Dean let out a loud groan as he felt his last bit of sanity slipping away from him. Of course, many people argued that he didn't have that bit of it to begin with. And he told most of those people to go fuck themselves but this was really, really about to be the final straw for him. He didn't know how it had come to this. When he arrived back at his apartment he had not expected Renee to have Alicia Fox and the Bellas over for what was apparently girl time. Why they needed girl time and why it was being done at his place was beyond him. Yet there he was, banished to his bedroom and Renee was refusing to come keep him company. Or at least, he was supposed to be banished there anyway. What he was really doing was hiding in the hallway and watching them like a creeper because he kept hearing them talk while he was in the bedroom anyway so why not just fully eavesdrop?
"I love this movie," Brie gushed for what felt like the six hundredth time in the past half hour. They were watching some romantic sappy shit that Dean didn't know the name of. Renee and the twins were all on the couch together while Alicia sat on the floor between Nikki's legs. The bustier Bella was playing with Fox's hair and Brie was holding the bowl of popcorn for everyone despite not even eating it. "It's so romantic."
Alicia and Nikki were more than eager to agree but Dean didn't listen to what they said. His attention was zeroed in on Renee. She was clearly not as into the movie as they were but none of them had picked up on it. Dean didn't know whether it was because they were all really dense or if it was just the fact that he knew her so much better than they did. "I feel like this creates so many unrealistic expectations." That was code for she thought it was stupid but didn't actually want to say it. She had tact. unlike him. "I mean no guy is actually that romantic." She nodded along to her own statement but stopped when she saw how the others were looking at her. "Come on! You know I'm right."
Brie shook her head. "I think all our guys are plenty romantic." She looked to Alicia and Nikki for support. "I mean Bryan always takes me back to where we had our first date as close to our anniversary as we can. He likes to relive our first kiss every time."
Dean nearly gagged. This was hell. This was what hell was like.
"John bought that condo for me in San Francisco just because I loved it so much," Nikki announced proudly.
"Wade writes poetry for me."
Alicia's admission nearly made Dean blow his cover. He slapped a hand over his mouth, just barely masking his snort. He was filing that shit away to torment the Brit about later.
"What about Dean though?" Brie asked.
Renee frowned. "What about him?"
"Well hasn't he done romantic things for you?"
"Yeah." Now Nikki felt like she had to pipe in. "I mean I know he's weird and all but he has to have done something sweet."
Renee visibly faltered at the question. Dean pouted. He knew he wasn't the romantic type. Their dates usually consisted of going to bars after shows while occasionally hitting a concert or going to do some really drunken karaoke on their days off. It suited them perfectly fine but in that moment Dean hoped she would lie. They just so clearly had low expectations for him that he wanted her to lie and shock them. Their expectations could be shoved straight up their ass from one little lie and he tried to will her to do it.
Perfect white teeth bit down on the pretty pink bottom lip. "He tries to make ramen when I'm sick." There it was. The one thing she could even think to call romantic when it came to him. And she actually did smile like it was an actually really sweet thing. The others though just looked confused. As for Dean himself, he slumped down in a pout. He set his hopes and dreams up for a sweeping lie and heard the cold hard truth instead. It was so deflating.
"He tries to make ramen?" Alicia was the one to ask that question. "What do you mean he tries to make ramen?"
Renee grinned sheepishly. "Well uh, sometimes things just kind of go wrong whenever he gets in the kitchen. We're fairly certain there's a conspiracy going on."
The others just looked at each other. Dean pouted. It shouldn't have mattered to him what anyone else thought. It usually didn't. Yet there he was, all fucking bothered because the Princess Parade thought he was lame. Maybe it was because he knew they all thought he wasn't good enough for Renee to begin with. That seemed to be the general consensus in the locker room. Even if they respected him as a performer they all thought he was just a piece of trash that didn't deserve someone as beautiful and sweet as Renee. Even Seth and Roman didn't get it. They teased them constantly, joking inly asking Renee what she saw in him. They didn't mean it to be cruel like the others but boy was it still insulting. And he felt bad because Renee was always left justifying herself to everyone else. That wasn't fair to her.
Brie steered the conversation off of him and he went back to his room. The wheels in his head were turning. He could be romantic. He could show all of them and be the most romantic person ever to romance. Yeah. He could so do it. And Renee wouldn't even know what hit her.
His plan for romance started out simple enough. After he went to the gym the next day he picked up a bouquet of flowers and a couple fancy looking cupcakes from the bakery she liked. A nice surprise and the smile he got in return was positively radiant. Then again, her smiles were always like that. The way she looked at him was sometimes too much. He wasn't used to anyone looking at him the way she did. Even when other women said they loved they never looked at him the way she did. It freaked him out but he didn't want her to stop. As she hugged and kissed him for what he got her he knew he hadn't done enough. Of course she would never say that. Maybe she didn't even feel that way. But the seed that had always been there, the seed that told him he wasn't good enough for her, it was growing. He needed to do more. Not just to shut everyone else up but he needed to try and actively keep her. Anyone could swoop in and just take her from him. Everyone loved her backstage. There were more than a few guys who would love to capitalize on one of his mistakes and steal her right out from under him.
The problem he soon found himself facing though was that he wasn't used to actively trying to keep a woman. He didn't have the money John Cena had to throw at her. Hell, despite the fact that he did make an absolutely insane amount of money compared to the income he grew up on, it didn't show in his lifestyle. Most of the things at the apartment were Renee's. The apartment itself was on the smaller side. He still bought his clothes at a thrift shop for fuck's sake. And he wasn't into the weird nature stuff Bryan was into. He didn't think Renee minded. She wasn't a weird hippie chick like Brie was anyway. But that meant the next idea he had to steal from was Barrett's poetry bullshit. At first he scoffed at it completely. There was no way in hell he could write a poem. But with the realization that he didn't really know a lot of romancing options, he decided to give it a try.
Three hours later he was found hunched over in his chair backstage at the Smackdown taping by Seth and Roman. Over half the pages of the notebook laid crumpled up on the floor. His hand was cramping from writing so much and he was getting more and more frustrated with the fact that everything he was producing sucked. He could cut promos that had everyone losing their minds about how brilliant they were but he couldn't write simple words down on a piece of paper about his own girlfriend. "Fucking children can do this shit," he muttered under his breath. "Why can't I do it? Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid."
Roman and Seth exchanged looks. The old silent argument went on between them. When it came to dealing with a muttering and upset Dean, they were usually split on what to do. Roman tended to like to leave him alone and let him ride out the shit in his head unless he started hitting things. And Seth was just nosy and fancied himself as helpful (which he wasn't in reality) and despite Roman giving him the look not to do it, he knelt down beside Dean and put an arm around him. "What are you doing there bud?"
"Nothing." Dean took Seth's arm off of him, grateful that he had a blank page exposed on the notebook as opposed to something he had written. The last thing he needed was for them to know what he was doing. Roman maybe would be understanding if he explained himself but Seth was just going to straight up laugh at him. "What are you guys doing here?"
Seth frowned. "We kind of work here."
"Well duh! I meant like here here." Dean waved his hands around. "Like in the room here. "
"We gotta talk strategy for our match," Roman replied. He was eyeing all the crumpled up pieces of paper on the floor with great curiosity. "We got Rybaxel and Orton tonight."
Dean snorted. "What do we even need to talk about then? We'll just do what we always do."
Dean grinned at Roman's quip. "I was going to say win-hey hey hey!" His eyes nearly popped out of his head when he realized Seth had grabbed one of the pieces of paper. "You can't have that!" He dived to get it away from him but Seth easily side stepped him. He hit the floor face first. "Damn it!" He sat up in time to see Seth standing behind Roman for protection as he smoothed out the paper. "Rome! Stop him!"
"Roses are red, violets are blue. Flowers smell nice and so do you." Seth stared at the words he just read in complete bewilderment. "What the hell?" He looked at Dean for an explanation. "Are you writing poetry?" He was already laughing. Dean just wanted to kill him. "Are you actually writing poetry?"
"Shut up." Dean got up and tried to snatch the paper back out of his hands. "Come on!" he whined as Seth jumped out of his reach once more. "Just give it to me!"
"Why are you writing poetry?" Seth could barely even get the question out he was laughing so hard. "This is so lame. What are you doing man?"
"I'm being romantic!"
Both Seth and Roman looked at him like he lost his mind. "Romantic?" Roman at least was having the decency to not laugh at him. "You? Since when?"
"Since now." Dean folded his arms over his chest defensively. "It's been pointed out to me I don't do that shit with Renee and I thought I should try it out."
"Well telling her she smells good isn't exactly going to do a trick," Seth declared.
"Because it's a little weird and shouldn't come from a guy who looks like he doesn't know what a bath is."
"Seth stop it," Roman scolded as Dean tried to resist the urge to strangle him. "He's trying here. We should be proud of him."
"Well I wasn't sure if he could read or write so yeah, let's be proud."
"Asshole!" Dean punched Roman right in the gut. "I hate you both." He shoved Roman into Seth and stared gathering up the other pieces of paper before they could see his other failures. "You both suck."
"Dude come on, we're just messing with you." Seth shoved Roman off him and put his hands up in a surrendering gesture. "You don't got to be all pissy."
"Screw you guys." Dean trashed the paper and glared at them. "This is hard okay? You two don't get told you're not good enough for your girlfriends all the damn time. I was just trying to do something nice for once."
Roman now looked rightfully guilty. "Is she making you feel that way?"
"Then what's the issue? Screw what anyone else thinks. If she's happy then just be happy."
"Or just you know, do something for her you'll be better at." There was totally not helpful Seth rearing his head again. "Maybe take her out on an actual date and not just skeezy bars. Take her to get some good food, see a movie and then go back and have sex around a bunch of candles. I mean jesus man, that's dating 101. How could you not have thought of that?"
Dean shrugged. "I um...I don't know?"
"Or you could learn to cook and surprise her with a romantic meal," Roman suggested.
"Nooooo." Seth shook his head immediately. "Dear god no. He can't do that."
Roman frowned. "Why not?"
"He'll burn down his entire apartment building."
"No I won't!" Dean was completely insulted despite knowing that what Seth was saying was completely true.
"Yeah you will!" Seth just shook his head. "You can barely make ramen for god's sakes. You started a fire from making mac and cheese that one time. Mac and cheese!"
"That wasn't my fault! The stove malfunctioned."
Roman winced. "Maybe just go with Seth's idea. You don't need to be burning anything down."
"Ugh..." Dean groaned, acting as if he was actually giving that idea up. "Fine. No cooking." He smirked at Seth. "I'll save that for the next time I'm at your house."
"Burn my house down and I'll kick your ass Ambrose. You remember that."
Dean only laughed.
In the time she had been dating Dean, Renee felt like she had gotten used to a lot of weird things. Maybe he wasn't as dangerously psychotic as he played himself to be in the ring, but he was certainly touched in the head. But his sudden need for little romantic touches was throwing her completely off guard. Flowers, chocolates, openly holding her hand, a notebook full of badly written poetry that he didn't know she found because she was too surprised to say anything about it; all of this was weird to her. It wasn't until she remembered that he had actually been home during the whole girls day she had with the Bellas and Alicia that she started to piece together what it was that was bothering him. He had to have listened in on the conversation they had about their guys and romance. He had an eavesdropping problem in general. She didn't know why she hadn't thought of this sooner. It made his recent behavior make sense. Whether he admitted it or not, the things people said or thought about him and their relationship bothered him. She knew very well that it was the general consensus that he wasn't good enough for her. It was ridiculous in her own mind. It wasn't any of their business and on top of that, who were they to say someone wasn't good enough? Most of them were assholes with over inflated egos. For all his quirks and faults, she found Dean to be a complete sweetheart who just needed someone to balance him out a little.
Of course, this sudden desire to prove himself to her or whatever had some perks. The date night they had upon returning to Vegas after the Smackdown taping was a really nice surprise. Dinner at an actual restaurant, a trip to the movies and then a night of what felt more like actual love making than his usual wham bam hardcore sex style of things. Admittedly, that was stuff she would like to keep doing. It didn't have to be all the time. It wouldn't be him if it happened all the time. But she had fun and it seemed like he had too so why not go with it more?
She had fallen asleep with his head resting on her chest and had expected to wake up the same way. But he wasn't there when she opened her eyes. She frowned, rubbing her face as she tried to figure out where he had run off to. He never got up first. He stayed up all night and either slept all morning or had to be literally dragged out of bed by the hair. So where could he have gone? she supposed she should probably get up and look for him but she didn't want to. It felt good to just lay there, her body sated and lazy from the previous night's activities.
BEEP! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!
"GOD DAMN IT!"
The combination of the shrill smoke detector and his cursing made her groan. She threw the covers off her body and slipped a robe on before running to the kitchen. By the time she got there, he had grabbed the fire extinguisher and was at least able to put his own fire out this time. His dirty blonde hair was a complete disheveled mess and he had somehow managed to singe part of his red boxers with the flames. His eyes widened as he saw she was standing there. "I got this," he assured her. "Just go back to bed. I'm making breakfast."
"Oh sweetie..." Renee had to sigh and grab him so she could direct him away from the stove. "Look, I know you're on this whole romance kick. I know the girls made you feel bad about yourself."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he muttered.
She smiled. Of course he denied it. She knew he would. "But you don't have to try so hard. You got me. I'm not going anywhere." She kissed him softly. "Besides, I've got a better plan." She took him by the hand and smiled sweetly. "Come shower with me. I uh...need some help."
He grinned devilishly and let her pull him along. "Help? I think I can manage that.