|Title: Salad At The Wheel
Synopsis: Zeke becomes the unthinkable--a backseat driver.
Disclaimer: I own nothing--all fantasy on my end.
Author's Notes: Written for aina_baggins' birthday.
Casey sounded WAY too cheerful, under the circumstances. Zeke stood up from the small bench he'd been sitting on the last hour or so, feeling numb. 'Ted's Garage' wasn't air conditioned much at all, making him sweat from head to toe all this time.
"Yea, hi," Zeke muttered, watching Casey twirl a set of keys on his fingers.
"What happened, anyway? You didn't tell me over the phone," Casey inquired.
"Believe it or not, I don't even know," Zeke sadly replied, turning to look at his GTO, parked over by the farthest garage door. "She practically exploded on the freeway. It would've cost me an arm and a leg to have it towed all the way to Herrington."
"Well, that's what I'm here for!" Casey said, nodding to the soccer-mom-mobile minivan he'd arrived in. Even the powder blue color made him mad...
Zeke almost scowled. Not only was he going to have to sit in that... thing for a good hour to get home, he was going to be driven by Casey 'Yay, I got my license this weekend!' Connor. "Um... I think I should drive," he offered as they walked over.
Casey shot him a narrow-eyed glance over his shoulder. "I think I got it, Zeke. My parents let me drive to Canton for the book fair they held at the museum on Tuesday."
Good God. 'Let' him drive. Zeke had been driving almost three years now, not needing some sort of permission slip to do so. "Yea well..."
"C'mon. Shut up and get in. It's not often I get to cart your ass around."
"You never have," Zeke said with dismay, going to the dreaded passenger side.
"I'm hungry... wanna go through drive-thru?" Casey asked.
Zeke had sunk low in his seat as they approached a small strip mall, just before the exit for the main highway leading home. "You're not hungry. You wanna show off." he replied.
"So what if I do?" Casey giggled a little, putting his right blinker on about a mile away from the turn.
"Casey, don't put the signal on yet."
"But I'm gonna be turning."
"Yea, in an hour or so," Zeke said, waving towards the McDonald's waaaay ahead.
"It pays to be safe," Casey answered.
Zeke gritted his teeth. It'd already felt like a day that they'd been driving, instead of fifteen minutes. Zeke kept glancing into the rear view mirror, seeing the driver behind them looking annoyed at their not turning. He kept his mouth shut, knowing Casey wasn't going to listen.
Once they were in the restaurant lot, Casey crept up to the drive-thru speakers as if the tires were made of molasses. He rolled his window down and tapped the wheel, trying to look cool. Jesus.
"Hello, welcome to McDonald's--can I help you?" the disembodied voice asked.
"Yea... um, I'll have..." Casey started. Zeke rolled his eyes as Casey paused, surveying the menu. "Yea, I think I'll have a chicken salad... with a vanilla shake."
"You're getting a salad?" Zeke asked, furrowing his brow.
"You can't drive and eat a fuckin' salad at the same time."
"I don't eat salad," Zeke replied incredulously.
"But you eat and drive...?"
"I've been driving way longer than you have--"
Casey turned back to the speaker. "One sec," he called. Whipping his head around to Zeke again, he sighed. "C'mon, my treat."
"Fine... just a small fry, I ain't that hungry," Zeke said with a roll of his eyes.
Casey turned back and ordered then drove up to the first window. He counted out his money, humming pleasantly to himself. Zeke tapped his foot on the dashboard and stared ahead, wishing he was home. No, scratch that--in his car, doing ninety on the freeway and flipping off slow drivers...
"Oh hey, an extra dollar," Casey said just as the drive-thru worker got the window open.
"Hi there... six-seventy four, please..."
"Actually, can you throw a cone on my order?" Casey asked with a big grin.
"A cone...?" Zeke echoed.
"Sure. Vanilla or chocolate?"
"Do you have the mixed kind, with both?"
"No, sorry," she answered.
This was taking too fucking long. "Casey, didn't you get a shake?" Zeke asked. "That's LIKE ice cream...?"
"Not really... anyway, I'm getting chocolate. My shake is vanilla."
Zeke tossed his head back on the headrest, huffing hot breaths through his nostrils. Casey paid and moved to the next window. He looked to Zeke and frowned. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"We're never getting home. I've seen you eat salad. You separate everything into little fucking groups... tomatoes, lettuce and shit..."
"Hello," the next worker said, pushing various bags out the window towards them. Casey smiled and took them, handing everything to Zeke. He almost shoved his cone, ice cream first into Zeke's palm.
"Oops, sorry..." he mumbled. "Just hold that for me a minute, 'til I park."
Zeke didn't reply, not even with a nod.
"Casey... just GO already..."
"I think the light just turned for them," Casey said, nodding towards a line of cars just starting to move from the stop... once again, waaay far down the road.
Zeke huffed more, looking back at the McDonald's parking lot. Never mind an hour being spent in the car; this stop had taken about a half an hour, with Casey's finicky eating habits. All the while, the boy had chatted incessantly about maybe making a stop once in Herrington, wanting to go to a new music shop.
"You really think driving this thing is cool or something, huh?"
"Well... it IS neat to have my license. Don't be such a grouch, I'm having fun."
Zeke was tempted to retort with, 'Glad SOMEONE is', but held back. The more pressing matter of the horn blaring behind them made him turn around. "Casey... go, will you?"
Looking unsure, Casey moved into the road, slower than he should have. Zeke gripped the armrest and pursed his lips tight, until finally, they picked up a little speed and became part of traffic. "Okay... the exit's up ahead, but don't signal yet. It pisses people off, believe me--"
"Jesus, you're the most annoying backseat driver," Casey blurted.
"Well? Can you blame me? You drive like a ninety-five year old," Zeke said. He saw Casey roll his eyes as he sat back. The shops soon disappeared, leaving them going up a small hill. Casey put his foot on the gas a little to climb; he decided then to take a hand off the wheel and turn the radio on.
"God, my mom has the worst radio settings..."
"Casey, keep your eyes on the road..."
"I am... can you flip it to 99.5?"
"No," Zeke replied, now flicking the radio off.
Casey frowned, hard. "Zeke, what the fuck?"
"Concentrate on the road. You don't need anything distracting you," Zeke ordered. Casey's jaw dropped a little.
"This coming from someone who blasts Tool all the time when he drives?" he said, aghast.
"I've been driving a lot--"
"Longer than me, I get it," Casey interrupted. His cheery mood seemed to be slipping a little. Zeke was ready to not add anything else, when the exit began approaching.
"Okay, signal now," he said.
"My fucking God," Casey growled out, flipping the blinker on.
The next twenty minutes of the ride, mainly highway driving, wasn't that bad. Zeke tried relaxing by watching towns going by... at a snail's pace compared to how he normally drove, but he let it go. It'd been quiet between them, until Casey smiled and glanced to Zeke.
"It's not that bad, is it? I'm doing pretty good," Casey said.
"Guess so," Zeke replied, shrugging.
"Seriously--doesn't it make you feel a little good that your boyfriend's got his license?" Casey asked. "I say we do this more often. Mom's letting me take this thing out almost any time I want, seeing as she just got her new van. They might sell it to me. I've had a lot saved up in my bank account the last few years."
"Uh huh..." Zeke muttered. He caught a sign, stating that Herrington was ten miles away now. "Okay, no blinkers yet, Case."
Casey snorted in amusement. "I ain't THAT bad."
"Sure you aren't," Zeke said. God, he was grouchy. There'd been a few times that the habit of pressing on an imaginary gas pedal had occurred, particularly during some of the slowest driving he'd ever experienced.
"Jesus, this guy is ready to tie his bumper to mine," Casey grumbled, looking into the rear view. Zeke looked as well, seeing the man behind them. He looked angry, ready to flip the bird at any minute. "I'm going sixty in a fifty-five, what's his problem?"
"He can't get into the fast lane... speed up for him," Zeke suggested, nodding to the many cars whizzing by in the other lane.
"Zeke, God... there is no 'fast lane'. Going faster than the speed limit gets you pulled over," Casey said. "I'm turning the hazards on."
"What?!" Zeke spat out, watching the boy press the hazard-button.
"Yea, he'll just have to pass when he can."
The beeping from behind them now was deafening. Zeke was ready to melt into the seat from embarrassment. Without thinking, he reached over and clicked it off. "Casey, for fuck's sake... stop being such a wuss and drive."
"A wuss?" Casey said, narrowing his eyes as he watched the road. He then put up a hand, waving it at the window. "Fine, there, see? He's getting into the supposed 'fast lane'. Can't WAIT to see him getting pulled over up the road--"
"Fuck you!" came the call and flipping-of-the-bird through the opened window of the now speeding car. Casey scoffed and raised his own middle finger in reply.
"I can't blame the guy," Zeke mumbled, rubbing his forehead.
"Shut the fuck up," Casey replied coldly, all humor and lightness in his voice gone.
Silence reigned again, this time being tense and cold between them. Zeke sighed in relief in seeing the exit for Herrington coming up...
"So, when do I fucking signal then, Captain Backseat?" Casey suddenly piped up, full of sarcasm.
"Hey, you're the driver," Zeke said.
"Really? Wow, that's refreshing. Here I was thinking the wheel in front of me was decoration," Casey snapped back.
"Yup," Zeke mumbled. The turn approached; Casey flicked his blinkers on and made a small squeal.
"Ooh, ooh, did I do it right?" he asked--sarcasm drenched, once again.
"Just get me the fuck home."
Casey pursed his lips tight and got to the end of the ramp. He slowed in getting to the end and stopped at the light. He drummed his fingers on the wheel as they waited, the air conditioning blasting in their faces. Zeke felt hot nonetheless, his frustration bubbling over.
The light turned; Casey sighed and looked to the left at the street getting the red.
"Casey... GO, for God's sake!"
"I'm just checking!" Casey almost yelled.
"Checking--they HAVE the RED..." Zeke growled. The car then jolted forward, an angry foot slamming on the gas. It made Zeke grab the 'oh shit' bar above and turn his head to glare at the boy. "Calm the fuck down!"
"Why? You drive like a fucking maniac, and I have to put up with it!" Casey shouted.
"You have no fucking clue how to drive..."
"No, how about fuck you?"
"You're such a fucking asshole!" Casey nearly shrieked. Zeke was about to yell something equally insulting when, suddenly, a stop sign seemed to pop up out of nowhere. This time, Casey's expert 'eagle eyes' didn't pick up on it.
"Casey, stop--stop, stop, STOP!" Zeke bellowed. Casey took notice now and slammed his foot on the brake, screeching the van to a halt. It'd been just in time as a pick-up truck full of hay bales flew by in front of them.
They breathed hard together, panic-stricken faces being worn by both of them. "Jesus..." Zeke went to say, only getting cut off by Casey's rushing forward once it was safe. He shot over to the corner of the main street going through Herrington and pulled over fast. Zeke gripped the bar above his head AND the armrest, his body stiff and shocked into stillness.
"Y'now what would've been FUCKING NICE?" Casey yelled, making Zeke wince as he turned to the boy. Casey's face was red with fury, his eyes glinting with anger. "A 'Gee, thanks Casey! You drove over an hour to come pick up my ungrateful fucking ass to drive me home when you're the only one I could call!' Or SOMETHING like that, huh? Yea, that would've been fucking nice!"
"Case..." Zeke murmured. He didn't get the chance to say anything else; Casey threw his door open, stepped out and slammed it shut. Zeke watched him stride in long, fast steps around the front of the van and onto the sidewalk. Zeke swallowed and got out as well. "Casey!" he called.
"Drive your own ass home!" Casey yelled back.
"I... Casey! Don't be an idiot, it's your mom's car!"
"No! I can't drive, not good enough for you!"
God, did this HAVE to be in front of an outdoor cafe?? "Case..." Zeke huffed, now running to catch up to him. A few people stared at them as they passed, some smirking and pointing. "Case, just drive me home. Okay? I won't bitch anymore."
Zeke grunted and took his shoulder, bringing the both of them to a halt. "Okay, just stop. All right? I was an asshole, you're right--I never fucking thanked you for bailing my ass."
Casey turned around now, still looking angry and upset. He sighed, however, and started walking back to the van. "Whatever," he said. Zeke followed, feeling like an absolute moron. He shot glares to the onlookers, who turned away, still smiling.
Not a word spoken... again. Once at Zeke's house, he stepped out, turned and went to say something--anything--when Casey grabbed the passenger side door and shut it in Zeke's face. He was left on the curb as Casey peeled away, tires squealing and leaving dust behind.
"Oh! Hi, Zeke," Mrs. Connor said brightly, finding Zeke on the porch.
"Hey... is Casey here?" he asked.
"Yes, he's in his room--I see you got your car fixed," she said, nodding to the GTO parked in the street.
Zeke forced a smile. "Yea, just got it this morning. Took a cab up to Ravenna."
"A... cab? That must've cost you a fortune! You could've called for a ride...?"
Considering the fact that the two of them hadn't spoken since their 'drive', four days before, all Zeke could think was 'fuck no'. He kept his smile on and stepped in. "No big. Can I go up to his room?"
"Sure," she said.
He nodded and hopped up the stairs, hoping for the best. It'd been a stupid argument, really, but Casey could put the drama on... nicely. He took a deep breath and got to Casey's bedroom doorway, finding it open. Looking in, he saw Casey sitting at his computer, typing furiously.
"Hey," he softly said.
Casey turned around; he raised an eyebrow and clucked his tongue. "Oh... hey," he said back. Zeke took a step inside as the boy turned back to his computer. "I'm kinda busy right now, putting some music together."
"Think... you could put it off for a while?" Zeke asked.
The definitive tone to Casey's 'no' made Zeke groan. "Still mad at me?"
"Right," Zeke mumbled. He walked over and got behind Casey, staring at the back of his head. "I'm sorry. Okay?"
"You said that already. You're forgiven... whatever," Casey replied, not sounding like he meant it at all. It made Zeke smile a little.
"You just a big ball of 'dramatic', aren't you?" he asked jovially.
Casey groaned with annoyance and twirled his chair around. He gave Zeke a cold stare and huffed. "You treated me worse than my dad did learning to drive, and I'm his kid. So what, am I your ickly-wittle baby, Zeke?" he asked. "Cos' I'm not one. Fuck me if I wanted to be careful and not get pulled over or anything. Maybe when I'm Mr. Driving-on-Crack like you someday, I'll take a few risks."
"Okay... I've said I was a shit. Let me make it up to you."
"Oh? How so?" Casey said, cocking his head to the side and folding his arms.
Zeke reached into his pocket and drew out his car keys. "Got the goat back."
"Yea. Wanna go for a drive?" Zeke asked.
Before Casey could respond, he tossed the keys into the boy's lap. Casey looked down, frowning slightly.
"What... me, drive your car?"
"It'll turn you into a raving lunatic, feeling some real wheels under your feet," Zeke said, smiling wickedly now. "We'll go anywhere you wanna go... I was thinking we could catch a movie at the Ravenna drive-in. Passed by there on my way home, they're showing some cheesy classic."
Casey's face relaxed. He picked up the keys and raised his eyebrows. When he looked back to Zeke, he was smiling a little as well. "You gonna backseat me again?"
"Naw, I promise."
"Not talking about being a backseat-driver, Zeke," Casey said. He stood up and moved close to Zeke, his grin going devious. "Are you going to backseat me?"
Oh, he'd been chewing 'Juicy Fruit' again. The sweet smelling breath rolled over Zeke's face, drugging him instantly. "Promise," he mumbled.
Casey winked and twirled the keys in his hand. "Let's go, then."
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