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Nicodemis Petty had grown on him. Crowley, he's my best friend now isn't he? The thought ran through his head as he watched the older man leave, the shop bell ringing as the door closed behind him. Baz locked the door and glared up at the bell. He hated that thing. He was going to take it down one of these days, but...it was useful. Even with super sensitive hearing he still missed the occasional visitor when he was in the back room practicing. 

◽◽◽

It had been little over half a year now since Baz had graduated from Uni. It had been almost an entire year since he had picked up his violin again. Life was good now. He had moved out of his parents house (again), to a flat of his own. The flat was conveniently located above his place of work: a small office that belonged to the coven. Mitali Bunce had decided to open up a branch office that specifically focused on working with other magical beings other than Magicians. A sort of ‘liaison’ business between the Mages and the others. She offered the position to Baz after he graduated (top of his class to no one's surprise). Baz harbored a secret hope that it was because she suspected what he was. He knew it was more likely inspired by the existence of the ‘one and only’ Simon Snow. Not that Simon had any need for Baz’s services (in any form or manner). Last Baz had heard, Simon had gone on a road trip with Penelope across America (Mitali enjoyed filling Baz in on everything her brilliant daughter did whenever she stopped by. Baz didn't mind. He liked Penelope.). Apparently the two had been talking about it since they were back in school. Baz wasn't surprised he didn't know. Simon wasn't someone he really knew back then, was he?

Baz didn’t burn anymore when he thought about him. 

He could breathe easily. 

◽◽◽

Linus came over once a week for violin lessons in the backroom. It was a beacon of light for Baz to look forward to during the mundane work week. After his out of tune performance for his little brother a year ago, Linus had attached himself to Baz whenever he could. Baz takes back ever saying his little sisters were his favorite siblings. Linus was his favorite sibling. He enjoyed spending time with him, keeping him away from the dreariness of being a Grimm the best he could. The boy wasn't a Pitch, he didn't need to carry any of the family weight on his small shoulders. Baz would make sure that his brother could cry when he needed to. When Baz decided to move out after graduating and was offered the liaison position he worried that Daphne would restrict his access to the house, to seeing his little brother that he had grown so fond of. Instead she had asked about the violin lessons and invited him for dinner whenever he wanted. 

Maybe she wasn’t as untrusting and begrudging as he had always suspected…

◽◽◽

A few months into working (work was slow, he doubted any magical beings had even been informed yet of the creation of this coven branch) Aunt Fiona started to hang around more often.

He didn't know why. 

She was being unusually nice. 

She must have wanted something. 

He ignored her the best he could, waiting for her to get to the point of whatever it was she wanted from him. Eventually it came out. Her ‘friend’ Nicodemis was in need of work. After recoiling and immediately rejecting the idea, Baz was henceforth forced to listen to day after day of Aunt Fiona's lobbying; “He's a vampire just like you!” and “This is a liaison office for magical beings and they don't know you are more than just a mage! They need a ‘magical being!” ,  “Mages need to know the vampires want representation and a place in our world! “ and his favorite : “Tyrannus Basilton. This. Affects. You. You should care young man! So help me you will go to the coven and talk to them or I'll send the Numpties after you!”  

That was when Baz took the argument to Mitali Bunce, if nothing but to get Fiona off his back, expecting to have his request of a non-mage liaison in the office to be rejected. Surprisingly, her response was an enthusiastic ‘yes’ even though a majority of the coven seemed wary about the idea. With the assurances that the “Pitch boy is a skilled mage” (He was 25 now, not exactly a boy anymore) the rest of the coven warily agreed. The fact that the vampire in question was Nicodemis though...that was another issue in and of itself. Baz heard that Simon and Penelope had gotten involved in the coven arguments. They got Nicodemus the job. They even somehow got his name unstricken. Baz tried not to think about how it felt like maybe those two should be running the liaison office instead if he couldn't even convince the coven to help out a single excommunicated vampire. What would the coven do if they realized what he was? He also tamped down his surprise at them helping Nicodemus out. Simon didn't seem to be a big fan when they first met the older man. Nicodemus was Eb’s brother and that must mean something to Simon, not that Baz really understood anything that meant anything to Simon Snow. 

Nicodemus got the job. 

Fiona got off Baz’s back. 

◽◽◽

Time passed, Baz started voluntarily joining Fiona and Nicodemus when they went out drinking. Sometimes Baz and Nicodemus went without Fiona. Nico was a fellow vampire so their going out drinking was something Fiona didn't need to see. Baz would drive them out to the old estate and they would drink from the deer that still lived there. Baz was finally able, after so long, to ask some of the questions he never got to when he was growing up about vampires. 

Would he live forever?

 

Would he stop aging?

 

When?

 

Did other vampires not have a choice in what they chose to drink?

 

Nico did his best to answer every question Baz had, taking him under his wing. He even showed him how to control his fangs popping. For the first time in 25 years Baz was able to eat at the table with his family. He tried to ignore the feeling in his chest as his step-mother dabbed at her eyes with a napkin at the sight, Linus joyfully devouring his own meal next to Baz and their father coughing into his napkin, eyes wide.  Baz hugged Nicodemus the next time he saw him.

Life was good. Baz couldn't complain. He was no longer burning but he also was no longer alone . Asides from Nico in the office every day, a few other magical beings became regulars at the liaison office with pleas for the coven. Baz even made an effort to befriend some of his neighbors on his street. They were frequently popping in while he practiced in the backroom on slow days, drawn in by the sound of his violin. Baz didn't mind. His life was turning out to be something less violent and heavy than he could ever have predicted when he was younger. He should probably thank Simon Snow for breaking up with him some day...

◽◽◽

The opportunity to thank Simon Snow came almost half a year later…

Baz was practicing again today. The sun was warm as it shone through the windows, and Baz had the windows open to let a light breeze in. Nico was out today, probably off with Aunt Fiona not doing married couple stuff because of course they obviously didn't secretly get married and obviously weren't secretly living together. Nor were they out of the country for the week on a belated honeymoon of sorts. The breeze cleared the air of the lingering smells of sweat and blood of those who came to the unofficial party at the office to celebrate the not-couple. 

Baz couldn't focus with the stench. Someone spilled a cider over his desk. It stained his chair. He hates the smell of cider. His clothes were worth more than the entire desk set. He could miss a day of work, the paper work would still be there tomorrow. He would hold off until he got a new chair or deep cleaned this one. For now, he would play. He hadn't played without Nico harassing him with requests from the other room in such a long time. He could play for himself today. He was beholden to no one. His fingers danced in the breeze and he let himself go. He knew he would find his way back. 

The bell rang in the front room after some time. Probably one of the neighbors popping in to listen. He could ignore them, the smell of spring flowers was delightful as he played. It was Mrs.Benson no doubt, she was always the quietest of his neighbors. He shook his fingers on the string, grinning as he created the vibrato she always requested he add into any of the songs he performed. He slowed down, dragging out the note longer than he normally would. 

For the effect. 

Let it be known that Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch was still an amazing violinist, always pleasing his listeners, even though he was now spending most of his days behind a desk and then dancing with random handsome tourists at the clubs on weekends (he was less nervous to kiss now that he knew how to retract his fangs, it opened up quite a few different avenues in Baz’s life that he was grateful for. Crowley. Was he grateful! ). Maybe that last part didn't need to be known...

Coming to the end of the song, Baz dramatically spun while bowing to his silent audience of one. Flipping his hair up and out of his face with the flick of his head as he rose to smile at Mrs. Benson. “Well-?”

It wasn’t Mrs. Benson. 

The words died in his mouth. 

It was Simon Snow. 

Simon Snow was standing in the backroom (basically Baz’s living room) and...

He was staring.

Whenever Baz had accidentally come across Simon over the years he had turned away almost instantly. Simon had always been smiling. It hurt. While Baz could barely remember anything that happened during those years he knew for a fact that Simon Snow had been happy. Was happy. Much happier, especially with Baz out of his life. Gone. 

There was no sign of a smile on Snow's face now. None of the ease and happiness he had with Penelope and the countless other people Baz was sure were drawn to him and his charisma. Baz closed his eyes for a moment and inhaled. It was never the same smell after Snow had lost his magic, he could smell him now, something heavier in the air than the flowers outside the office window. Snow wasn’t here for Baz, he would never be here for Baz, so Baz did what he was supposed to do in this situation.  He opened his eyes. 

“Hello sir, how can I be of assistance to you today?” he asked in the friendliest customer service voice he could muster (Nico said that Baz still sounded like he was bored out of his mind even when he tried to sound inviting. It couldn't be helped. It was dull work). 

Snow recoiled back slightly and Baz took notice that Snow's wings were nowhere to be seen, since they didn't catch on the door frame the way they always used to back in the flat. Noted. Moving on. 

Baz waited patiently for a response while he packed up his violin and stored it in a chest next to an armchair. “Well Mr. Snow, what can I do for you today? Do you need a seat? If so please feel free to sit at one of the chairs in the front to the right.” 

Rolling his eyes behind a fumbling Snow, Baz followed the other man out of the back room and took a seat behind Nicos desk. No one had spilled cider on Nico’s desk. He watched Snow expectantly. 

“Uh.” Snow remained standing. 

And he was still staring. 

Crowley, it was like talking to 13 year old Snow all over again. 

Trying to remain patient, Baz held out a hand, gesturing to the seats in front of the desk. “ Snow, take a seat.” 

Red tinted the tips of Snow's ears and crept up his neck in a flush as he sat in one of the chairs, shrinking in on himself in a way that Baz hadn't seen since when the Mage died. He dug his nails into the arm of Nicos chair. He would replace it before Nico got back. He needed to restrain himself so he wouldn’t say something stupid...something he would regret. Something churned in his stomach. His chest hitched. 

He watched as Snow fidgeted in his seat. According to the coven, Snow was an ambassador to the American Mages along with Penelope, their efforts were being well received to unite the international Mage community. Snow was a great speech giver apparently. Where was that ability now

Sighing out through his nose so he didn't have to smell the other man, Baz raised an eyebrow “I know this isn't a social visit so if you could tell me whatever paperwork you need this can be over quickly.” 

The flush dusted Snows cheeks as he looked up and made eye contact with Baz across the desk. Baz would have burned at the sight before. Snow was still beautiful. He was no longer the center of Baz’s orbit anymore. He could never burn him again. Baz could simply note that he was beautiful. It meant nothing. He felt nothing. The churning in his stomach started to grow. 

Snow chewed his lower lip and raised his shoulders to his ears, shifting into a sheepish expression as his hands came up in a shrug as well, avoiding Bazs gaze now. 

“Uh, I sort of just...wandered in?”

Baz was going to snap. Or maybe that was the chair that was snapping. 

“I heard the violin - it was really beautiful you know!- and I wanted to see who was playing cuz I thought-” his shoulders start to drop, the flush consuming his entire face now. He ran a hand through his hair. Crowley even after over 5 years he still goes for the same haircut . The curls on the top are cropped more than the last time Baz saw Simon. More well kept. Simon was obviously doing very well with his resumed hatred of Baz and the rest of his life returning to normal after their break up. 

Once again, five years later, Baz found himself glad he hadn't had a drink before he faced Snow. He wasn't sure if he wanted to rage at the other man or cry. Either way, he didn't need Snow to be able to read him. Didn’t need a blush to betray his roiling emotions. His face was certainly schooled into the very expression he had worked so hard to try to stop using. He wanted to be a better example for Linus…

Linus wasn't there though. 

Standing up, Baz walked around the desk, slowly, calmly. He opened the door and stood stiffly beside it. “Well. You found out, if you don’t need any services from this office then you should leave.” 

Snow almost knocked both chairs over in his haste to stand up “uh-Baz-” 

“Call me Mr. Pitch” 

The face Snow makes looks like he ate something sour and then got immediately slapped. His indignance made itself known. This was the Snow Baz knew. Lashing out like a solar flare. 

“We’ve known eachother since we were kids! There's no way I'm calling you Mister!” 

Baz’s eyes narrowed and he turned his head sharply to the side. Snow was too close. Fuming in Bazs face. ‘ Maybe something would have changed’. Nothing changed. Five.  Years. Five years had passed and Snow was talking to him as if nothing had happened. 

Maybe it was nothing.  

Nothing had happened for Snow. 

The suffocating feeling was creeping up Bazs throat. . 

Life was good.

...

Why did Baz feel like he was going to crumble to ash. 

Snow moved, taking advantage of Baz’s silence to step closer, his shoulders pulled back, no longer shrunk in on himself. No longer unsure. 

The sun hit his hair and it glowed like a fire. 

Burning. 

“No complaints? Great!” he sounded so proud of himself. Like he won. Like they were kids again and he had bested Baz at a race. Of course he won. ”Oh also I was actually hoping to run into you, there’s a thing coming up I think you should go to, but Penelope is like-“ 

Baz held a hand up, stopping Snow mid sentence.

 He was going to crumble and Snow was going to see. 

He didn’t care. 

Snow didn't care. 

It was nothing to him.

Baz could crumble away to nothing. 

He was nothing. 

“Simon.” he choked out. Looking up, tears burning at the edges of his eyes. He kept his expression still. He would not crumble to nothing infront of Snow. He would not. 

Snow blanched, backing up a pace “Wha-Baz! I’m sorry, what did I-?” 

Baz fisted a hand in the front of Snow's t-shirt. Using all of his strength to shove him out of the office and into the dirt on the street. 

Summoning all the magic he could in that moment, Baz directed his wand at the shocked man lying in the street.The man that would be the end of him. Just as he thought when they were younger. Baz would not let him burn him again. He would not be sucked in by Simon Snow. How dare he show up in Baz’s life after five years. After telling Baz to go. As if Baz was nothing. His feelings meant nothing.  

Before Snow could say another word, Baz channeled all of his magic into the words, 

“Simon Snow, I want you to go .” 

◽◽◽

Baz would have crossed any line for him. 

Simon crossed the one that mattered most. 

He forgot to thank him...