The first time Simon noticed just how small his boss is, Raphael was talking with Lily.
The three of them were in an unofficial meeting; something about needing to prepare to meet with another clan that Simon couldn’t remember for the un-life of him. He figured that he was more of an honorary guest than anyone legitimately important to the outcome of the small gathering, because technically ‘First Advisor To The Interim Chapter President Of The New York Vampires’ wasn’t a real job and everyone knew it. Even Jace knew it, and teased him mercilessly about it on every possible occasion he could get away with doing so. Simon wasn’t really sure why such a ridiculous job had been created for him, but he couldn’t really do anything but advise that he be fired. Raphael always gave him a bemused look when ever he brought it up before denying his request and fucking off to go do whatever it is his very real job of clan leader entailed.
Like drag Simon to meetings that Raphael attends with his second in command (also a very real job) where they basically talk shit about other clans- and Magnus- for at least three hours.
Raphael really likes to insult Magnus; Simon thinks it’s just how he shows affection, as emotionally stunted as Raphael seems to be it really wouldn't surprise him. Whenever he’s dragged to these meetings, he mostly ends up splitting the time between trying to pay attention to whatever is happening and staring at Raphael's smug, Magnus-insulting facd discreetly. From the looks Lily gives him while his boss isn't paying attention, he’s not great at the whole being discreet thing. Either way, he knows what Raphael usually looks like, despite his admittedly short stay at the DuMort.
So maybe it had been the lighting, or the angle, but something had highlighted the sharpness of Raphael’s jawline and cheekbones this particular day in a way that had drawn Simon’s eye in ways he couldn’t explain.
While he was openly pan-sexual and proud of it, he wasn’t just admiring the other vampire’s face because he was attractive (this time). Raphael’s cheekbones looked sharp enough that Simon felt concern for him; today, Raphael looked… sick. When he started to gracefully move his wrist to swirl the blood in his cup, the cuff of the deep red shirt he wore under his immaculate suit jacket slid down, exposing the jut of a whirling wrist bone that caught Simon's eye too. The feeling of concern deepened until he could feel it in his chest, making his heart sink. He quickly tried to brush it off, dismiss it as a trick of the light.
Maybe someone had changed the (perfectly fine) light bulbs or something and the new light would take some time to get used to.
Yeah, that was it.
He decided to just push the thoughts away and try to watch his boss more than usual so he could prove to himself that nothing was wrong. Raphael was fine, and Simon would prove it and feel stupid about it later. He would do this by shamelessly using his completely fabricated position as advisor to glue himself to Raphael’s side and observe him. More so than usual, at least. Having decided on his plan, he resumes hopping between his bosses as they chat across the table from him. He watches Raphael lean closer to Lily and whisper something into her ear that makes her cackle so hard that even he looks like he might crack a smile, despite looking so haggard. Simon is stupidly disappointed when he doesn’t, as if Raphael smiling would wash away all of his concerns as it usually did, but he tries not to dwell on the feeling. If he dwells on it, then it shows on his face, and that makes Raphael concerned (in his own grouchy way) and Lily always gives him a look that's far too knowing for his liking.
Lily and Raphael eventually stop the gossip session that they call 'important official meetings for important business' and part ways. Simon goes to follow before noticing that the glass of blood Raphael had been absentmindedly swirling still looks full. There isn't a spot where the bloody ring reaches the top to indicate that someone's drank out of it. He glances at Lily's to find it mostly empty. Maybe Raphael wasn't hungry. Simon ignores the dark, thick feeling that tells him he's wrong as he leaves the cups behind on the table as he leaves the room in search of his boss.
The full glass is pushed to the back of his mind when Clary calls him two hours later, asking him for help.
The vampires, despite being extremely close to one another, don’t eat their meals together. For all of their touchy-feely inclinations (dog piles on the couch that can't be called dog piles for rather obvious reasons and just sitting almost on top of one another), they tend to avoid each other during meal times. Sometimes Simon wonders if it’s because having someone watch you drink blood causes an emotional downward spiral, and if it makes them feel more, for lack of a better term, human to not be seen. There doesn’t seem to be a schedule for each person to prevent run-ins though. It’s more of a ‘grab something if you’re hungry’ thing, which means that there’s no way to confirm if somebody has actually been eating.
Maybe that’s why it takes so long for Simon to notice.
Raphael has actually been looking better than he did at the ‘meeting’ about a week ago, which is a relief, but it also just seems odd that he looked anything less than okay in the first place. Maybe he really was sick (can vampires even really get sick?), and now he’s on the mend. Simon hopes that that’s the case because, as desperately gay for his leader as it makes him sound, he’s not sure what he would do if something happened to Raphael.
So when something comes up with the Shadowhunters, and Raphael calls him into his office, Simon is still careful to watch for any sign of sickness. He tells himself that it’s because he doesn’t want Lily in charge (she wouldn’t trust him with a plastic spoon), and he fails horribly.
The second he has a toe in the door to Raphael’s office, the other is launching into business immediately, looking stressed and barely put together. Simon tries his best to follow, but the sun isn’t even down yet and he literally woke up less than twenty minutes ago, only stopping to throw on some clothes and grab some blood before dragging himself here. Raphael doesn’t look like he really needs answers from him though, and Simon is left (relatively) alone while he drinks his blood, nodding and making little noises of interest when his leader pauses in his rather informative rant.
“And they want your help, which really just means that they want my help and they want you to convince me, but they won’t say it. Dios, the living are so exhausting, but they’re worlds better than the Shadowhunters ever have been! How did you even put up with them as a mundane? I can’t even look at the blonde one without wanting to punch him- ‘can’t you just stay up during the day and help us, Simon would’- he actually asked me that! And they want to drag you into it, again, because you’re Valentine’s daughter’s friend and if I have to hear another ‘friendship knows no bounds’ speech-”
This goes on for a while as Raphael continues to pull up obscure insults and reasons why he hates Shadowhunters in general. After hearing it, Simon can’t really blame him; he’s a little insulted at being used as a doorbell to call Raphael into their issues. Not because Raphael isn’t helpful (honestly, most of their problems would probably be solved almost immediately), but because it implies that Simon isn’t.
Hours pass, Raphael hopping from bashing Shadowhunters to Werewolves to Fairies to Magnus and only asking for Simon’s opinion when he needs a more deep-hitting insult. Which he, as a good advisor, supplies.
He looks surprised when Simon asks for a snack break, but he, after seeing the time, agrees. His look of surprise at the initial question turns blank when Simon offers to get him something too, and he distantly refuses, spouting something about having grabbed blood earlier. It’s obviously a lie; the way that Raphael licks his lips as an uncontrolled reaction proves it. Despite knowing it’s a lie because of his reaction and because there isn’t an empty glass and they’ve been together since before the sun was even fully set and literally all night, Simon reluctantly nods. Maybe Raphael hates eating first thing, or maybe he's too stressed out about Simon's friends to even feel hungry. Raphael looks relieved as he snaps at Simon to hurry back.
That should have been his second clue, the first being the full cup of blood that had been abandoned last week on the table.
Two days have passed since ‘The Greatest Raphael Rant of This Century’ (named lovingly by Lily, who, along with everyone else in the hotel, had heard the entire thing. Simon was convinced that all of New York had heard it and that all of the Downworlders would show up any minute now for a feast fest) and Raphael is looking sick again. Simon hasn’t been able to really spend any time with him because he’s been holed up in his office for a while, like he’s quarantining himself. Yesterday he saw Raphael steady himself a wall, looking tired and faint and so frustrated that Simon pretended he didn't see him at all because he likes all of his limbs attached, thank you.
So Simon seeks Lily out and asks her about the supposed 'vampire sickness' that he's come up with:
“Can vampires actually get sick with like- I don't know, the- the ‘vampire flu’ or something?”
Lily looks up at him from where she’s sitting on the back of the couch staring into nothing, and her pretty face contorts as she frowns. Her dainty, cold hands are reaching out and feeling his head for a fever immediately, even while she answers, “not that I know of."
She looks a little more relaxed after finding nothing physically wrong with him, like a fever, but she’s still frowning at him in concern. “Why? Do you feel sick, Fledgling?” Simon looks at her and shakes his head. He does feel a little sick, but it’s more of sick with relief that Raphael probably isn't sick and nerves as he prepares to ask his next question.
“Do you- do you think that… Raphael is sick?”
Lily doesn’t even hesitate to say it: “Yes,” she admits, and she won’t meet his eyes as she straightens and walks away from him like she doesn’t want to talk about it, and the small sense of relief that he’s had just crashes down around him as he watches her walk away. Simon doesn’t follow her, despite feeling confused that she doesn't think vampires can get sick but she thinks that Raphael is.
Instead, he heads to the kitchen and grabs a small, fancy looking glass. He fills it halfway up with blood and leaves the kitchen just as quickly as he came in, holding the glass carefully to his chest as he walks towards Raphael’s office. He thinks he's heard that small portions are best when someone is sick.
He leaves it on Raphael’s desk, ignoring his dark stare as it burns into him with the same intensity that sunlight would. The other vampire mutters a curt ‘thank you’ as Simon leaves, and he doesn’t know if it’s for the blood or for leaving him alone again.
When he walks in later, the glass is untouched and Raphael doesn’t even bother to raise his eyes from his paperwork when Simon takes the disgustingly congealed blood away.
That’s his fourth clue, his third being when Lily confirmed that she believes that Raphael is sick.
Raphael is looking worse and worse, and Simon gets the feeling that he's being avoided by both Raphael and Lily. He also gets the feeling that they're avoiding him together, which hurts, because he doesn't even know why.
It's been three days since Lily's admittance and since he left the blood in Raphael's office. He's already complained to Clary, who was a lot more sympathetic than Jace after the blonde had overheard the conversation, and everything feels so wrong. It's so much quieter, so much more lonely when Simon can't talk Raphael's ear off about mundane things he still enjoys and questions about what food can actually be made with blood (pasta, if you separate the blood to make the noodles). It made the time fly by, and immortality didn't seem so bad. But now, every second that he doesn't see Raphael crawls by slower than his high school years and he doesn't want to admit it, but-
He's terrified, especially when the door to Raphael's office slams open and a devastated looking Lily walks out, bloody tears running down her pale face. Simon has a brief flask of panic that Raphael died. She spots him and stares, seemingly trying to make up her mind about something. Her eyes dart between the still open door she just exited from and Simon, before she walks over, grabs him with her superhuman strength, and all but throws him into the room before slamming the door shut behind her. To Simon's disappointed surprise, Raphael isn't even in his office. Which means that Lily's been in here, crying and alone and, apparently, getting very drunk if the bottles are anything to go by. She lands heavily in Raphael's desk chair, looking weary and not meeting Simon's eyes. Eventually, she breaks the silence:
"A few days ago, you asked me if Raphael was sick." She states it like a fact, and she doesn't ask if Simon remembers the conversation because she somehow knows that he hasn't forgotten it. Simon just nods at her as a sign for her to continue. "I told you yes," she says softly, her voice sounding wet. He nods again, slower this time, and Lily let's the silence hang for a few moments, like she's not sure what she should say and what is not hers to tell. She visibly steels herself before continuing:
"Raphael was turned in the 1950s, when he was about fifteen. He stayed with Magnus for a while, and I met him when he stopped me and a few others from draining a mundane in analleyway," she seems torn between laughter and tears, "he called us idiotas, and said we were going to get everyone killed by bringing the Shadowhunters down on us. He was- is such a small, angry thing. I don't think I've ever seen Elliot and Stan look so petrified when he told them off. It took a while for me to connect the face to the rumors," she admits, looking down into an empty glass," but I realized that this was the vampire who looked like an angel, who had trained himself to say the name of God," she chokes a little bit on the word, "and who had worn a cross necklace so much that he had the scar of the cross on his throat. This fledgling had taught himself how to endure walking on hallowed ground, and how to eat human food. He never lost courage, and he never stopped, no matter how sick it made him, or how much it hurt," she pauses, saying the next part slowly, "he was obsessed with perfection, with being able to control his urges so he could see his family again. He-" she laughs humorlessly, "he starved himself, just to see how long he could go without blood."
Lily's next words shock Simon to the core.
"And sometimes, he still does- as a kind of penance I would assume," her eyes finally meet his from where he had dropped into the other chair across from her. Simon get's the feeling that Raphael's newly felt need for penance has something to do with him, and the guilt almost chokes him.
"So yes, he is sick. But there is nothing I can do about it," Lily mutters, staring into Simon's eyes like she's trying to get him to understand something incredibly important.
Simon gets up from the chair and leaves Lily staring after him as he goes to hunt down Raphael. She doesn't stop him.
When Simon finds the other vampire, he is sprawled out, unmoving, on the bed, despite the late hour. It's so unlike him that it feels like a slap in the face, and Simon stands there and stares for a while. 'Weak' and 'Raphael' don't even belong in the same sentence, but right now they can't even begin to cover how the clan leader looks. His hair is loose from its usual gel, allowing his curls to frame his soft face, and he is dressed in slacks and a white dress-shirt that almost looks darker than his skin-tone.
He is curled up near the headboard, and everything, even the fitted sheets, has been pushed off of the mattress, leaving it bare. He is boyish and sharp and dead looking all at the same time, and it makes Simon's head spin as he stumbles closer to the bed.
Raphael's long eyelashes leave long shadows on his cheekbones, which are even sharper than they were the day of the meeting, and Simon is hit again by how small Raphael is. He remembers Lily telling him that Raphael's body is fifteen, but he is still har too small.
Simon distantly thinks that this must be what angels looked like after they fell from Heaven; broken and still, but still beautiful enough for people to write about, because there is a certain type of beauty to misery and pain that you just can't look away from.
Simon can't take his eyes off of Raphael, but he knows that he has to in order to bring as much blood from the kitchen as he can carry in one trip, because he's not going to be leaving for a second one. When he returns, he finds that Raphael hasn't moved at all, despite his best wishes that he would. He doesn't have a better place to put the blood bags, so be drops them on the bed before crawling onto the mattress and over to Raphael. He gently grabs his leader, manhandling him until he sit's between Simon's legs with his back to Simon's chest and his head tilted back to rest on Simon's collarbone.
Without any better ideas popping into his head, he reaches towards the nearest bag, rips it open and chugs from it. He goes through bag after bag, and he gets blood all over Raphael's mattress and Raphael himself. His boss is probably going to kill him for it later, but right now the most important thing is making Raphael be okay. As soon as he feels full enough, he brings his wrist up to his mouth and tries not to think to hard about it as he bites his wrist before quickly pressing it to Raphael's mouth. The sheer relief he feels when he feels Raphael's fangs sink into his wrist makes the pain worth it.
"I don't blame you for what Camille did," Simon whispers sometime later, after Raphael had broken himself out of the trance like state he'd been in while feeding from his wrist. The other vampire cranes his neck to look up at Simon, blood all over his face, to give him his best unimpressed look. "I kidnapped you-" Simon interrupts him, ignoring the sour look he gets for it, "you let me go against orders, and you told me to stay away and I didn't listen."
For a few minutes, Raphael is silent, just resting against Simon on the mattress. He can tell that Raphael wants to tell him he's wrong.
"You owe me a new mattress," he says instead, taking in the carnage of empty blood bags and the dark patches of red that are never going to come out. "Only if you share it with me," Simon agrees cheekily, unable to resist the cheesy pickup line with the relief that still runs through him because Raphael is okay- and then he suddenly isn't anymore and Simon is thrown for a loop.
When Raphael begins to silently cry, Simon's first thought is that the other has somehow wounded himself, which makes him panic because he had just gotten Raphael to be okay-
"You should blame me, and you should not love me," is his reply, brokenly whispered against his neck. Raphael, from what little Simon can see, looks miserable, like a lost child covered in blood and so scared of what's going to happen next that he runs away from any future offered to him. Simon wonders how true that really is.
Simon hums, as if considering what Raphael has said, "And yet, I don't blame you, and I do love you. I have been, and always shall be, your friend."
The look the other vampire gives him when he understands the Star Trek (one of the few movies that Simon had gotten the clan to watch during movie night, some of them cried) reference is golden. Raphael doesn't even look sad anymore, just angry and confused like he can't understand how Simon can just say something like that at a moment like this. It's a lot closer to home than what Simon has been getting from him that he just laughs as his own bloody tears run down his face.
He goes to make another reference, but Raphael quickly shuts him up with a kiss before he can. When they separate, he looks miserable again. "Hey, c'mon, it wasn't that bad..." Simon tries to joke, but it falls flat. It takes a little bit for Raphael to reply, but when he does it's so quiet that Simon swears he misheard him.
"You could do so much better, you could have anyone else."
The words linger in the air before Simon just hugs the other vampire impossibly tighter to his chest. Sometimes, you can't convince somebody that they're worth it right away, and he gets that. So he whispers his reply as carefully and sweetly as he can: "what if... I don't want anyone else?"
Raphael hums in the same way that Simon had before he referenced Star Trek, "you always do get what you want," he says, sounding resigned and unsure of himself. Simon laughs breathily into Raphael's neck, making the other cringe and try to squirm away from him. Simon holds him there anyway.
"Raphael, I choose you."
It takes the older vampire a second, his blank stare boring into Simon before a tired realization dawns on his face.
"Pokémon," he sighs exasperatedly, letting his eyes slip closed as he gets more comfortable.
It takes three weeks of Simon almost force feeding (he eats willingly, but simon just likes to stay with him) Raphael before he sees him as small again. This time, it isn't because he's obviously starving.
This time, it isn't scary to see.
It's hilarious and endearing.
It's because he's vertically challenged and he can't reach a specific cup on the top shelf. Why he can't just accept the plastic cups with built in straws that are on the bottom shelf, Simon doesn't know (he totally does, he knows Raphael hates those things with a passion).
Simon doesn't know how he didn't notice Raphael's height before (it was probably the mean looks he got that distracted him), but he's small, tiny even. Simon has at least a head on him, maybe even more.
Like a good boyfriend, Simon plays into the romantic movie trope of reaching over his lover to get the cup for him, presenting it by getting down on one knee like he's proposing. He gets an elbow to the ribs for his trouble, but the face Raphael makes is completly worth it.
"Ya know, I think we have a stool for-"
"Dios, don't even finish that sentence, Fledgling."
Simon doesn't, opting to kiss him instead.