It's the year 3020, and people are still acting like the earth is their own personal trash can. Simon tsks as a young woman--everyone is young to him, now, but still--tosses her plastic bottle right into the garbage, rather than recycle. Which genuinely doesn't make sense, seeing as the recycle bin is literally right next to the garbage.
At least littering is at an all-time low.
Simon doesn't know why he worries so much about the environment; it's not like he'll actually be able to make much of a difference. But he has dreams of all vampires banding together to make the world a cleaner place so their future, at least, is a better one. And, to be fair, humans have come a long way from the amount of pollution and waste they produced back in his younger years.
"Simon," James mutters, elbowing him in his side, "stop glaring at that girl, she'll think you're a creep."
Simon rolls his eyes. "I am a vampire," he whispers, waggling his eyebrows.
James sighs and shakes his head.
Despite the fact that James is literally one hundred years younger--seriously, he was born in 2090--than Simon, he still acts like he's dealing with a child. James is a Warlock from the east coast who met Simon at a whopping twenty years old--ten years ago--and hadn't strayed far since. They're good friends, especially after the years spent hopping from country to country and performing at various places all over the world. Yeah, James is a musician too, which is why they hit it off to begin with.
But Simon's pretty sure that James is one more phone call away from bailing, and that's completely fair, considering the love of his life is on the other line. Harriet is a lovely vampire they met once at a club, who's taken James' heart and apparently has let him borrow hers for collateral. They're unbearably cute and remind Simon vaguely of him and Izzy when they were younger. Kinda dumb in a way only youth can be, but excited about stumbling through life nonetheless. It makes Simon nostalgic.
"What's with the face?" James asks, arching an eyebrow pointedly.
Simon grins sheepishly. "Sorry, I was just thinking about Izzy again."
"You have got to get out more," James scolds lightly, clicking his tongue in disapproval.
"Okay, dad," Simon shoots back, huffing. "You know, I've been all over the world, thanks to you, and I don't know how much more out I can get."
James wrinkles his nose. "You know what I meant. Come on, you haven't even went on a date since, I don't know, like 3001 or something."
"2064, actually," Simon corrects. "I took Jace Herondale out for crepes and told everyone he was my sugar-grandpa; we had a great time, by the way."
"That's worse, Simon," James groans, flashing his armband as they walked into the thumping club. "I'm not saying you should go out and fall in love, but you should at least socialize a little."
"Hey, maybe don't worry about me so much. I know you're worried I'll just curl up and die when you run off to get hitched to Harriet, but I have been existing before your grandparents were even thought of."
"Wh--what, we are not getting hitched, oh my--"
Simon cuts him off with an arched eyebrow as they duck into the room full of writhing people. "Like I said, I'm a vampire, and a pretty old one, at that. So, when you're giggling and whispering about plans to run off to Vegas one room over, I hear it all. Also, you have got to work on your dirty-talk, man."
"You're so… annoying," James snaps, crossing his arms and scowling.
"Yeah," Simon agrees fondly, "I know."
"Fine, whatever, I want you to have someone, is that so bad? Even just a casual girlfriend or boyfriend? Platonic buddy, like me? Well, not best platonic buddy, because that's my role, but I don't want you to be alone, that's all."
"And I appreciate that, but James, I can handle myself. Don't let me hold you back from anything with Harriet; I want you to be happy."
James bites his lip. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," Simon confirms with a little smile.
"Alright, fine. In that case, if you're sure, I want you to be there as a witness. As my best man. Is that--would that be something you'd--"
"Yes, James, of course. I'd be honored."
"Thanks." James deflates a little, looking nothing at all like the strong-jawed jock that he resembles, lips curling up in a watery smile. "I should probably go call Harriet, huh? Set up a date, then propose."
"If you want to," Simon says simply. "Go handle your thing, I'm going to go get some blood."
James nods and breaks away, heading back out the way they came, and Simon shakes his head as he goes. It's little moments like that, conversations such as those, that remind Simon just how young James is, and coincidentally, just how old he, himself is. The world has changed, people have come and gone, and Simon sometimes forgets.
It's odd, is the thing. There are times that Simon reaches for his phone to call Clary before he remembers that she died in 2058. Worse yet, there are mornings that he rolls over with all intentions of kissing Izzy awake, only to remember that they split off when she was a mere thirty-two, so that she'd find someone she could grow old with. Yet, there are moments that he forgets there was ever a time with any of them at all, like that was from a different lifetime he can barely access anymore.
God, he misses it. He misses them.
The bouts of nostalgia rarely sting anymore; he's old and wise enough to take it as the gift it is and move on with a smile. So, that's what he does. With a soft grin, he heads towards the bar, nodding at the various people he has to slide past.
Halfway there, he halts in his tracks.
Now, Simon's not unused to blasts from the past. When he sometimes heads home and bumps into Alec and Magnus, those moments hit him all the time. The fact that they've changed--they really have, what with having two grown kids and basically running the Shadow World at this point--doesn't really put a damper on how easily he gets sucked back into the past. With just one dinner with them, he's remembering everything from the beginning in stark clarity, fond heart heavy with tragic joy.
But this, this is surprising. Because, and here's the thing, Simon rarely gets blasts from the past when he's out and about outside of New York.
Raphael hasn't changed one bit, and all Simon can think is, why is he in Moscow?
Dressed finely in a fitted suit, Raphael sits at the bar with a glass of blood in his hand. His cufflinks glint in the pulsing strobe lights, his dark hair swooping softly over his forehead, and his shoes are as shiny as they always have been. Simon stands and stares for a long moment, knowing he's not mistaken, frozen with indecision. He hasn't seen Raphael in well over ninety years, not since he moved out of New York with barely a goodbye to anyone, including Magnus--who was very pissed about that, by the way.
His indecisiveness lasts only a moment longer, then he's striding forward and crowing, "Raphael!"
Raphael slowly turns, eyebrows arching up as recognition lights his face, immediately followed by confusion. "Simon?" he mutters in surprise.
"Hey! Hey, man, you're--you look good!" Simon practically knocks him off his stool with the force of an abrupt hug that Raphael doesn't see coming and is too late to avoid. "What are you doing here? It's been--god, how long has it been? Ninety years?"
The woman next to Raphael shoots them an odd look and quickly scurries away, drink in hand.
"That sounds right," Raphael confirms, carefully disentangling himself from Simon's arms. "I'm here on business, leaving tonight. What are you doing here? I wasn't aware that you left New York."
Simon beams at him. "Oh yeah, I travel all over these days. Not much to hold me there anymore, not really. Have you been back?"
"No, and I have no plans to. Though, I do regularly speak with Magnus," Raphael admits.
"Oh? That's good! That's awesome, actually. I stay in contact with him and Alec, mostly."
Simon blinks. "Uh…yes?"
"Shouldn't he be dead by now?" Raphael asks with narrowed eyes, lips tipping down.
"Well…yeah, but it didn't work out like that. He, uh, kinda bucked the system, I guess. Dunno what happened exactly, but he just stopped aging and never started back," Simon informs him with a shrug, flapping a hand lazily. "Magnus was relieved, as you can guess. Wait, how do you not know that, if you regularly talk to him?"
Raphael rolls his eyes. "I never asked, never cared to know, and he never mentioned it. I assumed he was raising his children alone. I wonder how Alec Lightwood achieved immortality."
"Dude, your guess is as good as mine. I joke that it was the power of their love, and it could be that for all I know--wouldn't surprise me, at this point. But hey, all's well that ends well, right?"
"So," Simon says with a casual smile, leaning on the bar and tapping his fingers on it, "what kind of business are you into these days?"
Raphael sits up like he's been called on. "Have you heard anything about the new blood that's come out? Safer than plasma, yet it allows you to get intoxicated upon consumption?"
"Oh, I have! It's actually really cool because it comes from blood donors with different types of alcohol in their blood. Whiskey is my favorite."
"I'm the vampire who started it up."
Simon whistles low between his teeth. "Okay, I see you. Climbing up that corporate ladder, aren't you? Hey, doesn't Magnus endorse that?"
"He does." Raphael's lips quirk up in blatant amusement. "It helps to know the Warlock that practically rules the Shadow World."
"Shit, maybe he can help me with a project that I've been considering. I don't know if it's his... thing, but he likes me well enough. Maybe."
Simon chews his lip for a moment. "I just--the world is kind of a mess. I mean, it's gotten better in some places, like here, but you should see New York. The strain it has taken from all that pollution isn't the prettiest. I think it'd be cool to, I don't know, get the immortal together and try to ensure the world is cleaner, because even if the mundanes don't care about their future, we should. Ya know?"
"That's...surprisingly smart," Raphael notes, staring at Simon with a slightly suspicious gaze. "I actually think that Magnus would help you. I'm gaining traction as well; I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to help you either. It could be a major step for the downworlders, especially the immortal."
"Really?" Simon perks up. "Wow, that would be awesome. I'd want to start in New York, though. So, you'd have to be willing to go back."
Raphael spreads his hands in a careless gesture. "I'm not opposed, I just haven't had a reason to. How long has it been since you went back?"
"Oh, it's been--oh god, how long has it been? Sixteen years? Fifteen? Seventeen? Somewhere in there, I'm not sure. I should probably plan to head back for at least a year, just to visit Alec and Magnus."
"Do you enjoy it? Going back, I mean?"
Simon purses his lips. "Mostly. I like Magnus and Alec, and their kids can do no wrong in my eyes. I also take time to visit the memorial spots for the others. I know you weren't close with them, but the area really is fantastic. You should come."
"Perhaps," Raphael says awkwardly. He clears his throat. "I heard of Clary's passing--the whole Shadow World talked about it--but never heard much on the others."
"Clary passed away first; she was only sixty-nine. Izzy died three years later. Jace outlived them all." Simon rolls his eyes and huffs a laugh. "He joked that it was because he was too stubborn to leave his parabatai, but he eventually did. He fought all the way until he was ninety. Alec was a mess for a least a decade after, but ya know...life goes on."
"So it does," Raphael agrees. "And last I heard, before I left, you and Izzy were…"
Simon bobs his head. "We split amicably when she was thirty, stayed friends and everything, but she wanted a family and someone to grow old with. We talked about it way before then, so I wasn't mad or anything; I just wanted her to be happy."
"Yeah! She married a really nice Shadowhunter and had two girls--twins. I'm technically their godfather, but they're older than me now."
Raphael nods, eyebrows burrowing. "Did all their bloodlines carry on?"
"Yep. Everyone popped out a kid, except for, you know, Alec, but they adopted." Simon tilts his head in consideration. "And me, I guess. But my sister had three boys before she passed away."
"Are you involved with them?"
"No. Rebecca would have let me, but I left her to her normal life. Encanto-ed her to believe I'd died young and that she had mourned me. I just--I didn't want the bad from my life to bleed over into hers, especially not to the kids. I check up on them though, paid for their schooling, stuff like that. I'm worried about the youngest one; he has three different kids by three different women and seems as if he has no plans to stop. Dunno where she went wrong with that one because the other two are angels."
Raphael snorts. "There's always one."
"Guess you're right." Simon pauses and looks at him out the corner of his eye. "But enough about me, what about you? What have you been up to?"
"Well, after I left, I spent many years in Alaska." Raphael nods when Simon snorts. "I know, but there is not a lot of sunshine there, and I wanted to be as far away from people as possible. After everything happened with Isabelle, with us being addicted to one another, I thought it best to be alone."
Simon frowns. "You know, she told me about that. We, uh, talked about you sometimes. Not--never in a bad way, just kinda wondering what you were out there doing, you know? From what I gathered, you weren't anymore at fault than she was."
"Nonetheless, I had made a mistake, one I worked to fix." Raphael dipped his head and frowned slightly at his shiny shoes. "I worked for many years until people began to notice that I did not age. It wasn't until I left Alaska that I actually thought about why so many vampires end up in the same situation that I dad. It hit me one day; vampires don't ever--dios mio, I hate to even say this word--unwind. I wonder if I would have craved the blood so intensely if it hadn't given me a high and relaxed me, then I began to wonder if it was possible to reach even a portion of that in other ways."
"So you began your industry," Simon says in approval, lips spread wide into a smile. "Raphael, that's amazing. I'm--well, I'm happy for you."
"Thank you," Raphael says cordially. "I must admit, it has been strange not to have a clan, and being so nomadic is not…cohesive to our nature."
Simon rolls his eyes. "Haven't you heard? Clans are a thing of the past, man. It's all about cliques these days, or companions. Vampires hang out in pairs or packs of three and four. And, shockingly enough, we're all coming around to getting out and about ever since Warlocks lowered the rates on portal transport. So, hey, you're with the times."
"Do you have a clique?"
"Nah, just James. Well, he's not a vampire, but he is a Warlock, and he's probably going to be heading out soon. A vampire named Harriet stole his heart, so his travels with me are about to come to an end."
"Ah," Raphael says simply. "Have you sired anyone?"
Simon blinks. "Oh, no I haven't. I never--well, there wasn't ever a good enough reason to, and I wouldn't drag someone into this, you know?"
Raphael nods. "I do. I haven't either. Never got desperate enough to, never met anyone who needed it, and I doubt I ever will."
"You sound lonely."
It's been many years since Simon lost track of his mouth, not that he means to now, but the words slip out before his mind catches up. He blinks in surprise, mostly at himself, and has to take a moment to realize that he's suddenly been reduced to a version of himself that fumbles into awkward moments. It's almost... nice.
But what he said isn't. He wants to take it back, or barrel over it, but he knows he has to let it hang. It's blunt honesty, unlike him after years of learning to sidestep moments such as these. The ball is in Raphael's court, and he decides if the statement is to be ignored or not.
Raphael simply says, "I am."
Right, okay. "Oh," Simon murmurs. "Well, I mean, have you tried to, I don't know, change that?"
"Not particularly," Raphael admits. "I don't mind it. Frankly, I like being alone."
"That's…" Simon searches for a word. "...fair."
"However, I wouldn't be opposed to some company. Don't tell him, but sometimes I miss Magnus. Before you came along, way before, he and I used to live together. I was like his son."
"Again, you should visit him."
Raphael hums. "I didn't consider it until I saw you, but that might hold merit."
Simon snorts. "I'm not a complete idiot, not anymore at least. And hey, you could always come with me."
"No," Raphael says immediately.
"No?" Simon jolts like he's been slapped. Oddly, he takes great offense to that. "What do you mean? I'm a great companion to have, thank you very much. I rarely stutter anymore, I can even say god, and I learned the art of knowing when to shut up. Took Jace a couple of decades, but he finally taught me."
Raphael arches an eyebrow and repeats, "No."
"Okay, like, I don't care, but why not?"
"We would not survive the week. Or rather, you wouldn't. I would stake you to stave off a headache."
"Untrue," Simon retorts immediately, scoffing when Raphael stares at him flatly. "Look at us now, we're getting along just fine."
"We're catching up because we have a history, that is all," Raphael corrects blandly.
Simon purses his lips. "We do have a history, but the past is the past for a reason. We could have a future too, if you wanted. I mean--wow, that sounded way different in my head. I'm not, like, coming onto you, or whatever. Well, I'm not not coming--you know what, I'm making it worse. What I mean is, we could have fun together. Wow, that did not help."
"Simon," Raphael says carefully, lips twitching in faint amusement, "are you trying to ask me to be your friend, or are you trying to ask me out?"
"See, I knew there would be some confusion." Simon huffs a short laugh and shakes his head. "Look, outside of Magnus and Alec, you're the only person I've known for most of my life. And I know you don't do sex, which is fine, because I haven't had sex in over thirty years, so I really don't care. So, it could be either, or both, but saying flat out that neither could work is just rude."
Raphael's eyebrows raise. "Thirty years?"
"Yeah, it kinda loses its shine over the years. But I don't really want sex anyway. A friend, definitely. Intimacy, maybe. A relationship that would last? That's kinda the dream, isn't it?"
"Depending on who you're asking."
"I'm asking you."
"My dreams have varied over the years. After Rosa's death, I had nothing left to cling to from my human life. There was nothing shielding me from my life as a vampire, not even my religion."
"Still Catholic, huh?" Simon jokes.
Raphael quirks a small smile. "To the bone."
"So, what's your dream now?"
"Honestly? I wanted to be a clan-leader for a long time, to do better than Camille for my kind. I have thought broader in recent years, to the point where I want to help my kind, even if I have no clan. Hence the new blood project."
"And I'd like to make the world a cleaner place. What a pair we make," Simon says with a playful grin. "You know, we could partner up together to save the world. Me and you, whaddya say?"
"Again," Raphael repeats, "no."
Simon frowns. "Oh, come on, the first time I actually want someone in decades, and I get a no?"
"I'm very busy, Simon, and rarely stationary. And if you do get your heart set on romance, you'll be very disappointed when I don't react in kind when you inevitably crave sex again."
"Oh, hold up, that's not fair. If I ever get the itch, I have a hand for a reason, first of all. Second, I'm not the type of guy to believe sex equals love. I can love you and never lay a finger on you."
"That was vaguely threatening," Raphael says with mild disgust. "I'm telling you that I will never want sex, do you understand that?"
"Hey, I'm cool with a kiss, man." Simon winks and puckers up his lips, watching Raphael sigh. "Oh, relax, I'm joking. Whatever you're comfortable with, I'm down with; whatever you're not, I'll never ask for. Besides, who says I'm going to fall in love?"
Raphael arches an eyebrow. "I may be lonely, but you are loveless. It's slightly…sad. You look halfway in love with me right now."
Simon swallows thickly. "Hey, don't call me out like that. Like you said, we have a history. From what I remember, I always had a thing for you."
"Oh?" Raphael asks, looking vaguely curious.
"Yeah, I mean, you always made me feel off-kilter, sure, but you never failed to make me feel like I was more than some monster. You looked after me, and you were nice in your own way; I hated how things turned out. Our connection got so corrupted because I was so young and desperate, and I just--I think we could have had something, you know?"
"I'm not sure if I agree or not."
"You're not disagreeing," Simon points out, face lighting up with Raphael rolls his eyes. "Come on, I'll let you be my partner on my project."
"Potential love shouldn't be conditional."
"Raphael, we're literally immortal, okay? If it doesn't work out, we can go our separate ways and call it a decade. And if it does work out, we both end up happy. What's the worst that could happen?"
"You not being able to grasp that I enjoy my space? You annoying me enough to make me kill you? Or, I don't know, you and I finding peace together until something horrible inevitably happens and we end up unhappy for centuries after?"
Simon blows out a deep breath. "Wow, and I thought I had anxiety. Look, I'll make a deal with you. How about this? We be one hundred percent honest about what we want, need, and feel; no judgement, no expectations, nothing. If it doesn't work, we stay as calm and casual as we are now. No risk, no reward, right? One more time, what do you say?"
Raphael doesn't reply for a long stretch of a moment that Simon feels all the way down in his toes. They stare at each other, Simon hopeful, Raphael sizing him up in consideration. Then, Raphael sighs.
"Fine," he mutters. "If you're going to be annoying me for the rest of ever, you should get your affairs in order. I leave for Australia in the morning."
Simon beams. "Awesome. Hey! I can also help because I'm a Daylighter, too. So like, this can be mutually beneficial on the business front as well. I can help while you're not able to go out."
Raphael narrows his eyes. "We'll see."
Magnus tilts his head at the jello sitting on the delicate china, lips pursed slightly. He's not sure if this is going to go over well or not. He should have went with blood cocktails; no one can go wrong with cocktails. A literal bloody mary would do the trick.
"Magnus, what are you looking at?" Alec asks quietly, walking up behind him and snaking his arms around Magnus' waist. "You look annoyed."
Magnus tuts. "I tried out the blood jello recipe, but I'm not sure if Raphael will like it."
"Does it really matter?" Alec mutters. "I'm pretty sure he's not visiting for jello."
"Don't patronize me, darling, I'm just a little stressed out. It's been over a century since he left. And well over a decade since his business with Simon took off."
"I still think it's weird that they're business partners now, but okay."
"Well, I find myself grateful," Magnus muses, turning around to press a lingering kiss to Alec's cheek. Even after all these years, he beams. "It's surely Simon's nagging that's getting him to return, even if he hasn't said it. Plus, they're a great investment."
Alec snorts. "You and your investments. Speaking of, Max wants you to stand in at his meeting next week. He's, like, ninety-five percent sure that Maggie is going to go into labor and is freaking out."
"Maggie is his assistant; he is far too invested in the lives of his workers."
"He just cares about people. Sounds like someone I know."
Magnus rolls his eyes when Alec kisses his nose with a grin. "Yes, fine, I'll stand in."
Before Alec can reply, there's the sound of a portal whooshing outside the door to their loft; they both go silent and still as they wait for a knock. Mere seconds later, the knock comes, and Magnus surges up in excitement. Alec huffs a fond laugh as he darts to the door and yanks it open to reveal Simon and Raphael.
"Magnus!" Simon chirps happily. "Hey, you look great! How have you--oomph, okay then."
Magnus ignores Simon entirely in favor of wrapping Raphael into a tight hug. Raphael, like the child he is and always will be, sighs like it's the worst thing in the world, but he leans into it and lets it last longer than usual. Only when he pulls away does Magnus focus on Simon at all, offering him a smile.
"Come in, come in," Magnus says in a rush, ushering them in and shutting the door. "I made blood jello."
Simon perks up. "Oh, did you? That's so cool." He makes a beeline for the jello, dropping Raphael's hand as he does. He beams at Alec as he walks over to the plate. "Hey, Alec, you're looking good too. How've you been? Still busy with Idris?"
"Immortality is fun in theory, until you realize that work never ends." Alec wrinkles his nose and flicks his gaze towards Raphael. "Were you just holding his hand, or was I seeing things?"
"Oh, yeah," Simon says flippantly, stuffing a bite of jello into his mouth. His eyes widen and he swallows, looking in awe. "Holy shit, this is good."
"Yeah? Yeah? What does that mean?" Alec presses curiously, lips curling up when Raphael scowls.
Magnus eyes Raphael in amusement. "So, you and Simon? That's not what I was expecting."
"Yeah," Raphael agrees sarcastically, "me neither."
Simon rolls his eyes and swallows another bite of jello with an obscene moan. "God, Magnus, you have to release this to the public, man. This is fantastic. Also, don't let Raphael fool you; he walked into this with his eyes wide open. Twelve years strong, and he still doesn't have the willpower to get rid of me."
"Yet," Raphael tacks on a snidely.
"Oh please, you love me," Simon sing-songs.
Raphael's face softens just so. "I suppose I hate you less than everyone else."
Simon winks and stuffs his mouth with more jello, grinning around the bite. "I'll take it," he says, the words muffled as he chews.
Alec arches an eyebrow at Raphael. "Him? Really?"
"Oh, come now, darling," Magnus says in amusement, looking pleased as pie about having Raphael in his loft, "there's someone for everyone."
"Yea, but," Alec protests, staring at Raphael even harder, "him?"
Raphael sighs. "So it would seem."
Simon happily chews on his jello and beams.