Callister entered Benny’s shop, the door tinkled as he stepped inside. He wore dark glasses over his red eyes, his hair pulled back into a sedate bun. He was quiet he waited for Benny to notice him, his eyes unreadable behind the shades.
Benny was ‘In the Zone’, doing that thing he did where he’d get really into a repetitive task and just do it until he was done, ignoring everything else. It probably would have taken him minutes to realize that Callister was there, but his coworker (a tall, rail-thin boy with spiky black hair) jostled him from his daze with a greeting.
“Hi there! Can I get you something?”
Hearing this, Benny looked up, saw Callister, and grinned. “Babe!”
Callister responded to the grin with one of his own. It lit his face up. “Hey. When are you off?”
Then, while he was there he addressed Benny’s co-worker, “Cappuccino, tall, with a shot of hazelnut, thanks.”
“Aight,” the barista replied, smirking a little as he watched Benny bound up to Callister like a blond, apron-wearing puppy.
“Um, I have a few more hours to go, but I can probably take my break now. It’s not very busy.”
Callister smiled, “Get you a drink too?” He placed a hand on Benny’s waist, but limited his public display of affection to that at Benny’s job.
That got an immediate response, though; Benny did that thing he did whenever Callister touched him in anything resembling a possessive or affectionate fashion, where his eyes looked distant for a second and he took in a sharp breath.
He recovered pretty quickly, though, and smiled a bit coyly. “You know I’m going to mark out your cappuccino anyway, right? I don’t pay for drinks in my own shop.”
“I’ll make you a Benny, Benny,” the other barista offered.
Callister smiled at Benny’s reaction, a different sort of smile from the one he wore when he first greeted Benny. This one had more than a hint of promise and affection, and also more than a little bit of smug satisfaction.
“Good to know I can always come by to bum drinks off you.”
“As long as you don’t abuse the privilege. So um. To what do I owe this lovely visit?”
The smile faded a little. “Tell you when we’re outside. What’s new with you?”
Benny laughed. “You know you’re the only exciting—well, okay, now that I know Nat’s my sibling, you and Nat are the only exciting things in my life that aren’t Buster.”
Callister made a rude noise. “That means I gotta work harder to be the most exciting thing.”
“Nat’s rough competition there,” Benny admitted, but then the edge of his mouth quirked up in a sly smile. “But you have some advantages over em that you can leverage.”
“Hazelnut cappuccino and a Benny,” Caleb called from the bar.
The door tinkled as the little bell went off, and a pale man in dark sunglasses, and a dark suit with a blood red tie walked in, a sharklike smile on his face. His hair was pretty much perfect, and he walked like he looked good, and knew it, too. He went up to the bar, and nodded at Caleb.
“Hey. Get a mocha frappuccino, easy on the milk?” He looked over his sunglasses at the barista, and around the small coffee shop. He waved one hand at Callister.
“One blended latte it is,” the barista said a little more acidly than was professionally appropriate, then added, “what size?” “Medium, please.” The guy placed a twenty on the bar.
“Do you know that guy?” Benny frowned.
Callister had become quiet. He was still mostly relaxed and calm, but the hand on Benny’s waist had begun to rub against his lower back. “I do. Let’s get our drinks and go outside. Meet out out,” he said to Sin, carefully not mentioning him by name.
Benny blinked, then glanced over at Caleb, who shrugged and made change for Sin, then rushed to make the drink.
Sin left a tip of ten dollars in the tip bucket, ‘cause, what the hell, he can be nice. Sometimes. Rarely. When he has obscene amounts of money. He nods at Callister as the red haired man tells him about ‘out out.’ And waits patiently for his drink.
“Cal,” Benny pushed through the front door, his apron over one shoulder and an iced coffee drink in his hand. “What’s going on? That guy in there looks like a mobster.” He whispered that last sentence, his eyes straying in the direction of the man still waiting on his drink.
Callister slipped his hand all the way around Benny’s waist, holding him close enough that Benny could hear Callister’s rapid heart beat. “Don’t panic. That’s Sin. He must have followed me here. I’m sorry.”
Now it was Benny’s heart that was racing, his face going pale. “Sin?” His voice was barely audible as it shot upward in pitch. “The guy who nearly murdered Nat?”
The door tinkled again as Sin left, his medium BLENDED LATTE in his hand, as he takes a sip. He eyes Callister and Benny. “Well. Nice t’ meet ya, Benny.” The man smiles, and pushes up his sunglasses with his free hand.
“Sin. Nice of you to trail me.” Callister took a sip while casually holding Benny closer to him. Whether this was for Benny’s sake or his, that was up in the wind.
“Woah, easy. When you said you were going out for a few days, thought I’d meet your boyfriend. That’s all. Wasn’t intending to trail you, mate. You’re your own man.” Sin held up both of his hands, palms facing the two of them, apologetically. “Honest.” Of course, Sin is an accomplished liar.
Benny’s face was wan, and he looked like he was about to faint. He probably would have been wobbling on his feet if he weren’t clinging to Callister’s chest. He looked like he may have been trying to say something—a greeting, perhaps—but noise just wasn’t coming out of the boy’s face.
“Hmm. That would have gone down well.” Callister took another sip of his drink. “Benny, this is Sin. Sin, Benny. Sin, Benny’s scared of you because you tried to kill Nat. Nat is Benny’s younger sibling.”
Sin blinks, and looks at Benny over his sunglasses with icy blue eyes. “Wait, what? No way. Damn, small world. Honest, no issue with Nat. The whole thing was a huge cluster fuck. Wasn’t even trying to go after eir.” He takes another sip of his drink, and tilts his head. “Well, okay, yeah, wasn’t going to introduce myself as Sin, dammit. Just wanted t’ get to know the guy who you were on the phone with for weeks while we were working. Damn.”
Benny squeaked something that may have been reassurance about water under the bridge, or perhaps swearing revenge, or maybe just asking to go use the restroom. Who knows. All that came out was a sad little squeak.
“Blake Smith, Benny Schuster. Benny, here, hold my drink, take a sip.” Callister handed the cup to Benny without letting him go.
“Okay, the squeaking? Fuckin’ adorable. I can see already why you like the guy.” Sin takes a sip of his drink, chuckling, but watches Callister carefully.
Benny somehow paled and flushed at the same time, taking Callister’s drink out of his hands and taking a sip of his own.
Callister shoved his hand into his pocket. “I like him for plenty of reasons.” He grinned. “But ain’t gonna kiss and tell.”
“Good man.” He takes a long sip of his drink, then looks at it. “Damn. That is pretty good. Was gonna put the guy through the expresso machine, but…. eh. Anyway, Benny. Just wanted to let you know, ain’t got anything to be worried about from me.” He takes another long sip. Yeah, he’s probably addicted to coffee.
“Thanks,” Benny managed. It was quiet, but he managed it.
“Yeah, thanks for not doing that. Would like Benny to keep his job.” Callister nodded.
“Oh, Benny wouldn’t get blamed for it, sheesh. Like everything, it’d fall on me.” He sighs. “Anyway, just wanted to say good luck, you too. You both deserve a happy ending. Thanks for sticking up for me, Cal, I know you did, even if you didn’t have to. Benny, like I said, I know the whole villain shtick loved ones all that bullshit may come up in your guy’s relationship, but that ain’t me. I might be a full blown murderous monster, but just because Nat stands up to me, won’t be comin’ after you. Same if Cal said fuck you, to me. You ain’t in my way, so no reason to do anything to you. I know there’s some guys out there that would, but that’s not my style.” He pauses, and takes a long swig of his drink, finishing it off. The drink flies off into a nearby trash bin.
“Damn, that really is a good drink. But yeah, I guess that’s mostly what I wanted t’ say. Get across. Not sure how I’d do that if you didn’t know who I was, so guess it worked out better this way. Anyway, ya two chill, have a good night. I guess, hope I don’t see ya around.” With that, Sin shrugged, and headed past Benny and Callister.
“Hey, Sin.” Callister partially turned. “Thanks for putting up with me, too. And helping with Grandmother. I’ll be back in a couple of days, got some business to wrap up, got some things to think about.”
Benny blinked, confusion at the news cutting through his terrified demeanor.
Sin laughs. “You ain’t so bad, Cal. Do whatever you need t’do, just like I’m gonna do.” He waves as he walks away, chuckling.
Callister watches Sin walk out of sight then guides Benny around the corner where there was a bench and sat the blond man down, sitting down beside him. “Take your time.”
Benny put his head down, clutching it, and spent a little while trying to regulate his ragged breaths. “I’m,” he gasped, “I’m okay.” He clearly was not okay.
Callister rubbed his back. “It’s okay. Just breath into three, breathe out to three. Slow count.”
After about a minute of deep breathing and calm reassurance, Benny finally sat up slowly and leaned his head against Callister’s shoulder.
“Thank you. I’m—I’m sorry. I… I decided not to join PHALANX because I always got so scared of danger compared to Buster. I don’t handle that kind of stress all that well, I guess.”
“I don’t blame you. Sin’s okay…to me. Then again, I’m…sturdier than you are. I could probably take him on. You couldn’t. But trust him to keep his word, don’t betray him, and he won’t bite. He’s like a cobra like that.” Callister continued to gently rub Benny’s back, moving his hand up his spine to the back of his neck.
As Cal touched his neck, Benny relaxed more, making a little “hmmn” noise and leaning more against Callister. “Okay. I trust you.”
Callister leaned down and kissed his brow, holding Benny tighter against him. “Okay. So tell me something normal about your day.”
“I.. well. It’s not that normal, but it made me happy. You know that coworker I made friends with, Janet?” Benny took another deep breath and let it out, slowly losing the anxious tension. “I got in contact with her sibling, and they’re gonna get together.”
“Yeah? That’s great. Janet’s an AI, right?” Callister paused, frowning. “Sibling? How does that work?”
“They said that they’re the prototype that the other models were based on. I hope it goes okay, but if this ‘y’ character is anything like Janet, it’ll be great.”
Callister nodded. “So what else has happened?” He was obviously trying to get Benny talking to distract him from his scare.
“Well, I mean, since… since meeting Nat, not much…” Benny frowned, recalling something suddenly. “Cal, what did you… mean about the business that you had to wrap up? Is… it your mom?”
A heavy sigh. “Yeah. It is. I’ll be going to Twin Falls.”
Taking a deep breath, Benny closed his eyes and nodded. “I understand,” he said, his voice oddly calmer than it had yet been. “Please do everything you can to come back to me alive, Cal, okay?”
“Yeah. Gonna try. I…don’t intend to fight. And I don’t get hurt easy…” Callister paused, organising his thoughts. “What I mean is. I don’t know what’ll happen. I think I know what I’ll do…but I don’t know yet.”
“O-okay,” Benny nodded, “thanks. It’s a relief to hear that you’re gonna try not to fight.”
“Yeah.” He paused looking down at Benny. “You’ve seen the cafe video right? You know I manifest armor? I don’t get hurt easily. I’ll be fine.”
“I believe you. I mean, I trust you. But I’m a worrier, Cal, you know that. I get nervous every time Buster gets deployed.”
“Okay.” He kissed Benny on the temple. “Okay. I’ll be careful. I’ll contact you as soon as I’m able, okay?”
“Okay,” Benny murmured quietly. “Thanks love.”
Well, that got a response form Callister. He paused a moment, then tilted Benny’s face up and kissed him deeply and soundly, eliciting a little whimper from the smaller man, who reached up and wrapped both of his arms around Callister’s neck.
They stayed there for a little while, lip-locked and wrapped around each other.