The normal routine for Halloween in high school: candy part one, come home from school, candy part two, get dressed, haunted house, candy part three, second haunted house, Jean's house party, get drunk, candy part four, crash wherever, candy part five.
The normal routine for Halloween in college: candy, study, cry and more candy.
This was the pattern Callan had noticed throughout the years and as much as he hated the college routine, he was currently in the middle of phase two and three.
His book for his criminal psychology course was opened on his lap and his pen was halfway in his mouth as he nervously chewed on the tip.
Zachary was busy shuffling around the house, refilling a candy bowl as the doorbell rang for the fourth time in ten minutes.
"Trick or treat!"
The little voices could be heard through the door and the man sighed, walking back to give out more candy.
Angela was busy with Maya. They were both free and going to a Halloween party together with Luca and Denise. Melvin was busy with the hospital, working in the children's wing and giving out candy. Even Jean was busy helping Kevin at his "Holy-Ween" church night (Ironically, Callan thought, because Jean probably had anything but holy thoughts working with Kevin).
So Callan ended up at Zachary's for the night, studying his notes and listening to Zachary reluctantly hand out candy.
"One of those little shits just called me "Mr. Grumpy Gills"," Zachary groaned, setting the bowl down on the table and taking a Kit-Kat bar from it.
"Well, maybe if you smiled more, they wouldn't?" Callan teased.
"Fuck that. I fucking hate kids."
Callan leaned his head back against the sofa. "I fucking hate studying. Let's quit both and watch a movie?"
"Can I quit and not watch a dumbass movie?"
"Zacharyyyy," Callan whined. "It's Halloween. Get the stick out of your ass, sit down and watch a scary movie with me."
Before Zachary could reply, the doorbell went off again. He rolled his eyes and picked up the candy bowl.
"Pick something out then," he said, vaguely pointing to the T.V. "And it better be a good movie. Don't pick some shitty-ass slasher flic with a big-tits blonde."
"How about a big-tits brunette?" Callan called. He looked around to catch Zachary shooting him the finger and laughed, turning on the television.
He opened Netflix (he now had Zachary's password and everything for it) and went straight to the horror section. He flipped through the Thriller section and started to scroll through the Supernatural movies.
Zachary returned and flopped on the sofa, throwing his arm around Callan's shoulders. He rested the bowl on his lap and Callan reached into it for a small bag of M&Ms.
"How does Sinister sound?"
"I don't care. Whatever you want. And don't get candy on this sofa, baby, I swear."
Callan ordered the movie and the two of them got comfortable. Zachary put the candy bowl on the table by the sofa and Callan rested against his chest. He pulled Zachary's arms around his chest and pressed play.
It didn't take long before Callan was a tense mess. He was now sitting in Zachary's lap, hiding behind a blanket. The blanket did more than hide his fear; it hid the grin on his face every time Zachary jumped.
"Fuck it, I'm leaving. No, baby stop, I'm leaving. Babe, no, fuck, let go! FUCK!"
The long string of curses came and went throughout the movie. Callan eventually left the comforts of his ball to curl back into Zachary's arms, the blanket still thrown over their bodies. He ran his hand over Zachary's arm, trying to sooth the man. He listened to Zachary's racing heart and decided to himself that horror movies were possibly the worst (but still best) idea he could come up with.
And suddenly the movie lost its appeal. Callan was wrapped up in Zachary's arms, inhaling his scent, listening to his heart, watching his throat bob every time he swallowed. It was serene and graceful and utterly terrifying.
Callan was too relaxed. Too content. Too comfortable in the man's arms and it sent his mind whirling out of control. His thoughts overwhelmed and his emotions boiled to the surface. He wanted to run and scream and cry and break another vase and cry more. He was ready to do it, too, but Zachary's arms weighed him down and kept him in place.
His place against Zachary's chest, in his arms. Wrapped up and safe and warm and wanted.
For the first time in years, he felt wanted. He didn't feel like a nasty burden to be pushed away or tossed aside. Something left on the backburner; a second choice; a last resort; an afterthought.
The tension in his body faded, letting himself form against Zachary's body. He slipped his hand from on top of Zachary's arm, and pushed it under Zachary's shoulders to hold him close. He snuggled under Zachary's neck and heard a soft hum escape the man's throat. Callan smiled and accepted, for that moment, that he was happy.
But the more it sank in, a fear started to bubble up with it. He didn't have any real emotions for Zachary, did he? Nothing too serious. It could have been a crush. But nothing more.
At least, that's what he thought. And the more he thought about it, the more he dwelled on it, he realized that maybe, just maybe, it was something more than a silly high school level crush. That maybe, it was something deeper.
And that was scarier than any demon movie. That was scarier than any feeling of rejection or being tossed aside.
Because the last time Callan had been in love, he ended up with the pain of a broken heart.
"You don't get to pick movies anymore."
Zachary's sudden, firm voice shook Callan from his wild thoughts. He blinked back tears—he didn't know if they came because he was lying on his side or if they were because of his thoughts—and sat up enough to look Zachary in the eyes.
Tired grey eyes bore down on him and Callan dug his chin into Zachary's chest.
"Well you can choose next time," Callan sang, giving his shoulders a playful shimmy. "But I still get the final say."
"Spoiled fucking rotten."
Callan grinned, Zachary rolled his eyes and the doorbell went off. The chime of "trick or treat" from a pack of children rang through the house.
"I'm not fucking answering."
"Yeah, but you saw what happened with the kids," Callan snapped, pointing at the TV. He let go of Zachary to properly sit up. He grabbed the bowl of remaining candy, most of it being wrappers, and stomped to the door. "Not taking any chances."
"It was just a movie!"
Callan opened the door and passed out candy to a Rapunzel, Optimus Prime and Captain America. They said their "thank you"s with big smiles and ran off into the night.
"Do you want to marathon through Iron Man?" Zachary asked. Callan sat the candy bowl back on the table. He sank down against Zachary, back to chest, and pulled Zachary's arm to rest across his shoulders.
"Let's do this."
It probably wasn't the best decision to stay over at Zachary's on a school night, but Callan had made worse decisions. He was all happy smiles and an achy neck. Not from a night of sexual exploits but rather from falling asleep on the sofa, Zachary still wrapped around him.
It was the first time, in a very long time, that he woke up in someone's arms and without sex before. The sensation was foreign but not as awful as he could have thought.
Zachary pulled up to the sidewalk by Callan's apartments, his Maserati rumbling low. Callan stretched and yawned, leaning over to drape his arms around Zachary's shoulders.
"I had fun," he hummed.
"Go get ready for class," Zachary said.
"Ugh, I have time," Callan groaned.
"You may, but I have work," Zachary said, looking down at his watch; a shiny platinum Rolex. Callan stuck out his bottom lip. "Get."
"Oh fine," Callan laughed, letting him go. He picked up his backpack and reached for the door.
He stopped and sat back, staring at Zachary. The snark in the man's voice had dropped and Callan felt his heart speed up anxiously. Zachary pressed a hand to his cheek, stroking the soft skin with a thumb and Callan flushed, looking down.
"I had fun."
"I-I did too…" Callan's voice hitched unexpectantly. He looked back up as Zachary's hand slipped from his rosy cheek.
"Have a good day. I'll talk to you later." Zachary smiled a little before his usual, stern glare returned. "Now get going."
Callan smiled and crawled out of the car, watching Zachary drive away. He pulled his backpack to his chest, a warm smile still on his face that was near the equivalent of an afterglow. Zachary was doing things to his heart that he really didn't like. But there was no way to really stop it either.
And then everything stopped.
Callan looked around as Jean walked across the parking lot, eyes wide and hands outstretched in confusion. Callan swallowed and took a step back, his smile wiped from his face.
"Hey…uhh…what are you doing here?"
"Kyle asked for a ride to class," Jean said. "What are you…what's all this?" He made a vague hand gesture at Callan and Callan knew exactly what he meant.
"It's nothing," Callan snapped.
"You were just dropped off in a really nice car. You're half dressed and I know that's not your shirt. And you have this really happy…glow. Are you fucking some rich old guy?"
Callan's eyes widened. "What? Jean, no! It's nothing. Don't make a big deal about it!"
"I'm not making a big deal about it, I'm just asking," Jean laughed. "Stop freaking out. Are you dating someone behind my back?"
"We're not dating, so it shouldn't fucking matter."
"We're not, but we're still—"
"I have to get ready for class," Callan said curtly, turning away. He suddenly stopped and spun back around. "And just so you know, this is my fucking shirt. He bought it for me!"
Without another word, Callan started to make his way up the stairs, Jean still wildly confused. Callan couldn't look back at him. He would see him again later in the day and he decided he would deal with him then. He couldn't ruin the sweet feeling he had left from leaving Zachary. And it certainly couldn't be ruined because of Jean's pestering.
"Good morning, Cal," Kyle said as he locked his apartment door.
Callan reared on him and tried to smile. He ended up turning around again to face his own door. "G'morning. Jean is waiting for you. I have to get ready for class."
And before Kyle could say anything else, Callan disappeared into the apartment.