No fluff this time, a bit dark stuff, no kink though, sorry, or don't worry ( your choice ;) - I know, as much as some of you love that stuff as much others dislike it )
Title: Coming home ( 1 / 2 )
Fandom: The Faculty / Casey & Zeke (no pairing)
Summery: After years Casey is coming home ...
Warnings: some dark stuff is mentioned
Disclaimer: The Faculty and the boys are not mine, of course ;)
Zeke started to skim over the report in the magazine again. He did barely understand what he was reading, his eyes wandered much too often to the photo at the end of the article. A picture which showed two reporters together with the photographer who had accompanied them to Africa, right into the middle of the conflict area.
Casey. How much he had changed since he had left Ohio behind. At Highschool he had been a skinny boy with wide Jeans and stupid, checked shirts his mother used to buy him. Insecure, though wildly resolved to make his way. Today he wore top labels, well fit, muted colors and expensive; he looked confident and strong. At least at formal occasions like the press reception where this photo had been taken.
It was not the first time that he had aroused public interest. Since he had left College and started to work for the well-known news magazine he had gotten a lot of awards for his pics. Though it always made him cringe to look at these photos, Zeke knew it was deserved. Casey's pictures were unique.
Zeke had never lost track of him. He bought every magazine, kept them safe in a box in his pantry. Sometimes he pulled them out just to look at his pictures. Almost embarrassing how sentimental he could get when it came to Casey. It were over six years now since their ways had parted. And he still missed the old times.
The last year at Highschool. The best one. After MaryBeth. The incident with the alien queen had changed his life. Previously he hadn't known much more about Casey than his name though he shared some classes with him. Most of the others called him a loser, ignored him, laughed about him, some of them gave him a really hard time. But he never complained, came to school every day, was one of the best students.
Zeke didn't look twice at him, he had his own problems. His parents were somewhere in Europe, he hadn't seen them for almost a year. The others envied him for his freedom. A house all for him alone, a car, every weekend wild parties and another girl in his bed. What did they actually know? He had to do everything alone, cooking, laundry, shopping. When there was money enough for it. When his parents didn't forget to send the monthly check. The parties? The girls? Sometimes he was so sick of it, but he was much more afraid of being alone ... alone in the great house with nothing else but a TV and a radio around to amuse him.
MaryBeth changed everything. Sometimes he was almost grateful that she had appeared at Herrington High, that she wanted to take over control over the school, the town, maybe the whole world. She was almost successful. Had taken over the teachers, most of the students, only a few of them were still fighting her. At the end it had been Casey who had stopped her, who had stuck a pen full of Scat right into her eye.
For a few weeks Casey had been the hero of school. Gabe suddenly acted like his best friend and Delilah told everyone that he was the boy she had always secretly loved. Then it was over. Left it to Casey and Zeke. Sometimes Stan and Stokes joined them, good friends now, yes, but their love was still so young, often enough they preferred to be alone.
Zeke didn't mind. Casey and he had a lot in common, they liked the same books, the same movies, they loved pizza from Joey's and Thai from diner at the Mall. And they could talk, for hours, all night long, about serious themes and silly stuff. No secrets between them. They could laugh or just sit there and keep quiet.
And sometimes they argued. Once they didn't talk to each other for almost a week. Casey knew to avoid him … even though all Zeke wanted was to apologize. No, he actually didn't feel guilty, it had been just a stupid fight about a book. The new bestseller from a young author everyone talked about. Casey acted as if he would be a god but Zeke had stated even a student from a junior high school would be able to write better stuff. He should have known better.
Then, out of the blue, Casey was back. With a pizza and a coke in his hands he stood in front of his door and smirked apologizing.
„Come on in, you little shit,“ Zeke had growled … with a wide smile on his face.
He would never forget Casey's hilarious laughter. How much he had missed it. How much he had missed everything. His endless bubbling about his beloved photography. The way he cowered in front of the TV when a movie got a bit too scary for him. His big blue eyes which could sparkle so happy ... and angry ... and sad. His nearness, his warmth. Zeke's whole body was buzzing with excitement when he thought about him. This was a new feeling, different from all the flirting, kissing, sex he had with the girls. Casey … he was a guy and Zeke had never thought about guys in this way ... but it didn't matter at all ...
He already knew for some time that Casey was gay. It had been one of their long movie nights, they had had a few beers and talked a lot stupid stuff when Zeke had started to tease him about Marie, one of the girls from his art course.
„Oh, stop it!“
Casey had rolled with his eyes.
„She's just a friend!“
„Maybe?! Casey, Casey, I'm starting to worry. You will be the only guy who ends Highschool still as a virgin!“
Casey had blushed slightly but shook his head.
„Hm? Don't tell me … oh god, not Delilah ?!“
Casey had laughed out loud.
„No, not her. She was more interested in my fame but in me. Even her kisses were just a show.”
„So, who is it? C'mon, tell me! Who's the girl you keep secret from me?“
He had looked at him with dark blue eyes.
„His name was Aaron,“ he had told him.
„I met him last summer at science camp.“
Not much could surprise Zeke but he had never expected that. But after the first shock he could laugh about it. Casey was his best friend … what did it matter, if he liked girls or other guys?
Zeke smiled slightly while thinking back. His best friend. During their last year at school, during their last summer together. He had remained to be his best friend. Zeke had never talked about his feelings. What did he actually know? He wanted him, he dreamed about him. But how far was he ready to go? Casey wanted something serious, no one night stand, a guy to share his life with. Zeke didn't even knew if he actually was gay. Maybe it was just the thrill of something new. What if he couldn't bear it? Too much nearness. Too much feelings. What when he was not able to give Casey what he deserved? When he would leave him one day, run away like a coward?
And it was not even sure if Casey shared his feelings. Maybe Zeke was just a good friend him, a straight friend. Just because he was gay didn't mean that he could picture Zeke as his boyfriend, his lover.
Or … the best case, he did feel the same, they would come together … how long could it last? Casey had dreams. College. A job as a photo reporter He was good, brilliant even. He would make his way. And Zeke? Zeke would stay behind. He knew he had thrown away his chance to go to College ages ago. Not that he did mind. He already had other future plans. But it meant that he would have to stay here in Herrington. While Casey would go to College in New York. Jet around the world from one job to the other. Together … but separated. Unthinkable for Casey. Zeke knew him well enough, he would look for another solution, College in Columbus and a small local paper nearby. It would have been selfish to stop him to go his way ...
Now, six years later, Zeke had found his place in life. A bar in Herrington, Coyote Ugly, like the bar in the movie he could watch again and again. A small one only and the people who came here regularly, for a beer after work or a few games of billiard on the weekends had almost become friends. It didn't leave him much free time. Every morning he kept the books and did the shopping, from evening until late in the night he was standing behind the bar. But he didn't mind, he liked this way of life.
Casey? Zeke looked back to the photo in the magazine. He had made his way too, that was for sure, though it was not the way Zeke had wished for him. He had always pictured him working for a nature magazine or an art gallery, making people wonder about the beauty in the world. But Casey had always been good for a surprise.
When he had told him almost in passing about his job at the news magazine he hadn't been sure what this meant. Then the shock when he saw the first pictures. He had stared at them and tried to understand. They were not perfect. Slightly blurred. Some of them too dark. The perspective was not the best. But they reflected the horror of the unknown place somewhere at Middle East. Men with guns. Crying people, trying to escape. Their small village bursted into flames. This was what Casey wanted to do? He could barely breath when he tried to picture the panic Casey must have felt at a place like this.
Time went on, weeks, months. More reports followed, from other places all over the world. War. Rebellion. Natural Disaster. Casey and his team were always on the scene to report first-hand. His photos started to change. He found back to his old perfection, was even better than before. Though Zeke wondered if people actually wanted to see pics like that, pictures which threw the truth right into their face, in a way he had never seen it before.
The first award Casey got soon enough did proof him wrong. Followed by TV appearances and a first exhibition. Zeke hadn't wanted to go but he did anyway. Secretly he did hope Casey would be there too. But he wasn't. The atmosphere was somehow strange. Overdressed people with glasses of soda and champagne, talking, laughing even.
The pics, colored and old fashioned black and white ones, high quality, some of them detailed enlargements. The horror they told about. The mercilessness of the soldier who aimed his gun at the helpless body of a young man, almost still a child. The old man, cowering on the roof of his house, the last safe place amidst the almost black floods which had been a small river only a few days ago. The fear in the eyes of the children, no matter where at the world, not able to understand all the horror which happened around them.
The interview with Casey they had shown on a great screen. He looked serious but calm.
„I want to thank all of you for coming,“ he said.
„This means a lot for me. It tells me that I'm doing a good job.
My pictures are for people like you. People who don't look away. People who want to know what's going on in the world. People who want to change something.“
He smiled. And Zeke smiled back at the TV screen.
„I do believe in all of you. There is this Aids Camp for Children in Somalia we made a photo report about last month. I did spend all the money I got for my last award for these children. But it's not enough, look at these pictures and you will know, it's never enough!“
It followed a slideshow of pictures, taken at the camp. Finally the people around kept quiet, staring at the screen in front of them.
„You little shit,“ Zeke had thought while he got out his wallet like most of the others around him.
„You got them all!“
It had been reassuring to see him that way. He had wondered all the time how Casey could be strong enough for a life like this, but obviously he was happy with what he did. It was still hard when he thought about all the danger and horror Casey was into every day but all he could do was to accept that he had found the life he had always wanted.
Until today. Zeke knew well enough why he couldn't turn the eyes away from the photo in the magazine. Not the designer jeans made Casey look changed. Maybe he could fool others with his smile but Zeke could read the desperation and deep sadness in his eyes. Like a cry for help.
Four weeks later Zeke was standing at the airport of Columbus. Casey's flight was belated. He had smoked countless cigarettes and had had some coffee. Since the phone call three days ago he had barely slept, but he didn't feel tired at all.
„Hey, Mrs. C. It's been a while since we've talked. How are you doing?”
„We are fine, thanks. Just … the Audi again. It broke down yesterday, just when I wanted to go to the Mall.”
“Probably the fuel pump again. I've already told you last time you should better replace it.”
“I know, I know, Mr. C. has already called the garage this morning. Problem is, they need to order the pump and Casey is coming home on Wednesday.”
His almost jumped up. Casey ... back in Herrington. Since … how long was it that he had met him last time? Last year around Christmas he had been at Herrington for some days. But his mother had demanded most of his attention. There hadn't been much time to hang out with friends.
“I could pick him up at the airport,” he had suggested.
And here he was. Nervous like a teenager before his first date. Which was ridiculous. But he couldn't help it. Casey was coming home. Finally the flight was announced. Zeke stubbed out his cigarette and stared down the way he knew Casey would come from. It seemed to be an eternity. Then he noticed him, with a rolling suitcase and a traveling bag over his shoulder. It looked as if he wanted to stay a bit little longer this time.
Casey waved at him.
„So good to see you!”
Ignoring the suitcase and the bag he threw his arms around Zeke and squeezed him hard. Zeke answered the embrace, not caring what other people might think about them. Casey felt more skinny than before, and when he finally let him go he noticed his pale face. Though he smiled he looked tired. But probably it was just the long flight, the jet lag.
„Come on, let's get you home,“ he said and reached for the suitcase.
„Time for some rest. You look like shit.“
„Oh! Thank you.“
Casey chuckled and followed him to the parking lot. Luckily Zeke had found a free space near the entrance, insanely expensive but now he was thankful for it.
„Still the good old lady, huh?“
„Call me sentimental. It needs a fortune to keep her in good shape but I can't help it, I love this car.”
Zeke unlocked the GTO and while he put the luggage into the trunk, Casey got into it. He leaned back into the seat, closed his eyes and sighed.
“God, how much I miss this sometimes,” he murmured.
“Think, you will have some free time to hang out? Maybe we can invite Stan and Stokes too. Can't wait to meet the love-birds again.”
Zeke stopped shot. What was that? He tried to avoid to be alone with him? But maybe he was just overreacting, he really needed to calm down before he said something stupid. He nodded.
„Sure. If your mom is willing to let you go for a while.”
„She's already planned a big welcome party. Invited half of the neighborhood beside of my grandparents, some uncles and aunts. I really wish I could avoid this, but she would be so disappointed.”
Zeke wanted to respond something when he noticed that Casey started to drift of. Thoughtful he watched him. He still looked so young. So vulnerable. Hard to imagine that this was the same daring man who was jetting across the globe from one conflict area to the other. Suddenly Zeke felt the urge to protect him. He had been sure to be over his feelings for Casey, he was still a good friend, yes, and they shared a past. But not the future. Casey had chosen a way which had let him away from his old life. Zeke had his bar, his own little world. Now he realized that he had only fooled himself. He would never love someone as much as he loved Casey.
At the end he turned the key and left the parking lot. It lasted barely one hour until they stopped in front of the Conner's house. Casey yawned and blinked. For a moment he stared at Zeke as if he couldn't remember what he was doing here. Then he chuckled.
„Sorry. I was so worn out!”
He would have said more, but this moment the door opened and Mrs. Connor hurried down the way. Casey was pulled into her arms as if she never wanted to let him go again. Zeke felt slightly uncomfortable when he heard her suppressed sniffing. Emotional releases like that had never been his cup of tea.
Casey's voice sounded almost too cheery.
„If I make you cry, maybe it's better when I'm leaving again.”
„Finally you are here,“ she said and tried to find back her balance.
“It was about time. I know, it's your job, but this magazine asks for too much.”
“Don't worry, mom, this time I can stay for a while.”
Mrs. Connor smiled wide. She didn't notice the dark shades crossing Casey's face. But Zeke did and he knew Casey tried to hide something.
„C'mon in. I've made Red Snapper and Avocadosalat for dinner, I hope you still like this? Zeke, if you want to join us ...”
He shook his head.
„No, thanks. The bar, you know. It will get busy tonight. Wednesday Special, you pay for one drink and get another one for free.“
Casey smiled at him.
„So, you made it, huh? Your own bar, I can't wait to see it.”
„Come by whenever you want. I guess there is a lot to talk about.”
For a second Casey frowned, but then he nodded.
“I'm gonna call you!”
Two weeks later at Coyote Ugly. They were sitting at a small table in the back of the bar, together with Stan and Stokes. Like Zeke the couple had turned down the invitation to Casey's welcome party. All they had wanted was to hang out together, like they had done it ages before.
Zeke lent back onto his chair, barely listening to the stories Casey told about his job. It was hard to believe, that it was already six years ago when he been the bad boy from Herrington High and sold porn and beer at the school's parking lot. Stokes was known as a lesbian gothic-bitch, Stan was dreaming about a sports scholarship and a career as a quarterback in one of the great clubs. Casey experimented with the old camera his grandpa had given him, his first steps into the world of photography.
How much all their lives had changed. Stan was working at a bank in Columbus while Stokely stayed at home with their little daughter. Sometimes she published short stories at a small SF magazine. Zeke was the owner of a bar and he had finally settled down. He still liked to flirt but whenever a girl asked for more he said no. Sometimes he visited a club nearby, sometimes he met a nice guy, but he was to busy with the bar for a serious relationship.
Non of them had a reason to complain about life, but only Casey's dreams had come true. He was a well known photo reporter and finally got the all the attention he deserved. TV shows. Exhibitions. A successful young man. But a happy one?
Zeke eyed him thoughtfully and he couldn't help it. Something was wrong with him. He talked about his job as if it was a great adventure. Visiting foreign countries. Working together with reporters who sometimes could get a bit rough, but you could count on them when it mattered. Casey told anecdotes about all the fun they had together … but no word about all the cruelties he was confronted with day in day out. The pain, the blood, the death he captured in his pictures. Nothing. As if he tried to hide this side of his life behind a big, gray wall. But this was not Casey anymore. He had always been a caring, empathetic guy. Honest against others and himself. Even if most of his classmates called him a stupid geek, he had never tried to be someone else. Today he laughed too much, he talked too loud, he drunk, not only beer and smoked almost like a chain.
When Stan chuckled and teased him with it he narrowed his eyes and stared at him. It was almost scaring how cold his eyes could look like.
„When you end up somewhere at a godforsaken place there is not much you can do beside of smoking, drinking … or looking for some pleasure with a cheap hooker. Believe me, smoking and drinking are the better decision.”
part two soon