The cross country road trip in Simon's van was, unsurprisingly, Simon's idea. But neither Jace nor Raphael had it in them to turn down Simon’s eager smile and hopeful eyes when he asked them both if they’d come with him while he played a series of small shows at dive bars. They each think it’ll be the perfect chance to get closer to Simon and maybe, finally, make a move… until they realize the other has the exact same plan.
Raphael realizes a few days into the trip when Jace joins Simon on stage to play the keyboard during a particularly rough crowd for a bit of added support. Raphael watches with a forced smile as the two of them read each other’s cues so effortlessly, all jokes and smiles and stories between songs. Plus, Raphael knows that longing gaze - the way Jace looks at Simon while he plays couldn’t be more obvious, though Simon doesn’t seem to notice. But Raphael does.
Jace realizes on one of the rare early nights they have. When he can’t fall asleep he simply lays there and listens to Simon and Raphael talk long into the morning. He’s positive they must think he’s asleep when they speak of family, of love, of loss. When Simon sounds unsure of something or says anything close to self-deprecating, Raphael is there with nothing but reassurances and kindness, and Jace can hear it in Raphael’s tone: love.
Jace confronts Raphael about it first, and Raphael admits his own crush on Simon only after Jace admits his. They agree, for the sake of keeping the next two months from turning into a total disaster, to just keep things exactly as they are: neither one of them will make a move unless Simon does first.
“Do you think he realizes?” Raphael questions.
Jace shakes his head. “Doubt it. If he knew you liked him there’s no way he wouldn’t jump on that.” There isn’t any malice there, just a simple observation, and it catches Raphael off-guard.
“Funny,” Raphael says. “I was thinking the same about you.”
What Jace and Raphael don’t plan on is falling for one another. After all their lamenting over Simon’s inability to see their feelings for him, they do a surprisingly good job of not noticing their own shifting feelings for one another.
But this time, Simon does notice. He notices the way Jace and Raphael are talking to each other more and more as the days go by. Before when he played both of their eyes would be glued to him and only him on the sage. Now they talk to one another, occasionally vanishing from Simon’s site for small periods of time, and the other day he even overheard an inside joke between the two of them.
Simon eyes them now, standing off to the side in the front of the grossest bar yet, alternating between listening to Simon and talking to each other.
“I’m going to need a new set of shoes after this,” Raphael laments, lifting his foot with much effort as the heavy shoe sticks stubbornly to the sticky bar floor, finally dislodging with a noise that makes him grimace.
“I’ve been in worse,” Jace says with a shrug.
“Of course you have,” Raphael says. A week or two ago Jace may have taken that personally. Now, however, it’s said with a surprising fondness.
Jace catches the flicker of a smile on Raphael’s features and returns it, missing the strange look Simon gives the both of them as he sings on stage.
After taking turns driving and sleeping in the back of the van they finally have enough of a break to get a motel room for a proper night's rest.
When the three of them eye the two double beds there's an immediate awkward pause as they look between one another.
“So… who wants to share?” Raphael asks, breaking the silence.
“I can take the chair, or sleep back in the van,” Jace offers quickly, not wanting to be the one to ruin the careful neutrality they’ve created regarding Simon.
“You two can,” Simon says, not without a hint of bitterness. Raphael and Jace both find Simon’s tone strange, since sharing the bed is supposed to be the option no one wants, not the choice to be jealous of.
“Oh, sure. Drag us along on your little tour then make us share the bed,” Raphael shakes his head.
“What? No. I just figured you’d want to since…” Simon hesitates. “I have eyes. I’ve seen how you two are lately. It’s fine. It’s… whatever.”
It isn’t fine, though, and both Jace and Raphael can tell. “Simon,” Jace says. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Simon insists. “I’m the one who dragged the two of you along on this trip and I should’ve seen this coming. It’s my own fault.”
“Seen what coming?” Raphael asks, sharing a confused look with Jace.
“That you two like each other.” Simon states simply.
“Oh. I mean… it isn’t like...“ Jace says, thrown. He shoots a panicked look at Raphael realizing suddenly that Simon might actually be right, not that here and now is the place to figure that out.
Raphael, however, is still focused on Simon with a curious expression.
“Simon, why did you pick us to go on this trip with you? Why not Clary, or Alec?” Raphael asks.
“No reason,” Simon says quickly, flushing and looking away.
“Simon, please,” Raphael presses.
“Don’t make me say it now,” Simon pleads.
“Please,” Raphael repeats, soft and reassuring.
“I invited you because… because I like you.” Simon starts, and at Jace’s disappointed ‘ Oh ’ thinking he only meant Raphael, adds quickly, “ Both of you. And I was hoping this trip would get one of you to-- but it doesn’t matter. Because I didn’t make either of you like me, I just brought you two together, and that’s fine, it’s just-” Simon starts to ramble, before stopping abruptly at the sound of Jace and Raphael bursting into sudden laughter after sharing a look.
“We’re just as dense as he is, aren’t we?” Raphael admits.
“Yes,” Jace agrees, and Simon looks less embarrassed and more confused now.
“What am I missing here?” Simon asks.
“We’re pushing the beds together,” Jace says simply.
“...we’re what?” Simon sounds mostly confused still, but also pleasantly surprised.
“Unless I’m reading this all wrong?” Jace asks, waiting for a response from the other two. “But as far as I know, Raphael likes you, and I like you, and we didn’t do anything about it because we didn’t want to make it awkward if you chose one of us while we’re all trapped together in your shitty van.”
“Wait. You both… you like me back?”
“ Dios , Simon, yes. And you’re right… I have become rather fond of your second crush,” Raphael admits.
“Wait, who says I’m the second crush,” Jace points out. “You might be growing on me, but don’t push it, Raph.”
Simon looks between the two of them and allows a cautiously hopeful smile to spread across his face as he realizes exactly what’s happening here. “So… we’re pushing the beds together?”
“We’re pushing the beds together,” Raphael confirms.
As Simon falls asleep between Jace and Raphael for the first time, Jace’s comforting warmth and Raphael’s calm coolness in perfect balance around him, he’s never felt more lucky. And on either side of him Jace and Raphael find themselves feeling the same.