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Better than Supermarket Boy

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„Would you stop killing your desk and just tell me what's going on?”, Clary's amused voice sounded through the speakers of Simon's phone. He was currently at work, busying himself with tapping his pen against the wooden surface he sat behind of.
Taking a deep breath, the young man settled down properly, calming himself down enough to explain the matter. “You know how we have to go back to High School in a month?” he asked, his face clenched in frustration, “That stupid reunion makes me go crazy. I don't even have anyone to go there with. You're taking Izzy so I can't take either of you, asking Alec would be a disaster and Jace, well... I really don't wanna give him the triumph of having to ask him out in such a context. He'd still be making fun of it when it's time for the next reunion.” Clary laughed quietly, nodding, “Okay, that's true. Also, Izzy said, she thinks that Alec is seeing someone, so you probably wouldn't stand a chance either way.”
Simon frowned, running his fingers through his dark hair, tousling it even more. “Well, I wouldn't have asked him anyway but I was kind of hoping that he wouldn't have a date either? So that I wouldn't be the only one walking around all awkwardly since Jace will most likely be crowded within what, like ten minutes? He was my only hope!”
“Oh come on, Simon, don't be dramatic. It's not a bad thing, that you don't have anyone at the moment. You're twenty-three, you don't need to be in a relationship.”
Laughing dryly, the young accountant shook his head “Easy for you to say, Clary. You've got a gorgeous girlfriend. I've got nothing, nothing.” he emphasized, causing his best friend to chuckle “You are such a drama queen, Simon. I'm sorry but I don't really know how to help you. You know all of my friends so I can't set you up with people anymore. You'll have to go without a date but you won't be alone, don't worry, we'll all be there.” she assured him, hoping that he'd feel a bit better after their talk.
Simon let out a quiet huff, taking a glance at his watch while once more starting to fiddle with his pen. “Thanks, Clary.” he said, a gentle smile on his lips, “I appreciate that but I have to hang up now, my break is almost over. See you later!”
After bidding her farewell, Simon let himself fall back into his spinning chair, closing his eyes for a few seconds. The reunion really was taking a toll on him and not having a date nagged on him more than he let on. Of course, this wasn't something that defined him, but there had been quite the handful of people back in high school who didn’t think he was capable of having a relationship. Back then, he had been hopelessly in love with Clary, all the while knowing that she thought of him as family, not as boyfriend material.
“I couldn’t help but overhear that, you're kinda loud, and I think I might be able to help you.” Simon's eyes shot open when he heard a voice all of a sudden, blinking up at a gorgeous man in a well tailored, far too expensive looking suit. Contrasting to that image, the stranger seemed to be a few years younger than him, dark hair gelled up perfectly. He looked as though he just jumped out of one of the fashion magazines that Izzy enjoyed reading.
“Simon, right?” the handsome man asked him, “I'm Raphael, Raphael Santiago. I work next door and wanted to get lunch when I heard you on the phone.”
Simon only nodded, not really sure what to say. This was kind of surreal. A fantastic looking man offered to help him with a dating related crisis? That surely is a plot for some romantic movie, not that he should be getting his hopes up just yet.
“How can you help me?” he asked instead, his brown eyes shining with interest, as he watched the stranger, Raphael, who now was sitting down in front of his desk.
“I want to propose a deal.” he said, leaning forward on his elbows, “You need a date to your reunion, I need one for a family dinner about one and a half months from now. I love my mother but I really don't need her to set me up with her friends' sons or random people she met on the market.” he explained, causing Simon to chuckle. “She tried getting you a boyfriend while going grocery shopping? Sorry, but that's hilarious.”
Raphael glared at him for a second, a sigh falling from his lips. “Sí, she did. Now, what do you say? I don't have all day but I think we both can benefit from this.” he looked at him, eyes piercing as he waited for Simon's answer.
Thinking it through for a few seconds, he decided, that it indeed would be a great arrangement. “Alright, deal. How do we do this though? I mean, I've never had a fake boyfriend.” he bit his bottom lip, mumbling, “Not that I've had a real one either.”
Raphael raised an eyebrow though he didn't comment further on it. He wanted to get this done.
“Do you have time tomorrow after work? My roommate won't be back until late at night; he's on a a date, which means that you could come over and we'll make sure to think of a good back story. You'll also have to think about who you're going to tell that our relationship is fake. I mean you could also tell your friends that you met someone after we decide on the details, it's probably less suspicious.” he shrugged, watching as Simon nodded. “I think I'll do that. Tomorrow is good, just, uh, give me your number or something? You can text me the address.”
Raphael picked a pen from the inner pocket of his suit, taking out a notebook as well. After writing down everything that Simon needed to know, he ripped the note off and slid it over the table to him. “There, if you need any other information, just message me. I'm not a fan of phone calls as long as they are avoidable.” he shrugged, standing up, “I think we'll have a great time.”
Simon was left speechless by this mysterious man. He really was curious about him, couldn't wait to learn more about Raphael Santiago.
This reunion really started to seem like a great event. With someone as gorgeous as Raphael by his side, he would be able to show most of his former grade that he wasn't just the awkward, annoying dork who happened to be hopelessly in love with Clary Fray, one of the most admired girls throughout High School.
That he'd have to play Raphael's boyfriend during a family dinner was something he was more than willing to do, especially since he really wanted to hear the story of him being set up with someone from the grocery store.
Simon smiled, saving the number he had received into his phone. He quickly sent him a text so he'd have his number as well, before slipping the phone back into the pocket of his jeans and going back to doing his work. He really was excited for tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Simon stared at the front door of the building. He took a deep breath, his heart pounding in his chest. This was ridiculous. He shouldn't be this nervous about simply meeting up with Raphael. They would only go over the details of their little act and yet, here he was, fidgeting and unsure if he really should knock or if he should just text him and blow the whole thing off.

Before he could make a decision, the door opened and instead of looking at the handsome face that was Raphael, his eyes were met by another gorgeous stranger.
The man was taller than him, looking him over shortly before chuckling to himself. “I couldn’t help but notice you standing outside; you must be the guy Raphael met yesterday, huh? Shawn or something, right?” he asked, before adding, “I'm Magnus, his roommate.”
Simon nodded “Yeah, that's me. I'm Simon, Simon Lewis, nice to meet you.” he stumbled over his words, a shy smile on his lips.
“Well, I'm sure you'll have lots of fun with your arrangement. Raphael is still taking a shower, you're kinda early, you know? He said you'd come over in about thirty minutes from now, after I've already left.” there clearly was amusement laced through his voice, causing Simon's cheeks to heat up.
“Anyway, what kind of reunion do you have to go to, that makes you so desperate for a date?” Magnus continued.
Simon closed his eyes for a second, willing his embarrassment to quiet down for a few seconds. “Well, it's a High School reunion. Five years only but I really don't want to continue being the boring nerd who was in love with his best friend forever and this seems like a great opportunity to, you know, show them, that I'm not that person anymore.” he shrugged, “Also that best friend has a lovely girlfriend now and I really don't want people to stare at me with pity because they can't see or don't know that I've moved on.”
Magnus nodded “Well that sounds like a good reason to take someone you've never met before and pretend to be in a loving relationship with them.” he teased, “But in your defense, I totally would have done the same if I wasn't already dating quite the eye candy.” he winked.

Simon wasn't really sure what to do with Magnus and while he was nice enough, he really did hope that Raphael's shower would be over soon.

“Yeah, well, Idris High is a complicated place after all. So much drama.” he shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. He almost missed the way in which Magnus' eyes widened.

“You went to Idris High?” he asked him, a quiet laugh falling from his lips, “Oh this is hilarious. I guess we'll see each other again in a month then. My boyfriend went to Idris High and apparently his sister wants to drag him to that reunion against his will, so naturally, my dear Alexander dragged me down with him, as his date.”

Now Simon was the one looking at him with a shocked expression, mouth hanging open. “Wait, Alexander, as in Alec Lightwood? As in brother of Isabelle Lightwood?” he asked, really not able to believe what he had just found out.

Magnus nodded, “Exactly, I suppose, Isabelle was in your year then?” he asked curiously, to which Simon agreed, “Yeah, that, and she's the one who's dating my best friend, Clary.”

Magnus grinned “Oh, yes, I do recall that story. Alexander said something about both of his siblings trying to get a girl and his sister winning? That was recently so I guess she's the one you're talking about?”
Laughing, Simon ran his fingers through his hair “Oh you should have seen the look on Jace's face when Clary told him that she just liked Isabelle better than him. It was absolutely hilarious. He really couldn't fathom it; even accused Izzy of bribing Clary just so she would say that.”
Magnus raised an eyebrow “That Jace guy sounds really bad when you word it like this.” he mumbled, though Simon shook his head, “No, he's actually great, just not really good at being rejected.” he grinned, though before he could say anything else, his attention was pulled away by a familiar voice saying his name behind him.

“Simon, nice to see you here, hopefully Magnus didn't talk you to death.” he said though there was no heat behind the words. His roommate just rolled his eyes. “Don't worry, he's all yours now.” he winked, before settling down on the sofa, lounging there comfortably.

Raphael motioned for Simon to follow him, leading him into his room, where he sat down on his king sized bed, which was adorned with dark sheets, looking as if it could have come straight out of the same modeling magazine as Raphael himself did.

All of a sudden, Simon was back to being a nervous wreck. He didn't know how to start this conversation. Obviously, this wasn't something that just regularly happened between people. “So, well, uhm... your room is really nice.” he mumbled, to which Raphael simply raised an eyebrow, “You know we should be talking about this false relationship we want to have, not about my room. Anyway, the first question for most people will probably be about how we have met so we should cover that first. We work in the same office. We could use that, it'll be easier the more we stick to the truth.” he suggested, to which Simon only agreed.

He then had an idea himself: “We can use a story that actually happened to me a few months ago. I'm really clumsy, you know?” he mumbled, waiting for Raphael to nod before he continued, “So I was walking, well, kind of running, out of the office since I was late for dinner with my friends but the second I stepped out of the elevator and wanted to get to the door, I ran into someone. It was almost like in the movies, you know? I ran into him and he dropped everything that he was carrying. Thankfully it wasn't a lot, you know but it did take some time to sort everything through and I did end up being late for dinner.” he said, “I told them that there was an incident at work but I never went further into it so it would be the perfect thing to tell them, right?” he asked, a proud smile on his lips.
Raphael nodded “Indeed. The story is: You run into me, my papers go flying, we have to pick them up and sort them through, we talk and exchange numbers. We go on a few dates and you ask me to accompany you to the reunion. Nothing too long yet, just about a month full of dating, okay? You can tell your close friends about it when you get home, so that it'll be less suspicious.”

Simon let out a quiet sigh “I'll have to tell Clary the truth though because she was the one I talked on the phone with when you overheard me. I just hope that she hasn't talked to anyone else about it, you know?” he mumbled, before biting his lip, “Well, we should get to know each other, right? Probably go on a few pretend dates as well? I mean, just so that we have stories about us going places.” he shrugged, his cheeks painted in a deep red, though he was quite relieved when Raphael agreed “Yeah, sounds good. That way, your friends also will think that this is a real relationship, because you'll be going outside with me. I'll do the same with my mother then. I'll tell her about us dating after you go home I guess and we'll be able to actually talk about our dates to her because we had the pretend ones. It's a great idea.”
Simon beamed proudly, glad that he had come up with it. He knew that his behavior was quite childish but he didn't care, just wanting to contribute as much as he could to their little act.

 

He thought for a few seconds before asking the next question, nervously running his fingers through his hair. “What about holding hands and other kinds of showing affection in public? I don't want to break any of your boundaries.”
Raphael was surprised, a small smile gracing his lips. “How thoughtful of you.”, he mumbled, closing his eyes. He obviously wanted everything to be as realistic as possible, “Holding hands and hugging definitely is fine; kisses on the cheek work as well. I'm not sure about actual kisses yet but everything else on that spectrum is allowed.”

Simon wanted to say something though stopped, as Raphael's eyes fluttered open again. Looking right at him, he added “Also, don't go around telling people that we've had sex already or anything equally stupid.”
Confused by the intensity of the statement, Simon nodded a bit dumbly, not asking for a reason, since his partner in crime didn't seem as if he wanted to tell him about it.

Raphael let out a quiet sigh, “Are you free tomorrow? We could have dinner and talk about the details, get to know each other. I'm not sure how many pretend dates we should have but the sooner we start with them, the better.”
Simon agreed “I know a nice place that we can go to. Do you mind Asian food?”
“Asian food is fine, just text me the time and address, I'll be there.”
Standing up, Raphael stretched, letting Simon get a tiny peek of his toned stomach, the older man still in awe about how gorgeous his fake boyfriend was.

He stood as well, pushing his phone into the pocket of his jeans before throwing on his jacket.
“I'll see you tomorrow?” he asked, a bright smile lighting up his face.
“Tomorrow.” Raphael confirmed though before he could even think of adding anything to that, Simon already had pulled him into a warm embrace. “Thank you for doing this, you know? You have no idea how much you're saving my life right now.”
Raphael rolled his eyes “Are you always this dramatic?” he asked, though there was no malice or annoyance behind his words.
“Maybe, well, pretty much.” Simon replied sheepishly, letting go of him.
Shaking his head, Raphael led him back to the front door. “Remember to call that friend of yours.” he said, causing the other to take out his phone “I'll do it right now, on my way home.” he hummed, giving his fake boyfriend a small wave, before focusing on typing the familiar number into the device, while walking, at the same time.

Raphael closed the front door, taking a few steps back. He let himself sink into the many pillows that Magnus had bought for their sofa, his head settled on the armrest.
He also needed to call his mother, so that she wouldn't be too surprised about seeing him with someone at their family dinner.
The young man had decided to tell her the story which he had just made up with Simon, wanting to make sure that both parties- Simon's friends and his mother- heard the same one. It made it easier to remember and thus more believable.
He dialed the number, knowing that he could never be prepared for the sheer intensity that his mother's reaction would be, the woman desperately wanting her son to find someone whom he could love. Raphael was willing to give her that hope, even if it wasn't going to be a permanent arrangement.
It didn't help that he already knew just how much his mother would adore Simon and with his cheerful attitude, his three siblings would as well, he was sure of it.

“Raphael, mijo, how are you?” Raphael's lips easily formed into a smile at his mother's soft voice, the sound of it always making him feel secure and happy.
“I'm good, Mamá, how are you? Comó están los chiquitos?” he asked her, though if the sounds he heard in the background said anything, it was that his siblings were more than just fine.
“We're all doing great, Raphael, everything is good. We miss you, come by soon, would you?” the woman asked fondly.
Raphael couldn't help but smile: “I'll come by on the weekend, de acuerdo? Now, I need to tell you something, Mamá. It's important.”
Guadalupe seemed worried as she nodded, despite her son not being able to see it, before mumbling “Sí, sí, que es?”
Raphael took a deep breath “I have a boyfriend” he explained, ”have had for a while now and I think I want him to meet you guys. I'll bring him over to the big dinner in a month, sí?”

Letting out a shout of delight, Guadalupe Santiago was overjoyed at the news she had just been given “Oh, this is amazing, oh Raphael, mi pequeño Raphael, I'm so happy for you. Of course he can come over, I'll make a delicious meal, he'll love it!” a bubbling laugh fell from her lips, causing her son to chuckle.
“Of course, he'll love it, Mamá, your food is the best that there is. I'm glad that it makes you this happy but I'll have to go to bed now, I just wanted to tell you the news.” he smiled.

Raphael was glad that everything went well and after a quick shower, he got under the sheets, falling asleep within mere seconds, dreams filled with scenarios for the next the day, the pretend date all over his thoughts.