Rating: Light R for swearing and sexual innuendo
Synopsis: Being left out sucks.
Warnings: Very light bullying
Disclaimer: I own nothing--all fantasy on my end.
Author's Notes: Written for aina_baggins.
It didn't matter that Herrington High had planned a week of "fun" for the students unable to go on the Washington D.C. trip. It sucked.
Here he was; Casey Connor, head photographer of the school newspaper, straight A's in every class-- especially the 'History of Politics' course he took-- and he was deemed 'not ready' for such a trip by his overprotective parents. Not ready? Even the Freshman at school had gotten to go. Whether Casey was a young junior or not shouldn't have mattered. He was sick of not getting to tag along to events like this. Even Gabe would chill out and leave him alone, too eager to be on his best behavior. At least HE was gone... but still.
Delilah was pissed. She'd been counting on Casey's attendance for pictures; even if that was all she wanted him for, she'd get it. Delilah Profitt got anything she wanted from Casey, and it was pretty obvious to anyone watching. He'd had to tone it down when Stan came around; while he'd never taken a swing at Casey, having every right to with his popular status, Casey didn't want to tempt the fates. You just didn't play lapdog to the quarterback's girlfriend, but he'd take every chance he got to do so.
Mornings at school this week were to be spent in classes, but it was more games or TV specials to watch. After lunch, the football field would be a place to hang out and have MORE games, usually gym class type sports and such. Anyone watching could tell that Coach Willis didn't give a shit if the students participated. He'd grown sick of kids like Casey, who would fight for their grade averages any way they could in doing the mandatory gym classes. Casey's "effort" for gym would show up as an A- on the report cards, while his main "performance" grade would be a C. Having that ending up as a B in total on his school record assured no 'top spot' when it came to graduation.
So after his tuna sandwich, chips, apple and juice box, Casey headed to the corner of the bleachers to sulk. He sat in the middle to blend in; Gabe's pals Ricky Wendell and Adam Deck had stayed behind. He didn't need to be front and center at the bottom rows, nor did he need to be spotted like some bird in its nest. Casey watched the other students mill about having three-legged races, egg tosses and whatever else the school decided to put them all through. Grabbing up his backpack, Casey dug through it to find his book he'd been reading on silent films.
Before he could take it out, his wrist was suddenly grabbed and his body was practically tossed to its feet. Casey expected a random bully, of course; he threw his head up to face whatever tormentor had decided to bother him and found Zeke Tyler there. 'He's never fucking kicked my ass,' he thought. Well... first time for everything.
It took Casey a moment to realize that Zeke hadn't gotten him into a stand to blindside him. They were walking instead, heading out into the field full of students. Casey looked from side to side, expecting people to be laughing at them. He was surprised to see that everyone seemed occupied with whatever they were doing. He finally ground a heel into the grass and stopped the strange, unwarranted advance. "Hey!" he started, pulling on Zeke's arm.
"Yea?" Zeke said, turning to look at him with a bored expression. Casey fumed, still trying to pull away from the boy.
"The fuck are you doing?"
"We're doing the wheelbarrow race."
Casey blinked in absolute confusion. Zeke made to walk again, continuing his dragging-Casey fun. Casey managed to stop them again with a hard tug. "Wait! What're you doing? 'Wheelbarrow race'?"
"Uh huh. C'mon, they're starting in like... now," Zeke replied, pulling yet again; this time he looked at Casey while doing so, raising his eyebrows. "Don't make me hit you. Come on."
"You're gonna smack me around cos' I won't do a fucking wheelbarrow race with you?" Casey asked in a sarcastic tone, but followed anyway. "That's the stupidest..."
Zeke didn't answer. Casey let his words trail off; it was useless. It was well known around school that Zeke would get what he wanted. No matter how strange this was, it was what Zeke wanted... so he got it.
They were soon at the 'wheelbarrow races' section, roped off with bright orange plastic ribbon. Casey groaned to himself, seeing both Ricky AND Adam standing nearby. They noticed him as well; Adam nudged Ricky and smiled-- the famous 'dude, it's Casey, get your fists ready!' smile. Instead of coming over, their eyes darted to Zeke; they still wore grins but stayed put.
"Everyone ready?" one of the other gym teachers, Ms. Gravel called out. "Come on to the front with your partners!"
Zeke slapped Casey's shoulder, making him stumble forward a little. He shot Zeke a look as they got to the sprayed-chalk lines. "A'right, get on the ground," Zeke told him.
"Wha...?" Casey murmured. Oh yea... wheelbarrow time. There shouldn't have been any questions on WHO was to be the gardening equipment. With a long groan of annoyance, Casey got on the ground and waited for Ms. Gravel's call out to get ready.
"Hey Connor," a teasing-toned voice-- Adam's-- spoke up. Directly to their right, both Ricky and Adam stood. Adam, the smaller of the two, knelt down. "Gonna wave your ass for Zekie-boy there?"
Casey rolled his eyes. "He dragged ME here, fuckwit. Looks like you practically ran here for the opportunity."
"Watch your fucking mouth, pussy-boy," Ricky warned.
"Maybe it's Tyler who wants some ass, Rick," Adam said with a chuckle. Casey glanced to see Zeke's expression, finding only a tiny, nearly invisible smile. At that moment, Ms. Gravel's whistle blew.
"Take your marks!" she yelled.
"Ugh," Case grunted while putting his hands on the cool grasses. Looking back, he kicked a foot up Zeke's way. "Go on."
Zeke grabbed it, then hoisted up the other. Using every stomach muscle Casey could find, he lifted his chest and torso straight, already feeling his body stretch and clench. "Jesus fucking..." he muttered.
"All right! On your mark... get set..."
The whistle blew again, this time making everyone start their advance. He felt Zeke push at his legs, sending his hands flapping forward hastily. 'Stupid, stupid, this is so fucking STUPID...' Casey thought, almost panting it out as he kept going, hoping he could hold himself up. He didn't need a mouthful of grass, dirt and worms. He'd had enough of that since the seventh grade.
"Watch it!" Ricky suddenly whooped; Casey chose to ignore it, but was suddenly thrown off course as a hand reached out and pushed his face, hard. Realizing that Adam had taken a small moment to try and push him around made his blood boil. Still, he managed to stay upright, his arms stiffening further from the blow, but the two jocks got ahead. No WAY were those assholes getting away with that. He rushed forward, Zeke pushing even more now.
"Catch up, catch up," Zeke commanded.
"Fuck you!" Casey yelled back at him, seething. They were about two-thirds down now... who CARED if they lost... still, they passed Ricky and Adam, giving them no time to make anymore dirty moves. Once at the end, Casey made to relax...
"Get the fuck up!"
"What?" Casey bellowed; Zeke hadn't let go of him.
"We gotta go BACK, you moron!" Zeke yelled. Casey felt like screaming in frustration and let his shuddering, aching arms hold him up again. They turned, just as Ricky and Adam did.
"Look out!" Adam called in an overly cheery voice. Casey saw his hand jut out and jerked away just in time, sending him and Zeke more to the right. The bullies followed; Casey saw Adam's sneer, his hand...
Then nothing. He did hear two grunts of pain; shooting a quick glance over his shoulder, he saw Adam and Ricky in a heap, looking as angry as ever. "The... f-fuck...?" Casey wheezed out.
"Kicked 'em," Zeke told him. Casey would have laughed, if his lungs didn't feel like exploding already. He huffed, puffed, wheezed and clambered, all hands slapping and neck aching as they finally approached the finish line. Two other pairs had made it first, but Casey didn't care. Once past the chalked-border, he let himself collapse. Zeke let go and stood straight, cracking his neck. "Man...that was terrible," he said.
"For you? Oh FUCK off," Casey retorted, coughing hard. Adam and Ricky reached them now, Adam huffing almost as hard as Casey was. They glared at them and snarled.
"Motherfucker," Ricky growled Zeke's way.
"Uh huh; tell yours I'll be by for eight tonight," Zeke replied, not missing a beat. Ricky puffed out his chest.
"'Scuse me, what?"
"Here you go!" Ms. Gravel now interrupted, handing Zeke and Casey yellow ribbons. 'Third Place' was written in gold lettering on the front, along with a tag on the back giving the race name and date.
"Fucking ridiculous," Casey muttered while hooking it on a button of his shirt.
"Smell you later, assholes," Ricky said, now stalking off with Adam. Casey rolled his eyes.
"Always so original."
"C'mon, I need an ice cream," Zeke said. Casey got on his wobbly legs and frowned.
"Ice cream?" he said, looking towards the rented ice cream truck on the other side of the field. "Since when does Zeke Tyler eat ice cream?"
"I'm buying," Zeke said, ignoring Casey's question. The boy blinked; well, he WAS broke, and he did love 'Bomb Pops'. They walked together, Casey trying to keep up with Zeke's long strides.
"Why the hell DID you want to do that stupid race, anyway?" he asked.
Zeke grabbed up his lighter and cigarettes; while getting one started, still walking, he shrugged. "What Adam said."
"What Adam said."
Whatever mysterious code Zeke was trying to give, Casey couldn't figure out. He simply rolled his eyes and kept tagging along. True to his word, Zeke did in fact buy Casey's choice of frozen confection, along with a Coke.
He was never going to grow up at this rate. Everyone got to do everything they wanted compared with him, it seemed. Even when his parents tried making things up to him through take-out dinners and movies, like tonight, it was just like the school's attempts. Always some half-hearted attempt to make one feel better after missing out on the real deal. Then STILL having to deal with bullies and their taunting. Couldn't Adam and Ricky have taken a goddamned day off? Just wasn't fair--
Casey stopped all movement. His hand went shock still on the computer's mouse, the other hand holding his cup mid-sip to his lips. The Advil's coating was starting to slip away, but Casey couldn't taste anything right now. Everything came into focus, remembering Adam's words, and then Zeke's...
The pills were swallowed hard just as they were about to give their acrid taste... Casey put his cup down and stared at the computer screen, lost for words and thought.
Well now... this made for an interesting night...