Title: Victory

Author: AW

Chapter 1?

Rating: R (for language in this chapter, sexuality in next)

Pairing: Zeke/ Casey in following chapters

Summary: Casey POV.

Author Note: Right. Why did I write this piece of crap? Because reading back through the list, I found an old Faculty story of mine called 'Do I know You?' about Casey losing his memory, and it was such unrelentingly bad writing, and I do so hate to make such a bad impression albeit three years ago :D that I've wrote something hopefully better. This has nothing in relation to 'Do I Know You?'

Take your victories where you can find them, Casey always thinks and this is no different.

When he was five years old he got lost in a department store, amongst stacks of delicate china, and cut-glass crystal. He can still remember the panic that flooded through him, the harsh bite down on the lip and taste of blood, as he fought not to wail and cry. Can remember being too small to see over display tables, and losing his way amongst the utensils. He had crawled under a table and broken a plate, a cheap white one with a gold rim, hiding small hoping the noise would not be heard. He'd placed pieces of plate behind him, until he reached the main aisle and stood there lost and forlorn waiting for someone to claim him. In one sweaty small paw he grasped the final piece of plate, too flustered to dispose of it. He'd seen his mother in front of him browsing through colour swatches at the entrance to the soft furnishings area, and he'd run forward and grasped her skirt, wanting to tell her how frightened he'd been, how he'd thought she'd run away. She hadn't even noticed he was missing.

Metaphor for my life, Casey thought sourly. You think they've run away, but they're not even bothered enough to do that. His fingers are dirty from not quite dried newspaper ink that smears from the newly printed school leaflet. It's a cold spring day, the wind though not exactly biting, is cold enough to make Casey wish he was wearing something more substantial than a t-shirt

Today had not been a good day. He'd got into school just early enough for a set-me-up-for-the-morning beating well a set me up for the beaters anyway, and the day had only got worse. He'd got a warning in algebra- his grade had fallen, and was getting dangerously near the cut off point. Casey wishes he could say to Mr Rook 'have you ever tried to study with a head that feels like a overripe watermelon, and an ache between your legs that comes from repeated connection with a flagpole?' God bless America. He snorts internally. He can tell its been a worse than usual day, because he's swearing in his own head again all day, and he only starts doing that when he's near telling everyone to stuff it.

Then Delilah had flung his prints back. Apparently she wanted something more scurrilous than the tame pictures he was producing. If she would get him some news then he could perhaps cater for her, but then he thinks again maybe not. They're relying on rebound stories, and Delilah's practically foaming at the lips for news, while Casey couldn't care less. They were out of developer in the dark room as well. All in all a pretty awful day.

And dear old Zeke. Tarnished reputation, King of the sleaze, Prince of Pornography, Duke of the Drug heads. So many names. Sometimes Casey thinks he hates Zeke even worse than the jocks who do this to him. Hates Zeke for standing by and laughing, for selling the scat that pumps them up to new levels of viciousness. But then he'll touch the cut on the inside of his cheek and think maybe not. Maybe not quite as much.

So he isn't expecting Zeke's car to stop and offer him a lift. Black Sabbath is playing quietly- Casey can hear it through the window, so very faintly, and he wonders whether if he spat in his face, he'd walk away without a few broken bones. He doubts it, so he lets his eyes drop over the hatred, and shakes his head. Zeke doesn't protest, merely revs the engine a little and roars away, sending back a scent of worn rubber. Casey shakes his head irritably. Why can they never leave him alone. Even at home he'd get drunken jocks phoning him for a laugh. Suck me off Casey. You fag. He kicks the can on the sidewalk with a force that surprises even him, and gets a reproving look from the middle aged man washing his Volvo. He can feel his face melting into that face, the pathetic eager to placate face, and he smiles at the man a little nervously. He just grunts and turns back to his car. 'Stupid kids," he hears the man mutter.

Perhaps another day he'd have appreciated the chance for this walk, but he's too caught up in his worries right now, like how to raise his algebra grade, like can he ever have children after this morning, or what would happen if he torched the school. Would they even suspect him? He imagines kerosene dripping down the maths desks, and the sharp raw scent of burning wood and melting acrylic, and he finds himself flushed as though his inner temperature has gone up with his imaginings, and he digs his nails into his hands, perhaps hoping to draw blood, but his nails are cut short and close to his hands, and merely leave white dents. Regretfully he decides against burning the school down, but he knows that later that night he'll light matches and just dream about it.

Casey isn't an anarchist. He's read enough to know that if true anarchy came, then he would not survive the first day. The strong rabidly afraid, would turn on the weak and destroy them, and Casey is one of the weak. The systems protect Casey. In this system he can maybe get gang banged in the bathroom, but they can't go as far as killing him off. But maybe sometimes he dreams of revolution, and just keeps on hoping that none of the jocks turn on him to the extent of the bathroom scenario. He wonders if any of them would stop if he screamed or begged. If any of them would actually realize that he was human, that he felt pain and recognize that they were destroying something. There's a bit of the animal in all of us, and as far as Casey was concerned, organized sports just drew it closer to the surface.

He shakes himself out of this morbid state of mind. His school wasn't nearly as bad as some of the others, and he's pretty sure that nothing like that would happen, and that even if it did a couple of the more civilized ones like Stan might bring it to a halt. But there's always that lingering fear, and the rumours of those two second year girls that got attacked that night. They'd never caught the rapists, the girls had been too traumatized to remember anything except that they'd been people they knew from school. Casey had his suspicions.

It was the only time he'd ever said no to Delilah. She'd wanted him to take pictures of where it had happened, and maybe of one of the girls. It had been as though a worm had turned on her, or a mute helpless piece of beef had told her to stop gnawing down on it. She hadn't pressed it, but for the next few weeks she'd looked at Casey speculatively, and Casey winced every time he caught her doing it. Delilah was inventive, and she never let anything pass, not once. Casey thinks wryly that maybe that was why his meetings with the flagpole had increased.

Looking up from his thoughts, he sees h

ow close his home is now, and turns into its drive. His father isn't home yet, but his mother is pottering in the kitchen, making bloody cookies, and Casey knows a moment of sorrow. She just doesn't get it, she never will. Why bake cookies, when you can buy them, why waste so much time making dough, and waiting for them to cook, and reading Barbara Cartland novels as they do, and he thinks rather savagely that the woman is a fool. But of course his smile is on his face, and he walks happily in, almost cheerily, while his fingers feel a new bruise coming up on his thigh. Her smile matches his. "Hey sweetie. Have some of my last batch." He takes one, and thinks that if he'd been a sodding girl he might have been an anorexic. There is only so much you can take of cookies.

Casey throws the cookie uneaten in the bin, and then reconsiders and throws it out the window. Might as well make a bird happy. He's online but there's nothing to do on it, and his gazes at the ceiling, he knows there is only one thing he can do, only one place he can feel safe. On the other side of a lens. Everyone loves getting their picture taken. When he points this camera at the jocks after a match, they grin at it, loving the thought that they'll be immortalized in the school paper, and even when they beat him, the camera is carefully set to one side. The cheerleaders flirt with the camera, pouting, stretching, seeing nothing but that dark lense, not the guy on the other side. Even the teachers stand up straighter, pin that tired teaching face on a little tighter.

Casey thinks that if he ever hits it big, he'll publish a photographic memoir of his days at school. Warts and all. Or maybe just the warts. Everyone will be featured, he thinks to himself. Delilah snorting coke in the darkroom, the jocks beating someone else up, the cheerleader sucking that English teacher to raise her grade. Maybe even Zeke dealing. He can lie all he wants, but Casey knows Zeke doesn't just do scat. He's the biggest supplier in the school for cocaine as well. He doesn't even bother dealing weed anymore. People go to Zeke because they know Zeke's clean, he gets the good quality.

He picks up the camera, and walks quietly out. "Just going out for a bit mom," he calls.

Her answer is whipped away by the wind that has picked up slightly now, but he knows what she'll be saying. 'Sure. Just be back in time for dinner.' He still hadn't got a jacket on, but it doesn't really matter. He's got a new roll of film, and the perfect weather. He takes half a dozen shots even before he gets on the bus in order to get further out of town.

He doesn't recognise anyone here, and he snaps away to his hearts content- the baglady standing so very still, with her hair streaming, the old couple fighting in whispers. The businessman with his head pressed against the stone wall, arms cushioning as though for support and comfort, and Casey wonders detachedly if his colleagues ram him into a desk each day, and thinks not, so he doesn't really have very much sympathy.

Time passes like a flash, and before he knows it, he's out of film, and looking in his pocket, his bus ticket has gone as well. He sighs frustrated, knowing he's left his wallet at home, and resigns himself to getting home late, and being dog tired. Like he knows how to make an entrance, Zeke is there again. 'Are you sure you don't want that lift?' he asks amusedly, as though the bastard knows. Casey struggles between not wanting to get home late, and his pride. But just as the pride wins, a sharp gust of air cuts through him, and he gets in the car without a word. Zeke doesn't say anything either. He's smoking, as he effortlessly drives back, asking only once for directions. Casey doesn't know what to say. Van Halen is on quietly, but Casey doesn't recognise it. When he stops outside the house, Casey jumps out, and mutters thank you, grabbing the camera, forgetting the shoulder bag that's slid under the seat, and Zeke's sharp eyes don't spot it until he's half way back to his own quiet house.

His father's back now, and Casey is just in time for dinner. Tonight it's cold roast beef, and Casey eats quickly, as his mother and father talk about their day. He remembers to excuse himself, and runs upstairs. He can't wait to develop the film tomorrow, but his face falls as he remembers the lack of developer fluid. He curses it silently and fluently, reminds himself to ask the art-teacher to stock back up, but knows that'll it take a week before more is produced from somewhere. Damn that last batch. They hadn't even been good photographs- mediocre ones for the schools monthly magazine- the one nobody read because all it did was tell everyone things they always knew.

Rolling over the bed he dropped down the side to look for his maths homework. It'd been in his shoulder bag. The bag wasn't there so he padded downstairs. 'Have you seen my bag mom?' She shook her head- she was washing up, elbows deep in suddy water, a stack of sparkling dishes on one side. Casey knew what was coming.

Sure enough right on cue his father's voice. 'You should help your mom clear up.' Casey resented the way he said it. Not in a teasing tone like other dads, but in an imperative tone, as though he expected his son to jump to and do it. But like always he didn't say it, just picked up the dishtowel, and like always he wondered why his dad didn't help, if he cared so much.

And like always, his mother smiled at him. 'That's okay hun. You go do your homework.' The unspoken addition dangled in the air 'like a good boy.'

He's on the way out when he remembers where he might have left it, distinctly remembers pushing the bag out of the way of his feet in Zeke's car. He wrestles again with pride, and again the thought of telling Mr Rook he hadn't done the extra work won. Zeke's number is easy to find, and Casey keys it in with little hesitation. The telephone rings twice, and is picked up, and Casey is suddenly unsure. His voice sounds a little high pitched so he tries to tone it down, and ends up sounding ridiculously gruff. "I'm sorry Zeke. I think I left my bag in your car, uh do you know if I did?" He ends on a question.

Zeke pauses and then as though deciding to make Casey suffer he simply says, 'yes.'

Casey grits his teeth, and knows exactly how psychopaths must feel. "Would you mind if I collected it?"

Zeke's voice is easy and smooth as cream. "I'll bring it to you."

Casey hadn't known before how much he didn't want that to happen. To be under more obligation to Zeke Harrington than a car ride was asking for trouble. He hated how his voice came out- too fast, he thinks. "No it's okay. I don't want to bring you out of your way." Zeke gives him the address, and Casey says he'll come round in the morning, and puts the phone down. Tomorrow is a Saturday, and Casey reckons he can catch a bus or maybe even walk if he gets up early. Zeke doesn't live far away at all. That night when he sleeps, his dreams are troubled.

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