“Simon, why the hell are you fidgeting?” Jace grumbled as he leaned back against the kitchen counter arms folded firmly in front of his chest.
“Um...well...I needed to ask you favour so…..” Simon ran his fingers through his hair, an obvious tell that he was feeling anxious.
“Let me get this straight, you want to ask me to do you a favour?” Jace narrowed his eyes as he looked back at Simon his expression annoyingly blank.
“Well, yes.” Simon raised a hand seeing Jace was about to speak. “Now before you say I have reasons why you should say yes instead. Wait there..”
Without giving him a chance to answer Simon raced off to the living area, or rather the other side of the large breakfast bar that demarcated the two rooms. Everyone had been surprised when Jace and Simon decided to share a flat but, two years down the line, neither of them showed any inclination to move out. In fact the pair, although constantly bickering, seemed closer than ever. If he was honest Simon worried as he picked up his hastily scribbled notes from the floor by the coffee table that what he was about to ask would ruin all that, but seeing as he was pretty much out of options he didn't really have much choice.
When he poked his head above the sofa again, he noticed in the interim Jace had moved round to the other side of the breakfast bar and was now leaning back on that instead. He wasn't sure if it was his imagination, or wishful thinking perhaps, but it looked like Jace was smiling. It was only slight, but yeah it looked like a smile.
“Okay so reasons to help me out.” Simon cleared his throat a little and adjusted his glasses, Jace rolled his eyes although there wasn't really any malice in the gesture. “So first, I’d really owe you. I'm talking washing up and laundry duty for a month and you know I’ll cook too..”
“You can't cook..” Jace muttered.
“Yeah I can..”
“Simon noodles and cheese isn't cooking. You make Izzy look like a chef.”
“Have it your way.” Simon muttered, pouting slightly. “No cooking..”
Simon spoke slowly glancing around before lighting up with a grin as he found a pen and crossed through one of his notes.
“Where was I?” Simon muttered frantically scanning the crumpled paper in his hands.
“Getting on my nerves.”
“I thought so.” Jace smiled smugly. Simon wondered if maybe this was a bad idea.
“Okay so, we’re good friends…”
“I wouldn't go that far..” Jace muttered before apparently softening a little when he saw the slightly hurt look on Simon’s face. “Fine yeah..we’re good friends.”
“....and I really need someone I can trust.” Simon glanced up over his glasses and he could've sworn Jace looked pleased for millisecond before whatever the look was disappeared again. “Also you’re an actor so it should be a piece of cake. You know, no big deal…”
“Simon, just ask ok..” Jace rolled his eyes again.
“Right, yes..” Simon scrunched up the paper and shoved it into his pocket, surreptitiously wiping his hand on his jeans where his palms had become sweaty. “So you know my cousin’s bar mitzvah is coming up..”
“Wait is he the one whose mother is super competitive with yours?”
“You have no idea! I mean she’s going to spend the entire thing bragging about how her kids are all so successful and married and stuff and even David, who’s the youngest, the one who’s bar mitzvah it is, is some sort of child genius and…”
“Ok I get it, enough already.” Jace grumbled.
“Fine. Anyway my aunt called me the other day, apparently checking up on seating arrangements, but man you would not believe what she was saying. Just constant digs about my lack of job, how I must be such a worry to mom. I wouldn't mind but she knows the band’s getting more popular and, like, it takes time and stuff but, no. I tell ya it was never ending..”
“Simon stop rambling.” Simon looked up as Jace spoke, his eyes wide and a slight blush to his cheeks.
“Sorry.” Simon brushed his hair out of his eyes looking somewhat sheepish. “Anyway it’s possible that I may have said something I shouldn't. I mean, in my defence, that woman doesn't stop pushing and…”
“Simon! What did you say?”Jace narrowed his eyes as he looked at him and Simon suddenly felt very guilty.
“So..umm..” Simon shuffled from foot to foot, staring at his shoes so he didn't have to look at Jace. God, this was so embarrassing. “Well I snapped, I told her I was definitely bringing someone with me and that they were a really talented actor and just about to get their big break and that it was a serious relationship and…”
“What!” Simon jumped a little when he heard Jace shout and glancing up he saw his friend staring at him in disbelief. Jace took a deep breath before continuing. “Are you trying to tell me that you told your aunt you were bringing someone your in a relationship with and then went on to describe me?”
“Umm...maybe...I mean...yeah?” Simon shrugged.
“By the angel, I need a beer…” Jace stormed of to the kitchen closely followed by Simon.
“In my defence I panicked and you were the first person I thought of.” Simon pleaded not adding that Jace was pretty much always the first person he thought of these days.
“And now..I just... look it’s just one night and if you could just pretend….”
“But..I'm desperate man..and like I said you’re an actor so…” Right at that moment Simon seriously considered dropping to his knees to beg for Jace’s help. Pretty much the only thing stopping him was the fact that it was unlikely to make a difference.
Jace grabbed a beer from the cooler and span round to face Simon.
“So let me get this straight.” Jace reached for a bottle opener looking remarkably calm and Simon allowed himself to hope a little. “You want me to go to this shindig and pretend to be what? Your boyfriend?”
“So I'm guessing you’d want the old heart eyes thing, maybe a cuddling, definitely dancing and perhaps even a kiss yeah?” Jace continued talking as he opened his beer, throwing the cap onto the countertop behind him.
“That would be amazing..I mean whatever you think’s best. You’re the actor after all…” Simon beamed.
“Well in that case.” Jace paused to take a slurp of his beer before continuing. “It’ll be a hell no..”
Jace dodged past Simon and stalked into the living room.
“Ah c’mon..” Simon tried to hide the disappointment in his voice as he followed Jace and watching him throw himself on the sofa.
“Ask someone else Simon. Literally anyone else.”
“See that’s the thing there isn't anyone else.” Or more specifically no one else he wanted to ask.
“What about Clary?” Jace cocked an eyebrow.
“Seriously? Everyone knows we grew up together, they’d never buy it. Anyway it’s common knowledge she and Izzy are together, they’re all over the papers every week. Same for Magnus and Alec..” As two of the hottest designers in town Magnus and Izzy were constantly in demand for photos and what with Clary making a name in the art world and Alec’s burgeoning film career the four of them were a gossip columnist’s wet dream.
“Nice, remind me how successful my siblings are compared to me.” Jace grumbled
“I didn't mean it like that. Anyone once the pilot for your show launches your gonna be a huge star..” Simon reassured him feeling guilty for not thinking more. Although Jace gave the impression of largely not giving a damn Simon knew him too well to not know underneath it all he was actually pretty insecure.
“You think so..” Jace pretended to not be bothered but there was no mistaking the hope in his eyes.
“I know so..” Simon crouched down to look Jace in the eyes. “Anyway beside the point, there’s no one else. I mean Maia is barely talking to me after the Jordan thing and Raphael still hasn't forgiven me for ruining his jacket. So, like I said, help me Jacey-wan kenobi you’re my only hope.”
Jace snorted with laughter despite himself. Simon smiled hopefully at him.
“Still no…” Jace said.
“Look I know it’s a lot, but give me one good reason why it wouldn't work.” Perhaps, Simon thought, it was time to take another approach. Desperate times and all that..
“Well firstly you're straight..” Jace sat up and started to count off reasons on his fingers. This time it was Simon’s time to snort with laughter. “What? You are.”
“No I'm not, I'm perfectly pan I’ll have you know.”
“Since when?” There was an expression on Jace’s face that Simon couldn't quite work out.
“SInce always.” He could've sworn he’d told Jace that. “It’s not a problem is it?”
“Seriously?” Jace rolled his eyes.
“So it’s not a problem..?” Simon asked tentatively as Jace shook his head in exasperation.
“No Simon, it’s not a problem.”
“Ok cool. So any other issues..?” Simon asked grinning with relief.
“Look Si, just leave it ok..” Jce snapped.
“I get it you know, it’s a lot to ask…” Simon had to admit he was getting desperate now.
“Putting it mildly..” Jace muttered.
“But you know I wouldn't ask if it wasn't really, really, really, important to me. I mean seriously, you have no idea what the Lewises are like..” Simon thought briefly of the years of torture if his aunt found out he’d been lying. God it didn't bear thinking about.
“I just can’t …” Jace seemed unwilling to meet his gaze and instead stood abruptly.
Simon watched his friend stalk off to his room with confusion. He got that he was asking a lot but Jace seemed to be overreacting to put it mildly. He hesitated for a second, not sure how to proceed. Ok, so it seemed clear the fake dating thing was off the table, which was something he’d have to think about later, but something was bothering his friend and he was determined to find out what.
Simon knocked lightly on the doorframe of Jace’s room. Jace looked up from his bed where he was lying picking at the label on his beer disconsolately.
“I said leave it alone Lewis..” Jace was back to glaring and Simon sighed. He knew far too well how hard it was to get Jace to talk when he was closed off like this.
“Fine, forget the fake dating thing.” Simon perched hesitantly on the edge of Jace’s bed and taking it as a good sign that he hadn't kicked him out yet. “I just don't get why me asking has got you all twisted up.”
“Of course you don't..” Jace mumbled.
“I mean is because of the new acting gig, ‘cos it’s not like anyone would know..” Simon watched Jace closely and there was no missing the eyeroll. “Ok so not that. I mean I didn't think it would be that, I mean after all you’re straight so …”
If Simon hadn't been observing Jace so carefully he might have missed the small flinch. Luckily he was and he didn't.
“Jace?” Jace turned his head away. “Listen man, you know you can tell me anything right? I mean if you’re not ready that’s cool too and just know I’m here for you buddy..”
Jace sat up nearly knocking Simon flying, his eyes flashing with anger.
“Really? Really Simon? ‘Cos if you were you’d know when to leave me the hell alone, but you don't do you? You just keep pushing and pushing.” Jace shouted and Simon held his hands up in surrender but Jace wasn't done yet. “What do you want from me? If it’s not bad enough you ask me to ‘pretend’ to be your boyfriend now you’re trying to force me to talk to you. Jeez is it humiliate Jace day? Fine if the truth’s what it takes to get rid of you then here it is...I'm bi and I like you and it’d be too damn hard to just pretend with you. Now just leave me the hell alone…”
“No..” Simon blurted out still to shocked to process fully what Jace’d said. Had the guy he’d been crushing on pretty much since the day they’d met just admitted to liking him? No, that couldn't be right. Simon Lewis just wasn't that lucky.
“What?” Jace had gone pale, clearly having realised what he’d just blurted out.
“No.” Simon said more confidently, his face morphing into a giant grin. “Did you mean what you just said? About liking me..”
“No..” Jace pouted crossing his arms “I was just trying to get rid of you.”
To anyone else Jace would've looked pretty convincing but Simon knew him far too well and he wasn't fooled at all.
“‘Cos if you did you’re an idiot.” Simon grinned.
“Excuse me?” Jace frowned.
“I mean how could you not know I like you too?” Simon waggled his eyebrows encouraged by the tentative smile on Jace’s lips. “I mean seriously man, you’re like a living breathing Captain America and you’re my best friend…”
“I am pretty hot..” Jace was definitely smiling now as he unfolded his arms and placed his beer on his bedside table.
“Damn right…” Simon grinned as the pair instinctively moved closer together. “So you know forget what I asked earlier..”
Jace raised an eyebrow.
“Let me ask you something else.” Simon smirked. “D’you wanna go as my actual boyfriend ‘cos you know that would be pretty damn awesome..”
The few seconds it took for Jace to answer felt like a lifetime and Simon was starting to panic that he’d read things wrong.
“Yeah, I could do that..” Jace chuckled as he brushed his hair out of his eyes.
“Great..” Simon beamed. “But you know we should get some things sorted first…”
“well, as an example, we should practice kissing..” Simon was pretty sure he was glowing with happiness right now.
“Good idea..” Jace leaned further in so they were practically a hair’s breadth apart
“I know right.” Suddenly a thought crossed Simon’s mind and he couldn't stifle a giggle.
“What?” Jace frowned slightly.
“No, it’s silly..It’s just when I was dating Maia I told her I’d probably end up sleeping with you one day, as a joke you know and…”
“Simon, shut up.” Jace laughed.
“Make me.” Simon teased.
And he did.