Since it was only around nine in the morning, Nyte was pretty empty. There was only one other person inside, head bowed over a cup of coffee and one of the three breakfast options Dean had for sale. Callum glanced around and waved slightly when he saw the bear shifter who was standing rather uncomfortably behind the bar.
“Morning,” Callum said, taking a seat in front of Dean.
“Good morning, baby, you’re here really early,” Dean replied. “Can I get you anything?”
Callum shook his head, “I’m fine. I just ate. How’ve you been?”
“Good, good,” as he replied, he moved to grab a glass and fill it with water. Callum frowned as Dean’s face wrinkled into a brief grimace of pain.
“Are you sure?” Callum asked worriedly. “You look like you’re in pain.”
A light flush crept up into Dean’s cheeks as he cleared his throat, “Oh. Um. Last night…”
Before he could finish replying, the staff room door opened and Callum’s cheeks lit up as realization dawned. The reason for Dean’s discomfort strolled up behind Dean, wrapping one lean arm around the former’s hips. He was dressed in a pair of dark pants and a pale purple shirt that was left unbuttoned at the top.
Martin grinned at Callum, “Long time no see.”
“Martin, hey,” Callum said, shaking Martin’s outstretched hand. As always, the tiger’s grip was firm and unrelenting, filled with controlled power. “How’ve you been?”
Martin glanced at Dean pointedly and his hand on Dean slipped noticeably downward, in tangent with Dean’s wince and increased flush. “Good. Been a bit busy but I’ve managed to get some time off to…relax.”
Callum bit his lip and looked to the side. Being around Martin and Dean never failed to make him embarrassed due to Martin’s obvious affection and dominance over Dean. It had been odd to see when he first met them, Dean could easily overpower Martin, but he didn’t. Instead, he turned into…well he turned into Callum when the halfie was around Mason.
“What about you?” Martin asked. Callum couldn’t help but notice that Martin’s hand was moving up and down behind Dean and that Dean’s expression took on a more blissful touch.
“Uh, good, good. I got a new job at Haggard,” Callum replied. He didn’t mention anything about the previous week. There was no need to worry Dean and in turn worry Martin.
“How’s Mason?” Dean asked.
Callum flushed and Martin raised a brow.
“Who’s Mason?” Martin asked, although he was looking at Dean.
“Callum’s boyfriend, sir,” Dean replied.
Callum groaned, “He’s not my boyfriend.”
“I’ll be hearing more about this later,” Martin murmured with Dean nodding, smiling a little.
Callum put his weight onto his elbows on the table and whined, “There’s nothing to hear, Martin. My life is as uninteresting as always, just like you never fail to mention. So how long are you on break for?”
Martin raised a brow, clearly not fooled, “Right. I will be getting all the details by tonight anyway, whether you tell me or not.”
Callum slumped over the counter, casting a pout to Dean who only shook his head in response and leaned into Martin.
“My loyalty goes to my mate and master first. Sorry, baby.”
Martin smirked and kissed Dean’s lips. It was definitely a better reaction than the first time Martin heard Dean call Callum ‘baby’. Callum had been certain that his new purpose in life was to be a short lived scratching post.
Callum looked away as Dean melted into the kiss. Usually, these little instances never bothered him. He had witnessed the two in much more intimate acts, most of which he wished he could forget, but he couldn’t bring himself to keep his eyes near them. A large, wobbly bubble of discomfort rose in his chest.
Martin and Dean pulled apart and Callum jerked his head back to them when Martin hopped up onto the counter, crossing one leg over the other, brushing Callum’s shoulder, and staring the halfie down.
“So, what’s wrong?” Martin demanded. His cognac brown eyes that Dean had more than once said had the intoxicating effect as the drink were sharp and bright, the pupils shifting marginally into predatory, feline slits.
Callum scratched the back of his neck, glancing away, “What? Nothing. I’m fine.”
Martin’s gaze was unrelenting. “Dean, pet, could you get me a drink?”
Dean frowned for only a second before smiling and nodding, “Of course, sir. Anything in particular?”
Martin glanced away from Callum briefly to smile disarmingly at his mate, “Something warm. Chocolate and coffee if it’s not too much trouble.”
Dean nodded once more, “There should be some in the back. I’ll be right back.”
And then Callum was alone with Martin. Well, there was the one guy eating breakfast, but Callum doubted that guy would be able to do anything to prevent whatever Martin had planned.
Callum started to get up from his seat, “You know, I’ve got…things to do. Tell Dean—”
Martin placed his hand on Callum’s shoulder and the applied pressure had Callum sitting down again.
“What are you running from, Callum?” Martin asked, voice firm and thick with power.
“Nothing,” Callum insisted even though he had no hope of successfully lying to Martin. He was a successful lawyer and Callum was a horrible liar. With Martin’s continued staring, Callum conceded brokenly, sighing and holding his head in his hands, elbows on the bar top. “I don’t know.”
Silence ticked for a second before Martin’s softened voice asked, “Does it have to do with something that happened recently?”
Callum nodded before lifting his head to look at Martin. “How did you know I was running from something?”
Martin smiled ruefully, “Let’s just say, running away is something I’m very familiar with.”
Callum frowned, “What? But, you’re…well, you’re you.”
Martin sighed and ran his long fingers through his hair, “You didn’t know me a couple years ago, Callum. I made mistakes and it took me ages to fix them. Everyday, I wake up or go to sleep or just come home to Dean thinking how lucky I was in fixing my mess.”
“Wait, you messed up with Dean?”
Martin nodded and glanced towards the back door Dean had disappeared behind. “Dean’s the best thing to ever happen to me, and I was terrified when I realized how much I had fallen for him. I was used to having control, and with him, I felt like I had none. So I ran.”
Callum bit his lip and stared down at his hands. “How did you know what to do?”
“I didn’t,” Martin replied. “And I don’t know what to tell you to do either, even if I did know the whole story. Just calm down and think, Callum. Don’t make a decision because of fear.”
Callum sat quietly before slowly nodding, “I…I’ve got some thinking to do.”
Martin smiled and patted Callum’s shoulder as the latter got up and placed a few bills on the counter, “Don’t think too hard, okay? We’ll see you later.”
“Yeah. Thank you, Martin. Tell Dean I’ll come by soon.”
They said their goodbyes and Callum left the pub just as Dean returned. Callum barely caught a whisper of Dean and Martin’s conversation and was not at all surprised that Dean never brought back a warm, chocolate and caffeinated drink.
For the first time in the past week, Callum was not eager to go back to work. He played with the bottom of his shirt in front of Haggard’s backdoor, trying to calm his nerves. He did eventually enter and was promptly enveloped by several arms that were preceded and followed by varying octaves of his name and other strings of syllables.
When Grayson had his turn to squeeze Callum, the latter laughed and hugged the human back, “You saw me like two days ago, Grayson.”
Grayson pouted and only tightened his embrace, mumbling into Callum’s neck, “Yeah, but I can still miss one of my best friends who was attacked by some crazy chick for no apparent reason.”
They pulled apart after the sound of a phone camera clicking went off, turning to see Alex smiling cheekily. “You’re both so cute,” was their explanation.
Grayson rolled his eyes and Callum simply chuckled. His earlier unease was pretty much nonexistent, but there was a slight remnant of it hiding in the corner of his mind.
“How’s your week off been?” Celeste asked as the group made their way to the bar. Vance was the only one who hadn’t hugged him, unsurprisingly, but he did give a brief nod before leading the group back.
Callum shrugged, “Long and boring. I didn’t really do much other than draw and read. I’ve been itching to get back to work, especially since there was nothing wrong with me.”
“You were attacked by a nut job and got a concussion that had you unconscious for three hours,” Viola countered. “That definitely allows for paid leave.”
Knowing that he hadn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing anyone otherwise, Callum changed the subject, “So, what’s wrong with the lights upstairs?”
“How do you know about that?” was his response from Bennett.
“Uh,” Callum faltered as Grayson echoed the question, “Yeah, I never told you anything about the lights not working.”
Callum scratched the back of his neck, “I, uh, ran into Mason the day before at the grocery store.” That may have not been where and when exactly Mason had told him of the lights but it was a truth of sorts. “So, anyway, speaking of, is he here?”
“Lover boy’s upstairs,” Viola teased. “He must have wet himself when he saw you then.”
Callum flushed because while it may not have been that day, Mason definitely got wet… And that thought train was immediately shut down and locked away as he swallowed and quickly muttered an excuse to put his bag away and get his mind and body under control. The laughter behind him was completely ignored.
After calming down, more or less, Callum returned to the bar to see that everyone else had already begun preparing for the night.
“You’re upstairs tonight,” Alex called. “Mason’s probably going to keep you sequestered there for eternity now.”
Callum groaned but nodded and headed to the VIP floor. While he was relieved to be able to return to the much more laid back floor, he wasn’t too pleased about the prospect of being treated differently just because of a single incident that was ultimately his own fault.
Callum reached the top floor and immediately spotted Viola, Ingrid, and Francis. Francis waved him over, pointing to the bar where Mason was conversing with a man in dark overalls. Mason glanced over the man’s shoulder and his eyes lit up upon connecting with Callum’s. Callum waved nervously and Mason finished up his conversation, parting from the man Callum assumed to be the repairman, and heading to the halfie.
“Hey,” the shifter grinned warmly. His eyes scanned Callum from head to toe before gazing back into the halfie’s eyes.
“Hey,” Callum replied softly. His nerves were back in full force but he kept Martin’s words in mind and did his best to play cool and not overreact. “So, I’m guessing I’m on bar duty tonight?”
“Yeah, and I’ll be sticking around up here too.”
Callum sighed, “I’m not in need of constant supervision, Mason. Last week was…it was completely coincidental.” Callum bit his lips and glanced to the side, adding hesitantly, “And it’s not like she can come in anymore after, you, um, banned her.”
Mason snorted, “Of course I banned her from the club. She attacked you. And even if I hadn’t there’s no way Brain would let her through the doors again. She was bat-shit crazy and don’t you even start taking the blame again or I’m going to do unspeakable things to you.”
Callum cracked a small smile, “Unspeakable things? What, you’re going to torture the self loathing out of me?”
Mason grinned predatory and leaned in closer so that his breath fanned the side of Callum’s face, lips almost brushing Callum’s ear, “You have no idea how many different fantasies I’d play out with you, love.”
It was only then that Callum realized that by ‘unspeakable things’ Mason hadn’t meant the kind of torture that first came to mind and was reminiscent of practices by the Spanish Inquisition, but rather the kind dished out by a sadistic incubus. The acts that ran through Callum’s head were definitely unspeakable in the sense that if he so much as tried to vocalize them, he’d spontaneously combust from a lethal combination of embarrassment and arousal.
Callum’s face lit up and he was mortified by the stir below his waist.
“Um, right. Uh. I’m gonna go now,” Callum squeaked, voice cracking horribly as it went up several uncomfortable octaves, and turned away to rush towards the bar and get ready for the night. The lights seemed fine so that issue must have been dealt with.
When the doors opened and the first of the guests filtered into the club, Callum easily swung back into the motions of catering to patrons. Mason stayed on the second floor, within a few feet of the bar and in full view of Callum. Callum didn’t know what to think of it. It was mildly annoying – he wasn’t a defenseless child – but whenever he caught Mason’s gaze and was given a warm smile, no matter who Mason was with or what he was doing, Callum smiled back and felt liquid warmth curl around his heart.
When Callum got his break, he went to the staff room and grabbed a can of blood that used to be solely for Vance and relaxed into one of the couches. The music Alex had playing in the club leaked through the walls as a dull thrum to accompany the monotonous hum of the air conditioning unit. Legs sprawled out in front, can of blood between his legs, head tilted back, and eyes closed was how Mason found him a good way into his break.
Callum let one eye squint open as Mason stood in front of him. He shrugged and rolled his head, sitting up a bit and bringing his drink to his lips. When Mason only continued to stand and stare down at him, Callum dropped his gaze and shifted before tilting his head to nod to the empty space next to him, “You gonna just stand there?”
Mason chuckled and settled down. Callum barely held back a frown when he noticed Mason had left space between them. It wasn’t like he chose to sat at the very end of the couch – the gap was a couple inches max – but it still bothered Callum for some inconceivable reason.
“If you’re really tired, you can clock out early tonight,” Mason said. “I can drive you home.”
Callum shook his head, “Thanks, but I’m fine, Mason, seriously. I appreciate the concern and all but I’m fine.” Callum paused for a second before continuing, “It’s like back in, sophomore, maybe early junior year. You broke your arm doing…something, I can’t remember, and everyone was constantly treating you like a baby for weeks, even after you got out of the cast.”
Mason scrunched his brow before he cringed slightly and nodded, “Okay. Yeah, that was not fun.” He glanced at Callum and smiled slightly, “You were the only one who didn’t treat me any different.”
Callum scoffed, “Kind of hard to sympathize with my bully. And you’re a shifter, you heal way faster. Six months for a human equates to a couple weeks for you. You have no idea how jealous I was of paranormals when I broke my leg when I was like eight or nine.”
“You broke your leg?”
Callum nodded and then looked down to fiddle with his can, “Yeah, it was really stupid.”
Heat filled Callum’s cheeks and he tried to stave the blush off by taking a few gulps of his drink, mumbling, “Nothing serious. I was just being dumb and clumsy.”
Mason shifted and Callum glanced over to see that the shifter was leaning towards him. His heart pumped the slightest bit faster from the simple knowledge that the distance Mason had created was closing, if only slightly.
“The more you try and avoid answering, the more I want to make you squirm and tell me,” Mason grinned.
Callum turned his face completely to Mason and pouted, “Will you ever stop bullying me?”
“I only tease you because I love you,” Mason replied in a husky whisper that sent a heated shiver down Callum’s spine. His lips were so close but not close enough.
Callum shifted and the movement brought his still slightly pursed lips to Mason’s in a barely-there brush. Mason didn’t press closer, he didn’t move. They just stared at one another, waiting. Callum was waiting for Mason to do as Mason does, kiss him into oblivion or something to that effect, but Mason was also waiting, slightly tense.
Callum’s lips parted on their own, brushing against Mason’s again, and he tilted his head the slightest bit to hesitantly add some pressure while closing his eyes halfway, a gentle nudge. Whatever Mason had been waiting for had apparently passed and his eyes drifted shut, body relaxing, as he leaned in and finally kissed Callum properly. He was gentle, smiling the faintest bit, one hand going up to cradle Callum’s cheek and adjust him for a better angle to slide their lips together. When Mason’s lips parted enough to nudge Callum’s lips with his tongue, Callum began to open his mouth before he quickly pushed away from Mason, covering his mouth with both hands.
Mason stared at him, startled, before a brief but obvious look of hurt flashed across his face and Callum quickly realized that there was a huge misunderstanding. “No, it’s not—I, I didn’t push away because you were kissing me. Well, I mean, I was, but not because of you!” he tried to explain but from Mason’s forced smile he wasn’t doing a very good job.
Mason shook his head, “No, I’m sorry. I thought…I was trying to give you some space but it’s really hard. I won’t do anything to you, Callum.”
When Mason started to get to his feet, Callum quickly reached out to grab his wrist. “Oh my god, Mason, I only pulled away because I just remembered that I was just drinking canned blood.”
Mason blinked at him in confusion, a puzzled frown working its way on his face as he sat back down.
Callum let go of Mason’s wrist and dropped his head down in embarrassment, “Processed blood tastes bad enough for vampires the first couple times, and the inside of my mouth is coated in it. I was just saving your taste buds from that horrible experience.”
Knowing that his cheeks and ears were glowing red, Callum kept his head bowed, staring at the stupid can that caused this awkwardness. Mason moved on the couch until Callum felt the shifter kiss his cheek, his grin completely obvious, before he stood up, making Callum look at him again.
“I’ve had my fair share of tasting blood, love. When I go hunting as a wolf and turn back, there are usually remnants.”
“But that’s fresh, this is the farthest thing from fresh. It’s absolutely disgusting the first time, and even after you get used to it, it’s not a preferred drink,” Callum argued, shaking the can and swishing the remaining liquid around for effect. “At Nyte this one time, a vampire dared a shifter, I think she was a leopard or some other type of large cat, to try a shot of canned animal blood. She couldn’t even get half of it down before she was spitting it all out and trying to wash away the taste with whatever drinks were within reach.”
Mason chuckled, “It can’t be that bad.”
“It is, trust me.”
“Then let me have a taste to test it.”
“No! I stopped kissing you so you wouldn’t have to get a taste of it. You tasting it defeats the whole purpose of me halting that, you…you…you…”
Mason was laughing and Callum grew even more annoyed and flustered, unable to think of an appropriate insult.
“Yes?” Mason urged teasingly.
Callum huffed, “I can’t think of a word right now but you are something stupid and horrible and mean and stupid.”
Mason ruffled Callum’s hair, making the halfie growl like a petulant puppy, “You are just downright adorable, love. You’ve still got about ten minutes left of your break so take it easy. And if you get too tired, seriously, just let someone know and go home early and get some rest. I’m going back to check on everyone, see you in a few.”
Mason left after placing a last loving kiss on Callum’s forehead, completely ignoring Callum grumbled mutterings of being an adult and not a small, fluffy animal.
A/N: I think there's only about two or three, maybe for more chapters left.