NC-17 please, for slash and underage almost-sex. This is a sequel to Ohio Winter; you should probably read that first. This takes place in the summer of 1998, before the movie's events.
by Laura Mason
He sees the GTO before he sees Zeke, and Casey freezes for an instant before moving to dry the mirror and window, his motions automatic though his thoughts churn.
He's been working at the Twin Rose car wash over a month now, and Casey is used to seeing people from school. They ignore him, but he doesn't ignore them. Casey makes mental notes: whether their car is filthy inside or relatively clean, whether they are generous or stingy, comfortable or restless. Sometimes he watches them interact with the adults in their lives, which is usually too close to his own parental discomfort to be funny. Even that is a little reassuring, though. He's not the only one.
Delilah was here, with a car that had to belong to her mother. It reeked of cigarettes, and Casey knows Delilah never smells like that. Besides, it simply wasn't cool enough to be her choice. Casey knows that even if she were driving a battered second-hand car, Delilah would pick a cool one. Casey emptied the ash tray and cleaned the inside glass, watching Delilah stare at traffic and tap her foot. He watched the other employees size her up, as they do with the women customers. She never even saw Casey; he was invisible in his blue work shirt. She didn't leave a tip.
Casey climbs inside Zeke's car, taking a moment to touch the sun-warm leather in nostalgia before spritzing the windshield and going to work. They hired him because he's small and can climb inside even compact cars easily. This car, however, is immense. Casey remembers every inch of it vividly. He takes a little extra time wiping the dash, polishing the chrome.
When Casey told his parents about his summer job, his father laughed and predicted he'd quit within a week. He's tired when he goes home, and after the first busy weekend his arms ached all night. But he enjoys the mindlessness of the work, so completely different from school and his hobbies, and the money is pretty good for a summer job. He'll have a tripod and a new telephoto lens by the time school starts.
He finishes the interior of Zeke's car and climbs out of the back, stuffing his towel into his pocket. Zeke, unlike every other student who's been here, immediately sees him. Recognizes Casey and freezes, then looks away. He did a better job ignoring Casey at school, where it was impossible to avoid each other. Is it just the unexpectedness today? Zeke wasn't prepared to see Casey, though Casey has always known Zeke might come here.
Zeke stuffs some bills in the tip box and strides past Casey, slides into his seat and pulls away. Casey watches him go for a minute, then turns to the next car. He's always watching Zeke drive away from him. The part of him that isn't upset about that could almost laugh at Zeke's now-total avoidance of him.
It's not like they ever hung out together before that day, but they sat in classrooms together and passed each other in the halls every day. Now Zeke won't meet Casey's eyes, and today he's pretending he didn't see him. It's how Casey might behave if he were embarrassed. But even that beautiful day, when he actually felt close to Zeke and thought they might have things in common, Casey never thought Zeke could be embarrassed.
Casey spends his life embarrassed. He's embarrassed when everyone watches him get rammed into the flagpole, or when Delilah catches him sniffing her hair -- which always smells wonderful. As for his day with Zeke, the embarrassment is exponential. Casey's ashamed that he didn't know how to respond to Zeke's kiss. It's worse when he remembers it and becomes aroused thinking about Zeke's lips and tongue.
Casey somehow ruined a perfect day, spoiling something he can't name. At least Zeke's mood changed well before the kiss. Casey thinks the kiss was his fault, because of his crush on Zeke, and the kiss must be what's making Zeke so distant.
His adventure with Zeke was the happiest day of his life. It was an adventure, a real-life one, not the kind of thing they make movies about. Cold, clear days in empty orchards aren't "box office," but skipping school and driving off to face the unknown was incredibly exciting compared to Casey's daily life.
The line has slowed now and Frank orders Casey to go wash some towels. Casey knows it's because Frank thinks he's been out in the sun too long. Casey's not an idiot; he wears sun screen now. He wishes people wouldn't treat him like a kid. Frank walks back to the building beside him and pushes him toward the machines.
"It's gonna be a long day, Casey. Take it easy while you can."
He's a little disconcerted by how nice the manager is to him. Even the other crew guys act friendly now, and Casey's glad he never confessed that he's had four years of Spanish and understood most of their comments about him that first week. Just like everyone who studies a foreign language, he'd looked up all the swear words first.
He pulls out a wet load, then piles the dirty white towels into the washer and watches it fill. It is hot and humid in here, but it does feel nice to be out of the glare of the sun. They aren't allowed to wear baseball caps or sunglasses with their uniforms, which is why Casey got so badly burned his first week. He adds bleach and soap once the agitator starts, then closes the lid and moves to the dryer.
He supposes Zeke never thought of that day as an adventure, either. He honestly doesn't know what Zeke might call it. A mistake?
He checks the clock as he heads back outside. Only eleven. He wonders where Zeke is going, but Casey doesn't let himself wish he was going with him.
The radio is loud, wind is rushing in his ears, and there is constant traffic noise as he drives aimlessly. All Zeke hears is the voice in his head, 'shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit.'
When half an hour has passed, he's calmer. He turns the car back to Eddie's and tells himself he handled it fine, considering he wasn't expecting to see Casey Connor at the car wash. Why should he? Case is white collar, with his brains and his utter lack of defenses. He's too young to be working there, for that matter -- Casey isn't even seventeen.
But there he was, in sweat-damp work clothes, sporting a tan that still looked pale compared to the burly Hispanic guys around him. And his arms -- you still can't call them muscular, but they're less stick-like now.
Zeke groans and pulls over to park, wishing he could knock himself out for a few days and forget this morning ever happened. Casey has remained his jerk-off fantasy four months now, proving Zeke is a twisted psycho bastard. As if he hadn't known. And now his mind is already adding a sweaty, tan Casey to the mix -- danger Casey, worldly-wise in the ways of hot wax...
Zeke wants to laugh, wants to groan, but mostly wants to have Casey under him, moaning and writhing while Zeke claims his body.
Instead he knocks on Eddie's shed and buys a couple of new tapes, homemade porn. Eddie's offered to let Zeke be in one -- all the guys are Eddie's pals, who think it's a privilege to boff someone in front of a camera. Idiots who never think to ask for proof that the girls are 17 before incriminating themselves on camera. Zeke is not an idiot.
Neither are the girls. No matter their age, they all know enough to get paid for the use of their bodies. Eddie complains about it and tries to jack up the price every time Zeke comes in. Eddie thinks Zeke just buys the tapes to jerk off and amuse himself; he doesn't realize Zeke is making money off them. If Eddie figured it out, his price would be much higher. Zeke dickers with him, getting him back to a reasonable price though it doesn't really matter.
Zeke will take these home, make fuzzy dups and gather the pocket money of those stupid enough to believe that the stacked brunette is Neve Campbell. Fall and a new crop of idiot kids, and Zeke will be ready with his tapes, fake ID's, scat. As he pulls away, he wonders if he should stock condoms in the trunk, too. They've all had safe sex driven into their heads for years now, and even losers who'll never use the rubbers will buy them regularly to save face.
Zeke laughs. Even someone like Casey probably keeps a condom in his wallet, though how Casey would obtain one is a mystery. Zeke can't imagine Casey walking into a drugstore to buy them, and he'd never dare approach anyone at school. His lone, antique condom mouldering inside his wallet was probably stolen from his parents' stash.
But now Zeke's porn-o-matic brain is on again, imagining Casey getting hot and sweaty with some girl. Casey stares at Delilah a lot, and she's fairly hot, so that's who Zeke pictures. He imagines Casey kissing her, holding her pressed against him, fumbling at her clothes. It doesn't work -- Zeke too clearly remembers that Casey has no idea how to kiss.
Zeke remembers too damn much -- the feel of Casey's thin arms through his coat, and the god-damned innocence of his smile. He remembers bright, excited eyes and then worried, subdued eyes that still weren't afraid of him. He remembers a stubble-free face and sweet lips opening in total surrender.
Zeke pulls into the next bar he passes, glad he has his fake ID with him for the porn shopping. But being with a bunch of lunchtime drunks is depressing, and after just one boilermaker Zeke leaves.
Casey has reached the point where his arms are sore. Big day, and Frank looks pleased at the number they've pushed through. Everyone else just looks tired, like Casey feels. They're all moving slower now.
The afternoon crowd is different. Regulars mostly come in early, and chat with Cindy the cashier while they wait. After two o'clock it's a different group, frazzled mothers with kids and car seats in the way as he tries to clean the glass. Shoppers who leave bags in the back seat instead of their trunk, ensuring the rear window will be streaked. Fewer senior citizens. On hot days like this the afternoon crowd is crabbier.
"This isn't clean. You, there, there's tar on my bumper." The man is pointing at Casey, who is usually the first line of complaint. The other guys pretend they don't speak English on days like this. Casey wishes he didn't stand out as non-Hispanic as he listens politely to the customer and the cars pile up behind him.
"My other car wash always gets all the tar off," AngryGuy drones, and Casey finally manages to interrupt him.
"I'll get the manager for you, sir." Casey runs to the building, ignoring the man's "Hey!" He leans over the counter, past Cindy, and pages Frank with her phone. Then he runs back to the drying line. But AngryGuy has been watching him, staring at him, and he moves toward Casey as he climbs into the back of a Celica and tries to vanish.
"Listen, you little punk," and fuck, the guy is reaching in the open door and grabs Casey's arm. Ex-jock, Casey thinks, AngryGuy can smell whatever he exudes that makes all jocks beat on him. "I want my car cleaned--"
He's dragged Casey out of the Toyota and pushed him into the side of the car. Casey sees AngryGuy's free hand, the one not clamped on his shoulder, form a fist.
"Can I help you?" Frank, right next to AngryGuy, who looks almost guilty as he finally drops Casey's arm.
"Are you the manager?"
Casey slips away as soon as he's free, ducking back inside the car. Hector's already doing the next one, looking even crankier than usual. Casey wonders if Hector is upset that he has to help clear up the backlog, or that Frank stopped the customer before he punched Casey.
The car wash closes at six, though that's not the reason Zeke drives past it slowly, then pulls down side streets until he can park facing the lot. Zeke is pretty loaded. He spent the afternoon drinking beer and watching porn. Even watching Eddie's new tapes, he couldn't get excited enough to jerk off.
Not a problem now Casey is there, hooking the "closed" chain across the entrance drive. He looks sweaty and exhausted. It's probably 85 degrees out, and the sun is still bright. Zeke stares at the perspiration stains down the back of Casey's shirt as he walks back to the building, and Zeke absently rubs the bulge in his jeans.
A few minutes later and the workers come out, but Zeke can't see Casey right away. He's at the rear, with an older man -- probably the manager. As the rest of the crew climbs into cars, the manager stops to lock the doors. Casey stands with him. They're talking, but it almost looks as if Casey is standing guard. The thought makes Zeke smile -- Casey the tough. Idiot kid needs a protector worse than anyone Zeke knows.
Casey walks with the man to his car, but he doesn't get in, and Zeke releases the breath he was holding. Casey starts walking home and Zeke follows him, staying as far away as possible.
Zeke isn't going to speak to Casey, he just wants to watch him. It's simple curiosity. He's watching to see if Casey has changed. Zeke doesn't want Casey changed. Zeke hasn't changed. If Casey is completely unaffected, too, that's good. Infuriating. Good.
Casey is off in space as he walks, just like always, and Zeke smiles. He tries to imagine Casey's daydreams, but he can't. Casey could be thinking of Delilah or doing calculus problems in his head. His expression is neutral, yet somehow happy. Happier than he looked at work, which was already happier than he ever seems at school.
That makes Zeke pause -- doesn't Casey stand out as a misfit at the car wash just as much as he does at Herrington High? Okay, he's dressed identically with all the crew - but he's still tiny, he's pale and he's Casey. He doesn't fit there. Casey doesn't fit anywhere.
But he fit in Zeke's car that day, and he was at home in the orchard. Casey fit in Zeke's arms quite nicely. Zeke shakes himself and continues his stalking, following Casey down side streets toward his house.
Then Casey stops to watch something, Zeke can't even see what he's staring at so intently. He wants to see, wants to know everything about Casey. Wants to shake him and break him open, and maybe then he'd be able to walk away and finally forget all about him.
He doesn't have a plan, he knows that, but he pulls up next to Casey and just waits for those deer-in-headlight eyes to turn on him again.
Casey knows he's just been staring at Zeke for too long, but he can't move even when Zeke motions him to come to the car. Only when Zeke climbs out of the driver's seat and stalks over to grab his arm does Casey unfreeze. Zeke is fairly gentle, opening the passenger door and pushing him in, then closing the door behind him. Casey was tired and sweaty until a minute ago. Now he's excited, a little afraid -- and still sweaty. He's pretty sure he smells bad.
Embarrassment -- of course he's smelly and wet with sweat. He's probably wearing socks with holes in them. Not that Zeke is planning to... not that Casey would... Fuck.
He shakes his head and tries to calm himself as Zeke climbs in beside him, warm even across the gap between the seats.. Zeke doesn't look at Casey, just pulls away from the curb and drives off, and Casey doesn't protest. His parents are at a family barbeque today; they won't be home until very late. But even if they were home, waiting for him, Casey wouldn't protest.
He's happy. Still a little afraid, still excited. But also happy. He's getting another chance. He'd be happier if he wasn't sure he's somehow going to ruin this one, too.
They don't head for the highway and Casey feels a little disappointed. Zeke drives into the older part of downtown, what his mom calls a "seedy" neighborhood. Even though it's early, there are some dubiously-dressed girls on the street corners as they drive along. Zeke just keeps driving, past huddles of guys who could be dealing drugs, past adult bookstores and run-down apartment buildings.
When he does finally pull over and park, the only sign on the block is for a bar. Zeke gets out of the car, then stands waiting for Casey to follow him. He does, but he's in a quiet panic. He's not old enough to get into a bar, and Casey's never been able to fool anyone about his age. In fact, they usually guess a couple of years younger than he actually is.
But Zeke simply walks ahead of him, leading him, and Casey follows, a worried frown on his face. When they let Zeke in and refuse him entry, will he wind up walking home?
Zeke hands a twenty to the bouncer and takes Casey through the door without comment. Casey's eyes are still enormous as he gawks -- it's obvious the stupid kid's never been in a bar before and doesn't know the meaning of playing it cool, either.
Whatever Casey was expecting, though, it probably wasn't a dark, dirty, almost-deserted cave like this joint. Except for a couple of old guys in the corner, the bartender is the only one here. Zeke shoves Casey toward a stool, smiling at the confusion on his face. This isn't a date, and Set Back isn't some damn fern bar with live entertainment and trendy drinks.
What it is, though Casey obviously doesn't get it despite the wistful looks from the losers at the table, is a pathetic, old-fashioned gay bar which won't come alive until around midnight. Even then it won't be full of young or successful guys.
Zeke orders for them while Casey keeps rubbernecking like the tourist he is, oblivious to the bartender's assessment of them both.
"You'd better take it upstairs," he says as he slides two doubles to Zeke. "We've still got a license."
"The cops won't be in here until after eleven, just like everyone else," Zeke replies.
"Hope you know what you're doing," he mutters with a motion of his head toward Casey. "Looks like jailbait."
"Don't worry," Zeke grins. "He's 18."
Casey's regard swivels onto them at last, looking at the drink in front of him and the scowling bartender with his big dopey blue eyes. But Casey is smart enough to nod in agreement instead of correcting Zeke's lie.
"Drink up, Casey," Zeke purrs, taking a sip of his own. Not bad. But Casey keeps staring at the glass. "It's whiskey. Pretty good stuff, nice for relaxing after a long day at work." When Casey's stare moves from the glass to him, Zeke whispers "For God's sack, you stupid fucker, take a sip."
Casey finally does, and though he looks surprised he manages not to choke on it.
"Thank you," Zeke says sarcastically, but Casey smiles in response, not hearing the scorn. Idiot kid.
They sit in silence for almost an hour, Zeke motioning for another pour while Casey slowly works on his drink. He's had four to Casey's one and a half, and when the silence starts to seem significant, Zeke breaks it.
"Have you been working there all summer?"
"It's good money," Casey replies. "What have you been doing?"
"The usual." Zeke stands. Small talk with Casey is intolerable. He calls to the bartender, "Hey -- how much for upstairs?"
"Seventy-five for half an hour."
"Jesus. Look at him -- do you think it'll be half an hour? Fuck off!" Zeke grabs Casey's arm and yanks him off the stool, then drags him toward the back.
Casey is a little buzzed. He's had beer before, but never whiskey. It's pleasant, though. He feels very mature, and more relaxed than he thought he'd be around Zeke. Relaxed and annoyed when Zeke stops speaking to him and talks to the bartender, but Casey doesn't really pay attention to what they say. You'd think Zeke could pay attention to him for five minutes after bringing him here.
Casey decides he wants some more of his drink, but he spills it when Zeke grabs his arm and pulls him to the men's room.
"Zeke, what the fuck?" Casey protests.
"Shut up." Zeke throws him into the filthy, windowless room and Casey hits the wall. Then he giggles when Zeke latches the door behind them. Zeke wants company while he pisses.
"Stop that," Zeke commands. "Don't move."
Casey stands, leaning into the cinderblock, and Zeke just stares at him. He stares so long that Casey starts to blush and feel uncomfortable, less drunk and more aware that he's dirty and sweaty. He's nothing to look at, certainly not with such intense, beautiful brown eyes. Casey drops his eyes from Zeke's face, but that leads to staring at his crotch, and the bulge there.
Casey looks back up, opens his mouth, but Zeke raises a hand and he closes it without speaking. He wants to tell Zeke he's beautiful, that his intelligence and lazy grace are only part of what makes him special. But Casey just stares back, obediently silent, wondering what Zeke sees when he looks at him.
Zeke is fighting with himself and he's not going to win. He can tell by how hard his dick is, just staring at Casey against the grimy wall. He gives up at last and reaches out, both hands to Casey's shoulders.
Casey whispers, "Zeke, you..." and Zeke backhands him.
Now there's confusion in those eyes, and pain. Zeke only hit him once, not hard, but there is blood on his mouth. He pushes the kid down to his knees.
Zeke is tired of jerking off to fantasies of Casey.
Casey is staring up at him, his lips just barely open. As Zeke unzips his jeans he imagines he's going to push his cock right between those soft, pink lips. Push in and fuck Casey Connor's face. Zeke groans at the thought. He was already hard, but now he's ready to explode.
A few tugs as Casey's eyes stare at his cock and he's releasing, spurting onto Casey's face and hair. The kid's eyes are still open, but they're no longer staring at his hand on his dick. No, Casey is staring up at Zeke's face, questions in his eyes.
As soon as he's done Zeke looks away from Casey, tucks himself in, re-zips and leaves the restroom. He won't answer any of the questions. He can't.
"Can I get a Coke?"
The bartender looks at Casey, taking in his dirty knees and wet hair. He grimaces and replies, "Get lost, kid. We don't want underage hustlers hanging out here."
"I... Is there a pay phone?"
"I'm sure you've got a friend out there with a cell you can use. Go before I call the cops."
Casey walks out the front door. Zeke's car is gone; he knew it would be. Zeke is done with him. Again.
The real question is why Zeke brought him here in the first place. Zeke doesn't need him, certainly doesn't want him. As he walks, Casey can think of nothing else.
Finally he decides Zeke saw Casey watching him, fantasizing about him. Zeke wanted it to stop, and what better way than to show his contempt for Casey? It worked. Casey is over his infatuation with Zeke Tyler. He keeps walking, not even noticing as he finally enters a residential neighborhood.
Of course it's better this way.
Then he remembers Zeke's big hand working himself, and his face as he was coming. Casey sits down on the curb and puts his head on his knees. He doesn't move again until long after dark.
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