18: Go
by Wax Jism

It's not quite dark yet. The sun has gone to hide behind the houses lining the street, but it hasn't reached the horizon. Casey stands in the thickening shadow of a burly maple, his good hand stuffed deep in his pocket, the other one hanging useless and chilly by his side. He figured, earlier, while he was slowly and painful putting on his coat, that he might need it free for this. He left the sling on Zeke's bed.

I should feel... he thinks, but he's not entirely sure what he should or should not feel. He's cold, his head hurts (but not more than he can deal with). He's not afraid. He's not angry.

Pretty impossible to be afraid. This street seems very distant. Strangely distant. The effect is a little like what you get if you pull back the camera and zoom in at the same time; he forgets the technical term. He knows he's known it, not long ago. He can find the place in his memory the word used to occupy, but there's just a hole there now. A little patch of nothing, that kind of teasing nothing that says, "There used to be something here, but tee hee, you're late for the show." The brain is a funny thing. Maybe someone's foot kicked the memory loose and gave him that blank spot. Maybe it was Gabe. He almost hopes so - there's the anger now, catching up with him. A little snake of anger slithering through his gut.

A car passes, a switch is hit somewhere. Now he's afraid, too, shaking with it, and he closes his hand around the cool, smooth, slick barrel of the gun. That only makes the shivers worse. The gun is not reassuring. The anger snake slithers away and hides. He tells himself he's just cold, but lying to himself this blatantly isn't going to work. He fidgets with a loose thread in the pocket, but his fingers return to the gun. The index finger slides into the trigger guard.

"Fuck," he whispers fiercely to the darkening street. "Fuck, fuck."

He starts walking, and in the corner of his eye, he sees a shadow melt and move, following him. They're out there, not far away but a hell of a lot more inconspicuous than he is, skulking along hedges and ducking behind fences when he's right out here in the open. If this were a horror movie, he'd be Jamie Lee Curtis and-- No, he's not even Jamie Lee, he's the girl before her. The one that gets no lines apart from "Is there someone there?" before the killer stabs her in the gut and twists the knife. He has no problem at all to picture Zeke and Delilah on the prowl with dripping machetes in their bloody hands.

Casey's the one with the lethal weapon in his pocket, but he doesn't feel particularly dangerous.

He walks faster and the hedge next to him catches on his coat - maybe it reached out, the stumpy, thorny branches like hands with twisted fingers.

It's time. He stops and waits, his heart making strange twitches every second beat or so. He's cold and his head hurts. This is the house. They went through a plan, didn't they? He can't remember it, suddenly. Another shiny blank patch in his mind. Plan, plan, schman. This is the house. His fingers hurt where they cramp around the sharp angles of the gun.

It's a quiet street, a cul-de-sac off Trudeau, ending in a patch of trees - almost a forest - that turns into fields only a quarter mile away. Five houses on one side and three on the other, all hidden behind high, thick hedges. All of them about twice as large as Casey's parents' house. Rich, but not rich enough to have fences and gates. A hedge a bit down street twitches and stills. Quiet.

A door slams. Footsteps grow louder and someone steps onto the sidewalk right in front of Casey.

I'm not the girl, Casey thinks and pulls his hand out of the pocket. Gabe freezes. I'm one of the monsters.

"The fuck?" Gabe says the second before he sees the gun. "What--"

Now the gun feels right. Warm. Powerful. Big. "Hi," Casey says, and it comes out not in the least bit shaky. Still, he doesn't really know what to say. He should say something pithy right now. The kiss-off line stays unspoken. He wants to pull the trigger and go home. But that wasn't the plan, was it?

Gabe's face is smooth-skinned and handsome, if slick and ruthless is your fancy. Casey studies his forehead and thinks about aiming for that, but he's probably not sure enough with the gun. He keeps it trained on Gabe's chest instead.

"At least you're about the size of a barn," he says, and Gabe flinches. Maybe he has some sort of trauma about barns. Casey almost giggles (it comes out a muted, aborted snort), and it seems to scare Gabe. He raises his hands, palms out. His feet shuffle slowly backwards.

"Look, look, man--"

Casey interrupts him. "I think you should shut the fuck up." They're somewhere behind him. Waiting. What would they do? Zeke would shoot first. Delilah... "On your knees," he says. He uses her voice, silky and precise. She'd say it softly, but there'd be no doubt that she means it. Casey would obey. He has. And she didn't even have a gun pointed at his chest.

Maybe he hasn't quite perfected the voice yet, because Gabe just stares at him, incredulously. Casey thinks there's a smile about to form on his face. The momentum is slipping away. Casey takes a step forward and lifts the gun an inch. Growls (with Zeke's voice now, deep and edged with anger), "Get the fuck down."

His finger is curling around the trigger. He's ready. He's so ready it's like he's done it already and it's feels done, it feels right. It feels like there's blood pooling on the cold pavement (black in the low light, like an oil slick under an old car) and the echo of the shot is bouncing between the houses.

Gabe falls to his knees with a thump. And closes his eyes.

Casey's lungs clench. This is not the plan. The plan, whatever the hell it was, has been wiped from Casey's memory.

He steps closer, close enough to touch. If he wants to. He can do what he wants. It's almost dark now and the street light just overhead is broken. Which is good, fortuitous (or forethought? He doesn't put it past Zeke's methodical brain to count it in), but it means he can't quite see Gabe's face.

He does see the glint of eye-whites when Gabe opens his eyes again. "Look," Gabe says (again), and this time Casey lets him speak. "Casey, man, don't-- Don't do anything--" He doesn't want to say 'stupid,' Casey thinks, not to the maniac with the grudge and the gun. "--you'll regret."

"Uhuh," Casey says. "You're all about regret, aren't you?" And now he's angry, grateful for the anger. He's speaking through gritted teeth. "Fucker." The gun moves closer to Gabe's head; what a great idea. he pushes it against skin, pokes until Gabe turns his face away. "Don't turn away, asshole," and Gabe turns back. Casey sees bright reflections under his eyes, on his cheeks: wet.

"Maybe you can learn something about regret," he says softly. The barrel touches Gabe's mouth, not hard, not poking. Caressing. Casey wonders what it feels like. What it would feel like. Gabe's lips twist and quiver. "Suck it," Casey says.

He meets Gabe's eyes. "Or you can suck my dick." He smiles, so wide that his healing face smarts. Maybe a stitch comes loose. Maybe he's bleeding. "Pick one."

The world is doing the zoom thing again. He thinks he hears muted sobs and tries to focus. Is it Gabe? The gun stays steady but Casey's head spins furiously. He's still grinning. His face has frozen like that. Gabe makes a choked sound. His eyes are trained at the gun, black spots in rings of frightened white, staring out of the dark.

A light goes out in the house across the street. They're right out in the open, barely hidden by the dark and the dead streetlight. The gun stays steady and Gabe snivels and coughs and reaches for Casey's fly.

Lightning-- no, a flash, a camera goes off. They're there, flanking him. Delilah smiles a straight-razor smile. Zeke's hand touches his shoulder. Casey holds the gun, butts it against Gabe's wet face, but he feels tired, suddenly, and Gabe is fumbling frantically at his fly - all of it some kind of strange half-dream, daydream, nightmare. If Gabe touches his bare skin he will vomit, he knows with bone-hard certainty.

"Go on, Case," whispers Zeke huskily in his ear. "Go on." Gabe has unsnapped the top button, and Casey shudders and almost - almost! - pulls the trigger. Something, he can't tell what, something stops him and he mutters, "Fuck," under his breath. Lifts the gun from Gabe's wet face. Pulls back his foot and kicks him in the groin with everything he has.

He doesn't have a line, just another kick, another. The gun weighs down his hand, turns down to the pavement where Gabe has crumpled and curled up, trying to protect himself from Casey. Protect himself from Casey! "Die," Casey mutters and kicks again. It's hard to breathe now, he's drenched in sweat and there's a hot iron band squeezing his ribcage. "Die." His voice is a harsh croak, a frog squeaking its last in a polluted pond. The street fades again, comes back into focus, tilts violently.

Warm hands catch him and straighten up the world. "Done," Zeke murmurs in his ear, his breath startlingly hot against chilled skin. "Car's this way."

Casey lets himself be steered gently away. He hears strange sounds as he walks away. Moans and whispers, choked coughs. Muted words. He turns, dazed and dizzy, and sees Delilah kneeling over Gabe. It's too far away to see if there's any black oil-slick blood on the sidewalk.

The gun is still in his hand, his finger is still curled around the trigger. With some effort, he lifts it and puts it back in his pocket. Zeke touches his hair and leans in closer. "You were great, baby," he says. He kisses Casey, warm mouth, gentle hands. What? What? thinks Casey, lost. Baby? He leans against Zeke because his body wants it even though his mind is spinning in wider and wider circles. What? The gun in his pocket feels warm now, and waiting. It's been loaded but not fired.

He almost stops and turns - he would have, surely, a flare of heat demands it; the gun demands it. If only Zeke hadn't been so tender, so unyieldingly careful. He almost runs back, almost puts six bullets in Gabe's head. Almost, but then Delilah catches up, bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked, her smile still a cutting edge.

"He's done," she says and laughs. "So done. That fuck."

The heat settles somewhere in Casey's chest, coiled up (anger snake) and waiting.

They pile into the car, Casey carefully wedged between Delilah and the door of the passenger seat, her arms steadying him. I'm not an invalid, he thinks, but she strokes his face and smiles. He's very tired.

Zeke drives past Gabe's house. Gabe is still on the sidewalk, tightly curled in his protective fetal position. Casey cranes his neck, but it's too dark to make out details. He can only see an indistinct dark lump.

"He's not dead," Delilah says. Nothing in her tone suggests she's relieved.

"I can run him over a couple times," Zeke offers with a chortle, but he drives past without slowing. He knows, like Casey knows, and Delilah, that Gabe is done. The Gabe Situation is resolved for good.

The street ends and Zeke turns the car around. "What happened to the brilliant plan, Casey?" he says, not at all reproachful. His eyes glitter. "Wanted the extra thrill?"

Delilah lifts the camera - just Zeke's cheap little compact - and says, "For God's sake, don't say cheese." Casey's face twitches, but it's not really a smile. The flash goes off, the world's white, red, fading back into murk. "We should tape a copy of the best ones to the school door," Delilah says. "Maybe the one where he's got his nose pushed against Casey's crotch."

She wiggles around to kiss him, deep and long, her fingers light on his face, rubbing the cut, the torn stitches. "You're done with him, baby," she whispers. Her fingers touch his mouth, pushes against his lips. He tastes blood. His own?

"I forgot the plan," Casey says. There's a moment of silence.

"Great fucking improv," Zeke says, and they laugh, both of them. Bright, brittle sounds.

Zeke turns onto his street, driving just fast enough to throw Delilah and Casey against each other in the passenger seat. Casey is wrung out like a rag, shaky with exhaustion, but there's something wild in the car, in Delilah's mouth on his face (her teeth scrape bright pain across his hurt cheekbone), in Zeke's white-knuckled grip on the wheel. In the hot coil in Casey's stomach. It might scorch his throat coming out. He puts his tongue between his teeth and bites, as hard as he can. It's pretty hard right now, it's like pain has almost stopped being pain. He swallows the copper penny taste and turns his mouth to Delilah's, teeth first, and she grins against his grin. It's not even a kiss.

Zeke pulls the car into the drive and again they bang against each other, rag dolls with teeth. Delilah licks his mouth, pushes her tongue against his to get at the blood and tugs at his jeansfly. The gun in Casey's pocket digs into his side like a metal dick.

"Home, sweet, home," Zeke mutters, and he turns off the engine but doesn't get out of the car. Instead he watches Delilah and Casey. Casey meets his eyes over Delilah's shoulder. Delilah's got her hand on Casey's dick by now, and his hips are moving against her but he's thinking about Zeke. He's never fucked Zeke, it occurs to him. There's no reason not to. Not now.

Zeke grins as if he can tell and says, "Come on, kids, inside."