Raphael looked around him, the pleased and content faces of the people of New York, the bustling of energy and determination knowing they were doing something good tonight. It was going to get colder tonight and while Raphael couldn't shelter for all of them, at least he could do this: provide food for the nights to come.
Knowing he could do this, helped him forget about everything else. About how he wasn't supposed to be here because Isabelle Lightwood "banned" him from staying here. Raphael almost scoffed. How could he fall for an entitled shadowhunter, he didn't know but her decision fell flat against the Downworlder council and whatever the personal grudges she had with Raphael, didn't matter when the clan was at risk at losing another leader.
Raphael was grateful. He didn't want to leave the city, he didn't want to lose his family because he got lost there for a second. Letting himself fall for a shadowhunter was a mistake he would never forget. Blood addiction would be another curse for him to bear.
But it was fine. The Clan was the only thing that he care now and Raphael would do anything in his power to not let them down.
Still, he was careful, not to let himself be seen by a shadowhunter. It was a risk he wasn't taking.
That was why helping in this shelter was a bad idea, in the sense that anyone could see him but it was a small chance. No shadowhunter would come here among homeless people and no downworlder would come here because Lilith was still out there and they had lost enough people to keep going out in the middle of the night.
So, it was really a surprise that when he looked up, Simon was standing there in the threshold, waving at him with a faint smile. A bitter surprise, really.
How could he? How could he come here, like nothing happened, like they were back to the old days? Days where Raphael would let slip everything so he could give the fledgling another chance because everyone deserved a second chance. Simon had too many and each one he wasted.
He felt his face harden, the faint smile he had evaporating altogether at the sight of Simon. He didn't hate him but that didn't mean he was happy to see him.
Raphael looked down, at the tray of food he had before him. Food that he had spent hours cooking and made him feel better just knowing this could help somebody, ruined by someone from his past.
"What do you want, Simon?" he asked, not even looking up, knowing he was already there.
"I... I need to talk to you" was the response.
Raphael chuckled bitterly. Wasn't that a common occurrence in their relationship? Raphael existed only when Simon needed something. The Clan existed because he needed a roof over his head.
Simon needed something, therefore he was there. Not because he cared for Raphael like Raphael had cared for Simon.
Bitter sounded right.
"There's always something you need, right, Simon?" Raphael said, this time looking up, gaze on Simon.
For the first time, or maybe the first time for Raphael, Simon looked sheepish at being call out. Deep down, under that entitlement he felt he deserved like Clarissa Fairchild, Simon knew he had been wrong. He fucked up.
And Raphael would gladly let him know.
"Listen, I really need to talk to you" Simon said, his voice eager, borderline desperate.
Raphael would let him sweat, maybe even beg but knowing the fledgling, this could turn into a scene in the middle of the shelter and Raphael liked this place, he wouldn't let Simon ruin it for him.
Just like everything else, he thought.
He sighed, so much for having a peaceful night with people that was grateful to him. Raphael nodded at the woman next to him so she could take over his station.
Without saying a word to the fledgling, knowing he would follow him anyways, Raphael walked towards one of the secluded and empty tables, and took a seat. Simon sat across him.
Raphael looked at Simon, waiting. "So?"
Simon visibly swallowed, clearly still acting like a human. Something that Raphael once upon a time found endearing, now it was annoying.
"I... Okay, long story short. The Seelie Queen had Maia as a hostage and she wanted to make a deal. We made the deal, she freed Maia and I got this kind a shield. A mark, the mark of Cain." Simon took a breath, like he really needed it and continued, "So, this mark, if someone attacks me, it protects me and that's how I'm still alive."
Raphael stared, a flat look of course. He hoped, for Simon's sake, that this wasn't a joke because he wasn't in a mood to be taken as a fool.
"And what this has to do with me?" he asked, after a moment of silence.
Simon looked almost shocked, his mouth opening and closing like a fish out of the water. Like he couldn't believe Raphael didn't have the answer right away to solve his problems like before. Just for that, Raphael almost smiled.
"Well, I was hoping you could help me since, you know," Simon waved a hand between them, like that was enough of an explanation, "vampires help each other."
Raphael snorted, partly in disbelief and surprise. "You really got some nerves. Asking me to save your ass so you can discard me like a dirty cloth later. I think I'll pass this one."
"Yeah, okay, harsh but I think I deserve that–"
"You think?" Raphael asked, his voice rising up. When he realized he draw some attention, he counted mentally until he had his anger under control. "I should be throwing your ass outside of this shelter and put a bounty over your head. Hell, I should be ripping your throat after everything."
"And yet, you're still listening to me" Simon added, a faint smile on his lips that didn't reach his eyes.
"God knows why." Raphael crossed his legs and leaned back. "What do you really want, Simon?"
"I was hoping that you could help me." He sighed, his fingers drumming on the table. "How to get rid of this mark."
"That goes beyond my expertise. Find someone else."
And he was ready to stand up and leave Simon to fix his problems for once until a hand grab his arm and stopped him.
"Raphael, please." The desperation was back. "I don't know what do to and you... You are the only one that can really help me. Please."
Two please in one sentence, that was a first because Simon, just like Fairchild, they preferred to take and take and take instead to stop for a goddamned moment and ask.
Raphael sat again, pursing his lips in the process. Deep down, he knew this wasn't going to be the last time he would see Simon, especially now that the fledgling knew where to find him.
"There's a vampire, older than me, even older than Camille. He's the first one."
"And he can help me?"
Raphael shrugged. "Probably. If something has to be with vampires and ancient curses, he's your answer. He lives in the abandoned subway trains."
Simon nodded, his gaze downwards.
In this moment, Raphael let himself look. Simon wasn't the same eager, happy vampire he met before. Instead, he looked tense, stressed, purple bags under his eyes. Something was killing him inside, that was for sure.
And yet, Raphael thought that Simon was the most adorable, endearing man he had ever met. Simon had made him wish he still had a heart so it could skip everytime those warm brown eyes looked at him. Simon was his weakness and maybe he had never been subtle about it because it always seemed that Simon was taking advantage of Raphael's feelings.
Maybe he was a fool for ever thinking that his feelings were reciprocated.
"Maybe... Can you go with me?" Simon asked, tentatively, warm eyes pleading at him.
"Listen, I know it's a long shot but I can't go alone and you are the one who knows this vampire's shed and I just–"
"We can't keep doing this" Raphael cut him off, his voice almost a whisper. Simon closed his mouth. "We can't."
"What do you mean?"
"This." Raphael waved a hand between them. "You, looking for me, expecting me to help you in whatever you need and then, treating me like shit because I'm not useful to you. I'm tired."
"Raphael, I never–"
"You never what?" he said, sharply, "treated me like shit? Forgetting I ever helped you? That if it wasn't for me, you wouldn't have a roof? It's rough being homeless, Simon, but it's even harder when you are a vampire and you don't have anyone to help you out. A family, I gave you that."
Simon swallowed again, nodding. "I know."
"You know" Raphael said, his voice flat. "Then why would you be an ungrateful bastard? I need to know."
"I thought I was doing something right. I thought... Clary was the only one I could rely on, the only one from my past and I didn't want to lose her." Simon nodded, maybe trying to convince himself that this was right. "She was in this new world with me and I don't know, it could bring us closer."
"Yeah, and how did that work?" he stared, waiting for a response that never came. " You have what you wanted, now please leave."
This time, he stood up, leaving Simon there. It killed him to do this but enough was enough. Simon needed to be part of his past.
"For what it's worth," he heard Simon saying, even a few feet apart, the heightened hearing helping him, "I never meant for us to end up like this. I'm sorry, Raphael, I really am. If I could turn back time, even before I freed Camille, I would."
Raphael stopped walking, focusing on Simon's voice.
"I fucked up, monumentally so. I lost you even before I could call you mine. I'm sorry." At this point, his voice was quivering but Raphael couldn't make himself turn, he couldn't look at Simon. "But I have to be honest with you and the truth is that even after everything that happened, I still hope for the day I can come back to the hotel."
Simon stopped here and if he had one, Raphael's heart would be pounding by now.
"That I can come back to you."
Seconds went by, where Raphael didn't hear Simon's unnecessary breathing.
When he turned around, Simon was gone.