Augustus: Fate or Free Will.
There's one for you. For us even more.
How the FUCK did I end up here? You know what fate means for a con in Oz? It takes away responsibility, yo. Hey, I didn't CHOOSE to be here, man, I was *fated* for this shit.
Course, some people wanna feel guilty. Those motherfuckers can't stop bashing themselves, do a better job of it than the state ever could, hear? So they fucked up on their own, picked it.
Their decisions put them where they are, and they know it.
But don't everyone sorta believe in fate? Just a little bit. Like, even with different actions, maybe things woulda been fucked up anyhow.
* * *
Miguel Alvarez led Chris Keller into the hospital and pointed him to a table.
"Just wait over there. Doc will be with you soon," he said, then sauntered away
a few feet. Fucking around with bedsheets and bedpans, trying to look busy enough
without actually expending too much effort throughout the day.
Fuck, his job the one place anymore where he wasn't getting ground to the ground. His once comfy position rapidly crumbling away as he pulled up a lawn chair and seemed to just watch everything get lower. But can't do shit about that here. It was almost relaxing to be away from that shit for a while.
Not scheming, not thinking about who's scamming him.
Just stealing medical grade tits, listening to the fucknuts come and whine, doin whatever Nathan said. He didn't mind takin orders from her, that was different.
Just passing time.
Keller hopped up onto the table, gingerly wagging his plaster-casted arm around as he noticed Mark Mack roll up to him. "What are you doing here?" He asked.
"I'm checking my broken nose," Mack answered accusingly.
Keller smirked, such a fuckin pussy this guy. "Sorry about that."
"Well, I'm getting this baby off. My arm's finally healed," Keller changed the subject.
"What makes you think I give two shits, huh?"
Jesus Christ, this guy won't let it fucking go. Vern sure does know how to pick the real winners, he thought. "Hey, I said I was sorry about breaking your nose but fighting you had to look real or Beecher would've guessed we were in cahoots."
Refusing to let it go, Mack pressed on. "Yeah, well, Schillinger says we have to work together. But let me tell you, after Beecher's dead, you and me, we got a score to settle."
Keller smirked again, yet couldn't help bristle internally at the suggestion that he was being commanded on the same level as this fucking grunt. Like he's another one of Schillinger's prags. Huh. "Anytime you want, day or night, baby."
Behind them, Alvarez tucked his tongue in the corner of his mouth and quietly sauntered away. And well, shit, that was interesting if not quite useful. Course, never know for sure when something's gonna be useful. Or how, really. Just a little nugget to tuck away, a spare coin put in his pocket in case he ever needed to leave a tip maybe. Nothin that could directly help him out though.
Not directly. No.
But information. And in Oz, there's *always* someone willing to deal for THOSE tits.
* * *
Ryan O'Reily leaned back against the wall outside of the kitchen, taking a quick break from the endless arguing of the braindead fucks he worked with. Sometimes they were like squabbling children. Squabbling volatile children. It fucked with the running of the kitchen, and that pissed him off. Christ, if he wasn't around, NOTHING would ever get done in the place.
The image of Wangler and his fucks as children brought his thoughts back around to Cyril, who was still rotting in the hole. He felt a slight twinge of guilt, a little anxiety. Shit. What the hell was he going to do about Schillinger?
He needed to get Cyril into Em City, in with him, SAFE.
He shook his head to clear it of the circling thoughts, and caught a figure moving towards him. He looked up, eyes narrowed.
It was Alvarez, moving in a way that managed to convey arrogance and caginess at the same time. Guy looked confident, but somehow uncharacteristically vulnerable. Ryan fixed a reassuring grin, sensing that he was about to find out something interesting. Alvarez moved closer, finally settling next to him, one shoulder against the wall.
"Hey O'Reily." The voice was soft, and slid around him. Coupled with Alvarez's close proximity, it helped create the illusion that they were in a warm, private cocoon.
It was an unnerving feeling, so Ryan countered with, "Alvarez. You look like shit."
He got a sneer for that, but Alvarez didn't leave. Ryan felt a little stir of anticipation. This had to be REALLY good.
Alvarez leaned closer, almost crowding Ryan. He resisted the urge to back off, and grinned instead.
"I hear you got a problem with Schillinger."
Ryan gritted his teeth. Fucking Oz grapevine. Did everyone know? "AND?"
Alvarez grinned, teeth white and straight, and licked his lips slowly. "Hmmmm...an' what if I had somethin you could maybe use ta fuck his shit up?"
Oh yeah, this WAS going to be good. He let his mouth twitch slightly, showed a few teeth of his own. "What if you did?"
"I was thinkin...maybe we could work a trade. You help me out with my problem, I get you help with yours."
"And your problem would be?"
Alvarez shifted, then hissed, "El Cid."
Ryan smiled widely. This had the potential to be an amazing coup. Deal with Schillinger, get rid of fucking Hernandez and his attempts to corner the tit trade, AND forge some ties with Alvarez.
He nodded slightly and leaned forward, close enough so that they were almost touching, so close he could feel the heat radiating from Alvarez's skin. In a low voice, he said, "Tell me what you know, Miguel."
* * *
After their exchange of information, Ryan went in search of some corroboration. He asked a few discrete questions, pulled in some favours, and when he was sure what Alvarez had said was true, he took a minute to grab a quick smoke and feel good.
He was going to put Schillinger's ass in a sling. It made him smile.
AND - he thought he had a way to get Cyril into Em City too.
It was turning out to be a pretty good day.
He took a few more drags and then flicked the butt out of his way. It was time to find Beecher. That wouldn't really be too hard a task, considering that he knew the guy was always in the psych evaluation office this time of day.
He walked to the office, looking through the glass when he arrived. Beecher was there, and thankfully, he was alone. He tapped on the glass, then entered, smiling broadly.
The fucked up ex-lawyer grinned, an expression made slightly hideous by the nasty-ass beard the guy was sporting these days.
"Ryan. Sister Pete's not here."
"So I see. I'm here for you though."
"Yeah. I think I got something might interest you. A proposition."
Beecher narrowed his eyes. "O'Reily, I'm not into the tit trade. And you know I'm clean now."
Ryan suppressed a swelling of irritation and frustration. Fuck. He was trying to be nice here, help Beecher out, do him a favour. Well - at least, partly a favour, anyway.
"Beecher, just listen ok? Trust me, you want to know this."
The guy continued to look wary, but nodded slightly. Ryan opened his mouth and started his story. Schillinger and Keller, Lardner and Operation Toby...he watched as Beecher's face went from stunned, to angry to just plain hard. Expressionless. It was kind of eerie. He stopped talking and Beecher turned away.
Law-boy wasn't making any sounds, but his shoulders had started to shake, and after a few seconds Ryan thought he knew why.
Shit. Beecher was CRYING. He just stood, uncomfortable and uncertain what to do. Eventually, Beecher turned back to face him, and Ryan realised he wasn't crying after all.
The guy was laughing, eyes wild, face distorted. It was even more unnerving than tears.
Again, Ryan just watched, slightly unsettled, until Beech pulled himself together. After a few moments, he was calmer, so Ryan flashed a reassuring, but slightly predatory grin. "So. Me an' you Toby, we've got some information that could fuck Schillinger's plans up. And, I'm willing to help you with this, make the solution more - permanent - this time, got it?"
Beecher nodded slightly, a look of concentration on his face. "What do you want from me O'Reily?"
Ryan crossed him arms and settled himself against the wall, still smiling. "Cyril. In Em City. Maybe even out of here completely." He jerked his head in the direction of the nun's desk. "You got access to the perfect champion for his case."
Beecher nodded again, and Ryan could tell he was already mapping out his own moves. Then, his eyes clouded briefly. "What about Keller?"
Ryan shrugged. He was still working on some of the details. "Let me think on it, ok?"
Beecher stared at him for a moment, then turned back to the computer screen. "Don't take too long, Ryan."
It was a clear dismissal, and Ryan gritted his teeth again. Fucking superior law-boy poise, still surfacing once in a while. Fucking guy should have learned by now. He bit back a sharp retort. Beecher - crazy-ass cunning, volatile, and right now USEFUL - fuck that he was, needed to be handled delicately. He made his voice calm and smooth. "Don't worry Toby. Schillinger's as good as gone, and Keller'll get what he deserves. Just fulfill your end of the bargain." Again, he grinned broadly, charm on full. Beecher grinned back, teeth sharp, eyes narrowed.
The look sent an almost-shiver down Ryan's back, but he brushed it off, and, with a final slight nod, turned and left the room.
Oh yeah. It was a GREAT day.
* * *
Ryan slumped against the wall outside the hospital, dying to go take another peek through the windows, try and catch a quick glimpse of his angel. It'd be deep shit if he got caught though. Bad fucking idea comin here in the first place, no doubt. His heart rippled and he couldn't resist. Looking over his shoulder he took a few quick steps and leaned into the door as it quickly swung open, roughly bumping him, knocking his head back.
He stumbled back a step into the wall and worked to quickly gain his composure, glanced up and saw Alvarez leering at him.
"What the fuck you doin?" Miguel asked and started walking away.
O'Reily looked back, couldn't stop himself from quickly peering into the hospital ward. He scanned quick, found nothing, no Gloria, so he double-stepped to catch up with the other man who was sauntering down the hall.
"Alvarez," he said, "I was lookin for you."
Miguel laughed out loud, "Yo, you was fuckin spyin on Nathan again, don't try an' pull a line of bullshit 'bout that."
Ok, so Alvarez busted him on that one. Touche. Nevertheless. They rounded a corner and O'Reily stopped, grabbed Alvarez's arm to halt him. Leaning back against the wall, Ryan licked his lips, allowing himself a quick weakness. "How is she?"
Alvarez shrugged. "She's alright, I guess. I mean, fuck, O'Reily, how you *think* she is, her husband's dead."
O'Reily shrugged, defensive. "I did what I had to do, that's all, I did it cause I love her."
"Pfft, yeah, 'zat right? You had to fuck up her life and get your brother sent here?"
"What's with the guilt thing here, Alvarez? Ain't like you're Mr. Clean with the Warden's daughter and shit," he shot back before thinking. As soon as the words were out of his mouth he questioned himself - how'd Alvarez punch those buttons so quick, actually put him on the defensive, then offensive.
Miguel cocked a brow and leaned in close, "Difference is, O'Reily, I didn't DO shit, and I ain't never claimed to have no love for *any* o them."
Ryan intentionally stayed quiet for a beat. "Yeah," was all he could manage to reply. Pushing off the wall, he blinked and regrouped. "I actually did come to talk to you."
"Yeah? So fuckin talk then."
Testy little bastard, huh? Log that away, Miguel doesn't cozy up easy. "How's things with Cid?"
"Things with Cid. How's things with Cid. He's alive, an' on my shit, that's how."
"We'll take care of him," Ryan soothed and placed a hand strongly on his shoulder. Risky move.
He watched as Miguel's eyes met his momentarily, and was stunned to realize that he couldn't read them. Was that annoyance, or appeasement? Or? Then they moved to Ryan's hand, lingered on it for a second, then moved back to Ryan's face.
Annoyance. Yes, it was definitely annoyance, interesting, tuck that info away too. O'Reily took his hand away and followed as Alvarez started walking again. "Miguel, seriously, that was a solid tip you gave us."
"Us? What's this us shit, huh? I gave that to you."
"And I passed it along to Beecher. That's how these things work."
"Yeah? That crazy fuckin maricon gonna whack Hernandez? What's he gonna fuckin do, rhyme his pants off and bite his dick?"
O'Reily halted at that, momentarily non-plussed. Well, with Beecher, it WAS an option. "Hah. We have to take this slow. Make the pieces fit," he explained and slid his hand back onto Miguel's shoulder. Leaning close, he waited for Miguel to look at him, then he spoke quietly. "Crossfire, Miguel. We have to make sure the right people take the hits, that's all."
Beecher rounded the corner and caught sight of the two huddled close. His brows shot up and a randy grin tugged at the corners of his mouth. He was suddenly glad he stopped censoring his speech months ago. "Well, well, what have we here," he said then whistled to get their attention. Noted that O'Reily straightened up as he kept walking toward them. "Don't let him shit you Alvarez, he could charm a rattlesnake," he said as he walked by them.
"And you have the temperament of one, Beecher," Ryan hissed. "I was just letting Miguel know what's going on, anything you care to add?"
"Nope, I'm sure you're more than capable of taking care of Miguel there," he called out and kept walking. He chuckled to himself the entire way to Reimondo's office, even forgot to squash it back when he entered.
"Good afternoon, Tobias," she greeted him.
"Sister Pete," he smiled as he took his chair and turned to the computer.
"Good joke?" She inquired.
"You look pretty amused, thought maybe you heard a good joke or something."
"Mmm, nothing I can repeat to a nun, Sister."
"Oh, come on Tobias, you know me better than that."
"Nothing I *care* to repeat to a nun, Sister," he rephrased as he flipped through the stack of folders neatly piled up for him to begin entering.
"Well. Ok. It's just nice to see you looking...well, chipper, though."
"Yeah, things might be starting to look a little brighter," he replied, knowing exactly what words to send her way. "Decided to take a break from feeling sorry for myself. It's quite refreshing."
"That's wonderful to hear," she said enthusiastically as she walked out from around the desk. "What brought this on, exactly?"
"Actually," he said as he pulled a file out and turned around to face her. "I started feeling sorry for someone else." He paused and waited for the questioning look on her face. Once it appeared, he tapped on the folder marked Cyril O'Reily and then continued. "Can I talk to you about something, Sister Pete?"
* * *
Ryan slipped into the stairwell, lit up a smoke and waited impatiently. Where the fuck was Beecher? Eventually, he heard footsteps, and looked down. Beecher was making his way up the stairs, to the level where Ryan waited.
"Beecher. You get Cyril outta the hole yet?"
The other man shrugged and rolled his eyes. "You'd be the first to know if I did. It's coming along though."
Ryan fingered another cigarette, then, impulsively, lit it. "What're you doing?"
The former lawyer moved to the meshed window, and weak sunlight picked out the golden highlights in his hair. Ryan watched the slight sparkle for a moment, thinking of Cyril's lighter hair, by now probably dirty and ragged from days in the hole. He shook his head to free it from the depressing mental image. He was doing his best to help Cyril out here. He needed to focus.
Beecher started to talk. "I read Cyril's file - had to type it in, right? Anyway, I brought up the subject with Sister Pete, mentioned Cyril's injuries and mental age. Then I talked about what I'd heard about Schillinger."
Ryan nodded. "And?"
The other man took a deep breath. "I said I felt for Cyril. After all - if getting fucked by Schillinger did this to me," he waved his hand up and down his body, grinning maniacally, "how would someone with a mind of a five-year-old take it? And then - getting thrown in the hole, he probably thinks HE'S being punished for something that he couldn't stop. Made my face look really sad. Talked about how if that were my kid, I'd hang Schillinger by the balls."
Ryan grinned. The guy was good. "How'd she take your performance?"
"Oh, I think I was pretty convincing. She asked me to pull up everything we had on Cyril, and after about an hour, she went to talk to McManus."
Fuck. That cocksucker McManus wasn't going to give him or Cyril any breaks. He sucked on the smoke for another second, then stubbed out the butt. "You think that fucker's going to listen to her?"
Beecher shrugged, then turned to look out of the window for a few more moments. Finally, he turned back. "He isn't exactly forgiving about some things Ryan. She could probably convince him, but it might take awhile. Cyril might get sent back to Gen Pop first."
"I'm working on it though. I could talk to McManus - ply the 'I've been there, and look what it did to me' angle."
Yeah. McManus seemed to carry around a lot of guilt about Beech still. It was something else to exploit. "Do it."
Beecher nodded, then his expression hardened. "O'Reily - what about fucking Keller? That shit is on my ass almost all day, and it's getting harder to keep up the mask during lockdowns. When are you going to get moving on him and Schillinger?"
Ryan smiled. "I'm working on it Beecher. Gotta be subtle, you know? Everyone knows you an' I got history with Schillinger. Neither of us need more time, ok?" He stared at the wall, thinking hard for a minute.
"You want Keller out of your pod for now right? At least that'll get you away from him for most of the day." He got a nod. "Maybe...maybe McManus would be less of an ass if Cyril got moved in with you instead of me. You know - I'm a bad influence," an innocent grin, "an' you're the guy who knows what he's been through."
He watched Beecher roll his eyes, and sneer slightly. "O'Reily, I'm not your fucking babysitter. I don't need that shit."
"You need whatever plans Schillinger and Keller got for you instead?" Fuck, what did the guy want here? He was doing his best in a bad situation. Goddamn Beecher, so self-absorbed and weirdly idealistic sometimes. "Look - it's only temporary, ok? Eventually I'll get Cyril in with me. AND it gets Keller off your ass. You got any better ideas?"
There was a pause as Beecher thought it over. "Fine. I'll keep working Sister Pete, and go talk to McManus. If you've got any other favours to pull in though, I'd think about it. McManus is a pain in the ass too often."
Shit, he could agree with that. "I'll think about it." He turned to leave, but Beecher's voice stopped him.
"Ryan - I've been checking out Cyril's case. He really shouldn't be here. Even getting him into Em City is at best a short term solution. I'm going to request the court transcripts and start cross-referencing similar cases. If I find anything promising, I'll let you know."
He turned back, forehead slightly creased. "You think you could get him out of here?"
"Not me, no. But if it looks possible, I know a couple of good people who would take the case on."
Fuck. This was too good. He felt a swelling of gratitude. "Thanks."
"No problem." This time Beecher turned away, and headed back down the stairs.
Ryan watched him leave. Part of him knew what the guy was doing - making sure that Ryan had a reason to watch his ass, making sure he didn't take the fall in the mess that was soon to come. He didn't resent that - he understood the drive for self-preservation.
He was pretty sure, though, that Beecher actually felt for Cyril. The guy was willing to go pretty fucking far for things that he 'believed in'. Ryan remembered the mess with that doomed fucker Keene, when Beecher temporarily grew some balls, a little prelude to his later behaviour.
Beecher might be looking after himself, but he was also being nice. Ryan grinned ruefully. Fucking Cyril had somehow ALWAYS managed to bring out the best in people, even before that goddamn fight.
* * *
Toby sat in McManus's office, waiting for the assistant warden to arrive for their appointment. The guy was always running late, and if Toby had still been his pre-Oz, lawyer self, he would have happily billed overtime for the wait.
He shook his head at the now-meaningless thought.
His newly-trimmed face was slightly itchy, and he was still adjusting to the feel of air on his skin. He'd half-regretfully removed his beard earlier that day, figuring McManus might see the clean-shaven look as a slight improvement in his mental state.
Still, he had been somewhat sad to see the scraggly, fucked-up facial hair go. He'd liked the slightly nasty lines he'd created, liked the slight shield they had given him. The beard had definitely worked with his new image, Beecher-the-crazy-ex-prag, risen from the apparently-dead, not one to be fucked with.
At least, he liked to think that was how most people saw him.
Fucking Keller had commented on his new appearance - 'You look good without the beard, Beech. Innocent', - and Toby had had to summon up a slight smile, a playful acknowledgement of that teasing tone.
He needed to get Keller out of his pod NOW. Even knowing all about 'Operation Toby' - trust Schillinger to come up with such an unimaginative name for the plan - Keller's words, presence, SMELL still worked their way into his head. Little tendrils of hope sometimes wormed their way around him - maybe Keller hadn't really intended to go through with the plan; maybe the guy actually did like him, at least a little bit...
Toby sighed, shifted, wondered where the FUCK McManus was, and gave a little internal shake of his head at his own pathetic grasping neediness.
Keller was just so persistent. Had all those little gestures, half-smiles, slight jokes only been hooks to drag him in? Had the awkward words of comfort at Gen's death - halting, slightly nervous words, which, even through his haze of depressing self-loathing, Toby had found kind of endearing, had felt GRATEFUL for - been insincere, all part of the act?
Toby felt a sudden surge of anger, as much at himself as at Keller. What kind of idiot was he, to fall for Keller's performance? Had he really been so fucking desperate for a fragment of attention? Hadn't he learned ANYTHING is this shithole?
He was saved from another bout of self-examination, which inevitably led to a circling mire of self-doubt and self-hatred, by the arrival of McManus.
The guy was looking kind of worn these days, and Toby was amused by the realisation that once he would have felt a tiny twinge of curiosity about the lives of people like the assistant warden.
Now he just didn't give a fuck about McManus, his problems, his ambitions or fucking anything for that matter.
Finally, they were sitting across the - appallingly cluttered - desk from each other. The office lent a semblance of civility to their meeting, a bizarre parody of the endless client-lawyer, lawyer-laywer meetings that had once been staples in Toby's life. It made him want to bark with bitter laughter, but McManus's cool gaze reminded Toby that now was the time for stability.
"You wanted to see me?"
He nodded, and placed his most sincere, courtroom look firmly on his face. /Hey, what do you know, Tobias? You still got it. At least - you think you do./
"Yes. About Cyril O'Reily."
McManus's face hardened. "Since when do you give a fuck about anyone around here, Beecher?"
Toby sighed, and let his face crumple the tiniest bit. "McManus - I read his file, typing it in. I've heard about his encounter with Schillinger. We've ALL heard by now. And, I've got to say - it struck a note. I can empathise. I've been there, remember?" He let a slightly accusatory tone slip into his voice, then showed his - apparent - struggle to regain control.
"Look - it's been really hard for me. I buried myself in heroin to try and get away from what that fuck did to me, so you can imagine that I feel for O'Reily. And ordinarily, I'd say fuck him. I've got my own problems. But - he's like a KID, McManus. His mental age is five. I've got kids of my own around that age. I know Cyril killed Preston Nathan, but even you have to admit that getting fucked by Schillinger is more than he deserves, especially since he can barely tie his own shoelaces. He's completely defenceless." His voice cracked, and he could feel his face taking on an expression of intensity. He let the unspoken hover - 'defenceless...you know McManus, like I was? Only - more so'.
McManus was still looking cold though. Shit. This wasn't working the way he'd hoped. So, for a minute, he sat, letting his latest audience - of one - absorb his unease. Finally, McManus spoke.
"What are you getting at, Beecher?"
He took a deep, shaky breath. "I'm asking you - ASKING - to get Cyril away from Schillinger. Move him into Em City, put him with his brother. At least then he'll be a bit safer."
He watched as McManus narrowed his eyes, and let out a short bark of humourless laughter. "You think Ryan O'Reily will keep his brother safe? Beecher - he ordered Cyril to kill a man. Was he keeping Cyril safe then? I said I'd let the guy into Em City if O'Reily confessed to ordering Preston's death. Ryan", the name was made into a sneer, "denied any involvement, and I KNOW he's lying. He thinks about no one but himself."
Toby stared at the wall behind McManus's head for a minute. "So - you'd rather leave Cyril to the mercy of a predatory Aryan fuck, because you've got some grudge against Ryan? That's pretty small McManus." He let his breath come slightly faster, felt a delicate flush begin to spread across his cheeks. "That's great. Very fucking enlightened. I'm sure that people outside the walls of this fucking hole you're helping to run would love to hear about the rape and subsequent abuse of a prisoner who has the mind of a five year old."
"Are you threatening me Beecher?"
Toby visibly backed down. "No. But, do you really think O'Reily's going to let this lie? I wouldn't put anything past him."
McManus now looked pensive, and Toby let a little self-congratulatory thrill run through him. This was going to work after all. Just push the right buttons - guilt, fear of the media, self-absorbtion - 'cause after all, McManus was nothing if not ENLIGHTENED, right? - and there you've got it. Instant - well, almost anyway - new podmate.
Finally, the assistant warden spoke again. "Alright Beecher, I'll let Cyril into Em City on one condition. He's in with you, not with his brother."
Grinning internally, Beecher summoned up the requisite annoyed indignation. "McManus, I'm not a fucking babysitter, ok? I don't need that kind of responsibility."
He got a shrug and a blank look. "You're the one who said he could empathise with Cyril. Maybe you can help him out. And anyway - Ryan O'Reily isn't exactly what I'd call a good influence. I'm not putting them together. So, it's got to be you."
What? So now HE was a good influence? The thought was laughable. "Forget it. He's not my problem."
"Fine. Then Cyril gets out of the hole and goes straight back to Unit B. He's not my problem either. I'm sure Schillinger will take care of him."
Toby stared at the other man for a few moments, letting his face convey his disgust - oh, you fucking FUCK McManus, you really are a cocksucker aren't you? - and then sighed heavily.
McManus stood, and gestured for Toby to leave. "He'll be in with you by the end of the day. You want to tell Keller?"
Toby shrugged. "Not really."
"Fine, I'll do it."
Toby walked out and down the stairs, careful not to smile until he got to his deserted pod. Through the glass, he caught Ryan watching him from across the quad. He let the grin widen, and nodded slightly. He got a brief flash of teeth in return.
* * *
"That fucking cocksucker," Keller fumed as he packed up his shit. He looked up and noticed Beecher lazily lying on his bunk, seemingly not the least bit annoyed with the newest development.
With the thought of being separated from him.
And it didn't bother him? At all? Couldn't be.
Taming his voice, he rolled his shoulders and drew his face into a dejected expression. "I'm gonna miss you Toby."
Motherfucker. Vern was gonna flip out at this development, he was gonna have to work twice as hard to convince him that he had the Beech-ball wrapped up tight for him. Which he DID have accomplished.
That's *all* he fucking needed, shit-bag Schillinger back on his bad side if he fucked this up. But come ON here, he had this. HAD to have this.
He ran a hand across his own chest, pleased to note Beecher's eyes follow it. Mmmm.
"Well, guess I'll see you 'round, Beech," he said, hoisting the Army bag over his shoulder.
"Yeah," Beecher replied.
He stopped at the door and turned around, best concerned look available on his face. "I *will* be seeing you around, right?"
Beecher eyed him then, stared intently, and Keller easily willed himself to not blink away as the other man spoke. "If that's what you want, Chris."
Easily, "Yeah, that's what I want."
Beecher simply nodded, so he left and trekked across the quad, mind whirring about what to make of things.
As he started to unpack in his new cell, he looked over to his old pod, hoping to find Beecher at the glass, looking back at him. Instead he saw him holding the door open for Cyril O'Reily as the half-wit shuffled through the door. And then the towhead dropped a bag with all his half-wit belongings onto *his* bunk.
Chris walked towards the kitchen, headed for yet another drab meal. Fuck. 88 more years of the same shit, 50 if he was lucky.
Shit. If he was LUCKY, he'd make it through the year.
The thought brought him back to his last 'conversation' with Schillinger. Guy had been riding his ass, rambling on about 'Operation Toby', in his obsessive, self-absorbed and dangerous way.
"Keller - what the fuck is going on? I see the goddamn Beech-ball walking around, looking ok, and I hear that YOU'RE spending all your time making calf-eyes at him. You forget the plan here, too caught up in your own cock?"
He'd rolled his eyes, but bitten back the sneer. "Fuck Vern - it's not my goddamn fault McManus yanked me out of Beecher's pod, replaced me with the half-wit, ok? Shit's gonna take a little more time, but it'll happen. I practically had Beecher licking my neck before we got switched. It's just - I don't see him as much. We're never in the same places anymore." The slightly plaintive note that had slipped into his voice had been missed by ol'Vern, thank-fucking-GOD. Guy must be losing some of his edge in his old age.
Vern had made that sour pissy face, the one he kept for when his balls were in a knot. "You're supposed to MAKE SURE you spend time with To-BI-as. Don't fuck with me on this one, Keller, or you'll wish all I'd done was make you his replacement. Got it?"
Again, he'd bitten back a sneer, and resisted the urge to deck the fucker. It had made him half-wish he still had that pain-in-the-ass cast on. Thing would've made a pretty little dent in Schillinger's pure-white, piggy face.
He snapped back to the present, intent on catching Beecher at lunch today. It was almost like his old podmate had been avoiding him the last few days. He couldn't figure it out - had Toby found out about the plan? Or did Chris just have a case of bad timing?
Or...had Beecher lost interest? Had the kind of comfort Chris had been offering lost its appeal?
He suppressed the almost surprising twinge of anxiety linked to that thought.
After all, it was just anxiety about his own hide and what Schillinger and his fucks would do to it if Chris screwed this up.
A tiny voice deep inside him whispered, "Really? You SURE about that Keller?"
He pushed it away.
* * *
Lunch did prove to be endlessly dull - no Beecher in sight, which was a MAJOR source of frustration. He'd noted that Cyril O'Reily was nowhere to be found either. That slippery fucker Ryan O'Reily probably had them getting hand-prepared meals somewhere quiet.
These days, Beecher was always with the blond half-wit. When Chris did manage to almost catch up with his former podmate, they only ever exchanged a few words at most. Cyril would usually stare intently at Chris, a slight frown on his face. Sometimes it made Chris just want to snap, 'What?', but noting Beecher's protective stance, he always kept his mouth shut.
Ditching the tacky plastic tray, he headed out the door, on his way to the pounding monotony of stacking reams of copying paper. This was the rest of his life, and the thought dragged him down.
He snapped out of his depressing musings when he got intercepted by kitchen-boy-O'Reily.
"O'Reily - what?"
The shorter man narrowed his eyes, and stared at Chris for a moment. Finally, he spoke,
"So....how're things going with Operation Toby?"
He stepped back slightly, momentarily surprised. He wasn't totally thrown though, and recovered quickly. "With what?" Innocuous smile.
O'Reily stepped closer, now grinning tightly, eyes still narrow. "Don't fuck with me Keller. I know ALL about Schillinger's little plan. You think I wouldn't find this kind of shit out?"
He kept his face carefully blank, and shrugged. "O'Reily - you fucked up on your own tits? I got no idea what you're talkin about."
O'Reily advanced even closer, backing Chris into a corner. "Let me spell it out Keller - you and Schillinger did time in Lardner together. He finds out when you get sent here, and pulls strings and cashes in old debts. He's got a bone up his ass about Beecher and tells you that you gotta help him out with it. So - he gets you into Toby's pod, and you start working the charm, rolling out the plan. Am I missing anything?" There was a slight pause, and Chris opened his mouth to speak. He was cut off.
"Oh yeah - I think I AM. 'Cause you got no love for that nazi fuck do you? AND - I've watched you and Beecher. I've seen those little looks. You got it bad for the little law-boy don't you?" Now O'Reily was giving him a sly, almost sympathetic grin. "Hey - I understand. Even with that God-awful beard, the guy's not bad to look at. He's still got a bit o'that high-class veneer going, right? Pretty enticing, I know, 'specially when you compare him to most of the fucks in this place."
Chris felt perplexed and wary. O'Reily, who normally sent out staunch '100% heterosexual' vibes was now leering slightly and exuding almost-empathetic waves. It raised the hairs on the back of his neck, made him feel tense. The guy switched angles way too fast.
"So - I think you got a problem Keller, and maybe I can help solve it."
"What're you gettin at?"
"You're doing this to keep Schillinger off your ass right? You don't LIKE it, right? There are way more interesting things you'd rather be doing with Beecher, no?" That almost-leer again.
Against his better judgment, he nodded, nearly imperceptibly.
O'Reily smiled, reached out his hand and touched Chris's arm lightly, quickly. "So - what if I had a way to get Schillinger out of the picture, AND keep Beecher in your line of sight?"
Chris narrowed his eyes. Maybe O'Reily could be useful. Maybe it would pay to listen to what the guy had to say.
And hell - if O'Reily was fucking with him, he could always take what he knew to Schillinger, maybe trade it for something else.
He crossed his arms, and summoned up a feral little grin. "Tell me what you got O'Reily."
* * *
Ryan watched Keller walk away with a slight strut in his stride. He sneered slightly, surprised at how easily the guy had rolled over. Fucker had to have it REAL bad for Beech. When Ryan had mentioned the ex-lawyer, Keller had almost salivated.
He grinned to himself. That was an exaggeration, ok, but SHIT. Keller was clearly aching to taste Toby's goods.
The thought made him shake his head. What WAS it about Beecher? He'd had Schillinger all over his ass, almost TOO quickly, from what Ryan had heard. Even now the Aryan fuck was obsessed with the guy, and Ryan was pretty sure there was more to it than payback. And now there was Keller, miserable because he wasn't in the same pod as Beech anymore. Ryan KNEW that was about more than debts to Schillinger.
Christ. Did the guy have the eyes of half the cellblock?
He let these idle thoughts roll around in his head for a few minutes, and then moved to thinking about how the hell he was going to tell Beecher that he'd just brought Keller in on the plan. He laughed aloud for a moment. He could picture the look on Beecher's face right now. Guy would go apeshit, and that could make for some good entertainment.
Smirking slightly, he turned and headed back to the kitchen.
* * *
Ryan raised up his hands, and smiled reassuringly.
"Are you *fucking* NUTS O'Reily?"
He forced a broader smile, and made his voice intent, confident. "Relax Beecher. Keller rolled over because of *you*. He's got it bad."
The former lawyer rolled his eyes, and snarled, "Right. So fucking bad. He was going along with Schillinger 'cause he LOVES me."
Ryan closed the distance between them, grabbing Beecher's shirt and pushing him roughly against the wall. "He didn't have a CHOICE. *I* gave him one." He shook the other man lightly. "We can USE him Beecher. Get it?"
"Fuck you." Beecher pushed him away, face still twisted.
"Will you LISTEN? Schillinger thinks Keller is working you for him, right? So now, we got Keller working Schillinger for *us*. D'you know how valuable that is?" He pressed Beech back against the wall, shaking him again, this time harder.
"What if Keller starts playing YOU O'Reily? Huh? You even bother to think about that?"
Ryan shook his head and smiled again. "Won't happen. You know why? 'Cause of you. If he even thinks he's got a slight chance with you, he'll be cool." Releasing Beecher, he smoothed out his shirt, still grinning. "Just trust me on this, Beech. Keller's not gonna hurt you. That's the LAST thing he wants." He leered a little, and backed out of the pod, leaving Beecher looking wary but intrigued.
* * *
Chris stood in the copy room, idly staring at the piles of paper he had to shift. It really was just make-work, and he couldn't figure out what he was still doing here. He shrugged. What difference did it make in the long run?
He turned as he heard a door open, assuming it was some bored hack checking on him. His eyes widened slightly when he realised who it actually was.
"Hello Chris." The voice was soft, almost unsure, and that surprised Chris more.
"You need paper?"
"Ummm, yeah. I'm checking out cases, trying to see if Cyril O'Reily could maybe get the hell out of this place."
Chris reached over, grabbed an open package, and removed a think stack of plain white sheets. "Unlined ok?"
He handed it over, using the opportunity to move slightly closer to his former podmate. "That's real nice of you, you know?"
He got a slight frown. "What is?"
"Helping out the kid. It's just - nice."
Beecher shrugged, and half-smiled. "I guess. Ummm, actually Chris..." There was a slight pause, and Chris felt his stomach jump the tiniest bit. "Could you maybe - ahhh - check to see if there are any lined sheets after all?"
Chris schooled his face into a bland, open expression. "Sure." He turned away, searching through the stacks of paper for something to give his former podmate. After a few moments, he found a thin note pad, half-used and mixed in with a few other miscellaneous things. He straightened, about to turn back to face the other man, only to realise that Beech was almost pressed against his back.
A hot whisper in his ear sent slight shivers through him. "You find anything?"
He kept still, trying to slow the sudden leap in his heart rate. Hissing slightly, he forced calm words through his teeth. "Ahh - yeah. This ok?" He turned, holding the note pad carefully.
Beech took a small step backwards, allowing Chris to move. He reached out a hand, taking the sheaves of paper, not even bothering to look down. He kept his eyes locked on Chris, lashes lowered slightly. "Perfect. Just what I wanted."
Chris smiled and sidled to the side, out from under that gaze. He turned away slightly. "Anytime Beecher, you just come and ask."
He could hear the smirk in Toby's voice. "Oh, I will Keller. Expect it." Then, the door opened and closed, and he was alone again, breath coming just a little too fast, sweat on his forehead.
What the hell had THAT been all about?
* * *
Toby walked away from the copy room, note pad in hand, and a feral grin on his face. Ryan had been right, Keller DID have it bad for him. He licked his lips, thinking.
It could be useful. It could be fun. It wasn't like Keller was sore on the eyes or anything. Played right - yeah, if he could play this right...
One part of him sighed quietly, disturbingly contented by the fact that Keller actually did care, at least on some level. And then - an internal cackle signalled a gleeful anticipation of manipulation to come.
* * *
Augustus: Yeah, Fate. People always talk about fate like it's so romantic and shit.
This person was *made* for me. That's some arrogant fucking shit right there. Thinking that a whole other person was put on earth just to complete YOU.
But we're soulmates, they say. Even if he'd lived in Egypt and I was born in China, fate would have pulled us together somehow.
* * *
The next day, Chris arrived at the copy room, prepared to start more pointless organisation. He wondered if Beech would be back today, maybe on some stupid errand for the nun.
His musings were interrupted when he realised the room wasn't empty. Beech was sitting on the floor, knees drawn up, obviously waiting.
The sight left him curiously off-balance, and he covered with dull questions. "Beecher - you lookin for somethin? Need help findin it?"
Toby stood up, stretching idly, as though he had been sitting for hours. It was a unexpectedly sensual movement, and Chris caught himself biting the inside of his cheek lightly.
"Nope. Think I found what I need."
"Uhh - oh yeah? Guess I'll be seein you then."
He backed away slightly as Toby slowly advanced towards him. Chris's backwards movement was stopped by the cool metal of the shelves, thin dull edges digging across his back.
"Mmmmmm. Not so fast Keller." Beech sounded sleepy but oddly agitated. It was unnerving, and made Chris think of early morning nightmares and soothing words. "How's the new podmate?"
Chris took a deep breath, tried to look calm. "Just another shit Beecher. What can you do? What about you?"
Toby lowered his lashes, grinning. His teeth caught the dim light in the room, flashing brightly. "Oh, Cyril's ok. A good kid, a little messed up. Sometimes I can relate." A finger reached out towards Chris, and he caught his breath, anticipating physical contact. Instead, the hand grasped the shelf, blocking Chris in even more. "But - you know, I kind of miss *you*. Cyril's nice, but," a low, slow, breathy whisper now, brushing against his cheek, "it's just...not...the...same."
Oh fuck, oh FUCK.
Chris reached his hand up to grab the arm hemming him in. He pushed it away from the shelf, trying to eliminate the sudden feeling of claustrophobia. Shifting, he pushed Beech away slightly, and cleared his throat. "Sorry to hear that. I - ahhhhhh - I gotta work now."
Toby stepped close again, and this time, surprisingly fast, he wrapped his arms around Chris's waist. "Mmm-hmmm? Doesn't look too busy around here to me." Arms clasped him tightly, and Toby's head was suddenly resting on his shoulder, face pressed chastely into his neck.
He struggled for some kind of control, knowing Beech could feel the pounding of his heart, his rapidly rising body temperature. "You - ahh - the hacks...they come and check pretty regular, make sure I'm not...slacking off."
"The hacks are preoccupied." The phrase was muffled, spoken into his neck, punctuated with a delicate lick of the tongue. Chris shivered, and felt his arms slowly wrapping themselves around Toby's shoulders, one hand quickly lost in dense hair.
What the FUCK was he doing? If O'Reily knew all about Operation Toby, then he was pretty sure that Beech knew too. Of all the things Chris had expected from Toby - anything from the cold shoulder to a knife in his back - this hadn't been on the list. What the hell was Toby planning? Chris had heard about the 'incident' with Robson, and one part of his mind was taunting him with THAT little scenario.
Somehow though, here he was, still tightly wrapped around the crazy ex-lawyer. His train of thought was interrupted by another flick of that tongue, this time a little higher, just grazing his earlobe. At the same time, Toby ground their hips together, pushing Chris's ass against the shelves and making him gasp.
"Beecher..." Whatever he was going to say was cut off as Toby tilted his face up, pulled Chris's head down, and pushed their lips together.
The touch was so soft, so teasingly erotic, that for a moment, Chris felt lost. Hands were gently running up and down the length of his back, adding to his sense of anticipation. Toby's tongue flicked against his lips, then snaked past his teeth, while one hand worked its way inside the back of his shirt.
Oh fuck, that tongue...if Toby could KISS like this...oh shit...
Chris slouched down a little, bringing Toby's face on level with his own. He brought his hands to rest on either side of Toby's throat, thumbs gently caressing the small divot between his collar bones. He hissed when Beech responded by pushing up the front of his shirt, running a free hand - ticklishly light - across Chris's stomach. The too-soft motion made Chris wiggle a little, and Toby stopped the movement by once more pushing his hips into Chris's pelvis. Chris groaned softly, pathetically helpless in the face of Toby's - and his own - arousal.
He pulled his face away from Toby's lips, head clanking lightly against the shelf at his back. Hoarsely, he whispered, "Toby - we ahhh - we don't got alotta time here."
He got another look through those long lashes. "Mmmmmm. Yeah?"
Chris didn't get a chance to answer, because, once more, Toby's mouth was teasing him, teeth occasionally gently nipping at his lips.
His shirt was now pushed close to his shoulders, and he desperately wanted to take it off. Toby was moving almost frantically, mouth travelling down his neck, skipping over the bunched up cloth, and landing on his chest. Chris lifted his arms upwards, about to shuck of the t-shirt, but Toby caught his wrists, holding them down.
Chris would have pushed those hands aside, but then, warm lips and a soft, moist tongue were teasing at his nipple, alternating sharp, gasp-causing nips with delicate strokes; gentle twists with hard sucks.
He tried again, body slumping slightly. "Beech...fuck...Toby, we're gonna...oh shit...the hacks..."
Toby looked up grinning. "We're running out of time?"
The smile twisted, turned hungry. "Then I guess we should..." One wrist was released, and Chris felt fingers running along the edge of his pants, occasionally teasingly dipping lower.
His knees turned weak, and his breath caught. "Yeah?"
Toby's mouth moved to his ear. "We should..." another tongue flicker, teeth fastening *hard* on his earlobe briefly, then pulling back, "...stop."
And, quickly, his shirt was pulled down, tucked back into his pants, and Toby was standing near the door.
Chris suddenly felt cold, bereft of Toby's warmth pressed against him. He was stunned, bewildered, painfully hard and utterly tongue-tied.
Beech smiled sweetly, teeth sharp and neat. "Thanks for the help, Keller. I'll see you later." The last phrase was a promise, and it soothed his jangled nerves slightly.
And, then, alone in the dim room, Chris slid down to the floor, cock aching, and wondered at how easily he had been played.
* * *
O'Reily strolled up to Beecher, oozing confidence. He pulled up a chair and leaned over the checker table. "Beecher. Things are looking good with Keller these days, huh?"
Beecher leaned back and stacked a few red checkers together, giving a cursory glance over toward Cyril in their pod. "I dunno O'Reily. I'm not sure I trust that cocksucker all the way."
"Mmm. Me neither, but we don't have to - that's the beauty here, Beecher," O'Reily countered.
"Exactly how is that a beautiful thing?" Beecher asked, slightly annoyed.
O'Reily winked coyly, "Cause even if he's not on the same page, he's going to be playing with the same ball. It all comes across the same to Schillinger, he'll be fucked no matter what Keller's intentions are."
"And that's all you care about, right? Schillinger being fucked?"
"Naturally. You?" O'Reily asked.
Beecher leaned forward a bit. "Naturally."
O'Reily leaned back, "If you say so."
O'Reily decided to dig a little, just for kicks if not for gain. Sometimes entertainment was needed. Eyes twinkling, he pressed. "You, uh, you wouldn't have any other side motivations at stake here, now would you partner?"
"What? Now you're not willing to trust me either, O'Reily?"
"Didn't say that."
"Then what? What do you care what I want out of this?"
"Honestly, Beecher? I don't," O'Reily answered flatly.
"Then why'd you ask?"
"Why don't you answer?" He fired back.
Beecher grinned, suddenly finding sport in the jousting. "You should have been a litigator O'Reily."
"Not a chance. Judges are cocksuckers, wouldn't wanna have to deal with them every day. Besides, I don't play for anyone else."
Knowingly, Beecher pressed, following up his curve ball. "Only yourself, right?"
"Same here. That's your answer."
O'Reily squinted and let a grin creep across his mouth, suddenly seeing Beecher as the lawyer he once was again. "Ok Beecher. Long as Schillinger takes the pipe on this, I don't give a fuck if you slant things to get Ricky fucking Martin in here as your personal prag."
"What's this Latino hard-on you've got O'Reily?" Beecher poked.
"Ricky Martin, Gloria Nathan. You've got quite a little fixation with Spanish blood these days." Beecher's eyes twinkled a little as he jabbed.
O'Reily paused, measuring the situation, and finally threw out the one word that mattered, putting the conversation back on its original course. "Schillinger.
Beecher nodded. "Fucked."
"*That's* my angle Beecher."
Beecher grinned and stacked a few more red checkers. "Sure. I trust you O'Reily."
* * *
You still get high, Miguel?" O'Reily asked and looked over Miguel's shoulder, down to the end of the hall where Cyril was waiting by the stairs as a lookout.
Alvarez shrugged. *High* in Oz was something that needed to be more clearly defined. He took drugs, sure. Fuck, *Nathan* gave him drugs out the ass even. But get high from them, not a chance of even that sort of shit busting up his black mood anymore. "Why you askin?"
O'Reily leaned in, Alvarez let him. "I got clean. Stay that way. Keeps me sharp."
"An' what the fuck I wanna be sharp in here for? Huh?"
"Stay alive. Stay on top."
Alvarez felt slightly crowded, but not quite oppressed by the heat of O'Reily's breath and words. "Yeah, well I -ain't- on top. Last thing I wanna be is all focused and shit when I pluck out Rivera's eyes." And why the FUCK did he just give out THAT bit of information?
"Fuckin Cid man. Told you O'Reily. Fuckin told you. He wants me pluck out that hack Rivera's eyes now."
"No shit man."
"You gonna do it?"
"I'm putting it off, you know. But it ain't like I can drag this shit out forever O'Reily. Somethin gotta be DONE. Soon." He glanced up at O'Reily, who merely whistled.
"Things are rolling, it's cool. Keller knows we know."
"How'd that fuckin happen?"
"Cause I told him."
Alvarez wanted to knock his confident teeth right out of his fucking skull. Shaking his head, he rolled his eyes. "You're pushin it far O'Reily, what if he rats out now, huh?"
"He won't," Ryan said with ease. "He's more loyal to Beecher than he is to Schillinger at this point."
Alvarez was silent for a moment as he digested that, then he suddenly got it. Rubbing his hand across his stomach, he said, "You mean he..." He raised a brow with a smirk. "He's tied up like *that*."
"Yeah," O'Reily smiled.
"No shit. And Beecher, he's..."
"Oh fuck yeah."
"You're fuckin shittin me man," he laughed.
"Not," O'Reily grinned back. "Beecher's sorta pissed right now, isn't sure if Keller's really got the hots for him, doesn't trust him."
"But you are? Sure of it?"
"There's one thing I can tell Miguel, and it's when someone's got a fever like that."
"Yeah, whatever man, I gotta go. Gotta get to work man," he said and pushed away.
"Alvarez," O'Reily called out. "Keep your hands to yourself for now."
O'Reily pointed at his own eyes. "Nothing yet." Then he turned and strutted quickly down the hall to his waiting brother.
Alvarez turned and headed his own way. When he got to the hospital, he saw Nathan inspecting a chart. As he brushed by her, she glanced up to say hello to him. He couldn't help but note her seemingly sincere smile.
And how sad it looked.
Moving on, under his breath he muttered, "Yeah, and one thing I know, O'Reily, it's what a fever like that can fuckin do."
Chris met Ryan in a kitchen storage closet, away from Vern's prying eyes.
"O'Reily. Schillinger's got Metzger workin for him."
"Yup. He runs with the Aryans, has the tattoo on his back. Guy's watchin EVERYONE, and he reports back to Schillinger. EVERYTHING. He's got some part in Operation Toby too."
"Anyone else know about him?"
O'Reily looked thoughtful for a few minutes, and then narrowed his eyes. "Good. This works. We just have to make sure Metzger gets found out."
"How we gonna do that?"
He got a shrug and a tight grin. "Leave it Keller. I'll do it."
Fucking arrogant shit. Chris was increasingly suspicious that he was being strung along by O'Reily as well as Beecher. Keeping his face bland, he nodded, and walked away.
Toby kept appearing in odd places, voice always seductive, eyes hungry. They made sure that Schillinger got reports on their continuing and growing friendship. THAT was expected. Schillinger had to think that Operation Toby was still a go.
But Beech kept showing up when Schillinger or one of his fucks were nowhere to be found. He'd throw Chris one of those too-fucking-sexy grins, work his stuff a little. They'd kiss, grope, Chris would growl about how HOT Beech was and then...at the last fucking minute...Toby would back off, or some fuck would come along, interrupting them. Usually it was Toby's new half-wit podmate.
It was driving him NUTS. His teeth were constantly on edge. He watched Toby all the time, eyes following every move the crazy fucker made. This was good for fooling Vern, sure, but FUCK.
He had a sneaking suspicion he was being played.
Fucking Beecher and O'Reily. This was just some goddamn game to them.
And fuck it all if he didn't know what to do about it.
What he needed was to get Beecher alone, somewhere isolated, for a decent amount of time. O'Reily could arrange that. Why would he though?
What he *needed* was a drink.
Yeah, fuck Beecher, O'Reily, Vern, Metzger.
He wanted a fucking drink.
* * *
The following day, Alvarez surveyed the nearly empty kitchen and spotted O'Reily dicing carrots and celery at a large table in the back. He slid up to him with loose feline grace but tight thoughts. "Yo, O'Reily."
"Alvarez," Ryan answered, quickly scanning to make sure no one was around to notice them together and continued chopping. "If you're scamming for something good to eat, forget it today - chicken soup's all I got going."
"Not interested in the food O'Reily, that ain't why I'm here," he said, intentionally leaving the edge on his voice.
Turning to give him his attention, immediately sensing the tension, O'Reily grinned at him winningly and set the knife down. "Even better. You got my cut from the 'script biz, hermano?"
"Nah, that ain't it neither, man, you ain't earned that shit yet."
"Alvarez, c'mon, I thought we were partners here."
Nodding once, Alvarez pursed his lips before answering and leaned his ass against the table, crossing one foot over the other and folding his arms in front of him. "Yeah, you know, me too man. Me too. But I ain't seein shit from you."
Dropping the grin, O'Reily answered, "Relax. Some things take some time. Can't do everything at once."
Alvarez arched a brow, "Yeah, time, huh? That it? Time. Like, I see you didn't take your time getting your shit done, your bother's cozy in Em City, an' I ain't seen none a the tit money neither."
O'Reily placed his hand on the table, subtly leaning against it and into the other man as he kept his voice low and measured. "Sure I had priorities, but things have to go in a certain order here too. You want Cid gone, we can't just shank him in the showers, Alvarez."
"Why the fuck not?"
"Pfft, and get sent to death row? Don't think so." Reflexively, O'Reily winked at the other man. "Besides, we might as well get a bang for our buck from it. We're gunning for Schillinger here too."
Alvarez shrugged. "So what, I'm just s'posed to like, wait around an' shit? Wait around?" Pushing off the table, he angled himself so he was flush with the other man, and reached over and pointed a finger into his chest. "Look, I hooked you up O'Reily. I gave you the info, you know, and you got your brother back, Beecher and Keller, they got, got..." his voice trailed off.
O'Reily smirked again and finished the sentence. "Yeah, *whatever* it is they got, they've got it. Bad. Or good. Whatever. Anyhow, you'll get yours, we all will."
Running a hand across his chin, O'Reily squinted at him. "Soon as you want, hermano. But you have to put forth some effort here too."
Alvarez shrugged, "I gots no problem with that."
O'Reily intentionally sized him up, "Yeah? It's gonna be cold."
"Glynn's gonna get pissed off."
Alvarez's brow arched again, "Yeah, good, fuck that motherfucker."
From his peripheral vision, O'Reily caught sight of Wangler ambling into the kitchen, late for his shift. Conspiratorially, he moved closer and lazily draped a hand over Alvarez's shoulder, persuading him to turn. "Walk with me, we've got eyes in here now," he said, and began dropping the whispered words into a willing ear.
* * *
"Yo, I need you do something, man," Alvarez said into the phone as he turned toward the wall and lowered his head, being as discreet as possible.
"Com'on don't be a fuckin prick here, just listen up, huh? Listen up. A'ight, you're gonna need a camera, and make sure it's got film in it and shit."
As he rattled off the steps, he couldn't help but turn around and look out to the table where Cid and Chico sat flipping cards back and forth. One shoulder braced against the cool wall, he was careful to still keep his voice low.
"Yeah, but not me, you know, not to me. Don't be sendin that shit to my name," he instructed into the phone as he licked lips and a smug grin spread across his face.
* * *
Arms bracing him against the bed, Ryan leaned over the lower bunk, staring down at his brother. Cyril was looking more confused than usual, clearly struggling to understand what he was being told.
Ryan sighed, feeling a headache coming on. Cyril looked up at him, worry on his face.
"Are you mad, Ryan?'
He forced a light smile. "Nah bro. You just got to try and understand what Toby's telling you, ok? Concentrate. I know you can." He reached down and patted Cyril's shoulder, then moved away from the bed to look through the glass. Beecher could try again.
The other man sighed heavily, and started over, his voice uncharacteristically calm and patient. The guy was obviously used to talking to kids.
"Ok Cyril, you've got to remember this. It's important. But remember, it's a secret, so you can't tell anyone, ok? Only me, you, Ryan and one other person can know, ok?"
"So - do you remember the secret?"
"The one we were just talking about."
Cyril's voice got plaintive, almost scared. "I don't know. When's Miss Sally on?"
Ryan turned back around, unexpectedly angry. Why couldn't Cyril just fucking TRY? He was about to yell, frustrated, but he caught a look from Beecher that made him keep his mouth shut.
He closed his eyes. Fuck. What good would yelling at Cyril do anyway? He didn't need the extra stress. Ryan ground the heels of his palms into his eyes, trying to banish the pounding tension behind them.
Beecher tried again, this time sounding vaguely more animated. "Miss Sally's on soon Cyril. You like her right?"
Cyril nodded, beaming.
"Do you remember the things she says?"
"Yes. She says we hafta be good friends. That we should be nice to everyone. I remember. I try to be nice."
Beech smiled reassuringly. "You ARE nice Cyril. You're always good."
Cyril smiled again, glowing at the small praise.
"Some people though, they AREN'T nice. They're bad. You remember some bad men right?"
Now Cyril looked worried, and his face creased, the way it did when he was about to cry. His voice changed to a whisper. "Yes."
"Me too Cyril, me too. But - not everybody knows which men are bad here. So - me, you and Ryan have a secret, because we know that a man is bad, even though he pretends to be good. Do you know how we know? Do you remember?"
Cyril was concentrating again. "Ummm - because of a...a tattoo?"
Beecher grinned. "Right! Excellent."
"Pretending to be good is bad. Miss Sally says we shouldn't lie."
"She's right Cyril. Lies are wrong."
Ryan rolled his eyes a little at the slight sarcastic tinge to Toby's voice. Cyril nodded, oblivious.
"So, somebody has to make sure that the bad man stops lying, that other people know he's bad."
Cyril looked concerned. "You should do that. Or Ryan! Ryan doesn't like lies, right?"
Ryan grinned, noting Beecher trying to bite back a laugh. "That's right bro. But nobody ever believes me, and people think that Toby is a liar."
"But he's not!"
"Nah, he's not, but still..."
Beecher took over again. "But Cyril, everybody knows that YOU'RE good, because you watch Miss Sally, and you always do what she says."
An eager nod of the head. "I'm good now."
"That's right. You don't lie. So, if you told one person our secret, you'd be doing good again. Only ONE person though. Nobody else can know."
"Ahhh - because then Ryan might get yelled at, taken away, maybe even hurt."
Beecher sighed again. "Because Cyril. Just because. Trust me, you don't want Ryan hurt, right?"
Cyril shook his head, looking worried.
"So, only one other person can know our secret. Do you remember who?"
"Ummm - the man who always looks sad? Or mad?"
"What's his name, Cyril?"
"Umm, ummm - McManus?"
"You think I should tell him about the bad man who pretends to be good?"
"I think Miss Sally would be very proud of you if you did. And so would Ryan. Me too."
"I like her."
"We *all* like her Cyril," Beecher agreed, and Ryan smothered a smirk at Beech's tone.
Cyril was looking eager now. "So I should tell...ummm...McManus... about the bad man?"
"I hafta go an' see him...McManus...today. Before we hafta go to our rooms. He told me he wants to talk to me."
"I know Cyril. He wants to make sure you're being good. And you are, so it'll be ok."
"He'll know I'm good if I tell him about the bad man?"
"He will. Do you remember who the bad man is?"
Cyril looked sad again, and Ryan felt a wash of nearly uncontrollable anger, his usual response when faced with his brother's pain. "Yes. He's mean. He yelled at me once. He said I was a BABY." The last phrase was angry, making Ryan grin a little. Anger couldn't hurt Cyril.
"What's his *name* Cyril?"
Cyril narrowed his eyes, and Ryan saw a brief flash of the man his brother had been before that fucking fight. "Metzger."
* * *
Augustus: Fuck fate. I think it sounds more romantic to say that you PICKED someone. It wasn't mandated by some great, nameless, faceless - THING. Pre-ordained.
But of your own free will, you CHOOSE this person. And they chose you.
* * *
Toby watched Ryan lead Cyril away from the pod. Hopefully the coaching had worked, and Cyril would later - seemingly innocently - drop the hint to McManus about that fuck Metzger. If this didn't work, Toby was sure that Ryan had a back-up option, but it was likely way more difficult.
And getting Cyril to understand had been one major pain in the ass.
And - speaking of pains in the ass - there was Keller, walking past the pod, his arms full of dirty laundry. He looked slightly unsteady.
Toby rubbed his temples, squeezing his eyes shut. Shit. What the hell was he doing with Keller?
At first, it had been all about manipulation. Payback for all the fucker had done in the name of Operation Toby.
But then - in order to convince Vern that 'the plan' was still in full swing - he and Keller had had to spend time together. Laughing, joking, watching each other's back. All an act.
At first anyway. It really was pathetic how fast he'd started to genuinely laugh again at Keller's wry remarks, his almost shy sense of humour. Then, during a random assault on Keller by a couple of Wangler's strung-out fucks, Toby had lashed out, furious.
Not an act. He'd been really fucking angry. Protective.
Which really just was a fucking laugh. Him. Feeling protective of Keller. Shit. He needed to get his head together.
What did he want with Keller? What did Keller want from him? Fuck. He just wanted a drink, wanted to get away from it all for a few minutes. He needed some peace. Some clarity.
Keller was now talking to Hill, momentarily diverted from his laundry-room goal. Toby watched the conversation, then followed Keller with his eyes as he weaved his way to his destination.
He looked REALLY unsteady.
It took Toby a few minutes to figure out why. He should have recognised that walk sooner - after all, he'd spent a good portion of his life practising it.
Keller was drunk. He was trying to hide it. And, so far he was doing a shitty job of it. Fuck.
Without even thinking about it, he left the pod, and headed for the laundry room.
* * *
Chris slumped against the glass wall, aimlessly watching his laundry spin 'round and 'round. Surreptitiously, he raised the jar to his lips, taking another swig of the hooch he'd been steadily sucking back for most of the day. Stuff was strong enough to make his eyes water, and had a bizarre soapy undertone.
Ahh the wonders of a prison still. No regulations on proof OR ingredients. He'd probably be blind after a few more jars of this shit.
The thought was absurdly amusing, and he giggled for a minute. The incongruous sound was cut off when he realised that a stern Beecher was now standing in front of him.
"What the fuck are you DOING, Keller?" Toby's hands were on his hips, his face angry. Chris started to laugh again. The sight was just too much.
"Din't know yaaa cared Beeshhh."
Toby rolled his eyes. "Jesus, Chris, how much have you had? And oh -," moving closer, taking a deep breath, nostrils flaring, "oh GOD - you *stink*. How'd you make it here without anyone noticing?"
Chris ignored the questions, focussed on how cute Beech could look when he was mad. Usually, Beecher angry was a twisted sight, tinged with tendrils of insanity. Today though - Beech looked more - concerned? Worried? Ahhh. Mmmm. He held out the jar. "You wan' some?"
"For fuck's sake, put that away! You aching for the hole?"
He felt angry at the rejection. It drove some of the slur out of his words. "What'dya care? Huh? Get me outta yer way, won't hafta play yer fuckin games no more."
He was gratified by the string of expressions - anger, a bit of guilt? contrition? - that flitted across Toby's face. He pressed on. "Fuckin playin me, stringin me along. Yer a bitch, ya know that? Y'ever think maybe I'm fuckin sicka games? Huh? 's'not what I want..."
Shit. He'd said too much now.
Oh. But. Beecher was moving closer. "What then? What is it you want?"
Ahhh. Tongue-tied, he just watched the other man. A hand reached up to his face, cupping his chin. He leaned into the touch.
"Do you even know? What you want? Do you?"
Right now, oh yeah. He knew. He fucking KNEW.
He reached up and grasped Toby's wrist, holding fast. "Mmmhmmm. Youyouyou." The words were a sigh. One hand still holding the jar of hooch, the other tightly wrapped around Toby's wrist, he zoomed in for a kiss.
Hard. Fast. Feeling Beech pressed against him, heartbeat faster still, breath hitching. A hand reached down, took the jar from him. Beech pulled away, and after a moment's hesitation, took a deep pull from the jar. Immediately, he made a face.
"Oh FUCK. That is just - just - agggh."
Chris grinned, reaching out to take the jar back. Toby pushed his hand away, taking another drink.
"Oh - that is FOUL. You got ripped off Keller."
"Give't back." He retrieved the jar. Beech was still scowling at the taste. Toby scowled too fucking often. Chris smiled again. He could change that expression. "C'mere." He pulled the shorter man towards him, diving in for another kiss.
Oh yeah. This was exactly what he wanted right now. He pushed Beech against the washing machines, lifting him slightly, planting his ass on the metal. He slid between Toby's legs, grinding them together. A little sigh escaped his throat as he felt legs wrap themselves around his hips.
He moved his lips away from Toby's mouth, moving to lightly bite the sensitive skin beneath the other man's ear. He grinned at the wiggle, the growl that the motion caused.
Hands were running along the plane of his back, occasionally stopping to dig into the continually tense muscles at the base of his neck. Chris could only think one thing. More. He wanted more.
He pulled away slightly, carefully placing the jar of hooch on the top of the machine, and then ran his hands inside Toby's ratty shirt. The other man writhed, sighed, reached for the jar, and took another drink.
"You want to continue this Keller? 'Cause I'm thinking maybe we should go somewhere a little less public."
"No. Fuck you. 'm sicka gettin' stopped."
He got a laugh. "Jesus Christ. You think we're not gonna get stopped here? Huh? Only reason we aren't in the hole already's 'cause your buddy Metzger WANTS this to happen. But even he can only let us take this so far.
Chris wrapped himself back around Toby. "'scomfy here. Stay." He started to nibble at that spot under Toby's ear again.
Wiggle. Groan. Sigh. Answering lick along his jaw.
Then he was pushed back. "Stop. C'mon, pull yourself together. I got somewhere else we can go."
Chris grabbed the nearly empty jar, and followed Toby out the door.
"Oh fuck Keller. Walk straight. Shit. You're a mess."
He laughed. Wired with anticipation, relaxed from the hooch, he grinned inanely, unable to fight it, not really wanting to. Beech was walking just in front of him, not entirely steady either. He reached out, grabbing the waistband of Toby's pants. Swiftly, he turned the other man, pulling him close for another kiss.
"Keller - what the FUCK! We're in public here."
Some shithead walked past them, spitting, leering, smirking. Sudden anger surfaced. He turned away, two long strides bringing him into the fucker's path. Swinging the glass jar, he blindsided the guy - some random biker - laying him out flat on the floor. Grinning, oddly proud, he turned back to Toby. The other man was staring at him, mouth slightly open, shocked.
He could hear noises behind him, yells. Adrenaline-high, he ignored them, moving back to Beech. "Mmmm, you are so fuckin sexy, baby." But Toby still looked shocked, wary. Hmpph.
He wasn't about to be put off again. So, striving to reassure, to calm the man in front of him, to woo him back, he leaned closed, and whispered, "Love you Beech. C'mon baby."
The expression softened, eyes cleared briefly, and he felt a thrill of triumph and possibility. Then Toby stepped back, face slightly panicked. "Shit, Chris, look-"
He turned, too late. Hacks were grabbing at him, an arm was reaching around his neck. He struggled, yelling. More hacks. His face felt sticky. A metallic smell reached his nostrils. He looked at Beech, who was being held back. The other man looked stricken, horrified.
He went limp, and saw Beech relax the tiniest bit.
They dragged him away.
Minutes later, still wired, he was being glared at by McManus. Metzger was a lurking figure in the background.
"Where'd you get the booze Keller?"
He gazed at the wall, silent.
"Godammit, where did you GET IT?" McManus was roaring now, and Chris struggled to keep a straight face.
In a smooth voice, Metzger said, "Keller, you know what's good for you, you'll tell us."
"Fuck you too."
McManus sneered. "Fine. Whatever. Get him out of here."
Metzger prodded him into the hallway. "Where'd you get it, Keller?"
He shrugged. Huh. Hmmm. O'Reily's plan was to create tension between Schillinger and Hernandez. Ok. He could help out with that. He sighed. "Guerra."
Metzger nodded. "You gotta go to the hole, but Schillinger's gonna be real pleased with what you've been doing with Beecher."
He kept his best game face on. "I fuckin hope so. The hole ain't my idea o'fun."
"Your face is bleeding. I'll take you to the doctor first. Schillinger won't want you losing your looks just yet."
Ahhh, the advantages of having Metzger on your side.
* * *
Schillinger gruffly flipped through the envelopes, slicing and scanning quickly, until he stumbled across the thick packet with no return address. One brow rose and a wily smirk cracked his face as he flipped through the pictures. Glancing around, he pocketed one of them, then quickly replaced the rest, slapped a piece of tape over the envelope, then tossed it into the "approved" stack.
* * *
Schillnger passed the envelope to Cid, but as he tried to grab it, Vern cracked a dimpled smile and jerked it back away. "Raoul, Raoul," he taunted. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. What's that saying?"
He waited a beat as El Cid looked at him flatly, then continued. "Oh yeah, a picture's worth a thousand words." Handing the envelope over, he shook his head and dropped his voice, icy blue eyes unflinching as he stared at the other man. "Or in this case, could be more like a thousand years."
Confused, Cid eyefucked the other man for a few seconds as he ambled away, Guerra close on his heels. Looking down at the envelope in his hand, he weighed it curiously as he searched for an address. Not supposed to get mail in here without return addresses - that's grounds to automatically destroy it, everyone knew that. He stopped briefly and looked back over his shoulder at Schillinger - still passing out magazines and letters to the others in line.
Instinctually, he moved to his pod, away from other prying eyes, unaware that Metzger was tracking his every move from the command station. Ripping off the tape, he pulled the polaroids out and flipped through them. "Chupame mi pinga," he said under his breath.
* * *
"Guerra," Metzger's baritone voice taunted. "What have you got there, hmm?"
Caray, cocksucking motherfuckin sonuvabitchin fuckin pijo HACK. "Que carajo quieres," Chico whispered and turned around to see the almost motherly disapproving look on Metzger's tucked face. Fuckin Beecher skated away without actually buying a bottle, left him with a surplus. Normally not a problem, unless you're busy tucking the leftover package in the waistband of your pants when a fuckin HACK walks by.
Wrong move, he saw Metzger's face fall into anger.
"Don't try and slide that shit by me Guerra," he growled as he efficiently grabbed his arm, whirled him around, shoved him roughly face-first into the wall. Reaching under the thin flannel shirt, he pulled out the bottle of hooch. "Moonshine. Unfortunately for you, moonshine not being delivered where it needs to go."
What the hell did *that* mean Guerra wondered briefly, the confused thoughts disappearing as Metzger jacked him into the wall again - hard. "Now, don't lie to me, Guerra," his voice was measured. "I'm only going to ask once. Where do you get this from?"
"Que?" Chico answered again.
"Que. Don't you FUCK with me," he boomed as Guerra felt his hand connect to the back of his head, crack it forcefully into the wall.
"Chingate tu madre, cabron," Guerra gurgled out as the coppery salt taste seeped through his mouth.
"Que," Metzger taunted again. "Ok. That's how you want it, maybe the hole will jog your speech comprehension."
* * *
"Ryan, I want my ball."
"You can't have it right now Cyril, we're working now," his brother answered exasperatedly.
"I'm not working right now. I already did my work."
"That's good Cyril, go eat your lunch then," Ryan brushed him off again.
"I ate my lunch Ryan. I want my ball. Now."
"Cyril, I don't have much *time* right now, I can't go get your fucking ball."
"I'll go get it."
"No. Don't do that."
"But I want my *ball*."
"LATER," O'Reily snapped, then turned on his heels, quick in pursuit of Wangler and a clearly rapidly degenerating Adebisi.
Cyril turned and gazed through the mass of people in the lunchroom, looking for Toby to take him to get his ball.
* * *
"Alvarez, still ain't got the job done yet," El Cid sneered over the lunch table.
Miguel shifted in his seat, "Yo, I ain't had a chance, things been poppin up man."
"Yeah, things better be poppin OUT, else it's gonna be you on the outs, white-boy."
"Well I figured you know, with Guerra in the hole an' all, that you would like, want me to wait an' shit."
"Wait? For what? Ain't like *you* useful to me."
Miguel shoved his tray aside, stood up, and stalked away. Weaving through the tables, he headed back to Em City to be alone.
No such luck on *that*. He stopped in his tracks as he heard his name yelled and turned around, arms splayed, hands up. "What?" Not the voice he thought it was though. "Cyril, what?" He said less edgy.
Cyril ran up to him. "You talk to my brother," he said.
"Can you take me to get my ball?"
Miguel rolled his eyes. "Where the fuck's this ball, huh?"
"In my room. The room I share with Toby."
Sighing, Alvarez nodded and waved. "Yeah, fuckin, c'mon," he agreed, allowing Cyril to shadow him through the halls. "Your brother know where the fuck you is? Cause I'm gonna be in deep shit if you're missing. Deep fuckin shit."
"Why do you swear so much?"
"Yo, hold up, Cyril, hold up," Alvarez warned as his eyes swept across the scene in front of him. The on duty hack overlooking the empty cell block was in his pod.
Fuckin with his shit.
No. Fuckin with *Cid's* shit. The pictures. Ahhh fuck!
Fuckin UP *his* shit. "Cyril, go get your ball," he said as he ran his hand across his stomach, feeling for the scalpel intended for Rivera's eyes tucked in the waistband of his chinos.
Cyril whispered to him, "That's the bad man."
"Yeah, I know."
"I told that other man about him, that he was bad. Ryan said that was good to do."
"Yeah, it was Cyril, now go get your ball," he warned and took a step.
"Ryan likes you. He talks to you." Cyril said, grabbing his arm.
Miguel simply nodded in return.
"Miguel, that's a bad man," he said again. "Be careful."
"Shhhhh," Miguel quieted him, pulled out the blade, and started walking toward his pod.
Heart thudding wildly, he knew he had to either strike quick or not at all. Cause that mountain of White was NOT someone he could fuck with. And why is he going to anyhow?
And with that thought, he hesitated. His Converse squeaked on the linoleum. And Metzger turned and caught sight of him.
"Alvar--" His word cut short in his throat just as the knife slashed across his face.
Then he was up. One hand around Miguel's neck as the other grabbed for the blade. Alvarez felt the crush on his throat immediately. Summoning resolve, unable to breathe, he flailed again. Felt the blade sink deep into gelatinous tissue as a thundering scream ripped through his ears.
His wrist was crushed, hard enough to make him drop the scalpel. One word flashed. *FUCK*. He saw the blood running. Heard another voice shout another word.
The hand around his throat released. Then it was a blur. A fog of blonde and blood flying around him. A glint of silver he for some reason kicked out of the way.
Then Metzger was down.
Down but breathing. Bloodied, beaten, but breathing.
Cyril was crying.
He didn't even know what he was babbling, just saying whatever shit he thought would keep Cyril calm as he pulled him off the luckily still breathing hack. Sat him on the bunk, actually started talking about his ball to him as he picked the pictures up and climbed up and tucked them into the ceiling. Kept talking to Cyril as he climbed down and saw the other hacks rushing toward them.
Went limp as they dragged him off, heard his sneakers squeak across the floor again. Until Cyril's wail invaded his ears again as the hacks dragged him off too, screaming one word the whole time. "BAD!"
"Give him his fuckin BALL," Alvarez yelled back across the quad and laughed maniacally.
Cyril sniffled but bravely held back the sobs even after they threw him
into the damp dark room. He wanted his clothes back. He still wanted his ball,
and most of all, he wanted his brother.
Ryan would know that he wasn't bad.
He was *not* bad. That other man was bad, and Ryan would be happy with him for helping his friend. Miguel was going to be hurt by the bad man. Ryan would understand that. Wouldn't he? Why wouldn't anyone else?
Toby would understand. And Miss Sally. Miss Sally would think he was *brave* for what he did. It was brave. It was good.
Then why doesn't anyone else here know that? Are they ALL bad men?
Ryan. He needed Ryan. He didn't care WHO else was mad at him, as long as Ryan knew he was good. As long as he wouldn't be mad.
Ryan wouldn't be mad.
What if Ryan WAS mad at him? What if he WAS bad after all?
Maybe that's why Ryan wasn't coming to get him OUT of here, because he was mad at him.
He *tried* to be good though. He didn't WANT to be bad, he didn't *mean* to be bad.
He had to talk to Ryyyy-an.
* * *
"Leo, the guy's a NAZI," Tim shouted.
"McManus, I don't give a rat's ass *what* some inmate told you about a tattoo..."
Tim threw the folder down on the Warden's desk. "It's NOT what some inmate told me, take a look."
"I thought you told me that an inmate tipped you about Metzger, why should I believe a prisoner?"
"Tipped me, yes. But I did the research when you didn't believe me," McManus still shouted.
Glynn sat down and leaned back in his plush chair, the one luxury this nightmare of a job actually afforded. He flipped through until he'd seen enough, then looked up at McManus and steepled his hands. "Ok, so he's a Nazi. We can't fire him for that."
"How about for attacking two inmates?"
Glynn looked away and took a deep breath. "You're telling me that you actually believe Alvarez and O'Reily about this."
McManus crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Yes."
"Alvarez," Glynn chuckled. "And O'Reily." He laughed again.
"*Cyril* O'Reily," McManus stressed. "Not his brother. Look, I know you don't like Alvarez, Leo, but he's never pulled shit like this."
"Oh *really*?" Glynn confronted.
"Yeah, really," McManus pressed on. "I'm telling you Leo, Metzger and Schillinger were working together. I don't know what his cross is with Alvarez, but Schillinger is bent on O'Reily blood, you know what he already did to Cyril. Maybe Alvarez just got in the way."
"You're serious about this?" Glynn asked.
"Talk to Schillinger," McManus insisted.
Glynn gave him an incredulous look.
"Humor me," Tim pressed.
"Alright. Alright," he sighed and pressed the intercom button. "Sarah, get me Vern Schillinger."
"Thank you Leo," Tim nodded.
"McManus, you know he's not going to talk, even if you're right."
He shrugged. "I know. But you'll be able to tell if he's lying."
"And then what?"
"And then you'll let Alvarez and O'Reily out of the hole and fire Metzger anyhow."
Glynn rubbed his chin, "Oh yeah, gotta look out for Alvarez and O'Reily in all this, that's my priority."
* * *
When Alvarez finally stopped laughing he started pacing as much as he could in the small cramped room. 'Til even that bored him so he sat down and let it all crash in.
What in the *fuck* was he thinking? More like not thinking.
Fuckin *Metzger*. Couldn't even pick out a normal fuckin guy to screw with, had to pick a fucking *tree* to attack. And draggin Cyril down with him. All this shit, all this shit they done, all the set up - busted to hell cause he thought he'd be cool and *improvise*.
O'Reily was prob'ly gonna wring his neck when he got out of this fuckin hole. IF he got out of the hole. HATE this fuckin hole, no fuckin one around, no one to talk to. Just all alone and knowing he fucked up, yet again.
Schillinger's gonna be pissed OFF. He grinned at that, that was actually a comforting thought; Nazi prick all bunged up. And that'd probably make that whacked out Beecher shit twice with glee if Schillinger's pissed.
But STILL. Same shit, over and over. It's like he never fuckin LEARNED.
But Cid. He'll be off his ass. No *doubt* about it. HIS ass he was protectin, that'll be the line to him. He'll buy it, he got him one eye at least. One eye.
He wondered if Nathan was gonna fix the guy up. Wondered if she'd feel sorry for him. Wondered if she'd feel more sorry for his wife. If the bastard was married.
He could almost hear Cyril still screaming "Baaaaaad". He chuckled again at that. Who'd a thought of THAT huh? That's one fucker he wasn't gonna piss off, no way, no how. Fuck El Cid, you know, he was gonna make sure *Cyril* didn't think he was bad in the future, that's for sure. Small wonder O'Reily kept him under lock and key most of the time.
Oh fuck. O'Reily. NOT gonna be pleased. His plans fucked with, his brother in the hole. And all Alvarez's fault.
And all cause once again, he managed to fuck shit up.
* * *
The stitches on his brow itched. It was just another aggravation in what had turned out to be a generally shit time lately.
Idly looking down at his fingers - what the fuck else was there to look at? - Chris tried to ignore the pounding in his head. Fucking hooch. That was the last time he gave some shitmotherfucker decent money for something from a rigged still.
He wondered how long McManus would leave him in the hole.
Fucking cocksucker. Ruining what had promised to be an interesting time with Beech.
Ah, who was he kidding? He'd managed to kill that opportunity all by himself when he'd lashed out at the random fuck who had taunted them.
He ran his fingers across his eyes, settling his thumbs on his temples. Pressing hard, he attempted to ease some tension. Why the fuck had he gotten so mad?
A loss of control.
He *could* blame it on the booze. That would be the easiest answer. But it had always been too easy to blame things on booze, drugs - whatever. As much as he didn't want to think about it, the problem was - he cared. About Beecher.
And yeah, sure, he wanted to get into Toby's pants. Who wouldn't? But somehow - there was more to it. Yeah, it was great to get where Vern had never been able to be. Great to have Beecher WANT him.
And he was pretty damn sure Beecher wanted him.
So, being able to woo Toby - to coax him - that was sweet. And Vern - well, Vern would *never* be able to do that.
None of this disturbed him. In fact - that all felt good. It was the tiny nagging tendrils of his own need that were a cause for concern. He felt protective. He wanted to spend time with Beech. Sometimes, he *missed* him. Things had progressed beyond the need to keep Vern at bay, the need to feel that thrill of winning over a wary Beecher.
Now, he needed to share time with the other man. Sometimes he wanted to open up, talk about - well, anything really. Himself even.
And *that* was what disturbed him.
A total loss of control.
His train of thoughts was interrupted by the sound of a lock opening. He looked up into the scrunched expression on McManus's face.
"You're getting out early. Dr. Nathan says there's too great a chance of that cut getting infected here."
He stood and held out his hand for the clothes.
McManus held them close. "But, you pull another stunt like that, Keller, and I will personally kick your ass, understand?"
Right. Sure. Fuck. He just waited, patiently, until the clothes were handed over. He pulled them on and left the cell, walking quickly.
The shower. And then - he and Toby had some unfinished business.
* * *
Unfortunately, as was the norm lately, the meeting was put on hold. Walking down the hall, Chris was waylaid by some bald, tattooed, whiter-than-white kid, under orders to find him and bring him for a chat with Vern.
"Heard all about that little scene in Em City. Sounds like you got *Bitcher* under your thumb nice and good."
He clenched his jaw at the nickname, but managed to summon a snaky grin. "Yup. Little lawyer's got it bad. 'Course - you never doubted that, did you?"
He got a smug, satisfied grin for that. "Nope. I've got no reason to doubt your charms. So - you think it's about time to twist the knife?"
He grinned again. "Soon. Guy's probably got himself all worked up about me rotting in the hole. You got Metzger watching him?"
Irritation flashed across Vern's face. "Metzger. Fucking Metzger is gone. Fired."
Hmmmph. O'Reily wasn't one to waste time. He kept his face indifferent. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. Some fuckwad ratted him out. Glynn and McManus got his ass out of here fast."
He tuned out of the rest of Vern's ranting about payback for the loss of Metzger. Shit wasn't important. Now that Metzger was gone, he had one less pair of Aryan eyes watching his ass for fuck-ups. Finally he got an arrogant dismissal.
Back to finding Beecher.
Shit, he had a one-track mind.
And, eventually, he did find Beech, sitting in the quad, playing checkers with the moron. He moved towards the table, and sat down. "Hey Beecher."
The other man gave him a cool look. "Keller."
He let his best, most charming grin slide onto his face. "Good game?"
"So...you miss me?"
"Sure." The voice was indifferent. "Nice stitches."
Trying again, he smiled and lowered his voice, "All for you baby."
What the *fuck*? This was not the reception he'd hoped for. Beecher was back to his pre-laundry room self, cool and aloof, playing. Holding back on approval. Like Chris was some fucking *cat*.
Or - prag? Almost? A Beecher-style pragging mindfuck?
Under his breathe, he murmured, "Fuck this," and pushed himself violently away from the table. He sneered at the shocked look on the baby's face, and glared at Beecher. Louder this time, "Fuck this." He stalked off, fuming.
Motherfucker. He wasn't going to take this shit. Beecher wanted to fuck with him, he would fuck right back. He went to find a quiet place to scheme.
* * *
Shortly after, safely ensconced in a quiet closet, he seethed. Fucking weak-ass Beecher playing *him*. Leading him around, taunting him with leftover traces of humanity. The possibility of a little fun, a little understanding.
Turn on Vern for Beecher. Get sent to the hole for Beecher. Risk his own life for Beecher. And the arrogant little pussy couldn't even fucking smile.
Almost subconscious thoughts taunted him, "Since when would you settle for a smile Chris? Stupid fucker."
The door opened, and someone entered the room. He looked up to find Beecher staring down at him. "What now Beecher? Want to play more games? 'Cause we can play if that's what you want."
The blond man crouched down in front of him, face a range of conflicting emotions. "No. I don't think that's what I want at all."
"Yeah? Then *what*?"
Beecher smiled, slow and sweet. "I think you and I have some unfinished - ahhh - 'business'. We've both got time here, and," he swept his hand around the dingy room, "we're in this luxury suite, so I thought -"
Beech shifted closer, hand reaching out to rest on Chris's shoulder. "Oh - you know."
Still feeling slightly resentful and angry, he sneered, "You wanna fuck Beecher? That what?"
Hurt flashed across Beecher's face, followed by slight wariness and - uncertainty? Was that - a hint of shyness? Oooooh *yeah*.
Despite himself, he felt a pang of regret for the harsh words. So, gently, he reached out and touched the other man's face. Beech leaned into the touch slightly, and Chris smiled. "Baby -."
He was cut off by fingers moving to rest lightly against his lips. "Shhh." And Beech leaned closer, arms wrapping around Chris's chest, and pulling them both upright.
"Chris, just shut *up*. Let's take advantage of the situation here, ok?" Beech leaned closer and started placing delicate kisses up his neck, towards his jaw.
Who was he to argue with that? Reaching down, he tugged at the edge of Toby's shirt, pulling it up, letting his hands run along the warm surface of Toby's chest. Chris pushed away for a minute, tugging the shirt over Beecher's head, then moved close again. He breathed in deeply, inhaling the smell of clean hair.
Toby's hands were pushing his shirt up, and this time, Chris quickly shucked it off. He liked the slightly sleepy look on Toby's face as he moved closer. Chris shivered as fingers traced patterns across the muscles of his abdomen, stopping to lightly rest just above the button of his jeans.
Amused by the slight tease, he pulled Toby closer and brushed lips softly. Beech twitched in his grip, but didn't pull away.
And then, he was being kissed, hard, almost brutally. *This* was different than all those other clandestine gropings. He'd expected the same dynamic - teasing, almost taunting, underlying urgency.
That almost-frantic vibe was still there, but Toby was obviously not in the mood for teasing. He grinned internally.
Hands were tugging on his jeans now, and Chris wiggled his hips to help, at the same time reaching up to tweak Toby's nipples, grinning at the slight jerk the movement caused.
He stepped forward, out of the cloth shackling his ankles, and pushed Beech against the wall, hands working at the opening of his pants. Beech sighed softly and leaned his head forward, connecting with Chris's shoulder. He leaned over and nipped at the exposed ear, hand slipping under Toby's boxers, stroking lightly. Reflexivly, Toby bucked at the touch.
Leaning over to bite that ear again, he whispered, "What do you want, Beech?"
"Ummm - agggh."
He grinned at the incoherent response, and quickly tugged down pants and boxers. He reached around, cupping Toby's ass, pulling them close, pelvis to pelvis. Arms wrapped around his back, short nails digging in slightly, making him hiss. Beech was now almost panting, hips straining as Chris trailed hard kisses across his shoulder.
And it had to have been a long fucking time since anyone had held Beech like this. And Chris *knew* what he wanted, but as usual, the spectre of Vern was hovering. Scaring Toby off with demands was not what he intended.
No no. The trick was to get Beecher *wanting* anything. Everything. And that might take some time. So for now he went with trying to seem undemanding. Even - solicitous. Caring.
So, he brought one hand back around, circling Toby's cock, smiling at the moan his touch elicited. He bent, mouth working across Toby's chest, biting and teasing, tongue drawing circles, causing wiggles and sighs. Toby's hand dug into the back of his neck, tightening even more when ever Chris would hit upon a particularly sensitive spot.
And then he was on his knees, breathing hot air across Toby's abdomen, watching muscles ripple in response and hearing harsh breaths come even slightly faster.
He pushed Toby's hips against the wall, holding fast as his tongue flicked out to lap at the head of Toby's cock. Hips jumped, fingers clenched, and Chris moved in a little closer, applying teasing sucks, trying to draw out the sensations. He let one hand move down, stroking across Toby's thigh, soothing, then slipping to swirl across the soft skin of his balls.
The combination of movements caused a hissing gasp above him, and Chris grinned internally, hands and mouth working in concert until Toby let out a strangled groan, tensed and released, warm salty cum slipping down Chris's throat.
Chris pressed kisses into the clenching abdomen in front of him as tiny aftershocks wracked Toby's body. After a few moments, he slipped up, grinning, meeting a dazed expression.
"That's right baby. Feelin good?"
"Good." He leaned forward, pressing a kiss to Beech's forehead, pulling him close. He ground against Toby's hip, whispering little endearments in his ear. Toby twitched a little, then moved one hand around Chris's back, subtly urging him on.
Well, that was promising.
Toby's other hand slid between their chests, moving down. He pushed Chris back slightly and almost hesitently wrapped his fingers around Chris's cock, grip light.
Chris moaned encouragingly into Toby's ear. Fingers began to stroke him, causing his hips to jerk.
He fastened in for a kiss as Beech continued to stroke, lightly then more insistently, making Chris grunt, hiss, bite an exposed shoulder and come with a muffled groan.
Later, sitting on the floor, drowsy and content, he gazed down at Toby, who was lying, eyes closed, with his head on Chris's leg. He reached out and brushed his fingers across the slightly damp forehead, causing eyes to open, and mouth to grin.
"That was - nice."
He grinned back. "Yeah. Ummm. I ahhh - saw Vern. He wants to bring Operation Toby to a close. Soon." He watched Toby's face tighten briefly.
"Yeah. I'm ahhh - I'm supposed to break you. You know. Hurt your *feelings*. Then Vern's got some plan to fuck you up. Ummm - physically."
"You don't know what?"
"Nope. Think it was supposed to involve Metzger, but he's gone now, an' so Vern's gotta rethink. Probably take a few days to work somethin out."
He took a deep breath. "Yeah, so in the meantime I'm supposed to ignore you. Fuck with your head. Help get you all fucked up on shit. So I gotta do that. In public. Or his guys in Em City will know."
Toby sat up, and started reaching for his clothes. "Yeah."
"But you know - with Metzger gone, it'll be easier to get away. Somewhere they can't watch."
Toby's face was immobile now. "Yeah. We can try." He handed Chris his own clothes. "We should probably go now. It's been awhile. I'll tell Ryan."
Vaguely confused at Toby's sudden distance, he nodded. "Ok." Toby moved towards the door. "Beech."
Toby's face softened briefly, and he nodded. "Yeah. I just," he paused, clearly hesitant, "I just - have to talk to Ryan. About Vern." He turned and left.
Chris leaned against the wall, perplexed and annoyed. Toby had just brushed him - them - off. Gone. Dismissed. He didn't get it.
And fuck it if he wasn't pissed.
* * *
Toby walked down the hall, body still humming slightly. He savoured that familiar good-fuck feeling that he remembered from before his time in prison.
That had just been - really nice.
And fucking Keller had had to go and ruin it by bringing up Operation Toby, that nagging reminder of his duplicity.
The guy never knew when to just shut up.
He entered the quad, finding Ryan and Cyril sitting together at a table, Cyril twirling checkers pieces, Ryan watching.
"Beecher." Ryan looked at him closely, then grinned cockily. "You look good. What you been up to?"
He rolled his eyes. "Nothing you need to know. Come over here for a minute."
Ryan nodded, told Cyril to stay put, and slid over to the closest wall. "What?"
Quietly, quickly, Toby repeated the relevant parts of his conversation with Keller. Ryan nodded again, told him not to worry, that everything was going according to plan.
Toby turned to go sit at the table, but was pulled back.
"How's Cyril doing?"
He shrugged. "Nightmares, crying. Every night still."
"Not getting better?"
"Ryan, no. I mean, what do you expect? Everyday he sees Schillinger. Everyday some other fuck taunts him. People are cruel to him, he's always scared. He just keeps pulling inside of himself. The hole time didn't help."
Ryan sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "What about getting him out? You been looking at his file, right? He stand any chance?"
Toby shrugged. "Honestly? I don't know. I've talked to a few people, and they say that maybe the right jury could be persuaded that Cyril is just too young to deal in here. And the - ahh - 'incident' with Schillinger would help with the sympathy. But - things would be a lot better if people knew Cyril wasn't capable of planning a murder on his own."
Ryan narrowed his eyes. "What the fuck are you saying Beecher?"
"Nothing. Just telling you how it is."
"Yeah, well I *know* how it is, ok?"
A little later, after lockdown, Toby lay on his bunk, back to thinking about his latest moves with Keller. His musings were interrupted when Cyril's anxious face leaned over him.
"Ummm... 'member how you told me about the bad man an' how I had ta tell that other man?"
Toby sat up, slightly concerned. Had Cyril been talking to other people about Metzger?
"He's gone now."
"There're other people like him. Bad people. They pretend too."
"What do you mean Cyril?"
"That other man. Who came to the table an' said bad words."
"With the cut on his head. He's bad too."
"No Cyril, he's ok. He won't hurt you."
Cyril looked unconvinced, and shook his head. "No. He's bad."
Toby smiled reassuringly. "No. He's fine. You don't have to worry about him."
* * *
Augustus: Maybe there is fate. But instead of writing it off on someone else, we gotta learn that we still PICKED our fate.
Self-fulfilling prophecies. Yeah, you know what that is. It's when we sit back and say, "I'm gonna FUCK this up." We get convinced of it. No matter what we do, how hard we try, there's that tiny little fear plucking away, terrified we're gonna fuck this shit up.
So we do.
And not even know we did it.
* * *
Keller leaned close, arms wrapping tightly around Toby. They were, once again, in some stuffy closet, getting a moment's peace from O'Reily's endless scheming. "When this shit is all over, I wanna move back in with you."
Toby sighed internally, annoyed. He tried to sound enthusiastic about the thought. "Yeah. That'd be good."
"Yeah. Wouldn't need no goddamn closet anymore."
It wasn't that he hated the thought of Keller in with him again. The idea did have certain advantages. And hell, it would mean no more waking up to Cyril's endless nightmares, his need for comfort. It was just - Keller was getting possessive. And sure, that was an ego boost. Who wouldn't want to be wanted that much? At least for a little while.
But. But it wasn't healthy.
And that thought made him grin. Healthy. What the fuck was he thinking? *Healthy*.
And anyway, he liked Cyril. They'd established a good routine. Lockdowns were always pretty stable. Except for the nightmares. But other than that, things were calm. Peaceful. It was a nice little refuge.
Keller nuzzled his neck, and Toby sighed. "McManus will probably say no. He's sticky about that kind of stuff."
"Can't hurt to ask."
Who would have known? Keller the optimist.
* * *
Alvarez walked through the pit of Em City, making a concerted effort to strut confidently with his head up even though inside he was wracked with tension.
"Well, well, little Miguelito back from the hole," El Cid taunted.
Alvarez looked him briefly in the eye then turned his gaze down, sensing already that Raoul was not, in fact, as pleased as he thought he was going to be. Sniffing once, he tried to maneuver around the other man to grab his things for the shower.
El Cid blocked his path. "What do you got to say about this shit, Alvarez?"
Testily, "'Bout *what*?"
"You slice up a hack, get sent to the hole, what the fuck's up with you?"
"Nothin," Alvarez shrugged. "Thought that's what you fuckin wanted, Cid."
"No mames! I told you Rivera. What, you deaf now on top o' bein a white pussy?" He pushed his way forward, backing Alvarez against the wall.
Alvarez gave his ground, shuffling back. "Hey, I did that shit to fuckin protect your ass, Cid. Metzger, he was in here fuckin with YOUR shit."
"Yeah, what shit? I ain't got no tits in here, Miguelito, what'd he have, huh?"
Alvarez looked up and leered at Cid. "Pictures."
"Yeah, that's the line he gave Glynn too, said he had pictures of Glynn's daughter. All banged up in the hospital. And they was *mine*. Got questioned by Glynn even. But there ain't no pictures now Alvarez."
"Cause I hid 'em. So like, you wouldn't get busted."
"Where they at?"
Alvarez glanced up. "Ceiling."
Cid nodded. "You know what I think, Miguelito? I think you set me up with them pictures."
Stomach churning, Alvarez shook his head, "Why the fuck would I do that? Huh? Huh? I went OUT for you Cid."
"I think you went out for YOU. I know, Alvarez, you think I'm fuckin stupid? Pendejo? I got sent those pictures, makes me look bad, Alvarez. You think that's good for you. Metzger just got in the way of whatever you was planning. You're a fuckin dead man, white boy."
Ok. So. He knew he was fucked from every direction now. Knotting his brow, he felt the steel run up his spine. Leaning forward, only one option for survival left, he eyed Cid. "Know what Cid, fuck you." He watched Cid's nostrils flare and Miguel took a step forward. "Maybe you right, huh? Maybe you is. But if you was so fuckin smart you'd know where to be lookin for trouble from next. What I hear, other people know now, an' they don't give a shit 'bout me. Right now, you need *anyone* can help you. Keep shit *away* from Glynn."
"You think I give a fuck about that rene?" Cid questioned. "I'll lay it all right back on you hermano."
"Yeah? Maybe it'll work," Alvarez nodded. "Maybe not. Point is, shouldn't even *get* to that fuckin point."
Cid raised a brow. "Schillinger."
"'At's right. I think maybe you oughta be worried 'bout that fucker for now." Pushing his way around Cid, he grabbed his things and started to head out the door to the showers.
He heard Raoul behind him, "Yeah, Alvarez, we'll take care of Schillinger, but your ass is still mine."
Miguel didn't even turn around, just kept walking, rolled his eyes, and muttered under his breath. "Jodete y aprieta el culo."
Walking down the hall, he smirked a little. That was something he picked up from O'Reily - distraction. Make someone look in the wrong direction, easy enough. The smirk faded quick though as he thought of O'Reily. *That's* the fucker he had to be worried about for now.
He stood and let the water run down his back, kept it hot as he could stand it. He thought he was actually falling asleep when he heard his name spoken, recognized the voice right off. Shit. His stomach tensed again and he dropped his head for a second before answering. "O'Reily." Turning off the soothing spray, he turned to face more shit and saw Ryan looking at him flatly.
He shook water from his hands, swiped a hand across his face, stepped forward and grabbed his towel, waiting for Ryan to speak.
Alvarez exhaled and wrapped the towel around his waist. Still nothing. He cracked. "Yo, about your brother man, I'm like, you know, that was fucked up and shit, and, like..."
O'Reily cut him off with a smooth smile. "Don't sweat it Miguel."
Uh, that was way too easy, so Alvarez tried again as he dragged the back of his hand across his brow. "No man, really, I didn't mean for like, I don't know, that wasn't cool and..."
"Relax. Hermano," Ryan drawled. "Cyril's ok."
"Well, I know it coulda fucked shit up and all."
"Nah. It's all cool. How's Cid, seen him yet?"
Still wary, Alvarez nodded. "Yeah, he's on my shit, I uh, I didn't know what to do, so I told him he oughta be watchin for Schillinger. I think he's still gonna try and whack me though."
"Then we get him first," Ryan answered quick. "Tomorrow. Tell him Schillinger wants to see him, tomorrow, I'll tell you where later." His eyes seemed to spark as they met Alvarez's gaze. "They'll only know what hit them as they're taking their last breaths. I need your cut from the hospital tits though - today. Gotta go, things to do." Quickly, he turned and walked away.
And that was...way too easy. *Too* easy, that's what it was. Alvarez's chest tightened as he realized for the first time he could be the one being distracted. Ain't that how snake charmers worked?
* * *
"Beecher," Ryan settled down at the table and leaned in close. Waited a beat for the other man to look at him. "Tomorrow, shit's going down."
Ryan slit his eyes, adrenaline already surging through his veins. *This* is what he loved. Big game, fourth and goal, all the pressure on. And knowing he had the moves to get the ball in the end zone, easy as could be.
"Old fashioned way to start with. How much money you got?"
"Um, not a lot O'Reily."
Ryan chewed on his bottom lip as he thought. "Don't shit me Beecher, you were a lawyer, I know you're loaded."
"Yeah, well not in *here*."
"But can you *get* money sent to you?"
Beecher shrugged. "Sure."
"Ok, I have enough for now, but we're going to need it - soon."
"What the hell for?"
"Beecher, don't act so stupid for a smart guy."
"Chris," Beecher whispered as Keller nuzzled his neck. "Chris."