The next day Sister Pete collared him. O'Reily replaced Beecher as the nun's assistant. It was Beecher's idea. O'Reily figured it was Toby's way of repaying him for all the free tits their first year at Oz. He couldn't figure out what Toby was trying to get back at the nun for. Initially, Ryan refused the reassignment. McManus delighted in forcing him to choose between working for Sister Pete or working for Howell mopping up the isolation cellblocks. O'Reily ended up in the psychologist's office and Sister Peter Marie discovered the secretarial talents he had been working so hard to hide.
Never one to avoid an issue, the sister greeted O'Reily. "Good Morning Ryan. I need to talk to you about your brother and Peter Schibetta."
O'Reily still flinched every time one of the prison administrative staff used his first name. It reminded him of the first time he noticed them all using his first name. He did not hear his name - he heard CANCER.
The nun was astute enough to catch the minor change in O'Reily's posture and she remembered its cause. "Mr. O'Reily."
Ryan tried to force his body to relax. The mention of his brother and Cyril's friend disquieted him more than the use of his given name. "I'm fine Sister. What about my brother?"
Sister Pete knew she hit a nerve. O'Reily was a master of affected indifference, but she was a trained psychologist with twenty years of experience dealing with men just like him. She didn't glasses to read the slight changes in his face and body. "It's not a good idea to allow Cyril to befriend Peter. He'll only reinforce Peter's overt compensatory behavior."
"What? Sister, pretend I don't have a degree in psychology."
She looked at Ryan. He was wandering around the office, fidgeting with the few mementos scattered around the tiny space. She recognized the signs. O'Reily was one of those people who learned early on to downplay their intelligence. Ryan effectively used the technique when he wanted time to think about his next move. She also knew the aimless wandering was covering nervous pacing. One thing she'd learned about her latest assistant was that if pushed he reacted with anger and obfuscation. The magic of O'Reily was he never lied, just danced around the truth. If she gave him time, he danced a little closer to the truth. Sister Peter said nothing. She ignored her restless attendant and went back to work.
O'Reily sat in front of the computer and turned to look at his supervisor. "What makes you think Cyril's bad for Peter?"
Sister Pete tried to gage the mental state of the man before answering. "Mr. O'Reily, you know that Cyril suffers from brain damage and Peter doesn't."
Head slightly tilted and meeting her eyes. Good he was curious, not defensive. "Peter's child-like behavior is a result of his inability to acknowledge his present reality. As his begins to increasingly accept that reality, the child-like state will be left behind. Cyril's permanent youthful perspective discourages Peter from out growing his."
Ryan chewed his lower lip, thoughtfully. While the nun was speaking his gaze shifted to the floor. He looked up and returned eye contact. "So what you're saying is, you think Cyril will hold Peter back?" He rose and resumed his earlier tours of the office. "Sister, if you believed that Peter wasn't ready, why did you get him out of the mental ward?"
"Peter has made great improvements in the past six months and is showing increasing signs of accepting his situation. Spending too much time with your brother will serve to reinforce the negative behaviors we are working to eliminate."
O'Reily abandoned the pretense of stretching his legs and succumbed to outright pacing. "Sister, I'm sick of Fu.... Sorry, people trying to separate Cyril and Peter for their own good. I'm not going to let my brother be hurt like that again."
The psychologist sat up straighter. This was new information. She was continuously amazed at the amount of personal information prisoners withheld while seeming to reveal everything. No one was better at the game than Ryan O'Reily. "Other people have cautioned you against allowing Cyril and Peter to become friends?"
O'Reily whirled around to face the nun, "Sister no offense, but you have no idea what you're talking about."
She tried to make herself look as receptive as possible, "So tell me, Mr. O'Reily. What am I missing?"
Ryan stopped, his back against the door. "Cyril and Peter - it's not a new friendship. They went to school together. They've known each other since they were kids." He looked up at the nun, eyes hard, jaw set. "Peter knows what Cyril was like before... When he was normal. Everyone says they're bad for each other." Ryan crossed his arms and stared at the wall above Sister Peter's head. "Maybe they'll help each other to remember what it was like before they got in this shithole."
O'Reily sat down at the computer and booted up. Clearly finished with the conversation and unwilling to listen to the psychologist's counter arguments. She sat behind her desk examining the open file in front of her. After a moment, she retrieved another folder from her file cabinet. O'Reily was too busy trying to calm down and prevent himself from revealing any unnecessary information to notice the movement behind his back. After flipping back and forth between the files for a few minutes, Sister Peter rose in search of a third folder.
"Mr. O'Reily, you attended Holy Cross, yet your brother was enrolled in Sacred Heart on Grand?"
"Yeah, so?" He didn't turn around or stop typing.
Sister Pete snorted; even the Pope couldn't redirect her when she decided on a course of action. Ryan O'Reily was a mere mortal, admittedly a crafty one, but without the supernatural powers it would take to deter her. "Why was that?"
"There was too many of us in Holy Cross. They shipped the overflow down to Sacred Heart. They're the same order. Cyril got lucky."
Looking at the record, she suspected it wasn't a random choice. As a preteen Cyril O'Reily had caused enough trouble to make his presence an unwelcome burden in any school. She knew one of the administrators at Scared Heart. It earned its reputation as the toughest high school in Manhattan. The staff was as brutal as the students they were trying to beat an education into were. It looked like Cyril lived down to expectations his first two years at the school, miraculously avoiding permanent suspension. Suddenly in his junior year, Cyril became the model student. The same year Peter Schibetta arrived as a freshman.
"Peter and Cyril meet at Scared Heart," she addressed the back of Ryan's head.
"Yeah Sister. I told you. They've known each other since they were kids."
That might help her attempts to draw Peter back into his adult world, if it was more then a childhod friendship. "Did they remain friends after Cyril graduated?"
O'Reily finally turned around to face his supervisor. He appeared annoyed. "Look Sister, it won't be in your files." He gestured at the papers on her desk. "But they were business partners for ten years. They shared an apartment and everything. Until Peter's father decided it was time Peter learned to run the family business." Ryan closed his eyes and set his jaw. The Irishman was clearly forcing himself to stay in control. "I told you they knew each other as adults. Not just little boys."
Years of practice in prisons told her when it was time to back off. She wouldn't be getting any more information from O'Reily today. She let him work in silence at his own pace for the rest of the day.
O'Reily smiled as he left the nun's office. Beecher did him a favor when he made O'Reily his replacement. Not only did he have free access every inmate's personal records, but also Sister Peter Marie was proving an easily manipulated prison psychologist. She was on her way to becoming one of Cyril and Peter's biggest defenders. First Keller and now Pete. The Lord was smiling down on him. Mom was right; it never hurt to light a candle after mass. Now if he could only get Sean to come around.
Ryan was torturing himself with memories of Murphy's possessive kisses when he walked into Martin Bevilacqua's pod in search of his brother. Sure enough, Cyril and Peter where entwined together playing while Peter's uncle was engrossed in paperwork. He greeted the Don and was about to offer to take Peter until dinnertime when he noticed Cyril kissing his friend goodbye. Not a little boy's sloppy parody of adult affection. The kiss reminded the audience that while the participants might act like children, they were adults. Adults whose ten year affair was forcibly ended by Peter's father, Martin's brother-in-law. In the name of the family business Bevilacqua now ran.
O'Reily reacted quickly, grabbing his brother. "Cyril no. I told you not to do stuff like that." He shook the frightened man.
"Relax O'Reily. I've seen much worse from these two. Let him go." The small Italian turned to his nephew. "Take Cyril back to his room and make sure he's all right."
Peter's wide eyes relaxed at his uncle's reassuring tone and smile. "Yes Uncle Marty." He took Cyril's hand and started out the door.
"Boys," Bevilacqua stopped them as they were about to cross the threshold. "You be good and don't talk to anyone."
"Yes, Uncle Marty." They chorused as they left.
O'Reily caught Keller's eye and nodded before turning back to face the Don. He could rely on Keller to keep an eye on the boys.
"What is it with you Irish? Always so uptight and brooding. Do you have to make everything into a James Joyce novel?" Bevilacqua was smiling at O'Reily and on the verge of laughing.
Ryan forced himself to relax. This was not an enemy he could afford to make. "Why do you think we're supposed to be drinking all the time. It isn't just the weather."
He wanted to get along with Martin Bevilacqua. Peter's Uncle Marty was the one who set Peter and Cyril up in business together. It was his idea to channel the young men's natural talents into contract killing for the family. 'Make yourselves the best, boys. An indispensable team. That way no one will question why you live together and no one will think about separating you.' He would have been right if Peter's older brother wasn't killed and Nino suddenly needed an heir to take over the business.
Even then, Marty fought to keep Peter out of the front lines of the business. He said Peter had an artist's temperament, not a politician. He liked working alone; he was creative and passionate. Peter wasn't good with people and didn't have the long view. Marty was right. The front lines destroyed Peter. Being ripped away from Cyril destroyed Peter. Cyril was the one supplying all the traits Peter lacked and reinforcing the ones needed to make the partnership work. They were beautiful together. Anybody you wanted taken care of, they could get to. No matter how untouchable they thought they were. Cyril and Peter were like the angels of death. You didn't know what happened until it was all over and even then, you weren't sure.
O'Reily smiled, remembering their fondness for making the hits look like natural causes. Bizarre natural causes, but definitely not murder. He remembered laughing and drinking with the partners as they described some of their more artistic plans. He was happy to use one on Peter's father. It was a nice counterpoise to Nino's earlier actions. Nino broke up his brother's marriage and sent Dino out to kill Cyril. Dino paid for being stupid enough to go after the wrong O'Reily and Nino paid for starting the whole thing in the first place. Ryan chuckled; yeah sometimes life was really good.
"Wanna share the joke O'Reily? Or are you laughing at nothing and planing on taking my nephew's place in the loony bin?"
Ryan smiled at the Don. One of the few men he genuinely respected. Bevilacqua reestablished the Wiseguy control over Oz and did it without pissing anyone off. Fuck, he even had groups crawling over each other for the privilege of helping him out. Marty was better at reading people and preying on their weaknesses then anyone Ryan had seen in his whole life.
"No, Mr. Bevilacqua. I was just remembering how it used to be with Cyril and Peter. Sometimes I look at Cyril and wonder, who is this person wearing my brother's face. And sometimes I look at him and it's like Cyril never left."
"I know kid, not a day goes by that I don't curse Nino Schibetta and what he did to those boys." Martin rose from his desk and walked over to the tall man. He turned Ryan around to look out into the common area and the subjects of their conversation playing catch over the heads of the assembled inmates. "Let them be themselves, together without constant supervision. I never seen a couple as close as those to were. It was as if they had the same brain. Maybe together, they will help each other remember. Maybe we'll get to see more of the men and less of the boys."
"Thanks Mr.B." O'Reily looked down at the friends pulling every throw out of the air, as if the catcher and pitcher shared one mind. "Thanks for reminding me I'm not the only one left alive that knows about what Cyril and Peter used to be."
to be continued