Disclaimers: OZ is owned by Levinson/Fontana, Rysher, Viacom and prolly some other people. I'm just playing.
Subject info: Keller, O'Reily (gen!), Beecher/Keller
Rating: R (for Part One)
Spoilers: Heavy for S4.
Feedback: Hell yeah! firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes: Just my little nod to the thing of beauty that was the Keller-O'Reily romp of mayhem in S4. Part One takes place during "You Bet Your Life."
I probably would never have gotten started on Part One without Stacey, or finished it without Actizera. Both of you are smart, thoughtful, and fantastically warped in the head. I couldn't have asked for better beta help on this story. Thank you!
A Fandango—Part One: Good Little Knife
They met in the usual spot after supper, to finalize the plan.
Coming together, they swapped pops, fist-over-fist: a street corner schoolboy greeting. And smirk meeting smirk, each turned a thought of expedient affection toward the other:
Side by side like feral cats, they leaned over the railing looking down into the common room. Eyes lighting simultaneously on the cascading dreads of the big mark, O'Reily let out a low whistle, while Keller laughed softly under his breath.
Supreme Allah was supremely fucked.
A couple of other candidates had been considered but ultimately, there seemed to be a certain justice in picking Supreme Allah. Fucking five-percenter. Some kind of Puritan homeboy Muslim doper, wannabe whoknowswhat. He already thought all white boys were the Devil. Who were they to say 'no'?
Yeah, it was time for Supreme Allah to take a nice, big fall. And drag Martin Querns' reign of bullshit, and dear old Simon Adebisi, along for the tumble. All they needed to do was give a little push...
"All right then," O'Reily said, straightening up, stretching. "Tomorrow it is. We're good?"
"Yeah, good." Keller nodded, but remained on the rail, sharp predator eyes already tracking another quarry.
"Keep that up, bro, you're gonna burn a hole in his head." No response. Fucking hopeless. "All right, later, I gotta go find Cyril." O'Reily was pretty sure Keller hadn't heard him, though. Not since Beecher had walked into the quad.
Nutjob law boy still had Keller all tied in knots, even after the truckloads of bad shit that had gone down between them. Anybody else tried to pull crap like that? Would've been sayonara already.
But not Beecher.
All of which was handy to know of course, but O'Reily didn't even want to go there. He'd seen enough of what Beecher and K-boy got up to after lights out when they'd been together. Who hadn't? Jesus. And, okay, all right, curiosity's sake, whatever, but really. Just... no thanks.
Anyway, regardless of what Keller liked to do with his dick (and throw in the three ex-wives, man, it seemed like there wasn't anything he didn't like to do with his dick), the guy was the perfect partner on this plan. He was sharp, hands-on, and highly motivated. Which was really all that was required. Throw in a couple games of chess, a little bullshit breeze-blowin' to pass the time? Bonus. Not a bad deal. O'Reily could live with it.
Under other circumstances, and maybe if they'd both been different people, he and Keller might have been able to become friends. But... Ryan O'Reily couldn't afford to have friends. Not in this place. Closest he'd ever come to making that mistake was with Adebisi, back in the sweetly dusted smack-happy days before the riot.
Even after the junk haze had cleared and they were back to just the practicalities of business, Adebisi had always been good to work with. They'd taken care of a lot of problems for each other. But none of that history seemed to count anymore.
The first warning sign was Adebisi's claim that he couldn't get to Stanislofsky in Protective Custody. Which was total bullshit, because Adebisi could get to anybody, anywhere if he wanted to -- especially these days, with Querns in his hip pocket. It wasn't that he couldn't, he just wouldn't. Without Adebisi's help, O'Reily'd had to cash in major chips with Claire to take out Stanislofsky, and God only knew how long he was gonna be sucking on the evil cow to pay for that little favor.
It had taken a while to piece together just how tightly connected Adebisi and Querns were, but day after day, prisoner transfer after prisoner transfer, the picture grew clearer...and darker.
Used to be, so long as he had a steady stream of H to stuff up his nose and a prag to keep him blown, Adebisi didn't give a damn about any color except green. It was that witch doctor asshole, Jarra, who filled Adebisi's fucked-up head with all that 'Roots' bullshit. His debt to Africa and his brothers. Please. O'Reily hadn't guessed for a second that Adebisi would actually fall for that crap, and he was usually damned good at guessing.
This time, he'd been wrong. Adebisi had been off the rails since Jarra's murder, taking up the black solidarity thing like some kind of mission, but it had never added up to anything serious before. Now though, with McManus out, and 'brother' Querns at the reins, it was starting to look like Adebisi could do whatever he wanted. Like getting anyone paler than Supreme Allah booted to Gen Pop, reserving the perks and privileges of Em City for the members of his own chosen tribe. Hell, even Said and the Muslims had seen the handwriting on the wall and signed on board. There was no more opposition.
Only a matter of time until O'Reily was put on the endangered species list. And Cyril. Jesus, it was hard enough to take care of him in here, what would happen to Cyril back in Unit B, or anywhere else in this godforsaken hellhole? Total chaos, Schillinger goons lurking around every dark corner and closet door...
After all the time and effort, the plots, the plans, the tricks, the risks O'Reily had taken to finally carve out a workably comfortable existence for himself and Cyril in Em City, there was no fucking way he was going to let it just slip away. Not without a fight.
Well, O'Reily wasn't gone quite yet. Neither was Keller. And at least with K-boy, there weren't any illusions about what he wanted: Things back the way they used to be. And Beecher. Somehow. Anyhow. It had never been that clear-cut with Adebisi.
This way was better.
He looked like hell. Not sleeping so great, obviously.
Poor baby. Good.
That made two of them. Of course, with Toby's busy social schedule these days, who had time for sleep? Mondo...had been predictable, anyway. An angry, defiant, fuck you. But the rest?
He was supposed to be different. Better.
More than Kitty, Ange, even Bonnie, Toby was...
An ungrateful, backstabbing, lying little cunt.
And a bitch.
Yeah, but...shiny. Brass ring shiny. Covetable.
Even here, now, sitting there moping, hollow-eyed and pale, there was something about him this shithole couldn't rub away. Something fine that set Toby apart from the rest of them, working and lower class slobs who'd slipped unnoticed through the cracks.
It was in his posture, the way he moved. And that expression, God, permanent exasperation -- like he'd ever expected anything to be fair in the first place. All that Tinkerbell shit. Wasn't really any surprise Toby went crazy in here.
Tinkerbell. Fuck. Like he should talk. Who was the one really guilty of wishing on stars, after all? Wanting impossible things.
Like, if he'd just been able to get Toby to listen, do things his way. Schillinger would be dead, the kids would be fine, none of this mess would have happened. Toby was too stubborn for that, though. And when it came right down to it, the opinion Toby really respected was Said's -- the other overeducated fucking 'philosopher' around here.
The memory of that still burned. It all still burned. Yeah, he should have whacked Said a long time ago, but the FBI, his hysterical parents, that weaselly little shit Zabitz -- Toby would listen to them?
After everything Keller had done, to win Toby back, to prove himself worthy. He was the one person on this planet who'd have done anything for Toby. Anything. No matter how hard, or dirty, or dangerous, or wrong. He'd have done anything. And Toby believed them.
The really pathetic thing was he hadn't seen it coming. But he should have. Should have seen that almost from the moment lockdown ended, Toby had begun to slip from his grasp. First the crap with Said, and then...
Hell had opened up.
For a while, Keller actually let himself believe things could be good. A chance to start over, even. All forgiven. No more games, no more bullshit. Toby had made him earn it all right, but by New Year's he thought he'd finally gotten through. Made Toby see this time was real.
And for those two weeks, alone in their pod, it was easy to keep Toby focused on what was important. Tangled down in Keller's bunk, in the middle of the night, with nothing to stop them, nothing in the way. Just the two of them, hot, and tight, and sweet, Toby looking up at him, eyes so big, full of wonder--
But, no. Little bitch. Toby'd never really trusted him again. He just didn't want to be alone.
All that Beecher refinement didn't change the fact that Toby was a goddamned junkie. He'd always find something to give himself up to, and it didn't matter if it was good, bad, or poison. But the whore's game was a thin one, even Toby had to know that by now. This was all just more fuel for that ever-burning bonfire of Beecher guilt. Punish Keller, punish himself, self-destruct.
So fucking stubborn.
Well... Father Mukada had asked Keller to help. Come to the gym, earnest and sure, pleading his case. All these good people were so concerned.
'Help poor Beecher.'
All right, baby, tell you what. I'm gonna help you out.
O'Reily looked up from his chess match at the sweet sound of commotion.
"Oh my God! Help! Help! Help! Murder! Murder!"
He turned around just in time to see that DeadHead wannabe guy, Glen Shupe, wild-eyed and white-knuckle-clutching his tie-dyed explosion of a laundry basket, running, stumbling towards the hack station, yelling stupidly and looking back over his shoulder.
"Murder! Murder! Murder!"
Oh, yeah. Shupe looked completely freaked out. This was gonna be great.
His interest camouflaged neatly by the rest of the rubbernecking inmates clamoring in behind the rushing hacks, O'Reily took in the scene.
O'Reily'd always made it his business to keep tabs on everyone in Em City, but at first, even he couldn't recognize the slack, streaky corpse slumped on the laundry room floor. Sliced and diced but good, man. Left to bleed out like so much veal.
That was one ugly red mess.
Bumped around in the milling crowd, O'Reily tried not to grin as he took stock of the chaos swelling around him. No way in hell Querns was going to be able to cover this up. So much for 'no violence in Em City.'
Depth charge number one: ka-pow!
O'Reily looked around quickly for Keller, but of course he was gone from the scene. Better to hold off talking to him until later, anyway. When things had settled down, they could do a little post-mortem (haha) on this first strike, and see where they were at.
As hoped, news of Nate Shemin's murder spread through Oz like wildfire. O'Reily heard the nonstop buzz all along the chow lines as he worked through lunch. And no one in the kitchen could seem to talk about anything else. More people knew who this loser Shemin was dead than when he'd been alive. That was pretty pathetic. Well, he got to serve his purpose now.
Adebisi's crew had been taken by complete surprise, no matter how cool they tried to play it. O'Reily recognized that bulge-eyed paranoid agitation for what it really was: Querns must have lit a fire under Adebisi's ass, looking for answers. And shit rolled downhill. Poet was a wreck, running around chewing on his fingernails, whispering frantically with everyone in sight. Tidd, Browne, Allah, the rest of them, all scrambling while trying to look discreet. It was beautiful. They still had no idea what the hell was going on.
"They dragged Beecher in," Liam said, following O'Reily into the back for a covert smoke break. Cyril trailed behind slowly, playing with the strings on his apron.
Liam was a good informant, but it was important he didn't start thinking of himself as too valuable. The Irish in Oz weren't really a gang. They were O'Reily, with help. And that was the way it was going to stay. Act disinterested enough, and Liam would blurt out everything he knew. Always did.
O'Reily put up his hand to make Liam wait, then steered Cyril over to the pantry.
"Do me a favor, little brother." He tugged playfully on Cyril's ponytail and pointed to a shelf full of canned peas. "Can you straighten these up?"
Waiting until Cyril was intensely occupied aligning the rows of identically labelled cans, O'Reily turned back towards Liam and took a drag on his cigarette before putting a hand out, beckoning for the cash roll from that morning's drug take.
Liam coughed before continuing, digging into his pockets. "Anyway, they roughed him up some. Guess he'd fucked the dead guy."
"I mean, he fucked him before he was dead," Liam corrected, wrinkling his nose.
"It's still disgusting." O'Reily reached over to accept the wad of bills. "Kinda light, here, friend. You minding the store?"
"I am! Everyone's distracted today."
"Hmm," O'Reily grunted around a puff of smoke as he pocketed the cash. "That everything?"
"Pretty much. Beecher got into some kinda thing with Keller after that," Liam shrugged, sounding disappointed he didn't have more to offer. "That's all I seen."
Well, well. A thing. They couldn't afford to be having a thing screwing up this plan.
When lunch detail was over, O'Reily made his way back to Em City to look for Keller, while Cyril went off to that stupid Art Therapy program Sr. Pete had set up for him and some other guys she said had 'special needs'. Like gluing fucking macaroni to construction paper was gonna help unscramble anyone's brain. But, at least it gave Cyril a safe place to be three afternoons a week -- and provided O'Reily a little more operating space in the process.
And damn, was that space ever needed now. It was getting easier and easier to spot the white guys around here. A quick scan of the game tables showed no sign of Keller, so O'Reily legged the stairs two at a time to the upper level. He glanced around to make sure nobody was paying particular attention, and rapped once on the glass before pulling open the door to Keller's pod.
His current partner-in-crime was slung in the lower bunk, flipping slowly through a tattered third-rate porn rag. O'Reily took in the relaxed, lazy sprawl of Keller's enviably muscular limbs and figured the job must've gone well. But still, Liam's report was potentially worrisome. There was no point in beating around the bush.
"I heard you were getting into it with Beecher, earlier," O'Reily started carefully, monitoring Keller for a reaction. "Arguing. You think he knows?"
Keller peered at O'Reily over the top of his magazine with an expression that clearly meant drop it.
"Adebisi's on the warpath," he drawled, ignoring the question.
"Yeah." At that, O'Reily had to smile. Keller's degree of ease was reassuring. If Beecher became an issue, he could be dealt with later. "We got their attention, all right."
Keller swung around and sat up, chucking the magazine aside. "Which means, it's time to make the next move."
O'Reily nodded. "And fast, while they're still jumpy." He hesitated a moment, then broke into a grin. Keller was such a cool customer, it was kind of fun to have something to needle him about. "You, uh, still wanna do Mondo Browne next?"
Keller bit, but only a little, fixing O'Reily with that unnaturally steady gaze. "Why? You got someone better in mind?"
And O'Reily suppressed a chuckle, because, really, it could be anyone. With the state Keller was in these days, it didn't have to be personal. He could -- he would -- snap your neck, ditch your body, and make it back clean in time for 'Miss Sally'.
But, if the targets they chose happened to hold a little deeper significance? What the hell. Keller was the one actually doing the deed. If there was some bonus satisfaction in it for the guy, that was no skin off O'Reily's back. Not that he put the, whatever the fuck it was Keller had going with Beecher, in the same category as his own feelings for Gloria, but... O'Reily could certainly understand the impulse to eliminate obstacles.
"Nah, man, I'm just messin' with you," he said, leaning down to land a mock-punch on Keller's shoulder. "Browne's perfect. And he and Supreme got no love lost, lately. Which reminds me, I'll get on that other thing pronto."
They were doing their final sweep of the kitchen after supper. Wouldn't be long now.
At the sounds of the hacks going through their routine, Keller leaned back against a shelf of canned peas and took a long breath, more from habit than actual fear of being caught. O'Reily's directions on how, when, and where to slip unnoticed into the pantry area during the shift end had been flawless -- as had his procurement of Supreme Allah's gaudy-ass gold chain, and arrangement for the food supply delivery truck's flat tire.
Keller's own approach to murder generally tended to be a little more opportunistic and instinctual, but this one they'd had to do on a schedule. For that, O'Reily's finesse as a facilitator was impressive indeed. Couldn't trust him farther than you could throw him, but the crafty fucker knew every nook and cranny of this place, and he had a network of favors and extortion built up over years. Seemed like there was nothing O'Reily couldn't make happen if he put his mind to it hard enough.
It was a solid arrangement. Feeling confident in O'Reily's ability to sweat the logistical details freed Keller to concentrate on actual business.
Business that hopefully, if the hacks would hurry the fuck up already, would be very soon at hand.
Keller reached behind him and checked for the knife tucked securely into the waistband of his pants. This was perhaps the nicest thing the partnership had yielded thus far, an unexpected bonus of O'Reily's work in the kitchen.
It was a really good little knife. Easy to hide, well balanced, everything you could ask for. Would have been nice to have used it on Eli Zabitz first, cocksucking liar... But he'd made do with Shemin.
Sad-looking little rodent of a guy, Keller'd half expected him to just drop dead spontaneously like Zabitz had -- massive coronary from terror alone. But no, Shemin had whimpered and gurgled, looking up with those wide, questioning eyes before the freshly honed blade punched through surprisingly unresisting cloth and tissue.
He should have been asking those questions a little earlier.
And that had been it. No fight, no struggle to speak of, leaving the actual act of carving up Shemin less than completely satisfactory.
Shanking this smug sonofabitch, Mondo Browne, on the other hand... Well, Mondo was a player. Fuckin' thought he was, anyway. Doing him would be much, much sweeter.
Suddenly the voices intensified in the kitchen.
A hack, annoyed: "Browne! Get in line!"
And the aggravated retort: "I'm waiting on a shipment. The motherfucking truck caught a flat. If we miss that shipment, tomorrow we don't have no breakfast."
The hack again, suspicious but resigned: "I'll be back for you later. Everybody else, let's go."
Shuffling noises and the sounds of grumbling inmates leaving the kitchen.
Ah, yeah. Showtime, at last.
Toby's anguished plea had been drifting in and out of Keller's mind all afternoon.
Had his attention again at least, huh? Longest conversation they'd had since...
No. It was too late for that. Too late for a lot of things. What was done was done.
Keller patted the knife's handle. It was gonna be kind of a shame to have to let this baby go. But, sometimes sacrifices had to be made.