7: Slip
by Wax Jism

Delilah gets to school and finds Gabe banging Casey's head against his locker in the hall. Casey's hanging limp in his hands.

"Sublimating again, Gabe?" she asks. That falls flat. How annoying is it to have cutting wit when the targets don't get the insults? Casey gets it though, and he tears loose and meets her eyes quickly before scurrying off.

"He was begging for it," Gabe says. He's started to look like he's expecting something from her, and she realises he thinks he's next in line now that he's captain. Yeah, fat chance. She's done with jocks.

"And you just jumped at the chance. I guess you don't get enough of the old hump and grind on the field."

She walks away, and he yells, "Bitch!" after her.


Casey's in the dark room, the red light drawing blood on his face, hollowing out his eyes and cheeks. She locks the door and leans against the wall. He doesn't move.

"I'm not wearing underwear," she says quietly, and he comes closer. She doesn't even have to tell him what to do, he just drops to his knees in front of her like her thoughts and wishes have been mainlined straight into his nervous system. His hands are cold when he pushes up her skirt, his breath staccato damp heat on her thighs.

She slips her leg over his shoulder and he quivers under her, but he can take it. His hands warm up against the fold of her hip, his tongue touches her clit lightly, as if he's still asking permission even after she catches him between her legs and locks him there.

She grinds her pelvis against his face and he gets it, gets to it. She leans her head against the wall and stares at the red light, the shadows on the walls, black and red and grey, shadows and the zings and flashes of cold and heat racing each other through her body. She puts her fingers in her mouth and bites them to stop from crying out.

Casey makes small, muffled sounds and she thinks about getting Zeke to fuck him while he's licking her, thinks about what sounds he'd make then. Feeling the thrusts go through him into her, it would be special.

She wishes she could kiss him afterwards, lick the tangy taste off his mouth, maybe bite his lip until the taste mixes with blood. But her makeup is probably already smeared, and there isn't time to reapply her face. Instead, she slips her fingers into his mouth and he sucks them and stares at her with eyes turned dark brown in the filtered light.

She gets up and smoothes her skirt down. "Later, Case," she says and leaves. She has English and History, and practice after school.


She's picking her way through something that probably started life as a Caesar salad. She's sticky in her skirt and rethinking the whole no underwear thing, but it does give her a little thrill. It's okay. Donna and Mariel are cataloguing the eligible bachelors in the school for her. Donna says, "Zeke Tyler," and they both laugh bright, dismissive laughs. Delilah smiles at her plate.

Stan taps her on the shoulder and she sees the girls' eyes light up. "Hey, Delilah," he says and he's making let's talk eyes at her.

"Excuse me," she says and gets up. Donna is winking at her like this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

"How are you?" Stan asks. His face is in serious mode.

"What do you want?"

"I just thought we'd talk."

"I was eating, you know."

"Well, I never see you around." Still serious. He's stubborn as all hell. In fact, his refusal to back down is the only interesting thing about him. It's also infuriating.

On the other hand, right now she could use a break from the bachelors of Herrington High, so she says, "Okay, okay, what do you want?" and follows him.

He leans against a vending machine, squirms a little where he stands, pushes his hands into his pockets. "I really just wanted to. Are you okay? You've been a little..."

She raises her eyebrows slowly. The trick is to never let anything show. Stan always shows too much.

"I don't know. I was just. You're acting different since."

"Who died and made you my dad?" she asks slowly.

"I care about you, Delilah," he says. His earnestness would be endearing if she wasn't ready to claw gouges down his cheeks. "I just...didn't know you'd take it so hard--"

She's almost surprised by her own laughter. It's a little too shrill in her own ears, edged with hysteria. The cafeteria seems to have fallen entirely silent and her voice rolls between the walls.

She hasn't thought about him in weeks and he's standing here with his earnest eyes and his hands stuffed in his pockets, asking if she's still pining for him.

She swallows her laughter and almost tells him. It would feel so fucking good to lean in and tell him, but there are people everywhere and she sees Donna and Mariel watching, their noses almost twitching with curiosity. Gabe and the rest of the team are there. Casey's bowed over his lunch in a corner, but she knows he's watching, too.

"Go back to your books, Stan," she says instead.


"Does he want you back?" Mariel asks immediately when she returns to the table.

"I've moved on," Delilah says.

"So he's not seeing anyone else now?" Donna asks.

"Up for grabs," Delilah says dismissively and goes back to her salad.

"Who have we forgotten?" Donna goes on. "Gabe's captain, of course..."

"Stop trying to set me up with people," Delilah says and there's a quick, breathless silence around her.

"It's just..." Donna says after a while.

"You know there's a rumour about you and, like, Zeke?" says Mariel.

"A what?" Delilah puts down her fork, because this is not the time to have shaky hands.

"It's like, totally stupid, of course," Mariel adds quickly, but her eyes are sharp.

"Eliza Schofield says she saw you in his car," Donna says. "But she's, like, always coming up with stuff."

Delilah throws a glance over her shoulder. Zeke's on his way out, and she sees the look he exchanges with Casey. They're getting sloppy, she thinks. It's time to stop being stupid.

"Eliza Schofield needs to stop hitting Zeke up for dust," she says, but they're still looking at her.


"So, how about it, Delilah?" Gabe says a couple of days later when they're being jostled in the hall after the bell rings. He's handsome, moderately intelligent, popular, clean. He's the captain of the team. She takes a deep breath.

"Yeah," she says.


"Take me out."


She goes out with Gabe and doesn't call Casey or Zeke, and she's relieved and anxious at the same time.

"I'm thinking about Illinois," Gabe says over a hazelnut latte, and Delilah realises she hasn't thought about college since everything started.

"Sarah Lawrence for me," she improvises. She has no idea if her grades will hold. It still doesn't feel like she's regaining her senses. The thought of college doesn't set off sparks of anticipation anymore.

"Stan was looking at a scholarship for Arizona, but then he went and quit the team," Gabe says with an air of slightly smug concern.

"Stan probably has a plan," she says. She lets Gabe kiss her goodnight. She thinks she'll probably sleep with him three or four dates in.


The next day, Zeke sidles up to her in the hall. He slides a hand over her ass, none-too-discreetly and says, "So, I hear you're dating Gabe the Great now."

Zeke's not the one she's worried about, so she says, "You thought you had some kind of say in this?"

"Nah, just checking. I don't think Casey'll be all a-flutter when you bring your new boytoy home to dinner, though."

"Oh, fuck off, Zeke. Since when did you care?"

"Hidden depths," he says.


"What are you hanging around him for?" Gabe asks when she gets to her locker. He's leaning against it like he now owns it.

"Got stuck working on something with him," she says. He kisses her and she realises she hasn't been to Zeke's in four days and she hasn't seen more than a few glimpses of Casey since then. And she misses it. Them.

The thought of kissing Gabe while thinking about Casey makes her smile. Gabe smiles back at her.


He's going to fuck her in his car. She lets him push up her skirt and thinks, yeah, classy shit, Gabe. He's muscular where Zeke is sinewy and Casey is bony. The first time Stan fucked her, he took her home and put on music. Maybe she should tell Gabe about that.

She could tell him about the last time she did it in a car, though. In the passenger seat of Zeke's GTO, pretzeled up in Casey's lap with his fingers digging into her hips, Alice Cooper blaring over the sound of wheels, the landscape a blur outside the window, Casey's small grunts soft in her ears.

That was car sex to be remembered. Gabe's not bad, but she only comes because she wills herself to.

He takes her home, kisses her outside the door and leaves her leaning against the tile wall, digging for her keys.

"New boy?" her mother asks.

"New captain of the team," Delilah says and her mother nods. She was head cheerleader of Herrington High twenty years ago. Delilah's thought about this and figured that her mother's current state should be enough to send anyone scrambling for the chess club. Delilah likes to think she's a stronger person than that, but on days like these, she wonders if it's worth it.


She wakes up at three am, uncomfortably sweaty and hot. She kicks off the cover and lies on her back. She doesn't know if she was dreaming, but it feels like she might have been. Her palms feel empty and dry.

The room sits quiet and dark around her. Her mother is still up; she can hear the TV going downstairs. Delilah slips out of bed and pulls on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, an old sweater, sneakers, a jacket. Doesn't bother with the lenses, just her glasses.

"Are you going out?" her mother asks when she passes the living room door. There's no light on but the TV, flickering blue light. Her mother's curled in the sofa with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Delilah thinks she might be sober. They could talk maybe, watch a late movie together.

"Yeah," she says and closes her hand around her car keys in the jacket pocket.

"Don't be too late," her mother says without turning away from the TV. She's watching an old Mel Gibson movie. She loves Mel Gibson. Delilah can't stand him.


The night outside is perfectly still and cold, with frost on the ground, lit bright white by the half moon. She stands next to her car for a full five minutes and stares at a maple. There's a dry leaf still clinging to a branch, and it shivers minutely in a breeze too gentle to feel.

"I'm turning into Casey," she tells the night and gets in the car.


She's letting herself into Zeke's house when it occurs to her that she has a spare key, she knows where the coffee is, she can find the linen closet and knows the floor in the downstairs bathroom is orange because Zeke's parents had a fight about it in the store and Zeke picked the colour. She doesn't know Gabe's middle name.

Casey's there. She thought he might be. They're both asleep, and Delilah has to smile when she sees them. They look innocent and adorable, something people might coo and sigh over; smooth faces and dark lashes, Zeke's hand resting on Casey's shoulder. He moves while she watches, pulls Casey closer and presses his face into Casey's neck.

Delilah has never slept through the night with anyone. She doesn't even like the thought of it: smushed up against someone, fighting over blankets, morning breath, snoring. She likes to have space and the freedom to toss and turn if she wants to.

Casey rolls over, away from Zeke, and Zeke's hand curls and searches for him before lying still again.

Delilah kicks her shoes off and slides up the bed to lie in the gap between them. They move towards her, mumble in their sleep; lock her in with arms and bodies. She presses her face into Zeke's arm, her back against Casey's chest and closes her eyes.


She wakes to a hand on her shoulder, Zeke's face close to her, his voice. "What are you doing here?" She blinks and squints.

"Sleeping," she says. Casey's arms are wrapped around her waist, and he's still asleep, his breath sending shivers down her spine.

"Thought you were out with the boyfriend," he says, and she feels Casey wake up behind her: he jerks out of sleep and freezes. Zeke moves, looks over her, and she knows they're looking at each other. Zeke's face is in shadow.

"I don't sleep with him," she says quickly.

Zeke sits up and now he's glowering at her, his eyebrows pulled together. "Just fuck him, huh?"

She feels Casey pull his hands away, quickly, as if her skin suddenly burned his fingers and moves away entirely. Her back feels cold where it misses his body heat. She hears his feet on the floor, tiptoe steps vanishing down the hall.

She pushes herself up. "Are you jealous, Zeke? Cause it doesn't suit you." His eyes slide over her, beyond her. She can't hear anything moving in the house, as if Casey simply melted into the walls and disappeared. "You're not the cornerstone of loyalty yourself," she adds. She sounds defensive, and she hates it. More than that, she hates the fact that he knows it - his expression smoothes out; he's got her.

"Do I look like I give a fuck who you screw in your free time?" he asks. "I meant him--" and he gestures at the door and the empty hall outside it, "--he doesn't take shit like this with grace."

She blinks at him. She means to cut back with something, when did you grow a conscience? or did that stop you? but then she's too busy boiling into a fury.

He's sliding out of bed, naked and sleek in the pale dawn, and she stares at his back. He has a scattering of shallow scratches there, faintly visible as darker lines in the hesitant light. Casey must have made them, scratched deep enough to cut welts in the skin with those ragged stumps of nails he has.

Some independent, over-sexed part of her brain is wondering whether Zeke ever let Casey top him, whether Casey would even want to, while the rest of her is standing up and walking towards him, saying, "This is not fucking San Francisco, asshole, we're not free to dance on the merry threesome float with the rest of the deviants. I have a reputation."

"Can't stop slumming though, can you?" he says and she slaps him in the face, hard. Somewhere, she hears a door slam. Zeke's outlined against the window, still shamelessly naked, carelessly naked, not even bothering to rub his face. He cocks his head and she hardly sees his hand coming, but it leaves a print burned into her face. He has big hands. No guy has ever slapped her before. Ever. "You are slumming, though. Don't forget that."

"And you forget that I'm not Casey, you can't beat me into submission."

She thinks she sees him flinch, but it might just have been a trick of the light. There are headlights moving outside the window. "I'm not trying to," he says, softer than she expected. "I like you better when you're a bitch."

She remembers why she slept with him in the first place; that easy way he has of being entirely unpredictable. Twisted signals. Soft mouth and hard eyes. She almost laughs at her own stupidity - what a cliché, going for the bad boy. Then she remembers Casey, soft everywhere and bleeding openly. That's not such a cliché.

She's kissed Casey, long kisses, just making out on the couch or on the bed, with Zeke's hands somewhere on her body, or on Casey's body.

It'd be a good world where she could combine her life with her ambitions. She almost wants to tell Zeke to get a grip, give up the drugs, join the team, start showing up in school more regularly so he'd make a better boyfriend.

Casey'll never make a good boyfriend, so that's a loss.

She looks at Zeke, who's scratching his belly and yawning now, as if the conversation is suddenly boring him. Zeke will never be respectable, either. "Why the hell do I even hang around?" she says suddenly, and he just shrugs.

"Cause we're more fun than Gabe the Great," he says with a little emphasis on 'we', as if they're some kind of single entity. Zekasey. A boxed set. "That's a good pick, too. I mean, you don't want anyone too friendly. Think he wants in on the action? He's really fond of Casey."

She almost hits him again, but it'd be no use. This conversation is over. She toes on her shoes and heads for the door.

"You're not fucking me over, you're fucking Casey over," Zeke says behind her. She'd like to ask him if this is some kind of big revelation to him, but she doesn't. She didn't think it'd be a big revelation to her, but there it is.

"Didn't stop you," she says instead and goes to get her coat off the peg by the door. It's not on the peg anymore, though; it's on the floor in a heap. Zeke's cool enough to not yell anything stupid after her. She doesn't know where Casey is.

She doesn't know where her car keys are, either. Or her car, in fact. She stands on the doorstep and squints into the front drive. She's not wearing her glasses, so she has to go back inside.

"Casey took my car," she says when she marches past Zeke in the hall. He's still naked.

He's dressed before she's found her glasses. "You wanna hurry up?" he mutters at her.

"Hurry where?"

Zeke doesn't turn around, just heads out the door. "You wanna catch him before he crosses the fucking state line?"

"He wouldn't."

"Think so? He was on his way to fucking Canada last time."

If she didn't know better, she'd say Zeke's scared. Zeke's the most unruffleable person she knows. She follows him out to his car, which is still there. Zeke and his car share a sort of scruffy charm. Delilah tries to picture Casey driving this car and almost laughs out loud. It's a stick; she's not sure Casey could even get it out of the drive.


Zeke drives very fast, and Delilah buckles up and hangs on to the door handle. It's almost five am and getting lighter. Zeke taps the wheel and doesn't turn on the radio.

After a while, Delilah says, "He'd probably go home first, wouldn't he?" Zeke makes an illegal U-turn. Delilah's head bangs against the window.

Her car isn't in Casey's drive. The house is dark. "Fuck," Zeke says quietly and lights a cigarette. He hands Delilah the pack without even asking.

"If he's gone, he's long gone," she says. It's easy to say it, but the silence after is soup-thick and the air in the car is smoky and just as thick. Her throat hurts.

"Fuck," Zeke says again. He's stopped tapping the wheel; he's gone entirely still. It doesn't look reassuring. "MotherFUCK. I'm dropping you off."

That was a quick change of gear, and she almost flinches with it. "What, are you gonna look for him?"

"Don't have anything better to do today," he says, and Delilah has already opened her mouth to say, "Neither have I," when she remembers cheerleading practice and her date with Gabe and study group and the school paper committee. Life being life again. It seems impossible that Casey could be gone. She's never even seen him drive.

Zeke's already heading towards her house, but she spends the drive trying to pin down any excuse good enough to ditch her previous engagements. "One of my other boyfriends stole my car" wouldn't do.

It takes her a couple of blocks to notice that she thought about Casey and Zeke as her boyfriends without any alarms going off. The thought isn't very disturbing in face of the missing car and missing Casey. She wants to chew her nails for the first time since she started getting manicures three years ago.


Her car is in the drive. In her drive, parked with one wheel on the grass and the driver's side door open. They sit in Zeke's car in silence for a few minutes. Zeke scratches his head and drops ashes in his hair. Delilah reaches out and brushes it away. Zeke grabs her wrist.

"Lucky you," he says. "Got your car back."

"Fuck the car," she snaps and yanks her hand loose and gets out. Her car is empty. The keys are on the driver's seat. "What is he doing?"

They walk around the house, around the block, around the house again. Delilah goes inside, but her mother is still up.

"You didn't see anything?"

"What should I see?" she says, and Delilah can smell her from the door.

"She didn't notice," she tells Zeke when she goes back outside.

Zeke's smoking again, standing in the yard with his hands in his pockets, the cigarette hanging from his lower lip. She thinks he probably doesn't do it on purpose, but it looks like he's posing. She wouldn't swear it's not thought-out, though.

"Isn't this like five blocks from his house if you cut across the park?" he says, suddenly. "He probably just went home."

It makes sense, somehow. Casey'd know how things work. Casey's not stupid. He knows more about the pecking order in school than Zeke, she's pretty sure of that. Casey'd understand.

"He didn't have the balls to just steal your car and head for the border," Zeke goes on. He almost sounds disappointed. Disappointed and relieved, but not necessarily in that order.

"Not yet," she says.


Casey's in school in the morning, slipping around a corner down the hall. She only sees the back of his head, but it's enough. She feels stupidly relieved. Stupid, stupid, she thinks, because when Gabe touches her arm, she has to fight not to recoil.

"Hey, baby," he says and slides his arms around her. He's not so bad, she thinks. Zeke ambles past them and he nods at her, hardly more than an arch of the eyebrows.

"Class," she tells Gabe and slips out of his reach. In class, Casey sits up front, by the wall. He's bent over his books and doesn't look up once the whole fifty minutes.

She's doodling in her notebook, and finally she writes, hey, fuckwit, don't drive my car without me around, k and tears off the page. She slips it into his pocket when they're pushed together in the throng after class. She feels about twelve years old, but it's a light feeling.


He's right behind her for a while; she can somehow feel him in the air like she has antennae to pick up his wavelength. She knows he follows when she ducks into the library. She picks down a book at random - Crime and Punishment - and stares at the pages. --two fresh blows with the hatchet on the crown of the old woman's head. The blood spurted out in streams and the body rolled heavily over. At that moment-- He stands next to her, and she can see a little scratch on his hand and his bitten nails and the top of his head.

She's never been addicted to anything. She's never wanted to be. She knows Zeke is the same. This is so fucking strange.

"I'm okay," he mumbles, directing it at the bookshelf. She doesn't know if he's apologising or waiting for her to explain. It doesn't matter.

The library is quiet and smells musty and unused. The whole school should probably be condemned. She steps closer to him. --it was Raskolnikoff who had been caught in a trap, a snare, an ambush of some kind or other. The mine was, perhaps, already charged-- She's close enough that his sleeve brushes her arm and she touches his side. There's no one in the library except Mrs Brummel and she's somewhere in the stacks - Delilah can hear her shuffling steps.

"Have you read this?" she says. He takes the book and opens it. She stares at his eyelashes - the light comes from above and they throw long, spidery shadows on his cheeks.

"'A little cock, did you say? A little cock?' cried the sutler."

She answers his grin and takes one more step closer. She can rest her hand against the front of his jeans without making it obvious. "That's out of context."

"Everything's more fun out of context."

"So, hm." She wants to say, "no hard feelings?" but it doesn't quite want to come out that way. "See you at Zeke's tonight?" she says. See you at Zeke's, see Zeke at Zeke's, see me at Zeke's. She puts a little pressure on his crotch, enough to feel him, and he closes his eyes and nods quickly.

The light makes him glow, and it heats the top of her head, and it's not so bad, having a double life. She takes the book from his unresisting hand and puts it back on the shelf.

The library door creaks a little, and they both jump.

"Delilah! What are you doing here?"

"Studying, Gabe," she says carefully. Casey's backed off several steps. Gabe saunters over. He's not so bad, she thinks. Not so bad.

"You can stop stalking my girlfriend now, asshat," he says to Casey, leans in and fake-punches him. "Boo!"

She can see Casey's mouth set and his shoulders square up, but when she's almost sure he'll bitch back and she'll have to do something, he just throws her a glance and walks out. She thinks he walks taller now than before. She might be imagining it, though.

"You can stop kicking him around now," she tells Gabe. "What'd he ever do to you?"

"When did you start caring? It's like he's glued to your ass lately. I don't know if I should be jealous or something." He says it lightly, but there's an edge of suspicion there she doesn't like. It's too hot in here now.

"Come on, baby," she says. "I have stuff to do." And she puts her arm around him and leans close and lets him kiss her before they walk out.