Voluntarily getting up at 7 am doesn’t happen often for Dave, but for Cedar Point, it is definitely worth it. “C’mon,” Dave urges Casey. “We should do a few coasters before we eat anything.” He looks at the park map. “Let’s head all the way to the back and do Mean Streak first. You’ll love it.”
Casey looks dubious. “They’re, um. Taller. Than I’d imagined.”
“Helps get the speed up on the drops!” Dave enthuses. “We can do the Mine Ride after Mean Streak.”
“And you’re sure that people don’t fall out of them?” Casey asks. “Very, very sure?”
“Totally sure, Case. Just wear the harness and you’ll be fine,” Dave nods, walking a little faster when he notices the crowds seeming to increase. “It’s fun. We’ll ride as many of the coasters as we can before lunch and chill with the water rides after lunch.”
“Okay,” Casey says, still sounding uncertain. “Scream in your ear, right?”
“It’s part of the fun!” Dave beams and points out another coaster as they walk past. “Definitely doing that one before lunch! Upside down five or six times.”
“Wow. Um. That many times, huh?” Casey’s voice sounds a little shaky.
Dave glances at him briefly and he can’t tell if Casey’s pale or just washed out in the sun. “Yeah! Don’t worry, it’s safe.”
Casey gives him the forced, tight grin. “Alright. I’m sure it’ll be, um. Great! It’s going to be great.”
“Just you wait,” Dave says confidently as they reach the beginning of the queue. “Oh, awesome, I was right, the line’s not long yet!” It only takes about two minutes to wind through the queue and get loaded on the coaster. “Ready?” Dave asks Casey.
“Yes?” Casey grins again and offers a thumbs up.
The coaster starts to clatter forward, and Dave has enough time to start talking about the coaster. “See, this is a wooden coaster, not steel, and some people only like the wooden, but I like both.” By the time he finishes the sentence, the speed has increased and Dave decides it’s probably time to stop talking.
As they hurtle down the first decline, Casey starts screaming—right in Dave’s ear, like Dave had promised he could—and he continues to scream during the rest of the nearly three minute ride. Dave does yell a few times, his hands up in the air as the speed increases.
When they come to a stop, Dave turns to Casey and grins. “Wasn’t that great?”
Casey’s hair is blown everywhere, and Dave decides that now Casey is definitely pale. He smiles weakly. “Great!” As they walk out of the exit, Casey stumbles a little and grabs Dave by the arm to steady himself. “What’s. Um. Next?”
“Cedar Creek Mine Ride! It doesn’t go nearly as fast or as high as this one, but it’s still fun.” Dave grins. “One of the times you come visit, we’ll go to the Six Flags in Atlanta and ride all of their coasters.”
“Yeah! That’s… great! That’ll be so fun.”
The line for the Mine Ride is just as short as the last one, and Casey screams throughout it as well. Dave congratulates himself for a plan well–conceived; the lines stay short for the first hour and a half, and they ride a lot of the coasters before ending up at the Raptor.
“This one’s cool ’cause you don’t actually sit down,” Dave explains. “You’re held in by your upper body.”
“I’m going to die,” Casey says, in a small voice.
“No, no, it’s perfectly safe,” Dave assures him. “Physicists and engineers design these things, you’ll be fine.”
“Uh huh,” Casey answers. “If I die, you can have all my books. If I, um, slip out of the harness or something.”
“I wouldn’t know how to keep them in order,” Dave admits.
“Oh. Hmm. Well,” Casey sighs. “I guess I can’t slip out of the harness, then. For the books’ sake.”
“Good plan!” Dave laughs and leads the way to the loading area. Once the Raptor starts to move, Casey clutches at his harness, but doesn’t make a single noise for the entire ride. When they disembark, Dave turns to Casey. “You want to break for lunch now?”
“Yes, please,” Casey says, in that same small voice from before.
“We can do the water rides after, like I said.” Dave walks up to a map and studies the available restaurants. “Oh, here we go, all you can eat buffet. Including desserts.”
“Oh, you know. Wherever you want to eat.”
“Awesome.” Dave figures out the route to the restaurant and leads the way, but when they get there, Casey just orders a pop, and Dave figures maybe in this case, Casey’s just one of those people who gets an upset stomach on roller coasters.
“So,” Casey says. “Water rides. Nice, calm water rides.”
“Well, you know.” Dave grimaces a little behind his glass, because they’re not all calm, but definitely calmer compared to say, the Raptor. “It’s good to cool off in the afternoon heat.” He sets his glass down. “We can do some of the other rides after that, and then finish off with the last two coasters.”
“Oh. There’s, um. There’s more coasters?”
“Just the two, yeah.” Dave nods and stands. “Ready to go?”
“Water rides,” Casey says. “Yes. Water rides are good.”
“Let’s do the Falls first! Start out good and wet,” Dave says, looking at the map again before striding off in the correct direction. The lines are all longer now that afternoon’s hit, which means a hot twenty minutes or so in the queue, but it’s worth it when they sit down in the boat at last. The ride is too short, in Dave’s opinion; it’s too bad they don’t get to go down the big hill twice before exiting. Dave shakes off a little and grins at Casey.
“So. So, that, um. Wasn’t very calm!” Casey says. “But it was definitely very wet.” Casey’s hair is plastered to his neck, and his shirt and jeans are completely soaked.
“Very wet,” Dave agrees. “Let’s hit Shoot the Rapids, and then Thunder Canyon. It’s kinda boring, but still fun.” The line at Shoot the Rapids is long, too, but at least they aren’t as hot this time, and it still moves faster than it would later in the summer. Their shoes squelch a bit, but Dave always figures that’s just part of the experience.
When they get done with Shoot the Rapids, Casey declares, “That was a roller coaster that dumps you in the water at the end. They trick you. It’s a trick.”
Dave laughs. “I guess it’s a little bit like a coaster, maybe,” he concedes. “But we didn’t go upside down or anything, plus it’s a lot shorter. And wetter.”
“If we went upside down, the water would fall out,” Casey says.
“Or at least out of our shoes.” Dave shrugs, heading towards Thunder Canyon, which really is pretty calm. They manage to get placed in a raft with a group of senior citizens, though, who holler through the entire thing.
“Well,” Casey announces, after they’ve disembarked. “I liked that one.”
“Yeah? I think the other people with us definitely didn’t. That one woman looked like she was going to sprint to the nearest bathroom.”
“Maybe she got water in her pacemaker,” Casey suggests. “That might be why she screamed so much!”
“I didn’t know pacemakers made you pee?” Dave replies, puzzled. “But yeah, sure, maybe.” He shrugs. “Where do you want to go next? The Ferris wheel?”
“Ferris wheels are good,” Casey agrees. “I mean, I’ve never been on one, but they seem like they don’t have any surprises.”
“No, usually not,” Dave agrees. The Ferris wheel does stay surprise–free, though Dave resists the temptation to rock the car one of the times they’re stopped. After that, they go on several of the tamer rides, like the antique cars and the Cedar Downs Racing Derby, which neither of them win.
“I will never, ever, ever recover from that loss,” Casey says, dramatically. “That possibly ruined my life. I’m not sure I can carry on. It might have been better if I just fell off the Raptor when I had the chance. I could have spared myself the indignity of losing a mechanical horse race to a six-year-old.”
“I think he might’ve only been four,” Dave can’t resist pointing out. “Let’s go drown our sorrows in some cotton candy. Maybe a snow cone, too.”
“Oh, I like cotton candy!”
“It’s an amusement park requirement.” Dave grins. “What flavor – no, wait, what flavors do you want for your snow cone?”
“Can I have all of the reds?”
“Sure.” Dave shrugs and gets their snow cones and the cotton candy before retreating to a bench in some shade. “Want to hit three or four more rides and then head home?”
“I want to live here,” Casey says. “With cotton candy and snow cones. That would be the best place to live, I think.”
Dave laughs. “I think it’d be uncomfortable to sleep on most of these rides, though.”
“They need a sleeping ride. It could be hammocks or something. They could, oh! They could gently spin in a slow circle, and we could sleep!” Casey alternates between his snow cone and the cotton candy when he’s not speaking, and Dave realizes that this might be more sugar than he’s seen Casey consume before, which is really saying something.
“It’d be popular with the parents, I think,” Dave agrees.
They end up on five more rides, plus only one of the remaining coasters, because the line for Mantis is posted to be over ninety minutes by the time they reach it, so they head for the parking lot, stopping to get two giant lollipops before exiting. When they get to Dave’s truck, he blasts the air conditioning as they climb in. Before Dave gets on the interstate, Casey suddenly flops to the side, sliding out of his shoulder strap, and Dave realizes with a start that Casey is dead to the world, completely asleep.
Dave makes it about twenty minutes before he starts getting really bored, and unwraps his lollipop, figuring that if he tries to finish it, that should keep him occupied until they get back to Lima.
Casey arrives at Starbucks at 8:50, which means he has enough time to drink his coffee before he actually has to have any conversation with customers. The shop is busy, because it’s so close to shift change, so he ends up going ahead and putting on his green apron by 8:56. After the morning rush is over, and everything is calm again, Casey turns to Puck.
“David and I went to Cedar Point yesterday!”
“Yeah? Did you get a chance to ride the Mantis?” Puck asks.
“Ohthankgodno,” Casey answers, all in a rush. “I mean, um. The line was too long for that one, so David thought we could just skip it.”
Puck laughs a little. “Didn’t want to do a coaster standing up, huh? Was it crowded? Mom took Hannah and I a few years back, middle of the summer, and it was so hot, with long–ass lines.”
“The lines for the roller coasters were all very short in the first half of the day,” Casey says. “We rode all the roller coasters. Even the hanging ones. Even the ones that dump you into the water.”
“Karofsky’s a big roller coaster fan, then?” Puck grins. “We talked about going to Cedar Point or Kings Island, but instead we’re going to Pensacola in July.”
“Oh! That sounds like fun! And yes, David loves roller coasters.” Casey makes himself smile back at Puck. “He was just so happy. Don’t, um. You know. Mention what I said.”
“Yeah, yeah, I gotcha,” Puck says with a nod. “So you have anything else exciting planned for the rest of the summer? Besides slaving away over coffee, that is.”
Casey can feel his face fall and he turns towards the espresso maker, where he can at least pretend to be doing something useful. “Oh. Well. Not, you know. Not really. I’m, um. On Saturday. I’m, um.” He can’t quite get out the rest of the sentence, so instead he empties the old grounds out of the machine, and doesn’t look back in Puck’s direction.
“Robbing a bank?” Puck says in a teasing tone. “Yeah, I wouldn’t tell anyone my felony plans either.”
“Oh. No, not that.” Casey pours some beans into the grinder. After the noise stops, he says, “I’m moving. On Saturday. I have to move on Saturday.”
“Oh.” Puck sounds surprised, and maybe a little bit confused. “Moving? To where?”
“Coach Beiste’s house,” Casey explains, like it makes perfect sense, because maybe if it did make sense to somebody else, they might be able to explain it to him. “She and Paul. They, um. Thought it would better.”
Puck blinks and looks at Casey rather strangely. “Better for… what? Are you joining the football team or something, and she wants to supervise your summer training? I mean, she’s a great coach and all, but that’s kind of above and beyond.”
Normally, that might even be something that would make Casey laugh, but it’s just not too funny when he only has two days until the move. “No. They just think… I don’t know what they think. But I’m moving and they don’t really care if that’s what I want or David wants or anything else. It’s just how it is.”
“That sucks,” Puck offers. “Seems like they’d have better things to do than mess with things that aren’t really screwed up.”
Casey shrugs. “I guess they think I’m screwed up. Nothing I can do, though.”
“No, I guess not.” Puck sighs. “Wait, don’t you work Saturday morning?”
“Yes. I get to work and then I move.”
“Well, that’s… swell,” Puck snorts. “Nice of them and all.” He stops. “Wait, she’s not really going to make you play football, is she?”
Casey turns slowly and stares at Puck for moment. “No,” he says. “She’s not going to make me play football. I have to swim, though.”
“Oh, well. I guess that’s good about the football, but I’m somehow unsurprised about the swimming. Beiste seems like the type to make you do something, you know? She’d probably make every student at McKinley do a sport, if she could.”
“I’ll probably drown,” Casey sighs. “That’ll teach her. She’ll be sorry then.”
“Oh, um.” Puck shrugs. “I dunno, then, Casey. Maybe practice over at Schoonover first?”
“No, I know how to swim,” Casey explains. “I just don’t know that I know how to team.”
Puck looks relieved as soon as Casey finishes talking. “Oh, okay. Skip the relays and you should probably be okay.”
Casey shrugs again. “Maybe. I’m not sure how any of it’s going to be, but it’s just. How it is.”
“Yeah. Adults messing shit up that they don’t understand,” Puck nods, sounding strangely bitter.
Casey nods. “Yes. I guess they think they know everything, but mostly they don’t.”
Dave sets down the weights with a sigh, and hopes that someone else will show up sooner or later, because he doesn’t really want to do the bench press without someone around, even if they aren’t spotting him.
A minute later, though, Hudson appears. “Oh, hey, man! You doing your workout?”
“Yeah, day got away from me.” Dave looks over at Hudson and frowns. “You’ve got grease or something on your forehead, dude.”
Hudson swipes his hand across his forehead and looks at it. “Oh, yeah! That’s grease, alright!”
Dave laughs. “What were you doing to get grease on your face?”
“Changing brake pads,” Finn says matter–of–factly.
“Truck giving you trouble?”
“Are you kidding?” Finn laughs and shakes his head. “Kurt would never let me let my brake pads get that bad! Nah, this was some old Mazda at the shop.”
“Ohhh,” Dave nods. “Gotcha. But yeah, I was going to do bench press in a minutes, we can spot each other?”
“Yeah, sure, that’ll work,” Finn says. “You wanna go on and go first?”
“Yeah, sure,” Dave unconsciously echoes Finn, sitting down on the bench before lying back. “So all our workouts about the same? Four days of weights, six of running?”
“Yep. Sounds about right!”
“Running us ragged before we even start, seems like,” Dave grunts. “Got any big plans for the summer?”
“Well, there’s Pride and the film festival, obviously,” Finn rattles off. “And I’m doing some kind of something for Puck and Kurt’s birthdays, and I’ve got some sort of test thing I gotta do, and then we’re going to Pensacola. How about you?”
“Oh, family vacation?” Dave asks, because maybe he can put off describing his own summer plans for a few moments. That may have been a dumb question to ask, in retrospect.
Finn snort. “Uh, no. Just me, Puck, and Kurt.”
“Oh, okay.” Dave nods, but he wonders how that’s going to work, having Finn along with Puck and Kurt, but whatever makes them happy, he guesses. “Well, that’ll be fun. Hot. Casey and I went up to Cedar Point yesterday, and it was pretty damn hot by lunchtime. Rode all the water rides to cool off.”
“Oh, yeah? I bet Casey loved that!” Finn says. “I don’t like the really high roller coasters, but me and heights, well. We don’t get along so well!”
“He’d never been on a roller coaster!” Dave explains. “Can you believe that?” He shakes his head.
“I guess there’s gotta be people out there that haven’t,” Finn says. “So, uh. How’s he doing? You guys were looking a little rough at the PFLAG party.”
Dave sighs. “Yeah, he’s moving to Coach’s house on Saturday. Everyone’s real concerned about both of us all of the sudden, and apparently this is going to help us be… healthier? I dunno. I think it’s just gonna make them feel better.”
“Aw, shit! So soon?” Finn shakes his head. “That sucks. Why are they— you know, they probably don’t even have a good reason. That just sucks.”
“Yeah, I don’t think they do,” Dave agrees bitterly. “Just plain old fucking things up because they feel like they screwed up months ago.” He winces and looks at the still–closed door. “Oops. Hope Coach isn’t hanging around.”
“Only cars in the lot were our trucks, dude, so I think you’re good.”
“Oh, good.” Dave sits up after Finn takes the bar. “But yeah, it does suck. Case’s just sort of, I dunno. Mopey. Not sure how that’s supposed to be good for him.”
“Me, either,” Finn says. “Funny how everybody knows better than us what’s good for us and our lives. Seems like everybody’s got all these opinions, but I can’t even begin to tell you where they come up with some of them.”
“I’m beginning to think they all hang out around Ryerson and Brett. Stoned.”
“That would explain a lot.”
“I know, dude.” Dave shakes his head. “It’s just all fucked up.”
Casey has three book boxes on his bed and a shelf full of unboxed books. So far, he’s come up with several good reasons why the books can’t go into the boxes yet. He’s not sure how to transport the graphic novels without the covers getting crimped. He’s uncomfortable with the idea of splitting up a series between two boxes, so probably he needs to do some measuring ahead of time, so he can know exactly which books go in which box. Maybe he doesn’t even have enough boxes for his books, and he should get a couple more before gets started.
While Casey is also aware that probably none of his reasons are particularly valid, and that it’s more that he doesn’t want to think about where the books are going than it is the actual packing, the end result is still empty boxes and unpacked books. He sighs and lies down on his bed, kicking the boxes onto the floor.
The door downstairs opens and closes, and after a moment, Casey can hear David leave the kitchen and start walking up the stairs. He walks towards Casey’s room, stopping in the doorway. “Hey, Case.”
“Hi, David,” Casey says. “Did you have a good workout?”
David shrugs. “It was all right. Ran into Hudson, so I had someone to spot for me, which was good.”
“Oh, good. That’s good. You could get, um. Trapped under a weight or something! And it might have been hours before we came looking for you. Well, probably not hours, but probably it would be a little while before we figured it out!”
“Yeah, maybe so,” David chuckles momentarily. “Grabbed some food on the way home,” he continues, holding up a bag from McDonald’s. “You eat with Dad?”
“Um.” Casey did sit down at the table with Paul and there was food at that table, and Paul, at least, ate it. “Yes.”
“You care if I eat in here?” David asks, already crossing to the desk. “Dad’s got some documentary on really loud downstairs.”
“Hmm. No, I think you have to eat in the hall,” Casey says. “That food is too close to the boxes that the books might be in. Some time. They’ll maybe be in those boxes some time.” He smiles at David and adds, “But you can talk loudly and we can still have a conversation while you’re out there!”
David laughs. “Is this like when Brittany talks about sleeping in the hall? I never have figured out what she means by that, you know.”
“I thought it was a Cheerio thing, like the rice cakes,” Casey confesses. “Cheerios are confusing.”
“That’s true,” David agrees. He sets his bag down and pulls out a hamburger. “So Hudson said something about he and Puck and Kurt were going to a beach or something.”
“Yes, I think Puck said Pensacola,” Casey says. “That’s probably fun. I’ve never been to the ocean.”
“Ah, yeah, that sounds right,” David nods. “I’ve only been once or twice. Is that the Atlantic or the Gulf?” He shrugs. “Either way, I guess they’ll have fun.”
“Probably not as many roller coasters as Cedar Point, though,” Casey says, just in case David feels like their summer stuff wasn’t as exciting as the beach.
“Probably not any at all,” David agrees. “Cedar Point’s less abrasive, too.”
“Probably they’ll get sunburns,” Casey adds. “Less shade. Also, um. Sharks. More of those.”
“Definitely more sharks than in Ohio.” David grins. “Actually, if someone found a shark in the Lakes, I’d be impressed.”
“We should start by checking Erie. It’s the warmest, so if there’s sharks, that’s probably where they’d be.” Casey nods to himself. “We should go to Cleveland this weekend and start looking.”
“How do we hunt for sharks, though?” David frowns slightly. “Can we snorkel?”
“Rowboat and a harpoon,” Casey says, in his serious voice. “We’ll probably need bait, too. Or possibly we just play the music from Jaws until the sharks find us.”
“Like a cross between Moby Dick and one of your late–night movies,” David laughs. “Sounds like a plan.”
“We’ll bring a camera and shoot it found–footage style!”
“Next Blair Witch?”
“Hmm. I was thinking like Chronicle!” Casey suggests. “We’d be the heroes. And there would also be sharks.”
“If we get lucky, Cannes’ll pick it up, and we’ll get to go to France.”
“See? We should maybe go on and drive to Cleveland now, to get a jump on our filming schedule, don’t you think?” Casey slides off his bed and crosses to the desk, where he steals one of David’s fries. He sits back on the bed and takes a little bite of the fry.
“Absolutely. We can brainstorm the remainder of the soundtrack on the way.”
“Maybe it should be a zombie shark movie,” Casey says.
“Are the sharks the zombies, or are the sharks fighting the zombies?” David looks thoughtful. “Either could work, but they’re artistically quite different.”
“Well, sharks versus zombies would probably require twice as many special effects, so there could be some budgetary issues with that,” Casey says. “Maybe zombie sharks this time, and if it does well, zombies fighting sharks for the sequel.”
David grins. “That works.”
“You can go gas up the truck while I get our toothbrushes and our harpoons, then,” Casey offers. “We should probably leave before midnight, so we can get some night footage.”
“I want to use the black harpoon this time. I still think the candy-cane stripes warn them off when I use that one.”
Casey sighs his most dramatic sigh. “I guess that’s fair, even though the candy-cane striped one is bigger, and it’s hard for me to carry, and I’ll probably just fall right into the lake and the zombie sharks will eat me. But sure, you can use the black one. I even polished it and everything.”
“Luckily, the harpoons float, so that gives you a few extra moments before the zombie sharks grab you.” David laughs and crumples up his wrappers into a big ball, standing up, then makes a face. “Holy crap, Case, you should have told me I stink.”
Casey shrugs. “If you did, I’d tell you.”
“Pretty sure I do,” David says with a shake of his head. “I’m gonna take a quick shower.”
“Watch out for sharks!”
David laughs. “I will! Maybe I’ll lean the harpoon against the shower wall, just in case,” he adds as he walks into the hall. Casey can hear the shower start and he thinks very hard about not thinking about David in the shower, and mostly does a good job of it. After his shower, David leans into Casey’s room and says goodnight, and then both of them ostensibly go to bed. In their own beds. By themselves. Ostensibly.
Casey doesn’t actually sleep, he’s pretty sure, though he might have done a very effective job of pretending to sleep. His clock says it’s just after midnight, but there’s only this night and tomorrow night, so why shouldn’t he just go over to David’s room now? Casey can’t think of a single good reason why he shouldn’t, so that’s what he does, tiptoeing across the hall and into David’s room, quietly climbing into the bed. One of David’s arms is outstretched across the bed, and Casey moves into the space between David’s arm and his body.
As Casey’s weight settles on David’s arm, David exhales and he turns even more towards Casey, his other arm draping over Casey. “Hmmm,” David breathes softly. Casey curls up against David’s chest, and David’s arms tighten around him, pulling Casey flush against him. David breathes loudly again, tucking his chin against the top of Casey’s head. Casey nestles his head against David’s chest and closes his eyes.
The next time Casey opens his eyes, David’s room is much brighter, and David’s arms are wrapped completely around him, where he can’t really move. He doesn’t actually try to move, but he’s fairly certain he wouldn’t be able to, even if he did try.
David shifts, and he sounds half–asleep as he mumbles. “Case.” There’s a pause. “Smell good.” David breathes deeply again and his arms move a little, still holding Casey to him, but he doesn’t say anything else. Casey thought that the thing about hearts skipping a beat was just a figure of speech, but that’s what his heart actually does then, and his breath catches the tiniest bit. He’s already comfortable, but he relaxes even more, closing his eyes again and letting himself drift.
Dave sighs when he hears his dad coming into the house, and turns the television off; he’s not even sure what they’re watching. One show ended, and neither he nor Casey bothered to change the channel.
“Boys?” Paul calls as he walks into the kitchen. “Did either of you have some place specific you wanted to go for dinner?”
Casey glances up at Dave, and his face clearly says that he won’t be eating anyway, so it doesn’t matter to him where they go. Dave shrugs and then turns towards the kitchen.
“Maybe just something like Ruby Tuesday’s?” Dave yells back.
“That sounds fine. Are you ready to go?”
Dave sighs a little and starts to stand up. “Sure, Dad.” He glances at Casey, who simply shrugs and doesn’t say a word.
“Great!” Paul’s voice sounds a little forced, but the three of them head out to the garage, where Paul climbs into the front seat, and Dave and Casey slide into the back. It feels a little bit like being in the back of a police car, or at least what Dave imagines it would feel like. They’re trapped by everyone else making decisions, anyway. Casey clutches Dave’s hand on the drive over and Dave has the additional thought that it’s like his dad is escorting them to a last meal before an execution.
Ruby Tuesday’s isn’t too crowded, even though it’s a Friday night, and Dave’s glad they don’t see anyone that any of them know, because he’s not up for a congenial hi–how–are–you conversation.
“So,” Paul says after they’ve eaten most of their meal, his voice somber, and Dave winces internally. “Are you ready for tomorrow, Casey? Do you need any more boxes?”
“Dad,” Dave says darkly, shaking his head, but Paul doesn’t even look at Dave, just keeps looking at Casey with an expression that Dave’s sure is meant to be supportive or kind or something. Casey shrugs just a tiny bit and his head moves, half a shake and half a nod, and luckily, that noncommittal answer is enough for Paul, because he nods as well and then turns back to his steak.
“How was your workout today, David?” Paul asks.
“Fine,” Dave says stiffly. Why would it be any different from the past couple of weeks? He can walk and isn’t icing anything, so it must be fine.
“Well, would you two like to get dessert?”
Dave frowns and looks at Casey, who gives a miniscule shake of his head. Dave turns back to his dad and shakes his head. “Nah, I think we’re good. Case has work early, remember?”
“Oh, right, of course.” Paul nods and pays the ticket, and then it’s back into the police car of doom, or at least that’s how Dave still sees it. Casey doesn’t look any more thrilled than Dave about it, and as soon as they get home, Dave announces that he and Casey are going upstairs, even as Paul’s turning on yet another documentary on World War I.
Dave can feel himself sag with relief a little when they reach the top of the stairs, and he flops heavily onto his bed. “That was excruciating.”
Casey curls up next to Dave on the bed and whispers, “I hate this.”
“Me too,” Dave agrees, sighing. “I could write a fucking dissertation on how much I hate it and why they’re all stupid, but I don’t know why anyone would read it.”
“I’d read it,” Casey says fiercely.
“You already know what it would say,” Dave remarks sadly.
Casey’s head lands on Dave’s shoulder, and he says, “I’d read it anyway.”
They stay there in silence as the room slowly grows dark, and Dave isn’t sure how much time has passed when he brings his hand up to rest lightly on the back of Casey’s head. “Tried to figure out how to fix it,” Dave says quietly. “Sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” Casey says, his voice soft. “It wasn’t your job to fix it.”
“It wasn’t their job to break it, either.” Dave sighs again. They fall silent again, and more time passes, until Dave’s room is completely dark. He can’t bring himself to move to turn on a lamp, though, and he’s not sure he wants any lamps on as it is.
Dave turns so that he’s lying on his side, his other arm resting gently across Casey’s waist, and his hand moves a little on Casey’s head. Dave can feel his eyes starting to close involuntarily, and he shakes his head just a little.
“Your alarm set? For work, I mean?” Casey makes a small noise that seems to indicate yes, and Dave nods a little, satisfied, because the last thing they need is an alarm not set on top of all of the other shit. Casey trembles a little beside Dave and Dave lets his eyes close fully as he takes deep breaths and fights hard not to stomp downstairs and yell at his dad.
Dave realizes he must’ve fallen asleep, at least for a bit, when he cracks open his eyes and can tell the room is even darker. Casey’s lips are on top of his, and after a moment, Dave realizes that they are wet with tears. The arm draped over Casey’s waist tightens almost involuntarily, like he’s going to hold Casey right there, permanently, with neither of them moving again.
Casey lightly rests his fingertips on Dave’s face as he continues kissing him softly, and Dave slowly runs his fingers through Casey’s hair. Casey continues kissing Dave, light, steady kisses, and a few tears drip from Casey’s cheeks onto Dave’s. Dave would say something, but all he can think to say is “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and being sorry for something that’s being done to both of them doesn’t really make a difference.
Dave hears Casey crying harder, tears flowing faster, every second or third kiss punctuated by a small gasp. Casey seems almost frantic, his lips pressing against Dave’s with a little more force, lips slightly parted. The gasps are replaced by incoherent words that gradually become more clear. “I love you,” Dave makes out at last, alternated with kisses and broken sobs. Dave’s fingers tighten a little in Casey’s hair, and Casey keeps repeating, “I love you, David. I love you.” Dave drifts back to sleep with Casey still murmuring “I love you” against Dave’s lips.