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Simon Says

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Simon

 

The sun was just starting to set which meant that my shift had just barely begun. Night Owl Cafe - bringing caffeine to night owls everywhere (Or, more specifically, to the tired college students at NYU cramming for the test or finishing a last minute essay that was due the day after.)

The people who took the day shifts had told me that the Humdrum hasn’t come yet. The ‘Humdrum’ is actually this dude named John, but the workers, the manager, and even some of the regulars have that nickname for him because of how boring and lackluster he is.

Every day, he comes in here, and orders that awful watery latte. (We try to make it strong, we really do, but he gets so upset. Says he doesn’t like the taste of coffee.) What’s worse is that he orders a pump of every goddamned magic syrup that we have in stock. Hell, he regularly asks for 10 pumps of confidence, charisma, and charm, making a total of 30 pumps of syrup, plus one pump for each of the rest of the magics. Lord knows he needs it.

The bell hanging above the door chimed.

Speak of the devil.

“Hey. You. Get me my usual.” John spat out as he walked into the shop. I bite back every sigh and eye-roll begging to be let free and start on his incredibly long order.

We had to tape a recipe for it near the machine or he’d walk out and refuse to pay, and we’d be left with a disgusting coffee and a whole bunch of creative profanity, all meant for him. Skinny trenta iced latte, skim milk, extra ice, extra water, blonde roast, 2 pumps charisma, 10 pumps confidence, 5 pumps assertiveness, 10 pumps nonchalance. He doesn’t even tip. I’m not as bad as the others, though. Niall, who works the day shift, actually spits in his drink.

I finish blending the coffee, and now all I have to do is put it in a plastic cup and hand it to him, so he can get out of here. He never stays long, and thank goodness for that.

I once brought Penny here because she wanted to ‘see the person everyone is bitching about.’ She wanted to curse him. It was an ordeal to get her not to. In the end, though, she ended up laughing uncontrollably for about 45 minutes because of our resemblance to each other. We both have the same hair and bone structure, but John has paler skin, gray eyes, and no freckles.

I’m never bringing her again since it already took long enough to convince her to stop calling the Humdrum my ‘brother from another mother.’

“Your total is $20.76 sir,” I say, trying not to look at him and, instead, looking at the city lights in the window behind him.

“God, you guys really charge too much,” he says, purposely moving slowly showing off his credit card. “You’re lucky I can afford it.”

It would be much, much cheaper if you didn’t put the entire cafe’s stock of magic into your watery-ass drink. I refrain from saying what I had in my mind. This is a local business; if you want shitty and cheap coffee, go to Walmart.

He takes a long look at the tip jar, making sure I could see his gaze. Then he grins at me and walks out. He does this every time and I wonder if he’ll ever get tired of it. Knowing my luck, not until I quit the job.

I watch his silhouette disappear at the edge of the cafe windows. After I make sure he's no longer in earshot of the place, I walk into the back, still having my customer service smile plastered on my face, and scream. Philippa comes over from where she was handling the crates of supplies and patted me on the back.

“Pippa, you have no idea how unbelievably annoying he is. Why does Ms. Pritchard always put me at the register?” I dump my frustrations onto poor Philippa’s shoulders.

You can speak to them, they all think I’m rude, even with the sign on my lanyard saying ‘Can’t speak, but still happy to serve you.’. She signed and turned back to restocking.

Philippa’s mute. There was some genetic issue that left her vocal chords all wrong and useless. The most she can do is laugh, she doesn’t do it often, I think she’s self conscious about it. When I first started working here someone had to translate her signing but I eventually muddled through it.

At some point, I borrowed a book about ASL from the library and practiced signing. Saying Pippa was overjoyed when I greeted her in ASL is an understatement. She gave me an incredibly tight hug, signing about how touched she is that I decided to do that for her.

The bell jingles. I run out, ready to slap another customer service smile on, but I relax when I see him. I don’t need to put on a faux smile for Baz, since he’s often the last customer that leaves, and he always stays ‘till closing. At this point, he knows more about our personal lives than any normal customer would, so we befriended him. He walked up to the counter, looking up at the chalkboard menu above my head.

Baz was tall. Taller than me, (which is saying something. I’m a living beanpole.) With hair that always looks both effortless and like there isn’t a strand out of place. Today he was wearing incredibly nicely fitting jeans, a Fifa World Cup jersey, with a bomber jacket putting it all into place.

Honestly, Baz always looks like he’s wearing upwards of about a hundred dollars on him. It kind of makes me wonder what he’s doing at our hole-in-the-wall, hipster wannabe cafe, buying coffee that’s supposed to be for broke college kids trying to make it through their next class.

“Hello, Snow.”

“Simon, It’s Simon.”

He smirks and points at my nametag. “Right there,” he says, poking the air for emphasis. “It says 'Simon Snow'. So I hate to disagree, by which I mean I’d love to prove you wrong, but it is, in fact, 'Snow..”

I rolled my eyes, smiling. “Just tell me what you want to drink, we can debate on who’s right after I make yours.”

“Two sour cherry scones and Chai Latte, one pump of Focus.” I briefly wonder who he’s buying the extra scone as I grab the baked goods from the lazy susan. “Here ya go. Your drink will be out in a sec, $6.45.” He pays, leaving the change I give back as a tip, walking to and settling on a soft couch across the room.

Pippa walks in and starts to brew the tea. Simon, can you get me the milk? She created a unique sign for Simon. The best way to describe is if you make the sign for the letter ‘Y‘ on each hand, put them together, and swing them apart from the pinkie. I grab the milk and she pours it into the tea while I grab a cup and write ‘BAZ’ on the side. She moves in beside me takes the cup and pours the hot liquid in while I grab a lid. It’s nice, to be such good friends with someone that you can work in harmony without a single word spoken.

I slide over the counter. There are other ways of getting into the seating area, mainly through the ‘employees only’ door but this way is funner. Sorry Penny, It’s more fun. “Pippa, hand it to me, please.”

Philippa reaches over the counter and hands me the drink. “Tell Baz I send my love!” “Will do.”

Baz sees me with the coffee and gets up. “Here’s your coffee, Philippa sends her love.”

“Thank you, Snow.” He says as he takes the cup from my hand. “Well, while I do like the calm of the cafe and your company, I need to get back to Sammy. He gets antsy when I’m gone for more than an hour.” Sammy (his official name is Samuel) is Baz’s Siberian husky. He looks quite intimidating when I first saw a picture of him, but after Baz showed me an adorable video of Sammy howling softly for breakfast, I was convinced that he was actually a lovable fluffy boy.

It isn’t until I’m cleaning up his table ten minutes later that I realize he left his scone, still in the brown paper bag. I pick it up, about to throw it out when I notice that the bag seems thicker than usual and there was writing on the side.

 

Enjoy the Scone, I know you love them so.

 

I look in the bag to find the scone, yes, but with two neat envelopes. One with Snow, neatly printed on it, the other with Philippa’s last name, Stainton.

I stick my thumb underneath my envelope and tear the flap, pulling out the thick paper inside. The invitation was fancy, with warmed colors and lots of golden cursive.

“Pippa! Baz invited us to an incredibly casual party.”

“Which is why he made invitations for it.”

“Leave it to Baz.” I take a bite of the scone.

“Leave it to Baz.”

 

Chapter Text

Baz

 

The moment I stepped out of the warm cafe into the chilly late September air, I started to speed walk to the subway, partly because I was cold and partly because… well.

I just invited Snow to my party. Well, I invited others to the party too, but that’s not my point. I invited Snow to a party I made up, just so I could get him somewhere besides the coffee shop.

The rest of my journey to my apartment passed in a blur. Once I got home and made sure my door was locked behind me, (Which I didn’t really need to do, we have a 24-hour doorman. It’s a good habit to develop, though.) I passed by the kitchen getting a treat for Sammy.  He’s an affectionate puppy and gets upset whenever I leave for too long. Bacon snacks help assure him that I still love him.

 The second I open the tin with his bone-shaped treats, he comes barrelling from my bedroom into the kitchen, almost planting his face into the cabinet I’m standing next to. I toss him a few before I start heating up dinner.

 Some leftover chicken that Mordelia brought yesterday, and a large Capri-sun-esque pouch of goat blood fresh from the farmer’s market.

 It’s a good thing that another vampire told me about Ebb and her animals. Ebb normally sells goat’s milk and meat, but she’ll give you a discreetly packed box of pasteurized animal blood if you ask her nicely. The rumor was that her brother is a vampire, and she started selling blood to others because she felt bad for us as a whole. Honestly, she probably won’t say anything anyways, people don’t like supporting businesses that sympathize with vampires and she’s already walking a fine line selling blood to us. I don’t judge, I really can’t afford to.

 Samuel finishes his doggy treat and trots under the table and settles down, resting his head on my foot. Occasionally he looks up and gives me the puppy eyes that say, I’m a good dog, I deserve to have whatever you’re eating. Pleeeaasee? And then It’s time for my walk.

 I put the dishes in the sink and grab Sammy’s leash, all the while he gets more and more excited. Prancing from one foot to the other and running around in small circles, until I crouch down (and he calms down even though he’s going for a walk because he’s such a good boy ) and snap the leash on his collar, click.

 We walk down to Washington Square Park, and I let him loose in the dog park, making sure to take a few photos to post to his Insta later.

 Speaking of Instagram, I should see how Pen is doing. Maybe update her on our latest.. developments.

Baz: Sorry if I’m bothering you at this time of night, but I have news.

Baz: News that may or may not involve you.

Penny is typing...

I first met Penny on Instagram. She runs a page for her three cats (Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, and Jane Austen.), plus an occasional picture of a beautiful red snake. I reached out to her because I find her cats absolutely adorable, even if I don’t have one. The British Shorthair, (She’s Octavia or Tavi for short.) is my favorite.

And no, I do not believe in being a dog only or cat only person. I happen to like both.

We talked about our pets, my dog Sammy, her cats Tavi, Ray, and Janie, and her friend’s corn snake named Fuji. I’m not a fan of reptiles, but Fuji is certainly a handsome snake if I can really call him that. His markings are quite beautiful. Since Penny and I live in the same area, we have rendezvoused at some pet-friendly cafes and establishments, so I have met her cats, (she spells the leash to make them walk.). I have not met Fuji, though, since Penny explained that you can’t really walk a snake (spells aside), especially around this time of the year, what with them being cold-blooded.

Penny: What is this about? Is it your Juliet? I know how head-over-heels you are for that boy, Basil. I haven’t even seen him nor heard his name ;)

I shot back a response.

Baz:: Well, soon I’m going to host a casual party in honor of the autumnal equinox coming up soon. I invited him. I’m inviting you too.

Penny: :OOO ooooooooooh bazzy bazzy boyo.

Penny: He better be a good man

Sammy walks up and gently drops a ball at my feet. I pick it up, ignoring the slobber covering it and throwing it across the field. Sammy runs after it.

Penny: I will wreck his ass if he hurts you.

Baz: That’s not necessary, he’s a nice guy. A really nice guy.

Penny: I can see your eyes becoming hearts from here.

Penny: hate to cut this short, but my friend is nagging me about something. Night baz! Text me the details later. Too tired to deal with numbers right now T-T

Baz: Alright, I will. Sleep soon.

I put Samuel back on his leash after a few more rounds of catch and we walk home. When we get back I get my pajamas on (t-shirt and joggers) and flop into bed, watching Samuel curl up into his.

He’s probably straight. (Simon, not Sammy) I mean, most likely. He’s really hot (he even smells like smoke). Those are my two weaknesses, fire and Snow.

 

Penny

 

“For god’s sake, Simon, what is it this time?” I rubbed my eyes as I was woken from my near-sleep for the second time.

“My friend at the coffee shop invited me to a kind of fancy party. I want to go, but I’m not sure what to wear. It says ‘Cocktail Formal’. I’m not really sure what that means?”

Simon is currently pacing the worn carpet of our shared apartment, staring a hole into his invitation as if the meaning of ‘cocktail formal’ will come to him the longer he looked.

At this rate, he’ll end up wearing the carpet down to the floorboards.

“Coffee shop boy? You mean, the coffee shop boy that you never stop talking about?” I asked.

Simon gasps and stops pacing. “Hey, I do not talk about him that much.” He resorted to flopping on the couch and bouncing his leg. Slightly better, but still not any less annoying.

“You know, how come I never hear about what his name is? Or any tidbits about his personal life?”

Simon looked at me, incredulous. “Listen, Penny, I love you, you’re my best friend, etc., but I don’t want you to scare away another one of my potential friends, especially this one.”

My shoulders slumped. Right. That was 2 years ago…

Simon, testing the waters of his bisexuality, wanting to branch out and meet new people, went out to lunch with a friend. I wanted to make sure that he was really worth Simon’s time (I mean really the boy has no screening process, at this rate he’ll have enough people to fill up a stadium.)

After a few months, Simon invited me to have lunch with him. I may or may not have unnerved the guy with the sheer amount of info I found out about him and his family. I think I started taking it a bit too far when I mentioned his genetic health and medical records. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure if what I was doing was illegal. Now I know that it definitely is (whoops).

Simon ended that brief friendship a few weeks after that disastrous lunch. He did hold a grudge against me for a few days after, but he stopped after I bought him some sour cherry scones. Simon can’t stay mad at me, I do all the cooking. The most he can make is fairy bread.

“Anyway, I’m not sure what to wear. You know this stuff, right?”

I blanched. “I mean, I’m not a fashion guru, but I know that ‘cocktail formal’ is pretty dressy. A vest, some slacks, and a button down. Maybe a bow tie.”

He looks back at me. “I don’t have those things though. Thanks for telling me though, I’m probably just going to wear that green button down shirt I have and some khakis.”

Oh dear god no. I know exactly what he’s talking about. Mom got that green and pink checkered monstrosity for him two Easter’s ago. The thing is an unholy cross (pun not intended) between a tacky Simply Southern t-shirt and an ill-fitting oxford button.

I looked at him through my sleep-deprivation-blurred vision, with straight eye contact.

”Aleister Crowley, Simon. Do. Not. Wear. That.”

 “What’s wrong with─” “ Everything.”

 We stared each other down for half a minute before he relented. “Fine. That’s fair. Just don’t get me really fancy and expensive stuff.”

 Thank god he isn’t going to wear that hideously colored monstrosity.

 “Alright, just sleep now. We can go shopping…” I looked at the calendar on my phone.

 Today was Friday, and tomorrow was just feeding day for Fuji. Simon can easily do that himself before we leave.

“Tomorrow. But remember to feed Fuji. It’s about time.”

“I was going to do that anyways, Pen.”

I smiled. “I would try to interrogate you about this Cafe Boy, but I’m too tired. Go to bed.”

I threw a blanket at his retreating back as we backed into our respective rooms.

Finally, I can get some sleep.

My last thought before I drift off again was that Ray was really getting too chubby when he settled down on top of me.

Chapter Text

Simon

 

Okay, I’ll admit it.

Penny did help me buy something that I never would've picked out myself, and that is probably is a good thing. I wish she could come with me to Baz’s party but she was going to a party with Micah.

It’s kinda hard to wrap my mind around considering their idea of free time was nerding out over magic trivia. They’re probably going to Micah’s house to nerd over magic trivia with his roommates.

Instead, I used my plus one to bring Agatha, but she lives way up north, so I’m sitting in incredibly formal wear on the subway. A goblin beside me has this odd look on his face like he’s going to pickpocket me. Oh buddy, if you really think I have anything of worth on my person to steal, then you’re wrong. So, so wrong.

Frankly, if he wants to pickpocket someone, he ought to do it to the elf that is standing by his seat. The elf man looks like he actually has money. But I digress.

The subway slows and I move around to get out at the stop closest to Agatha’s apartment.

Agatha grew up in California but she moved here after her friend (Minty maybe?) convinced her that she had a really good voice and should try out for Broadway. Now she’s here, trying to get a role and doing modeling on the side. I think I like her, and I’m going to ask her out sometime but, for some reason, Penny always makes me wait. She’s relentless when she wants to be. I mean, I guess this does count as a date.

Aggie said she’s going to wear her new dress, but Penny just said “ She says that every time we hang out together. She’s a model. She always has new dresses,” and left it at that. Like I said, relentless.

I leave the elevator and knock on her door.

“Coming!”

The soft padding of feet came out through the door, a latch being unlocked and the door swinging open.

“Hey.” Agatha says, taking me in. She wearing a blue dress with multicolored embroidered flowers covering the skirt. The top was cropped so it showed the shoulders, and she was holding some strappy heels her hand.  “Where did you get these clothes from? I don’t think I’ve seen you wear any other kinds of pants besides jeans.”

“Penny helped.”

“Huh. I didn’t know she could dress you up so well. Come in.” She beckons me inside and I enter her apartment.

Agatha’s apartment is a piece of art in it of itself. Plants, statuettes, and candles decorated her coffee table and counter. A beautiful tapestry rested behind the couch. The smell of a flowery scented candle wafted through the air. I immediately bee-line to her Goldendoodle puppy, sitting on the floor, tearing the heck (I don’t cuss with puppies around) out of a chew toy. She was such a sweetheart and was really calm, In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her bark.

“I just have to finish putting on my makeup, then we can go.” Agatha rushed to the bathroom.

I took out the invitation again, softly petting the dog with my other hand. It was a party celebrating the autumnal equinox. I didn’t think anyone celebrated that. Now that I think about it, though, it makes sense. I know a lot of people celebrate the summer solstice, so why not the autumnal equinox? The trees are beautifully colored this time of year.

I finished memorizing the address on the invitation when Agatha walked out of the bathroom. She looked beautiful, and the pinky-red lipstick she was wearing suited her perfectly.

“Ready to go?” I asked her as she slipped on her heels.

“Yeah. Can you get my coat please?” I get up and grab it from the coatrack giving a reluctant goodbye to the pup.

I helped Aggie put her faux fur black coat on, before holding out my arm for her to hold.

“Let’s go.”

 

Baz

 

Everything is going just fine so far.

I had rented a rooftop venue for the event, and, since it was cold, I asked Fiona to cast a spell creating a bubble of warmth surrounding the rooftop, so we could keep a good, consistent 70 degrees even when the sun sets.

The sky was clear and only a couple stars are out right now since the sun hasn’t set yet. I was hoping to see the stars tonight, but light pollution in the city is a thing, so I don’t expect to see much. I think the city lights make up for the lack of stars in terms of aesthetic.

Food was set out on a table, and the table was charmed (by Fiona) to keep the food on it warm.

(Fiona doesn’t trust me with warming spells. She thinks that fire equals warmth, I keep on trying to tell her that fire is so much more than that.)

A few days earlier, I convinced Ms. Pritchard to bake a big batch of sour cherry scones for the occasion. All I had to do was to get Pippa to remind her how much I tip. It could be said that I’m bribing Simon with food.

….That would probably be right.

I just finished spelling up some decorations when there was a knock on the door. First guest. I quickly walk over spelling some wilting flowers ( April Showers! ) while I make my way over to the door.

 

Simon

 

I hope I’m not too early, I don’t hear any party noises going on , I knocked on the door, and I heard footsteps before the door swung open.

“Oh, hello Snow.” Baz smiled at me.

He looks really nice today. Well, he always looks nice, but he’s looking especially nice today. Baz is wearing a well fitted dark red button down, a black tie, and very expensive looking black slacks.

“Ah, I haven’t talked about her before, but this is Agatha.. my girlfriend.” I gestured to Aggie. (Why did I hesitate?)

Baz’s expression changed for a nanosecond (if I had the time to comprehend what it was I would tell you) before holding out his hand to Agatha for her to shake.

 

Baz

 

Merlin and Morgana was I a complete idiot. Of course, he has a girlfriend. (He’s so straight, and I’m kidding myself.) She looks like a model. He looks like he loves her. They look like a matched set, all shades of gold and white and blue. I’m so stupid.

I reach out and shook the hand of the girl who has everything that I want and try my damnedest to not curse her. (It’s not her fault Simon likes her.) Instead, I smile and put on my host face and bottle up the jealousy and anguish burning inside me. Burning.

Why did I think I had a chance?

 

Simon

 

“Pleased to meet you. I’m Baz. But please, come on in. It’s warmer in here than in the stairwell.”

I took off my coat and helped Agatha take off hers, and I hung both coats on a coat rack by the door.

“You really outdid yourself, Baz.” The rooftop was lushly decorated with warm autumn tones and fairy lights. Candles rested upon tables, and the air smelled of cinnamon and nutmeg. Soft classical music played in the background. A bartender in the background was rummaging around under the bar, which reminded me that I’m old enough to drink (or they think I am, the foster care program can’t really know for sure)

I think the smell comes from the carafes of spiked hot cider.

“I couldn’t have done it all without my aunt and sister, though. They’re preparing for the party right now, so I’ll introduce you later,” Baz stated, all suave.

“Are we early? If we are, I apologize. I don’t see anyone else here.” Agatha wrung her hands.

“Well, you’re a bit early, but everyone should come in a few minu—“ Baz started before being interrupted by a loud knock on the door to the stairwell.

“I’ll get that. You go ahead and help yourselves.” Baz walked over to the door.

I picked up a glass of hot cider, but I almost dropped it when I heard a voice that I had definitely heard before.

“Simon?"

I turned around, psyching myself up for what would eventually lead to a long conversation about this entire... thing.

“Penny?”

Chapter Text

Penny

What. The. Hell.

“Hey Simon, I didn’t know you were going to be here!” I scampered up to him. Leaving Micah to talk to Baz about the magical context of the Rosetta Stone, and Agatha to listen in quietly (She’s really smart, it’s honestly kind of confusing why she doesn’t ever pitch in.).

I leaned over to whisper into his ear, in a covert kind of way.

“We need to talk.” I took him by his bicep and dragged him to a secluded corner where the others wouldn’t hear us.

“I didn’t know you were friends with Baz!” I say, my mind piecing all of this together.

“Yeah, the same could be said about you Penny. How’d you meet?”

“Instagram.”

“Baz has an instagram?” He sounded incredulous (like it didn’t make sense that Baz had an insta.)

“Yeah, and one for his dog, you might know this if you ever got on it.”

“Sammy has an instagram?!” Even more incredulous.

“Yeah, I just said that. If we’re always repeating things we’ll never have time for anything else. So unless you have dementia, can we please switch focus?”

“Yeah, yeah sure.”

“Okay, so let me get this straight. You saw a boy, Baz, at the coffee shop you work at, you guys both became really good friends, and he invited you to a party and set up a table full of sour cherry scones at said party.” I started to seem like I was scolding him.

“It’s his favorite, I don’t know what you’re getting at, Pen.”

They are not his favorite. His favorite? The richest and fudgiest chocolate cake one can get. Not scones.

“They’re not Baz’s— you know what, nevermind. Disregard what I said.”

Simon wanders off and I pull out my phone to type something before I join the ever increasing amount of people in the crowd.

 

Baz


My phone buzzes and I grab it out of my pocket and check the notification.

Penny: Is Simon the one?

I sighed. It really is impossible to hide anything from Penny.


Agatha

There’s something going on and Penny and Simon (for not the first time) are not telling me. At least Simon called me his girlfriend, that’s something I should be happy about right? I think I’m happy about it, or maybe it’s the spiked cider.

I spend the night talking to boys (and a girl) who are definitely hitting on me, eat hors d'oeuvres, dance with Simon, who’s so bad at dancing it actually hurts (like, if you’re going to step on someone’s toes, then why do you have to be so stompy?) and check my email more than once for audition acceptances.

I really want to go home, but Simon seems to having such a good time with Pen, Philippa, and the person throwing the party, Baz, that I just can’t bring myself to ask about it. I can’t just leave without him.

So here I stay.

Maybe I can ask Penny what they’re talking about. Most of the partygoers got a bit more than buzzed after the sun set. I bet I could pry something out of her. I’ve done that before during our New Year’s party when she drank a bit too much champagne.

But when I found her, she was completely sober, physically and emotionally.

She was nursing a cup of virgin cider by the edges of the party, watching Simon and Baz interact like bosom buddies. I stood beside her, watching them with her.

“Hey, Pen, listen, I wanna talk to you about something.”

Penny hummed in question.

“Do you think Simon still likes me?” I asked.

If the question was whether or not I liked Simon, I wouldn’t be able to answer that.

“Agatha, it’s a long story. But I have to ask you, and be honest. Do you like Simon?”

Damn.

There were a couple of beats of silence between us, the classical music drowning out my thoughts.

“To be completely honest? No. Not really. But I feel bad if I try to break it off. I don’t want to hurt him.” I confessed. I braced myself for Penny being right, and me being upset because I was unreasonable.

“I’m glad you told me. I always thought you two worked better as friends.” Penny looked at her glass, swirling her drink around.

I relaxed. “So what should I do? Do you think I should break it off?” I was at a loss of what to do. Simon is a nice guy, and a great friend. I just feel like the romance is not for me, like I can’t connect to people that way. Like I don’t want to.

“I actually have an idea, if you’re willing to go through it. It’s a long story though.”

“Tell me.”

“Alright. Don’t tell Simon or Baz that I told you about this. So it all started when Simon went to work one day…”

Penny told me about everything. About how Baz and Simon met. About their late night shift conversations. About Baz and how he feels. About Simon and his tendency to be so painfully oblivious.

“They obviously want to be closer to each other, but both of them are as dense as a slice of cheesecake.” Penny rubbed a piece of her hair between her fingers.

“From what I just heard, I they both a have thing for each other.” I say, relieved.

Relieved, because I feel awful for keeping Simon in this relationship. Also because I want to figuratively spread my wings and fly.

“We should subtly push them closer together. You know? I bet it’s better for the both of us if he went with Baz.” I continue.

Penny thought about this hard. I could see the creases between her brows deepening.

“You’re not wrong. I think we can pull that off.”

“So what’s the plan?”

???

He’s not here.

He’s not here, he’s not at the coffee shop, and he’s not following his regular schedule. I can’t let him slip through my fingers.

I call my men.

“Find him.”


Penny

“You have to break up with him.”

“Oh.” She looks regretful, like it didn’t have to come to this. “Right.”

Chapter Text

 

Philippa

 

When my grandfather died, I asked for his bracelet. The one he used to cast spells with. It was a loop made entirely of a clear green crystal. My parents thought it would be too harsh, too cruel to let me have it, but I convinced them in the end.

I know I have magic in me, I can feel it, under my skin, in my blood. And sometimes, if I sign something that I really mean, and I use simple ASL, (stuff anyone can learn) I can make something happen.

My greatest achievement is using Up, Up and Away on a feather and seeing it float (only a couple of inches, but still. )

It feels like I’m in a box, like the Little Mermaid when she lost her voice. Except, if I had a voice, I would never trade it for a boy.

But what can I do? This isn’t a curse. There’s no evil octopus witch. There is no boy I can kiss to make my voice come back. It was never there in the first place.

So I sit there, signing ‘Clean as a Whistle at my dirty dishes instead of actually cleaning them. The bracelet jangling uselessly against my wrist.

 

Simon

 

I’m listening to a Psychology lecture that I recorded last week when Agatha texts me.

 

Agatha: We need to talk. Can we meet somewhere?

Simon: Yeah where?

Agatha: Do you want to go get lunch at Nourriture Onéreuse?

Simon: Yeah see you there @ 12

Agatha: Alright

 

I got to the restaurant at 12 o’ clock sharp, but Agatha was already there, sitting by the window and sipping from a half filled glass of iced green tea.

“Hey, Agatha,” I said as I slipped into the seat across from her. “What is it that you want to talk about?”

Agatha smiled lightly, but her dazzling smile did not hide the creases between her brows. A sure sign of worry.

“Let’s talk about that after we eat. Get whatever you want, it’s on me.”

Huh. Usually, Agatha would let me pick up the bill. When she wants to get the bill herself, there’s no convincing her to let me pay.

Oh well. I can’t pass free food.

I order some duck confit, while Agatha just got bouillabaisse soup.

We made small talk in between bites of our food, but silence mostly filled the conversation. I could see she was deep in thought, and I didn’t want to disturb her.

Agatha finished before me and was looking at me expectantly. I hurried to shove the last bites of food into my mouth.

“So? What is it?” I asked her. She was looking out the window.

“Simon…” She sharply inhaled.

“Ags, I love you, but please get to the point—”

“We need to break up.”

I froze. My breath felt like it turned into bricks of lead in my lungs.

“Simon, I know you don’t like it, but it’s better for both of us if we just stay as friends.”

The beginnings of tears stung the back of my eyes.

“Why?”

Agatha took my hands, but I yanked them away.

“I don’t deserve you, Simon. You’re a sweet guy and a caring one at that. Someone else would love to have you as theirs.”

“Is it because of something I did? I love you, Agatha. I’ll try to fix what I did wrong. Please.

I tried to squint away the painful sting in my eyes. It worked a little, and I gathered up my composure to the best of my ability.

“I hate to be cliche but, It’s not you, Simon, it’s me.” Agatha looked down at her hands.

I closed my eyes for a second, then opened them while I got up from the table.

“Thank you for telling me, Agatha. I hope you have a good day.” A cold tone permeated my voice, but I didn’t care. I just had to get out of there. Now.

“Simon, I’m—“

I walked away before she could finish her sentence.

I couldn’t bear to hear it.

 

Agatha

 

He couldn’t bear to hear it. I could see his eyes started to shine as he ran away.

But I had to.

Sometimes it feels worse to do what’s right. Sometimes the fairest girl in all the land doesn’t need a prince.

Sometimes you have to tip extra because you feel bad for causing a scene.

I did tip extra, in case you were wondering.

 

I decided to take a walk to my favorite Korean bake shop in Korea Way. Comfort food was probably not the best way to cope with my issues, but I haven’t been here in forever. After taking a few bites of a red bean donut and a few sips of milk tea latte, I pulled out my phone to text Penny.

 

Agatha: I did it. Simon seemed really upset. Sorry.

Penny: It’s ok

Penny: Simon texted me about that… it’s a good thing I got extra cherry scones from the bakery for him…. he’s gonna need it

Agatha: He should be back soon. Nourriture Onéreuse is only a good 10-15 minutes walking distance

 

I waited for Penny to reply, but she didn’t. Simon probably came home that minute, and Pen is probably comforting him.

Probably.

But for now, I won’t worry about Simon. Penny has that under control.

This time around, I’ll take care of myself.

I think I deserve it.

 

Simon

 

Penny has been fussing over me for 20 minutes now.

“Pen, I love you, but I need some alone time. Please.”

She left me alone after that. I just want to cry and eat scones. And I did both for about 6 hours until I ran out of tears and scones.

Fuji is also hanging out around my neck. For being named after a god of fire, he’s actually a very chill snake.

He lets me boop his snoot. I love him. Like I thought Agatha loved me.

Penny’s cats are also great. Ray is my favorite. (He’s the Balinese cat.)

Right now, I’m assuming all three of them sensed how not great I am, and are either snuggled up to me, (Like Ray,) or just not annoying me (Like Janie. Janie’s always the feistier one, she probably wanted me to propose to Agatha just so she could turn it down.)

I took the abandoned recording of my Psychology lecture and listened to the rest while taking a few notes. I would start writing my paper, but I’m way too tired for this.

I get up from the couch, Ray vocalizing a protest when he has to move. I have to go to work tomorrow. I have to study too.

Once I crash into my bed, I fall asleep right away, exhausted from the emotions I had to experience today.

 

Baz

 

I’m laying in bed, awake,  in the dead of night. Sammy is slumped against my legs, snoring lightly in contentment. My legs are asleep but my mind is wide awake.

I’m not even sure why I still do this. It’s like Snow punching me in the gut over and over. Except he wouldn’t do that to me since he’s a nice guy. With nice bronze-ish blonde-ish hair and nice blue eyes.

(I’m really gay, but I digress.)

I’m currently scrolling through pictures from last week’s party. Simon, dressed in a navy blue button-down, a black woolen vest, a pair of charcoal-colored slacks (that fit him very nicely, mind you,) and a white bowtie.

(He matched with Agatha. It was cute.)

Snow, slightly tipsy, clinking glasses of spiked cider with Penny, Agatha, Philippa, and I. Snow looking at the stars, the warm light from the fairy lights illuminating his freckles. Snow, laughing as he accidentally tripped over himself dancing for the third time.

(I did not take all of these pictures. Majority of these ones are pictures Pen sent me. Bless her.)

Call me cheesy, but my chest felt warm and full when I looked at Snow. Then I got reminded of his girlfriend. Now the backs of my eyes are stinging.

(Goddammit Baz, you know better than crying for something (or someone) you can’t have. It’s selfish and makes you a prick who grew up with way too much money.)

Thanks to Penny, I got Snow’s Instagram and phone number. So… I guess admiring him from a far and safe distance as he lives his best life is my only option.

Maybe with time, my feelings can go away. Maybe if I wait, I can sever the figurative string that I ridiculously thought connected me to him, and we can go our own ways. I always liked to think that the red string of fate was somewhat true.

(My chest tightened after thinking about that. I really need to stop acting like a lovesick puppy.)

I guess it wasn’t meant to be. And that hurts, it really does hurt.

But you know what?

As long as I know Simon is safe and happy, I’ll be happy.

Or I’ll damn well try to be.

Chapter Text

Simon

 

I’m back at the café again. Fortunately for me, Humdrum already came in during the day. I’m glad because I’m still very much emotionally weak after the recent… well, you know.

My classes ended at 7 and my night shift starts at 9, so there’s still time before I have to work.

But I came here to study since it’s always pretty calm in here.

Philippa isn’t here yet, but Niall and Dev are currently on shift. They’re pretty good company, save for the fact that they sometimes aren’t very good listeners.

I’m not really in a talking mood today, so I settle in one of the more secluded nooks of the cafe, opening my laptop and chipping away at my paper.

I got through a good portion of it until Philippa comes. The rest of the night is pretty normal late night shift, selling triple espresso shots to academically burnt out students and the like.

We start cleaning up and packing up ten minutes before closing since all of the college students left to get an extra hour of sleep before morning classes.

Once we’re done, Philippa and I part ways at the café. I take the subway home, which is desolate save for a dwarf that looks unusually well-put-together and few pixies that look like they’ve had a bit too much pixie dust. (That stuff is like crack, but significantly more addicting. I wouldn’t touch it with a 15-foot pole.)

I go up to my apartment building and climb a few flights of stairs to our door, careful not to take steps that are too heavy. The neighbors are old and cranky.

I tried to unlock my door, but it was already open. Penny and I must have forgotten to lock it before we left. Strange, since I’m pretty sure I locked the door. Maybe Pen went back for something and forgot to lock it? That doesn’t make sense, Penny is incredibly meticulous.

I push our front door open and take in our messy but familiar and cozy apartment. Our little flat is not as decorated as Agatha’s, but it certainly isn’t a rat’s nest either. Some canvases and posters hang on the wall, there’s a cat tower nestled in the corner, and there’s a bowl of half-gnawed cat grass on the table.

The apartment is extremely tranquil every time I got home from work. Usually, Penny, the cats, and Fuji are already asleep.

Except for today, since Penny is spending the night at Micah’s, doing god knows what.

(They’re probably snogging. I hope they use protection. )

But something is different. The apartment seems darker since all the curtains are drawn (which Penny and I both hated, so we always kept the curtains open). There are stacks of books and open photo albums strewn all over the floor, but the last time we looked in those albums were 6 months ago.

I would assume that the cats did this, but I don’t see any claw marks. Some of the books were neatly stacked up and sorted (alphabetically!) so I doubt they did it.

The cats seem too riled up to sleep since they ran around my feet and started wailing the moment I closed the front door behind me.

My bedroom door is open. I always close it before I leave the house because Janie will pee on my bed if I don’t.

Why would Penny go in my room?

I take out my phone and text her.

 

Simon: hey Pen did you come back to the flat after you left?

 

Pen takes a minute before replying.

 

Penny: no, why?

Simon: The front door is unlocked, the books and photo albums are stacked and scattered on the floor, the cats are riled up about something, and my bedroom door is open.

Simon: you know I started closing my door before I leave months ago after Jane pissed in my bed

Penny: that’s weird…

Penny: maybe someone broke in???

Simon: there’s nothing missing though? I just checked around and it seems like everything is where it’s supposed to be…….

Penny: it seems like someone broke in but didn’t take anything

Penny that doesn’t make any sense?

Simon: I’m thinking of how they broke in without, you know, breaking anything

Simon: maybe they had a master key?

Penny: we don’t know for sure, but this is really fishy.

Penny: whoever broke in, they might come back tonight and hurt you, so be careful

Simon: I will. I have a can of mace in my nightstand drawer just in case anything bad happens

Penny: stay safe, Simon. Lock the door and text me when you wake up.

Simon: I will.

 

I thoroughly check to make sure nothing was stolen. Nothing was taken except a baby photo of me, which was creepy as shit. Jesus fuck, do I have a stalker?

I went through my nightly routine: making sure Fuji and the cats are okay, charging my phone, brushing my teeth, and changing into my pajamas.

As of today, my nightly routine has two new precautionary measures: locking the front door and my bedroom door, and sticking the can of mace on my nightstand so I can grab it easily if the person who broke in comes for me.

(Maybe my stalker-robber dude is one of the vampires that like to drink human blood that I’ve been hearing about lately... I hope not.)

I laid down on my bed and turned out the light.

I fell asleep right away, but not before I got a sense of someone watching me.

 

???

 

Finally, I have a photo of him. I tuck it into my pocket as I follow the girl in the alleyway.

She stops and turns around.

“Hello.”

She takes a step back, mouth slightly ajar, ready to run away as fast as she could.

“I can help you.”

She shakes her head vigorously, stepping into the harsh light of the street lamp. Good choice.

I took out my wand made of ornately carved dark oak, and point it at her throat.

 

Say what you mean!”

 

Her eyes go wide and she collapses, clawing at her throat wretching out a bloody piece of flesh. I wasn’t expecting that.

“What?” She rasps. Her new voice was croaky, and it cracked every time she spoke. That I expected, since the spell is just strong enough to give her a voice, but not strong enough to give her a nice one that lasts.

“I- I’ve tried to spell my voice…. We tried the strongest wizards. How? How did you?”

“The spell doesn’t last long. I could spell something more potent but I need something from you. Do you want to make a deal?”

I reach out my hand and she stares down at it for a long time before taking it.

“Anything, to keep my voice.”

 

Agatha

 

I got in. I got a solo role in a Broadway production. I start to call Simon then hang up. I think about calling Penny but I think she’s busy nerding out to Star Trek with Micah.

I dial a number.

“Minty here.”

“Hey, it’s Agatha.”

“Hey! I haven’t heard from you in a while. How’s life in the big city?”

“Great, actually, I called because I thought you should know I got into a production.”

“Oh. My. God. Which one?”

“The Little Mermaid. It’s run by the Watford Theatre, the one millionaire David Salisbury funds. I’m Ariel.”

“Oooh. That’s awesome. I’m really glad.”

“Thanks, I wouldn’t have done it without you.”

“Oh, that’s not true. Hey, I have to go, but it was nice hearing from you.”

“Yeah, you too. Bye!”

“Bye.”

Minty reminds me of home, and I kind of miss home, honestly. I’m not usually able to afford plane tickets back to San Francisco but maybe this year I can save up. See my old friends. Get away from all of the drama.

It would be nice.

 

Philippa

 

“Are you ready?”

I nodded. I was beyond ready. I’ve wanted this for so long, it’s almost close enough for me to touch.

The man takes a deep breath before a voice full of magic overtakes me.

 

“Come on, you poor unfortunate soul

Go ahead, make your choice!

I'm a very busy woman,

And I haven't got all day.

It won't cost much,

Just your voice!”

 

I could feel my new working vocal cords coiling in my throat. Finally, what I’ve wanted for 20 years, a voice.

 

“You poor unfortunate soul,

It's sad but true,

If you want to cross a bridge, my sweet,

You've got to pay the toll,

Take a gulp and take a breath,

And go ahead and sign the scroll!

Flotsam, Jetsam, now I've got her, boys!

The boss is on a roll,

This poor, unfortunate soul!”

 

The man’s voice boomed, and he eventually put his wand down, waiting for me to speak. I clear my throat a few times.

I barely take in the repercussions of this. Given the context this was probably not a wise idea, letting a man that I only just met cast magic on me. But will I ever get an opportunity like this again?

Never, that’s when. I touch my throat.

“What should I call you?” I ask, testing out my vocal chords. It was soft and sweet and exactly what you would expect from a Disney princess.

“I’m the Mage.”

Chapter Text

Penny

 

“I still have trouble believing that you like my brother. My adopted brother, but still my brother. I mean it makes sense, he’s rather charming and we live in the same city but what are the chances?” I stop myself before I start calculating them.

Baz stirred his pumpkin mocha breve (what Simon describes as a ‘candy bar in a glass’) slowly. He reached down to pet Sammy, the dog whimpering as he sensed his owner’s melancholy.

We were seated on the patio of a cafe (not the one Simon works at, thank goodness) with our pets at our feet. Janie, Ray, and Tavi are sleeping in a cat-pile. All three of them were bonded to each other, which explains why they don’t want to rip each other’s faces off. I don’t feel bad spelling it that way since it saves all of us a lot of trouble.

“I shouldn’t have assumed that he liked boys. I really should have known he was straight. I figuratively punched myself in the gut when I fell for him.” He sighed.

I snorted, and Baz raised an eyebrow. (He does that a lot, raises eyebrows. They have a mind of their own.)

“Simon? Straight? Hell no. He swings both ways.”

Baz turned a slight pink. “I don’t have a chance anyway. He has Agatha and they seem happy with each other.”

I snort again and Agatha at this point would say it’s unbecoming. “They broke up. Their chemistry isn’t very good since they were always on and off. Frankly, we all think they’re better off as friends.”

“How come you’re so calm about this?” Baz turned to me, incredulous.

“I think you have a better chance of wooing Simon than Agatha. Agatha said that she only stayed in the relationship because she didn’t want to hurt him.”

“I know what you’re thinking, Pen, I will not confess my love for him anytime soon. This isn’t some romcom. He was just in a relationship, I’m not going to take advantage of that. He needs time to heal, since they’ve been dating on and off for, what, 3 years like you said? That’s a pretty long time.”

I took a sip of my earl grey tea. “You said the right thing, Baz. Think I still have to give you the sisterly shovel talk?” I tried to prevent the corners of my mouth from curling up into a smirk but to no avail.

“Whether or not you choose to give it to me, I won’t care. Snow once mentioned a sister who is overly protective of him and I psyched myself up for an intense shovel talk if I managed to actually ask Snow out.”

We both laughed at that. I guess I do have a tendency to be overprotective.

“So wait; Snow is Fuji’s owner?”

“Yep. Simon dotes on him as if it were his child. I’m not really sure why he likes reptiles so much, but I think he feels bad for that one time he killed a dragon. But hey, I’m not gonna stop him from liking what he wants to like.”

“Thanks for the clarification.”

We fell into a comfortable silence before Baz jolted and scared the bejesus out of me.

“Oh god. Penny, Penny.” Baz leaned in and lowered his voice.

“I don’t know what his opinion on vampires is. He might hate me. I don’t know what I would do with myself. I don’t want him to hate me.” He clenched his teeth and rubbed his temples, obviously very, VERY stressed.

“Does he hate vampires? If he does do I just not tell him? Pen—“

“Oh for god’s sake  Baz, chill out.” I laid a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to ground him.

Baz shut his mouth.

“I’m not sure of what Simon thinks of vampires, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you were. I think.”

Another silence fell around us, this time not as comfortable. I took this time to actually think of what Simon’s reaction would be.

“Actually, Baz, I think it’s a good idea if you, uh, keep quiet. I’m sure Simon likes you but he… might not take it so well now that I think about it.”

Baz frowned. He dug into his pocket to get out what I think is blood in a sachet similar to a ketchup packet, tore it open, and squeezed the contents into his drink before taking a swig.

“God. This is hopeless isn’t it?” He asks, looking thoroughly pathetic.

“Of course it isn’t.”

 

Simon

 

I couldn’t stay mad at Agatha. It’s like staying mad a part of me. I eventually gave in when she invited me out to see a tour of the underwater installations of New York. (As just friends. She made that clear.)

When the Erie Canal was built a lot of mer-creatures (the most intelligent being the merpeople) used it as transportation between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. However, it caused a lot of traffic issues between them and the large barges passing through.

So in 1912, M.I.A. (Short for Merpeoples’ Interstate Act) was passed which provided an underground interstate of water tunnels that occasionally break up from the ground. 

When Plexiglass was invented, advocates for the MIA hopped on this invention and started replacing the tunnels above ground with it, instead of the typical cast iron. It looks nicer and costs less. One of the first cities to install an above ground waterway was NYC and is still holding the proud title of most mer-creature accessible buildings.

She had gotten free tickets because of her role as Ariel so she could emulate the behavior of mermaids. I’m pretty sure the Little Mermaid is racist. (Literally, they’re a different genus.) But I don’t want to ruin Agatha’s first lead so I keep it to myself.

Right now, the tour guide explained that we were in the control room. It controls water pressure, water quality, pH levels, and monitors any bacteria, algae, and other microscopic bits floating around in the water. Apparently, they have chambers at the end of the canals so any non-mer species from the Atlantic ocean can be prevented from crossing over to the Great Lakes and vice versa.

It’s a good idea. Invasive species and all that. I don’t know a lot about it but I can gather from one of Pen’s  many  rants about the environment.

And every year the tunnels get drained and scrubbed clean, just to make sure. Mer like to keep their environments clean. (Then again, who doesn’t?)

We watch the merpeople swim through the passage and some wave at us. I wish we had brought swimsuits. I wish we had brought Penny; she could have made us waterproof.

But eventually, the tour came to an end, and Aggie and I stopped at a small restaurant to talk and eat.

Agatha seemed happier without me, and I really didn’t want to think that she had already found someone to replace me.

“I’m glad we can still stay friends, Simon.” Agatha smiled brightly at me.

I didn’t feel sad anymore, just fine. I guess we were better off as friends. I can get behind that. At least I can try. I always felt like I was messing up the relationship anyway.  I don’t know how to be a good boyfriend.

“Yeah, me too.” There was a slightly uncomfortable beat of silence before Agatha asked a question. I hope we get over that soon, the uncomfortable silences; I can’t bear them.

“How is Fuji doing?”

That’s something I can talk about comfortably.

“Fuji is doing great, actually; he just shed recently and I’m now feeding him some slightly bigger mice. Hopper sized. He’s still pretty small though, but corn snakes don’t grow that big anyway.”

Agatha nods along and adds a soft uh huh, ever so often.

“So what about Ariel? How’s that going?”

“Yeah, It’s going great actually. Mr. Salisbury, which, like, isn’t even his real name. He took his wife’s maiden name after she died, isn’t that sweet? It’s incredibly nice, and it pays rather well, so I think I can afford to go back to California for the holidays.”

We pay the check and go hang out in Central Park, sitting on one of the giant rock outcroppings overlooking a pond. Our conversation continues for a while as we watch the fall wind blow the dead leaves from the trees.

I check my phone for the time. There’s a friend request from someone on Instagram, but I only notice how nearly-late I am.

“Oh shit,” I say. “I have class in like, fifteen minutes. I gotta go.”

Agatha’s not in college; she used to be at UCLA for a veterinary degree but she dropped out to move here. I think that’s why she’s not getting a lot of offers for jobs on Broadway, even though she’s crazy good. No degree.

I want to go into therapy, specifically for other kids in foster care. I feel like it’s a pay it forward kind of a thing. I’m not really interested in anything else.

“Yeah, I have a dentist appointment soon anyways. So I guess we’ll part ways here?”

“Yeah, it’s been fun.” I almost reach over to kiss her but I stop before I do. (Friends. Just. Friends. )

“See you around.”


Penny

 

“Okay, so you got the locks replaced? That’s good. I know Simon already has mace, that’s good too.”

“Thanks for helping, Premal; we’re still kind of on edge after that incident.”

I contacted my brother, Premal, after the recent break-in. He worked as a security guard at a bank, so I figured he’d know a thing or two about protecting an apartment from a robber-not-robber.

(Simon said the only thing missing was a picture of him as a baby. Maybe it’s a stalker? God, that’s even creepier.)

“I’m still scared for Simon. The only thing that the guy took was a baby photo of Simon.  A baby photo,  Prem. We have a tv, we have gaming consoles, I have a few pieces of Mum’s jewelry and Simon has some cufflinks that were a pretty expensive gift from Dad. But no. All they took was a baby photo of  Simon. ” I sighed, rubbing my temples while Prem hummed in sympathy.

“Seems like we got a stalker on our hands. Maybe Simon should report it?”

“Maybe he should. I’ll remind him when he gets home. You think it could work if I spelled the cats to attack any intruders?” I watched his face through the slightly choppy Facetime video call we were having.

“I mean, that could work? There might be some problems, like if you or Simon go home late at night and get attacked by your own cats, but I’m sure you iron that out of the spell. You’re a great spellcaster.”

An alarm in the distance went off on Premal’s side of the call.

“Ah, that’s the end of my break. I gotta go. See ya, Pen.”

“See you, Prem.” I hung up.

I looked up and stared at the front door, seeing the new lock and deadbolt installed, as well as some motion activated lights. I hope this is enough to keep the creepy whoever-they-are out of our apartment.

New York, New York, you sure are scary.

 

Philippa

 

I basically skip to work.

I swing the door open like there’s nothing stopping me and the bell jingles a happy little response. I walk into the back room and see Simon there.

“Hiya, Simon!” I exclaim, marveling at the sound that comes out.

“Huh? What? Who’s there?” He turns around and spots me. “Did someone just say something?”

“Yeah, I did!”

Simon takes a few slow blinks before his face changes into an expression of joy and confusion.

“Wait, you can speak now?! You. Can. Speak. Now. Holy crap! This is amazing, I’m so happy and so proud of you!”

He’s signing the words out of habit and that fact that he’s so happy makes me almost regret reporting all of Simon’s going-ons to them Mage. Almost.

“That’s not all. Check this out.” I point at a cardboard box and cast “ Up, Up and Away! ” and it slowly and lazily floats up.

At this point, Simon looks incredibly happy. He pulls me into a tight hug. “I’m so glad, I really am. I always felt that the fact that you were mute was so unfair, but it’s all fine now. Everything right in the world. You deserve it, you really do.”

I don’t, Simon.

But I really  want  it.

“How did you do it?”

“I went to a powerful magician..”

He didn’t mention the hesitation in my voice. Thank god for that.

Simon and I chat about what’s going on in our lives and he doesn’t notice the phone in my back pocket recording it all.

 

The Mage

 

“Opening Night. We make our advances opening night.”

Soon, Lucy.

Our rosebud boy is coming home.

Chapter Text

Simon

 

Today, Agatha invited us to her apartment for a study session. Baz, Penny, and I are going to help each other study, even though we’re all studying different things.

Agatha is just studying her script for her Ariel, trying to embody a lovesick teen-aged mermaid. She’s asked us to tell her whether or not it’s convincing.

I’m picking up some coffee before I go there, since I know we’re going to need some kind of caffeine. I go to Night Owl because I get an employee discount.

I can’t afford to spend all my money on Starbucks drinks.

I’m standing by the counter, waiting for my four drinks. A pumpkin mocha breve with a pump of vanilla for Baz, extra strong lavender earl gray for Pen, an americano for Agatha, and bittersweet dark hot chocolate with rainbow marshmallows for me.

“Here you go, Simon. Pumpkin mocha breve with one pump vanilla, extra strong lavender earl gray, americano, and dark hot chocolate with mallows. All with two pumps of focus.” Ms. Pritchard handed me a drink holder with all of them.

I start to take out my wallet, but Ms. Pritchard holds up a hand to stop me.

“It’s on me this time. You’ve been working hard lately.”

I open my mouth to protest, but she shushes me.

Well, I’m just gonna have to get something to make up for the free coffee. Next time then.

I leave the cafe, and a wind of chilly air hits me in the face. It’s early afternoon, but it’s still cold and humid.

I briskly walk towards to the direction of Agatha’s apartment. The sooner I can get to warmth, the sooner I can start studying. I’m trying to run through my latest psych lesson in my head, but it’s hard to concentrate in the cold.

But finally, finally, I find myself standing at Aggie’s front door. Surprisingly enough, the drinks are still a teensy bit warm. I thought the drinks would become flavored ice cubes by the time I gave the drinks to them. They’re not at a temperature fit for drinking, but I can just have Penny cast a Some like it hot. on the drinks.

I knock on the door and it opened immediately, Penny’s impatient and welcoming smile evident. Baz is sitting on the couch, reading a thick tome. He waves at me and tries to get a word in before Penny interrupts.

“Simon, we were wondering where you were! What took you so long?” Penny chastised me for being late.

“Chill out, Pen, I brought drinks.” I held up the paperboard drink holder with our coffees and teas. “They’re cold though.”

“I can fix that,” Penny held out her right hand in front of the cups, her chunky purple ring starting to glow.

 

“Some like it hot!”

 

I immediately felt the cups warm. My hands, though, did not. They still felt numb. I walked inside to put the cups on the counter, Agatha walking out of her room with a thick manuscript.

“Oh, you’re finally here, Simon. I was beginning to think you got lost.” She smiled.

“I just bought drinks for everyone. Here’s your Americano.” I hand Agatha her drink and proceed to distribute everyone else’s drinks.

“For Penny, extra strong lavender earl gray; for Baz, pumpkin mocha breve, light on the mocha .”

I settled down beside him, sipping my own chocolate and trying to rub my hands to warmth.

“I’m still not sure how you drink that stuff; it’s so sweet.”

Baz makes a statement of taking a big gulp of his drink. “I like it. At least it isn’t Humdrum’s drink.”

I couldn’t argue with that. I trust Baz’s good taste. But it’s time to get to studying.

I try to take out my laptop from my bag, but my hands are so numb that I can’t get a good grip on it. I rub them together to try to get them to warm up.

“Wow. It’s really cold out there, huh?” Penny observed my shaky and pallid hands.

“Penny, you’re like a sister to me, but we’re literally in New York City in mid-October. Of course, it will be freezing outside, you dunce.” Agatha joked, scrutinizing a piece of text in her script so hard that she might actually bore holes in that paper.

Penny rolls her eyes. “Don’t be so literal.”

“Do you want me to warm them?” Baz turns to me.

“What?”

“You know, your hands. With magic.”

 

Baz

 

So incredibly eloquent, Basilton. How do I flirt with boys? Ask to warm their hands. Merlin and Morgana.

“Oh. Uh, sure. How do you…?” Luckily enough, Snow does not think I’m an idiot. Not yet, at least.

“Just hold out your hands.” He does just that.

I conjure up some peach colored flames, wispy and light on my hands. Technically, they weren’t flames, but God knows that magic isn’t made of technicalities.

I move a little closer to him before I close my hands over Snow’s cold fingers, trying to warm them up. His hands were slightly rough and his fingers were slender. By now most of the shivering has stopped, but Snow’s hands were still slightly cool.

At the very least, I’m only telling myself that so I can keep holding Simon’s hands. Even his hands smelled of his cologne; notes of wood smoke, tangy green apple, and cloves.

It’s like my hands belong there. They fit perfectly. I’ll take it as a good sign. I take everything I can as a good sign.

Soon, his hands are thoroughly warmed, and I reluctantly let go.

“Thanks, Baz.” Snow beamed up at me, his eyes almost sparkly.I try to keep my cool, but it’s difficult when you’re not very experienced with trying to hide a blush.

I should not have fed before I came here. I’m blushing so hard I look like I never even got Turned. Somehow, Simon doesn’t notice.

“Anyway, I think it’s about time we start studying. Right, Agatha?” Penny interrupts the calm silence.

“Right.” Agatha takes a big gulp of her Americano. I could see she only did that to try to hide a smirk. “You guys need to help me, though. I’ve only got a month left and I am still struggling with lines.”

We all put our books down and read out the script. Doing funny voices. I offer to be Prince Eric to save Simon the stress.

He gives me a weird look but doesn’t protest.

“But I don’t belong here. I never did. I don’t fit in, as hard as I try. If only I could be ‘up there’ instead!”

Agatha’s execution of the lines is almost flawless. It needs polishing, but it’s definitely very expressive.

“Walking on the very sound ground he is, breathing the very same air…”

 

---

 

The day passes by slowly. Agatha has lied down on the floor, mumbling to herself while reading the script. Penny and Simon are next to each other, helping each other study since they both have majored in medicine. Penny is aiming to be a surgeon (a neurosurgeon, to be exact) and Simon wants to become a child psychiatrist.

It’s a noble cause. Simon told me he wants to be a psychiatrist for kids in foster care since he used to be in foster care himself before the Bunce family adopted him. He wants to pay it forward.

I just have finances. It’s not as exciting. But I like it; economics is all about preventing the worst to come. I like having security. It’s nice.

I scan through tables and graphs, charts and numbers until I’m absolutely tired of looking at those fragile paled ivory pages. I needed a break.

Penny and Snow are sitting by each other, Snow scribbling on a yellow notepad. They stopped looking at the books a few minutes ago.

“Simon, if you want to be a good doctor, you’re gonna HAVE to learn how to write a goddamn prescription properly .”

“It’s not that hard, isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not hard to write one, but it’s easy to make a mistake for this kind of stuff. Medical errors annually cost the US billions of dollars. I’ll email you the article.” Penny sighed, picking up a few discarded pieces of Simon’s attempts at prescription-writing.

“You keep forgetting to put the frequency on it. How would a patient know when to take their meds? It’s super important for you especially, since you’re dealing with patients who rely on their meds to feel normal. There’s also the lack of the leading zero. It should be written as 0.5, not .5. That’s a surefire way to overdose a patient. They might die because of these mistakes, and you might not make it through college, much less grad school.” She dropped the yellow papers into the wastebasket next to the couch.

Snow groaned, slapping his head with the notepad.

“Pen, I love you, but can we take a break from this? I’m pretty sure I just went through a tree’s worth of paper writing them out. Plus, I can’t think when I’m hungry,” Simon frowned and checked the time. “It’s 1:30 and we haven’t even had lunch yet.”

Penelope sighed. “Fine. I’ll go out and buy something.”

Agatha perked up at the words ‘go out’.

“Penny, can I come with you?” Agatha asks, immediately getting up and scanning the room to look for her coat.

Penny shrugged. “If you don’t like what I bring you I’ll spell it something different.”

“That’s such a waste of magic. We’ll get you something you’ll like.”

“Sounds good.” Simon says, he has his eyes closed, laying back on the couch.

They make their way to the door, Agatha saying “See you in a bit”

Penny winked at me before closing the front door, and it took me a few minutes after they left to realize what she did that for.

Snow and I are alone. Together .

Knowing Penny, she’ll probably stay out for an hour just so we can have some… time alone.

The silence was awkward and stifling, so I tried to break the ice.

 

Simon

 

“So. What were the odds that I actually knew your sister before I even knew she was your sister?” Baz tried to start a conversation. Which was good of him, I never know how to do stuff like that.

I opened one eye.

“It’s still pretty weird. How did you even find her?”

“Instagram explore page. I saw her cats, and I like cats. So I followed her. I started talking to her because I wanted to know what breed Tavi was.” Baz recollected, leaning back on the couch and pulling out his phone.

“Well, it really is a small world, huh?” I got out my own phone and looked at Instagram. Baz recently followed me, so I followed him back.

“Now that we’re all kinda friends, we should hang out more, right?” I asked Baz. He seemed really spaced out.

“I guess we should. Why don’t we, uh, plan something now?” Baz rubbed the back of his neck.

“That’s a great idea! Where were you thinking?”

“Uh.”

 

Baz

 

I never expected to get this far. I’m not even sure what to say. What do I say? Oh god, why did I even try to talk?

Okay, Baz. Think, think, think.

 

Simon

 

“What about ice skating?”

I hummed “Why not? Penny’s pretty good at ice skating. I always have fun when we go.”

I’m glad Baz still wants to hang out. He’s a really cool person, and I want to get to know him better. I was kind of afraid that I’m coming on too strong and too clingy.

I think that’s why Agatha broke up with me, I’m like a sloth, like a child in a new, scary, place.

“So, how’s next weekend? Around 11 at Lasker Ice Rink? I know that place doesn’t attract as many tourists.” I suggest, and Baz raises a brow. That was always a big issue, living here, being waterlogged by tourists.

“That sounds pretty good to me.”

We talked about a few other pointless things before the room settled in silence. It would have been really awkward if not for Penny and Agatha coming home, bringing in bags of what smells like Chinese food.

“We’re home! I hope you like honey chicken because we bought two cartons.” Penny went over to the counter, setting a plastic bag full of those Chinese food cartons down on the counter next to the now-empty drink holder.

Baz and I relay our plans to Penny and Agatha as we help set up for lunch. We set plates out and put the chicken and rice on top, grabbing our drinks and sitting down at the table.

For the rest of the day, we talked about anything and everything, from Agatha’s new role to Halloween coming up.

 

Penny

 

We left for like half an hour and apparently all Baz did was coordinate an outing with him. For the love of Bridget Bishop, work with me here.

“Tyrannus Basilton Pitch! I can’t believe it. We were gone for 30 minutes and you did nothing but talk about meaningless things? Come on Baz, I know Simon, he’ll never make the first move.”

“Pen, please. Whatever fines Simon has with people he likes, I can assure you, I have even less.” He pauses. “ I’ll do something at the ice skating dat- hangout.” Baz sounded flustered over the phone.

“Fine, but actually do more this time, I can only do so much.” I hung up, not giving him a chance to respond.

I can’t wait for next week.

Chapter Text

Simon

 

So it turns out that Baz is awful at ice skating. Like that one scene from Bambi awful, you know, the one where he slides everywhere? He’s that bad. Agatha and Penny skate ahead.

The moment he stepped foot on the ice, he fell on his knees. Poor Baz. I decided to try to help him stand so he doesn’t badly humiliate himself in front of the good amount of people here.

 

Baz

 

We’re practically hugging.

Simon is behind me holding me up by my armpits (he’s shorter than me so my legs are bent a tad.) and I try and find my footing. I may or may not have spent some extra time regaining my balance, but who can blame me?

For being the clumsiest creature I know, Simon is incredibly graceful on the ice. I could go waxing poetic about how beautiful he is, dancing with the ice reflecting the light of his smile. Hell, I want to wax-poetic. I do believe that actually being able to stand on my own without Snow holding me up like a goddamned child is more important than constructing poetry in my head that will never see the light of day on paper.

Agatha and Penny lap us, waving as they go past. I brave the ice and break away from Simon, who’s just holding me up so I don’t immediately fall at this point. Surprisingly, I can stand now.

I can’t really move, but I can stand. I turn around and triumphantly smile at Simon who claps.

“Bravo!”

I trip again and he grabs my hand to steady.

“I better, uh, keep this here, we don’t want you breaking something.” He flusters through the sentence, a dusty rose color rising to his face before he looks away.

“That’s probably a good idea.” I squeeze his hand and he squeezes back.

 

Penny

 

Now that, that's more like it.

“They’re finally getting somewhere. I thought I would start getting wrinkles by the time they start to hold hands.” Agatha comments.

“Lord knows that I’d be dead before you’d have a wrinkle,” I respond, smiling at the pair.

 

Baz

 

Simon, bless him, holds onto my hand the entire time, like he’s more afraid of me falling than I am. As the sun sets, we settle down with hot chocolate and laugh like we’ve known each other for years.

As golden hour wanes, the last strings of light hit Simon, lighting him up from the back and making him look like a divine being. His smile is always cheerful, and his eyes are always a beautiful shade of steel blue. I try my best to memorize the contours of his face because god only knows the next time I’ll be able to do something this intimate with him.

I’ve already fallen hard for him. I’m not sure what I would do with myself if my love is not required.

 

Simon

 

Baz looks great in this light.

Even though he stumbled like a newborn baby deer for the first few minutes on the ice. He looks like a greek god, chiseled out of pale marble. There’s snow in his black hair, so I reach up to brush it off.

“Thanks.”

Baz prefers to be a little introverted, but he has his own kind of charisma; a kind that makes you wanna stay near him and talk to him for an hour. He’s a cool person and an even better friend.

Friend? Are we friends? I’ve only known him as something other than coffee shop boy for a handful of weeks.

I think we are.

I hope he thinks so too.

Chapter Text

Agatha

 

Hallow’s eve is today and the herbs I need for the warding spells having arrived yet. Curse Amazon and their empty promises of two-day delivery. I might literally curse them if the goddamned ghosts and spirits and bounty hunters get into my house this year.

 

I can’t get it from the shop, it’ll be completely sold out at this point and the professional spell casters require reservations months in advance. I can usually get by on what I have, but I used all of my surplus last year.

 

I just got a good bit of lavender and basil for it. I already have the sea salt and white rice prepared in some jars for the house protection spell. And I have sage bundles on hand. A good Wiccan spellcaster always has sage bundles on hand.

 

However, I still don’t have the snakeskin or candles.

 

Despite all the complaining I really don’t mind doing all this spell casting. It’s ancient, from back before people could write, or even have a consistent, cohesive language. It was even more popular than modern spellcasting in the dark ages. Back when witches were oppressed. People theorize that they became separated from modern culture and couldn’t connect with the language, leading them to spices and fingernails and snakeskin.

 

Sometimes, I prefer it. Words can only say so much, you know?

 

Nevertheless, the magic ingrained in the Wiccan style of spellcasting has left it when it’s popularity waned. It really only works the week of Hallow's eve because of everyone dressing up as a witch and, well, appropriating Wiccan culture, when everyone's thinking about potions, and creatures of the night, et cetera.

 

Does that count as cultural appropriation? I’m pretty sure it does.

 

Well, at least it hasn’t completely died out.

 

I should call Penny. She always uses Wiccan spells on Hallow's eve. (They work better to protect you from evil spirits.)

 

It’s worth a shot calling her.

 

I pull out my phone and tap on her contact. She picks up after exactly one ring.

“Hello?”

 

“Hey Pen, you do Wiccan spellcasting, yes?”

 

“Yeah, why?”

 

“Amazon failed me, and now I’m missing some much-needed snakeskin and candles.”

 

“Agatha, do you really not have any candles? A responsible spellcaster always has candles on hand.”

 

“Well, see, I used up my candles last time. All of them. It’s a long story.”

 

Involving werewolves. And a pixie. And some very well placed mouse traps.

 

“Anyway, I don’t have enough for an advanced house protection spell, and I’m not really sure what to do..”

 

“You know what, I won’t even ask. Do you have enough for a basic house protection spell?”

 

“Well, yeah, but that’ll only protect my house, not me.”

 

Penny clicked her tongue on the other side of the line.

 

“You can come over to our flat. We have everything for an advanced spell. Just cast the basic spell on your apartment before you come over, and you’ll be a-okay.”

 

“Alright then. Should I come dolled up in a costume?” I laughed.

 

“Yes.” Penny’s voice became stoic and rock solid. “You need to otherwise the goddamned creatures of the night will like possess you or whatever.

 

“... Ah, I just meant that as a joke, but okay then, I guess.”

 

“Alright, great! See you at the party!” Penny returns to her cheery bright voice before she hangs up.

 

I paused for a few seconds after she did.

 

Why do I feel as if this was a horrible decision?

 

Okay, so I have a couple of hours before night falls.  I need to figure out a costume.

 

Penny

 

“Baz, you definitely need to come over tonight.”

 

Baz pauses for a minute before speaking again. His voice comes out slightly distorted from the cell phone.

 

“Pen, I don’t have a costume. I don’t need any protection anyway. I am a creature of the night.”

 

“Then buy one.”

 

“One what?”

 

“Costume. I was going to get you to buy one anyways for Simon. He couldn’t dress himself if he tried.”

 

“Okay. Fine, I’ll come, but your spells better have an exception for vampires.”

 

“I never cast against vampires. You guys can’t even enter the apartment without my permission.”

 

“I know, I’m cursed with eternal politeness.”

 

“Poor unfortunate soul.”

 

“Don’t be sarcastic with me.”

 

Simon

 

I’m working the day shift because the Coffee Shop isn’t open on Hallow’s eve. Most shops aren’t. It’s too expensive to keep it bewitched all night and people come in seeking asylum, and then don’t buy anything .

 

I really don’t mind the coffee shop. though. It smells nice. It makes up for the snooty customers that come in.

 

But man are they testing my patience. I’ve had to deal with 3 customers who’ve asked for my manager because they tried to redeem a free drink using a coupon that’s 2 years old. Ms. Pritchard can’t deal with those customers either, so she promised me a little extra money if I just said I was the supervisor on duty. I can’t pass up a little extra money.

 

So here I stand, trying not to scream.

 

After passing off matcha lattes to a gaggle of girls, there’s a lull in the number of customers running up to the counter and rapidly firing orders at me like I’m a robot. I turn to Pippa, who’s (reluctantly) working alongside me.

 

“Save me, Pip. If I have to deal with another customer like that again, I will actually break down and cry. On the floor. And my mother’s going to have to drag me out of the supermarket and apologize to the manager.”

 

“It’s okay, Simon. Look on the bright side. At least it isn’t Mr. Humdrum.” Philippa said in her pretty voice. A voice I’m still not used to.

 

The bell above the door rung.

 

“Speak of the devil, Philippa.” He’s like Voldemort. Every time we say his name the bell above the door rings and he swaggers in in his own douchebag-y way.

 

The Humdrum strode in like he owned the place, like always. He raised his eyebrows as he saw Pippa working the counter.

 

“Wow. Never thought I’d see you over here.” He purred, stopping in front of Philippa.

 

God forbid. Is he actually trying to flirt with her?

 

“What’s your order, sir?” Pippa, good on her, replies calmly. I could see her knuckles slowly turning white from gripping the edges of the counter out of annoyance.

 

“You’re kind of cute, I could’ve sworn that you couldn’t talk before. That doesn’t matter anymore, though. I wouldn’t date anyone stupid enough not to speak. “

 

“I’m assuming your usual?” She gives him a blank smile that should, to any normal person means, I’m not interested.

 

“Meet me at the fancier restaurant down the street tomorrow at 8, babe. Dress nice, I don’t want you to embarrass me.”

 

At this point I finish making his drink; I always start making the Humdrum’s drink the moment he comes in because it saves time. I hand it to Pippa. She realizes that he’s not getting the hint.

 

“I’m not interested. Thank you, sir, your total is $20.76.”

 

“God. Bitches are so ungrateful these days,” He muttered under his breath. “You’re definitely not getting a tip today.”

 

I refrain from replying that he doesn’t tip either way. He stomps off.

 

The last few people straggle out when I announce closing time around 5. Pippa and I close shop and talk about menial things. Ever since she got her voice, she gives me this look when I talk, like she’s memorizing everything I say. It makes me feel like she’s really listening, I like it.

 

As I walk to my apartment, Penny texts me.

 

Penny: You wanna go as one of the Doctors?

It takes me a moment to realize that she’s talking about the party later. Penny suggested me dressing up as one of the Doctors from Doctor Who a few days ago.

Simon: good idea

Simon: should I go get a costume?

Penny: It was Baz’s idea, he had to go get something for himself to wear so he offered to find something for you.

Penny: He remembered you liked Doctor Who...  

That was nice of him.

Penny: How does being the 4th doctor sound?

I tap out my reply.

Simon: sounds good to me.

Simon: jelly babies included?

Penny: We’ll see what we can do.

Baz

 

“May I come in?”

 

Penny gives me a playful smile, her large and tacky black-and-purple witch hat blocking my view of the top half of her face.

 

“What if I say no?”

 

“Then I’ll haunt your doorstep all night, and Simon won’t get his costume, which, unlike me, he actually needs if he doesn’t want to be possessed by some dark creatures. He doesn’t even want to be around vampires; much less be taken over by something similar.”

 

I try not to let it show how much it upsets me.

 

“You can enter.”

 

“You don’t have to say it like that.”

 

“What if I want to?” She turns around “Simon?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“There’s a costume for you delivered by a particularly charming vampire.” Penny eyes the canvas tote bag I’m holding.

 

I choked on the air in my lungs for just a second before realizing that I’m dressed up as a vampire. Good, Penny didn’t drag me out of the closet. Or, at least, one of the many closets I’m in.

 

Ray, looking slightly pissed off at his taco costume, head bumps my leg and purrs, like he’s asking me to take that silly little costume off of him. I pick him up and loosen the straps just a tad. He can shake it off if he’s really that devoted.

 

Simon comes up and grabs the tote bag from me.

 

“Thanks, I’ll be out in a second.” He scampers off to his room and shuts the door behind him.

 

The doorknob rattles and opens to Agatha in a rather lazy bunny costume. She’s in a white sweatshirt, heathered gray leggings, and a cheaply made pair of bunny ears. She painted herself little whiskers and a pink nose.

 

“She has a spare key,” Penny tells me. Ah.

 

“I bought candy for the kids in your apartment.” She holds up a paper bag of the good candies. I’m talking bars of chocolate. KitKat, Snickers, Twix; hell, there’s even a gargantuan bar of Toblerone.

 

“I’m pretty sure this entire place only has college kids.”

 

“I bought candy for us to eat, then.” She says, placing it down on the counter.

 

A few minutes pass and I’m really thirsty. For blood. I feel my back pocket looking for the juice pouch of blood that I packed.

 

Shit. shitshitshitshit. I left it in the tote bag. The tote bag I gave to Simon. Simon, who dislikes vampires.

 

“Yo, Baz! You left your juice thing with my costume.”  Simon peeps out of his room, hair tousled and scarf on crooked.

 

“Yeah, I’ll grab it.”

 

I walk up to his room as he exits the doorway. “Ta-da!” He says with a flourish. “How do I look.”

 

Simon was dressed in a pair of gray pants, a maroon coat, a brown checkered vest, and a multicolored striped scarf. The hat on his head was askew.

 

“Like a mess.” I take the juice pouch from him and quickly pocket it. I hope he didn’t notice what was in it.

 

I turn around and mess with his costume.

 

“Your scarf is crooked, Snow.” I evened out the tails of the scarf, then turned my attention to his hair. I ran my fingers through it, trying to tame the mane.

 

I fix it to the best of my ability before balancing the jelly babies on top of his head and placing the hat on top.

 

“There. Much better.”

 

“Thanks.” Snow messes with his hair. Again.

 

“Guys, Micah is here.”

 

Micah was in the living room, dressed up like Geordi La Forge from Star Trek . I won’t lie, he made it work. The visor was super convincing.

 

“Hey,” he said to everyone.

 

“We met at the party, right?” He said to me.

 

“Yeah, yeah. Uh, excuse me, I have to make a phone call real quick.” I held up my phone as my hands practically shook with bloodthirst.

 

I ran outside, pocketing my phone the moment I got out of their sight. I sidled into a dark alley and poked a hole in the pouch with the now-prominent fangs in my mouth.

 

I drank as fast as I could. When the pouch was dry, I ate a few breath mints; a precaution to make sure that no one smells blood on my breath. Penny says I’m just being paranoid.

 

When I got back, the party was already in full swing, judging by Micah and Agatha throwing back shots like it was water and both Simon and Penny cheering them on. It was really fun. Small and chill, but fun. Everyone stayed the night. (Children can usually get away with trick-or-treating, they treat their costumes seriously. But once you get to be an adult you shouldn’t be staying out on Hallow’s eve.) We drank, ate, and were merry.

 

The few children that knocked on our door were greeted with a couple king-sized candy bars and went away happy. I crashed on the couch and Agatha slept on a blow-up mattress. (Micah slept in Penny’s bed, of course.) In the morning we had pancakes, courtesy of Penny.

 

Everyone gathered their paper plates of pancakes and cups of drinks. Snow and I sat together on the couch, eating in comfortable silence.

 

“So. I’m assuming that the spell was a success, considering that there aren’t any dark creatures here.” Micah piped up, sipping a cup of orange juice.

 

I’m starting to panic slowly, and I’m doing my goddamn best not to show it. I’m pretty sure Penny is the only one who noticed me tense up.

 

“Yeah, I’m glad. I honestly hate it when they do get in here.” Simon poked at his pancakes with a flimsy plastic fork. “Vampires are the worst in my opinion.”

 

Well, there goes everything. (And nothing, really. What did I actually have with him?)

 

Penny gives me a sympathetic look.

 

I ask him.

 

“Why do you hate vampires?”

 

Snow takes a sip of his mug of instant hot chocolate before turning to me with a pensive look in his eyes. Something I have never seen before.

 

“Ever heard of the Bleeding Rose?”

Chapter Text

Simon

Two years ago, I was walking home from Agatha’s when the Bleeding Rose mugged me.

I had a backpack with some of my notebooks, a small wad of cash, and my wand. At the time, the wand was my most precious belonging.

It was carved of varnished sandalwood and ivory; intricate patterns spliced up and down around it like thin vines. The heirloom came bonded with me when I was a baby left in a basket at the door of an orphanage. It was the only thing that connected me to my parents.

It was almost like a lucky charm, except it wasn’t. It was more than a lucky charm; it was irreplaceable.

Magic runs in families, right? This wand was the only thing my parents left me. The only connection I have to them, and the only solid way I could get reliable magic.

But I digress.

So, I’m walking down the dark street, minding my own business when I notice three shadows cast in front of me.

It was too late, though, since I was immediately ambushed by three people before being dragged into a more secluded alley. One of them covered my mouth and bear hugged me while lifting me a foot off the ground. I struggled to get out of their grip, even though the effort was useless. That guy towered above me.

A few minutes later I was dropped into a dark alcove, my wrists bound and a whispering spell on my voice.

“What do you want from me?!” I tried to yell, but my voice only came out as a rasp.
The three ignored me and instead went digging in my bag, my pockets.

The shortest of the three, the one who was searching my bag, let out an “ah-ha!” and motioned the other two over to see it. Under the bright moonlight was my wand.

“Who are you?! And don’t touch that!” I yelled (or, well, tried to) at them, and they finally stopped ignoring me, their faces finally becoming distinguishable in the light as they leaned towards me. Their fangs glinted menacingly. Vampires. All vampires.

“Sorry, kid. Your teeny little magic wand is ours now. Hey, think we can take these apart and sell the ivory and the sandalwood? I know a perfumer who’ll pay quite a bit for the sandalwood.” The tallest one taunted, mockingly twirling the wand around his fingers, sneering to show those awful fangs.

“Don’t.” I was seething.

“Or what? Are you gonna call the police on us?” The vampire who hadn’t spoken piped up, as he rifled through all of the pockets in my bookbag.

The other one laughed. “Tell them Bleeding Rose sent you. They’ll break down crying.” He spat in my face.

He then dropped me and left with the others. Taking all of my stuff with them. Well, almost all of it. They were sympathetic enough to leave my lecture notes. I was livid. Upset. Distraught.

(Hell, I even cried after I got home. They took away the only thing that tied me to my parents; of course, I would be really sad.

After I got over it, I turned to the Internet to try to get a bit of information about the Bleeding Rose. I had to know who I was up against.

Bleeding Rose is an all vampire mafia that most vampires end up being a part of sometime or another. Sources and tons of news articles have led me to the conclusion that I was lucky I even survived the confrontation.

I did even more research, this time about vampires specifically, and vampires are more likely to commit a homicide than a regular person by nearly ten percent. Knowing that they drank blood did not help me like them.

The more I searched the more it cemented in my mind. Vampires were awful, subhuman creatures who murder innocent people. I could only wish that those vampires could just disappear from the face of the earth, so other people wouldn’t have to die at their hands.

Baz

I was stunned.

I wasn’t even sure what to say to him, and from what I could see, Penny, Agatha, and Micah didn’t know either. I felt compelled to tell them to pick their jaws up from the floor, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for the moment. After a few seconds of palpable silence, Micah was the one who decided to break it.

“Simon, I’m so sorry.” Simon looked down at his half-filled mug, visible hurt in his eyes. “That must be truly awful.”

Penny discreetly shot me another look, one of shock and pity and curiosity.

Penny

I mean, I wasn’t expecting this, of all things. I knew that Simon had a thing against vampires but I never knew that it went this deep, I always just kind of assumed it was a misguided prejudice, an unfair judgment. I give Baz a look that hopefully asks the right questions.

Baz

I know what she’s trying to ask me. I’ve never been a part of the Bleeding Rose. In fact, most of the vampires I know (a good amount, actually,) have never even been part of the Bleeding Rose. It’s a vampire mafia, for god’s sake. Anyone with enough sensibility would know not to join. I’m really not sure where Simon read that most vampires become part of it.

I’m about to freak out. Whatever chance I had with him (and I thought he was straight) now is completely and utterly crushed by his… I don’t know, misguided hatred of who I am on a level that I’ll never be able to change.

Life is really kicking me in the ass. I gotta get out of here or otherwise suffer the embarrassment of explaining, well not really explaining, more like excusing, my reaction to Simon.

I check my phone and feign surprise.

“Oh shit, I have to go,” I say quickly grabbing my things, trying to stay calm and collected.

“Er, bye?” Simon says as I rush out of his apartment.

“Bye!” I call out as the door slams behind me.

When I got home I practically collapsed on the floor. This, all of this, is a nightmare. Sammy walks up to me and paws at me, slightly concerned by the unusual behavior. I scratch him a bit behind the ears as I try to convince myself to give up all hope on Simon.

Chapter Text

Agatha

 

It’s opening night.

 

My hands are clammy, and the bedazzled shell bra I’m wearing is dangerously close to slipping off. I look in the mirror and adjust my entire costume for the umpteenth time, giving myself a few sprays of makeup setting spray so that my face doesn’t run mid-performance.

 

Yes. I’m definitely nervous, but I’m also excited. I mean, this is my big break. This is my chance to stop doing odd jobs to get by. This is my chance to get a sliver of the spotlight that I’ve been longing for. I hope Minty is proud.

 

The stage manager calls places and I go to the side of the stage and hide behind a set piece, painted to look like a rock.

 

And then, music swells and I reveal myself to the crowd, singing. Crashing above the ocean and relishing in the trees and sky and clouds.

 

“This is where I belong...”

 

Penny

 

Cariña , it’s just a show and you really should relax,” Micah said, as I leaned against him in the seat. It was the intermission and we were saving ourselves the awkwardness of getting up and banging knees with everyone.

 

“It’s so sexist! No one in their right mind would give up their voice for someone they barely know! Even then, how would he know that he loves her? Because she’s hot? She’s fifteen!

 

Micah tried to soothe me, squeezing my hand and patting my shoulder. “She’s got… body language….” He says sarcastically.

 

“Exactly my point! It’s like the fact that she’s pretty is all her worth and she’s not actually headstrong, which is what she’s supposed to be , but docile and gullible!”

 

“As much as I’d like you to point out every plot hole, I think we should, uh, talk about how good Agatha’s acting is. She takes the role of ‘naive-and-pining-16-year-old—”

15- year-old.” I corrected.

 

“—15-year-old girl, extremely well. Kudos to her.”

 

“She does. She has the pining down pat.” Simon says, settling into his seat beside me after stretching his legs with Baz.

 

“Where’s Pippa?” I ask turning to face them, Simon was wearing the same outfit he wore to Baz’s party. Baz was wearing a floral suit, and if I knew him (and I do) it was probably designer.

 

“She disappeared into the crowd,” Simon said. “Do you want me to text her? The show is going to start again soon.”

 

Phillippa

 

Baz and Simon lost me in the crowd when we got up during the intermission. I tried to find the familiar heads of bronze and black hair but to no avail, thanks to my rather short stature.

 

Just before I turned around to head back into the theater, a large hand clapped my shoulder and pulled me back. I turned around only to see the Mage standing there, stock still.

 

“If I were you, I wouldn’t be here anymore. I don’t need you anymore so I suggest you stay out of my way unless you want to get on my bad side” He flashed a crooked smile, the corners of his mouth not quite reaching his eyes.

 

Before I could ask why, how, or when, the Mage turns and vanishes into the crowd of people reentering the theater.

 

I stood there for a moment, contemplating the right thing to do when I decide to trust my gut instincts and leave.

 

I was halfway out of the building when Simon decides to text me.

 

 

Simon: where are u??!??

 

As much as I hate lying to Simon, I can’t exactly come clean to him and tell him that I’ve been recording our conversations and sending them to a mysterious man for months.

 

Also, said mysterious man telling me to GTFO.

 

 

Pippa: I was feeling sick so I decided to go home

Pippa: sorry!

 

Simon: :O i hope you feel better!

 

Pippa: thanks

 

I threw on my coat and ran out. I wasn’t sure what the Mage was going to do with Simon.

 

What was I thinking? I’m incredibly selfish. I can’t believe that I actually compromised Simon’s privacy just so I could talk. But… I can’t go to the Mage and tell him what he asked me to do was wrong. Or can I?

 

I sent a silent prayer up to the gods for Simon’s safety.

 

It’s all I can do for the moment.

 

I step out into the chilly night and head home.

 

Simon

 

After the show ended, Baz had offered to walk me home. I insisted that I know my way, but he said that we only lived five minutes apart from each other, and he wanted to make sure I got there safely. He’s always so gentlemanly.

 

We waved our goodbyes to Agatha, Penny, and Micah as they headed off the other way. Penny had told me that she was spending the night with Micah.

 

So here I am, walking to the subway with Baz, a comfortable silence blanketing us.

 

“So. What did you think?” I couldn’t prevent myself from trying to make awkward small talk with Baz.

 

He turned toward me, raising a perfectly groomed eyebrow. “Think of what?”

 

“You know, the show!” I tried to smile, but I’m sure it came out awkwardly lopsided. Baz looked away and smiled.

 

“Agatha did well. The whole show was beautifully executed, I would say. Penny might have gone a bit overboard with the tirades.” He said, chuckling lightly.

 

“I really liked the costumes.” I shiver and realize that I don’t have my coat. “Shit.” I stop walking.

 

“What’s wrong?” Baz asks, stopping and turning around to face me.

 

“I left my jacket in the coat check and it’s my only one.” I fret, and I start to realize how cold I am. I tried warm myself up by rubbing my goosebump-riddled arms.

 

One of the coldest days this month and I wore something meant for summer. Nice job.

 

I felt a heavy but warm weight settle over me, and I look up to see Baz‘s thick soft coat over my shoulders.

 

“Baz, you don’t have to—“ I tried to say before he shushed me.

 

“You’re going to get hypothermia. I’ll get your coat for you; I’ll be fine. Stay here, alright?”

 

He ran off before I could get a word in. He’s so stupid; isn’t he worried that he’ll get hypothermia? Baz has got to take better care of himself.

 

Still… his coat smelled nice. Like cedar and bergamot, like Baz’s fancy cologne.

 

I look around and make sure no one’s watching before I breathe in the cologne on Baz’s coat. You know, just a bit. It’s normal. It’s fine.

 

I burrow myself in the coat, reveling in the softness and warmth of it before I have to give it away.

 

The Mage

 

“Now, go now before that boy comes back. We can’t have any witnesses.” For a second, I thought that Pitch boy would ruin our plans.

 

Simon

 

I mess around on my phone as I wait for Baz under the lamppost. Surprisingly enough, I’m still warm. Baz must have put a permanent heating spell on this coat.

 

There was a rustle from the alleyway and I thought urn around, looking for the source of the noise. I really hope no one mugs me again. I don’t even have my coat, which happened to have my wallet and the small swiss army knife I keep in it.

 

I look around cautiously until I’m pretty sure that there’s nothing out there to mug me again. I look down at my phone, tapping away replies to my friends.

 

Suddenly, a pair of hands closed around me, covering my mouth and holding down my arms. I drop my phone.“Don’t struggle, we’re going to take you somewhere safe.”

 

I try to kick and scream, but all they do is cast a silencing and a weak petrifying spell on me. I feel my arms and legs become sluggish, like wading through molasses, and the only sounds that come out of my mouth are weak rasps.

 

“It’s alright. It’ll all be over soon.”

 

Baz

 

I run back to where I left Snow, his coat in hand. Honestly, how forgetful do you have to be to forget your coat five minutes into walking in ten-degree weather? It’s adorable, honestly.

 

I slow down as I approach the place I left him, trying to catch my breath before I see two shadowy figures wrestling with a man with a shock of bronze hair.

 

Simon!

 

The bigger of the two pull out his wand and murmur a spell that causes Simon to go limp.

 

Immediately I drop the coat and pull out my wand. I close my eyes, mustering all my magic before I shoot a strong ‘London Bridges!’ spell right in between the bigger man’s eyes. He collapses, a painful crack echoing from his head as Simon catches himself on his arms, unharmed, looking around for something. Blood trickles on the pavement, and I could smell it all the way from where I’m standing in the shadows.

 

The second, smaller man tried to shoot me with a petrifying curse, but failed as I stepped aside and shot another ‘London Bridges’. He crumpled on the pavement, and I turn my attention to Simon, who still hadn’t seen me judging by the fact that he’s still frantically looking around.

 

I step out into the light of the lamppost and Snow looks up at me, before starting to rasp and frantically gesture at his throat. The rasping is a telltale sign of a silencing spell, I undo it. Simon coughs, clearing his throat as he slips on the coat I gave him.

 

He gives me my coat back, and I tried to ignore the soapy but smoky smell that’s entirely Snow covering my coat my coat. (He doesn’t even smoke,  I don’t know where it’s coming from.) I repressed the urge to take a deep breath in the scent. Stop being creepy, Basilton.

 

“Thank you, Baz. Thank you so much for helping.” Snow says, his voice just dripping with gratitude and residual fear. He’s shaking, and I have no idea what to do, so I hesitantly put my arms around him. Snow fiercely hugs me back, shivering and eventually relaxing in my grip.

 

He stops shaking long enough to look up at me with forget-me-not eyes, his face reddened by the cold. Our faces are so close that they’re almost touching. Every time we exhale our breath puffs out in between us. Is he going to kiss me? What if he does? Merlin and Morgana, I might faint right here on this bloody sidewalk.

 

“I’m glad I did, Snow. I’m so glad I did.” He smiles up at me with those dazzling eyes, and those soft lips curl up into a small smile that set off butterflies in my stomach. I couldn’t help but smile, a real, full, grinning smile of relief that Snow was still safe.

 

The tender look on his face immediately falls, and a look of suspicion replaces it. A heavy ball of dread drops in my stomach.

 

“Baz... What’s that in your mouth?”

 

Pippa

 

I can’t take it anymore. I can’t take this guilt of just sitting around at home while Simon is in danger.

 

I decided to confront him. I needed to know what was going on. His cronies open the door leading to the office for me, where I see the Mage forlornly looking out the window through the clear night. Stereotypical. I walk up to his desk, and I don’t even bother to sit down.

 

“I think that I deserve some answers,” I say, looking at the Mage’s back as fiercely as I possibly can.

 

“You don’t need answers to do your job. You’re lucky I’m having you to continue. Most people who break into my office demanding secrets don’t get away.” He doesn’t bother turning towards me to speak. The most I can see of him is the cigar sticking out of his mouth. Again, quite stereotypical.

 

“You’re having me continue? You said tonight was the end! I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” I huffed, “I can’t keep lying to my friend for this.”

 

The mage finally turned around, and his steel-hard gaze settled on my face.

 

“If you stop now, I will do much worse than just take away your voice. Much, much worse.”

 

The words of my retort died in my throat as I was pulled away by his bodyguards. Clearly, my impromptu meeting with him has cut into his busy schedule. I catch the last words that he says to me as his guards close the door.

 

“Remember that, Miss Stainton.”

Baz

 

Fuck. This isn’t how this was supposed to go. He can’t know, he can’t know! It must have been the blood from the guy’s head that made my fangs pop out with awful, awful, timing. Merlin, nothing ever goes right for me.

 

He’s going to hate me, but he already knows. Snow already suspects, and I have no choice but to show him. This is something I can’t run away from any longer.

 

I reluctantly open my mouth, and Simon’s face morphs from suspicion to pure, upset, rage.

“A vampire .” Simon breathes, still transfixed, still in shock. “You’re a vampire. A bloody, fucking , vampire.” He recoils and immediately steps two feet away from me. I take a step forward, but he takes a step back.

 

I reluctantly nodded. I wanted, no, needed to explain. “Simon, I—”

 

“You are a vampire , and you didn’t even tell me!” Simon was consumed with rage. “Why didn’t you tell me, Baz? I— I thought I could trust you!”

 

“Simon, please, I swear—”

 

“You’re working with the Bleeding Rose, aren’t you? Is that why you haven’t told me about it? Is that why you went to get my coat for me? So your henchmen could kidnap me?”

 

“No! Snow, I would never— never do that to you!”

 

He kicked one of the people lying unconscious on the ground, tears springing up in his eyes. “I don’t believe it. You sick fuck . Befriending someone only to kidnap them, then denying it after.”

 

“Please, Snow. Believe me, I would never do this to you. Please, I’m begging you.” I so desperately wanted to hug him again, to bury my face into his shoulder and just forget about it.

 

Simon looked at me coldly, eyes still slightly watery. He pulled out a swiss army knife and flipped out the blade, pointing it at me.

 

“Get away from me, you scum. I’ll—I’m going to tell Penny who you really are.”

 

There was no use. Simon made up his mind. I turned away to walk to where I just came from.

 

But… there’s no harm in trying to convince him one more time, is there? “Don’t do this. I care about you, I really do. Please believe me.” I pleaded.

 

Simon’s expression stayed cold, the arm holding up his knife not even wavering. He was steadfast, and his glare only hardened as he listened to what I had to say.

 

“Goodbye, Pitch.” I sighed and walked away.

 

Guess I’m not going home yet. It’s a good night to drink anyway.

 

Micah

 

We were just entering my apartment when Penny’s phone went off. A stream of messages immediately popped up on her phone.

 

“It’s Simon! What is he doing? I thought I told him not to text me in case of an emergency.” She flopped down on the couch, unlocking her phone.

 

“Maybe it is an emergency.” I hung our coats on the wall and threw my keys on the counter before settling on the couch beside Penny.

 

Penny frantically scrolled through the texts, eyes wide and face pale. “Oh no.”

 

Her notification center was quickly filling up with Simon’s frantic texts.

 

 

Simon: Penny i need to talk to you right away

Simon: im not okay right now

Simon: please pick up

Simon: baz is a vampire. A fucking vampire.

Simon: how could i have been so blind, penny?

Simon: why did it have to be him? Oh merlin why did it have to be him

Simon: i should have known better. I shouldn’t have talked to him

Simon: why did you introduce me to him?? Did you know??

Simon: i hate him so much. I hate him i hate him i hate him i hate him

Simon: his fucking cronies tried to kidnap me, i shouldn’t have trusted him

Simon: i was going to kiss him penny I wanted to kiss him

 

I raised my eyebrows in shock as Penny scrolled through text after text after text, seeing Simon in obvious distress, his emotions ranging from regret to unrestrained rage to melancholy.

 

Not only that, amongst all of Simon’s messages, there was just one from Baz that was depressingly cryptic.

 

 

Baz: He knows. I don’t know what to do.

 

Penny sighed, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. “This is a mess.”

 

“No, really.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

 

Penny

 

I can’t even believe this.

 

Hours ago Simon and Baz couldn’t be away from each other for five minutes and now… now Simon can’t even look at Baz’s face.

 

Morgana, they are both such idiots.

 

I sigh, sticking handfuls of popcorn into my mouth as we watch Star Wars (only the original trilogy, god knows I don’t have enough anger left in me for the prequels,) for the third time that week.

 

“You okay? We can go and check up on them if you want.” Micah said, rubbing my back. I have been camping out at Micah’s for a bit. Every time I try to contact Simon he barrages me about Baz.

 

“No, let’s give them a bit. Simon and Baz both need space to think this over. They’ll be fine. Besides, I don’t always have to be the one who picks up the pieces.”

 

The movie was still going in the background, volume down when Micah asked me a question after a long pause.

 

“So… Baz is a vampire?”

 

I sigh. “Yep.” I don’t really see the point of hiding that fact from him anymore. He read the text messages with me.

 

“Huh. I always thought it was weird when Baz disappeared for a few minutes when we all go out to eat. It’s probably because he doesn’t want to drink in front of us?”

 

I nodded. “It’s also why he has a box full of unlabeled ‘juice pouches’ in his freezer. It’s just animal blood.” I’ve asked him where he got his blood when he first told me that he was a vampire. He introduced me to Ebb, the woman who sells vampires her animals’ blood, upstate. She only kills the sick and old ones (and only when it would be less humane to let them live), plus the occasional wolf who threatened her herd. Ebb also sells delicious goat’s milk; it’s the only milk I buy now.

 

“Poor Baz. I would hate to be rejected like that. The person you love hating you because of some prejudices.” Micah sighed, “His feelings were so obvious too; I hope he’s alright.”

 

We carry on watching the movie in comfortable silence. We’re finishing Return of the Jedi when my phone goes off again. Micah reaches over to get my phone for me.

 

“It’s Baz calling. You want to pick up?”

 

I shrugged. “Why not.” Micah tosses the phone to me and I catch it and press the answer and speaker button.

 

“Penny!”

 

“Baz, what’s up? You good?”

 

There’s rustling on the other side of the line. “Yeah, I’m fine, I think.” He cleared his throat. “I think I— I need some help.”

 

“What happened?” I asked I could feel my face crinkle in worry.

 

“No, no no. I just, uh, need a ride home. I think I drank a little too much. I don’t know where the subway is, and it’s dark, and I feel a bit dizzy and–and I just feel so bad right now, Penny.” His voice is cracking and the desperation in his voice scares me. I mouth drunk to Micah and he nods.

 

“We’ll get you, just stay put. Do you know where you are?”

 

“Oh, god, somewhere near Times Square. I don’t really know how I got here, I was out with friends but uhh… I don’t know where they’ve gone to.”

 

I hang up and sigh.

 

“He’s drinking? He sounds pretty sober to me.” Micah asks me as he gets both of our coats.

 

“He’s definitely drunk; he’s slurring his words. Baz doesn’t drink that often, so he’s more upset than we thought.” I stand and scoop up the car keys on the counter. We almost never use the car but there is no way I’m putting Baz on public transit.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

===

 

Baz is sitting in our car as we drive him home, quietly looking out of the window. He hasn’t said much of anything since we picked him up, smelling strongly of alcohol. I’m putting my money on some fancy whiskey.

 

“You okay?” Micah tries to ask him as he peers at Baz through the mirror. Baz shrugs.

 

“No, not really. But I expected this, y’know? I’m a vampire, Simon hates them, so it’s not going to work out. S’fine.” His voice wobbles slightly. Honestly, he sounds so heartbroken; it’s painful to listen to. “Plenty of fish,” he continues, “In great New York!”

 

“C’mon Baz. We know how much you care about him.”

 

“He’s never going to like me back now.” Baz’s voice cracks, “Thinks I’m a bloodthirsty gang member, out to kidnap him. I should’ve seen it coming. I’m so stupid . He’s straight for crying out loud!”

 

“He’s just gonna keep on hating me and loathing me and —and I won’t be able to hug or almost-kiss him ever again.” He says, looking like he’s on the brink of tears.

 

He really is a mess, huh?

 

“It’s alright Baz. It’ll be alright.”

 

I have got to have a long, nice talk with Simon after this. Slap some sense into a couple of people.

 

Simon

 

Houston, I have so many problems. There are so many emotions running through my head that not even a giant thesaurus could help me sort them out.

 

Baz is a vampire. He drinks blood, and he’s a part of the Bleeding Rose. I can’t believe that I actually befriended such a beast. It disgusts me.

 

I pace around the apartment, the cats looking like they pity me while I have so many questions running through my head.

 

Was Baz born a vampire? How does he even hide the fact he’s a vampire? Where does he get his blood? Does he hate being a vampire? Does he drink human blood? Would the fangs hurt if he tried to kiss someone?

 

Wait, scratch the last one.

 

How many vampires live here? How do they live? Why am I still thinking about vampires?

 

Baz turned my world upside down, and the bastard doesn’t even know it.

 

My legs are getting tired of pacing and Penny would yell at me for wearing a hole in the carpet, so I flop down on the couch.

 

Why did I have to end up being friends with Baz?

 

There are so many questions that I want answers to.

 

Baz just worked some kind of magic on me to get me to kiss him. Yeah, he could have done that.

 

Why would I want to kiss a hot vampire? Why am I still thinking about kissing him?

 

The doorknob rattles and I freak out, looking around for something to defend myself, but the door opens and out comes a very angry Penny. She marches up to me, stands on her toes, and slaps me across the face. Hard.

 

Simon Snow Salisbury Bunce! What made you think that you could be a bigoted piece of trash to our friend?!”

 

“What the fuck, Penny?” I asked as I massaged my cheek. That was going to leave a bruise.

 

“I thought we raised you right but apparently not; now Baz is passed-out drunk because you made him feel worthless over something he can’t even control.” She says.

 

“He’s a vampire, Penny. He was going to kill me!”

 

“What part of saving your goddamned hide constitutes as attempted murder? Besides, what makes you think Baz is a member of the Bleeding Rose? Do you even have any solid evidence that he is?”

 

“I—”

 

“No, don’t even try to defend yourself,” Penny tells me, crossing her arms. “Now you’re going to help Baz and apologize or you will never hear the end of it.” She pushes me to Micah who is holding a currently passed out Baz. “Now put Baz on the pull-out and go to bed! It’s too late to deal with this properly.” She went into her room and slammed the door shut. Honestly, she’s becoming more and more like her mother each day.

 

I grumble, picking up Baz bridal-style and carrying him to the bed we have in the couch which Micah pulled out before telling me a soft goodbye and leaving. I tuck him into the handmade quilt (we have the bed made just in case we get a surprise visit, like this one,) and he curls up into a fetal position, breathing softly. I go to my own bed and fall asleep as soon as my back touches it, shoes still on.

Chapter Text

Officer Murphy

 

When I get to the Police Station for the morning shift, I find out that there’s already a couple of “convicts” there to be processed. I know who they are, and I know who they work for. The iconic rose tattoo is not hard to miss. David Salisbury makes generous donations to the NYPD.

 

In the back streets and alleys they may call us the Mage’s Men, but doing someone else’s dirty work has always been fine by me. It put food on the table and kept the lights on.

 

Judging from the panic-stricken looks on their faces, I would say that they butchered one of the Mage’s important missions. It wouldn’t be the first time. Sadly, that might be the last thing they ever do.

 

I set them free and utter a silent prayer for them as I watch them disappear into the crowd; they’ve definitely gotten on the Mage’s bad side.

 

Some say doing that is worse than death.

 

Baz

 

The first thing I notice as I wake up is the overwhelming sense of bloodthirst from not having fed in what feels like forever. It’s hard to describe how it feels, but it’s almost like a type of burning dryness you can feel in your whole body, especially in your teeth and bones and the tell-tale feeling of my fingers and toes falling asleep. It’s usually accompanied by a dizzying headache. My headache was more pounding, which was unusual. Probably the fault of the whiskey I had in excess last night.

 

The second thing I notice as I wake up is that this is not my room.

 

I stand up shakily and look around the small apartment, early morning sunlight filtering through the blinds. Where was I? I look around, spotting three cats lazily lounging on a nearby cat tree and a snake enclosure, which housed a red snake. I’m at Snow and Penny’s apartment; I’d recognize those cats anywhere.  

 

I’ve got to get out of here before the thirst gets worse. What if Simon sees me?

 

I slip on my shoes and smooth down my bed head. I still have my coat on, so I sneak to the door.

 

“Baz?”

 

I turn around and see Simon keeping the cats away from breakfast, judging by the plates of pancakes and bacon on the counter.   Just my luck.

 

“Penny just made food. Where are you going?”

 

“Home.” I mumble, feeling my fangs poke against the inside of my cheek. My hands are shaking and all I can think about is getting some goddamned blood . I lean against the front door, closing my eyes, trying not to pass out for what would be the second time in twenty-four hours.

 

“You sound awful, Baz. At least get some breakfast before you leave.” I don’t know why he’s being so nice to me. Just yesterday he pointed a knife at me.

 

“I’m fine.” I bite out. I was obviously not fine, but I’m banking on the fact that Snow is oblivious enough to let him let me leave.

 

“You’re not. Seriously, I want to apologize.” I’m so hungry that I can smell his blood and hear his pulse. This isn’t good. This isn’t good at all. He steps towards me and I take a step back, worried what would happen if he got too close.

 

“No. I’m fine and I’m leaving.” My hands uselessly fumble with the lock. At this point, I wouldn’t be able to take the subway, and the faster I can walk home, the faster I can get some blood before passing out or even dying from the thirst.

 

“What? Wait, stay here, I need to talk to you!” Simon drops his spatula on the counter beside the stack of pancakes, reaching out to help me. I panic and push him away.

 

“Don’t—! Don’t touch me!” I fall on the floor, having used the last of my energy to push him back. I’m shaking like a leaf in the fall wind, and it’s pathetic. He looks hurt, but I really can’t bring myself to care right now. I concentrated on the feeling of the rough carpet on my fingers, trying to ground myself before I lose control.

 

I hear another door open, and Penny steps into the kitchen.

 

“What is up with the commotion? It’s too early for th— Baz! Shit, how long has it been?”

 

Snow looks between my form crumpled on the floor and Penny.

 

“What’s happening?” His eyes wide he asks “What’s wrong with Baz?”

 

I hold up four fingers, terrified of what I might do if I open my mouth and breath in the scent of Simon and Penny’s blood. I can practically hear it rushing in their veins.

 

“Four days. That’s not good.” Penny turns to Snow, “Get the box of coconut water in the fridge, and hurry!

 

“Coconut water— why do we need coconut water? What’s going on?”

 

“Simon, shut up and just hurry up and get the water!” Snow does as he’s told. “Stay here Baz, I’ll be back with something.” Penny walks to a nearby drawer and pulls out a velvet drawstring bag. Thank Merlin for Penny’s need to prepare for every contingency.

 

She throws the bag at the floor in front of her, colorful plastic beads scattering the beige carpet.

 

My body moves on its own accord, mentally counting the beads as I watched myself put them back in the bag one by one.

 

“That should buy us some time,” Penny says. Snow comes out of the kitchen, holding a glass of coconut water. Penny takes it and holds the cup to my lips. I drink, and the burning lessens enough for me to stop shaking.  

 

“Can someone please tell me what the fuck is going on?” Simon says as he watches me painstakingly count out the beads.

 

Penny shakes her head. “Keep an eye on him, yes? I have to defrost some blood.” She leaves.

 

Snow eyes me suspiciously as I drop bead after bead in the bag. I wish I could tell him that I hated this as much as he did. I look away, embarrassed.

 

A few minutes later, Penny comes out with a familiar shiny pouch. “It’s finally rea—”

 

Before she says anything else, I snatch it away and bite into it, and the lukewarm blood rushes into my mouth. Immediately my head cleared, and most of the burning sting in my bones faded away. Sweet relief, I think, as the pins and needles in my fingers go away . The headache is still there; blood can’t get rid of an awful hangover.

 

After I finish the blood, I lay there panting as if I’d just ran a marathon. I can feel blood all over my lips and my chin, like a toddler eating their first cone of ice cream. I haven’t let blood spill over me since I was a teenager, and it’s disgusting. I don’t even need a mirror to know.

 

There was a palpable silence as I felt both of them watch me rest on the floor. I must have been quite a sight; eyes closed, skin paler than usual, and blood smeared all over my face. I took deep breaths in and out so I could get the fuck outta here as soon as possible. God knows I can’t ever look Simon in the eye now.

 

“1,472.” I manage to say when my erratic breathing calmed down a bit.

 

“What are you talking about?” God, Snow’s going to have so many questions.

 

“Beads. 1,472 beads in that bag.” I pick up the pouch as I stand up, still a bit unsteady on my feet. I hand the bag to Penny, and in return, she hands me a paper towel to wipe my mouth with.

 

“I’m leaving. I need to get more blood from my house.”

 

“Simon, go look in my emergency supplies drawer for more blood,” Penny says, not breaking eye contact with me. I move towards the door.

 

“You know you’ll regret it if you leave now.” Penny’s voice rings out behind me as soon as Simon leaves.

 

“At least let Simon talk to you and apologize.”

 

“What for? He’s only apologizing because you’re making him do it.”

 

“Come on, Baz. Give him a chance.” I spy Simon is looking between us from his place behind the doorway, more bewildered than before as stands there with yet another frozen pouch of blood. I ignore him.

 

“He already hates me, Penny. He won’t want to be friends with a vampire. They never do once they find out. I’ll be fine.” I really won’t be, but that’s not the point.

 

“I… I don’t hate you.” Snow interjects, looking hurt. Penny turns around, eyes widened. She just now noticed his presence.

 

“Well, you certainly don’t want to be my bosom buddy,” I reply, opening the door wider.

 

“Can’t we just… start over?” Simon says, moving towards me. “Breakfast is still warm and Penny makes delicious pancakes…” He looks at me with those pretty blue eyes, and I feel as if I can’t say no. Damn my homosexual sensibilities. When will I ever learn?

 

I look away. “Fine. I have to get home as soon as possible to feed Sammy.”

 

They were really good pancakes. Penny offers to defrost a blood bag, but I refuse.

 

“So… what was that?” Snow asked us after scarfing down half of his breakfast.

 

“Classic case of vampire bloodthirst. Most usually can’t go 4 days without going insane.” Penny said, matter-of-factly.

 

“Usually, I try to drink a little every day, just to keep the thirst at bay. ‘Cept my supplier hasn’t had any more of late. I’ve had to ration what I have.” I tell him.  I kind of mumble it, because if all else fails, us Pitches are as prideful as ever.

 

Snow nods, he looked actually fascinated. “Okay, what’s with the bag of beads and counting? That one’s kinda...weird.”

 

“Well,” Penny started, “Vampires— or rather, the vampire side of people—are known arithmomaniacs. Dropping a bag of numerous small objects, like bags of beans, seeds, and, in Baz’s case, beads, in front of them will make them pause and count, even if the ‘host’ doesn’t want to. The thirstier they are when you make them count, the harder it will be for someone to distract them from doing so.”

 

I look down into my food as Simon asks something about the coconut water.

 

“Coconut water is similar to the fluid inside red blood cells, so it kinda tricks your vampire side into thinking that you did feed. It doesn’t last and it’s not healthy in the long run, so it’s not a suitable vegan substitute, but it’s good for emergencies.” Penny explains for me, which I’m glad for. I can barely concentrate on eating; my hangover headache has hit me full force.

 

It’s the reason why I don’t drink that often.

 

“Oh.” Simon goes back to shoveling the rest of his pancakes into his mouth. He gets up and hurries to his room before I even start on my second pancake. Which, I think, is probably the best and worst thing that could happen.

 

I finish my breakfast and drop my head on the table. I seriously don’t understand why drinking my feelings away was a good idea. Someone taps me on the head a few minutes later.

 

“I got you Ibuprofen and a potion for your hangover. You look like you regret everything.” I look up and see Penny holding a white pill and a simple glass vial with a clear green liquid.

 

“You’re heaven sent.” I take the pill and wash it down with the hangover potion. I almost gag at the extremely bitter taste of the potion, but the rest of my headache and post-drinking-binge fatigue goes away immediately.  I breathe a sigh of relief.

 

“I should be going home now. Sammy is waiting for his food.” I get up and start for the door.

 

“Baz?” I turn around, and look at  Simon, looking out of his bedroom door, He really sneaks up on a bloke. “I really am sorry. What I said, it wasn’t acceptable. And I feel horrible about it, I really do.”

 

I pause for a second, and my throat tightens at his words. “Thank you,” I say before I pull the door, and step out. It clicks shut behind me.

Chapter Text


Penny

 

“Let me tell you something. I’ve had about enough of boy drama. I am so glad we can hang out, Agatha.”

 

“Yeah, me too. Sometimes it feels like I’m surrounded by guys.” Agatha replies. She had just gotten off of a matinee performance and we’re currently in her kitchen, pulling out pots and pans and dishcloths.

 

“At this point, our lives barely pass the Bechdel test.” I roll my eyes, and she hums in agreement.

 

We were combining Agatha’s general knowledge of cooking and my impeccable taste in south and southeast Asian spices to create a delectable dish. We were going to the Thanksgiving dinner being held at my parents’ house. Micah was traveling to Texas to visit his family, so I was taking Agatha to upstate New York as my plus one.

 

And okay, so maybe I should know how to make a simple masala by now, but I am a full-time student and a part-time intern. I have things I need to do. God knows the only thing Simon is going to bring is store-bought cookies. Besides, I’m the one with the recipe and the rice cooker.

 

I pet Agatha’s dog as she ties the strings of a black and gold apron around her torso.

 

“I know what you mean. Talking about guys all day is tiring. Anyway,” Agatha stands in front of me, holding out a vibrant blue and purple apron for me to put on. “It’s time to get to cooking.”

 

I nod and put the apron on, eyeing all the ingredients. For someone who didn’t have a very extensive knowledge of cooking, she had a lot of spices and seasonings.  

 

“Ginger, turmeric, dried chilies, soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce— you even have salted shrimp paste! Why do you have all this stuff?

 

Agatha shrugs as she measures out the cumin. “Someone taught me. I had a Filipino roommate in California who cooked. Always made really good southeast Asian food. Can’t really get enough of it now.” She dumps the cumin into the small bowl of spices, before whisking it all together. “You said you brought the garam masala?” She continues, pulling the tub of yogurt out of the fridge.

 

“Yeah, my mom would freak if I used the store bought kind.” I motion to the canvas bag of ground spices that I brought in. It’s a good thing I brought a bag of basmati rice too; Agatha didn’t have any.

 

I watch her take the bag and carefully measure out two teaspoons before adding it to the bowl. She finishes the marinade by mixing a cup and a half of the yogurt into the spices.

 

“Okay,” Agatha gestures at the bowl, “so we marinate the chicken for four hours, in this, and then we make the sauce and the rice?”

 

“Not four, six hours. That’s why I’m here at 7 in the morning. After we get done with this, we’ve got to drive three hours upstate. That’s 10 hours if you add another hour to actually cook the food. Maybe even another one for us to wash the smell of food out of our hair and look presentable. So 11 hours total.” I rattle off the numbers, and Agatha isn’t even phased. I admire her level-headedness.  

 

“Well, let’s get this marinated then,” She says. “Go wash your hands. I’m not keen on having dog fur in my tikka.”

 

Simon

 

Please help me, Pippa, you know I’m awful at any kind of cooking, and I know that Baz is going to bring escargot or crème brûlée or some other fancy food. I can’t show up with shitty store bought sugar cookies. Penny will never let me live it down either.”

 

Pippa and I are working the morning shift (again) because the shop is closing for Thanksgiving at 10:30. We were the only people still in town and besides a couple of centaurs who happen to be regulars and one autumn-shaded dryad sipping hot lemon water in the corner, the shop was empty. We recently added an underwater section to the cafe, but it was currently empty. The yearly cleaning happened today.

 

“Why did you invite him anyway?”

 

“I felt bad because I said a lot of things that I regret. He celebrates Thanksgiving with his family every year. He just flew in from Egypt yesterday.” I just realized that Pippa may have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving.

 

“Do you want to come? It’s at 6, there’ll be a lot of food, and Penny and hopefully Baz will be there too.”

 

Philippa looks away nervously, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear.

 

“Well, I’m spending thanksgiving tonight with my family too. But,” She adds, “Can I have a rain-check?”

 

I nod. “Of course! You still have to help me, though. Working at a coffee shop doesn’t mean that I know how to prepare food on my own.”

 

“Sure, I’ll help you. What do you want to make?” She asks me. Sour cherry scones immediately come to mind, but I reluctantly discard that idea. I’d rather not have a disastrous repeat of the last time I tried to make them.

 

“I don’t know...” I say reluctantly after thinking for five minutes.

 

Philippa hummed. “What about lemon pound cake? I have a family recipe. It’s pretty easy to make too.”

 

Pound cake shouldn’t be too hard to make. Even I shouldn’t be able to muck it up.

 

“Well, that sounds good. I hope you don’t mind if we do the baking at my apartment. We can swing by the store to buy what we need.”

 

Pippa nodded. “Hey, it’s ten minutes to closing, and the Humdrum hasn’t come in yet. Maybe today’s our lucky day?”

 

“Ehem.”

 

We turn to see that wretched man standing in front of the counter, tapping his credit card on the counter impatiently. Behind him, the centaurs are looking at him with thinly veiled contempt, and the dryad is keenly watching.

 

“Well? You know what I’m getting,” He turns to Pippa. “Get started on it, baby girl.” The curious expression on the dryad’s face morphs into one of straight disgust upon hearing the Humdrum’s words. He doesn’t exactly have an inside voice.

 

Pippa takes in a deep breath and retreats behind the coffee machine. She makes sure that I’m the only one who can see her, then she signs one sentence to me.

 

Speak of the devil, and he shall appear .”

 

I stifle a laugh before ringing up the Humdrum’s order.

 

Baz

 

Maybe bringing blood stew to Penny and Simon’s family Thanksgiving party wouldn’t be as charming as I thought it would be.

 

I found the recipe for it on a vampire forum, claiming that you don’t need to feed if you eat this because it’s made of pig blood. Of course, I can’t pass up a recipe like that, especially for tonight. I won’t have to sneak outside and feed. It’s a DIY-Hack all wrapped up in a multicultural bow.

 

What was it called? Ah, dinuguan . The Filipinos knew what they’re doing when they made this.

 

I’m sure they won’t mind, right? It might look like a bowl of tar but it definitely tastes better than it looks. Way better. I just don’t have to tell them what it’s made of. It should be fine.

 

I take the plastic tub of thawed blood and pour it in the pan with the sautéed onions, garlic, meat, and bay leaves. Immediately it starts to darken and smell nice and savory. I swipe my finger through the leftover blood in the tub and lick it up. It’s sweeter, lighter, and less gamey than what I usually have.

 

(Hey, if it’s acceptable for a normal human to do that with cake batter, it should be fine for a vampire to do the same with blood.)

 

As much as I would love to have pork blood every day instead of a literally mixed blood bag of wolf and goat, it’s too expensive to buy continuously.

 

I leave the stew to simmer for five minutes before I transfer it to a ceramic casserole dish charmed to keep warm. I place the dish in a cloth bag with a cushioning charm, because I don’t want to risk breaking my only nice casserole dish.

 

I check the time and realize that I only had 20 minutes to get ready before I had to leave. Shit.

 

I quickly take a shower and put on my nicest suit, before changing because that was way too formal . I put on some gray pants, a checkered dress shirt, and a black sweater and tie , which I hoped were better. I roll up the sleeves halfway up my forearm for good measure; I of all people should know it looks good on men.

 

Thank god I had the foresight to drop Sammy off at Fiona’s earlier this morning; I barely have my shoes on before I hear the doorbell ring.

 

I put on my coat and grab the cloth bag with the food I just cooked, then hurried to the door.

 

“Hey, Baz! Are you, um,” Simon stood at my door, stumbling over his words. “Are you ready to go?”

 

From first glance, I can tell that Penny picked Simon’s clothes because he’s dressed more formal than usual. He looks tidy, and his hair is combed neatly. He was wearing that shade of dark blue that suited his eyes again.

 

“Baz?”

 

Fuck, I got too busy ogling him and I forgot to reply. You cannot keep doing this.

 

“Yeah, I’m ready.” I hesitate for a second. “You look good.”

 

“Yeah?” He looks me in the eyes and smiles. “So do you.”