Balthazar waits patiently for Castiel to speak up as they walk. Something has clearly been on his mind since fifth period, making him tap and turn and frown, occasionally rubbing the back of his neck like he always does when considering something that makes him nervous.
As they pass the park, Castiel suddenly stops and whips off his headphones, brow deeply furrowed, tugging Balthazar to a halt where their hands are joined.
“Why do they keep saying that?” he almost shouts.
“Which, darling?” Balthazar asks.
“The others in our classes,” Castiel explains. “Why do they keep asking when we’re going to start dating? Why do they smile like that when they say it?” He pauses, clearly still deep in thought. “I remember now…they used to ask back in grade school as well, and then once or twice in middle school, and they always…leered like that. …I don’t like it.”
After another moment’s pause, Castiel looks up at Balthazar for clarification. Tongue between his teeth as he thinks, Balthazar considers his answer.
“It’s a taunt,” he explains, speaking slowly as he pieces the puzzle together. “An amalgamation of…peculiarities, in their eyes. We’re always together, we hold hands, we’re both male - that last one is key, really. I imagine at least some of them assume we already are dating, and they want us to come out and validate it for their amusement.”
Balthazar looks over at Castiel, who nods solemnly. “Yes, I know what ‘coming out’ is.”
Castiel looks away, slipping his hand out of Balthazar’s grip and pacing in a small circle as he processes the explanation.
“I assume…” he starts thoughtfully, running his fingers along the chain link fence surrounding the park, “…that we’re not actually obligated to date, despite the…peculiarities, of our relationship.”
“No one is ‘obligated’ to date, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a damned liar.”
Castiel nods. “But we could.”
“Would you like to date me?”
“Would you? …I would feel better to have your answer first,” Balthazar clarifies quickly when Castiel starts to frown.
Looking down, Castiel runs his fingers along the fence as he steps a little closer to Balthazar, staring into the park as he talks.
“I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how I would like to date you, but I have some concerns.”
“…Well, I have a concern, mainly. What if it doesn’t ‘work out’, as they say? If we have to ‘break up’, is that the end of our friendship?”
"Only if that is what we decide,” Balthazar assures him quickly, then pauses, chin in hand, searching for a way to explain. “Think of it… Think of it this way: we’re best friends. Dating each other would add a romantic component to our relationship, on top of our friendship. And if we broke up…”
Castiel, now looking at Balthazar, nods intently. “Then we would remove the romantic component.”
Balthazar chuckles affectionately at Castiel’s matter-of-factness. “Exactly, darling. We’d be back to the way we were before. As they say, no harm, no foul…no?”
"Presumably, we could even try again, if we wanted.”
There’s a long minute’s silence as Castiel paces back-and-forth along the fence, carefully considering everything he’s taken in. He stops again, head tilted, in front of Balthazar, and straightens up confidently.
“Then my answer is ‘yes’. I would like to date you. …And your answer?”
Balthazar smiles. “My answer is also ‘yes’. I would love to date you.”
There’s another long silence as neither of them moves, Balthazar smiling softly and watching as Castiel casts his eyes around thoughtfully, tongue darting out to wet his lips. He looks into Balthazar’s eyes.
“Is that it, then? Are we ‘in a relationship’ now?”
“That’s right, darling.”
Castiel mirrors Balthazar’s fond expression as he fiddles with his headphones.
“I like it.”