Jeremy finds out that Simon’s ended things with Annabelle through Maashous, who was told by Michael, who found out from Robbie, who heard it from Lilette.
As obnoxious as He Said She Said is, Jeremy can’t help but be hopeful.
“What’d he say?” Jeremy asks, and Maashous shrugs.
“I don’t know the details,” Maashous tells him. “Apparently Annabelle was pretty upset.”
Jeremy feels twitchy. He’s felt twitchy for the past couple of weeks, actually, but this is a new kind of twitchy, layered with both nerves and excitement. If Simon ended things with Annabelle then maybe, just maybe…
“Think it’ll affect the play?” Jeremy asks, because that feels like a relevant question. When Lilette and Robbie had their brief split, things in rehearsal were weird. He can only imagine the same happening here.
“They’re both pretty professional,” Maashous offers. “So probably not. Besides, they don’t have too many scenes together.”
Jeremy nods. Both of those things are true. And it’s important, really, that things with Spring Awakening won’t change too much regardless of whatever it was that was going on between Simon and Annabelle. But Jeremy wants to know what happened between them, and clearly Maashous doesn’t know.
Jeremy knows it’s not his business, but he seeks out Michael anyway, who also doesn’t know why they broke up. And while he would prefer to just jump from Michael to Lilette, Jeremy runs into Robbie first.
“Lilette wouldn’t tell me much,” Robbie admits with a shrug. “You know how the two of them can be with each other. I just let them do their thing.”
“Sure,” Jeremy says. He finds Lilette anyway.
“I didn’t know you’d care so much,” she says once Jeremy asks what happened.
“He’s my scene partner,” Jeremy says quickly. The suspicious look in Lilette’s eyes is more playful than anything, and Jeremy wonders if Simon told her anything about whatever is that’s going on between him and Jeremy. Not that there’s really anything going on. Jeremy’s just being stupid and hopeful. “I just want to make sure he’s okay.”
“All he said to me,” Lilette says with a smile, “is that things weren’t working out.”
“Okay,” Lilette echoes. Her smile is sincere. “He’s in the choir room if you want to ask him yourself.”
Jeremy nearly trips over his own feet to make his way there.
When he makes it to the choir room, Jeremy hesitates. He can hear Simon practicing from the other side of the door, and a quick glance in through the window on the door shows that he’s alone, which means he probably doesn’t want to be disturbed. But Simon doesn’t linger in the changing area after practice anymore, and he possibly got a copy of Jeremy’s class schedule so he knows how to properly avoid Jeremy throughout the day, so it’s not like they have had a lot of options to talk.
The talks you never had
The Saturdays you never spent
All the grown-up places
You never went
God, Simon’s got a voice on him. There’s something so confident about the way he sings that makes Jeremy’s whole chest feel like it’s on fire. Jeremy himself is an okay singer, he thinks, but Simon’s singing? Phew.
He waits until Simon finds a place to pause in his song, watches as Simon makes some notes in his songbook, and then Jeremy finally pushes his way into the room.
Simon turns, glancing over his shoulder at the sound of Jeremy entering.
“Hey,” Jeremy greets.
Simon turns back to his notes. “Hey.”
“Lilette said you were here,” Jeremy explains, but Simon doesn’t respond. “I, uh. I heard you practicing.”
Simon glances over to him again. “Yeah?”
“Do people tell you how good you are?” Jeremy asks, leaning back against the door to keep his distance. “Or are you left to assume on your own?”
A rare smile finds Simon’s face and a laugh slips out of him. He shakes his head just a bit before returning to his notes. Maybe something about singing loosens him up. “Thanks Jeremy.”
“That wasn’t me telling you,” Jeremy says. Simon laughs again and Jeremy wants to get drunk on the sound of it. “But really,” Jeremy finishes, his voice soft. “You have a great voice Simon.”
“Thank you,” he says, and he sounds genuine. Simon looks back to him, turning so he can face Jeremy head on instead of have his back to him. “What’s up?” he asks.
“You were looking for me?” Simon asks.
“Oh. Right.” Jeremy nods. He’s already here. Might as well roll with it. “I heard that you ended things with Annabelle,” Jeremy says. Simon looks up long enough to make eye contact, but then he’s looking down again. “Why?”
“Why?” Simon tosses back. The easy laughter that was just between them is gone in a flash. “It doesn’t matter why, Jeremy, stay out of it.”
Every time Jeremy thinks that maybe he’s getting somewhere, Simon shoots him down again. Jeremy falls silent, nodding in response. He doesn’t know why he keeps getting his hopes up or why he expects something to change. Day after day Simon keeps yanking the rug out from under his feet and Jeremy face-plants, only to get up and do it all over again.
He likes Simon. And sometimes he’s convinced that Simon likes him back. But figuring out your sexuality in a small town like this is scary, so he understands Simon’s hesitation.
“Are you okay?” Jeremy asks.
“I’m fine,” Simon returns, sharp.
Still, it would be nice to not be treated like shit.
“Okay.” He takes a step backwards. Jeremy is so over this. “I just wanted to check on you.” That’s true, at least. Without all of the complications of sexuality, break-ups suck. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Jeremy’s barely reached for the door handle when he hears Simon sigh. “This is too confusing for me, Jeremy,” Simon nearly shouts, and Jeremy stops moving at once. Simon lowers himself to a nearby chair, dropping his head into his hands. “I ended things with Annabelle because it wasn’t helping. I thought--maybe it would help. Maybe I would feel something like I do with you, and--”
“Like you do with me,” Jeremy cuts him off. He turns back toward Simon and takes a hopeful step closer. So much stupid hope. If anything is going to be Jeremy's downfall, it's how much stock he puts into things working out okay. This would all be so much easier if Simon told Jeremy to fuck off and let him actually walk away instead of calling out his name every time he starts to move. “What do you mean?”
“I can’t do this.”
“Then stop--!” Jeremy nearly groans. “Jesus Christ, Simon.” Simon wrinkles his nose at him--maybe at the blasphemy. Jeremy’s never been very good at religion and he knows how important it is to Simon. “If you can’t do this then tell me that you want me to go and let me walk away this time.” Simon holds his gaze, but he doesn’t say anything. Which is both good and bad. He’s nearly desperate when he says, “I’m scared, too.”
How much clearer can Jeremy make this for him? He doesn’t need an epic love story or an award winning romance. He just wants a conversation. Jeremy wants to sit down with Simon and talk about this before Simon clams up and runs away again. It’s not any easier for Jeremy just because he feels the need to address the issue.
“Well you don’t seem scared,” Simon huffs. He doesn’t bother looking up. “Asking to--run lines and--” Simon manages a laugh, though it’s raspy. “The parking lot.”
“Just because I act before thinking things through doesn’t mean I’m not afraid,” Jeremy returns.
His body’s always been a little faster than his brain. If he thinks about things for too long then the anxiety festers, making it hard to breathe and harder to act. So Jeremy tends to rush through things and embarrass himself again and again instead of letting his mind stop him.
“I guess I think about things too much sometimes,” Simon murmurs.
They’re both quiet again. Jeremy needs to give up. He really does. It’s clear that Simon doesn’t want anything to do with this and Jeremy keeps pushing. He knows it’s not attractive to keep up the fight. Letting Simon go would probably be easiest for both of them.
But despite everything, Jeremy’s a forgiving and a hopeful person. He looks for the best in all things, all people, and tries to keep his head up. So instead of walking away like he's sure Simon hopes he will, he just keeps himself grounded. Simon still hasn’t told him to go.
“I’m sorry, you know,” Jeremy finally says. “About--the parking lot.”
Simon glances at him briefly. “Which part?”
Jeremy’s face feels hot. “The ambush, mostly.” He smiles sheepishly. “More, uh. Not thinking. Before I do things. You know?” Simon doesn’t say anything in response. “We were outside,” he elaborates. “Exposed. I wasn’t thinking about--if anyone was around, or anything like that. I mean I wasn’t planning on kissing you.”
Simon swallows. “Felt planned to me.”
“It really wasn’t,” Jeremy insists. “I’d never--” he takes a step closer. “I know how intense your family is, Simon. I’d never do anything to purposefully make that harder for you.”
Simon waves him off. “I wasn’t even thinking about that.”
“The play’s a great blanket excuse,” Simon says. “A kiss like that…” he trails off. “Besides, no one was around.”
“I’m still sorry,” Jeremy says.
After the kiss, the guilt ate him alive. He really hadn’t been intending anything. Just a conversation. But then Simon was there looking at Jeremy’s mouth, and Jeremy was looking at his, and then the kiss just happened. At night Jeremy’s anxiety would manifest into words. You could’ve outed him. You’re toxic. Jeremy never wanted to be those things.
“I kissed you back,” Simon says. “You’re forgiven.”
Jeremy knew that. Not the forgiven part, but that Simon kissed him back. He’d felt it. The subtle push, the easy lean. Simon’s lips against his own. But to hear Simon say it so simply, I kissed you back, makes Jeremy’s fingers twitch. The forgiveness is just an added high.
“Do you regret it?” Jeremy asks.
There’s no pause in his answer. “No?” Jeremy echoes.
Simon looks up again, slowly tipping his head to the side. “No. I don’t regret it.”
Slowly, Jeremy crosses the room to him. “You know what I want,” Jeremy says. “What do you want, Simon?”
Simon’s eyes flicker to Jeremy’s mouth. “I’m not used to people caring about what I want,” he says. “This year’s been a lot of not getting what I want, actually.”
“That doesn’t answer the question.”
“It’s just--” finally Simon pushes himself to his feet too. He’s shorter than Jeremy by just a pinch, but his personality makes Simon feel taller. He's so much, all the time, and Jeremy can't help but be into it. “What I want? I can’t get what I want, Jeremy, that’s now how this ends.”
“What do you want, Simon?” he asks again.
Still, Simon moves closer. “I don’t know.”
“I’m not allowed to have this,” he rasps.
“Says who?” Simon swallows, shaking his head just a touch. “Talk to me,” Jeremy pleads.
Instead of answering, Simon kisses him.
Simon kisses him.
Jeremy pulls back in surprise and watches Simon’s eyebrows pull together like he regrets it. Jeremy can see the beginning of an apology on Simon’s lips so he leans in again, lifting his hand to cup Simon’s cheek to deepen this kiss in comparison to the last. Simon’s hands latch onto Jeremy’s shirt to prevent him from pulling away again and Jeremy can’t help the smile that finds his face.
“You can have this,” Jeremy murmurs between them. Simon moves away then but Jeremy rests his forehead against Simon’s. “Simon,” he says gently. Jeremy watches as Simon’s eyes drift shut. “We can figure this out together,” Jeremy tells him. “I know that you’re afraid and that’s okay. Okay?”
“It’s more than my parents,” Simon exhales. “I mean--my sister, she won’t care. She loves me so much. And Lilette, everyone with the play…” Simon pulls away a touch but their noses are still brushing as he opens his eyes again. “I know you’re not religious, but--”
“It’s important to you,” Jeremy cuts him off. Simon nods. Jeremy can’t even imagine. He doesn’t know where his own parents lie, but he likes to think that they’ll be okay with it whenever he eventually tells them. They’re the only real gatekeeper for Jeremy here though. Not God or the institution of the church. “I don’t know enough,” Jeremy admits.
Simon pulls back further. “It’s so… complicated.” He lets out a shaking breath. “Even just standing here this close to you…” he trails off, almost as though he doesn’t know what else to say. After another deep breath, Simon pulls away completely. “I just want it to be easier,” Simon announces. “All of this.”
Jeremy understands, but he doesn’t think that’s possible.
“And I want to kiss you again and not hate myself for wanting that,” he carries on, desperate. “Because that’s what this is, Jeremy,” Simon says, stepping back to him again. “That’s what this will be with me. Just--fucking layers of unraveling all of the bullshit that I’ve been taught for my entire life.”
“It’s not going to be like I wake up one day and I’m okay with this,” Simon carries on.
“Fine with me.”
“In fact it’s probably going to be--” Simon manages a laugh. “It’s probably going to be really hard, actually.”
“And you shouldn’t have to deal with that.”
“I want to,” Jeremy says gently. Simon’s eyes close again. “Besides, I’m dealing with this too. What do I have to say to get you to understand that?” When Simon opens his eyes again, they search Jeremy’s face for any sort of hesitation. Jeremy knows he won’t find any. “Together,” Jeremy repeats. “Yeah?”
When Simon finally nods, Jeremy can’t stop the smile that splits his face.
Jeremy leans in to kiss Simon another time, just for the novelty of it, and Simon lets him. Jeremy knows that this isn’t going to be easy. He knows that there’s still so much for the both of them to work out on an individual level, still so much to learn about each other. But this here, right now, with Simon’s mouth against his own, feels so good and right that Jeremy can’t even be bothered to worry.
Simon fists Jeremy’s shirt to pull him closer and Jeremy groans, nearly breathless at the feel of Simon smiling against his lips.
They’ll figure it out. He’s sure of it.