Three hundred sixty-four days of the year, Mac could care less about where Dick Casablancas is or what he is doing. It is, of course, on the one day in the whole calendar when she'd like to avoid him that Dick manages to find her. That's her bad luck, though. Her bad "fall in love with a mass murderer" kind of luck.
She's in the lunch room at Hearst. She thought she'd be safe hiding out here for the weekend. Half the school's population is commuters and most of the other half goes home Friday night with a bag full of laundry for their parents. A plate of food sounds completely unappetizing, so she grabs a soda from the vending machine, gets her newest computer magazine out of her bag, and settles down at a round table to lose herself in an article and forget about the date.
And then Dick Casablancas is there, slipping into the seat across from her, folding his hands on the table, silently staring.
Mac clenches her jaw. She picks up the magazine and deliberately holds it in front of her face so she doesn't have to see him. As she half-heartedly reads, she can hear him tapping his fingers against the table. Her only hope is that he loses his patience and leaves before she loses her patience and tells him to leave.
No such luck. Of course. After several moments of silence, Dick reaches across the table and snatches the magazine away. She lunges after it, but he's quicker than she is. He inspects the cover with a frown before dropping it into the empty seat next to him, just out of her reach.
Dick leans in, motioning for Mac to do the same. She refuses to move. He leans farther, whispers, "Mac, do you know what today is?"
She glares, roughly shoves her seat back, and stands. Gathering up her bag and soda, she spits, "April 27th," before turning and walking stiffly toward the door.
Even though she wishes extra hard, Dick does not just let her go. He catches her in a few seconds, blonde hair bouncing off his forehead as he jogs up to her. He has something in his hand as they walk side by side out of the cafeteria and into the quad; she forgot her magazine. Mac takes it, puts it in her bag, and speeds up.
His legs are longer than hers, however, and he keeps stride easily. "You know I wasn't asking about the actual date, right?"
For some reason, this angers her more than his presumption to approach her in the first place. Does he actually feel like he needs to make sure? Like she doesn't remember? Like it's even possible for her to forget?
She stops abruptly, turns to him. "Look, Dick," she says, her voice stilted, "I know what today is, alright? And I don't want to talk to you about it. I don't even want to think about it. I just want to read my magazine and drink my soda and wait for this whole stupid day to be over. Is that okay with you?"
But even as she walks away, he's still by her side. Just her luck.
"It's not, actually." He answers. There's a note of desperation in his voice. Mac glances at him curiously from behind a curtain of brown hair, and he takes that as a cue to grab her arm, to stop them both in the middle of the quad. He leans in again, like it is a big secret. "I just…I can't talk to anyone else about it. About him. Logan won't understand because he was there, you know, and I don't even know where the hell my dad is. And…well, everyone hates him, and I thought you…might not."
She rips her arm away from his grip, glares up at him in his stupid face. It's weird, she thinks, that though he doesn't typically look a thing like his brother, she can almost sort of see a resemblance at this exact moment. Dick is staring at her, pleading, and there's something in the crease of his brow that makes his eyes look…sad.
Cassidy had sad eyes.
Mac looks away, sighs. "What if I do hate him?" she asks.
Dick draws back, looks unsure. "I guess I wouldn't blame you."
And there it is again, that look. The one that makes her think of Beaver. It pangs her someplace deep inside, a place she hasn't acknowledged in nearly a year. She frowns deeply.
"I don't know if I do or not." Mac answers honestly, shrugging her bag higher up on her shoulder.
For a moment, they stand awkwardly, facing each other, shifting back and forth on their feet. Neither know what to say. There's a strange camaraderie there, a kinship; they are the only members of the exclusive "I might not hate Cassidy Casablancas" club.
Because she can't stand it any longer, Mac starts to walk. Dick follows her wordlessly. They settle into a bench a moment later, both of them baking in the heat of the spring sunshine, ignoring the passers-by. The silence is long and uncomfortable. He breaks it first.
"He would have been eighteen today."
And the dull ache in her chest that's been bothering her since she woke up that morning turns to something sharper, something that throbs. A lump forms in her throat and she tries to swallow it. It's stupid to cry over Cassidy, she tries to tell herself. He probably never cared about her, after all. He killed a bus load of kids, a plane full of adults. He raped Veronica. He was a monster who used her, who didn't love her in the slightest.
And yet the tears are there and pushing violently against the back of her eyelids. It occurs to her that this is exactly why she didn't want to see Dick Casablancas today. Damn her luck. Damn it to hell.
Mac doesn't say anything for a long time, so Dick takes it upon himself to keep talking. "I woke up this morning thinking about him, and then I realized the day, and…" he pauses, restarts, "I tried to call my mom, and she practically hung up on me. Told me she had to go, she and her husband were packing for a trip to Europe they're going on tomorrow. Like she expects me to believe she does her own packing, or something. She just didn't want to talk about him."
"He's not exactly easy to talk about, Dick." She points out, idly kicking a rock on the ground in front of the bench. It rolls across the side walk, stops partway.
"I know," he says, and there's vulnerability in his voice like she's never heard before. Mac 's never thought of him as anything more than an annoying 09er douchebag who lived to torment her and the other have-nots in Neptune during their high school years. She's never thought of him as vulnerable, defenseless. She's never thought of him mourning his brother. And here she was, walking around convinced for the past year that she was the only person alive dumb enough to miss a murderer.
Suddenly, strangely, she wants to cheer him up. She nudges him with an elbow. "Remember that time when he and I got that transsexual hooker to pick you up?"
"That wasn't funny." He says, but he's fighting a smile. It leaves his face as quickly as it came. He looks up and out into the sky, as if he's searching for something. He doesn't find it, apparently; his head drops and he stares at the ground. "He wasn't sorry for what he did, was he? Logan never talks about it, but that's the feeling I get."
Mac shrugs. "Veronica doesn't talk about it much, either." She places her hand softly on his arm. "Cassidy had some serious demons. It doesn't do any good to dwell on it now."
Dick continues to stare at his feet, blond hair falling in his eyes. He doesn't brush it away. "I feel like I made it worse for him."
"Made what worse?" her voice trembles.
"Life." He says. He is very still.
"Dick…" she starts, but he interrupts immediately, turning to her so that they are face to face.
"Did he ever tell you what I used to do to him? How Dad and I would make him cry and then laugh about it? Or how I would go out of my way to torment him?" the words are exploding out of him, as if they've been waiting on his tongue for just such an opportunity and they cannot be held there for one moment longer.
She doesn't know what else to do, so she tells the truth. "He told me."
He looks at her, very seriously, and asks, "Did he hate me?"
"I don't really know." She replies. She considers saying that Beaver didn't hate Dick, but she's a terrible liar, and besides, she really isn't sure. Cassidy didn't talk about Dick a lot, and when he did, it typically wasn't favorable. Still, that doesn't mean he hated his own brother. A morbid part of her points out that Dick would probably be dead if Cassidy had hated him.
Her hand is still lightly resting on his arm, and as he turns and looks back out into the distance, she leaves it there. His muscles are tensed beneath her palm. She thinks their conversation is probably over, when Dick says, "I miss him."
Mac squeezes his arm gently. "Me too."
They don't speak again.
Disclaimer: I don't own Veronica Mars. Rob Thomas, you lucky jerk, you.
A/N: I recently rewatched Seasons 1 and 2 and remembered how much I loved Cassidy. ): Never written VM before, not sure how I think it turned out. Please let me know if I messed up the tense anywhere.
Also—If you guys have any recommendations for good VM reads, I'd greatly appreciate it. I especially like LoVe and things that delve into Cassidy's character (sure he was evil, but he was so darn interesting!), but I'll read anything that's of good quality. Thanks in advance! :D