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A Selection Of Ballum Kisses

Chapter Text

Callum scrunches his nose as the sun breaks through the window, waking him from sleep. Squinting, he narrows his eyes as he takes in every ray of light. Callum runs a hand through his flat hair, moving the brown strands out of his eyes. The faint sound of snoring grasps Callum's attention and he turns onto his side, the noise growing louder as he does.

Callum beams down at his sleeping boyfriend. Ben's mouth is slightly open as his chest rises and falls carelessly. How Callum wants to run his hand through Ben's hair and kiss him awake, but Ben looks so peaceful sleeping, he couldn't possibly wake him.

Callum shuffles himself closer to Ben, so close in fact, that he can feel Ben's breath as he continues to let out faint snores. Callum grins, Ben still refuses to accept the fact that he snores but that's because he has no idea how much Callum loves that about him. It's the simple things that Callum loves most of all.

Ben's mouth closes, his lips pressing together loosely. Callum reaches his hand forward and runs his fingers through Ben's hair.

Ben stirs in his sleep and mumbles something that Callum can't quite make out. Ben smiles and then presses his head deeper into Callum's touch.

"Can't keep your hands off me, can you?" Ben chuckles before managing a yawn.

Callum smiles. "Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you." He continues to run his fingers through Ben's hair.

Ben's eyes are still closed as he stretches his arms out and wraps them around Callum's waist, pulling himself closer to his boyfriend. Callum snakes his free hand around Ben's back, pulling Ben in close to his chest. Callum inches his head down and kisses Ben on the top of his head. "Good morning." He says as he takes in the scent of Ben's hair.

Callum can hear the smile in Ben's voice when he says, "Morning, loverboy."

Ben nuzzles his head closer to Callum's chest and he plants a quick kiss above Callum's heart.

Callum drops his hand from his Ben's hair and brushes his fingers down his spine. Ben shivers under Callum's touch. Callum runs his fingers down Ben's spine and then back up again before he finally rests it on Ben's lower back. Ben presses several more kisses to Callum's chest and he earns a small groan from Callum when lips brush across his nipple.

Ben grins at how responsive Callum is to his touch and then reaches his hand up towards Callum's neck.

Callum leans his head in towards Ben and plants a soft kiss on his lips. The kiss is short but sweet and it leaves Callum's heart racing. Callum pulls back to catch his breath but Ben raises his hand up and pulls Callum's face back down. Callum's mouth opens slightly and hot breath pours out. Ben's breathing hitches as Callum parts his lips and leans closer to him. Their noses brush against each other and in the same second their lips brush over each other. Callum closes the gap and their lips mould together, Callum truly believes that their mouths were made to fit each other.

A few seconds pass and Callum grunts when Ben's rocks his body into Callum's. Callum takes the opportunity to roll over on top of Ben, deepening the kiss. He removes Ben’s hands from around his waist and pins them up by the headboard.

“I have taught-” Ben began as he pulls back, but he's interrupted as Callum crashes his lips back to his. Ben chuckles and then says in between breaths, “-you well.”

Callum breaks the kiss and Ben chases his lips but then leans back, frowning at the absence of Callum's lips.

Callum licks his lip and studies Ben's face. Ben leans forward and tries to reconnect their lips. But Callum has other plans. He jumps off of Ben and heads straight for the bathroom.

Ben's classic smirk stretches across his face as he follows Callum.

“I thought toilet hookups weren't really your thing?” Callum chuckles, closing the door in Ben's face.

“Yeah, well I'm willing to make an exception for you." Ben says playfully.

"Is that right?" Callum teases.

Ben huffs, "Are you're telling me you don't want me to join you in there, Callum?” Desperation evident in his voice.

"I dunno." Callum says, feigning seriousness. "You don't sound that into it." Callum tries to muffle the giggle that rises from his chest.

"Callum, if you want me to beg I can do it much better on the other side of this door." Ben says, his voice filled with lust.

“It's open." Callum laughs.

Ben slips inside the bathroom and closes the door behind him. "Now, where were-” Ben nearly chokes when he sees Callum. He is standing there with a towel around his waist, his hand absentmindedly rubbing the back of his head.

Callum raises his brows as Ben steps forward with dark eyes. "What?" Callum says, a corner of his mouth twists up into a smirk.

"Well, aren't you just a sight for sore eyes." Ben grins as he wraps his arms around Callum's waist. Callum pulls Ben forward and presses their lips together once more. Ben hooks his fingers into the towel and tugs, letting it fall to the floor.

Callum breaks the kiss briefly, looking down as the towel drops to the floor.

"You don't need that." Ben says.

Callum raises his hand to Ben's neck and pulls him forward, his other hand cups Ben's cheek. He slips his tongue into Ben's mouth and Ben grunts, Callum smiles into the kiss at the familiar sound of Ben. He longs for their every morning together to be just like this.

Chapter Text

Ben stirs as the faint sound of buzzing snatches him from sleep. He reaches for his phone and the buzzing stops. Ben groans as he notices the time, he wipes his forehead as he comes to the realisation that he has overslept. Walford would be getting ready to wake up soon, meaning Ben had to leave Callum's flat as soon as possible. Whitney had gone away on a spa treatment with Bianca and she was due back this morning sometime.

Ben rolls over and faces a sleeping Callum. He looks at peace in his sleep, he's not weighed down by all the lies he has to spin to everyone when he's awake.

Ben just lies there for a moment, studying Callum as his eyelids flutter, his chest rising and falling calmly. Ben wants nothing more than to put his arm around Callum's waist and pull himself closer to the sleeping man. Ben would rest his head on Callum's chest and drift off back to sleep in the comfort of his lover. But Ben can't do that. Because he knows, full well, that Callum is not his, not really.

Callum mumbles something in his sleep and rolls over, leaving Ben staring at his back. Usually, Callum would frantically wake Ben up and kick him out of the flat before Whitney came home but today he was sloppy. His body had somehow forgotten to the lie he tells all day and he continues to sleep, forgetting Ben is the one in his bed, not Whitney.

Ben pulls himself up so that he's sitting up in the bed. A small snore escapes Callum and Ben knows he's in a deep sleep. Callum will probably still be sleeping when Whitney noisily stumbles back into the flat, and he will still be asleep when she flops herself down in the place that Ben would have been.

Ben knows Callum won't be waking up anytime soon so he reaches his hand out and gently brushes his fingers along Callum's back. He doesn't quite know when they'll be able to do this again now that Whitney's coming back so he wants to savour any last touch of Callum that he can steal.

Ben slowly shifts his body so that he's hovering over Callum. He leans down and gently rests his nose on Callum's shoulder, taking in his scent, hoping Callum's smell will linger through his nose until they next meet. Ben breathes in and then presses his lips to Callum's shoulder softly. His skin is cool to the touch and Ben can taste the salt from Callum's sweat on his lips. Ben moves his head down towards Callum's back and plants another kiss between his shoulder blades. Ben is trying extra carefully to be discreet with his kisses, trying to not get Callum's body to respond to his touch. Finally, Ben places a soft peck to Callum's neck and then shifts himself away from Callum.

He dangles his legs off the side of the bed and then stands up. Ben fixes his side of the duvet before picking up his boxers and jeans from Callum's floor and pulling them on. Ben grabs his t-shirt and throws it over his head. Grabbing his phone and pushing it into his jean pocket, Ben crosses the room. He collects his shoes from the doorway and steals one last glance at a sleeping Callum before closing the bedroom door.

When Callum wakes, he'll have a different body laying next to him in bed. Ben wonders if Callum will realise it's not him. More importantly, if Callum will be even just a tiny bit disappointed that it's not Ben.

Chapter Text

With Tina away with Shirley in Naples, Kathy needed cover for the Albert. Ben was fully recovered from his injuries and found himself being the only option.

Ben leans on the bar, his hands dawdling with a coaster. Usually, he would be scrolling through his Grindr app looking for a hook-up to head to after the shift. But he had deleted the app after Callum had visited him in hospital and agreed to go on a date with him. Despite Callum failing to turn up for their date last night, Ben had not reinstalled it. Just because Callum had stood him up, Ben wasn't about to go running back to an app for a booty call, he had just a little more respect for himself than to do that.

The only problem now though, is that he is immensely bored. He doesn't find any of the guys that have attempted to flirt with him remotely attractive. Its not that they weren't his type, it's just that he didn't want them, he wanted Callum.

Ben hasn't spoken to Callum since he text him to meet him at Walford East. When Callum didn't show, Ben was quite frankly too embarrassed to text him and ask why he didn't cancel instead of having him wait around for him like an idiot.

"Any chance of a beer?" A voice draws Ben from his thoughts.

He glances in the direction of the voice. It belongs to a tall, blonde man. Ben smiles. "Course, mate."

Ben turns around and reaches for a bottle of beer. He turns back to face the man and passes it to him.

"Cheers." The man says as he takes a sip from his beer. He eyes Ben carefully, "Ain't seen you in here before."

"Yeah, usually I'm over there." Ben nods to a corner booth where a pair of blokes are whispering in each other's ears and planting teasing kisses on each other's necks. The man follows Ben's gaze and nods, turning back to him. "But I'm covering a couple of shifts for my mum." Ben says.

The man locks eyes with Ben, "Charlie." He says and extends his hand towards Ben.

Ben studies Charlie's face and then smiles tentatively. "Ben." He says as he shakes Charlie's hand.

For the next hour, Charlie hovers around the bar. Ben has noticed the man's obvious attempts at flirting and several times he'd flirted back, just to be courteous. Charlie's had several beers and he's now slouched forward on the bar. When Ben struts past him with empty glasses he signals him over. Ben raises his brows and leans in towards the man.

Charlie moves his head towards Ben's ear, "You watch my drink now, don't let anyone go spiking me." He whispers and then pulls back. He winks at Ben and heads towards the toilet. Ben was not new to this game. He knew when someone wanted a quick snog or something else inside the bar toilets, he had even done it himself a couple of times. But things were different now. Toilet hookups were not Ben's thing anymore.

Ben laughs and shakes his head after the man. Its then that he spots a tall figure across the room burning holes into the side of his face.

"Callum?" Ben says, hoping Callum would hear him over the noise.

To his surprise, Callum steps forward and heads towards Ben at the bar. "Can I get you something?" Ben says when Callum gets close enough for him to talk at a normal volume. Ben isn't quite sure whether he should call Callum out on ditching him last night or to just pretend it never happened.

"I, uh, I've been trying to get hold of you all day." Callum says softly.

"Yeah, well, I guess you found me then, didn't you." Ben says.

Callum looks taken aback by Ben's abruptness, but then his face changes to something else. To hurt. "Ben, I-"

Ben scoffs, cutting Callum off.

Callum's face changes then to something else entirely. "This is about last night, aint it?" Callum says. "Look, Ben-"

"Oh, so you were aware about our plans for last night, then?" Ben snaps. "Would have been nice to let me know you weren't coming, would have saved me waiting round for you for god only knows how long."

"I'm sorr-"

Ben rolls his eyes, "Save it. I don't wanna know." Ben turns his back on Callum.

It's Callum who scoffs this time. "Is that why you're in here then, flirting with any guy that flashes you a smile?" Callum says.

Ben raises his brows and turns to face Callum. "What are you-"

"I saw you." Callum laughs. "I saw the way you were with-" Callum points towards the direction Charlie went in. "Whatever his name his. Laughing and whispering and flirting." His voice is filled with anger, wait, no its jealousy. "Do you even know his name?"

"You don't know what you're talking about." Ben wavers Callum's accusations off.

"I know what I saw, Ben." Callum spits.

Ben locks eyes with Callum and stares him down. "Why do you care? Eh?" Ben asks. "You couldn't even be bothered to turn up for our date. So why do you care who I'm chatting up in bar?"

Callum's screws his face up presses his lips into a firm line. Then without another word he turns and heads towards the door.

Ben turns to the barmaid working the opposite side of the bar, "Can you cover me for 5?"

The barmaid nods and Ben rushes towards the door after Callum. This was far from over.

Callum is half way up the street by the time Ben spots him. Ben quickens his steps as he chases after him

"That's it, Callum." Ben shouts. "Run away like you always do."

Callum stops in his tracks and turns back towards Ben. He starts edging back towards Ben but Ben doesn't back off, he continues to head towards Callum.

"What?" Ben shouts when he catches up to Callum. "Don't like the tru-"

Callum grabs Ben by his shirt and pushes him into the alley they're stood in front of. Callum braces Ben up against the wall and breathes heavily.

"You gonna hit me, eh?" Ben says. "Wouldn't be the first time would it?"

Callum's eyes darken and his breathing quickens. He examines Ben's face and then looks from his eyes to his lips and back again. Ben notices something change in Callum's face. It's no longer filled with anger. No, instead it's filled with lust. Ben follows Callum's eyes as he studies his lips.

Everything stops for a moment.

They stare at each other in an odd way, as if they were having a silent argument. Then Callum crashes his lips against Ben's, nearly knocking the wind from his lungs. Ben has no time to react before Callum presses his tongue to the seam of Ben's lips and, at Ben's grant of access, he delves inside his mouth. It is a very sloppy kiss with the strong scent of beer being exchanged in their breaths. Ben reaches his arms up and tangles them around Callum's neck. Callum lets go of Ben's shirt, his hands drift to his hip. It settles there and pulls Ben closer. Ben groans into the kiss. His breathing quickens as Callum continues with his lustful attack on Ben's mouth.

Ben pulls back, gasping for air but Callum doesn't stop. He moves his mouth to Ben's neck and begins nuzzling his neck with delicate kisses. "Mine." Callum whispers. Then he bites down on a Ben's neck, earning a moan from Ben. Callum runs his tongue over the patch of skin that was sure to be bruised.

"Cal-" Ben's voice is faint. "Callum." He says more firmly. He raises his hands and cups Callum's face, stopping him from sucking on the tender spot on his neck. Ben brings Callum's head towards his own and they stay like that for a moment, catching their breathes.

"Mine." Callum blurts out, his voice filled with lust.

Ben's eyes widen at the boy in front of him. Callum's innocence seemingly gone. Ben stares at Callum in awe. Their glances battle each other for a moment before Callum interrupts the silence.

"Mine." He repeats. Then he smashes his lips back against Ben's. It's hot, fiery, passionate and demanding. Ben's mind short circuits as he matches Callum's mouth with his.

This is not what Ben thought would happen when followed Callum out of the bar but he certainly wasn't going to object any longer.

Chapter Text

It's been a few months since the events of Callum's wedding and the gossip has died down. Ben and Callum don't get any stares anymore as they walk hand in hand through the market. There are no prying eyes when they sit just a bit too close together in one of the booths at the Vic. Callum had gotten more comfortable with Ben in public too. He would happily hold Ben's hand during their walk through the market so that neither of them gets swept into the hurried crowd.

Ben never rushed Callum with showing their affection in public. Factually speaking, it was Callum who interlocked their fingers one day as they walked into the Vic and it was Callum who had given Ben a quick goodbye peck on the cheek one afternoon as he headed to work. It was Callum who now wanted to show everyone that he was not ashamed of who he was, not anymore.

Callum and Ben zig-zag their way through the market, swirving round the dozens of people crowding round each stall. When they finally reach the end of the river of people Ben lets out a sigh of relief.

"Blimey," He huffs. "Thought we were never getting out of there." Ben laughs.

Callum would have laughed too if he were actually paying attention to the words that were coming out of Ben's mouth, rather than just Ben's mouth. Callum doesn't even realise he's staring until Ben breaks him out of his haze.

"Cal?" He asks. "You alright?"

Callum blinks a few times and then smiles, "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine."

"You look a bit out of it." Ben furrows his brow. A small bead of sweat forms at the top of Callum's forehead and Ben's face twists with worry. He reaches his hand up and presses the back of his hand to Callum's head. "Why's your temperature so high? Do you feel sick or anything?" Ben says as he pats along Callum's forehead with his hand.

"I told you, I'm fine." Callum swallows a growing lump in his throat. "Just being in that crowd, it's like a sauner. It don't help that I'm in a full suit either." Callum chuckles as he signals to his signature suit that he's wearing.

Ben gives Callum a lopsided grin and then slowly retreats his hand. Callum reaches for Ben's hand and wraps his fingers around Ben's wrist. His heartbeat quickens under Callum's touch.

Confusion crossed Ben's face as he watched Callum.

"You know," Callum begins. "We ain't kissed in public." He says. "Not properly, anyway."

Ben quirks his brow, "You seem to be forgetting our little rendezvous in the park." He jokes.

Callum presses his lips into a firm line, his face turning serious. "No, that's different." He shakes his head, "That was before." He says. "I mean as we are now."

Ben doesn't say anything.

"You've holded my hand in public, we've hugged public and I've even kissed you on the cheek in public." Callum states.

Ben raises his brows, "I remember." He smirks. "I was there, after all."

Callum doesn't give in to Ben's teasing nature. He continues, "But you ain't kissed me in public."

Ben's face softens slightly, "I didn't know you wanted me too." Ben admits, "I didn't want to rush you, Callum." Callum's eyes widen slightly and Ben glances down. "I didn't want to scare you away, alright? I thought if I moved too fast for you then you'd take off."

"Is that it?" Callum asks.

"What do you mean is that it?" Ben's voice is full of confusion as he looks back up Callum.

"That's the only reason you ain't kissed me?" He asks. "Because you didn't want to rush me?"

Ben scoffs, "Believe me, Callum. I want nothing more than to show everyone in this Square that you're mine." He smirks.

Callum steps closer to Ben, studying his face as he does so. Callum still hasn't let go of Ben's wrist and he feels Ben's heart quicken again under his fingertips. Callum brings Ben's hand up to his face, placing Ben's palm to his cheek. He holds it in place for a moment and then drops it. Ben does not retract his hand from Callum's face. Instead, he brushes his thumb under Callum's eye and Callum tilts his head deeper into Ben's touch.

"Do it, then." Callum whispers.

Ben isn't the kind of guys that needs to be told twice.

He steps closer to Callum, and Callum places his hands on Ben's hips, pulling him forward with a quick swaying motion. Callum leans down, closing the gap between them. He kisses Ben hungrily, groaning when Ben returns the kiss eagerly. Ben drops his hand from Callum's face and slides it down Callum's back to squeeze his arse. Callum jolts forward further into the kiss and he can feel Ben's smirk underneath him. A wave of warmth fills him up, spilling out from his heart and the warmth of Ben's lips on his and rushing to every corner of his body: the cracks in between his toes, the crooks of his elbows, the tips of his ears. This kind of passion just cannot be faked, not even with a girl like Whitney.

Callum pulls back, breathing heavily, he looks around to see a few locals glancing their way, they all have varying degrees of amusement painted across their faces. Callum has a proud smile dancing on his lips. He steps away from Ben, straightens his tie and runs one hand through his hair to tidy it up.

Ben watches Callum carefully, the last time he touched his arse in public, well, let's just say it didn't end very well. But that was before Callum was his boyfriend.

Callum offers his hand out to Ben and Ben takes it. They interlock their fingers and start walking again. Callum doesn't even try to hide the grin on his face.

Ben studies Callum, demanding to know what he finds so humorous. "What's got you going all Cheshire Cat on me, eh?” Ben asks.

Callum shrugs, his smile doesn't falter, “Just how weird it is that all of this somehow became normal.” He says gesturing to their intertwined hands.

"It was never not normal, Callum." Ben says.

Callum glances down at him quickly, "No. No, I know that. Its just-" He pauses for a moment, searching for the right words. "I'm glad I don't have to pretend anymore or hide who I am anymore."

Ben side-eyes Callum and then a corner of his mouth twists up into a smirk.

"What?" Callum nudges Ben's shoulder with his own.

"Callum Highway no longer ashamed." Ben says. "Who woulda thought that, eh?"

Callum nudges Ben's shoulder again, "Idiot." He mutters.

Ben squeezes Callum's hand, "I'm proud of you."

Callum beams down at Ben and his whole face lights up.

In this moment, Callum experiences true happiness in the purest of forms.

Chapter Text

Callum is sat in the Vic, drowning his sorrows. He's drunk, of course, but that's only to be expected after Whitney has just cut off all ties with him. Whilst on the honeymoon she met someone else, Lenny or Lewis or Leo, Callum forgets his name. But she wants nothing more to do with Callum. It's not that he's jealous, he's just hurt that he's lost her as a friend.

Callum finishes the bottle of beer and practically throws it onto the table in front of him. There's one name that keeps repeating over and over in his head. The one person who made him lose everything he'd been working so hard for.

Glancing around the room, Callum stand from his chair. He stumbles towards the door. Resting his hand on the rough paintwork that coats the door, Callum pushes and the hinges squeal. Shards of brown paint crumble to the floor. The half a dozen customers glanced up as the draft from outside rushes into the room. The door swings shut behind Callum as he steps out into the cold breeze.

Callum staggers across the dark street, one hand on the nearest wall. He misjudges the curb slightly and almost trips over his own feet. Luckily for Callum, the cold air bites at his skin, sobering him up just enough so that he reaches Ben's house safely.

His stomach begins to heave in a sickly way as he stares at Ben's front door. Callum knew he was home alone, Phil and the rest of the Mitchell's were over at the Vic celebrating something that Callum can't quite remember, come to think of it.

Callum ignores the sickly feeling in his stomach and instead replaces it with anger. He stumbles towards the front door and his fists bang frantically for Ben to open up.

The front door creaks open and Ben is stood there in grey jogging bottoms and a white t-shirt. Callum blinks a few times, taking in the sight and then it all becomes clear. There he is. Ben Mitchell, the cause of all his problems.

"Callum?" Ben says, surprised. "Everything alright?"

Callum doesn't answer. He barges past Ben into the house and exhales sharply. Ben closes the front door and turns to face Callum.

"If I knew you were coming over I would have dressed for the occasion." Ben teases.

Callum scowled at Ben, his face red with rage. "What the hell is wrong with you?" Callum shouts. "Why can't you stop with all the jokes and listen to someone for five seconds?" He yells.

Ben's face is full of confusion as he tries to comprehend what Callum's saying.

"You laugh and you flirt and you scheme and you hurt people. You don't care about anyone else but yourself." Callum voice doesn't falter. "You don't have to deal with any of the consequences for what you do because you're Ben Mitchell."

"What are yo-" Ben's interrupts.

Callum cuts him off with a scoff, "Whit wants nothing to do with me because of you." Callum says. "I lost everything because of you."

Ben's face hardens as he presses his lips into a firm line, "Of course this is about Whit." He laughs in disbelief and shakes his head. "You know what, Callum? I am so tired of hearing about you and Whit." Ben steps an inch closer to Callum. "You go on and on about how you've lost everything but everything you had was a lie. It was fake. It was pretend." Ben snaps.

"Shut up!" Callum says.

"You've got no one to blame but yourself, Callum." Ben spits. "You're the one who lied to everyone. You lied to yourself." He runs his eyes over Callum's body, "All I did was see who you really are."

Callum's nostrils flare as he glares at Ben. Then he can't stop himself. He charges at Ben and grabs him by his shirt, holding him up against the wall.

Ben laughs, "Old habits certainly die hard."

"Shut up!" Callum repeats. "I can finally see why no one likes you." He spits.

Ben chuckles angrily. "And why's that, eh, Callum?" He asks. "Is it because I'm a flirt or a joker or a scheming bully?" Ben's voice is full of anger. "Because I am all of those things, and I ain't ashamed. But you-" He pauses momentarily and scans his eyes down Callum's body in disgust. "Your a liar and a coward who can't face the fact that he's gay. Nobody else has a problem with it except you." Ben stares Callum down.

"Just... shut up!" Callum says again, his voice breaking slightly.

Ben pulls his head forward, so close in fact that Callum can feel his hit breath tingle against his skin. "Make me." Ben says, firmly.

Callum lets out several deep breaths. He stares at Ben in a peculiar way. He doesn't understand the thoughts racing through his head. All he knows is he wants Ben to shut up.

Glancing from Ben's eyes to his lips, Callum smashes his mouth against Ben's. Ben can taste a trace of beer on Callum's breath and he reaches his hands out and pushes Callum away.

Callum glares at Ben, his eyes dark. Ben tries to read Callum's expression but he's interrupted by Callum hungrily crashing his lips back against his.

For a split second, Ben kisses Callum back but then he remembers Callum's awful words and he pushes him off of him again.

"I can't-" Ben mutters.

Callum exhales heavily. "Just... please." He says weakly, "Please."

And with that he presses forward once again and kisses Ben. Finally giving in to temptation, Ben drops his hands to Callum's hips and brings him closer. Callum loosens his grip on Ben's t-shirt and his hand drifts up towards Ben's cheek, cupping it as he breaks the kiss.

"I'm sor-" He tries to say but he's cuts off by Ben.

"Shut up." Ben says and then he presses his lips back to Callum's.

The two indulge in a long overdue kiss as the anger they felt slips away.

Chapter Text

Callum looks at his phone for the sixth time in four minutes. In his jeans and shirt he blends into the scenery well, but in his mind, Callum feels as if he is dressed in neon and the passers by somehow know that his date hasn't arrived yet. To Callum, he felt like all eyes were on him as he scans the room for Ben's short form, dark hair and trade-mark leather jacket. Callum checks his phone again, it was almost eight, the time they had agreed to go for a drink.

A hand places itself on Callum's shoulder from behind and he does a double-take, trying to make out who it is.

"Alright?" Ben says. He's not wearing his leather jacket, Callum notes. Instead, he's wearing a black t-shirt paired with black jeans. Suddenly, Callum feels a little over-dressed.

Ben slides into the seat across from Callum and smiles. "What do you fancy?" He asks and then holds a hand up. "Wait, I already know that." He jokes. "Let me rephrase, what do you fancy to drink?"

Callum rolls his eyes and laughs, hoping to hide how nervous he is. Ben signals to the waiter and orders two bottles of beer. Callum watches with wide eyes, Ben seems to be so confident at all of this, but then Callum couldn't imagine Ben being any other way.

They talk for a little while, well, Ben mostly does the talking. Callum chimes in with a nod here and there and he laughs at Ben's innuendos and punchlines and blushes when Ben compliments him. Callum was growing more confident as the minutes passed and he wanted to know more about Ben, about his past, about who he is.

Ben smirks when he catches Callum glancing down in an attempt to hide his crimson cheeks. "Flattery is a great look on you." Ben teases as he takes a sip from his bottle.

"So, uh, Jay tells me you've done this a few times." Callum stumbles over his words.

"Done what?" Ben leans back in his chair.

Callum eyes are focused on his beer bottle as he picks at the label. "You know." He says, "The, um, the whole boyfriend thing."

Ben chuckles. "Not really. I've only ever had one proper boyfriend to be honest with you." He admits. "The rest, well, they weren't exactly boyfriends." He scratches the back of his neck.

Callum nods. He wants to know more but he doesn't want to push Ben. He remembers how he was at Callum's flat warming, how broken he seemed when it came to Paul. All that heartache that had been bubbling away for God knows how long.

"You remind me of him, you know." Ben says softly.

Callum meets Ben's gaze, his brows knit together, uncertain of what Ben means.

"Paul." Ben's voice is faint. Weak even. "You remind me of Paul in some ways."

Callum's eyes widen and he tries to not make a big deal out of it. He knows how Ben feels when it comes to Paul. In the past, Ben's been known to lash out whenever Callum had bought him up.

Ben smiles as he glances down at his hands resting on the table. "He was kind and sincere and caring." Ben states. "Always tried to get me to do the right thing. To be better." He smiles as old memories creep their way in. "Kinda like you."

Callum's face softens. He had never seen Ben so vulnerable before. Not when he was sober, anyway. "He sounds great." Callum says softly and Ben's mouth twists up at the corners.

"He was." Ben agrees. "He was the best person I ever knew." He runs his hand under his nose and inhales deeply. "But I ruined him." He says. "Just like I ruin everything good." Ben starts picking at his own label on his beer bottle. "He would still be here today if it wasn't for me. But like I said, I ruin everything."

Callum's staring at Ben. He can't seem to take his eyes off of him. He looks so lost in his thoughts and so exhausted. There's a deep crease at the centre of his forehead where Ben's brows are snapped together. His face is hard and his jaw is clenched. Callum has the sudden urge to defend Ben from himself, so he does.

"Come on." Callum's voice draws Ben's attention to him. "That's not true. Just look at Lexi. You haven't rui-"

"I barely raised her." He says firmly. "She didn't even know I was her dad til a couple years ago." Ben scoffs at himself. "Even back then, I only wanted them so I could come back here and rip my dad off."

Callum shakes his head. "That was before, though. Things are different now, aint they?" Callum says. He fights the urge to stretch his hand across the table and hold Ben's.

Ben blinks a few times and then meets Callum's gaze. Ben presses his lips into a firm line and then straightens himself up in his chair. "I'm sorry." Ben says glancing round the room. "I should go."

The colour drains from Callum's as face as soon as the words leave Ben's mouth. "What?" He asks, stunned.

"I'm a mess, Callum." Ben sounds defeated. "You deserve better."

On that last note, Ben rises from his chair and hurries out of the Albert. He leaves a bewildered Callum staring after him.

It takes Callum several seconds to process what just happened. Everything was going so well until he opened his mouth and started asking questions. Callum runs his hand through his hair and decides that Ben is not getting off that easy, not after everything they have been through.

Callum practically leaps out of his chair and follows in pursuit of Ben.

When Callum gets outside of the Albert, Ben is nowhere to be seen. So he starts heading for the Square. There's only a number of places one person can go this late. Callum reaches the centre of the Square and then he spots a figure sitting on a bench.

"Ben?" Callum calls out to the figure.

Ben's voice is harsh when he says, "You need to leave, Callum."

"I ain't going anywhere." Callum says.

Ben wipes the space underneath his eyes as Callum sits down next to him. "If you aint gonna go, then I will." Ben goes to stand up from the bench and Callum stretches an arm out, stopping him.

"Why you doing this, Ben?" Callum says. "I thought we was getting somewhere. I thought you understood me." Hurt creeps into Callum's voice.

Ben sniffs. "Yeah, well, this is what I do." He says. "I let people down. I mess them up." He says sharply. "Like I said, you're better off without me."

"I can't believe this." Callum scoffs. "After everything, this is what you go and do?" He shakes his head. "I came out for you, Ben."

Ben laughs bitterly, "No, Callum. You didn't." He sounds tired, now. "You came out for you."

Callum stares at Ben in awe. He watches as Ben stands from the bench, he doesn’t try and stop him this time. Instead, he stands up with him.

Ben seemed to give Callum a silent apology as they stared into each others eyes. Ben finally looks away, tears threatening to blur his vision, then a hand encircles his. It was soft and warm, reassuring almost, as if the owner of that hand sensed his loneliness.

"Ben, please." Callum whispers, his expression serious. "Don't walk away."

Ben squeezes Callum's hand and steps forward. He reaches his free hand up to run his thumb over Callum's cheek. "I'm sorry." He says, barely audible.

Then Ben tilts his head to the side and leans forward. His lips brush over Callum's cheek and Ben plants a small, lingering kiss. It's soft and desperate and undoubtedly a goodbye. It's over before Callum can even process what happened.

Stepping backwards, Ben drops his hand from Callum's and walks away. Leaving Callum behind in the dead of night.