~*~ 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.

 

 

A stove had been left on. Gas had been running and freely mingling with air and nobody had known about it until it had been too late. The boom had come and then the crackle and then the pop. Inmates were supposed to be sleeping because the day had been chaotic earlier with the bomb threat that had happened in Emerald City. But it had not been a diversion or foreboding to what had happened at night. The silent whispering had said nothing, but had told of the destruction it was going to cause. No one had bothered to listen then and the silence had been buried in Oz---again. Connolly had gotten what he had wanted after all---and even he had not known that it was coming.

Fire from a single match had ignited the air on fire and had caused an ear-splitting boom in the kitchen. The guard who struck the match had been among the very few casualties in the entire cellblock. Alarms had blared in the middle of the night and officers had been yelling on bullhorns for prisoners to get up because Em City had to be evacuated. The cellblock itself had been severely compromised and no one had been sure for how long the structure was going to remain intact. Ceiling tiles had already crumbled and walls had already been broken down because of the blast.

All the prisoners of Em City had gathered outside in the courtyard of Oz in the early hours of the morning waiting for busses the transport them to nearby local facilities. It had been chilly and most inmates had been in nothing but their boxers or pajamas. All of them had known that the group was going to be split into five smaller groups, so everyone had stayed close to the people they had wanted to group with. Everything else had to be sorted out in the following days to come and while the prisoners had been at their respective facilities. It had been a rough transition for many, but one that had to be made as Oz was being rebuilt. Survival in any environment had always been key.

It had been a long road. The way back had been crystal clear...

 

It had been several months in the making but the Unit B section of Oz was finally being flooded with prisoners. They entered through doors to their newly renovated space. After McManus's welcome back pep talk in the newly designed cafeteria, the prisoners were escorted into the highly renovated Em City---back to home. The crowd was noisy as the gate pulled back and they entered their space to look around at the changes.

"It's bigger," someone said.

"But not necessarily better," Arif commented.

"I like the new color," another inmate blurted out.

"It's the same color," Ryan O'Reily said as he looked around the much larger Em City.

"I miss the old place," Busmalis said.

"Don't be daft," Rebadow gently scolded his friend.

McManus and Murphy climbed up the steps to the new guard tower and he said, "All right. Officer Murphy will now give out your cell assignments."

"I want a room with a view," Poet said.

"And maid service," Hill tried to be funny.

Murphy read out from a clipboard, "Number 96A214, Adams, Phillip. Cell number six."

After all was said and done, the O'Reily brothers got a pod together. McManus may have had some kind of stupid grudge against him, but he was not foolish enough to separate them. O'Reily was the only one who could control his brother and McManus knew that. He told Cyril to start unpacking the new stuff their Aunt Brenda got for him and he started doing it. The pods were a bit bigger than the last set, but it was barely noticeable. There were definitely more pods to hold more people in Em City now, though.

Once Cyril had packed his things away, they walked outside and went to watch TV. He pretty much liked anything that was on but O'Reily's mind was elsewhere. He was thinking of Connolly. How they never saw each other after the gas explosion---after S.O.R.T took him down for the dud bomb. He wondered what happened to him and if McManus knew anything. The unit manager was not going to give up information like that, though---and especially not to him. O'Reily looked over at Cyril and then behind him to Rebadow.

"Hey, Rebadow---" he started but was stopped.

"Off somewhere---and, you want me to watch Cyril? Em City may have changed but some things have not," the old man said.

"So, you'll do it?"

"Sure. Busmalis and I will take him to play cards when he gets tired of watching TV and Busmalis finishes packing his stuff in the pod."

"Cyril, stay with Rebadow, okay? He's going to look after you for a while," the Irishman stood up and told his brother.

"Where are you going, Ryan?"

"Don't worry about that. Be good."

O'Reily walked away from the TVs and towards one of the newer guards to offer him a bribe. These new hacks were so easy to fool. The officer took his money and escorted him out of Em City and down a practically deserted hallway before turning around and leaving. O'Reily twisted and turned through more hallways until he came across the storage closet off Unit J he was sure no one used. He looked around before he easily slipped in and closed the door behind him.

He had maybe an hour to be by himself and think. During the relocation, everything had been out of his control so he was unable to do anything but look after Cyril. However, the reason O'Reily came here---the reason he needed this time away for himself was not to hatch schemes or plant seeds of destruction. He needed to think about what was going on inside him. It was something he did not understand, and something that made him angry.

The Irishman looked around the average-sized room to see shelves lined with toilet paper and paper towels as well as a rolling bucket with a mop inside it in one of the corners. He took another one, flipped it upside down, and sat on it as both his hands rested in between his legs. O'Reily's head was foggy and his emotions askew when he thought about leaning up against that wall outside Em City and fearing that his life was about to end. He had thought about Cyril. Gloria crossed his mind. But then, someone entered his mind he never thought would---and certainly not during what he had perceived to be the last moments of his life.

"Fuck!"

Him. He was the cause of all this uncertainty the Irishman now had within himself. It had started simple at first---he had just wanted to mess with Miguel Alvarez for some laughs on the side. It was some harmless fun at someone else's expense. That changed when he realized he could secretly partner up with Alvarez to find out about El Norte's schemes and dealings. But then, he had started writing to the loco Latino while he was in Solitary and then had started doing nice things for him without wanting anything in return. O'Reily had went out of his way to give him extra food when he could and even had stolen two lollipops from the secret stash to give to him.

He sat there and stared at the closed door in front of him as if he was expecting someone to come in and keep him company---or find him. His mind was a jumbled mess. He was confused as to why he had done all these things for Alvarez. And, the more he had went to pick up his trays, the more excited he had gotten to find out if he had written him something. O'Reily scratched a spot on the back of his hand until it became red and party inflamed. Something was going on inside him that he did not understand or knew what to do with.

The Irishman shook his head as if he was trying to clear the cobwebs out and reprimanded himself for being this weak and being caught up in such foolish thoughts. Oz was the same shithole as before---it just had a new face-lift. Nothing had changed and over the next few days, someone would kill someone---if it had not already happened. The secret partnership had been a serious offer he was willing to put on the table for Alvarez back then, but things had changed now. There was going to be no more writing, no more extra food, and no more fucking lollipops. Miguel Alvarez was just another inmate he had to keep an eye on.

 

Months had passed since he had gotten a note to read or another blow pop on his tray of food. But, he knew what had gone down in the other cellblock---they all did. There had been a lot of time for Alvarez to think as he sat alone without anything to read or write. He did not have all the answers about what happened in Em City, but he knew the perfect person to ask about it. Just then, a hack came and opened both the door and gate to his cell. The Latino looked confused because there was no one else there.

The hack walked to the middle of the hallway and said, "Listen up. When I give the order, you are to walk from your cell and form a single line. Step out."

"Hey, what's going on?" Penders asked.

"No talking," the hack scolded.

The men stepped out into the hallway from their respective cells and formed a line. None of them knew what was going on, but it looked like they were heading out of Solitary. Alvarez kept quiet and was inside his mind thinking---thinking about O'Reily. He remembered the note the Irishman had slipped him that said he was about to do something bad so Alvarez had wondered if the destruction that had happened had been his fault. The bomb had been a dud, but the gas explosion could have been their backup plan. He had wondered that during all the time he spent in Solitary since the gas explosion.

VÝbora always had three or four backup plans---that was how he worked. The hack told them to get moving and the line of inmates left Solitary, not knowing where they were going. Alvarez did not care, though---he was just happy to get out of that lonely and claustrophobic cell. The guard told a few of them to shut up on their way to the new cafeteria. They all looked around as they entered and saw Warden Glynn waiting for them.

"Holy shit!" Hoyt said of the cafeteria.

"New---and improved," another inmate said.

"No talking!" the hack shouted.

Glynn looked over the group and said, "Okay. During the reconstruction, we found out that there are problems with the air ducts throughout the building. We need to clean out the ducts in Solitary and so, until that job is complete, I'm going to put you all back into Gen Pop."

"Hey!" Hoyt laughed.

"No talking!" the stupid hack thought it was Alvarez who spoke and smacked him behind the head.

"I didn't say shit," Alvarez said.

"Now, this is a second chance for you slugs," Glynn went on and said. "If you behave yourself over the next few days, you won't have to return to Solitary. Understood? Don't fuck this opportunity up."

"What exactly is the problem with the air duct?" White asked in his irritating voice.

"That's none of your concern, White," Glynn answered back.

"What air duct? That's the air we breathe, right? You talking about---" he rambled.

The hack hit him and said, "What part of `no talking' don't you understand?"

"Shit!" White pestered on. "Damn man, I got a constitutional right to breathe fresh air, man!"

"Oh yeah?"

"You know---I mean---fucking duct---"

"Breathe, brother---breathe," the officer said.

Alvarez had his guard up because him getting out of Solitary could not have been this easy. The warden had some kind of plan cooking and he had to keep his eyes and ears truly open to find out what it was. They walked back to Solitary to gather their things before heading out to Em City. The Latino tried his best not to get excited but a spark was lit deep inside him and he knew he could not control it for long. He was out of Solitary and going to be among people.

The taunts and cursing came as they entered Em City and he ignored it all went to his pod to drop his stuff before he headed for the showers. Water crashed down his wet hair and slid off his naked flesh. He had to be cleansed of Solitary. It was a quick shower because he wanted to go to his pod and relax---and think about his next move. Alvarez turned the water off and grabbed the towel to dry himself off. He wrapped it around his waist and turned to leave when he saw a few Latinos enter the shower.

"Welcome home, Miguel. Been hoping and praying for this day. We got unsettled business, you and me," Guerra said as he approached.

"Oh yeah?"

"You killed my boys---Carlo Ricardo and Jorge Vasquez. You got to pay."

"Spit. Sweat. Blood," Alvarez said as he played with his hands.

"What?"

"Bodily fluids---fluids the body produces. Piss and tears. Some voluntary---some not so voluntary. When I was in my cubbyhole, you know, I had a lot of time to think about my fluids. My juices, you know---my shit," he said as he had a sinister look on his face.

"You're fucking nuts, Alvarez," Guerra told him.

"Yes, very. That's right, it's me---I'm fucking nuts. You say I got to pay. Fine. Put this on my tab, okay?" the loco Latino said as he lunged forward and punched Guerra in the jaw.

"Hey, what the fuck is going on here?" Murphy asked as he entered the showers with a few hacks.

"We're taking showers," Guerra calmly said.

"With your clothes on? Up against the wall. Come on, move it!"

"What---me too?" Alvarez asked.

Murphy reached down and pulled off Alvarez's towel before he said, "Nah. I can see you're clean."

Alvarez reached back for his towel and readjusted it around his waist as he watched Guerra and the other two Latinos being patted down for anything. He looked outside through the glass windows and saw that Ryan O'Reily was looking at him from where he was sitting at a table in the quad. The expression on his face was unreadable. One officer uncovered a shank from one of the Latinos and Alvarez's attention was forced back into the shower room.

"All right," Murphy said. "Confine these two dinks to their cells. Put Guerra in the cage. Come on, move it. Got anything else to say, Alvarez?"

"Man is eighty percent water."

Murphy gave him a sarcastic smile as he and the other officers cleared out the rest of the Latinos from the shower room. When Alvarez left and was walking back to his pod, he noticed that O'Reily had disappeared. His mind got working on possibilities and he knew he needed many answers from the devious Irishman. He was not going to play these games with anyone, anymore---not with him, or Guerra, or Morales. He went up to his pod to change.

In the afternoon, Alvarez was in the gym punching the boxing bag to let out his pent up frustrations. Sweat formed a light layer on his muscled arms---he was wearing one of his signature sleeveless t-shirts. He was never going to be a true member of El Norte and he did not want to try anymore. He had to concentrate on keeping himself alive and let these other fucks in here play their games. The Latino was sick of all the shit and was even sicker of Solitary. He was not going back there.

"Hey, Miguel," Morales approached him after he entered the gym. "You are one lucky fuck."

"Yeah. That's me, you know---I'm Mr. Lucky."

"You know, Guerra wants you dead," the El Norte leader studied him. "But, I could yank him off your ass."

"Oh yeah?" Alvarez said as he stopped hitting the floating bag and looked over at Morales. "If I do what, huh? If I kill somebody for you? Those days are gone, chica. Those days are long gone. See, I got no interest in sniffing the butthole."

"You won't survive solo. You ain't got the balls."

"Ain't got what?"

"Balls---cajones---bendahos. That's what I'm saying," Morales was playing a tricky game but he needed to wrangle Alvarez under his control.

"Oh---bolitas. You see this?" Alvarez lined the scar of his face with his finger. "I did that."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I cut my own face. You know what I'm saying? I shoved a shank in Rivera's eyes. You know what I'm saying? I handle a knife better than a fucking surgeon. I got nothing to prove to you, brother. Nothing. Come on---get the fuck out of my face!" Alvarez said and pushed past him. "Hey, Giles---don't think I've forgotten about you sticking me, right? Little fucking cocksucker. Yeah---yeah!"

Alvarez grabbed Giles and pushed him back against the metal fence to exact some kind of revenge on the man that had shanked him. Giles struggled for a bit before he swung his head forward and hit Alvarez's own with a crunch. The Latino stumbled back and let him go as Giles punched him in the face. Hacks came running in to break up the scuffle and Alvarez was against the fence with his hands restrained behind his back and a slight headache. The hacks walked him over to McManus's office and he just sat there as the man talked.

"This incident with Giles concerns me, Alvarez," the unit manager was saying. "You want to stay out of Solitary---you've got to stay out of trouble."

"You and me both know that I'm going back to Solitary no matter what I do. Glynn's not going to let me run around free. And even if you did convince him to, I'm doomed, you know. I attract trouble like a fucking magnet," the Latino said what he knew was the truth. "You know what quicksilver is?"

"Quicksilver?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah. It's like Mercury right---the stuff they make mirrors with?" McManus said.

"Mirrors---yeah. Reflections, right? It's just this whole change in mood, you know what I'm saying? I mean, that's just me, man. That's me, McManus. You know, I'm just---I'm quicksilver, man. Whoosh---you know."

He left the office with a warning and headed downstairs to the quad to take a seat at one of the corner tables by himself. It was true---he had no group to belong to and no one to watch out for him. Alvarez looked around the quad with nothing in particular to watch out for. His head was recovering from the head-butt from Giles and he rested both his hands on the table and remained there in silence. El Norte was not an option now and he saw for the first time in the gym earlier how weak Morales really was. The fuck had practically begged him to come back to the Latinos.

"Fuck that!" Alvarez said under his breath.

 

O'Reily buttoned up the white shirt of his kitchen uniform to get ready for lunch. Cyril was already outside waiting for him. He had been surprised to see Miguel Alvarez yesterday---surprised that Latino was out of Solitary and had heard nothing about it from any of his sources. Everyone had to get back into the groove of their routine like it was before the explosion happened. Alvarez was by himself in his pod reading. They had not spoken to each other since he was back in Em City, but O'Reily knew he saw him looking at the scuffle that had happened in the shower room yesterday.

Prisoners swarmed into the new cafeteria and got in line for lunch. O'Reily took his usual spot in the serving line and started giving out food. He kept an eye on Cyril as he sat by himself and was eating and he also wondered if he would see Alvarez for lunch. The man had not been down for breakfast that morning and they had not run into each other since then. The Irishman remembered that hour in the cramped storage closet where he did nothing but think.

"You're in a good mood today," an inmate down the line said.

"Yeah, man. My wife's coming to see me," Arif said.

"All right. Is she bringing your children?"

"Nah. Sonsyrea and I need some time---just the two of us," Arif said as they got closer to the Irishman and noticed him. "O'Reily. That man is an animal. He murdered Patrick Keenan with such brutality. Every time I see how I wonder how he lives with himself."

"How you doing? Eat up, Arif. Move it. Hey," O'Reily looked at his brother and then called out to Poet. "Take over here for a second, all right?"

"Where the fuck is you going, man?" Poet asked as he handed him the serving spoon.

"Hey, hey, hey, hey!" O'Reily said as he ran over to Cyril.

"O'Reily, relax," Stanton said. "I haven't seen your brother since he checked out of protective custody. We're just catching up, man---come on."

"I don't want you anywhere near him."

"But Ryan, I like Henry," Cyril look at him and said.

"I told you this guy's a scumbag."

"It takes one to know one," Stanton countered with.

"You on some kind of kamikaze mission there, Stanton, huh? If I see you talking to Cyril again, you're going down in flames," O'Reily warned.

"Later," Stanton left after that.

"What'd you say to him?" he turned and asked Cyril.

"Nothing. Nothing! Jeez!"

"Hey, you mick fucks!" Pancamo yelled at them from inside the kitchen. "We're working over here. You want to join us?"

He shot Cyril a look as they both got up and got back to work in the kitchen. Henry Stanton was becoming a problem---he could not be trusted. Cyril went back and started washing dishes and he replaced himself in the line and took the spoon back from Poet. O'Reily had to come up with a plan to make sure the man went down in flames. The wheels of his brain were already turning with the possibilities.

After lunch, he had walked Cyril back to Em City and put him to watch TV with Beecher before he went to the hacks for an ask. They were so easy to bribe and he was on his way out and to the infirmary to see Dr. Nathan. He had to spend more time with her---for himself more than anything. O'Reily entered and saw her finishing examining a patient.

"Uh-uh. Stay back," she said when she noticed him.

"But I've got a pain."

"Where?"

"In my heart," O'Reily cupped both his hands and put them over his heart. "I'm heart sick because you keep ignoring me."

"I'm busy, Ryan," Dr. Nathan firmly told him.

"I just wanted to know, did the medical board---did they rule on your case? For malpractice?"

"Yes. They reprimanded me. They fined me, but I'm still a doctor," she said.

"Well that's---that's great, right?" O'Reily said as the warden approached them both.

"Gloria. May I see you?" he requested.

"Sure."

"Let's walk."

The warden glanced at him before they went out into the hall to talk. O'Reily remained where he was and wondered what that was about. He was glad that Gloria could still practice medicine though---that was something good. It had only been a quick couple of minutes before Dr. Nathan and Warden Glynn came back. He walked over to O'Reily.

"Officer---take him to the interview room," Glynn looked at him and said.

"What---what for?"

He had not gotten any answers as an officer escorted him to the interview room, but he already knew what it was about---or who, rather. Keenan's murder was becoming more of a thorn in his side that he had to make disappear forever. O'Reily was led to a seat where he waited for about ten minutes until Glynn opened the door and entered. The man had a look on his face that was unreadable.

"Come on, warden," O'Reily said. "There's got to be a rule about the number of times you can keep on asking me the same questions."

"You think I'm screwing with your civil rights? You want to consult an attorney?" Glynn said with nothing in his voice.

"I don't need an attorney because I didn't kill Keenan. Look man, check the assignment records. I wasn't near the gym all day."

"My informant says different," the warden said as he looked through the file on the table.

"Your informant's a liar."

"Why would he lie?"

"Look," the Irishman said. "A lot of people got issues with me. A lot of people had issues with Keenan. That kid was a scrapper---he was in fights all the time. You go through the files; you'll find a shitload of suspects."

"I have. You're still the nearest, and the dearest. Take him out," the warden ordered.

O'Reily was escorted back to Em City but he did not go directly to his pod---he instead went to the surprisingly empty computer room and motioned for Meaney to follow him inside. They sat at the two computers furthest from the door as O'Reily began to weigh his options. A plan had already formed in his head when the warden was interrogating him.

"Glynn really wants to nail you for Keenan's murder, huh?" Meaney quietly said.

"He's got some witness, only I don't know who. If I could only find out this fucker's name, then I could persuade him to change his story. Or---"

"Kill him?"

"Yeah. Well, in any case, I need to confuse the situation."

"Yeah. How?" the grunt asked.

"This clipping needs to find its way into Henry Stanton's trunk," O'Reily produced a newspaper clipping of Dr. Nathan. "Buried underneath his underwear."

"Meanwhile, what are you going to be doing?"

"Encouraging an entirely different eyewitness to step forward."

Most of these manipulations had become too easy for him to take any gratification from it. Meaney left to do what he was instructed to as O'Reily figured out the perfect candidate to step forward to give Glynn the good news. After the plan played out, the facts that surrounded Keenan's death would be so murky that no one was going to figure anything out. The Irishman smiled and walked out of the computer room and saw Alvarez starting at him from across the quad. He was sitting at a table, alone.

Dinnertime was upon the cafeteria and the noise level was no higher than it usually was as inmates lined up to get food and socialize with each other. O'Reily was in charge of dessert because it was a piece of his plan. He looked out and patiently waited for his prey to walk unknowingly into his presence. He was a fucking venomous viper and damn proud of it---whatever he had to do to survive in Oz. Martin Montgomery walked over to him.

"Hey, Marty my boy, how about another piece of cake," he said as he placed a second piece of cake on his tray.

"Sure. Thanks. O'Reily, right?" Montgomery asked.

"That's right."

"How come you're offering me extra cake? I've been here almost three years; you never even farted in my direction."

"Well, you're right. We're not friends. Everybody knows we're not friends---which is why I can offer you an enticing money making opportunity," the vÝbora laid his trap.

"Which is what?"

"I want you to go to the warden and tell him you saw Henry Stanton murder Patrick Keenan."

"But, I didn't," Montgomery said as if it mattered.

"Marty, there's a lot more cake where that came from."

The venom was almost dripping from his teeth as he smiled. O'Reily knew he had the situation under control and that Keenan's real murderer was going to go free. These inmates were easier than chess pieces to move and manipulate however he wished. Chess piece. He remembered when Alvarez had warned him about not treating him like a chess piece. O'Reily dismissed the thoughts as he continued cleaning up the kitchen to get back to Em City.

Lights out was in a few hours and both he and Cyril were relaxing in their pod, with the latter coloring. He waited for the grunt to return with information about the case. O'Reily played with Keenan's shamrock in his hand while he waited. He also wanted to go and talk to Gloria before lights out to see what she had said to the warden earlier when he had interrupted them. The Irishman got a little anxious until he saw Meaney enter the pod.

"Ready for this? Glynn suspended the investigation into the murder of Patrick Keenan. Too many suspects, and not enough clues," the grunt reported.

"Perfect."

"Bet you could press it. Bet you could get Stanton convicted."

"Don't want to," the Irishman said.

"Why?"

"Look. Henry Stanton gets the death penalty for Keenan's murder. Gloria Nathan's not going to let an innocent man die. She's going to feel compelled to tell the truth. No, I win by keeping the ball in play---by keeping the facts murky," O'Reily tried to explain to the inexperienced fool before he handed over the gold shamrock to him. "Have this placed in Marty Montgomery's cell."

"Montgomery?" Meaney asked. "Why?"

"Life insurance," he said and Meaney left.

"Can I tell Henry our secret? That we fooled the warden?" Cyril smiled as he asked.

"No Cyril---for Christ's sake, don't say a fucking word to him!" O'Reily snapped and yelled at him.

"Stop yelling," he was a little scared. "Why do you always yell---like Papa?"

"Fuck off!"

O'Reily stormed out of their pod and walked over to the quad to get away. Cyril was frustrating him and he needed some time away from him. He told Murphy he had a stomachache and the guard gave him permission to head over to the hospital ward. Most of the hallways were dead silent as it got darker outside---he noticed from the window he passed. He passed by the empty interview room and continued to walk past the storage room that was down the hallway. O'Reily was unaware when a frame jumped out from the door and clasped a hand over his mouth.

He struggled but the assailant was strong enough to drag him into the decent-sized room without anyone seeing anything. The door closed and shut them inside. The Irishman tried to yell and kick and struggle but it got him nowhere. A forearm grabbed and squeezed him hard around his waist---as if it was trying to break him. O'Reily felt his blood pumping and his adrenaline flowing as he did not know what was going on or what was going to happen to him. Then, he was slammed against the wall hard and felt a sharp blade pressed against his throat. A pair of scorching brown eyes was on his and the other arm still crushed his waist and kept him pinned to the cemented wall.

"You scream and I'll kill you. You got that?" Miguel Alvarez said in a cool tone but his eyes were serious as he held his shank firmly in place against tender flesh.

"Let me go!" O'Reily angrily said back, but his voice remained in check.

"You sicced those guys on me---yesterday, in the showers?"

"What? You're off your fucking meds, Alvarez. Let me go!"

"O'Reily, I could kill you right now and no one would know a fucking thing."

"But you won't," the Irishman said in an almost confident way.

"You're right. I'm going to get answers first, and then---then we'll see how I feel," Alvarez said as his piercing eyes took O'Reily's in. "The only thing coming from your mouth better be the truth, vÝbora."

"Fuck you! I ain't saying shit until you let go of me."

The loco Latino smiled that wicked smile of his before he completely backed off the other man with both his hands up and at chest level. He quickly looked around and rested the shank high on one of the shelves because he only wanted to talk. Alvarez only wanted to truth then he would be on his way. O'Reily stroked his neck and subconsciously rubbed his waist because it hurt.

He never took his eyes off Alvarez for one second. This could go bad in a split second and he had no shank to protect himself. And, aside from that, he could not physically take the loco Latino because he was stronger than he was. O'Reily looked on as neither said anything and, in a bold move, Alvarez had actually turned his back to him and rubbed his fingers along his chin and jaw line as if he was thinking.

"I want the truth, O'Reily," he did not bother to turn around as he said it. "I saw you looking at me. I know you were watching me yesterday during that shit with the other Latinos. You dealing with Morales?"

O'Reily desperately wanted to lie to fuck with his head but instead said, "No. I haven't done business with El Norte in a while. Those fucks came at you on their own---or maybe on Morales's orders. I'm not in that."

"I don't fucking get you," Alvarez turned to face him and said. "You lie so fucking much. It's hard to tell when you say the truth."

"I do what I got to do to survive in this pit, all right? But that's no lie."

"What isn't?"

"My noninvolvement with Morales," he said. "I'm not doing anything with him."

"Uh-huh."

"I'm not!"

Alvarez walked closer to him and O'Reily was forced with his back against the same wall as before. There was no force or shanks this time, though. Alvarez rested his palm against the wall when their bodies were close enough for him to do so. The Irishman did not object but was a little confused as to what was going on. Alvarez's body was almost touching his---their faces were close together. And those eyes still had a streak of malevolence in them that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. O'Reily was anxious, but more so intrigued.

"I know what you were doing, from before this explosion shit. The conversation in my pod, and then, the passing notes." the Latino's smooth and sultry voice touched his eardrums. "I figured it out while I sat in my cell all day with nothing to do but think."

"I---I don't know what the hell you're talking about," he said, and there were fucking goose bumps on his skin.

"I think you do," Alvarez said and his face got even closer. "Remember when I told you I knew you wanted something from me?"

O'Reily looked at him and said, "What the fuck does that have to do with anything? And you're too fucking close! Step back."

"Partnership," he ignored the demand and continued. "You wanted to make a deal with me."

"Maybe. What if I did?"

"So, talk, vÝbora. I'm all ears."

The Irishman was surprised that he had figured out so much of the fallen plan on his own. He always had some doubts about Alvarez, but the man in front of him was an enigma. He was dangerous and ruthless when he needed to be, but also understood the need for strategy and planning. It was an extremely dangerous combination that very few of the stupid fucks in here had. O'Reily was impressed and his curiosity kept growing where Miguel Alvarez was concerned. He wanted to know more and believed a secret partnership between them could be beneficial to both. It was weird because he usually only thought about partnerships that were beneficial only to himself.

"A secret partnership. You watch my back, I watch yours. What do you say?" he slid the offer on the table.

"That's it?" Alvarez snickered. "That's all you got? There has to be more. There's always more with you."

"You could give me inside info---on El Norte," O'Reily made the mistake of saying too soon.

"There we go. You planning on taking down Morales, vÝbora?"

The name sent chills down his spine and he said, "No. Just to keep tabs on his movements---to play the game."

"Then I will disappoint you. I'm not going back to El Norte," he said.

"Why?" O'Reily said and it sounded more out of personal interest than of business.

"Got no interest in those cocksucking backstabbers. I'm going it alone from now on. It wasn't any different even when I was a part of El Norte. I can't deal with all the bullshit anymore."

"What about my offer---to become partners?" the Irishman asked, and instantly knew he had made another mistake.

"I can't offer you intel on Morales or El Norte. So, that deal's off the table."

"No, it's not."

Alvarez knew he could take care of himself inside these walls, but it was always good and many times necessary to have an ally when the shit hit the fan. He wanted to trust O'Reily, but past experiences had told him better. He remembered in Solitary how he had read O'Reily's notes when he thought he was going crazy with loneliness. He had brought him blow pops and had wanted nothing in return. Some part of the Latino felt he could trust the man in front of him. He wanted so badly to trust him.

They had developed some kind of friendship in Oz, but each was wary of taking the next step because trust was a nonexistent thing to come by in this hellhole. Broken trust was too easily found among the many dead bodies that shuffled through the walls of the prison. It really was a life and death situation to trust people in here. Alvarez looked at him and wondered if he felt the same things---if he was confused by the same thoughts. His brain functioned on its own as one of his hands reached forward and gently brushed against O'Reily's crotch.

"Hey! What the fuck are you doing?" he jumped and said, but his dick was tingling and growing with anticipation.

"Seeing if I can trust you," Alvarez's eyes met his as he grabbed and softly squeezed his package through his jeans. "Do you trust me?"

"Let go, motherfucker! I ain't no fucking fag! Let go of me!" the Irishman was livid with himself when he realized he was getting hard with Alvarez's touch.

"You're growing in my hands. Your body says different from you."

"Alvarez, let me the fuck go!"

"No. You want this. You would've moved away by now if you didn't. I know you do."

O'Reily stared at him and the realization hit him hard. He was right. Despite all his talking and demanding, his body had stayed in the exact same position it was in now so his words meant absolutely nothing. If anything, his hips had subconsciously moved forward into the warming touch. It had been so long since he had been touched this way. Howell had just wanted to get her rocks off and many times had left him to pleasure himself after she was finished. She was a selfish cunt that did not care about his needs.

O'Reily never thought about or did anything like this with any of the inmates in Oz. He had known that Adebisi had always wanted a piece of him from their dealings together in the past. The Nigerian had a soft spot for him and O'Reily had used that to his advantage to get further into on the drug game. But he had never allowed anything to happen because he was no fag. His sexual desire of him had given O'Reily an in into Adebisi's mind and he had been manipulating everyone and everything ever since. Adebisi had looked all he wanted but he had known better than to touch. Everyone in here had known better than to touch Ryan O'Reily that way.

But Miguel Alvarez was a different story and had a different set of circumstances to him. There was something between them---O'Reily denied it but he had spoken the man's name when he had thought he had been in the last seconds of his life. They had been exchanging notes and he had given Alvarez extra food on a few occasions all while he had been in Solitary. And there were the blow pops. It was almost as if he wanted to make Alvarez feel a little more comfortable in Solitary because he knew how much he hated it---how much he hated being alone and confined to the small space. This felt so good---his hand felt so good. He closed his eyes and gave in to the type of pleasure that was supposed to be forbidden in Oz.

"Fuck!" he drummed out. "Uh---"

The Latino moved his lips closer to his ear and whispered, "Touch me, vÝbora."

"What?" O'Reily's eyes darted open and his heart skipped a beat.

"Touch me, like I'm touching you. You want to---just as much as I want you to."

"Stop saying that shit! I'm no fucking fag!"

"Maybe not," Alvarez looked at his eyes and smiled. "But there's something between us. Touch me."

He was so fucking smug with his smile and those eyes that could pierce holes through these prison walls if he wanted them to. O'Reily did not notice when the button of his jeans came undone but almost jumped out of his skin when he realized that Alvarez's hand was inside his pants. Past his boxers and was rubbing his straining dick---skin against skin. The warm hand fondled his shaft and dug deeper down to caress his balls. O'Reily's brain was gone from such simple touching. He hated himself for appearing so weak and desperate, but the sensations felt too good to deny his body of it.

"Touch me," the Latino said again as that simmering voice of his got under O'Reily's skin and too far inside his head.

"No," was the short answer.

"Maybe next time then, Irish."

"There isn't going to be any next---uhh! Ohh!"

Alvarez used his free hand to tug O'Reily's pants down enough for his dick to be free of its confines. It was hard and already leaking like a faucet. The warm hand traveled up and down the shaft in a slow motion and his thumb would sometimes graze against the sensitive head. O'Reily felt fireworks explode inside him when that happened and he shuddered at the amount of pleasure he was receiving. Alvarez was giving him a hand job and he was practically melting in the man's hand from gratification. It really had been too long.

The loco Latino sped up his strokes and purposely went out of his way to brush against the head of O'Reily's dick because he felt the reaction it got from the other man's body. He was rock hard in his pants and needed release himself, but he was not going to ask again. All of this was still so new to him as well---new to the both of them. Alvarez stroked faster as he heard the silent grunts and moans O'Reily tried hard to stifle not to make known. The man was a handsome fucker---and he had a great piece of meat between his legs.

"Uh---fuck!" O'Reily was trying to keep himself from panting. "Keep going. Faster!"

His dick was pulsating in Alvarez's hands so he was close. One of the Irishman's arms rested on Alvarez's shoulder while the other tried to grip the wall behind him---both were for support. He pumped him and felt when O'Reily started thrusting his hips forward into his hand. His grunts were more expressive and his body felt warm as he continued to extract basic human pleasure---something that everyone deserved to experience. It was what made them human after all. O'Reily bucked his hips as Alvarez instinctively tightened the grip around his dick to give him a more powerful orgasm.

The Latino squeezed his palm tightly around O'Reily's hypersensitive rod and whispered what amounted to nothing inside his ear. Something in Spanish probably. The sultry voice did it---that sexy voice of his sent and lightning bolt straight down his spine and to his dick as he shot a powerful jolt of cum right there in the storage room. The pleasured Irishman felt his skin shake as he continued to shoot cum with the coaxing of Alvarez's warm hand. He really needed the wall for support because he thought his knees were going to unlock at any moment. O'Reily's breath was harsh and his mind confounded by all that had just happened. Alvarez finally let him go and walked away.

"Here," he said when he came back with a brown paper towel on his extended hand.

"Thanks," O'Reily grabbed it and began cleaning himself off.

"Partners, then," Alvarez said and had turned his back to give the man some privacy.

"What?"

"You watch my back, I watch yours."

"Listen, Alvarez," he said as he tucked himself away and pulled up his pants to fasten them.

"I don't know why that just happened," the Latino said and he reached up high on the shelf to retrieve his shank.

O'Reily remained silent to process his thoughts, but then said, "We have to get back---lights out is soon."

"I'll go first," Alvarez looked at him after he placed the shank in underneath his clothes. "Let's try our best to avoid each other out there. I don't want those fucks knowing anything about the partnership. Don't say shit to anyone."

"I'm not fucking stupid!"

"I know you're not. Later then, vÝbora," he said before he slipped out the door and disappeared.

"Fuck, loco," the Irishman almost whispered.

O'Reily remained in the same spot and ran his fingers through his hair hard as he tried to figure out what the fuck just happened---what the fuck he had just gotten himself into with Alvarez. The bastard knew all the right moves---all the right things to say to get what he wanted. O'Reily found this problematic but strangely exhilarating at the same time. If Alvarez remained this fierce and cunning, they could pull all the strings of Oz without anyone ever knowing a thing. He opened the door and peeked outside before he rushed out and back to Em City.