Title: Forget the rain
Disclaimer: I do not own. I only rent and in this case borrow and hope no one minds.
Summary: Post-movie everyone moves on with their lives. Moving on means forgetting and returning to normal. Casey can't do that. Zeke helps.
A/N: Hello! I just discovered the enjoyment that is C/Z this past weekend. I absolutely love the movie and wanted to give it a try. I've only written a few movie-based fanfics before. I usually stick to the television side of things. Let me know what you think please :)
Casey Connor stared out the window of his childhood bedroom wondering how so much could change in so little an amount of time. It was raining outside. A hard rain, the kind of rain that not even a month ago he would have enjoyed. The rain used to bring him a sense of relief. It meant a day without beatings, a day without watching his back. See jocks didn't like getting wet, and a day of rain meant he wouldn't have to meet the business end of a flagpole. But that had been a month ago, back before. Before was how he always thought of his life pre-invasion. Before, things were different. Before, he liked the rain and got beat up daily and had no friends. Before, he was afraid of his shadow and hated his life. Before, he took pictures and wanted Delilah in all her perfection and trusted people who drank from public water fountains. But no longer. Now he wanted to see life through his own non-zoom eyes and preferred the sunshine. Now he knew there was a lot more in this world to be afraid of than jocks and asking out silly girls. Now every time he passed anyone in the lunchroom buying bottled water he felt an inevitable apprehension. Zeke told him he needed to let it go. And now standing here staring out the window scanning the neighborhood for anyone enjoying the rain too much –he realized that Zeke was probably right. It was unhealthy. It was hindering his life. A life that was arguably much better than it had been before.
After it happened he wasn't the only one to change. A day after, two, three –hell a week after – people still walked around in a daze. His parents, Mrs. Burke, the football players all seemed to be different –to feel the apprehension he still felt almost a month after. But the invaded seemed to readjust nicely after that first week until it was almost as if they didn't even remember anything happening. They –which was how he would always think of himself, Zeke, Stan, Delilah and Stokes – had lasted a little longer. Two weeks later Stan and Stokes were still leaning on each other for survivor support and Delilah was still appreciating his heroics. But even they didn't last. By the third week Stokes was dressing normally again and Stan and her were talking less about the past and more about the future. Delilah had decided that she needed to be "alone" to focus on her college applications. Which was fine with Casey because he realized that she was just one more thing that he had lost from before. He couldn't trust her because she was forgetting and she still liked the rain and he had even heard her talking about going to the beach on Spring Break. GOD! The beach! Casey knew that as long as he lived he would never voluntarily see the ocean again. Zeke told him that was stupid and again that he should let it go but he refused. He didn't care if it was unhealthy. He wouldn't forget. And he hoped his fear wouldn't end up alienating Zeke in the long run. Zeke was the only one he had left. Yeah, him and Delilah still hung out working on the paper. And Stan and Stokes would often ask him over to watch movies. But Zeke was the only one Casey could talk to. The only one who remembered as much as he did, even if he did handle it better. Zeke was all he had. And on days like this he was the only one he wanted.
Casey had always liked Zeke. Always thought he was cool, with his attitude and reputation. He had always wanted to know what made him underachieve and push people away. He knew Zeke was different. He never beat him up or called him names. He never tried to be popular. Zeke was just Zeke. And Casey had admired that before. Now he loved that. He knew that Zeke, even after his brief cameo on the football team and Mrs. Burke, was still Zeke. And a month after they were still friends, still leaning on each other. Well sometimes he felt like he was the only one leaning, falling even. But then other times Zeke would call him or stop by and he would hear something or see something in the other boy that needed him too. At those times he always felt stronger and he hoped that that is how he made Zeke feel when he was helping him. He thought it must, because he was still around. Still calling, still coming over, still giving him advice even though he couldn't take it. There had to be some reason why Zeke hadn't scraped him off. Why he had quit the team and went back to failing and told Mrs. Burke that he didn't think they were a good idea after all. When Casey asked why he did that, Zeke had said he didn't know. But Casey didn't believe him because it seemed like his friend always knew what he was doing and why. Every move calculated and for some greater purpose. He knew his own pain like the back of his hand and he had always felt like that was the one thing they had in common. Zeke may have been tall where he was short, strong where he was weak but they both knew themselves. Knew what they wanted and why they wanted it. Zeke just usually took it, whereas he would calmly let it pass him by. So Casey let him have his secrets. Just like he had his. He would wonder late at night if they were one in the same. If maybe Zeke thought that –the way that he knew – they may be the only ones who would ever understand each other. They may be the only ones who could ever help each other find peace and happiness. Delilah and Mrs. Burke couldn't help them. No quite the contrary. During that week of wedded bliss following the incident – it had rained. And he had felt the same apprehension, the same fear that he felt now – as if some being were out there soaking it up getting stronger to finish the job and this time he would be taken over – and Delilah had been there with him. They had been in her room cuddling; seeking comfort, and it had started to rain. A light rain, not like this one, but enough. He had felt himself begin to shake and she having already begun to forget had tried to console him. But it hadn't worked. He found to his dismay that she made it worse. It was as if even now he couldn't trust her to not want the rain herself. He had fled her house and ran all the way home and sat in his closet covered in a towel frantically drying himself off until Zeke had showed up. He never knew how Zeke had known he needed him. Or why Zeke cared but he was infinitely glad he did. Zeke had merely sat beside him until it stopped. His mere presence doing more than Delilah's words or arms ever could. He found out later that week about Zeke and Mrs. Burke breaking up. He always wondered if he had anything to do with that. But only late at night, when sleep had alluded him for 4 hours straight and Zeke was the only welcome thing he could think about because he didn't want to think about anything from before and hell not anything after.
So as he watched the rain and fought the fear he did the same. He thought about Zeke and tried to let the feelings of warmth and security that he always invoked wrap around him here even in his absence. It was raining so hard by now and with it thunder and lightening. He thought maybe the lights were out too but he hadn't turned them on so he couldn't be sure. He tried not to worry about where Zeke was and why he hadn't showed up. He tried not to think that it was because someone had got him or because he didn't want to. He didn't know which option made him feel worse, made him fear more. He just wanted to curl up in a ball and shut it out, maybe put on his portable cd player and blast some Savage Garden until it stopped. But he couldn't. All he could do was stare at the rain and wish he could let it go. It had only been a month. But at moments like this –without Zeke – he knew it wouldn't matter if it had been a year. He'd always hate the rain.
Ten minutes later Zeke burst through Casey's door soaking wet and breathing heavy. He had run here from about 3 blocks away where his piece of shit "new" car had died on him. The spontaneous downpour had started about 30 minutes ago when he had been stuck in a traffic jam downtown. He was stuck and had spent 10 minutes cussing out the weatherman who had told him just an hour earlier that it was going to be sunny skies all day. Son of a bitch! He would have never gone downtown today if he had thought that there was any chance of rain. He didn't want to be that far away from Casey on a good day. But if he had known it was going to be like this he wouldn't have gone 10 feet. Before, as Casey called it, all Zeke needed to protect Casey from was himself. His smart ass comments after a beating or his too smart, too self contained attitude that always pissed off those insecure bastards on the football team. Before, Zeke would give them free scat to make them go easy on the boy and pretend to not care too much when it still didn't keep him from getting hurt. Before, he couldn't show he cared too much without making it worse. But now he didn't care if people knew he cared. And people left Casey alone. But he still needed protection from himself. Now it was his self imposed isolation and fear that he had to face. Most days Zeke didn't know how to fight that. He couldn't bribe or threaten anyone to get them to ease up on poor Case. But on days like this, when the sky opened up and offered a reminder of all that transpired, Zeke knew exactly what to do. And it had taken him far too long to get where he wanted to be. Where he needed to be. Because Casey may not know it but he needed him too.
Before, he had always found Casey to be intriguing. Weird, quiet and eerily beautiful. He would watch him walk down the halls or snap a picture and not be able to look away. He always seemed to be engrossed in something beyond where he was in life. He always seemed to be thinking of the future. That was just another thing that had changed about him now. Casey didn't take pictures anymore, he didn't dream of college or girlfriends. He seemed to be trapped in the moment. Always focusing on the step he was making, the feelings he was having, and that wasn't great when all you felt was fear. It seemed the invasion had changed everybody for the better except his boy Casey and maybe himself. And sometimes Zeke thought it had made him admit his feelings for the boy so maybe he was no exception either. But Casey – Casey was too consumed with what happened to benefit from his heroics. The experience made him stronger but he refused to celebrate his victory. It was as if he felt a responsibility to keep it over. Done. Like the happily ever after was written in sidewalk chalk for any rain to wash away. As everyone else forgot he remembered more to compensate. And sometimes Zeke thought in a panic that he was the only one left to share the burden and if he too didn't focus then it might slip out of his brain too and Casey might explode. He couldn't let that happen because he couldn't live without him. He wanted to let it go as much as they all did –but to let it go meant letting go of Casey and that he would not do. Just like Casey needed the worry –Zeke needed him. He loved the boy, no matter how screwed up he was. No matter if he loved him the same way or not.
Now dripping on the Connor's carpet trying to dry himself off as much as possible before Casey turned around, he wondered if he had taken too long getting here. He was still staring out the window –no sign that he had heard the door open –and he was shaking. The room was dark and the storm had only gotten worse. Zeke couldn't get across the room fast enough in his fear and he took no time enveloping the boy into his strong if wet arms. For what seemed like painful years Casey remained stiff but after what was actually only thirty seconds he relaxed into the embrace.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to get here." Zeke apologized squeezing tighter, needing reassurance that he was okay and with him.
Casey turned around burying himself in the older boy's chest flinching only slightly at the dampness of his shirt, but enough that he noticed.
"Hang on a second." Zeke said pulling back and lifting the shirt over his head. And then pulling him back into the dry circle of his now naked chest.
Casey burrowed again, feeling thoroughly safe now that Zeke was here. No longer worried that he was invaded or tired of playing his protector. At least for the moment. He knew as soon as he was gone he would worry again that he had been too needy. That this time was the final time and that Zeke would not show with the next rain. But for now he was here and even so he couldn't keep himself from showing his insecurity. "You know you don't have to take care of me. I don't want to be a burden." He tried to pull back and let go of Zeke but he wouldn't let him. Thankfully, because he probably just would have embarrassed himself by not being able to. "I mean you are right I need to let it go. It is just a little rain."
Zeke looked down at him with a confused expression. How could he not know that he needed this too? Yes he had told him to let it go. But that didn't mean that he didn't understand. That he didn't check the Evian row every day at the 7/11 just to make sure it wasn't all gone. Holding him now in his arms enjoying the comfort he was giving and taking he decided that maybe he was part of the problem. Maybe his silence was encouraging the isolation. Maybe if he told him how he felt he wouldn't be so scared. He breathed in the scent of his friend –Irish Spring soap and coffee, which he drank to keep him from sleeping, and hoped it wasn't the last time. That he would like what he heard. He bent his knees and took the boy's face in his hands and begged him to listen. "Case – Case – listen to me. You aren't a burden to me. I want to be here. You are all I have."
The boy looked startled but hopeful. He placed his hands on top of Zeke's bigger ones to keep them where they had no plans of leaving. "Zeke that is not true."
Zeke laughed and he knew it sounded bitter. He had no one else, not even before, and then he didn't even have Casey. "Yes. It is true. God! Wake up Casey. I'm not that chivalrous. Not noble at all. I'm here for my own selfish reasons. You've always thought I was more than I am. Before, I was just some pusher, some uncaring, unfeeling shell. I didn't have anybody. I didn't want anybody. But you changed all that."
Casey looked like he didn't want to believe. Like it was too good to be true and someone might take that away. Like they tried to take everything away. "I didn't change anything." He said. Trying again to pull away, pull into himself.
Zeke tightened his grip lowering his head until they were touching foreheads. The wind rushed outside and a loud clap of thunder made them both jump. "Do you see that? It scares me as much as it scares you. But it doesn't have too. We can fight it together. But you have to realize that I need you as well. Case- you got to know how I feel."
"How do you feel Zeke?" he asked pitifully, apathetically. He was shutting down like he always did.
Zeke would come over, offer comfort, and after a short time of blissful peace, his guard would go back up. He would pretend that he was okay. They would sit quietly for a few more minutes and then he would leave. Because it was too hard to see Casey that way. So tired, so resigned. He wasn't going to let that happen this time. In one swift motion Zeke pulled him up, broaching the tight defenses of Casey's mouth and plunging. The kiss was hot, full of all his desire and love and eventually after the initial shock Casey's want and need. When they broke away – Zeke was panting and Casey looked like he had been brought back from the dead via electroshock. There was a light in his eyes that he had not seen since the first week after. When they had all felt a camaraderie and Zeke had thought that was the extent of his emotions for the younger boy. Seeing that look now he couldn't believe he had ever thought that. What he felt was stronger than any emotion he could remember to date. Bigger than any homemade high, and stronger than even his fear of death during his battle with the body snatchers. He wanted to voice that feeling if only to keep it from disappearing. "I feel like I love you."
Casey gasped. Looking into his eyes and saying without words that he felt the same. Behind him he could still hear the rain, sense its power and know what it would always symbolize. But in front of him was something more tangible. Something real to hold him up and help him get over the division that his life had become. Before, after, during – these words would always define his life. But they didn't need to derail his future. He would always remember what had almost happened. What they had almost lost. But with Zeke maybe he could forget the rain.