Another project of mine. Even though I have two stories that are under major revamping and one in progress, I'm releasing yet another story. Is it bad that I have so many ideas? If only I can finish them all...

Warnings: There will be graphic and mature scenes and topics in this story. If you aren't of age, then do not read this (though, you likely will, but don't say you weren't warned). There are a number of male/male pairings in the story and some male/female pairings as well. Maybe even female/female…depends on how the story develops! Just be warned.

Also, I have a thing for large casts. Don't worry; you'll know who is who.


All the evolution we know of proceeds from the vague to the definite.
-Charles Sanders Peirce-

As a consequence, geneticists described evolution simply as a change in gene frequencies in populations, totally ignoring the fact that evolution consists of the two simultaneous but quite separate phenomena of adaptation and diversification.
-Ernst Mayr-


Bridge City, Pennsylvania

September 10th, 2010

Harlowe Mall 7:15 pm

The man that bumped into Cassidy almost knocked the boy over. The truth was, neither Cassidy nor his group of friends had noticed the man up until he bumped into Cassidy.

"Watch it, man!" shouted Brian, as Rochelle helped Cassidy off the ground. Cassidy had barely realized what was going on, instead looking at the man whose face he'd forgotten as soon as he looked away to answer Rochelle when she asked if he was alright. He wanted to say yes, that he was alright, but the fact that he'd forgotten the man's face as soon as he looked away did not escape him and he looked for the man again.

"Where is he?" asked Cassidy, confused when he didn't see the man. It didn't help that he didn't notice what the man was wearing; in the mall everyone seemed to blend.

"Where is who?" asked Rochelle, giving her friend an odd look. Cassidy looked at Rochelle.

"The man that knocked me over." Rochelle shook her head, as did Brian.

"What man?" asked Brian, raising an eyebrow. Cassidy looked at Brian, frowning.

"The man who knocked me over. You yelled at him and Rochelle asked me if I was alright…"

Brian narrowed his eyes. "What the—Rochelle, did he bump his head or something when he fell?"

"You tripped," supplied Rochelle, raising her eyebrow. "Seriously, Cass, stop spazzing out on us here!" She laughed as she stood and Brian grinned as well. The only one not laughing was Cassidy. They didn't see the man. In truth he couldn't remember anything about the man. Clothing, age, hairstyle, skin tone, not even his voice; he was certain that the man had spoken, or had he?

"You're right. I guess I just tripped…" he muttered, feeling rather nonplussed.

"Come on; the others are probably meeting up at the theater!" Rochelle latched onto Cassidy's arm and started to drag the boy in the direction of the theater which was housed in the mall.

"Jesus, Rochelle, the movie doesn't start for like twenty minutes!" complained Brian.

The girl turned and gave Brian a look that was rather close to a glare. "But I want to get good seats! Besides, everyone agreed to meet back around now. Let's go."

Cassidy was content in letting his companions discuss the situation amongst them, as he usually was. Despite being shy, he was part of the social elite of his high school class. He was a junior, as was Rochelle; Brian was a senior. As was customary of Friday nights, the popular kids invaded the mall; it was that or an impromptu party thrown as so-and-so's house, but a new slasher flic came out that everyone just had to see.

He let his mind drift; Rochelle and Brian's voices became part of the background noise. Cassidy thought about the stranger that he'd bumped into…and the more he thought about it, the more he became convinced that he really did just trip. Where did he even get the idea that a man had bumped into him in the first place?

Cassidy stumbled and fell backwards when he collided with what felt like a body; hard muscle and a hint of aftershave. As he hit the ground, along with shock and a bit of pain, he had a feeling of déjà vu.

"Watch it, man!" shouted Brian as Rochelle approached to help Cassidy off the ground.

'This just happened…' thought Cassidy, shaken, confused. Instead of Rochelle helping him up, however, the guy he bumped into him offered a hand and pulled him up.

"Sorry about that," said the guy who bumped into Cassidy. It was Malcolm Sanders, probably the hottest "nerd" that Cass had ever laid eyes on. Just looking at him, it was kind of hard to tell he was a nerd until someone mentioned World of Warcraft; he was tall and had an athletic build, though being definitely being more svelte than muscular. His skin was naturally tanned, his hair black, cut short and kind of spiky, friendly green eyes framed by black rectangular frames, and a smile that could melt ice.

Cassidy realized that he was still holding Malcolm's hand. He also realized that Malcolm wasn't rushing to let go of his hand. Cassidy looked up at Malcolm and blushed when Malcolm smiled at him. "You ok?" he asked gently.


"He'll be just fine once you get your hands off of him, Sanders." Brian stepped forward and Malcolm stepped back, raising his hands. Rochelle, suddenly at Cassidy's side, placed an arm around his waist and guided him away.

"Come on, Brian," she said as she walked forward. Brian glared at Malcolm for a few seconds more before following after Rochelle and Cassidy.

Malcolm watched as the trio walked off, shaking his head.

"Are you alright, Mal? I saw what happened…" Malcolm turned to look at his friend, Jacob, and nodded.

"Yeah. Just had a close encounter of the popular kind."

Jacob silently nodded. "Sorry I didn't come out sooner…" he muttered, looking away and rubbing his neck. Malcolm shook his head.

"Naw, man, its cool. It was just Brian after all; Rochelle and Cassidy aren't so bad and Brian's harmless by himself." Of course Malcolm knew that Jacob was terrified of Brian. Jacob was constantly the target of Jacob's antagonism. It's been that way since middle school and only got worse as they progressed to high school. While Jacob wasn't Brian's only target he was certainly his favorite. Standing at only 5'8" and having a build that was a little below average (Jacob had muscle, but he also had fat; he wasn't exactly portly, however he had some weight on him), Jacob didn't seem too imposing. His friendly smile and calm demeanor only seemed to give Brian more ammunition.

It made Malcolm angry, especially considering that Jacob was a sweet kid, yet no one seemed to realize that. Jacob certainly didn't help matters since he was a pacifist at heart; he didn't make waves but simply went with the flow. As such, whenever Brian started on him, Jacob usually just calmly turned the other cheek. Malcolm didn't fault him for it at all; he just wished that Brian would leave his friend alone. Besides, he had tried talking to Jacob about doing something about Brian before, but it was like trying to convince the sky to fall.

"If they're here…then that means that most of the popular crew is here," said Jacob quietly, looking back at Malcolm with questioning brown eyes. Malcolm shrugged.


"Well, Kevin said something about a party tonight at a friend's of his. Maybe we could hang there?" suggested Jacob.

After a second's consideration, Malcolm nodded. "Sure, why not?"

"Are you sure that you're feeling alright, Cassidy? First you trip, now you're walking into people…where's your mind at?" asked Rochelle, looking as concerned as she sounded. Rochelle as a pretty girl; her black hair was in a mass of bouncy ringlets, and her hazel eyes were large and framed nicely with thick eye-lashes. Her features were sharp but not intimidating. Her sandy-haired friend blushed slightly, but simply nodded.

"Yeah. Just a little tired…" Cassidy said.

Rochelle looked over at Brian, who was still fuming.

"Chill out, Brian. I don't see why you're still angry."

"Because, that Sanders guy and his friends are a bunch of freaks, that's why." Rochelle rolled her eyes at Cassidy and the two shared a silent look. The truth was, the only reason why Brian was with them was to get with Rochelle. Usually Rochelle and Cassidy hung out by themselves, but for the past few days Brian began introducing himself into their routine more often. At first Rochelle was ecstatic about this development; Brian, along with Leander and Troy, were three of the hottest boys in school (according to Rochelle, at least). Coincidentally, they were also three of the most popular boys in school.

"He's not so bad…" muttered Cassidy. Of course that statement had absolutely nothing with a possible crush Malcolm. Nothing at all.

"Sure…if you're gay like Malcolm and his little bed buddy; you gay, Cass?" asked Brian, looking at the slightly shorter boy with a critical eye. Cassidy blushed, however it was blocked from Brian's view when Rochelle moved in front of him, giving Brian a pointed look.

"Lay off, Brian! You're so obsessed with someone else's sexuality that I'm beginning to wonder if maybe you might have some issues of your own." Brian looked at Rochelle in surprise before he looked away, grumbling to himself. Rochelle glared at the boy for a few more seconds before looking at Cassidy and silently winking at him. Cassidy smiled and mouthed 'thank you' to his friend.

Eventually their small group joined up with the larger group. The king of the group was Leander; loud, blond, blue-eyed jock, Mister Perfect. And Cassidy's cousin. They were close as kids, however as they grew older they grew distant. Leander got new friends, Cassidy…well, Cassidy felt that he stayed the same. The two didn't really share many features; where Leander was tall, built, and blond, Cassidy was average height, average weight, with sandy brown hair. The only thing they shared were their blue eyes that held the same intensity, and perhaps similar noses, but that was about it as far as family resemblance went.

Brian walked over to Leander and Troy, while Cassidy trailed behind Rochelle as she gathered with a few girls. For Cassidy to be part of the popular crowd, he was decidedly unpopular, as in he didn't really associate with a lot of people. He knew a lot of the kids that were there…he just didn't hang out with them. He sighed and tried to pay attention to the conversation that he and Rochelle joined, however he couldn't help but think about how nice a smile Malcolm had.

Bridge City, Pennsylvania

West Liberty 8:23 pm

Malcolm's yellow cadillac pulled up in front of an old Victorian style house. It was probably nice at one point in time…but what used to be a work of artful architecture was now run-down by the combined efforts of time and neglect. It had all the makings of a haunted house, with the exception of the presence of people. Cars were parked all along the sidewalk and in the yard of the house, the windows were bright with light and loud with noise of music, of human voices.

He glanced over at Jacob who was looking at the large house. Even though it was a little too dark to see his friend's expression, Malcolm knew that Jacob was frowning.

"Something wrong?" asked Malcolm. Jacob glanced at his friend before shaking his head and climbing out of the car. Malcolm followed and, together, the two made their way to the house. The porch was somewhat crowded with people, masked by the shadows, their faces lit by the glow of the occasional cigarette or…whatever else it may have been that they were smoking. A delicate sniff told Malcolm that someone was passing some pot around.

'Great, one of those parties…' he thought, glancing at Jacob again. Jacob carefully kept a blank face, ducking his head a bit as curious eyes turned to examine the two boys as they entered the house. Music pounded in the background and the air suddenly felt humid. The room was dark, but it was clear that there were a lot of people squeezed in there. A dark shape rose from one of the couches.

"Hey, Mal! Jay!" Kevin walked over to the two and slapped fives with Malcolm and hugged Jacob. Kevin was truly skinny in every since of the word, however in terms of height he was just barely topped Jacob in height. Even so, the word 'lanky' was all but too fitting. His black hair was long and shaggy and threatened to hide his otherwise unremarkable face. "Glad to see that you two could make it, man!" he dragged them back over to the couch he was resting on and moved a few people aside before falling onto the couch, dragging Jacob with him. Malcolm sat down as well, casting a look around at the bloodshot eyes that looked back at them. "Surprised as fuck to see you guys here, but glad too. What's life been like?" asked Kevin.

"Nothing too wild," answered Mal, looking back at Kevin with a smile. "You know the abandoned subway tunnels in the Historical District? Well, Jacob and I found a suitable space and we're trying to re-purpose it as a place where we can host LAN parties and the like. Maybe turn it into some sort of pad or something."

Someone handed Kevin a blunt, which he took at hit of. "No, shit, eh? Yeah, you always were a big nerd. You and your little follower…" said Kevin turning his attention to Jacob. Kevin then leered at the silent boy and reached over to squeeze his chest. "Or not so little." Jacob reflectively slapped Kevin's hand away and Kevin laughed, smoke spilling out of his mouth.

"Dude, knock it off." Malcolm gave Kevin a mild glare.

"What? Jay just knows that I'm only toyin' with him," replied Kevin, reaching over to affectionately rub Jacob's head. "Isn't that right, Jay baby?" he asked in a pseudo sweet voice. Jacob rolled his eyes and sighed, seemingly annoyed but for the slightest suggestion of what could have been a smile. "Here, take a hit of this shit; it'll loosen you up a bit." Kevin presented the blunt. Its glowing end smoldered silently and danced in Kevin's somewhat unsteady grip. Jacob turned his head away.

"Back off, Kev. You know we aren't into that."

"We? Since when the fuck are you two a 'we'?" Kevin raised an eyebrow and caste a dark look at his two friends. "When did this happen and why haven't I been invited over for some fun?" Kevin took another hit of his blunt.

"It…it's not like that. Just…"

"Ahh, I see. It's not like that. It's just Malcolm's hero complex stunting everyone's growth; if Jacob doesn't want a hit then let the man tell me himself!" Kevin looked at Jacob, eyes narrowed. "Do you want a hit or not?"


"See, Mal? We're all still friends here and, holy shit, we managed to do it all by ourselves!" Kevin laughed, though his eyes still glared. Malcolm stared back, his expression neutral. Jacob looked between his two friends.

"Kevin, chill. Malcolm's probably still kind of in his protective mode. We ran into Brian at the mall…"

"That fucker's still messing with you?" asked Kevin, raising both eyebrows and looking at Jacob and then Malcolm. Malcolm sighed internally; Jacob had meant well, but Malcolm really wished that he did not mention Brian. It was like an instant rage button for the guy. Malcolm hesitantly nodded.

"Yeah. Well, he tried starting with me when I ran into Cassidy by accident—"


"Umm, Leander's younger cousin?"

"Ah yeah, the cutie. Yeah, I know who you mean. Continue."

"Well, I ran into him and Brian got in my face about it. Jacob was still in the store at the time, though if Brian had seen him…"

"In any case, no one got in a fight," said Jacob, looking over at Kevin, whose sanguine persona seemed to sink to the darkness that surrounded them.

"I can't stand those motherfuckin' rich bitches who think they can just walk all over everyone. Something's got to be done about them…" Kevin glared coldly off at something neither of his couch companions could see. Kevin nodded. "Yeah, something's got to be done about them…and I got just the thing." A rictus of cruelty lit Kevin's feature before he reached off and affectionately rubbed Jacob's neck. "Don't worry, Jay-baby. Ole' Kevin's going to set things straight."

After the movie, the crowd of teenagers descended upon a hapless Denny's, as they usually did. Cassidy sat at a small table with Rochelle. Cassidy was working on a piece of apple pie with the requisite vanilla ice cream while Rochelle was enjoying her favorite dessert; a strawberry milkshake.

"So, why do you think Brian has such a problem with Malcolm and his friend…um..." Cassidy realized that he didn't know the name of Malcom's friend. The boy had kind brown eyes and skin to match. He was kind of on the hefty side, but didn't possess a build like some of the larger guys at school. He was really silent, really easy to forget. In all honesty, the only reason why Cassidy was aware of him was because he was aware of Malcolm. He was simply 'Malcolm's friend'.

"The quiet guy? Think his name is James...or Jamil or something like that."

"Yeah, I guess. What's Brian's deal with them, though?" asked Cassidy, looking over at the larger table were most of the crowd was sitting at. They were the loudest table, of course, with the more than occasional expletive and shotgun burst of laughter. Of course the three kings sat over there. Brian glanced over and made eye contact with Cassidy, who looked back down at his pie.

"Aside from the dichotomy of Popular and Unpopular? I honestly don't know. Guys like him are jerks without reason." Rochelle's usually bouncy ringlets seemed to sag a little as she lowered her head to focus on the table.

"I'm sorry that he's a jerk. You really did seem to like him."

"I know, and I did, and I should have expected it but…I…I don't know. He's cute but that's about it. Why are all the good men taken or gay?" she asked plaintively. Cassidy smiled.

"If it makes you feel any better, I'm not having any better luck." Rochelle looked up at her friend and laughed.

"Having any luck with what, exactly?" asked a third voice. Cassidy dropped his fork and looked up to see Leander grinning down at him. Cassidy bit his lip; he'd wished that Leander wasn't so incredibly…sneaky.

"Math test," supplied Rochelle. "We're both getting our butts kicked."

"Oh, really? Because, from what I remember, math seemed to be Cass's strong suit when we were younger." Cassidy raised an eyebrow at Rochelle, who simply blushed. Leander pulled up a chair to their table and sat, grinning at the two. Andrea, Leander's girlfriend, stood beside his chair, smiling down at the two.

"Hey, Rochelle, love the hair."

"Thanks Andrea, love the nails." The two girls smiled and laughed, but Cassidy knew that the laughter somehow translated to the two wanting to claw the other's eyes out. Females were masters of language and subterfuge like that.

"Anyways, I'm actually over here because of something interesting Brian told me. He said that you guys ran into that douche bag Sanders. Something about him pushing you to the ground?"

Nonplussed, Cassidy raised an eyebrow and stared at his cousin for a moment; did Leander sound concerned? Remembering that he was supposed to be answering a question, Cassidy slowly nodded. "Uh...yeah." He probably should have added more, like explaining how it really wasn't Malcolm's fault at all and how Brian was likely embellishing the story a bit. Pushing? More like Cassidy was too busy day dreaming and happened to walk into Malcolm. Before he could say any of that, however, Leander nodded and narrowed his eyes.

"Funny, him being here."

"What does that mean?" asked Cassidy. Leander looked up his cousin and smirked a little.

"Sanders getting revenge for Brian messing with his fat boyfriend."

"What, by messing with me?" asked Cassidy, raising an eyebrow. "Brian and I aren't exactly friends," he added without thinking. When he glanced up at his cousin Leander seemed amused instead of angry.

"He's picking on you to get to me to get to Brian." Cassidy was once again struck speechless. Not exactly a people person, the complexities and subtle nuances that constructed the teenaged social world he found himself a part of often confused and baffled him. To wit: if Malcolm did have a problem with Brian, why wouldn't he just confront Brian about it instead of going after someone who had little connection to the guy? All of which was moot, of course. Malcolm wasn't trying to "get to" Brian, at least as far as Cassidy could discern. Malcolm was innocent.

"But that sounds needlessly complicated, not to mention that Malcolm didn't exactly-"

"Look, don't you worry about it; your big cuz is going to take care of everything, ok?"

Cassidy felt both confused and frustrated, but could only watch as Leander and Andrea left the table. Cassidy watched the two leave before looking back Rochelle. "What was that about?" Rochelle could only shrug.

And so, the weekend proceeded...

"Hey, Jacob, think we can get some running water down here?"

"Maybe. Could be tricky, though. You aren't thinking about moving down here, are you?"

"Not really. I just think it would be cool to have some place that's kind of like...a pad or something. In case you, Kevin, or me need to chill here for a bit or something, you know?"

"Well...let me see what I can figure out, alright?"

"I'm so glad that I have a gay best friend; who else would sit and watch West Side Story with me and paint my nails?"

"I don't know, Rochelle, any given number of your female friends? Besides, being gay doesn't automatically make a guy predisposed to these sorts of things."

"Meh. I don't see any straight guys here, Cass."

"Good point. But who does that reflect poorly on, me, or the date-less wonder? Ooo, pizza's here!"

"Don't try to distract me! I didn't even hear the doorbell..."

", after we left the Denny's we went back to her place, right? Things were started to get hot and heavy then her little brother came in, something about some guy standing around in their backyard."

"Shit. Did you do it, dude?"

"The fuck, Brian! Not with her little brother standing there, asshole! Andrea made me go out there and see what was up."

"Was there someone there?"

"...I honestly can't remember. I don't think anything was there 'cause when I went back in we just sat and watched a movie."

A lone figure sat in the messy room. Clothing (clean, dirty, and anything in-between), discarded CD cases, random and various pieces of paper, a few pictures of the two people he considered friends, bags, and other random junk littered the area, making it a veritable disaster area. His mother had given up long ago on any possibility of him cleaning his room; any time she nagged was an act of habit rather than expectation of any sort of change.

The lanky figure stared up at the ceiling with black eyes. Those eyes darted back and forth. He was imagining glorious things. Bloodshed, death, retribution. A well of emotion rose up in him. What he had mistaken for joy and self righteousness was self loathing and fear. The funny thing about the human mind was its expert ability to fool itself.