Warning: This is a DARK FIC. It touches on some pretty nasty issues, although I've tried not to be too explicit with anything. If you can watch the show, you can read this, but themes of rape and child molestation are here, using some naughty words as well. Use of second-person POV, so if that's not your thing, you might not enjoy it. It also has spoilers up to and including the season two finale 'Not Pictured', so if you don't want to be spoiled, please don't read.
"See? Your brother has no issues with behaving himself, Dick. This is my home and while you're in it, you'll obey my rules. Dick? Dick!"
A rueful headshake, a smile that's more satisfaction than exasperation. It's always like that with him, and him.
"Ah," and it's pleased, almost, like Dick being an idiot is a matter of pride, "you're not like him, are you, Cassidy? You're a good boy."
A good boy.
That's what Woody always said.
If you're being fair (and you generally are, you're pale and considerate, so both senses of the word) it starts before Woody starts what you wish he'd never begun. But beginnings are like that, elusive and fragile. It's hard to pin them down to specific events and moments and flashes of colour and life. Life's like that, a vicious cycle. Everything bleeds. Out, in, smearing into the next thing until all you can see is red.
A world etched in crimson is still infinitely preferable to one that's blurred with tears.
But you almost like the red wash now. You think it's anger and you have a right to that, what with your brother and your family and that stupid fucking nickname that everyone thinks fits you better than your real one.
If they even know it.
It's a joke, of course. You got that right away. Poor little Beaver, he ain't never getting some of that. You reassure yourself, in the beginning, delude yourself into thinking it's the animal they mean. Big teeth - yeah, you've got those. You're little and resourceful and your big fat tail is fucking useful and can do smackdown like nothing else.
The red comforts you. Anger gives you strength. You're a Casablancas, even if no one remembers that. You're more than they think you are, but one day, they'll understand.
"No!" I'm not having you spend your entire life just wandering around the house like a ghost. This year you're going to make an effort, Cassidy. So make a choice - soccer, or baseball."
Funny how Dad says those. For some reason, they both sound like hell.
"Come on, pick one. The Kane boy plays soccer, you could team up with him."
Baseball games can drag out longer, but soccer matches are ninety minutes of hard running and non-stop play. Self-preservation wins over possible friendship - Duncan has always been nice, if distant - and the decision is easy enough, in the end.
Dick and Sean are both gone and suddenly it's just you. And her, of course, but she's so quiet it's like you really are alone in the room. She almost blends into the bedspread, all white cotton and yellow fibres and a thin stretch of black where her head meets her neck.
You read a book once, a horror story. It was about a girl with a black velvet choker that she told her lover never to take off.
"Promise me," she ordered him and he wanted the pussy so he obeyed.
After a while, he grew curious, so he slept around on the side. And yeah, he undid the choker, and her head just came right off.
"You promised!" said the head, and he shat himself and died.
You don't touch her necklace.
"Hello, Cassidy." The man's all smiles and handshakes and cheerful pats on the head.
It's not often you're appreciated. It's strange, almost nice.
The hand moves to your shoulder and squeezes gently before letting go. "I'm looking forward to having you on the team."
You nod, and watch him. Your shoulder feels bereft.
The first time you see her, you think her hair is drenched in blood. Red streaks through the black strands remind you of dark marks on pale thighs. You remember the power you felt then and your secret wraps around you like a strong, warm hand resting on a shoulder.
"Hey," she says, and she dimples. It's endearing. She reminds you of you.
"Hey," you reply, and smile.
You think maybe she understands. She has a name too, one that no-one ever uses.
She's the same, really she is.
You'll only ever call her Cindy. This, you swear.
"No! Definitely not! You've only played half a season, I'm not letting you back out now!"
You've never seen him like this. His face is red.
"But Dad --"
"No! You will learn to buckle up and take it like a man. Quitting is for losers, Cassidy. Are you a loser?"
A rhetorical question. Yes, you want to say. Yes.
But you're a good boy, so you don't. You take it like a man.
You don't want to sit with them, but you just don't have a choice. The people you're surrounded with - your age, your classmates, your peers- don't like you, and you're not quite sure why. Maybe it's a good thing. Friends are so hard to shut up.
Like Dick, and Logan.
"Dude, I'm telling you. She wanted Little Richard more than she's wanted anything in her whole life."
"Dick, we're talking about Madison Sinclair. She's never had an opportunity to want anything. She merely thinks, and so it does present itself before her."
Dick looks thoughtful. Logan swigs his drink. "Well...yeah. I mean, it did kind of present."
You feel slightly nauseous, but Logan crushes his can and gives a high five.
"Who's the man?" he asks.
"I am," Dick replies smugly, and you whisper it too.
"Tell me, Cassidy, have you ever played ball before?"
You haven't. You don't even like it, but you don't want this nice man - Good man, you think, Goodman - to know that you think his passion is just plain wrong.
"No," you reply truthfully, and his smile is sudden and bright.
He rubs his hands together. "That's okay, we might just need to give you some extra lessons. I'll be your private coach. How does that sound?"
You have his undivided attention and you feel giddy under his regard. You've never been looked at like this before.
Like you're special.
"I'd like that," you tell him, and he offers you his hand.
She's loose. Her body, that is, loose and kind of drapy, like a life-sized rag doll that you can move any way you like. First, you spread her arms across the pillows, and it's like she's on a big, soft crucifix, being offered just to you.
Then you spread her legs.
It's okay, having her still like this. It's better to be still. You haven't played baseball for three years but you remember that part at least.
"Shh," you whisper, and Veronica whimpers in her sleep.
"Don't move," you murmur, and her face kind of twitches as you push.
"I love you," you sigh against her, and as you shudder so does she.
"Dude, it's Mr I-am-a-winner coming through!" Dick twirls his hands and bows as you hobble past on stiff legs. He slaps your bottom and a tear wells up and over, slipping down your cheek before you can will it all away.
"Shut up," you tell him fiercely and he steps back, confused.
Of course he is.
"But Beav," you hate it, you hate that stupid nickname because by all rights you should be Dick, he's got it all wrong, God, he's so stupid, "you won. You were awesome. I totally caught the last piece of the game."
"It's called an inning," you tell him carefully, and start your shuffle back up to your room.
"Oh," he says behind you, and you don't even notice it's the first time he's ever been proud of you.
You and Cindy scroll the website, grinning matching grins because you're both the same. There's something warm building up in your chest, rising slow and steady like champagne bubbles filled with drugs.
"Oh, she's good," Cindy says and you nod because you would have picked that one too, but you're the same person, so it's to be expected. "Or is it a he?"
She sounds worried and confused so you reassure her and take her - your - hand. "It doesn't matter in the end," you tell her, and it's the truth, of course.
Dick, Beaver, it doesn't matter in the end.
"What position?" Mr Goodman asks after he explains the rules and regulations and the how-it's-gonna-go-downs.
You put a hand on your forehead to shade your eyes. "Left field?" you ask vaguely, thinking that you won't have to do much out there.
He laughs, and it's as warm as his hand, and you feel it on your shoulder like a guardian angel. "Oh, no, Cassidy. I need you closer than that. Somewhere I can keep an eye on you, somewhere in the heart of the game." He leans in, closer, and he smiles so it reaches his eyes. "I'm thinking shortstop."
You nod without blinking. Mr Goodman knows best.
You like science and chemistry and drawing those little maps for where electricity goes. It's like a house plan, really, and the guests can only go where the switches let them pass. It's not that hard, drawing up a bomb, and it's almost, almost easy putting the whole thing together.
Slipping one on the bus, the plane - less challenging than bunting a slow ball.
You live in a convenient era.
You push 'send' on your cell.
"I'm doing it for you, Cassidy!"
The smile is gone now. He looks worried, tortured. He looks geniune.
He always does.
"Why?" you manage. You're scared and crying and you don't have a belt so your pants are around your ankles and you know you should feel naked but you feel stifled instead. He's still plaintive and sad and it's your fault, you think.
"I care for you," he says, moving closer, and his hand is on your shoulder again, but it's hot, not warm. You're burning, you're on fire. "I want to save you."
You're hurting me, you think, but then he's holding you close.
"Shh," he says, tugging on your shirt. "Don't move." He presses his lips to your head. "I love you."
You close your eyes.
Veronica's eyes are open and they're filled with hate and tears. You always thought she was kind of pretty but she's beautiful in this moment, more so than she's ever been before. The gun is somewhere but you don't have it; you're not quite sure where it went. You thought Logan might have it but he has both his arms around Veronica like he can press her into his skin and you want to tell him it's impossible but he's angry and unbalanced and you're standing on a ledge.
"Jump," his eyes say even as his mouth shapes something else, but you listen to the eyespeak because words are full of lies.
"Do it," his eyes urge and you don't really have a choice because someone's fucked up majorly and you think it might be you.
Maybe it's Cindy. It doesn't matter, you suppose.
"Do us all a favour, Beaver," his eyes sneer and you want to shoot him but you can't because you don't have the gun.
"My name," you scream, "is Cassidy!"
You step backwards into nothingness and everything and the wind presses its warm hands all over your back. Your shoulders tingle and you giggle and then suddenly it's black.
It's black, all around you.
Except where it's red.
Oh, Veronica Mars, how you make me want to write. The story about the girl and the head coming off is something I actually read when I was younger. I'm not sure what anthology it's from, but the short story is called 'The Girl With the Black Velvet Band'. Thanks for reading, and please review if you enjoyed the fic.