Title: Highspeed to love (23/ ???)
Fandom: Zeke & Casey
Disclaimer: of course, not mine
Author's notes: AU without Marybeth and Herrington High - Zeke is 23 years old in this story, living in Youngstown, Ohio - Casey, is 18 years old and loves ... cooking. Or what do you think ? ;)
Previous parts: one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten / eleven / twelve / thirteen / fourteen / fifteen / sixteen / seventeen / eighteen / nineteen / twenty / twenty-one / twenty-two / tbc
Two weeks in Akron. The time flew by. Casey had called Zeke twice and he almost felt bad because there was no time for more. It was not that he didn't miss him. But the seminar's program was full of interesting stuff and he was determined to join as much courses as possible.
It was so great to be together with people who didn't laugh about him and call him a geek just because he liked cooking and not sports. First he had felt a bit unsure. Most of the other seminar participants were a bit older than he was. He was the only one who was not already working in a restaurant or a hotel. And the lecturers: though Mr. Pépin with his TV shows was probably the best known of them, also the others had made a name for themselves with cooking-books or working in great hotels in New York or Paris. But everyone accepted him as equal, listened to him, asked for his opinion.
At the end of every day Casey felt exhausted but happy. He liked to go for a swim in the hotels own pool to relax. After this he did hang out with Jason, his roommate and some others, they listened to music and played cards. The evenings mostly ended early, because next morning they all needed to be fit again. But no one complained, certainly not Casey.
The highlight of the seminar was the final cooking. Already the day before everyone was busy to go over the recipe again and again, to fill out the list with the needed ingredients. Casey had finally decided against a complex dinner.
It should be a dessert. 'Better than sex'. He still giggled when he remembered the astonished look of Mr. Hadson when he submitted the recipe of the cake.
"Well, this sounds promising," he had murmured.
"The combination of pineapples and bananas ..."
"It is good," Casey had answered.
"I hope so," Mr. Hadson had laughed and put the recipe into one of the folders on his table.
All had gone well. Everyone had liked his cake, the other participants and the lecturers. He actually had gotten more points from the jury than expected. Even if he finished only sixth at the end. But this was okay. He knew all too well that the others had much more experience than he did.
Like Jason, his roommate. His sweet and sour fish with fried rice deserved the first place. Casey jumped up excited when Mr. Pépin announced the result.
"Shit, this is so great," he shouted.
Jason was all smiles.
"Oh, c'mon, your cake was not bad too. Better than sex ... almost! You actually deserve a special prize for the most original name."
"Hey, you will go to New York soon! You need to send me a card, will you?"
But his face suddenly had darkened a bit.
"Wendy will hate it! Three months in New York ... alone ..."
Wendy. His girlfriend. Casey looked at him thoughtfully.
"Well, she will understand, won't she? I mean, New York, Jason! What a great chance."
Jason hesitated for a moment.
"I hope so," he finally murmured.
"Because ... if she tries to put my under pressure ... I love her, but ..."
And Casey was glad that he didn't have to make this decision. He would go back to Youngstown tomorrow. The town was on the way back home for Mr. Pépin, so he would give him a ride. But Zeke would be waiting for him. In his garage. At least he hoped so. Even if he felt a bit nervous about it. He remembered his last call three days ago all too well. Zeke had been tight-lipped and somehow snippy this time. Casey did just hope that it was not because of him coming back to Youngstown soon. Maybe Zeke had changed his mind. Maybe he had hoped that Casey would not come back. He would find out soon.
For now he had to make another decision. Mr. Billings, another one of the lecturers, took him aside.
"Casey, just a word! It's time to talk about your future. So, what are your plans?"
Casey shrugged. This question was not easy to answer. Of course, he had dreams but he needed to stay realistic.
"Well, I will finally be eighteen in two weeks. I hope this will make it easier to find a job. No matter what. It's just about time that I start to earn my own money."
Mr. Billings frowned.
"No matter what? So tell me, what are you doing here when you think like this? You could work somewhere in a factory instead of wasting your time."
Casey became red.
"Ähm ... No, it's not like this. Of course I love cooking. And I have plans. I would like to have my own, little restaurant one day. "Martha's Diner". I want to call it "Martha's Diner", after my grandmother. And I would cook all her recipes. 'Good and generously portioned' like she used to say. This would be my motto."
He noticed that Mr. Billings was looking at him thoughtfully and suddenly he felt stupid.
"I know, it's only a pipe dream. For the moment I just need a job. I'm living with a friend in Youngstown ... he has a small garage ... but I can't stay there forever. I just hate the feeling to live at Zeke's expense and ..."
"It's okay, Casey," Mr. Billings reassured him.
"It's always good to know where you want to go. But first of all you shouldn't think about a no-matter-what-fulltime job. Go back to school. It's important that you graduate.
Mr. Pépin has told us about your problems. You know, the fond. If you decides to graduate, we would like to help you.
I know the owner of a little hotel in Youngstown. He can always need a helping hand, especially at the weekends. The job would give you enough time for school. You could also get a cheap room there.
And after graduation, we will see what to do next. You are talented, Casey, and you love cooking. I can see that. But this is not all ... I guess, it can't hurt to learn still a bit more, right? Before you think about opening an own restaurant!"
First Casey wanted to protest. His grandmother was the best! She had taught him everything she knew. And she had always told him to stand on his own feet. Mr. Billings seemed to read his mind. Reassuringly he put a hand on Casey's arm.
"You don't need to make the decision right now. Just think about it. Talk to your friend if you want to. And don't forget: it's okay to accept our help. This is what the fond is for."
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