital wing and down to Solitary to have a few minutes with his father. He thought about what Dr. Nathan had said to him---about him finding his way through his brother's death. It could not be the furthest thing from the truth. Cyril would hate him if he knew what his life had become---what he had done. O'Reily knew that if his brother were alive, he would severely disapprove and condemn him for what he had allowed his body to give in to.

Maybe it was all in his head. Cyril had always looked up to him---had wanted to be him. They had been so close before the accident, and had bonded for life after the accident had left him with the brain capacity of a five-year-old. The Cyril he knew would never turn his back on him---even if O'Reily had willingly allowed himself to succumb to the darkness and give Miguel Alvarez intimate access to him. A small part of him did not regret what had happened---did not regret the unbridled pleasure his body had experienced.

Then he thought of how horrible it had been for Cyril in that closet when he had first come to Oz. Schillinger and his bastard cronies had taken turns raping him. Being in the mindset he was doomed to live, all his brother had known to be in that situation, as with most others, was scared. The fucks had taken turns sticking their unprotected dicks inside him while they had laughed and enjoyed the throne of power. Now they had both known what that felt like, though through a very different set of circumstances.

"Hey, pop," O'Reily greeted when the gates of the cell were open.

"Ryan," he greeted and hugged his son.

"The gate stays open---Querns's orders," the hack said and left both doors open.

"Fucking Querns. He's not making this easy," the Irishman said and they broke apart.

"Don't worry about that, son. You got a lawyer?"

"Yeah---spoke to him this morning. He seems smart."

"What did he say?" Seamus O'Reily asked and sat on his bed.

"He's going to explore every option to keep you away from death row."

"Good. He better fucking figure it out soon. I hate it here."

"Well, dad, if you knew how to control yourself---or at least have someone else do it to keep your hands clean, we wouldn't be stuck in this shit now," he said and felt himself getting upset.

"He had to die. That nigger took too much from me already."

"And saying shit like that will make sure you end up executed. Keep your goddamn mouth shut!" O'Reily snapped, and was quickly losing what little patience he had left. "I mean it, dad!"

"Who the fuck you think you talking to like that?"

"You, old man. We do this my way, or you're on your own."

"You wouldn't do that---not after Cyril," his father said as if it was supposed to mean something.

"You don't know me as well as you think you do, then. This isn't Cyril all over again. You keep fucking up and I'll let them throw your ass on death row to rot. Got it?"

"Fuck you."

"I knew you'd see it my way."

Their relationship had progressed, but it was never going to come anywhere near what most considered a normal father and son relationship. Neither of them knew how to be normal or act normal---think normal. O'Reily had to get control of the situation because, despite their constant fighting and bickering, he did not want to lose his father. Oz was not going to claim another one of his family. Seamus O'Reily glared at him but eventually calmed himself down because he was no fool. He knew he would need all the help and support he could get in the battle for his life.

"I told ma," the Irishman said into the silence.

"What did she say? She must be happy I'm facing the death penalty."

"She wants you dead. Said she could do it with her own hands."

"Killing---it must run in our family," Seamus O'Reily said and let out a barrel laugh.

"Ma would've never gone back to you. I don't get why you fucking killed him."

"Time's up, boys," the guard walked in and said. "Say night-night, O'Reily."

He was ushered away from Solitary and towards the cafeteria because dinner had already started. Now was when Meaney was going to make his move to start the plan. A flash of excitement and power passed through him, as it always did when he began a new plan. He stood in the line to get food, kept a low profile, and could see Meaney already hovering over the table where Torquemada and Alvarez were sitting. He had to be careful that the Latino did not catch his eyes.

O'Reily waited in his pod after they had all returned from dinner for news of the meeting. Meaney had talked to Torquemada throughout all of dinner---he had to have been accepted. The queen was upstairs in his pod and O'Reily knew he could not meet Meaney where he currently was. He saw the grunt approaching but quickly left his pod and walked under the stairs and behind the large column to offer a bit of privacy. Meany came a few minutes later.

"What happened?" O'Reily whispered. "Did he believe you?"

"Yeah. He gave me ten D-tabs to distribute."

"Already? Good. Give them to me."

Meaney reached into his pocket to produce the pills and said, "He was asking me a lot of questions about you."

"I bet. What'd you say?"

"I played dumb---just like you told me to."

"No one knows how to play dumb better than you, Liam," he said and smiled at the insult. "Now get out of here before anyone sees us."

His underling disappeared as quickly as the conversation had ended and O'Reily made his way back to his pod to get the D-tabs away from his body as soon as possible. He could not afford a trip to the hole right now---not when Torquemada was free to do whatever he pleased in Em City. Turning his back to the glass, the Irishman removed all the pills from his pocket and set them away for the second part of his plan. He only had to wait one more night before he could buy himself some time to come up with the real plan.

Following breakfast the next morning, the inmates returned and went about their own ways. Most went to watch TV or in the computer room, while others stayed in their pods or went to make telephone calls. By a stroke of his Irish luck, Torquemada was nowhere to be seen in Em City. Alvarez, however, was sitting by himself at a table upstairs and fingering through playing cards in his hands. O'Reily had to seize the opportunity that was given to him so he walked up the stairs.

"Hey," he said and nerves immediately came to life inside him. "You want to play?"

"Why not. Anything that'll pass the time," Alvarez said to him. "Sit. Poker?"


"This should be easy for you. Your lying face is more convincing than your real one."

"Funny. Where's Torquemada?" O'Reily looked around and asked.

"Don't know. I'm not his keeper."

"I didn't say you were."

"So why you asking me for him?" the Latino questioned.

"Just making conversation. Geez---relax."

"Well, make it about something else."

"What's wrong with you?" the Irishman asked and took three cards.

"Something look wrong? You should ask yourself that question."

"Look, Alvarez, this isn't the time or place to get into that."

"Name both and I'll be there," Alvarez said in a serious and low tone.

"Everything's crazy with the hacks. Not right now."

"Keep avoiding me."

It was obvious they needed to talk---the conversation right now between them seemed so forced and awkward. O'Reily was making plans without him. That defeated the purpose of the partnership and he did not like excluding the Latino. They had been through too much and had endless possibilities for the future to allow the partnership to fall into ruin. Torquemada was not going to come between them. He was not going to gain control of Em City.

He moved the chair closer to Alvarez's side of the table and was cautious of the time because he had already been at the table for too long. A hand slipped in his pocket to retrieve a few D-tabs---they rested on his lap as his hand reached over and touched Alvarez's thigh. O'Reily smiled and continued to play cards as if nothing was wrong. He felt when the Latino pushed his thigh against his hand. In one slick moment, O'Reily grabbed the pills from his lap easily slipped them into the cusp of Alvarez's front pants pocket.

His first three fingers continued to softly stroke against the other man's clothed thigh while his pinky finger worked hard to go undetected as it pushed the D-tabs into the safety of Alvarez's pocket. Once he was sure that the pills were where they needed to be, O'Reily played one more game and left the table before anyone had a chance to notice them being so close together. He went down the stairs just as Torquemada was entering Em City. For your own good.

Torquemada walked over to the TV section to talk to Pancamo and the Irishman gave the signal to an inmate he had made a deal with over dinner yesterday. The man jumped up and started attacking another prisoner next to him and the whole of Em City took notice and started hooting and cheering. The hacks scrambled to break it up as many the inmates surrounded the fight---itching for any form of entertainment.

The group was thick enough and, as the hacks tried to penetrate it, O'Reily made his move by sneaking into the crowd to exactly where he needed to be. Behind a very distracted Torquemada, he cautiously stuck his closed fist out and made contact with his pocket. The queen did not notice anything and O'Reily could see that his paid distraction was quickly being contained. Within the next few seconds, he deposited the pills into Torquemada's back pocket and got out and away from the mob.

The Irishman was leaning against the outside of his pod to give the illusion that he had been there throughout the entire fight. The grunt he hired was thrown in the cage and the other inmate was being escorted to McManus's office. He dipped into his pod and raided inside his mattress for the remainder of the prescription pills he had stolen from the hospital. O'Reily watched as they swirled around and disappeared as he flushed the toilet. He was not going to take any chances of the plan being derailed or changed in any way.

Like a true venomous viper, he waited a few hours before the last leg of his plan could be put into action. They were all walking back to Em City after lunch and his excitement and regret were overwhelming. It had to be done for the better of the partnership, though. O'Reily walked up to the guard station and to Officer Murphy. All he had to do was finesse the conversation between them to go a certain way and his plan would manage to buy him time---the precious time he needed.

"What do you want, O'Reily?" the hack asked.

"That fight earlier---what the hell was that about?" O'Reily said.

"Why do you care?"

"I don't know, man. I heard one of them talking about stolen drugs before the fight started."

"And now you're being a good citizen---is that it?" Murphy said with a heavy dose of skepticism.

"Hey, just telling you what I heard. The drug problem has gotten out of control lately."

"All right, you've said what you had to. Get going."

"Well, there goes my good deed for the day," the Irishman said and smiled.

"I'm sure."

It was a little while later and he was standing outside his pod, waiting for it to happen. Torquemada and Pancamo were talking upstairs---probably plotting their next move. Alvarez was in his pod by himself and had no idea what was coming. A knot swelled inside O'Reily's stomach but there was no other way to separate the two of them. He had to deal with it because there definitely was no turning back now. After another few minutes, the gate clinked opened and more hacks entered with dogs attached to leashes.

"Shakedown! Shakedown!" Murphy yelled out over the buzzers.