It was October 30th, a Saturday night, and Delilah Profit was throwing a costume party. The first Hallowe'en party post-invasion.
"Do you think that's a good idea?" Casey had asked her a few weeks before while they cuddled in front of the TV watching Moonstruck. "I mean, maybe it's too soon."
"That's exactly why it has to happen, sweetie," she had replied, showering him yet again in what was turning out to be a relentless stream of endearments now that they were an Item. "Because we have to move on and heal. Find our freak again. It's happening, that's all there is to it."
And so it was October 30th, a Saturday night, and Delilah Profit's party was four hours from happening.
Casey had come over mid-afternoon to hang and help out, although he didn't know why (something Delilah soon came to learn), because it wasn't as if he’d much experience hosting parties. And seeing as he looked more like Beaver Cleaver than someone rolling past their mid teens, she couldn't even send him out on the booze run. But pretty soon, Del's posse of girlfriends began arriving, a non-stop stream of high-pitched squealing and laughter, their costumes on hangers and in bags so that they could all get each other ready. So Casey was rescued from the canapés and candle pumpkins and from hanging skeletons and black curtains, and soon, someone opened a bottle of wine and someone else handed Casey a glass, and he was happily content to lean against a counter and quietly listen to the thrum of excitement. By the second glass, he was gamefully chopping veggies and stirring dips and getting a little noisy, and by the third, he was zipping backs and pinning bra straps after the kitchen had been abandoned for the upper bedrooms, shrieking as baldly as the rest of them from time to time.
"So what are you wearing tonight?" one of the girls asked while he settled her wig.
"I've got it covered," Delilah interrupted as she swished by in her harem bra and chiffon skirt, gold coins shimmering with sound.
"Something she picked out," Casey added, slipping a bobby pin in place. It amused him, perhaps because he'd started his fourth glass of wine, that he knew his way around hair combs better than cocktail sausages, and that he had a for-real girlfriend to pick out his clothes.
"Okay, Casey's turn!" It was now 6:30, less than two hours to party lift-off, and the sun had since set, leaving a fuchsia palette in the clear evening sky. The girls were all dressed and boozy and attempting to forestall utter drunkenness by scarfing their ways through several delivered pizzas.
Delilah went to the closet and removed a small costume rental bag, hanging it on the door frame and opening the zipper. She peeled the plastic back so all could see.
"Oh my god, it's perfect!" squealed the alpine wench, braids bouncing in agreement.
"No fucking way," Casey said with a frown.
"First, we'll do your face," Delilah pronounced, giving Casey a little finger push that sat him on the edge of her bed.
"You're going to be so beautiful," a lime-green Tinkerbell cooed, and her silver wings shivered with anticipation.
This wasn't what Casey wanted to hear. "I can't wear that, Del," he said more determinedly.
"I insist," she smiled.
"WE INSIST!" the girls chirped like Pips to her Gladys.
Casey giggled self-consciously, then frowned again.
"On you, baby," Delilah soothed, dipping down so that she was face to face with Casey, "blue eye shadow will never be illegal again." And it was probably because of that damned fourth glass of wine, but when Delilah pushed his shoulder with the tip of her finger, he fell back onto the coverlet beneath a mist of swarming young women. "Cue the music, girls," Delilah said.
"'It's astounding'," a voice called out.
"'Time is fleeting'," came the reply.
Fuck. Madness… takes its toll, Casey thought.
"Give him the mirror," Delilah said, as they all stepped back from a flushed Casey. He had to admit, the silky soft feel of the wig's curls on his forehead and nape felt rather nice.
A vampish red devil held a mirror to Casey's face. "I don't even look like me," he whispered.
"You look amazing," the devil said, and there was a general murmur of agreement around the room.
"Oh baby, I could do you right here," Deliliah whispered in his ear.
The corner of Casey's mouth hooked upwards as he studied his face. He had to admit he looked, well, beautiful.
"I can change by myself," Casey groused.
"You're not going into that bathroom alone," Delilah replied. "You'll lock the door and never come out. I'll bring the wine."
Dating notwithstanding, they had never gotten past protracted bouts of heavy kissing and fully clothed groping before boredom won out. And a cabernet merlot notwithstanding, Casey couldn't get past the shyness that had now descended over him as he stood in the bathroom with Delilah. "I can't change in front of you," he pouted.
"Then go into the shower and take everything off. I'll hand you things."
The sneakers were the first to go, followed by socks, jeans, cotton briefs, his shirt and a tee. "I don't want to go back to being the kid everyone beat up on," Casey pleaded from the darkened shower stall whose walls just wouldn't stop bending. "This is not a good idea, Del."
"Babycakes, no one is ever going to pick on you again, don't you know that? You could walk naked down the school hallway in a sandwich board that reads Take Your Best Shot and the entire football team would circle you for protection. You're going to look totally awesome, my sweets. Here, put this on first." A sequined lycra bustier came over the top of the door. Casey sighed and slipped it on.
He had to admit the slidey lining rubbed his nipples rather nicely.
"Now these," Delilah offered.
Casey was at least grateful that a bit of a cup had been built into the black silk briefs.
The garter belt followed, and fingerless elbow gloves and a pearl necklace after that. Delilah told him to come out, that she'd help him with the stockings and arm tattoo herself.
"No," he whined.
Delilah grabbed the shower door. "For fuck's sake, Case..." She stopped, staring at him. "Oh baby," she whispered.
Casey shrank and turned away, hands clasped protectively over his crotch. "I look like a goof."
No," Delilah breathed, stepping forward and gently pulling his hands away. "Oh, nonononono. Casey, you look…hot."
"I do not look fucking hot," Casey blurted, but hearing himself described that way for the first time in his currently wine-fueled life resonated something somewhere in the recesses of his very wine-fueled brain. "You can see my pubes."
"We're supposed to," Delilah laughed. "Casey, you're a guy in drag. A little pubic hair and crotch bulge is good. Very, very good. C'mon." She tugged a lamé-covered wrist. "Let's do the stockings."
"Ohmygod, ohmygod, he's a little Frankie!" nine voices squealed as Casey, reluctantly pushed forward by Delilah, wrists firmly in her grip, emerged from the darkened bathroom.
"Here's your boa," Go-Go Girl said, draping floofy red feathers about his neck.
"Here's your wine," Tinkerbell added. She leaned in and kissed his cheek.
"You have to practice your walk," Delilah said, letting go of him. "Make room, everyone."
Casey teetered on three and a half inch heels as a circle widened around him. "I think I've had too much to drink," he said. "This carpet's awfully thick."
"You just need training wheels, sweetheart," Delilah said, taking one of his hands. A medieval damsel took the other, and between the two of them, they walked Casey across the room to the bedroom door and then back again, once more for good measure and then back. Within five minutes, Casey could not only walk unassisted, but he could swish and sway and strut and prance, and it was awfully heady stuff to have a room full of women in the palm of his hand, whooping every time he thrust a hip or rotated his ass. He fell back on the bed exuberantly pleased with himself.
"Here," the alpine wench murmured, leaning over and shot-gunning smoke into his parted crimson-glossed lips. Casey's eyes widened, but he held it in just as the doorbell rang.
"Oh!" he exhaled, grinning. "Guests!"
By 9:30, the party was in full swing and an awful lot of healing was taking place. It was shoulder to shoulder in the hallways and on the couches and out the patio doors. People sat on the stairway leading up to the bedrooms so they could watch the arrivals, and the air was thickening with the sweet smell of scented candles and banned substances. It was at this moment that Gabe Santora walked in, buffed to a shine as the centurion at the head of a Roman legion of linebackers and offensive tackles, beer coolers in hand and bound for the kitchen. A woodland sprite jumped in front of him, bringing him and his cohort up short. "Heh, soldier," she said, planting her hands on her hips before bringing her knees in tight and thrusting her pelvis at him.
"Hello to you too," Gabe smirked.
"We're practicing our time warp for Frankie," she said, continuing to pump away.
"Time warp?" one of the legion leered over Gabe's shoulder. "You're in the wrong decade, sister."
She eyed his hairy legs and pleated red tunic. "And what decade might you be?" she asked.
At the doorway to the kitchen, Delilah squeezed past Gabe, shimmying her bosom so that his eyes collapsed down her cleavage before she popped a little up-thrust. "Heh, Gabe," she said. "I see you brought the army."
Gabe's eyes wandered over the crowd in the kitchen, most of whom he couldn't recognize at a passing glance.
"The fuck!" he suddenly said, gaze riveted to the opposite side of the room, eyes widening. "Is that Connor??"
In some ways, Casey was much as he'd been six hours before, propped on his elbows leaning back against the counter, a glass of wine in one hand. Except for the neatly crossed ankles and sheer black stockings held up by ruffled lace garters, among other things. Glued to his right hip was Tinkerbell and to his left a French maid. And it would seem that any compunction he might have held earlier about pubic displays appeared not to warrant a second thought, not the way his crotch was canted forward just so.
"It's 'Frankie'," Tinkerbell corrected and licked a stripe up Casey's cheek.
The French maid turned Casey's jaw towards her with one finger. "Frankie," she repeated breathlessly across his lips.
"That's right," Casey breathed back.
"Jesus," the ogling legion of Rome said as one.
Gabe shook his head. "Connor," he said. "It took big balls to kill Mary Beth. But for you to wear that outfit?" He walked over to Casey and clinked the neck of his beer against Casey's wine glass. "Major cojones, my brother. Fucking enormous."
Zeke Tyler wasn't much into costume parties. He wasn't much into fraternizing in principle, except when it might have an impact on his profit line. So when Stokely pressed him to make an appearance at Delilah Profit's Hallowe'en party and come with her and Stan, he'd agreed, although reluctantly. When she further insisted he should really dress up, he nearly bailed.
"We've got a theme going,” she persisted. “Pick a character you can relate to."
So he had.
He'd go as the handy man.
Delilah clapped her hands so that her wrist bracelets jangled and showered a sparkly dusting of iridescent paint onto the foyer floor when Stan, Stokely and Zeke made their entrance.
“Frankie doesn’t have to be lonely anymore,” a 1920s cigarette girl said, greeting them with a tray of naughty enjoyments. “The rest of Transexual has arrived.”
“Who came as Frank-N-Furter?” Stokely asked, drawing from the tray and slipping a banana-flavored condom in Stan’s jean vest pocket.
“Casey,” about four voices replied in unison.
“No fucking way!” Stan exclaimed.
“We had to dress him,” one of the girls continued. “And ply him with lots and lots of wine. He’s in the kitchen holding up the counter.”
The kitchen was always the first point of departure at a party anyway. So the group moved on, Stokely an astonishing Columbia with Stan as boyfriend Eddie at her heel. Delilah leaned into Zeke who was quietly and sullenly bringing up the rear. “You look spectacularly dreadful.”
“Thank you,” he grumbled. “This is what happens to junkies.”
As far as Stan was concerned, a relatively decent argument could be made that it was in fact the counter that held up Casey. Not that anyone was paying much attention to that fact. At the moment, Casey was draped over it, languidly smoking a cigarette while discussing in great depth with a tight-end receiver the merits of wearing women’s clothes as a means of psychic liberation and the guy should try it, like, right now, it was fucking awesome once you got past the humiliation. It was turning into a tough sell, but the guy was still willing to give it considerate thought. Casey’s gartered ass stuck out into the room just asking for a pat or pinch, but so far, most of the guys were giving him a wide berth, while every so often one of the girls would scoot down to press a red lipsticked kiss onto the silk, which Casey completely ignored, so engrossed was he in the heat of conversation.
"Don't you dare sit on my parents' furniture," Delilah warned as she breezed by.
“I had to see it to fucking believe it,” Stan thundered now that he’d arrived.
“EDDIE!” Casey yelled, straightening and throwing his arms open. Rosado walked up and the two of them thumped chests, bustier to biker tee. “I knew my people wouldn’t abandon me to these creatures of Planet Earth,” Casey grinned.
“Casey, you look amazing,” Stokely said. “Forget it,” she warned when Casey turned to offer his chest.
“Just you two?” Casey asked. He was a little disappointed. He’d hoped that they might have talked Zeke Tyler into tagging along, as if Zeke tagged, what was he thinking, and Casey knew that just about anything, like tattooing his forehead or lancing a boil, would have been more attractive to Zeke than coming to Delilah Profit’s party.
“Zeke’s here,” Stan said, turning to his left, then right because Zeke had been right there with them a second ago. “Zeke!” he shouted across the kitchen when he spotted him.
Casey’s eyes widened at the pale, bald-headed, stringy-haired figure in the ragged black coat rummaging around the refrigerator. He blinked sharply several times to fine-tune the focal point on his contacts just to make sure Stan wasn't messing with his head.
Zeke looked up and lifted his chin, like, What? in Stan’s direction, and it dropped into place for Casey with that one little motion. Zeke pulled out a beer and twisted the cap.
“You are some fugly, Tyler,” Casey said as Zeke joined them.
“Yeah, well, at least I’m fixed on my sexual orientation,” Zeke replied, eyes sweeping over Casey's costume.
Under Zeke’s scrutiny and his own very carefully applied cheek rouge, Casey blushed, because any forward momentum that he'd just brought from his cross-dressing conversation was forgotten as he realized how glad he was that Zeke’s sexual orientation was decidedly male, as butt ugly as that currently was. Casey didn’t know whether he wanted to drunk-up or sober up now that Zeke was here. Deciding, he said to Zeke, “Any more beers in the fridge?”
Zeke passed him the one he’d opened. “I’ll get another.”
But between the counter and the fridge door, half the football team ended up throwing Zeke a couple of interceptions, and it wasn’t until another hour or more had passed that Casey found Zeke dragging his scraggly self back into the kitchen, where much of the fun had been and gone, and where Casey now returned because it was quiet and the flooring was mercifully not carpet.
“Has it been a good night?” Casey asked, once more leaning on the counter and shifting his weight from leg to leg because his feet were sore, and vanity kept him from doing anything about it.
Zeke looked at him and shrugged noncommittedly. He never discussed business.
“Not prying,” Casey said, studying the lit end of his cigarette. “Whatever it took to get you to the party,” he added, oblivious of any self-censorship.
Zeke looked at him sideways, but Casey kept staring at the hot spot.
"You ever think sometimes that you can drink yourself sober?" Casey asked.
"Only when I've had enough to drink."
Casey nodded. "Me too."
They fell silent, Zeke listening to the hoots and craziness coming from other parts of the house, Casey listening to his neurons dying under the barrage of alcohol he’d consumed. He stole a glance sideways at Zeke. Smart Zeke. Solitary Zeke. Damn, but on more than a few occasions, smoldering Zeke. Sometimes Zeke made him so crazy with his coolness and squintiness, Casey just wanted to howl at the moon.
He smirked at that thought. "Ruff," he said, but he didn’t think Zeke heard him. "Ruff," he repeated more loudly.
Zeke looked at him like he'd just found a bug in his beer. "That's 'Riff Raff,' you idiot."
"Woof," Casey grinned.
Zeke's eyes rolled. "You're a freaky thing when you're drunk," he said, but he couldn't stop the hint of a smile from trying to break out.
"Yup," Casey giggled. "Sloppy hammered."
Zeke considered that. "It's not such a bad look on you," he said.
Casey stood up straight and pulled the elastic down from where his cheeks pouted out of his knickers. He blearily surveyed the sparkling flatness of his chest. "I didn't think your taste ran to transvestites."
"No, you twit," Zeke groaned. "I mean you can stand to let loose sometimes, Case. Get a little 'sloppy hammered'."
"Oh." Casey frowned, considering this for all of a half second. Then he smiled. "Right."
"So, is this get-up Del's doing?"
"Yeah." Casey looked at Zeke, his imagination trying to find the face he knew was beneath the cadaverous, junked-up makeup. "You look creepy," he said since his brain and mouth were hard-wired into a direct circuit at that moment.
"Yeah, well, that's nothing new."
"What the fuck, Tyler?" Casey moaned, and he collapsed back onto the counter, head bobbing above his sparkly forearms, looking up at Zeke beneath lids all smoky and pencilled black. "You're not a creep. That's just another costume you like to wear."
Zeke stared at Casey, and two thoughts slammed through his mind simultaneously. The first was how, even drunker and higher than stink, Casey's amazingly geeky mind never stopped figuring stuff out. And the second was that nerdy Casey Connor, teetering right at that moment in his blusher and his nylons, was too fucking sexy for his own good. Who the hell would have thought? Certainly not him.
"So," Zeke said, needing to shake that last thought loose. "Things going good with you and Del?"
Casey whimpered "whatever," then peered past Zeke's elbow, checking to see who else might be in the room so that no one would hear his reply. "She calls me names," he stage whispered when he saw the coast was clear.
Zeke's brows rose. "What kind of names?"
"Girly names. Like, 'sweet cheeks' and 'love muffin.' As if."
“You saying you’re not her love muffin?”
Casey wrinkled his nose. “Look at me. Do I look like a love muffin?”
Zeke leaned away from the counter to check out Casey’s perky ass, then leaned back in. “There’s potential.”
“Not fucking NOW,” Casey laughed with an ass waggle, dropping his spent cigarette absently in Zeke’s half-filled beer bottle. He straightened up and stepped woozily around to lean against the counter next to Zeke. He sighed, fingering his pearls, train of thought absolutely lost.
There was a giggle at the doorway. "There you are," the car hop girl exclaimed, and she rolled across the floor on her skates, coming to a heeled stop in front of Casey. "Are you ready for another, Frankie?" She wet the joint between her lips so that she could load another shot-gun.
"Gimme that," Zeke suddenly said, plucking the joint just before it disappeared into her mouth. He set it within his own and tilted towards Casey.
"Uhhh," Casey breathed. His eyes were utterly transfixed on Zeke's mouth as it came nearer and nearer to his own. Zeke's right arm swept up, virtually shutting out the car hop, and he wrapped it around Casey's neck, pulling him in, angling downwards towards Casey's upturned face. Their lips brushed once, accidentally, and then again, deliberately, and Casey gasped at just the moment Zeke began blowing ever so slowly. When he was done, Zeke pulled back, his arm relaxing but not so much as to let go of Casey, who'd become sloe-eyed and loose-limbed, holding his breath and staring back into Zeke's face.
"Whoa," the car hop girl whispered, and she rolled back a step. So much for being welcomed here. She glided out of the kitchen, but not before leaning in and snatching the joint from Zeke's fingers.
"You spaced out on sensation, sweet cheeks?" Zeke grinned as Casey slowly exhaled.
Casey figured there was a lyrical reply he was forgetting, but oh yeah, yes he was. His eyes were still glued on Zeke's mouth. "Zeke," he sighed. "What are you doing?"
The corner of Zeke's mouth hooked into a smile. "I believe that after Riff Raff shoots Frankie, he takes him back to the planet they came from."
And although that wasn’t what Casey really meant, it was a better answer than he could have hoped for. "Riiiight," he nodded as his smile gathered slowly. "We're supposed to be going home or something."
"Or something," Zeke grinned.