Sugar on top (manxman)

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7-Tiramisu

Callan felt like he had every right to sleep in that Monday. He had sold a picture over the weekend and received a considerable amount of money. Then again, he slept in Sunday. So avoiding class was out of the question, especially once Angela was awake.

He showered and dressed and picked up his books. He grabbed his usual sketchpad and made his way down to his car. Throwing his stuff into the backseat, Callan sat down and started the engine.

After he parked (he always parked by the biology building because, despite the walk, there was always more room than on the law or art side) he made his way across the campus, relishing in the cool air on his face as he walked. He had some extra time so he stopped by the Maria Caf矇 before going to class.

"Hi Cal!"

He looked up at the smiling, petite blonde girl working behind the counter. Juliana was her name but she went by Julie and from what Callan could remember she was studying to be a nurse.

"Good morning," Callan yawned back. How she managed to be so chirpy that early baffled him. "Umm圭an I get an egg and ham croissant, please?"

"Sure thing," Julia hummed. "Want a coffee with that?"

"Yeah, I'm going to need one. Just the plain morning roast is fine."

She tapped away at the screen in front of her, swiped his card and got to work on his order. Callan shoved his card back into his wallet and a thought passed through his mind: this was the first meal, in a while, that he actually had to buy himself.

The feeling wasn't weird but it definitely made him stop and think. He took his coffee and went to add sugar to it, stirring in quite a bit and adding a little bit of milk.

He was doing alright with his money and it was mainly thanks to Zachary. The man took care of that big parking ticket, and Callan knew that would have set him back a few weeks. Whenever they met during the week for lunch, Zachary always paid. Not to mention he had given Callan gas money a few times. And considering how high gas prices were, that was almost as much as the parking ticket.

Callan's car hadn't been on full in years.

"Here's your breakfast," Julie chimed, still with her bright smile. She slid the paper bag over the counter to Callan. "Have a nice day."

"Thanks! You too!"

Callan grabbed his food and hurried off, across the campus, and to his first class.

~~~~

Callan slumped against a tree, pulling out his sketchpad. He had his usual hour break and he wanted to get ahead on one of his assignments. He flipped through the pages, mostly quick sketches of Zachary, and started a new doodle.

It wasn't long before he felt a pair of eyes on him. Callan looked up in time to see Jean throw his backpack down and flop onto the grass next to him.

"No class again?"

"Basically," Jean sighed, leaning against the tree. "What are you working on?"

Callan held up his sketchbook. "The prompt is a junkyard critter. Basically a clusterfuck of old electronics that have combined to make a clusterfuck robot."

Jean raised an eyebrow. "Is that地 computer screen?"

"Yes, yes it is."

Jean nodded and took the sketchpad from Callan, to better examine the picture. Callan taught Jean, as soon as they met, that flipping through his drawings was an insult. And that even holding the sketchpad, without permission, was bad. Jean was wise to catch on and understood his boundaries.

As far as sketchpads went, at least.

"Oh fuck, that's a radio. That's really cool," Jean said, pointing out another aspect of the drawing.

Callan smiled, watching him. Jean looked at the picture, staring in awe. Asking about different parts. Giving constructive criticism without being an ass. It was nostalgic. It made Callan miss high school. It made him miss feeling innocent and having a crush.

And it made him wonder where they went wrong.

"How'd your art show go?" Jean asked, closing the book. "I'm really sorry I couldn't make it. You know I was going to go but mom needed me home for the weekend to help with grandma and"

"You don't have to give me your entire weekend schedule. If you couldn't make it, that's fine," Callan chuckled. "It's not a big deal."

"But it was important to you. Either way, congrats on it. I heard that you sold a painting, right?"

Callan smiled. "Yeah圩or a lot too."

"I always knew you'd do well," he said. He bit his lip and winked, playfully nudging Callan in the side. "We should celebrate."

The sudden drop in Jean's voice made Callan shudder. He looked away. He knew exactly what Jean meant by "celebrate" and Callan knew exactly what he should say. But he was temptedso temptedto simply say yes like on so many occasions before.

Would that be cheating? On his part, that is. On Zachary? Were he and Zachary even in a real relationship? Was cheating something that they could argue over? Zachary said no emotions, but were they exclusive no-emotions-fuck-buddies-with-pampering?

"I"

There was a sudden buzz and Callan jumped. He looked down and pulled out his phone, checking his notifications. He had a few emails but the buzz came from a text. And the text notification read Daddy across the screen.

"匈 shouldn't," Callan said, setting down his phone, screen side face down and out of sight. "I really名e really shouldn't"

Jean sat back and there was actual confusion on his face. "Are you going through another self-restraint phase?"

"Yeah"

Jean shrugged. "That's fine with me. I know how you are. I'll be around."

His words were teasing but Callan knew they were true. It had happened time after time before. Callan would say "I quit" and barely a week later he'd be sneaking into Jean's apartment with an open mouth. And that awful cycle of hurt he had tried to dispose of would start up all over again.

Callan waited until Jean left before looking at the text.

Daddy: Busy tonight?

Eren inhaled and quickly typed out a response.

No, what's up?

He left his phone on the ground as he packed his bags, excitedly waiting for his phone to buzz again. There was a possibility he could see Zachary, judging from the context of Zachary's text. And Callan had no need to pass up a chance to hang out with the man.

By the time he had slung his bag over his shoulder and gotten to his feet, he heard another notification buzz.

He unlocked his phone to see the text.

Daddy: We're having dinner tonight. What time do I pick you up?

Callan smiled a little, nibbling on his lip.

6? I get off work early.

He started to pocket his phone and reconsidered. If Zachary came by the apartment that late, there was a good chance they'd run into Melvin or Angela. And then Callan would have to explain

He quickly typed out another text.

Or I could meet you. That would be easier.

Meeting up for lunch was easy. People were out and busy with class or work and he could get away with Zachary picking him up. But dinner was tricky. More people lurked around the outside the apartment grounds in the evenings.

Within seconds he got a reply.

Daddy: No. You'll get another ticket. I can pick you up after class. Think about what you want to eat.

There was no arguing at this point. Zachary had his mind made up. Callan sent him a text to confirm. He managed to walk to his class and get settled into his usual spot before checking his phone for another text. Just as he put it on silent, another text alert flashed across the screen.

Daddy: By the way, I hate your texting. See you later.

Callan laughed, putting his phone away. He turned to face the professor, a smile on his face even though he tried to hide it. He felt stupid and silly and a little giddy. He was actually excited. Actually looking forward to having dinner with Zachary.

No nostalgia. No feeling like he needed to get out of a cycle. There was no cycle to break.

~~~~

After class and work, Callan headed home to wash up. Melvin was staying late at the hospital, again, and Angela already had dinner plans with Maya. It worked out perfectly. He had no one to answer to that evening and he didn't have to explain where he was going. So Callan showered and put on a pair of dark jeans with a black dress shirt. He tried to straighten out his hair to make it look less like he had just rolled out of bed. And after a few minutes of trying, he eventually said fuck it and grabbed his keys. And exactly at 6 pm, Callan received a text from Zachary.

Daddy: Here.

Callan locked the door and headed down the stairs, grabbing the rail at his side. He was prone to excitedly running down the stairs and falling so the last way he wanted to spend his evening was in the hospital.

He turned the corner and saw Zachary's car parked against the sidewalk, sleek and shiny pewter grey in the evening sun. Zachary had brought the Porsche.

Callan started to walk, keeping his expression as bland as Zachary's, but through his excitement he saw Kyle walking around the building, iPod in hand. Callan grew rigid as his neighbor looked up and waved, tugging an earbud into his hand.

"Hey, Cal, going out for dinner?"

"Ahh尖eah," Callan replied. It came out as more of a question than an actual response. He stood by Zachary's car, not daring to touch it or even look at it. "Just a quick bite and I'm going to go study. You?"

"Dinner with Jake tonight," Kyle laughed. "Date night."

"That's nice. Where to?"

Kyle wrapped his earbuds around his iPod and folded his arms. "I think Texas Roadhouse. He's was going on and on about having a steak last week."

"That sounds good. I won't keep you then. Have fun," Callan said, waving.

"You too. Study hard!"

Kyle turned to leave and Callan spun around slowly, pretending to walk away. He watched Kyle disappear into the apartments and he made a quick beeline for Zachary's car. He flopped into the passenger's seat and heard a long, unhappy sigh.

"Are you fucking serious?"

"Sorry" Callan said. "He's my neighbor and I didn't want him to see me get in the car and I couldn't just avoid him and再re you playing Flappy Bird?"

"I was."

"Did you fuck up?"

"Yeah. When you decided to cause as much racket as an atomic bomb. I was two away from beating my high score."

Callan leaned over. "What's your high score?"

"805."

Callan's brows lowered into a frown. "Bullshit." Zachary held out his phone and Callan hissed at the solid proof that Zachary was apparently a god capable of anything.

"What do you want to eat? I'm sure you're starving on your shitty college diet."

"I would be but you take pretty good care of making sure I'm fed."

Zachary shrugged. "I can't have you fainting from fatigue with my dick in you."

"True."

"What do you want?"

"Anything but Texas Roadhouse," Callan sighed. Zachary raised a questioning eyebrow and Callan shook his head. "Nothing. Uhh多ow does Italian sound?"

His words came out timid. He was definitely still asking permission. It was Zachary's money. Zachary would be driving. Callan felt like he still had to clear it with Zachary, even though the man was catering to whatever Callan wanted.

Zachary reached around the wheel to start the car. It roared and purred against Callan's legs.

"Italian it is." Zachary tapped a finger under Callan's chin. "By the way, you look nice darling."

"Thanks," Callan hummed, rubbing under his jaw where Zachary's finger had been. The strange little affectionate touch made Callan smile more than he should have. He settled down into the low seat and politely folded his hands in his lap.

Zachary pressed on the gas and started down the road. The car pulled and Callan could feel its power with each little turn. He grinned with each loud acceleration.

"Having fun already?"

"A little. This car is amazing."

"I'll take the highway then. Then it'll really be impressive."

Callan held back a happy squeal when Zachary pulled out onto the road and sped off.

~~~~

Callan could count the times he had valet parked. Zero. And he couldn't remember how many times he had been with his father when he valet parked. John hated parking and always paid to park, even when the regular parking lot was closer.

It came as no surprise that Zachary had a valet park his car. He pulled up, opened his car door and snapped his fingers at Callan to do the same.

"You're never worried that they'll ruin your car?" Callan asked as they walked up to the restaurant. Zachary cringed.

"Don't talk to me about that shit."

Callan laughed and Zachary shook his head. Without looking, Zachary reached down and grabbed Callan's hand, tugging him closer as they walked. Callan's first reaction was to pull away but he hesitated, not wanting to upset Zachary, but he certainly tensed up enough to catch the older man's attention.

A group of people walked right by them, all of them talking loud, and Callan drew a little closer to Zachary's side. And then he realized Zachary wasn't holding his hand as much as getting him out of the way. With a sigh, Callan dropped his shoulders.

He wasn't sure if he was relieved or upset. Relieved that Zachary wasn't being affectionate. Upset that Zachary wasn't being affectionate. Callan didn't know which one he wanted or which one he feared.

But when he tried to pull his hand away, Zachary didn't let go immediately. Callan realized he feared neither.

"What?"

"Why?"

Zachary shot him a 'why what, dumbass?' look and Callan licked his dry lips.

"You're holding my hand"

"Is that bad?"

"It's安eird"

"Why? You don't hold hands with the people you date, too?"

Callan swallowed hard. "I don't匈 haven't really dated anyone since high school存ort of"

"Fuck, Cal, just relax. It's not like I'm forcing you to do something awful. I'm holding your fucking hand. You'd probably end up lost or in the middle of the fucking street if I let you go. Consider it a favor."

Callan choked down any negative response he could think of. His immediate thought, like everything else, was that hand holding was for relationships. But maybe Zachary was right. It wasn't that big of a deal.

So Callan adjusted his hand to better grip Zachary's, his eyes still turned away. He felt a gentle squeeze in return.

"Besides, if I'm taking you out, I want people to know we're together."

"Oh, afraid someone is going to try and hit on me while I'm with you?" Callan teased. Zachary opened the door to the restaurant for him.

"I'm not afraid. I wouldn't care. Because they get to watch me take you home at the end of the night."

Callan laughed, grabbing Zachary by the hands and tugging him inside. The door closed softly behind them and Callan couldn't fight back his smile.

"So you think I'm cute and you want to show me off?" Callan asked, nudging Zachary's shoulder. The lady at the receptionist stand bit her lip, overhearing them. Zachary's face lit up bright red from embarrassment.

"Welcome, table for two?" the girl giggled.

"Three, because apparently this brat brought his fucking ego with him."

"Two," Callan said, holding up his fingers. The hostess picked up two menus.

"Right this way," she said.

Zachary started walking, a smug grin on his face. Callan jumped after him, looping his finger around the belt Zachary wore. Being guided, Callan looked around the restaurant.

It was decorated with stone and vines, to give it an old rustic appearance. There were heavy looking barrels set along the wall with wine racks hanging behind them. The lights were turned down low, candles setting on the tables to cast a warm glow. A violinist played slow songs, standing over in a corner.

Callan smiled as they were lead to a booth. They sat down across from each other and the hostess left with a "Your waiter will be with you shortly". Callan picked up his menu.

"Order whatever you want, darling" Zachary hummed as Callan opened his own menu.

For once the prices weren't ridiculous. Still a little more for pasta than what Callan would normally pay, but at least it was in his range. Not that it mattered; Zachary never allowed Callan to pay for a meal or even touch his wallet.

"Good evening, gentleman," chimed in the waiter, walking over. "My name is Kevin and I'll be your"

Callan tensed, his eyes going wide. That voice and name and

"Callan?"

Callan looked up to Zachary first and then to their waiter. Kevin. It was Kevin. Kevin. Freckled Kevin. Perfect Kevin, as in Jean's Kevin.

Callan forced his face to be expressive and held up a hand to wave. "Uhh多i?"

"How are you this evening?" Kevin laughed and Callan was sure angels had less kind smiles.

He nodded nervously. "Yeah."

"What?"

"He's good," Zachary said, setting down his menu and catching Kevin's attention.

"Oh, my apologies. Umm圭an I get you two something to drink? Tea, water, wine?"

"I'll have a glass of cabernet, please," Zachary said. "And a water with lemon."

Kevin scribbled away at his notepad, slowing turning to Callan. But Callan was still dumbstruck, trying to take in the situation.

He had been seen with Zachary. By a student. A friend of his. And of all friends, it had to be Jean's boyfriend.

"Umm存ame安ine吁ame as him"

"I'm going to have to see your I.D., sir," Kevin said. The sudden firmness in his voice made Callan jump back to attention. Kevin laughed, that stupid angel's laugh. "I'm joking. Well匈 do need to see your I.D or I'll get in trouble."

"Yeah," Callan laughed, pulling out his wallet. Zachary had returned to his menu. Callan held his wallet open for Kevin to see (rather glance at) and the sweet freckled man left to place their orders. Callan sank back against the booth, his stomach in knots.

"You know him from school?"

Callan nodded. Zachary raised an eyebrow.

"So none of your friends know you're dating an older man."

Callan shook his head.

"And奸et me think宇his guy, Kevin, knows someone close to you. Someone who would probably judge you for dating me. Maybe a sister地n ex. Oh, the ex."

"Zachary," Callan mumbled. His chest tightened at the mention of "the ex" because Zachary painfully hit the nail on the head. And it wasn't fair. It pissed Callan off that Zachary could read him so easily and so effortlessly. Was he really that much of an open book? Or maybe Zachary was just that perceptive.

As Callan wondered, Zachary stretched his arm out over the table, his hand open. Callan stared at Zachary and finally snaked his hand onto the table. Zachary intertwined their fingers, rubbing his thumb over Callan's hand. The little gesture quelled Callan's nerves within seconds, pulling his mind from his worries of Jean.

"Don't think about that," Zachary said softly. "Don't worry about it. You deserve to have a fun night, tonight. Enjoy yourself, baby."

His words came out in a whisper as smooth as silk. Callan had to listen closely to hear or he'd completely miss it. He smiled at Zachary's kind words and at the petname, relishing in the feel of the man's strong fingers and the sound of his deep voice. Admiring the steely-grey of his heavy eyes and his sharp features against the candle light.

He felt a prodding between his legs and he jolted upright. Zachary smirked and his voice darkened. "I mean it."

Zachary squeezed his hand and gave Callan's crotch another little press with his foot. Callan squirmed at the sensation, a grin creeping onto his lips that faded once he caught sight of Kevin and their drinks. He pulled back his hand and turned to look up at the painting on the wall.

He listened to Kevin and Zachary exchanging words in the background to his own thoughts. He rubbed his hand under the table, still able to feel exactly where Zachary's fingers had been. Where his teasing foot had been.

It was all part of the scene, Callan told himself. Zachary wanted people to see them together. He was Zachary's trophy to display; a pretty pet to take out on a walk for show. And no one wants to waste their time on a pouting puppy. Even though his words were genuine and kind and the way he held Callan's hand made his heart flutter. He hadn't felt that in years and the thought was stupid because it was all for show

"Cal, what would you like to eat?"

"Huh她h!" Callan gasped quickly flipping open his menu. "Umm宇he steak pasta."

Kevin jotted it down and took up their menus. "Alright. I'll put these orders in and bring out your salads."

Callan watched him leave and put on a smile as Zachary sipped his wine.

"Tell me more about the art show," Zachary said firmly. "How did it go? I would have talked to you more but I felt like it would have been inappropriate with your mother and Angela there."

"They're not the ones I'm worried about," Callan sighed. Zachary raised an eyebrow, a silent gesture for Callan to continue. Callan sat down his glass of wine and swallowed. "Mom wouldn't care who I talked to. Angela would get over it. My dad probably would have lost his shit. Probably? No, he would have, no doubt. Not to your face. But I would have gotten a fucking earful of it the moment there weren't a lot of people around."

It would be high school all over again. Brutal thoughts came flooding back and Callan took a long drink of wine.

Zachary folded his arms on the table and leaned forward, his eyes fixed directly on Callan. "Mind if I pry, Sweetheart?"

"I guess not"

"The man with the glasses and long hair at the art show, he was your father, am I correct?"

Callan nodded and sank back. Kevin came up to the table, salads in hand. He sat them down, asked if they needed anything else and returned to his waiting duties. Zachary remained silent until Kevin was out of earshot before continuing.

"Why was he in such a pissy mood? He came in, took one look at you and he got this expression of "fuck you" and left."

"That's妃y dad in a fucking nutshell," Callan said with a bitter smile. He picked up his fork to poke around his salad. "He doesn't think my art is anything to live on. That it's just地 hobby, not a real profession."

"Is he a dentist?"

"He's a doctor at Heart hospital."

Zachary groaned and made a face that told Callan all he needed to know.

"But夷n better news I sold a picture at the art show. He still doesn't know yet. I'm just going to shove the money in his face," Callan laughed with false hope. Zachary's eyes lit up.

"You sold a picture? One of your paintings?" he asked. Callan nodded.

"I did. I'm really excited. Sort of bummed that I have to give away the painting though. It was my favorite."

"Do you have a picture of it? Like a snapshot? I tried to find your name but I didn't see it anywhere."

Callan reached into his back pocket and retrieved his phone. Zachary remained quiet as he flipped through picture after picture until he came to the one of his painting. The Swords of Freedom. Callan held out the phone for Zachary.

The man quietly examined the picture, his dark eyes zoned in.

"I uh圩inished this after I met you. But before we became anything serious. I didn't think I'd ever see you again so I sort of used尖our tattoo as inspiration for the swords on the cloak," Callan said. "Sorry if that's creeper-y."

Zachary shook his head, setting the phone down. "It's ironic, really. But the painting is fantastic. It's a true masterpiece."

"You're being nice. You don't have to. I'll fuck you just for buying dinner."

"I mean it. Baby宇hat picture"

"Alright, let's see. The shrimp and lobster primavera, for you," Kevin said, cutting in as he set Zachary's plate in front of him. His timing was becoming impeccable."And the steak gorgonzola for Callan."

"Thanks," Callan said.

"Can I get you two anything else?"

Zachary looked to Callan, who silently shook his head, and back to Kevin. "Nothing at the moment. Thank you."

Kevin nodded and hurried away again.

"This looks really good!"

They ate and laughed. Zachary fed Callan lobster and they laughed some more. Zachary further explained his relationship with Angela. The brief time he spent under the Bane roof.

"The man was a lousy excuse for a guardian," Zachary explained, taking a sip of wine. "The type of asshole who collects money for taking in a kid and does shit as a parent. Spent the money on booze instead. He's the reason why I up and left that shithole. Angela was always a good girl, but she had her family to watch after her. And they were good people. They were there to make sure she didn't end up being a fuck-up. Me? I had to look after myself. So I hightailed it across the states and went to law school."

Callan twisted his fork into his pasta, listening close.

"You don't strike me as a lawyer. More like a cage fighter."

"Thanks and fuck you."

"And that's why. I'd love to see you in court," Callan chuckled. He knit his brows together and lowered his voice. "I object, your honor, there's insufficient evidence. And while you're at it, go fuck yourself with your mallet, shithole."

"Was that an imitation of me?"

"It was a spot-on imitation of you," Callan teased.

"Fuck your miming shit."

Callan grinned into his glass of wine, pleased with the look on Zachary's face.

Kevin returned, asking if they wanted dessert and even though Callan was persistent with his "no thank you"s, Zachary still got a tiramisu to-go. He gave Kevin his card, to pay, and Callan ran off to the bathroom before they left. He couldn't sit in the car for the fifteen minute drive back to the house, no matter how fast that Porsche went.

As he washed his hands however, the door opened up. And he found himself looking directly at Kevin.

"Oh, hi again," Kevin laughed. "Was dinner alright?"

"It was amazing. I had no idea you worked here"

"I just recently got the job," Kevin said. "I had no idea you had a boyfriend"

"He's notI mean匈妃mm" Callan's words turned to grumbles. Kevin patted him on the shoulder.

"It's alright. I understand."

"Huh?"

"You're dating but you don't want everyone to know about it yet. That's understandable, Cal. It's your relationship and you can keep it as private as you want. I don't know why you would though. He seems really nice."

"It's just匈 don't know圭omplicated I guess," Callan said softly. He folded his arms across his chest, his heart racing. He was nervous. Really nervous. What if Kevin said something? To someone? Callan bounced from foot to foot.

"Because he's a little older? I don't think that changes anything. A lot of people have age gaps in their relationships and they make it work. The way he looks at you is just安ow."

Those words sunk in through the quick sand of Callan's mind. He couldn't believe that he was hearing it from Kevin. Of all people.

"You both looked really happy, that's all. I'm sorry if I'm talking too much."

"No, you're fine. It's fine. It's totally圩ine."

"I'll stop."

"Thanks."

"I left the check with your date. And I have to get back to work soon and I still need to" Kevin made a vague gesture to the urinal.

"Oh! Okay! I'll see you around then," Callan called as he ran out of the bathroom.

He found Zachary walking towards the exit, to-go bag in hand. The man smiledthat same one he had smiled earlierand Callan looked down at the floor to avert his burning gaze. There was something so sweet in the way Zachary smiled at him. Nothing about it was rare; it was the same, endearing look Callan had received on several occasions. But it was just now that Callan realized just how much it made his heart race and his tongue knot.

"Ready?"

Callan nodded, walking up to Zachary's side and daring to wrap his fingers around Zachary's arm. "Ready."

It was all perfect. A wonderful dinner. Kevin being so understanding. Dessert to-go. Mind-blowing sex later.

Callan didn't like the term "date" but he was sure this had been the best one he had ever been on.

Zachary opened the restaurant door and Callan walked through, just as another pair stepped in. And then Zachary paused, eyes wide and face pale. The pair before them stopped and stared back. Callan felt the instant tension and his smile faded.

"Z-Zach"

Callan felt Zachary grow rigid as the woman said his name.

"Jenny. It's nice to see you out. Mick, you as well."

Silence. There was the sound of the restaurant patrons inside, still talking and laughing and carefree, mixing with the sweet sound of music. Outside, cars could be heard as they drove by. So there was certainly noise but everything was silent.

"Well, it was nice seeing you. I hope you two enjoy your meals tonight," Callan said sharply. The woman, Jenny, nodded, her eyes down.

"Thank you. And I hope you enjoy your" her words faded as she glanced in Callan's direction, unsure of what to even say. "Your evening."

"Thank you."

There was some awkward maneuvering. Zachary kept his eyes ahead and dragged Callan through the door and onto the dark street. They briskly walked down the sidewalk and to the parking lot. Callan waited until they were situated in the car before even speaking.

"So"

"I'd rather not talk about it," Zachary snapped. Callan squeaked at his sharp tone, picking at the sides of the bag in his lap. He inhaled deep.

"Is she the ex?"

Zachary anxiously tapped his fingers against the steering wheel and faintly nodded. "I'd rather not talk about it."

Callan left it alone after that. He had never seen Zachary so suddenly upset. And he feared being on the end of that. He remained quiet the entire trip to the apartment, listening to the low rumble of the car instead. He kept his eyes on the bag, out the window, on the dashboard; anywhere but on Zachary. But once they were off the highway, and back on the side streets, he felt cold fingers wrap around his hand. He went limp, letting Zachary hold his hand over the center console of the car.

Still no words. Still no explanation. Zachary traced soothing circles over Callan's hand with his thumb. Light, gentle gestures that made Callan's skin prickle.

No words were needed for Callan to understand the silent apology. Callan realized part of those circles weren't just for affection; it was just as calming to Zachary as it was to him.

But it was enough to make him smile, even if it was just a little bit.

Zachary drove up to the apartment, parking on the side. He inhaled and Callan looked to him.

"I'm sorry tonight got cut short. I wanted to take you home but whatever boner I had earlier won't be back until tomorrow."

Callan chuckled at the remark. "It's alright. I figured. We'll fuck twice as long next time. Or call me in the morning for phone sex."

"Be careful, I may take you up on that offer. You can have the dessert. I won't eat it and I'm sure it'll come in handy at 3 o'clock in the morning when you're writing a paper due in a few hours."

"Your faith in my study habits is disheartening."

Zachary smirked and silence fell over them. Callan wrapped his hands around the door handle and froze. He chewed his lip and sat back against the seat.

"What?"

"It's nothing," Callan said. He fumbled with the bag, his fingers clumsy and his breathing uneven. It was stupid and he'd regret it but

He leaned over, touching his hand to Zachary's cheek to keep him still. And as gentle as he could be, Callan pressed a light kiss to Zachary's cheek.

"Don't let it ruin your evening," Callan breathed, shifting around.

A small smile tugged at the corner of Zachary's mouth. "Thanks Baby."

"It's my pleasure."


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