Matt sighed heavily as he hung up the phone. His recent realization that he was in love with Simon didn’t change the fact that he often wanted to strangle the man. And today? Today especially, he wanted to throttle him.
It was their six-month anniversary, if you counted things like that. Which of course Simon didn’t -- he was way too busy to notice the date. But Matt, he’d noticed. It was six months ago today that he’d gotten his final callback from Jeff Eastin, which happened to be the same night as his first date with Simon, so the day stuck in his mind quite vividly.
But the problem was that Matt sometimes felt he still knew as much about Simon today as he did six months ago. He had rarely known anyone so cautious and distrustful when it came to their personal life. Matt understood that he had a family, that Kit and the twins had to come first. He wasn’t trying to take their spot, wouldn’t have wanted to be with a man who would put a lover ahead of his children.
It’s just... Matt had thought he’d know Simon better by now.
Every time Matt thought that they were getting somewhere, that Simon had a little bit of trust in him, it’d be two steps backwards. And it was driving. Him. Mad.
Take tonight, for instance. Simon had to call off their date at the last minute. That was fine; regrettable, but understandable. Henry had a fever, so Simon was at home with him. That made perfect sense. The part that was boggling Matt’s mind? Why the hell hadn’t Simon invited him over once the kids were down? Or, barring that, why couldn’t he at least talk on the phone a few minutes after they were asleep?
It was like any part of his life that involved the kids, Simon didn’t want Matt to have any part of. Which at first had been fine. And even now, Matt knew not to get too close. But he and the boys should have had some interaction with one another at this point. If Simon was half as serious as Matt is about this relationship, then he’d want Matt to come over to his house more than once every two months when the kids were at pre-school and both of them were having a late morning.
The more Matt thought about it, the more irritated he got. He could deal with the work emergencies, the sixty hour work weeks, the three young kids having all manner of mishaps and illnesses.
Then Matt realized what the real problem was.
Simon had closed himself off from him. He was so secretive about his own personal life and past, about things that Matt thought were important to discuss if they were going to be together for the long haul. Hell, Simon didn’t even want to discuss what he was actually hoping to get out of their relationship. He’d acted like Matt was a moron for even trying to discuss it with him.
What it all added up to was, if Simon wasn’t willing to put himself out there just a bit, then they were doomed from the very start.
With that cheery thought, Matt decided that he was done doing all the heavy lifting in this relationship. If Simon wanted to see him, then he could make the effort to call to reschedule.
If Simon wanted to talk, then he could call Matt instead of the other way around.
Matt would see how much Simon really wanted to talk to him.
Normally, Matt would text Simon once a day, ask how he was doing, how his day or the kids were. Nothing deep and nothing too clingy. If Simon were free, they might trade a few texts or emails, or if he was really busy, then Matt might get a phone call later that evening as Simon was on his way home after a dinner meeting.
Matt thought communication was important and he was willing to make the effort for it when he was in a serious relationship with someone. But after their missed anniversary, Matt didn’t do any of those things.
Matt didn’t hear from Simon for three days.
When he did, it was an impersonal text asking him if he was free for dinner on Saturday. Matt debated a minute about how to reply before texting back, just as impersonally, that he was free but that he had a read-through early Sunday and so he couldn’t stay out late. Simon sent him the time and said he’d pick him up (another big surprise; it's not like Matt would be welcome at Simon’s house with the kids home).
Then it was Saturday and Matt was finishing getting ready without having heard from Simon since they finalized plans. He knew it was petty to be bothered by the lack of communication, and truthfully with a sick kid, (well most likely kids since if Henry was sick then he probably infected the other two), he didn’t exactly expect Simon to have a lot of time for him. But seeing as how Simon couldn’t actually tell Matt that’s why he wasn’t communicating, it got lumped in with all his other frustration over Simon’s taciturn behavior.
Matt clenched his fist at his side as he felt his heart flutter at seeing Simon in his doorway. No matter how angry he may have felt, he still loved the man and he’d really missed him the past week. It didn’t hurt that Simon was looking especially dashing in his maroon polo and his chinos that fit his butt just so. Matt couldn’t help grinning at Simon, despite how irritated he felt. He was glad that he hadn’t dressed up either, as he stood there in one of his tailored, tight-fitting royal blue t-shirts and a pair of jeans that he knew made his own ass look good.
No harm in showing off his assets, so to speak. If this was to be their last date, he wanted to make sure Simon got a good look at what he’d be missing.
Simon did not disappoint; Matt noticed him looking him up and down before grinning.
“Missed you,” Simon said with a smile.
Matt just raised a single brow, his focus returning. Obviously not, or he’d have called. “It’s been a few days,” Matt replied neutrally.
Simon made a move to step in, crowding Matt back in the doorway.
Matt knew that Simon planned to step all the way in and shut the door behind him before they kissed, but since Matt wasn’t ready to forgive Simon yet, he just stood his ground. “Ready to go eat? I’m starving.”
Matt saw the confusion pass over Simon’s face at not being let in immediately, and he knew that refusing Simon’s advance was worth it, no matter how badly he may have wanted that kiss. Good, let him see how he likes feel frustrated and unsure, Simon had made Matt feel that way for quite a while.
“Everything okay?” Simon asked.
“Ye-,” It’s funny how the word nearly fell off his tongue, he was so used to answering in the affirmative. He could have just told Simon what he wanted to hear, they could go to a nice dinner, where Simon would make Matt feel special as he watched him across the table, asking Matt about himself and his life. Then they’d head back to Matt’s place for a quickie, and after Simon would head home for them to start the whole cycle over again.
But Matt loved Simon damn it. He really wanted this to work out. So that meant that he would have to be honest here and see if they could fix some of this. Better to know now before he got anymore invested.
“No. I’m not okay,” Matt was proud of how decisive his voice came out, covering his hesitation well.
Simon stood there looking at Matt from the breezeway of Matt’s apartment building. When it became clear that Matt wasn’t going to elaborate without a response, Simon tried, “Do you want to just cancel tonight?”
“No. I think we’ve had plenty of that going on lately already.”
Simon frowned. “I told you Henry was sick, then Walker got it too.”
Matt sighed, stepping back to let Simon in. If they were going to have this discussion, it was better not to have it in front of his neighbors. “That’s not what I meant.”
Simon stepped in warily, shutting the door behind himself.
Matt walked over to his couch and stood by it.
Simon stands at the other end, eyeing Matt in his utterly calm way. “So what did you mean?”
“I mean that, even with a sick child, would it have been that inconvenient for you to give me a call after the kids were in bed and at least talk to me that night or any of the ones since?”
Simon glared. Matt mentally sighed, knowing that nothing got Simon hot like talking about his kids. “I had to take care of the twins and then Kit was being clingy.”
Matt nodded. “Okay. So why didn’t you tell me that on the phone?”
“What? That my kids were being cranky and difficult?” The completely clueless expression on Simon’s face would have made Matt laugh if he weren’t so frustrated.
“Yes. That. Or, well, anything really.”
“What are you trying to say?” Simon asked, his voice the same volume but his tone getting colder.
“That I’m tired of this.” Matt realized as the words come out of his mouth that it was true. He was tired of being jerked around emotionally.
“Fine. I told you at the start that dating me wasn’t easy.” Simon crossed his arms, as his whole demeanor changed to one of cool detachment.
“It really isn’t.” Matt shot back, warming to the argument.
“So you want out? That’s fine. No reason for either of us to waste our time if this isn’t going anywhere.”
Matt growled, taking a step forward. “That’s not what I’m saying. You’re busy. I get that. You have a family that comes first. That’s how it should be.”
Simon frowned, his mask cracking a little in his confusion. “So what is the problem?”
“The problem is, you don’t trust me. I know you don’t trust easily, and I could live with that if I saw it improving over time. But I’m not. You still shut me out of your life nearly as much now as you did when we first started dating.”
“I do not!” For the first time, Simon raised his voice.
“Yes, you do.” Matt replied voice loud as his anger started to boil over. “You don’t tell me anything more than the barest minimum about you, your kids, your life. I get that you work a stressful job that requires a large amount of discretion, but getting to know you, the man, Simon Halls, shouldn’t be this damn difficult.”
“How can you say that?!” Matt saw the disbelief and confusion on Simon’s face. “I talk about my life with you.”
Matt glared. “No. That’s just it. You haven’t let me into your life! Not wanting your kids to get attached to me, I understand. But the twins are barely one! If I came over after they're asleep, I doubt anyone would be the wiser.”
“Is this about sex?” Simon said, voice flat.
“No! I don’t expect to have sex while your kids are in your house.” Matt pulled a face, knowing Simon’s strict stance on that. “I would like to be able to at least talk to you, though, if they're in bed. Even if it’s just on the phone! You almost never call me.”
“I call you,” Simon said mulishly.
Matt growled, his temper in full swing. “No, I call you .”
“Well, if you’re so unhappy with me then I guess we’re done here.”
“Sure. Run away. Don’t dare let this mean anything. Don’t let me mean anything. After all, you’d have to care to get hurt right? Make yourself be just the tiniest bit vulnerable?” Matt said it forcefully to cover how hurt he felt at Simon being so ready to give up on them.
“Fuck you, Matthew. I don’t have to answer to you about how I run my professional or personal life.”
“See, that’s just it. You do if you want to have a relationship with me,” Matt looked at Simon, angry and sad both.
Simon had lost all of his cold mask and now Matt saw him truly angry. It was disconcerting to see his calm lover speaking with such fiery contempt. “I have been around quite a bit longer than you, and I’ve seen how people in love can quickly turn it into hate and smear every personal detail ever given in confidence all over this town. I won’t apologize for being cautious about me and my children’s privacy. Especially when it’s being judged by someone as naive as you.”
Matt shook his head. That was beside the point. Matt knew that Simon was intensely private and that he didn’t normally date actors. “You don’t actually want a serious relationship, do you?”
“What the hell are we doing if this isn’t on its way to being a serious relationship?! I’d never have invested so much time and energy in you if we weren’t.” Simon looked utterly exasperated, hands shoved deep in his pockets.
“It feels like I’m just a fuck buddy,” Matt spat the word out with all the distaste he felt for the term,”if you can only make time to talk with me when we’re on a date.”
“I told you I don’t have a lot of time. Right from the very start.” Simon ground out.
“How many times do I have to say that isn't the issue? But if you only have limited time, then shouldn’t you make even more of an effort to say things that matter when we do see each other?” Matt pleaded, trying to will Simon to see his side in this.
“What do you want from me?” Simon said, voice even.
Matt took a tentative step forward. “I want to know more about you! I want to have conversations that aren’t one way streets of me sharing about myself. What you were like as a kid, what stupid shit you did in college. What your first job was, who you first fell in love with. What you like best about fartherhood, what’s the most trying. I want to know all of it.”
Simon looked away. “That’s a tall order.”
Matt took another step closer so he could almost touch Simon. “Yes, it is. But that’s what people in relationships do. They trust one another enough to reveal themselves.” Matt hastened to add, “Not all at once mind you, but slowly over time.”
Simon thought for a couple of minutes then turns to Matt and replied softly. “I worked doing PR for McDonald’s in Russia.”
“What?” Matt asked, confused.
“That’s what I did after college. I worked for a consulting firm and my first big assignment was doing PR for McDonalds first big launch in Russia. I was based out of Moscow.”
Matt smiled. “See, was that so hard?”
Simon glared. “Yes.”
Matt laughed, glad to feel the tension starting to flow out of him. “I know that you aren’t very trusting, and that your job doesn’t help. But I want us to work, Simon. Don’t you?”
Simon’s expression softened as he looked at Matt sincerely. “Yes. I care about you, Matt. Don’t you know that?”
“No. I wouldn’t be so upset if I did.” Matt replied.
“I wouldn’t let you into my life at all if I didn’t. You wouldn’t have ever been to the house or hear about my kids at all.”
“Oh.” Matt wasn’t sure what else to reply to that. So this was Simon being open? Good lord, they had a long way to go.
Simon closed the distance between him and Matt, but then hesitated. Matt reached out and pulled him into a warm hug.
Simon spoke softly near Matt’s ear. “I’m sorry I made you feel like I don’t care.”
Matt smiled shyly, glad Simon couldn’t see his face. He gives him another squeeze before pulling back. “Let’s sit?”
Simon sat in the middle of the sofa.
Matt brought his hand up to hide his smile at Simon making sure he had to sit beside him. He sat there a moment, hand on Simon’s thigh. “You know that I care about you too, right?”
Simon placed his hand over Matt’s and squeezed. His voice was tinged with his affection when he answered. “Yes. Thanks for being more open about it than I am.”
Matt smiled and bumped Simon with his shoulder. “I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve.”
“I’ll try to take better care of it in the future.” Simon turned and kissed Matt tenderly on the cheek.
Matt shifted so he could pull Simon into a kiss, the adrenaline from their argument starting to bleed away. It was high time he reminded Simon of what they had been fighting for, after all.
Simon kissed Matt back thoroughly, and soon Matt was rubbing unabashedly against Simon’s hip so that there was no mistaking what he was after. God, arguing always made him just that much more ardent in his affections after.
When they broke for air, Matt grinned at Simon. “Let me show you exactly how much I care...”
Simon laughed and stood, pulling Matt up too. He kissed Matt just as passionately again before starting to walk him backwards towards the bedroom.
Later, after they were both sated, they lay in bed, letting the sweat cool, just as their tempers had earlier. Simon ran his fingers through Matt’s hair as they lie in each others arms.
It’s still a few minutes until Simon broke the companionable silence. “So was that was our first argument?”
Matt snorted softly. “Yeah. And if we can have make-up sex like that, then it should definitely not be the last.”
Simon nudged Matt’s chin up so he can kiss him, their eyes locking after Matt pulls back. “No. I hope it isn’t our last either,” he says softly.
Matt kissed Simon back. God... he did love this prickly man. Now he just had to figure out how to tell him that. Matt sighed as he laid his head back down on Simon’s chest, feeling those long fingers go back to massaging his scalp. He had time to worry about that later; now, he would be grateful that they had navigated the first big obstacle of their relationship and came out the other side stronger.