I stormed out of the house and to my car, not angry, not furious, out-right absolutely pissed the fuck off. I knew at that point that if anyone got in my face before I got my hands on that jealous bitch, they'd likely get their necks wrung by me. I shoved my hand into my jeans pocket, going after my car keys. I screamed a string of violent curses as I realized I was not in possession of my keys and that I had in fact left them in the kitchen after we'd gotten home. I glared at my front door, not wanting to go back inside, not wanting to risk seeing the horrible bruising that covered my little brother's upper body.

"Here," Nick said and I looked up as something shiny came flying my direction. I reached up and caught what turned out to be the keys I'd left in the kitchen. "Something happen to Bailey?" he asked, but he wasn't really expecting an answer. He already knew. Bailey was the only person that could get me worked up as badly as I was right now.

"Cayce's stalker threatened him," I replied, heading towards my car. Nick followed as he always did and slid into the passenger seat. "She insinuated that the pool accident wasn't an accident and that if Bai didn't stay away from Cayce, he might not live the next time."

"So, what do you plan to do?" he asked. I glanced over at him as the car started and thought about it myself. What was I going to do? I wanted to be sure that she wouldn't hurt Bailey again, but at the same time, I didn't want to end up in jail for murder, which at this moment in time was exactly what I was capable of.

"Not a damned clue," I grumbled and dropped my head to the steering wheel. "Every fiber of my being wants to do to her what she's done to Bai, but then my brain kicks in and reminds me if I do that, I'll get sent to jail or juvie."

"Are you willing to listen to suggestion?" he asked, his voice low and serious. I turned my head slightly to watch him. Nick was always a serious guy, never really cut up or joked around like the rest of us. But he'd never offered up any suggestions before on how to deal with problems that surfaced around my little brother. Instead he'd always been my silent supporter and an occasional friend with benefits.

"From you, I'm definitely more than willing," I replied. He nodded a bit.

"Go to my house. We can pick up one of my snakes," he said. I stared at him for a moment, wondering just what was going on inside his head, but pulled the car out of the driveway and pointed it towards the house he'd grown up in. I shuddered slightly at the thought of one of his snakes in my car. I'd never really gotten used to that particular hobby of his. I waited in the car while he ran inside to get whatever snake he thinking of. Again I shuddered as he came out, carrying on of the bags he used for feeding and transport.

"You're so going to have to explain this to me, Nick," I said as he slipped back into the car.

"You want to prevent her from being able to hurt Bailey again, right?" he asked, setting the bag carefully on his lap. I nodded slowly. "How far are you willing to go to do that?"

"I'd go so far as to kill her for what she's done already," I said softly. She'd put my baby brother in the hospital after making him hit his head against the pool wall and almost drown. And just today she'd gotten help to beat the hell out of him and threaten him to stay away from the person I know he's cared about for years.

"Then we will kill her, Bren," he replied, that serious expression never leaving his face. "Call Alyssa up and tell her that you're tired of seeing Cayce blow her off, so you're going to help them get together. If she mentions anything about Bailey, just tell her he went to bed with a migraine as soon as he got home." I stared at him hard for a long moment, trying to digest this devious little plot he had cooked up.

"How does the snake come in?" I asked, my eyes sliding down to the bag in question. A slow, malicious smirk slid over his normally expressionless face as his eyes followed mine to his pet.

"He's how we get away with murder," Nick replied matter of factly. "Once we have Alyssa in the car, she's trapped. You can ask her about Bailey then, find out what she hoped to gain from hurting him so much. Drive to the deserted park just on the outskirts of town, where she thinks she's going to meet Cayce. Before we get there, I'll let Simon have a bite. We kick her out of the car and destroy her cellphone."

"Nick, sometimes, you really scare me," I mumbled as I fished in the console for my phone.

"Yeah, well, she hurt Bailey. He's as much my little brother as he is yours," he said with a shrug. "And you know there isn't anything I wouldn't do for you." I nodded slowly, a small smile slipping into my expression at the depth of that one statement. There really was nothing that Nick wouldn't do if I asked, but the same was true in reverse. The biggest thing being that he had moved in with Bailey and I when his mother's new boyfriend tried unsuccessfully to rape him in one of his drunken stupors.

"Thanks, Nick," I said as I fished up Alyssa's number in my directory. Before the incident at the pool party, Alyssa was a fairly regular visitor to my house. Of course, she was only ever there for Cayce, but I had once upon a time considered her a friend.

"Hello?" Alyssa asked as she picked up.

"Hey, Aly, it's Brendan," I said, trying to make my voice sound as casual as possible, despite the anger that bubbled up at the sound of her voice.

"Oh, Brendan, I didn't expect you to call." I smirked slightly at the apprehension in her tone. "What can I do for you this afternoon?"

"Well, I've been thinking. You've been chasing Cayce for awhile now and he just doesn't seem to have a clue. So I thought that maybe I'd help you out." I pulled the phone from my ear as she squealed in delight. "I'll take it that you're up for that then?"

"Yes, of course! When do you want to do this?" she asked, all apprehension having suddenly disappeared to be replaced with sheer excitement.

"How about right now? Cayce's already planning to meet me by the water front so I figured I'd pick you up on my way there. Think you can be ready and out front in fifteen minutes?"

"Yeah, sure! I'll see you shortly then!" When the click signaled that she had hung up, I breathed out a heavy sigh. I could feel my nerves were working in overdrive, both from the knowledge of what that bitch had done to my brother and the prospect of what I was about to do to her.

"Bren, look at me," Nick commanded and immediately I complied only to be met with his lips in a crushing kiss. Almost instantly, my entire body relaxed as I returned his passionate kiss for several moments. Once he pulled back, my face was flushed but I had relaxed quite considerably. "Relaxed now?" he asked.

"Yeah, thanks for that," I replied with a smile on my face. I finally pulled out of his driveway and headed towards Alyssa's house, doing my best to continue with the calm feeling that Nick had given me. Since Nick's mother's house was on the opposite side of town from Alyssa's, it did take me the full fifteen minutes to get there and a few more. Alyssa was waiting outside by her mailbox for me, just like I'd asked. She raised a curious eyebrow when she saw Nick in the passenger seat, but just as quickly crawled into the backseat behind him.

"I didn't realize Nick would be with you," she said as she snapped her seatbelt on. "I guess you guys really are inseperable." I glanced at her in the rearview mirror and smirked slightly at how she had dolled herself up for meeting Cayce. She was absolutely clueless that he had no interest in her at all.

"Alyssa," I started as I turned my car in the direction of the lake front. "You wouldn't happen to know why Bai was late getting out of class today, would you?" I asked, my eyes focusing on her in the rearview mirror. Panic briefly swept over her expression before she turned her attention out of the window.

"Why would I know something like that? We aren't even in the same grade," she said, her voice trembling just slightly.

"Really, because I was thinking that that shade of lipstick you're wearing looks remarkably like the colour that was used to write on my baby brother's stomach," I replied darkly. Her head whipped around to catch my gaze in the rearview and her expression quickly changed over to anger.

"What are you trying to say, Brendan?" she hissed.

"I'm saying you're lying to me." My tone and gaze never waivered as I slowed the car down and locked the doors. As long as it was still in gear, she wouldn't be able to open the back doors. "I'm saying that you purposely hurt Bai at the pool party and then hurt him again today. I'm saying that you threatened him to try and keep him and Cayce apart."

"So what if I did? No one will ever believe you over me," she replied, a cruel smirk splaying across her suddenly very ugly face. I gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to convince myself not to turn around and simply strangle her then and there. "Your baby brother is a goddamned fag and it's sickening to see him touching Cayce."

"Who my brother decides to fall in love with is none of your damned business!" I shouted, causing her to jump slightly.

"It is when he's trying to turn the person I love into another fucking fag!" she yelled back. I slammed on the brakes, bringing the car to a sudden halt.

"You don't know a damned thing about Cayce! If you did, you'd know already he has no fucking interest in a bitch like you!" I took a deep breath to calm myself again and turned my head to glare directly at her. "You are going to stay away from my brother and Cayce. You are not going to interfere in their relationship in any way. It's taken them well over half a year to finally get together and I'll be damned if you do anything to hurt either one of them."

"What?! Then setting me up with Cayce was just a lie?" she screamed.

"You seriously thought we'd set up our friend with someone he obviously has no interest in? What kind of friends do you take us for?" Nick asked coldly. I could see him fidgeting with the opening of the bag in his lap and knew it wouldn't be long before he put the last part of his plan into action. "Just because you didn't want to see the fact that he hated you, didn't mean the rest of us didn't notice. You're an unwanted presence in Cayce's life, even moreso now that you've hurt and threatened the person he holds dear. My suggestion is that you take this warning and stay the hell away from Cayce and Bailey, before something bad happens to you."

"Before something bad happens to me? Please, you fag lovers don't scare me," she said. "Neither of you have the balls to raise a hand to me. Let me out of this damn car. I'll walk home!" I glanced over at Nick and nodded, deciding that threats weren't going to work and that we'd have to follow through with his plan. Nick stepped out of the car, his hand working it's way into the bag he had been holding. He opened Alyssa's door and waited for her to step out.

She was already pulling her cellphone out and he purposefully bumped her arm, causing her to drop it. As she bent down to pick it up, he moved with her out of my sight. I jumped a bit as I heard her scream and stand, backing away from Nick, holding her hand protectively to her chest. Nick stood again, a sadistic smile once more on his face as he raised his hand and motioned for me to move the car forward. I pulled my foot off the brake slowly and as the car rolled forward I heard a distinct metallic crunch.

"Enjoy your walk home, Alyssa," Nick said in an overly sweet voice. He turned and got back in the car, waving goodbye to the dark haired girl as we pulled away. I watched in the rearview until she disappeared from sight, feeling a mixture of relief and guilt. I shook my head, deciding that Bailey's safety was the most important thing of all.