~*~ 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.



Things had finally calmed down for him and the routine was beginning to settle in once again. Cyril was under control and Howell had left them both alone for the past few days. He was still unsure about Suzanne Fitzgerald because Dr. Nathan had not been able to track her down. O'Reily needed to meet her, though---he needed to know her. He watched as his brother was in the quad watching Up Your Ante with Rebadow and Beecher. He was in the computer room and was idly surfing the web. He waited for some low level prisoner he had no interest in to leave before he could do what he needed to.

Busmalis was depressed and had not left his pod the past few days because his fiancée Norma had stood him up at the altar. He told them marriage was a joke. It held weight hundreds of years ago, but marriage today was something people did out of boredom---or to get money or power. Love and marriage had divorced each other a long time ago and it was a bitter battle. The random fag clicked off his gay porn websites and left the computer room behind. O'Reily worked fast while still being mindful of Cyril.

"Let's see," he spoke to himself as he looked up the words Alvarez had called him.

Lunchtime was soon and it was his turn to deliver to Solitary so if it was something bad, he had the chance to tell off the loco Latino. He looked through many Spanish words until something caught his eye. Snake? He continued looking, unsure of why he was determined to find out the words' true meaning. Alvarez called him that a while ago and O'Reily was more than positive that the crazy fuck had forgotten all about it already. He was in Solitary---and he tended to go a little crazy in there. O'Reily wrote down what he saw and clicked off the page just as someone else entered the room. It was time to go anyway.

"Venomous---viper?" the Irishman read his handwriting inside his pod.

He did not quite know how to feel at the name but had to laugh when he realized how true it was. Alvarez had him pegged and he was amused by the new nickname. It sure as hell beats mick. O'Reily then got an idea and looked around for a piece of paper and something to write with. His eyes focused on Cyril to make sure he remained where he was before tearing a small slip of paper away from the large sheet. He smiled as he wrote the note.

You damn right I'm a fucking venomous viper.

O'Reily folded the note into a small square and rested it in his kitchen whites' shirt pocket. It had made him smile. Nevertheless, it was also slightly reassuring because Alvarez still viewed him as a threat---no one he knew played with venomous vipers just for the hell of it. He stepped back onto the quad just in time to see Pancamo burling down the stairs to head to the kitchen. That was his cue to leave as well.

"Cyril, come on," he yelled out. "We have to go to the kitchen."

Cyril energetically jumped up and followed his big brother out of Emerald City and towards the cafeteria. The usual crew was already there and setting up as inmates strolled down the hallways. He retrieved the cart and list of inmates in the hospital ward, Unit J, and Solitary. The dyke Howell was assigned to Unit J and that was where she had squeezed Cyril's ass---his brother had told him. He did not have the time or energy to deal with her or her games. He was just going to get in and out.

O'Reily decided to go to Solitary last and headed off to Unit J first. He would deal with the dragon first and then go to see Gloria after. Howell was surprisingly on her best behavior when he approached and barely spoke two words to him. He shrugged her off and went on with his deliveries. In the infirmary, O'Reily was surprised to learn that Dr. Nathan had not come into work. He wondered what that was about but kept moving along to his last stop.

The cart clanked and stopped right outside Solitary as O'Reily slid out the first tray of food and lifted it to reveal chicken nuggets. He reached into his shirt pocket and rested the slip of paper in the same compartment as the nuggets before quickly covering it back up and entering Solitary. The boys had to have been good because the slot on their doors were open.

"Hey, what's up, half-dick?" O'Reily tormented Robson as he pushed the tray in so hard it crashed onto the floor.

"Fucking mick! Fuck hey! Hey, fuck!" the skinhead tried to reach his hand out to grab.

"Hey!" Officer Smith banged on the door with his baton. "Get in there!"

"Here you go, Alvarez," he slid the first tray in and it crashed to the floor like the last one, but it was not intentional.

"Stupid fuck," Alvarez cursed and went to get his tray from the ground.

"Hey, Smith." O'Reily called to the guard when he reached the next cell over.


"Jenkins don't look so hot, man."

"What do you mean?" the officer approached and looked inside the cell. "Oh!"

"Guess he won't be eating his chicken nuggets."

"Ah, sh---"

Smith fumbled with his keys and stuck it into the lock to pry the door open. Jenkins was hanging from the post of the bed with a sheet around his neck. It looked like his eyes were still moving as Smith rushed to cut him down. O'Reily thought about going back to talk to Alvarez for a quick minute during the commotion but decided against it with the likes of Robson watching on. He was going to find the note on his own. O'Reily left Smith to his dead body and rolled the lunch cart all the way back to Unit J to begin receiving the trays. Delivering was such a hassle, but at least he got to walk around.


The mild medication Dr. Nathan had him on was working. He hadn't smeared shit all over himself and the walls since that once, but it made him drowsy and cranky at times. And he still felt cramped in this box---that was never going to go away. The medicine helped silence the voices, though, and that was what was most important to him. Alvarez was resting in his bed and staring up at the ceiling of his box when the small metal window slipped open and invading eyes peered inside.

"Alvarez, get your ass up," Smith called to him. "You have a visit."

"I'm not sleeping."

"Hello, Miguel," Dr. Nathan said warmly as the metal doors flung back and she entered his little space.

"My checkup already?" he sat up on the bed.

"Yes, and I brought Father Mukada with me to say hi," she looked past the open metal door and the priest appeared.

"Hello, Miguel. It's good to see you," Father Mukada entered the cell as well.

"Same to you, Padre."

Three people were in his cell and he was beginning to feel even more anxious and claustrophobic. Dr. Nathan sat on the bed next to him and pulled out her stethoscope to check his heart rate and pulse. Father Mukada looked on in silence and Alvarez caught his eyes a few times. The stethoscope orb went under his shirt to his chest and then to his back. It was cold. It unexpectedly made him miss Maritza's warm touch over his skin. She had always known how to make him feel good without it necessarily being about sex. The touching and kissing and just being close was what he missed most.

"Miguel, how is the medicine I prescribed for you?" she asked as she got up and replaced the tool around her neck. "Any new side effects? Any out of the ordinary behaviors or feelings?"

"No. I still get a little tired and mad sometimes---but I feel better than I used to."

"That's good to hear. Any other pains or effects I should know about?"


"Okay, then. You seem to be doing fine. You're stable and relaxed for the most part. You'll let me know if anything changes?"

"Yes," the Latino answered.

"All right. I have to go to another patient. You ready, Father?" Dr. Nathan looked over at the priest and he smiled.

"Hey, Padre, can you stay a minute? I need to talk to you---alone," he requested.

"Okay---sure. I'll meet up with you later, Gloria," Father Mukada stepped forward and told her.

"Okay. I'll see you soon, Miguel."

He waved her bye and she disappeared to take care of someone else. Father Mukada gave the officer a look and soon he was being closed into the cell with the other man. The priest was always a little nervous in situations like this, but he knew Miguel Alvarez. Yes, they had a long and battered relationship over the years, but he knew the man meant him no harm---not purposefully anyway. Alvarez looked up at him and let out a little laugh.

"You can sit here next to me, Padre. I don't bite."

"Oh, okay," he had to smile at that too and moved over to sit on the bed. "You look well, Miguel. Healthy body and you're mind seems to be on the mend."

"The medicine Dr. Nathan gives me really helps a lot."

"That's good to hear. What did you want to see me about?"

"Don't be mad, okay?"

"About what?" Father Mukada looked at him and asked.

"It's nothing serious or anything like that," Alvarez said, as he got more comfortable. "I was lonely so I asked you to stay and keep me company for a little while. Can you do that, Father?"

"Sure I can, Miguel---for a little while."

"Thanks. I thought you were at some priests' conference? That's what I heard anyway."

"I was. I came back early. Has Sister Pete been to see you?"

"No. No one but Dr. Nathan comes to see me," he said.

"She must have gotten busy. But, don't worry---I'll come by to see you whenever I can," the priest said and smiled because of how Alvarez's face lit up by the words.


"Yes. If it will help your recovery, then yes."

Alvarez sighed because he knew the priest meant his words but he also knew that he was just as busy as Sister Peter Marie so the chances of them seeing each other as often as he wanted were not promising. He was so lonely and needed someone to talk to. Robson was a racist and Jenkins had killed himself the same way he tried to a year or two ago. The medication had him stabilized, but it was still quiet and lifeless inside his cell. Solitary was miserable and he missed hands besides his own touching him--- missed hands caressing him and holding him.

"You have a soft spot for me, Father," the Latino said out of nowhere but never looked him in his eyes.

"What?" Father Mukada looked surprised by the words. "That's not true. I feel the same way about you as I do for every other prisoner here in Oz."

"Come on---admit it. There's something here that you don't have with the other prisoners."

"I know you have a good soul, Miguel," he said as he tapped Alvarez on the shoulder. "I know you're a good man---a good man whom many bad things have happened to."

The Latino turned to face him and said, "I know I dragged you through hell, Father. I know that. I betrayed you during the riot, watched as they carried you off with the other hostages, and did nothing to help you. And after all you did to get me to see my baby being born, and after God took him back because he was too perfect for this shitty world---"

"Miguel---" Father Mukada almost whispered as he just watched him.

"Shit---this medicine is making me soft."

"No, Miguel. You're not soft. You're a compassionate man, to a fault. Don't give up on yourself because I haven't given up on you."

"I'm sorry, Father," Alvarez looked directly into his eyes when he said. "I'm sorry for all the things I've done to you."

"Miguel, is there something else on your mind?"

"No. I'm fine."

The priest did not looked convinced but smiled anyway and said, "Okay. I have to get going now."


"It was good to see you, Miguel."

"Hey, can you bring me a pen and some paper on your next visit?" Alvarez asked before Father Mukada had a chance to knock on the door to notify the guard that their time was over.

"Miguel---I'm not sure that's a good idea," he hesitated as he said.

"Don't worry, Padre---my mood is stable. I'd like to write stuff down. It'll help me pass the time in here. I promise that's all it is."

The priest believed him and knocked on the metal door before he said, "Okay. I'll try come by later and give it to you if I can."

The door swung open as Alvarez said, "Thanks."

"God be with you, Miguel Alvarez."

A crushing weight had been lifted off his chest---a weight that he had been carrying around since right after the riot. Father Mukada was the closest thing he had to a friend in here and he still had betrayed him and had practically fed him to the wolves during the riot. He was sorry for the way he treated the man and had to try to make amends to the one person that had his best interests in mind in this crazy fucking place. Alvarez got up and dug into his pocket to retrieve the small piece of paper that had come with his lunch tray.


It was all over the news and the prison was buzzing with excitement and anticipation for his return. Padraig Connolly, a member of the IRA and suspected terrorist threat was in Oz. O'Reily gave himself a small smile as he and Cyril sat in the quad waiting for the man to come out of McManus's office. The thought of another Irishman to add to their numbers already had him excited and plotting future plans. Pancamo and Morales were upstairs and everyone looked on as Connolly entered Em City. O'Reily pointed him out to Cyril but remained on the defensive for now.

He had to get Connolly alone to talk to him to see if he was interested in becoming partners. But, it had to wait until all the excitement died down because O'Reily knew all eyes were on the newest member of Em City---especially those of Redding, Pancamo, and Morales. He did not have the power to start a war with any of the three groups so he tried his best to remain neutral in their eyes. A few hours later, the routine had returned for the most part and O'Reily walked upstairs and entered the pod.

"Hey---Ryan O'Reily," he extended his hand.

"Stand back," his accent was immediately noticeable and his voice was firm.


"In the doorway."

"No, but I just---"

"Stand back," Connolly repeated again and got angrier.

"All right. I like that, Padraig. You're a soldier, you're cautious. This is good."

O'Reily gave him a compliment because he knew he could manipulate this man into working for him---he was the fucking venomous viper in this place. He stepped back to give the man his room and Connolly went back to unpacking his things to get settled. O'Reily needed to know what he knew but remained quiet for now. He had to remain at the vest for right now.

"How do you know me name?" Connolly asked.

"Oh, on the TV the past couple of days, nothing but you and the IRA executing that British limey Commando officer fuck thing."

"That was on the telly? That we executed Captain Hurley?"


Connolly softly said, "That's not what happened."

"Well, hey. Doesn't matter what happened, that's what the guys in here think happened. And, believe me, that's a good thing for both of us," the Irishman slowly began to work his prey---he really was what Alvarez had called him.

"Mr. O'Reily, I have no need for what you're selling."

"You know, Padraig, you're starting to piss me off so I'm just going to say this once. You best start treating Oz like the North of Ireland because in here you walk, talk, sleep, work, eat, shit, and drink with your own kind. You fucking understand me?"

"Because your name's O'Reily, you're one of my kind?" Connolly asked him.

"We got the same color green running through our veins, bro."

"If that were true, it wouldn't matter here."

"What wouldn't matter?" O'Reily was not following.

"There was no execution."

"You should be looking at me. We're being watched."

"Watched?" Connolly looked around outside his pod.

"I walk out of here and on body language alone, everyone's going to know what's what between the two of us."

"I won't be here long enough to need your friendship so, have a good walk," he dismissed him.

Ryan O'Reily left the pod with some progress made but not as much as he wanted. Connolly was going to be a small challenge to him and the idea gave him a rush of adrenaline. Officer Murphy's eyes were on him as he climbed down and so were the likes of Poet, Guerra, and Pancamo. They knew he was trying to recruit Connolly but he ignored them all. O'Reily was going to have to bite him another time.

The cafeteria was crowded and noisy with inmates as lunch was being served. Cyril was at the sink washing trays and playing with the soap bubbles while he was getting the cart set to go back and pick up the trays from Unit J, the hospital ward, and Solitary. O'Reily had to come back to the kitchen to get another cart because the wheel jammed on the first one. He had just finished delivered all the food though so it wasn't too bad.

Howell was being her usual cunt self in Unit J and had grabbed his package in front of Yood. The cop-turned-bad never understood the type of relationship she and O'Reily had. It was obvious he hated her but something else was going on between them. He smiled and turned his head until the Irishman had managed to give her the slip and sped out of Unit J.

The infirmary was busy because an inmate had been stabbed, but Dr. Nathan had told him that she got in contact with Suzanne Fitzgerald and that she was coming to visit him later in the afternoon. O'Reily could have kissed her but her hands were full, and bloody, so he picked up the trays and left. Finally, he was going to get to talk to his mother---his real mother.

Squeaking noises alerted everyone in Solitary that lunchtime was over. Smith made eye contact with him and then went back to the huge stack of paperwork on his desk---he looked stressed out and tired. Warden Glynn had to have been giving him flack for Jenkins's death on his clock. O'Reily collected all the trays without many words. He was happy with the news about his mother. He reached the last cell and slid the window open.

"Ay, O'Reily, what the fuck, man?" Miguel Alvarez stood up and came over to the opening.

"Close it, and move on, O'Reily," Smith looked up and ordered.

"Be cool, Smith. You'll get something in return," he flashed that trademark smirk of his.

"Two minutes."

"More than enough time," O'Reily said and then looked back to the man in front of him. "What the hell are you pissing about?"

"Man, fuck those chicken nuggets."

"Whatever floats your boat in here, Alvarez."

"There was a hair in them shits, man," the Latino told him. "Look at that shit before you throw it out if you don't believe me."

"Tough luck there, man."

"Whatever. Try bringing me some clean nuggets next time, víbora."

"Close it, O'Reily," Smith was tired of the interaction and said.

Alvarez had smiled at him as he slid the metal window close. The name sent a small shock down his spine; he picked up the tray and slid it into an open slot before pushing the cart away. O'Reily was inside his mind with the exchange that just happened. There was something more to the Latino's smile---almost like a challenge. He replayed the conversation again and then stopped on the side of the hallway when he realized that Alvarez had given him an instruction. The man was better at doubletalk than he gave him credit for.

O'Reily slipped the tray from the cart and picked up the cover to see that nothing had been touched. Everything had remained just as it was packed in the kitchen, but he was right. There was a small black hair on top of two of the chicken nuggets. It looked like it could be Pancamo's or one of the other wops'---it definitely was not one of Cyril's, or his. He got ready to put back the tray until he saw a small piece of white taunting him from underneath another nugget. A neatly folded square piece of paper revealed itself.

Muy bien, víbora. Es posible que haya esperanza para ti.

"Damn you, Alvarez!" O'Reily looked at the Spanish words and had to laugh.

English, dammit!

Like before, he had no idea what the hell the words meant and it felt like the Latino was toying with him---playing with his head. I really did underestimate you, Alvarez. He pushed the note away inside his pocket and continued back to the kitchen. O'Reily sighed---now he had so many more words to look up than just two. He just wanted to strangle the man in Solitary for making him do all this work. Alvarez had written him back, though. He remembered their conversation and what he had said to the Irishman before being sent back to Solitary.

O'Reily felt strangeness in his heart as he sat across from her in the visitor's room when they were talking. Suzanne Fitzgerald had come as she promised she would and it was weird to know that this woman was his mother---the same blood that ran through her veins was inside his. The same glass partition separated them as before but he saw himself in her. He had her eyes so there was no denying she was who she claimed to be.

"Did he beat you?" he asked as he tried to figure out answers.


"Dad, did he beat you, is---is that why you left?"

"No," his mother replied softly.

"He cheated on you."

"I was barely seventeen and the world was new and there were people to see and places to explore and---"

O'Reily stared at her and said, "So it was you who cheated on him."

"I guess, in a way."

"I hated him, you know? And I would never blame you for leaving that son of a bitch, but what I don't get is, fucking Jesus, didn't you even just---" he was having a hard time finding the words.

"Miss you? Ryan, from the night we made you to the day I left, you are the only real happiness I have ever had. I just didn't know that then. I was a child with a three-month-old. It didn't even occur to me that I'd never see you again. It's just how things had to work out," Suzanne Fitzgerald said as she tried to explain her complicated life to her son.

"Nah, you, uh, you're thinking of Cyril."


"You said three months. Cyril would've been the baby," he corrected her.

"No, Ryan, you were the baby."

"But I'm a year-and-a-half older than Cyril."

"Your father and I didn't have Cyril."

He straightened up in his chair and asked, "What are you talking about?"

"Cyril's your half-brother," his mother said to him.

A random guard called to him that his time was up but he was not able to take his eyes off her. Cyril was not her son. She had no reason to lie about something like that. O'Reily walked his way back to Em City as another day had been wasted in Oz. The sun was setting and lights out would follow not long after. He felt as if his heart was so heavy that it was going to crash down and crush all his other organs.

O'Reily knew the truth, though. Cyril was his brother---he always had been. Blood did not make them a family. Their bond to one another did that. He had stayed silent during dinner and the remainder of their free time before they had to line up for count. The news was hard to hear but he did not know of any other way to treat Cyril but as his little brother---he did not want to treat him as anything else but his little brother. O'Reily crawled into the bottom bunk with his brother after they were locked in for the night.

"Hey, Cyril, do you remember that one time when Dad made us go spend the summer in Indiana on Uncle Bill's farm?"

"Mm-hmm," Cyril nodded and his voice was already heavy with sleep.

"It was you, me, and those three neighbor kids in the fields picking beans. And Uncle Bill had made me the foreman, and those three kids decided to quit because they thought I was yelling too much. I think they wanted to go swimming or something like that. And they wanted to take you with them. But instead you decided to, uh, stay with me in the fields until we were finished. I've always wondered---did you stay with me because we're brothers, or did you stay because you'd thought if you tried to leave I'd beat you up?"

He looked over to see that his brother had fallen asleep and was snoring lightly. He remained there for a little while longer before he got up and stood in front of the mirror. It did not matter what anyone said---Cyril was his brother and he was still going to watch out and protect him as he always had. It was his job as a big brother.

O'Reily slipped off his shirt and slid down his pants to get ready for bed. He reached into the pocket and pulled out Alvarez's words. A small smile was on his face as he looked over the words and then fastened the slip of paper behind the mirror for safekeeping. He would decipher its meaning later. Alvarez was another one. O'Reily had been thinking about him more and more over the past weeks and felt happy to get his note. He was excited to read it, even if it was all in Spanish. He needed to come up with a way to get him out of Solitary so he could put his plans to work.

The gym was noisy the following day as they got free time during the afternoon. Inmates were playing basketball or lifting weights or just talking as the O'Reily brothers were boxing---well, Cyril was at least. His big brother was there coaching him. He was ducking and moving while O'Reily encouraged him.

"One, two, three, four, up, one, two, three, come on," he said and neither had noticed when Jia Kenmin entered behind them.

"You know, all that time in the Cage, I never got to exercise. Not enough room to move," he said to his intended target.

"Hey Jia, you know, we're trying to work out here, man. You want to shut the fuck up?" O'Reily said as he was in no mood to play with the other man.

Kenmin smiled and went back to his warm-up exercises. Cyril stopped and watched him as he performed various karate moves and skills. O'Reily was unimpressed by him and his face showed it. The cumfuck was nothing more than a showoff---and he hated boastful people. He did a handstand and held it for a moment.

"I want to try that," Cyril blurted out and ran over to him.

"No, stop. Cyril," O'Reily called back.

Kenmin smiled and said, "You know, I could teach you a lot of things. Better than that bullshit boxing."

"I want to learn," Cyril said.

"Okay, there's this," Kenmin grabbed his arm and swung him down to the ground.

"Hey, motherfucker!" O'Reily yelled out.

He rushed over to his brother to see if he was all right but Kenmin kicked him and he fell onto the floor. The pain was in his side and felt like fire on his skin but he tried to get up to protect Cyril---he had to protect him. He sat up but saw Cyril jump back to his feet and punch Kenmin hard in the face. He fell quickly and hit his head against the hard concrete of the gym floor. An officer scrambled over to the scene and grabbed on to Cyril to stop him from doing any more damage. O'Reily did the same thing.

"No, Cyril, back! Get back!" he pushed his brother away and told him as the officer tried to restrain him as well.

"He hit you! He hit you!" Cyril screamed.

"Oh, fuck," O'Reily said when he saw Kenmin was unconscious and that blood was leaking out of his head.

Ryan O'Reily kicked the wall inside his pod but regained himself when he saw that Cyril was looking at him. Kenmin was transferred to Benchley Memorial hospital and was in a coma. The doctors were unsure if he was going to wake up and McManus came to tell them the news that Cyril was being transferred to protective custody for the time being. It was a mistake separating them, but he had exhausted all his options on keeping his brother in Em City at the moment. It had to be this way.

"But I don't want to go."

"Cyril, trust me, you have to because, if you don't, they're going to send you far, far away from me. And you and I ain't going to see each other no more," he said as Cyril began to cry. "Hey, come on man, it's okay. Take your bag, come on, let's go."

He held out the bag for his brother to take it and he did after a while. They looked around the pod to see if he missed anything else before walking out to Em City and the waiting officers. O'Reily felt torn inside and wanted to lock himself and Cyril inside their pod but that was not an option. He had to concede this battle in defeat if he wanted to win the war.

"Hey, Cyril, toughen up, all right?" O'Reily told his little brother as they walked and he saw Arif starting at him. "You got a problem, friend?"

Arif looked away from him and walked upstairs to Said's pod. Cyril cried more when they had to part at the gates of Em City but O'Reily remained strong for the both of them. He calmed his brother enough for the officers to take him away and went back to his pod. The day had gone to hell and he got onto the top bunk in his pod to think. The Irishman looked over and saw Arif talking to Said but he did not think much or cared about it.

He had been ushered into the interrogation room about an hour later and Warden Glynn was in his face pressuring him about the murder of Patrick Keenan---the man who raped Gloria Nathan when he was on the outside. O'Reily had been blindsided by this revelation but quickly pulled lies to cover his tracks. His manipulation was top notch, after all. After the initial shock of the accusation, he refocused and resigned himself to a specific story. They were never going to pin the murder on him---his hands always remained clean. It was what he did best.

"I don't know what you're talking about. Patrick Keenan was my friend. Whoever told you this bullshit must have it out for me," he started spinning his web.

"The informant has no motive to lie," Glynn said.

"Look, warden, when those news people were here, they asked me all about Adebisi's video tapes and I didn't say one word."

"What, you're expecting a return of the favor?" he asked, looking disgusted.

"Yeah," O'Reily simply answered.

"Fuck you! I'm going to thoroughly investigate these charges. If I find any corroborating evidence, you're going to death row. Got that?"

He was dismissed and the look on the warden's face meant business. He had to find out who the informant was and just what they knew. As far as he knew, there was no one in the gym when he killed Keenan. O'Reily was desperate to escape this place---desperate to have his brother back in their pod. He had to do something dramatic to get to where he needed to be so he crashed onto the floor and closed his eyes. The officer escorting him ran back to check his pulse and then called for backup.

"What happened?" Dr. Nathan asked.

"C.O. said he just collapsed," a nurse answered but went about her way.

"Ryan, are you okay?"

"Yeah---I just, just needed to talk to you so I faked falling down," O'Reily said.

"You scared the shit out of me."

"I'm sorry."

Dr. Nathan looked at him and asked, "What's wrong?"

"We need privacy."

She looked hesitant at first but his eyes convinced her to do it. She told him to go wait in the examination room and that she would be there when the coast was clear. O'Reily walked over to the room and waited for her. He was desperate and was about to ask the impossible. His head was spinning a million revolutions per second first with how to save Cyril and then with making the Patrick Keenan cloud disappear from above his head. Dr. Nathan appeared a few minutes later and closed the door behind her.

"Do you realize this is the first time you and I have ever been alone?" he had to make the moment real.

"I need to get back out there, Ryan, so tell me what's so important."

"Everything's turning to shit, Gloria. There's a pretty good chance that Cyril's going to end up in the loony farm and now there's a chance that I'm going to be convicted for whacking Keenan."

"What? How?"

"Someone jabbered on me to the warden. It wasn't you, was it?" O'Reily asked her as he studied her.

"No," she answered him.

"No, those eyes don't lie."

"Go on."

"I also hear there's a sizeable chance that you're going to lose your doctor's license, which means I'll never see you again."

"I know," Dr. Nathan had a flash of pain in her eyes.

"So I have a proposition to make. Don't answer me right away. I want you to take the time to really think---about what I'm asking."

"Which is?"

The Irishman leaned in closer to her and whispered, "I want you to help Cyril and me escape."