You know there is something off about him from the first time you see him. You don't care.
After all, this isn't the world of people who care. This is the world of cash and dealing, and in the middle of all your deals, you just don't have time to see one broken little boy spiraling out of control. Nor does anyone else, and you guess there will one day be consequences for that, but you know you'll be out before that becomes your problem, so you shrug it off.
He's not quite fourteen when you meet him. Your introduced as a friend of Sadie's, and everyone knows it's bullshit – even dumbass Dick is bright enough to know you're being groomed as a replacement, or maybe that's just the mind-numbing soul-crushing cynicism this household seems to drill into the mind of all it's residents. You had your own mind numbed and soul crushed long ago, so it didn't matter. Sadie doesn't even look at you resentfully – it was the Circle of Lives of the Rich, so she doesn't care at all about being cleared out for the younger model.
You're not quite sure when he goes from being fragile to being broken. It's before you marry his father, and you're fairly sure you're the only one to notice the change. You can see him as soulless as you are, and it earns a new respect, and something that would be pity if that part of you worked anymore.
You know for a fact that you could have saved him. You were the one to see that boy before he was completely gone, and if you had burst through the bubble of superficiality you lived in, you could have reached out and fixed the boy.
You just don't care.
You keep running.
Since you were eighteen, running has been the only thing you know how to do. The only constant. Your life is divided clearly in two camps, before you started running and after. You've changed a lot on the run – you died your hair blonde, became bulimic, gained and lost two husbands in rapid succession and didn't do nearly enough to forget who you were.
You never really knew him – you kind of wish you had, just so you would stop imagining who he was. A traumatized tiny victim, out of his mind with pain. A cackling maniac, reveling in the destruction he caused. A cold plotter, who used your father as an excuse for the evil he was always going to be.
You wish you knew which one he was. You wish you knew which one you wanted him to be.
You don't go back to Neptune – it's a town populated only by ghosts, living and dead, and you refuse to be there. You refuse to visit your family – you feel selfish for it, but after what happened, was there ever truly a Goodman family anyway?
You don't miss any of them. Sure, when you think about your family you feel a vague ache where you guess your soul once was, but missing them would require knowing them, and you've never done that. You know you've never known a single person in your life, and nor has anyone else, and missing people who don't exist is just plain crazy.
You want to be that girl again. You want to be the ditz and sweetness, you want to be the apple of your father's eye and your mother's reluctant joy. You want to be everyone you never were, you want to live in ignorance.
Instead, you keep running.
You think he'll come around.
Because he has to. You've lived in Neptune all your life, and you understand perfectly well how it works and all the transgressions of the rich. You don't believe for a second that Woody Goodman is the only man around believing he's untouchable, and that being untouchable gave him the right to touch whatever he wants. You figured out a long time ago that bastards are the rule, not the exception, and you're not really going to make much of a difference by making just one pay.
But he has to pay, because you can make him. You can prove to one solitary bastard that he is not untouchable, and he doesn't own you. It's not about justice or even revenge, it's about power and the fact that you might be able to get it back.
You guess the need for power is why you become the ringleader. Marcos agrees with you that you need to make Woody pay, and you don't ask him why.
You do ask Cassidy why he won't talk, though.
You press the importance of it on him. You tell him about Neptune and how fucking wrong the whole town is, as if he didn't know that. You sound like a PSA when you tell him that what Woody did him is Woody's fault.
You wait for him to come around.
When the bus is heading off the cliff, you're not even all that angry. You're tired. You kind of always knew Woody would prove himself untouchable, at least to you, and some part of you is just relieved to have it over. So you leave your faith in Cassidy, the one guy who might just be able to make Woody pay for what he did.
You don't think he will.
You don't tell your brother you love him. Because that would be weird and too fucking gay.
The closest you come is on the day the bus crashes. It's a weird day and you should really be sad, but you're not really. I mean, it's not like you're going "Yay!" about it, but you can't bring yourself to care that much.
You feel a little weird when you remember Betina was on that bus. It's kind of a shame, 'cause she was pretty cool for white trash and she sure knew what she was doing in bed. But she was pretty much just a poor slut, so you're not like, running off to avenge her.
You're glad Veronica wasn't on that bus, even if she pisses you off, just because you can see Logan going all emo about his second dead bitch ex-girlfriend. That would be seriously fucked up for Logan – who has enough crap as is.
You're glad Veronica didn't die for Duncan's sake too. I mean, the dude was a wreck when his sister died, losing his girlfriend? That would suck. You vaguely consider what it would be like if Beav went and died on you. You can't even imagine it.
Beav could have been on that bus, but if he was, so would you be, so whatever. There's something creepy and kind of cool about the fact you managed to save like, half your class by being the one who got them off the stinkass bus.
Beav is wringing his hands, and you guess he'll get all emo about seeing a whole bunch of people go off a cliff. Pussy. Still, you consider what it would be like if he died, and you don't see anything clearly, you don't like it.
"Dude? Don't die."
You and your youngest never knew each other. You regret that.
You saw glimpses of him – he was smart, quiet, weak. You hated weakness and tried to force him to toughen up. Your oldest was always strong, only too happy to help you try and shape up Beaver. However, it didn't work, and slowly you forgot why you treated him like that until Beaver became your punching bag.
It's coming back to haunt you now.
You don't go back for the funeral – it seems like it would be a lie. You weren't his father; you were the bastard who tormented him because you couldn't remember not to, Beaver wouldn't want you there. You don't know why you didn't know. You understand him not telling you, but you think you should have payed enough attention to realize something was up. Most people in your situation would be going over their memories, picking out the little subtle clues as to what was wrong that they should have seen, but he can't think of anything.
Dick says nothing. You want to ask him, but you don't expect him to believe you'd care. You know Dick tormented Beaver as viciously as you did – worse, even – but Dick always showed in that way of his that he loved his brother. You want to reach out and save him, but you've always been a coward. So Dick leaves.
It takes months before you finally decide to go back to the US. You don't exactly expect Dick to welcome you back with open arms, but you don't expect the coldness you get. It makes you mad, but when Dick brings up Cassidy's funeral, you understand.
You never knew your youngest son, but he knew you all too well. You're just going to have to live with that.
You don't really think he ever loved you.
You don't really think he was capable of it – after all he had been through, how damaged and hardened and numb he'd become, you don't really think there was room in his heart or soul for sweet, nerdy Cindy Mackenzie.
It doesn't really stop you missing him.
You never thought you'd be the kind who would fall for a guy so hard, nothing he did would stop you caring about him, but you guess you didn't know yourself so well, like you didn't know him so well.
Dick confirms what you already think, but he's drunk and grieving so you take it with a grain of salt. You never thought you'd ever see the day when you'd sympathize or empathize with Dick Casablancas, but you have clearly gotten blind in recent years. You think he might be the only other person dumb enough to miss Cassidy Casablancas, and he might just have it worse than you, because the family thing really gives him no choice about missing Cassidy, and wasn't it his job to protect his brother?
You don't want to miss Cassidy, but you can't really help it. The affect of first love and all that. You wonder what would have happened if you both met in some alternate dimension where he was the guy you thought he was, if it would work out. You think so, even when you meet a new guy, a guy you like. Life goes on, and sometimes you barely remember you're an idiot.
However, sometimes Dick looks at you with that expression people like Dick don't wear. That reminds you off Cassidy and how much you miss him.
So no, you don't think he ever loved you.
You like to feel like he did anyway.
You always thought your ex's little brother was weird. Like, psycho-in-training weird. It just seemed impossible that he and Dick had come from the same sets of DNA; you suspected the hospital had screwed up with Cassidy (You officially stopped thinking like that in December 2004). He was scary in a pathetic way, like a whipped puppy who was going to bite your arm off in like, two seconds.
You just never expected to be so damn right.
You don't care, of course. Beaver was a psycho? Not your problem. Still, it's a bit of shock, and you feel bad for Dick. It's an odd sensation, because of all the things you've felt in regards to Dick – annoyance and lust and affection, and back to annoyance, there was a lot of annoyance – pity is a new feeling, and it doesn't feel good. You don't want to pity him, but that doesn't stop you before you arrive at the Casablancas estate in the sluttiest thing you can find. You fuck him out of that exact same pity, and Dick's a lot drunker than usual, and less enthusiastic. That's not really a surprise, given what happened, but he does it anyway, which also isn't a surprise – he is still Dick.
When your finished, he goes to sleep quickly. "I miss him," he mumbles as he nods off, and it makes you shiver. You still pity him, but you need to get out of here now because you're not getting yourself dragged into this mess.
You leave while Dick's still sleeping, and you know he won't care. Dick is like you, he doesn't bother with what doesn't directly affect him. You try to shake that annoying compassion out of your head, because Madison Sinclair does not bother with other people's problems.
You wonder if he felt like this. Dirty, broken, used. You guess so, because you can't imagine him not.
You'd live without closure on the bus crash for a million years if it meant you could forget Cassidy ever existed. You remember he killed people, killed Meg, tried to kill Dad. You remember he lied to you. Manipulated you. Tormented you. Raped you. You remember he was evil.
It would be so much easier, if that was all.
You remember he was Mac's boyfriend. You remember he was Dick's brother. You remember he was Logan's friend. You remember he told you about Logan and Mexico. You remember he beat you at Mr. Pope's stock market game. You remember how long it took to get him to agree to tutor Weevil.
You remember he was a person, and that's what's killing you.
You wonder why you didn't see through his lies. You saw him as a rarity – an 09er who managed not to personify everything you loathe. He reminds you of another "nice" 09er – Meg.
You miss her. Not like you missed Lilly, but still. Meg was your friend, when very few people would be. She didn't deserve to die the way she did. You wonder: Why Meg? Why Mac? Why Me?
Every day you're in New York and Dad isn't, you have to remind yourself he wasn't on that plane. When he appears on the third day, you don't bother asking why he was gone, you're too relieved he's alive.
You wish someone found out what Woody did years ago, saved Cassidy before he went anywhere near you. Maybe it wouldn't matter, he was always meant to be this bad and Woody was just the catalyst.
You're not sure if that would make it hurt more or less.
It was really pack mentality that made him your friend. He was roped in with Dick, and you three bound together after Lilly died and everything fell apart. You became the leader of the "pack", but Be- Cassidy was always there. Unappreciated and incongruous, but always there.
It's that same pack mentality that makes you think you should have protected him.
You knew Cassidy since he was eleven. The exact same year this started, so you really feel you should have seen it as it was happening. The majority of Neptune seems to think that, like they could have stopped this, but you feel this weird sense of responsibility to Cassidy.
Dick cries. You've never seen him do that before, and it's not a nice sight. You try to be the supportive friend, and you vaguely feel like you did with Duncan after Lilly.
Veronica cries too, but her tears are more of anger, betrayal. She liked Cassidy just enough to start hating him, and you try to be there for her. She doesn't tell the Sheriff about the rape, and you don't think Lamb would really believe her. Asshole.
That party was the moment when Cassidy's fate was decided. In the end, you were too drunk in your own despair to see him, and when it came down to the wire, you failed.
So you let Veronica cry about it, about the monster who took this from her – the monster who was your friend. You beg her not to tell Dick, and she says she wouldn't, but you have to make sure because it would kill him. And you can't lose another friend.
You sit in the Sheriff's office, surrounded by crying people. You screwed up with Beaver, so you do what you can now.
You protect your pack.
There's something broken in that boy, and it's painfully obvious to you. You can't quite make sense of it, until you see his family. His father is every awful rich father, a man who judges solely on testosterone and wealth. His brother is every inch his father's son. His mother is a loveless woman who got into this world too young, and now clearly just wants out of whatever she married herself into.
Maybe you're being too judgmental, you haven't seen that much of the Casablancases. But you don't think so, you've seen the many Neptune families, each as destructive as the next.
That family have made him into who he is. Tiny, fragile, breakable. Unloved and disregarded. You don't understand why a boy could or should be treated that way. The boy just had terrible luck to be born into a broken rich Neptune family, and you are disgusted by how many there are. All the unlucky kids, born into families that try to destroy them. Neptune is a town of ghosts, and they linger over every child born there, and there's only ever going to be so much you can do.
You want to help.
"Hey Beaver," you say friendly.
"Hey Coach," he responds with a smile, and you like the way he looks at you. He admires you. Trusts you. That must be good for the kid.
"Listen," you say. "You seem a bit slow lately, so how about, I give you some private lessons? Your own coach. How does that sound?"
He grins. "Great!" and it does. Because this boy needs someone's help, a supportive figure. You need to do that for him, you're the only one who can.
When your plane explodes around you, you're only a little scared. Because you know you did good.