Although I might suffer,

the fate of another,

the shit and the bones and well

all things considered

I walked with my hands, held out

I walked with my hands, held out

to you

and all

that's good.

~ Aerogramme, "Living Backwards."

Beaver has always hated the Sheriff's office – eggshell white cramps the space and dust as close together as possible; it seems designed specifically to magnify the California heat and trap all history, to make everyone in it feel clammy and uncomfortable. Right now, that might just be the way his brow is sweating, but he can't be sure.

The sheriff is looking at them, all three of them, carefully – Beaver guesses he doesn't trust them, trust this. Lamb taps a pen on his desk and causes the surface to shake slightly, making the glass of water on the desk go swish. Beaver is shaking far more than the table; wringing his hands and avoiding everyone's eyes. He sees Marcos squirming uncomfortably in his seat, but that might be from the heat more than anything. Peter holds his head high and does all the talking, and Beaver doesn't understand how he can do that.

"Let me get this straight," Lamb says with a tone of supreme disaffectedness. "You all played for Woody Goodman's little league team, back in 2002?"

Marcos nods. "That's right."

"And he sexually abused you?"


Lamb pauses. Cassidy looks up at him with the trademark pleading puppy-dog eyes he wears so well. "Please," he rasps out, but his thoughts aren't on Woody, or what happened. They're on a snow white princess turned (allegedly) vicious femme fatale; on a helpless victim turned strong, brave, cynical heroine. He tries to shake her away from his mind, but it's no use – and he doesn't know why. It's not like he's really bothered feeling guilty about her before; he's not even sure guilt is what he's feeling now.

Something in the sheriff's face shifts and he speaks into the intercom. "Issue a warrant for the arrest of Woodrow 'Woody' Goodman."

The trial is horrifying. They put him on the stand, ask him again and again; What did he do to you, Cassidy? He has to go into detail; ugly, vivid images that lead his testimony to be full of shaking, stuttering and tears (God he's pathetic). The defense grills him, attacks all weak spots and tries to destroy his credibility. He's half tempted to give them the ammunition; the silver bullet in a white party dress, and he can't say why.

The jury deliberates a few hours, and no-one talks to him. He wriggles in his seat, the fabric of his suit scratching against his skin. He's always hated this suit, but it was the only one he found to wear. Now, he almost likes the itch; a welcome distraction from the discomfort of what is happening.

The jury's foreman stands before them; a woman who straightens her navy blue power suit. Peter's face hardens, and Beaver bites his lip.

"On the charges of child molestation, we find the defendant... guilty."


Cassidy loves therapy.

After all, given the way he has always been treated, this is something new for him. His counselor pokes and prods at his issues, but she is kinder about it than they were in the trial. He tries not to say much, and his mind is quite deliberately dancing around the truth – snow white princesses and opportunistic crimes – and the therapist is just another part of that.

"Cassidy," she begins, adjusting green-rimmed glasses slightly on her nose. "The only way you are going to learn how to deal with what happened to you, is if you begin to talk. I want to help you, but I need your help to do that."

He laughs at just how little truth she knows; how little truth he can let her know. Then something goes smash, and it takes him a few seconds to realize he's slammed her water glass against the table and it's shattered in his hand. Little shards of glass break the skin and his blood flows out, but he doesn't mind all that much.

"Sorry," he mutters to his counselor, and she looks accepting.

"It's okay, Cassidy."

(No it isn't; it isn't at all)

Beaver hates therapy.

Somewhere along the line, Veronica Mars decides they're sort of friends. Maybe it's because he tried to help her with Lilly's case, and that did in the end lead to the real killer's arrest. Yay him then.

They never talk about that night – from her point of view, there's nothing to talk about, and from his there's nothing to say to her. He feels like a tightrope walker; straddling the boundary between truth and fiction for her, seeing how long they can last before she realizes the truth. Sometimes he entertains the thought of her already knowing; that she's manipulating him into confession, or looking for more evidence, or something. He thinks he might actually be okay with that.

She doesn't look like she's lying, but then again, he guesses he didn't either. Veronica Mars is meant to be good at reading people, and he's never been that good at writing, so he's not all that sure how this is happening Veronica acts like she's okay, he wonders what the explanation for that night is in her head, and truth is pretty much interchangeable with fiction.

After Keith Mars is elected sheriff in a landslide victory; Beaver's vague nervousness about the truth turns to full-blown fear. He learned a long time ago that dads only let you down, but given how Veronica stood by her father, Beaver guesses she doesn't know that, and maybe Keith Mars will be different. That he will not let her down; he will find the mystery man that hurt her and make him pay.

That night, he opens the draw hidden inside the cupboard and pulls out his notebook of poetry. He has always hidden that book; partly to keep secret the meanings of the words, partly because he would never hear the end of it if his dad and brother knew he wrote poetry. He idly flips through the book, landing on what he wrote on Valentine's Day last year – he writes a lot less than he used to. He can't remember what every word he wrote meant, but he gets the general gist.

December muck sweeps through cleans streets,

Obliterating perfect picket fence homes

Filthy rubber knives stab through my mind;

my form; her form; all identity lost to the dirt.

He vomits. It lands all over his clothes and bed; Shit, he thinks. The puke attacks the pages of the notebook and renders the poem illegible (maybe that's for the best), and Beaver looks for something to wipe himself down.

Dick wanders to his door and blinks a couple of times. "Okay. Ew."

Beaver nods, "I know."

"Dude, are you, like... alright?" and Cassidy just hates him for suddenly caring (God, what he would give to hear his brother call him a pussy again without any hint of guilt or pity; the things Dick shouldn't feel).

"Yeah," he says, and he almost believes it's not a lie. "Might have just, I don't know, eaten something bad. I gotta shower."

He should be alright at this point; he knows he should. He should have become alright when that bruised twelve-year-old boy's dream came true and Woody Goodman was finally locked up where he could never hurt Cassidy again (but that left the mysterious man in the shadows; preying on snow white princesses).

But Beaver's not that boy anymore.

"Dude, you realize what you're doing is like, nuts, right?" Dick is asking. "Why the fuck do you want to see that son of a bitch again?"

Beaver shakes. "'Want' would not be the word I'd use. But, I... just... I don't really know. I need this."

Dick looks uncomfortable. "Okay, but like, any weird shit happens and you know I'm there, bro," Dick slaps Beaver on the shoulder and he shrinks away slightly. ("Good game, Beav!")

Beaver sighs. Dick pauses. "You need me to-"

"No," Beaver replies quickly; too quickly. His head is swarming with thoughts ("You need me to get you started?") that he gets to get rid of, or at least form some linear pattern of, before he does this.

He steps into the cell slowly. "Hey Coach," he lets the bitterness resonate in that last word; that declaration of: This is your fault.

"Cassidy?" Woody asks. "What are you doing here?"

Beaver shrugs. "No idea," he bites the side of his mouth; a nervous habit, and he repeats his thoughts as speech. "This is all your fault, you know."

"Did you come all the way here to tell me that?" he asks, and Beaver's starting to shake. This was a bad idea. "I've heard it a few times. You don't understand – I was trying to help you. Don't you see that?"

Beaver starts to giggle. "Well, I guess that makes one of us. Not really what I was talking about, but still," he elaborates, and Woody looks confused. "Between you and me? Didn't work out so well. Ask Veronica."

The prisoner blinks, and Beaver leaves. Dick is still standing outside.

"Dude, you cool?"

"Is the to that answer ever going to be yes?"

Beaver guesses no.

Mac becomes a part of it by accident; he doesn't even know who she is when it happens. She is partnered with him for a bio assignment and thus begins their beautiful friendship; relationship. Beaver likes being with her because she looks at him without that sickening pity and disrespect he's been dealing with for months; she looks at him and sees Cassidy as an actual person, even when the whole world knows he isn't. He will learn how to be her imaginary friend.

Of course, she's also one of Veronica Mars's best friends, so that's something of a problem in his head. However, he's learned how to lie about Veronica; it's almost easy now, even when it's so hard he can barely think.

Mac almost reminds him he's normal; she fully reminds him he's not. He can be hers; he can smile and laugh with her friends (Veronica, always his pretty little Veronica), they can hold hands, drive to nowhere, sit and talk for hours. But he's never going to kiss her for too long and even if the premise of a poem is spinning in his mind; he knows he can never let her hear it the words of it.

Mac is getting so ripped off.

When the deputies come to arrest his father, Beaver's so sure they're coming for him. That Keith Mars has been the only good father in Neptune history; that he's figured it out. The whole story to come plays out in Beaver's mind in rapid fire; the shock and indignation, his tearful confession, trials and psychoanalysts and terms like 'vampire syndrome', the look of poor Veronica's face. This is the nuclear bomb he's been waiting for since two Decembers ago; and God, the fallout will amaze.

A deputy is reading rights, "Richard Casablancas," the deputy is storming over to Beaver's father; it's so confusing. "You are under arrest for fraud. You do not have to say anything..."

Beaver's a little disappointed, honestly.

Veronica talks to him yet again, and it just hurts. Hurts because it's scary, and so close to impossible; because she's okay and he envies her for that; because he just feels fucking guilty about want he has done. Why does he have to feel like that?

"Hey Cass," and she calls him by that name; she'll actually listen to his one most persistent request – shouldn't he expect that from her, after all? Isn't that how it works; orders and obedience, until those nice sharp metal bars put the mysterious man who preyed on the white princess away. "I'm... sorry, about your dad. I thought I'd tell you, and ask you not to be pissed at my dad for it. He's just doing his job, after all."

Beaver shakes his head; if Keith Mars is just doing his job, should he do his fucking job? Is Veronica not worth that; should she not be protected and saved; should her monster not be locked up where he can never hurt her again? Is that not how it's meant to work now?

Before he realizes what he's doing; she's slammed against the dull red backdrop of a locker, and his fingers are holding her wrists away from her (again). "Idiot," he spits at her, and she struggles to get away (she can do that now?).

"Beav, what are you-"

"Shut up!" he's sounding psychotic now – he probably is – and he's half waiting for someone to throw him to the ground and help her – is that not how it works? No, he doesn't think so – he remembers how Veronica Mars cannot be helped. She is walked over, trodden; tastes like lime and salt; she cannot be helped. She is the constant, then?

We will kiss you with

our blindness; you were

born too bright for

your own eye sockets.

"You can't figure it out, can you?" he's practically hysterical; and out of the corner of his eye, he thinks he sees Mac looking horrified. Veronica hides all hints of intimidation; preferring to bring her knee to his balls. It just seems so silly to him; this attack (he's tempted to make some feminist joke) and he laughs at her, again.

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

"What the hell is wrong with you?" and suddenly, somewhere in his head, it makes sense. He knows what he has to do.

Beaver has always hated the Sheriff's department. Summer has passed and the heat has faded; however the walls still close in on him, the dust still chokes him with old crimes. He sits here alone now; waiting like he always has been. As a fate he finds it fitting; now, for a third time (as is the charm) he makes a choice.

The deputies and civilians come and go; most of them avoid his eyes – he's gotten used to that, of course. He wrings his hands with the obligatory anxiety, but when he finally lays eyes on the sheriff (he is a good man; Beaver knows that) it all seems simple and easy; even though it's the hardest thing he's ever done.

"Cassidy," Keith says softly. "What are you doing here? Is this about your father?"

Cassidy looks down the sheriff firmly; shaking his head. He swallows the lump in his throat, and finally drives the knife deep into Beaver's stomach, vital organs, intestines.

"I need to report a crime."