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Simon sighed as he stared down at all the paperwork on his desk. He knew Agatha had been talking about going out to dinner tonight to celebrate their anniversary, but at this rate he was never going to get out of here on time. He hadn't even started looking over the new reforms and decrees the Coven had emailed him this morning, asking for his input- and he still had to email back Mage's Quarterly whom he had promised an interview for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Final Battle, and the Mage's death.

 

He hears his phone beeping at him from the desk, and he quickly locks it in one of the drawers before he could see who was trying to reach him. He wouldn’t be any use to anyone right now anyway.

 

He tries to spend the afternoon concentrating, but the decrees were dull and meaningless to him. For all his pomp and circumstance as the Mage's heir, the Chosen One, Simon had never really cared for his responsibilities beyond saving the World of Mages. And now, without the Humdrum- there wasn't much for him to do except this paperwork- negotiate reforms, advocate for Magickal equality, all those things he had never particularly cared for.

 

If anyone should be doing this stuff, it probably should have been Baz.

 

Baz.

 

Simon stops that train of thought before it goes anywhere. It had been almost a decade, sure, but Baz has found a permanent place as #1 item on Simon's do not think list, and he plans on keeping it that way.

 

-----

 

Simon forgot about dinner. He tried to stop on the way home for flowers, but it was late and everything was closed. He would have tried to magick up something, but Aggie was obsessed with not wasting magic. Besides, he was so tired he’s not sure he could concentrate enough to conjure up something nice anyway.

 

She was already in bed when he got home, idly painting her nails while watching tv.

 

"Aggie! I'm so sorry, I was working late and I just forgot-"

 

"It's okay Simon. I know things have been busy at work lately."

 

"I'll make it up to you, let's go away for the weekend-"

 

"This weekend is my dressage competition- remember?"

 

"Oh right," Simon kicked himself mentally for forgetting another important event.

 

When he slides into bed next to Agatha after a quick dinner of the leftovers he found in the fridge he resolves to be better. He’ll go to Aggie’s dressage competition this weekend. He’ll remember to bring flowers. He falls asleep thinking of a list of ways he can do better.

-----

  

Simon feels himself wake up slowly, for once not jolted awake by his alarm. His bed feels especially comforting and soft this morning, making the idea of getting up and going to work to finish reading through the decrees almost unbearable. He decides to try and enjoy what must be the last few minutes he has before his alarm goes off, and reaches out towards his phone to check the time.

 

"Crowley!"

 

His eyes fly open immediately as his hand comes into contact with something cool and supple that is definitely not the hard wood of his side table. He sits up immediately, eyes struggling to adjust to the watery morning light.

 

Simon feels his world tilt sideways as his brain struggles to catch up with what his eyes are seeing.

 

The very first thing he notices is that he isn't in his house. The stark white of the walls surrounding him is foreign and strange, the soft filtered light through the curtains highlighting all the ways in which the room is unfamiliar to him.

 

In fact, the only thing in the entire room he recognizes- is the face of his glaring bed companion. Simon can’t help but hold his breath. Not even a decade had been enough time to forget the familiar scowl of his roommate's face. The expression, the exasperation- everything about him is so familiar to Simon that he feels it like a punch to the gut.

 

Baz.

 

"You tosser, I was hoping to sleep in this morning. Merlin knows I deserve it every now and then," Baz grumbles, turning to face him and tugging at the duvet.

 

"Baz-!," He physically recoils as Baz scoots closer to his side of the bed, and falls to the floor in a snarl of blankets as he tries to increase the space between them. He hears a snort from above him on the bed while he struggles to free himself. He winces when Baz sticks his head over the side of the bed.

 

"Need a hand, Snow?" He wiggles his eyebrows in a much more playful expression than Simon can ever recall Baz having made.

 

"No," Simon hisses, looking around the room wildly. Where had he put his wand?

 

"Simon?" Baz isn't laughing now, the expression on his face entirely unfamiliar and unnerving. "Simon, what's wrong?" Simon flinches away from the proffered hand, still searching for his wand.

 

"Baz, just- get away, stay back," Simon feels himself start to panic as Baz starts getting up off the bed, reaching towards him.

 

"Simon, relax. Stop panicking, it's alright." It's the same voice, the exact same that's woken him up in the dead of night for almost a decade, soft and cajoling as if to soothe a spooked animal. It's the same voice Simon remembers hearing over everything, over the rasp of his sword through muscle and against bone-

 

Simon heaves great breaths, scrambling backwards. He's dizzy, so dizzy. The room is too hot, he doesn't know what's happening- all he knows is that he needs to get away from Baz before he- before he-

 

The floor comes up to meet Simon as he falls, falls, falls. And then- nothing.

-----

 

He opens his eyes and immediately closes them against the stark white of the walls. He'd hoped to wake up in his little cottage in the country, maybe on the sofa in his office, or across the mattress from Aggie, but he's still here. Baz is sitting on a chaise longue across the room, reading something on his phone and sipping from an enormous mug.

 

"I know you're awake Snow, I can sense your pulse quickening."

 

Damn, he forgot all about those vampire senses.

 

"Are you feeling alright? What was that all about?"

 

Simon screws his eyes shut tighter, and pulls in on himself. He might actually be going mad. He feels- off kilter, and he can't put his finger on it, but he knows something’s wrong. If he had a moment to just take a minute and try to-

 

"So? Not feeling well today? I can call the restaurant and tell them you’re not coming in because you're ill. Some of us need to be at work though so you'll need to make this crisis quick and make a decision one way or another."

 

"Fuck off." Simon mutters, rubbing his temples. He needs time. To sort out- whatever mental breakdown he's currently experiencing.

 

"If you want to wallow in self pity all by yourself, I won't stop you. God forbid I try to be a considerate partner to your sorry arse."

 

"Fuck OFF," He tries again.

 

Simon waits until he hears the door slam shut as Baz leaves. Good- now he has space to think.

 

The restaurant. Why would a restaurant care about where he is? He can't remember the last time he went somewhere that wasn't home or his office. He looks around the room and considers. This home is different- so doesn’t that mean his office is different too? So where does that leave him? He's pretty sure he would have noticed if he'd been dissociating and sneaking off to sleep with Baz. So that must mean… this isn't real. It can't be- even if the sharply rising panic Simon is currently feeling seems very real. But it can't be, because Simon already has a life.

 

So where does that leave him? Some kind of parallel universe maybe? Where he hangs out at, and possibly works for, a restaurant? Which, okay- if he had to choose another job for himself something related to food seems appropriate, so that's not out of the realm of possibility.

 

Does that mean that there's an alternate Simon who usually lives here? If so, he seems to have decent enough taste to have chosen a completely appropriate alternate job, so that’s excellent.

 

Doesn't make up for his fucked up taste in men though.

 

Baz- why on earth would he be sleeping with Baz? He opens his eyes and looks around the room. He hates it- the furniture is expensive and modern looking, everything matches and nothing looks comfortable- except the bed, thank Crowley. This is obviously Baz's place, only that total ponce would think décor like this looked good.

 

Simon gets up and pads to the washroom and sticks his head in.

 

There's Baz's usual tubes and bottles on the counter- stuff he recognizes from their shared washroom back at school. There's two toothbrushes in the holder by the sink, two different bottles of aftershave in the medicine cabinet, and when he peeks his head into the shower, two razors.

 

So, not just sleeping together- something like domestic bliss.

 

Simon frowns. He's still feeling- nauseous? Is that what this feeling is? He considers finding his wand and trying to summon one of the remedies Agatha is always pushing on him when he's sick, but the moment he thinks this he realizes what he's missing.

 

The familiar pulse of his magic under his skin. It's gone.

 

He spends the next few hours tearing the house apart. Part of him feels bad, since some sort of parallel Simon must obviously live here, but a larger part of him is gleeful at the thought of Baz coming home and having to clean up his mess. He eats his way through most of the stuff in the fridge while he looks for clues about what must be either a hyper-realistic fever dream or a parallel universe that he's found himself in. As the hours tick by and he tries very hard to both ignore and focus on the panic he feels rising in him, he slowly realizes that his hopes of this being a very realistic and terrifying dream are likely wrong.

 

He finally finds his old wand, carefully packed away in a box under the bed. He tries for almost an hour before he's forced to admit he has no magic in him. He throws it to the side in frustration, and kicks viciously at the bedposts, before retrieving it and sliding into his back pocket just in case.

 

Just his luck to get caught up in something like this- sent to a parallel universe where everything is literally his worst nightmare.

 

By the time it starts to get dark outside Simon is reluctantly satisfied with his progress. He's learned just about as much as he can from random things around the house. He's learned he's the same age as he knows himself to be, he works as head chef of a restaurant called "Simon's" (how boring yet somehow completely appropriate), and is apparently living in married bliss with Baz Pitch.

 

There's also a huge bundle of documents he found in what must be the study, things about an inquiry into the death of the Mage (which weirdly names Penny alongside him as a person of interest), a certificate for a college program in culinary arts with his name on it, and- now stuffed to the bottom of the rubbish bin so he doesn't need to think about it- a bundle of pamphlets on magickal surrogacy.

 

He hears the scrape of a key in the front door and takes a peek around the house. It's almost unrecognizable with all the clutter he's managed to strew about. He tries and fails to squelch the small bit of pride he feels at how much of a mess he's managed to create.

 

He watches with barely contained glee as Baz stops in the doorway and takes everything in. Baz is inhumanly neat. It was a nightmare sharing a space with him for eight years, knowing that no matter how hard you tried you could never live up to his expectations of cleanliness. So while he hasn't actually seen him for nearly a decade, Simon still knows that this act of defiance will be enough to spark something. Something familiar.

 

He waits for the curl of a lip and the sneer Baz always makes when they fight. He may not know how to navigate the rest of this, but fighting with Baz- that is something he's known how to do his whole life. And right now, surrounded by so much uncertainty- Simon's practically gagging for it.

 

But it doesn't come. The look on Baz's face, when he finally sees it is- it's nothing like he expected. Instead he sighs, and the fight never gets going. Simon notices, and immediately tries to push down the feeling of guilt: he looks like he's going to cry.

 

"I'm going to bed," It’s surprisingly quiet, the words almost too weak for Simon to make out even in the ringing silence. He steps towards Baz, more of a reflex than anything else but is stopped by his hand, raised pale and shaky in the darkness of the kitchen, "just- don't follow me."

 

Simon cannot for the life of him imagine a single situation where he would actually want to.

 

And just like that Simon is alone in the kitchen. Baz has never backed away from a fight before, and he definitely would never let himself leave without having a go at Simon.

 

Simon walks over to the plastic bag Baz left on the counter and unties the knot.

 

Inside he finds five sour cherry scones, and two cartons of pad Thai.

 -----

 

He falls asleep on the couch, his stomach churning with something that feels a lot like guilt, but probably has more to do with the two cartons of Pad Thai he plowed through sitting in front of the telly. He blinks awake suddenly, certain that someone else is nearby, but staring around the cluttered room he sees he's alone. His mess is still everywhere, and that's probably the biggest sign of how much he's pissed Baz off.

 

He pushes the blanket off himself and goes into the kitchen in search of food. After a hearty breakfast and a much-needed shower he sits back down and tries to decide what the next steps are.

 

He finds his cell phone on his bedside table, same brand and model he's used to. He thumbs through it and notices that Penny's contact information is the same.

 

Huh.

 

He decides to try giving her a call.

 

"Simon?" Her voice is small and tinny from across the Atlantic.

 

"I'm not bothering you am I?" Simon fidgets, trying to decide how much to tell her. He doesn't want to come across as crazy, but he's never had to conceal anything from Penny before. He decides to just approach it from a hypothetical standpoint.

 

"No, what's up? I wasn't expecting to hear from you."

 

"So Baz and I were talking the other night,"

 

"Oh my god, you've finally convinced him"

 

"What?"

 

"The surrogacy thing? I know you said you thought it might be too soon, but I really think that-"

 

"Whoa, wait, no! We- erm. Haven't really discussed that at all yet, actually."

 

"Oh, my bad"

 

"Uhm, we were actually just chatting and he mentioned something about someone he works with- this bloke thinks he's managed to travel to a sort of… parallel universe."

 

"A parallel universe?"

 

"Yeah, and obviously the whole thing is bullocks, but Baz was very interested, which got me wondering. You know I've never really been good with any of this stuff, but would it be possible to-"

 

"To travel to another universe?"

 

"Not just another one, but like- a parallel one. Where some things are the same but some things are… not"

 

"That's- not very specific"

 

"I know, I know. But- like has there ever been any recorded instances of a mage using magic to somehow… travel to a similar universe, or maybe change the past or something."

 

"Not that I know of. I mean, the amount of power you would need to mess with a natural order like time is… It should be impossible. I doubt even you could have-" Simon chews on his thumbnail as Penny screeches to a halt.

 

"Simon," He knows that tone, and immediately wishes he had tried harder to come up with a believable excuse for this conversation.

 

"Simon, what's this really about?" Simon lets out a breath and tries to sound annoyed, and not like he's currently experiencing a mental breakdown.

 

"I told you, Baz was really interested in that this bloke had to say-"

 

"No."

 

"No?"

 

"You've always been a terrible liar, I know you're hiding something from me. What's going on?"

 

"Okay fine, it's a little more complicated than that but it's nothing, honestly."

 

"You know Baz texted me this morning, asking if I'd talked to you recently."

 

"I didn't know that. Ignore him, you know how he fusses."

 

"No, he doesn't."

 

Simon is silent.

 

"He's worried about you. He says you've been acting really weird this past day- tearing the house apart, trying to start fights." She drops her voice, "he says he noticed you've started carrying your wand on you, but that there's been no change- your magic still isn't back."

 

He found this out yesterday, he knows this- but hearing it confirmed only makes something hot and sharp slide uncomfortably under his ribs.

 

"Look," Penny's voice is soft again, "I understand if you don’t want to talk to either of us about it. We know the anniversary is coming up, and it's probably still hard to be missing it-"

 

What? And then he remembers- his magic. Yeah, it is weird not to feel it thrumming through his veins. But- it's also a relief not to be constantly worried about going off. Especially considering the amount of stress he's currently under. He has a hundred decrees to get through at work, and he still has to make it up to Agatha for forgetting their anniversary dinner. He doesn’t exactly have time for this mini break with Baz in what is obviously a facsimile of hell.

 

He swallows audibly.

 

"Yeah."

 

"You know you can always talk to either of us, right? At least talk to Baz, his texts were pretty frenzied, you must really be freaking him out."

 

Talk to Baz. He'd prefer to do almost literally anything else.

 

"Sure, look- thanks for the chat, but I've got- restaurant stuff?"

 

"Okay, I love you. Don't work too hard"

 

"You too."

 

He spends the rest of the day mindlessly watching telly, trying not to feel anything at all.

 

He barely hears Baz when he comes in, takeout bag crinkling as he sets it down on the counter.

 

"You've been productive today, I see," he grimaces, taking in the mess Simon has completely neglected to clean up.

 

"You texted Penny." The look on Baz's face is almost worth the cold heavy feeling coiling around his gut. He wants to call it betrayal, but deep down he knows Baz doesn’t owe him anything.

 

But then again.

 

"We're married. You're supposed to be on my side."

 

Baz's face twists as Simon's words hit him. He doesn't particularly care, but he needs- he needs to express how miserable he is. Caught up in this life that isn't his, stuck in a body that is so similar to but is definitely not his. Stuck in a house he hates, stuck in a marriage with someone he hates. Someone he hated so much that he didn’t think twice before-

 

"Simon," Baz is earnest, hurrying forwards, threading their fingers together. It isn't a good look for him. The Baz Simon knows would never plead, he's never been anything other than condescending and self-righteous. He barely recognizes the man standing before him- and it makes him sick. Simon yanks his hands out of Baz's grasp so violently Baz almost topples forwards.

 

"Don't call me that," Simon hisses, getting up off the couch. He's so angry, last time he had felt like this- he'd flattened half of their garden when he'd gone off. Without the magic he doesn't feel any more stable, instead he feels-

 

He doesn't know what he feels.

 

"Whatever problems we have- you talk to me about them. You have no right to bring other people into our business."

 

"I know, I know. I'm sorry, okay. I'm sorry. I'm just so worried-"

 

"Well don't be. I'm fine on my own, I don't need you to fuss over me like some kind of invalid."

 

"Of course not, god forbid someone else in this house tries to do something good-"

 

"Where do you get off? You're the one who-

 

"You know exactly what I mean. Why is it so hard for you to accept that I'm here for you, and that I love-"

 

"Stop! Enough! I don’t care- I don't want that, and I sure as hell don't want YOU!"

 

He's read about silence being deafening. Until today, he'd been sure it was a metaphor- a grand exaggeration by writers meant to evoke. But this living silence proves him wrong again and again, second after second.

 

"You don't mean that," Baz's voice cracks over the words. He's completely unrecognizable to Simon. He can't reconcile the man standing in front of him with the one he's spent his entire life hating. He's never seen Baz look so small. And his face-

 

He just stands there, until the silence threatens to choke them both and Baz walks out, and Simon distantly hears the sound of a car humming and fading.

 

He sleeps on the couch again that night, tossing and turning at the memory of a sword in his hands, the heft unsteady against the slide of coagulating blood. And the stricken look on Baz's face- the look of a heart broken wide open.

 -----

 

He wakes up alone again. The first thing he's noticed is that the house is cleaner than it was yesterday. Which means at least part of Baz cracked enough to clean some of it up. There's fresh food in the fridge when he goes to find breakfast, and when he decides to brush his teeth he notices a couple of business cards taped to the mirror at eye level.

 

Dr. Ramona Thistle, PhD, MD

Magickal Psychologist

 

He snorts.

 

Dr. Florence Pines, MSc

Marriage Counselling

 

That one he shreds to pieces before flushing it down the toilet.

-----

 

He spends the next two days working hard to avoid Baz, which is surprisingly easy- Baz must be helping him out by trying to avoid him too.

 

He keeps his phone muted and ignores the growing number of alerts until late Saturday when he decides he can't just keep avoiding- whatever is happening.

 

He hasn't even thought about how he's going to find a way back home, and nothing seems to be happening on its own. So he might as well try to at least participate in life while he's stuck here. He feels good about the idea of doing alternate Simon a solid, and fervently hopes his alternate self is being as altruistic wherever he's disappeared to- especially if he's currently back at Simon's cottage. There can't be any harm in collecting good karma, right?

 

He listens to his voicemails and thumbs through his texts, trying to manage the steady rise of panic he feels as he's confronted over and over again with how checked out he's been. Boss or no, it sounds like his saving grace is Baz remembering to call the restaurant and keep them updated on his very serious and very fake illness which has kept him delirious and unable to take calls all week.

 

He decides to go down to the restaurant and check it out.

 

With some help from google maps he makes his way out of the house for the first time all week. There's a car in the driveway, but they're not too far from a metro station and Simon doesn't really trust himself to drive what might very well be Baz's car.

 

A half an hour later, he's out front trying to find the courage to go inside. Which is ridiculous. He's the boss, how bad could it be?

 

It ends up being fine. Apparently being in charge has its perks. No one will let him do much, convinced that he's recovering from the plague, so he hangs around the kitchen and tries to absorb what's going on around him while pretending to be engrossed in a stack of paperwork.

 

"Baz away on business this weekend?" He looks up at one of the busboys- Phil, he thinks.

 

"No, why?"

 

"Oh, I just meant that he usually drops by, and I haven’t seen him yet."

 

Simon frowns. So fucking weird to think in this fresh hell Baz is the one who follows him around.

 

"He's probably trying to catch up on sleep. I've been a tyrant."

 

Phil just hums and walks away.

 

Shit.

 

When he gets home in the early morning hours, there's another car in the driveway and the porch light he's left on is turned off. Simon lets himself in and creeps down the hall towards the couch. He's halfway there until he thinks back on his resolution to reap good karma while he's here.

 

He's only been here a week, and yet he's managed to muck up whatever relationship alternate Simon has with Baz. Even if he can't imagine what that relationship might be like, he's pretty certain no version of himself would have stuck around if it was all that bad. So that means their relationship must be- good, friendly even.

 

Obviously it must have been more than friendly if they'd gotten married but Simon can't make himself think about that yet, so.

 

He's halfway through talking himself out of the idea before he just stops thinking altogether and turns around and sneaks up the stairs.

 

He hesitates in the middle of shucking his clothing in the ensuite. He really shouldn't, but if he's too hot he won't ever be able to get to sleep. He has a quick and fierce fight with himself before he compromises- he leaves his t-shirt on and ditches his trousers before approaching the bed.

 

The sight of Baz asleep is at once familiar and completely alien. He snores softly, rolled most of the way on his stomach just like Simon remembers from their years at school. The long lines of his bare back are completely foreign to Simon, and he prays fervently that Baz is at least wearing pants under the duvet. In the end, it is the familiarity of those soft snoring sounds that lures Simon to bed, and he's careful to settle himself as far away from Baz as he can before he lets himself drift off.

-----

 

He wakes suddenly from a dreamless sleep, startled awake by the sound of his alarm.

 

The room is wrong. Or rather, the room is the right one, but not the one he fell asleep in. Simon sits up so quickly his head spins and looks around. The cottage is the exact same as he left it a week ago, the covers on Aggie's side folded over neatly like every other morning.

 

He dives for his phone and checks the date. Tuesday.

 

Yesterday was Saturday and today is Tuesday. He squints at the screen and tries to remember what day he left. He can't.

 

He's going mad, he knows he is. But that doesn’t stop him from calling his secretary and telling her he won't be in. On his way out he sees Aggie in her home office and seriously considers telling her about the past week before immediately discarding the idea. Instead he grabs his keys and gets into his car.

 

He drives to Hampshire.

 

The drive takes longer than he expected, probably because he gets lost at least twice. Finally, he parks at the edge of the estate and practically throws himself out of the car.

 

Picking his way into the woods behind the house he finds what he's been looking for.

 

TYRANNUS BASILTON GRIMM-PITCH

1997-2015

BELOVED SON AND FRIEND

 

Seeing it in person makes him sad, and he tells himself it's because the epitaph is obviously a lie- Baz has never had a friend in his life.

 

In this life anyway, he corrects himself.

 

When he gets back, late in the day and shivering, Agatha doesn't bother to ask where he's been.

-----

 

He spends the next few days completely on edge. He stays up late trying to avoid falling asleep until Agatha brings him lunch at the office and finds him asleep at his desk. She scolds him so furiously that he has no choice other than to drag himself into bed at a reasonable hour every night, laying awake in the dark and so sure that any minute he'll drift off and his whole life will be torn from him again.

 

But it doesn't come.

 

Days turn into weeks, turn into a month and still Simon stays. He tries to avoid thinking about it, but when he does he convinces himself he must have imagined the whole thing. It must have been nothing more than a particularly vivid and fucked up dream caused by the stress of the upcoming anniversary. Aggie scolds him for wasting his magic as he assures himself it's still there and starts relying on magic for every little thing.

 

He hasn't lost anything after all.

 

He throws himself back into life, signing and stamping decrees, going to Aggie's dressage competitions again, getting off work early on Fridays to go out to dinner.

 

He puts his whole heart into living the life he's always wanted, the life he's got. He wakes up with purpose, deciding to take Aggie to dinner and asking if she's finally, finally ready to start that family he's always wanted. She knows what he wants- and it’s time to see if she’s finally ready to want it too.

 

So he plans.

 

He calls her favourite restaurant and is so optimistic he’s not even disgruntled when he learns they’re booked solid for the next six months. He just happily puts their names down for a Friday night in the distant future. He pulls all the stops, stacking the deck in hopes of giving himself the most favourable outcome.

 

He tries putting more effort into paying attention to Aggie, asks her about work, the horses, the competitions. When he runs out of things to say he just sits near her and hopes that she understands how hard he’s trying.

 

One night after an exhausting day stamping decrees and shaking hands he lies across the mattress from Aggie and considers for the first time in a long time closing the distance between them- but he’s already so tired. As he falls asleep he resolves to wake up early and breathe some life back into their bedroom.

 -----

 

Instead he wakes up to Baz's iron stare.

 

He's so surprised he chokes on his spit, and spends two furious minutes coughing up what feels like his entire left lung. This is not how he expected his morning to go.

 

"So you've finally condescended to my company again?" Baz sounds cold, voice clipped and awfully steely for someone who has probably just woken up. For a wild minute Simon thinks he’s talking about the month he’s been gone- but then he remembers.

 

The fight. The long days of careful avoidance.

 

Simon considers the statement and his mouth twists in displeasure, although if he's being honest with himself Baz is probably the one condescending in this scenario. An orphaned, magicless mage- thinking about it he's morbidly curious to know how Baz's family handled that news. Not to mention the whole gay thing. He's not gay (not that he's ever really thought about it) but part of them has to be at least a little gay for the whole married to another man thing to work.

 

Not that this is working right now, although Simon is mostly sure that has nothing to do with whether or not they're actually gay.

 

He picks at the duvet and seriously considers trying to fight Baz (he's pretty sure he'd have at very least the element of surprise on his side- even if Baz is physically stronger than him. But on second thought, he probably also has better reflexes [or at least Simon is relatively certain that vampires have superhuman reflexes- if nothing else he could probably sense the change in blood flow or some shit that it would take for Simon to prepare to sock him]. Taking this thought experiment further Simon is actually not entirely sure he can fight Baz anymore, if they're married and he tries to fight his husband doesn’t that count as domestic violence? Even if his husband is an enormous prick and would probably be better off having his arse handed to him to teach him some manners. Which brings him back to the simple fact that he probably can't win a fight anyway).

 

Out of options Simon drops the duvet and finally meets Baz's stare. The grey of his eyes makes Simon think of brackish waters on an overcast day. Like something fathomless, cold and empty.

 

He forces himself to reach out but can't quite find it in himself to take Baz's hand.

 

Bas just stares.

 

He takes a deep breath. He thinks about his promise to do good while he's here. He had thought that it was all a dream- but if it wasn't…

 

"I'm sorry. It's been- just a really stressful week. You know with the anniversary of- yeah." He bites at his thumbnail.

 

"You hurt me," Simon winces at the raw sound of the words. Then he wonders when he decided that it mattered. He's never cared about hurting Baz before. Christ, not even two minutes ago he had considered trying to fight him. But something about the way he says it, nose scrunched, half naked in bed and vulnerable looking-

 

Simon sighs.

 

"I know, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it, I didn't want to," he lies. He remembers how angry he'd been. He remembers wanting to hurt Baz, to make him feel any part of the horror inside him. He lowers his gaze as Baz appraises him. Finally, Baz must find what he's looking for because he nods and starts getting out of bed.

 

"Alright then," he starts heading towards the ensuite, "what do you reckon then? A fry up?"

 

He turns on the shower without an answer. Simon feels his heart racing, and only some of it he can blame on the tension of the conversation they just had.

 

As it turns out, Baz doesn’t wear pants to bed after all.

-----

 

It's perverse how quickly he falls into a rhythm. He and Baz wake up together most mornings, take turns in the shower and brushing their teeth, and argue over who's job it is to make breakfast. Baz makes a frighteningly good cuppa, and Simon uses this fact to try and bully him into cooking. Baz is always quick to point out that as a professional Simon really should be able to at the very least cook for his family.

 

The first few times this is brought up Simon shuts up immediately as he wrestles with the fact that Baz is his family. He curses his rubbish luck, and decides that only he is unlucky enough to be the only person who was actually better off without a family at all.

 

He watches Baz eat and realizes that he's never seen it before. He eats with his hand over his mouth, although sometimes when he's particularly hungry he seems to forget. Simon tries to catch sight of his fangs (why else would Baz be eating with his hand in front of his mouth? The whole thing is counter-intuitive, it can't be for any other reason) but fails when he realizes being too obvious would probably tip Baz off that something is very wrong. If they're married he's probably seen them tons of times (right?), so a sudden interest would be… suspicious.

 

His place at the restaurant is surprisingly easy to fit into- it turns out he has an accountant and a manager to deal with all the business stuff, and all he needs to do is cook. This becomes easier once he finds the recipe cards written out as guides for the sous chefs and kitchen staff.

 

It takes him less than a week to decide that he likes his job. He never thought he would enjoy working afternoons and evenings, but being near food makes it feel not very much like work at all. He jokes and chats with the staff and after a few tense days at home Baz starts coming by just after the dinner rush. At first Simon frets over what he's supposed to be doing (is it a dinner date?) but the bartender just slaps Baz on the shoulder and pours him a glass of red wine. It takes Simon more courage than he feels to walk over with a plate of pasta, but once he sits down next to Baz he finds it easier than he thought, and together Simon eats and Baz drinks. Sometimes they chat idly, sometimes Baz frowns down at complicated paperwork he seems to be able to produce out of thin air, and sometimes he smiles at Simon as he watches him wolf down whatever he's managed to filch from the kitchen, and runs the toe of his expensive shoe along the side of Simon's calf.

 

(On those days Simon makes sure to stay extra late, waving off everyone's protests that he should go home and sneaks into bed long after he's sure Baz has fallen asleep.)

 

It is on one of those late nights that Simon finds himself shaken awake, sweaty and panicked as he races to catch up with his surroundings.

 

"Hey Snow, Snow!" Simon flinches at the cold hand that grips his bicep. He looks around wildly, but it's so dark he can't make anything out.

 

"I just- It was just a nightmare," He breathes, heart still racing as he runs his hands through his sweaty hair.

 

"It's fine, I've got you," Baz starts rubbing soothing circles on his back. He can feel the cool of his skin through the fabric of his t-shirt. It feels surprisingly good against his sweaty skin.

 

"It's not fine though. I dreamed- I dreamed that I killed you," Simon chokes. It's always the same dream. He doesn't even need to remember them anymore, they're always the same. He can't remember the last time he'd dreamed about anything else.

 

"Maybe you're a seer now, and this is your way of warning me to not forget to take the rubbish bin out again," He hears the smile in Baz's words and knows he's trying to ease the tension he's feeling. But it's not right, he doesn't know- he deserves to know.

 

"No, Baz- it was during the war, and we had to fight and I-" Simon stops. He's horrified to feel the beginning of a prickle behind his eyes.

 

"Shhh-" Baz whispers, hand smoothing Simon's sweaty hair from the back of his neck.

 

"I killed you. I was so angry, I was so sure you'd get me first but-"

 

"Snow it was a dream. It didn't happen."

 

"But I felt-" Simon stops himself, but he remembers- always remembers. The tacky slide of his hand through the blood on the hilt of his sword. The rasp of metal against bone. The glint of white fangs, finally, finally, vindication but with nothing but a sort of hollowness that emptied out his chest. And the overwhelming wave of his magic threatening to spill over until-

 

"It's alright Simon, it's alright."

 

The cold hand Baz uses to brush his sweaty fringe from his forehead is the same one he remembers grazing the side of his jawline as he kneeled in the dirt, silent except for the steady drip of blood hitting the damp earth-

 

"You're fine. I'm sure dream-me understands,"

 

"I just-," He's embarrassed, the stinging behind his eyes intensifying, threatening to spill over. He's cried in front of Baz before, not for a long time now, but somehow it feels wrong to ask for comfort from the very same person he's upset over killing. Would Baz still look at him the same if he'd known?

 

Yes.

 

His mind supplies.

 

Yes.

 

"Oh Snow", Baz gathers him into his arms, and Simon has never been more grateful for the offered comfort and ashamed at himself for accepting it, "we both know it couldn't have gone any other way. If the truce had never happened it would have been the only way of ending the war."

 

"But you could have-" Simon begins protesting.

 

Baz laughs, a low dark sound that skitters over Simon's bones.

 

"No, I couldn't. You wouldn't have known back then, but I have been in love with you for a very, very long time."

 

Simon starts to and then immediately stops himself from thinking about it. But even so, it seems so- wrong- for Baz to just accept that it would have been inevitable for Simon to kill him. Surely anyone (even Baz) deserves more than to be killed by their husband? Though they weren't married at the time, but even so, if he could just express this somehow-

 

"I just-"

 

"Don't," Baz breathes against the top of his head

 

"But-"

 

"It's okay," Baz whispers into his hair.

 

And for the first time Simon closes his eyes and believes him.

 -----

 

The next morning Simon lingers in bed for as long as he thinks he can get away with. He's not one for cowardice but he feels- raw, exposed. He doesn't know how he's going to face Baz after last night.

 

When he gets out of the shower and braves the kitchen Baz is sitting at the island, sipping his morning tea and doing what looks like the morning crossword. Simon snorts when he notices the pen- only Baz would be so confident in himself to use a pen.

 

Baz looks up and smiles, a little crookedly, a little awkwardly and Simon feels embarrassed all over again. He shouldn't care what Baz thinks of him- he doesn't- but even he's feeling disoriented after a week of polite distance and the sudden emotional outburst last night. Baz probably thinks he's cracked- and Simon is at least half sure that he agrees.

 

"Alright then?" Baz lifts an eyebrow at him

 

"Uhm, yeah. Thanks. Thank you"

 

"Don't mention it. Seriously. It's too early to talk about our feelings," Baz turns back to his crossword and Simon sighs in relief.

 

"Oh thank god," Simon can actually feel the weight of his worry disappear off his shoulders. For all of Baz's faults he seems to be as reluctant to open up emotionally as he himself is. He wonders whether this is usually a strength or weakness in their relationship.

 

"Kettle's boiled," Baz doesn’t even bother looking up, scratching something onto the paper. Simon squints. He's more than half done- and nothing has been crossed out or corrected yet. Tosser.

 

"Right,"

 

He watches Baz's lips twitch, before his attention goes back to the puzzle. He's sitting in a patch of sunlight filtering through the open blinds. Simon makes his tea before sitting as close as he can reasonably make himself get and frowns into his mug.

 

There's so much he wants to ask.

 

Firstly he knows vampires hate sunlight. Everyone knows this. Why is this house so full of wispy curtains and open windows if he's living with a vampire? And who does the crossword in pen anyway? There's no one to impress, using a pencil is both the normal and smarter thing to do. And how long exactly is a very, very long time?

 

Was Baz in love with him when trying to steal his voice then? When setting the chimera on him? When pushing him down the stairs? He squints at Baz as if he can pick the answers to these questions from the sight of him.

 

"You're going to hurt yourself if you try to think about it any harder." Simon startles so badly he almost drops his mug.

 

"About what?" He tries for aloof but Baz's sneer informs him that he's sounded just as paranoid as he thinks he did.

 

"About whatever is causing that horrible expression,"

 

"I'm not thinking about anything," Simon denies quickly.

 

"Snow, I can practically smell your brain overheating from here," Baz smirks and Simon frowns. What is this rubbish? They're married! Shouldn’t that mean Baz is lawfully obligated to be nicer to him now? He's blustering, trying to express this somehow when-

 

"Relax, chosen one," Baz orders, before leaning forward and pressing his mouth to Simon's.

 

It's cold.

 

Simon's first thought is to wonder if it's possible to die from shock. The second is that if the rest of Baz is as cold as his mouth is, then it's no wonder they seem to have a minimally physical relationship. The third is that it’s kind of nice to be kissed. It's not that he and Aggie aren't ever intimate but, like with any marriage, over time they just kind of settled into a rut. Which before he had come here Simon had been trying to reverse, without any luck.

 

It's over much too soon, and after far too long. Baz turns back to his puzzle, and Simon clings to his mug in shock. He feels his lips tingle and wonders whether it's due to the peppermint in his tea or some kind of freaky vampire venom. When Baz gets up and shuffles towards the bedroom, muttering about getting changed for work Simon realizes that his tea has gone cold.

 

And he still hasn't figured it out.

 -----

 

He learns something new about Baz every day.

 

He was always so sure he knew everything about Baz- and living with a bloke for almost a decade seems a good way to learn about someone- except now Simon knows he never really knew anything about him at all.

 

He’s still mercurial and intense, and his lifelong dedication to perfectionism is still as annoying as ever. He fusses over his hair, snaps at Simon for touching his things, and pores over the work he brings home with single minded focus. It shouldn’t be comforting, but the familiarity of their interactions calms Simon.

 

But there’s new things too.

 

He catches him smiling more, sometimes even laughing out loud at something on the telly- or even more rarely at something Simon says to him. The first time he hears it, a snorty embarrassing laugh without a hint of malice Simon just stops on his way to the refrigerator and stares. He stares so long Baz throws the remote at him and pouts on the couch for the rest of the programme.

 

And then there’s the kissing.

 

Simon tries very hard not to think about it, but it happens with alarming regularity. And even though he doesn’t have the emotional capacity to understand it, Simon comes to appreciate the things he knows about Baz (his intensity, narrow-minded focus, dedication to perfection) in a completely new light.  

 

The longer he spends here, the more often he finds himself on the couch during evenings off wrapped around Baz. The shock of his cold mouth slowly melts away until Simon learns to appreciate the feeling of a cool tongue, the perfect compliment to the constant burning under his skin that starts building the more time he spends with Baz.

 

He’s never been kissed anything like the way Baz kisses. Sometimes, he isn’t even sure if they’re kissing as much as Baz is trying to devour him whole. He wonders if it’s unique to Baz or some kind of vampire thing. But whatever the reason, there is no doubting Baz’s enthusiasm. Simon decides that enthusiasm must be contagious as he finds it harder and harder to pull away to put some physical distance between them. Baz wrinkles his nose but never asks, and Simon uses the space to try and avoid thinking about it.

 

Gradually, Simon starts to consider the idea that alternate Simon and Baz got married for a reason beyond temporary insanity. He decides that the snogging must absolutely make up a part of the basis of their marriage.

 

Watching Baz eat crisps in bed and listening to him whine about the lack of talent on his intramural football team, Simon mentally adds companionship as another foundational aspect of their marriage.

 

The soft looks he starts getting more and more regularly, along with the perfectly brewed cuppas on cold mornings might have something to do with it too, he thinks idly as he watches Baz pluck at his violin. As does the warm glow he feels in his chest when Baz notices him staring and abandons his fidgeting in order to stare right back.

 

But Simon has no idea how to even start labelling that, so he leaves it alone.

-----

 

On the morning after Simon initiates a kiss for the first time, he blinks awake in the cottage. He can hear the clatter of pots and pans down in the kitchen, and he wonders if this is a sign. Or a warning.

 

He stares at the calendar over breakfast to narrow down what’s he’s missed. He hasn’t missed anything.

 

He tries throwing himself back into his life but it feels- weird. Agatha is the same as ever, sweet and lovely, but something about her grates on Simon’s nerves. He spends more time than he’s willing to admit to trying to pick fights, which just surprises and unnerves her. She never tries arguing back.

 

He changes his plan of approach and tries sitting next to her in the evening while she watches telly, but she moves to the other end of the couch and tosses him a throw blanket instead of twining their legs together. When they finally do kiss, on a cold evening as he’s doing the washing up, it feels- different. Nostalgic. Sentimental in the way that thinking of a fond memory is. Simon pulls away far too soon and stares. Agatha shrugs and heads off to call Minty.

 

Later, lying awake in bed Simon tells himself that the unusual amount of stress he’s been under is the reason he freaked out earlier. But he can’t help but wonder how two things that make him feel so different could be called by the same name.

 

Over the next few weeks he ignores it as he tries to fit back into his life. The days pass and Simon moves through time with them. He tries to drum up the enthusiasm he remembers feeling the last time he came back, but can’t find it in himself to throw himself back into his life with the same reckless optimism. He tells himself it has nothing to do with the worry at the back of his mind.

 

The thought that maybe he just doesn’t fit here anymore.

 

The thought is unsettling and disquieting. This is his life. It’s everything he’s ever wanted and expected to have. So why does it feel so difficult for him to simply be part of it? He goes through the motions, puts in the time, but he does it with half a heart. With no heart. Even when he’s sitting at dinner Agatha, he’s barely there. He’s left feeling on the outside looking in.

 

It’s the last thing he wants to think about, but the thoughts won’t leave him alone. Once they sneak out unbidden from the dark recesses of his mind, they follow him down, down into sleep.

 -----

 

He’s almost expecting it when he wakes up, rested and comfortable against Baz’s side.

 

His days become brighter, and it’s both jarring and comforting how well he acclimates to being back. He feels himself slip into his life easily, and he picks up where he left off without any thought. It was so much harder trying to reorganize his life back at the cottage, he doesn’t dare think of why it’s so effortless now.

 

He throws himself into work at the restaurant, arriving early and leaving late, interested beyond his own expectations. He spends his nights on the couch with Baz, more enthusiastic than ever as he twists their tongues together and discovers the multitude of sounds Baz makes into his mouth. He wonders how long it will take him before he’s able to catalogue them all, until there’s nothing new to find.

 

He stops counting the days and lives them instead. He goes to bed late and wakes up early. He has never felt more present.

 

One particular morning, Simon wakes slowly to the comfortable feeling of hands kneading his calves. He sighs appreciatively, and tries to drift off again, until he feels the drag of fabric over his morning erection, then-

 

Simon surges completely awake all at once, sitting up and blinking in the soft morning light.

 

Baz lifts an eyebrow at him, managing to look sardonic even as he sticks his tongue out and flicks it over the base of Simon's cock. The cool touch is surprisingly good against the heat prickling incessantly under his skin.

 

"Baz-," Simon manages to get out, his mind reeling at the sight in front of him. He's gotten used to being near Baz during his time here, enjoying his company (and the kissing) even, but he’d be lying if he said he’d managed to completely reconcile his feelings for his former enemy with alternate Simon's.

 

So waking up to this feels; it feels-

 

Well it feels really fucking good, Simon lets himself think as Baz continues mouthing at Simon's cock.

 

It's obvious this is something he must do a lot with alternate Simon, since he seems to know exactly what he likes, Simon whining and gripping the dark hair in his fists as Baz laps at the underside of his cock before taking the time to run the tip of his tongue along the veins.

 

He can't even remember the last time he and Agatha had done something like this. That must be why this feels so good.

 

He struggles with the cognitive dissonance for another moment until he feels Baz swallow him whole, throat contracting around the head of his cock and then he's unable to do anything but hang on and whine as Baz groans. He's momentarily surprised by the twitch of his cock at the sound. He shouldn't be- Baz has always had a voice like velvet. It follows that he would sound downright sinful in bed.

 

Soon he's panting, pushing up hard into Baz's mouth, tugging at his hair trying to get him closer. He grunts appreciatively as he fucks Baz's mouth, the suction driving him wild.

 

"Jesus, fuck, Baz- I'm gonna-" He releases Baz's hair somewhat regretfully, and starts pulling away- and it really shouldn’t be possible for someone to give such an imperious look while simultaneously sucking cock but Baz always manages to rise to a challenge. Instead of pulling off he redoubles his efforts, sinking down until Simon shouts at the feel of his crown rubbing the back of Baz's throat.

 

"Oh fuck, oh fuck," He grits, one hand fisting back into Baz's hair, the other travelling down, down-

 

He presses his fingers to the hollows of Baz's throat, between muscle and cartilage and feels the movement of muscle as he swallows around Simon, throat contracting as Simon leverages his weight to try and fuck even deeper, delirious with pleasure.

 

He groans long and low as he comes, tugging Baz's hair and fingers insistent on his throat as he chases the feeling right to the end. He hisses as Baz swallows around him, sensitive and wrung out.

 

"Christ," he pants, elbows giving way and tipping backwards. He's never felt so raw and open. What even just happened? He's always enjoyed sex, sure, but that-

 

He's never wanted anything so desperately in his life. Never lost control until he was nothing but frayed nerves and desire. He wonders whether it was so good because it was with another bloke, or if it was because it was with Baz. He immediately forces himself stop that train of thought.

 

A pinch to the back of his knee jerks him from his thoughts and he immediately releases Baz's hair and throat, stammering apologies.

 

He looks wrecked.

 

And impossibly smug.

 

"What in buggering hell was that?" Simon wonders out loud, noticing and then forcing himself to ignore Baz's swollen lips, his tousled hair. He looks thoroughly shagged, and Simon can only imagine how he himself looks right now.

 

"Good morning," Baz rasps, grinning cheekily.

 

And fuck if Simon doesn't feel his cock twitch feebly at the roughness of his voice. It's absolutely criminal- if Simon still had his magic he'd seriously consider a "cat got your tongue". God only knows what trouble Baz would get up to sounding like that. And Simon has more than enough troubles to deal with as it is.

 

"Sorry about the- ah," he waves his hands around in what he hopes is a vague imitation of choking, a quick flush of shame flooding him. Jesus, who knew he was so deviant and violent.

 

Baz's cheeky smile turns absolutely feral, and Simon feels his shame melt into something else, something brand new- a hot and shivering pleasure that bleeds into his bones.

 

He has no idea where to go from here. Everything is brand new.

 

Baz stretches and joins him on the bed, kissing his knee affectionately- entirely too chaste for what just happened. He sighs and closes his eyes. Simon takes a quick second to regroup- he's never gotten a proper look at him naked before.

 

He's fit.

 

So fucking fit.

 

This isn't surprising since Baz has always been annoyingly attractive. But it's just like him to somehow keep improving. He's put on a little more muscle since school from what Simon can tell. It makes him look less gangly- like he's finally grown into his body.

 

He braves a peek and blushes as he notices that Baz is still hard, flushed dark and wanting. He must be aching by now. He has no idea what to do, but reckons he can figure it out on the way and reaches towards him tentatively.

 

Baz catches him around the wrist without opening his eyes. It's a little freaky.

 

"I've got to head to work soon," he husks, "I'd rather… wait it out."

 

"Oh?"

 

"Hmmm," Simon startles as he feels a cool hand run up the inside of his thigh, "sitting at my desk, tasting you- the anticipation is going to make it even better when I finally get off on your cock tonight."

 

Simon actually chokes.

 

Baz cracks open an eye and smirks at him, pleased with his reaction. Simon takes a second to silently thank that his naivete doesn’t seem to alarm Baz.

 

Baz leans up and kisses him, tongue insistent and demanding. Simon holds on and tries to control the frantic beating of his heart.

 

Entirely too soon Baz gets up and heads to the ensuite, leaving Simon alone in bed.

-----

 

Simon stays in bed longer than he should trying to avoid his thoughts before having a cold shower, and telling himself not to get his hopes up. A lot can happen during the course of the day. Baz might be too tired from work to have sex when he gets home.

 

He wonders when the prospect of having sex with Baz became appealing. He concedes that the best blowjob if his life may have something to do with it.

 

He thinks about Agatha and tries to feel guilty, but finds it hard to summon what he feels is an appropriate amount of guilt. He's married to Baz- they are actually, literally married. He saw the papers- it’s not wrong to have sex with your husband, to want to have sex with your husband.

 

Actually, from a biblical perspective it's probably the only time it's right to have sex. Well, except for the whole gay thing.

 

It is this thought that stops Simon halfway through his morning toast and tea. He has no idea how to have gay sex. Or well, he has vague ideas, based mostly on jokes he's heard or his own notions based on male anatomy. He immediately goes to find his phone and researches intently until it's time to go to work.

 

While he's getting changed he peeks in his nightstand drawer. There isn't much, a phone charger, some coins, his wallet. He frowns and goes over to Baz's side of the bed and opens his drawer- and snorts at the neat divider. Classic Baz, even his junk is organized neatly.

 

It makes it easy for Simon to find what he's looking for- 3 bottles of lube neatly lined up in the back of the drawer. A water-based (unflavoured), a silicone-based (cherry), and a warming lubricant. Trust Baz to be prepared for all occasions. 

 

He feels completely out of his depth, but he takes comfort in the bounty- at least Baz seems to know what he's doing.

-----

 

He's fidgety all through his shift. He keeps glancing at the clock, and reminding himself not to get his hopes up. When one of the waitresses sticks her head into the kitchen to shout that Baz is sitting at the bar, he actually forgets his dinner in his haste to meet him and has to double back.

 

He's sitting in the same seat as always, ubiquitous glass of wine already in his hand. Simon sits down next to him and stares. His shirt is open at the collar, showing off the long line of his throat, the dip of his collarbone. Simon watches him swallow and can't help but think how aesthetically pleasing the dark of the wine is against the paleness of his skin. He stares at the corner of his mouth where the wine has stained his lips a deep red.

 

He's already so fucked.

 

"Snow," Simon frowns. His voice is back to normal. Which, while comforting and familiar, is a far cry from the rasp that set his blood on fire earlier. Baz notices his frown and smiles, the flash of teeth distracting.

 

Simon alternates between ravenously eating (he's going to need his energy) and staring at Baz. He nudges his plate towards Baz and lifts a brow. Baz smiles again, a tad sharply.

 

"I've already eaten," he clicks the 't' and Simon knows he's not talking about food. He hasn't actually seen Baz hunt, he figured Baz must do that in the nebulous time between finishing work, visiting the restaurant and Simon coming home after his shift.

 

Sure enough, as they continue to eat and drink in palpable silence Simon is pleased to see Baz's cheeks flushing a fetching shade of coral pink as he works on his second glass of wine.

 

He feels the drag of Baz's shoe against his trouser covered calf, and instead of turning away he leans into his space, running his fingers up the sensitive inside of Baz's wrist.

 

The look Baz gives him is molten.

 

Simon decides he's going to abuse the privilege of being in charge and leave early tonight.

-----

 

What feels like ages after Baz leaves, giving one last heated glance over his shoulder- but in reality is probably less than an hour, Simon rushes out the door. He hears the jeers and jokes of the staff but he can't exactly blame them- they hadn't made the slightest effort of disguising their blatant interest during Baz's visit. He can't bring himself to care though, and he drives home at a frankly alarming speed.

 

He fumbles with his keys, trying to glance through the window but he finds it impossible to see, even with the bright moonlight- all the lights in the house are off.

 

'Weird', he thinks as he finally finagles the door open and locked shut behind him, clumsily dropping his shoes just inside the door.

 

He's halfway to the bedroom when he feels the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Then before he can panic he feels Baz press up behind him, teeth dragging against the sensitive spot under his ear.

 

"Jesus Baz, give a guy some warning,"

 

Baz laughs a dark, skittering laugh into his skin before tugging Simon's earlobe between his teeth.

 

"You don’t need it. You know exactly what I want," Baz turns him around so quickly he's almost dizzy. Then he's dizzy for a whole new reason as Baz kisses him, long and slow. He starts unbuttoning Baz's shirt, pushing it off his shoulders as he runs his tongue along the back of his teeth. Baz hisses as he bites the soft inside of his lip, and Simon takes opportunity of the momentary distraction to tug him closer by his belt loops.

 

Baz pants into his mouth as he grinds them together, wrestling his shirt from where it's tucked into his pants and discarding it on the floor.

 

"Take me to bed, Snow," Baz breathes and Simon can think of no reason to refuse him. He's not sure he could even if he wanted to.

 

He walks them backwards, fumbling slightly in the darkness, until the backs of his knees hit the side of their bed. He tips backwards and pulls Baz on top of him, trying to keep their mouths connected as he starts to work on his trousers. It takes more fumbling than he currently has patience for, but eventually Simon manages to free Baz from his trousers and makes quick work of his pants.

 

He pulls back and tries to appreciate the sight of Baz, naked and wanting, spread out over his body.

 

"This would be a lot more to my taste if I wasn't the only one naked." And of course Baz is still demanding and annoying, even in bed.

 

"Hush, baby" Simon admonishes him, pressing a thumb to the corner of his mouth as vague threat.

 

It's ridiculous. Baz is a dark creature. He could snap Simon's neck before Simon could even blink. He's the furthest thing from being anyone's baby. The desperate moan he makes into Simon's neck is a little surprising, but so, so welcome.

 

"Come on," Simon pants, trying to strip without sacrificing an inch of the contact between them. It's an impossible task and Baz actually whines when Simon pushes him to the side to work the rest of his stubborn clothing off.

 

Finally, they are pressed together with nothing in between them. Simon reaches down and runs a finger along Baz's cock. The sound he makes into Simon's mouth is obscene. Simon sucks on his tongue and rubs his thumb over his tip, smearing the pre-come already gathering there.

 

"How do you want it?," Simon grunts, rubbing his cock against the soft skin of Baz's thigh. He's going out of his mind. Fooling around has never felt so good, and he feels a wild desire building in him, uncomfortable and sharp under his skin.

 

"Fuck, Simon-," Simon bites and tugs the sensitive skin where Baz's neck meets his collarbone.

 

"That's not a real answer," he teases.

 

"Crowley, I don't even care. Just- just give it to me." Simon wonders if this counts as begging. He decides that it absolutely does.

 

"Okay baby, I'll give you what you want," Simon reaches over and raids Baz's nightstand single handed, blindly grabbing a bottle at random and popping the top open.

 

"Turn over, you gorgeous thing," He's almost embarrassed at how quickly Baz complies and gets on his knees. If Simon is greedy, then Baz is the definition of eager.

 

He's working entirely on empirical knowledge now, trying to remember everything he read about earlier as he slicks his fingers and drags the pad of his thumb through Baz's crack and over his hole. The long line of Baz's back trembles and he keens, pressing into the touch and Simon has to use his other hand to hold him steady.

 

"Slow down you- fuck, you're so greedy. You're gonna get it,"

 

He takes his time prepping Baz, until he's writhing on the bed, begging and spreading himself wide. It's a sight Simon has never even imagined seeing, but he immediately knows he won't be able to live without it now.

 

Finally, he pulls his fingers free and slicks himself up, grunting at the feel of his hand on his neglected cock. He can't even imagine how Baz must feel after waiting all day.

 

"Ready?" He asks, rubbing the head of his cock against Baz's hole, catching on the puffy skin of his stretched rim. It's so fucking good already, and they haven't even really started. Baz huffs petulantly against the sheets.

 

"If you don't start fucking me immediately I'm going-"

 

Simon doesn't bother letting him finish his threat (it's probably for the best, as Baz is impatient and demanding at the best of times- nothing he was going to say would have been kind) before he surges forward, pressing into Baz in one long, smooth stroke.

 

Baz goes rigid beneath him, moaning long and low as Simon seats himself as deep as he'll go.

 

He pants wetly against the back of Baz's neck, before licking a long salty stripe up the side of his neck.

 

"Baby, you're so fucking tight," He feels Baz contract around him at his words, and listens to his laboured breathing. He’s never been one for dirty talk, but Christ- does it ever get Baz hot. His hands slide against his skin, damp with sweat and so, so cold. Simon lays his forehead against the back of Baz's neck, the cool heavenly against his feverish skin.

 

"Simon," He rasps, and Simon opens his eyes. It's definitely Baz's voice, but it sounds… different.

 

He braces one hand on Baz's hip, and slides the other one into his hair. He pulls out slowly, Baz keening, before pushing back in, tugging on Baz's hair, trying to turn his head to see-

 

Fangs.

 

His fangs are out.

 

He’s so worked up over getting fucked that his fangs have popped. And, God, that shouldn’t be as fucking sexy as it is. Simon immediately abandons all his plans for a slow, sensual experience and braces himself before starting to fuck in earnest.

 

Baz grunts as he takes it, pressing back into Simon, back arched. They’re both panting, breath quickening as they move together. It’s going to be over way to soon, and Simon hisses, shoving the heel of his hand against the back of Baz’s neck, admiring the exaggerated arch of his back as he’s forced down against the sheets. Baz groans desperately, struggling against the press of Simon’s hand as he’s fucked.

 

“Snow, Snow, fuck- I need-,” Simon doesn’t bother waiting for him to finish and shifts until he’s spreading Baz as wide as he can, his long legs spread obscenely as he leaks and writhes under Simon. His hand is slick with lube and sweat, and he grips Baz tightly, tugging and rubbing as he chases his own end.

 

“Simon, Simon, Simon!” Baz chants, tightening as he goes rigid, and Simon leverages his weight to press him deep into the mattress, holding him where he wants him as he savours the feeling. He continues squeezing Baz as he finishes, feeling him squirm and shiver as pleasure competes with oversensitivity.

 

“Holy fuck,” He manages awhile later, collapsed against Baz’s back. They’re both sticky with sweat, and Simon’s muscles ache as he tries to stretch himself out. He can only imagine how Baz feels.

“Has it always been so-,” He stops himself.

 

“Mind-blowing?” Baz finishes for him, voice small and muffled against the sheets. “There’s something to be said for improvement with enough practice,” Baz muses, and Simon feels the rumble of the words from where his head rests against the back of Baz’s neck.

 

He decides to close his eyes for just a second, just enough time to finish calming down. He isn’t even that sleepy yet. The steady sound of Baz’s breathing lulls him to sleep anyway.

----- 

 

One minute he isn’t anywhere and the next there's a pleasantly warm hand sliding down his cock. Simon grunts his way from sleeping to mostly awake as Baz presses close.

 

He guides Simon’s hand down under the duvet, and Simon feels his thumb sliding around Baz's hole. It's still slightly gaping and- Crowley. Simon moans and flushes from head to toe as he feels the wet slide of his ejaculate against the swollen skin. Baz is panting in his ear, and it's all very distracting-

 

"Come on Snow," He leans down, running the hard edge of his teeth along Simon's carotid (thank God the fangs haven't come out yet), "let's make a baby."

 

Jesus fucking Christ.

 

It's deviant, it's wrong. Even with magic- it's just not on.

 

Which is why Simon turns them over so quickly his vision blurs. He wastes no time throwing one of Baz's elegant legs over his shoulder, desperately fumbling in the dark to arrange him just as he wants him.

 

The sound Baz makes as he pushes in is low and dark, and Simon almost stops to stretch him out properly. But then he is sliding in, and his stomach squirms with a disgusted thrill as he feels how wet and used he is.

 

"Baz, Baz, shit," he curses, every part of him wanting and shivering. He watches Baz writhe beneath him, head thrown back and mouth open and seeking, the long lines of his fangs stretching over his lips. When he starts to scramble in earnest Simon throws his weight behind his forearm and uses it to hold him down, pressing into his collarbone. Baz keens as he's bent acutely between the soft mattress and the hard lines of Simon's body.

 

They pant into each other’s mouths as Simon presses his advantage, throwing his entire weight into the press of his cock into Baz's body.

 

"Simon! Just- fuck. Give it to me," Baz whines

 

Simon grits his teeth and plants his feet. He's so close. He wants Baz to be right there with him. He reaches down and shoves his unoccupied hand between them, resting his entire weight on Baz's sternum. With anyone else he would worry- but he knows Baz can take it, will take it.

 

He's sure he's squeezing too hard, hand too dry, but Baz comes anyway, shouting incoherent vowels as Simon drags him through his orgasm.

 

The pulsating clench of his body is too good to withstand, and Simon only manages a few more rough thrusts before he's grunting into the sweat slick skin of Baz's neck, "gonna come in you," and following through immediately. He groans at the wet pulse, a shameful bolt of lust running through him as he thinks about the mess he's left inside Baz. He barely has time to gather his bearings before he feels strong arms wrap around his waist, holding him close.

 

The cool skin against his own is a blessing, and he collapses into the embrace, heart still racing. He comes down slowly, pulse evening out. He's toying with the idea of sleep when he feels Baz stirring, and one of the arms around his waist moves up to push his hair out of his face.

 

"You're such a fucking slag," He mumbles into the touch.

 

He feels Baz’s laughter before he hears it, and after a moment he joins in. The laughter dies out, and Simon starts drifting, muscles pleasantly sore and satisfied.

 

"I found the pamphlets," Simon frowns at the non-sequitur. He's about to ask for clarification, or for Baz to shut up so he can just sleep already when-

 

"Oh," He murmurs when he finally understands.

 

"Yeah,"

 

"Uhm, well- I" He's not entirely sure where to go from here. He knows nothing about those pamphlets except that he had been trying to get rid of them in a panic.

 

"I want that too," Baz mumbles into the top of Simon's head.

 

Simon feels his heart skip a beat. Surely-

 

"Seriously?" He pulls back to properly look at Baz. He desperately needs a shower, and his hair is ridiculous- but he looks more bashful than Simon can ever remember seeing him. He opens his mouth- then closes it, and nods instead before groaning and hiding his face in the curve of Simon's neck.

 

Simon starts laughing again.

 

"So you can ask me to knock you up with a straight face, but you're embarrassed to admit that you'd actually like to start a family together?"

 

"Shut up- it's not the same. It's- real this way, innit?" Baz mumbles into his skin.

 

Simon sucks in a breath.

 

"Yeah, it's real." He echoes to himself more than anything.

 

"Talk for real later, I want to sleep now," Baz drags the duvet over them without opening his eyes, and leaves Simon alone to his thoughts. He has a feeling he's far from sleep.

 

When he notices the morning light dancing across his eyelids, it comes as a complete surprise. He doesn't even remember falling asleep. He opens his eyes and sits up quickly, needing to find Baz, needing to tell him-

 

Agatha smiles at him.

 

"I was just about to wake you. I think you forgot to set your alarm."

 

He scrambles for his phone as she heads toward the kitchen, humming.

 -----

 

It's Friday, which means he's arranged to leave work early. His phone reminds him that he and Agatha have a dinner reservation at seven. He vaguely remembers making the booking what feels like ages ago.

 

He had been so nervous and excited. He had had big plans for tonight. But now he feels- vaguely irritated. He's not really interested in dinner, or the big conversation he'd had planned. He has no idea how Agatha feels about having kids. That was always his dream, something he wanted and he hoped she'd learn to want too.

 

But he knows exactly what Baz wants.

 

He wishes that he’d been able to wait even just one more day. To be able to kiss Baz good morning, and ask him if he was serious. But really, he knows Baz. Baz is always serious.

 

He wonders what fraction of ‘a very very long time’ Baz has spent thinking of something like this. He should be used to being two steps behind Baz, it’s always been like this. But this time- he feels like he’s finally ready to start catching up.

 

He’s worked himself into a strop by the time he leaves work and arrives at the restaurant- later than he’d originally planned. Agatha is already at their table, fiddling with the obscenely large floral arrangement. Oh right, he’d forgotten that he’d asked for the restaurant to arrange for flowers. And champagne, he realizes, seeing the bottle in the ice bucket next to the table.

 

“What’s the occasion,” Agatha asks as he pours her a glass.

 

“Uhm, I just felt like doing something nice for you,”

 

She smiles, and it makes Simon feel like he’s eighteen again. He used to think that everything in his life would fall into place if only he could make her smile at him like that for the rest of his life.

 

Without his planned conversation on having children, they chat idly, comfortably. Simon struggles to pay attention as she details this season’s dressage competitions and walks him through the new and complicated happenings in the stable and horse housing business. He talks a little bit about work, mostly because she asks, and then decides to mention some of the new cooking techniques and recipes he’s been wanting to try when his part of the conversation runs dry.

 

“Simon,” She smiles again and touches his hand across the table, “since when are you so into cooking? I’ve never seen you cook anything.”

 

“Oh, I’ve been watching the food network at night when I’m having trouble sleeping. It’s very- inspiring. Thought I’d give it a try.” He lies clumsily. Baz loves the food network. His favourite evening past time is

to loudly criticize all the contestants on the competition shows and ruminate on how easy Simon’s chosen profession must be if these complete idiots find success. He particularly enjoys comparing some of the less successful dishes featured on the shows to things he swears up and down Simon has forced him to eat on several occasions.

 

“I can’t wait to try whatever it is you choose to make,” She squeezes his hand and lets go, going back to her salmon.

 

As they leave the restaurant, Simon nodding his thanks to the maître d on their way out, Agatha slips her hand into his and leans on his shoulder.

 

At their car he starts moving around to the driver’s side, but is stopped when Agatha reaches out and pulls him in by the lapels of his jacket. He is so confused by this unexpected display that it takes him until he’s standing directly in front of her to realize what’s happening.

 

“Simon,” she breathes, “I had a wonderful time tonight. Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome,”

 

“Sometimes it feels like- like we’re caught in a rut. And I don’t always know how to stop that.”

 

“Right,” He says woodenly. It hasn’t been that long since he’d felt the very same way. He should be basking in his success, but-

 

When she kisses him, sweet and familiar, all Simon can do is stand there and think of the hunger he remembers feeling, the naked want he’d tasted dragging his tongue along the back of Baz’s teeth. And while Agatha has only just started kissing him, he can’t help but feel like it’s the end of something else.

 -----

 

When they get home, Simon begs off heading to bed, pretending that he has a headache.

 

“Too much champagne,” He explains, grimacing sheepishly.

 

Instead, he sits in the bathroom, head in his hands. When he finally wills himself to stop thinking about it, the sun is starting to rise over the trees and he still hasn’t figured himself out.

 -----

 

He waits, and waits.

 

He wakes up in the morning and frowns when he catches the colours of the cottage around him. He counts the days and tries to remember how long he was here last time. He feels like it’s longer this time, but he convinces himself it’s the anticipation of seeing Baz (and finishing that conversation) that keeps him on edge. He drags himself into the office and continues stamping decrees, answering emails from kids doing school projects on him, proofreading bills. He gets an email reminding him about his promised interview with Mage’s quarterly. He’s never felt less like doing anything in his life.

 

When he ignores the email, and the voicemail, he gets a call. He ignores that too until he gets home from work and realizes that the editor has contacted Agatha directly.

 

“Simon, don’t forget to call Mage’s Quarterly. They’re trying to organize the 10th anniversary edition. They keep calling me and asking me to remind you.”

 

“I’m not going to do it,” he says before he can stop himself.

 

“What, why not?”

 

“I don’t- it’s not- it’s not something I want to talk about. It was terrible-”

 

“You saved the world of Mages, you saved us all from losing our magic,” she frowns. “You’re a hero.”

 

He closes his eyes.

 

“No, it’s just-“

 

Agatha scowls.

 

“Simon- the Old Families were only going to get in the way. They didn’t know how to adapt to the times. You did what you had to.”

 

Simon thinks of Baz, arguing over whose turn it is to cook the morning fry up, scrunching his nose at a particularly challenging crossword clue, rubbing his back when he wakes from another nightmare- no, a memory…

 

“I- I don’t think that’s true.” The truth gets caught somewhere in his chest, sharp and painful. He didn’t have to do it- he shouldn’t have done it.

 

“Simon,” Agatha is clearly exasperated, but he can’t lie to himself about it anymore.

 

“I shouldn’t have done it. I should have found another way,” He hangs his head.

 

“There was no other way! If you didn’t do it he would have killed you!”

 

Simon thinks of Baz’s voice, sweet and low.

 

‘I have been in love with you for a very, very, long time.’

 

“No, I don’t think he would have.”

 

Agatha is still frowning at him. He wishes he could make her understand.

 

“Simon! You promised them you’d do this.”

 

She picks up his phone and dials for him, “You promised.”

 

He stares at her as she holds the phone out to him and feels sick. But it’s those words that ring out in his head and make him take the phone from her.

 

The interview is arranged for a week from tomorrow. Simon hopes fervently that he’s gone before then.

 

And this time he doesn’t really care if he comes back.

 -----

 

His luck has truly run out, and the following week he finds himself sitting at his desk with a reporter and photographer from Mage’s Quarterly.

 

He sits stiffly through the editorial portraits, grimacing slightly.

 

“Alright Mr. Snow, we’re going to start with some basic questions, just stuff about how life is going for you now, and then we’ll slowly focus more on the anniversary and what it means for you.”

 

He grunts, half listening as he eyes the clock.

 

“Most of our readers remember the battle, so we’re just looking for a nice follow up piece, just an easy ‘where are they now’ kind of thing…”

 

He stops listening altogether and wonders where Baz would be now. Probably sitting behind this very desk, claiming his birthrite. Would he have met someone else? While the idea of them together is so weird, somehow Simon can’t imagine Baz with anyone else. Baz is too demanding, too intense- no one really ever got him at school, and even now he can be trying and difficult at the best of times.

 

He tries a mental exercise in which he compares hypothetical Baz to alternate universe Baz and answers questions on autopilot.

 

He’s trying to decide whether or not hypothetical Baz would have punched him if he’d tried kissing him at the Leaver’s Ball when,

 

“On the topic of your heroic victory over the Old Families, and ending the longstanding Pitch influence on the coven-,”

 

“No,” The reporter looks up in shock and then quickly tries to hide it

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t finish the question,”

 

“Don’t bother, I already know I don’t want to answer it,”

 

“Obviously you don’t need to answer anything that makes you uncomfortable but the readers will want to know your thoughts about your triumph over your lifelong enemy,”

 

“It’s not- it wasn’t like that,” Simon says. His voice sounds raw, almost pleading.

 

“It’s publicly known that the two of you disliked each other. A quote from your wife- then girlfriend- confirmed that you and your former roommate Tyrannus Pitch often fought, and referred to each other as sworn nemeses.”

 

“Well, yes, but-”

 

“And there were some rumours, especially among reformers, although never confirmed- that he was a vampire-“

 

“No comment, and in my opinion not really relevant,” Simon all but hisses.

 

“Sources from your year at Watford confirmed that you were very vocal about this, and spent a great deal of time attempting to prove the allegations-,”

 

Simon presses the tips of his fingers into his eyelids so hard he sees colours. He can feel the uncontrollable pulse of his magic rising, and he tries to breathe deeply and count to ten.

 

“Neutralizing the biggest threat of the Old Families was a turning point in the war and-,”

 

“There was no threat!” Simon jumps out of his chair, magic leaking from him. Why don’t they understand, why doesn’t anyone? “It wasn’t a heroic act, it wasn’t brave or righteous! It was- we were just kids!”

 

“Mr. Snow, Simon-“

 

He turns around and stumbles out of his office, leaving the reporter and the photographer behind. He climbs into his car and lets out a breath he feels like he’s been holding for ages. His cellphone starts ringing in his pocket and he silences it. It isn’t enough, so he twists around and throws it as hard as he can to the back of the trunk. Then he starts the ignition and backs out of the parking lot.

 

He just starts driving. By the time he figures out where he’s going, he’s already halfway there.

-----

 

What happens to the love someone feels when they die?

 

Simon lays back in the grass, hand reaching up to idly run along the inscription of Baz's name. Does it die with them? Just fade out of existence like it was never there? Or is it like magic- dissipating into the environment, spreading out everywhere infinitesimally thinly until it becomes part of the very air.

 

If Baz died loving him, does that love still exist somewhere? Did he breathe it in somewhere between Baz's last breath and the shuddering steadying one that came much later as Simon rose from the dirt, streaked in blood and earth.

 

He finds himself wishing that he did, that part of it lives here, somewhere deep in his own chest.

 

He doesn’t think he could handle it otherwise.

 

He falls asleep, cheek pressed to the damp earth. When he wakes, the sun is setting and he’s sure Agatha is wondering where he is. He can’t bring himself to care, and instead wishes that he’d brought something for Baz. That he’d turned down the interview. That he’d made different choices, anything that would have brought him to anywhere other than where he is now.

 -----

 

 The morning he finally wakes up to watery light through white curtains, he doesn't even bother waking Baz up before rolling on top of him, kissing him awake through impassioned complaints about his breath. He himself has no complaints.

 

And so it goes.

 

Simon wakes up to soft morning light and Baz snoring into his shoulder. They argue and laugh, kiss on the couch in front of the telly, and shag enough that Simon starts considering beginning a cardio routine. They work, meet with social workers, sign papers, attend meetings, and panic over cleaning the house for home visits.

 

In between Simon wakes up to the blaring of his alarm, lets Agatha remind him of dressage competitions, calls Penny, and stamps decrees. He starts cooking dinner every night, brings Baz’s headstone flowers weekly, and waits.

 

The anniversary comes and goes. Simon spends the day with Baz’s headstone, eating salt and vinegar crisps and scattering the crumbs around the base while he thinks of something, anything, to say. He tries to decide once and for all how long ‘a very very long time’ is, and cries when he decides he may never actually know.

 

Then the anniversary comes again and he calls in sick for both of them and spends the day shagging Baz against most of the flat surfaces in their home until an exhausted Baz pleads for a reprieve.

 

He starts keeping better track of the days, and tries not to panic as he realizes his time between coming home gets longer and longer, and the length of his stays starts dwindling from three weeks, to two, to shorter.

 -----

 

“Baz,” Simon starts, late at night on day six of what will likely be a week-long stay.

 

Baz hums distractedly from where he’s trying to coax life into one of the cacti growing in the windowsill. It’s a test project- Baz has recently seen an herb garden in their future and is trying to prove Simon wrong by keeping houseplants alive until it’s time for the spring and the backyard thaws.

 

“If this was- have you ever. Wait. Just- have you ever wanted to know when the last time something happened was?”

 

“While I’m impressed that you’re using your words, you’re going to have to make a bit more sense if you want an answer to whatever that was.”

 

“Shut up, I’m being serious. It’s like- the last time you go somewhere would you want to know it was the last time?” Baz’s eyebrows almost disappear into his hairline before he squints at the telly.

 

“What are you watching?”

 

“It’s- it’s nothing to do with this-,” Simon says waving his hands at the telly, where he’s currently watching a muted movie- something to do with aliens. “I just meant, say I was like dying- would you want to know the last time we kissed, or talked?” Baz frowns and Simon finds himself weirdly attracted to the little wrinkle that graces his nose.

 

“Like as it was happening?” Baz says slowly, and Simon is glad that he’s catching on. This is important.

 

“Yeah, exactly.”

 

“And neither of us is going to die?”

 

“Neither of us is going to die,” Simon clears his throat as he chokes up a little. He tries to avoid thinking about it when he’s at home, but he stares at Baz and thinks about the headstone in the woods in Hampshire. He’s noticed for some time now that the grey of the stone is the exact shade of Baz’s eyes.

 

“Well,” Baz hesitates and looks out the window. It’s late. They should be in bed. “I don’t think so. It’s tempting, but knowing it’s the last time would ruin the living experience of… whatever.” He sounds tentative, but Simon knows better than to second guess Baz once he’s made up his mind.

 

Simon doesn’t know if he’s relieved, or if he’s finally run out options.

 

The next morning Simon wakes up to the sound of Agatha humming to the clock radio, and he isn’t even a little bit surprised.

 

He spends so long visiting that he gives up on keeping track of the time in between.

 -----

 

 It’s a rare privilege these days to breathe in the smell of Baz’s shampoo. It’s tempting, like it always is, to just lie quietly and savour it, but-

 

"Baz," Simon whispers into his hair, tangling their legs together under the sheets.

 

"Hnnng?" Baz grunts against Simon's neck, where he’s already most of the way asleep. Simon can feel the familiar pull of sleep on his mind, but refuses to give in just yet. It’s his third day of being home, and it’s already one day longer than he thought he would get.

 

"I need to talk to you."

 

"Can't it wait 'til morning?" Baz grumbles, shifting and trying to get comfortable. Simon smooths his hair back from his forehead and kisses the cold skin there.

 

"No, it's important that I tell you this- right now."

 

A heavy sigh and a kick to the shin, but the words are enough and Baz lifts his head from where he had been comfortable against Simon.

 

"What, Snow?"

 

"I just, I need you to know this. You're the realest thing in my life. That being here, with you, this is where I'm supposed to be. If I could choose any path or life for myself it would be this one, where I have you. And- just. Yeah.”

 

Baz stares at him, wide eyed and slightly dazed looking, obviously not having expected to be woken up for such an emotional declaration.

 

"Simon-" He whispers, hands coming up towards his face but for once Simon is faster, and grasps him by the wrists before pulling him closer, closer until there is no space between them at all. The sound he makes into Baz's mouth as they come together is desperate and undignified, unlike any other sound he's ever heard himself make, but he doesn't care. He has no guarantees when or if he'll ever be back here, and he needs to belong to Baz in this moment.

 

“I know it’s the kind of thing that’s supposed to go poetically unsaid-,” Baz whispers against his skin, and Simon closes his eyes and smiles.

 

“I know. I love you too. And I will for a very, very long time.”

-----

 

Simon shuffles down the hallway, taking the time to turn the lights off. He nudges Agatha's walker to the side as he enters their bedroom. He can hear her snoring softly and makes sure he's as quiet as possible as he leans his cane against the wall and gets ready for bed.

 

He feels his joints groan in protest as he eases himself into bed. He makes a mental note to remember to call the doctor in the morning for a refill on his prescription. He vaguely wonders whether he should write himself a note so he doesn’t forget, but he falls asleep before he's made up his mind.

-----

 

He wakes up to a tickle in his nose. He tries to brush it away until he's forced to accept that he's up.

 

At first, he wonders if he's died.

 

Then, his eyes adjust to the light and he realizes he isn't really staring into nothing, and that all the white around him is actually of varying shades, rather than being a single slate of absence.

 

Faster than he's done anything in decades, he turns to his side.

 

Baz.

 

The hand he reaches out is the echo of a distant memory, liver spots and gnarled joints restored to tawny skin, smooth and taut over sinew.

 

He traces the curve of Baz's brow, the swell of his lower lip.

 

"Snow," the scratchy rumble ignites something in him, making him feel more alive than he's felt in years.

 

"Baz," His voice wavers, his throat working against the emotions threatening to suffocate him.

 

Baz cracks an eye open in amusement, lifting his brows. It's never been so apparent to him how his own memory pales in comparison to the real thing. The memories he has of Baz, so treasured and shining even after all this time- they tarnish under the weight of exposure.

 

"Happy anniversary to you too."

 

"Come here," It’s a heroic effort to swallow past the lump in his throat, but if Baz notices how his voice breaks with the strain of years of longing, he's polite enough not to mention it as he rolls over into Simon's arms.

 

"Good morning Simon," he breathes against Simon's mouth, eyes still sleepy and cold hands burrowing under the hem of Simon's shirt.

 

"Good morning Baz," Simon breathes back, before tugging him down and surrendering to reality.