Ash nearly tipped his chair as he reached around Benny's back to smack Dean's arm in a bid for attention. "Hey, a bunch of the guys are pitching in for some entertainment of the feminine persuasion in the suite tonight for Garth's birthday. You in?"
"Nah," Dean replied distractedly. He scanned the room, trying not to give away his eagerness as he searched the sea of people, cameras, and microphones for one face in particular: messy dark hair, just a bit of scruff, and blue eyes that knocked Dean as breathless as one of Judah "Golem" Bass's checks when they focused in on him. Dean found him in the back, where he grown used to seeing him.
Cas Novak was new on the sports beat, though he was a more seasoned journalist than most of the pool. He'd gone by Castiel Novak when he was a war correspondent, embedded with army units in Iraq and Afghanistan (and it definitely wasn't at all stalkerish that Dean looked him up), but now his byline just used Cas. Maybe his editors thought it was more approachable in the vastly different world of sports journalism, or maybe it was his own idea to get away from his past. Dean didn't know, but he wondered.
More than that, he wondered if Cas was married or dating, if he was even interested in men, if he could go out with a hockey player from a team he covered without it being some big ethics violation or something. Whether he would want to, if that person was Dean.
"Come on," Ash wheedled. "We won, we're off tomorrow, and I know you haven't gotten laid in—"
"Leave it, Ash," Benny admonished, but his rumbling tone was friendly. "He's too busy mooning over the newest newsie."
Dean whipped his head around and started to protest, "I am not—" before lowering his voice and checking that no one in the first few rows had heard them. Coach Turner gave them all a scowl, but that wasn't unusual, and the reporters were all double-checking their notes or chatting with colleagues, waiting for the press conference to start.
"I am not mooning over him," he whispered hotly. "But if I were, I could pick a worse guy to be too nervous to ask out for coffee. Have you read his series on civilian translators in Afghanistan? You know, the one he won a Pulitzer for? He's brilliant, he's brave, and God, he's gorgeous."
It wasn't until the stillness was broken by a chorus of quiet laughter and muttering that Dean realized an unnatural silence had fallen sometime during his speech. With dread seizing his guts, he looked back out at the audience and found them all staring at him.
Hesitantly, he asked, "Was that, uh, did my mic get turned on?"
Rufus, glaring a promise that Dean would be skating suicide sprints until he turned sixty, nodded curtly. Amidst the amused and shocked noises of the crowd and Benny's roaring guffaw, Dean groaned and dropped his head onto folded arms to hide his face against the table.
He'd just outed himself and creeped on Cas in front of a few dozen network, newspaper, and magazine reporters. If the footage hadn't already been live, it would be airing in moments. It would replay on YouTube forever.
As his thoughts spiralled down toward immediate and disgraced retirement, Benny—bless him—called for quiet and suggested, "How about we move right on along to the questions, folks?"
His charitable feelings for his friend vanished when, after Benny called on the first reporter, it was Cas's voice declaring he had a question for Dean. He lifted his head slightly and saw the cause of his mortification standing at the front of the rows of chairs, eyes intent on his.
"Do you have any plans for after this press conference wraps up?" Cas asked.
Since Dean could only gape, Benny answered far too cheerfully for him, "Nope!"
"A follow up, if I may."
The entire situation was so surreal that Dean was pretty sure he must have passed out or even died of shame, and his dream or heaven or whatever he'd found himself in was fucking with him.
But then Cas smiled, solemn and genuine, and asked, "Would you like to go out for coffee when we're done here?"
Inspiration from a clip of a college basketball press conference that's old news, but just came to my attention. Naturally, the first thing I thought was, "Hey! I should turn that into Destiel."