Just rewatched the Faculty and rekindled my love of all things Zeke, so here is a short fic attempting to make some sense of social order but which in reality is little more than an excuse to worship the awesome-ness of he who drives the GTO.
Status in school is not permanent state of being, but an ever-evolving series of triumphs and setbacks. Sure, most people never make it to the top, but most claw their way upwards or crash and burn slowly.
In fact, the evolution of the typical student can be charted by members of their little breakfast club. Most people begin school life as a Casey; pathetic, small and afraid of their own shadow. Sure, not everybody gets picked on everyday without fail, but the general idea remains true. Casey does most of his homework, and studying is the focal point of his life at the moment but it is not everything. He's one of those students whom teachers don't generally remember despite close co-operation on extra-curricular activities simply because the results of intervention are a hair's breadth of difference of neglect – he will get into college with or without their help. Nurse Harper has been charged with making sure he is not irreparably maimed or otherwise killed, and she might be the one person who won't forget his existence the year he leaves school. His social life is one of reciprocity; he's nice to peers who don't beat the crap out of him, and mouthy to those who do. He's pitied but shunned, since lame-ness is contagious and as long as the person being racked into the flagpole is not them, nobody feels too sorry for him.
One rung up the chain is Stokely. After initially being a Casey-type, the typical student changes into a Stokely; bristly, all teeth and claws and attitude. Pick a fight with her, and you won't escape without serious damage. While she still does a relatively fair portion of her homework, Stokes does not care what the teachers/parents/authority figures think of her because she's learnt that they do not give a crap about her. They wilfully close their eyes to her pain, and so are undeserving of her respect. Nevertheless, her utmost hatred is reserved for her peers; those pretentious dickwads who run around in little cliques because they do not have the guts to buck the stereotypes for fear of being ostracised. She recognises, though, that her little rebellion is just a different manifestation of the same fear; she's not bucking stereotypes herself, merely removing herself from the game. It's a coward's approach and Stokes knows it, but it is infinitely preferable to their existence. Yet, when she sees a couple of girls giggling together over a girlie mag or a boy shyly reach out for his girlfriend's hand, she wonders if missing out is really all that worth it.
At the apex of the social ladder is Delilah. It is erroneous to attribute this merely to her position as head cheerleader, though it is a large part of it. No, Delilah got here because of a combination of resourcefulness, street-smarts and book-smarts. Having seen the artificiality of it all through the eyes of a Stokely, she's one-upped the system by using it to her advantage. She's given up the little ember of hope for true friendship that both Casey and Stokely try so very hard to conceal. Her number one rule is this; trust no one. Every move Delilah makes is in furtherance of her own interests – both students and teachers love her, and as long as no one has the audacity to say it to her face, she does not care that everyone thinks she's a Grade-A bitch. She knows she is; she's worked hard to become one.
Less common is the Marybeth; the perpetually chipper, optimistic, well-adjusted specimen only slightly higher than Casey on the social ladder. She is the result of loving parents and a bubble environment of non-competition. Where there is nothing to fight for; no advantage in being the smartest or prettiest or whatever, people just do not bother to. Thrown into a competitive environment, they attempt to cling to their sunshine attitude until the realities of life make them cut their wrists or, you know, turn into an alien queen intent on taking over the world.
If the Marybeth is to survive, she turns into a Stan. Blessed with supportive parents and an optimistic attitude, they might survive in situations that do not call for intense intellectual exercise; the football pitch being one of them. Once a Stan gains some modicum of success, he longs to quit the fight and go back to the sunshine state of the Marybeth; this longing normally manifests in attempted rebellion. These attempts at rebellion are nothing like the radical actions taken by Stokely, since Stan is not a victim of the system and at any rate cannot muster the anger to properly isolate themselves from the chain. Despite the simmering discontentment, Stan will always find a way back into the system when he is tired of trying to bend it to his will, and it will accept him with open arms. He spends his existence in a limbo between these states of acceptance and disdain, neither of which are particularly strong emotions. It is precisely this lack of passion, and the lack of a threat presented by him, that allows him to climb to such heights within the system; he is truly its bitch.
Casey is aware of all this, and his own previously lowly position, from his new vantage point as hero; while he will never fall to the position of the runt again, his newfound position as hero of Herrington High bring with it new minefields to avoid. That is okay though, he thinks, for it is time for him to evolve.
There is just one thing that bugs him. Zeke. Try as he might, Casey cannot figure out where Zeke belongs on the social ladder of high school. He's definitely one of the predators at the apex, but where exactly? He does not wield the influence or popularity of Delilah, but the thought of the cheerleader-editor being superior to the drug-dealing, teacher-scaring prince of darkness is somehow wrong. Zeke strikes out at authority in ways that even Stokely cannot contemplate, but instead of being shunned and jeered at, he is awed. Perhaps the difference is that everyone has the potential to be a Stokely, but being Zeke requires a calculated desire to be the cause of one's own destruction. There is something inherently wrong about Zeke; that he scares and invalidates the teachers with his intellect, but is disturbed by the mere word 'bastard'. That he stabbed one teacher in the eye with a pen and shot another, but is genuinely upset when people with whom he would not have exchanged two words in a year are turned. So, yeah, Zeke does not fit into the social ladder; he seems to exist in spite of it, using it to his advantage but paying no toll. He plays students, parents and teachers like a deck of cards, and there is not a single person who can tell you why Zeke does A instead of B.
The paradox that he presents bugs Casey when they sit at the lunch table together, all of them, because you do not fight an alien invasion without becoming compatriots at some level. He sits there with them, cigarette hanging loosely between long, graceful fingers, head cocked and eyes half-lidded like the conversation is too bland for his taste. He is the alien here; the only one who did not in any way have his mind infiltrated by the aquatic parasites. Sometimes Casey wonders what Marybeth might have offered Zeke to win his allegiance, if such a thing were even possible; wishes for a while that he had mind-reading powers if only to get a glimpse into the older boy's thought process. Sometimes Casey wonders if maybe, just maybe, he was the loneliest of them all.
Do review. It'll make my day, that it will.