We love you, mews1945 and we miss you.
Title: Even the darkest night will end
Fandom: The Faculty
Character: Zeke / Casey
Word Count: 4015
Disclaimer: Of course, I don't own The Faculty nor the character :( - I'm just borrowing them for a while)
Still unsure about what to do next Zeke was sitting in the GTO in front of the Conner's house since some minutes now; smoking, his fingers nervously drummed on the wheel. It happened only rarely that he felt so torn apart.
Three days ago Mr. Connor had picked Casey up from school around lunch. He had looked very serious and Casey had paled when he noticed him standing near the bleachers. Instinctively he had grabbed Zeke's hand. Something he would usually never do. They were together for three months now, but they agreed that it was better to keep it secret for the moment. When they would move to Boston next autumn, Casey would go to Art School and Zeke to MIT, then a coming out would hopefully be easier.
Though Zeke wasn't sure if the Connors would ever accept him as the partner at Casey's side. They were not very happy about it, that he did hang around with him so often. And he did remember all too well Mr. C.'s threatening gaze when he had brought Casey home too late one Friday evening. Not willing to listen to his explanation that the bridge between Akron and Herrington had been closed to traffic because of an accident. A curfew was a curfew, as embarrassing as it was for an almost legal teenager. Casey's parents only wanted the best for their son and they had their principles.
Even more surprising that he didn't take any notice of Casey's hand in Zeke's when he stepped closer to them.
"It's your grandma," he said.
"We should hurry up when you want to see her once more. I've already talked with Miss Drake."
Zeke noticed tears in Casey's eyes, his face pale, he squeezed Zeke's hand so hard that his fingernails dug painfully into the flesh. Usually, Casey was stronger than he looked like but in this moment all power seemed to have left him. All Zeke wanted was to pull him into his arms, give him all the comfort he needed. Casey loved his grandma, he knew that much, the boy talked so often about her, so many pictures were standing in his room, from the old farmhouse and the friendly looking elderly woman.
But before he could react, Casey and his dad were already gone; hurrying down the path to the parking lot.
Since then he hadn't seen him anymore, nor talked to him. He didn't come to school, hadn't even been at the Photo-Club yesterday, which he had never missed before. Zeke tried to call him twice, but no one had answered the phone. It wasn't very rational but slowly Zeke started to worry that maybe he would never see him again. When he couldn't endure the uncertainty for longer he finally had gotten into the GTO and went to the Connor's house.
A hushed knocking at the side-window of the GTO tore Zeke out of his thoughts. For a moment he hoped that it might be Casey, but it was his mother. Mrs. C. bent forward when he open the door.
„Hello, Zeke,“ she said, with a weary smile on her lips.
Zeke cleared his throat.
„Oh … hi, Mrs. C. I'm ... I'm sorry because of your mom.“
„Thank you. It wasn't unexpected, though. Cancer, we knew that her chances of a recovery weren't good. Regardless of that, it's always difficult to accept the final goodbye.“
„Especially for Casey. He was very close to her.“
„Is he okay? I'm just wondering because he still wasn't back at school today.“
„He barely leaves his room,“ she answered.
„He doesn't talk to me, he barely eats. All day long he's sitting on his bed, looking through his pictures of her. Tons of it. She was the one who gave him his first camera when he was ten years old. The two of them have spent most of the summer in the nearby woods and at the lake to figure out how it works.“
She laughed slightly at the memories.
„Casey has never had a lot of friends. Spending some weeks on her farm was the best for him when he was still a child. Until he started to join photography- and art courses over summer. But they always stayed close, talked on the phone at least once a week. If someone knew about all his secrets, then it was her.“
Her eyes were resting on Zeke thoughtfully now and he started to feel uncomfortable.
„I guess it's hard for him,“ he murmured.
„It is,“ she agreed.
„And I really don't know what to do. We need to go to Idaho next week, there are some things which needed clarification on-site. But Casey doesn't want to come with us; he says it hurts too much to see the farm without her around.“
„Well,“ Zeke said.
„Maybe it's just too early. Give him a bit time and he will find back to himself again.“
Mrs. Connor nodded.
„I hope so.“
Suddenly she looked unsure.
„You two, Zeke, besides of his grandma he never was that close to someone.“
This sudden change of subject let his alarm clocks ring; slightly wary Zeke looked up to her.
„I'm wondering if you would have a look at him while we are in Idaho. It would be reassuring to know that there is a friend nearby who cares for him.“
She couldn't hide her tears any longer and grabbed for a tissue to wipe them away.
„Sorry. It's just ...“
Though he actually wasn't sure if it was. What did she expect him to do? What could he do?
„Of course, I will have a look at him. But you don't need to worry. He will come to terms with it.“
She sighed and tried to smile.
„You are a good boy, Zeke.“
Casey was laying on his bed, his eyes closed, when Zeke carefully opened the door.
"Hey. Can I come in?"
"Zeke? What are you doing here?"
Casey sat up and looked at him, his face pale, his eyes reddened, probably he had cried lately. His pitiable state made Zeke cringe; despite his reassurings words to Mrs. Connors, he actually didn't know how to deal with this. He cared for Casey, a lot, but nothing had prepared him for a situation like this.
Not long ago that he hadn't given much about other people's feelings; everyone had to deal with his own problems, that had been his rule number one. Now all he wanted to see Casey laugh again. He loved it when he laughed. He also loved his sometimes silly jokes, his enthusiasm for art and photography. He loved that Casey looked so skinny, almost weak but deep inside he was so much smarter and stronger than the jocks at school, who bullied him almost every day. Casey was … like a wonder; the first one who had managed it to get so deep under Zeke's skin that he was willing to leave every weariness behind and to let him into his life. To see him in that state did hurt and let him feel helpless.
Zeke tried to smile.
„I've missed you at school. Mr. Furlong has asked for you, too.“
„Who let you into the house?“
„Your Mom. I guess, she thinks you can need a friend to hang around with for a while.“
Annoyed Casey huffed.
"My Mom cooks my favorite food every day. She asks my dad to buy me the newest Batman-comics. And now … you.
You want to hang around with me? And what next? Watching a cheesy movie? Maybe a round of fucking?
That's so ridiculous! Why can't you just accept it that all I want is to be left alone?“
For a moment Zeke almost felt shocked about this outbreak; this was so not Casey. His eyes fall onto the desk and the pictures spread out there. Casey and his grandmother; again and again; Casey as a baby on her lap, on the playground, on a far too big, brown horse. They always smiled both, her smile looked so similar to Casey's. But now she was gone and he didn't smile anymore. He seemed to retreat into a shell, not willing to let anyone come close enough to him to offer some comfort.
Zeke cringed inwardly. All this was far too familiar to him. The desperation, the anger, the loneliness, the helpless try to deny all your feelings because you knew that it could only hurt you even more. Only with Casey's help he had managed it finally to open up and to look forward. His life felt so much better together with him.
A glance at Casey's face, still pulled with anger. And Zeke knew that he wouldn't let it happen that he would end in this deep, lonely darkness.
"Case,“ he said, trying to keep his voice as calm as possible.
„Your mom has just lost someone she loved. Hard times for her. And she is worried about you. You can't blame her for that.“
Casey just shrugged and Zeke continued.
„I guess, she's right. It's okay to mourn for your grandma, but you shouldn't bury yourself in your grief. I don't think that this is what she wanted you to do."
„You don't know anything about her,“ Casey answered, looking annoyed.
„Oh, I guess you're wrong. Even if I never met her, you've told me a lot. Her love for photography and how she taught you to ride the bike. Her apple pie. The evenings in the barn when she read fairy tales to you. I'm sure, she was a wonderful woman and she loved you. The last she wanted was to see you giving up.“
„Geez. What a drama.“
Casey rolled his eyes.
„I'm not giving up. I just need some time for myself. Is it that difficult to understand?“
„No, it's not.“
Zeke shook his head.
„I just think that all this is not the best way to mourn about her. Maybe a change of location is a good idea.“
„Oh. My Mom wants you to talk me into going to Idaho with them. Get it!“
„No,“ Zeke said once again.
„I guess this wouldn't be very helpful at the moment. But I know a place that would be good for you. My family owns a cabin in the woods near Columbus; a great place for photography.“
He noticed the reluctance flickering in Casey's eyes.
„Well, I guess when you don't want to take your camera with you, that's fine, too. We can just hang around there in silence if this is what you need.“
For the first time since Zeke had entered the room, the tension seemed to slow down. Casey shrugged.
„As if my dad would ever give his permission. We two, alone in a cabin, somewhere at the end of the world. No way.“
Zeke smiled slightly; the relief that the boy at least showed some interest was immense.
„I already had a talk with him,“ he admitted.
„And he agreed that this might be a good idea.“
Zeke stopped the GTO in front of the cabin; an older, red-brick building with a pitched roof, surrounded by old, big trees and a slightly run-down garden. The last sunbeams of the day were falling through the colorful leaves and bathed everything in a golden-red light.
So beautiful and welcoming. But Casey barely had an eye for this; like he had dozed away most of the way. Fighting his slight disappointment Zeke stepped around the GTO and opened the trunk to grab the two backpacks and the box with some goodies he had decided to take along. Though there was a well-stocked pantry with every kind of long-life food and a freezer in the basement.
„Can you take the box, Case,“ he said while looking for the keys.
„Just put it down beside the door. I will bring it down into the kitchen later.“
The boy followed him into the cabin. Brown-orange droplights bathed the rustical main room in warm, subdued light, as soon as Zeke turned on the main switch. Wooden beams at the ceiling, a stone wall with a big fireplace; two benches beside, covered with colorful cushions. Opposite an antique bed, very comfortable with blankets and various pillows. In an alcove two lounge chairs, the large windows were offering a free view onto the trees and the little lake near the cabin.
Actually, a very welcoming, romantic place; even Zeke who usually was more rooted to the soil, had never been able to deny its natural beauty. He had already planned for longer to bring Casey here one day; it was as if this place was made for him.
But in the moment it didn't look as if he had a great time. He was standing in the middle of the room, still much too pale, dark circles around his eyes. Chewing his upper lip while looking around, finally, his eyes fall onto the king sized bed.
„There are two more bedrooms,“ Zeke told him.
It was so easy to read Casey's mind. He was born for sex. As inexperienced he had been at the beginning, as eager to learn. Zeke had always known to enjoy himself but together Casey it was like discovering sex anew every time. He just couldn't get enough of it. This weekend, though, he would have to put his own wishes on hold.
„Only small but comfortable. Just choose one.“
Suddenly Casey looked unsure, somehow lost.
„I'm sorry, Zeke. I know, I'm ruining everything.“
Zeke finally stepped closer and put his arms around him; he stiffened but at least didn't push him away.
„You don't ruin anything. Just take the time you need. Make yourself comfortable. Have a look at the bedrooms, or just sit down in the lounge. I will light the fire; it's somehow chilling inside here. Later we can have dinner; just a fresh salad and baguette. This okay for you?“
„Actually I'm not hungry.“
Zeke finally let him go and turned to the small back door to bring in the firewood.
„That's not an option. I don't intent to starve you over the weekend because I'm afraid, your dad would never forgive me that.“
At least a faint smile sneaked onto Casey's lips. It was a good sign, wasn't it?
They spent the evening in front of the big fireplace without much talking. After dinner Casey had adjourned to his room, looking pretty tired. Of course, it had been a long day and Zeke tried to be understanding. But he was also worried.
Lost in thoughts he put away the rest of the baguettes and the salad and started to clean up the small kitchen. He wondered if there was something he could do to make him feel better. It was okay to mourn about a loved one you had lost, but Casey's state did remind him on his almost breakdown some months ago.
Last spring. Jason, the new player in the football team, obviously wildly resolved to do everything to climb the social ladder as quick as possible. Not difficult to find out that Casey was the favorite victim of Gabe and some other jocks, they teased and insulted him whenever their paths crossed. Jason had waited for him on his way home; a broken arm and a shattered camera had been the result. Casey had needed some weeks, and a lot of help from his parents, some teachers, and a shrink to recover from this shock.
This time it was up to Zeke to find a way to help him. His parents were struggling with their own grief and had to deal with the funeral, the memorial service and the future of the farm in Idaho. He just wasn't sure if he would be able to reach him; the cabin had looked like a great idea but Casey hadn't shown much interest so far.
It was in the middle of the night that Zeke was startled out of his sleep. The air in the cabin was chilly but under the thick blankets, he felt warm and comfortable. Until he noticed the small figure standing in front of the bed, the arms wrapped around him.
"Case? What the hell ...“
A slight sniff.
„Zeke? Can I sleep with you?“
His voice low and trembling. Shit. Zeke crawled out of his warm cocoon and grabbed for Casey's arm.
"Sure. Come on in!"
Gently he pulled him closer, shivered when ice cold feet met his skin and he wondered how long Casey was already standing there. He pulled the blankets over them and wrapped his arms around the skinny body beside him to warm him up even more.
"Geez, Case, you're freezing.“
With a sigh, Casey nestled down into the cushions.
„I'm sorry, Zeke,“ he finally murmured.
„I didn't mean to act like such a drama queen. It's just … I miss her so much.“
„Hey, that's okay.“
„She knew about us, you know.“
"I know, we wanted to keep it secret until we are going to College. But I never had any secrets for her.
When I realized that I didn't feel like other boys, she was the only one I could talk about it. I don't know what I would have done without her. It was so confusing.“
That was understandable. For him, Zeke, it had never been a problem; he had dated girls, he had visited special clubs to find a guy for a fleeting adventure. Everything to fight the loneliness in his life. No one had ever been very close to him. Until he had met Casey. His life was so totally different from Zeke's; a family who loved him, backed him up. And Casey was a smart, a good boy who loved school, science fiction books, and photography.
„But she only pulled me in her arms and told me not to worry about it,“ Casey continued.
'Love, Casey,' she said, 'love is a strange thing you can't control. When you find the right one, you will know it. And then follow your heart and don't ask what others might think about it.'“
„Smart woman,“ Zeke murmured.
With a sigh of relief Casey rested his head against Zeke's chest.
„She was,“ he agreed.
„I need you, Zeke, I've never known how much, until today.“
Zeke pulled him even closer, placed a gentle kiss on his forehead.
„And I don't have any plans to leave you.“
„Fuck me, Zeke.“
The sudden change of subject left Zeke slightly confused for a moment; he wasn't sure if he had gotten him right. But then he felt Casey's finger stroking over his chest, stopping at his nibbles, tickling, and teasing; teeth started nibbling at his throat demanding. The heat was rushing through his body almost against his will.
„Case ...", he tried to stop him.
„I want it,“ Casey whispered.
„I need it! Please, make love with me.“
When Zeke opened his eyes again, the autumn sun was already shining through the large windows. The boy beside him was still asleep, curled up in a ball, the hair a mess, his chest heaved softly. The sudden fondness Zeke felt surprised himself; still not used to it that he could feel so deep for someone else.
He did remember last night; so much more than just fucking. It was as if Casey had put all his feelings into the act; his grief, his anger, his desperation, his fears … and all his love. Demanding and granting, gentle and rough. It had been a wild ride in one moment, and a cry for comfort and love in the next one. Zeke had pushed down his own wishes; this was all about Casey and his needs.
Finally, the boy was fallen asleep; worn out but much calmer than he had looked like all day long. It had taken a while until Zeke had been able to follow him into sleep.
He was still watching him when Casey finally started to move; he stretched his arms and legs before he opened his eyes and squinted into the morning light. When he noticed Zeke a smile sneaked onto his lips.
„Hey,“ he murmured.
„Good morning, sleepyhead. How are you doing?“
Zeke couldn't help it, he chuckled with relief.
„Well, let's see what we can do about that. Eggs with bacon? Waffles and blueberries?“
The smile on Casey's face deepened.
„Maybe eggs at first. And waffles for dessert.“
„Sounds like a plan,“ he said and finally grabbed for his jeans.
„You could have a shower while I go down into the kitchen, okay?"
„Zeke, I'm fine. You don't need to handle me with kid gloves.“
„Oh, don't worry. You can do the dishes later.“
After breakfast, they ended up doing the dishes together. While Zeke put the mugs back onto the board Casey hang up the towels on the small porch. He leaned against the wooden balustrade, looking down into the overgrown kitchen garden; only a stone's throw away the water of the lake was shimmering through the colorful trees.
„This is such a peaceful place,“ he said.
„Thank you for bringing me here.“
Zeke stepped behind him and put his hands on his shoulder.
„I've hoped you would feel like that. In the past I often came here when I couldn't bear life anymore; it was my secret refuge, no one knew about.
You are the first one I took here. Because I want to share my whole life with you. I want to be there for you. Like … like your grandma was there for you. I know, I will never be able to take over her place, but you are not alone, Case. There are people who care for you.“
Unsure he paused, he had never been good with finding comforting words. But Casey looked at him, still smiling.
„I know, she would have liked you.“
He hesitated for a moment, before continuing.
„Would you go to her Memorial Service with me?“
Zeke needed a moment to think about this. To do that would make it official; it was like the coming out they had tried to avoid all the time. People would talk about it; not all of them would appreciate it. Zeke thought about Casey's parents, but maybe it wouldn't be such a big surprise for them? When Mrs. C. had talked to him yesterday, he had had the feeling, that she knew all.
When he looked at Casey he knew that, yes, he wanted to be there for him in this difficult time. No matter the consequences.
„Sure, if this is what you want."
Casey turned back to the garden and sighed.
„I wish I could take some pics and make a collage for her. She would have loved this place."
„So why don't you do it? This sounds like a great plan. We could go to the lake later, there are some more special places, you will love."
Casey shrugged regretfully.
„But I don't have my came...,“ he started. And stopped midsentence when he noticed his heavy camera bag in Zeke's hands.
„Oh! You've put it in after all.“
Zeke smiled. To see the glance in Casey's eyes was just wonderful.
„I've hoped that maybe you would change your mind,“ he said and pushed it into Casey's hands. This was the moment he knew that the world was okay again.