Castiel couldn't believe that he had agreed to this. It was his own fault really, having made up the fake boyfriend in the first place to stop his family from asking about his love life, but then again he thought he would just be able to get away with generic date ideas and vague descriptors.
Of course he couldn't have gotten away with it. After his 'boyfriend' had declined the invitation of joining the Novak family for Thanksgiving, they had decided that they needed photographic evidence of this so-called boyfriend. Just Castiel's luck.
So now he was in the park, after his best friend had suggested finding some random guy and taking a picture with him. After all, it couldn't be anyone from college in case his family visited, so Anna proffered the park, which was, according to her, a goldmine for cute gay guys. Cas knew better than to ask how she knew that.
"What about him?" Anna pointed to a guy about their age a little ways across the park, sitting on a bench and reading. "He's handsome."
Cas cocked his head and squinted to get a better look at him. She wasn't wrong.
The man wore a black Chesterfield coat with a dark green scarf, which only brought out the vibrant colour of his eyes, and the hair that wasn't obscured by a matching green beanie hat rustled in the breeze like the leaves left over from fall. And his face...well, his cheeks were freckled, his jaw was stubbled, the tip of his nose was pink, and everything about him screamed out of your league, Castiel.
"He certainly is," Cas replied distantly.
"So...go get him!"
Castiel sighed and wanly said, "I can't. He is far too good looking for someone like me. My family will know immediately that he's not really my boyfriend."
"I am not having my best friend speaking so little of himself." Anna's usual serene expression was gone, a storm having taken its place, and with a determined mouth, she placed her hands on his slumped shoulders and said, "You're amazing, and funny, and hotter than 90% of all the guys I've ever met, so he would be lucky to have someone like you."
"And truly. Now, go get him."
Anna pushed him towards the bench, encouraging him with a bright smile, and shooed Cas away when he faltered and started shaking his head.
I can't! he mouthed, his heart racing and a flash of panic striking his face.
You can! Anna mouthed back as she folded her arms.
Sheepishly, Castiel walked on. There was no arguing with Anna once she had an idea in her mind. He made the few dozen steps towards the man and cleared his throat on the way, posing the question a hundred different times in his mind to figure out which sounded the least crazy.
But oddly enough, the man looked up from his book at the moment Castiel was about to approach and caught his eye. Cas almost stopped in his tracks before he recalled why he was doing this, and managed an uncomfortable tight-lipped smile.
"Hello," he rushed out, immediately internally kicking himself for rushing two simple syllables.
The man smiled. "Hey."
"This may seem...a little weird, but could I ask you a favour?" Castiel tried to keep his resolve strong, no matter how much his knees wanted to melt under that gaze and smile.
"What's the favour?" the man asked as he put down his book - A Game of Thrones, Castiel noted, information he could use in his fake boyfriend's profile.
He shifted on his feet, remembering the best way to put it, and began, "I just came out to my family before I went back to college, and so this year they've been constantly asking whether I have a boyfriend, when I'm going to get one, and it was going to be worse when we're all in the same room at Thanksgiving, so...I may have lied, and told them I had a boyfriend."
The man sucked in a breath through his teeth and raised his eyebrows. "You lied?"
"Yes," Cas answered guiltily. "And the favour I would like to ask of you is..." he trailed off as he made a pained face. "Could I take a photograph of us together and tell my family that you're my boyfriend? That's all you have to do, just be in a photograph. You aren't required to see me again, I'll say that we separated."
Castiel malfunctioned for a millisecond. "You'll do it?"
"Sure, man, it's just a picture. And believe me, I know how you feel. My mom's always askin' me when I'm gonna bring a nice young man home," he said with a roll of his green eyes and a smile.
"Thank you," Cas smiled back, genuine happiness radiating from him. In the corner of his eye, he saw red hair dancing as hands waved, and his smile turned bashful as he caught a glimpse of Anna giving him two thumbs up.
The man stood up and dusted the back of his coat off, and when he drew himself to his full height, Cas now had to look up to talk to him.
"So...how are we gonna do this?" the man asked, sounding curiously eager.
"Well, it has to look like we're a couple," Cas thoughtfully commented with a cadence. He chewed on his bottom lip for a second and got his phone out, fiddling with it while he racked his mind for what to do next.
"Okay," the man nodded, "so what do people in love look like? Are kisses out of the question? Like, do you want me to kiss your cheek, or full on the mouth, or do you wanna snuggle into my neck, or for me to gaze at you with hearts in my eyes, what?"
All of those ideas sounded amazing to Castiel, but he could hardly ask for all of the above, could he? You can't, he told himself.
"How about just us together, smiling?" he suggested, far too nervous for any of the other poses.
For a moment, Castiel could have sworn that he saw disappointment before the man said, "Okay, we can do that."
They pressed their faces together, and Cas held out his arm to take the picture. The shutter sounded, and the man studied the picture intently. He shook his head.
"This isn't convincing enough. We just look like friends, here. How 'bout I kiss your cheek?"
"If you think that will work," Castiel said with veiled excitement.
He held out his arm again and relaxed into a happy pose as the man gently grabbed his face and puckered his lips on Cas's cheek. The shutter went off twice, once with them in that position, and another time when Cas closed his eyes and quietly laughed when the man moved to nibble his earlobe.
Castiel had to give it to the man, he was definitely committed to taking a convincing selfie.
They crowded around the screen, flicking between the two pictures, but the man shook his head yet again.
"I think one with us kissing each other would really sell the relationship," he said, complete seriousness on his handsome face.
Cas nodded austerely, though he was fairly sure his sparkling eyes gave him away. "You're right, a kiss would be best."
"Of course I'm right," the man scoffed with a wave of his hand. "Now, let's take the picture."
The man wrapped his hand around Castiel's, and positioned it where the camera would get the best angle of their kiss. Cas's heart was racing, as much as when he was about to ask the favour of the man, and now they were going to kiss. He heard a hum when the man thought the angle was just right, and then hands were moving across his front and his side, and then the man's plush mouth was on his, and -
Castiel completely forgot to take the picture.
The man laughed against his lips. "Did you take it already?"
"No, I um, missed the button," he murmured back.
His lower lip was sucked on as he opened an eye to place his thumb on the button again, and just before the shutter sounded for a final time, Cas pulled the man in to deeper delve into his hot mouth.
They cleared their throats and inched away from one another. "Fuck," the man whispered, eliciting a spit-slick smirk from Castiel. "Yeah, that's the one...we, uh, look like a good couple, huh?"
"Here's hoping my family think as you do," Cas replied.
"Actually, do you mind sending that to me? I mean, so I can tell my mom that I found someone." The man scratched his head, making the beanie bob slightly, and Castiel thought that the man looked as hot and bothered as he felt - something he never thought would happen in a million years. Maybe he wasn't out of Castiel's league after all.
It was a shame they were still strangers.
However, that was something easily rectified.
"Of course. We are quite the pair, aren't we, lying to our mothers about our fake boyfriends." Cas handed his phone to the man so he could send the photo to himself, their fingers lingering on each other's for just a second too long.
"Hey, we're fake park boyfriends, if you want the full title," the man retorted, thumbing in his number, pressing the little green 'send', and giving the phone back.
Castiel checked that it had gone through, as sometimes his phone had difficulties with picture messages, and saw that the man had programmed in his name, too.
Dean shrugged. "Yeah. I figured you might as well tell your family my name instead of making one up."
Cas traced a finger over the name. Dean Winchester. He smiled and glanced up at Dean through his dark lashes. "I'm Castiel. In case you wanted to tell your mother my name, too."
"Castiel..." Dean almost caressed the name with his mouth, setting the embers in Castiel's belly alight again.
"Well, Dean..." Now that he knew his name, Castiel wanted nothing more than to chant it over and over again, especially in a bed, but Anna's red hair catching the light in his peripheries brought him back to the present, and reminded him of the fact that this was meant to be a one time favour with absolutely no repeats. "Dean, I have to go, my friend is waiting, and...thank you. For doing this. For saving me from my family and being made fun of."
With a pensive expression, Dean nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I understand...thank you too, I guess. For the picture. My mom's probably gonna love it so much she'll frame it," he said with a sad smile.
"I'll see you around, Cas."
And so Castiel walked away, fighting the urge to turn back every step of the way, much like he had done earlier, when he was walking towards Dean.
But before he reached his beaming best friend, a text message buzzed through his phone.
Wanna try being real boyfriends?
He turned back to see a flustered Dean, who shrugged helplessly as Cas smiled the widest he had ever smiled.
As it happened, Castiel's boyfriend came to Thanksgiving dinner after all, and Dean's boyfriend spent the Christmas holidays with the Winchesters, where sure enough, the picture of the two of them kissing was framed above the fireplace.