He is possibly the most ill-fit candidate for employment in a bookstore that Baz has ever encountered.
Never mind that he stumbles over the ridiculous welcome mat on the way in, but instantly straightens up to flash a crooked grin at Baz in a way that positively screams haphazardness.
Never mind that he stutters every other sentence as if words become dried cotton is his mouth.
Never mind that he and Penny have been staging interviews for a week, on her parents' request, but have a secret understanding. The book store is theirs. It's their sanctuary, and they aren't willing to open it up to anyone. They laugh in the office as they recycle (Penny is very into saving the planet) every hopeful candidate's application the second he or she walks out the door.
Never mind that the disaster in human form has now glued his (shockingly blue) eyes to Baz as Penny leads him into the office, and as a result has knocked over a display of bookmarks that Baz will have to clean up.
The real issue is that Baz feels something in his stomach grow warm as some stupid part of his brain notices that the sunlight streaming through the shop's lone window definitely matches the sunlight that seems to be netted in the boy's hair.
The real issue is that the bookstore is not for feelings. The bookstore is what Baz has made it, and that is his own little bubble of time where he can get away from confusing emotions and problems and people. The bookstore is for him. And for books. And admittedly, for Penny, because she comes with it.
The bookstore is not for catastrophically beautiful boys who melt hearts with scuffed
trainers and dimpled smiles.
Baz hides behind some shelving until he hears the bells on the door signal said boy's departure, and immediately regrets it. And then he hates himself, because fuck, his little bubble is punctured already.
When Baz reemerges, it's after a mental beat down, courtesy of himself. He is entirely ready to rejoin Penny and laugh off another applicant, even though this one is definitely prettier than him, because he absolutely doesn't feel his absence already.
What he gets instead, upon entering the office, is a notably empty recycle bin, and an expression on Bunce's face that is about as close to sheepish as she ever gets.
And that is how Baz learns the name of one Simon Snow, his new companion for the Monday through Thursday morning shifts.
That is also how Baz briefly considers flinging the latest inventory catalogue at Penny's head, before he remembers that she is sort of scary sometimes, and she can definitely get him fired, and she is also sort of the only friend he has.
And he also catches a glimpse of Snow's application on the desk and can't help but notice that his handwriting is an absolute tragedy, and also possibly the cutest thing Baz has ever seen.
He decides that trying to fling the catalogue at himself might be a better course of action.
Snow graces the shop with this presence exactly 14 minutes into the start of his first ever shift. (Baz was definitely watching the clock so closely for entirely business reasons.)
He comes in bleary eyed and messy haired but still smiling, choking on apologies like they cloud his lungs.
And maybe another little part of Baz's heart chips off, but that doesn't stop him from fixing Snow with a stern glare and showing him around the shelves at a little brisker of a pace than he otherwise might.
It also doesn't stop him from glancing out of the corner of his eye every few seconds to see if the smile has slipped off Snow's face yet.
After a few days of training, the rest of the week goes about as well as Baz imagined it would. (He may or may not have done a lot of imagining.)
Snow continuously pushes the wrong buttons on the ancient cash register. Baz has to abandon his own tasks multiple times to correct him. (Their fingers brush every time, like something out of one of the terrible romance novels they keep having to ring up.)
Snow keeps forgetting all the simple answers to customers' questions that Baz has painstakingly prepared him for. (Never mind that he somehow manages to sell twice what Baz usually does. It's probably that ridiculously gorgeous smile. Or those insanely long eyelashes. Or- you know what, never mind.)
One one occasion, Baz finds Snow has stolen one of the expensive fountain pens out of the display by the counter and is using it to draw lines connecting the freckles on his wrist. (Never mind that Baz has traced those lines with his eyes a thousand times already.)
He meets Penny for the Friday morning shift, Snow's first day off, with a head full of a thousand complaints. Yet somehow he manages to forget all of them, and just blushes and mutters a halfhearted "fuck off" to Penny's somehow knowing smile.
They fall into a rhythm. Baz lives for rhythm. He's a musician, he's a bookkeeper, he's an organizer. Yet it's not like any rhythm he's ever encountered, because Simon cannot be relied upon to be anything other than a mess, and beautiful. (Baz gave up trying not to think that word sometime in week one.) There is a distinct lack of humdrum, there is no complacency or boredom or straight lines, and Baz is secretly hoping there aren't any straight boys, either.
Their rhythm is a balance, and yes, Baz is fully aware of how cliche that sounds. But it's true. For all of his monochrome tones, Simon lives in a thousand bright colors. For every one of Baz's glowers Simon has a face-cracking smile to offer, and the little and increasingly frequent smiles that creep onto Baz's face only make Simon smile harder.
It's messy and confusing and everything Baz used to think he wanted to avoid, but he's given up pretending that he hasn't mapped out his future among the moles on Simon's cheeks.
It can't last forever, Baz discovers.
There's one morning where nothing is notably off but him, he has nothing else to blame. He barely slept and there was one too many razor-sharp voicemails from his father when he woke up. He feels fire beneath his skin and for some reason all he wants to smooth out his brow is one particular sunshine boy, but Simon chooses that day to scramble in half an hour late after stopping to wave and grin at a pretty blonde girl across the street. And maybe it's this that pushes him to his breaking point, seeing that smile directed at someone not him, someone that he can see Simon with in his head, the kind of person that sunshine belongs with. But when Simon's foot catches on a rotating stand and sends it crashing to the ground Baz snaps. And no one ever said that Basilton Grimm-Pitch couldn't be cruel.
He sees the smile slide off of Simon's face like there was never anything sticking it there in the first place, like it wasn't the axis his entire world rotated around.
He sees the skin on Simon's nose go blotchy, and his brilliant blue eyes shine with something distinctly other than their usual mirth.
And Simon stares for a minute and pushes off on his heel into the back half of the shop, leaving Baz staring after him.
Baz just stands there and looks down at the upturned stand on the floor. And then his eyes catch on something lying next to it, a little orange bookmark with a cartoonish sun painted on it, black shades and all. It's then that he slides down onto the floor and puts his head in his hands, because he just put out the fucking sun, and he isn't even sure why he hasn't gone to apologize yet. But he just sits there, and pretends he can't feel the moisture on his face.
He doesn't know how long it is, but he doesn't hear Simon approach, isn't aware of his presence until he feels a warm hand on his shoulder, more near the base of his neck. He starts and looks up to find Simon crouched down like one might when speaking to a child, just inches away from him. It almost hurts to look at him up this close. There's too much that Baz wants to catalogue- the lighter two moles right under his left eye, the tiny chip in his left canine. And then he remembers what a right ass he's been and glances away. But Simon reaches out and taps the side of Baz's chin with a long finger until Baz meets his eyes again.
"Hey Baz? I'm really sorry. I'll fix the stand. I mean, I don't know if it's broken. If it is, Ill pay for it, you can take it out of my check. Uh, and I'm not even mad. About the stuff you said. Not that- not that I'm trying to make you feel bad, or anything. Because you shouldn't. I-"
They both tense, as if this one word makes them aware that their rhythm is rewriting itself, lines they had silently arranged are being crossed.
"Simon, I'm so-"
Baz doesn't get to finish his sentence, because Simon darts forward a few inches (and that's all he needs, they are so close) and his lips land at the corner of Baz's, soft as the breeze. And although Baz is surrounded by thousands of words, he can't call to mind a single one of them.
He realizes Simon has leaned back to look and him questioningly, and there's a gorgeous blush staining his cheeks.
Baz still can't form a sentence, but he doesn't even have time to find that ironic because apparently Simon's seen some sort of permission in his face, and is once again leaning in.
Baz doesn't think he'll ever be cold again.
He asks Penny, a few months after Simon has thoroughly nested into both his apartment and his heart, what made her decide to hire him. It's not that he hasn't asked before, but something tells him he'll get a straight answer this time.
"Well Pitch, it's hard to pass someone by when the very first words out of their mouth in an interview are 'your sales clerk is so fucking cute.' Maybe I was rooting for him."
Baz feels his mouth drop open a bit, but before he can fully process the implications of this, Penny has disappeared into the office and pulled the door closed behind her.
It's then that Simon stumbles in, pausing to drop a kiss on Baz's lips before hanging up his jacket.
And all Baz can think as he looks at his sunshine boy is that he is possibly the best-fit candidate for employment in a book store that Baz has ever encountered.