After forcefully trying to forget his encounter with Mason – and failing miserably – Callum was still drawing no luck in finding a new job even a week later. There were five days left until the goodbye/thank-you-for-everything party Tracy was holding at the diner. The focus in the diner had shifted to setting up said party with the staff organizing themselves to help set up. Callum and Grayson were assigned the task of making posters to stick up on the outside of the diner. It was obvious who had made which posters and Callum’s little talent was revealed to his coworkers and no one was letting up on him keeping his artistic ability a secret.
“Hey, Picasso!” Grayson called out.
Callum grumbled. Ever since he made the posters, all the staff – with the exception of Tracy who stuck with ‘buttercup’ – had taken to calling him some famous, long dead artist each day. That day was Picasso. The day before had been Monet, prior to that Da Vinci, Dali, Van Gogh, etc.
Grayson was grinning and gestured to a table, “Your favorite customer’s here after so long. Thought you two had broken up.”
“We are not dating,” Callum groaned. “And he’s not even in my section, idiot.” He barely held back a low mutter of how that was a first since Mason was otherwise right on the mark in choosing a seat that would force Callum to attend to him.
Grayson shrugged, “Whatever makes you sleep at night.”
“We’re not! And he’s in your section,” Callum complained. Grayson maintained his shit-eating grin and made no move to go to Mason’s table, so with a disgruntled mumble and vague curse to his coworker, Callum trudged to Mason.
“Uh, hey,” he mumbled, unable to keep his eyes on the shifter’s face. He already felt his cheeks light up.
“Morning, love,” Mason grinned. “I missed you.”
Callum rolled his eyes, “We saw each other a week ago.”
“A week and three days,” Mason corrected.
Callum tried not to smile at Mason’s pouting face, “What can I get you?”
“Caesar sandwich, coffee, and your hand in mating please,” Mason listed off smoothly with a tiny grin.
Callum’s cheeks heated without fail as he quickly walked away from Mason to hand over the ticket to Tracy in the kitchen.
“Have you told him?” she asked.
“Told him what?” Callum returned. It was obvious whom Tracy was talking about.
“About the party at the end of the week, buttercup,” Tracy rolled her eyes.
Tracy sighed in exasperation, “Tell him! You are being a bad boyfriend.”
Callum groaned, “We’re not dating! Besides, there’re the posters we’ve put up so he’d have to be blind to not know about it.”
Tracy narrowed her eyes at him and Callum relented with another whine before making Mason’s coffee and bringing it over.
He shifted on his feet, biting his lip as he tried to figure out what to say.
“Something wrong, love?” Mason asked with a quirked brow.
“Uh, no… I was just wondering if you were gonna be here for the party at the end of the week…” He quickly added on as he saw Mason’s grin stretch, “Tracy was asking.”
Mason’s smile didn’t get any smaller as he sipped his coffee, “I was wondering if you were ever going to ask me. Our first date where you were the one to ask.”
“This is not a date,” Callum denied. “None of our dates have been dates.”
“You just called them dates though,” Mason pointed out.
Flustered, Callum tried to defend himself, “But-I-That’s because…I…I hate you.”
Mason laughed and Callum stormed away, his face a vibrant shade of red that it had unfortunately grown very familiar with.
Grayson was ready to tease him once Callum got to what was supposed to be the safety of the register.
“Soooooooo,” Grayson grinned. “When you gonna quit being in denial?”
“I am not in denial about anything,” Callum insisted.
“Sure,” Grayson rolled his eyes. He looked over to Mason then back to Callum, “He really does love you, you know. You don’t find people like that often.”
Callum raised a brow, “Who are you and what have you done with Grayson?”
Grayson narrowed his eyes and gave Callum a wry look as he punched Callum’s shoulder, “I’m just saying. You don’t want to let someone like him go. I’d kill to find a girl who loves me as much as he so obviously loves you.”
Callum shifted his feet uncomfortably. Desperate to change the topic, he asked, “Any luck on the job hunt?”
Grayson gave Callum a look but granted him the small reprieve, “One place said they’d call back but I doubt I got it. It was one of those ‘I’ll give the kid hope but I’m not hiring him’ kind of ‘I’ll call you’ things. You?”
Callum shook his head, “I’ve got nothing. Never noticed how uncomfortable people were with paranormals working for or with them, especially halfies.”
“What?” Grayson frowned.
“It’s nothing,” Callum shrugged. “A couple places got really uncomfortable when I told them I’m a halfie. This girl suddenly stepped as far away from me as possible, rambling about how she had some kind of blood disease or something, not that a blood disease would really affect a vampire, halfie or not, but whatever.”
“Where the hell did you look for jobs at? Most people are cool with paras.”
“Near my apartment,” Callum replied. It was a bit shady and he knew that the area he lived in wasn’t too friendly with paranormals but it didn’t hurt to try. He was prepared for rejection due to his species but it was still an eye opener. He had wondered very briefly for a moment after another rejection whether Tracy would have still hired him had he been a halfie when he met her. The thought was so fleeting it didn’t even happen. Tracy was one of the most accepting people he had ever met and had been extremely supportive when he had been trying to get used to the new craving for blood and the sudden physical improvements.
Grayson was gnawing on his lip, looking at Callum worriedly. Callum could tell what he was thinking. Unlike Callum, Grayson was in college and lived in the dorms there. His parents still talked to him and sent him money when he was in need. Grayson only needed a job because he didn’t want to rely on his family who were on the other side of the country. Callum needed money to support himself and keep him off the streets. Georgia, and Dean and Martin were there but he didn’t want to depend on them like that. There was also Mason’s offer but Callum knew he’d never accept.
Callum put a hand on Grayson’s shoulder and gave what he hoped was a comforting squeeze and reassuring smile, “I’ll be fine, Grayson. Don’t worry about it. I’ll figure something out and you keep your focus on your studies. You’ve got exams or something coming up right?”
“Yeah, but,” Grayson tried, however Callum wasn’t hearing it.
“Nope, I’m not listening to you!” Callum sang loudly, covering his ears with his hands and walking away from the college boy.
Friday arrived much too quickly and even with the streamers, balloons, music, piles of food, and laughter, there was an undertone of sadness in every corner.
The doors were left open for anyone to come in and even though the party was mostly for the staff, loyal regulars dropped by.
Callum did what he usually did whenever he was at a party (most of which were forced upon him): leaned against a wall in a corner, nursing a glass of soda as he people-watched. Someone had pulled together a couple tables to create a makeshift stage and plugged in a shoddy microphone for people to try their hand at karaoke or mindless yelling. At the moment, Grayson was hollering along to a song with his arm around Monica’s neck, which was a rather comical sight because Monica was a seven-foot giant and Grayson was barely 5’8.
Callum finished his drink but was too lazy to push off the wall to get a refill or food. The party was going to last till closing time, at which Kathleen and Jakob would present Tracy with the gift they had gotten her on behalf of everyone. It was a framed picture of all of them taken during the mini New Year’s party they’d had where everyone (including Grayson though everyone would deny that they allowed him alcohol) was completely smashed. Around the frame were little messages from the staff to make it more personal.
“Not a party person?”
Callum jumped slightly and turned his head to scowl at Mason who was grinning.
“Stop doing that!” Callum snapped.
“It’s not my fault you’re easy to startle,” Mason defended though he was still grinning. “But I’m sorry. I’ll try not to. And, I brought a peace offering.”
Mason held up a plate filled with various munchies from the counter and two bottles of unopened beer.
“Thanks,” Callum said, taking the offered bottle and popping the cap. He took a sip and was quickly met with Mason holding a cookie to his lips. Callum raised a brow in question.
Mason shrugged, “If you eat the cookie I’ll take your glass and put it away for you.”
The only reason Callum leaned forward and bit the cookie was because he was lazy and it was a snickerdoodle. That was it. It was not to see Mason’s surprised face and ridiculously happy grin at Callum letting the shifter hand feed him. And he definitely did not remember Mason’s pouting when Callum refused to let the shifter feed him during their first not-date.
As Callum finished off the cookie, the last bite being popped into his mouth with Mason’s fingers faintly brushing his tongue and lips, he held out his glass, trying to battle the blush that was overcoming his face. He had lost before even beginning.
Mason stared at it blankly until Callum pointedly said, “I ate the cookie.”
It took a moment with Callum wiggling the glass in Mason’s face before the shifter remembered the proposition and he rolled his eyes, still smiling, and took Callum’s glass. “Be right back, love,” he said before walking away.
Callum sagged against the wall, head rolled up and eyes closed. After a couple minutes, someone leaned against the wall next to him.
“Hey there, wallflower.”
Callum opened one eye and saw Georgia though she was watching Grayson on the makeshift stage. Monica had managed to free herself and Grayson was simply grinning, inviting someone else to make a fool of themselves with him.
“No Evelyn?” Callum asked.
Georgia pointed over to the food where Callum spotted the preppy blond chatting with Mason.
“I saw that by the way,” Georgia said.
Callum pretended to be oblivious, “Oh? There was something to see?”
Georgia yanked Callum by his shoulder until they were facing each other. “Callum, I’m being serious. You like him. He loves you. Why are you being so difficult?”
Callum wrapped his arms around himself, “I don’t…I-He... It’s complicated.”
“Then simplify it!” Georgia threw her hands up in the air in exasperation.
“It’s hard,” Callum argued weakly.
“What will be hard is getting over the regret of not giving him a chance. Cal, it’s been two years. He’s not Justin.”
Callum laughed wryly, “This isn’t some stupid, silly little romance novel, Georgia. I am well aware of the fact that Mason is not Justin. I’ve never confused or compared the two of them. Just…let it go, G. I can’t handle the stress that comes with that right now. I still haven’t found a new job.”
Georgia looked like she wanted to argue but she sighed instead, “Just be careful, Cal. I want to see you happy.”
With that less than preppy remark, Georgia left Callum alone and joined Evelyn. Mason had wandered off to the makeshift stage. He called out to Grayson and the younger boy finally got off the stage. Callum watched curiously as Mason and Grayson conversed. Whatever they were talking about had Grayson beaming with joy and jumping onto Mason, tackling him into a hug. Mason laughed and put his hands on Grayson’s shoulders to calm him down. The spoke for a few more minutes before Mason went over to Jakob who was in charge of the music. They chatted briefly, Jakob grinning and shooting Callum a smirk that Callum did not like.
Callum watched with growing dread and anticipation as Mason went back to the makeshift stage, hopping up and gathering everyone’s attention as he grabbed the mic. Jakob cut the music and all eyes and ears were on Mason.
“Hello, everyone. You probably know me as the lovesick fool who’s obsessed with Callum,” he started off and Callum wanted the earth to swallow him whole when everyone laughed. “And even though I promised not to embarrass him in public anymore, well, I don’t have a good argument for what I’m about to do.” Mason shrugged and his eyes locked on Callum’s, a smirk stretching his face. “This was pretty last minute but I do hope you all enjoy.”
Mason nodded to Jakob who played around with his laptop until the beginning of a song started playing. Callum immediately recognized it. “I Just Wanna be Loved” by Bowling for Soup. Oh dear god what was Mason doing?
Callum watched in horror as Mason brought the microphone to his lips, grin wide, teeth glistening, eyes dancing. The first words of the song were seconds away and when they arrived, Mason sang along with Jaret Reddick.
Callum’s mouth dropped as Mason sang with no restraint.
For all that Mason could do, he was a god-awful singer. The amount of secondhand embarrassment that Callum felt was monumental. No matter how nice or supportive one tried to be, there was no helping Mason. He was dreadful.
Laughter was the only other sound to accompany Mason’s horrible singing and the background of the actual song. Callum didn’t think he’d ever be able to listen to this particular BFS song ever again without cringing.
Mason belted out the lyrics, and it was even more embarrassing because the stupid shifter didn’t even know all the words. He’d mumble a couple verses before screaming on the top of his lungs. He got the chorus down in terms of the words. Tune, however, was completely out of his reach.
When the song was nearing its end, the last chorus giving way into just the instruments, Mason put the mic down and hopped off the stage. He had a manic grin on his face as he walked up to Callum with quick, determined strides.
Callum’s eyes widened and he tried to run but he was already backed up against the wall. He resorted to shaking his head and rambling, “No, Mason, no. Go away. Don’t you fucking dare. Mason. Mason. No. Oh my god. I hate you, I hate you, I hate, I—”
Mason shut Callum up by grabbing Callum’s face with both hands and pulling him up as he bent down and connected their lips.
When the song ended and Mason pulled back by barely a millimeter, their lips still touching, his eyes were twinkling. “I love you, Callum,” he said simply. “Would you like a job at my club?”
A/N: This is the song Mason sang (horribly) and I could only find the spanish sub version on youtube, but meh. BFS is one of the goddamn best (and Jaret Reddick is adorable with awesome tattoos).