Title: Colonized Codependence
Author: honeyandvinegar
Pairing: Casey/Zeke
Synopsis: AU involving Casey and Zeke as the only survivors of the alien's attack, going from bad to worse at every turn.
Warnings: Rough sex, heavy angst, some gory imagery
Disclaimer: I own nothing--all fantasy on my end.
Author's Notes: Written for the secretsantafic community on livejournal.

Things were not looking up, even after passing through two towns. Zeke was trying to keep his hands from shaking as he walked up to the dark convenience store and tried to see inside. Looking to the 'closed' sign, he was thankful; a twenty-four hour shop could be hiding some pretty nasty things inside. When he tried to head into one of Herrington's grocery stores, he'd almost run back out.

Customers, cashiers, other workers—all lying dead in the aisles with shocked expressions frozen on their faces. None of them knew what hit them when MaryBeth died. He was almost willing to put blinders on and get what he needed to get, but he'd caught sight of Lisa Wells lying dead in one of the aisles; his girlfriend from sophomore year. For the first time in Zeke's life, he ran away out of sheer terror. Even Miss Burke's head, crawling around on anime-style tentacles hadn't done that to him.

Zeke took a quick glance back to the cherry red Volkswagen (not knowing who's it was, but it had its keys in the visor) seeing Casey's blank eyes staring at the dashboard, his body still. Sighing, Zeke brought his crowbar up and smashed it into the glass door, shattering it completely.


“I couldn't find any medical shit, other than Band-Aids,” Zeke told Casey as he drove along. It was the first thing he'd said since getting in the car back in Herrington; now an hour and a half away from town, Zeke needed to say something. “We're gonna need to stop off somewhere soon. Canton should be safe—I hope.”

Casey didn't reply; he was still staring off into space. Zeke clenched his jaw and brought out his new pack of cigarettes. The fourteen cartons of Camels he'd procured at the shop weren't going to last very long, he supposed. He looked over to Casey as he inhaled. “Casey?” he said; again, no answer. “Casey... her.,”

Now Casey moved his eyes down to his lap, looking at the pack of cigarettes Zeke had tossed there. “I...” he started, his voice feeble and quiet. “I don't... smoke.”

“Have one, for fuck's sake.”

“No. I don't like smoke,” Casey answered. Tears were in his words, making Zeke clench the wheel harder. This was the last thing he needed; Herrington High's biggest geek, shell-shocked and disabled by fear. It had taken Zeke a good twenty minutes just getting the kid to leave the equipment cage, convincing him that Stokely was dead with angry yells and a slap to the face. Casey hadn't said anything else, until now.

“Fine. Take one if you need it later,” Zeke said, looking ahead to an intersection. He growled in annoyance, seeing the light going yellow. There wasn't any point... he hadn't seen a car the entire time driving.

“Zeke...” Casey murmured, his body straightening a bit. The light turned red, but Zeke wasn't going to bother. No fucking point. “Zeke... Zeke, what're... stop!”

“What?” Zeke replied with annoyance; he blew through the light, making Casey grab the door and his seat with a white-knuckled grip. Zeke blinked in hearing Casey's panicked breaths and seeing the shocked expression on his face. “What? What's the fucking pro—”

“Why didn't you STOP?” Casey bellowed.

“No one is here, Casey! Jesus fucking...” Zeke said, trailing off. Casey's head shook fast, his hands now undoing his seatbelt.

“Lemmee out. I'm going back home...”

“Casey, sit the fuck down.”

“No. No, my mom and dad, they gotta know—I forgot something, I left important... stuff, in my room—”

“You're not going back home. We're not going back,” Zeke tried to convince him. This was going to get really fucking ugly, he could feel it...

“I HAVE to go back fucking home, I can't just leave, my mom'll worry... she always worries when I don't come home,” Casey said, now starting to wail and muddle his words together.

“Casey, I already told you. And I'll hate fucking saying it again, so don't make me,” Zeke said, teeth clenching harder.

“You're wrong. You're wrong,” Casey said, his hand on the door handle. Zeke's eyes darted just in time to see Casey flick it out, opening the door to let rushing air swoop inside. Zeke's foot slammed onto the brake, making the back end slip to the side.

“Casey! NO! Stop it, now!” Zeke bellowed. It was too late; Casey had thrown himself out of the car onto the ground, now scrambling to his feet and running off. Zeke growled in anger and frustration as he put the car in park and got out.

The boy was already getting shadowed by the darkness surrounding them; he was a fast little jerk. Zeke's long legs served him well however, as he began catching up to him. He could hear Casey's terrified wheeze and for a moment—just one fleeting moment, Zeke felt guilty. He couldn't let it take over however. He needed Casey to fucking stop.

His hand grabbed Casey's shirt collar and made him jolt back with a choke. Casey was thrown back, tossed to the dirt and yelping; Zeke's momentum nearly had him fall on his face in tripping over Casey's legs. Regaining his stance, Zeke turned to find Casey grabbing his throat and coughing. “Get up... go back to the car. Fucking now, Casey,”

“Prick... you fucking prick...” Casey irked out.

Zeke felt his face go hot. “They're all dead, Casey. Stokely was way off the mark. She's dead; everyone in Herrington is dead. Your parents are fucking dead,” Zeke told him firmly. He hated the look on Casey's face as the boy snapped his head up.

“Fucking liar.”

“I'm not lying. We're not going back,” Zeke said.

“I don't want to be here with you. I hate you. I wanna go home,” Casey snarled out.

“Yea, and I don't want to hang out with you either, y'now. But we don't have a fucking choice, now do we?” Zeke growled.

“Just let me go,” Casey said as he rose to his feet, his legs wavering slightly as he stood. He looked Zeke in the eyes and shook his head. “Lemmee go home. Take me back.”

“I am not... doing that,” Zeke replied with a huff of hot breath. “We're the only ones left, Casey. Do you understand this? You killed MaryBeth, that's it. We're the only ones that didn't get infected. Everyone else was.”

Casey didn't look like he understood anything at this point. His eyes averted to look to his left. “I just... wanna check, Zeke. Please.”

“Get in the car. We're heading to the next town; we'll find someplace to rest.”


“No fucking 'pleases' are gonna work, get in the fucking—”

Zeke wasn't prepared in the slightest for Casey to suddenly lash out, all fists and flailing. He jumped back, almost slipping on the loose gravel. “CASEY!” he howled angrily, trying to grab the boy's wrists to get him to stop. In the next few seconds, Zeke could only think on one thing; leave the little fucker. He's not worth this—knock him out and LEAVE him here. The mad, fiery look in Casey's eyes was enough to make Zeke feel like he should back off... the kid was downright scary right now. His taking out the alien queen did something to him...

Once he had a good, solid hold on Casey's wrists, Zeke tried stilling him. He leaned forward to the struggling boy and tried reasoning one last time. “I am trying... to help you, for fuck's sake. Get in the car... we need to leave,” he said, near pleading. He knew why those jocks always beat on him; the kid was fucking impossible. He still tried fighting back, pushing and pulling against Zeke's hold. Zeke saw Casey snarl and pull his head back... 'He's gonna try to head butt me, the little fucker...'

Zeke had no choice; it was all about self-preservation now. If he were to be the only sane person in this situation, the last thing he needed was to get pounded by the little jerk. He let one of Casey's arms go, pulled back his fist and slammed it in a hard uppercut into Casey's jaw. He almost fell again when Casey's body went limp; Zeke had to let go of the other hand to avoid landing on top of him; Casey lie motionless now.

It was dead silent. Crickets and peepers sang in the field nearby, cool winds letting the tall grasses whisper in some sort of ironic peace. Zeke closed his eyes and ran his hands through his hair, feeling mindless. Without another thought, Zeke moved quickly towards the car. Leave him, for fuck's sake. He's too much—he'll get you caught, in trouble, whatever. Just fucking LEAVE him.

He almost did, until another voice interrupted his inner desperation.

He's the only fucking reason you're alive


It was another two hours worth of driving before Zeke managed to find an open, running motel. He was trying his best to ignore the complete fear growing in the pit of his stomach; each and every place he'd stopped in before the 'Days Inn', all the way in Buffalo, was deserted. One place—the first he'd stopped at—had a TV playing in the next room, but upon his third ring on the desk's bell, Zeke made a hurried exit.

Here at the Days', the woman behind the counter looked a little dazed, but strangely pleased. He was handed a key for room #114 and was given directions. He'd needed them; the place was a labyrinth of rooms and sections. When he finally found the place, he looked to the passenger side.

“Case?” he said, nudging Casey's shoulder. The boy had woken up a little about forty-five minutes before but said nothing, simply closing his eyes again to sleep. With another small shove, his eyes opened.


“C'mon. I found a place,” Zeke gruffly stated. He got out of the car and went to the trunk, pulled out the bags of supplies he'd gotten then went to Casey's side. The door wasn't even opened. Groaning, Zeke opened it for him. “C'mon. Let's go.”

Casey curled further into himself, staring ahead at the room. “I hurt... a lot,” he mumbled. Zeke swallowed hard, pushed aside his guilt and grabbed Casey's arm.

“We need to eat, sleep and fuckin' think about what the hell we're gonna do.”

Casey gave Zeke's hand a small shove but straightened his legs and stepped out of the car. Zeke stepped aside, let him get out completely and shut the door. Saying nothing, the two of them walked over to their room; Casey ambled over to the bed on the other side and crawled upon it. “You've gotta eat,” Zeke told him, unpacking one of the bags from the convenience store next to the small microwave in the kitchenette.

“I feel sick,” Casey murmured. Zeke went still a moment, thinking hard.

“Y'now what, Connor? I'm not feeling that fucking peach myself,” he started, a rage boiling in his gut. “I've been driving our asses all over hell and creation for about four hours. I robbed a goddamned shop so we could get something in our stomachs, and I only have a few hundred packs of cigarettes to last me at least two or three nights. My head is friggin' pounding, because in case you didn't fucking notice, that bitch tossed me like a rag doll into a row of lockers. I've been busting my ass—and if you don't get yours in gear and eat some fucking food so you don't pass out on me, I swear to God...”

For the first time, Casey looked like he was a bit more... there. He sat up and looked to Zeke with a hard gaze. “I'm sorry,” he murmured.

Zeke sucked his tongue and rubbed his forehead. Out of everyone in the world... hell, everyone at school, the last person he thought he'd be stranded with for any reason whatsoever was Casey goddamned Connor. “I grabbed a bunch of shit. If you want something, get in here and make it,”

Casey nodded and stood, still looking shaky and out of sorts, but together enough that Zeke eased his mind a little.


“You really did get banged up,”

Zeke winced, feeling Casey's fingers probe around on the back of his head. “I think I hit a grate on the locker,” he said. He knew Casey was doing his best to be gentle, but it took a lot for Zeke to keep himself from snapping angrily every time he was touched. “Ow...”

“It's not bleeding... but we should clean it,” Casey told him. Zeke nodded a little as Casey grabbed up the rubbing alcohol. This was going to hurt like a bitch.

“How's your face feel?” he asked; anything to distract him from the foreboding noise of the bottle being tipped onto some cotton balls.

“Feels better after washing it,” Casey said. “I don't think it's infected.”

“Good,” Zeke muttered.

“My lip is killing me though.”

Zeke clenched his jaw a moment before sighing; Casey's bottom lip had been badly cut and swelled a little from the force of his punch hours before. “You were going fucking apeshit. I almost left you there, for fuck's sake,” he admitted.

The sounds of the bottle and Casey's small movements died, being replaced with a soft, shaky intake of breath behind Zeke. “I... I freaked out,” Casey finally said.

“Don't do it again. I'm telling you, Casey... I can't handle that shit,” Zeke said. The cool burn of alcohol was applied to his pained skin, making him hiss and clench his fists into the denim of his jeans. “God... damn, that fucking stings...”

“You won't... try to ditch me again, right?” Casey asked. Zeke took a deep breath.

“You won't flip out on me again, right?”

“Zeke...” Casey started. His fingers pressed the cotton gently as he continued. “What if some people are still alive, back in Herrington-- what if...”

“They're not.”

“How do you know?”

“Wanna know something really fucking scary?” Zeke blurted, feeling sick inside. “You DO know how far we are from home, right?”


“I don't think MaryBeth went on some solo mission, Case,” he said. “Even if she got the next town over through the football game, it couldn't have spread this far, this fast. There was no one on the roads. I'm really fucking scared to turn on the TV.”

Casey stopped tending to Zeke's wounds; cool air replaced the burning sensation now. “My mom and dad are dead... huh?” he stated.

Zeke's heart clenched. It was probably the first time Casey had honestly acknowledged this fact, enough to speak it out loud. “Yea... they're all dead, Casey.”

“Yea,” the boy murmured. Zeke turned his head to see Casey's hands, shaking violently, capping the bottle back up and putting it on the side table. “Maybe... we can go back after a while. Maybe the feds... I dunno, they'll clear everything up and we can go back.”

“I'm not so sure about that,” Zeke grunted out. He stood and went over to the bathroom to grab the bottle of ibuprofen he'd snagged. “They'll probably start looking for us anyway.”

“What for?”

Was Casey honestly this fucking naïve? “Casey, seriously... c'mon, they're gonna take one look at public records and wonder where the fuck we are.”

“They'll probably think we're dead... we can say we'd left before the alien came, that we weren't affected...”

“They have their ways, Casey. C'mon—you know this as well as I do,” Zeke interrupted. They stood in silence while Zeke got out a few pills and swallowed them down, not bothering with water.

“Zeke?” Casey said finally. He looked contemplative a moment, biting his lip. “Are you scared?”

Zeke stepped out from the bathroom and went to his bed, a heavy sigh escaping. He eased himself down on his back and lay there a moment before his lips parted to answer, “Fuck yes, Casey. I'd be an idiot if I wasn't.”

Casey sat down and stared at the rug a few moments. “I'll… be cool with you. Okay? We're both pretty screwed here. But I'll be cool.”

“Same here,” Zeke replied, before the pounding of his head went numb and his eyes closed.


“Hey… I let you sleep in,”

Zeke's eyes opened fully and tried to focus on the small desk across the room; Casey sat at it, eating and looking at a map. “Didn't hafta…” Zeke grumbled and yawned heavily. He fought to sit up, his head feeling like someone had put rocks in it. “Jesus Christ.”

“There's coffee on the pot,” Casey said, nodding towards the kitchenette. Zeke nodded and finally managed to get on his feet. Walking over, he looked to Casey and furrowed his brow.

“Did you sleep, Case?”

“Not really,” Casey replied. “I really couldn't. Kept thinking… I dunno, that someone should sit up and take watch.”

Zeke almost smiled… almost. He grabbed up a mug and filled it, taking in the cheap aroma of motel coffee. It wasn't much, but anything was just fine at this point. “Why don't you take a lie down? I'll figure shit out while you do… not long though, we gotta get moving soon,” Zeke told him.

“I guess; okay,” Casey mumbled, the words getting swallowed up in a deep yawn. Zeke watched him get up from the desk and go to the bed. It was almost as if the moment Casey's head hit the pillow, he fell asleep.

Coffee in hand, Zeke went to get the bottle of pills and brought them over to the desk. He grabbed four and choked them down—using coffee to aid them this time—and began searching the map Casey had been looking at.

An instant grin went over Zeke's lips. He'd been in enough classes with Casey to know what a brain he was. Zeke guessed that after Casey's initial breaking down the night before, he'd forced himself out of it by doing mad math tasks. They didn't have a compass, but Casey had drawn out immaculate circles, creating perimeters over cities and towns around Herrington. Small notes about the team they'd played last night were written in routes on roads and highways, noting distance, time and ratios. Being that Zeke was a natural genius himself, he was able to calculate everything Casey had done to double check; and the results weren't pretty.

Even if MaryBeth was the only one, at least four large surrounding towns had most likely been infected by Casey and Zeke's deductions. It'd been a large, private school they'd played, where many of the students weren't in the same town. At the bottom of the map, Zeke saw a few more calculations made. Judging by the absenteeism for a good one hundred miles, finally coming across life in Buffalo, the conclusion was simple: MaryBeth wasn't alone. If MaryBeth wasn't alone… there was no guarantee that anyone around them—right at this very fucking moment-- was one hundred percent human.

Zeke worked on the maps and math for a good hour before hearing a small whimpering from the bed. He looked over his shoulder and found Casey curling in a little, shaking his head in his sleep. Zeke was about to turn back around when the whimpering turned into a small but growing wail. “Casey?” he said, turning around completely. He blinked, feeling dumbfounded and lost on what to do in seeing Casey's body start to quake. Shit.

“Hey… Case, wake up,” he said as he stood. He walked over and lowered down to rouse the boy. “Case?”

“Get… no…” Casey mumbled out. A hand slapped forward onto the headboard and stayed there, blunt nails digging in slightly. There was nothing more confusing to Zeke than other people, and how to handle their emotions or outbursts. His eyes darted from side to side, as if looking for someone—anyone—to handle this for him. Sighing with dread, he gave Casey's arm a few pushes.

“Casey, wake up. You're… it's okay,” he tried, halting on the words. Casey's body stilled in a stiff position, but his eyes went wide open. Before Zeke could relax, Casey began shaking again.

“She has sisters,” he said. “I dreamed that she had sisters.”

Zeke bit his lip and stood up. “We gotta go, Casey. I'm going to go return the key,” he told him.


“We have food…”

“We're not getting food,” Zeke said as he parked the car at a Stop&Shop. “We've only got about five pens of scat, and we need more than that. It won't be my usual 'special brew', but it'll do.”

Casey looked at Zeke edgewise and hugged himself closer. “You think we need 'em?”

“You know we need them,” Zeke said, giving Casey a serious look. He didn't reply, excepting a nod as the two of them opened their doors. Zeke had to wait for Casey to get out of the car a moment, and got annoyed at the boy's slow pace. “Casey, come on.”

Casey ambled out then, looking hassled while stuffing his hands in his pockets. They walked past the rows of cars and to the front, let the automatic doors open and walked in. Zeke clenched his jaw.

There were many in here, all shopping and chatting, the intercom blaring for 'Dave, pick up extension twelve.' It all seemed so damned normal; Zeke's eyes darted to the newspaper racks near the cashiers. “We'll grab a paper on the way out,” he mumbled to Casey, who nodded back.

“Can I get a soda?” Casey asked. Zeke shrugged.

“Go ahead,” he said. “Meet me in the 'meds aisle.”

Casey nodded again and parted ways to head to the drink section. Zeke watched him go, feeling sick. Even if Casey was better than he was yesterday, he was still nerved up and shaking in tiny jolts every now and again. They had a job to do however; Zeke made a casual stroll to the medicine aisle and walked down to the very end.

What he found—or rather, what he didn't find, made him pause, trying to contemplate why the shelves were completely empty.

No aspirin, cough syrup, sleeping aids or caffeine pills… anything.

Get… the fuck out of here.

It was as if he was expecting Casey to be rushing towards him as he turned to leave. “Zeke…” he hissed, now turning back around and walking close to Zeke's side. “Shit… they've made the entire aisle just wate.”

Zeke didn't say anything. They were already getting looks; the looks that had sent chills up and down Zeke's spine in leaving school the day before. A cashier was chatting with a customer just ahead—they moved their heads in unison to look at the two of them, making Zeke move quicker. Casey followed suit.

“Where the fuck are we gonna go?” Casey asked.

“I don't—”

“Excuse me.”

Zeke looked over his shoulder and found a store manager following them. He swallowed and kept moving. “Don't stop, Casey. Keep walking,” he said in a shaky whisper. He looked again, seeing the man getting closer. At Casey's small but alarming gasp, Zeke turned and saw two more men blocking the exit. “What's… what's the problem?” Zeke asked, hoping beyond hope… for what, he didn't really know.

“Come with us,” one of the men just ahead stated blankly. He went to take Zeke's arm, but he moved away, almost jumping in doing so.

“Casey, get to the car—”

“You need to come with us,” the 'manager' hissed. Before Zeke knew it, his shoulders were grabbed, another one of the men advancing. In seeing the third going for Casey, his first instinct was alarming; for whatever reason, he didn't care about himself.

They were going to take them. They were going to take Casey.

“Back off!” Casey suddenly yelled. Zeke felt frozen to the spot, his arms getting pulled behind him.

He noticed the sound first; a sudden burst of deafening noise in three loud 'pop's went off, and then silence. Next, he realized his arms were free. Looking up and trying to focus his sight, he saw Casey standing with Zeke's gun in his hands.

No one moved; Casey trembled slightly but kept his stance. Seeing everyone's faces, Zeke realized that everyone probably didn't realize they'd survive a shot to the head… that the three guys that had tried to apprehend them would stop bleeding in mere moments and get up again.

“Stay back!” Casey warned the group and waved Zeke over—as if he planned on staying. Zeke went for the door and stood in front of it to keep it open, letting Casey back up without having to turn. Once they were past it and let it close, they turned quick and ran for the car.

“Fuck…” Zeke spat, his insides shaking terribly. They nearly tore the doors off of the sedan to get in; Zeke had never shot out of a parking lot so fast in his life. Casey looked over his shoulder as they careened out onto the street.

“They ran out… doesn't look like they're gonna follow,” he shook out.

“Casey…” Zeke started, the word getting muffled by a hard swallow. “Shit—that was fucking smart. Really fucking smart.”

“What?” Casey said, sounding annoyed.


“Don't get sarcastic, Tyler—”

“I'm NOT,” Zeke nearly yelled, turning his head to look at Casey a moment. “That was smart-- take a goddamned compliment when you get one, Jesus!”

Casey eased back, his hands fumbling to get his seat belt on. “I just… I just felt it.”

Keep feeling it,” Zeke said.


The paranoia was immense; after driving almost two hours, Zeke decided it was best for them to stop again, get a room, and try to gain some composure. Every red light, Zeke and Casey would stare out the windows at pedestrians, other cars—it was quiet in the car for the most part, besides the occasional inquiry on “where the fuck now?” or “how far does this go?” For the most part, shrugs and mumbles were the only replies.

Zeke got them to Wellsville—a safe enough distance from the Great Lakes and other bodies of water. His eyes scanned the street they drove on; seeing a small shop, he pulled into it. “We need a newspaper… and to just see if they have any supplies.”

“What if they're…?” Casey murmured. Zeke sighed.

“It's a smaller place. Probably one or two guys—if they are, we can get away quick enough,” Zeke said.

Casey nodded dumbly as they parked and got out. The wind had picked up, making the both of them huddle into themselves; once inside they looked around.

“There's still a Coke aisle,” Casey muttered, nodding towards it. Zeke felt a bit hopeful, but didn't want to push it.

“Go get one if you want… I'm gonna see if they have any caffeine shit,” he said. Casey moved to the soda while Zeke sauntered to the counter, seeing the young clerk reading a paper. “Hey,” he greeted him. The clerk looked up and swallowed the bite of his sandwich he'd taken.

“Hey—can I help you?” he asked. Zeke looked past him to the wall, holding condoms, porn, medications… score.

“Yea; I'll take those caffeine pills,” he said. The clerk walked over and grabbed a box; Zeke shook his head. “All of 'em,”

“All… all seven boxes?” the clerk said, looking to him with a confused expression. Zeke was going to have to make this quick if it turned out badly. Luckily, Casey returned, holding his bottle of soda. The clerk saw it and chuckled. “You guys planning on a week with no sleep or somethin'?”

Zeke breathed a bit easier. “Could say,” he said. The clerk shook his head and grabbed the pills, put them on the counter and began ringing them up.

“Wouldn't be the strangest thing I've heard all day,”

“Oh yea?” Zeke said, trying to sound nonchalant. The clerk nodded.

“Yea… didn't you read the paper?”

“Oh… yea, I need one,”

“Get each one,” Casey added. The clerk gave more funny looks.

“Yea… um, go ahead,” he said. Zeke turned to the paper rack next to them and scooped up a New York Times, New York Post, Wellsville Chronicle

“So, what's goin' on?” Casey asked casually, opening the bottle of soda.

“Man… I don't even know,” the clerk replied. “Whatever it is, it's one big cover-up; I guess there's been some serious sorta… I dunno, they're saying there's been a whole load of terrorist attacks all over the place. I call bullshit,”

“Yea,” Zeke said in an absent tone as he slapped the papers on the counter. Once he paid for their things, the clerk bagged them together and smiled a little.

“You guys have a good day.”

“Yea… you too,” Casey returned. Zeke kept his eye on the guy as they walked out; the young man simply went back to his sandwich and reading, making the knot in his chest ease.

“We might be safe… in this town, anyway,” he told Casey, who shrugged in reply.


“For the first time… since they started their publication… I think the Post is more accurate than all of them.”

Casey looked up from the paper he'd spread out over the bed to Zeke; Zeke held up the page he'd been reading, showing the headline: 'Breaking News—New York and Midwest States Report Numerous Disease Cases'. Casey rolled his eyes.

“The Times barely says a thing,” Casey mumbled, scanning the pages he had. “Really makes me wonder how far this has gone.”

“Makes me worry, too,” Zeke grumbled, putting the paper down. He looked around the non-descript room they sat in—yet another motel, this time without a kitchenette. The bathroom sucked. Everything did, really. He rubbed his face with both hands. “I'm wondering… if it might be best to go back.”

“Back… back to Herrington?” Casey asked, his face going blank. At Zeke's nod, he blinked profusely. “Zeke… you'd said…”

“I'd said they'd be looking for us; but maybe we'd be safer in a 'home base' kinda situation,” Zeke explained. “I dunno. I just think—we're gonna need some sort of structure, even if we have to pretend that we're one of them. We can come up with some sort of story, I really don't fucking know.”

“They're probably doing some sort of recovery… 'cleaning up',” Casey said. Zeke heard the hitch in his voice and looked over; oh fuck, he was starting to go all glossy-eyed.


“Can't even have a proper funeral… they'll just throw 'em in a ditch, burn 'em…” Casey mumbled.

“Your parents…?” Zeke tentatively asked.

Casey squirmed a little, putting the paper back together and tossing it onto the floor. “Yea… just throw 'em away, all 'The Last Man Alive' style,” he muttered. At Zeke's confused look he sighed. “Just a movie… a weird disease takes this town and they just… fuck,” he said with a pained expression. “I need a fucking drink,” he blurted, now bringing his knees to his chin and burying his face in his arms.

“Yea? You're in luck,” Zeke said with a raise of his eyebrows. “Got a bar in the trunk.”


“We've run outta rum,” Zeke said, tipping the flask and watching the last three or four drops hit his bedspread. Casey giggled.

“More rum!” he called, holding up his empty glass.

“We're OUT of rum, Casey Connor,” Zeke replied with a snort. “We got plenty more stuff, though.”

Casey made a long, languorous sigh; he stretched, body diagonal over the bed in an awkward pose. “You sold this shit at school, huh, didn't you?”

“Yep,” Zeke said, taking a flask of gin from the cardboard box he'd hauled in. “I even had accoutrements. Want a gimlet?”

“Wazzat?” Casey mumbled, looking upside-down to Zeke. Zeke waved the bottle of lime juice towards him.

“Jes' gin and lime.”

“Gooo for it,” Casey drawled, holding out his glass. Zeke sighed and took it and began mixing.

“Had you ever got drunk before?” he asked.

“Once,” Casey admitted. “Mike Blanchard had a party for the geeks once. He snuck out a bottle of vodka from the parents' cupboard while we played his new Playstation. It tasted like shit, but got us lit… hey, that rhymed.”

“Yep,” Zeke said with a laugh. He finished preparing their next round and handed Casey his drink. Instead of sitting back on his own bed, Zeke plopped down at the foot of Casey's. “You were such a geek.”


“Hah, 'are'. You ARE a gee.,”

“Your name rhymes with it though,” Casey said with a snort. “Geek Zeke,”

“Yea, your name rhymes with…” Zeke started, but lost whatever he was going to say. “Spacey. Like you're a space cadet.”


“John Wayne Gacy.”

“Streak… hah!” Casey cried. “You go streaking!”

“Shut up, that's stupid,” Zeke said, taking a long swig. His eyes twinkled with his next thought. “Ohh…”


“Lacy Casey. You wear girls' underwear.”

“YOU shut up. I do not. I'm all man.”

“Riiight,” Zeke hummed out.

“Wanna see it?” Casey said, now in a complete giggle fit.

“No, no I don't,” Zeke said. Casey was putting the drink down on the floor now however, his hands going to his belt. “Casey, keep your pants on.”

“No, I gotta prove I don't wear lace.”

“You don't gotta prove nothin'… Casey, Jesus Christ…” Zeke said as Casey's pants got shucked down to his feet.

“Ta-da!” Casey cried with triumph, kicking them off entirely. “See?”

“Yea, Casey… I see too much, thank you.”

“Oh, like it's so shocking. We had gym together last year, we'd fuckin' shower together,” Casey told him while wagging his finger at him. “I saaaw your cock more times than my own.”

“What, you checkin' me out or something? Knew you were gay.”

“I'm not gay!”

“Yea, you are.”

“Who says?”

“Everyone at school said!” Zeke accused.

“Well then you're a druggy fuckhead who screwed every girl in class,” Casey said with a scowl.

“I didn't do drugs… and the girls at school were bitches,” Zeke told him.

“Everyone at school said, gotta believe it. Stupid fuck,” Casey said, sounding angry; it went quiet a moment. Zeke frowned Casey's way, wondering if the night was going to go sour now. He didn't need that shit… that's when Casey started giggling profusely. “Oh, Zeke… I'm so gay.”

Zeke snorted again, trying to hold back his laughs. Casey was doing the same, so it only made it worse; within moments, both of them fell into fits of laughter, loud and long. It made Zeke have to lean down, lying across the bed with his legs and head hanging off the edge. “Knew it… fuckin' did,” he choked out with raging coughs.

“Whattaya want, a cookie?” Casey asked.

“Yea, I do,” Zeke said, holding out his hand. Casey's laughter died down now, his smile calming. He stared at Zeke's hand a moment and sighed. For whatever reason, Zeke wasn't pulling it back—he simply watched, confused, as Casey brought his cheek to it and rested it there. His eyes widened a little as Casey nuzzled into his palm; his lids fluttered closed, contented breaths waving warmth over Zeke's skin.

Shocked, Zeke pulled back and sat up halfway, staring at Casey with a cold look. Casey's eyes snapped open, looking back at Zeke. “I'm…” he mumbled. Zeke's lip curled up.

“The fuck… was that?” he forcefully asked. Casey breathed out slow and shaky now.

“I didn't mean… just…”

“The fuck you didn't mean. The fuck,” Zeke spat and stood up from the bed. “Little fucker. Fuckin' lil' dork, what do you think I am? Fuckin' queer?”


“Then why DO that?”

“Look, I'm sorry—”

“Can't fuckin' believe this…” Zeke muttered, walking away and heading for the bathroom. Casey said nothing as he got in and slammed the door, feeling flustered and out of it.

Just what he needed… just what he goddamned NEEDED, being stuck with the nerd—the now confirmed gay nerd of Herrington High. Zeke sat on the toilet seat and hung his head, the stress starting to hit him in waves. Being as drunk as he was didn't help. It was too hot in here; Zeke's flushed skin, booze laden insides and flustered mind got to him, making him grab the window latch and force it open to let the cool autumn air inside. He heard the start of light showers hitting the trees behind the motel, making a white noise to comfort him. Only a little; his brain was still swimming with every emotion he'd had thrown at him in the last forty-eight hours.

It'd only been two days… just two days. It couldn't even be classified at the 'worst two days of his life'. This wasn't 'the worst'; this wasn't anything he could sort into a category at all. He felt cold and absent, as if life had deserted him completely. Everything was mechanical; eat, sleep, try to survive. For what, he didn't know.

He didn't know how long he'd been in the bathroom before a small knock at the door made his eyes flash open; had he fallen asleep? He wasn't really sure. “Zeke? I gotta—gotta use the bathroom,” Casey said in a small voice on the other side of the door. Zeke stood up on stiff legs and groaned. He went to the door and opened it, finding Casey standing with his arms crossed tight over his chest, his eyes set to the right to avoid looking at him. Zeke was grateful that the boy put his jeans back on, not needing to see anymore than he already had.

Zeke slid past the boy without a word and went to his bed. The glasses had been put back on the dresser, leaving no mess for Zeke to handle. He got the covers off and climbed in, shoving them over himself. He'd never felt so damned cold…

It wasn't long before Casey emerged and padded over to his own bed. They didn't say anything while he shut off the lamp to make the room go dark. Zeke closed his eyes and hoped for sleep while Casey climbed into his bed. Everything went still and quiet, all except for the buzzing in Zeke's brain. He opened his eyes a moment; Casey's shapeless silhouette was framed in the low light of the curtained windows, no movement—it almost looked as if he wasn't breathing. Zeke went to try and sleep again…

“I'm sorry,” Casey murmured in the darkness.

Fuckin' sorry? Zeke thought. He wasn't expecting the anger in him to rise up, nearly boiling and spilling over. He didn't know why, he couldn't explain it; maybe this was why Casey had always gotten his ass kicked. It never mattered if he yelled obscenities or wailed in pain when he was dragged around school by his hair or heels. You just craved to smack him around. “Shut up,” Zeke finally muttered back through clenched teeth.

“I am… I'm sorry, I shouldn't have—” Casey went to say. Zeke threw the blankets off of himself, feeling murderous. He still couldn't reason it to himself; all he knew was that he practically leapt out of his bed, took two steps over to Casey's and grabbed his shoulders to turn him onto his back.

“You think I wanna be stuck here with you, huh?” he bellowed. Casey flinched but kept his wide, staring eyes on Zeke, lips parted to let slow, panicked breaths escape. Zeke pushed at him and growled. There were so many things Zeke could have said. 'You're a pathetic wimp'… which Casey wasn't; he'd proved that back in the gym with MaryBeth. 'No one cares about you, especially me'… but he had, back at the grocery store. 'I'm glad you got your ass kicked everyday'… again, not true. He hated those jocks more than anything, them beating on Casey being a reason. His hands clenched onto Casey's upper arms and squeezed harder, which made Casey irk out a grunt.

“Just… lemmee go,” Casey said with discomfort… maybe even fear. For whatever reason, Zeke could practically taste it.

“What do you want from me?” Zeke suddenly asked. “Huh?”

“Noth… Nothing, Zeke… I'm sorry—” Casey apologized again. With that, Zeke snarled again, dug his fingers in deeper and pushed his lips down onto Casey's.

It was all just madness, Zeke reasoned. The madness was in need of Casey's frenzied gasps and breaths underneath Zeke, his hands rising to push at Zeke's shoulders. “Wait…” Casey tried to speak, pulling away from Zeke's mouth a moment. “Zeke… what…”

His words disappeared in a loud cry at the feel of Zeke's hand leaving his shoulder, pulling up his shirt and grasping the small swell of the boy's breast. Zeke left Casey's mouth and darted down to his stomach; Christ… there were still bruises on him, marks left behind from bullies and their beatings. He couldn't help but grab at one with his teeth suddenly, which made Casey buck up with a howl. “Zeke! Stop!” he yelled with a sob. Zeke grabbed Casey's arched back to pull him closer, to make his traveling bites more exact and ruthless. Casey writhed, but didn't protest; Zeke didn't know if it was from shock, pain, or want… Zeke didn't care.

“Oh G-God…” Casey stammered, choked, as Zeke now planted his lips and teeth higher up, just below the peaked nipples Casey wore. His tongue lashed upwards and caught the edge of one, making Casey's sobs even more raspy and rushed. The question of why the fuck am I DOING this? seemed to be answered in the taste of Casey's skin. He was definitely boy… but more than that. Perhaps Zeke couldn't classify it simply because he'd never had it, but it didn't matter. It was instantly addicting, attacking Zeke's senses as he clamped upon Casey's nipple completely with a mix of sucks and bites.

Now Casey's hands were slapping onto Zeke's back and pushing him on; the boy wanted it. Zeke still didn't care, as he planned to take what he wanted. His hands seemed to have a mind of their own as they went down, down—all the way to Casey's pelvis and gripped his hips hard. His upper-half climbed up to Casey's neck and suckled, while tugging at Casey's jeans' button and zip. Once those were shoved down and off, fingers worked their way into the legs of briefs and pulled down in needy jolts. He was gone, high on the odd mix of pheromones—like a drink being poured straight down his throat all over again in just breathing the air around them.

He somehow managed to pull and even kick Casey's underwear down both legs, getting them draped upon one ankle. The boy's legs could be pushed apart with every last inch of skin exposed below; Zeke left Casey's neck and sat up quick, tossing blankets and sheets behind him to revel in his work.

T-shirt shoved upwards, crumpled around Casey's shoulders and chin. Heaving pants of breath making bruised and pink skin go in and out of focus, the marks so deep even in the low light of the room. Eyes—fuck, eyes so gorgeous, Zeke often wondered how Casey had gotten them, what God graced him with them—wide and staring as if needing more than answers for what Zeke was doing with him. Zeke didn't really know himself; all he knew was that Casey had gone rock solid. His cock nudged Zeke's knee and twitched when Zeke moved against it slightly.

It was scary when Zeke realized I want to fuck him… holy hell, I want to fuck him... but it was only natural. No, he'd never thought of being with a guy like that, but oh God… the noises Casey was making.

“Zeke…” he murmured between quick, short gasping breaths. He swallowed in his pause, his eyes closing and lips parting to speak again. Before he could get anything out, Zeke began rubbing his thigh over Casey's groin. It sent Casey mute again—at least when it came to speech.

“Go ahead,” Zeke said, his tone gone cold and taunting. He knew in doing this that he was in no way any better than the bullies at school. He remembered, from way back when, the time one of Gabe's friends tried to make Casey tell their algebra class that he liked sucking cock in the showers. With the teacher gone to answer an important phone call, the jocks took advantage.

But Casey didn't say it. No matter how hard they pulled his arm behind his back or yelled in his face, the kid wouldn't do it. Zeke remembered thinking what a complete idiot Casey was—he could've ended his already-humiliation quickly if he'd given in. Yet in the end, Zeke realized how much respect he should have had for not giving in.

Now, instead of trying to make Casey say embarrassing things, he was trying to make Casey cum on command; Zeke wanted to bully it out of him. He didn't want to be a coaxing lover. He wanted to get off on CASEY getting off… maybe it was always a strange fascination in wanting to see the poor little nerd of his class do something other than duck his head or spit insults.

Because this poor little nerd just happened to send Zeke's cock to absolute attention now. It made him impatient, watching the greedy boy thrust into Zeke's movements. Zeke pulled back, leaving Casey to leave his arched position and stare up at him. Feeling panicked and out-of-sorts, Zeke grabbed at his belt buckle and undid the straps hastily. If he was going to fuck him, then that was it; it's just fucking, he thought.

While Zeke hadn't ever considered doing something like this, he knew HOW he'd want to. Casey yelped as Zeke tossed Casey's legs onto his shoulders, pulling the boy's body up until he was hooked by his knees. Zeke sucked three fingers into his mouth and stared down at Casey, watching the half-lidded eyes flicker and shut tight when Zeke lowered his hand past Casey's balls. Zeke found his mark instantly, feeling the tight ring of Casey's anus pucker when his finger landed on it. His jaw clenched hard as he began digging, saliva barely working—but enough, for now. It almost amused him to think 'maybe I should've grabbed some lube yesterday', when there was no reason that he would have done so… yesterday.

He had to grab Casey's hip to keep him from bucking away with the second finger going inside. “Take it,” he commanded with a dark look as he began moving inside with small thrusts, in and out. Casey seemed to be trying his best to keep still; his hands were fisted into the sheet with a trembling grip.

“Please… touch it,” Casey asked with a heavy blush. Zeke followed Casey's line of sight and found it resting on his hardened shaft. He looked back at Casey and snarled.

“No… you,” he replied.

“Wh… what?”

Zeke groaned and let go of Casey's hip, grabbed one of his hands and pushed it between Casey's legs. “You… do it,”

Casey didn't move; he even seemed to go limp in getting this command. With an encouraging but rough hand, Zeke moved Casey's hand over himself, letting his palm flatten out to rub hard. “It's not so difficult… you've gotten yourself off before, I'm fucking sure,” Zeke told him. He felt Casey's fingers start to curl around his cock, grabbing onto his dick and beginning to pump by himself. Zeke let him go at the same time he began working a third finger in. Casey tossed his head back and his body went rigid, but his hand kept moving, faster and faster. Zeke withdrew his probing digits and grabbed each cheek to spread the boy wide. Casey was full and complete perversion now; jerking himself off, moaning, licking lips… it was all Zeke could take. With a quick position check and push, Zeke went forward into Casey's heat. Even with just the tip of his cock inside, Zeke felt like shooting off immediately. The only movements he allowed now were mechanical; get inside. Fuck him when you're there. It became too much to go slow however; once halfway in, Zeke couldn't wait any longer.

Casey had started whimpering loudly when Zeke had started entering him, but outright wailed when the first, real honest-to-God push came forth. Now fully sheathed, Zeke looked down on Casey with a shuddering gaze. His face was tense, pained concentration, lips shaking out grunts and moans. “F-Fuck… fuck me, Zeke,” Casey suddenly pleaded. Zeke's eyes flashed wide before leaning down to rest his elbows around Casey's arms, sandwiching the boy with his own legs, and began making hard, calculated pushes.

He could feel Casey's jerking off start up again, his dick getting rubbed and massaged with both his hand and Zeke's muscled stomach. “That's it… that's it, little boy,” Zeke managed to irk out. “You do that. You do that.” A more amplified, startled cry came from Casey with the deepest thrust Zeke gave so far; it made Zeke smile and narrow his eyes. He pushed in the same manner, watching as Casey tossed his head back and exposed his neck in a long stretch. One of Zeke's hands rose up to grab the boy's hair, pull him further, while the other dug its nails into Casey's thigh. Teeth bared into Casey's skin, catching him hard where his neck met his shoulder.

“Zeke, Zeke, Zeeeke…” Casey moaned in a gone-mad mantra. His legs began collapsing around Zeke's arms and down, but Zeke didn't care. He felt the tensing in Casey's thighs, gripping and letting go, gripping and letting go, and he knew he was close; so close.

“C'mon, lil' fucker. C'mon,” Zeke growled. He leaned up a little and looked down, seeing Casey's hand working furiously upon his cock, desperate and mindless. The sticky line of pre-cum suspending itself from Zeke's belly to the tip of Casey's cock almost made him climax… but Casey had to go first. He pulled Casey's hair harder and snarled. “Come on, you fucking bastard…”

That seemed to be all it had taken for Casey to cry out, tense completely and jerk out string after string of milky white over both their stomachs. Casey gave off sobs of heated, gasping breath, his body going limp. Zeke tossed Casey's legs off his arms and took both wrists to shove them into the bed. “Little fucker,” he shook out, staring at the cross-eyed expression Casey wore. He went as limp as a rag doll as Zeke pounded inside of him, over and over, feeling himself coming to the edge. The scent of Casey's sated lust and the sight of wet skin made Zeke go mad, growl, and grunt as he felt his dick spill, filling Casey. His insides slicked up, making Zeke go even faster as he climaxed. The wrists he held felt like they were going to snap with Zeke's force; he began loosening up as his orgasm died down, leaving his breathless and confused.

Everything went quiet and still besides their heaving chests gasping for air. It now hit Zeke fully, what he'd done… I just fucked a boy. I just fucked Casey Connor.


No, he wasn't going to acknowledge him. He was trying to find some way to blame Casey for this…

“Zeke, look at me…”

No. Zeke moved out and away from Casey, his head turned to avert his eyes from the mess below him. Casey was all cum and sweat, mussed hair and glistening eyes. He couldn't look at that right now.

Zeke put his aching legs over the side of the bed and stood; he walked to his side and got on his knees, then his stomach, then… nothing.


When Zeke's eyes opened, he wondered why they did; the clock between the beds read 6:50, meaning he'd only slept five or so hours. It didn't feel like he'd slept five or so minutes, but it was all he was going to have, he surmised.

He hadn't wanted to look to the other side of the room, but felt like it was his responsibility to. He found the sheets of Casey's bed rumpled and tossed to the side, but no Casey resided within them. That's when he heard a sighing breath come from behind him.

God DAMN it… he thought. He turned his head; there Casey was, lying on his side, facing Zeke. Zeke swallowed and bent up. Holding himself up with his elbows, he calculated the events of the night before.

It had to be Casey's fault somewhere. Zeke didn't go around screwing boys; even if he'd been able to appreciate ANY body in small, barely notable fashions, he wasn't about that. Casey was. He'd proven that in his nuzzling up to Zeke the way he had, letting Zeke feel the smooth skin of his cheek and jaw. A dirty move—inappropriate and uncalled for, because he should have known that Zeke wouldn't have touched him with a ten-foot pole.

But there were no ten-foot poles involved last night. It was much more than that; hands, mouths, teeth, cocks-- all of it, every last bit of sex and its accoutrements. These thoughts had Zeke crawl out of bed, trying hard to not rouse the boy. And who said he could just come to Zeke's bed, as if he owned the other side of it? That wasn't his right. It wasn't anyone's right.

A shower was in order, most definitely. He got into the bathroom and shut the door, tempted to lock it. He didn't, seeing as that was a bit too dramatic. At least it felt that way. Zeke simply stripped down and turned on the shower. The feel of the water splashing on his hand eased him a little, and he climbed into the sanctuary of heat.

He'd just gotten lathered up with the motel's cheap soap when he heard the bathroom door fly open. He almost regretted leaving it unlocked, until he heard Casey retching into the toilet. It saved him the trouble of helping Casey clean the bed or rug or whatever he'd have had to mess up… not that Zeke WOULD have, but…

Once finished with washing, Zeke shut off the shower and reached past the curtain for a towel. Casey's stomach had ceased its attack, leaving him to cough and spit. Zeke wrapped the too-small towel around his waist and stepped out; Casey didn't look up. He sat on the floor with his head plopped down on his arm. For a moment, Zeke wondered if he was sickened by last night. 'It's the fucking booze, man,' he thought with a roll of his eyes. The boy looked pathetic as he now lifted his head to rub at his face. “You all right?” Zeke dared to ask. Casey didn't answer; Zeke sighed and went to the sink, grabbed one of the plastic cups and filled it with water. Turning to Casey, he extended the cup his way. “You'd better get some fluids in you—it'll help,” he said.

Casey looked to the water then took it. Zeke watched him a moment, making sure he drank it. He didn't know why he cared. “Thanks,” Casey murmured once he finished. Zeke nodded and went back out to the room.

They needed to get the hell out of here. Zeke dressed while Casey kept spitting and groaning in the bathroom, hoping to be done before he came out. He was thankful to be clothed again, and he went to the maps and notes he and Casey had made. In the few minutes before Casey emerged, he'd finally come to a conclusion.

“We're going back,” he declared as Casey went back to Zeke's bed… Zeke's bed, for fuck's sake…

“Back… to Herrington?” Casey asked.

“Yea,” Zeke said. “I've got a small hunch.”

“What's that?”

Zeke leaned back in the chair and rubbed his chin, thinking hard. “Even if there are feds or cops… whatever, making roadblocks to keep people outta Herrington, I know how to get back in. We can get back to my place pretty easy by going through fields and what not,” he explained. “My hypothesis… y'now how Stokely, all of us—how we were coining MaryBeth as some 'queen bee'?”

“Yea…?” Casey answered. Zeke glanced to him and rolled his tongue around in his mouth.

“What if they're actually colonized… like ants?” he said. At Casey's confused expression, he went on. “Ants won't go to spots where their 'kin' died. It's like they smell death or something. I'm sure Herrington stinks of it right now,” he said. “Hopefully there's been a clean up, or there's one going on. Even if there isn't, it hasn't been long. If we're careful and watch our step, we won't catch some sort of disease. We can hole up at my house and get things in order. We're gonna need to.”

Casey nodded slowly and brought his knees to his chin. “I feel sick,” he mumbled.

“You got major drunk. You're gonna feel sick, Casey,” Zeke said, feeling annoyed. “I'm not tip-top myself, if it makes you feel better.”

“It doesn't,”

Zeke stood up and stared at the boy a few moments; Casey didn't look back, choosing to just stare ahead blankly. With a heavy sigh, Zeke turned away. “Let's get packing, head out early. I wanna get us to Herrington as fast as we can.”


The whole ride back was quiet, Casey most of all, surprisingly. Most of the time he sat staring out the window with his arms crossed over himself, foot upon the dash. If they were in the GTO, Zeke would smack it back down, but he really didn't care about this crappy sedan. They'd only stopped once when their stomachs growled, going through drive-thru at a small town McDonald's. They didn't dare order coffee and didn't look to see if they had any. It would have helped, but the orange juice Zeke had had perked him up a little.

Zeke felt the anxiety between both of them as they went off the highway exit leading to Herrington. Casey started fidgeting, almost uncontrollably; Zeke ignored it and kept driving until the outskirts of town began. “We're gonna get to Dawson's farm, ditch the car and go through the dead fields,” Zeke told Casey, the first thing he'd said in over twenty miles.

“Dawson's farm?”

“It's this decrepit place right at the edge. We're about a mile away,” Zeke explained. “It's an old party place. I went a few times… keggers and stuff.”

“Surprise, surprise,” Casey muttered. Zeke heard his sarcasm… and ignored it.

They finally reached the long dirt road leading away from the main one they'd traveled on; tall, dead cornfields surrounded them, which would provide cover until they hit the more suburban areas of town. It would be all backyards and dirt roads until getting to Zeke's, all the while carrying hope that they didn't come across some grisly scenes. Once over a large hump in the road, the battered looking farmhouse lay just ahead. Zeke sighed and turned into its drive. “I've got a few duffel bags; we'll pack as much stuff as we can and take off,” he said.

“Whatever,” Casey said as he got out. With one last frustrated grip to the wheel, Zeke got out and followed Casey to the trunk.

Their food, maps, and whatever else they found important was packed fast, both of them not willing to waste any time. Zeke slung the largest bag over his shoulder and had Casey carry the two smaller ones and they set out on their tense journey. “We'll keep straight through this row,” Zeke said, pointing down an aisle of stalks. “It'll get us to the other side. We'll see where that takes us. If you see… anything, ignore it,”

“Just say it.”

“Say what?”

“'If you see any dead people, don't poke 'em with a stick,'” Casey replied. More… fucking… sarcasm.

“You get off on being an asshole, huh?” Zeke said, clutching the strap of his bag tight.

“That's your fucking job,” Casey said. Zeke simply nodded and went along his way.

It was another round of silence for them until they got through the field. Running out of cover, Zeke looked from side to side. “Yea… okay, let's head this way,” he said, pointing to a dirt road. “This'll take us to Broad Street, I think.”

“You think?” Casey asked.

“Yea. If not that, we'll find it.”

“Whatever,” Casey said.

“Hey, if you wanna navigate, be my guest. So far you've been dead weight; might be nice if you're useful for a change,” Zeke said, unwilling to be Casey's punching bag anymore.

“I was pretty useful last night, wouldn't you say?”

“Right, Casey.”

“Yea, right, Zeke,” Casey said; whatever made the boy think he had the privilege to be acidic and pissy was beyond Zeke. “Just another hole to you, I'm sure.”

“You bet,” Zeke spat back.

“Fucking asshole.”

“Finally, you catch on.”

“Oh, I caught on years ago,” Casey retorted. “Just 'fuck 'em and leave 'em', that's your goddamned motto it seems. It's got about a million meanings to it.”

“That's right,”

“Fucking asshole…”

As much as Zeke didn't want to give a shit with Casey's name calling, it was truly starting to tick him off. “Hey, at least my dick never had some fucked up relationship with the flagpole,” he answered in a taunting manner. “At least no one in school got to watch me get pants'ed and see my K-Mart style whitey-tighties in the lunchroom any given day.”

Zeke wasn't expecting the sudden push from behind; his steps faltered from the force of Casey's shove, almost tripping him up. Rage filled him as he turned to snarl at the red-faced boy, standing there with the look of death on his face. “You really want to get your ass kicked, huh?”

“Go the fuck ahead, I'm used to it—as you've so kindly pointed out,” Casey snarled out.

Zeke moved closer, shaking his head. “You think you're special? Huh? Like I'm some simpering boyfriend of yours now?” he said. Casey moved closer as well, indignant as ever.

“You've made it abundantly clear how used I should feel.”

“You're not even 'used', Connor, because I could care fucking less. That's how I feel, y'now,” Zeke said with complete malice. He wanted the boy to be hurt, to cry and run away. Maybe he wouldn't have to deal with him anymore if he did, maybe he wouldn't care anymore if he did. “You're fucking pathetic, all crawling in my bed. You were expecting some romantic, 'hey sweetheart, I had the most wonderful night with you' type shit, weren't you? Funny how that didn't happen.”

“Of COURSE it didn't, you being the selfish prick-fuck that you are.”

“Oooh, strong fucking words there. Wouldn't want your Mommy to hear you talk like that—”

Zeke didn't get to lash out anymore; Casey pulled back a fist and hit him, hard, in the jaw. Zeke saw stars for a moment—only a moment—before standing straight again and touching his face. Casey fumed and shook like a leaf. “You… asshole,” he shook out. “You goddamned fucking asshole.”

“I dunno your fucking deal, but you should maybe just turn around and find somewhere else to whine,” Zeke told him.

“My mom… is fucking dead. How fucking dare you. How fucking dare you,” Casey said with tears in his eyes. Zeke actually considered this a moment; okay. That was truly, truly a low, despicable blow. Still, Zeke felt his anger boiling.

“Face it, Casey. That's your fucking reality right now.”

“So you think you have the right to throw it in my face like that,” Casey stated with a slow nod. “You think you have the goddamned RIGHT to do that, to bring up sore fucking subjects of the hell I went through, to use me like I'm some hole for you to screw through the mattress. Hope you're proud of yourself… I really do. Cos' you're fucking worthless like that, just so you know.”

“If you're taking what happened last night personally, then you're pretty pathetic,” Zeke replied. “Here's some advice, Case, and listen good; you're not gonna get anywhere, investing in someone that doesn't care about you. You should take up my attitude of 'fuck 'em' and run with it. You'll get nowhere without it.”

“So you don't care about me then,” Casey retorted. The words hit Zeke like a battering ram; fuck.

“Let's move… I might change my mind of letting you hole up at my place if you keep up the drama,” Zeke said as he turned back around. He didn't want to look at the boy anymore; his jaw ached, his head spun, and those eyes were fucking portals to Casey's soul… one Zeke saw very clearly. It spoke of nothing but hurt, and the fact that Zeke had caused it made him feel sick.

He'd never given a shit before… so why now?

He was thankful that for the next hour or so, no words were uttered by either of them. They got to another cornfield, providing even better cover than the first with taller, greener stalks; Zeke sighed, feeling a bit more at ease. “We'll get through here… we're definitely ending up on Broad Street. It should only be about a half hour's walk from there,” he said. Casey nodded in reply as they began getting through the aisles of corn.

“I maybe… I wonder if I should go to my house and get my computer and stuff,” Casey said. Zeke frowned.

“I dunno if that's a good idea,” he said. He didn't need Casey flipping out at the sight of his dead parents. Why do I care? “I could go for you, if you want.”

“Maybe… yea, maybe.”

Zeke nodded as they kept moving; after a small while, the edge of the other side came into view. Zeke could see rooftops as well, almost making him smile. “We're just about in the clear; c'mon,” he said, quickening his step. Casey moved through one aisle to the one next to them to avoid a small piece of machinery.

“Do you have something other than canned ravioli at your place?” he asked. Being that that was the majority of the food they had packed away on their backs, Zeke had to grin.

“Yea. I think I got some frozen pizzas or something,”

“I could really go for a piece of fruit,”

“I can't remember if I have that…” Zeke replied; he was suddenly stopped right by the end of his aisle, his feet just finding grass when he was distracted by Casey's tripping and falling. “Hey… you all right?” he asked. Casey bent his head up and groaned. In looking back, his eyes went wide.

“Fuck, oh FUCK!” he suddenly screamed. Zeke dropped his bag and rushed over, watching Casey scramble in a crab walk, completely horrified.

“What!? What is it—” he yelled; in bending down, he almost leapt back himself. “Shit!”

The body of a man, most likely the farmer that tended these fields, lay on its side in the dirt just past Casey. Zeke couldn't see his face, didn't want to; he almost fell back in his rush to get away. Casey slid from his crawl to stumble towards the house nearby, panting out panicked breaths. Zeke grabbed up their bags, Casey having dropped his, and followed the boy to the other side of the house. Once there, he shut his eyes and bent down, supporting himself with his hands on his knees. “Shit… oh shit…” he muttered.

The sound of keening cries made Zeke open his eyes and look to his right. Casey sat on the ground with his knees curled up to his chin, face buried in his arms, all sobs and shaking. Zeke tried to get his breathing even as he bent down, falling onto his knees. “Casey?”

“Oh my God, Zeke… oh my God…” Casey wailed into himself. Watching Casey confused Zeke for a few moments; not because he didn't understand Casey's sudden breakdown with what they saw—Zeke had seen it too, and was honestly pretty nerved up. It wasn't because he was angry with the boy for crying, because that was pretty fucking normal right now; this wasn't drama or overreaction.

He'd never wanted to make anyone happy, or feel better, because Zeke Tyler didn't give a damn. Not for anyone else, just himself. But right now, his hands were grabbing Casey's shoulders to bring him close and put his arms around him. He held him tight, wanting to squeeze the horror from him. “We'll make it, okay?” he said through Casey's shirt. “We gotta. We're not far from my place. We just gotta get there.”

“I'm fucking scared. I'm fucking scared.” Casey shakily replied.

“I know,” Zeke told him. He was being honest, his own eyes not feeling very dry at the moment. He bent back, still holding onto Casey at the shoulders. He put his forehead to Casey's brow and sighed. “Stand up… and just… close your eyes. I'll lead us back.”

Casey lifted his head and looked into Zeke's face a few moments before making a solemn nod. Zeke helped him up, put the two bags Casey had carried on one shoulder, the big one on his arm then Casey under the other. With a shuddering sigh, Casey began walking with him, eyes shut tight and head resting on Zeke's shoulder. Zeke didn't know what to expect as they moved into the more inhabited areas—backyards and open spaces, all possibly holding more gruesome sights. He put on blinders, only focusing on where he and Casey stepped. Casey's breathing calmed as they went, making Zeke feel a little bit of peace.

He had only one person in the world to help him through this. Casey was the only one he had—he hated to admit it, and he wouldn't say it out loud until he was ready… but fuck, he cared. He cared a lot.

He's the only fucking reason you're alive, he reminded himself, again—this time, he didn't have to worry about dragging an unconscious Casey back to the car after hitting him, having that reasoning reach him to do so. He simply held onto the boy and made their way on their path.


It was almost as if there was total peace now. There'd been a few official looking cars going through town, along with a few ambulances. There were no reporters or productions being made. Whether anyone was human or not, it didn't matter; there'd been signs of a search done in the Tyler residence, and being that no one was around, Zeke expected his place to stay vacated… besides him and Casey being here. It felt safe for now.

Zeke was thankful for a gas stove with a private gas tank; electricity had been turned off as expected, but at least they could heat some food. They hadn't been too hungry in getting back, so Casey went up the second floor to shower and rest while Zeke rearranged his lab. He had more thanks to give that he had extra supplies to rebuild his 'chemistry set'. He'd had a hard time blocking out the terror Delilah had caused as he swept up the remnants of the damage, cleaned up and set to work.

After making a small batch of scat, he filled ten pens and brought them with him as he got back to the house. Night had arrived; crickets chirped loudly outside, filling the air with some sort of life. It'd be enough for now. He pocketed the scat and rifled through one of their duffel bags. Finding the gun, Zeke grabbed it and took a deep breath before going upstairs in the dark. He walked down the hall to his room and stepped inside.

Casey's back was to him, lying on his side. “Case?” he muttered quietly, in case he was asleep. “You up?”

“Yea,” Casey answered. Zeke nodded; he put the gun and pens on the bedside table and sat down. Rubbing his face, he gave one small chuckle.

“Quite a day.”


Zeke nodded again and let his hands fall to his lap.

I need him.



“I was a real shit to you… after we did what we did,” he said, realization hitting him. “I shouldn't have been.”

Casey didn't answer, but Zeke heard his breathing go slow and deep. “Casey?”


“Thought you'd fallen asleep… did you hear me?”

“Yea,” Casey said; the word came out shaky, nervous. Zeke turned to look at Casey's silhouette and bit his lip.

It didn't take much for him to pull back the covers and lay down; he almost chuckled in seeing what Casey wore. “That's… my shirt,” he said.

“I don't have pajamas… sorry,” Casey replied.

“It's okay,” Zeke told him. He curled in closer, surprising himself with how good this was starting to feel. He didn't mind that his hand now traveled to Casey's side and went around his waist to hold him; he didn't mind that he was moving to spoon the boy close, something he'd never done with anyone before. I fucking need him. “Casey… I lied back there, okay? I lied.”

“I know,” Casey said, so quiet Zeke almost didn't hear him. Zeke caught the scent of Casey's hair and had to smile.

“Sorry for having shitty shampoo,” Zeke told him; he'd never liked his choice in toiletries, the soaps he used always being to harsh on the nose. He felt like singing in hearing Casey's small chuckle.

“It's okay.”

Zeke nodded and curled in closer. As if his mind shut off every last bit of cruelty and his usual collection of sharp words, he found himself giving light kisses to the nape of Casey's neck. God, it felt so good… he wanted to devour the boy, but he'd already done that. Now wasn't the time. “I'm sorry,” he murmured into Casey's skin. His hand moved over Casey's stomach now, feeling the soft, worn cotton covering him. It made him happy that Casey felt comfortable enough to borrow his clothes… it felt like home.

Casey stroked Zeke's roaming hand, pressing it to his chest gently. He then turned on his back and looked up at Zeke, eyes glancing to every inch of his calm, sorry expression. Without another word, Casey took the back of Zeke's neck and brought him down to a kiss, slow and steady… warm. Familiar and welcomed.

They'd make it. They had to.


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