In Other Words, I Don't Think This Is Pretend Anymore

Submitted into Contest #121 in response to: Start your story with someone saying “Thanks a lot” (sarcastically or sincerely).... view prompt


Romance Funny LGBTQ+

Warning: Language

“Thanks a lot,” Tay said, rolling his eyes. He attempted to elbow the annoying person to his left, but failed miserably. 

“Oh come on, I’m not wrong! Clearly I’m the only one willing to do this for you, you should be thankful and accept the offer!” Jensen exclaimed. 

Tay sighed and wiggled around on the armchair to get a bit more comfortable. “I mean I did say thanks.” He said, blowing a piece of black hair out of his eyes. 

“Your voice was dripping in sarcasm,” Jensen said, stating the obvious. “Anyway, I’m the wonderfully charming and handsome solution to your problem!” He said, winking at Tay. 

The older boy simply shrunk into his seat even more, cheeks turning pink. 

“Whoa! Was that a blush I just saw?” Jensen asked, leaning forwards. 

Tay frowned and shook his head. “Hell no, you’re just being weird...ugh why is this happening to me of all people?” He looked up at the ceiling, choosing to ignore the cobwebs littered about on the panels and spoke to the sky. “What have I done to deserve this? I’m a good person, aren’t I?” 

Jensen snorted at the other boy. “Oh come on, you’re being over dramatic. I’ll help you, alright? Besides, I’ve always wanted to meet your family.” 

Tay caught Jensen’s eyes and saw that they were relatively sincere. 

“Fine. But there’s gonna be some ground rules.” 


1 hour earlier. 

“Alexie, I messed up. I seriously messed up.” Tay groaned, collapsing in front of his best friend. 

“What, did you tell Jensen to stop asking you out?” Alex asked, not looking up from his magazine. 

“Huh? No, I mean yes I have before, but not this time. Wait, how would that be me messing up? A...anyway, no, it doesn’t involve Jensen.” Tay said, doing his best to control his stutter. 

“What doesn’t involve me?”

 Tay looked up to see Jensen emerging from his dorm room, clad in dark blue pajamas with his fluffy brown hair looking particularly...fluffy. 

“Why are you here?” Tay asked, pointing an accusatory finger at the other boy. 

“Chill, I’m just making coffee. This whole dorm doesn’t belong to just you, ya know. Anyway, I’m curious now. What doesn’t involve me?” Jensen asked again. 

Tay narrowed his eyes at him before turning back to Alex. 

Deciding to just rip the band-aid off, he blurted out, “I accidentally told my family that I have a boyfriend!” 

Alex lowered his magazine, finally focusing his full attention on his distressed roommate. He opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by the crash of a mug falling onto the floor. Two heads turned to see Jensen staring at Tay, jaw practically on the floor. 

“How the hell do you accidentally tell your family you have a boyfriend? Do you really have one?” Jensen asked, ignoring the pieces of ceramic scattered around.

“None of your business. Clean up the mug.” Tay said. He turned back to Alex, who looked like he was on the verge of bursting into laughter, but was making a valiant effort to hold it in. 

“Not gonna lie Tay, I was gonna ask the same thing.” Alex said, patting the boy's curls. 

“Ugh fine. You know how my relatives are. Super pushy with everything about my life. They’ve been pestering me since freshman year to get a boyfriend and now that it’s almost the holidays, they’ve been even worse. Every time I mention literally any guy in our dorm, they always latch onto their name as if we’re engaged. It annoys the shit out of me I swear. Anyway, they really want me to bring someone home for Thanksgiving so I finally just snapped and told them I have one to get them off my back.” Tay burying his face into his best friend's knee, exasperated. 

“ lied?” Jensen asked, sounding weirdly hopeful. 

“Yes, I lied. I don’t actually have a boyfriend, obviously.” Tay said, voice amusingly muffled. 

“Yeah...just checking.” 

Tay looked up at Alex with big eyes. “Now I have to find someone to pretend to be my boyfriend for the break!” 

“Whoa, whoa, Tay. That’s an awfully big jump you made there. Can’t you just tell your family you broke up with your “boyfriend” or something?” Alex asked. 

Tay shook his head. “No, they’re so excited to meet him. I can’t do that. It’s too late now.” 

Alex nodded in understanding. “Alright. So all we have to do is find someone to be your fake boyfriend for a week. Shouldn’t be too hard.” 

Tay nodded, eyes downcast. All of a sudden he brightened up and squeezed Alex’s knee. “You! How about you pretend to be my boyfriend!” 

Alex laughed and shook his head. “Sorry Tay, but I promised my family that I’d be with them this Thanksgiving. Besides, your family has known me forever. I don’t think they’d believe that we’d ever like each other.” 

Tay pursed his lips. “True.” 

After a moment of silence, Jensen spoke up. “What about me? I could do it. In fact, I’m the perfect candidate. My family sucks so I didn’t really want to go home this Thanksgiving anyway.”

Without even sparing him a look, Tay said, “Not a chance.” 

Alex smirked and looked between his two friends knowingly. He then snatched his magazine and stood up, ignoring Tay whining. “I’ll let you two work this out alone.” He shot Jensen an encouraging thumbs up before exiting the room.  

Tay didn’t change his position on the floor. Now he just added pouting to his list of ‘how to look distressed.’ 

He kept quiet and listened as Jensen swept up the shards of ceramic and brewed a fresh mug of coffee. He still didn’t say anything as he felt Jensen approach him and sit in the arm chair that Alex recently vacated. 


Tay looked up and saw Jensen offering him a mug of something warm. 

“I don’t drink coffee,” He protested.

“I know,” Jensen said. “That’s why it’s hot chocolate.” 

Tay hesitated before taking the mug and giving it a tentative sip. It was just the right temperature and perfectly creamy. 

“Thanks,” Tay murmured. He may find Jensen astoundingly annoying, but he didn’t forget his manners. 

“Of course. Now, let’s discuss your little situation.” Jensen took a deep breath and said, “You’re helpless and you need me.” 


Tay sat on his bed in his dorm room, looking over at the list of rules he and Jensen had compiled earlier. 

  1. Hugging and holding hands are only done around family members if needed. (Possibly kissing too if the need arises.) 
  2. No petty arguing like we usually do.
  3. No matter how annoyed we get with each other, NO breaking our cover.
  4. We ‘break up’ after the week and never mention this again. 

Granted, most of the list was Tay’s idea, but Jensen went along with it. 

Tay glared at his half-packed suitcase. He’d have to finish up quickly, considering they would be leaving in three hours. Jensen had offered to drive, and for once, Tay didn’t argue with him. He was too busy being stressed to focus on driving. 

This is gonna be a long week. 


“Well hello there, you’re looking particularly nice today.” 

Tay looked up to see Jensen standing in front of his car with his arms crossed, grinning at him. 

Tay just kept pulling his suitcase along and tugged his scarf over his face to hide his flushed face. 

Stop betraying me, he commanded his cheeks. 

“You cold?” Jensen asked, stepping forwards to take Tay’s bags and load them into the car. Tay purposefully ignored the slight concern that framed Jensen’s question. 

“I’m fine.” He said, letting Jensen grasp the handle of his case. It actually was quite chilly outside. Enough so that you could see your own breath in the air. Tay had a rule that if you looked like you were a smoker when you stepped outside, you better have a scarf with you. Junkgook clearly didn’t know this rule, so Tay had taken it upon himself to pack extra scarves. Just to hold up his rule, obviously. 

“You know,” Jensen said after getting in the car, “If we’re gonna spend the whole week together as a couple, we should probably be a bit more friendly with each other.” 

Tay nodded. “At least pretend to tolerate each-other.” 

Jensen didn’t say anything at that, just shut the car door and started up the engine. Immediately, ‘O Holy Night’ started playing through the radio. Jensen reached to turn it off, but Tay grabbed his hand. 

“Wait, wait, I love this song!” He said. 

Jensen turned to him with raised eyebrows. “Seriously? It’s not Thanksgiving yet, so we can't listen to Christmas music. It’s like a crime.”  

“Tsk, you just don’t have enough Christmas spirit.” Tay said. “I’m ready for Christmas music all year ‘round.” 

“Well good for you, but some of us want to rip our ears out if we have to listen to Christmas music for more than one month out of the year.” Jensen said, but he still didn’t change the station. 

“Grinch,” Tay muttered. But when he saw that Jensen wasn’t going to switch the song, he quickly released his hold on his hand.  

The remainder of the ride was fairly quiet, with few quips and jabs thrown out here and there. All while a variety of Christmas music played through the speakers. 

What Tay was most surprised to find out was that it was a rather comfortable silence. He was expecting peak awkwardness, but it wasn’t bad at all. 

Tay would give Jensen directions and we would make a ‘hmm’ sound as he steered the car. It was all rather relaxing. 

Two hours later when Jensen finally pulled into the driveway of a huge house, Tay didn’t make a move to get up. He really wouldn’t mind staying in the car for a while longer. 

“I should probably prepare you for what you’re about to encounter in that house.” Tay said, turning to face Jensen. 

“It can’t be that bad. Besides, I have some experience with my own family not exactly being the most...pleasant.” 

Tay wanted to ask what Jensen meant by that, but he was interrupted by the front door to the house swinging open and his mother waving and shouting something at the car. 

“That’s my mom. She enjoys prodding into people’s lives. My dad, grandparents and my two siblings are in there somewhere too.” He said. 

“You have siblings?” Jensen asked, sounding shocked. 

Tay nodded. “Yeah, they’re both older than me. Lena is 25 and James is 23. Uh...James is kinda prone to asking weird questions so just ignore him. Lena will probably fawn over your looks, so be prepared for that.” 

“My looks? Kim Tay, did you just admit that I’m handsome?” Jensen asked, his eyes sparkling. 

“ mean, you’re not not decent looking. I’m just saying that Lena may or may not try to put makeup on you.” Tay said. He was blushing furiously now and he couldn’t exactly hide it. 

Jensen just leaned back in his seat with a smile spread across his face. “This is a day I’ll certainly remember. The Kim Tay admitted that I'm attractive. Wonderful.” 

“God, you’re so full of yourself. Shut up.” Tay got out of the car and offered a quick wave to his mom before opening the trunk. 

Jensen joined him at the back of the car and grabbed both of their suitcases. 

“Let’s go, sweetheart, your family awaits.” 


Overall, the introductions weren’t as awful as Tay originally expected them to be. Jensen surprised him by being civil enough. He was even charming. Tay could tell that his family were obsessed with Jensen after ten minutes. 

The moment they had set their luggage down in the entryway, Jensen had placed his hand on Tay’s lower back and hadn’t moved it since. Tay admitted to himself that he didn’t really mind the touch. He found it...grounding. 

The moment Lena had caught sight of Jensen, she had grabbed Tay’s hand and said, “Oh my gosh, he’s so hot. You better not let him go.” She had said it loudly too. 

Tay had laughed and nodded. His family had no idea that he would definitely ‘let him go’ once the week was over. 

Now though, the entire family was seated at the table for dinner. Tay's mother dished them all up with potato soup, bread and grape juice. One they all settled down and began eating, Tay’s grandpa asked the tragic question, “So how did you two meet and start dating?” 

Tay froze, his spoon halfway to his mouth. 

Stupid, stupid, stupid. They hadn’t discussed the details of their relationship! Rule number one of having a fake relationship was to make sure both parties were on the same page about their first date, meeting location ect. 

However, Jensen came in like a knight in shining armour and answered the question as smooth as can be. 

“Well I had always noticed Tay from the beginning of the school year. Obviously I thought he was stunning, but I didn’t have the courage to talk to him for a long time. Not until last year actually.” Jensen paused and gently took Tay’s hand in his. “I asked him out for banquet but he said no.” At that, the whole table erupted into chuckles. 

“That sounds like Tay.” James chirped. 

Tay clenched his jaw and nodded. This story sounded oddly familiar. 

“Well after the banquet I suppose I didn’t really give up. I’m pretty sure he was super annoyed with me but I eventually wormed my way into his heart.” Jensen chuckled and squeezed Tay’s hand. 

Tay was shell-shocked. Everything about the story was true. It must’ve been, at least from Jensen’s perspective. 

The two locked eyes and Tay felt his heart begin to beat a bit faster at the clear adoration in Jensen’s eyes. That was not acting. 

Then, Jensen leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to Tay’s forehead. 

Welp. That was it. Tay’s face was officially scarlet. How was he supposed to survive this week with Jensen being so charming? 

Has he always been like this? Tay wondered. No, not possible. 

The rest of the dinner went without a single hiccup and soon Jensen and Tay retired to their room. 

However, the moment they stepped into the room, a new situation arose. 

It was Tay's bedroom from when he was growing up so of course there was only one twin sized bed nestled in the corner of the room. 

“ yeah there’s only one bed.” Tay said softly, shoving his rolling suitcase towards the dresser. 

“Mhm, I see that.” Jensen ruffled Tay’s hair and plopped himself down onto the bed. 

A pang of annoyance and hurt shot through Tay. 

He chose the bed that quickly? I thought we would’ve at least talked about it. Maybe we could’ve traded off every night. Asshole. 

Of course, Tay didn’t voice his thoughts out loud. He only made his way to the couch on the other side of the room and sat down there. 

Once pajamas were changed into and teeth were brushed, Tay felt a layer of awkwardness begin to fall over the room. However, Jensen didn’t seem to notice, he just climbed onto the bed like nothing was wrong. 

Tay fiddled with his hands a bit and eventually laid down on the couch. 

A few minutes of silence went by before Tay heard a shuffling of blankets and saw Jensen sit up, confusion written on his face. 

“Oh yeah, no. We’re not doing this right now.” He said. 

“Huh?” Tay sat up as well. 

“Come here, we’re gonna share the bed. I hope you didn’t really think that I’d let you sleep on the couch for the week, did you?” Jensen lifted up the blanket and patted the obvious space that was meant for him. 

“ don’t mind?” Tay asked, making his way over to the bed. 

“Of course not,” Jensen said. “It’s only weird if you make it weird.” 

Once the two were all settled in bed and the light was flicked off, Tay let his thoughts wander. 

I’m not making it weird, am I? I mean the situation is already strange. A fake relationship? That sort of thing only happens in movies and like...fanfiction. 

But as Tay shifted to the side and gazed at Jensen’s peaceful face, he realized that maybe this whole situation wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be. 

As the week went on, his thoughts were confirmed. The way Jensen interacted with his family, how he never failed to make Tay smile. Jensen’s vulnerability when he talked to Tay about his own family. The way his eyes would light up when Tay wrapped one of his famous scarves around his face.  

Tay cherished the little details. Like how Jensen was the first one up to wash the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner. How his gaze would never leave Tay’s face when he was telling a story. And best of all, when Jensen would press little kisses to Tay’s cheeks before bed. It was a romance story if Tay had ever heard one. 

Slowly but surely, both Tay and Jensen inevitably found themself coming to the conclusion that...maybe this wasn’t pretend anymore. The lingering touches, the soft glances. Maybe it was meant to be. 

When they finally left the house once the week was over, the first thing both Jensen and Tay did was fill Alex in on everything that happened. He listened to every detail with his magazine in hand with a smug smile, like he didn’t predict what would happen all along.

November 26, 2021 05:42

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Veronica M
04:40 Dec 02, 2021

Aww this is so sweet! I loved it!


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Tricia Shulist
15:50 Nov 29, 2021

Nice story. It’s like a rom-com and Hallmark Christmas movie all rolled into one. Thanks for this.


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