|Title: Tahitian Moon (Act One)
Synopsis: Post-Marybeth world, wherein Casey is murdered by a psychotic alien cult. Zeke has to deal, trying to learn how to.
Warnings: Death of major character, LOTS of angst, heavy violence.
Disclaimer: I own nothing--all fantasy on my end.
Author's Notes: WIP. Big, huge thanks to my lovely, beautiful beta, lisabellex, for putting up with strangely placed commas and buldings chasing Zeke around town. ;)
The next day sank into Zeke's bones uncomfortably. Rain pelted at his windows and the house darkened, even though it was almost two in the afternoon with faint gray light trying it's best to illuminate the house.
Zeke sat on the couch staring at the TV, chewing on some cheese curls he'd picked up that morning. He was turning into some drowsy-headed college kid, not bothering to change out of pajama pants and going out in public. It wasn't a day to be dressed to the nines.
During a commercial break, Zeke stood up to head into the kitchen for more coffee when his doorbell rang. He looked towards it with a grimace; he hadn't planned on any visitors today. It was probably some idiot looking for a fix to get them through midterms. Zeke went over and opened it, his face relaxing at finding Stan standing on the porch. “Oh... hey,” Zeke said, clearing his throat. Stan smiled slightly.
“Hey, just um... dropped by,”
Stan was very transparent. It was always obvious when he wanted something specifically. It secretly warmed Zeke, making him open the door wider. Stan stepped in, taking his jacket off and brushing water from it. “Killer weather today,” he said. “Willis didn't even have us go out for track practice in gym today.”
“What a good man,” Zeke replied, chuckling a little. “Want some coffee to warm up?”
“Yea, sure,” Stan said. Zeke nodded as they both walked to his kitchen; Zeke took down a mug and took up the coffee pot.
“So what's up?” he asked, pouring it out. Stan coughed into his hand.
“I... I won't lie, Zeke. I'm here for a reason.”
“I knew that, Stan,” Zeke said. “Cream, sugar?”
“No, I take it black,” Stan replied. Zeke smiled wider.
“Braver than I am. I need like half a pound of sugar.”
“Right... Zeke...” Stan said, cupping the mug in his hands and not looking at Zeke directly. “It went around school; I dunno how... that you and Casey slept together.”
Here it was—the bitch had spouted off at the mouth. “Oh yea?” Zeke nonchalantly replied. Stan nodded slowly.
“Is it true?” he asked. Zeke shifted from one foot to the other, crossing his arms.
“Does it matter if it is?” he said.
“What the fuck do you think, Stan?” Zeke snapped. Stan bit his lip, sipping once and putting the mug aside. He leaned on the table and looked to Zeke with a sympathetic gaze.
“Man... I never fucking knew. I mean... y'now, I always wondered about Case. But you...”
“You... didn't know you were into guys,” Stan said. Zeke shrugged slowly.
“It happens,” he mumbled.
“This kinda adds a whole new... new...”
“Dimension?” Zeke finished for him. Stan nodded.
“Yea I just... I'm sorry, I'm just confused. I never saw you that way,” he told Zeke. “I dunno. Is this why you've been so fucked up?”
Zeke rolled his eyes and burst out a laugh. “I've always been fucked up, Stan.”
“Not like this.”
“And what the hell insight do you have into that? I mean, Jesus; the only reason we all 'banded together' and stuck was because of fuckin' MaryBeth. Otherwise, you don't know shit,” Zeke said defensively. “Face it; you were the football star and I was the back alley dealer. Our little 'Breakfast Club' we started was just common knowledge of aliens, for fuck's sake.”
“Okay... so maybe I don't have a clue to what you've been up to all these years. But I consider you a friend whether you like it or not. And we're worried, Zeke,” Stan said. He leaned forward a bit. “You dropped school, you rarely come out... the only times we talk to you is when WE call or come by, and that's not how it was before—”
“That's how it was before before. I'm expendable, Stan.”
Stan's face relaxed, head shaking slightly. “No you aren't.”
“Oh shut up, really,” Zeke said, passing him to go back in the living room. Stan followed soon after while Zeke lit up a cigarette.
“Out of all of us... the one person whose opinion counted most didn't think that of you,” Stan told him. Zeke froze; he suddenly wished he'd never let Stan in. “Knowing what I do now, that confirms it.”
“Really... and how do you know it wasn't just some quick fling I decided to be curious about? Shit knows Casey was the type. Delilah was a fucking joke...”
“If it were just a fling, you wouldn't be like this.”
“Maybe it's regret; maybe I fucked him over, used him.”
“Did you?” Stan asked with a stern expression. Zeke bit the inside of his cheek, feeling lost.
“No,” he admitted. “But it doesn't fucking matter anyways.”
“You need help, Zeke. I'm saying that as a friend,” Stan said. Getting no reply, Stan sighed, walked over and sat next to Zeke. Zeke stared ahead, wanting to distance himself from this. He never talked; feelings weren't worthy of it. He didn't even feel anything except confusion and constant anger. He didn't want to tempt that to rise up. “Me an' Stokes, we're really damned worried. You're drinking too much, you look like hell—”
“You're really fucking encouraging.”
“I'm not here to BE encouraging. I'm here to try to get you off your ass and face shit,” Stan explained. “Look... Spring Break is coming up this week. We should all just... hang out or something. Doesn't matter what, just... y'now?”
“I don't 'hang out' anymore, Stan.”
“You should,” Stan said. Zeke was about to turn to him and snap out some sort of comment on how he didn't need their help or sympathy, but catching Stan's expression made him sober up. He looked empty and sad, eyes glistening in the low light of the room. He'd lost a friend, too.
“Maybe... I dunno,” Zeke said, rubbing his eyes with his fingers, pressing deep.
“You'll think about it?”
“Yea,” Zeke said with a nod, dropping his hand to hang listlessly over his knee. “This has all been such shit.”
“I've come so close... just get drunk and go for a drive; ninety miles per hour into a telephone pole,” Zeke rambled. His breathing trembled as his arms curled in, holding himself tight. “I don't know what to do anymore, Stan. I really don't.”
“Zeke... y'now, yea... we've chewed you out a thousand times to shut up, stop drinking yourself into oblivion and wailing about missing Case, but...” Stan said, choking on the last few words, “...I've had a rough time, and Stokes... she hasn't stopped crying since it happened.”
Zeke's eyes stung, instantly hating his weakness; no matter how safe Stan was, he didn't want this. Shows of emotion were not his 'thing'. “I just want him back. That's it, and it's not fucking fair,” he spat out past tears now dripping to his lips. Stan put a hand flat to Zeke's back, pressing lightly. It felt good.
The Friday before spring break, Zeke was out in the drive looking over the engine of his car. Perhaps he'd been a total slug, but the sound underneath the hood had been worrying him. He felt bad about letting anything having to do with his car go to shit; this was his baby, and wanted to take care of it.
He'd just finished wrenching the air filter off when he saw the mailman walking up his sidewalk. He nodded in greeting, Zeke returning it. What looked to be a small package was being stuffed into the box, making Zeke curious. He tossed the filter to the ground and walked up, passing the mailman with a wave before mounting the stairs and grabbing the manila envelope.
A groan came from his throat in seeing the postmarks from Europe, 'Milan' specifically. He tore it open and grabbed the papers inside. “Jesus fucking...” he mumbled. Just like his goddamned mom to send pamphlets, papers and information on the many psych doctors in the Ohio area. Zeke's eyes narrowed, face tensing as he shoved it all back in and turned around, heading to the side of the house. These were trashcan worthy, all right...
The sudden, small but noticeable-- familiar clicking coming from the side of the house made his head turn, finding someone lurking around by the tree separating Zeke's yard from the neighbors'. “Hey...” he said, turning fully as he saw a camera in the man's hand. The man started backing off, looking to a car that was parked nearby. Feeling sick suddenly, Zeke dropped his mail on the steps and started walking over. The man then went into a full run; Zeke bolted towards him, jaw set tight in anger. “HEY!” he yelled just as the man threw himself into the car. Someone had been waiting in the driver's seat as the car jetted off instantly, leaving Zeke in a cloud of exhaust. He coughed a few times, trying to see the license plate. It was too far away now, turning the corner and disappearing. “Pap... fucking paparazzi,” he panted out, leaning down onto his knees and catching his breath.
This rarely ever happened; only once, a week after the attacks when word had gotten out that there were others involved in helping overcome the alien. When he, Stokely and Casey left the school the morning after the victory over the MaryBeth, the only one that didn't throw his shirt over his head when leaving the locker room and school was Casey; Zeke had tried grabbing Casey aside to do it himself, but it'd been too late. Stokely and Zeke were anonymous for the most part, while Casey's face got plastered over every newspaper and magazine. He didn't want this attention, especially not now.
Zeke was crossing his legs tight, feeling like a girl. Christ... it was just like Casey to demand a shower moments before Zeke's bladder felt like exploding. Zeke sat back, trying to focus his mind on anything but the rushing water coming from the hall. Well fuck, this wasn't going to work.
Casey was just going to have to put up with Zeke walking in to use the pot; he'd promise not to flush, even if he'd be tempted to hear the kid scream and flip out. Sniggering, Zeke went to the bathroom door and knocked. “Case, I gotta piss!” he yelled.
“So come in and piss, Jesus!” Casey called back. Zeke groaned and walked in, shutting the door behind him. Steam filled the room, making him go instantly clammy.
“Sorry—I won't peek.”
Casey giggled incessantly. “Like it matters. We both got some serious cock action going on.”
Zeke almost didn't get his zipper open before losing it; he flipped the lid open and relieved himself just in time, trying to keep from laughing violently. “How the fuck would you know?” he asked.
“Eh, you can tell,” Casey said.
“Riiight,” Zeke drawled. He groaned low in relief, going empty and calm inside. “That's the last time I have four cups of coffee first thing in the morning.”
“You're gonna be fucking hyper,” Casey said. The water shut off just as Zeke finished up and buttoned his jeans.
“Not as hyper as you get; you have a stick of gum and it's all over for—WHOA!” Zeke suddenly exclaimed as he turned, smacking dead on into Casey.
“Watch it, geez—”
“God, put something on!”
“Where are your towels?” Casey asked, sounding exasperated. “Do you EVER do laundry?”
How the kid could just stand there in front of him like this, naked as the day he was born and dripping all over the bathmat bewildered Zeke. “No fuckin' shame...” Zeke said, rushing past him to the small cabinet by the door. He grabbed a large well-worn towel and tossed it Casey's way. Casey chuckled as he began drying himself, still not covering his...
“Like you don't see this shit when you're jerking off,” he replied, rubbing the towel into his hair. Zeke shuddered and left the room, grumbling under his breath. He headed for the stairs, wanting to ignore the fact that...
He didn't see that when he'd lain in bed, pleasuring himself. He realized to himself that he had in fact taken longer-than-they-should-have-been looks to Casey's groin, but it couldn't be helped. How... the fuck... a boy that small, being that fucking endowed?
Zeke shuddered, going downstairs and stopping in the kitchen. He needed more coffee; his thoughts were scaring him to death.
“So friggin' cold... turn up the heat.”
“Casey, I'm sweating.” Zeke stated, looking to the boy who shivered despite having three of the four heating vents pointed directly at him, blasting out lava level heat.
“I don't see how,” Casey replied, stuffing his hands between his thighs. Zeke coughed, looking away.
“Just relax, for crying out loud. It's only gonna get worse at the mall; parking's gonna be hellish with people returning Christmas gifts and shit. We'll probably have to trek through miles of snow.”
“Can you drop me off at the door?” Casey asked. Zeke snorted.
“Fucking wimp. You're the one who insisted on using that fucking gift certificate,” Zeke told him.
Zeke shrugged, ignoring Casey's insult. He turned onto the exit leading to 'Ravenna Mall', cringing already. Whatever had possessed him to say 'yes' when Casey asked if they could go to the mall was beyond him. He must have had one too many drinks the night before when Casey had posed the question. He could never take anything back from the kid; he'd never hear the end of it. He always reminded Zeke of a demanding girlfriend...
Well... not anymore. 'Stop thinking this shit, shut up,' he reminded himself in his head.
A few minutes later, Zeke was pulling into the largest lot, hoping to find a close spot. “Shit,” he mumbled. “Doesn't look like any spaces are gonna be close.”
“Can you drop me off? It's freezing out.”
“Are you some kinda lizard, Case? I could get you a hot rock to lie on,” Zeke teased.
“That... can be read in so many different ways,” Casey said with an arched eyebrow. Zeke scoffed and rolled his eyes.
“Fine; here, get out.” Zeke said, pulling up to the main doors. The car behind him came to a fast stop, tires squealing and crunching on ice. “Jesus, pay attention,” Zeke muttered in annoyance, looking in the rear view to the van. Casey scrambled out of the car.
“I'll wait in the doorway.”
“Okay,” Zeke answered. Casey shut his door and hopped off towards the building. Zeke gave one annoyed glance to the van and drove off, looking for a spot. He went up and down rows of cars, feeling lightheaded. Finally he saw someone pulling out, brake lights shining against wet ground. He stopped the car and waited, puffing out impatient breaths as the minivan backed out slowly. At this rate, he wasn't going to get in before the place closed.
Zeke claimed the spot just as another car crept up, feeling an odd triumph over its occupants. They pulled away, continuing their quest for another spot as Zeke got out, shoved his hands in his pockets and walked towards the mall. It wouldn't be a total loss, as he needed a new pair of boots. Icy cold was reaching past the scuffed toe, seeping into the worn leather...
He came around a cement piling and almost stopped dead; the dark van was still parked at the curb, blocking the sight of the doors. Someone was yelling just past it, making him walk again, going faster. “Get... get the fuck OFF...”
Shit... that was Casey. Wondering what the hell was going on, Zeke went into a full run, nearly getting hit by a car coming down the drive he was bolting across.
“Hey!” someone in the car yelled out at him; Zeke barely heard him as he saw the back doors of the van flying open, someone pushing them out from the inside. Zeke's heart was nearly pounding straight through his ribcage and out as he caught sight of a man now coming from behind the van. His arms were wrapped around Casey, trying to pull him to the inside of the vehicle. The boy flailed, managing to drop his weight enough to slip down and land on the ground. The tall man, wearing a large black coat and hoodie with a scarf covering his face grunted angrily, reaching down to try to collect him again. Now on his back Casey kicked up, catching the man on his shoulder and shoving him back.
“Get the FUCK away from him!” Zeke bellowed, just crossing the island median of the large road. The man looked up in a panic and left Casey, opting to jump into the van. The doors shut fast and it drove off just as Zeke reached them. His hands slapped on the door, feet flying behind him and almost tripping him up. He stared after the vehicle, gasping for breath. As it veered off in a rush, Zeke whirled around, seeing Casey leaning up on his elbows. “Shit... Casey!”
Two security guards rushed out then, their feet stomping heavily as they reached the curb. One dropped down, taking Casey's arm. Zeke walked briskly over, staring at Casey, feeling panicked. Who... WERE those men?
“Son, are you all right?” the guard urgently asked. Casey didn't answer, staring ahead and panting out breath. The other guard grabbed up his walkie-talkie and began speaking into it, describing the car and what direction they'd gone in. Zeke reached them and knelt down; he took Casey's chin and made him look to him.
“Casey... what... the fuck happened?” he asked in halted gasps. Casey's eyes were wide with terror, staring back at Zeke.
“Dun... dunno, they... I got grabbed from behind...”
“Let's get him inside; you know him?” the guard asked Zeke. Zeke nodded fast, taking one of Casey's arms along with the guard.
“I'll take care of this, Jones,” the other guard said, rushing off to the parking lot's security station. Casey managed to get to his feet and walk with wobbly steps towards the doorway, Jones yelling at gawkers to get out of their way. Casey turned his head into Zeke's arm as if trying to hide, Zeke feeling him shake violently against him.
Zeke tossed his keys on the living room table, not caring that they slid off and onto the floor. His head throbbed, stomach churning still from the odd, downright terrifying events of that day. After spending about three hours at the mall with Casey, tucked in a security office with his parents, Zeke felt like passing out for days.
His body collapsed on the couch, eyes set on his desk drawer. He swallowed hard, wondering...
“You have to report these letters, Casey. You KNOW what those men told you...” Casey's mother had told him while stroking his hair. Her eyes had overflowed in finding her son sitting with Zeke in the low-lit room, letting her son practically crawl in her lap. Zeke didn't get details on what these letters said, but it didn't matter. He knew enough.
The van had been tracked and followed by police for about ten miles in a high speed chase. Zeke knew that if he turned on the local stations, he'd see it played out. The guards' radios had gone off like wildfire during their stay at the mall, people ambling around in their curiosity to find out what had gone on. When Jones came in and announced that the van had finally been caught after crashing into a guardrail, no breaths of relief were shared. Casey was then taken from the room and left with his parents to go file reports. Mr. Connor thanked Zeke and the mall security before leaving, his face red from stress and holding back tears.
In the half hour before the Connors arrived, Zeke had sat by Casey while he tried sipping tea, spilling most of it down his chin, as he couldn't stop shaking. Zeke had to wrench it from him, pulling the boy close to him to try and steady his trembling body. Casey had curled into him close, a hand clutching the front of Zeke's shirt as he tried controlling his breathing. “You kinda kicked that fucker's ass, Case,” Zeke had told him, trying to lighten the mood. He got a tiny chuckle in return, just before Casey went back to his shaky sighs and swallows.
He hoped Casey would call him that night after returning home to let Zeke know if they'd gotten the whole story. Whether these men were just obsessive madmen like Ricky or part of something bigger it didn't matter. They'd brought Casey to absolute fear, and they'd pay for it somehow.
Zeke was awoken abruptly by the sound of the phone ringing that next Monday, making him cringe and try to push his face deeper into the pillow. It could have been afternoon for all he knew, but whatever time it was he felt like he hadn't slept a wink. He didn't remember bringing the cordless up with him but must have, seeing as it was only a foot from his head and making the loudest noise Zeke had ever heard. Giving up he reached for it and pressed 'talk'. “Humm?”
“Zeke? It's Delilah.”
Zeke yawned heavily, rubbing his face hard. “Wha... goin' on?”
“My car—it shit the bed. I'm at the mall, already tried calling my mom but she's not home.”
Zeke closed his eyes and groaned. The mall. The last place he'd ever want to visit again. “You stuck then?”
“Yea—I left my 'AAA' card at home, so I'm gonna need a tow...”
“No... Christ Del, don't get a tow. Not until I look at it,” Zeke said, trying to perk up. “Whas' wrong with it?”
“I dunno... it's just not starting.”
“Okay, did you try jumping the battery?” Zeke said. He reached for his jeans lying next to the bed and took a heavy yawn.
“I don't know how to do that,” She told him. He nodded and stood.
“I'll be there in like... I dunno twenty minutes,”
“Thanks Zeke; you're a doll,” she told him. He rolled his eyes but couldn't help the amusement. Pure Delilah...
Zeke knew he shouldn't have laughed but couldn't help it once popping the hood of Delilah's Jetta. “What? What's up?” she asked.
“Did you even pop this thing?” Zeke asked.
“The hood...?” Zeke replied, blinking hard. Delilah shrugged.
“I didn't know how.”
“Oh dear God, Del... okay, I'm teaching you the basics from now on,” he said. He stood straight and sucked back the last of his cigarette.
“Well... what's wrong? Can you fix it?” she asked.
“Oh, definitely,” Zeke said, rubbing his lips to keep from laughing out loud.
“Okay, so what's wrong?”
“Del, do you know where the battery is?” he asked. She shook her head. Sighing deeply, Zeke pointed to the spot. Delilah blinked in confusion.
“Where is it?”
“It's not there,”
Delilah stood back, eyes widening. “Someone stole my battery...? Oh my GOD,” she almost shouted. Zeke chuckled heartily.
“C'mon, let's just go get you another one,” he said, shutting the hood and tossing the butt of his cigarette away.
“I just spent the last of my cash on my shoes, my credit card's at home—”
“Good; you'll need 'em to walk home then,” Zeke teased. At her gawk he smiled. “I'll get it for you.”
“Oh—okay, I'll pay you back next week...”
“Don't sweat it,” he said, looking out towards the doors. They weren't the same ones where memories dwelled, but it didn't matter. His skin still shivered, having to rub his arms briskly as he and Delilah went inside.
“I could never do this. It's so fucking dirty,” Delilah remarked with a scrunched nose, watching Zeke hook her new battery up.
“Better than paying some scam artist for 'labor'; this shit's a cinch,” Zeke said, screwing things together as best he could. “I don't go anywhere without my tools; they come in handy.”
“I'll say... thanks, really; I would've looked like a complete idiot calling a tow truck,”
“Oh yea, you would've,” Zeke said. “You did.”
“Like you've never made a mistake like this in your life,” She said, nudging him.
“Not with my car.”
“Uh huh. That's not the only thing that you can fuck up, Tyler,” She said. Zeke raised his eyebrows as he finished clamping wires and plugs together.
“You should be set. Go ahead and turn it on,” he told her. Delilah nodded and went to the wheel. He stood aside, lighting a cigarette as she fired up the engine. It whirred on perfectly. She smiled wide, looking out at him as he closed the hood.
“Thank you, SO much,” she said, beaming.
“Let me make it up to you; lemmee snag my card and take you out tonight. Where do you wanna go?”
Zeke frowned a little, raising an eyebrow. “This a date? Cos' I don't do dates,”
“Zeke... it's a thank you. Get over yourself—you are so not my type,” She told him firmly. He sighed.
“Uh huh. So, dinner at seven?”
“Whatever. Call me later maybe.”
“Will do... thanks, hon!” she said, putting the car in reverse and leaving the spot. Zeke watched her go while picking up his tools. He got them altogether and walked off, heading for his car.
'Shit, now I gotta do laundry or something.' He thought to himself, looking down on the only clean pair of jeans he'd had for today, now spattered with oil and dirt.
Never had Zeke imagined that at any point in his life, he'd be sitting with Delilah Proffit in the town's café, 'Jesters'. It was a nice enough night that they sat outside after eating, Zeke lighting up his after-dinner cigarette. He was surprised to see Delilah's own pack of smokes emerge. “Thought cheerleaders didn't smoke,” He remarked, making Delilah scoff.
“We also aren't supposed to eat roast beef sandwiches and pickles,” She said. “But well... things change,”
“Yea,” he mumbled, taking a long drag.
“In fact, I don't know if I'm staying on the squad,” She added. Zeke blinked.
“You've only got what... two months before graduation?”
“Uh huh... don't throw stones, Zeke,” She told him, cocking an eyebrow. “Last I'd known you were going to get through senior year.”
“Things change,” he echoed, staring at his lap and picking a loose thread from his jeans. It went quiet a few moments, smoke and steam from their coffees filling the space between them. Delilah was staring across the street at the music shop as a man carrying a large bass came walking out.
“I'd never eaten here 'til after MaryBeth.”
Delilah nodded, still staring off into space. “I was never a café type girl. Poetry slams and the whole 'art scene' never got me,” she said. She finally turned to face Zeke, blinking slowly. “But Casey liked it, so he took me here. I've had lunch or dinner or both at least two or three times a week since then.”
“Out of memory?” Zeke mumbled absently.
“No, the roast beef, really,” she chuckled out. She sobered up with a sigh, nodding slightly. “But yea, he'd sell his pictures here, made some good money. Always dropped 80% in the bank; I'd tease him that he didn't know how to have fun. There was this one time he'd made about a hundred dollars, and—”
“Del... I don't wanna do this. This— 'trip down memory lane', I'd rather not... take it.” Zeke interrupted. Delilah stilled, a long string of ash forming at the end of her cigarette as her jaw tightened and loosened over and over again.
“That's... funny. Up until a couple weeks ago, I'd have to kick you out when you wouldn't stop screaming about him,” she said in a chilled voice. Zeke looked to the side.
“I'm trying to get over that. It doesn't help—this—doesn't help,” he said. “I sometimes don't even want to think about him at all.”
“That doesn't mean everyone else is gonna shut up, Zeke. You two may have been close, but me and him were pretty tight too,” she said. Zeke looked to her again, eyes narrowing.
“You two dated for what, a month before breaking it off? From what he'd said, you guys weren't fucking every night,” he snapped suddenly. The look on Delilah's face made him instantly regret it. She sat up straighter, eyes going glossy.
“You're... my fucking God,” she sputtered, grabbing up her purse and shoving her wallet inside. Zeke's lips parted and he sighed.
“Asshole,” she spat, standing up. With a quick sling of her strap over her shoulder and a snatch at her coffee cup she was walking away in quick steps. Zeke stood and followed, shaking his head.
“Del, c'mon, wait up,” he told her. She kept walking, long dark hair swishing behind her in waves. Once at her side he had to brush it away, slapping him lightly in the face. “Slow down...”
“What? For what?” She cried out, stopping abruptly and turning to him. “Are you going to start wailing about how 'no one misses him' like you do, how you two were the best of friends and no one knew Casey like you did?”
“Okay... all those times, I was drunk. Out of it,” he went to explain, putting his folded hands to his chin. “I acted out, that's all it was—”
“And no one else can even say his name around you; not without you snapping and being a dick!” she almost yelled. She shook her head slowly, eyes looking to the sky. “I've heard it all now, Zeke; how you two were the 'last ones alive', how you two fought side by side, all of that, and I'm sick of it. You try so fucking hard to separate you and Casey into some untouchable goddamned world that no one can reach no matter how hard they try. Well fine—you can have that exclusive little world you made.”
Delilah went to turn, but Zeke grabbed her shoulder and turned her back around. “Hey... look, I'm sorry. I was an asshole, okay?” he told her, keeping his voice low. She stared at him a moment, brushing a piece of hair from her mouth as she breathed in slow and deep.
“We can't do this anymore, Zeke. None of us can—it's been hell trying to work through this. I never thought I'd call Stokely as much as I have the last month, but she and I... we're good friends now,” she explained. “We share that common bond... you push us away with it. If that's what you wanna do, then do it. I won't stop you anymore.”
“I won't. Okay?”
“You're a liar, Tyler.”
“At least let me walk you to your car, okay?” he said. “I just... I gotta get a pack of smokes,”
Delilah stood still a moment but nodded, walking alongside Zeke; he set his jaw and shut up. Delilah was lighting another cigarette as they approached the small corner store. “Be back—want anything?” he asked, stepping to the doorway.
“No thanks,” Delilah replied, leaning on a parking meter. Zeke nodded and went inside, feeling numb and angry still. Not at Delilah or Stokely... any of them.
He needed to escape this... somehow. He didn't quite know what to do anymore; every last thing in this town was a complete reminder of Casey, what he and Casey used to do. The spectrum had grown just sitting in that café, hearing Delilah's stories of Casey's artist life and small career even. Zeke hadn't known about that.
He grabbed a pack of gum and went to the counter, asking for his usual Marlboros and matches. While the old man rang the order up, loud voices came from outside. Zeke turned to see, finding a car hanging out at the curb with a few older men sitting inside of it. Delilah was looking over at them with an annoyed look, rolling her eyes when she turned away.
“Your change...?” the cashier said, handing Zeke the rest of his cash. Zeke took it and stuffed it in his pocket, not bothering to check. He was just about to turn away and find out what was happening outside when his eyes fell on a magazine rack nearby.
He'd gotten used to seeing Casey's picture splashed all over papers and other publications... but not his next to Casey's. He snatched it from the rack and instantly paled.
The 'Ohio Hero' and a Secret Gay Lover...? the headline of the tabloid read. Zeke thought he was going to fall on his ass in seeing the picture of him on his porch, getting the mail from a few days before next to the picture of Casey taking a picture himself from that past October. It felt as if his eyes shook in his sockets, lips trembling as he realized...
Chrissy wasn't just a school gossip; she'd landed in a gold mine. “My fucking God,” He muttered aloud, shocked. Looking to the date of the tabloid's publication, it read today's date. It was as if the ink could be smeared off with a simple touch.
Oh my fucking God... I fucked up. I fucked up...
“Baby, over here! C'mon!” the voice outside rang. Zeke stuffed the magazine back in the rack, feeling lost. Tucking his cigarettes and gum in his pocket, Zeke stepped out of the store and was greeted by catcalls. Not to him.
“C'mon, baby! It's cold outside, hop in!” one of the guys, looking to be in his late thirties called to Delilah. She looked up, finding Zeke coming out.
“Ready to go?” she said, her voice dry and sounding frustrated. Zeke's hands still shook from anger at his new discovery, blood boiling even worse hearing the guys yelling random shouts to them.
“They bothering you?”
“Nothing I'm not used to—let's go,” Delilah said. It quieted a second; Zeke felt like he couldn't move.
“Del... I saw a paper in there...” he murmured, staring at the ground while rubbing his forehead slowly. Delilah looked to him with concern.
“Hey, ditch that loser sweetie... we can do you a lot better,” The guy interrupted; Zeke shot them a look. Delilah got in his line of sight, shaking her head.
“Ignore them-- what happened?”
“I'd... did you hear about—from that bitch, Chrissy, she was going around sayin' shit...”
“We ain't gonna wait here forever, bitch—I wanna see what's under that skirt,”
Something deep inside of Zeke snapped violently; the combination of impending public backlash from this new information and these... fuckers... “Zeke, STOP!” Delilah cried out, making him realize that he was rushing over to the car holding the two men. The one who'd called out went to get out seeing Zeke coming over, sneering.
“Whatcha gonna do, boy?” he said. Zeke got to him before he was able to step from the door; taking one hard, calculated kick he smacked the door shut, crunching the man's leg with it. “SHIT!” the man yelled, crumpling back into the passenger seat. The driver now exited, staring at Zeke with the look of death.
“The FUCK, you psycho!” he yelled, getting around the car to him. With the first guy down, Zeke stood straight and ready.
“Do not fuck with me, asshole, NOT in the goddamned mood,” Zeke growled out. The man took a swing, his ham-sized fist almost catching Zeke in the jaw. He ducked just in time and slammed his shoulder into the man's stomach, shoving him to the hood of the car. The man's legs went up, feet kicking at Zeke's thighs. Both of them slipped off and onto the curb, Zeke's head hitting the edge of it hard.
“Stupid fuck!” the man yelled, getting the upper hand. Zeke saw stars as now, the man's fist did find its mark on his eye, jostling his head violently to the side. Trying to regain some composure, Zeke grabbed the man's collar and pulled hard, sending him to his side. Zeke came up fast—too fast, making him lose equilibrium in trying to stand. He fell back on the hood, grabbing the antenna of the car's radio to steady himself.
Now both men were on him, the first he'd attacked jumping in. He lost count of fists and hands, yells; discerning his own bellows was starting to become a task as the world kept punching his sight from black to bright white, black, bright white...
“Get off of him!”
He didn't know when a purse had joined the fray, but he swore he saw one now. It took him a moment to realize he wasn't just seeing things; one of the men on him had jumped back, yelling “shit, that's fucking HEAVY!” Zeke tried focusing more, finally seeing Delilah standing there swinging like a star designated hitter.
“Back off, bitch!” the other man yelled, only getting a face full of leather clad weight thrown in his face. “JESUS!”
“Get out of here, assholes!” Delilah howled. The men weren't chancing this, it seemed. Zeke felt the motor underneath him roar, sending him to his knees. His hands smacked down on the sidewalk as hands grabbed his jacket, pulling him away from the car. It drove off, squealing tires sounding off as the men retreated. Zeke brought shaking fingers to his eyes, trying to wipe the sweat from his brow—only to realize that his fingers were now red.
“Sh... shit...” he muttered drowsily. Delilah knelt down to him, trying to turn his face to hers.
“Jesus fucking... c'mon, my car's closer...” she said, sounding strained as her hands pulled him up. The world spun, Zeke praying that Delilah was stronger than she looked, as his legs felt like they were going to collapse from under him. He lucked out, feeling himself sink into the passenger seat of Delilah's car before passing out.
It had been a long, confusing year at Herrington High being a junior, and Zeke still didn't know why he'd taken a job at a local dairy farm. It wasn't money, as checks rolled in two or three times a month from his mother and sometimes his father. Perhaps it was being completely alone; he wasn't huge on socializing, but silence got to him in the worst way. While he'd stay silent, his eyes would roam and it scared him; 'I'm just looking. I'm not going to DO anything. I just like looking,' he'd constantly try to say to himself. After his first week there, he was starting to think that he was going insane.
The son of the owner, Randy Falley, was always around instructing the guys working there with a stern, unwavering stance. He was older, about nineteen, and had everyone scrambling around to make sure they did their jobs. Zeke was in charge of mucking stalls and filling troughs for the most part; one of the nastiest jobs in the place. He didn't care that much, seeing as Randy was almost always there instead of the pasture. Mr. Falley did that job, giving Randy the easiest of tasks. During lunch breaks, Mrs. Falley would sell ham and cheese sandwiches with fresh milk at a dollar a pop. No restaurant in the country could hold a candle to something as simple as these lunches, and Zeke found himself buying an extra one to take home for dinner most nights. The junky bus would come for everyone at three in the afternoon to take them home, making Zeke pray that he turned sixteen and a half sooner rather than later so he could get past the 'permit' stage. He'd known how to drive since he was thirteen, when his uncle took him around the huge backyard he had in Michigan the summer he stayed there. 'Soon enough...' he'd think, cringing at the sounds of what had to be the bus falling apart piece by piece.
He didn't stay out many nights that summer, being tired from heavy grunt work... not to mention the time he had to wake up to catch the bus a few blocks over. He didn't need friends or parties. After his favorite packed lunch-turned-dinner, Zeke would shower, dress for bed-- undress then take his secret out from under his bed and picture himself lying on soft hay in the Falley's barn, Randy's face between his legs.
Randy was too easy to picture half naked and wanton, with hands roaming all over Zeke. He was a bit taller and wider, muscle formed out of a life spent as a farmer's son. Randy wasn't even that much older; Zeke didn't remember if he'd been at Herrington High as a senior when Zeke had arrived as a freshman, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that Zeke's crazed fantasies came alive more and more each day, with a real live young man standing in the place of what Zeke would jerk off to almost every night. It scared him to pieces, only creating more of a thrill when Zeke would dare to look longer or even outright stare when Randy's back was turned... which in turn scared him all over again. He didn't know why he was like this; he'd always liked girls in the past, no problem. While he hadn't lost his virginity at that point, he'd come close with Linda Green from his 'Ancient History' class. He hadn't lost the ability to get aroused by the memory, or even thoughts of future conquests. Watching a guy was bewildering.
At the start of August, Zeke took on extra hours when a few of the boys quit. It didn't matter to him as he needed something to do. Socializing wasn't very important to him; when someone tried to chat with him, he'd grunt replies and make them go quiet as they worked. Even with Randy, all Zeke would do was watch him in the corner of his eye as the older boy worked. One afternoon gave Zeke's face rare, proud smiles.
“Jesus Christ; stop lazing around, Harry! Don't think I haven't told my dad about you falling asleep in the loft last week!” he'd yelled at one of Zeke's co-workers. In the quick glance Randy gave Zeke his heart halted. “If everyone here worked just half as hard as Tyler, you could eat your lunch off a stall's fucking floor!” It had earned him a few glares from some of the crew, but it didn't matter. Randy had singled him out for the first time ever, and it made Zeke feel a bit more confident; scared still, but confident.
Soon after this, an afternoon arrived with clouds and scattered showers, sending most of them into the barns. Zeke opted to go outside during a break from the rain, however, sick of the smell of hay and dung. While drinking a Coke he'd brought from home, Zeke watched as Randy walked up from the pasture, his fingers clenched in his belt loops and walking with purpose as always. Zeke kept his eyes averted, staring at the label of his drink. Just as he's started to peel it back the small amount of light he had was blocked by Randy's shadow. Zeke looked up and cleared his throat just as Randy spoke. “Some hay bales came apart in the loft. C'mon,” he said simply. Zeke got up, feeling a bit squeamish. It was bad enough to watch Randy walk through the barns or help out with the cows; working right beside him made Zeke swallow hard.
The loft was damp with the heavy air, making Zeke sniff a few times as he and Randy set everything to rights. Zeke found himself soaking his shirt sleeve from the many rubs against his sweaty forehead, trying to keep the saltwater from his eyes. Every time Randy grabbed up a bale and brought it over to the pile, Zeke's jaw would tighten. He wasn't the only one sweating through his shirt, but Randy's was white.
Zeke hadn't realized that his breathing had become shallow and shaky until he stood up and almost swooned. The combination of heat, sweat and just looking at dark nipples through cotton had him nearly topple by the end of the landing, but Randy noticed in the nick of time and grabbed his arm to prevent his fall. “Hey! You all right?” he asked. Zeke stared at Randy through narrowed lids.
“Maybe you should take a break. It's hot as hell up here.”
'Betcher fuckin' ass,' Zeke had thought. Everything rushed him at once: 'I know what to do and how to do it,' he thought further, feeling his blood run through him like a sudden burst of heat. Before he knew what he was doing, Zeke had grabbed Randy's arm hard, turned him back around and planted his lips on his.
Randy was most obviously taken aback; he let out urgent, closed mouthed gasps and his hands came up and pressed against Zeke's chest. Nothing could push him away at the moment, however. Zeke was tall and strong enough to further this until Randy put an actual stop to it. It made Zeke feel ravenous and dirty but he welcomed it.
Randy finally managed to pull away and with one strong arm managed to push Zeke off then grab his wrist. Zeke was sent sprawling to the floor on his back, landing in a heavy thump. The way Randy was looking at him made Zeke feel total regret. He closed his eyes when Randy knelt down quick and took his hair in a strong, painful grip.
“What the fuck are you doin', jumping me like that? Huh?” Randy growled out. Zeke didn't answer, simply tried to turn his head to spare his mouth or nose from what was sure to come. “Wanted a quick screw, huh? 'Roll in the hay'?” Randy taunted, pulling even harder at his hair.
“M'sorry... fuck...” Zeke irked out. He felt the hand at his hair suddenly leave. He almost dared to open his eyes, when he was suddenly flipped forcibly onto his stomach.
Everything had moved so quickly from that point on; he'd felt paralyzed as Randy shoved his hips up to get at his belt to undo buckles, buttons and zip. “”Yea, you wanna fuck? Let's fuck,” Randy said with a cold stare. Zeke huffed and puffed, almost choking on the dust and debris scattered around his face. Realizing he was bared, ass-up, he trembled. “Nice ass,” Randy complimented just before rubbing his fingers along and past Zeke's cleft.
Every muscle in Zeke's arms clenched, one of them going under his cheek. With the way he was panting he was sure to breathe in enough bits of hay to kill him. Everything in him stopped however once Randy's finger slid inside roughly. “Fuck!” Zeke cried out into his arm, his teeth grazing along his skin. Randy wasn't wasting time, and it was clear on why; they could still hear muffled voices coming from way below in the main barn, a good six or seven workers still ambling around.
“Just shut the fuck up,” Randy told him in a low groan. Zeke bit down on his wrist as another finger was inserted, stretching him painfully. He suddenly scowled, turning his forehead towards the floor.
“Just fuckin' do it.”
That was all it took; Randy sniggered and undid his own jeans, leaned forward and spit in his hand. Zeke waited, the string of seconds feeling like years. 'Do it. Just fucking fuck me.'
His inner pleas were answered, as the feel of Randy's hard, long cock going inside him almost made him yell out. He held back somehow, feeling self-conscious enough as he heard guys laughing in the barn. 'Do they fucking know?' he thought with panic. All reason and worry was, however, pounded out of him with Randy's first hard, insistent thrust.
“Yea...” Randy moaned out, starting to move in a steady rhythm. Zeke's face was pushed forward, making his forehead hit the wood below him.
“Christ... oh fuck...”
“Shut up,” Randy reminded angrily. Zeke frowned, clamping his mouth onto his wrist and stilling himself. He let his brow go forward and back into the floor to make his body keep with Randy's pushes. The initial pain was drifting, being replaced with a sudden jolt of pleasure. His mouth loosened and went up, leaving the saliva soaked, bitten skin.
Randy was starting to move erratically just as Zeke realized—'I could do this all fucking day...'
“Better cum, I'm not waiting,” Randy declared in a rush, grabbing Zeke's hips to push them together even more. He kept his hand away from Zeke's cock, however, making Zeke start to panic; he was hard as hell and did not want to walk around like this for another two hours. Feeling desperate, his own hand pushed down and grabbed his cock, matching Randy's movements, which turned more and more frantic as he went. Every bit of concentration went into finding could bring him to climax; maybe Randy was lying, flip him back over onto the hay and suck him back. Deep throat. Lick.
Randy suddenly stopped, keeping himself inside Zeke with a tense, trembling pose; Zeke felt Randy's knees shake against his thighs while searing heat spilled into his body. Fuck. Fuck. He was just about coming over the edge as Randy began pulling out. “You missed out, huh?” Randy said with a sneer. Zeke didn't care; he kept his body still as his hand pounded away, fist hitting the wood with every pull downward. Randy chuckled. “Getting yourself off. Yea. Go ahead.”
He felt stupid, dirty... jacking himself off desperately as Randy stood and wiped himself clean with his handkerchief. He'd pictured this so much differently, but getting off was getting off. The sound of Randy buttoning back up was drowned out by the signature pulse in his ears, his hand finally getting soaked. “Oh- G-God...” he pounded out, his other hand fisting and thumping the floor a few times as he emptied. By the time he'd finished, Randy was already at the next few haystacks, tying them with long sighs.
“You fuckin' done?” he asked in a callous voice. Despite the fact that Zeke had been used entirely, his senses so overcome that he'd finished the job himself—here and now, like some desperate idiot, he could only answer...
“Glad it was good for you,” Randy stated. Zeke quirked an eyebrow while pulling himself up, arms shaking terribly. Looking down he snarled; a string of sticky cum went from dick to floor, mingling with bits of grass and dirt. He didn't have a tissue, and wasn't about to ask Randy for his. He put his own hand to the mess and wiped it away, feeling disgusting.
“Didn't hear you complain,” He replied. Randy snorted.
“Nothing I haven't had before... actually had better.”
Zeke nodded knowingly. 'Nice game' he thought bitterly. Still, he wasn't swayed from the idea that he'd gone and done this. His hands still a mess, he managed to button himself up without getting it all over himself. He came to a stand and turned, seeing Randy tying the last bale. “Hey, that's just fine,” he muttered, pulling off a casual shrug.
“Didn't ask if it was,” Randy replied. Zeke bit the inside of his mouth as he walked over and got next to Randy, sighing deeply.
“Can I get the fuck out of here?” he asked.
“I don't care,” Randy said.
Zeke nodded and leaned forward. With a whispered “Thanks”, Zeke gave a small but firm slap to Randy's back then went to the ladder. He gave one last look to the man and had to hold back a laugh. Randy would have to explain why there was a handprint made of dirt and cum on the middle of his back when he went back out to the pasture later.
Zeke didn't go back to the farm after that, uncaring towards losing the pittance that was his pay. It wasn't shame that made him stay home; he'd just felt that the job was done. Perhaps it wasn't the 'roll in the hay' he'd envisioned, but it was something. Those guys in his magazine were probably just as uncaring towards each other as Randy had been to him. It was just their job...
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