Chapter 1: those summer nights
Starting a new school was a special form of pain, but starting at Idris High as a junior when you didn’t know anyone in the state, let alone the school? Pure torture.
Simon hurried up the concrete steps leading to the front of the school, painfully aware of the swarming mass of students surrounding him, all of whom were chatting noisily in their own friendship groups, still high off the buzz of summer-time freedom.
This was gonna be just great.
Fidgeting self-consciously with his collar, Simon drew up to the receptionist’s desk, who was looking up at him with a polite expression. It was only 8.15 and her red curls were already deflating in the oppressive New York humidity. Simon could feel his glasses sliding down his nose.
“Can I help you?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. I’m Simon. Simon Lewis. I’m new here.”
“Ah yes, why don’t you fill this paperwork out while I grab you your schedule.” She sent him a sunny smile before leaning back in her chair and rifling through the stacks of paper in the filing cabinet next to her.
Once Simon had finished scribbling his signature in a few places and writing down his address, the receptionist presented him with his schedule before pointing him in the direction of a huddle of fellow students.
“See the redhead over there? That’s my daughter, Clary, she’s got the same home teacher as you, so I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction.”
“Oh! Uh, thanks Mrs-” He squinted at her name badge, “Fray.”
Simon turned, appraising the group opposite him. They were all quite tall, attractive and intimidating looking - lounging near the lockers in their matching leather jackets, they looked like they habitually stole lunch money from nerds like him. One of the group, a blond guy, was even drumming his fingers, arms crossed, surveying the crush of students passing by him like some kind of bird of prey. Though admittedly, a bird of prey with a very bored expression. And with patchy stubble. Whatever, the guy just put Simon on edge.
Simon swallowed, took a steadying breath, and approached. He could do this - he was Simon freaking Lewis. Or something.
“Hi, I was just wondering whether you could direct me to L23? I've literally only just got here and the receptionist said you guys could help? It’s just that I really don’t want to be late to homeroom on my first day, you know?”
“Hey, ” she said warmly. “I’m Clary. This is Jace, Alec and Izzy.”
Izzy waved at him, waggling her fingers, an amused expression on her face.
The blond one, Jace, interjected, “What, are we taking on strays now? He looks like such a wet rag.”
“Cool it, Jace. It’s never easy being the new kid.” Clary turned back towards Simon. “Don’t mind him, I’ll show you the way. What’s your name, by the way?”
“Oh my God, I’m sorry I completely forgot. I’m Simon. We only got here from California a couple days ago, so I’m still wiped from unpacking all our stuff.”
“I know how you feel, I only moved to New York a few years back and the unpacking was awful. Like, it was so much worse than the packing or the driving for hours or anything else.”
“Right? Because you’re just so tired and so done with the whole moving thing but you've still got to find your pajamas and your bed linen, before you can go to sleep. And then, in the morning, you’ve got to find places for all your stuff to go and it’s such a nightmare.”
“It is straight-up the worst,” she said, her whole face crinkling as she smiled.
“Great,” said Alec, cutting into their moment, “Now we’ve established you’re soulmates or whatever, should we get going? Otherwise new boy here really will be late.”
Clary sent a little nose-scrunch his way as she hooked an arm around his, guiding him to homeroom. Simon couldn’t believe his luck, within ten minutes of arriving at his new school he’d met the girl he knew was going to be his best friend.
If it weren’t already obvious from his initial interaction with the group, it was clear by the time lunch came round that Clary’s group were way more popular than Simon had ever been in his life. Even in New York, it seemed that Simon’s inherent awkward nerdiness weren’t going to win him many friends, so he stuck to Clary and her friends like hot glue all day. He was sitting opposite Izzy, who was blowing bubbles of strawberry pink gum and staring at Simon in a way that he knew was meant to intimidate him. Though she seemed at least a little friendlier than Alec and Jace, who were straight up ignoring him at the moment, caught up in what seemed to be a staring contest. Okay maybe she wasn't friendly per se, but Izzy had at least noticed that he was actually sitting on the same table as them.
Jace started drumming his fingers on the wooden top of the cafeteria table.
Izzy’s bubblegum burst.
Clary cleared her throat. “So, Simon. Did you have a good summer?”
“You know what, I did actually? I had a really nice summer job at a diner by the beach and I met a swell guy.”
Clary’s eyes lit up. “A guy? Spill!”
Simon could see in his periphery Jace miming chucking up.
“He was really sweet.” Simon said self-consciously. “It was just a summer fling, nothing serious, but we used to go out onto the beach at night and look at the stars or go and get candy-floss and watch a drive-in movie, that kind of thing.”
“That is the cutest thing!” Clary said.
Alec, however, looked unimpressed. “Really? He sounds like a drag to me.”
“We can’t all have dramatic, will-they-won’t-they relationships like you, Alec.” That was Izzy. Evidently she’d decided the conversation was finally more scintillating than her gum popping.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Alec said archly.
“Sure you don’t.”
"Anyway!” Clary interrupted, “What’s his name? Where’s he from?”
“He’s called Raphael Santiago, but I’m not sure where he’s from exactly. We didn’t talk too much about those kind of details, we wanted to live in the moment, you know?”
“Sure, sure,” Clary said, but her mind seemed to be elsewhere - instead of focusing on Simon, she was sharing an inscrutable look with Izzy, who’d gone back to her bubble blowing.
“What?” Simon asked.
“It’s nothing,” Clary said quickly.
Izzy’s bubblegum burst.
Simon decided he was going to ignore that moment of weirdness and carried on valiantly.
“We used to go out driving in the evenings, just when it was dusk time. He had this really neat souped up car that he’d worked on himself.”
“What type of car was it?”
“I dunno, a red one? I think it was a Mustang, but I’m not sure.”
“Oh, really?” Another significant look at Izzy.
Resisting the urge to snap his fingers in front of their faces, Simon said, “Yeah, is that so weird?”
“No, no, not at all. My mind’s just elsewhere at the moment.”
Alec snorted derisively.
"What's going on guys?" Simon was frustrated now.
Jace smirked, "Its your lover boy, Simon, he-"
"-He seems really nice, doesn't he guys?" Clary interjected, sending a firm look Jace's way.
"Sure, if that's the way you want to go about it," Jace retaliated.
This was making no sense whatsoever.
Alec stood up. "Okay, I don't want to hear whatever this is anymore,” he said, gesturing vaguely in Simon’s direction. “So I'm gonna leave." He rose quickly from his seat, turning sharply on his heel and stalking towards the cafeteria doors.
Izzy waved after him sarcastically, before saying, "Don't mind him. My brother dearest is just bitter about the state of his own love life."
Simon decided he wasn't going to go anywhere near that statement; Alec was beyond scary. As a matter of fact most of them were; Izzy seemed to be taking perverse delight in his discomfort and Jace acted like Simon didn't even exist most of the time. Thank the Lord for Clary - her presence helped make everything feel a little more sane.
Clary shot him a quick smile, "Say, why don't you meet us at Taki's diner after school? It's the best burger joint for miles - we hang there most days.”
"I dunno," Simon said, scratching the back of his neck. "I might need to help my Mom out this evening."
"Come on, Simon, just for a short while." She wiggled her eyebrows at him. "There'll be a surprise waiting for you."
“Why, Clary, are you trying to entice me with such a mysterious proposition?” He said, putting on a mock posh accent.
“You bet I am. So you’ll be there?”
"Sure, you win.” He put his hands up in mock-defeat.
“No take-backs,” he promised.
The diner reeked of frying oil and cigarette smoke. Simon’s sneakers squeaked a little on the checkered linoleum floor as he made his way over to the booth where Clary and Alec where sitting. The jukebox was playing some James Brown record and most of the tables Simon was weaving around were already full, their occupants raucous and chatty.
“Hey!” Clary called. “You made it.”
Simon slid into the booth next to her. “It was a close thing. I had Ms Lewandoska for English Lit, I thought she was gonna flip her lid when I said I hadn’t done the summer reading. Apparently not being in the state when it was set isn’t a good enough excuse.” He sighed. “Hey Alec,” he added, belatedly.
Alec managed to raise an eyebrow at him in a surprisingly disdainful manner for someone who was currently shielding himself from the rest of the diner with his menu. “Simon,” he greeted.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m just looking at the menu, why? You got any other ideas?” Alec said defensively.
“No, no, nope, none at all. I’ll just… leave you to it.”
Clary leaned over to him. “Alec’s trying to avoid his boyfriend, don’t pay him any mind.”
“I can hear you, you know. And I’m not avoiding anyone, Fray, so shove off and mind your own business.”
Clary raised her hands in mock surrender. “Whatever you say, Alec…” She turned back to Simon, “Is it alright if you hold the table with Alec? I just need to have a quick chat with someone over there.” She gestured vaguely at the diner behind them. “Have a look at the menu, though! They’ve got some nice veggie stuff as well as the usual burgers.”
“Oh! Okay, yeah sure.” She thrust a menu at him, before bounding off, hair bouncing with each step.
Now Simon couldn’t exactly fully comment on what Clary was like on a day-to-day basis, but she seemed to be acting pretty weirdly. Like, I’ve-got-a-secret-that-I-think-is-amazing-but-I’m-definitely-going-to-pretend-that-nothing’s-up-even-though-I’m-awful-at-not-acting-suspicious kind of weird. Simon desperately needed to think of something catchier than that. Furthermore what was possibly even more alarming was Alec’s complete and utter nonchalance towards Clary’s aforementioned weirdness. Was this a regular thing for Clary? Did she often drag unsuspecting new kids to sticky diners in order to confuse and confound them? Or maybe Simon was actually was special and Alec didn’t give a shit about what he or Clary did. Simon sneaked a look over at him; Alec was currently folding one of the paper napkins into a little crane. Yeah, it was probably the latter - Alec just didn’t care.
It wasn’t long after Simon had started to peruse the diner’s menu that his thoughts were interrupted by someone clearing their throat. It was Clary, her hair a little more messy, though her smile was just as vibrant as when she’d left a few minutes prior. Izzy was standing at her side, breathing a little heavily.
“Hey, Simon,” she called.
“Hi Izzy, do I want to ask about - you know - what on Earth is actually going on here?”
Alec didn’t even look up from his small army of paper cranes as he said, “Well I wouldn’t suggest you think long and hard about it - you wouldn’t want to cause any lasting damage after all.”
“It’s your surprise, Simon!” Clary burst out.
“My surprise is… Izzy?”
“No, silly, your surprise is outside.” Izzy waggled her fingers at him, “I’m just here to lead to lead you to it.”
Simon caught her fingers in his own, more confused than particularly curious, nevertheless Izzy pulled him across the diner and round to the additional seating area. Clary followed after them, bobbing on her heels.
Stumbling a little as Izzy hauled him over to another table, Simon saw that this one was also surrounded by a group of teenagers, chatting, laughing, throwing straw packets at each other.
She ignored him, tapping on the shoulder of a boy who was otherwise invested in a seemingly pretty heated argument.
“Simon,” said Clary, “Say hello to…”
“Raphael,” he breathed.
And sure enough, turning towards him, hair slicked back and a small smirk on his lips was Raphael. Just as Simon remembered him.
Simon couldn’t speak - couldn’t breathe. Eyes wide, he took in the sight of Raphael, beautiful Raphael who looked so out of place in this chaotic, sticky diner. He’d suited the beach; skin sun-kissed, hair tangled and wild, racing with Simon down the pier and across the sand dunes. Here, surrounded by a ragtag band of teenagers Simon had never met before and who were turning towards them with interest and amusement, Raphael seemed uncomfortable.
He regarded Simon coolly. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I could say the same thing,” Simon replied, cautiously.
They’d agreed it was just going to be short-term, a mere summer fling whilst both of their families were in the area. They both lived out-of-state, both knew their time together wasn’t going to last, so why was Simon still so absolutely gone for Raphael?
Because he was an idiot, that’s why.
Raphael had said to him, skin still damp from the sea as they perched on the rocks that skirted the cove, that they shouldn’t become too attached, that if they did it would just lead to heart-break. Simon hadn’t followed that particular piece of advice. Evidently, Raphael had.
“So, are you going to stand there staring all day or do you have something to say?” Raphael asked defensively.
Out of the corner of his eye, Simon saw Clary visibly deflate, her eager smile fading quickly and her eyebrows furrowing.
Simon flushed, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realise-”
“What? That you’re old news? Sure, it was nice enough while it lasted but I’ve got better things to be doing with my time.”
“You can’t talk to him like that!” Clary burst out.
“It’s okay,” Simon said, placing a hand on Clary’s forearm, “We should go.”
“No. No, it's not okay, Simon.”
“Honestly, it is,” Simon said a little desperately, starting to haul on Clary's arm a little more firmly. “He doesn't want anything to do with me.” He paused. “That's fine.”
Clary relented, letting herself be dragged away, her eyes never leaving Raphael's impassive face.
Izzy drew forwards into the space Simon and Clary had just vacated. “Wow, real nice job, Raphael,” she said flatly.
Raphael finally looked away, gaze drifting down towards his hands knotted tightly in his lap.
She stared at him, unrelenting. “I'm proud of you.”
Raphael closed his eyes.
“I'm going to murder him.”
They were outside now. Clary was pacing up and down the sidewalk, trampling cigarette ends under her heeled feet and sending a flock of pigeons flying.
“I thought he liked me,” Simon said, a sad smile on his face and his hands scrunched in his jacket pockets.
Clary stopped. “Oh, Simon. I'm sorry, I've been making this all about me. Ignore him, he's just some idiot boy who doesn't know a good thing when it's staring him in the face.”
“Thanks,” he said, a little awkwardly.
“Tell you what,” Clary said, “why don't we have a sleepover tonight? We could have popcorn!”
“I couldn't possibly-”
“Nonsense. I'll ask Izzy to bring her record player, we'll drag Jace away from Maia, maybe we'll even paint Alec’s toenails - it's going to be great!”
Simon laughed weakly. “You are unstoppable, Clary Fray.”
Hearing the door to the diner open, Simon shuffled out the way as Izzy strode out, Alec in tow, saying, “Clary Fray, unstoppable? You've got that one right.”
“We're having a sleepover,” Clary exclaimed.
In his periphery, Simon spotted Alec rolling his head back in exasperation. “ Kill me now.”
“Stop being such a spoilsport,” Izzy said, snaking her arm round Clary's shoulders, “You know you love it.”
“Sure.” Alec said sardonically, “Where's Jace?”
“I think he's still over there,” Clary said, gesturing vaguely toward alley that seemed mostly full with dustbins. “Maia’s got him preoccupied.”
Alec rolled his eyes. “One moment,” he said before stomping over to the alleyway Clary was pointing at, calling out Jace’s name.
When Jace finally emerged it was with a giggly, but surprisingly not put out, Maia in tow.
“Sorry for stealing him, Maia,” Clary said. “Not that we're not happy to see you of course.”
“Don't worry about it. I wouldn't want to intrude on Jace's brotherly duties.”
“I don't see why you needed me, it's not as if I'm Simon's brother,” Jace muttered.
“No, but you are mine,” Izzy said, “which means if I tell you we're having a girly sleepover, we're having a girly sleepover.”
“Jeez, fine,” Jace said, huffing out a sigh.
Maia on the other hand had frozen thoughtfully. “Wait a minute, did you say his name's Simon?” she asked, her gaze fixed on Simon’s face.
“Yeah? My name's Simon, Simon Lewis. Why do you ask?”
Confusingly, however, Maia started to laugh. “Oh man, you're The Simon? The Simon I've heard so much about?”
“I mean, probably not?” Simon's brow furrowed. “I only started at Idris High today, so I don't know where you would have heard of me from.”
“No, no, no you're the Simon Raphael wouldn't shut up about? I can't believe I'm meeting you, Raphael's told me so much about you I feel like we're already friends.” Maia had a devilish grin on her face.
“Raphael talked about me? To you?”
“Yeah, you were all he could talk about when he came back from vacation. Hell, he was mooning about you during school today. Everyone thought he'd gone soft or something.”
He didn't know what to say.
“It's nice to meet you?” he said, bewilderment turning his statement into a question. “I’m sorry, I didn't really expect that kind of reaction from anyone. Ever.”
“It's alright,” Maia said, eyes sparkling. “We should totally go out sometime.”
Jace started spluttering. “Excuse me? I am standing right here.”
“Jeez, don't worry. I was only going to suggest getting a bite sometime,” she teased. “You don't have to go all alpha male on me.”
“That would be nice,” Simon cut across, smiling softly at Maia.
“Sure, I'll see you in school tomorrow.” Maia sent him a quick smile before kissing a still pouting Jace on the cheek, bidding the others goodbye and swanning off into the diner.
“What is this big Simon emergency then?” Jace asked, a touch testily.
“Raphael's a dick so we're having a sleepover,” Clary said.
“Really?” Jace burst out. “That's the emergency?”
“Yeah, it is. So suck it up,” said Alec, surprisingly firmly.
Jace gaped at him.
Alec clapped him on the shoulder, “If I have to live through this wonderful evening, then you do too.”
“Sure, man, whatever,” he said rolling his eyes.
“Come on crazy kids, let's move it!” Clary said, linking arms with Simon and marching off towards the parking lot, a giggling Izzy still in tow.
“I call shotgun,” hollered Jace as he barrelled past them.
“We're taking two cars Jace, chances are that you're gonna get shotgun,” Izzy reminded him as she pulled open the door of her own Ford Thunderbird, Clary sliding in to sit in the passenger side next to her.
“I was just making sure that the new kid wasn't going to get any funny ideas.” He made an 'I’m watching you’ gesture in Simon's direction.
“Don't worry brother, I'm sure Simon isn't out to steal your spot,” she said giggling slightly.
Clary spun round in her seat and spotted Simon hovering awkwardly between the two cars. “Come on, Simon, hop in.” She patted the car door and grinned when Simon stumbled over to her, a grateful expression on his face.
“Come on guys, let's go!” Izzy revved her engine, making the car rumble into life and the cherry red seats vibrate underneath them.
“Race you,” Alec yelled over the roar of the engines as he peeled out of the parking lot, kicking up huge clouds of dust.
Clary, Izzy and Simon's excited shouts and laughter were almost inaudible as they accelerated down the highway.
Simon's head was feeling fuzzy.
Izzy had badgered him into drinking some of the wine from Clary's mom's drinks cabinet and before long the crooning from the record player had faded to a pleasant hum as the world slipped gently in and out of Simon's focus.
The girls were sitting in the corner, heads pressed together and giggling quietly, their hair a tangled weave of black and red as they squirmed closer towards each other. Jace had picked up Clary’s guitar and was strumming it in a painfully novice manner; an open chord ringing out repeatedly as he tried different rhythms and plucking patterns. Alec was lying spread eagled across Clary’s bed, watching her windchimes drifting gently in the breeze from the open windows.
Simon was quiet. His mom was going to be so mad. Like, beyond mad. Simon’s mom was going to be livid. Seething. Furious. Pissed.
“My mom’s gonna flip.”
Alec threw a pillow in his direction.
“Hey!” Simon squawked. “I’m serious.”
“What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” Alec told him firmly.
Simon considered this for a moment. “Unless she was going to be assassinated.”
“You know, if she knew she was going to be assassinated she could hire a bodyguard or never leave the house or something, but if she had no idea about it, she’d just be going about her normal life and then wham!” He slapped his thigh passionately. “She’d be dead.”
Clary lifted her head up, a concerned expression on her face. “I’m sure no one wants to hurt your mom, Simon.”
“I mean, I was just using that as an example, I don’t think anyones got a hit on my mom either but-” A car horn blasting outside interrupted Simon’s rambling, and Jace pulled himself up onto the windowsill.
“Alec, it’s for you,” he said, smirking slightly.
Head snapping up, Alec was suddenly filled with energy. He bounded across the room, before carefully adjusting his hair and pushing the window open in a deliberately casual manner.
Izzy perked up at that, “Who’s out there?”
“Just Magnus and a few of his guys,” Jace said dismissively, meanwhile casting a wary look at Alec who was practically hanging out the window in his attempt to flirt with Magnus outside.
Simon went very still. “Is Raphael there?” he asked, voice quiet.
Jace looked over at him, face uncharacteristically sympathetic, “No, it’s just Magnus, Meliorn and Ragnor out there.”
Swinging the window closed, Alec turned towards the room before stating, “I’m going out. Don’t wait up.”
Jace wolf-whistled and Izzy lobbed Alec’s jacket over to him, which disturbed Clary from her impromptu nap on Izzy’s shoulder.
“Where’s Alec going?” she asked, dazed.
“My boy’s getting laid tonight,” Jace cackled.
Alec shook his head vehemently, “We’re just going to hang out.”
“You sound pretty defensive there, brother.”
“You’re defensive,” Alec retorted.
Jace snorted. “Wow, smooth comeback. Shouldn’t you be leaving now? Wouldn’t want to keep your man waiting.”
Alec sent Jace a dark look before making his way to the door “Bye, guys.”
“See ya, Alec,” Izzy and Clary chorused.
“Use protection!” Jace called after him.
Clary looked over at Simon, who had been sitting quietly, deep in his own thoughts. “You alright there, Si?”
“Yeah, I’m being stupid…” He twisted his hands in his lap. “I just thought Raphael might have changed his mind. That he’d come and see me.” He huffed out a sharp breath. “No, he was quite clear earlier in the diner.”
Clary leaned over and clasped his hands in hers, “You’re not stupid, Simon. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have chucked you in the deep end and force you to meet him like that.”
Simon smiled a small, wistful smile. “I thought I knew him.”
Where was the Raphael from the beach?
Where was the Raphael Simon had known?
aw man i'm sorry if my characterisation of everybody is completely whack, it certainly feels like it was when i was writing it lmao
i had planned for this update to be a little sooner, but a combination of my mum ending up in hospital and me packing up for uni has somewhat delayed this chapter. hopefully it'll be a little sooner next time!
as always, hope you enjoyed, concrit is accepted and welcomed, comments and kudos would make my day
peace out! <3