3: Give
by Wax Jism

Lunch hour, he goes down to the parking lot and takes pictures of cars. He an idea for a series of shots of the cars in rows and rows - old American cars, shiny red German cars with leather interior, small, unloved Japanese cars with rusty fenders and cracks in the windshield. He takes a frontal shot of a Toyota Corolla with a broken headlight and a jagged hole in the grille.

"I know how you feel, man," he tells it and goes on to the Mercedes S-class next to it.

When he comes back to his locker, Delilah is there. "Where have you been?" she says immediately, in that tone he knows and loves - the one that says she can't believe she's actually bothering to talk to him, but she's pissed off and needs to smack someone around. "I need something on the Hornets."

He glares at her, but she's not even paying attention. Sometimes he wonders if she'd be bitching at the empty room if he wasn't there.

Then she does look at him, pins him with her eyes, in fact, and it's all worth it. "You're looking even more like a bag of wet tissues today, Casey. Did your mom forget to give you your Jell-O for lunch?"

There's no one listening just then, and it's okay. He follows her.


Lucas Bronheim tries to trip him when he gets up to get off the bus, but he somehow stays on his feet. He pictures Lucas in a shark tank. It doesn't help.

His street is empty, and he walks slowly, dragging his feet in dead leaves. Today, for the first time of the year, it feels like winter. He turns his face into the wind and imagines he can smell snow, like a whispered message from Canada. Snow and plains and emptiness. It doesn't sound too bad; it sounds perfect. He looks around quickly and waves at the wind, feeling a little sheepish. It flaps a brown, withered maple leaf into his face. Great, it's a sign. He walks slower.

He's half a block from his house, practically walking backwards by now, when he hears a car slow down next to him.

He looks down at his feet, at the leaves skipping along the pavement. They crunch softly under his soles. The wind is picking up and whipping his hair around. It's getting too long again. He's expecting his father to tell him to get it cut any day now.

The car pulls over. It's black, and it's Zeke's car. It's all wrong - Zeke comes around after six, always after six, when Casey's parents are home. He smiles at Casey's mother and compliments her hair. He talks politics and football with Casey's father. He calls them ma'am and sir and they have no idea that Casey just sucked him off and swallowed his come in the bathroom just up the stairs.

But now it's only a quarter past four, and Zeke's there, behind the wheel, smoking and not even looking at Casey. Casey stands next to the car. He doesn't know what to do. He can't run. He can see his house from here, dark and not particularly welcoming.

Maybe the worst part about all this is that it's finally been proven that he can't expect protection from his parents. He's known that for a long time but somehow, he's managed not to think about it.

Zeke tosses his cigarette out the window and waves at him. Beckons. Casey looks upwind again, feels the promise of snow on his face. He gets in the car.

Zeke doesn't speak, drives fast, chain-smokes. Casey stares out the window and clutches the door handle. Zeke's car smells like smoke and old car and Zeke. He wants to chew his nails but he's afraid to move.

Then Zeke pulls up into a drive and kills the engine. Casey has to look at him, has to ask, now, even though he really doesn't want to know. He thinks about asking "what are you going to do to me," but it doesn't seem like a good idea. So he says, "What do you want from me?"

Zeke looks at him with a strangely blank expression; the smoke draws a thin veil between them and paints him hazy and grey. "Just you," he says and gets out of the car.

Zeke's house is large and quiet. Casey walks behind him and wonders where his parents are. Zeke doesn't fit in; his worn jeans and ratty flannel shirt clash with the subdued, faded classiness of the house.

"I'm gonna make sandwiches. You hungry?" Zeke asks, and Casey almost looks around to see who he's talking to.

"I'm not hungry," he lies. His stomach is turning, empty and cramping and twisted up. His kneecaps tremble.

Zeke makes sandwiches and Casey stands in the kitchen door. "Sit down," Zeke says after a while and Casey puts his bag under the table and sits gingerly on a stool. Zeke puts a sandwich in front of him: peanut butter and jelly on full grain. Casey's stomach rolls and twitches. He presses his hands against his belly and tries to think about something else; the wind, the leaves, birds flying over the rooftops, cars meeting at a crossroads.

Zeke's hands cover his and push them aside. Casey closes his eyes and just breathes, slowly. He can hear his own heartbeat; he can feel it in his throat. Zeke slides his hands under his t-shirt and pushes it up. His fingertips skid over Casey's ribs and Casey's skin prickles and shivers in confusion, as if it can't decide whether to cleave to or cringe from the touch.

Goosebumps race up his arms, and Zeke pulls the t-shirt over his head. He takes a step back and watches Casey gravely. Casey wonders if there is any such thing as a rift in the fabric of space and time, and why one hasn't appeared in front of him so he can escape.

He gives up and hugs himself, digs his fingers into his sides and chews on his lip viciously. He might as well be completely bare ass naked; he feels naked, anyway.

"Skinny," Zeke says. Casey is cold. The floor isn't very clean; he can see grimy footprints and crumbs and stains. He stares at the dirt.

Zeke touches him again; a hand on his shoulder. "What are you afraid of?" he asks, almost gently. Almost like he cares.

Everything, Casey thinks. He thinks about telling Zeke that. Telling Zeke things. Maybe yelling at him. Would it make any difference?

He starts to suspect he might cry. Any minute now. He stabs his index finger between two ribs and concentrates on the pain. Don't cry. His father is always embarrassed when he cries. Crying in school is a bad idea. Don't cry. Zeke's hand is warm and solid on his shoulder. Zeke's motionless, waiting. Don't cry.

He can't cry in front of Zeke. He wonders why he's not running. He should run like the wind, shirtless and mad, down this strange street - he doesn't even know what part of town they're in. Escape.

There's just nowhere to escape to, so he sits where he sits until the tears break through his tightly closed eyelids. Zeke moves his hand, then, strokes his shoulder, down his chest, his arms. Casey locks himself behind the shutters of eyelids and thinks about the wind again, snow, maybe. Wind and snow. Zeke touches his back, pushes him to his feet. Casey feels breath on his face; he keeps his eyes screwed shut, so hard he sees flashes and spiralling colours. Zeke licks the tears off his face, licks his mouth and his eyelids, his cheeks.

When Zeke kisses him his mouth opens automatically. He realises he doesn't want to run anymore. Maybe this is what happens if he keeps his eyes closed. But his eyes want to see; it's hard to keep them shut. The world reappears, with Zeke's face right there, the light from the window cut into sharp shadows by his cheekbones and nose.

Zeke isn't petting him gently anymore now, he's pulling him closer with a whisper of his usual force, and Casey's hands are twitching and want to rise and wrap themselves around Zeke. He's noticed that his hands are not reliable.

He's not even aware that they really have escaped his control until he feels soft-worn flannel under his fingers, and he's trying to unbutton Zeke's shirt, and Zeke freezes.

Casey holds his breath and waits for the punch.

Zeke's hands touch his. Casey stays still, and Zeke unbuttons the shirt himself and slides it off his shoulders. It falls to the floor.

They kiss. Casey thinks this: we're kissing. Mutual action. The strangest thing, to touch his tongue to Zeke's, to reach up and touch Zeke's chest. He doesn't know what to do; wants to scratch, wants to soothe. He can't decide, his head is spinning and so he simply leans his hands against soft skin and lean muscle underneath; feels Zeke's heartbeat between ribs, feels the expansion and contraction of the ribcage.

Zeke slides a hand down his back and further, down his pants, into his underwear. Cups his ass, and pushes him closer, and Casey's suddenly dizzy and breathless, and he does scratch, ineffectually, with his harmless stubs of nails. The kiss is already growing into something different, harsher with teeth clicking together and lips crushed between. Zeke's leg hooks one of Casey's and the world turns in its orbit and the floor rushes up to meet him. He lands roughly but not hard enough to hurt much, and Zeke's there too, holding him down and grinding him against the cold floor. He knows he's making sounds but he can't hear them, he just feels them in his throat. He aches, and he bucks against Zeke's hand when Zeke yanks at his zipper.

Zeke arches back and Casey stares at his throat and his flushed face and thinks, a single, clear flash: I could hit him now. Hit him in the throat, hard, and kick him and run like hell.

Zeke gasps and looks down at him, and the thought scatters. Kisses again, kisses and kisses and whispers and hands. He can't hear what Zeke's saying, but there are words there. Casey thinks it might be obscenities, or his name. Same difference, really, because Zeke's squirming out of his jeans and Casey's kicking at his own.

He thinks briefly about the dirty floor under his ass, but somehow it works like this, it's like it should be: trapped under Zeke's broad body, panting and pushing up, his back aching and chilled. His cock is squeezed between their bodies, rubbing against Zeke's sharp hipbone, and the friction is on this side of painful. That's as it should be, too. Zeke's mouth is hot and slick on his, Casey's fingertips ache where he digs them into Zeke's shoulders.

He throws his head back when he comes, and he hears his own cry, cracked and hoarse. Zeke covers his mouth with his own and for a few, bright-gold seconds, there is nothing uncomfortable in the world, only warm, damp skin and molten heat and wetness and good, sweet, right--

Then Zeke shoves him down again, cold floor, bones grinding together, Zeke's knee digging a bruise into his leg.

Zeke slumps over him, bears him down with his weight. His breath fans over Casey's sweaty shoulder, chilling him even more. Casey doesn't want to move. He's starting to hurt, but this place is not frightening, and if he opens his eyes and moves, he'll have to think again, he'll have to face new challenges. He stays still until Zeke stirs and rolls off.

"Hey," Zeke says. Casey blinks and sits up, crawls to his feet. His legs are weak and shivery. Zeke is looking for his clothes, pulling on his jeans. Casey follows his example. They don't speak.

He's worried that Zeke's just going to throw him out, but Zeke takes his car keys and they get in the car. Casey doesn't know what just happened. It's only five o'clock. His parents will be home in half an hour.

Zeke drops him off outside his house and drives off with squealing tires. Casey's inside and hanging up his coat when he realises that his bag is still tucked under the table in Zeke's kitchen.

"How was school, son?" his dad asks at dinner.

"Fine," he says. The pot roast and mashed potatoes taste like salt and vinegar, and he chokes them down. He can't stop thinking about his bag. His camera is in it, and he has to get it back. He doesn't know if this is good or bad; if it's giving him no choice but to see Zeke, or giving him an excuse to see Zeke.

"You don't know how happy we are that you have friends again," his mother says. He rubs the small of his back where the sand on the floor scraped the skin raw.

"Yeah," he says.


Zeke likes to think there are very few things that genuinely scare him. Death, ageing, disease. The usual stuff, abstract and distant. He doesn't like horses, and for some reason, old ladies with lipstick on their teeth have always freaked him out in some fundamental way. He wouldn't say he's genuinely frightened of horses and old ladies, though.

His brain is starting to scare him, and that scares him. He realises this when he's beating off, lying naked on top of the covers, and it's Casey again. This time, he's sitting silent in a corner of Zeke's mind, just sitting there, curled up with his arms around his knees.

Zeke thinks about the way the knobs of Casey's spine show in stark relief on the pale skin of his back. He comes. His palm aches distantly. He wants, he realises. He's thinking about Casey, wanting him.

"Well, fuck me," he says and gets up to wash his hands. In the bathroom, he finds an old copy of Bizarre magazine and looks at pictures of dead dogs and mastectomy scars until Casey is gone.


He's back in the morning when Zeke stretches his legs under the kitchen table and hits something. It's Casey's ugly green bag lying innocently hidden next to a chair. Zeke makes himself eat his sandwich and drink his coffee before he picks it up.

In school, he deliberately seeks out other people - crowded places where he won't see Casey - just to test himself. He finally sees him in the cafeteria and his heart actually skips a beat. He resists banging his head against the table in frustration.

He watches Delilah instead - he knows Casey is, too. She's holding court at a central table, her ladies-in-waiting around her. Zeke thinks about pulling her into a toilet and doing her against a wall. He supposes she wouldn't be quite as easy as Casey.

She catches him looking at her and her mouth curls into an expression of distaste. Definitely nowhere near as easy.

Then he turns his head, and Casey's followed her gaze to him. He looks away immediately and stumbles to his feet. Zeke likes the way he creeps along the walls, trying so hard to be invisible, the effort making him all the more eye-catching.

In English class, he tunes out Miss Burke's voice and thinks about having Casey on his bed, face down, naked. It's harder than he would have thought - he can't seem to twist his mind around it. He knows what Casey tastes like, his mouth, his tears and his blood. He knows the shape of Casey's body. It should be easy to imagine.

He's doodling little stick figures on his copy of The Once And Future King. He makes his stick figures get wasted and fall over. An ambulance comes to pick them up and take them to rehab. Other figures fuck, doggy style on the floor. He thinks about fucking Casey and draws a dead dog. He has lube. He knows he'll do it. It's started to feel a little too inevitable. Casey's small and narrow like a girl, but he doesn't feel like a girl to touch.

"--Casey? Casey." Miss Burke has raised her voice above her usual whisper and Zeke comes out of his doze. Casey's blushing and confused - a good look on him - and stutters, "Because Arthur was in love with Lancelot and Lancelot betrayed him, and--"

Zeke's impressed. He can see it, too. Fucking on a royal bed, somewhere big and gilded - they'd need a Guinevere, someone suitable. He can think of a candidate.

The snickering in the back of the class grows to raucous laughter and someone yells, "Fags!"

"Takes one to know one," Gabe snorts and throws an eraser at Casey. Miss Burke just stands there, the stupid cow, like subtext is an entirely new concept to her.

"Read the fucking book, asshole," Zeke says and quotes, " 'There is an old saying among the Saxons, a friend is one to whom you will lend your favourite wife and your favourite sword...' " He makes a little hand gesture to get the point across. Miss Burke blanches and turns her eyes away. "It's all between the lines."

Casey's bent over his book, but Zeke catches his eyes briefly. Oh, gratitude, surprise. He goes back to thinking about fucking.


After English class, he spends some quality time in the restroom with a bunch of rich dopeheads who cannot get enough of the Zeke home brew. He keeps the money he makes off them in a suitcase under his bed. He's never used any of it - he likes the thought of having a suitcase full of cash. A getaway stash. Just in case.

Casey's waiting - not by Zeke's car, but at the edge of the lot, close enough to see him coming but at a safe distance. He has a scratch on his forehead and a couple dead leaves in his hair. He's clutching his books to his chest. Zeke has Casey's bag in his trunk. He could just hand it to him and leave.

He doesn't have to turn around to look to know the expression on Casey's face when he walks right past him.

Casey would probably be dirty; dust and cold sweat. He'd have to shower. Or bathe. There's a large, old-fashioned bathtub in the downstairs bathroom, lion's feet and all. Zeke fell in it once when he was ten and almost drowned. His parents loved that thing; the only piece of furniture they brought along when they moved here from New York.

He digs his hands into his pockets. "Come on, Case," he says and hears the shuffle of feet. He has to stop himself from smirking. "You left your bag."

"I know," Casey says and gets in the car. He's still hugging his books like they're his last friends in the world. "I was gonna ask you."

I'm gonna fuck him today, Zeke thinks.


Casey's no problem. He makes it very easy by trailing obediently after Zeke through the house, without even asking where they're going. Maybe one day they'll find something to talk about. Zeke's not holding his breath.

He didn't make his bed before he left - he never does - and the sheets are probably not the cleanest in the world. He probably shouldn't been thinking about that. Casey's not going to care about the sheets, and even if Casey cares, Zeke won't care if he does.

He still thinks about the damn sheets. Casey stands in the door and stares at the floor. Zeke almost wants him to protest, to tell Zeke to fuck off; to try to run.

"Take off your clothes," he says, just to test. Casey meets his eyes and Zeke pretends there's defiance there.

Casey takes off his clothes. There's a tear on his shirt - a seam on a sleeve has ripped. His fingers skate over it when he folds the shirt carefully and puts it on a chair. Zeke watches, fascinated, as goosebumps grow suddenly on his arms.

Casey's eyes are downturned, but he doesn't seem put off or angry. Zeke's watched him enough to know what anger looks like on Casey's face. Like a small furry animal baring tiny sharp teeth at something large enough to sit it to death.

This is one part of Casey that Zeke doesn't understand. This way of just...going along. He knows there's steel under the geeky exterior, but it needs a lot to show. A lot of pushing.

Casey's wearing a Rammstein t-shirt, about fifteen sizes too large for him. Zeke doesn't even try to imagine where he got it from. He always forgets that Casey existed before he got to know him.

Casey fumbles awkwardly with his belt, and Zeke feels almost relieved to see some good old-fashioned bashfulness in him. It gives him something to pick up on; start with. He steps closer and pushes Casey down on the bed. Casey's stomach is perfectly smooth and flat, and he strokes it a little, just to feel the heat of the skin. Casey breathes faster immediately. That's one reason for keeping him around. It doesn't take much to get him going that way - it's like he's so starved for touch that a heated look already gets him hot and bothered. That neediness is reassuring. Zeke thinks, I can get him to do anything. Anything at all. Reassuring.

He strokes Casey's silky skin and says, conversationally, "I'm gonna fuck you." Casey gasps and twitches. "Say yes."

It's stuttery and hardly more than a whisper: "--yes."

Good enough. He pulls Casey's pants off. Casey lies quiet, just breathing. He turns willingly onto his stomach. Zeke strokes his back slowly, down over his ass, between his legs, downy skin, more heat. Back again. His palm likes Casey's skin. He watches the contrast of his tanned hand against Casey's milk white back.

It's getting dark in the room. The day started sunny, but the skies were darkening already when they left school, and now he can hear rain pattering at the windowpanes. He sits on the edge of the bed and Casey lies where he lies, silent and naked, like an artist's model waiting for directions.

His hand is lying flat on the curve of Casey's ass. The rain whispers and he can hear the small sounds of Casey's breaths, but everything else is quiet. Zeke's almost forgotten what he's here for. His body's forgotten. He hardly knows who this is, whose skin he's touching. The faint light in the room moves, scattered by the rivulets streaming down the window.

Casey moves against his hand, rolls over, turns to look at him. Zeke feels like he's teetering on the edge of waking. He zoned out somehow. He can't quite pull himself out of it.

He watches Casey sit up and waits for him to leave. He'll take him later, take him when he's not this strange, white-skinned thing in the broken light from the wet window.

Then Casey leans in and kisses his mouth with dry, chapped lips, lightly. Pulls back, and Zeke stares at him and thinks, out of the blue, fuck, he's pretty.

He's never thought that before, and it takes him by surprise. Casey's a freaky-looking kid, with those weird eyes and the sharp little face, but in this alien light he seems to almost glow, gain some sort of inner peace that wasn't there before.

Ready for anything. Zeke realises that Casey is ready and he isn't, and that is not a reassuring thought. What happened to his hard-earned detachment? He's sitting here admiring the lines of Casey Connor's face and dreaming away, and the world keeps turning outside.

Nothing is different, nothing at all, but Casey reaches for him with hands that don't tremble as much as they should, and Zeke lets him.

Casey's eyes are blank and distant, a little glassy; like mirror walls. Zeke finds the use of his muscles and grabs his arm, far gentler than he would have yesterday. "What are you thinking?" he asks. Stupid fucking question, stupid girl question that leads to nothing but trouble, but Casey blinks and says, "Snow. Rain. Canada," but his eyes have cleared now.

Freak, Zeke thinks. Freak. But who's the freak? He can't remember much of the last few weeks other than Casey. He's not good at lying to himself, so he has to admit that this is more than a pastime. Obsession is a pretty word for it.

He has lube. He'd thought he'd just do it, wham bam, that it wouldn't be hard. But Casey looks very small and fragile, and right now, Zeke doesn't feel like hurting him. It's ridiculous. He knows Casey doesn't break. He's bruised him and crushed him against hard things and he's just kept ticking, liked it even.

He doesn't feel like hurting him. "I'm not gonna hurt you," he tells Casey.

Casey makes a little face and says, quietly, "Don't dislocate your shoulder trying to pat yourself on the back." He still looks breakable, though. He's never talked back before. The world is moving on.

This is not going according to plan. He keeps forgetting what to do. Casey's unsettling him, and that's also not in the protocol. He was trying to imagine fucking Casey and now he knows why it was so hard. He needs to stop thinking.

He undresses quickly and tries not to feel self-conscious when Casey just looks at him. Zeke's never fucked anyone this quiet and passive. It's almost creepy.

He keeps Casey on his back, though, because he wants to see his face. He wants to make Casey see him. It doesn't feel like Casey's really there, though, even when Zeke starts pushing in. It's tight, way tight, almost painfully so, and he feels disconnected, somehow, like he's nothing but a big, aching dick and his hands and face and mouth belong to someone else. His brain doesn't feel connected to his big, aching dick, either - he doesn't feel turned on, but he's hard and his hips are pushing eagerly forward.

Casey's eyes narrow into slits. He's absolutely still, but Zeke can feel a deep tremble in him, and he's wincing between short, shallow gasps. His hands have curled into tight, white-knuckled fists.

Zeke stops. Casey doesn't move. "Why don't you--" Zeke says, not entirely sure what he's trying to say. "It must hurt like hell. Why don't you say so?"

Casey's eyes focus on him. They're dark in the gloom, dark but with a strange sheen to them. Casey has the weirdest eyes ever. "Would you care?" he says.

Zeke opens his mouth to say, "Yes," but realises that it would be such an obvious lie that Casey might actually laugh. Instead he says, "You could leave."

"Nowhere to go," Casey says and he looks like he's waiting for Zeke to go on. His hands are still in tight fists. Zeke looks at his own hands on Casey's hips and thinks they could be anyone's hands. It's a strange, humiliating feeling - he's been had by Casey. He realises he had been convinced that Casey was obsessed, too.

"Do you--" he starts, but Casey's gritting his teeth and shuddering under him, muttering something - "fuck, fuck, fuck--" - under his breath. He's angry, Zeke knows, suddenly.

He pushes deeper, then. Slowly - and Casey stays vice-tight around him, too tight. The light's almost gone by now and Casey's striped in black and grey, a faint ghost under Zeke. "You look--" he says on a slow thrust that gets him almost there but not quite, "--beautiful." Casey hisses something and turns his face away. He's awkwardly pretzeled up, bent double and his breathing is forced. "Your eyes look grey in this light. You have bigger eyes than most girls."

This time he's pretty sure Casey says, "Shut up," but it's muffled and comes out on a pained groan, so he can pretend not to have heard it. He slides his hands up Casey's side, over his ribs - he can feel every one of them, starkly outlined, sharp slats under his fingers - his nipples, hard in the chilly air. He leans onto Casey, making himself heavy and driving himself deeper inside, puts his hand on Casey's throat and feels Casey's dick twitch against his stomach.

"You want it," he says and leans in and kisses the side of Casey's face.

"Fuck you," Casey whispers and pushes back against him, just a tiny movement. Zeke tightens his hand a fraction around his throat and Casey moves again and his mouth falls open in a gasp.

Zeke's brain is returning to his body, and he can feel Casey's body now, feel that it makes him want it. Casey's moving with him, against him, and they're not in any rhythm, just random twitches and jerks and Zeke's back is starting to ache from this position.

"You want me," he says and pushes harder. Casey doesn't answer, but he's turned his face to Zeke and his back is arching, tight as a bowstring. Zeke lets himself go. Casey's expecting it, anyway. He thinks about punching him in the mouth just to see him bleed, but it's not necessary, he can kiss him and feel the bitter taste of adrenaline and lust, and bend him and break him like this, with his hips and his dick.

Casey's not quiet now: every thrust gets a whimper or a moan, and they're in Zeke's place now, in private, so there's no need to smother the sounds. He's been doing Casey for weeks and he didn't know Casey was loud in bed.

He finds the rhythm suddenly, one that fits them both, and for a few seconds it's absolutely perfect. It's filling him with something hot and almost painful, something he can't really describe or define, but it's threatening to break out of him, and he pounds into Casey like his body thinks it can get it out that way. He doesn't realise he's cut off Casey's air until Casey scratches at his arms.

He loosens his grip and Casey grabs his hair and pulls him down and kisses him, surprises him with tongue and teeth and harsh hands. He feels the shudder through his body and especially in his dick, and slick heat between them, and Casey's limp and sweat-damp under him, and he pushes a few more times and comes. He's almost disappointed that it's over, and at the same time, he couldn't be more relieved. His legs are shivering.

He breathes into the crook of Casey's neck, smells sweat and sex and a faint whiff of soap and dust. Zeke licks the damp skin, neck and shoulder and collarbone, and tastes salt. Casey moves restlessly, but doesn't struggle.

"You're hurting me," he says after a while, though, not angrily. Zeke rolls off him and tucks him against his body. His back is chilly, but Casey's skin warms him and it's good enough. He's drifting, and thinks he should probably clean up. Pull a blanket over them. Drive Casey home.


He wakes up when Casey moves. He's only half out of a strange, uneasy dream when his arm shoots out and catches Casey's hand, pulls him back.

"It's almost five," Casey says. "I have to--"

"They don't know where you are."

"I have to go to the bathroom."

He follows Casey down the hall. Casey walks a little stiffly. They pass the big mirror and Zeke sees them both, naked and wrapped in shadows and faint light, and thinks there should be photographs. Some of the shadows on Casey are bruises, and Zeke thinks, colour photos of him.

The bathroom is large and pristine, and Casey looks tiny and dirty in it. "You can take a shower," Zeke says. "Take a shower."

Casey meets his eyes quickly, but he doesn't protest. Zeke follows him now, too, turns on the water for him and fits them both under the spray. They're cold, and the water's hot, and stings his back and arms. Casey's skin is goosebumped and chilly.

Zeke touches Casey's hair and stops himself from telling him he can stay.