14: Scream
by Wax Jism

"No," Delilah says. Her voice is a little cracked, and her eyes are wet, even though she hasn't allowed herself to really cry. She won't, Zeke thinks, not until she's cleaned off her eye makeup, at least. She's been pacing back and forth in front of the car, but now she's right in front of him and won't back down. "No, you fucker."

Zeke likes this kind of anger. It's cold and rational. It feels like steel in his throat and chest.

Delilah thumps him on the chest and says "no" a couple more times. He's already thinking about his gun. There are things people can get away with; pissing on Zeke's (petfriendbrother) boyfriend isn't one of them. He can feel the gun in his hand already, even though it's locked in the glove compartment of the GTO.

"Don't be a moron," Delilah says. "You're not gonna be much good for us in jail."

He looks down at her. "Who says I'm going to jail?"

She makes a little frustrated gesture - men! Her hair is still damp; she put it under a shower to wash the blood-and-piss water out of it. Her pants are still soaked in it, same as Zeke's jeans. She doesn't seem to notice the cold, though.

"Then I'm getting his parents," he says and imagines lifting his hand with the gun heavy and still hot, ready to go again.

"Why don't you shoot your own parents," she mutters. That might have hurt yesterday, before all this shit. Before he'd walked into the ER and Casey's dad met him in the hall with his face contorted with unfocused rage. "You," he'd said and even pointed at Zeke, poked him in the chest with a finger, "you're behind this."

No sign of Casey, just drawn curtains and nurses flitting around. Casey's dad, broad-shouldered and compact in a way Casey will never be, had tried to push Zeke back towards the doors. "You come near him again-- You're going down." He had leaned in closer, close enough that Zeke had seen that his eyes were bloodshot and not nearly as blue as Casey's. "You're going down," he repeated, not sounding half as threatening as he probably thought he did.

Delilah's hands had been on Zeke's shoulders then too, like now, stopping him from going too far.

Zeke had heard crying behind the curtains and thought it was Casey's mother. Nothing from Casey. He'd wanted to ask if Casey was okay, but he hadn't thought Casey's dad would be very forthcoming, not with the way he hissed, "Get out and take her with you," twisting his mouth at Delilah.

Zeke had spat on the floor in front of him and walked out. He'd been thinking about Gabe, anyway.

"We just gonna sit here, then?" he asks Delilah now. She's up in his face, a wildcat with smudged makeup and wet hair.

Her fingers are a little unsteady on his face. She's not as together as she's pretending to be, he thinks. But she's got the steel under her skin, too. Her lips brush against his when she says, "Let's go see Stan."

She's on a whole other level of sly than Casey. Casey, in fact, wouldn't know how to be sly if he had a gun in his face. His idea of a tactical manoeuvre is putting himself in the path of a fist. Delilah inches closer, stroking Zeke's face, soothing him like someone would a nervous horse. He thinks about Casey and wants to shake her off, but he knows she wants what he wants - she doesn't let people get away with anything ever. If she were his sister, she would have destroyed his mother.

She's not his sister, though, so he pulls her closer and shuts her up with his mouth while he tries to think. Stan, Stan, what the fuck do they need Stan for? She makes a muffled sound and bites his lip, scratches his neck and finally wraps herself around him.

It's windy and he's pushed against his car in the hospital parking lot, and all the steel is still in him even though the rest is melting. He could just swing Delilah around and fuck her right here, against the red stripe on the hood.

He shoves her away for a second and she hisses at him. He opens his eyes and there's Stan, standing by his car fifteen feet away, staring with his mouth open.

Delilah goes from vicious sexkitten to all business in 0.4 seconds as she turns around and catches sight of him.

"Stan," she says. "We need to talk to you."

He looks a little surprised. Fair enough, Zeke thinks, she did cut him down mercilessly only a few hours earlier. She'd still been raw then; none of this calculating anger. Her nails had been cutting into Zeke's hand hard enough to leave little marks he still feels.

"Have you talked to anyone?" she asks now. Stan looks like hell; sallow and hollow-eyed, like he's the one with piss in his wounds.

"Drake wants to talk to me," he says.

"Don't," Delilah says. She moves towards him, walking softly. Zeke waits.

"The cops are asking around, too, I guess," Stan says. "And I thought--" He actually winces and swallows. "I thought Casey was your friend. And I saw what happened."

"Lie," Delilah says. "We're gonna lie. We don't know what happened. Casey doesn't know what happened."


"We'll take care of it," she says, softly. Her hair is drying; the wind whips it around her face. Dry leaves skitter over the pavement.

Zeke finds a cigarette and lights it. Stan squirms and looks doubtful, doubtful and curious at the same time. Zeke remembers one time in his house, Delilah flat on her back on his bed with Casey between her legs, Zeke in the chair next to the bed, watching - she'd turned to him with glassy eyes and flushed face and said, "Can't believe I wasted two years with Stan."

He grins around his cigarette. Stan shrugs awkwardly at Delilah and mutters, "Okay, okay."

Delilah stares after him for a while as he walks away. "He can't lie to save his life." She turns back to Zeke. "Whatever. Everyone else will lie better."

It strikes Zeke then that Stan will be allowed to see Casey. Oh, that stings. The need to see Casey - touch him, talk to him, get him the fuck away from his blockhead parents - is swelling like a spring flood.

"Let's go," he says and barely waits for Delilah to get her legs in the car and the door closed before peeling out of the lot.


She heads for the shower as soon as they get back to his place, and he follows her and stands in the door, watching her pull her clothes off quickly and angrily. She throws them on the floor, even though she's usually so particular about clothes that she doesn't let Casey or Zeke pull at them or wad them up. "Not the Donna Karan!" she'll say and push them away and pick up the shirt.

He thinks about joining her. The bathroom, though, makes him nervous. The cold tiled wall and the sound of running water. Zeke backs out of there and hopes he's not turning into a neurotic old lady.

Casey never said no; uncomfortable bathroom sex was fine by him, fine enough that he gasped hoarsely and spread his legs wider when Zeke pushed him against the cold tiles, fine enough that he clawed at the wall and came with a shaky moan.

Zeke goes to his room and takes off his still-damp jeans. The shirt, too. It has stains on the front, brown in the low light. Casey's bled on Zeke's clothes before. Maybe on this same shirt. If he got an ultraviolet light in here, he might find traces of old stains.

He stands in the middle of his room in nothing but boxers; skin chilly but hot on the inside.

He turns and sweeps the books off his shelf. They land on the floor in a heap, making unsatisfying soft thumps on the carpet. He sucks in a breath and stands still again, waits for the rage to boil down. He doesn't do blind fury. He doesn't do stupid. If he had Gabe or any of the other fucks here, he'd castrate them first and kill them only when they were begging for it.

He doesn't do rage. He walks slowly through the hall towards the living room. The shower is still running. He tries to picture Delilah there, her wet skin and the hair in a glossy black cascade down her back. He could go there and put his hands on the swell of her hips. She might bitch him out, but she doesn't say no much either, when it comes down to it.

Instead, he goes into the living room and looks around at the quiet dusty nothing of it. His mother hasn't sent anyone to collect her things; he doesn't think she will. The stereo is a Bang & Olufsen; a discreetly outlandish and overpriced piece of Scandinavian junk he never uses. It makes a good, solid noise when he pushes it over. It hits the metal of the edge of the coffee table. Sharp bits of plastic and glass slash at his bare legs.

He backs off. He's never felt like hurting himself, not once in his life, and he's not starting with any of that shit now. He pushes down a few vases from the bookshelf. The glasses in the bar make cheerful noises when they smash against the wall.

It takes him a while to overturn the bookcase; it spans the entire wall, a lumbering giant of solid mahogany and heavy glass. As it falls, he steps back and watches the glass doors shatter and the shelves dig deep tracks in the carpet.

He's not sure he actually hears it fall. He does hear Delilah's voice, though she seems faint and distant until he starts paying attention. "Whoah," she says first. She's usually more articulate. Then, a little louder, "Feel better?"

"No," he says.

She's wearing his bathrobe. She's wrapped his blue and brown towel around her hair. She has a toothbrush here, but no towels. He stares at her. Her presence seems suddenly too familiar; like she's moved in here when he wasn't paying attention, made herself comfortable in his nest without asking. They both have - there's one of Casey's ugly button-downs in the easy chair next to the ruined stereo. When Zeke concentrates for a second, he remembers that he pulled it off Casey himself, one day a few weeks ago. Because it was ugly; he told Casey it was hideous and peeled it off him. Casey slapped his hands away at first, said Zeke had to be possessed by Delilah or something, but then he let Zeke do it. It didn't stop there, of course, but Casey forgot to put that shirt back on after.

Delilah crosses the room, stepping carefully around the junk on the floor, avoiding the scattered glass on the carpet. Her toenails are painted dark red. She has small feet.

"We'll put this back together," she says when she's close enough that he can see that her eyes are red-rimmed. He tries to imagine her crying in the shower, but that seems like such a Casey thing to do, not like Delilah at all.

He looks down at her feet again, and the fallen bookcase beast next to her. "What, this one?" he asks.

"That was it for the comforting words, though," she says, ignoring him. He reaches out and pulls the towel off her head. Her hair is warm and damp underneath. It smells very familiar; so far, she hasn't brought any of her own shampoo.

He knots his fist in the wet silk of her hair. She curls her mouth in a smile so dry it's just a suggestion of amusement. "Fucking shit up didn't work," she says.

"No," he says. He's cold. She looks tired, even after showering.

"Fucking isn't gonna work either," she says, but she doesn't try to pull away. Her skin's warm and glowing under the robe, unblemished. Casey is careless with Zeke, scratches and bites - fair enough, of course, as Zeke never takes much care with Casey - but Delilah's sacred ground. No scratching, no biting, not even the tiniest lovebite. Casey never even squeezes her arm too hard.

Zeke tugs at her hair, tilts her head backwards. She bares her teeth, and he pushes the robe off her shoulders. It falls to the floor in a damp heap next to the towel. "Tug a little harder and kiss your balls goodbye," she murmurs and he lets her hair go, catches her by the arm instead, pulls her closer, spins her around. She's agile and light-boned, he can lift her and jam her against the wall with no problem. She hisses at him between her teeth. Her hair falls heavy-wet over his face. He looks up and she's there to kiss. She's using him right back for distraction.

It doesn't work; this is something Casey should be around for. Delilah is soft and yielding most everywhere. It's good, the way she accommodates him, the way fucking her is no hassle at all, but Zeke also likes the hassle of Casey.

She locks her legs around his waist and arches against him and says, "If you don't kill Gabe, I will."

He holds her against the wall with his hips and gets a hand in her hair again. He pulls her face towards him, just a little rougher than she likes. "Maybe Casey wants to." She smiles, a quick flash of teeth against his mouth.


The phone rings. Zeke realises he must have fallen asleep, because he doesn't really hear it until Delilah hits him in the face with her elbow, crawling over him to reach it. It's almost dark in his bedroom. His brain feels slow and lazy.

"Why are you calling here?" Delilah says, her voice shrill. She's lying across his chest, her hair falling into his face. "What?" she snaps, annoyed now. "Stan, you fucking trog, what the fuck--"

Zeke pulls her and the phone closer to him and hears Stan's voice, "--be a fucking bitch, Delilah. I'm just warning you, the shit's hitting the fan."

"What's going on?" Zeke asks them both. Delilah slaps her free hand over his mouth and yells, "What the fuck did you tell them?" into the receiver.

"Nothing," Stan says sullenly. "But they were already after Zeke, I guess Casey musta told them--"

"Bullshit, Stan. Fucking bullshit. Casey isn't gonna say anything about Zeke."

There's a pause and Zeke pulls Delilah's hand off his mouth and takes a deep breath and tries to think anything besides, You're so fucking dead, Stan.

"Casey was sedated. He pitched a fit about some exams and they had to give him a shot. The cops are gonna bust Zeke, I'm fucking telling you. I don't get it, I thought--"

"What did you tell them?" Delilah repeats. Zeke thinks, you're so fucking dead, Stan, and nothing else.

"I thought it was about GABE, okay? You didn't fucking TELL me it wasn't about fucking Ga--" He's cut short when Delilah hangs up the phone.

"Fuck," she says.

"I'm gonna kill him," Zeke says.

"No, you're not, asshole. He warned us." She gets up, paces around the room. "We need to think. We need to see Casey."

They had to sedate Casey. He tries to think of tests they'd have done. What would they have done to him? Casey'd been beat up, broken and dirty. Zeke hadn't been able to wash him off completely because soap on his fucked up hand or the gouge on his side would have hurt too much and Casey was already sobbing brokenly, relentlessly. Sharp edges everywhere in that shower room, and Casey'd been thrown bare-skinned and helpless against them.

He should have nailed Gabe right there. Gabe had almost smiled, he thinks. Nervously, because Delilah was there, but still fucking cocky.

"--maybe call someone, I don't know. What would they be looking for? Why you-- They must have talked to Miss Burke, or Casey might have, I don't know, I don't know. He might have said something if he was drugged--" Delilah's saying. She's forgotten that she's naked. The curtains aren't drawn. Zeke sits on the bed and thinks about his getaway stash and his fast car. Doesn't work, though. Casey's stuck in the hospital, drugged up, and no one to watch out for him except his worthless parents and goddamn Stan Rosado who cares about nothing but Delilah. "Come ON, Zeke, wake the fuck up."

"I'm up," Zeke says and gets up. It's ten PM. "We have to see him."

"I don't think visiting hours--"

"Don't think that's gonna stop me," he says. The trick to getting into places is just to walk right in like you're supposed to be there. Zeke's done that before.

She has almost all her clothes on when she stops dead, her blouse unbuttoned and her feet still bare.

"Did Casey stay here last night, after I left?" she asks, like it matters, eagerly.

"Yeah," he says. He'd woken up under a warm, softly snuffling Caseyblanket, the sun peeking hesitantly through the curtains.

"Did you fuck him?"

Casey in the morning is agreeable and doesn't bite or scratch like he might once he's really awake. Zeke allows him a second of sappy nostalgia and thinks, making love. He didn't expect to hurt himself thinking that.

"Fuck," Delilah says again. She's buttoning her shirt. She's lost the wild-eyed look now; she's businesslike again. Zeke likes her calculating little mind. It's a lot like his. Zeke feels sorry for any cops who want to ask him stupid questions. His hands want to do something, make someone hurt.

"Maybe we shouldn't go there," Delilah says. "They might be looking for you. They could be on their way here."

"Let them come," Zeke says and knots his hands into fists, to test them. He needs to see Casey right now. He might walk through some people to see Casey.

"Don't be stupid," she says. "You have a fucking drug lab in here. You have an unlicensed gun, you have fuck knows what--" She looks scared. Delilah is never afraid.

He thinks for a moment. There's a logical sequence of events here. Somewhere along the line, something went wrong. Gabe, of course. He should never have been allowed. Zeke has to stop himself from feeling guilty about not protecting Casey. No way to know Gabe was going to go batshit.

"How did they get my name?" he asks. He doesn't wait for Delilah to answer that. "Casey's fucking parents, of course." There's no way Casey would have pointed the finger. No way.

"Good to know you're with us," she says dryly, but she still looks scared. He realises he's forgotten that he's naked, too. He looks for something clean to wear - jeans, t-shirt, a sweater with some rips that look artfully thought out but are really just rips. It's an old sweater.

"I'm gonna clean out the lab," he says. There isn't that much to clean. Business has been slow lately. He's been slow. Drug-dealing for thrills loses its charm when he's getting laid on a regular basis.

He carries the mouse cage up to his room. A guy can have pet mice, nothing weird about that. Delilah doesn't like them, but Casey does - he always looks a little worried when Zeke's handling them, as if he doesn't trust Zeke not to kill them on a whim. Casey is nice to small, furry animals.

Zeke holds Burton and Clarissa in his cupped hands. Their whiskers tickle his fingers. He could give them to Casey as a get-well present. Casey has a well-developed sense of irony; he'd appreciate the gesture on more than one level.

He wonders where Casey keeps his negatives. Not here. Not in his room at home. Locker, probably. All that home-made porn, stuffed under a copy of America: History of a Nation. It's almost sad. There are no paper copies anymore, Zeke thinks, or at least none that he's seen. Casey might have a few stashed somewhere. That wouldn't be surprising; Casey keeps things close to his chest.

He puts down the mice. Clarissa nibbles at the loose skin in the fold between his thumb and index. He lets her. He tries to decide whether now is a good time to panic or not. He doesn't feel screwed yet, but it's in the air. He'd like to think he'd have enough sense to get the fuck outta Dodge if push comes to shove, but right now his brain is repeating notwithoutCaseynotwithoutCasey like a fucking stuck record.

"You need to get your head out of your ass," Delilah says from the door. Zeke jumps and the mice skitter away from his hand.

"Give me some fucking time to brood."

"Right, you can brood your way right to jail." He pushes past her into the hall, finds his jacket, car keys. She follows him. "Where are you going?"

"Hospital," he says.


He's leaning against the car door with a cigarette when Delilah comes back out, flustered and tight-faced. "They wouldn't even tell me how he was. Fucking cow." She snatches his half-smoked cigarette out of his hand and takes a few deep drags.

"What?" he says. "I'm going in there."

"It's a police case, fucker. And no visitors after eight PM. His parents weren't even there anymore."

That doesn't surprise Zeke. They need their beauty sleep, who cares if their kid's on his fucking death bed.

Delilah has her hands on him again, holding him back. This is becoming a habit. The hospital stands brightly lit and mocking, hiding Casey somewhere inside. Locked in, and Zeke and Delilah locked out.

Zeke has a stupid idea. But what the hell. "Hit me," he says.

"What?" she says.

"Hard, come on. I need blood."

She stares at him blankly, until he sees the lights go on. "That's the dumbest fucking idea," she says.

"Yeah," he says and leans towards her. "Go on, do your worst."

She shakes her head, rolls her eyes and he doesn't think she's gonna do it and then she does.

His head doesn't even move. He rubs his jaw. Nothing. "Christ, woman. Casey hits harder than that. And you have to aim for something that'll bleed."

She swings again, but either she's got the world's weakest right hook or she's just not trying.

"I'm not fucking bleeding," he says.

"Then you hit me instead," she says.

"No!" It comes out almost like a plea, strangely, and Zeke wonders just how deep under his skin Casey has gotten. Casey would throw himself in front of a train before he hurt Delilah. Casey would suck Gabe's dick with a smile before he hurt Delilah.

That thought slices deep and when Delilah says, "What, the age of chivalry isn't over? You really are one fucked up little--" he says, "Okay. But it's your call."

She sets her jaw. "Do it."

"It's gonna hurt," he says. Thinks, gonna make Gabe pay for this one, too. It all adds up.

"I know what it feels like, asshole. You did it before, remember?" she says, but she's pale in the lamplight. The parking lot is almost empty. The hospital shines bright as ever. He hardly remembers that night. He doesn't remember what it felt like to hit her. "It's not hard, you hit Casey all the time."

He holds her face between his hands and kisses her. Casey will be pissed off, he thinks. Kisses her good, and when her eyes are still a little glazed, he steps back and taps her, two quick jabs at her mouth; not hard enough to break teeth, but enough to split her lip.

She bends over, curls up around herself and holds her hands over her face. He stands back, rubbing his knuckles absently.

"Fucking fuck," she mumbles through her hands. There's blood on her fingers. Her eyes glitter. She is unsteady on her feet so he clamps an arm around her shoulder and half-carries her towards the ER doors.


The cut on her lip needs only one stitch from a suspicious, glowering intern. Delilah looks perky enough when she says, "Car door. I wasn't looking." Zeke keeps his hands in his pockets and tries to look like a doting boyfriend. The ER is brightly lit and busy with its worried little half life.

"Yeah," Delilah says when the intern asks her if she's feeling dizzy.

"Stay here," he says. "Just rest for a while."

"Are you okay?" Zeke asks once he's gone.

"Never better," she says. Her lip is swollen under the Band-Aid. "I must look like shit."

"Yup," he says and helps her up.


Hospitals are mazes of corridors and closed doors, but the ER isn't that big and they find Casey's room within ten minutes of dodging nurses and doctors and pretending they belong.

They stop in the door, both struck silent for once. The room is half-lit by streetlamps outside the window. Casey is a dark, silent shape on the bed. Zeke stares at his profile, the unmistakable sharp little nose.

They hardly breathe.

Casey moves a little and Zeke turns on the light.

"Hi," he says. He has an urge to pull Casey out of the bed and get him out of here right now. But Casey is tiny and pale and there's a bandage on his head, a cast on his hand.

"Hi," Delilah says, still a little slurred. Casey turns his head and they go to him. Delilah kisses him with just the barest hint of a wince. "How are you?" she asks automatically. Stupid fucking question, Zeke thinks.

"Only hurts when I laugh," Casey croaks, as if he's lost the use of his voice, as if he hasn't spoken in days. Then he blinks and lifts his undamaged hand. "What happened to you?"

Zeke has his hands in his pockets again.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Delilah says. She actually giggles, an alien sound from Delilah. It sounds just on the edge of hysterical in this silent room. "We're undercover as ER patients."

"They wouldn't let us in," Zeke says.

"We had to come up with Plan B," Delilah adds.

"Delilah hits like a girl, though."

"She hit herself?" Casey says incredulously. Wishful thinking: a faint rosy blush on his cheeks, a little life in his eyes.

"I hit her," Zeke says and Casey turns his head away. "I figured you'd be pissed, but we were out of options."

"This isn't Lethal Weapon," Casey mutters, but there's a little twitch around the corners of his mouth. Zeke gives up on self-control and touches him, ignores the row of stitches running up his cheek, kisses him with as much restraint as he has left. Casey makes a tiny noise. His face is cold; only the inside of his mouth is hot.

He feels Delilah's hand light on his neck. He doesn't want to back off, and it's time to just spell it out: he's so hooked there's no way out of this. He straightens up and Delilah's hands slide under his shirt briefly, a reminder of her existence. Hooked all the way, tied up like a roped steer.

Casey moves his shoulders uncomfortably. His mouth is wet. "We're so fucked," he says quietly.