The next couple weeks saw Alex, Grayson, and Francis celebrating the end of their semester exams with Alex and Grayson making plans to go on vacation together after clearing up their work hours with Mason, and Francis cutting down on his hours to take on a four month internship. Viola surprised everyone with an engagement ring, the wedding set to be in the fall and of course they were all invited, if invited took on a new meaning in that they had no option but to attend. Mason hired replacement staff, some temporary, and a few potential permanents.
Not much else changed for the others. Callum just grew more and more confused. His unfinished portrait of Mason stared back at him every time he grabbed that sketchbook so he had it tucked away in a drawer. Out of sight, but still not entirely out of mind. Martin’s words were a reoccurring message that rang in his head in the hours of the night where he couldn’t sleep. And Mason… Mason was giving him space like he had said on Callum’s first day back. Since then, there had been no more kisses or surprise hugs or ruffled hair. Just smiles and glances and brief brushes of skin.
Callum may not have known much about what was going on with him and Mason, but he knew he didn’t like what was happening now. The shifter was pulling back, but it was obvious that he was forcing himself to. Callum had seen many moments where Mason had just barely been able to stop himself from doing something. The previous night was the closest when someone bumped into Callum, making him stumble right into Mason’s chest. The shifter had caught him, hands naturally fitting to Callum’s hips, and his eyes grew heated when Callum looked up, their faces barely a few centimeters apart. Callum swore Mason was going to kiss him, he himself was subconsciously leaning up. But Mason only cracked a joke and helped Callum back on his feet before getting pulled away by whomever he was talking to. His eyes didn’t leave Callum until he was out of sight, though.
Callum was at home listening to Georgia blather on and on and on about Evelyn. The two had been getting closer and closer over the past few months since they met and Georgia was clearly head over heels.
“Her birthday is coming up,” Georgia said, lying in Callum’s bed. Callum was sitting at his desk, one of his sketchbooks in his lap as he sketched Georgia’s form languidly.
“I’m not the best gift giver, in case you’re forgetting,” Callum replied.
Georgia rolled her eyes, “I know that very well. I already bought her gift, but I don’t know if I’m going to end up scaring her away with it.”
Callum stopped drawing and frowned, “What did you buy?”
Callum’s frown deepened, “What’s so frightening about a necklace?”
Georgia sighed and looked over to the halfie, “It’s a necklace with a diamond, heart-shaped pendant, and the back has an engraving that says I love you.”
“Oh.” Callum paused for a second. “Wait. Are you proposing to her?”
“No,” Georgia replied. “Well. I want to. I almost got a ring, Cal, but I know that that’s going too fast. But I can’t help but want to mate with her.”
Callum set his sketchbook to the side and scratched his head, “Have you two talked about getting more serious? I mean, it’s mating.”
“I know,” Georgia groaned. “We’ve never really talked about it in depth. Christ, we’ve never even gotten to the ‘I love you’s yet, but god do I love her.”
Always one to see the negatives, Callum asked, “But… you’re a vampire and she’s a shifter. You’re immortal and she’s, well she’s got an actual lifespan.”
“Oh, Callum, baby, three years as one of us and you still don’t even know the basics,” Georgia tsked. “Mating goes beyond just tying yourself to another, mortal marriage does that. Mating makes you life partners in every sense of the word. You live as long as your other half, even death won’t do you both a part. If a human mated with a full vampire, the human’s body would line up with the vampire’s, effectively making the human immortal too, or at least until one of them died. Although, during cases with human matings, the human is usually turned but the same principle applies with my situation with Evelyn.”
“You know, it’d be great if these basics were taught to humans too in school,” Callum responded. “Like, a class that was made so that humans could learn about paranormals and vice versa.”
“Let’s let the governments settle coed disputes first.” Georgia gave Callum an inquisitive stare, “Was this why you haven’t gotten with Mason yet?”
Callum sputtered, “Wait. What? What are you, I’m not, we—”
Georgia carried on as if Callum hadn’t spoken, “Although, you’re a halfie so your lifespan is still that of the slightly more than average human, the same as Mason, so I don’t see how that’s been putting you off from finally sealing the deal with the guy.”
“I thought we were talking about you and Evelyn, not me and whatever the hell is going on with Mason,” Callum groaned.
“You’re the only one who doesn’t know, or rather, doesn’t accept what’s going on between you and your shifter,” Georgia retorted. “But fine. Back to my legitimate issue. I don’t want to scare her away.”
Callum thought about it for a moment before offering, “I could try and get Mason’s opinion after work, if you want. I mean, they are friends, so he might know something.”
Georgia was hugging Callum in less than a second, “Cal, you little genius!”
Callum shrugged when she pulled back, “I can try.” He knew it was going to be a horrible awkward conversation. He peeked up at Georgia, unable to resist asking, “But…don’t you think this is a bit fast? You’re already talking about mating.”
“Yeah, I know. But when you’ve been around for as long as I, or really any other old vampire, have you don’t want to keep waiting. I’ve seen countless people grow old and die while I remain like this. I’ve gotten used to it, but it doesn’t make it any easier.”
There was a cloud of sadness hovering over Georgia despite her smile. Callum had noticed it a few times but Georgia was quick to get rid of it. Callum himself was very close to such a fate. When he wondered about his sire’s reasoning for not turning him completely Callum guessed it had something to do with the fact that immortality was a long and lonely existence. He couldn’t imagine watching Grayson grow old while he remained twenty-three for eternity. He couldn’t imagine watching Mason slowly disappear, leaving him behind.
Georgia snapped him out of his daze, “Hey, no more doom and gloom. There are pros and cons to everything and I wouldn’t change my turning for the world. If I were never turned, I would have never met you or Grayson or Evelyn or the hundreds of friends I’ve made since. I would have never seen the world change. Now, you get ready for work and asking your boyfriend about my girlfriend. I’m going to go see said girlfriend.”
Georgia was already out of the door before Callum could tell her for the millionth time that Mason was not his boyfriend.
Callum, left to his own devices for at least another thirty or so minutes, packed his sketchbook away. His eyes caught the sketchbook that contained the Portrait, as he quite dramatically decided to call it. He picked it up and flipped to the page, eyes going over the lines of Mason’s face. He still couldn’t think of an expression to draw. Nothing he had been able to start looked right, whatever ‘right’ was.
Before he could get annoyed with himself and over think a stupid drawing, Callum put the sketchbook away and got ready for work. He didn’t want to have witnesses to the sure to be horribly awkward conversation he was going to have with Mason for Georgia’s benefit.
The night went smoothly, but Callum only grew increasingly nervous about speaking to Mason once everyone left. When it was time to lock up, everyone but Brian, Callum, and Mason had gone home. Callum and Brian were in the staff room, gathering their things, and Mason had gone off somewhere to take a phone call, having already said good night to everyone.
“Hey, Callum, you’re still here?” Brian noted as he shouldered his bag to leave.
“Yeah, I have to ask Mason a couple things,” Callum replied.
Brain smirked, “A couple things, eh? And these things require privacy?”
Callum flushed and tried to glare at Brian but his embarrassment and blushing were too powerful for his attempt at a glare to have any effect other than to make the other halfie laugh and leave the club.
Callum left the staff room to look for Mason, finding him quickly at the bar on the first floor, which was both a good and bad thing.
“Callum,” Mason called in surprise when he noticed the halfie after pocketing his phone. “I thought you left already.”
“Uh, hey,” Callum waved as he walked towards the bar. “Um, I wanted to talk to you…”
Mason couldn’t seem to keep the surprise off his face. He nodded and pulled out one of the barstools for Callum to sit at.
“So what’s up?” Mason asked.
“Um, well, it’s about Evelyn. Georgia’s a bit uncertain about something.”
Mason’s head cocked to the side, a slight frown marring his face, “What’s wrong?
Callum scratched the back of his neck, “You know how Evelyn’s birthday is coming up, right?”
Mason nodded and his expression relaxed, “Oh, is she having the ‘oh god I need to get my significant other the perfect gift’ meltdown?”
Callum smiled briefly but shook his head, “No. Kind of. She’s got her a gift, but she’s afraid that she’s going to scare Evelyn off with it.”
Mason’s expression turned confused again, and Callum figured it was just like how he had reacted when Georgia was speaking to him. So he decided to just come out with it.
“Georgia wants to mate with Evelyn. She almost bought her a ring, but switched out for a necklace declaring her love instead.”
Mason blinked in shock, “Ah. I can see how that would make someone uncertain.”
Callum nodded, “Yeah. I told her I’d try and ask you if you knew how Evelyn might react. Or if you knew if Evelyn thought about mating Georgia.”
“I wish I could help, love,” Mason replied, rubbing the back of his neck. “But I can’t tell you how Ev feels.”
Callum sighed, “I figured, but I thought I’d give it a try for Georgia. I may not have known her for very long, but I’ve never seen her so smitten.”
Mason put a hand on Callum’s knee, gently squeezing, “Don’t beat yourself up too much on it. There is something that I can tell you, and that’s that Ev’s definitely happy with Georgia. When I talk to her, conversation never fails to lead to Georgia in some way or another. Well, it also leads to you but that’s one hundred percent on me.”
“Why am I not surprised,” Callum replied wryly. “But that’s good to hear, about Evelyn being happy. Mating’s a big step and those two need to go over it together.”
“Yup. It’s a tough decision, literally life changing.”
“Yeah,” Callum mumbled, looking down at Mason’s hand on his knee. He brought one hand to Mason’s, lightly tracing Mason’s long fingers. He didn’t realize he was doing it until Mason cleared his throat.
“Oh, fuck, sorry,” Callum immediately snatched his hand back, even going so far as to get to his feet. “I just, sorry, I didn’t realize.”
Mason chuckled, “It’s fine, you took me by surprise is all. You don’t usually touch me like that.”
Callum couldn’t look up, his face was bright red. “I, uh, well, it’s just…” he drifted off into an almost inaudible mumble, “you haven’t touched me in a long time…”
Almost was the key word.
“I was just giving you some space,” Mason replied. “I know you’re uneasy about something or hesitant and I don’t want to rush you into anything. I know I was pushy at first, but that’s just the only way I know how to get your attention. But I don’t want to have a repeat of high school where my need for your attention pushed you away.”
Callum couldn’t help rolling his eyes, finally being able to look at the shifter, “Mason, have you insulted me, tormented me, or done anything that you did back in high school that made me fear and hate you? No, you haven’t. If you had, I wouldn’t be working here, I wouldn’t have watched that TV show with you, I wouldn’t have slept with you, I wouldn’t be agonizing over a stupid portrait, and I definitely wouldn’t feel a constant storm of butterflies in my stomach whenever I think about you.”
The second half of Callum’s speech was completely unintentional. He froze as the last word left his lips, shocked by his own thoughts that had finally come to light. It was, as Georgia had said, obvious to everyone but him.
Mason was biting down on his bottom lip but his grin was too powerful to be contained.
Callum flushed, “Um, I, well. Oh my god, I can’t believe I just said all that.” He covered his face with his hands, groaning and wishing for the ground to swallow him whole.
“Callum,” Mason called.
The man in question shook his head and started to back away, but since he still had his hands covering his beet red face, he ended up stumbling into the barstool behind him. Mason’s hands on his waist and Callum’s immediately reaction to reach out for something – that something being Mason’s shirt – were the only things that kept him from breaking something
Pressed flush against Mason’s chest, the shifter’s hands around his waist and his hands clenched in the shifter’s shirt, Callum was more than well aware of their closeness, of Mason’s scent, of Mason’s pounding heartbeat, of Mason’s comforting heat.
Mason’s hands moved to wrap Callum in a tight hug, his nose nuzzling into Callum’s neck before he tilted his head to speak into the flustered halfie’s ear, “You know, a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope.”
Callum, having nowhere else to go, dug his face into Mason’s chest, feeling only more embarrassed when he felt the vibrations of Mason’s chuckles.
Mason hugged him closer, “Can you take your face out of my chest for a second so I can kiss you?”
Callum only burrowed further in, trying to disappear into the stupid shifter who was no doubt wearing an uncontrollable grin, dark blue eyes sparkling like in some silly fairytale.
Callum tilted his head just the tiniest bit, enough for his eyes to peek up at Mason’s face. He wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t quite right either. Mason’s expression was something that words couldn’t describe; the best Callum could think was happiness. Pure happiness.
Callum pulled back and pushed up into Mason’s unprepared lips, closing his eyes and leaning in.
Mason understood what was happening soon enough and he returned the kiss with passion, crushing Callum to his chest, nearly picking him up off his feet, and pressing their lips together. Callum’s hands slid up to wrap around Mason’s shoulders and he pushed up on his toes to better seal their kiss.
It was warm and sweet, not dissimilar to their kisses of the night they shared, but not quite the same either.
Callum parted his lips and Mason let his tongue slide in, tangling with Callum’s and making them both sigh in pleasure. They pulled back with a final, gentle peck and Callum had to fight hard to not give into his nervousness and duck his head back down to hide in Mason’s comforting chest. He couldn’t make himself maintain eye contact, however, the highest he could lift his gaze being Mason’s collarbones.
“Why do you know what a group of butterflies is called?” Callum muttered the first thing that came to mind. His fingers played with ends of Mason’s hair at the nape of his neck.
Mason chuckled, “Not sure, it’s just random trivia that came to mind. But you know, I’ve got quite the kaleidoscope in my stomach right now.”
“Me too,” Callum mumbled, having reached his limit. He ducked his head down back into Mason’s chest, feeling those butterflies multiply and flitter about when Mason rested his head on Callum’s and held him close.
They stood like that in the dark and quiet club with Mason gently rubbing Callum’s back and Callum trying to calm his thoughts. But he couldn’t think of anything other than Mason’s face when he had blurted out feelings he hadn’t even been fully aware of.
“I have to go home,” Callum said abruptly, pulling back from Mason.
“Oh,” Mason replied, looking startled from Callum’s sudden removal and then disappointed.
“I just have something to do before I forget,” Callum tried to reassure him. “It’s important.” Mason still looked like Callum had run over his pet, which was understandable since Callum was well aware that he was bouncing up and down like a hyperactive yo-yo, but Callum didn’t want to give Mason the details. This had to be a surprise. “I’ll show you as soon as I finish it,” he promised.
“Show me?” Mason echoed, confused.
Callum only smiled. He wasn’t going to overthink things anymore. But he just had one thing to do.
A/N: The next chapter might be the last, depends on if I decide to have an epilogue or not. Also, this chapter is not properly proofread because I am tired so sorry for typos and stuff.