Broken Boy Soldiers
Neptune breaks its sons. Logan, Cassidy, Dick, Weevil, Duncan
A/N: There is a reason why Wallace isn't included in this fic. I adore Wallace, but to me, he always seemed set apart from all of the drama and sordidness of Neptune—that's who he is—and beside, he didn't grow up there, so it didn't get a chance to be corrupted by it. For Wallace love, go read "Antithesis."
Also, these might slightly deviate from canon. Just forgive me and love me anyways.
Disclaimer: They're Rob's.
His dad hit him for the first time the day they moved to Neptune.
Logan liked to hide, always had. So that first day in the big, brand new house, he darted off to find hiding spots, for himself, for his treasures (old coins, arrowheads, baseball cards, the flask swiped from Dad's dresser). It was purely by coincidence that he wandered out to the courtyard and into the pool house and he heard a woman's laugh. He knew what that laugh meant. It was the one women used to get a man's attention—and women were always trying to get Dad's attention. But it wasn't Mom's laugh. Logan pushed the door to the pool house open and regretted it for the rest of his life (even though he knew that Dad probably would have hit him sooner or later anyways).
When Dad drew back from the woman (she was the newly-hired maid, young, beautiful, Latina), Logan didn't even see his fist flying out. He saw a blossom of red, felt an explosion of pain in his jaw.
Dad told Mom that Logan had tripped on the wet stone around the pool (she believed him, or said she did, and her eyes went all glassy, and Logan started hating her just a little bit at that moment). The doctor told Logan that he was lucky he hadn't broken his jaw and to be more careful around the pool (Logan told the guy to fuck off and then kicked him in the shin; he was grounded for two months). Trina told Logan that he'd gotten what he deserved (he'd spilled his milkshake on her sweater that morning). That, at least, Logan knew wasn't true.
But Logan liked Neptune other than that. It was smaller and (allegedly) safer than L.A., and there were kids in their neighborhood, and so Mom let him play outside, in the cul-de-sac with Duncan Kane and Casey Gant and Dickie Casablancas. And then Logan met Duncan's sister Lilly and fell in love for the first time (nobody can love with the ferocity of twelve years old, unless it's eighteen when the whole world is epic). Logan went to the Kane's for breakfast, and after school and during the summer, stayed out as late as he could every night at one of his friends' houses, the park, the beach. Outside, it was easy to pretend that he liked his life.
But home meant belts, cigarette butts, hair brushes, and Mom pouring another glass of wine to wash down her little pills.
Dad didn't hit him every day or even every week. No, he was too much of a manipulative bastard to do that. Instead, he left time between "punishments," letting Logan grow comfortable, let him begin to think that maybe it wouldn't happen again (later, he learned that Dad had learned that from researching for a movie in which he played a guerilla fighter in a sci-fi picture, and how screwed up and pathetic was that?). Logan taught himself not to cry or cry out or beg.
Instead, he decided that if he was going to get punished anyway, he might as well deserve it.
That's when life got really interesting.
Cassidy Casablancas died two weeks and three days after his eleventh birthday. That was the day he walked down the stairs in his brand new baseball uniform, Dad's old glove in his hand, and Dickie laughed at him. His big brother was playing video games with the new kid Logan, and when he saw Cassidy, all elbows and knees and curls slicked back and his baseball cap and his eager smile, Dickie laughed and elbowed Logan in the ribs. "He looks like Beaver Cleaver!"
Dickie thought it was hilarious, and Logan found it pretty funny, too, and after that, Dickie never called him Cassidy again (he also made him quite calling him Dickie after a while, saying that he would go by Dick just like Dad. But Cassi—Beaver never stopped thinking of him as Dickie).
That was also the day his innocence was stolen away from him, but he couldn't have known that at the time.
Mom had left on Christmas Day, four months ago, right in the middle of Dickie and Cassidy opening their presents. She took one look at the ring Dad had bought her—it wasn't enough carats—and stalked upstairs, threw her stuff into a suitcase, and walked out the door. Dickie didn't pay much attention; he was too busy with his WWF action figures, but Cassidy went and hid under his bed and cried.
He hid under his bed and cried, too, the day he became Beaver. He never, ever told anyone about what happened after practice that day; even years later, up on the roof, he never confirmed it. But he curled up into a ball, tight as he could, and backed up against the wall, and sobbed for four hours straight. Dad was at work, Mom was gone, the housekeeper was buying groceries, and Dick(ie) was at the Echolls's. So Cass—Beaver was alone with his tears.
He begged at dinner that night, and every night at dinner afterwards, to be allowed to quit the team. He thought of a million reasons—he wasn't good at it; the other kids were bigger and made fun of him (this was true); he wanted to take Tae-Kwon-Do like Dick; he thought he was developing asthma.
But Dad was adamant. He had started something, and by God, he was going to finish it.
Beaver saw the season out. It was only one season, but it was enough.
It was then that Beaver started becoming…different. Up until then, he had been admired and resented by the kids at school because he had a cool older brother and got to tag along with the older boys, because he had all the newest toys and latest video games and the fastest bike. In Neptune, kids learn young that connections and money are the two most important things in life.
But Beaver turned his back on them, turning to books and making movies and getting perfect grades because those were things that were his and were new and so had never been tainted. He stopped caring about where the other kids bought their clothes or about having the most expensive car.
And so he abandoned his birthright. Gave up the social position that was his by default of being the son of one of the richest businessmen in town and having a big brother who was invited to every party.
There was no part of him that was Cassidy anymore; he became Beaver.
And when the truth finally came out and he had the choice up on the roof, there was no reason not to jump (he'd been dead for years anyway, why not make it official?).
There's something sick about living in the place where your little brother killed himself, but Dick just laughs it off. There isn't any place else to go. He hasn't heard from Dad in months; Kendall's disappeared; his brother's gone; and Logan's like the only family he has left, though he would never admit to that.
So, sure, he's reminded every day that this is the place the Beav died. But it's a hell of a lot better than living in the place where the Beav lived.
The summer between high school and college was hell. If you'd told him months ago that he'd be living alone in Casa de Casablancas with no adult supervision and a trust fund, he'd have thrown a party to celebrate. But it's different having to walk by his brother's room and finally understanding why the wimp used to hide under his bed after practice.
Besides, he always kind of figured that that the Beav would always be there.
Beav—Cassidy was always, always there. Dick had teased him, sure (unmercifully), but he never really minded the little guy tagging along. The mocking was just something to do.
It doesn't seem real to him until the first time he orders takeout. It's three days after the funeral and he's worked his way through all the casseroles that out-of-town relatives brought with them. He's never liked casserole, but he's never cooked anything in his life—he never even had to pour his own cereal (Cass did that). He orders beef chow mein and four eggs rolls and then that weird duck dish and that gross soup that looks like pee with bits of toilet paper floating in it. He pays the guy, opens it up, and then he breaks down.
He's ordered way too much food, and half of it's for Beav—Cassidy.
He cries for the first time in a very, very long time.
Two months later, and he realizes that if he ever wants to get laid again, he should probably wash his clothes. Only problem is, he's never washed clothes before. The maid did it till Dad left, and after that, Kendall made Cassidy do it. Cass rolled his eyes and grumbled, but he did it, and so Dick never had to think about it.
The first load comes out and all the clothes are this lameass shade of pink. The second load, half of his shirts have shrunk so small he suspects that the Beav's dorky friend Hart couldn't fit into them. The third load has these weird white spots all over them, like the colors just been soaked away.
He really misses Cassidy then.
So he throws a party. Dick's famous for his parties, and he needs to get plastered—and what better way to do it than with a hundred drunk people and horribly loud techno music filling his brain with sound so that he can't hear himself think?
Things fall apart once they move past the planning stage—the planning stage consisting of thinking, I should throw a party. First of all, Lucky's gone and got himself shot, so who's going to provide the beer? Dick's never had a problem getting his hands on a couple of twelve packs, but kegs are different things altogether.
Then there's food and getting the news out and setting up the sound system and getting someone to dj. For the first time, Dick realizes that Cassidy did all that. He'd burst into Beaver's room and say, Beav, let's have a party Friday night. Then he'd call Lucky and on Friday night show up at the beach or the old warehouse or wherever the Beav told him to.
So now he calls Logan. I want to have a party.
Logan's voice is wary. What kind of party?
A "My Brother Killed a Bunch of People and then Jumped off the Roof" party.
Silence on the other end of the line. After a moment: How 'bout a "The House Is Empty" party?
Whatever. Same difference.
When he wakes up he finds that he finds that he's on the kitchen counter, laying in a puddle of beer and he has to peel himself off the granite. He stumbles into the living room and finds a guy he doesn't know passed out under the coffee table. There are half-empty cups and abandoned chip bags everywhere and interesting stains of indiscernible origin. Or maybe that's the spots that are dancing in front of his eyes. He can feel the beat of last night's music pounding in his head, only more so.
Aspirin. He tears the house apart looking for it, his headache intensifying every moment. He finds himself sprawled out of on the bathroom floor, sobbing his eyes out. He has no idea where the aspirin is. Cassidy always brought it to him.
He just waits for the pain to pass (and so what if it never really does?).
He finds that he's talking to himself, and that's just pathetic. It isn't that he's actually addressing himself; it's just that, for as long as he can remember, he's done his thinking (what little he actually does) out loud, so that Cassidy could tell him when he was doing too much of it. And now it's habit, and he does it till he trails off and realizes that his brother isn't answering.
He moves in with Logan because he started sleeping in Cassidy's bed (it smelled like the Beav) and that's the sickest thing of all.
He's the textbook definition of a juvenile delinquent, and he isn't sure whether to laugh at the cliché or beat the hell up anyone who references it. Just look at the facts: raised on the wrong side of town, unwed mom, deadbeat dad who skipped town before he was even born, gangster cousins, the only stability in his life a caring grandmother who had too many kids and not enough time on her hands.
Of course, it doesn't help when your mom is knifed in the alley behind your house on her way home from the Sac-N-Pac one night when you're only thirteen. Sure, she was distant and drunk a lot and he was never sure she'd come home at night, but she was still his mom, and he loved her.
More than that, though, he knew he had to avenge her. He didn't let himself cry one tear (he cried for the last time when he was six years old; some rich white kid ran over his new puppy; Uncle Angel smacked him across the back of the legs with his belt—just once—and told him that crying was for little girls); instead, he and Chardo and Felix went straight to it. The sheriff's department had "looked into it," but never convicted or even arrested anyone on account of there being no evidence (one deputy, prematurely balding, short and stocky but with a calm manner completely different from Sheriff Donovan's, pulled his grandma aside and told her how sorry he was for her loss and that the sheriff hadn't even begun to investigate thoroughly. Eli'd been standing just outside the not-quite-closed door and heard it all).
Eli and Felix and Chardo didn't find any evidence, either. But Felix's older sister worked down at the club and she heard things. One night, the three boys stole Uncle Angel's gun and met Diego Moreno as he was sneaking into a warehouse down by the cliffs on the PCH.
Eli was the one who pulled the trigger first. He missed. That is, he hit Moreno's leg and not his heart or his head. Eli'd never been disposed to violence; he had no qualms about fistfights and would hold his own despite being shorter than the other boys, but he wasn't a sadist and didn't pull the wings off bugs like Chardo did. So he'd held that gun on occasion, shooting at and shattering the headlights on 09er cars, but he hadn't developed a steady hand under fire.
Chardo had. With a snort of disgust, he grabbed the gun and shot two shots in succession. One hit Moreno's stomach, the other his chest. The cliffs were handy: the boys weighted down Moreno's pockets with gravel and threw him over the edge. He was reported missing, but the sheriff never did anything. The boys had been counting on that.
Moreno was the first person Eli didn't kill. Sometimes when he was working on his bike, he would think of the kick of the gun in his hand and wonder if he missed on purpose. Part of him was pretty sure he had. The other part called that part weak. But the idea of killing—actually killing, not just beating to within an inch of life, not watching someone else pull the trigger—puts a sick taste in his mouth. He's not sure what that means.
Eli learned two things from that night on the cliffs: that he might not have it in him to kill someone (even if that murder was justified, as this one surely was) and that justice could only be bought and was never given freely. The first he hid carefully, fostering the badass attitude that wasn't hard to live; the second became his credo: you have to take justice yourself, because no one's going to give it to you.
He wasn't quite seventeen when he realized that maybe even the rich couldn't buy justice. He knew Lilly Kane was a slut and a bitch, but he didn't really care. She laughed more than any person he'd ever met, and she certainly knew what she was doing in bed. And maybe she kept him a secret, but it wasn't because she couldn't let anyone know that he put his brown hands on her white skin—somehow he knew that Lilly didn't give a damn about that. She somehow still cared about that jackass white kid who didn't know how to treat her, and she didn't want him to find out. That was bitter to Weevil, but he was pretty sure that after a little while with Eli Navarro, she'd never go running back to Mr. Pansy-Ass My-Daddy's-A-Movie-Star. Weevil was plenty man enough for Lilly Kane.
Or maybe he was too much man, because one day Echolls snapped his fingers and Lilly went running back to him. Three weeks later, she was dead. Weevil didn't believe it deep down till he saw two morons watching the streaming video footage on a computer at school; he beat both of them blindly till three teachers pulled him off of the hapless freshmen; he got two weeks' suspension and had to deal with Grandma's disappointed eyes, but for once he didn't care.
It took them forever to arrest that Koontz bastard, and once they did, Weevil seriously considered shooting a cop so he'd get tossed into jail—he could take care of Koontz himself then. Felix, though, figured out what he was thinking and hit him so hard that it broke his haw. "Don't be an idiot. Think of Grandma." And that was the end of that.
But as Weevil stood in the shadows across the street from the city hall and saw Aaron Echolls walk down the steps, a free man, he knew that justice didn't exist.
It never had.
Sometimes, Duncan feels like a ghost. And maybe he was always a ghost, because he can barely remember a time when he was real and alive. Perhaps when he was a little boy, playing G.I. Joes in the backyard with Casey and Luke. Maybe when he and Lilly were plotting the perfect way to ruin Celeste's perfectly planned Fourth of July barbeque. Maybe out surfing with Logan or the first time he kissed Veronica.
But being alive means making choices, and Duncan never had any of those.
It was soccer and piano lessons and cotillion. It was AP classes and running for student body president. It was his car and his clothes and his meals. Every little thing in his life, planned and plotted, and not by him.
His parents couldn't control Lilly, and so they completely controlled him. They took all the choices out of his hands, and he faded and faded away till he wasn't a person but an idea. He was the perfect boy, the unattainable, the ideal.
He will always remember Veronica's cruel words of accusation: You stand idly by. They hurt because they were true. Because maybe they define his life.
While Lilly was alive, she did the rebelling for him, she and Logan playing the roles of the rebels without causes and pulling Duncan and sweet little Veronica along in their wake. He never felt more alive than cruising through town in that limo, strolling down the beach with the bottle of champagne in his hands, pulling into the driveway well after dawn.
But all the life was sucked away when Lilly was punished and he wasn't. Because he realized that his parents saw it different—it was all Lilly's choice and so Duncan didn't have any responsibility (no choice).
Strange that the guy most known for his responsibility didn't even have any.
And then Lilly was gone and he forgot to even care about choosing because it all hurt so bad. And Lilly wasn't there to tease him along or Veronica's big eyes to shine worshipfully. And wrapped up in all the pain, he just couldn't bring himself to care.
He didn't start washing the pills down the sink because he hated the side effects (seeing Lilly was a comfort). He did it because it was his choice, and as he watched the white pill disappear, he felt alive, if only for a few seconds and he heard Lilly's laugh and knew it would be what she wanted.
It was a little thing, so very little, and except for a few blips on the radar—his decision about Pirate Points, going after Meg, running away to Cuba, his decision to start visiting the Hut every day to see Veronica—his life was pretty much the same.
But then there was Meg and the truth about her parents and then there was a baby that was his (his responsibility, the result of his choices and no one was going to fix that for him) and suddenly he saw it all plain. And he chose, for the first time in a long time, and as he rode away in the truck, into the sunset, he knew he was alive.
Every single day is a choice now. From what diaper brand to buy to where to work to what values to teach his daughter: they're all his decisions. No Dad to make "suggestions" that are anything but, none of Mom's pointed reminders.
And when he picks up that cellphone he's never used before and calls that number that Wiedman made him memorize when he was a little boy, he knows he's taking his fate and the lives of others into his own hands. He's taking back justice in the only way he knows how, and he's doing the taking.
He doesn't feel a single pang of guilt.
Duncan Kane is not a ghost.