prisca: (Elijah)
[personal profile] prisca posting in [community profile] picture_prompt_fun
Title: Chance Encounter
Fandom: The Faculty (AU)
Character: Casey Connor, Zeke Tyler
Length: 3270
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: of course, I don't own The Faculty nor the character
also fills a bingo picture prompt for [community profile] getyourwordsout



Picture prompt #9


Picture prompt [community profile] getyourwordsout


Zeke was watching the guy for quite a while already. He was standing in the subway station, pretended to be lost in a book, but Zeke had noticed his strange behavior. He didn't take any notice of the other people around; three trains had already pulled into the station and left it again. He hadn't even looked up. And now most of the other people had left the station, and he was all alone, still waiting.

Usually, Zeke wouldn't have taken much notice of him. Much too eager to go home after a long day in the lab. But something had piqued his attention. The guy was dressed up in old jeans, a plain brown t-shirt, and a cardigan. A stupid straw hat and a scarf completed his look; a yellow backpack on the ground beside him and a camera around his neck.

Maybe it was this. The sight was so geeky, so familiar. It was quite a while that he had thought about Casey. His best friend at Highschool. He had never had many friends, had been a rebel, a loner who trusted no one easily. And for sure he had had nothing in common with Casey Connor. Casey was the geek at school and the well-mannered boy who always followed the rules. Zeke was the guy with the bad repute. But they had learned to respect each other during endless hours at the bleachers during lunch break. And it had gotten more.

No one had ever been so close to him; sometimes they had made plans their future. It had never been a question that their friendship would last even after they had left school, the bond between them was unique. Until, some weeks before graduation, Casey told him about his future plans. Chicago. Business school. Zeke had stared at him full of disbelieve.

„What's happened that you have changed your plans? You already have a scholarship for art school."

Casey had refused to look at him and shrugged, while he told him:" That was just a pipedream. My future lies in the bookkeeping office of my dad. It will be great to work together with him every day. And one day I will take it over."

He had sounded so resolved, and all Zeke could do was to accept it. Some weeks later Casey had left Herrington. First they had talked over the phone almost every day, but soon it wasn't the same anymore. Casey got short spoken, used paltry excuses to end the talk; finally, he often didn't even answer the phone anymore. It had hurt to feel abandoned by the only one he had trusted since his childhood; he had thought about it to go to Chicago and to confront him but what would be the use of that? Casey had apparently made his decision and for Zeke was no room anymore in his life.

All he could do was to move on himself. He found a job at a pharmaceutic lab, nothing big, but quite okay. Sometime later he did move to Akron; it was so much more comfortable than to drive about 60 miles every day and there was nothing that still held him back in Herrington. He visited clubs again to fight his loneliness like he had done it before he had started to hang around with Casey. Only now and then he allowed himself to think about him. It still did hurt too much.

Zeke's eyes were still resting on the guy in front of him when the next train got announced through the loudspeaker. Finally he looked up, shut his book and grabbed his backpack. When the gray, old cars of the subway stopped in front of him, he got in; the rush hour was already over, and he was almost alone in the compartment.

Zeke watched him through the window, a slightly blurred figure, dropping down onto one of the blue gray plastic seat benches; he stuffed the backpack under the bench, took off his straw hat and rested his head against the window. For a split of the second their eyes crossed, blue eyes, Casey's eyes, wide open and shocked.

It hit Zeke like a bold out of the blue; his heart beat quicker. Just at the moment when the doors of the train started to close, he was able to move again. And he jumped forward into the subway car. Though he called himself a ridiculous fool. There was no reason why Casey should be here, in Akron. Business school was in Chicago, and if he had already graduated, he would go back to Herrington, to work in his fathers bookkeeping office. He wouldn't wear a straw hat and an old cardigan but a suit and a tie. And there wouldn't be a camera around his neck, but he would carry around a briefcase with a cell phone and a laptop. He would have turned into a successful businessman, Zeke was sure of that, everything Casey did he did with all his heart.

The guy had closed his eyes now, but Zeke was almost sure that he was not sleeping; his body was much too tensed, his hands balled into fists. While the train started moving, Zeke dropped down onto the bench opposite the guy, unable to take his eyes away.

„Shit, Zeke, what the hell are you doing? Why are you following me?"

:::

The silence between them was very uncomfortable. Casey stared at him with dark eyes and Zeke had a hard time to sort out his confused thoughts. Finally he smirked.

„So, you are back to Ohio."

„Yeah."

„Bet your Mom is glad about this."

Casey paled visibly.
„You don't tell her, Zeke, promise me. Please, don't tell anyone. I'm not ready for it yet."

The riddle increased even more. Casey had always been close with his parents, no way that he would have secrets from them. Zeke wondered what might have happened in Chicago, that he had changed so much.

„Okay," he said slowly.
„But I don't understand. You are not ready for what?"

Casey shrugged, clutched his camera even more.
„Not ready to tell them the truth. First I need to find out what to do next. I don't want to go back to live off them."

„Hm."
Zeke blinked.
„What's with Chicago? With your plans to work together with you dad."

„I'm afraid, I'm a big disappointment to him."

„For sure you're not. You graduated from Highschool with straight A. Don't tell me now, that you failed at business school."

Casey sighed and pulled his face.
„Well. My prof told me that I'm one of his most brilliant students ever. When it comes to theory. But this alone doesn't make you a good businessman. My dad has worked hard to establish his office, and it's still a full-time job. So many weekends he spends in his office instead of at home. He loves my Mom and me, but this office is his life dream. So often he talked about it how great it will be when I will join the office; when we can spend more time together.

But I'm not like he is. And even the best school can't change this. I will never be into it with my heart and soul; a part of me will always hate it to spend my days in an office instead of being outside, discovering the world with my camera.

After some long talks with my prof, he agreed with me that it might be the best to quit school. I stayed in Chicago for some more weeks, looking for some art schools but they are much too expensive. Then I had to move out of the student's dorm. So I decided to go back to Ohio."

„We will reach Grand Station soon."

The loud voice coming from the loudspeaker made Casey jump.
„I need to go. That's my station."

„Wait. You are living here, in the suburban area of Akron?"

„Well, it's a good place to find a cheap motel."

„A motel? You are staying at a motel?"

Suddenly Casey's eyes sparkled annoyed.
„That a problem? Everyone needs to stay somewhere, right? It's nothing wrong with it."

„No, of course not."
Zeke needed a moment to get over this emotional release. Too much info at once.
„It's just... why don't you go back to Herrington? I'm sure your parents would be glad to have you back."

Casey huffed slightly.
„You just don't get it, right?"
Suddenly tears were sparkling in his eyes.
„I can't, Zeke! Not after all I've done."

Suddenly Zeke panic rushing through his body.
„What the hell have you done?"

His voice was sharp, and Casey flinched back visible.
„Good God! What do you think? I'm not a criminal. And I don't sell my body. I don't take drugs or ..."

He paused when the train stopped at the station, the doors opened, and some people entered the compartment. A quick glance at Zeke, apologizing, then he bent down to grab his backpack.

„It's better this way, Zeke. You have a life. And I have to find out what to do with my life now."

With these words he slipped out of the train. Stunned Zeke was sitting on the bench. It didn't often happen that he felt so weak minded. Only a split of a second before the doors shut again he knew that he would not let him vanish out of his life again and he followed him.

„Casey. Wait. You won't do this to me again. Dagnabbit, talk to me."

Zeke could see him stiffening, then he turned around, looking annoyed.
„Why can't you just leave it like it is, huh?"

„Because I can see that you are not happy. Maybe I can help you."

Blue eyes sparkled wild.
„Why do you care? It's none of your business."

Zeke breathed in deeply to calm himself down. There had been times when he had looked up to Casey for stubbornly going his way. At the moment though it started to drive him crazy.

„We are friends. And friends should care for each other."

„We are friends," Casey repeated slowly.
„But I didn't act like a friend when I've dropped you like a coward."

Zeke eyed him for a moment before he nodded.
„Yeah, it did hurt me. At least I would have expected an explanation. But I guess you had a good reason for dumping me."

„It was too hard to explain, Zeke. I didn't end our friendship because I didn't care but because it meant too much to me."

Zeke smirked.
„Okay, that's weird.

I guess I could need a coffee while you tell me more. There is a Starbucks nearby. C'mon, my treat."

:::

Satisfied he watched Casey enjoying his second muffin. Obviously not everything had changed. After a short hesitation, he had accepted Zeke's offer and ordered a caffe latte and a triple chocolate muffin while Zeke himself had a caffe americano. A very pleasant memory; already years ago it had always been that way.

But this was not the reason why they were here. When Casey finally leaned back on the dark red leather bench, smacking his lips, Zeke didn't hold back for longer.

„So, ready to talk," he asked.
„You still owe me an explanation."

Casey shrugged shortly.
„I guess," he admitted.
„Though I don't think that you can forgive me. Because what I did was simply selfish. I couldn't deal with it any longer to talk with you. Every time you called made it even worse. I had to make a decision and to give up Chicago seemed to be impossible back then."

Zeke frowned.
„What did I do?"

He could still remember their phone calls; at the beginning they had talked for hours; chatted about this and that, joked and laughed. Like good friends who knew each other inside out usually did. But then Casey had gotten more and more closemouthed and Zeke had known that he kept things secret from him.

„I've never forced you to anything. Even if I couldn't understand your decision to go to business school, I've accepted it."

„It wasn't your fault," Casey reassured him.
„I wanted to have fun in Chicago, enjoy business school. Tried to fool myself. Told me that everything was just great and that I just needed some more time. But it wasn't okay. I've hated it to be there.

Oh, no one bullied me or something like that, but all I could think about was Highschool and Herrington. And hanging out in your garage. Back then the world seemed to be open for me. In Chicago, I felt so out of place.

Every time I talked to you, it got worse. You were the only one who has ever taken my dreams about art school and working as a photographer one day serious. Remember all the photo trips we made together? I could talk about photography for hours."

Suddenly he chuckled slightly.
„I'm afraid this was pretty boring for you. But you never complained. You encouraged me that I can make everything come true as long as I believe in it."

The moment of happy memories was over. Casey sighed deeply, took a sip of his coffee before he continued.
„I've betrayed all of this. My future. My dreams. And you.

I'm sorry, Zeke, really, I am. I never meant to hurt you."

„I don't get it, Casey," Zeke admitted.
„When it was so hard for you, why did you do it? You already had a scholar ship for art school. Why did you decide to go to Chicago instead of Columbus?"

„Because of my dad. I wanted him to be proud of me. At least once in my life. He was so excited when I told him that I would go to business school in Chicago. It's one of the best, you know. And my dad told me that at the day of my graduation he would change the name of his office in Connor & Son.

My parents were always there for me, my whole life they backed me up. They love me, though...

I'm afraid I never was the son they wanted. My dad loves sports; I kinda hated it to go to a baseball game with him. My mom has always dreamed about it that I will marry a nice girl one day. That I will have children.

She would be a great grandmother. But I won't marry, and I won't have children, I didn't even date a girl for prom. Because... because I'm more into guys.

I always was a big disappointment for them. At least once I wanted to do the right thing. But again I dashed all their hopes.

I don't know what's wrong with me."

Zeke had listened in silence so far, but now he interrupted him.
„Case, you're talking shit. I've never met such caring, loving parents than yours. They never cared about it that you were not the popular football player who dated the cheerleader bitch. They didn't even freak out when you told them that you're gay.

Never ever they would have expected you to go a way you don't want to go. All they want it to see you happy. I'm sure of that."

„You haven't seen my dad's eyes when I told them about my decision. It has meant so much to him. How can I go back now, telling him that Connor & Son never will happen?"

„Sure it meant a lot to him. But he didn't know that you didn't follow your heart but just some stupid, bad conscious.

You need to go home, Case. Talk with your parents. Tell them about all your feelings. I'm sure, in the end, they will come to terms with your decision. It actually can't surprise them; they always knew that you are a photo geek through and through, not a business guy."

Casey sighed deeply.
„I wish I could turn back time," he murmured.
„Back then everything seemed to be so easy. Now I don't know anymore what to do.

I can't work in the office of my dad, nor in any other office. And I won't be a photographer, either. I've dumped the chance of my life when I rejected the scholar ship from art school. My college fund is almost used up; business school was pretty expensive. I don't think that I will ever get the chance again to go to art school."

My whole life is an endless mess."

Slightly breathless from this stream of words Casey finally turned his head away to hide his tears. Zeke felt a mixture of pity and anger. Where was the guy he had known at Highschool, the guy who was wildly resolved to go his way, no matter the consequences? All the teasing and bullying he had to endure every day had made him even stronger. To see him in this almost broken state was kind of disturbing.

„I guess, it's time to put your self-pity aside," he finally said.
„You are not the first young guy who made some stupid decisions. This is not the end of the world. Leave it behind you and make a new start. You can't hide in a shabby motel room for the rest of your life."

Casey sniffed and stared into his empty mug.
„Well, I guess, maybe I can work as a dishwasher at BurgerKing. A career I've always dreamed about."

Zeke couldn't help it; he burst out laughing.
„Case, I've never met a boy who makes such a good drama queen as you do."

Satisfied he noticed the slight smile on Casey's lips; good, at least he hadn't lost his sense of humor completely.

„Let me offer you a suggestion, okay? Let's head home to my apartment. We can order a pizza, watch a cheesy movie. Only hanging around. No need to talk shit."

The smile deepened.
„Like we did back then in your garage?"

Zeke nodded.
„I don't know if you've ever realized how much these times has meant for me. My life was pretty screwed up back then. I felt alone and misunderstood and so angry at just everyone. You kept me sane. You never asked for anything; you just was there for me. Together with you, my life was okay."

Casey blinked wildly.
„You've never talked about that," he murmured.

„There was no need to."
Zeke smirked to hide his sudden embarrassment. To be honest, he had never gotten used to it to talk about his feelings.
„But maybe we can change roles tonight. Let me be there for you, make life easier at least for a while.

And tomorrow, well, I would like to give you a ride to Herrington. I won't force you to anything, Case, but before you can look forward, you need to clarify things with your parents."

Silence for a long while, Zeke was almost afraid that Casey might reject his offer. But finally he looked up.
„Are things clear between us?"

„Sure."

Casey's eyes flickered while he nodded.
„Good."

And Zeke knew, even if it would take some time, one day Casey would be back to his old self again.

THE END

October 2017

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