character(s)/pairing(s): ryan o'reily, ryan/miguel
word count: 2,202 words.
warning(s): I use the f-word a lot and there are vague mentions of sex. Spoilers through the series finale.
summary: Everyone lies. Every battle has a winner.
It starts with a favor. A big one. Ryan doesn't ask for many big favors, mostly because they involve massive plots which usually end with dead bodies and large webs and despite his talents, he really does prefer a simple scheme.
This is a simple big favor, though. Procure an item that means more than it's worth.
He asks it of Miguel, and Miguel delivers. Ryan promises himself he will remember that (he lies, of course).
Ryan's forgotten all about that stethoscope now, but he remembers the moment after it's secured - the moment when Miguel takes one look at him and knows. Ryan's not usually that easy to read, and this says something about their future.
There is no love in Oz, Miguel says without pity, without any feeling at all. It's probably a truth.
That'll never mean much to Ryan.
The truth is relative.
Ryan learns this at a young age. His father is a liar, but everyone outside of his house believes the words he says. His kids are just clumsy, his wife hasn't been getting enough sleep, his daughter fell out of her crib. And if they don't believe him, it doesn't matter. They turn a blind eye. They let the lie live on.
It's okay, though. Ryan reads a lot of history books growing up and he learns that the victors always write history. Their word becomes truth, and the losers' stories wither and fade over time - becomes wives' tales or bedtime stories.
His childhood is now an ancient myth.
When he's older, he embraces the idea that he can make his own reality, write his own truth. He clings to it in Oz like it's his religion (one that won't abandon him). His very own as-salamu alaykum.
And it does bring him peace knowing that these seeds of discontent he plants so easily have a greater purpose.
Everyone lies. Every battle has a winner.
These days Ryan might as well tattoo a fucking crown on his forehead.
There are many types of lies. Ryan finds that the best kinds are the ones that evade the truth while still managing to acknowledge its possibility.
For instance, that detective insinuates that he and Scott Ross were lovers. Truth. Ryan let that scumbag jerk him off on a consistent basis. Although there was nothing lovely about it. So maybe it was more a half-truth.
Either way, Ryan swears to that detective that he isn't a fag. But even if he was...
Well, you get the picture.
Scott Ross was the first.
In prison, at least.
Ryan was smart. He chose another liar. Figured the whole boy who cried wolf would work to his advantage. He doesn't think about Ross once after he dies, and that's usually how it goes. He doesn't give much thought to the men he let touch his dick.
Deep down though, he can admit it will catch up with him.
Lying to himself was never an option.
If he did, the web he was constantly weaving would swallow him whole.
He was the compass - this becomes important.
Gloria is a lie.
But he's aware of it. Vaguely.
Even in his greatest delusions, he knows it will go nowhere.
But as hard as he tries to take this lie and bend it into a truth, it doesn't take. And yet she isn't his downfall. That love he felt for her - that grand delusion - it takes his freedom, takes his pride, takes his brother - leaves him bruised.
But he's still there. Still lying through his fucking teeth. And she's still there too because the only lies she tells are to herself.
It's a victory even when it doesn't feel like one.
During this time, he tries to stay faithful to Gloria. Hopes maybe it will mean more if he does.
But of course, that doesn't work. There's Howell. And some no names in Unit B. And Keller once which he regrets the minute after it's done.
And then - then there's something else.
Latinos are his weakness. Even before Gloria, this was the case.
When he was cheating on Shannon, most of the women he picked up were caramel skinned and spoke with thick accents. Same goes for men.
He has steered clear of the Latino population in here. For survival. Miguel makes it difficult. They don't cross paths often, but when they do, Miguel makes sure to leave a mark - stares a little too long, says something that cuts a little too deep.
And then one day, Miguel pushes against his shoulder, makes him assume the position - tongue swirling around that lollipop and shit, Ryan wonders how dumb the other Latinos are if they don't see this as flirting.
But there's too much shit going on. Too much shit that just happened what with the spiked water and the drug bust. Ryan doesn't like to fuck people he's recently fucked over.
He files it away for later.
Later is three years and a thousand unlucky steps between.
Miguel floats through life in a haze called Destiny and Ryan is buried in the remains of his greatest delusion. This is when Ryan hears the rumors about Miguel and Torquemada. He remembers he called it, and he plans to torture Miguel for it - step one in the seduction process.
Before he can, Miguel comes to him while they're on duty, looks him straight in the eye and tells him he's sorry for his loss. This is a week after Cyril dies. Whether he's sober or not when he says it, it doesn't matter. Ryan's never seen that kind of pain in anyone's eyes before, not even his own. He looks away when he thanks him.
Ryan decides Miguel is not like the rest of them and that's a fucking scary thought.
The thing about Ryan (one of his many quirks actually) is for all his self preservation skills, he likes to challenge himself. He tends to run into the fire just so he can find a way to pull himself out.
Miguel is fire in this case. Ryan is most definitely a moth.
Everyone knows how this should end.
That's the point.
A year progresses without much to be said. Ryan waits for something good to happen, something akin to relief but it never comes. This has little to do with Miguel.
Ryan's father dies and his mother gets sick and Gloria's still watching him like every step he makes is going to be the wrong one. It makes him sick inside because he'll miss Cyril every day for the rest of his life and the woman he loves (loved?) feels better, lighter with him dead. One day he slips. He finds a private room during work duty, sinks to the floor and cries.
And then it has everything to do with Miguel because Miguel finds him minutes after. A sign from a God Ryan doesn't believe in. Miguel doesn't say a fucking word. Ryan looks up and sees Miguel's a thousand miles away. He wishes it were always that easy. Pop a pill and float away. But then he remembers Miguel's dead eyes and thinks there is no escape.
"I am so fucked up," Ryan whispers. It's a sign of weakness, but he's pretty sure Miguel won't remember this tomorrow anyways.
Miguel grins and Ryan knows he deserves it. It still hurts even if Miguel is too high to realize the common courtesy of faking empathy, even if Ryan's never had much use for it in here.
Miguel kneels in front of him, Ryan's legs making room for him between them. Miguel's hand lands on his shoulder before slowly moving up to curl around the back of his neck. "Can't get much worse than this, hermano." He laughs as he says it.
Ryan leans forward, casts his head down and the top of his head brushes against Miguel's chest. He notices Miguel is wearing mismatched socks, and he laughs too. Bitterly. What could be funnier than Miguel giving him a lesson on rock bottom when he glides above it refusing to let his feet touch down.
Ryan covers the hand against his neck with his own. "Ain't that the fucking truth, Miguel."
Miguel watches him, constantly now. Maybe he always did and Ryan was too busy wallowing this past year to realize it. But now Ryan has zoned in on Miguel, on his mannerisms, his body language, his facial expressions. He plans to learn them all so that he can always be one step ahead in whatever happens next (and next is pretty much inevitable now), but it's hard to do any of that when Miguel won't stop staring at him.
No one's ever taken Ryan as seriously as they should. Miguel knows better.
Another sign to tread lightly. Another sign ignored.
One day they sit together in one of the hospital wing's private rooms. Door locked, chair pushed up against it. Miguel, on the bed. Ryan, leaning against the wall, watching him. They lock the doors because Miguel's about to get high, take that little green tab and press it against his tongue. He never swallows it. He lets it dissolve completely in his mouth, pulls his cheeks in and sucks at it to speed up the process. Ryan knows this because as soon as that pill passes Miguel's lips, he has an excuse to watch the column of Miguel's throat, study the way the muscles clench, and wait for the swallow that never comes.
"You don't need that shit. You know that right?" Ryan says, before Miguel has time pop the pill into his mouth.
Miguel eyes the D-tab, rolls it between his index finger and thumb and then eyes Ryan. He smirks, "Give me something else to suck on."
Ryan's eyebrow rises at the suggestion.
The blatancy more than the innuendo is a turn-on. Ryan crosses the room in three large steps and his tongue is down Miguel's throat before Miguel can change his mind.
After that, Ryan never spots another D-tab in Miguel's hand. Just in case, Torquemada has an unfortunate accident. Miguel doesn't ask.
"I had nothing to do with it," Ryan says anyways.
Another lie. Miguel didn't ask but it was expected. He just smiles like somehow Ryan still managed to tell him the truth.
Bodies still fall. Ryan's to blame for some of them. Miguel still doesn't ask and Ryan's given up lying to him about it. Lets the silence speak for itself. It's hard to lie to Miguel. A lie always needs a justification - even a weakly veiled one. With his brother, it was always for his own good. With the scum in here - the inmates and the hacks - well, they do the very same to him.
But, Miguel - Miguel can handle his own, doesn't need any protecting, and he doesn't lie to Ryan, not even when he knows it'd be better off for him if he did. Miguel is an open book and Ryan's pretty sure that's part of his agenda, like he understands Ryan too well to let himself be played.
They share a pod now. People suspect things and Miguel asks him once when they're in lockdown if the rumors bother Ryan.
This is their daily routine: Ryan sitting on Miguel's bunk reading one of his travel magazines and Miguel on the floor beside him with his back to Ryan, watching out over Oz.
"The truth is relative," Ryan says, like he has a thousand times before. No one's ever heeded the warning.
Miguel shrugs like it's just another lie Ryan likes to tell. Another part of the routine. "It always shows itself eventually."
Ryan nudges Miguel in the back with his knee. "Don't say that. Lying's my livelihood."
Miguel turns around, grins wickedly. "I think you got more to live for, baby."
Ryan hates when he says shit like that.
Later that night, with Miguel's hand stretched tightly around Ryan's cock, Miguel whispers te amo for the first time. Ryan's brain is a little hazy from the sex but he's vaguely aware of what that means. And yet, to avoid any confusion, Miguel turns his lips against Ryan's ear and says it in English so that Ryan comes apart right then.
Miguel says he loves him. Miguel doesn't lie.
The truth is still relative. It still means nothing.
But this - this Ryan thinks is that exception that proves the rule.
Of course, if history were to be remembered Miguel once said there was no love here. Miguel doesn't lie.
Ryan forgets this catch.
History says, eventually, Ryan will tell Miguel he loves him back.
He will live happily ever after.
Or he will end up dead because Miguel turned out to be the better liar of the two.
It all depends on who gets to write the ending.