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autumnal changes (I watched you watching the leaves fall)

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Simon felt a pang of disappointment when he realised that Blue couldn’t be Bram, and thanks to a minion no less.  Maybe it was the soft hum of alcohol in his body, the gentle warmth and the haze in his head, but it felt truly and bodily devastating.  But at least Bram hadn’t seen him; that would have been embarrassing.

It wasn’t as though he wouldn’t like Blue when he found out who he was if he wasn’t Bram--unless he was Martin Addison, fuck Martin Addison--there was just something about knowing that Bram couldn’t be that felt like a blow.  Cute Bram Greenfeld with his soccer calves and perfect grades, who never really spoke to Simon even though he really did seem to look at him a lot, the calm depth of his voice, the way only one side of his face would dimple when he laughed at whatever Garrett had said to him.  Cute Bram Greenfeld who Simon was pretty sure was probably really funny inside his head.  Funny.  Like Blue in his emails.  But not funny like Blue, funny in his own perfectly unique way, because Bram Greenfeld was definitely not Blue.

Simon just wanted to go home.

Maybe, in hindsight, the drunk email would be a bad idea, but drunk logic was drunk logic.  He slumped into the chair at his desk and typed it with slow fingers that felt too heavy to hit the keys efficiently, his vision blurred from the intoxication or maybe the way his glasses were skewed and slipping from his face.  He’d thank himself in the morning for his failure to hit the send button successfully.

Or he would have done if he’d had time to register the half coherent draft before he’d seen the email from Blue.  Subject: Drunk me is an asshole.  Period and all.  Simon smiled at the screen, sipping on the bottle of water that he had set on his desk the day before, prior to the party and thanking, somewhere in the back of his mind, his lack of a hangover.

 

Dear Jacques, was enough all on its own to make Simon smile, because even if Blue wasn’t cute Bram Greenfeld he was still Blue.

I have a horrible feeling that I suck (no, I will not be making that joke…).  At the very least, drunk me does (still not doing it).  I am definitely gay and also definitely an idiot: drunk me decided that making out with a girl at a party was a brilliant idea and I am so sorry.  And Simon’s heart felt like it was stopping.  He guessed that meant Bram Greenfeld was back on the list of potential Blues.  And maybe he seemed even more likely then, unbelievably.

It didn’t exactly last for very long before even drunk me realised that there is absolutely no way I am attracted to women.  Thankfully, I still had enough sense to not tell her why I stopped it so quickly.  I think I’d really hate it if the first person I ever came out to (I’m not counting you, I’m sure you understand) was dressed as a sexy minion.  Seriously, who decides that a minion is the thing to make sexy?  They’re like the antithesis of sex!

Love, Blue

And that was just too big of a coincidence.  SImon would maybe fixate on what Blue’s idea of sex was if a minion was the complete opposite.  Or maybe how they’d been signing their emails with love and it never felt anything but correct.  Or maybe that Blue felt the need to apologise to him for kissing a girl.  But he couldn’t.

Frantically, he typed an email of his own.

 

Dear Blue,

I am so sorry, please don’t freak out, it’s just… You said something in your email and it just can’t be a coincidence.  You couldn’t have known any better, please don’t kick yourself.  But I’m pretty sure I know who you are.  I’m sorry I found out this way.  I won’t type your name or approach you in person or say a single other word about this if you tell me not to, but I think you need to know.  Sorry (but, like, also I have been putting the word “cute” in front of your name every time I have thought about it since I met you, so take that how you will…).

Love, (a very sorry) Jacques

 

 


 

Bram’s heart had been in his throat when he sent that email from his phone, sitting on his sofa with a mug of hot tea sitting beside him.  There was always a possibility that Jacques would resent him for kissing that girl, he definitely resented himself at least a little bit for it, but he needed forgiveness so badly that he had to send the email anyway.  Maybe Jacques wasn’t reading into their emails like he was, maybe Jacques just saw them as friends and would be weirded out by the apology, or maybe he did see their relationship the same way Bram did and he’d feel betrayed.  Bram would blame himself in either event.

Of course he hadn’t been anticipating a rushed response from Jacques to come through half an hour later whilst he was trying to force feed a pretty hungover Garrett a meagre breakfast of toast and weak black coffee (because Garrett was a baby who thought that coffee was too bitter to drink as intended).  He was sitting across the table, challenging Garrett with a simple glare when his phone pinged.  He didn’t break eye contact when he reached out for it.  He smiled when he saw the reply and Garrett begrudgingly sunk his teeth into the corner of his toast.

Then his phone fell on the table between them and Bram had thankfully managed to press the lock button in his panic.  It landed face up, a photo of Bram and Garrett, a few years younger and grinning after the first game they’d one as part of the same team.  Garrett had a grass stain on his cheek and a clump of dirt in his hair and the photo was from before he had gotten his braces off.

“Woah,” Garrett put down his toast, “you okay man?”  Bram must have looked as much like a deer caught in the headlights as he felt because Garrett didn’t afford him the chance to answer before he was speaking again, gentle and comforting.  It was a reminder, if ever Bram needed one, that Garrett was only sort of a douche.  And, at that moment, Bram was fairly certain he did need that reminder.  “Do you need help?  Because I will so help you.  Including if you’ve killed someone, but only if you did it for a good reason,” Bram knew the spiel.  The body thing was something of a promise Garrett had made to him many times over, so many that Bram was becoming a bit concerned that Garrett was waiting for him to say it back before he let him into the Laughlin basement.

Bram shook his head.  A coil of hair fell in front of his eyes and he found he suddenly didn’t even have enough energy to reach up and put it back in place.  “I-” he looked at the table, Garrett’s folded hands just breaching the edge of his vision.  He started counting the freckles on Garrett’s knuckles as his best friend waited, the perfect symbol of patience and understanding.  The perfect person to tell, really.  Maybe it would change everything, but Bram knew he should have a little more faith in Garrett than that.

“I-” he tried again.  He still wouldn’t look at Garrett’s face but he supposed that staring at a stain on his shirt that Bram sincerely hoped wasn’t vomit was an improvement from the polished wood of the table.  “I’m gay,” He managed after a moment.  It was only after he said it that he managed to look at Garrett’s face.

His mouth made the shape of a perfect ‘o’ and his eyebrows were creeping up his forehead but he hadn’t run away yet, and the untouched coffee was still the only thing he looked disgusted with.  “Wow,” he said after a moment.  Bram assumed he would continue but he didn’t.  He just stood and there was a brief but tortuous moment in which Bram thought he’d ruined the best friendship he had ever had.  That was until Garrett’s arms were around his body, pulling him tightly into a hug that said much more than any words Garrett could think of would ever be able to.

“Are you surprised?” Bram asked once Garrett sat down.  He didn’t really know what answer he wanted.

“No,” Garrett said resolutely, shaking his head.

“So you knew?”

“No… you were just always weird around Spier,” and the way that Bram fidgeted and flushed at the mention of Simon’s name pretty effectively eliminated any chance he may have had of denying it, “and I guess as soon as you said it I realised that it made too much sense to be a surprise,”

“You’re not very good at being a douche,”

“Thanks?” he cocked his head to one side like a puppy.  There was a moment of silence that was thankfully no more painful than  any other silence they had shared in their three years of knowing each other.  “So why did that make you throw your phone at me,”
“It wasn’t at you,” Bram rolled his eyes and, with a sigh, committed himself to recalling, though sans a fair few details, the whole email exchange.  Then he got to the one that had made him throw his phone and Garrett’s brow immediately scrunched.

“You’re sure he knows who you are?”

“He seems pretty confident,”

“He doesn’t exactly seem upset about it,” Garrett grinned and Bram thanked, not for the first time, that his skin was dark enough to hide the blush a bit.

“No,” Bram said, “And I have a bit of a suspicion about who he is but it might just be wishful thinking and I don’t want to be wrong,”

Garrett raised his eyebrows.  “Wishful thinking?  Really Greenfeld?  You think it might actually be Spier?”

“I never said I liked him,”

“It was heavily implied.  Don’t dodge the question,”

Bram stood up without any elegance.  “Okay, yes, I have a crush on Simon Spier and I have been given zero evidence that I think could rule him out.  Besides, the type of thing that Jacques writes sounds like the type of thing that Simon says…” he trailed off.  It felt like he had just struck gold.  “Fuck,” he breathed.  Garrett looked more shocked at the expletive than the coming out.  Bram wasn’t the type of person to swear without good reason.  “Simon says,” he repeated.

“I heard you the first time,” Garrett assured him, well and truly lost.

“No,” Bram shook his head.  “ Simon Says,” Garrett still wasn’t getting it so he tried again.  “Simon says in French is Jacques a dit,”

“Ohhhh,” Garrett said, face suddenly taken up by a shit-eating grin he knew better than to question.

“So what do I do now?” Bram asked, cradling his phone in his hand and staring at his distorted reflection in the dark screen that definitely looked like it needed to be cleaned.

“That’s your choice dude,” Garrett seemed serious.  It was a bit unlike him but it wasn’t unwelcome.  “I know you’re scared,” terrified, nauseated, Bram thought, coming up with a few adjectives of his own.  “But I also think you’d be stupid not to try something here.  And you, Bramley Greenfeld, are anything but stupid,”

“That’s not my name,” Bram reminded him with a grin on his face, half intended for his best friend and half intended for the boy with the bedhead, wonky glasses, and moon grey eyes that always held eye contact a little too long on the other side of the anonymous emails.






There was this intensely awful tension between Simon and his laptop screen whilst he waited for Blue, Bram, to respond to his message.  Then came the even larger one when the next email in the thread came through and he had to convince himself to open it.  What if Blue never wanted to talk to him again?  What if there was just no way Bram could see them being a thing without the computer screen proxy?

But he had to read it eventually and he didn’t really want to keep Bram waiting for too long.  Just in case what it contained wouldn’t be the end of the world and, instead, might actually be the start of a new one.

 

Dear Jacques,

I don’t blame you for figuring it out and I definitely don’t want to stop talking to you over it.  Honestly, I think I have a pretty good guess of my own.  How about if we both guess right we’ll exchange numbers and make an actual plan to meet up outside of our inboxes.  For now though, I suppose it’s only fair I guess.

 

  • You wear glasses
  • You’re best friends with someone on the soccer team
  • You’re in the play
  • You have the most amazing moon grey eyes
  • Your name comes from Jacques a dit

 

I am so beyond sorry if I’m wrong but I also kind of came out to my best friend in my crisis and, after a pretty important revelation, I really don’t think I am.

Love, Blue

 

Simon figured it would be impolite to keep him waiting any longer.  Especially when the list kept hitting closer and closer to his heart every time and he couldn’t pretend that Jacques and Simon were distinctly different entities any longer.

 

Dear Blue,

Okay, first of all, wow!! You came out to your friend and I’m inferring it must have gone pretty well!  I know I’m absolutely responding to this in the wrong order but how could I not?  Anyway, onto the list, I guess.

 

  • My eyesight is, in fact, awful
  • I am
  • Once again, I am (not that I have any lines…)
  • Well amazing seems subjective, and I don’t know that I’d say they were moon grey (but you’re welcome to…), they’re definitely grey
  • And I think this one pretty much makes it undeniable.  You got it

 

I’m glad you don’t mind me knowing who you are, Blue, and now that you know who I am, I really need to ask how you feel about that (but please don’t be too honest…).  And now I guess it’s my turn.

 

  • You’re in Mr. Wise’s English with me
  • Both you and your best friend are on the soccer team
  • We eat lunch together
  • I’ve had this theory for a long time that you’re secretly really funny inside your head
  • The green in your email address comes from your surname

 

I really hope I’m not wrong.  That would be awkward.  Especially after I started this whole thing…

Love, Simon

(and wow, does that sign off feel weird :p)






When Bram got the email back he almost shoved his phone under Garrett’s nose and told him to only tell Bram what it said if a) Bram had guessed right and b) Jacques actually had figured it out.  He didn’t but he also didn’t tell Garrett to stop watching over his shoulder as he opened the notification and that felt like a pretty fair compromise between the warring factions of his brain.

“It’s Simon!” He exclaimed as if Garrett hadn’t already read it for himself whilst Bram trailed his eyes over the words time and time again, just to make sure he was seeing them right.

“And it’s you,” Garrett said softly.  Bram hadn’t let himself get to that part of the email yet but he could kiss Garrett for alleviating some of his anxiety before he got to it.  Not actually, of course.  The only person he planned to kiss any time soon was Simon Spier and, for the first time ever, it seemed more like a plan than a dream.

“Garrett, what’s my phone number again?”

“Do you not know your own phone number?” Garrett sounded genuinely shocked.

Bram tried to breathe and ignore the way his stomach felt like it was so full of butterflies it could burst at any moment.  “Not today,” Garrett could very well have teased him for that and Bram wouldn’t have blamed him but he just nodded in understanding and recited the number.  Bram sent it in an email all of its own; Simon would know what it was without any other details.  It wasn’t two minutes later that he received a text from a number he didn’t have saved no matter how many days, months, years, he had been biting back the urge to ask for it.  The message was a simple blue heart.  In its simplicity it conveyed multitudes.

He made to save the contact and deliberated for a moment too long what would be appropriate or ideal to put as the name.  He wondered if he should go for Simon or Jacques, or a nickname?  Did Simon have any nicknames?  Was Bram allowed to use them?  The thing about being Bram Greenfeld was that it was far too easy to fall into anxiety spirals about everything at the drop of a hat.  He and Garrett would joke it was a super power whenever he’d had a panic attack so they were rewatching an old Marvel movie on one of their couches.

Thankfully he didn’t have to make a decision at all.  Garrett barely looked at him before nimbly clasping the phone between his thumb and forefinger, lifting it from Bram’s slack grip.  He handed it back with a new contact, simply saved as <3.  Bram raised an eyebrow and Garrett shrugged back.

“Unless I’ve severely misread, like, everything, that is the tone of this relationship, right?” Bram nodded mutely and Garrett grinned, “Well then, there you go, bud.  It’s obvious you two are a thing but it’s not obvious who you’re a thing with,” he paused. “Have you told anyone else?” Bram shook his head. “Has Spier?”

“Not unless something major--something else major--has happened in the last ten minutes,”

“Then I’m helping that closet door stay closed a little,” Garrett shrugged, “If someone saw a flirty text then the name would be a dead give away,”

“Wow,” Bram said, “I can’t believe Garret Laughlin actually has forethought today,”
“I have to, you’ve got boy brain,”

“Please don’t call it boy brain,”

“Too late,”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,”

 

Bram and Simon had agreed to meet in Waffle House.  It was neutral ground where they both felt comfortable enough.  Besides, Simon was never going to turn down waffles.  Bram knew that when he suggested it.  He got there a little before their agreed meeting time and ordered for both of them and sat and waited, nursing a glass of diet coke with too much ice that kept clanking against the glass.  The unsteady, uncomfortable noise wasn’t helping his nerves but the nerves were what was making his hands shake in the first place.  He kind of wanted to set his head against the table and scream.  He didn’t.  That would be pretty humiliating.

Sure enough, right on time, Simon arrived wearing a loose hoodie with the sleeves pulled over his knuckles.  He was cracking them.  Bram supposed he wasn’t the only one who was nervous and waved Simon over, wondering to himself if Simon was just perfectly on time or if he had arrived early and waited outside for long enough to not be early.

“Hi,” Simon smiled as he looked at the table apprehensively.  Bram could only guess that he was deliberating whether to sit opposite him or next to him so he patted the seat next to him.  A look of relief, perhaps at the invitation or maybe just at not having to choose, passed across Simon’s face as he settled into the booth beside Bram, their knees touching and the fabric of their jumpers brushing at the shoulders.

It was the most real Jacques and Blue had ever been; the first time they had broken away from the screen and actually interacted as Simon and Bram.  There was a specifically tentative type of awkwardness that wasn’t there in the emails but it felt like a growing pain at most: it wouldn’t last long and it was nothing to worry about.  Bram was all but sure of that when Simon Spier looked up at him from beneath the same cloud of ash blond hair, glasses askew and nose crinkled, smiling.  It was in a momentary lapse of judgement that Bram reached over and gently straightened the frames.  Simon blinked back at him owlishly, still smiling.  Thankfully for Bram, the food chose the perfect moment to arrive, along with two glasses of diet coke.

Simon was blinking again, like that was good enough to replace words.  Bram liked to imagine a day some time in the future when it would be, and maybe he was getting ahead of himself but it was hardly as though Simon could read his mind so it didn’t matter much.

“You got this for me?” Simon asked softly, as if there was anyone else Bram might have ordered for.  Bram nodded and there was a brief moment where it hurt to look at Simon because of how brightly his expression seemed to be glowing.  “You got the order exactly right,”

Bram was kind of proud of himself but, at least for now, he felt like he had to at least try to play it cool.  With how painfully uncool he was he supposed that might level him out and let him pass as a normal person for a little.  “Of course,” he said.  He knew they were both speaking lowly, like everything passing between them was a secret.  He supposed it was, but they were still sitting alone, on the same side of the booth, closer together than they strictly needed to be, sharing smiles and whispers.  Not to mention how painfully aware of the nervous rocking of Simon’s feet Bram was as, with every twitchy movement, Simon's knee bumped his.  He didn't really mind it but he figured that if he was being brave he may as well not let any of that short lived bravery go to waste.  He put his hand gently on Simon’s knee, checking with his expression that he was allowed to do so.

Simon nodded and stared at Bram’s hand on his own leg, face turning a wonderful shade of pink that Bram would forever have ingrained in his memory.  “I can’t believe I finally get to meet you,” Simon said and, bit by bit, the awkwardness dissipated.  By the time there was neither waffle nor diet coke left they were a laughing mess, sprawled out across the seat and across each other.  It seemed like Simon and Bram were picking up where Jacques and Blue had left off and both were beyond grateful for that.  They had taken a leap of faith and it was paying off.

Still, there had been a question at the back of Bram’s mind all day, and before they parted ways (hopefully just to start texting each other like any other sickening teenage couple) he felt like he needed to ask it.  “How did you figure out it was me?”

“I may have walked in on you and minion girl,” he said and Bram immediately felt the heat in his cheeks.  He wanted to apologise, to grovel, to spend however long he had left on earth explaining the whole thing away, but Simon was laughing.  Because Simon got it.  Even if Bram maybe didn’t, at least not intellectually.