Last words and first kisses
In which Simon decides to prove that Baz is a vampire once and for all. Simon’s POV.
I’m lying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, my left arm beneath me at an unnatural angle. Wincing, I pull it out from under me and am relieved to find that it’s still functioning as normal. I lift my head and have to shut my eyes to block out the world spinning. There’s blood coming out of my nose from where I hit it on one of the last stairs and my whole body is aching. I’ll be black and blue by nightfall.
I open my eyes again and peer up the stairs. Baz is standing there like some evil overlord, his face twisted into a wicked sneer.
That’s it. I’m done with him. It didn’t have to be like this; if he had left me alone, I would have been happy not to spend all our free time trying to kill each other. I could have broken my neck when I fell down those stairs, and I’m sure that would have done nothing to wipe the smug grin off his face. He probably would have come home to a congratulatory party thrown by his rich family.
I’m done with Baz. I’m going to end him once and for all.
‘I need evidence,’ I say to Penny. ‘I’ve been telling everyone what he is for years and no-one believes me. Or if they do, they don’t do anything about it. So, I need evidence.’
‘He drinks rats in the catacombs, right? You just need to get photos.’
I grin at her. ‘Yes. Photos. Can I borrow your phone?’
She looks dubious. ‘Are you sure this is a good idea? Baz will know what you’re up to, and he’ll do anything he can to stop you. He might hurt you.’
‘As if that’s new, Penny! He pushed me down the stairs!’
‘Yeah, but this would be different. He’d be fighting for his life.’
I scoff. ‘I’m not scared of Baz. Anyway, this has to be done.’
She sighs. ‘Alright. Just be careful.’ She hands me her phone. ‘And let me know before you go after him so I can spell you invisible.’
‘Really? Thanks, Pen!’
She usually refuses to spell me when I’m following Baz because she wants to discourage me from stalking him. She doesn’t think it’s a very good use of my time.
The library doors swing open to reveal Baz (he always has to make an entrance. As if I could miss his presence) and I send him my most malicious glare.
‘You are going down,’ I mutter.
I follow Baz through the usual route down to the catacombs, invisible and inaudible thanks to Penny’s spells. I notice him glancing behind him at every turn. Probably expecting to find me following him. I smile triumphantly as he continues walking into the darkness.
He stops suddenly and pulls out his wand. I turn away to avoid watching all the rats go limp at his command. It’s a highly unpleasant ritual to watch. Once Baz seems to have collected a sufficient pile of dead rodents, he sits down and sinks his fangs into the first one. I stare for a moment. It’s unsettling, but strangely fascinating at the same time. Baz finishes draining the rat and tosses it aside, picking up a second one. I shouldn’t be surprised to find that he hasn’t left a single drop. Crowley, he’s poised and graceful even when sucking the blood of rats. If it was me, I would have blood dribbling down my chin and over my uniform.
I force myself to stop watching him and concentrate on my mission. I point Penny’s phone at Baz and start taking pictures. The flash goes off and I hold my breath, waiting for him to leap up and spot me, but he doesn’t see it. What would I do without Penny?
I move closer, more confident now that I know Baz won’t be able to sense me. I crouch down and try to make sure I’ve got his fangs in the photo. There can’t be any doubt about what he’s doing. I keep getting distracted. His fangs are huge. It’s a wonder he manages to hide them.
Finally Baz seems satisfied. He stands up, drops the final rat onto his discarded pile, and licks his lips. I expect him to turn back the way we came from, but instead he heads deeper into the catacombs. I return Penny’s phone to my pocket and follow him. He makes a final turn and I realise we’re in a tunnel. He’s never led me here before – and are those skulls lining the walls?
Baz stops in front of a doorway and sits down with his back to the wall. He sets something down beside it and from the light of Penny’s phone I realise they’re flowers. This must be his mother’s tomb.
‘Hey, Mum,’ he says quietly.
I freeze and try to keep my breathing quiet. Even though I know he can’t hear me.
‘I just wanted to say that I… I miss you.’
He sighs. I stay perfectly still.
‘And I’m sorry. I really should visit you and get the rats on separate trips. This feels disrespectful.’
He leans his head against the wall. I imagine him closing his eyes.
‘Anyway, I just… I love you.’
I shouldn’t be here, watching this. But I can’t look away. I’ve never seen Baz like this.
‘Even though you would hate me. What I’m doing, carrying on as a vampire.’
It occurs to me that I could be recording this as more evidence, but I don’t move. This is personal and raw and emotional for Baz and I would never. I wouldn’t.
‘I’m sorry. I don’t think I’m hurting anyone. But I know it’s wrong. I’m sorry.’
Why do I feel the sudden urge to cry? This is Baz, for Crowley’s sake.
‘Okay. Bye.’ He stands up suddenly and I startle, flattening myself against the wall just in time to avoid being crashed into. Then I hurry to follow him back out of the catacombs. I sure don’t want to get lost down here.
This is definitely new information. I’ve always known Baz was evil and a monster, but I didn’t know he felt sorry about it. I’m tempted to reach into my pocket and delete all the photos from Penny’s phone, but for once I decide not to do anything rash. That little conversation hardly excuses pushing me down the stairs. And since apparently he can live perfectly well on rats, being a vampire doesn’t actually excuse Baz for being a villain.
It’s just the part where he thinks his mother would hate him that bothers me. Natasha Pitch couldn’t possibly hate Baz. He’s powerful and cunning and ruthless. He’s unfailingly loyal, annoyingly good at magic and irritatingly good looking. Everything a Pitch would want in a son. Who cares if he’s a vampire?
‘Where have you been?’
Baz is snarling at me in the middle of the night. I realise Penny’s spell must have just worn off.
‘Unnnmmmgf?’ I mumble, rolling over to face him.
‘Did Bunce put a spell on you? Is that why I could smell you in the catacombs?’
‘Did you wake me up in the middle of the night to ask me that?’ I pull my pillow over my head.
‘Well? Is that what you were up to last night?’ Baz persists. When I don’t answer him he whips the pillow off me. I look up to find him glaring.
‘Anathema,’ I mumble. I’m not rising to the bait tonight. I’ve got the upper hand now.
‘I know that, you twat. Were you following me again?’
‘Go to sleep, Baz.’
He glares at me for a few more moments then tosses the pillow back at me and leaves the room. Too bad Penny isn’t here to spell me invisible, so I can’t follow him again. On second thoughts, maybe it’s a good thing because he’s probably just trying to lure me out of reach of the Anathema. I lift my head and put the pillow back in its place then roll over to face the wall. But I don’t fall asleep until I hear the door close softly as Baz comes back into the room, at the crack of dawn.
‘Did you get the pictures?’ Penny asks at breakfast.
‘Can I see?’ She snatches the phone from me and scrolls through the photos. They look even more incriminating in the daylight. The pile of dead rats next to Baz grows and grows as she swipes at the screen. ‘Well, good job. This is definitely irrefutable evidence.’
‘I’m not sure if I want to use it yet,’ I say. ‘Maybe he’s not… a complete evil git.’
Penny raises an eyebrow.
‘Okay, he definitely is,’ I amend. ‘But I should wait. Not do anything hasty. Right?’
‘Right. You’ve finally learned something.’
I’m walking along the drawbridge when I hear footsteps coming up behind me. Instinctively I whirl around and sure enough, it’s Baz. He can’t sneak up on me anymore; I’m too attuned to the exact sound of his footsteps. Years of practice.
‘How the tables have turned,’ he says, smirking. He’s holding out his wand, which I find more than a little bit worrying. ‘I’m following you around, for once.’
‘What do you want?’
‘What I really want, Snow, is to see you torn into a thousand tiny pieces by a pack of angry merwolves,’ he says, gesturing towards the moat with the tip of his wand.
‘Are you going to throw me into the moat?’ I wouldn’t put it past him. Down the stairs, into the moat – what’s the difference?
He tilts his head like he’s considering it. ‘Maybe.’ He steps forward, pointing his wand at me. ‘Unless you want to jump.’
I’m pretty sure he’s bluffing. Probably. Not that I don’t think he’s capable of pushing me in. I just think he’s more likely to be doing this just to watch me squirm. Just to see if he can get me to jump.
The merwolves wouldn’t get me anyway; I’d probably go off before they could do me any real damage. Honestly, Baz is the scarier option. But I won’t give him the satisfaction of jumping over the bridge.
‘Why would I do that?’ I scoff, stepping towards him. Away from the edge. Just in case.
‘Because I’m pointing my wand at you and I feel like making you pay for following me around last night. You’re a pain in the neck, Snow. I’ve been reading up on new spells.’
I can’t believe I told Penny he might not be a complete evil git.
‘Is there something you want?’ I say as he takes another step towards me. ‘Or are you just doing this for fun?’
‘Yes, there is something I want. I want to know what you were doing following me last night. I want to know what you saw.’
He must be referring to his mother’s tomb, because he knows I’ve seen him drink rats before. I realise he’s worried I heard him talking to his mother. And Baz doesn’t like being vulnerable. It doesn’t help his case when he’s trying to threaten me.
‘Don’t worry, Baz,’ I say, smirking. ‘If your mother hates you, it’s probably because you’re an evil git and a –’
His whole body slams into me and I feel the impact in my stomach as the breath is knocked out of me all at once and then suddenly I’m flying through space, cold air rushing at me and then I’m underwater. Instinctively I shut my eyes as I feel myself sinking, water rushing into my nose and mouth, the world around me silenced. Then I feel slimy things brushing up against me and I open my eyes just before my head breaks above the surface of the moat.
I place my hand over my hip and start calling for the Sword of Mages but I’m smacked in the head by something (a tail?) and I’m underwater again. The merwolves are knocking into me and I’m flailing in the murky water and the last thing I see is a flash of sharp razor teeth before the magic inside me builds up and explodes.
I’m huddled on my bed draped in blankets and I still don’t feel clean or dry.
I can’t believe it. Baz pushed me into the moat. He pushed me into the moat! That is the absolute last straw. I’ve still got Penny’s phone and the first thing I’m going to do once I feel human again is to show the Mage those photos. Then Baz will be out of this school and I won’t have to see him, let alone sleep in the same room as him, ever again.
It will be a relief. And a joyful experience.
The door bangs open and Baz storms in. Clearly he’s still mad at me for bringing up his mother. I would feel guilty if he hadn’t just tried to get me eaten by merwolves. It’s a good thing I’ve got a plan, because if I didn’t have those photos I would probably have violated the Anathema the second he walked into the room.
‘Just typical, Snow. I try to get you eaten by merwolves and instead you send the entire contents of the moat flying and emerge without a single scratch.’
‘I can’t believe you’re acting mad at me right now. You’re the one who shoved me in.’
‘Yes, and it didn’t help,’ he growls. ‘I never want to look at your stupid face again.’
‘You know, if you’d just behaved like a decent human being, I wouldn’t have to do this. Oh but wait – you’re not a human being, are you?’
‘You wouldn’t have to do what?’
I grab Penny’s phone and hold it out triumphantly. The blankets fall from around my shoulders but I ignore them.
‘I have photos of you in the catacombs. Drinking rats. Your fangs are very noticeable.’
I wait for his reaction, but he’s perfectly frozen. Is he in shock? Good.
‘I’m going to the Mage – right now – and then you’re gone.’ I stand up and head for the door.
I turn back around. Baz is still standing in the same position.
‘Why the hell not? You keep trying to get me killed. Consider it self-defence.’
‘Snow. You can’t.’
I take in the look on his face and realise he’s seriously terrified.
Well, merwolves are pretty terrifying too. So.
I turn back towards the door just as Baz lunges at me. I pull the phone into my chest as his hand swipes for it. Now he’s standing behind me with his arms around me trying to wrangle the phone out of my hands. He’s not actually hurting me, which is probably why the Anathema hasn’t intervened yet.
‘Baz, get off me!’
He growls and we both fall to the ground. I keep both hands curled around the phone.
‘You’ll never get it without violating the Anathema,’ I say. He pulls himself off me and gets to his feet, apparently agreeing with me. I stand up too, making sure I don’t loosen my grip on the phone.
‘I hope you’re bluffing,’ Baz says.
‘Nope. I’d show you the photos but… not taking that chance.’
He sighs and sits down on his bed. He bows his head.
‘All right, Snow. I guess you win.’
‘That sounded good. Say it again.’
Baz lifts his head and glares at me. ‘You win. You beat me, Snow. Victory is yours. Will that stop you from going to the Mage?’
‘No. Because then I don’t win and you keep plotting against me.’
Baz sighs. ‘You’re right. It’s what I do. It’s what I would do. Probably.’
I should just go. I should just walk out that door and towards the Mage’s office.
Did he just call me Simon?
‘If you show that to the Mage, he won’t just expel me. I’ll be killed. My name will… you don’t know what it will do. To my family.’
‘The ‘I’ll be killed’ argument isn’t doing much for me, given that you’ve been trying to kill me pretty much since we met.’
‘Simon, I’m not you! I don’t have your magic! Nothing I ever do can actually hurt you. This isn’t the same.’
He did it again. Called me by my first name. I’ve never seen Baz look so vulnerable. That doesn’t mean I’m changing my mind. He still totally deserves this.
‘Please. I’m – I’m saying please, Simon, just please don’t do this.’ He’s staring up at me with earnest grey eyes. I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe Baz Pitch is begging me.
He’ll do whatever he has to do to save his skin. The merwolves, I remind myself. If I don’t turn him in now, he’ll pretend this never happened and he’ll be back at me with a vengeance. How much more of it am I supposed to take?
‘Sorry,’ I say. I guess it’s the least I can concede. ‘Y-you’re a vampire. You’re dangerous. I have to.’
Baz crosses his arms.
‘Fine.’ He’s closed off again. ‘Enjoy your petty revenge.’
‘I cannot believe you just called me petty.’
He stares me down. ‘Go on, Snow. Walk out that door.’
‘If you have any last words to say to me before they come for you, now would be a good time.’
I wait. Baz just keeps staring at me. Just as I’m about to conclude that he has nothing he wants to say, he stands up abruptly.
‘Well, I’ve got nothing to lose,’ he says, his eyes still focused on mine. He’s so close we’d be nose to nose if he didn’t have those extra three inches on me. ‘So I might as well do what I want.’
I’m about to ask what that is when – oh.
His hand is on the back of my neck and his mouth is on mine and I feel my breath hitch in my throat as Baz kisses me hard. His mouth is cold and his fingers are raking through my hair and I can feel his tongue in my mouth.
In a moment it’s over and Baz is stepping away. The sound of him breathing hard reminds me that I haven’t taken a breath since he reached for me. He stumbles back and almost trips over his own bed. His face is flushed and I think he’s shaking as he walks around the bed towards the door.
‘I’m going to run,’ he says, his voice wavering. ‘Do whatever you want.’
‘Wait,’ I manage to whisper as he steps out the door. He doesn’t hear me; the door slams.
I become aware of the sound of my heart pounding. I think I’m in shock.
‘Baz, wait!’ I yell, and I fly down the stairs after him. I catch up to him in the middle of the stairwell. He turns around at the sound of my footsteps.
‘I won’t do it,’ I blurt, holding out the phone. He stares from me to the phone but doesn’t move or say anything. ‘Here, I’m deleting the pictures.’ My hands are fumbling with the screen as I scroll through and delete all the photos, one by one. ‘There. All gone. See?’ I hold out the phone. ‘You can check. If you want.’
He shakes his head. ‘I believe you.’
I’m staring at him. I don’t understand what just happened. I mean, I know he kissed me, but I don’t understand why. And I don’t know why I deleted those photos. He’s evil. He’s a vampire.
Why doesn’t that bother me?
‘A-are you going to stay?’ I ask.
‘Do you want me to?’ Baz says slowly.
I open my mouth. I honestly hadn’t thought about it. It’s hard to think about anything right now. My mind keeps playing back the kiss. Baz’s mouth on mine and his fingers on my neck. I shiver. ‘I don’t know. Yes. I want you to stay.’
He takes a deep breath. ‘Look. Snow. Simon. Thank you… for deleting the photos. But I don’t think I can stay. After what I just did.’
‘Don’t you hate me for doing that?’
‘This is like the first time in years that I haven’t hated you.’
He narrows his eyes at me. ‘What are you saying, Snow?’
‘Uh… I just…’ I sort of want him to kiss me again. It’s not something I ever thought about wanting, and it’s not something I ever thought Baz would want, but maybe I’ve been wrong all this time I thought I had both of us figured out.
‘Do you feel… I mean… are you… did you like it?’ He buries his face in his hands. ‘Crowley, this is embarrassing.’
Baz should have just acted all vulnerable and flustered like this from the start. It’s adorable.
‘Yeah. I did. You should do it again.’
Baz tilts his head, scrutinising me. ‘Really?’ He takes a step forwards. ‘You’re going to regret saying that.’ He takes my face in his hands. This time, I kiss him back.