It starts with two words. Two simple words that Dean never thought he would hear, much less coming from Roman’s mouth. It happens when he gets back to their hotel room one night; he walks in with a 12 pack of beer on one hand and 3 large pizzas on the other, he has to settle the beer on the floor to get his key card in and open the door, and as soon as he walks in Roman’s eyes light up and he smiles at him. He smiles that wide, warm smile that can make people happy. Dean smiles back of course (because when Roman smiles like that he just has to smile back).
“I got food and beer” He says, like Roman might have not seen the big pizza boxes or the 12 pack.
“Nice” Roman says and they sit on the bed to eat.
Dean gives Roman a box and when Roman opens it, that’s when it happens.
“Dude, marry me” Roman exclaims and chuckles after.
He starts eating and Dean would have done the same if he hadn’t been so busy fixating on those two words. Marry Me. He just stares at Roman, who is happily chewing his food. And he knows, theoretically, that Roman was joking around. That he was so grateful Dean had gotten him his favorite pizza that he said those words. But now he can’t not think of it.
He’s never thought about it before, mainly because he always thought he would end up alone, that he wouldn’t fall in love (that no one would fall for him). So he wrote marriage off a long time ago and things hadn’t changed so much for him to make him change his mind. Sure he was in a serious relationship but he didn’t think they needed a paper to tell them they were going to be together forever (and maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t sure they were going to be).
“Everything okay?” Roman asks as he starts eating his fourth slice of pizza, Dean’s box opened beside him, still full.
“Yeah why?” Dean replies, like it wasn’t obvious how quiet he was being or how he hadn’t even touch his food. Roman raises an eyebrow at his question.
“You’re being uncharacteristically quiet and haven’t touched your food” Roman answers pointedly.
“You know we don’t actually have to get married right?” Dean asks in way of an answer, it takes Roman a moment to catch up. His face scrunched up in confusion for a second before he answers.
“You know I was joking right?” Even as he says this Dean knows that marriage is something Roman has thought about.
“I know, but still” He says.
“What do you mean?” Roman asks.
“That we don’t have to do it” He states.
Dean can see the hurt in the Samoan’s eyes, replaced in an instant by confusion.
“I mean, we don’t need no one’s permission to be together right?” Roman doesn’t answer so he continues, “You know I love you and I know you love me and we both know we’re together for the long haul right?”
Roman looks at him for the longest time before nodding, and Dean thinks that maybe he’s gonna argue with him about it, but he nods again and says “No, yeah, you’re totally right. We don’t need any of that”
“So we’re good then?” Dean asks, because he has to make sure.
“We’re totally fine babe” Roman answers and gives Dean a smile. Dean believes it even when he can see that Roman’s smile is completely different from the one he gave Dean when he entered the room.
It turns out they are not fine. Is not that they argue more than usual, or that their sex life has changed. It’s just that sometimes when Dean looks at Roman he can see the Samoan has a sadness in his eyes and Dean is pretty sure he knows why. Because he locked the door of marriage right in Roman’s face before he could even try to open it. He doesn’t know how to handle it, doesn’t even know how to bring it up (mostly because he doesn’t want to talk about marriage again); but at times, especially when they’re alone, Roman just looks so sad it’s starting to worry Dean. What if he screwed up really bad this time? What if now that Roman knows Dean doesn’t want to marry him he breaks up with him? What if he finds someone who does want to get married? They’re currently on their way to the hotel, after a long night at work, and while Dean is thinking of how to bring it up Roman breaks the silence.
“Are you ok?” He asks. Dean scoffs.
“I think I should be asking you that question” He replies.
“What do you mean? I’m fine” Roman answers, his face not giving much away for Dean to read into.
“Don’t think I haven’t noticed how… sad you’ve been lately” Dean says, and he cringes internally at his words, he’s never been particularly good at talking about feelings. Roman readjusts his grip on the steering wheel, he tenses for a moment before sighing.
“I haven’t been sad” He says. Dean can see right through his lie this time.
“Maybe a little disappointed” He states. It’s Dean’s turn to sigh. He doesn’t know what’s worse making Roman sad or disappointed. He guesses he did both anyway. “Not at you” Roman adds almost immediately which makes Dean laugh humorlessly.
“I mean it” Roman continues, “It’s just the situation. I had to let go of some plans I had. But I don’t want to force you to do something you don’t want” He pauses for a moment, Dean thinks he’s done but then he keeps going.
“But you’re right, we don’t need none of that. We’ve got each other and that’s what matters. Right?” This time when Roman smiles it’s a brighter smile than the ones he had been giving Dean, so Dean counts this talk as a win. It’s still not the smile Dean loves, the one he can’t help but return, but he believes they’re on the right track, so he leaves it at that.
Roman’s words replay in Dean’s head over and over though. ‘I don’t want to force you to do something you don’t want’ Wasn’t that what Dean was doing? By not wanting to marry Roman? ‘I had to let go of some plans I had’ Had he been planning their wedding already? Their life together as a married couple? It kept Dean up almost all night. He was confused and maybe even more worried than before.
Things go back to normal gradually. Dean decides not to bring up that theme anymore, even when it still keeps him up at night sometimes. They’re doing great at work and he’s enjoying how things are so much that he tries really hard not to think about it. Roman seems happier and that makes Dean happier. But still there he is at 3 am thinking about it.
They’re at Roman’s
their place in Pensacola, (when they get to go home they alternate between Pensacola and Vegas). Roman’s fast asleep while Dean keeps starting at the ceiling. He gets up after a while, too awake to just be lying there. And decides to have a late night snack, which turns into him wanting to make pasta at that hour. He begins looking around the kitchen for the ingredients; normally Roman does the cooking, not because Dean can’t cook but because he enjoys it, Dean doesn’t particularly care for it. So he opens some cabinets and starts looking around until he finds a pot that he can use. He opens the lid and almost drops the pot when he sees what’s inside. A little black velvet box. He knows, he just knows what’s in it. But he doesn’t want to open it; doesn’t really want to confirm his suspicions. Still his curiosity gets the better of him, so he pulls it out, puts the pot on the countertop and stares at the box for a little bit before opening it. He gasps at its contents: a single silver band with a very intricate (and familiar) pattern on it. He takes the ring out of the box and gives it a closer look, on the inside he sees 2 dates engraved on it: the date he and Roman met, and the day they made their relationship official.
His heart is racing now and by instinct he tries it on, the ring fitting perfectly on his finger. He takes it off frantically, putting everything where he found it as quickly as possible, while at the same time trying to be very quiet about it. Midnight snack forgotten he goes back to bed. Roman’s still fast asleep when Dean lays down. He’s still too awake though; new thoughts and questions forming in his head. Now he understood what Roman meant when he talked about letting go of his plans. He had to have thought about proposing for a long time now. How long does it take to design a ring? or make it? How long had Roman had it there? Hiding in the cupboard? What was he going to do with it now that they had that talk?
The thing was that Dean was a bit scared of what marrying Roman, or anyone else, meant; he couldn’t even fathom the idea of Roman wanting to be with him now, let alone for the rest of their lives. He couldn’t understand it even when he knew that he wanted to be with Roman forever. He doesn’t sleep at all that night, and he thinks about telling Roman that he found the ring; but when the morning comes he doesn’t say anything and they go about their day as if nothing had happened.
The next time they get to go home to Pensacola Dean waits till Roman falls asleep and goes down to the kitchen, opens the pot and takes the ring out. He puts it on and imagines what it would be like to marry Roman. He guesses the wedding would have to be big just so that all of Roman’s family could attend. He thinks about the honeymoon and whether or not they could take time off for it. And he thinks about having children and pets and he’s not sure where all of that comes from. He stares at the ring all the while and after some time he goes back to bed. It becomes something of a routine then. While they’re on the road Dean thinks about the ring, sitting there in the kitchen; and when they go back to Pensacola he sneaks out of the room at night and puts it on. He imagines what life as a married man would be like, what having a family with Roman would be like.
It goes on for at least 3 months, until one night things change. Dean gets out of bed as he normally does, goes down to the kitchen and pulls the pot out, but when he opens it he realizes it’s empty. He stares at it for a while, as if he might have missed the little box, but nothing’s there. So he gets another pot, a different one (that he’s really sure is not the one where the ring was) and opens it and that one it’s empty too. So he panics, starts to take everything out of the cupboards and cabinets. Every pot and pan and anything in there he gets it out. He doesn’t even realize how much noise he’s made until he hears Roman’s voice.
“Dean? What the hell is going on?” He sounds a bit groggy and grumpy from sleep. Dean doesn’t even think about it when he responds “It’s gone!” Like Roman knows exactly what Dean was doing.
“What’s gone?” Roman asks, a little more awake. Rubbing his eyes he walks closer, looking all around.
Dean knows that he either has to confess or make something up right there, but as he looks at Roman he realizes the Samoan is looking at one particular place, at one particular pot. So Dean tells him everything. From finding the ring, to being ultimately obsessed with it and everything it represents. Roman looks shocked, mostly. And Dean wants to ask why is it gone? Did Roman sell it? Gave it away after Dean told him he didn’t want to get married? But before he can ask anything Roman takes him by the hand, walks him up the stairs and sits him on the bed. He doesn’t say anything as he does this, which only makes Dean all the more anxious.
Roman finally breaks the silence saying: “I only recently had the courage to take it out. I was gonna try and sell it, but I couldn’t do it” He walks towards his suitcase and takes the little black velvet box out of it. He shows it to Dean who, upon seeing it, gets up and abruptly says “Yes”
“What?” Roman says, and Dean guesses he must feel really confused now.
“I’ll marry you” Dean clarifies, “If you still want to” He walks closer to Roman, until they are face to face.
Roman is looking down at the box in his hands, he opens it and takes out the ring.
“Of course I still want to.” He says, holding the ring in his hand; “I will always want to be with you Dean, in whatever way you’ll have me. You don’t have to do this for me” He adds.
“Then I’ll do it for me” Dean says.
“I mean it Dean” Roman argues, “I don’t want you to do something you don’t want just because of me or because you found it.”
“I’m serious Roman” Dean says.
They stare at each other for a while, and then Roman gets down on one knee. Suddenly everything is really surreal for Dean and he gets anxious again, heart racing fast, he looks at Roman, anticipation building in both of them.
“Dean Ambrose” Roman begins.
“Yes?” Dean replies.
“Will you marry me?”