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When planning a murder, there were so many things to take into account. Things like police presence, if you were seen, if you were caught in the act, what to do about questioning. When you committed this crime as often and as long as Stanley had, you learned to handle these things, always have a way out. Variables were always considered, sure, but that didn’t stop him from doing it. So far, he’d never been faced with more than he was prepared for.

That was, at least, until he met Jarod.

Sure, he knew he wasn’t the first or last person that would be socially bullied, but Jarod’s story hit home pretty hard. From the night he dreamt of his father, the night he stared at that lax, impossibly young-looking face, his whole world turned on its side. It wasn’t just about him, anymore. It was about them.

The day he killed that Valentine boy, the pride he took and the time that he used from that simple act, that was the day he really seemed to notice it. This one was one hundred percent for Jarod. Their fates were intertwined, now. And there was no escaping those looks, either. The boy was always shooting him appraising glances, even before David’s death.

The growing hole in his chest, where his hope for humanity dwindled and spawned more hatred, was quickly being filled with something that could only be described as love for the boy. And it was this variable that worried him more than any other he’d had to deal with.