Simon and Martin are sitting together backstage when Martin admits that he read Simon's email—apparently, Simon left his Gmail account logged in on a school computer, Martin used the computer next, and he subsequently discovered Simon's secret identity (Jacques). Simon feels like an idiot as Martin smiles and offers that his brother is gay too. Simon has no idea what to say, especially when Martin insists that being gay isn't at all a big deal. Simon thinks that coming out doesn't really scare him—it'll just be awkward—but he's not sure what it'll mean for Blue, the boy he's been anonymously emailing.
Simon's fear here sets up immediately that it's not only Simon's sexuality at stake; he has the mysterious Blue to worry about as well. This reinforces that Martin has control over more than just Simon's decision to come out, making his impending decision to blackmail Simon even worse. Martin's insistence that being gay isn't a big deal shows that he's not particularly sensitive to how difficult it is to be gay in small-town Georgia.
Blue is a private person and would never forget to log out of his email on a school computer. Simon tells the reader that the school blocks the wireless in the auditorium, so he has to wait until after rehearsal to see if Blue has written him back. Martin interrupts Simon's thoughts to say again that Simon should come out and just be himself, and Simon rolls his eyes that a straight kid is giving him advice on coming out. Martin then says he's not going to show anyone the emails, which makes Simon feels relieved at first and then suspicious. Martin admits he took a screenshot of the emails, mentions that Simon is friends with Abby Suso, and casually suggests that Simon could help him talk to Abby.
Martin's decision to blackmail Simon exhibits a shocking lack of recognition that Simon is an individual and a whole person, not just a means for Martin to use to get the girl he wants. This sets Martin up to hopefully learn to recognize others' humanity and agency as this situation progresses. Simon's explanation as to why he checked his email in the first place suggests that he's getting to know Blue differently than he knows other people, which shows Simon starting to truly learn how to empathize with others.
Simon is enraged, and then it clicks—Martin is blackmailing him. Martin doesn't seem to understand why this is a problem and asks that Simon just invite him to things when Abby is going to be there. Simon thinks Martin might put the email screenshots on creeksecrets, the school's anonymous Tumblr account, which is where all the school gossip takes place for every student to see. Ms. Albright calls Martin onstage, and as Martin leaves, he asks who Blue is. Simon answers that he lives in California, but this is a lie: Blue lives in Shady Creek too, goes to Creekwood High, and Blue is a fake name. Simon might even know him.
Again, Martin's nonchalance about blackmailing Simon shows that he’s too wrapped up in his own desires (namely, his crush on Abby) to recognize that blackmailing and potentially outing his classmate is huge and violating for Simon and possibly for Blue as well. Meanwhile, the mention of creeksecrets sets up online social networks like Tumblr and Facebook as a major motif that explores how the teenage characters connect to each other outside of school.
When Simon gets home, he has an hour before dinner, so he gathers up Bieber, the family dog, puts on music by Tegan and Sara, and heads out for a walk. He thinks it makes sense that Martin is into Abby, because every "geeky straight boy" is. The fall air helps Simon calm down, as does the familiar sight when he arrives at his friend Nick's basement. Nick and Leah are sprawled in armchairs, playing video games, just as they do every afternoon. He feels as though the moment is perfect between him and his friends.
When Simon is specifically calmed by the normalcy of his afternoon hangouts with Nick and Leah, it suggests that Simon is beginning to grow and change in ways that he's not yet comfortable with; because of this, hanging out with his long-time friends is an important source of stability and comfort in a world that probably feels out of control for him right now.
Nick and Leah are drinking sweet tea from Chick-fil-A, and Simon admits he feels weird eating there after he heard they "donate money to screw over gay people." He explains, however, that he doesn't talk about "gay stuff" with anyone but Blue—not even Nick and Leah. As Nick goes off on a tangent about a dream he had about putting in contacts incorrectly, Simon notices that Nick's philosophical mood makes Leah look very in love with him. Simon explains that this is why Leah hates Abby—Nick has a very obvious crush on Abby. Simon thinks that helping Martin woo Abby might actually be a good thing if it restores equilibrium in his friend group.
When Simon tries to tell himself that helping Martin would actually be a good thing, it shows him attempting to put group harmony over his own well-being. By doing this, he steps into his regular role as a peacemaker with his friends, which is notably something that they expect of him. This then suggests that he'll need to begin to move away from this habit in order to truly come of age and to develop his own sense of identity.