"You know," Simon says, relaxed in the presence (if not under the influence) of a few bottles of beer, "I sometimes wonder if Matt isn't secretly a con man pretending to be an actor, instead of an actor pretending to be a con man."
Matt makes this face he usually reserves for when Simon tries to tell the kids the moon is yellow because it's made out of cheese or some such thing - some easy, simple explanation they can accept before going to sleep, instead of an admittedly more scientific explanation that will involve staying up at least another fifteen minutes.
"Really?" Tim asks, either oblivious to Matt's expression or willfully ignoring it.
"It's the way we met," Simon says.
They're holding interviews for secretaries (m/f) that day, so when Simon spots an unfamiliar face en route to his new office, his first thought isn't 'oh God, I need to call Security'.
It also isn't 'hey, he must be new', let alone 'he must be working in tech support or something', because Simon has met everyone who works at - everyone who works for them (and it's more of a relief than he'll ever admit to Pat that that 'them' isn't a 'him', because yes, drive and ambition, yada, yada, but by the end of the day, Simon wants to have a job, not to be had by a job; he wants a life and a family and a boyfriend who definitely doesn't need to be as smoking hot as the guy who's definitely not working for them and also probably not supposed to be in this area of the building).
"Hi," Simon says, reasonably confident his smile is normal and friendly and only 1% totally giving away what he's thinking. "I don't think I've seen you around here before." It's only after the words have come out that he realizes he's just used about the oldest pick-up line in the book.
Possibly, assuming the guy is here about a job, Simon's going to have to have a slightly embarrassing conversation with Cindi about why, exactly, they can't be hiring him.
The guy smiles a bit hesitantly. Simon decides he really needs to start dating again, and soon, given the effect a simple smile is having on him.
"No, I don't think so either," the guy says. His eyes flicker to the place where Simon's nametag isn't.
"So, are you new?" Simon asks, mentally playing out the rest of the conversation - how the guy will explain he's here to interview for a job (hopeful smile), how Simon will tell him who he is (amazed look), how the guy will introduce himself (without phonenumber, sadly, or even a hint where Simon might see him again) and how Simon will disclaim any and all influence over the selection process before they'll part ways, the guy possibly feeling he's made a not-so-terrible first impression and Simon feeling like a jerk because he's not going to hire someone who's having this sort of effect on him.
Cliches about secretaries aside, Simon prefers to keep things professional in the workplace. He hasn't got any problems with office romances, as such - provided the people involved are not married to other people or some such thing, but there's a clear line between an 'office romance' and whatever it would be to get a secretary (or to have Cindi get a secretary) who's going to reduce the effectiveness of Simon's brains by about 50% by simply smiling.
And then the guy says: "Started last week," which is so blatantly a lie Simon doesn't know how to respond for a solid ten seconds.
'No, you didn't' comes to mind as an adequate response but ... well.
"You're the one who got stuck with Paul's job?" Simon puts on an expression of sympathy. He's never considered pursuing an acting career, but that doesn't mean he hasn't got any abilities in that area. There's a reason he's good at his job, after all.
The guy smiles ... again. No sign of a reduced effect due to over-exposure yet. "Yeah, I guess. It's not so bad, though - everyone's been very friendly, very helpful."
Simon wonders if there's any chance the guy has accidentally walked into the wrong building, something like that. It's possible, he supposes - or, at least, not entirely impossible.
"Well, don't let me keep you," he says, instead of asking. "And good luck."
"Thanks." Simon is 75% sure that last smile is flirtatious. It could have been 99.9% and he still wouldn't have acted on it.
He doesn't call Security, in the end. He does tell Cindi, but only because the first thing she says when they meet in front of his new office is: "You're drooling. Who's the poor guy?" which he knows is simply her way of offering to move heaven and earth both to help him hook up with whomever he wants, be it Brad Pitt (no, thanks), Rahm Emanuel (it was a phase) or some random passer-by he spotted on his way to work.
When he finishes talking, she grins and informs him he's buying her lunch.
"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I met Simon," Matt says, beaming at Tim in a way that almost (almost) makes Simon a little jealous, because the part of Matt that is Neal will always be in love with the part of Tim that is Peter.
Tim takes a sip of beer - straight from the bottle, the way Peter would. (Simon doesn't know Tim well enough to always be able to tell which mannerisms are his and which are Peter's. He can read Matt pretty well though, and when Tim acts like Peter, Matt tends to react as Neal would.) "Cute."
Matt gives Tim the version of Neal's puppy eyes Jeff has told him he's never allowed to use on the show. "You don't believe me."
Tim twirls his bottle of beer, then looks up and grins at Matt. "Nope. Nice story, though. Now, go pack your bags. Your boyfriend wants to take you home."
Matt puts on Neal's huffy face and stalks out of the room. Tim smiles after him, fondly, the way an older brother might. The similarity remains when he turns to Simon, even if the smile is replaced by a more serious expression that makes Simon feel like he's about to get a speech on how he'd better treat Matt right or some such thing. It should feel a bit silly, considering.
Simon clears his throat. "It was um mostly true, you know." Tim stares at him, quietly. "Parts of it were true," Simon amends. "A few."
"You don't need to defend him to me," Tim says. "Or yourself."
Simon replays the conversation up until now in his head. "Or Neal?"
Tim smiles. "Neal definitely doesn't need anyone to defend him. Well, Peter, maybe. He cares about Peter, but that story I heard just now? It was all Neal. It's about effect, not truth. In real life, you'd have called Security. Because you're not an idiot."
"You flatter me," Simon says, tone just neutral enough to make Tim stare at him sharply, eyes narrowed, with a hint of doubt.
Tim doesn't actually ask, though, and Simon doesn't volunteer the information.
As told by Matt, it may all sound a little too neat - a Neal story - but Simon knows what it would have sounded like if he'd been the one telling it.
(Matt really does know him pretty well.)