17: Come
by Wax Jism

"Sounds like you're having fun, Zeke. I trust you'll be able to deal with whatever trouble you've gotten yourself into on your own. I've told Principal Drake that already. Don't call me back." The machine makes a cheerful beep and whirr and turns off.

"Your mom's a piece of work," Casey says, not without compassion. Zeke shrugs.

"Had to get it from somewhere, I guess." He rewinds the answering machine tape. "Fucking bitch."

Delilah smooths her shirt along her stomach. She has a feeling she might be losing her figure. Not losing, per se. It's promising the potential of softening in the foreseeable future. She's been neglecting practice. She hasn't been paying attention to things she should pay attention to.

Casey puts a hand over hers. His hands aren't much bigger than hers, and his body is soft where it isn't bony, nothing special at all. She wouldn't have looked twice at him...ever. Bizarre. It's bizarre to the point of being incredible.

"Did Drake call your mom, too?" Casey asks. Behind him, Zeke's pulled the cassette out of the machine and is making tape salad.

"Nah," Delilah says, fascinated. Zeke's mommy issues would be amusing if she could stop herself from feeling sorry for him. Whatever happened to ironic distance? "Drake knows how much good that'd do."

"Hmm?" He seems preoccupied, rubbing her fingers between his, head bent. She can look down on him even when he lifts his head. The hand with the splint hangs idle by his side. He's stopped forgetting about it by now - the first few days he kept bumping into things with the splinted finger.

"I don't think your mother's been to any more PTA meetings than mine," Zeke says.

"She never remembers," Delilah says and both Zeke and Casey nod with a sort of resigned sympathy - Oh yeah, fucked up parents, been there, done that, got the lifelong traumas to prove it. What a bunch of rejects we are, she thinks, and the thought doesn't feel as foreign as it should.


At home she checks her own messages for the first time in over a week. She's not even sure how long she's been ignoring the machine. Everything else just seemed more important. Fifteen messages.

"--rehearsal? Hello? Are you coming? Call me!" --beep-- "Are you okay? Call me." --beep-- "Your mom's not sick or anything?" --beep-- "--Mr Tate's freaking out about the presentations, you better show up soon--" --beep-- "--happened with Gabe?" --beep-- "--things are getting really weird. Why aren't you in school? The cops were asking--" --beep-- "--is saying you and Gabe beat up Casey Connor in the shower, but we asked Stan and he got kinda snippy. You're not really dating Zeke, are you? Gabe--" --beep-- "--rehearsals. We're running out of time and we just have to--" --beep--

She turns the machine off and goes downstairs. There are dirty dishes on every horizontal surface in the kitchen and a big stain of something greasy on the living room carpet. Her mother sits curled up in the couch with a cup of coffee, watching the Tonight Show.

"Hasn't Marisa been here?" Delilah asks.

"I fired her," her mother says without looking away from Jay Leno. "Where have you been?"

"You what?"

"New boyfriend? Stan came by here...sometimes. He said you guys broke up."

"Why did you fire her? Was she stealing the silver? What?"

"I like Stan. I thought he'd be a son-in-law I could love."

Delilah turns off the TV. "Mom. Marisa. Do I have to call her and ask?"

"I was watching that. I feel better. I can take care of the house myself."

"As we can see."

She puts down her coffee. Her hands aren't shaking too bad - maybe she's just tired and not hung over. "You haven't exactly been helpful, Delilah."

She's starting to look old. Not just parent-old, but seriously lined and grooved. Her roots are at least an inch of grey-streaked brown under the chestnut. Four years since Dad died and she still hasn't picked herself up. Delilah has a feeling she never will.

She sits down next to her mother. It always seemed strange to her: letting his death beat you down completely. She mourned her father, she still misses him, but it wasn't the end of the world. She'd thought about Stan sometimes, thought about what it would feel like if he suddenly died. She wouldn't have become a miserable drunk over him, that's for sure.

"I've been busy," she says, because she really doesn't want to explore worst case scenarios. The worst case scenarios look worse now.

"They called from school, said you hadn't been there. Told them you were sick."

"Thanks, mom."

Her mother sniffs and sips coffee. "You don't tell me anything anymore."

"I never did," Delilah says. She takes her mother's empty cup when she goes back to the kitchen to call Marisa. She doesn't do the dishes, though.


Casey isn't in school. Zeke isn't in school. Gabe isn't in school.

Delilah is in school, sitting at the back of the class, leaning against the wall, tapping her fingers against her leg. There's whispering up front, she can tell. She smiles and rubs her thigh slowly, pushes the hem of her dress up higher.

She'd walked into school at ten, two hours late. They gathered around her like a gaggle of chickens and she walked right past them all.

She's wearing a red dress; an Yves Saint Laurent she took from her mother's closet. It falls past her knees, clasps at her neck, leaves her back bare. She's not wearing anything at all underneath it. Mariel had gasped when she saw Delilah coming up the steps. "Oh my goooood, Delilah, that's a gorgeous dress! Where have you been! What's--" She broke off when Delilah elbowed past her, smiling.

She smiles wider now, looks out the window at the bare branches of the elm on the lawn.


She's walking back out to her car, the dress fluttering around her legs.

"Delilah, is it true--"

"Delilah, come on, tell--"

"Delilah, why did--"

She stops and turns around. Her hair falls heavy and soft over her neck. It looks perfect, she knows. It looks effortless. The girls stand in an eager group on the hot asphalt of the parking lot, clucking like pigeons.

"Don't be stupid," Delilah says and smiles. Donna takes half a step backwards. Delilah walks to her car. She doesn't check in the rearview mirror, but she can feel them staring after her.


She kicks off her shoes in the hall. The house is murky and quiet inside closed drapes. The basement stairs creak in welcome under her bare feet.

Zeke is sitting cross-legged on the coffee table with the gun in his lap and a box of cartridges before him. Casey lies sprawled on the couch, reading one of Zeke's chemistry textbooks.

"Hello, boys," Delilah says and undoes the clasp around her neck. The top slithers down to hang around her waist. Her breasts bob softly with each step.

Casey puts down the book. His hair falls over his eyebrows when he sits up. He pushes it aside with a distracted gesture. "Hey, Delilah," he says. "How was school?"

She thinks his smile has changed since-- since when? Before or after the showerroom? Now there's nothing furtive about it anymore - it's sharp-toothed and feral. He doesn't move, just waits for her to come to him, bend over him and pull him closer. He nips at her breasts, his hands creeping over her ass, rumpling the dress. He still has a cast on his left hand, and it rests lightly on the small of her back as the other one pushes up the hem of the skirt.

She lifts her eyes. Zeke is watching, his hands resting on the gun.

Casey doesn't seem surprised when his fingers find nothing but Delilah under the skirt. She gasps and arches, and they push slickly into her.

"We're going down to the lake," Zeke says lazily. "Gotta teach Case to shoot."

Casey twists around to look at him, with a tiny wince - his ribs bothering him, or some other broken part - but his fingers are still moving between Delilah's legs. "Okay," he says. "Soon." He stays like that, turned towards Zeke, and Delilah touches her own breasts and comes around his curled fingers.


Casey's hand trembles around the gun and Zeke holds it steady for him. Delilah can't hear his voice, but she sees his Zeke's lips move, pressed close against Casey's ear, close enough that Casey must feel his breath flutter over damp skin. It isn't warm; the wind is biting and there is a promise of rain in the heavy clouds and in the limp rustling of dead leaves on the ground; but Casey looks red-faced and sweaty all the same.

Nerves, Delilah thinks. He's afraid of it. She'd fired the gun herself, earlier. She liked it; she was good at it.

Zeke steps back and raises his voice. "You don't have to be good. You don't have to hit the fucking broad side of a fucking barn, if you--"

"--don't see any fucking barn--"

"--just look like you know what you're doing."

"You'll love it, Casey," Delilah says and they both turn around. Casey swings his gun arm and for a second, the muzzle of the .38 points straight at her. She presses her legs together around the tight, centered thrill. She's still sticky from earlier, and thinks the dress is ruined.

Zeke pushes the gun down with a short, frustrated gesture, but his voice is soft. "Go on, Case. Shoot."

Casey shoots him a crooked glance and raises the gun again, pointing it out across the lake. He winces - Delilah can't tell whether it's because he really doesn't want to do this or if his ribs are giving him hell - and takes a deep, shaky breath and fires. A crow takes off from a nearby willow.

Zeke whoops and slaps him on the back, and Casey fires again. Again, again, again. Delilah walks closer to them. The thrill is back, heating in her belly. The gunshots echo over the water.

"I think I've gone deaf," Casey says, letting the gun sink.

"How are your ribs taking it?" Zeke asks, rubbing Casey's chest with his open hand. Sometimes, Delilah thinks, Zeke treats Casey like a little brother.

Zeke's hand dips downward, brazenly.

Most of the time not, though.

They kiss, open-mouthed and sloppy, the gun forgotten in Casey's hand on Zeke's back. Delilah watches with nothing touching her but the dress and the wind. They're muttering things at each other; snatches of it reach her, like Zeke saying, roughly, "Stand still, stand still," as he drops to his knees on the gravel, tugging at Casey's jeans.

She walks closer because this is something just a step out of the ordinary, Zeke on his knees and Casey with the gun, the gun that comes to rest on Zeke's neck when Casey's hands land there. He looks like he wants to tangle his fingers in Zeke's hair, but there are no fingers to tangle - his right hand holds the gun and the left is clumsy and useless - so he just rubs them jerkily against Zeke's nape, the barrel of the gun catching at Zeke's shirtcollar.

Casey is biting his lips, and Delilah thinks about kissing him and biting them, too, but she stands still, letting the wind nip at her legs, and waits for him to throw his head back and cry out.

He staggers, and Zeke gets up to catch him, waggling his eyebrows at Delilah. "Fucking cold out here," he says, smiling with swollen and red lips. "We're done."