Outside Casey's window, thick snowflakes fall in silence while in the kitchen downstairs, his parents' voices create an angry crescendo. Although he's used to the fighting by now—as much as he can get used to it, anyway—it still makes him almost sick to his stomach. The illusion of a perfect family faded long ago into something like a grayish shadow on a blind mirror, but at the very least, Casey had hoped that Christmas eve, a night so full of tradition in the Connor household, would be different.
Of course, that turned out to be a fool's hope.
Casey lies on his bed and stares at the ceiling as he tries to simultaneously block out the yelling and figure out what it's about this time. It started even before dinner, but what the actual trigger was, he can't tell, and neither does he understand the waves of accusations flowing back and forth; he gave up trying long ago.
“Merry fucking Christmas,” he whispers to himself when a door slams so hard that he can feel the vibration.
For a moment, the house lies silent. Casey counts to five, then to ten, and when he reaches twelve, his mother raises her voice again.
Casey knows the fighting may well last all night. He's played with the idea of just sneaking out, but he doesn't know where to go, and in this weather, being outside without a purpose seems even less inviting than listening to his family falling apart.
Sighing, he turns his head to the window. The world beyond is a white blur, flurries of snow in a steady, aerial dance. It's soothing, almost sobering.
Until something hits the glass. Startled, Casey sits up and blinks.
A moment later, he hears another thud. He walks over over and puts his hands on the glass. Squinting, he surveys what he knows to be the roof and the fence and the sidewalk, all of which are rendered one now.
Casey nearly jumps out of his skin, but then it clicks that someone's throwing fucking snowballs at his window, and his heartbeat slows before it picks up again. For some reason, this is the one thing tonight that really gets him pissed. Bad enough his parents have ruined his favorite holiday, but some stranger playing pranks is more than he can take.
A rant on his lips, he yanks his window open and barely manages to evade yet another wet-white missile coming his way. The words stick in his throat as he watches the snow melt into a puddle on his floor immediately.
“Fuck off, asshole!” he then yells into the night and registers in a corner of his mind that for a moment, his parents have fallen silent again. The thought that he might have made them stop fighting makes him want to laugh; whenever he tries, he ends up making them scream more.
“I love you, too.”
Casey leans out of the window. In a matter of seconds, his face feels frozen and his hair is wet from the snow, but he hardly notices: he makes out the contours of a tall figure on the sidewalk, and his heart flutters.
“I thought you were spending Christmas with your family?”
“I was. But I'm here now. Probably just in time to get you out of Dodge.”
A smile tugs at the corners of Casey's lips. “Best boyfriend ever,” he says, but since he's already sliding his window closed, he can't tell if Zeke heard him. Maybe it's better if he didn't; he's smug enough as it is most of the time.
Casey hurries down the stairs and past the endless, “you did"—"no, you did” now coming from the dining room. He slips into his shoes, dons his jacket, and is out the door and in Zeke's car in the next moment.
“Hi,” he says with an almost sheepish grin.
Zeke runs his icy fingertips over Casey's cheek. Casey shudders, but his grin widens. He leans in to demand a kiss that Zeke is only too willing to grant him.
“So how bad is it?” Zeke asks when their lips part. In the weird winter twilight, his eyes are pools of liquid onyx.
“Don't ask. Tell me why you're here.”
Zeke shrugs. “I had a feeling you needed my company more than creepy old aunt Diana and her twenty-seven cats.”
“Twenty-seven? For real?”
“I didn't count them, but … Something like that, I guess. Does it matter?” Zeke turns the key and revs the engine.
Casey laughs. “Not really. Where are we going?”
“Someplace where you can unwrap your Christmas gift early and then play with it all night.”
“You mean your bedroom.”
“No one likes know-it-alls, Case,” Zeke huffs, but the way he bites his lower lip as if to hide a grin is telling.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. As long as you wrapped your cock with some Christmas ribbon, I'll even let it pass as a gift.”
Zeke tilts his head to the side and eyes Casey. “Well … Be careful what you wish for.”