Mike Brady's wife died in a car crash. Carol Martin's husband was lost on a sailing trip. The two met one year later, and wed after six months. Mike's three sons, Greg (who was 7), Peter (who was 5), and Bobby (who was 3) were slow to adjust to the change. Carol's daughters, Marsha, Jan, and Cindy (who were of equal age with the boys) had an even tougher time. However, after 10 years, the Brady's and Martins became a family.

Pain and Suffering

Greg was seven years old when his mother told him: "There are germs everywhere, baby. You're just not safe." The boy cried.

Twelve years later, Greg woke up, gently rose out of bed, sat up for a few minutes with his eyes closed, moaning gently, then opened his eyes and looked at the clock. It was six o' clock a.m. Most of the family wasn't awake yet, so the teen had the house to himself.

The water hissed as it sprayed out of the shower head. Greg felt the cool waters hit his back, closed his eyes, and gently breathed out yesterday's frustrations. It was getting harder and harder to relax. The thought of germs being everywhere had been growing on Greg's mind lately, but he was determined not to let it consume him. Rachael was also becoming a priority for him: He longed to more than just her friend, but feared what would happen if anything went wrong, if the cycle was broken. He couldn't lose her. Maybe it was better to be friends than to have nothing.

Tears began to fall from Greg's loving, brown eyes, mixing with the falling waters of the shower. "Make it stop," he begged himself, refusing to open his eyes and let the world in. The world was cold and cruel, but people like Rachael, Casey, and Marsha made it all worth while. Greg was never a sob story or a dramatic, but, all things considered, he had it pretty tough.

The first of his problems came when his friend, Kate began to change, and started hanging out with a more popular crowd. Soon, she began to spend less time with Greg, her jokes grew more sarcastic and almost insulting towards her friends, then, she began to straight-out insult Greg and Marsha. Finally, feelings formed: the kind of feelings you get from a bully: someone hates you, you have to win all the fights, and any comment is a slam against you. A rivalry then formed between Greg and Marsha and Kate and her friends: The greatest thing was that Greg wasn't fighting his war alone. Unfortunately, secrets had been shared. Secrets that could be used against Greg at any given moment. What was worse was the loss of trust, and the rage the Brady boy kept inside.

School had always been a problem: Greg was never tough enough, funny enough, or smart enough for the students or teachers. Half the nights were spent studying for tests that he would just fail anyway, and the other half was spent crying all alone in his alone. "It feels like everyone thinks I'm slow or something," Greg told his mother one day, tears streaming from his eyes, and his voice trembling, growing harder to understand. "No one's taking me seriously anymore. I'm starting to believe it myself." But every time he came to his mother with a problem like this, Greg was always told to study: it was always his fault. School bullying: his fault. Being beaten up by small gangs for no good reason: his fault.

For a time, Greg cut himself to relieve his anger, but it never worked. Anger was always there. The scars grew deeper, but so did the pain. Finally, Greg stopped, no longer having the energy to keep up the habit. Besides, infections would only make things worse.

The brunette boy shut the shower off, stepped out, and dried off. School was waiting: pain was waiting. So many days, Greg told his parents he was sick, just to be spared a day's torture. Nothing about sick days was fun, though. Greg would just sit in his room (since his mom was afraid of getting his "diseases"), crying, and dreaming of a better life. But, just like what you gain in a delusional dream, his better life always faded the next day, and he would sneak into the boy's locker room, and cry. The other teens couldn't see him crying, though, because they'd laugh, spread cruel rumors, call him "wuss", beat on him, or, worst of all, fake friendship.

Greg got dressed, trying not to wear anything tight, since his body embarrassed him, even though he was every text book's definition of fit. The teen then packed his book bag, grabbed a Pop Tart, said goodbye to his beloved parents, and left for Casey's house with Marsha. Greg couldn't stand going to school alone: it would seem too proud, and the other kids would attack him for it. Besides, the three were best friends. Marsha and Casey were never just shields. Every so often, Marsha, Casey, and Greg would spend the afternoon at Casey's place, and the two would sit down with Greg, and giver him advice about school, which always comforted him.

Marsha got on the bus first so Greg could hide behind her until they got to their seats. The bus then took off, and approached the school.

"It'll be okay," Marsha promised Greg.

Greg nodded, and tried to believe her, which was foolish for so many reasons.