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Simon

 

This is the weirdest therapy I've ever had, I think, not for the first time, to myself as I reach into my pants and grab my cock. 

 

I stroke myself at a steady pace, a mixture of arousal and embarrassment pooling in my stomach. My desire and discomfort are at war, and I take a deep breath as I try to let the former emotion win out. 

 

I want this, I think, and it's not a lie. It's just that my body needs a minute to realise it, to let myself relax. 

 

I remember my therapist's words. 'Trauma can affect all areas of your life, Simon—including sex. It may help if you can get comfortable with being intimate with yourself before experiencing it with anyone else.'

 

I realised Amira was right, even if in that moment, I was drowning in mortification. 

 

After America and the whole fiasco at Watford, I decided to reach out to Amira again. It was hard— so hard—to take that step, even if, logically, I knew it was for the best. It's been even harder to actually be honest with myself and her, to put words to all the parts of me that ache and bruise and hurt. But I've been getting better—slowly, but surely. Getting out of bed doesn't seem like such a battle anymore. It's still a struggle sometimes, sure, but it doesn't feel like it'll break me. 

 

I still haven't had sex with Baz, though. 

 

The thought of Baz gets me back into this moment—I still don't have a label to explain my sexual orientation, but I do know I want Baz. 

 

I close my eyes—that always seems to help—and picture Baz. Fantasizing about his silky hair and strong limbs and cocksure smirk always gets me going, and today's no exception. 

 

I let myself focus on the idea of him. I've tried watching porn—straight and gay alike—and though my body reacts to it, it fucks with my head too much. So now I just think of my patient, gorgeous boyfriend, and how I want him so much I sometimes think I might pop a stiffy in public when he so much as wears well-fitting trousers (which, with Baz, is always). 

 

The lube makes an obscene sound against my skin, and I enjoy the sex noise. Every time I do this, the whole affair seems more natural, more normal.

 

I feel my pleasure ratchet up as my speed increases. All I can hear is my heartbeat in my ears, all I can see is Baz's face behind my eyelids, and it's good, it's good, it's so good.  

 

My embarrassment is fading and my passion is burning. One hand reaches up my shirt as I start to play with my nipple, a discovery I made last time I indulged in wanking. Pleasure spreads across my body as my mind thinks Baz, Baz, Baz , his name like a secret wish. 

 

I feel the familiar fireworks feeling deep in my gut, and I know I'm getting closer, that I'm going to cum soon. I pick up the pace again, concentrating on nothing but my physical gratification, nothing but my hands on my cock and Baz— 

 

And then the door to my bedroom flies open. 

 

"Crowley!" Baz screams. 

 

Shocked by his sudden appearance, I yelp an incoherent noise back. I jerk, rolling away from him and accidentally falling off the bed. My knees hit the floor with a resounding thud and I groan at the sudden pain. 

 

"Are you alright?" Baz tries to sound concerned, but I can hear the smile in his voice without having to look at him.

 

I tuck my still half-hard cock back into my pants and stand up with my cheeks on fire. "What are you doing here?" I ask rudely, feeling frustrated. 

 

"We're getting dinner with Penny and Shepard. Remember?" He asks, one eyebrow raised. 

 

"Yeah, but—but." I glance at the clock, and see it's only 4:30; he doesn't usually make it over here on Fridays until 5:00. "Shouldn't you be in class right now?" My voice is several octaves higher than I wish it was. 

 

Baz's eyebrow doesn't drop from its position. "I got out early," he says slowly. You wouldn't know that he just walked in on me wanking, he's so cool, calm, and collected. It makes me feel even more out of control. 

 

"Well—well," I stutter. My skin feels so itchy and hot and uncomfortable, I want to rip it off. "You should knock! Just because I gave you a key doesn't mean you can just come here whenever you want. You don't live here." 

 

That breaks his careful composure. His mouth—which I was just minutes ago fantasizing about—drops open, and hurt floods his features. A pang of guilt knocks the fight out of me, and I'm suddenly back to mortifying embarrassment, the feeling overwhelming in my gut. 

 

"I didn't mean to—" Baz starts, but I'm not ready to hear it. 

 

I interrupt him. "I need to take a shower." I start pulling clothes out of my drawers, ignoring Baz's staring. With my eyes on the floor, I head towards the door, and Baz moves out of my way wordlessly. 

 

I turn the shower handle on as I strip, careful not to touch myself between my legs. When I step into the shower, the hot water stabs at the muscle knots in my upper back. My shoulders lower and relax automatically, but the knot of shame in my chest remains. 

 

By the time I'm towel drying my hair, I've got an apology for Baz ready: 'I'm sorry I freaked out on you for using the key I gave you to come over. I was embarrassed and panicked and horny and I took it out on you. Please don't hold it against me. Please don't leave.' 

 

When I walk back into my room, Baz is sitting cross legged and straight backed at my desk. His body's tense and he's sucking on his fangs—the tell-tale sign that Baz's nervous. 

 

I feel rotten for making Baz—confident, self-assured Baz—skittish. I really mean for my prepared apology to come out of my mouth, but instead I say: "I—uh—I mean—are you ready to go?" 

 

Baz swallows, and then responds in a neutral tone, "Yes." 

 

I go to grab my house keys off my bedside table, and notice I left a lube bottle out in plain sight. I flush a deep red as I quickly stuff it in the top drawer.  

 

We walk the couple blocks to Baz's parking spot in silence. When we get to his Jaguar—which his father gifted him when he graduated—he holds up his car keys and asks, "Do you want to drive?" 

 

I recognize it's his version of an apology, but I'm too jittery to trust myself behind the wheel. I shake my head, but offer him a smile. He returns it with a slight upturn at the corner of his lips. 

 

When he turns on the car, Kishi Bashi starts playing. I recognize the violin sounds immediately, because this is one of Baz's favourites. It's got a depressing name—something like I'm the devil next to you. It's the kind of self-deprecating shite that I've come to realise is par for the course for Baz. (Something I never saw in him at Watford—or didn't want to see. Maybe I didn't want to admit how similar we are.) 

 

He's the loveliest person alive, and it drives me mad that he doesn't know it. That I don't know how to make him believe it. 

 

I take a deep breath. "Am-amira, she," I stutter, my voice rough around the edges with nerves. I clear my throat. "She said PTSD can lead to touch aversion." 

 

Baz nods. He knows this—four months ago, we agreed to have him come into one of my sessions, and have Amira explain some of my symptoms to him. The irritability, the social isolation, the self destructive behavior. This—my inability to be touched. His face was carefully blank the entire time, and I was afraid, just for a moment, that this would be the thing that pushed him away. The diagnosis would be too much, too hard for him. But afterwards, we just got Thai takeout and watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine like we always do, and that fear slowly burnt out of me. At least for the time being. 

 

"Well—we've—I mean, I've—I mean, she's been having me, uh." I can feel my face reddening to a deep burgundy. It's stupid to be so mortified at just saying the words out loud—he saw me, for Crowley's sake. "I'm kind of, well, wanking. To get used to being touched."

 

Baz's eyes stay on the road—it makes it easier to keep talking, to be vulnerable, when he's not looking at me. 

 

"I never used to, very much. I wasn't alone much at school or when I stayed in care homes, and my magic made it overwhelming. And after, it was like—I don't know." I struggle for a moment to find the right words to fit my emotions. "I couldn't keep my brain calm enough or focused enough to do it. Even though I wanted it." Even though I wanted you. 

 

"And now?" Baz asks evenly. You'd think we were talking about something as mundane as the weather—except that a vein in his neck is popping out, revealing his emotions. Knowing he's nervous too helps drag more words out of me. 

 

"And now, I do it pretty often." I don't admit that pretty often is practically every day. "It's gotten easier to clear my brain, to not think. At least, when I'm doing—that." 

 

Baz doesn't say anything, but he holds out his hand like a silent question. I feel too raw to be touched, too torn open to crave the pressure of our interlaced fingers. So, instead, I trace my fingertips on his pulse. It's so much easier to touch than to be touched, much simpler to feel his slow heartbeat than to let him feel my racing one. He doesn't take my compromise as a rejection; instead, he sighs contentedly, seemingly pleased I've touched him at all, that I want to touch him.

 

Oh, Baz, I think. I want you. Sometimes I don't even know how to handle how much I want you. 

 

I want to prove it, so I say, "I think about you when I wank.”

 

Baz chokes on his spit at that. "Merlin," he says, his voice shaky. He's gripping the steering wheel so hard I think he's going to leave fingernail marks in the leather. 

 

"It's a left up here," I direct him to the pub, a smile in my voice. I love riling Baz up—as much as we've changed since school, that's always stayed the same. 

 

He lets out a long breath, and clicks his turn signal on. 

 

After he parallel parks, he comes over to my side of the sidewalk with his palm open by his side—another invitation. This time, I decide to take his hand, squeezing tight when I realise he's more nervous than I thought—his palms are sweaty and clammy. He squeezes back, a ghost of a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.  

 

The pub—if you could call it that—is a new one that Shepard's been dying to check out. It's a hole in the wall type of restaurant with the basic structure of a pub, but the decor of a kitschy hipster cafe. The walls are stone, with what I assume is fake moss coming out of the cracks, and the roof has a startlingly realistic mural of a blackish-blue, star-packed sky. Baz is looking around like he's been dropped into Wonderland, and I wonder whether this is maybe a pixie establishment. 

 

When we walk up to Shep and Penny, sitting in a booth towards the back of the place, they're doing what they always are: fighting. 

 

"They're not real, Shep! No one's ever seen one!" Penny insists, throwing her hands up dramatically. 

 

"Someone's seen them! I'm telling you I have," Shep responds, pointing a finger at himself. "When I was backpacking through Nepal." 

 

"By your own admission, you had gotten lost—because you refuse to use trails like a sensible person—and had already gone 36 hours without food or water," Penny says, pushing her glasses up her nose with an air of superiority. "Are you sure you didn't hallucinate it?" 

 

"They led me back to civilization! They saved me!" Shep yells, nearly knocking over his iced tea in his impassioned defense. 

 

"Are you two arguing about Yetis again?" Baz drawls, and the two of them look up at us. 

 

"Simon! You're here!" she exclaims, her face brightening. 

 

"You act like you didn't see him just this morning," Baz mutters. 

 

"Hello to you too, Basil," she says, with her eyebrows raised. Baz smirks back. 



"C'mere," Penny says to me. She seems like she wants to grab my forearm, but stops herself at the last minute, waiting for my permission to touch me. (She's talked with my therapist, too.) I nod, and she yanks me down by the hand, scooting over in the booth to make room for me and Baz. "Tell Shepard you don't believe in Yetis." 

 

"Well," I say, "I've seen a lot of crazy things, but I've never seen a Yeti." 

 

Shepard huffs out a breath of annoyance. "Just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it isn't real. I can send you this YouTube video where—" 

 

"No," Penny says. "Uh-uh, nope. No more YouTube conspiracy videos!" 

 

"But—" 

 

"No! If you are getting your evidence from videos that claim lizard people rule the Earth and every celebrity is a part of the Illuminati then—"

 

"I never said I believed in the Illuminati! Lizard people, though—" 

 

Baz squeezes my hand and throws me a smirk. I grin back at him, the comfort of a private joke making us feel like the only two people in the room. 

 

"Can you get us something to drink?" I ask. 

 

Baz's face is neutral, but his fingers tap rhythmically on the tabletop. "Sure, what would you like?" 

 

"Just Pepsi." Baz smiles at my request. I don't drink alcohol much anymore—it messes with my meds, and it tends to make me a little mean after two or three. He'd never tell me not to—he knows how much I hate when people tell me what to do—but since my sharp words tend to be directed towards him, I know he doesn't like it. (I'm not sure if I like it much either, anymore. Or rather, I don't tend to like myself much afterwards.) 

 

"Sure, love," he says, with a kiss on my cheek, and then he's off to the bar. 

 

Shep and Penny are now arguing about aliens, and I know if I let them, they'll debate the whole evening away. I wait for the briefest pause in their discussion, and then I interrupt them before they can really get into it. 

 

"How's the research at Watford going?"

 

Both of them turn their attention to me—I've picked one of the only topics where their opinions tend to match up. 

 

"Oh, Simon, it's wonderful," Penny says with a visible eagerness. "We have a new lead—Shep was able to charm some wood nymphs into talking to us, it was brilliant , pure dead brilliant —and now we think the fairies are hiding out in the Blaskets!" 

 

"The Blaskets?" I ask. "In Ireland?" 

 

"Yes!" Penny nods. "We're going to stay at Watford tonight to get everything set up, and tomorrow we're going on a mission!" 

 

"You and your missions, Penelope Bunce," Baz says, sliding my drink to me and slinging an arm around the back of my chair. "If there's not one available to hop onto, you create one." 

 

"I did not create the missing fairies! I'm pretty sure that was your family, cooking them in stews." 

 

"I've been told they're very delicious," Baz says with a casual sip of his sparkling water, "and pair well with a full-bodied red wine." 

 

Shep looks physically ill; I think he's not quite used to Baz's dark humour yet. 

 

"You're disgraceful, Basilton Pitch," Penny says, but the bite in her tone is severely undercut by her smile. 

 

"As are you," Baz replies with a teasing smirk, and I get a rush of gratitude that my best friend and boyfriend get along so spectacularly. 

 

The rest of the dinner goes smoothly—well, as smoothly as one can expect things to go when the final season of Game of Thrones comes up. But by the time we're walking out the door of the pub, my cheeks hurt a bit from smiling so much. 

 

Penny gives me a big hug, something I'd actually been craving today. "Bye, Si. I'll see you in a couple days," she says. Then she grabs Shep's hand to leave, and calls over her shoulder to us, "Have fun, boys! Just not on the couch." 

 

My neck burns with embarrassment remembering Baz walking in on me earlier today. But mixed with the self-consciousness, anticipation pools in my gut at the realisation that Penny's going to be staying at Watford tonight—meaning that Baz and I will have the flat to ourselves. 

 

As we drive back to my place, the only sound in the car is the radio. I don't know what Baz is thinking about, but I'm thinking of nothing but him—about what I want from him, with him. About what all this wanking is supposed to be working up to. 

 

I wonder if Baz can feel my nerves through our conjoined hands—whether I'm shaky or sweaty. I look over at Baz's profile; he's biting his bottom lip, and the image sends a rush of desire through my veins. 

 

Tonight is the night, I think to myself. I'm going to sleep with Baz. 

 

I'm switching between talking myself up and calming myself down as we drive up to my block of flats. Baz lets go of my hand to put the car in park, and then looks up at me hopefully.

 

"You can—uh—stay," I answer his unspoken question. "If you want."

 

His face brightens, and our longing feels like a shared thing between us, palpable and exhilarating. 

 

When we get to our front door, Baz pulls out his spare key, an apparent force of habit. At the same moment, we seem to both remember how I snapped at him before dinner. He freezes up for a second, before shaking it off and opening my front door. 

 

We walk into the living room, and I click the telly on. The Netflix screen pops up, and first on the Continue Watching list is Queer Eye. 

 

"Wanna watch more?" I ask Baz. 

 

"Sure," he shrugs, like it's not his favourite television show. (It's only my first time watching it, but it's got to be his second or third). "I have something for you first, though." 

 

"Yeah?" I grin at him. 

 

He smiles back and nods. "Yeah, let me go get it." 

 

He walks into the kitchen, and comes back with a white paper bag decorated with a cursive Gail's Bakery logo. 

 

"I know it's not Watford," Baz says with a smirk, "but I know how you feel about sour cherry scones." 

 

I laugh, reaching for the bag instinctively. Despite the fact that we just ate, I can always go for some pastry, and Baz knows that. 

 

"Do you want me to unspell your wings, love?" Baz asks as I'm stuffing my face with my first scone. I nod, and he casts the spell on me. The burning sensation of his magic tingles down my back, a perfect mixture of pain and pleasure. 

 

I roll my shoulders to ease the tension in my back muscles—despite Penny and Baz's attempts, finding a spell that doesn't feel restrictive has been a struggle. I'm still self-conscious about the wings and the tail—about the fact that they make me look less than human—though the fact that Baz clearly likes them helps lessen my insecurity over it. (He always counters that he's less than human too. That we match.

 

Baz sits with me, both of us leaning on opposite sides of the couch, our legs intertwined. He presses play on the remote, and a swelling pop song begins the episode. From the moment the Fab Five begin introducing Joe, we're both entranced by the show. 

 

I like to tease Baz about his obsession with this show, but even just a couple episodes in, I already totally get the appeal. It's a show about love and acceptance and being the best version of yourself—what's not to like about that? 

 

"I think the Fab Five should come to Britain," I say, towards the end of the episode. My voice comes out a little rough from the almost-crying, a reaction that seems to be an accepted risk of watching Queer Eye. "I wouldn't mind a makeover." 

 

Baz raises an eyebrow at me. "Snow, do you want Tan to get you a bow tie for your tail?" 

 

I kick him playfully in the thigh. "Fuck off," I say, and Baz grins deviously. 

 

"Bobby could do wonders to your bedroom," he continues on. "He could teach you the value of a duvet cover." 

 

"Why do I need Bobby when I have you to whinge at me every week about it?" 

 

He laughs, an unrestrained thing that I feel in my gut. I'm the only one that can make him laugh like this, like it's easy. I hadn't seen it in a while—not while I was in the height of my depression—and I had missed it with a dull ache I couldn't name. 

 

"Seriously, though," I say softly. "I like this show. How it's all focused on, like, self-care. It feels… good." 

 

Baz's expression gets unexpectedly serious. "Self-care is important, Simon," he says softly. I blush at the intimacy of his words. He rests a hand on my knee, and asks in a deeply genuine tone, "Do you want to do face masks?" 

 

I guffaw; that was not what I expected him to say. "What?" 

 

"Face masks: a skin care cream that—"

 

"I know what face masks are, Baz," I say with a huff of laughter. "Are you secretly a VSCO girl? You know, you're really into your Hydroflasks too. What's next, a Tik Tok account?" 

 

Baz rolls his eyes. "You know, it's kind of ridiculous how we, as a society, make fun of young girls for any and every little thing they enjoy doing. Why is there a whole stereotype for—"

 

I interrupt him before this turns into a rant. "You spend too much time with Penny." 

 

"Actually," he says, "I got the speech from Mordelia last month when I took the piss out of her for wearing Crocs."  

 

I blink. "How does Mordelia already know about VSCO girls? She's, like, ten." 

 

"Yeah, well, and she's too precocious for her own good." 

 

"Watford's not going to know what to do with her next year." 

 

"She couldn't be any worse than us, Snow," he says with a nostalgic smile—like we didn't spend the majority of that time at each other's throats. If I'm being honest, I sometimes put a romantic spin on the whole thing, about how we totally did the whole 'enemies-to-lovers' trope. (Shepard says we're the stuff of fan fiction, which made Baz roll his eyes so hard I thought he'd lose them—but he smiled a little, too.) 

 

"Fine," I say. 

 

"Fine what?" 

 

"Fine, let's do face masks. I'll make tea too—if we're going to do it, we should really do it." 

 

We go into the kitchen and get the kettle going, and then we go into the bathroom together. It's a tight squeeze, given my wings, but neither of us seem to mind that. Baz's got his toiletries from when he spends the night stored under the sink, and he goes into his bag of belongings and pulls out several containers of facial products. He starts pumping a clear white liquid into his palm. 

 

"Is that the face mask?" I ask. 

 

"No, this is face wash." He gestures for me to hold out my hand, and then pours some of the frothy liquid into my hand. 

 

"Why do you have so much face gunk? Isn't it all, like, the same difference?" 

 

"No," he says emphatically. "We have to start with this to clean our skin, then we can get to the heavy-duty stuff. Weren't you paying attention to Jonathan at all?"

 

"I always pay attention to Jonathan," I say, as I mimic his movements, massaging the face wash onto my cheeks. "He's my favourite." 

 

"Hmm," Baz responds. He turns on the faucet to wet his hands, and then starts to rinse off his face. "I like Antoni best." 

 

"Why's that?"

 

"Because, he's sweet and clueless and obsessed with food," he says, and I hear the smile in his voice (but not see it, since my eyes are closed). "He reminds me of someone," he says, and hip checks me. 

 

"Oi!" I say, blindly swiping the back of my palm in his direction. My hand makes contact with his gut, and it pulls a surprised laugh out of him. "I am not clueless.

 

"You're a little clueless, sometimes," Baz says, and hands me a hand towel to dry my face. "I was in love with you for years and you didn't notice." 

 

The way he says it so casually, like it's a known and permanent fact, never fails to warm my heart. I open my eyes, and his expression is so soft my heart can barely take it. 

 

"I'm sorry—was I supposed to take you siccing a chimaera on me as your twisted version of a bouquet of roses?" 

 

"Arsehole," he complains good-naturedly, as he rummages through his various face products. He picks a jar of a green-ish paste. "This mask will be best for your complexion. We have to keep it on for fifteen minutes." 

 

We lather ourselves in the face mask, and then turn to face one another. I have to resist the urge to bust up laughing. 

 

"Oh, my god," I say, my voice wavering with mirth. "You look just like a goblin." 

 

"Look who's talking," he shoots back. 

 

"Don't be tetchy," I reply. "Goblins are well fit." 

 

He raises an eyebrow, and then I really can't help laughing. 

 

"You and your fixation with magickal creatures, Snow," he says, sounding endlessly amused. "C'mon, let's go get our tea." 

 

We settle on the couch with our mugs, blowing on our hot tea to cool it. Sitting with his legs tucked under him, with his hair in a headband and a face mask on, Baz is the very picture of domestic bliss. 

 

"I love you," I blurt out, without fully meaning to. It's not the first time I've said it, but my heart still races like it's still a secret confession, like he might just not say it back. 

 

But he does say it back, like he always does. "I love you too." His voice is so earnest, so dear, that it's hard to doubt him, even though my brain is well-practised in insecurity. 

 

I force out the words that got stuck in my throat earlier. "I'm sorry for snapping at you earlier. I didn't mean it: what I said. I was just… embarrassed, I guess." The memory of him seeing me so vulnerable brings a rush of heat to my chest and neck. I look down at my mug, but let the words keep spilling out. "I do want you here. I always want you around." 

 

Baz leans forward and opens up the palm of his hand to me. I let out a deep breath, and then interlace our fingers together.  

 

His skin is cold against mine, gives me a rush of coolness that I always crave, even if I can't always accept it. But, right now, in this moment—I want to drown in it, drown in my feelings and my love and the sensation of his hands on me. 

 

"I should have knocked first," Baz says softly as he rubs small circles into my hand. "But thank you for apologizing." 

 

I take my eyes off of my tea, looking upwards to Baz. This close up, I can see the hints of blue in his grey eyes. 

 

I can't run from my desire—and right now, I don't want to. Not while he's looking at me like that. 

 

I push my face into his, face masks be damned. It surprises him—he gasps a small sound against my lips—but he kisses me back. 

 

It still feels as good as the first time, back in the forest with the world on fire. No—it's even better. Because I can do it whenever I want. Because he's mine, totally and completely. Because I know we're building something meant to last. 

 

We carry on snogging until Baz's phone alarm startles us apart. The face mask around his lips is comically smeared off, and I'm sure I look just as ridiculous. There's a faint taste of oatmeal and bitter honey on my lips—not entirely unpleasant, just strange. 

 

"Fifteen minutes are up," Baz says with a rueful smile. 

 

I take him by the hand and drag him to the bathroom. I wash off the green cream quickly, with an urgency coursing through my veins.

 

I'm ready to put my therapy to good use, I think as I dry my face. 

 

"C'mon," I insist as soon as Baz has scrubbed the face mask off himself. 

 

"Wait, we're supposed to moisturize—"

 

"Screw that," I growl, "come to bed with me." 

 

Baz's eyes widen and his lips part—he's making no effort to conceal his surprise. We haven't tried to be intimate in a long time, not since before America. But I'd hoped all my extracurricular wanking would lead to this moment—to being able to be with Baz, and not just in my head. 

 

I grab him by the arm and we go down the hall to my bedroom. I close the door and lock it—even though I know Penny's not going to come home tonight—and the action makes Baz swallow showily. His Adam's apple bobbles enticingly in his throat, and I think, not for the first time, I want to bite him, right there. 

 

I lunge at him, pushing him against the back on my bedroom door and snogging him messily. He matches my passion, and the fire builds between us, quick and hot.

 

With shaking hands, I start to unbutton his long sleeve. On the last button, it gets caught, and I try to undo it once, twice, before I impatiently rip it off. The button flies across the room and falls to the ground with a soft clanging noise. 

 

"Merlin, Snow," Baz teases, short of breath, "what did my shirt ever do to you?" 

 

Instead of answering, I put my mouth on the junction between his neck and shoulders and suck. Baz lets out a soft moan—a noise that gets louder and more whiny when I use my teeth to bite down. I use my mouth to pull the delicious sounds out of him—ones that are more high-pitched than I fantasized, but just as erotic—and I'm desperate to find a way to keep hearing them. I remember my most recent discovery with my own body, and decide to try it out on him. I take my tongue and lick his nipple. 

 

"Crowley," Baz cries, and jerks his hips forward. His hard-on grazes my stomach and I involuntarily inhale. 

 

The last time we got this far, this is where I ended it. Where I accused Baz of pressuring me. 

 

I can tell Baz is remembering that, too. 

 

"We can stop." His voice is gentle, though involuntarily breathy. "We can go back to watching television." 

 

A year ago, I think I'd interpret Baz's measured tone as patronizing. But now I know that—no, Baz Pitch, who I once thought was my greatest threat and my biggest enemy, is really just extremely patient and considerate. He'd genuinely be perfectly okay with walking back over to the coach and watching Queer Eye for the rest of the night. 

 

I take a deep breath. I'm nervous, yes. My body has gone into fight or flight—I can feel it in the set of my shoulders, in my racing heart. But I want this—I just need my brain to tell my body that. 

 

I'm safe here with Baz. I'm happy. 

 

I can do this.

 

"I don't want to watch T.V.," I say. "Do you?"

 

He vehemently shakes his head no, so I shove my hand down Baz's trousers.  

 

My fingers brush against his cock, and he groans—low and throaty and desperate. " Simon," he begs, and I wrap my hand around him and pull him out of his trousers. 

 

I've imagined this moment countless times, but it still makes my mouth go dry. His cock is thinner and longer than my own, and his happy trail leads down to a thick, dark thatch of pubic hair. He's rock hard and already dripping precum—I can feel how badly he wants this, wants me. 

 

My body reacts; I feel a familiar stirring below my waist, my interest piqued by his. I'm straining against my jeans before I know it. 

 

"Bed," Baz growls. 

 

He tries to step forward, but gets caught up in the legs of his trousers and ends up falling against me. I can't quite stifle my laughter at his unexpected clumsiness, and a light blush colours his pale cheeks. 

 

"You need help undressing, love?" I tease. 

 

"Shut up," he mutters, his eyes on the ground. "Take your clothes off, too. If you want, I mean."

 

I've never heard Baz sound so nervous. For some reason, his vulnerability instills an unexpected confidence in me—I rip my clothes off, totally forgetting to be insecure about the fact that my boyfriend is about to see me completely naked for the first time. 

 

And the way he looks at me once I do manage to get my clothes off… Well, I imagine it's similar to the way I'm looking at him. 

 

"You're—you're beautiful," I stutter. It's true: he's still got his footballer thighs, and his skin shines like sculpted marble (maybe he's onto something with his regimented skin care routine).  

 

He smiles shyly, and I get heartsick. I'm on the verge of overwhelmed, so I dive in and kiss him again, hoping that will turn my brain off. Or, at the very least, switch every thought to ones of Baz. 

 

It works. 

 

I guide Baz over to my bed. The sheets are still messy and tangled from before dinner, but I think Baz's too horny to care. He's panting loudly; I run my fingers through his hair, and it's damp with sweat. He falls back onto the bed with a groan and I crawl over and on top of him. 

 

"Do you," he starts to ask, his voice rough with arousal. "Do you want me to touch you?" 

 

Panic shoots through me, sudden and false. 

 

"C-can I touch you first?" I ask. It'll give me time to calm down, to rile myself up to a place where I'm too addled with lust to be nervous. 

 

Baz nods. "Are you sure?" 

 

I respond by grabbing his cock again. He pushes his hips up into me and arches back, his head thrown back in a gasp and his eyes screwed shut. It's the single sexiest thing that's ever happened to me. 

 

"You l-like that?" I try to make my tone sound dirty and playful, but I think the crack in my voice betrays my nerves. 

 

Not that Baz seems to mind, or maybe he hasn't even noticed, because he chokes out an enthusiastic response. "Yeah, yeah, fuck." 

 

I start to stroke him at the same pace I'd touch myself. The angle's slightly different than when I wank, but the basics are the same. Knowing what I'm doing calms me down a bit, and Baz's pleased moans convince me I'm on the right track. 

 

"Oh," I remember, after about a minute of wanking him, "I forgot I have lube." 

 

He opens his eyes, his expression dreamy and lust-drunk. The intimacy of the eye contact makes my heart skip a beat. I don't break it, even as I'm clumsily reaching over to my nightstand to grab the lube bottle I used earlier today. When he sees it in my hand, he gives me a knowing grin. 

 

I pour some lube onto my fingers. "What were you thinking when—" I pause to swallow the remnants of my embarrassment. "When you saw me wanking?" 

 

I touch him with my lube-slicked hand, running my thumb along the tip of his cock. He exhales like I've punched his breath right out of him. 

 

"I liked it," he admits, his voice breathy and high. "So much. So, so much. I wanted you—I want you." 

 

I pick up my pace on him abruptly and he groans, but keeps steady eye contact with me. He's seeing me— really seeing me—and a surge of adrenaline rushes through my veins at the realisation. My senses are overcome; I'm nervous and exhilarated and scared and eager all at once. 

 

More than all that, though, I'm super fucking horny. 

 

"Touch me," I say, my voice demanding and urgent, and he doesn't hesitate.  

 

He wraps his long slender fingers around my cock, and I make a sound I've never made before—some hybrid of a groan and a cry. His hands are colder and softer than mine, and he's even more hesitant than I tend to be. But it feels good, even through the faint residue of my misplaced panic, because it's Baz. And he's never been the problem here—just the fear. 

 

I know how to swallow that fear now—how to make it a smaller piece of me. I let myself feel Baz—his body and his hands and his love—and I start to lose myself in the act of having sex with him.

 

He's touching me and I'm touching him, and our noises of ecstasy build between us like a symphony of moans and groans and sighs. Baz is getting close—I can tell by the way his hand movements are getting messy and imprecise on me, by the way he can't quite seem to catch his breath. I'm getting closer too; I can feel the tingling down my spine, the tightness of my bollocks, the butterflies in my gut. 

 

"Simon," Baz cries as he finishes on my cock. His strokes on me slow to a stop, hitting the pause button on my own ecstasy. I watch him come undone beneath me, concentrating wholeheartedly on this moment, so I can memorize the exact expression on his face. He looks shameless and blissed out and so wonderfully, beautifully mine. 

 

When his aftershocks subside, his hand is back on my cock. His cum is warm and thick, and he uses it as extra lube on me. I feel myself racing to the finish, teetering over the edge past the point of no return, with Baz's sweet whispers pushing me along. 

 

"C'mon, darling. Come for me. Fuck, you are so gorgeous." His expression is so earnest and gentle, and I'm so devastated by his hands on me, that I have the strange urge to cry. "I love you." 

 

That's what does it—his declaration of love. I'm coming, bursts of white and red fireworking behind my eyelids, my body spasming as I'm rushed with dopamine and thoughtless pleasure. It's so good, so perfect, that I nearly black out from the infinity of my bliss. 

 

When it's over, all I can hear is my loud panting. My heart is pounding double time, and I struggle to catch my breath for a moment. 

 

"Simon?" Baz asks, and I open my eyes to look at him. His expression is a mix of hopeful and longing. "Was that good for you?" 

 

I laugh. "You couldn't tell?"

 

He smiles, wide and unrestrained, and I grin back at him. 

 

"It was good for me too," he whispers. "Very, very good." 

 

I can tell that this is an understatement, and the realisation makes me puff up with pride. 

 

I mean to open my mouth to say something, but a yawn overtakes my body. It's not late, but the orgasm has me sleepy and boneless.

 

"Bed time?" Baz asks in an amused tone, and I nod. 

 

We throw on our pants, and Baz fishes his wand out of the back pocket of his trousers. 

 

"Do you mind if I use a cleaning spell?" he asks. I don't—but I like that he always asks. I agree, and he spells the sheets with a Clean As A Whistle. 

 

We crawl under the sheets together, our bodies only inches apart. I kiss him, and it's soft and tender—like a promise. 

 

I don't usually like to cuddle, but I'm feeling vulnerable and needy, ripped open by our intimacy. I need to touch him. "Do you want to be the little spoon?" 

 

Baz struggles to fight a smile. "If you wish," he says—with an exaggerated sigh, since he likes to be difficult. (I know it's his favourite position, even if he won't admit it.)

 

It doesn't take long for me to fall asleep once we get into position: my chin resting on his shoulder, my arm looped around his waist. I drift off into pleasant dreams, all my thoughts consumed by the boy in my arms.