~*~ 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.



The night spent alone in his pod did a world of good for his psyche and his body. It felt revitalized and almost ready to do what had to be done. Alvarez had sat by himself during breakfast the following morning and had mainly kept his head down and to himself. Eyes had been on him but he owed no one anything---especially the deceitful Irishman. Time and again, O'Reily proved himself worthy of the name víbora. Alvarez had allowed his venom to seep dangerously too far into his system.

There were a few new faces around the walls that he did not recognize nor did he care to know. Now, more than ever, the Latino was determined to be the complete loner he had been before getting into the mind games and scheming with O'Reily. He was not going to go back there because it was enough. He had to refocus on himself. Alvarez walked upstairs to the empty classroom because Pancamo had dropped him word to be there during breakfast earlier. He knew something was going on and was about to find out what.

He entered the classroom and said, "What do you want?"

"Out of the hole already? How?" the big Italian asked.

"Don't know. Don't ask questions when things are going my way."

"Em City is dry. We need to make a move to get some D-tabs in here."

"Fuck that. I ain't getting caught with shit on me but clothes," Alvarez said. "What's the matter---Torquemada didn't leave you in charge of anything before he got thrown away? What's got you so spooked?"

"You goddamn spic! Urbano's dead. That cocksucker Calderón made the first move against us."

"You don't say."

"He took back El Norte and is bringing more of his men into Em City. More are still on the way," Pancamo gave some information as if any of it would make a difference. "We have to make the next move against him---quick."

"We? There's no we, muscle-head. You're on your own there."

"You're in on it---fucking spic asshole! You sided with him already," he said in a dangerous way. "You playing me, Alvarez?"

"Haven't even spoken to the man. You motherfuckers can kill each other for all I care. I'm out of it."

"What about Torquemada?"

"What about him?"

"He's going to have your fucking head when he gets out, bitch."

"He won't touch me. You, though, I'm not so sure," the Latino suavely said.

"What'd you say?"

"The empire is crumbling before you---he'll need someone to blame. It won't be me."

"Fuck you!" Pancamo yelled after him as he opened the door and left.

Alvarez was sick of all the bullshit and was in no mood to play the games of the prison anymore. Up until now, being by himself had mainly kept him safe and alive, but he was worried about El Cartel. The man was obviously bolstering the ranks of El Norte as if he was gearing up for war. Torquemada was not going to go down that easily, especially when D-tabs came back in the picture, but Alvarez knew he had to distance himself from everyone. He was not going to be caught up in a war that meant nothing to him.

He returned to his pod because he did not feel like being in the quad or watching TV. The conversation had gotten his blood racing, and he had bad feelings about what was going to happen inside Oz. El Cartel seemed like a man who was determined to get his way and was willing to go to any lengths to make it so. The queen had been laughed at and made fun of by other inmates, but he was dangerous in that so many constantly underestimated him. The fight for survival had just gotten more dangerous.

Now was not the time to be choosing sides to fight for control and power he had no desire to possess. He did not owe anything to that sleazy Torquemada. The man was in it for his own gains and was used to using his drugs to get whatever he wanted. Not anymore, though. And, Alvarez did not owe anything to El Cartel because of his descent or heritage. El Norte was dead to him---it was going to remain that way. He saw a small piece of paper sticking out from under his pillow so he pulled at it.

Room by the gym after dinner.

The words stuck in his eyes as his anger bubbled over and threatened to explode. That familiar writing and the seemingly nonchalant attitude made it all the more worse. Alvarez ripped the small slip of paper in half and looked down at the quad to see if the man was looking at him. There was no sign of those lying green eyes---no visible sign anyway. But, he knew O'Reily was watching---the man had eyes everywhere in the prison. Alvarez had conflicting emotions about what he should do---if he should go to the secret meeting or not.

The Latino sat on his bed and thought about what his next move was going to be. Pancamo was obviously desperate while they had been in the hole because Torquemada had left him with no options on how to carry on the D-tab business. He knew that the Italian wanted to keep as many people under his control as possible, but everything was falling apart on him. Alvarez only knew one thing for sure---he was going to sever his connection with Torquemada when he got back. It was enough.

He knew what he wanted to do about O'Reily too, but some parts of him did not agree. The confrontation had to happen eventually because he knew he wanted answers and was going to get them. It was going to be nothing but the truth coming from the lying viper. There was going to be no more games or plans he has no idea about. Alvarez was about to lie back on his bed when he heard a knock on glass. He looked back and nodded for the man to enter his privacy.

"I see you've made your way back to the world of the living," El Cartel said.

"Well, you know, I couldn't stay dead forever. Had to come back eventually. What are you doing here?"

"I came to talk---since our last one didn't go so well."

"You and me don't have anything to talk about," Alvarez shortly said.

"Now, see---that's where you're wrong. I know you're aware of some of the changes that I've made happen since you went away."

"No---not really."

"Don't toy with me, Miguel. I want you back in El Norte---where you belong," Calderón continued with his pitch to recruit the rogue Latino.

"I don't belong anywhere---least of all there. You already have my answer."

"I thought your little vacation in the hole would have wised you up."

"It did. That's why I know I'm not going back," Alvarez said and knew he was walking on thin ice. "Keeping clear of all you fucks."

"I'm not happy by this. You have to know there is war coming to Oz. Battle lines have been drawn. And you still refuse to join your kind but rather take a stand on the opposing side."

"Don't include me in your war---I don't give a fuck! Those shitheads are no more my kind than you. You see, you and me, we got the same skin, hermano, but nothing else. Have your war---just leave me the fuck out of it."

"Why did you turn your back on El Norte?" the warlord asked.

"Assholes like you. With all the fucking games in here, I'm on no side but my own."

"You heard what happened to Urbano?"

"Just that he got killed," Alvarez said and was uninterested. "Your doing?"

"No. I heard his heart was ripped out of his chest."

"So---some kind of meaning behind that?"

"I wouldn't know. I didn't kill him," he assuredly said.

"You say that like you're trying to convince yourself---not me."

"If you think I'm capable of such violence, would it really make sense to deny my offer then?" Calderón replied with those malevolent eyes.

"You may have all these new wannabe thugs in here running scared of you, but I ain't one of them. I can handle myself without El Norte. I've been doing it since I got here."

"So, you're making an enemy out of me?"

"Not an enemy. I got nothing against you, El Cartel," Alvarez said and looked at the other man directly. "I don't, you know. But, I ain't in the business of being told what to do anymore. And I'm never going back to El Norte."

"This is a mistake you're making," he coldly said.

"No. The mistake is you starting this war. By the end of it, the hacks and the warden will win. That's how it always ends up."

"Not this time I'm afraid. And your friend Torquemada won't win either."

"He ain't my friend."

The sucked air of the door being opened got their attention and Murphy poked his head in the pod and said, "Alvarez, McManus wants a word---now. Let's go, Calderón---back downstairs."

Calderón gave Alvarez a menacing look and only began moving after Officer Murphy told him to again. The tension he had towards Alvarez was growing and could become a problem down the line. El Cartel was willing to give him a chance as the second commander in charge of El Norte, but he knew that it would have only bubbled down to the same thing as it had been with Hernandez and Morales. They all had one thing in common---they all wanted complete control over the loco Latino. Something he knew he was never going to give to anyone.

He left his pod and walked over to the unit manager's office. He expected this. There were going to be more demands placed upon him in exchange for his early liberation from the hole. Upon entering the already opened door, Alvarez was beckoned to take a seat while McManus was talking on the phone. The man's desk was messy with papers and files strewn about all over. El Cartel's words were inside his head and he did not realize that he was being spoken to.

"Miguel---hello, Miguel?" McManus tried to get his attention as he looked at him.

"Huh? Oh---you said something?"

"What's wrong? You all right?"

"Nothing," he said. "You wanted to talk?"

"Yeah. I saw you talking to Pancamo in the classroom earlier---and Ramíro Calderón was in your pod as well. I want to know what's going on with you, Miguel."

"Nothing's going on, McManus."

"So why the need to talk to those two?"

"Hey, they came to me. It's not what you think," Alvarez said because he knew the look he was receiving.

"What is it then?"

"Look, I don't give a fuck about any of them. I'm sick of all the shit going on in here. Trouble is always finding me though, you know? I try to stay away, but I keep getting dragged back into everything."

"You can't stop fighting," the man said. "You can't give up on yourself. Don't worry about any other inmate in here---just focus on yourself and what you want to do. You can ignore trouble, Miguel."

"Not in here---not in Oz."

"You do remember our conversation in the hole yesterday, right---our agreement?"

"I didn't forget."

"Good. Don't make me regret taking you out early," the unit manager said with a slightly caring tone. "If you get caught with drugs again---even if you're not using, I can't help you."

"I won't. I don't sling anything and I've stopped using."

"Don't turn to drugs, Miguel," McManus said as he came around his desk and sat on the front of it. "Don't let it mess up the life you were living before---when you wanted to get paroled. All the good things you were doing and the trouble you kept yourself out of."

Hearing the words hurt---especially one in particular. He turned his head away and remained silent as the thought of parole unmercifully taunted and mocked him. Ruiz's tone and spite-filled words from their last meeting were ringing in his ears now that McManus brought it up again. All over again, everything shot up to the surface of his skin and Alvarez could not control his thoughts. Ruiz was inside his head in many ways. A D-tab would have been so easy and necessary right now.

"I'm not getting paroled."

"You didn't this time---but there's the next hearing in the next few years," McManus offered positively. "Don't lose sight of that goal. If you keep your focus, then three years will be up and you'll have another meeting."

"No. There won't be any more. Ruiz already made sure of that," the Latino bitterly said. "He already made sure of that."

"How did he do that? Is it because you attacked him? I know it was bad, but he'll look past it the next time. He just caught you at a bad moment."

"There won't be no fucking next time!" he snapped and said. "You're not fucking listening!"

"Okay---then tell me what it is. Is there something personal going on between you two, Miguel?" McManus calmly spoke.

"I'm not saying anything."

"Talk to me, Miguel. How can I help if you won't talk to me?"

"What can you do, McManus?" Alvarez looked at the man sitting across from him and said. "Ruiz has a grudge against me. This shit's got nothing to do with me attacking him."

"Why do you say that? How do you know?"

"That's what he said at the last meeting. He told me. I wanted to hurt him so bad, but I---I controlled it, you know?"

"Wait a minute. You're saying Luís Ruiz told you that he has some kind of personal vendetta against you?" the unit manager asked because it was important to know.

"We grew up in the same neighborhood. Motherfucker said I gave all Latinos a bad name---even the ones that do good with their lives, like him. So, my punishment from him is to stay in Oz until I die in here."

"Are you sure he said all these things to you, Miguel?"

"I don't forget shit like that. Why?"

"That's negligent and unjust. If this is true, then Ruiz has let personal feelings cloud his judgment and his job. He used his authority unfairly."

"So?" Alvarez said and did not want to talk about it anymore. "He made it clear that the only way I was getting out was through him. As long as he's in charge, I'm not going anywhere."

The Latino left the office behind in a foul mood because of all the stuff McManus made him think about again. When Ruiz had told him that he could forget ever making parole, he had spiraled out of control and Torquemada was right there to take full advantage of it---him. Alvarez had felt like there was nowhere else to turn to and the queen had preyed on that and had moved in on him. He crunched his fists angrily at the thought of being so emotionally weak and susceptible.

But, he had taken a devastating blow at the hands of Ruiz and his mind had been scattered for days after the meeting. Having Destiny inside his system also had not helped with his emotional recovery. He was so tired of all the games---all the lies and all the people he had allowed to take advantage of him. Torquemada was bad, but Ryan O'Reily was far worse. Maybe it was a mistake all along to get involved with the king mind-fucker himself. Alvarez went back to his pod and sprinkled some water on his face in an attempt to clear his head.

Throughout the remainder of the day, he had noticed Calderón and the newly reformed El Norte talking---probably plotting on what their next move was going to be. He had seen them together during lunch and also when they had been in the gym in the afternoon for rec time. O'Reily had not been there because he was at work in the hospital. They had made plans to work in the hospital together. Alvarez was supposed to ask McManus for the transfer. He was not sure what to do about any of that anymore.

He waited in line in the cafeteria during dinner to collect a tray of food to eat. Pancamo was giving him a hard look but he ignored it because there was nothing more to be said between them. Torquemada was going to deal with the Italian muscle-head when his days in the hole were over. Alvarez grabbed an apple, exited the line, and found a practically empty table in the corner. He sat on the edge and tried to force food to stay in his system.

Not eating anything for days at a time in the hole had really messed with his body's natural balance. Everything was slowly coming back to him though, and he felt no more withdrawals from D-tabs. The urges still sometimes popped up at times though, but the Latino had no choice but to suppress it because Oz was completely dry of Destiny. He and O'Reily did not bother making eye contact with one another across the large and noisy room. Their time to be together was coming very soon.

"You're Alvarez right?" Vieyra asked after he walked up to the table.

"Who wants to know?"

"I'm Gio. Can I sit here?"

"Knock yourself out, kid," the loco Latino said.

"I'm not a kid."

"Could've fooled me. You don't look no more than twenty," Alvarez said as he looked up at him.

"Still---I'm not a kid anymore. This place has made sure of that," he said as he looked around and then drank some juice.

"You got a reason for asking for me?"

"Are you a part of Calderón's group---El Norte?"

"You don't know anything about gang life, do you---anything about El Norte?" Alvarez asked and took an interest in the conversation. "Where'd you grow up?"

"Upstate. No, I've never been in a gang or heard about El Norte until now. I---I got caught driving a car I didn't know one of my friends had stolen and didn't know they had robbed a store and had the stolen electronics in the trunk so they stuck me with accomplice to robbery. I got thrown in here."

"Damn. Wrong place and wrong time twice in the same day. For how long?"

"I have a parole hearing in three years. Original sentence is five," Vieyra said before he took a bite of chicken.

"If you want to make that parole date, stay the fuck away from Calderón and his boys. He'll make sure you never get out."

"He wants me to join. Says I owe it to my Latino blood to be a part of El Norte. He's come after me a couple times already."

"Don't listen to his bullshit. I guarantee that if you join him, you won't make it out of Oz," Alvarez sternly warned him. "Stay out of the way and keep your head down until you get out."

"I must be an easy target. I don't have much street sense. I'm from an upper class family. I don't know why he'd want me. Guess I stick out, huh? Wow---I don't know why I just said all that," he said and felt embarrassed.

Alvarez looked at the young kid and felt sorry for him. It seemed like he had only made one mistake, or had been at the wrong place at the wrong time, and had ended up in Oz. It was clear just by looking at him that he had never seen a day on the streets or been through half the bad shit other fucks in here had gone through. Vieyra looked like a good kid that had just made a stupid decision. That inexperience made him a prime target for anything and everything inside these walls. The Latino felt a strange kind of kinship towards him.

"You stick out like a sore thumb," Alvarez agreed. "He's gathering up men to strengthen El Norte. No Latinos are off limits to him."

"I guess you're not with him---from the way you're talking."

"Did all that already. Not going back there again."

"But---but he said you have to be part of a group if you want to survive," Vieyra said. "I just want to get out of here."

"Don't let him rattle you. If you let him get inside your head, you're fucked."

"He's dangerous---isn't he?" he asked in a low voice.

"He didn't come to Oz for stealing cookies from a jar."

"Shit. I'm screwed."

"No---don't worry about him. I'll look out for you, kid," Alvarez said to calm him down.

"What, uh---what do I have to do in return?" the young man uncomfortably asked.

"Nothing. Stay low and keep to yourself to get out."

They continued to eat in almost silence after that. Alvarez did not know what came over him but he wanted to see the kid make it out safe. Knowing Calderón and his agenda though, it was going to be tough. He felt protective of Vieyra for some reason. Maybe it was because he really was inexperienced in the ways of life on the streets---maybe it was his slightly naïve demeanor. Either way, Alvarez was going to make a conscious effort to pay attention to the young inmate and keep trouble from finding him.

Maybe if there had been some positive influence in his life when he was younger, he would have never would have the inside of a prison. It was a long stretch to think about his life in that way and Alvarez could not regret the decisions he made in the past or the life he was living now. Vieyra looked at him but then quickly away before their eyes could meet. He was an innocent kid caught up in one of his mistakes. He did not deserve to lose his life in Oz for that---and El Cartel was the type who did not take rejection easily.

The Latino gave the hacks the slip right as the inmates crowded the doors to leave the cafeteria because dinner was over. He rushed to where he had to be and felt the sharpness twinge against his stomach. Vieyra was the furthest thing from his mind now because he had to concentrate on one of the most dangerous men contained inside the walls of the prison. Alvarez easily slipped his way by as he made it down the deserted hallway leading to the gym. It was already closed off for the night, but that was not his focus.

Once inside, he stood against the wall directly opposite from the door and waited for it all to begin. His eyes were so concentrated that he felt like they were going to drive holes through the door. Now was not the time to let his mind slip on anything else. It had to remain entirely focused on the Irishman. Alvarez heard a small rustling sound and his body immediately clicked on and was ready to go. O'Reily entered the room and closed the door behind him. Everything about him still looked the same---he looked the same, but he was not.

"Alvarez, oh man---am I glad you're out of the hole," he said and moved closer and closer for a kiss.

Alvarez stayed still in his position and kept his eyes open as the víbora moved in and pressed their bodies together---crushed their lips together. At the moment, it felt so right and so needed---by both of them. He quickly discarded that useless emotion and plucked O'Reily's wrists together with both his hands. The Latino immediately pulled his body away and maneuvered himself around the other man so that he was now the one against the wall. He slammed the Irishman's back hard into the wall and pinned both his wrists above his head with one hand while the other retrieved a sharp shank. It swiftly sunk deep into his throat and those fiery brown eyes were emblazoned upon him.

There was a look of panic in his eyes as the sharp blade threatened to end his life. A small squeak had exited his lips when he had been thrown against the wall because of the pain. Now was not the time to be gentle or caring or anything else that had once been good between them. Alvarez's eyes looked like they were engulfed inside an exploding volcano. The built up anger scared him, but O'Reily did not look away. He could not lose like that---especially since he was caught and had no moves up his sleeve. He was defenseless.

The Irishman wanted to say something but his brain forbade him to. He continued to hold the stare between them as he whimpered inside at the pain of his bruised back and bounded wrists. As much as he tried to move them to free himself, the chafing of his skin coupled with Alvarez's hard vice grip became extremely painful. O'Reily felt his heart banging against the bones of his ribcage as he tried to calm his nerves and regain control of the situation. The Latino had come to be among the very few people that could truly make him feel uncomfortable and anxious.

"You betrayed me, you green motherfucker," a low and deadly voice said. "I'm tempted to do it. Fucking push me there. Push me to do it!"

"Let me explain. Please---"

"It'll give me more reasons to slit your throat. I'm out for your blood."

"Alvarez, let my hands go," O'Reily said with a hint of power. "Put that thing away so we can talk."

"Why, víbora? You scared of me?" Alvarez moved so close to him and said. "You can't be scared of me. I'm the fucking fool who believed you. No---you can't be fucking scared of me!"

"No---it's not like that. I did the right thing for you."

"You did the right thing for me? You thinking for me now---because I'm too fucking stupid to think for myself, right? Right!" he demanded an answer.

"Miguel, let me go. You're---you're hurting my wrists," the Irishman said and was forced to because his pinned skin was starting to burn.

"No! Tell me what I want to know. Tell me the truth, you lying bastard."

"Fucking kill me then!" O'Reily yelled out and said even though he was struggling to keep himself calm. "Do it---or let me go."

There was an intense stare between them as he continued to feel the blade pricking against the sensitive skin of his neck. There was no movement from either of them and Alvarez continued to stare at him---as if he was looking through him. It had never been this out of control between them before and O'Reily began to worry about his own safety. The enraged Latino could easily end his life right now---the distant look in his eyes said as much. They seemed unattached to reality.

O'Reily continued to believe that he had done the right thing, even though he was still pinned against the wall with no way of escaping. Again, the issue of trust had come up in their partnership and Alvarez wanted to know why. He had to fight against his instincts and remain calm, but the pressure on his hands and back were starting to become too much. After continued moments of tenseness, the Irishman felt the tight grip on his wrists loosen up, saw Alvarez violently throw the shank on the ground, and turn away from him.

He slid down to the ground while rubbing his red wrists, then looked up, and lowly said, "I didn't---I didn't betray you. I was looking out for you."

"You fucking sent me to the hole without telling me," Alvarez said without turning back and had his hands on his head. "You planned and plotted it all behind my back."

"I had to---I couldn't tell you. I knew you would've stopped me if I did."

"You like that you can read me like that?"

"It had nothing to do with reading you, loco. I know how you get in small places---and when you're alone."

"And yet you still set me up to go there---knowing all that shit I told you. Tell me why."

O'Reily got up, stayed by the wall, and said, "I had to. I didn't have any options left."

"Why? Why?" he was getting impatient but still did not bother to look back. "You always have options---it's what your fucking known for!"

"I saw you---I saw you slipping away. I saw you slipping further into his grip. I had to stop that."

The words rung inside his head and suddenly more pieces of the one-sided plan clicked together in his mind. It all revolved around his feelings of jealously and hatred towards Torquemada. Alvarez felt a wicked smile crawl across his lips but he covered it up when he turned around to face the other man. It was his turn to see how it felt like. It was his turn to have his fate toyed with for pure amusement or some other convoluted reasons no one could ever trace back to him.

The Irishman, realizing what he had just said, tried to cover his tracks with, "I, uh---I had to get you away from Destiny. The plan was to get you sober again."

"That's fucking bullshit and you know it!" the Latino said as he walked closer and with new purpose.

"You were hooked on Destiny. I don't want an addict for a partner."

"It's never been about that," he said as their bodies were almost touching now.

"Back off, Alvarez," O'Reily defensively said. "What the hell are you doing?"

"You get jealous when you see him touching me, don't you? You don't like it when you see his fingers on me---his hands on me. I see it behind your eyes. Don't fucking deny it now."

"Fuck you!"

"You're jealous that we share the same pod. You wonder what goes on there at night, don't you?" he continued with his slow torture. "I've seen you looking before. You wonder what he whispers to me---if we've kissed. If I've let him---"

"Stop talking, Alvarez! Stop fucking talking right now or I'll make you regret it," O'Reily became increasingly angrier and warned him.

"You want to know where his hands have been. It's just two guys getting their rocks off, right? It doesn't mean anything, you know? Maybe that's right---or maybe it's not."

"I'm warning you. Stop fucking talking!"

"No! You fuck with my head all the time. It's time you know what it feels like. What it feels like when he touches my skin. His fingers usually play with my lips when he slips D-tabs into my mouth. He likes touching my skin while he watches me jerk off. He likes touching me everywhere he can. Every piece of me."

"Shut the fuck up!" O'Reily snapped.

The rage building inside took over and he rolled up his fist and punched Alvarez right on the mouth because he could not take any more of those kinds of words. It was disgusting and horrible and he was jealous of that cocksucking queen always throwing himself at the Latino and at them being in the same pod together. O'Reily took a deep breath because he wanted to regain himself. He did not want to do it and had no idea where the punch came from. It just happened all so fast that he did not have the time to properly process and react to it.

Alvarez took the hit because a part of him had already expected it for some time. The faint taste of iron littered his mouth and he knew he tasted his own blood. He stayed calm because they were not going to get into a physical fight here---he was not going to retaliate in that way. He had to hit O'Reily where it did the most damage---where it would hurt the most. Alvarez knew he had the man read and mind-fucked because of what just happened between them. A twisted pleasure found its way inside him and sinfully stroked his ego.

"Looks like I hit a nerve there," the Latino said as he rubbed his lower lip and smiled. "Who's the one getting mind-fucked now?"

"So you made me mad. Happens all the time," O'Reily tried to maintain his cool by saying.

"It felt good, baby. It feel good for you, too?"

"You're letting Torquemada ruin you, Miguel. Why can't you see that?"

"And you care---is that it? You're no different than him," he said and laughed at the irony.

"Hey---don't fucking compare me and him. We're nothing alike!"

"You both want to control me---want to move me whatever way you want. That sounds like the same goddamn thing to me."

"I never wanted to control you. That wasn't what the partnership was about," the Irishman said and knew they were getting in deeper than he wanted to be.

"Tell me the truth, Ryan. Tell me the whole truth. Why you did that to me?"

"I did it---did it for you."

"No---none of that bullshit!" Alvarez snapped and cornered O'Reily against the wall again by pressing both his hands on the wall on either side of the other man's head. "You know what I'm talking about---what I mean."

"I already told you why I did it. To get you sober."

"Can't you just say it---say the words I know are fucking there?"

"Say what words? What the hell do you want me to say?" he practically repeated because he did not want to go there.

"Never mind," the Latino said and retracted both his arms to walk away. "Forget it. I can't trust you anymore. We can't be partners."

"No, loco---no. We can't stop being partners---especially now."

"I don't give a fuck. Do what you want. I'm gone."

O'Reily felt himself cornered in every possible way. They were wasting time not talking about Calderón or plotting to keep Torquemada and Destiny from expanding more. The way the conversation turned was obviously important to Alvarez and, as much as he tried to deny it, it was important to him, too. Whatever was between them was more than a partnership and he was genuinely hurt by the Irishman's actions. The trust was broken. Alvarez opened the door and was ready to leave but stopped when he felt a gentle tug on his hand.

"Hey, wait---don't go, Miguel. Don't be mad. Stay---and talk to me. Come on---"

"Got nothing to say," Alvarez easily dismissed.

"I hate him. I hate how he hangs all over you and is always trying to touch you."

"Tell me something I don't already know."

"I am jealous of him, loco. I don't want him touching you---or be anywhere near you for that fucking matter," O'Reily allowed the acidic words to roll off his tongue and pass through his lips.

"Your jealously isn't my problem."

"No---I know. I didn't say it was. I put the D-tabs in your pocket and paid off two inmates to start that fight in Em City so that I could get close enough to plant them in his pocket too without him knowing. I had to get him away from you, and get you sober so you could be on my side again. That why I didn't tell you anything. I knew you wouldn't want to do it."

"I never left the partnership. All that shit is in your head," the Latino said.

"You using D-tabs made me think different. He was controlling you with it. I couldn't stand it."

"He never had any control over me! Don't ever say that shit again!"

"But he did. You know it's true. That why I had to get him out of the way too. I wanted to come up with a plan to bring him down. D-tabs can't be spread around Oz like he wants them to be," O'Reily said the last bit of truth left in him. "If that happens, we all lose. He'll be untouchable. Help me, Miguel. Together, we can take him down. Don't turn your back on the partnership---on me."