~*~ 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.



Miguel Alvarez sat in the quad, deep in thought about the conversation he had with the conniving Irishman yesterday. He had finally admitted his jealously of Torquemada, and that had to have not been easy to do for him. O'Reily was never been one to talk about his emotions---neither of them were, but what was happening beyond the partnership was slowly changing all that. Neither of them knew if it was for the better or the worse though. Alvarez still felt betrayed, but some part of him understood the underhanded and completely secretive plan. It was how O'Reily showed that he cared.

Sending him to the hole was such a drastic step, though. He could have easily given up D-tabs if they had talked about it and plotted against Torquemada together. O'Reily never gave him that chance to rise to the occasion. Deep down, that was what upset him the most. Alvarez knew he would have been able to handle the hole much better if he had known he was going to be putting himself there. If he had known that there was a purpose behind it. He did not want the awkwardness between them.

Regardless, O'Reily was right about Torquemada and the danger his D-tabs posed to the entire prison. If he got every inmate and hack hooked on the stuff as his plan foretold, he would become supreme inside Oz. He would become too powerful to touch. With the fags, bikers, and most of the niggers still under his control, the Latinos were now the only major gang, aside from the neutral Muslims, that was not on his side. The queen still posed a dangerous threat to them all.

Calderón was making sure that El Norte would be able to fight and defend itself against any attack. Earlier in the morning, three more Latinos were introduced into Em City. It came as no surprise that they had immediately sought out the man responsible for bringing them there. Alvarez did not know any of them, but his instincts were already on edge. In the span of a couple short weeks, El Cartel had regained and revitalized the entire El Norte in his image. He was knocked out of his head when he saw McManus walking by.

"Hey, McManus, you got a minute?"

"Walk and talk, Alvarez," the unit manager said as he continued to walk.

The Latino sprung up and followed as he said, "I got something to ask."

"What is it?"

"I want my job back at the hospital."

McManus stopped and said, "What? Why?"

"I think it'll help me get over the addiction if I'm helping people," Alvarez lied about his reasoning. "I liked that job."

"You were good at it. Dr. Nathan said as much back when you were there."

"It's like the best job to have. Can you make it happen for me?"

"I'll put in the paperwork and see what happens. You'll know when I know."

"Thanks, McManus. I appreciate it," he said.

"If you feel this is a positive step for you, then I'm all for it. Don't go back to your old ways, Miguel," McManus told him.

"I don't plan to."

"All right---I'll see what I can do," he said and started to walk away but then turned around again. "Hey, you know that Ryan O'Reily is working in the hospital wing, right? That won't be a problem for you, will it?"

"No," the Latino said and hid his smile. "Not at all. I got nothing against him."

The unit manager walked away after the conversation and Alvarez was left almost confident that he was going to get the job. McManus obviously had not given up on him, despite everything that had happened, and he was going to use that to his own advantages. He had to get past what O'Reily did and move forward because El Cartel was definitely getting himself ready for something big. His alliance with the Irishman was without a doubt the strongest inside Oz.

He went back to the table and sat as he strangely thought of Torquemada. He wondered what was going to happen once he was released from the hole. They were still going to be forced close together because they were both in the same pod. O'Reily could not get upset or jealous about that because that just was the way it was. When he had admitted his envy of the queen, Alvarez had felt good somewhere inside him. And, he was sure that if the situation were reversed, he would have felt the same trace of jealously.

"Hey, Alvarez," the young Latino Vieyra said after he came over to the table.

"Call me Miguel. Sit, kid."

"Only if you stop calling me kid. It's Gio."

"Whatever you want," Alvarez replied and was starting to feel that the kid was becoming like a little brother to him.

"Did you see the new guys coming in this morning?"

"Yeah---and they all went right to him. I hear he has a few more coming too."

"Really?" he said. "Why is McManus allowing so many Latinos in here?"

"They have to go somewhere. Wherever they ended up, he would still have control over them, so that doesn't matter," Alvarez said. "It's why he brought them here in the first place."

"I guess he really means business. So---that means he won't give up coming after me," Vieyra said.

"I told you not to worry. I'll handle him."

"Why are you doing this for me? Why are you helping me?"

"Just want to see you get out of here alive. Got no ulterior motives or anything like that. I've seen enough death because of the lies and plotting in here. You're not going to end up like that," the Latino assured him.

"Well if it isn't the two lone Latinos who want nothing to do with El Norte---their heritage," Calderón approached the table and said. "What's the plan, boys---since you both denied my offer?"

Alvarez looked up and saw that the man was by himself. What actually looked like a grin was hanging from his lips. Vieyra immediately tensed up at his presence but he was trying to fight it. The kid really did not belong in this world of violence and rampant drug use. His sheltered lifestyle had to have been shocked from its very foundation once he had come to Oz and realized just how dangerous the world could be. El Cartel looked to take full advantage of the young kid's inexperience, if the look in his eyes were any indication.

"I'm not sure when joining a gang became part of someone's heritage," Alvarez said and laughed.

"It is in here," El Cartel said. "You better than anyone should know this, Alvarez."

"What I know for sure is that getting involved with El Norte is a bunch of bullshit---and a waste of time."

"But, why prevent a promising young man from joining the ranks because you had a bad experience?" Calderón tried at his pitch again.

"I'm not preventing him from doing anything. He sees through all the crap---just like me. I'm not one of those guys who get off on telling people what they can and can't do," the loco Latino said.

"Was that supposed to be a hit on me?"

"If you took it that way then what can I say? Guilty consciences speak I guess."

"You like being a rebel don't you, Miguel?" El Cartel shot the question and a hard look at him. "From what I hear, it's a pattern with you. Some of the veteran gang members tell me you've clashed with every leader of El Norte since you've been incarcerated."

"Don't think I am a rebel at all," he matter-of-factly said. "Those fucks tried to control me---and I'm not big on being controlled. I know what you're about. I'm not going to be one of you witless minions. I've kept myself alive all this time without dick from El Norte."

"You have kept yourself alive---for now," the malevolent man ominously said and walked away.

"He really doesn't like taking no for an answer, does he?" Vieyra said as he still watched the man. "He looks like he really wants you in the gang."

"Well he's going to have to take that no because it ain't happening."

Calderón was relentless in his pursuit because he wanted to strengthen El Norte for whatever was to come. Alvarez was not going to be involved in another war inside Oz---the last one had ended with many wounded and a lot of bodies on the floor. Vieyra was intimidated throughout most of the conversation but it was good that he did not say anything to El Cartel. The silent treatment was his best option to deal with the drug lord.

The Latino returned to his pod because he wanted to be by himself as he waited for lunch. O'Reily had earphones covering his ears as he was sitting in the TV area watching something. He was positive that the Irishman had noticed Calderón and the conversation that had taken place over the table. They had to talk about him and decide what actions to take against the man. Alvarez caught himself staring through the glass walls of his pod and down to the TV area at his partner.

He wanted it to go back to the way it was before he had been set up and sent to the hole. Neither of them could afford to be divided at this critical point and time---and especially when Torquemada made his grand return and flooded Oz with Destiny again. Alvarez was sick of the shit and only wanted to move past it. Spending the time in the hole had managed to break his habit of D-tabs. And, as much as he tried to deny it, O'Reily was right when he had said that Torquemada had used his drugs to control him in a way.

Alvarez was disgusted at himself because he did not want to give anyone that power over him, yet he had come so close to giving in completely to the predatory queen. Since he first stepped inside these walls, someone had tried to control him. By a far margin, Torquemada had come the closest to succeeding---dangerously too close. It was not going to happen again. He knew he did not need Sister Pete's drug counseling sessions, but was going to go to a few of them just to keep McManus out of his way and on his side.

He got up and threw away a mostly untouched tray of food at lunch. His appetite still had not fully returned from his body's withdrawal from Destiny. It was slowly coming back, but he was craving a cherry blow pop more than any solid form of sustenance. He felt awkward asking O'Reily to secure him one, and it was also harder for the Irishman to do so since he no longer worked in the kitchen. Alvarez walked back to where he was sitting to wait for the gate to be opened but he was stopped when he passed by El Cartel's table.

"Miguel, sit with me," the El Norte leader almost said as a demand.

"I'll pass," he easily replied.

"Okay. I'll sit with you," Calderón said as he got up and left his men behind to follow the rogue Latino to the other table. "You off babysitting duty?"

Alvarez sat down and asked in a slightly irritated way, "What do you want?"

"To understand you. I don't usually respond well to the word `no'."

"That sounds like a personal problem that has nothing to do with me."

"You and I could be great in here. We could make things happen. Your skills and influence would prove to be invaluable assets to me. I also hear you're to the point with a shank in your hands. I like that."

"For the hundredth time---not interested in joining you or El Norte. Let that sink into that thick skull of yours," he said and felt as if he had done so repeatedly by now.

"Tell me what happened to Chico Guerra," El Cartel completely changed the pace of the conversation and said.

"He's dead. What of it? There's nothing to tell."

"He died from an overdose of Destiny, didn't he? Yet, you still defend its creator. You still defend the man who brought it into Oz."

"I don't defend anyone. What the fuck are you trying to do?" Alvarez asked in an angry tone. "Why are you bringing all this shit up?"

"Trying to understand you, hermano. Trying to find out why you keep turning your back on us."

The Latino stood up and said, "I ain't your fucking hermano, Calderón. You got that. I ain't never going to be anything like you, motherfucker. Leave me alone."

He left the table and walked across the cafeteria to the gate to wait out the rest of lunchtime. He had to restrain himself from punching the fucking arrogant asshole right on the mouth for bringing up Guerra the way he did. Alvarez was temporarily blindsided by the mention of his once enemy and friend, but had quickly recovered because he did not want El Cartel to have that satisfaction. The man was an incessant pest that was not going away.

Later in the afternoon, McManus still had not gotten back to him about his request to work in the infirmary, but he had a visitor. He left Em City and walked over to the visitor's room as he wondered why his mother had come to see him. It was indeed a rare occurrence because Carmen Alvarez did not like to see her son this way. The Latino walked into the room and they hugged as soon as he got to the table where she was waiting for him. She smelled like the same perfume he remembered from when he was a kid.

"Hey, ma," he greeted her while they were still embraced. "What brings you down here?"

"I just wanted to see how you're doing, baby boy."

"Come on---sit," Alvarez said and they broke apart and did so. "What's up?"

"It's so good to see you, my Miguelito."

"Uh-oh---what's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. Can't a mother just be happy to see her child?" Carmen shrugged off his suspicion and said.

"Sure, ma. And I'm the king of fucking England."

"I came a couple of weeks ago but they told me you were in the hole. What happened?"

"Nothing. It was stupid. Two visits so close to each other, huh? Now I know something's up. Talk to me, ma," Alvarez seriously said as he looked at her.

"It's Maritza, Miguel. It's Maritza."

"Maritza? What about her? What about Maritza?"

His mother sighed and then said, "She's---she's getting married."

"Oh, shit! What?" the Latino asked and could not believe it.

"Her mother told me a couple weeks ago when I saw her in the supermarket. She says Maritza is happy."

"Who's the guy? Is it---"

"Yes---it's Reynaldo. I see them together all the time around the neighborhood."

"Goddammit! They're fucking getting married?" he repeated the words so that maybe he could believe them.

The words had to be slowly processed inside his head because they did not sound real or genuine in any way. Although they had not spoken in so long, a part of him still held out hope that they would be able to reunite if he had ever found a way to get himself out of Oz. Alvarez felt a piece of depression and a giant hand of envy grasp his insides as he attempted to digest the news. Reynaldo was about to do what he was unable to due to his incarceration. Maritza really was never coming back.

"Don't let it bother you, son," she tried to say in a calming way. "We all have to move on with our lives sooner or later."

"I guess that answers the one important question I had about her for the longest time."

"Which was?"

"If she ever thinks about our son," Alvarez somberly said.

"Is that really a fair conclusion to make, Miguelito? You don't know for sure if she does or doesn't think about him."

"Don't defend her," he quickly snapped. "She started fucking my best friend behind my back and now she's marrying the backstabbing cocksucker. When did she have time to think about her son---our son? Tell me that, ma."

"I don't know. I'm not defending her. Calm down, okay?"

"I fucking think about him at least a million different times every single day. I think about what I could've done different or better to keep him here---what it would be like if he was still alive. All that bitch was ever concerned about was getting fucked and forgetting about her dead kid! My son."

"Miguel---relax. No one can change the past," Carmen said and held one of his hands in hers. "She is doing what is right for her, son. You can't blame her for that."

"Yes I can---and I do. She didn't even have the guts to come and tell me it's over herself. I asked that fucking prick to come and he told me they were fucking. Stupid bitch!"

"Stop it. Don't blame the girl for trying to find some happiness in her life after she lost you and your baby."

"I'm not fucking lost, ma!" Alvarez furiously replied.

"You're in fucking Oz, Miguel! You are fucking lost to her."

"Fuck this shit! I'm done," he said and got up.

"Miguel---Miguel sit down and talk to me," his mother tried to convince him to stay. "I don't want you to be upset."

"Fuck you! Fuck you."

The loco Latino stormed out of the visiting room and left his mother still standing there and asking him to come back. It was enough for him though and he did not want to talk about that stupid bitch he had once loved or his traitorous friend anymore. He walked back to Em City and felt like he wanted to punch a wall or leave a hole in something to vent his frustration and anger. Alvarez did not want to give the hacks or the warden any reason to put him back in the hole or Solitary though, so he cooled his bubbling blood.

Back in his pod, he rested on his bed and felt sick inside. The hope he had of them getting back together was a long shot---he had known that, but it had still offered him some hope at times. Maritza had to be erased from his mind now. The only thing he was determined to turn to for hope now were the few memory of his son he had before he was taken away. Alvarez had to quickly get over this and move on because he was not going to give anyone ammunition on him---especially the likes of El Cartel.

Plus, he had to keep his eyes on the young kid Vieyra. Calderón made it evident that he was going to remain on the prowl until both of them joined him in El Norte. Alvarez only knew a few major reasons why, but he stunned himself at how protective he was and much he cared about the young Latino. He really was coming to see Vieyra as a younger brother he had to look out for. Maybe he had taken a cue from O'Reily in the way he was always determined to look out for Cyril. Alvarez only knew that he wanted the kid to get safely out of Oz and have his life back.


The interview room was quiet as he was led in by a hack to wait for the attorney. He had not been to Solitary to see his father much and was regretting it as he sat and waited there. Since Querns took the reins and slashed the arts program, he had not seen much of his mother either. They would have visits, but it was not the same as when she had been there every day and with him---with him and Cyril. O'Reily sulked because it felt like his family was being torn apart in different directions.

Ever since Cyril was gone, he felt like he was unable to keep the rest of his family together. His mom was no longer there because of Querns and his father was locked away in Solitary confinement. Plus, as of late, he had been consumed with Miguel Alvarez and trying to navigate through their partnership while trying to shut down Torquemada. It was all becoming too much and he was feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by everything. The door clicked opened and O'Reily looked up as his father's lawyer finally arrived.

"Ryan, how are you?" Bryan Rockford rested his briefcase on the desk and greeted.

"You're late, man. Why the meeting?" he got right to the point.

"Have you spoken to your father?"

"No. The hacks have been pretty strict lately," O'Reily said a half-truth. "I haven't had a chance."

"Well, during closing arguments of the trial a few days ago, the judge stopped the proceedings and declared a mistrial," the lawyer said and was busy perusing Seamus O'Reily's file.

"A mistrial? What---why?"

"It turns out that one of the prosecutors involved in your father's trial was caught taking bribes for some of the other cases he was working on. The judge suspended him and threw out all the cases he was involved in."

"So, he took a bribe for my dad's case too?"

"No," Rockford said. "The investigation already cleared him of any wrongdoing in your father's trial, but the judge still threw out the case."

"Okay---what does this mean for my dad? Can he get off because of this?"

"No. Don't misunderstand, Ryan. Your father still killed Jahfree Neema with premeditation and malice."

"But you said the judge threw out the case," the Irishman said.

"Yes---but the state is going to retry him again. The case being thrown out has nothing to do with your father. The state is still pushing for the death penalty. A new trial is scheduled to begin in a couple days. He's still not out of the woods."

"Great---just fucking great!"

"Go see him---talk to him," Rockford said. "It's all starting over again and he's been really stressed out."

"I can't just go see him whenever I want. Querns is trying to eliminate every possible distraction for the inmates. The more time we spend in our cells, the better in his eyes."

"This is just my opinion, but the man is no Leo Glynn."

"Yeah well, your sentiment is shared by just about everyone in here," O'Reily said.

He did not want to get his hopes up or see the dismissal of his father's case as some kind of positive step but it was hard not to. They were so close to handing down the verdict and the judge threw out the case because of a greedy prosecutor. O'Reily left the interview room and headed back to Em City with a hack escorting him. This was now something else he had to deal with on top of everything else he had going on.

The Irishman wanted to talk to his mom---wanted her to come back and teach classes or do another play so he could be close to her again. He missed her soft touches on his hands and face---missed her laugh and motherly affection. Cyril's memory provoked dangerous outbursts of loneliness and recklessness in him. Giving Miguel Alvarez full access to him was one of his gravest mistakes. O'Reily's careless attitude and the numerous pills in his system had made his mind nonexistent and his body susceptible to the Latino's warm one.

There had been many dreams at night about it---almost as if his brain was trying to connect the fragmented pieces together to fully remember everything that had happened during the encounter. He had to be cautious because Meaney was now his podmate. O'Reily no longer had the privacy he had become so used to and cherished so much. Most of the words between him and Alvarez in the small room that day continued to evade him. More than anything, he wanted to know if he had begged for it. He had to know.

He had to ask McManus for a favor, and was not sure what the man's decision would be. The unit manager had not trusted him for as long as he had been in Em City---neither of them got along well with the other. O'Reily had not exactly given him any reason to be considered trustworthy, but this was a prison that housed some of the most dangerous and insane criminals around. He dashed up the stairs to the office but stopped at the tower because his target was standing there talking to Murphy. Both men stopped and looked at him when he came closer.

"You want something, O'Reily?" Murphy asked.

"McManus, I got to see my dad," the Irishman replied.

"Why?" McManus said.

"I haven't seen him much since the trial started. You can't deny me that."

"Oh, but I can. No, O'Reily," he spat out.

"What the fuck, McManus? I'm just asking to talk to my dad," O'Reily started to get angry but stopped himself from letting it consume him. "You can't fucking deny me that!"

"Hey---calm yourself down, O'Reily," Murphy told him in a strong voice. "We use our indoor voices in here---and especially when we're asking for favors."

"It's not much of a favor. I just want to go see my dad. I can't do that now? The prison's taking away that shit too?"

Officer Murphy turned to his colleague and friend and said, "Come on, Tim. O'Reily hasn't caused any trouble over the past few weeks. And Dr. Nathan did say he's doing a good job in the infirmary. Let him go."

"It's not me, Sean. You know Querns wants to keep the inmates on a strict schedule," McManus said as if he had suddenly become powerless.

"You know what---screw Querns. I'm telling you---these guys are going to go stir crazy if he cuts anything else. He keeps this up and we'll have another riot on our hands," Murphy said.

"All right. Now's not the time to discuss this," the unit manager calmly said and then faced O'Reily. "Okay---you can go down to Solitary for a quick visit. And I do mean quick, O'Reily."

"You won't even have time to miss me," he said with that charm of his. "That's how quick I'll be gone and back."

"I'm sure," McManus sarcastically said. "Hey, Officer Robinson, can you take O'Reily down to Solitary to see his father."

"Yeah, sure. Come on, O'Reily," the officer told him and they left down the stairs shortly after.

"If Querns finds out about this, I'm blaming it on you, Sean," McManus said and tapped his friend on his shoulder.

"When did you become such a stickler for the rules, Tim? It's really cramping the little bit of style you do have."

Querns was going too far with all his rules and set schedules the inmates were forced to follow. Without any type outlet to express themselves or put their energy towards, Oz was going to become a far more dangerous place than ever before. O'Reily waited in front of the heavy metal door as the hack Lopresti slowly opened his father's cell to let him in. Seamus O'Reily had to be under intense pressure because he had to do it all over again and remain confined to Solitary.

"You got five minutes, O'Reily," Robinson said when they were both inside the small cell. "Make the most of it."

"Hey, dad," the Irishman greeted when the door was closed behind him.

"Ryan---hey, son," the old man said and they hugged.

"I know I haven't been by much lately. Querns is making it harder for us to do anything more than eat, sleep, and shit."

"That nigger's a fucking moron."

"Oz is becoming a ticking time bomb because of him."

"He'll see things differently when it explodes in his face," Seamus O'Reily said and sat on his bed.

"Maybe. So I spoke to the lawyer earlier."

"I got to go through all this shit again because of one fuckhead."

"Before the judge threw out the case, did he say anything?" he tried to find out exactly where they were. "Do you think the lawyer managed to convince the jury not to give the death penalty? Think, dad. I need you to think."

"The judge didn't say anything to me. He called all of the lawyers up and they were talking there---nobody heard what they were saying. I'm---I'm not sure about the jury. The lawyer didn't look happy when he came back from talking to the judge," the elder O'Reily recounted.

"Shit. You have to tell him to try harder this time, dad. I mean it."

"Don't you think I fucking know that? I told him to do whatever it takes to get me out of here."

"Fuck, dad! If you listened to me, none of this shit would be happening to you. You're so goddamn stubborn!" the Irishman vented some of his frustrations.

"Now you know where my son Ryan gets it from."

"You're a fucking riot, you old bastard. Make sure you're laughing when they're strapping you into the electric chair. I'm out of here. Yo, Robinson!" he yelled out and banged against the metal door.

"That's right---run away like you do every time you can't control something. You never wanted to lose control of Cyril, so you made sure he got his head bashed in so that he would need you forever. You had all control over him---until he fucking died in this shithole. Something else you couldn't control or save him from," Seamus O'Reily viciously tried to get inside his son's head. "Who have you moved on to now, Ryan---huh? Who are you controlling now so that you can still feel powerful and good about yourself? Who's life are you fucking up now? You little fucker---you're nothing! You're nothing."

O'Reily felt a surge of anger and adrenaline rush through his bloodstream as he darted across the small room and punched the man right on the jaw. His father grabbed his pained jaw and started yelling and cursing as Robinson quickly entered the cell and pushed the Irishman out of it to separate them. Lopresti quickly secured Seamus O'Reily's cell as Robinson escorted O'Reily out of Solitary and probably directly to McManus to announce what just happened.

At the moment, he did not care about any of it because there was no doubt he would have killed the old fuck if he was in the cell for any longer. His fingers were itching to be wrapped around his father's neck and choking the life out of him as he walked back to Em City and struggled to get his anger under control. Cyril becoming brain damaged had never been one of his plans. He never wanted anything like that he happen to his kid brother. Seamus O'Reily was stuck inside his head.

To his surprise, Robinson only told him to go to his pod and did not involve McManus in anything when they came back. Alvarez caught him in a quick look but he turned away because he was in no mood to deal with the Latino right now. I'm not controlling him. O'Reily tried his best to ignore his father's words and walked to his pod. Liam Meaney was sitting on the chair and writing something on his notebook when he entered. There was no way he could be alone now. It was all fucking Calderón fault for brining all those Latinos into Em City.

"Hey, Ryan," the grunt said. "What's the matter?"

"Not now, Liam," he barked back as he went up to his bed.

"Geez---you've been so moody even before I got here. What's up with that?"

"I said not now, asshole."

"Whatever you want, man," Meaney said. "All I know is that the old Ryan O'Reily didn't let stupid shit bother him and get him off his game. He had fucking tunnel vision and made anyone who got him upset or made a move against him pay."

"You done?" O'Reily asked but did not really care for the answer because he turned around on the bed to face the wall.

"Yeah. I'll be outside. Cool off, Ryan."

The underling was right in some aspects of their very short conversation. Since Cyril's execution, he had not wanted to completely go back and stay in all his old ways because no matter how much plotting and lying and murders he had gotten away with, it still had not been enough to save his brother's life. O'Reily had not fully wanted to go back to being that man but everything in the prison pushed him to it. Being the king of mind-fucking in this hellhole had become his stock and trade---his identity.

A lot of his bravado had been because he was protecting Cyril from anyone who wanted to take advantage of him. But, he had not been able to keep him safe from Schillinger and those other Aryan fucks raping him. O'Reily had always resented himself for not being able to prevent that from happening. Now that the Aryans were gone, he did not feel any better because Cyril was gone too. He was never coming back in this lifetime and only God knew where he was.

One thing was for sure though---he had to gain better control of his emotions or he was going to be doomed. El Cartel was quickly going to become a major threat and there was no doubt that Torquemada was going to drown Oz with Destiny once he got back from the hole. O'Reily had to remain his cool, collected, and calculating self of the past that everyone thought twice about dealing with if he was to have any chance of survival. This fucking cumhole had already taken his brother and was threatening to wipe out his father---he was not going to fall too.

The other side of the partnership had really started to fuck with his brain and his emotions. The partnership was already complicated because of its secret nature, but the physical closeness both men had come to experience continued to muddle and complicate things between them. It had never been this way in his mind---it was never supposed to be. He was no fucking fag. He never wanted to do anything sexual with anyone in Oz---especially the likes of Adebisi or Keller.

O'Reily closed his eyes and swore he felt the Latino's fingers running down his forearm. Alvarez was entirely different from all of them, though. He was a man of strong convictions and valued loyalty and trust above just about everything else. He was a fucking god in this hell full of sinners and the soulless. On some primeval level, they understood each other better than anyone else could. It had far surpassed O'Reily simply being the brain in the partnership and Alvarez being the brawn. They had crossed over into each other's distinguished space so early in the life of the partnership.

Sucking air of the door being opened found his ears and, "O'Reily, wake up."

"I'm not sleeping. What do you want, Murphy?" the Irishman turned around and replied.

"Robinson told me about what happened in Solitary," Murphy said and closed the door behind him to give privacy.

"So? The dickhead had it coming."

"I went out on a limb for you, O'Reily, and this is the thanks I get? You got to keep that anger of yours in check."

"Does McManus know?"

"No," the hack said and looked at him as he got off the bed. "Not yet."

"Don't tell him."

"Why not? You didn't care who knew when you attacked him."

"Just don't, Murphy," O'Reily said one last time because was not going to beg for anything. "It's between me and him. He'll survive one punch."

"Knowing you---that's probably the furthest thing from the truth," he said in a serious but also normal way.

"Or it might not be."

"I see," Murphy replied but then stopped as if he was thinking. "Don't let it happen again. I mean it. You fuck up one more time and I'll make sure you have a cozy cell right next to your dear old dad."

"On my honor as a boy scout, Officer Murphy, sir," he raised his right hand and said as he mocked the entire situation.

"You're a real comedian there, O'Reily," the hack said and the buzzer sounded from all around them. "Go on. It's time for lunch."