Title: Quick Fix

Author: Philote

Rating: PG-13 (T)

Characters: Cassidy, Dick

Summary: Standing there, looking down at the water and the rocks and the twisted remains of the bus, he had a near-undeniable urge to just jump in after it. To try and fix this somehow.

Warnings: Spoilers through "Not Pictured." Discussions of sexual abuse, rape, and suicide.

Author's Notes: I liked Cassidy; I've had a couple of weeks and I still can't quite cope with evil Cassidy. I suppose this is my attempt to work through it.This is also my first foray into the VM fandom, so feedback is especially appreciated.

oOo

Cassidy wasn't watching when it happened. He just stared at his cell phone. Such an innocuous little thing, such tiny buttons. He didn't look up at the crash, or the screams.

As such, it wasn't really real until they had clamored from the limo and stood at the edge, looking down as debris popped to the surface and floated lazily about.

Then numbness was replaced as a wave of cold swept through him. He crossed his arms over his chest, folding in on himself as the tendrils of panic reached out to entangle him.

He wasn't even aware of Dick's proximity until a warm hand landed firmly on his shoulder, squeezing almost too tightly. Then the rest of the world came into focus. Gia Goodman was a few feet away, crying, clutching her purse like a lifeline. He stared at her for a moment, choosing the odd time to be grateful about how little of her father he could see in her.

Duncan was a bit beyond her, looking shell-shocked. And…yeah. Veronica.

She was supposed to have ridden with Duncan. There was no need for her to have been on the bus. He didn't exactly relish her presence, it was a constant uncomfortable reminder…but he hadn't intended for her to be a victim.

When she came running up a few seconds later, he thought for a beautiful moment that he was dreaming all of this. She couldn't be down there and up here, so if she was here then reality didn't make sense and he was having a nightmare…right?

She shattered that, stammering to Duncan that she'd been left at the service station. The bus was still very much down there, but Veronica Mars was alive.

And what did that mean? One less person he had killed?

The panic crept closer, his breaths coming shorter and more quickly until he started to see spots. People were dead. Classmates, ex-teammates, innocent people…and he had done it.

Dick's hand shifted to rub his back, an instinct he'd developed long ago to help with the panic attacks. But when Cassidy glanced at his brother, the blue eyes were fixed on the water below. Against his better judgment, he let his gaze follow the same path.

And, standing there, looking down at the water and the rocks and the twisted remains of the bus, he had a near-undeniable urge to just jump in after it. To try and fix this somehow.

It wouldn't have been his first try.

oOo

Dick was never into baseball. Cassidy had thought that was a good thing. At first, it had seemed like a great opportunity for him to shine without his big brother's shadow.

He'd only been playing Little League a few months when Dad actually showed up for a game. Cassidy, who wasn't the best player anyway, suddenly couldn't do anything right. He wanted so badly for Dad to be impressed, but he couldn't even keep from tripping over his own feet.

Coach Goodman was terrific. Afterwards he took the time to talk to Dad; told him that Cassidy showed great potential and that nerves were a perfectly common problem. Dad didn't seem to be buying it, but for Cassidy, having an adult stand up for him was a bit of a marvel. And thereafter, no matter how bad Cassidy played, Coach always took time to encourage him and give him a pat on the back.

There were several times in those early days when he dared to wish Woody Goodman was his father.

And one day when no one came to pick him up from practice, Coach Woody offered to drive him home.

He had a van, and he insisted that Cassidy sit in the middle seats instead of the passenger seat. It was safer that way, he'd contended. Blatant concern for his safety was another novelty, so even though it was a bit dark back there with the tinted windows, Cassidy hadn't objected. And when they went to an out-of-the-way ice cream stand before going home, he didn't object to that, either.

He had ice cream dripping down his chin and threatening the upholstery when Coach first crawled into the back with a napkin in hand. And if the hand lingered on his cheek a little too long, he just relished the attention. When Woody started asking questions about his Dad, prompting some near-tears, and then gave him a comforting hug, he ignored any uneasiness in favor of appreciating the affection. And when hands slid to new places, he just sat there dumbly. This was all so unfamiliar to him. The touch came accompanied by sweet and calming words.

He didn't protest.

When Woody dropped him at home, he smiled a bit woodenly and waved goodbye. Then he wandered into the house, feeling numb, and somehow found himself in his Dad's study.

"Coach says I'm doing well. He says he's real proud of me," he announced.

"That's nice, Cass," came the distracted, dismissive answer. Richard Casablancas senior didn't bother to look up from his papers.

Cassidy just stood there. Some part of him wanted to proclaim that Coach thought he was special. That Coach loved him.

But he remembered what Coach had said about his father being a busy man who just didn't have the time for him, and how if he kept quiet so his Dad wouldn't feel bad, Coach would try to make up for some of that.

So he shut his mouth and fled upstairs. He got in the bath, and didn't bother getting out for dinner.

Dick brought him a sandwich later.

It was a few months and several rides home later when he skipped school for the first time ever. Dick had invited him, and there was no way he was turning that down.

They were hanging around the public beach munching on hot dogs from one of the sidewalk vendors when the all-too-familiar voice disrupted the lazy pleasantness of the day.

"Cassidy!"

He froze, very nearly choked, and turned slowly. "Coach," he greeted with a weak smile.

Woody jogged up to them, apparently out for some sort of exercise. "No school today?" he asked casually.

"Um…"

The older man raised an eyebrow. "Feeling sick are we?"

Dick jumped on the excuse. "Er...yeah. Beav here's got a wicked cold."

Woody was trying to keep a stern face, but his eyes twinkled. "That's too bad." His right hand snaked out to rest on Cassidy's shoulder, but he addressed Dick. "You're taking care of your brother, then?"

"Of course. I mean, somebody's got to, right?"

"Oh, sure. Hey, I hear sand and junk food make the perfect cure for colds." It was clear that he wasn't going to be too adult about this. Dick smiled, sensing victory. And, ever so casually, Woody put his other hand on Dick's shoulder.

And Cassidy stared at it, emotions he didn't know how to name roiling through him.

Dick didn't seem to notice. He just kept nodding, his best confident grin firmly in place. For him, there was nothing odd here.

But Woody noted Cassidy's reaction. Their eyes met for a brief moment before Cassidy looked away and Woody released them both with a firm squeeze. "Well, I'd best let you get back to your healing. I want you to be well enough for practice tomorrow!" He punctuated the words with a little mock punch to Cassidy's chin, his hand and eyes lingering a moment longer than necessary before he was jogging off again.

"Hey Beav, you didn't tell me your Coach was so cool."

Cassidy tried to grin and just shrugged. That wasn't true; he had talked ad nauseam about Woody for his first few months with him.

Before.

"Kind of a dork, but cool," Dick kept musing as they headed for the crosswalk to the beach.

He saw the car. He would later try to convince himself that he hadn't, but he was looking in its direction as it rounded the corner. And somewhere between his brain and his legs, the usual instinct to stop and stay on the sidewalk got lost. He stepped into the road.

There was an insistent horn honk and a skidding of tires as he froze in the middle of the street. Then hands grabbed him, hauling him backwards so he fell half on the sidewalk and did a face plant in the grass. He had about half a second to recover before he was forcibly turned onto his back and then hauled into a sitting position, abruptly face to face with a slightly frantic big brother.

"What the hell was that, huh? Do I need to hold your hand to cross the street?"

Cassidy's chest clenched. "I wasn't looking. I'm sorry," he lied, blatantly. It rolled off his tongue with ease.

Dick's features shifted, all anger disappearing as he roughly pulled Cassidy to his chest. "It's okay. It's okay." Dick just kept cradling him, stroking his hair a bit roughly. There was a definite touch of fear in his voice.

And that was incredibly strange. Fear was something he had never seen in Dick. Not even when Mom left.

After a few endless moments Dick released him, pushing him back with a little shove. "But dude, you've got to be more careful. Dad would kill me if something happened to you."

Cassidy didn't say so, but he didn't think that was quite right. It was pretty clear to him that Dad was content with Dick, who he could brag about and put on display. If fate were to relieve him of the son he ignored, he really didn't think Dad would mind that much at all.

oOo

When he finally screwed up the courage to say he wanted to stop playing, Dad didn't take it well. He insisted that Cassidy needed to participate in some kind of sport. He received a great speech about building physical prowess and toughening up.

So Cassidy promised to pick another sport, some other physical activity that would make Dad proud (or at least less ashamed) and still get him far, far from the baseball field.

He decided he wanted to surf.

He didn't really like the water; he was afraid to get out too deep and of whatever slimy things might lurk under the surface. He thought the board was painfully hard and too slick for any normal person to balance on. He hated surfing.

But he decided he'd rather surf, anyway.

Dick was skeptical and mocked him for being a copycat, but he was beaming while he did so. And one afternoon he told Logan he was busy, marched Cassidy down to the beach, and even let him use his second favorite board.

Cassidy could hardly handle it on the sand. It was awkward and heavier than he'd expected, and Dick wound up carrying it to the water and steadying it for the long minutes it took him to climb on.

After several suspiciously 'helpful' comments on how his paddling should be like a golden retriever (Dick informed him that he looked more like a Chihuahua), they got out into the waves.

He decided after about two minutes that the board was demonically possessed. It kept going the opposite way of whichever he was planning, and once he was dislodged the thing was hell-bent on not letting him back on.

Dick kept yelling instructions at him. He tried to follow them, really he did, but he didn't think Dick was destined to be a teacher. They were out there for a good hour before he was able to coordinate well enough to catch and ride a wave while still on his stomach. It was another before he actually got up the courage too straighten his legs and try to stand.

And then—predictably for anyone who knew anything of his life—he slipped, fell, and smacked his head on the demon board.

He was dazed as he sank into the water. It was a blue, serene, quiet world. A little cold, perhaps, but nothing could get to him here. He wasn't all that bothered that the surface seemed so far away. He stopped struggling; stopped moving entirely. He just relaxed and let go.

Suddenly there were hands on him, jerking him out of his blue haven. Up, up, until his head broke the surface and his lungs naturally started trying to drag in air.

But they weren't working quite right yet. He got a brief glimpse of the sky before things darkened, and he just drifted.

The next thing he knew was water being forced from his lungs, up his throat, painful as he tried to cough it up and struggled for breath. Those hands pulled at him, tugging, lifting him partially upright to lean against a solid warmth.

"Geez, Beav." And there was that fear again.

His head hurt. So did his chest, for that matter. He cracked his eyes open to look up at his rescuer. Who would have thought Dick knew CPR?

It was then that the tears made an ill-timed appearance. He didn't really know why, but they started flowing silently down his cheeks to mingle with the sea water.

He buried his face against Dick's arm. The skin was slick and warm and smelled of salt, and Dick allowed him to snuggle a bit as his breathing hitched. He clung to his brother, and Dick just held him as the sun dried and warmed them both.

Dick pretty much wanted him to stay away from surfing after that. He told him that if he was good at baseball, he should stick with it instead.

He wasn't good at baseball. But he couldn't tell anyone that.

oOo

Dick was convinced that he couldn't get laid on his own.

It was almost comical how intent his brother had become on helping him accomplish this goal. So intent that he'd gone to a girl in a different grade with a colorful reputation and made an arrangement that could probably have gotten him arrested outside of Neptune High. Cassidy even thought money might have changed hands.

So tonight was supposed to have been easy and meaningless, with a girl who thought of sex like flipping on the TV. But that still would have been hard enough for him. He'd spent most of the day trying to get drunk enough to reach a point where the mere thought of sexual contact didn't make him cringe.

But now here he was without his buzzed and consenting freshman. Instead he had Veronica Mars, the former sheriff's daughter, unconscious and dead to the world.

"Veronica?" he called tentatively, for the fourth time.

Still nothing.

He sat there, torn between curling into a fetal ball and running for the hills. He didn't think he was near drunk enough for this, after all.

He knew he should get up, cover her and leave her be. But something was stopping him.

He was scared, sure. But if he didn't do something, he was always going to be scared. He needed to know if he could ever get past this. And he might never get another chance.

Besides, Dick and Sean hadn't thought there was anything wrong with this.

With shaky hands he slowly reached for his belt buckle.

When he was done, it took him a good ten minutes to stop trembling enough to refasten his belt. Even once his clothes were in some semblance of order, he still wasn't certain he was steady enough to walk out of the room.

But he couldn't stay there. Veronica was still far from conscious. But she was just lying there, all warm and quiet and completely oblivious to what they'd just done—what he'd just done.

He'd had sex with a drunken girl. That made him a typical teenaged boy, right? He was supposed to feel like a man now…right?

So why did he feel like a monster?

Sudden nausea gave him strength, and he fled. He made it outside and briefly felt bad for the Pomroys' gardener—not to mention Carrie Bishop's shoes—before losing what little he had eaten that day.

He knew he ought to go back, try to wake her or get someone to take her home, and try to fix this somehow. But he knew the only way to fix this was going to be to pretend it had never happened in the first place. Oblivious was the keyword. She didn't ever need to know.

Still, he forced himself back to the room. He thought he should clean her up a bit; make her more comfortable. He shifted her until he could pull the sheets down and then covered her up, touching as little as possible. Every skin to skin contact seemed to burn.

Because he could rationalize all he wanted, but while he hadn't been denied permission, he also hadn't been granted it.

Cassidy had never given or denied consent, either.

She curled into the pillow and he stepped away quickly. But she didn't wake. He watched her a moment longer, thinking how innocent she looked, before he crept away.

He made his way back to the main party, relieved it was still lively enough for no one to take notice of him. He veered away from Dick, Sean, and the others, making a beeline for the bar. He was trying not to think too much, but he knew he'd need some more help if he was going to avoid feeling.

He got himself a beer and crept back into the shadows. He headed in the opposite direction of Veronica's guest room and wound up in a very large, very empty master bedroom.

He sat gingerly on the edge of the bedspread and gulped the beer down. It compounded what was already in his system, but it wasn't making him forget. About halfway through it he stood and wandered into the bathroom, zeroing in on the cabinet beside the mirror.

The medicine cabinet.

He rummaged around, found a name he recognized, and pulled it out. There were only a few pills left. That wouldn't get him much, but it might dull things a bit more.

He really didn't think anything of washing them down with the beer. Not consciously, anyway.

It wasn't long before his thoughts started to cloud, but one came to the forefront. He needed to see Dick.

He stumbled from the bedroom, back towards the party. One thing he had going for him—it was never hard to find Dick. He was generally at the center of the commotion.

Logan was back beside him, apparently finished with Cindy already. Cassidy was pretty sure he was supposed to have some emotion about that. Somehow, he just didn't care anymore.

"Beav!" Dick was exuberant and comically high. He flung open his arms, beckoning with pride.

And, despite everything, Cassidy couldn't help the goofy grin that crossed his face. He tried to get to his brother, but his legs had apparently gone on strike. He tripped forward, barely close enough for Dick to catch him before they both hit the deck.

Then Dick was giggling and mussing his hair, no doubt thinking this was a happy drunken occasion. It was Logan who first started to look a little wary, and Logan who finally came closer to grab his chin and stare into his eyes. "Beaver? Are you okay?"

That was a stupid question, and that was his last coherent thought as the blackness overtook him. The image burned into his brain would be of Dick looking confused while Logan started to look truly freaked.

He woke up to "Dude, they had to pump your stomach," which somehow contained an element of pride despite the accompaniment of a thoroughly disgusted grimace.

He stared lethargically at Dick, his brain not quite comprehending. The sun was bright through the large windows. The room was spacious, as hospital rooms go.

"So Dad asked me what your little binge was about. I told him you were celebrating the loss of your virginity. Then he seemed a little less pissed and more proud."

Cassidy found the energy to raise an eyebrow. "Great."

"So. Veronica."

He stared studiously at the sheet and shook his head, meaning he didn't want to talk about it.

Dick took it as a negative. "It's okay, Beav. I wouldn't want Duncan's leftovers, either. We'll find you a girl. Or…a guy?"

Cassidy's eyes shot back up at that. Was his brother seriously asking if he was gay? Was he that far from typical sexual interactions?

Dick continued, "Because it would be okay if you…you know, swung that way. There's nothing wrong with that or anything." His obvious discomfort suggested otherwise, but it meant something that he was making the statement.

Unfortunately, the line of thought was dredging up all kinds of badness for Cassidy. "No," he interjected, too loudly, and he tried to tone it down. "No, no, no. Girls are good."

Girls were soft and they smelled sweet, not like they'd been outside in the sun all day playing ball, and they didn't grab and push and whisper that it was all right…

Hell, in his experience, they didn't even move.

And, abruptly, he knew he had about two seconds until he threw up, despite the supposedly emptied stomach. He must have gone pale, or green, or something, because Dick suddenly looked alarmed and spun in his chair, nearly tripping over himself to grab a basin and thrust it under Cassidy's chin.

He really didn't have anything to bring up, but that didn't stop him from heaving. Dick stood beside him, nose wrinkled in disgust, rubbing his back soothingly.

"You know Beav, I'm starting to seriously think you may be accident-prone. Maybe we should just lock you in the house from now on."

"Did I scare you?" he teased, trying to find his equilibrium again.

Dick scoffed. "I don't scare, baby brother."

Dick wasn't near as convincing a liar as Cassidy was.

oOo

He stormed home from school that day, slamming doors and using language he'd only heard a very drunk Logan use in reference to Lily Kane (pre-death) and Veronica Mars (post-Lily, and again post-break up).

He'd thought Peter and Marcos were smarter than this.

How could they do this to him? All that time silently sharing their secret, understanding each other in a way no one else could, and now they wanted to tell everyone? To put themselves on display for this judgmental town, to let everyone who ever could have cared know that they were dirty?

The anger was welcome. It was masking his initial reaction, which had been pure blind panic. His stomach had dropped somewhere near his feet, and it hadn't come back yet. The mere thought of this going public was beyond his handling.

Everyone was going to know.

Dad was going to disown him.

He felt the panic creeping back, and he fled to the bathroom in search of water. As he splashed his face, his eyes got caught on his reflection in the mirror.

That scared little boy should have been long gone, but here he was again, staring plainly out of the watery brown eyes. He drew in a deep breath, and his lower lip trembled. The image was pathetically weak and helpless.

The anger came back in a wave. Before he knew what he was doing he'd made a fist, pulled it back enough to get good leverage, and let it smash hard into the mirror.

The instant seemed to be eternal, but when it was over his emotions seesawed yet again. The anger fled, leaving in its place a numb sort of nothingness.

His reflection was now distorted by the cracks. He slowly turned his gaze to his tingling hand, a little startled by the amount of blood.

Then his eyes shifted past it, to the shards lying in the sink.

He didn't make a conscious decision about it. His left hand just seemed to drift out of its own accord, plucking a single shard from the mess. A slender, long, particularly sharp-looking shard.

"Beav! What the hell, man?"

He jumped and dropped the glass, then was left standing dumbly and staring at his big brother as his blood dripped into the sink.

Dick stared at him in shock for a moment more before he was beside him, grabbing the nearest towel and wrapping it tightly around his hand. The pain was suddenly very real, and Cassidy gasped and tried to pull back. Dick grasped his forearm in an iron grip, easily keeping him in place.

"Who pissed you off, huh?"

The careless tone and smirk did nothing to hide the hint of fear.

"You're staining the towel." His voice sounded funny, far off.

"No, you are," Dick shot back. He pulled the soaked cloth away, swearing when he got a good look at the damage. He reached for another one, already pulling Cassidy towards the door. "Come on. Hospital."

He didn't want to go to the hospital. In fact, he didn't want to walk down the hall. The walls were swimming alarmingly and he leaned heavily into Dick as his brother led him.

He wouldn't remember the entire trip to the car, later it would just seem like a dreamy haze. But somehow Dick got him buckled into the passenger side and they were soon zooming down the road.

As the trees flew by at an unhealthy speed, he glanced sideways to study his brother. He was beginning to notice a pattern: Dick got surprisingly responsible when Cassidy got self-destructive.

Dick caught him looking. "You want to tell me about it?"

"No."

He grinned, his best irresistible, smartass grin. "You want me to kill someone for you?"

He was kidding, of course. But Cassidy heard the protective edge. He'd seen Dick in his dumbest blonde moments, but he'd also seen him be vindictive and destructive. He'd seen him with multiple cans of gasoline, waging war with the PCH'ers on Logan's behalf. He knew what his brother was capable of when it came to standing by the people he cared about.

And he knew that if he said 'Woody Goodman molested me,' Dick might actually kill the man.

But he didn't want that for Dick. And while he had no doubt that Dick would play the big brother card, he also knew that the knowledge would irrevocably change things between them.

He couldn't say it, anyway.

But someone else—two someones—could. They were planning on saying it. And it would bring the same results, possibly even worse.

No. Something else would have to be done.

oOo

Standing there, looking down at the water and the rocks and the twisted remains of the bus, he had a near-undeniable urge to just jump in after it. To try and fix it somehow.

He'd spent most of his childhood trying to fix his life. Missing Mom had resulted in his desire to be closer to Dad. Signing up for Little League had been his attempted fix for Dad's indifference.

And somehow, on some level, he'd always known that the only quick fix for the mess with Woody Goodman was death.

More recently he'd convinced himself that doing away with Peter and Marcos was his only option. But now he was realizing what he supposed he'd known all along.

The only death that would fix this was his.

He couldn't imagine a jump from this kind of height not killing him. All he had to do was step away from Dick. He could join Peter and Marcos; bury this thing once and for all.

He took a tentative step closer; felt Dick's hand drop away from his back.

Something bobbed to the surface.

A body. A body with long, blonde hair. Definitely not one of his two targets.

Behind him Dick inhaled sharply, sounding almost frightened. And Cassidy froze.

He wasn't ready. He couldn't do it.

He took a step backwards, away from the edge. He turned his face into his brother's chest and let Dick hold him.

He didn't deserve the comfort any more than he deserved to be standing there. But it was too late. All his attempts had failed. He was in far too deep to fix anything easily.

He'd just have to hang on and fight for what he had left.

oOo