[the key]

Disclaimer: If you've heard of them, I don't own them. Everything else is mine, so no stealing, pretty please. ;-)

BFC Constraints: Rating (any), Driver (Casey Mears)

**

Casey had no idea where he was, why his whole body hurt, or why he held a key clutched in his right hand.

He'd been holding the key so long, so hard, it had torn gouges into the flesh of his palm.

It was the only thing Casey could feel.

**

"Hello?" Casey Mears flipped open his cell phone as he strode towards pit road, trying to get to his qualifying car without encountering too many reporters. He never minded the media, except before qualifying. He always wanted to have a few minutes to himself, to really concentrate, to get centered on the two laps that stood between him and a good starting position.

Casey stopped in his tracks at the voice on the other end of the line.

His jaw dropped.

He shook his head in disbelief.

"Are you sure? Stop playing with me, man. C'mon, that can't be true. Why would she call - I don't understand. I - I can't talk about this right now. I have to go qualify, man! I'll call you later. I'll call you later!"

Slamming the heel of his hand into his steering wheel as he strapped in, Casey could only think of one thing...

So much for his fucking concentration.

**

"Hon?" Casey called, struggling to make it through the front door without dropping the precariously balanced bag of groceries in his arms. "You home?"

Jen strode from the kitchen with a smile on her face and flour on her shirt. She wiped her hands on her jeans and took the bag from him. "Did you remember the peanut butter chips?"

Casey nodded and smiled. "And the baking soda. Are you sure you know what you're doing?" He teased, patting her behind and kicking off his shoes. "You're aren't exactly the most domestic woman I know." He padded into his kitchen behind the love of his life and laughed at the cookie-baking explosion that met his eyes.

"I destroyed your kitchen. You aren't mad, are you?" Jen said with a winsome smile.

"Our kitchen." Casey corrected, kissing her temple. "And no, not mad."

"It's still your kitchen. I still have a house, you know." Jen teased, grabbing a wooden spoon and playfully smacking Casey's hand as he sampled some cookie dough. "I'm not a kept woman."

"Yeah." Casey agreed. "Not yet, anyway." He winked, making Jen smile the smile that melted his heart every time.

**

This can't be happening to me, Casey thought as he sat with his head in his hands, slumped over on his couch in his hauler. For a few blessed minutes, he had been uninterrupted, alone with the worst shock of his young life.

He'd only seen her a couple of times.

Leaning back and taking a long drink from his beer can, Casey closed his eyes and contemplated drinking himself into oblivion.

Just a couple of times.

He and Jen were crazy about each other. Had been attached at the hip practically since they day they met. They'd been together for three years, and they still talked on the phone 50 times a day.

So what had he been thinking?

Casey shook his head slowly, admonishing himself.

He knew what it was.

It was too easy.

It was too easy being famous, being in demand, being able to command whatever he wanted.

That night in Vegas, he'd wanted her.

He'd wanted to have sex...no...he'd wanted to FUCK, and she'd been right there, while Jen was three thousand miles away.

So, he'd fucked her.

Again and again and again.

Releasing all the anger of a bad run. Releasing all his hostility at being 'the kid' at Ganassi. Releasing every emotion he'd kept bottled up for so long. Releasing all his frustration at never running up front.

Funny how quickly his fortunes changed.

Now, he was a contender every week.

And that fuck was going to cost him the rest of his life.

**

"Do you believe in soul mates?" Jen asked lazily one night when neither one of them could sleep because of the crackle of thunder and slashes of lightning right outside Casey's bedroom window.

"Sometimes." Casey answered honestly. "I like to believe there is one right person for everyone, but I think that you might not always meet them."

"Am I your right person?" Jen asked seriously, pulling back to look at Casey's eyes, despite the cloaking darkness around them.

"I like to think so." Casey said tenderly. "If not, I've wasted a hell of a lot of time molding you into the perfect girlfriend. Not to mention...ow!" Casey squeaked as Jen tugged on his ear.

"Watch yourself, mister, or this right person is punting your ass to the couch."

"I love you too, Jen."

**

Casey realized he hardly knew anything about her.

Oh, he knew what she sounded like when she came, he knew she favored bikini briefs to thongs, and he knew she loved to have a gin and tonic before they did it.

That was really all he felt he knew.

He'd just spent the last two hours in the most awkward confrontation of his life. They'd met in an airport bar to "talk".

To talk about their future. They decisions.

Their child.

She was three months along already, and had decided she was keeping it, no matter what Casey wanted or asked.

They'd spent most of the two hours arguing and sniping at each other.

Casey realized it was the most they'd ever talked.

He cringed when he thought of that.

**

God, he wished Jen was here.

She would let him vent and yell and argue until he found himself again.

She would let him beat up pillows or scream and yell or fuck his brains out, and still love him in the morning.

But no. He was in Vegas and she was in New York on business.

He hated it when she wasn't around and he needed her.

Casey was full of emotion as he stalked through his hotel's lobby and punched the up button on the elevator. He barely noticed the beautiful woman next to him until she turned and spoke to him, her husky voice captivating him.

"I think Harvick cut you off, and you should have kicked his ass." She said, causing Casey to whirl around and stare at her.

She knew racing, she knew who he was, she was dressed to kill, and she was one of the most beautiful women Casey had ever seen.

He didn't care about her name, her job or her favorite colour, he just wanted to...

He just wanted to.

Now.

**

"Casey!" The pounding on his hauler door continued. "CASEY!"

Casey whirled around, staring from his front door to his bloodied hand. He'd been bashing it against one of his cabinets for so long, it felt like every bone had turned to dust in his hand.

"Casey! You alright, man? What's that noise?" Jimmie's voice was muffled through the door, and Casey could heard the concern and confusion in his best friend's voice.

"I'm fine. Just...just trying to fix something." Casey choked out.

It wasn't a lie, really.

He was trying to fix himself.

To feel something other than anguish and guilt and disgust with himself.

It really wasn't a lie.

**

Every time Casey looked at Jen, he was torn with guilt.

He loved her so much it hurt, and he'd betrayed her so much, he could barely live with himself.

It hadn't been a one night stand.

He'd seen her several times in Vegas. Every time he was in town, somehow they got together.

And he hated himself for it.

But he also couldn't seem to stop.

Every time he thought about telling Jen everything.

Of confessing to this affair that meant nothing to him emotionally - that only filled a void in him physically, and even then, only for a little while.

But every time he opened his mouth to confess, Jen would do something to melt his heart, and to realize he couldn't hurt her like this.

She was smile that smile, or wrestle with the VCR until her brow wrinkled in the cutest way, or she would bark at him to watch her kick ass at Tetris.

He couldn't do that to her.

The last time he'd been in Vegas, he'd made it clear that was the last time for them to see each other.

Now that it was over, there was no reason to hurt Jen.

No reason at all.

**

He'd told Jen they needed to talk.

He hated those words.

"We need to talk."

They'd sat on opposite ends of the couch while he'd finally admitted the whole truth. How he loved her more than anything, but had found himself straying. How'd he had sex with a virtual stranger in a strange city after an aggravating race. How that had been the end of it, until he'd gone to Vegas again and again for work and play, meeting the same girl every time. How she was pregnant.

How she was keeping it.

Jen had remained as cool as could be expected, then in a sudden move had stood from the couch and quickly walked into the kitchen. Casey could hear Jen moving around, then coming back into the room, holding something small in her hand.

It was her key to his house.

She was giving it back to him.

And telling him never to contact her again.

She'd listened to everything he had told her with complete attention, had appreciated his honesty in what have been a very hard thing for him to own up to, but in the end, she knew it would...

never.work.out.

We're.over.

Get.out.

Now.

And so he'd gone, with shaking hands and a heavy heart, knowing that only a bottle of whiskey could help him feel now.

**

He'd hurt the love of his life.

He was going to be a father.

There was no way out.

And even as he lay on the bathroom floor, retching and moaning and crying, he knew that this pain was dull compared to the pain he would feel every day for the rest of his life, knowing what he'd once had.

And what he'd thrown away.

**

Casey had no idea where he was, why his whole body hurt, or why he held a key clutched in his right hand.

He'd been holding the key so long, so hard, it had torn gouges into the flesh of his palm.

It was the only thing Casey could feel.

[fin]