He sat up, yawning big, and remembered he was naked. Then slowly remembered he wasn't in his bed. He wasn't even home.
Scratching his head, Callan crawled out of the bed and shuffled to the bathroom. He freshened up and went to search for his clothes. He walked with his hands around his body, as if to hide that he was naked from (nonexistent) wandering eyes.
He found his clothes neatly folded and placed on top of the dresser. Callan started to dress and as he pulled his shirt over his head, he realized his clothes had been washed. They shared the same scent as the sheets.
He was used to one night stands but never having his clothes cleaned by morning.
He ran his hand through his mess of hair and walked out of the room. He racked his mind for the man's name. He knew it was something with an "Z", something short. Ze-. Ze-. Za-. Definitely something Za…
Callan shuffled into the living room and from where he stood he could see into the kitchen. The black haired man was wearing a pair of dark slacks and a white tank top. He was standing over the stove, focused on his cooking. Callan bit his lip and cleared his throat to get his attention. The man looked over his shoulder with a grin and then back to his food.
"Good morning," he said.
Callan winced, mentally facepalming. "Thanks."
Zachary dumped the bacon from the pan and onto a plate. He pointed to a coffee maker.
"Make yourself a cup of coffee. There's creamer in the fridge and the sugar is in that second canister."
Callan waddled into the kitchen, careful to stay out of Zachary's way. He glanced over as he picked up his cup of coffee; it was still really hot. He opened the refrigerator and grabbed the creamer. As he returned to his cup, he saw Zachary already had one. Callan leaned over and caught a glimpse of the two plates of food, both already set with omelets. Zachary took a sip of his coffee and started plating the bacon too.
"Hope you slept alright," Zachary said, carrying the plates to the table. Callan scooped sugar into his coffee and stirred. "You snored like it."
"I slept great, actually," Callan laughed. "Your bed is nice."
"I would assume anything is better than a fucking dorm bed," Zachary replied, sitting down at the table. Callan followed and sat down in the chair with the plate set in front of it.
"And what makes you think I live in a dorm?" Callan asked. He eyed the food before him. A homemade omelet and crisp bacon, alongside a cup of fresh coffee. He was actually sitting down to a real breakfast instead of running with a piece of toast in his mouth to his morning class. He picked up his fork and looked to Zachary before eating.
"You were down at that bar. If I'm not mistaken, Rose-Gold University is really close by," Zachary said, nibbling at a piece of bacon. "So correct me if I'm wrong with my assumption."
Callan swallowed. Zachary's voice was smooth and he was so cordial, even while eating and so fucking early, too. Callan's mind was still trying to pick up the pieces from the previous night and here was Zachary making actual conversation.
"Yeah," Callan muttered. "I mean, no, what?"
Zachary chuckled and took a sip of his coffee. "Damn brat."
"I attend Rose-Gold, yeah," Callan said. "But I don't live in the dorms. I have an apartment with my sister and my friend."
"Sounds nice. What are you studying?"
Always with this question. Callan hesitated and shoved his mouth with food, pausing before answering.
"I'm an art major."
"Art, huh? Not bad. Sculpting, drawing, painting? I'm not really sure what all qualifies as art," Zachary said.
Callan glanced over at him. Zachary had his eyes on his food but his tone was still…interested. He was genuinely asking about Callan's major instead of making a big deal over it. Callan smiled a little and cut more of his omelet.
"Well…I don't think I'm…bad…"
Zachary sat back in his chair, folding his arms and letting his gaze hone in on Callan. Callan raised his eyes but kept his head down.
"You don't need to be so fucking modest. If you're good, say it. Own your talent. It's not like I'm going to judge you."
"How do you even know?"
"I'm really good at reading people," Zachary shrugged, stretching his arms above his head. His muscles flexed and tightened with his movements, bearing every nice inch of definition. Callan admired his collarbones and their sharp dips; he admired Zachary's neck and the faint marks still there.
"So what do you do?"
"Work," Zachary said, getting to his feet and taking the plate to the sink. He rinsed it off before opening the dish washer.
"That's vague," Callan replied, following him and doing the same.
Zachary never commented on it. "I have to get dressed and then we have to go. I have work in about an hour and a half. Make yourself at home until I get dressed and we'll leave. Do I take you home or do you have a car?"
"Car," Callan said. "Back at the bar."
Callan decided to make the bed while Zachary dressed. It was the least he could do after breakfast. He watched Zachary, from the corner of his eye, pull on a white button-up shirt. He added a deep blue tie and finished with the suit coat. He adorned his wrist with a silver watch; Callan noticed he had several others, all with different colored faces and all probably costing more than his monthly apartment payments.
"Well, whatever you do it must be serious," Callan said as they walked through the house and to the garage door. "You're all dressed up."
"I have to deal with a lot of people. Dressing professionally is required," Zachary said. He grabbed a set of keys and opened the door, hitting the garage door opener.
Callan stared at the Porsche and the Maserati perfectly parked in the three-door garage. He swallowed hard, unsure of where to walk. But more curious about what Zachary actually did for a living.
"Black one." The Maserati.
Callan slid into the passenger's seat and looked around the car, his hands firmly in his lap. He was terrified to move or to touch anything. He was afraid he'd somehow break the car and have to pay for it. And the absolute last thing he needed was to have to pay for an expensive car when he could barely buy groceries.
He actually got a view of the house as Zachary pulled out of the garage. It was big, for a single man. But weren't all bachelor pads? A nice, big house. No responsibilities other than work and cars. Zachary had it made and Callan was a one-night stand who got a glimpse of it all.
It made him question if giving up being a doctor was really the right choice. He saw what he could have with a job with a sure future. And he knew just how much his father made. He would never have to worry. He would never have to struggle or get a second job. He could be a doctor and have the money to do whatever the hell he wanted.
But even knowing that, he had no passion. He wanted to be dirty and covered in paint. That would make him happy, he knew. Not a passing thought. Not his father's dream.
After a twenty minute drive, Zachary pulled into the bar's parking lot. Callan pointed to his car, still parked and (thankfully) no busted windows.
"Thanks," Callan said.
"It's no problem," Zachary replied. "Good luck with school. Study hard. And don't doubt your ability to paint."
Callan laughed. "Life advice from my old man, one-night stand."
"Don't pretend like you didn't have fun, too. Now hurry up. I've got to get to work."
Callan smiled and opened the door. As he got out he paused, spotting the paper under the windshield wipers of his car. He snatched up the ticket and dread filled his stomach. He groaned.
"Oi, everything alright?" Zachary asked, rolling down the window.
Callan held up the ticket and turned, peeking into the window. "I got a fucking ticket. I can't believe this shit."
He opened his car and slumped into the front seat. Callan wanted to bash his head on the steering wheel for being stupid enough to leave his car parked there overnight. He leaned back and started to open the ticket when Zachary peered into the car.
"Let me have it."
Zachary held out his hand expectantly. "The ticket. Give it to me. I'll pay it."
"What? No. That's fucking stupid. It's not your problem," Callan said. "I parked here. My car. I'll handle it."
"It's partially my problem. I took you home. It's my fault you left your car here. I'll pay it, don't worry about it." Zachary snatched the ticket from Callan's hands before another protest could be made.
"Hey! Come on!"
Zachary smirked. "Think of it as a "thanks" for keeping me company last night."
"I'm not a whore. You can't pay me for sex."
"A prostitute is someone who sells themselves for money. It is a known exchange; an agreement. This is one favor for another."
Callan made a face. "I guess…But what if it's a lot?"
"I said don't worry about it," Zachary said with a wave of his hand as he walked back around to his car. "Have a nice day, Callan."
And like that, Zachary drove off without another word. Callan sighed, relieved that he wouldn't have to spend his money on a parking ticket he couldn't afford. It made his morning a little less stressful.
Callan was pleased to go home to an empty house. He wasn't ready to face Angela or Melvin or any questions about the previous night. He wanted a few quiet hours before work—to shower and rest and possibly even paint for a minute.
He stripped off his clothes, littering his room, and turned on the shower. He ran his fingers over his skin while he watched himself in the mirror. He stared at the marks along his neck and chest, the bruises on his thighs. Zachary had certainly done a number on his body.
He pulled back the shower curtain and stepped inside the hot stream, relishing in the way the water soothed his sore body. He ran his fingers through his hair and down to his neck, touching the marks on his skin. He sighed as he cleaned himself, the grime from the previous night washing away.
Grabbing the towel as he stepped out, Callan turned off the water and walked into the room he shared with Melvin. He went straight to his dresser and started pulling out clean clothes for work, ignoring Angela leaning against his doorway with an awful, judgmental look on her face.
"Just get home?"
She sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "Why do you do this? You always do this."
"Go to bars and stay out all night! I worry about you. Melvin worries about you. You could get really hurt, Callan. You didn't call or anything. You could end up in a car accident or drugged by some old—"
Callan made a long, loud groaning noise. He was done listening. He didn't want to hear anymore of her nagging. He wanted to have a quiet morning, get dressed and head to work; not be lectured on his nightly habits.
"I wasn't that drunk. And I don't drink and drive. And I know not to accept drinks from strangers. I'm not a dumbass, Angela, fuck."
"Then stop acting like one."
"Can you please get off my case? I already have my parents smothering me, and your extra Angela-blanket is not helping. I'm an adult."
"And you still make childish decisions," Angela said, turning away and walking to her own room.
Callan rolled his eyes, throwing his towel onto the floor as hard as he could. It didn't quite satisfy him like slamming a door would or throwing his phone, but it settled for the moment. He pulled on a shirt, underwear and jeans and stormed into the living room. He sat on the sofa, grabbing at his mess of brown hair.
He didn't go out to bars seeking trouble. He just ended up there. He would end up drunk. He would end up in some stranger's bed (usually Jean's bed, but Angela didn't know that). And he never cared. It was his life and his problems. It was his way of forgetting and ignoring the week, if only for a brief moment. His way of coping with stress.
He heard Angela walking around and eventually his head was pulled into a gentle hug. Angela held him close, stroking his hair with a maternal hand. Callan sighed.
"It's okay," Callan muttered. "Sorry I yelled."
"It's okay." She kissed him on the head and let go. "I'm going to go shower. Have a nice day at work."
Callan didn't bother showering again once he came home. He went straight to his painting, adding more details. Melvin sat on the sofa, reading over his homework, while Angela cooked.
"Oh, you decided to add something on it after all?" Melvin asked, looking up from his work as he stretched. Callan glanced over his shoulder at him, setting his brush down. He shook his hand, relieving the tensed muscles.
"Oh yeah," Callan laughed. "Just…this wing design."
"I like it," Melvin said. "It looks amazing."
Callan looked back to his painting. It was stupid, he knew, but he felt like the crossed swords he saw on Zachary's body felt right for the picture. Though, he changed the black sword to blue and kept the other one white, just to make it stand out more against the cloak. And he wasn't the only one, apparently.
"I really like it, too," Angela said, walking over. "It needed that."
Callan smiled. That night out wasn't completely pointless after all.
Callan dreaded going to his criminal psychology class. It was too early and the class was too long. Every day was too long. But specifically Tuesdays. And specifically that class.
Not only was it a stupid, mandatory elective, it did nothing to benefit his art. It was a waste of time and money and stress; none of those things Callan really want to spend on his schooling. And to top it off, Jean and Kevin were in the class.
At least they were having a guest speaker. That meant an easy workload.
Callan walked into the classroom and saw it was crowded. Stupidly crowded. Apparently a few students had come to sit in for the guest speaker. Callan groaned and glanced around the room for a chair; anywhere, he was desperate.
He cringed and saw Kevin waving to him.
"Here! We saved you a spot!"
Callan tried to walk away, but hell he had waved back. He smiled, masking his desire to hide, and walked up the steps to the row Kevin and Jean were sitting on. He squeezed between chairs and tables until he grabbed the seat Kevin had for him. Kevin gently removed his own backpack from the chair and was all smiles.
"It's really packed," Kevin said.
"Yeah," Callan groaned. He glanced to Jean who looked terribly bored. "Did you make ass-face come to class?"
"Yes," Kevin chuckled. "He didn't want to, but I know this class would do him some good. We're having a lawyer come and speak to us, and since Mr. Denver here wants to be a lawyer—"
"I don't need to hear about some old fart's business," Jean said with a yawn. "It's too early for this shit."
"He's such a charmer," Callan snarked. "How did you two even end up together?"
Jean looked to Callan, and Callan knew exactly what he was thinking.
If I'm such a charmer, why are you fucking me?
But Kevin was genuinely nice. He came from a good family with nice parents. He wasn't a straight-A student but he still studied hard. Everyone liked him. He went to church on Sundays and even helped out with the youth group. He was studying psychology to be a fucking counselor because he just wanted to help everyone.
And he was living with Jean, a ass-faced asshole who wanted to be a lawyer purely for the money.
Jean wasn't good enough for Kevin. Everyone knew that. But he was scummy enough for Callan and Callan could accept that.
"Opposites attract I suppose," Kevin said with the reddest flush of color Callan had ever seen on a person's face. Kevin bit his lip shyly and looked to Jean. Jean only scratched his mess of hair and took a sip of his coffee.
Callan rolled his eyes, digging out his pen and paper as the professor walked in. He vaguely listened to Dr. Linda talking about their guest speaker. About how he's a dear friend. A successful lawyer. Why a psychiatrist would even know a lawyer was beyond Callan. Then again, she was an adjunct professor. She wasn't there most of the time, so who knew who her company was.
"So please direct your attention to Mr. Zachary—"
Callan froze mid-doodle. He looked up, his eyes wide, at the short man setting down a briefcase on the desk. He pulled out an iPad and closed his case, glancing up at the class.
"I'm very honored to be here this morning," Callan said, "and thank you all for being on time. I fucking hate it when people are late."
"He likes punctuality quite a bit," Dr. Linda hummed.
"My turn to speak, Dr. Glasses," Zachary snapped. A small, unsure laugh came from the crowd of people. Zachary rolled his eyes. "It's alright. You dumbnuts can laugh. I've known Linda since high school."
Callan wasn't believing his eyes. He looked down, scratched at his head and looked back up. And Zachary was still there, pulling up his notes on his iPad so casually. Making snarky shit jokes that made people laugh uncomfortably.
"As Linda said, I'm a lawyer. But I deal with criminals on a daily basis and I see a lot of disorders coming in and out of my field in clients," Zachary said. He folded his arms and leaned against the desk. "So, what can you adolescents tell me about criminal psychology?"
As if Callan would ever say anything—Kevin.
"Well, sir," Kevin started, drawing Zachary's eyes to their direction. Callan looked away, being as natural as he could be while Kevin spoke.
He listened to Zachary start to talk and the man suddenly stopped. Callan couldn't help but look. Zachary was staring in his direction—not Kevin's. His face had paled and he looked like he was at a complete loss for words. Like what Kevin had said had really stumped him. But the man's eyes were locked on Callan's face. And Callan couldn't look away.
Zachary cleared his throat. "Very good definition." He picked up his iPad and turned away, continuing on with his lecture.
Callan remained quiet, unable to really focus on Zachary's words. He just watched the man talk. The man who bought him drinks. The man whose house he had seen. The man he had sucked off, fingered himself in front of, the man who had fucked him into the mattress over the weekend.
He glanced over at Jean, wondering if Jean had recognized Zachary yet. Jean was squinting, staring at Zachary like he was either listening really hard or trying to place his face. Callan sank back into his chair and waited for the lecture to end. Or to just die from embarrassment; Callan would take whichever one came first.
After answering questions, everyone started to pack their bags. Callan was torn between rushing out of the room and lagging behind. He didn't want to face Zachary but he also felt rude for simply avoiding him. He chewed on his lip as Kevin slid passed him.
"See you later," he called. Callan knew Kevin's next class was in a different building across the campus. He had to hurry. Jean, however, was still lollygagging.
Callan stood, picking up his bag and looking to Zachary. Jean certainly wasn't the only one taking their sweet time. Swallowing hard, Callan walked down the stairs and slowly approached Zachary as another student gave him a "thanks for coming"-goodbye.
Zachary looked up at Callan and Callan smiled.
"Hey," Callan said, "uhh…that was a nice speech. Lecture. Thanks."
Zachary put away his belongings and he smirked. Callan knew why. And Zachary knew Callan knew. The two of them tried to hold back their laughter at how ridiculous the situation was.
"Of course," Zachary said. "Glad you enjoyed it."
Callan hugged his bag closer to his side. "I'm not sure if you're busy later, but there's this coffee shop by the art building. If you're free in an hour—"
"Mr. Zachary!" Jean shouted, running up to Zachary with a wide smile. "Hi, uh, thank you for coming to speak today. Your lecture was really amazing."
"Don't you have art class, Callan?" Jean asked.
"Yeah, in ten minutes!" Callan snapped back.
"More like five."
Callan pulled out his phone. He hated it when Jean was right.
"Fuck, alright. Uhh…thanks again, Zachary!" Callan called, hurrying away. He wanted to talk with Zachary for a little bit more. But he had class and he being late was apparently awful.
According to Zachary.
Callan's mind was a scattered mess throughout his class. He sighed and huffed and tore up paper. He ran his hands through his hair until it was a mess, flecked with charcoal. His professor patted him on the back.
"Feeling okay, Robinson?"
"Ugh…I'm fine. I guess. I just can't really…I don't know."
"Just relax. Take your time," she said as he started to sketch again. It was a shit job and he knew it but Callan managed a quick piece to turn in by the end of class. He was just ready to get out of that class and walk outside for a while before work.
After putting away his pencils and pads, Callan left the art building and walked across the courtyard to one of the small, on-campus coffee shops. There were three main cafes on campus, each one placed near the largest buildings. Latte Coffee was located between the arts and music buildings, and it was decorated to look as such. Every Friday night a student musician would come and sing; the walls were decorated with pictures from the art students.
It was far more comforting than Rose Coffee, located by the law buildings, that was silent for the diligent students, or Bio-lab Coffee, over by the biology classrooms and labs. Needless to say, sharing coffee with a skeleton hanging overhead made a few students queasy.
Callan walked into the cafe and saw Maya standing behind the counter. He waved to her and she half-smiled. He was so used to seeing Melvin standing behind the counter and even after a month Callan was still thrown off when he saw someone else.
"Hey, Maya," Callan called. He glanced around the coffee shop, just to see the traffic he would have to deal with, and his eyes fell to the corner of the shop.
He spun around and hurried over to the counter, Maya's eyes wide with concern.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm good," Callan said, at a rather loud volume. Maya raised her eyebrow as Callan fidgeted around.
It wasn't like Zachary was casually sitting in the corner, sipping a coffee and playing with his iPad.
Callan leaned in close and started to whisper. "Um, Maya, do you see that guy over there in the corner?"
Maya looked up and glanced around the shop with a very casual, poker-face. She nodded.
"Yeah, what about him?"
"Is he by any chance looking this way?"
"Not at this moment. But he's looked over here twice," Maya replied. "Why, do you know him?"
"Sort of," Callan laughed. "It's weird and complicated. I'm going to go ahead and put my stuff away in the back. Can I get a…caramel latte, please?"
"Sure thing," Maya said. "It'll be ready when you come out."
"Thanks," Callan said, hurrying away.
He went into the backroom and threw his stuff into one of the lockers. He took out his sketchpad, however. He had a little over an hour before his shift started, so he had time to get on his homework. He walked out of the room, clutching his sketchbook to his chest, his eyes going directly to Zachary's corner.
Callan bit his lip and picked his coffee off the counter where Maya had set it down. He wanted to go and sit with Zachary. He was asking Zachary out for coffee after all. But would Zachary really remember? Would Zachary even want to? He was a fucking lawyer.
Zachary looked up at him, those eyes piercing and dark and everything that made Callan's knees go weak.
Callan inadvertently took a step forward and before he could stop himself he was standing at Zachary's high-raised table. Zachary quirked his eyebrows.
"I believe you're late."
"You told me to be here after an hour. It's been an hour and a half," Zachary said, taking a drink of his coffee. "Be happy I don't have work today. Otherwise I would have left."
"Oh. OH! Yeah…I'm sorry," Callan said, setting his cup down on the table. He hopped onto the chair, holding his sketchbook in his lap. "I've been having a weird day…"
"I wonder why." Zachary's voice was teasing but his expression was still unreadable. Callan shrugged.
"Well…I guess it all started when you showed up, 'cause we sort of—"
"Sarcasm, Callan," Zachary curtly responded. Callan flinched.
"It's hard to tell. You just have this same face all the time. You're unreadable."
"That's part of my job. And there's no "sort of", we went all out."
"Oh yeah…," Callan hummed. He leaned forward on his elbows. "You're a lawyer. That would explain why you need to dress professionally."
"Very good observation. So what are you doing in a criminal psychology course when you're an artist?"
"It's a requirement to graduate. A sociology course or psychology course. Electives."
Callan cringed. "I remember shit like that in college."
"I didn't know electives were a thing during the 1800's."
Zachary's eyes shot up to Callan's face and Callan grinned wide, taking a sip of his coffee.
"Fuck you, too, you brat," Zachary hissed through a smirk on his lips. "Oi, I'm going to grab some cake. Want anything?"
"No, I'm fine."
Zachary nodded and walked over to the counter. Callan excitedly bit his lip and looked over his shoulder, watching Zachary walk. Maya looked up from the counter and she spoke with Zachary for a brief moment before she went to the glass case, getting out the cakes.
Callan turned back to his coffee and casually looked up at Zachary as he sat back down.
"Here," Zachary said, setting a plate down. "I asked that girl what kind of pastry you normally ate."
Callan stared at the apple streusel in front of him. He furrowed his brow and glared at Zachary.
"I told you I didn't want anything! You don't always have to buy me stuff!"
"I know," Zachary calmly replied. "But I can also do as I please, can't I?"
Callan picked at the streusel, his mouth watering. He wanted to resist but the pastry did look tempting. He decided to break a piece off and started eating. Zachary ate at his coffee cake, using the plastic fork Maya had given him.
"How have your other classes been?"
"They're alright," Callan said. "I had to do a charcoal sketch in my other class and it fucking sucked. I just couldn't feel the picture."
Zachary raised an eyebrow, setting his fork down. "That's a very interesting way to put it."
"I know, it's weird. But that's the best way I can explain it. There was just no connection and I ended up tossing away three other sketches."
"You seem really distressed about it. It's alright to mess up, you know. Give stuff another try. Fuck up and repeat it. Try something new. You're young, you're allowed to do that."
Callan hugged himself, listening. He didn't want to talk about his classes or fucking up or anything. He got enough of that from his dad and he didn't want it from a man he had fucked once. Even if it was better than the shit his dad told him.
"I guess," Callan said, looking away and out the window. Zachary kicked him under the table.
"Smile more, darling. Those eyes look better when they're happy."
Callan flushed bright as Zachary tilted his head back, drinking the rest of his coffee. He slid off his chair and picked up the plate his cake had been on.
"I have to get going," Zachary said.
"Special lawyer work or are you late for an old man check up at the doctor's office?"
"Funny. Be good."
"I don't get your number?"
Zachary turned, as if considering it. "I asked you to come home. You asked me to coffee. We're even. If it's fate and we meet a third time, I'll think about it."
"You do that."
Callan watched him leave, for the second time now. The man who was a lawyer. A sensible man who didn't criticize what he did with his education. A practical stranger who supported him more than his own father.
Callan shuddered. It was a weird thought, considering he had fucked Zachary already.
He took a deep breath and pulled out his sketchpad. He still had some down time. He may as well try to get something drawn, even if it was shit. He knew it was only uphill from there.