Imagine that both Simon and Baz own a black shirt. The 2 shirts look the same really. Normal black shirt with short sleeves. Baz’s is probably pure cotton while Simon’s is polyester. Before the summer that was between Year 5 and Year 6, Baz (Mr. I-almost-really-killed-the-person-I-love) was dealing with guilt but mostly was bothered because he couldn’t lie to himself that he would miss Simon Snow.
He noticed that Simon had a black shirt that looks like a shirt that he owns. (Because the amount of things he owns is really limited.) As a last minute thing, he switched the two shirts. He regretted what he did straight away but Simon zipped up his bag and was gone before he could.
We know what happened with the shirt that Baz took, there is a good quote from the book: “When he wouldn’t give me a single moment of solace to sort through my feelings–or try to wank them away. (Which I eventually tried that summer. To no avail.)” Chapter 33. The unwashed shirt helped.
Simon realized the shirts were switched the second he opened his bag when he got to a new crappy room. He shrugged it away as thinking that he must have grabbed the wrong shirt by accident at some point. He didn’t think too much about how it could have happened. This new home was particularly shitty and the pillows were rubbish. He stole 2 extras and the 3 were barely the thickness of his 1 pillow in Watford. He had really bad home sickness in the first few weeks.
The pillows kept sliding around as they were stacked on top of each other. One night they all fell on the floor after kicking during a really bad nightmare. He reached into his suitcase and pulled out a shirt and used it as a pillow case for the 3 pillows. He realized what shirt it was when he stuck his nose into the pillows. It was silky and smooth. Smells like bergamot and cedar wood. It smells like home. It helped pull him through the first few days. He would sit alone in his room and cuddle with the pillows. Trying not to think of everything that made his list.
Baz was never on that list.
Simon and Baz wore the other’s shirt during the summer. On the first day back, Baz switched the shirts back. Initially they were upset that they had to let go of a shirt they got attached to, but it was all better as they again had a shirt that smelled like the other.
Baz didn’t try to steal his shirt for the summer break between Year 6 and 7.
But when Baz got home, he finds Simon’s black shirt instead of his own. Simon wanted his summer pillow case back.
Simon sitting in the living room wearing a black shirt. Baz sneaks up on him and checks the tag.
“I knew you fucking stole my shirt!”
Simon realizes that he is really wearing the shirt he stole. Fucking fuck.
“I never stole it.” I purposely stole it. “I would have never stolen from you.” I went out of my way to steal that shirt from you.
“Why didn’t you give it back? Why did you keep it?”
He looks up at his pretending-to-be-mad boyfriend. “I used it as a pillow case because it smells like our room. Like you. It made me feel at home when I was away.” Baz melts through the floor as he thought of Simon smelling his shirt during the summer (as he did himself).