Second: This story is also written for my Bingo Challenge at getyourwordsout
Title: Cooking for Halloween
Fandom: The Faculty
Character: Zeke / Casey
Word Count: 2854
Disclaimer: Of course, I don't own The Faculty nor the character :( - I'm just borrowing them for a while)
Zeke's mood reached point zero when he stopped in front of the big, red stone building. A yard with trees and some playground equipment; children playing hide and seek; a small sign at the fence: Angel Guardian Orphanage. He still couldn't get it that he was here.
But the judge had made it crystal-clear. He was a nice and patient guy but not willing to accept Zeke's behavior for longer.
„That's it, Mr. Tyler,“ he had told him in a stern voice.
„You will go in juvenile over the weekend, or you will spend some time at the orphanage. They can always need a helping hand.“
For a moment Zeke had thought about it, that the juvenile sounded more tempting than the children's home, but finally he had yielded to reason. Two days ago he had gotten the call by Sister Gabriela to come by this weekend.
„It's Halloween,“ she had told him.
„The children are always a bit hyper over the holidays. Every help to keep them under control is welcome.“
Zeke had inwardly cringed; despite her cheery voice, this didn't sound very reassuring.
„I actually can't stand children,“ he had finally growled.
„And they can't stand me.“
The nun had stayed unimpressed.
„Oh, well, you can help out in the kitchen then. We are having a little party every year, with a special buffet. Mrs. C., our cook will gladly accept two helping hands.“
Finally, Zeke stuffed out his cigarette and sighed. Fine, it was time to get over with it, the sooner he got in the sooner he would be able to vanish again.
Sister Gabriela greeted him with a friendly smile.
„Oh, Mr. Tyler, nice to see you.“
He pulled the face.
„It's Zeke,“ he said and grabbed for her hand to shake it.
„That's fine by me. Come on in, I will take you to the kitchen first thing. We are running late today, sorry.“
Zeke followed her through some halls and downstairs; not sure what he actually had expected, but it was a bright and tidy place; children paintings at the yellow walls, colorful carpets on the floor, small niches with sofas.
Two little girls passed them, already dressed up in princess costumes.
„Hello, Sister Gabby,“ one of them said.
The nun smiled.
„Hello, Maria. Hello, Jennifer. You are looking pretty today.“
„Thank you. I'm Arielle, the mermaid.“
The other girl eyed Zeke curiously.
„Who are you?“
„Ähm … Just Zeke. I'm helping out in the kitchen today.“
„Oh. Will you make pumpkin soup? I love pumpkin soup.“
Sister Gabriela chuckled slightly.
„Well, Jenny, let's wait and see, huh? I'm sure, Casey and Zeke will surprise us with a great buffet. And now, I guess, Sister Mary is already waiting for you, she needs help with decorating the main hall.“
The two girls started to speed up down the hall.
„Don't run,“ Sister Gabriela called, but shaking her head smiling while turning back to Zeke.
„C'mon, we should hurry up. Unfortunately, our cook has caught the flu, so she can't come by today. But her son offered to help out; he's a good boy. I'm sure you two will get along well and come up with some goodies for the children.“
The kitchen area in the basement was big, with plain gray walls and tiles on the floor. The equipment was slightly outdated but tidy and clean; cupboards and shelves for pots and pans and all kind of flatware at the walls, beside the door a big sink, in the middle of the room the central island for preparing the food and cooking.
A boy was standing there, two big pumpkins in front of him, a big knife in his hands. He looked somehow familiar; the skinny figure, the wide jeans, the checkered shirt, even if it was mostly hidden under a large, yellow apron. And Zeke did remember Sister Gabriela's words. 'Casey and Zeke will surprise us with a great buffet.'
He jumped inwardly. This couldn't be! It was impossible that he stumbled across the school's biggest geek here of all places. The last he wanted to meet. Not because he was afraid that Casey would sneer at him, Casey was not like that. He always tried to see the best in just everyone, even in the jocks who gave him shit almost every day.
Zeke was just not able to figure him out. Most others thought that he acted like a coward because he never tried to stand up for himself. But for sure he wasn't that. He knew what he wanted and he went his own way, not caring about the consequences. Not much people managed it to gain Zeke recognition, but he couldn't help it: Casey did. Though he wasn't sure if he did like this because he didn't know how to handle it.
„Hello, Casey. How are things going?“
Casey smiled without looking up from his task.
„I try my best,“ be answered.
„I've already made Halloween Tongues and Bloody Popcorn.“
He pointed over to the table where plates with sandwiches, decorated with roasted sausage, looking like tongues and bowls with dark red popcorn were standing side by side.
„And we have Carrot-Muffins made by Sister Hannah. My mom gave me her recipe for meatballs; I guess I can decorate them like spiders or skulls. For dessert some jelly-o as slimy glibber.
Still a bit unsure what to do with these pumpkins, though. I'm not a great cook like my Mom.“
„You are doing fine, Casey,“ Sister Gabriela reassured him.
„And I got you some help. May I introduce you to Zeke?“
Finally, the boy looked up, still smiling at Sister Gabriela but then he suddenly stiffened in every movement. Big, blue eyes stared at Zeke like in a shock.
The silence between them was somehow uncomfortable. While Casey was still fighting with the pumpkins Zeke leaned at the shelves a step aside, just watching him. It didn't look as if he knew what he was doing. Half of the pumpkin was already an indefinable mass in a bowl and he looked ready to chop the other half, too.
Finally, Zeke couldn't hold back any longer; he stepped over to the kitchen island.
„What did this poor pumpkin do, to deserve this, Casey?“
The boy put down the knife and stared at him with narrowed eyes.
„What do you want, Zeke? I can't get it, what you are doing here.“
„I'm not here by choice. It was either that or the juvenile.“
„Oh. Get it.“
Casey pulled the face.
„Well, I guess, it would have surprised me, when you suddenly would discover a social streak. Zeke Tyler, the king at Herrington High, never cares about anyone else but himself.“
„Do you think I'm that shallow,“ he asked.
„What else should I think? You are using just everyone. You sell your shit at the bleachers at school very much higher than it's worth it. You flirt with every girl though you are actually not interested in them. You don't even stop for Miss Burke. That's pretty dismal, you know.“
There it was again. Pureness despite any consequences. Usually, no one dared to give Zeke shit, even the jocks respected him and most of the teachers were willing to overlook his escapades. Not so Casey. But instead of feeling annoyed and tell him better to mind his own business, Zeke couldn't suppress a smile.
„You should know better, Casey. Never judge someone only because of the obvious. Everyone knows to hide some secrets.“
Puzzled Casey looked at him, his cheeks slightly blushed. Maybe from the heat in the kitchen, maybe he had a hard time to hide his sudden nervousness. Finally, he shrugged and turned back to the pumpkin.
„Zeke, I'm not in the mood for your stupid mind games. Make yourself useful and do the dishes. Or just shut up. I don't care as long as you stay out of my way.“
When he grabbed the knife again, Zeke held him back.
„Case, stop to massacre this pumpkin. There is enough pulp for a big stockpot of soup,“ he said.
„Do you have some chili and cream? Makes it spicier. For the little children you can make an extra pot with carrots; then the soup will be mild and sweet.“
Casey eyed him suspicious.
„What do you know about cooking,“ he asked.
„I was thirteen when my parents left me alone for the first time. It was either pizza and burger every day or to learn how to use a cooking stove. It's not rocket science, you know. Do you have some meat? Pork or poultry would be good. We could make a Curry out of the last pumpkin. Add some rice and the children will love it.“
Casey was still double-minded but finally, he put the knife down and nodded.
„Fine. You take care of the pumpkins. I will do the meatball-spiders.“
They worked for some more time without talking much but the tension between them seemed to be gone. To prepare the pumpkin soup and the curry was easy, so Zeke had enough time to watch Casey.
He was totally absorbed in what he was doing. Crooned something to himself while decorating the food and Zeke had to admit that he did a good job here. Maybe he was not a great cook but he had the right touch for the details. Spider- and skull meatballs, cookies with pink and green sugary eyes, semolina pudding formed like hands and feets, with red strawberry sauce, rice salad with spider decor. His phantasy seemed endless, everything rather funny than scaring. The children would love their buffet, that was for sure.
When Sister Gabriela entered the kitchen again it already started to dawn outside. She stopped death in the doorframe when her eyes fall onto all the plates, pots, bowls, and pitcher on trolley tables; ready to be wheeled over into the creepily decorated cafeteria.
„Oh, that's amazing,“ she said, smiling wide.
„Boys, you did a great job. I can't thank you enough.“
„I guess I slightly overdue. But it was too much fun.“
„The children will love every bit of it,“ Sister Gabriela reassured him.
„Though tomorrow we will probably have to deal with some bellyache and nausea.“
She laughed and stepped closer to the trolleys.
„Hmm, pumpkin soup, it smells delicious. Do I notice a touch of ginger? Interesting. I need to ask your Mom to give me the recipe.“
„You need to ask Zeke for that. He did the soup and the curry.“
Slightly surprised Sister Gabriela turned around.
„You did? Wonderful. And will you share your secret?“
Zeke almost wished to vanish into thin air; feeling somehow embarrassed. It was just a soup, nothing big, wasn't it? No need to make such a fuss.
„I actually don't use recipes,“ he admitted.
„Cooking is a bit like chemistry. Add this and that and stop when you are happy with the result.“
She smiled again and put her hand on Zeke's arm. He stiffened instinctively; actually, he didn't like so much nearness, but it would have been very rude to shook her off, wouldn't it?
„You are not only a great cook, Zeke, but a good boy, too.“
Okay, this was too much. He stepped back two steps to bring some distance between them.
„Casey is the golden boy,“ he reminded her.
„I'm not here voluntary. It's just a one-time thing.“
„But you already stayed longer than necessary,“ she answered.
A glance at the clock beside the window proofed her words true. He had planned to get over with this and then to leave the orphanage behind. There would be still enough time to drive home and get ready for one of the Halloween parties he had gotten invitations for. He wouldn't bother with a stupid costume; he never did; he wasn't into Halloween that much. But everything was better than to stay home alone with a beer and some cheezy movies; he couldn't stand the silence of the house especially around holidays.
He felt Sister Gabriela's calm, gray eyes resting on him and it made him cringe.
„You are welcome to stay for the party, Zeke,“ she continued.
„If you don't have anything better to do.“
Hard to say what had gotten into him. But he had accepted the invitation. Had spend the evening together with Casey, the nuns, and two dozen of children in colorful costumes. Now he was sitting in his GTO, Casey beside him, after he had offered to give him a ride home and he felt better than he had for a long time.
It was ridiculous, he knew it, but had he ever had such a great Halloween? No booze and drugs and mindless flirting; not the prospect of a one-night-stand with someone who's name he would barely remember next morning. No need to play his role and to pretend that he had a hell of a lot fun.
Instead of this playing hide and seek in the old yard. Reading mystery stories, made for children. Getting compliments from the nuns for his pumpkin soup and curry. Watching Casey, who was around with his camera to take tons of pics. A lot of laughing and chatting, even dancing with the kids.
Zeke chuckled when he did remember Maria, the little girl he had met on his way to the kitchen. For whatever reason, she had taken him into her heart.
„You don't have a costume,“ she had said when he had entered the cafeteria, which had turned into a spooky dungeon for one night, together with Casey. The boy had looked ahead and was now wearing a gray-white suit with a tricorn, a vest and … knee socks; the face pale rouged.
„I'm a ghost lord,“ he had told him laughing when Zeke had stared at him stunned.
„Just wait,“ Zeke had told the little girl.
„Maybe it's just a camouflage and later I will turn into a werewolf.“
Casey had rolled his amazing blue eyes which build a nice contrast to his pale face. And Maria had laughed.
„You are funny,“ she said.
„Everyone knows that werewolves are just fantasy. But maybe … do you want to be Prince Eric? I guess you could, you are nice.“
Zeke had looked confused; trying to ignore Casey's giggling who obviously knew what she was talking about.
„Yeah, sure,“ he had finally answered and the little girl beamed at him.
„Cool. Then you need to dance with me later.“
„Arielle,“ Casey had told him when she was gone, probably to tell her friends about the news.
„The mermaid. Her costume. Prince Eric is the human guy she falls in love with.
I don't get it; even the youngest girls are crazy about you.“
Zeke had grinned.
Casey had stiffened in every movement, then he huffed slightly.
„Of course not.“
Next moment he was gone, did hide behind his camera.
Zeke stopped the GTO in front of the small but comfortable house of the Connor's.
„So, here we are,“ he said and turned to the boy beside him.
„Thank you for giving me a ride.“
Casey grabbed his camera bag but didn't bother to leave the car.
„I'm sorry because of what I said in the kitchen. I guess I was wrong.“
Zeke eyed him questioningly.
„Huh? What are you talking about?“
„This shit about you, only using people. Because you don't care about anyone.“
„Well, I guess, that's the way I want to be seen by others.“
Casey shook his head.
„I don't get it. You are not like that.“
Zeke's eyes rested on the house of the Connors; the swing on the porch, the flowers in front of the windows, the lovingly Halloween decoration. The home of a happy family. Something he had never had.
„Makes it easier, you know,“ he finally answered.
„When no one comes close to you no one can hurt you.“
Out of the corner of his eyes, he noticed the door of the house being opened, a woman stepped onto the porch, looking over to the GTO.
„I guess, you need to go. Your Mom is already waiting for you.“
„I guess,“ Casey agreed but still refused to get out of the car.
„Next week I will go back to the orphanage, bring them the pictures. Do you wanna come with me?“
He didn't need much time to make a decision. With a grin on his face Zeke nodded.
„Sure, why not. Prince Eric can't wait to meet Arielle again.“