The story today is a re-post of a story I've written last week for the FanFic50-comm - I guess it's about time that I start to finish my table ;)
Title: A hard decision
Characters: Casey & Zeke
Prompt: Between - Casey needs to make a decision between his parents and Zeke
Word Count: 2255
Disclaimer: not mine, of course
Casey sighed once again and looked toward the back door. Outside, at the porch was Zeke, alone with his father, for quite a while already. And as much as he tried to eavesdrop, no tone was to hear. What the heck was going on there?
His mom put the last plate in the cabinet and smiled.
"Honey, I'm sure your dad won't bite his head off. He can't be that hungry after three portions of the Green Bean Casserole."
Though he actually wasn't in the mood for it, Casey smiled. His father was one of the most even-tempered guys he could imagine, but it was difficult to say what was going on in Zeke's mind at the moment. The last two hours had been the most stressful ones Casey had ever had to go through.
And he had been so sure that everything would go well. He had never had to delude his parents; they knew about his crush on this boy from the senior class even before he was willing to admit it, they always supported him to go his own way. And, of course, they had known about Zeke from the beginning.
He had met him two years ago, in the cafeteria of the College. Busy with reading in a book while balancing a cup of tea in the other hand he had outright bowled him over spilled him with hot tea. Most others would probably have freaked out, not so Zeke. That was his name, Casey learned shortly after when they were sitting together at a small table in a corner and chatted. And chatted. And chatted. As if they did know each other for ages. They talked about just everything: books, movies and, of course, the College. It was Casey's first month here, he enjoyed it but sometimes he missed good old Herrington, where everything was a bit easier to grasp, where his friends were living and his parents, of course. Where everything was a bit more familiar.
"Computer Science is fun," Casey told.
"But the prof at the basic course expects a lot. I will be difficult to measure up to his expectations."
"Oh, good old Mason."
Zeke laughed. He already was a second-year student.
"He's not that bad. Ask him about to the Graph Theory next time and he will love you."
Since then they did hang around as often as possible. Until they recognized that their friendship had changed. Zeke first refused to give in but Casey was wildly resolved to get what he wanted most. Hadn't his parents always told him, that it was nothing wrong with it to fall in love with a guy? And he loved Zeke. Like Zeke loved him. Even he wasn't a guy to talk much about his feelings, he showed it with his smile, his kisses ... and the way he made love with Casey.
It could have been heaven. Just: Zeke refused to meet Casey's parents. And Casey loved his parents. He visited them almost every weekend. And every time it was the same discussion with Zeke. At the end, Casey would go to Herrington alone and Zeke would spend his weekend in the garage of a friend.
Casey tried to be understanding. For sure Zeke had gone through a lot and people who should have taken care of him had run out of him instead. His Mom died when he was still a baby. His father sent him away, to enjoy the life together with a much too young girl by his side. Zeke found some time of comfort at the house of his best friend, Benjamin. Until they got older and one day it happened, that his father found them giggling, with a slightly red face in front of the TV, watching a cheesy gay movie. From one day to the other he was not allowed to see his friend again. Even worse, Benjamin's parents informed the youth welfare service. Zeke was sent into a children's home. Casey could only guess through what hell he had to go there because Zeke still refused to talk about it.
Maybe it would have been better to accept his refusal, beside of that they had the best relationship Casey could imagine. But he couldn't give up so easily. He wanted to visit his parents regularly, as before, but together with Zeke. And finally, after another long night of talking and pouting and tears even, his friend had given in. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon that they were on the way to Herrington. The closer they got the more Casey could feel the rising tension inside Zeke, not even the driving seemed to calm him down.
"No need to worry," Casey tried to assure him.
"My parents won't judge you because of your past. They are not that shallow. They will accept you ... like you. Because all that counts is what you are now."
But the moment his mom had opened the door and hurried down the stairs from the porch to greet them heartily, Casey had known it, that it wouldn't go well. Zeke barely looked at her, he just stared at the car key and Casey was sure he was thinking about it to start the motor again, hit the pedal to the medal and vanish into nowhere.
Well, this hadn't happened. But it didn't mean that the dinner had been a nice one, with all the tension between them. Finally, Zeke took refuge onto the porch for a smoke ... or two ... or three. When Casey wanted to follow him, his mom held him back.
"You could help me with the dishes, honey," she told him. While his father grabbed for his cigarettes to join Zeke on the porch. He usually didn't smoke much but he was on the porch for ages now.
Casey sighed again and finally gave up the try to hide his disappointment.
"I guess I should better go and look after him," he muttered.
"I'm sorry, Mom, it's not your fault."
"It isn't your fault, either," answered his mom, as if she could read his mind.
"But I knew, he wasn't ready yet. I shouldn't have pressured him that much."
"It's so difficult. I want to be together with him. He is the guy I was always looking for. Smart. Strong. He can be so funny and caring.
But when it comes to you, he just shuts down himself. Sometimes it makes me crazy. I try to understand, but how can I make a decision between you and him? I want him to be a part of our family."
Loud voices from the porch interrupted him. Alarmed he almost jumped up into the air. Until he realized it, that it was not a fight, that had finally gotten out of control, but ... laughing?! The booming laugh of his dad, accompanied from Zeke amused chuckling. Casey blinked. Okay, that was much better than expected ... but strange anyway.
Not sure what would await him he opened the back door a bit and risked a quick glance. His father was sitting in the old rocking chair while Zeke had dropped down on the upper steps of the staircase; he was still smoking.
"I do remember, it was the last race I did," his father told.
"It was only half official. A gray and rainy Novembre day and the organizer were already considering to break up. But Jenner and I were much too eager to find out, who of us were the best driver. So they finally agreed to a shortened course."
"And you did make it," asked Zeke.
Mr. Connor shook his head.
"No, I gave up after the first round. At that time, I was already together with Merideth. She did never complain, but I could read it in her eyes, that she was worried to death every time I did a race. I guess it was a smart decision, the rain was heavy and the streets much more slippery than expected."
"A good driver should know his limits," Zeke agreed to him.
Mr. Connor smirked.
"Although I must admit before I metMerideth, I haven't thought much about the risks. It was all a great fun."
At this moment, Zeke noticed Casey in the doorway and a slight smile crossed his face.
Casey's heart beat faster when he stepped out of the porch. Whatever was going on between Zeke and his father, obviously it had changed everything.
"You okay," he asked.
Zeke nodded, though looking a bit unsure.
"Why did you never tell me that your dad was a race driver once? And pretty successful. He did win the Ohio-Night-Race in 1976."
Casey blinked stunned. What was he talking about?
Mr. Connor laughed.
"Oh, his mom decided better not tell him much about my wild times, so he doesn't get any ideas," he explained.
"I guess we don't need to be afraid of that, though, Casey is much more even-tempered than I was back then."
He paused and glanced at his son.
"I did enjoy the time. When you are standing on the winner podium with a trophy in your hands, you feel almost high. But I don't regret it that I finally decided to leave all this behind. Your mom, and later you, were so much more important to me."
"Good for you," Mrs. Connor's called from the kitchen.
"I was a popular girl back then. One guy, Paul Henson, he was a bookseller and very romantic. He asked me out more than once."
Mr. Connor rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, I do remember him. He was boring as hell, and he always wore this stupid red-silver tie. And you never were interested in his oh-so-sweet chocolates. Because you only had eyes for me."
"If you say so."
She laughed softly.
"So, guys, how about having a coffee and a muffin for dessert?"
Without hesitation, Mr. Connor followed her into the kitchen. Zeke got up from the step and looked at Casey. A slight uneasiness was lying in his eyes, as always when he tried to deal with various feelings.
"I'm sorry," he finally murmured.
"For acting like an idiot during dinner."
"It's okay, I guess. And now everything is fine between you and my dad?"
The smile changed into a grin.
"We have had a great talk."
"About cars. Guys and their favorite toy."
"Well, not every guy can be a photo geek like you," Zeke teased him. And it felt good to see him so relaxed. Thanks to his father who had managed it to get through Zeke's shell by telling him about his 'wild times'. Which was somehow strange but cool. Casey had never pictured his dad as a successful car racer.
"By the way," Zeke continued.
"We will meet at Jim's garage next Sunday. The baby is almost ready, time for a first test run. I've invited your dad to come along."
The baby. An old, red Camaro SS Zeke had found at a scrap yard about one year ago. Since then he had spent a lot of money and time to repair the car. It meant a lot that he wanted to share the first tour with his dad.
"That sounds like a great plan."
"You are not disappointed that you can't come along," Zeke asked, suddenly looking uneasy again.
"For sure not!"
"I will bring my camera and take pics from the great moment."
The boys stayed a little while longer, had some coffee, Casey, of course, could resist his mom's muffins. When they left Mrs. Connor was standing next to her husband.
"How did you know," she asked.
"How could you know how to reach him? This hour together with you has turned him into another guy."
"Oh, it's wasn't that hard to figure it out. I thought about my interests when I was at his age. Baseball. Girls."
"And cars. I always was a car nut.
To ask him about girls would have been kinda strange; he wants to move to together with our son. And when I ask him about the Columbus Cobras he wasn't very interested, too.
So ... I asked him about his car. And he told me that he is repairing a Camero since about a year. He has a good taste, it's a great car. But as a father of a little baby a car like this never was up for debate because you need a big family car."
Mrs. Connor laughed.
"And now you can not wait to drive Zeke's car," she said.
"Hm, well ..."
"Don't deny it, Frank Connor, I can see the sparkles in your eyes. You always looked like that before a race."
Mr. Connor smiled.
"That's over, Merideth. We'll just have a nice trip in the Camaro. And I promise I will maintain the speed limit."
"I hope you will. Your son would never forgive you when you don't bring Zeke back in one piece."
She sighed softly.
"I guess, he really loves him."
Mr. Connor looked at her thoughtfully. They were married for 19 years now and he knew her well. Casey being gay had never been a problem for them, but this didn't mean that she wasn't worried because of the difficulties which might come out of this. He put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed her lightly.
"They are both smart, Merideth. And strong. I'm sure they will make their way. And we will back them up whenever it's needed."