Reposted from fan_flashworks
Title: A life-altering accident
Fandom: The Faculty
Challenge: 170 = station
Summary: After a serious accident Zeke doesn't know how to move on
When Casey entered the sickroom he felt almost shocked. Zeke looked even paler and weaker than the day before, his cheeks sunken in, his eyes closed. He didn't even move when he heard him entering. It was hard to fight his tears back. Zeke had always been a fighter; he had never given up. How could it have happened, that he ended here, in this state?
Some months were gone since the accident. At a rainy, foggy day a truck had crashed into the GTO; a total loss of Zeke's beloved car, but this hadn't been the worst. Zeke had been trapped in the wreck and had to be extricated by the fire service; he had been in a very critical state when he finally reached the hospital. Several surgeries; the medics decided to put him into an artificial coma for some days. Slowly he started to recover, but even now, two months later he was still paralyzed from the waist downwards.
Casey had moved to Boston two years ago when he started to study at MIT. Though he did come back to Herrington regularly to visit his parents, he hadn't seen Zeke anymore since their big fight some days before he left. He had had a hard time to accept it, that it was out and over; that Zeke had made his decision. No College, no relationship, no future together; his dreams were burst like a soap bubble. All he could do was to make the best out of it. To look forward. MIT did help a lot, the studies required his full concentration and his rare free time he spent in the art galleries of the town.
But then he had gotten a call from his Mom a week ago.
„Do you remember Zeke Tyler? You two were close once, weren't you?“
Casey inwardly cringed, as always when he did remember Zeke and the long gone times. He still couldn't understand how his parents obviously hadn't noticed it how close they had been; all the pictures in his room, the way he slightly blushed when he talked about him, all the time he had spent in Zeke's garage. Though he actually was well known as a loner who loved his computer and his camera more than anything else.
„I met Stokely this morning,“ his mom continued.
Stokely, his best friend back in Herrington, the only one who knew the truth about his relationship to Zeke.
„She says, Zeke is in the hospital because of a serious car accident since some weeks. He seems to be in a very critical state.“
Casey looked for hold at the wall behind him, closed his eyes. No, no, no! And when the first shock started to fade away, he knew what he had to do.
„I'm coming home,“ he told his mother.
Mrs. Connors paused surprised.
„But it's close to the midterm exams.“
As if he didn't know that. And he couldn't care less. All he could think about in the moment was Zeke, injured and alone. Who would be there to take care of him?
Now Casey was back in Herrington for a week already. Zeke's physical state was surprisingly good under this circumstances; the doc had assured him that. His mental state, though … it seemed as if he had given up. He didn't talk, he barely ate, he refused to work together with the physiotherapist to get back his strength. Most of the time he was just lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling.
„I've tried to visit him twice,“ Stokely had told Casey.
„But he refuses to see me.“
„Well, he will talk with me,“ Casey had answered wildly resolved.
In the meantime, he wasn't so sure anymore. He came here since four days now and Zeke just ignored his presence; pretended that he was asleep, though Casey knew that he wasn't. Only yesterday he had suddenly yelled at him without any warning.
„Geez, Connor! You are still the same stubborn shit. Just accept it, I don't need your fucking sympathy.“
It had hurt so much, he had left the hospital crying, almost ready to give up. Almost. But today he was back again, pulled a chair beside Zeke's bed to make sure that this time, he wouldn't leave before they finally had talked, no matter how long this would last. It was a power struggle, who would give in first?
After about one and a half hour, Zeke finally turned his head and opened his eyes.
„What the hell,“ he said, his voice so bereft of his usual power, that it made Casey cringe.
„Why don't you go back where you belong to? Don't waste your time.“
„It seems as if you need someone who kicks your ass,“ Casey answered with a forced smile.
„I don't need anyone.“
„Everyone needs someone. At least now and then.“
Zeke paused for a long while until he sighed.
„There no point in that anymore, Case.
I'm lying here, bedbound and I have a lot of time to think about my life. My childhood. Boarding school. Highschool. I've always been alone; no one did ever honestly care for me. Oh, I won't complain, I did enjoy my freedom. When no one is close to you it means that you don't need to care about anyone else but yourself. And no one will ever hurt you.“
„That is a lonely life, Zeke, and not a very happy one.“
Zeke closed his eyes again.
„I knew it in the moment when you were gone that I did fuck up my life. Together with you maybe I would have had a chance. But I preferred to be a coward and to let you go.“
Casey swallowed; for the first time Zeke admitted that he had cared more for him, then he had ever been able to show. He wished to be able to turn back time; this time, he wouldn't give up so easily, he would fight for what he wanted, for the guy he loved. Back then he had been much too unconfident, the geek who had just left Highschool behind, in love for the first time, barely able to believe that he was not dreaming. But he was grown up. And yes, no matter how hard he had tried to convince himself that he was better off without Zeke during the last two years, he still loved him. In a much more mature way than before; he knew now that dreams alone were not enough; life wasn't always fair.
„I'm back, Zeke,“ he murmured.
„And I will stay as long as you want me to.“
Was there hope flickering in Zeke's eyes? But soon enough the moment was over.
„I'm younger than most of the other students anyway, so it doesn't matter when I pause for a while. Let me help you, Zeke. You don't need to go through this alone.“
Weakly Zeke shook his head.
„No! I don't want you to ruin your future because of me. You have still a life ahead of you. For me, it's too late. I'm a fucking cripple for the rest of my life.“
Casey winced visibly, but at least he managed it to fight his tears back.
„Don't say that. The doc says it's much too early for a final prognosis.“
He couldn't hold back for longer and grabbed for Zeke's hand, it was cold and he could feel it shaking, but at least he didn't pull it back.
„Zeke, please! This is the worst timing to give up. You need to try to look forward.“
As an answer Zeke's fingers suddenly clutched his hand with full force; only at last second Casey managed it to suppress a loud yelp.
The desperation in Zeke's voice was heartbreaking.
„I can't, Casey. I'm too fucking scared.“
As if this was the keyword, his eyes started tearing up. He didn't even try to hide it.
„What when the doc is wrong? When it finally turns out that the damage is for definite? I'm twenty-three years old, Casey, and the last station of my life will be a fucking nursing home.“
Time seemed to fly by, outside it already started to get dark. Casey was still half lying on the bed beside Zeke, holding him. The hand, Zeke still clung to felt numb, his muscles tense, his shirt was wet from Zeke's tears. But he wouldn't complain, he could stay like this forever. For the first time, Zeke had opened up to him, maybe to anyone at all in his whole life. Already as a child he had learned to keep his feelings for himself, to fight his fears alone; no one had ever held him, comforted him, encouraged him. And he had built up a thick shell around himself; had played the tough guy, who was used to it to keep control over everything and everyone.
No wonder that the thought of being reliant on others for the rest of his life drove him crazy with fear. That he tried to hide somewhere in the deepest depth of his shell and not to face reality.
When the uncontrolled shaking of Zeke's body finally seemed to ebb away Casey dared to move again. Zeke had closed his eyes, his breath even now.
„I'm sorry,“ he murmured.
„Sorry for what? I guess this was needed. Maybe now you can see things clearer. Giving up never was an option for you, Zeke, regardless of the consequences.“
„I don't know what to think. Everything feels like a bad dream.“
Casey grabbed his hand again, squeezed it gently.
„It's a long way,“ he agreed.
„Probably not always an easy one. But you don't have to go it alone. And whatever will come out of it, the last station of your life won't be a nursing home but the Nobel prize. I know that you can make it! Who says that people, sitting in a wheelchair, can't use their brilliant mind? Think about Stephen Hawking; he always knew there is no chance for healing, but did he ever give up? No! And what would be the science like without his work?“
The faint smile on Zeke's lips was so good to see.
„You think I'm as brilliant as Stephen Hawking?“
„Well, at least you could try. Sounds like an interesting challenge.“
Casey chuckled slightly.
„But one step after the other. You look like shit. You need clean clothes and something to eat. I will go and ask the nurse for it. And just in case I run into the physiotherapist, I will tell him, that you are ready for a talk now.“
Zeke followed him with his eyes when he left the room, the smile still on his lips. For the first time since he did wake up after the artificial coma and the realization of his situation had hit him with full force he dared it to have some hope.