Love, they say, is not pain.
Being with the one you love should not hurt .
Being with Simon Snow had hurt.
Loving Simon Snow was painful.
Baz wasn’t sure that he still loved Simon Snow, the pain at seeing him now wasn’t telling. Was Baz in pain because he still loved Simon? Or was he in pain because he had loved Simon and that love had left him scarred and afraid? Too scarred for his hands to hold another close for fear of being told he was pushing them too much, asking for too much. Being too much.
Loving Simon Snow wasn’t a pain that was easily healed from.
It didn’t help that Baz had thrown himself into the fire without looking back.
The story of Simon Snow and Basilton Pitch was not a romantic story, it was never a story of romance. There was a time that Baz had thought it was. He was in love with his greatest enemy. The boy he had been groomed to defeat. The boy that would never look at him the way Baz wanted him to. Baz was fine with that. It was a tragic romance in his mind, it fell in with what he had been told when he tried to come out to his parents “you will never find love being like that.” It was a romance that fit into his view of what being gay meant. No one could ever love Baz. Simon Snow would never.
But then Simon had looked at Baz, and it was a tragedy.
Baz had never expected anything from Simon, but he had hoped,and that hope brought him pain.
Because they were right, no one could ever love Baz.
No one could be happy like that if they were gay.
Baz had burned until he was a hollowed out shell, his soft heart a bleeding pile of pulp. It had taken years for that shell to crack, for some air to slip in, for Baz to start healing and growing again...for the wreck that was Baz’s heart to take some sort of shape again.
Seeing Simon Snow again hurt.
His heart squeezed in his chest and Baz hoped that he wouldn’t lose himself again.
They were young. He would have done anything to have whatever Simon would give him.
“Glad I could save you the trouble of breaking up with me.”
Baz slumped over the kitchen counter, holding his head in his hands.
Listening to Simon Snow hurt.
“I was a fool.” Their story was never a romance.
This was the last time Baz would ever let himself cry over Simon Snow, the last time he would let Simon Snow tug at the unraveling of Baz’s own fragile existence.
Penny was getting married. Simon would be at the wedding. Surely, Penny wouldn’t notice if Baz didn’t show. She may have been excited to see him but she could go longer without seeing Baz again.
He doubts she will even remember to send him an actual invitation.
When Simon burst through the door to the small flat he didn’t know what he was expecting. He was out of breath, slightly sweaty, and without a plan. The bells had clammored loudly downstairs and he wondered if the door closed behind him or if he should've stopped to make sure the door was closed before he ran up the stairs three at a time. There wasn’t anything he could do about it now, not after he just made a scene bursting back into his ex-boyfriend's apartment. Baz had been slumped over the counter when Simon arrived, but now he lifts his head to glare stonily over his crossed arms at Simon. Simon’s heart lurches up into his throat at the sight of Baz’s tear streaked face. The other man's eyes are rimmed with pink, standing out in sharp contrast to his pale skin and not for the first time in his life, Simon finds himself struggling with finding the right words.
Baz rolls his eyes and props his chin up on his hand, glower undiminished even as another tear rolls down his cheek and a growl slips out through his clenched teeth.
“What did you forget this time?”
The words are tired. Simon runs a hand through his hair. He messed this up, again. He made Baz cry, again. You would think after all the years of therapy he would be better at this. Well, he wasn’t worse. He was at least aware now, all he had to do was try.
“I didn’t mean what I said before.”
Baz’s eyebrow raises in its trademark arch, “oh?” his tone dry as he snarled “which part? I don’t think there’s anything you’ve ever said to me that you’ve meant except when you were threatening to kill me so, go ahead. Tell me what you ‘didn’t mean’ and then just get the fuck out of my life Simon.”
It's like all the blood in Simon's body has decided to rush to his head. If Simon throws up right now it definitely would not help the situation. The feeling won't go away though, his stomach has joined his heart in trying to evacuate his body through his throat. He hopes he doesn't pass out. What was Baz insinuating? Simon’s hand tangles in the front of his t-shirt as he attempts to formulate a response.
“Uh-what? No. Wait. Nevermind. Baz, I didn’t mean it when I said the thing about breaking up with you, I was just mad about you thanking me, because I actually didn’t come here to talk about Penny-I mean- I did! I did come to talk about Penny the first time but uh, t-today I came to talk about us-”
Baz buried his face in his hands and slouched over the counter again, breathing out heavily.
“Simon. Use your words and spit it out already!”
Heat coarsed through Simon. His face felt like it was on fire. It had been a long time since anyone had said that to him. His hands clenched.The only thing he could hear was the roar of his own blood through his veins. Crossing the floor he slammed his hands down on the counter on either side of Baz’s arms.
“ This . This is why I broke up with you. You obviously hate me. You hated me before. Who says stuff like that to people? I have a fucking speech problem. You fucking know this. Y-you know! Why else would you always say shit like that to me unless you hate me?”
Baz is looking up through his fingers now. He’s just watching as Simon flares up, brows drawing together in the middle of his forehead.
Simon was better now but he still went off.
“D-dont- ‘ Simon’ me!” Simon spit out, spinning away from the counter... away from those eyes.
“I take it back. I did mean it. I am glad I could save you the trouble of breaking up with me. You were so mean Baz. So mean. You are still so mean. You hardly ever said my name when we were dating, how could you possibly say that I-”
Simon came to a stop in front of the opposite wall of the flat. He hadn't realized he was pacing. Turning back around, prepared to continue his train of thought he caught a flash of movement at the top of the stairs.
Baz was leaving.
Simon dashed across the flat and down the stairs, hardly noticing if he missed a few steps along the way. He landed heavily on the bottom landing, the door chimed just as he turned the corner. Baz was hurrying away from the building in the opposite direction Simon had come.
Simon didn’t come all this way not to talk it out with Baz, or yell it out, fight it out. Whatever they had to do to go forward from here. Simon was going to do it. He needed closure. He needed to be able to go back to Penny and say that ‘yes, Baz definitely hated me and I was right to break up with him’. He needed that...or something. He wanted to tell Baz how he felt. He wanted to know what Baz felt...even if it was just a confirmation of the obvious.
It wasn't until five blocks later that Simon lost track of Baz. One moment, his tall dark figure was stiffly walking swiftly ahead through the grey streets and then, in a blink of an eye, Baz was nowhere to be seen. Simon stopped and ran his hands through his hair, pulling at it while he looked around. There was an alley ahead on the right, that seemed like the only viable place for Baz to have gone, unless he cast some sort of invisibility spell on himself... Simon wasn’t going to let him get away, not this time. If he did let Baz go, Simon had a feeling he really wouldn’t ever get to have this talk with the other man. It felt like they were back in school when Baz had led Simon on a wild goose chase, not letting Simon get a chance to tell Baz about his mom visiting. Why couldn't Baz ever just stay put when Simon wanted to talk to him?
Approaching the alley, Simon surveyed it cautiously. The thin path was dark and the bricks of the buildings on either side were dirty with the grime of years of neglect. A soft green shone through a cast iron gate at the end. The gate was swaying softly as though someone had recently passed through it. Simon took a deep breath and crept to the gate, pushing it open gently. The alley led into a small yard, filled with grass and scattered trees. There were a few benches scattered around the small outdoor space. Looking around, Simon spotted his target, partially obscured by one of the few patches of overgrown grass.
Baz sat with his back to the brick wall of one the buildings enclosing the space, his knees drawn up. His shoulders were shaking and his head was tucked against his chest, arms crossed over the back of his exposed neck. As Simon got closer, he could hear the ragged breaths of the other man. He paused for a moment, staring down at Baz, reminded of the time back in the catacombs when he had confronted Baz about being a vampire. Was this not a similar situation? Although this time instead of trying to expose his darkness, Simon just wanted to expose the truth? Wanted to hear what Baz was feeling? Maybe he went about it the wrong way...again…With the way Baz was behaving, Simon could almost say it was similar to when Baz had thrown him out on the street recently...Simon honestly felt it was more similar to how Baz had been when he tried to burn the forest down and himself along with it. There was no fire now but Simon felt the flames of shame burning in his gut. He had just wanted to talk.
“Baz?” Simon crouched down in the grass.
The ragged breaths stop, Baz going eerily still before lifting his head to stare at Simon with open bewilderment and-Simon swallowed hard-despair. Simon looked at the ground. It was that look again. He didn’t know what to do with that look.
“Wha-?” Baz choked
“I just need to talk to you. I am sorry I lost my temper-”
A cold hand gripped Simon's shoulder, causing him to look up and meet Baz’s wet eyes. He looked so far away.
“No! No, don't apologize. You are right. I shouldn't have said that.” Baz choked out, almost frantically before looking back down into his lap. His grip tightened to an almost bruising pressure, “I never should’ve said that ever. I am an asshole, you are well aware, but I am truly sorry for that.”
Baz let go.
Simon was speechless.
A tremble ran through Bazs body as he curled back in on himself.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” he gasped as his hands tangled in his hair, shielding his face from view once again.
Chewing his lip, Simon was unsure how to proceed. He really should have come up with a plan or talked to his therapist about how to approach the situation. He wished now that he hadn't brushed off all attempts to talk about it before. Baz wasn’t the same as he was five years ago; he reacted sometimes predictably but mostly in a way so unfamiliar to Simon…it was terrifying.
Has he changed at all ?
Did he change at all?
Was Baz still the same?
Could he change?
Was that an option?
Names are important.
Simon is important.
Simon is precious.
‘You hardly ever said my name-’
“I'm sorry. I’m sorry”
A precious name. Baz wasn't allowed to say it. Baz could never touch something so precious. He would sully it, with his hands. With his mouth. He wasn't allowed. He had tried...hasn't he tried? Was he still mean when they started dating? Was he still mean when he had called Simon ‘love’? Was he wrong...this whole time…had Simon thought so little of Baz? Baz wasn’t allowed. Simon thought he hated him. Baz knew Simon didn't love him. But Simon thought Baz hated him. He had always thought he hated him. Baz couldn’t breathe.
Has he changed at all ?
Did he change at all?
Was Baz still the same?
Could he change?
The world was starting to grow blurry around its edges. Baz dug his nails into the base of his neck where it met his shoulders, dragging his nails forward. The burning sting trailing behind his nails calmed him. He was there. He was real. He was himself. He wasn't unravelled. He had shape. He felt pain. He was fine. He was fine . He could breathe. He had lungs and he could breathe.
The air slipped back in as soon as he remembered. It was cool and refreshing. The smells of the grass and the trees had always soothed him. That's why he was here. He was safe here, from himself and from others.
He struggled through the first few breaths. It was always like this. He focused on the ground. The ground was real and steady. He would not fall if he stood up. He could breathe.
Bringing his bloodied fingertips down to where his chin rested against his chest, Baz rubbed his eyes with the backs of his hands. He had to get a grip on himself. Simon had surely gone by now. The area around Baz was dark with impending dusk, he could see it in the way the fading light turned the grass almost blue beneath his bloody fingers. Uncurling, Baz groaned, his muscles sore from the tension and the elongated stillness. The cuts along the back of his neck were surely already healed. Breathing in deeply, Baz let his legs and arms stretch out as he rested his head against the brick, eyes closed. The faint smell of smoke tickled his senses. Odd…
Looking up and around, Baz startled. Simon was still there. He was sitting on the ground opposite of Baz. Staring.
Baz shifted uncomfortably, trying to sit more upright against the wall.
“What are you still doing here?” he croaked. Wincing at how his own voice came out.
Simon’s lower lip looked like it was bleeding, or it had been. Maybe that's where the smell was coming from? How long had he sat there? Oh, he was chewing it again.
Simon released his lip, “Baz” he said softly, “are you-are you alright?”
Wearily, Baz smiled. “Peachy.”
Simon's hands clenched in the grass next to him. “Baz, you just-”
Ah, Baz thought, Simon was worried. This is a first. Baz was a bit too tired to address it. “Yeah. It happens. Don’t worry about it.”
“How can I not? D-did that happen the last time I was at your office too?”
Baz wasn’t going to answer that. Did he have to? He didn't think so. Simon seemed to have everything figured out and was just doing his old routine of dragging Baz along for the ride of whatever story he had made up. Guess the vampire thing wasn’t made up. Baz wishes it was. Simon was right about a lot of things. Baz should never have teased him when they were kids about being an idiot.
“Baz. I know what a panic attack looks like by now.”
Baz was well aware Simon knew. He had sat through many panic attacks with Simon before. Baz blamed almost all of the ones Simon had when they were dating on his own presence, the rest he blamed on the Mage.
“So? What do you want me to say? What can I say to finally get you to leave?”
Simon didn’t flinch, he had flinched at everything else before. Maybe Simon had changed. Lucky him.
“I’m not going to leave.”
“I’m not . I want you to talk to me Baz. I realized when I saw you the other day and you reacted like,” he gestured with a hand to where Baz still sat slumped against the wall, “ well, sort of like this. Along with like some of the stuff you said, well, I don't know. I realized when we broke up, I assumed you hated me, that you were already planning on breaking up with me. I still am assuming you hate me...I wanted to ask if my assumptions were uh-correct?” his voice tapered off and he looked bashful but did not lower his gaze.
Baz felt like he just aged another twenty something years. It really hit him. It felt like a ton of water had just drenched him from head to toe and he was weighed down by layers upon layers of wet clothes. For the last six or seven years, not only had Simon Snow hated Baz, but he thought-he thought - had assumed - that Baz, who had been in love with them since they were twelve-Simon Snow-the boy that Baz had poured his heart out to about how long he had loved him, how he would always choose him. Even after that. Simon Snow still believed that Baz hated him. Even after dating him for a year after. Was Baz so horrible? Baz didn't know if he wanted to kill Simon or kill himself. He definitely had strong feelings about both situations. Looking up at the greying sky he tried to calm himself again.
He could breathe now.
So he let himself feel.
“You are unbelievable. Absolutely, unbelievable.”
Baz shook his head. He wouldn't kill himself and he wouldn't kill Simon, no matter how infuriating the other man was. No matter how much Baz had been hurt by him. Baz had moved past this once. It was impossible for Simon to have believed him. Look at Simon now. Past his current facade of concern, Baz could see that he was a healthy weight. Simon had a glow to him that spoke of care and good health. Simon was finally free from Baz and the Mage and the weight of the world. Baz felt his gaze soften. Of course, this was just how Simon was. This was how Simon had always been. He wouldn't hold it against Simon, the fact that he couldn't believe Baz would love him. Simon never really understood how precious he was, of course he wouldn’t have believed it when it came from Baz. He would only believe it when it came from someone he truly loved. From someone he trusted completely and Simon had once told him when they started dating that he didn’t trust Baz. Honestly, Baz felt like even more of a fool now looking back. How could he have let someone else break him so thoroughly? But when had Baz ever done anything for himself? When had he not been broken? If not by Simon then by his father or his mother...When had Baz been anything but a side character in everyone else's plot? Baz was thoroughly, and finally defeated.
“Simon Snow,” Baz pulled himself up, using the bricks behind him for support.
There was no more to gain from running.
Simon would drag this out until he got what he wanted. He always did.
“I have been in love with you since we were twelve years old. I was elated when you asked to be my boyfriend and I was heartbroken when you dumped me.”
He stood tall now, free of the wall. Baz looked down at Simon, the other man's eyes were wide as they looked up at him, speechless. Smiling, genuinely for the first time in five years at the other man, Baz shrugged,
“I understand that you never loved me-” his smile grew rueful, honestly, they were adults. None of this mattered anymore. Simon had moved on. Baz had mostly moved on. So what if Baz had just had a panic attack again? He could regain his will and his composure like a pro, who cares if Simon saw? Simon didn't care. Simon wouldn’t even begin to understand why what he said would trigger Baz. Simon never believed that Baz loved him.
The only thing Baz had ever truly done was love Simon Snow.
Apparently, that was worth nothing.
Simon would forget this whole incident, just like everything else; all of Baz’s attempts to show love, any soft moment that had maybe meant something. Maybe Baz didn't know how to show love properly. Maybe he never will. Simon thought Baz hated him. He would just shove Baz right into whatever character role fit best into his story no matter what Baz did or said. So, Baz might as well be honest…
“and I understand even now, more than ever, that you never wanted me to love you. I apologize if I ever made you feel like you had to date me back then. I am sorry that I made you feel like I hated you after we started dating. I am sorry for being mean. I am sorry that I pushed you. I am sorry for pressuring yo-”
Simon jumped to his feet, frantic energy rolling off of him in waves, his hands clenched in his t-shirt with white knuckles.
“Baz! I - no! That’s not right! None of this- You didn-”
Holding up a slender hand to stop Simon’s arguments, Baz felt the panic creeping back through his body, numbing his limbs. He didn't want to hear what role Simon had stuck him in.
The truth still hurts.
Loving someone isn't supposed to be painful.
Loving someone isn't supposed to leave you broken.
Seeking Baz out for a reason other than Penny’s impending marriage meant that Simon probably needed this to move on or something. Maybe he had a new girlfriend and that's why he keeps coming back. Maybe that's why he won't just leave already. He probably needs the closure of hearing Baz tell him all of this. Fine. They could get it all out on the table then. Baz was going to call in sick for the next month and go on a trip. Just somewhere. He needed a break. Some air.
A different story.
No story at all.
Maybe he would just quit.
Simon could rewrite this narrative after Baz had his say, not that his saying anything would make an actual difference. Simon was happy now, without him.
“I did Snow. You made it very clear that I was being too much, that I pushed you too much. I understand now that I was. I was wrong back then. I am sorry for putting you through everything I did when we were younger. You can move on from whatever this is. I am sorry for all the discomfort and agitation I have caused you, hopefully this gives you whatever closure you need to leave me alone. You asked me to go, so I went. I don't understand why you keep coming back. Tell Penny that I wish her all the happiness in the world, and Simon, I too wish you all the happiness in the world.”
Baz would really go this time. He would leave England. There was nothing here he could trust not to be sullied by his presence. Little Linus would be better off if he weren't around. Simon would return to laughing the way he had when it was just him and his new friends. Penelope would give up looking for him after a few years, maybe she would be mad enough for him skipping out on her wedding that she wouldn't even try this time. Baz clearly was only capable of being a villain here, an undesirable.
He was a vampire - his mother would want him dead.
He was gay - his father would never stop being passive aggressive until Baz conceded and married a woman.
He apparently was incapable of compassion.
He was surrounded by people that he had hurt or people that had hurt him.
Everything just felt...dull now.
Baz watched Simon as he ran his hands through his hair again, it was truly a mess at this point. Baz always liked how Simon's hair was wild and unmanageable at times, it was very in character for him. Somehow Baz found himself leaning back against the wall again. He might as well stay here until Simon left, Baz wouldn't be going home. Simon was suddenly standing a lot closer to him now,saying something. What was he saying? Baz couldn’t really tell. Had he been talking this whole time? Did it matter? Did Baz?
Did Baz matter?
Simon was in his face now.
There was something warm on Baz’s face. Why was Simon so close? Baz wanted to laugh, so he did.
Simon had kissed him the last time Baz felt like this. It saved Baz’s life. It wouldn’t save his life this time. Baz’s life wasn’t his to live anyway so why did it matter? Simon’s concerned face was close to his though. Why were his arms nearby too? Those must be Simon’s hands on his face, that's what’s so warm. Simon wouldn’t kiss Baz now anyways, not after everything. That was one thing Baz knew for sure by now, he had known since they were young: Simon Snow was unforgiving.
He would never forgive Baz for playing the villain when they were young.
He would never see Baz as anything other than someone living to oppose him, just like Baz’s family and the mage had wanted.
He would never see Baz as someone he could love.
He would never see Baz as someone who loved him.
Apparently, he never did.
Baz closed his eyes, waiting for the moment to end so that he could breathe again. The warmth on his cheeks, an unforgiving burn.