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Feeding People, Cooking Things, The Family Business

Chapter Text

 

"Oh God, it's disgusting. This is a true abomination of cooking. I just might be an evil genius!" Dean Winchester exclaims as he tastes the food in front of him. "Tuna and peanut butter."

Then he laughs, unable to contain it, "Jesus. It's even nastier than I thought!"

"Dean!" Dean's dad, John, calls from inside the food truck. "Our judge is here."

"Be right there." Dean calls back, grabbing his bandana and tying it around his head. "Let's cook."

 

The pans sizzle,  the food is flipped, and in minutes, two servings, one made by each Winchester, are set in front of their judge, Astrid, a girl only a few years younger than Dean, who stops by here for more than just the food.

All the surrounding customers ooh and ahh at the two bowls of chili, with John saying, "Enjoy.", while Dean takes off his bandana and says, "Bon appetit, Madame."

Astrid tries to stay calm as she tastes the delicious food from the Winchester Mystery Truck, but the flavors are just so heart-poundingly delicious.

It's dead silent for a few seconds as they all wait to hear her deliberation.

But then, she takes one finger, and points to their left, "This is the one.", and John raises his fist in victory.

Dean can't help but bang the counter with his fist in frustration, growling at having lost yet another match to his dad.

"Looks like you're still not quite up to my level yet, are you, Dean?" John asks, looking at Dean with a smug smile.

Dean starts to walk out, calling back, "Guess I've been beaten. For now."

But John's not gonna let him have the last word, "You realize you have to beat me at least once before you can say something like that, right? And how many times have you lost now? 600?"

That makes Dean stop, turn around and point a finger back in John's face, "You know as well as I do it's only 589. So don't even try to pull that with me, old man!"

John tries to say something encouraging, "Don't worry. You'll get there."

Dean's in no mood for pep talks, "Whatever you say, Dad. You don't know anything."

But, at the very least, they seem to make their customers happy, who are all too busy stuffing their faces with their cuisine of the day.

But Astrid still tries to assure Dean, "Yours was really good too, though, Dean. But John's was just completely out of this world."

Dean has his back turned to her, but he says quietly, "Sure...no problem."

Even the girl can see there's something off about his tone, "Huh?"

Dean tells her, "Care to try this new dish I just whipped up?"

Then Dean turns around, holding a plate of something she can't identify on sight, telling her, "I think you'll really like it."

Seeing there doesn't seem to be anything wrong, she agrees enthusiastically, "Sure! I'll try anything once!"

Dean holds up a spoonful, "It's pan fried tuna with peanut butter."

The girl starts to back away, and the crowd looks worried as well, while Dean keeps pursuing her, saying, "Just one bite. So nasty, you'll puke."

And next thing the girl knows, the spoonful is being shoved in her mouth.

It doesn't take long at all before she actually tastes it, and it's worse than she thought.

The art of cooking is a wide and astounding spectrum, no doubt about that, a never ending horizon filled with new ideas, some amazing, some even worse than tuna and peanut butter.

But for Astrid, the dish was enough to traumatize her enough to where a friend of hers finally takes her by the shoulder, giving Dean a dirty look as she leads Astrid away.

John, who saw everything, tells Dean from inside the truck, "Pretty good. But trust me, mine are waaaay worse than that. Remember when we ran out of peanut butter, so I tried to substitute sardines with the jelly?"

Dean now smiles as he looks back to his dad and says, "How could I ever forget? That should never have left the truck. But my peanut butter tuna is way more disgusting."

The two start arguing back and forth about who's dish is more gross, while simultaneously serving everyone that orders from their truck. In many ways, it's just another busy day for the Winchester father-son team.

 

As the sun starts to go down, the customers dwindle down, but not by much. Since his dad has the cooking handled for the moment, Dean makes himself useful by bringing the food to the customers himself so they don't have to wait in line.

But what they don't see is the suspicious looking black car parked about a block away from where the truck is set up.

But for the rest of the night, Dean just cleans up tables and throws away trash, whole muttering to himself, "Should've let the chili simmer for a few more minutes."

Then he hears someone walk up, and Dean turns to say, "Sorry, were clo-."

But then he sees who it is, and immediately, he's on guard.

The blonde woman in the pantsuit speaks first, clearly the leader, "Sorry to barge in. Looks like you're closing up for the night. Hope you don't mind some last minute walk-ins. You understand." And gestures her cronies to follow her as she walks right up to Dean, greeting him,

"Hello again. Nice to see you. Remember me?" This could be Dean's imagination, but he swears she actually puffs her chest out a little bit.

Dean already knows who she is, and so doesn't feel like wasting any more time with her than necessary, "Need something? We got Winchester style chili, and…"

The woman interrupts, "No, I'm not here for food today. No, instead, I'm here about…" she pulls out a paper she had tucked under her arm, "That little plan we were talking about. I'd be more than happy to explain it again, if you want."

Looking closer, Dean can see a mock-up flyer for what looks to be an apartment complex.

She goes on, "Were trying to follow other places example and bring luxury condos to this-hey!"

Dean promptly picks up the flyer and crumples it into a ball and throws it behind him carelessly, "Yeah yeah. You want our truck to go away, right? Believe me, you're not the first person to ask that. Save your breath and get the hell out of here. Our truck is not going anywhere."

If the woman is pissed, she doesn't look it, just says, "So you've told me."

She pulls out a business card, with her name, "Antonia Bevell" along with her contact information, and hands it to Dean. "Here's me card. Might change your mind. I know it can't be easy, especially lately. Pretty tough competition, huh?"

Dean says flippantly, "Well, not here."

Toni pretends to be intrigued, "Oh really?"

Dean calmly explains, "Here at Winchester Mystery Truck, we firmly believe the customer is always right, and do everything to give the customer exactly what they want.

Toni argues, "Sounds to me like you might just be exaggerating a tad. Ever stop to think what would happen if you found you COULDN'T give the customer what they want?"

She moves closer, so she's right in Dean's face as she asks, "Hm, Dean? How would you deal with a situation like that?"

Dean doesn't snap at her, just does the same thing with the business card and crumples it up into a ball as he says confidently, "If that were to ever happen, we'd gracefully park the truck and never start up again for the rest of our lives."

What Dean doesn't realize is she was counting on this, and asks, "Do I have your word on that?"

Dean nods, "Yes."

"Fine." Then she walks away with her goons, telling Dean, "I'll be back.", before disappearing into the night.

That taken care of, Dean calls to his dad, "Hey Dad! We got any holy water lying around? We really need to get all the unholy residue out of here."

John jokes back, "Nah, she's not worth it. Come back in here and help me finish up."

Dean does, and before long, they're parking the food truck and heading to bed at their motel of the moment.

Chapter Text

Dean's walking back to the food truck with ingredients for breakfast in hand when his dad calls him.

"Hey, Dad, what's up?"

"You back at the food truck already?" John asks, not even a greeting.

"No, just hustling up some grub for breakfast. Why? What's wrong?"

"Got something important that needs my full attention." John says.

That doesn't sound like his dad at all, "Really?"

"It's gonna be an all day thing, and will probably even go well into tomorrow morning so don't even bother opening the food truck today."

That's just makes Dean even more suspicious, but all he says is, "Sure, Dad."

But apparently John has something else on his mind, " Dean… "

Dean waits patiently, "Yeah, Dad?"

John asks, " What are you planning to do once the school year's out? "

That makes Dean stop walking altogether, hesitating before saying confidently, "Practicing cooking next to you in the truck. What else would I be doing?"

But apparently that wasn't the answer John was looking for, because all he says is, "I see." and hangs up.

Dean's left just staring at his phone, completely confused. "That was weird." Then, as he keeps walking again, he thinks out loud, "What could he possibly be doing that's so important to make him actually closes down the truck?"

 

But all of Dean's distracting thoughts are soon forgotten, as the second he unlocks the back doors, he sees all their meat inventory on the floor of the truck.

"It's covered in salt! It's completely ruined!"

He checks the other inventory, and it looks just as ransacked, "What, did someone try to rob the place?"

After a quick search finding the cash register untouched, he goes back out to the front of the truck and looks at the sign, and sees someone's covered the truck's name in paint, making it unreadable.

"Oh, you poor poor thing." Comes a voice Dean's very slowly coming to hate from behind him. "But you know what? I can almost picture what this place will look like without this little eyesore. So much better than yesterday. Maybe because now it looks like an actual dump."

There's a pause, then she informs Dean, "Now let's see. I'm craving a nice big, juicy steak. Always try to have one when I'm in this area. Has to be marbled, though. I'm not an animal. Only way to make sure I get all those natural flavors."

Then, Toni moves to one of the picnic right in front of the truck, and tells Dean smugly,

"So, Dean Winchester, I think I'm ready to order. One big juicy piece of meat."

Dean only glares at her, knowing she was responsible for this mess, but she's not phased,

"What's the matter, little boy? Can't do it? But I'm a customer, same as anyone else. And I believe yesterday you said very clearly, to my face, that if you can't give the customer what they want, you'd park the truck and never start up again. Then I guess that splotched paint on the sign isn't so odd after all. Guess you'll have to sell the truck next."

She never stops smiling, because in her mind, she's just given Dean a challenge he can't possibly meet.

But instead of walking away or throwing in the towel, he just lets out a deep breath, asks,

"You want some meat?"

The woman says nothing, clearly not expecting that, but Dean continues,

"Will that be all for today, ma'am?"

Then Dean grabs his bandana from his pocket and ties it around his head once more, and informs her,

"If you'll give me just a few moments, I'll have your order right out."

Then he walks right to her table, slams his hands on the table top, and swears, "And once I do, you will leave us the hell alone, never to darken our doors again!"

Admittedly, that seems to leave her slightly spooked, but Toni and her cronies are sure there's no way Dean can pull a meat dish out of his ass, not with them watching.

 

The first thing Dean does is run to back inside the truck, and starts peeling and chopping potatoes and dicing onions.

Then, he gets the potatoes into a pot to boil to get them nice and soft, then cooks the onions in a frying pan.

To Toni and her cronies, it's like the kid's a ninja in the kitchen, but there's no way Dean could be cooking a meat dish. Unless…

Toni turns to one of her cronies and demands, "There's no meat in there, correct?"

The crony nods his head vigorously, "Not one. We trashed every piece we could find."

That settled, Toni calls out to remind Dean, "I believe I ordered meat!"

Then she ponders to herself, "Then what's he making if there isn't?"

Dean's finished mixing the potatoes by hand, adds the fresh seasonings, adds a dash of salt, then ties the whole thing together and gets it in the oven in record time.

With the dish cooking, Dean goes back to the stove and grabs a bottle of cooking wine and pours some into a pan, adding soy sauce and butter as the alcohol slowly burns away.

Before long, Dean's got the dish at the window, and Toni is completely aghast, demanding,

"How in the everlasting hell did you manage to pull a fucking PORK ROAST out of your ass???"

Dean calmly exits the truck, carrying the plate over to their table, and informs her,

"Well, first off, this here's actually a potato.", pointing to the loaf like thing on the plate. "Wrapped it up in some bacon I was planning to use for breakfast tomorrow. It's kind of a misnomer."

Neither Toni nor her cronies can fully comprehend it,

"You're telling me that's a potato?"

"A misnomer…"

"...Pork roast?"

Dean nods, "You heard correctly. First I steamed the potatoes and-"

But Toni's already moving on and waving it off, "Yeah yeah, whatever."

Dean feigns confusion, "I'm sorry, is there a problem, ma'am?"

Toni's in no mood to be made a fool of when she's supposed to be closing a deal, "Are you messing with me?"

Then she slams her own hands on the table top, reminding Dean,

"I specifically asked for meat! You don't get to negotiate your way around this, young man! If you can't do it, you're parking the truck! All the head chefs that work under me are highly respected and all have handsome salaries at five star restaurants at hotels that I'VE help make a reality! Your truck is a joke! And from what I'm looking at, there's no real value in opening up again at all!"

Instead of a response, Dean just marches forward and plops the dish right in front of her, saying calmly, "You want to see the "value" in the Winchester Mystery Truck, prepared to get a history lesson with this little dish right here."

Toni and Dean just stare at each other for a few seconds before Dean breaks the silence, one hand on the table as he says, "Please, enjoy."

Toni won't lie, just the smell alone is enticing, and what the hell. If the kids gonna go to all this trouble to make it, she might as well eat it so she can promptly spit it out.

She takes the fork, stabbing the roast, which lets out more steam from inside, the cuts a small portion, and raises it to her mouth, blowing on it to cool it off, then putting it in her mouth.

The second the flavors hit her tongue, it's like she's been hit by a wave of steam. Potato drenched steam that is. Every bite, the juices from the slowly cooked bacon floods her mouth. It's almost too much to bear.

But luck is just not on her side, as once she comes down from this small foodgasm, Dean's right in her face, sneering, "Looks to me like you're really liking your meal. Am I wrong? And from the very food truck you had written off as a dump, no less. Do you want me to tell you? The secret behind this dish's flavor?"

From the blissed out look on her face, Dean's got her full attention, so he tells her,

"Once I got the potatoes soft enough, I grabbed some mushrooms to absorb the fat. Then I diced some onions to sweeten it up, then just mixed them in with the spuds. After that, I wrapped the whole thing in the bacon, then let it slow cook in the oven, to really make the bacon nice and crisp.That lets the potatoes and mushrooms do their job to soak up all the natural flavors from the bacon. The result? Crispy on the outside, juicy melt-in-your-mouth on the inside. It's almost better than sex, wouldn't you agree?"

Toni's cronies are starting to drool from the smell as Dean tells them a little story,

"Not long ago, I was making potato salad during a BBQ week, but the meat's juices accidentally got into the salad. That's where my inspiration came from to make this particular dish. I took something that wasn't working, and turned it into something that did."

Toni tries to keep her composure as she says,

"Well...it doesn't matter! You can't...call….this…a meat dish!"

But already, she's wanting another bite. She reaches with her fork, but suddenly, the plate is pulled away by Dean.

"Hey! I'm not finished with that!"

Dean counters with an ultimatum, "If you want more, first things first. That you won't try to shut this truck down ever again."

Now that the dish is further away, Toni can think a little more clearer. "Ha! I don't think so."

Dean shrugs, "Alrighty then. Guess this wasn't so good after all." Then walks to a nearby trash can. "No point in hanging onto this. I'll just dump it in the trash."

But for Toni, that dish seems to have made her throw all rationality out the window, because she reaches out a hand, yelling, "STOP! I promise! Just don't throw it away. I want it!"

Dean doesn't say anything, just gives a knowing smirk and once he's close enough, plops it back down in front of her.

Even her cronies lean in for a taste, and they're all going just as nuts as Toni is. It's like they're being showered in the juices of both the bacon and the sauce.

Satisfied, Dean finally takes off his bandana, and says, "Bon appetit!"

 

The next morning, Dean's working on removing the paint from the sign, determined.

"This truck is closing over my dead body. I refuse to master my technique anywhere else."

Then he hears footsteps behind him, prompting Dean to turn around, "Huh?"

Then he sees who it is, "Oh, hey, Dad."

John gestures to the sign, "What the hell happened here?"

Dean briefly considers telling John what happened, then decides it's not worth it, "Oh nothing. Just a few customers that were a little pickier than our usual crowd."

Then he turns back to the sign to continue cleaning off the paint.

But then John says, "Dean…", and the way he says it, lets Dean know he's about to say something important.

John's eyes are all apologetic as he says, "For a couple of years...I'm sorry, but we're gonna be parking the truck."

The news is so shocking, Dean accidentally hits his head on the sign, while John just unlocks the truck and goes in, saying,

"But no worries. We'll be back at it in no time. Looks like I'll have some apologizing to do to our customers."

Once Dean's recovered from hitting his head, he says loudly, "How about you apologise to ME?"

John explains, "Old buddy of mine got in touch with me about working together again."

This is the first Dean's hearing about it, "Are you serious?"

John goes on, line Dean hadn't said anything, "So I'm gonna be busy for a while."

Dean demands, "We need to talk, Dad."

John just says, "Soon as I finish packing, I'm out of here."

Dean tries again, "Dad, can you just wait?"

John assured Dean, "I'll wire you money every now and again."

Dean gets more forceful, "I just said wait! I…" then tries to stop himself, before he cuts his losses, "I don't want to lose the truck!"

But out of nowhere, John pulls out a fist and thumps it to Dean's chest, and once their eyes meet, John tells Dean, "And I think it's about high time you got away from the truck too. Don't come back till you get some real guts."

Then, John hands Dean a booklet, called "Kendrick's Done Dining Academy: Admissions Guide."

"Cooking school? Are you serious? Why would I need some fancy pancy degree to teach me what I already know?"

John replies easily, "I just think it's the perfect time, you know? The truck is gonna be closed anyway, and this way you'll even get some college credit under your belt. This'll be really good practice for you."

 

A few weeks later, Dean's driving to his destination, muttering, "This is bullshit." under his breath. Then, looking in the passenger seat, he sees the admissions guide, and he says, "This is so stupid. Paying some has-been to teach me how to cook? Yeah, no. I don't need a bunch of Yahoos to talk a bunch of nonsense at me, thank you very much."

He can almost picture it now, an old man talking about how to make something super healthy and mushy. Just the thought makes him want to puke.

But then when he's parked his car in the school's parking lot, his daydream is promptly interrupted when he sees two guys around his age who look like they're in the middle of a serious meltdown.

Dean's smart enough to not get involved, and just walks right past them.

But then, he's right at the entrance, with the big imposing sign proclaiming, "Kendrick's Fine Dining Academy".

On a whim, he pulls out his phone to play a voicemail he'd gotten from his dad earlier, before he'd driven himself down here, and hits play.

"Dean...listen. You're going to be attending one of the top culinary schools in America. It's an institution for only the best of the best, and the graduation rate is only less than ten percent. "

As Dean listens, he can't help but be intimidated by the big institution in front of him. How the hell does his dad expect him to get accepted here???

Chapter Text

Jack Kline lifts the bowl of minestrone soup to his mouth carefully, so as not to burn his mouth.

Within seconds, he's tossing it in the trash, declaring, "Disgusting!"

The student in front of him that made it looks crushed, and the other students don't look much better.

"I find it hard to believe any of you have made it this far if this is what you have the nerve to serve me."

Then he turns all his focus on the student that just served him, informing him, "That minestrone soup tasted like a day at the beach where a wave knocked me over, and I swallowed sand and salt water. You'll be starting over. And you took a few shortcuts with your mise en place, didn't you?"

The student is in complete shock, but Jack is ruthless, "Listen to me. I know your group is trying to find a more efficient way to handle your food. But you have to remember that all means nothing if the end result is an abomination of cooking that destroys one's palate."

That's enough for the student to bow his head in shame and say, "I'm sorry, Mr. Kline. Forgive me."

 

"Shit. I'm gonna stick out like the worst kind of sore thumb! All the other students here are rich!"

Dean replays the message from his dad again, this time letting it play all the way to the end,

" Dean...listen. You're going to be attending one of the top culinary schools in America. It's an institution for only the best of the best, and the graduation rate is only less than ten percent. Which means most of the people you meet won't last the first month. I'll be working in NYC, and not sure how long I'll be here. Been flying all around the world, stopping first in Germany, then France. Then I landed in New York just last night. But I have to be honest, son. Just the thought of you graduating from that school and actually topping me is almost laughable."

 

Jack walks away from where the exam judging was being held, and barks at his right hand woman, Kaia Nieves.

Kaia wastes no time handing over the sheet of paper, "Just this, sir."

Jack takes it, and upon seeing what's on it, scoffs, "The transfer exams? You have to be kidding. I joined the Garrison to hold standards, not be everyone's babysitter. Guess I'll do it once I've changed our of my chef's jacket."

 

Meanwhile, Dean's still reeling from his dad's voicemail,

"Bastard. He honestly thinks my cooking is 'laughable'? Then I guess I'll just have to go all the way to the end, and prove him wrong."

But in his little rant, he fails to see the bench right in front of him, and bangs right into it, slightly disturbing the person sitting on it.

"Oh! I'm sorry. Didn't see you there."

The student waves it off, "Don't worry about it. You're a transfer student too, aren't you?" Then he gestures to the empty spot next to him, "Please. Have a seat."

Dean does, "Thanks."

The student explains, "The underclassmen exams were just posted today, and a lot of kids here are like us, transferring before we've even graduated high school, and taking the transfer exam."

Then the student introduces himself, "I'm Jeb Dexter. My parents own a fine dining French restaurant."

Dean smiles at the thought of having other people like him as friends, "That's a pretty cool coincidence. My family's in the food service industry too."

Jen doesn't look phased, "Not that coincidental, actually." Then he gestures to the other students around them, "See that kid? He's set to take over as CEO of his family's restaurant chain. And that other one? His dad's a major pork distributor throughout the southern states."

Then he explains, "Nearly everyone here is associated with the food service industry. We're all on our way to take over for our parents."

Dean's definitely impressed, "Wow."

Jeb asks politely, "What's the name of your family's businesses?"

Dean snaps back and says, "Well, it's called Winchester Mystery."

Jeb looks like he's trying to remember if he's heard of it before, "Winchester Mystery, huh? So I'm guessing it's still on the pop-up stage?"

Dean laughs, "No, nothing that expensive. It's just a little food truck that moves-."

But then he's rather forcefully shoves off the bench, catching Dean completely off guard.

"A fucking food truck???" Jeb shouts, before standing up and looking down on Dean,

"You no good street urchin. You don't get to sit next to the likes of me! Let this be a lesson to you: this school has no place for the likes of dirty street rats like you! This as close to holy ground as you will ever hope to get in your lifetime! Only those who are neck deep in the world of fine dining can ever get close to learning all that you do here! Get the hell out of here! You shouldn't even be allowed the privilege of taking the writren-."

But Dean's had enough, "Hey, shut up!" He gets up from the ground, getting up in Jeb's face as he yells back, "Don't you dare start making false assumptions, wiseguy! You don't know shit about me!" Then he promptly shoves Jeb to the ground, and storms off.

But as he makes his way to where his exam is being held, the whispers start up.

"Someone with a food truck seriously thinks he stands a chance with the transfer exam?"

"This is gonna be a laugh riot."

"This kid's a joke. Someone should really put him in his place."

Dean does his best to ignore the hell out of all of them, now a little worried, "This could definitely get pretty tough pretty fast. If people are that quick to judge, what hope do I have with anyone that judges my exam?"

When he gets inside the building, a bunch of students are gawking at someone Dean can't see, but then he hears a voice from the front speak,

"All potential transfer students, I will be the judge for your transfer exams today. My name is Jack Kline."

Now that Dean can see him, he can't help but think, This kid? And he's wearing a uniform. He's the judge?

The kid turns to the girl next to him, asking, "All right, what's today's assignment."

The girl starts reading from the paper she's holding,

"First, we'll administer group interviews to review your applications. Once that's finished, you'll be required to make two dishes. Those who complete them-."

But then, Jack cuts her off, "Ugh. Do we really have to go through all that?"

But then, he gets an idea, "Okay. Kaia, have a cooking station set up right here."

Kaia clearly wasn't expecting that, but she just hurries off and goes about having several people put a makeshift kitchen together.

The other transfer students are completely confused,

"What the hell's going on?"

Jack turns to the ingredients that have been spread out, looks at them carefully, before picking up a single egg, turns back to the transfers, and informs them,

"In this challenge, your main ingredient is eggs. Make me one, and only one, well made dish. If you actually manage to impress me, you'll be allowed in. Fail, and you will be blackballed permanently."

The other transfer students are understandably rattled by this, but Jack's not done,

"Now that that's settled, you have only one minute to decide if you've got the guts to serve me. But because I'm merciful, I'll give you an opportunity to leave right now and save yourself the embarrassment."

Nobody needs to be told twice, as immediately, they make a run for the door, not willing to risk being permanently blackballed.

Dean, however, doesn't get why everyone is making a run for it, and when he sees Jeb, be grabs him by the shoulder, demanding, "Wait a minute! Why are you leaving?"

Jeb looks at him like he said he just ate live snakes for breakfast, "Are you serious? You can't tell me you have no idea who he is!"

Dean's face shoes no signs of lying as he says, "Not a clue. Fill me in."

Jeb tells him, "That's Jack Kline, owner of the best palate in the world. He has the nickname of God's Palate! It was discovered at the young age of three, and he quickly developed his talent from there. Wasn't long before high class restaurants were flying him in to taste their new dishes. Any famous chef you can name more than likely is one of his clients. If he tastes your food even once, it's almost a guarantee your reputation in the food service industry is over if he doesn't like it."

Then Jeb leaves, while Jack's smiling at what just happened.

"Just like I thought. A bunch of morons with nothing to offer me. I knew this whole thing was a waste of time. It never changes, year after year."

He turns to Kaia, asking, "Was that all for today?"

Kaia checks before confirming, "Yes, sir."

Jack starts walking away, "Then I'll be going back to my room where I'll be working on a new dish to make. Be sure to put it in the report that no candidates passed."

That would be the end of it, but then he hears from behind him,

"Excuse me?"

Jack jumps, clearly expecting the room to be empty, but when he turns, there's this punk looking guy, asking,

"So I can make anything I want, long as the main ingredient is eggs?"

This sends off a bunch of alarms in Jack's head, and he can't help but think, Is this kid actually... accepting my challenge?

Chapter Text

"So I can make anything I want, long as the main ingredient is eggs?"

 

Neither Jack or Dean move for several seconds whole Dean waits for Jack to respond.

Jack has no idea how to process this. Nobody has ever stepped up to an impossible challenge like the one he's just set, and now this nobody's gonna try and say he can?

But Jack only says, "Long as the eggs are fully incorporated, you can make any dish you want." But then, because this guy's attitude is starting to piss him off, he asks, "But are you sure you want to give it a try? You can always-."

Dean suddenly bursts out laughing, telling Jack, "Phew. I was worried. You had me thinking I was gonna flunk before I'd even made one dish! Can you imagine?"

That's when Kaia very forcefully shoves herself in between Dean and Jack, looking down at Dean as he asks, "Do you know who you're currently disrespecting?"

Once again, Dean's in the dark, other than what that Jeb kid told him, "Not really…"

Kaia has no problem informing him, "You're talking to none other than one of the top students in this entire schools, and the youngest member in history to ever hold a seat at the Garrison, Jack Kline!"

"Wow. I can't believe I'm holding a knife like this! These things are like a grand a piece!"

That doesn't sound right, and when Kaia looks, she sees why.

Apparently, while Kaia was making introductions, Dean had wandered off to look at the kitchen utensils, including their state of the art knives.

"Pay attention!" Comes the shout behind him, and when he turns to look, he sees two very irritated people staring back. "Something wrong?"

Jack demands, "I'm gonna ask you again, because I don't think you were really listening: do you actually think you can pass my exam?"

Dean looks like he's been out off guard, "Oh. Well…" then he pulls out a honing steel, along with a knife of his own, dragging the knife back and forth in a rhythmic motion as he asks, "Long as it tastes good, that's what matters, right?"

Then he stops, to show off the newly sharpened and honed knife, "Then absolutely. What're we waiting for?"

Now Jack's really starting to get pissed. Who does this guy think he is?

But because Kaia's such a good assistant, she's already one step ahead, handing over a document and whispering, "This is his file."

Jack takes it and proceeds to read it out loud, "Dean Winchester…" then he sees what he was looking for, "Your family runs a food truck?"

Jack looks at Dean, who's checking the eggs, thinking, Street food for a street urchin. He has no respect for fine dining cuisine, does he? Same way a rat can never understand the true value of gold.

Because he's still a gentleman, Jack says, "Well then, for this exam, you get the privilege of having me to taste your food. I'll bet anything the dish will be the equivalent of baby food."

But now that Dean's gotten comfortable, he smiles, telling Jack, "I think for this little challenge, I'm gonna be serving you a crowd favorite from my family truck!"

Then he pauses to pull out his bandana, tying it around his head, and finishing his thought,

"Coming up quick! Just give me a few minutes."

 

Both Jack and Kaia watch as Dean immediately starts mixing ingredients into a bowl, while simultaneously heating up a griddle.

Kaia notes, "Eggs are a good ingredient in many dishes throughout the US, and the East.", then she looks at Jack, who's still watching Dean, thinking, Jack eats so many egg dishes from five star restaurants nearly every day. How does this guy expect compete with any of them?

Dean then takes a lot off a lid that had been sitting there for several minutes, revealing newly hard boiled eggs, and combines them with the other ingredients in the bowl.

As Jack watches, he contemplates to himself, So he's hard boiled the eggs. But what exactly is he planning with all of those ingredients?

Meanwhile, Dean brushes butter on two slices of bread, then places them on the griddle butter side down, then places two slices of cheese on the pieces of bread.

Jack finally moves forward, demanding, "Dean Winchester, what the hell are you doing?"

Dean pauses here, asking, "I'm sorry, what?"

But once he realizes what Jack means, he laughs, "Oh, I get it. You still haven't figured out what I'm making, have you?"

Seeing Dean's not really taking this seriously, Jack yells, "I could have your ass thrown out of here right here and now, without taking a single bite, and I will not waste any of my valuable time on slop! Since once again, you've failed to understand the gravity of the situation, I'll say it one last time: if you want a prayer of a chance at passing, you have to make something that my godly palate will find suitable."

For a second, it looks like Jack's finally gotten through to Dean, but then Dean ruins it by saying, "Fine, fine. I'll tell you. I'm making a dish from Winchester Mystery Truck's Secret Menu."before going back to mixing his ingredients.

Jack is not impressed by this description, "Secret Menu, huh? I know that's just a marketing ploy, but trickery like that doesn't fool the likes of me. You're being judged by taste alone."

And finally, Dean decides it's close enough to being finished that he can tell them what he has planned, "Egg salad sandwich."

Upon hearing that, neither Jack or Kaia day a word. Because there's no way this kid can think he'll be allowed in on something as pedestrian as a sandwich.

Jack is the first to recover, and slams a hand down on the counter, shouting, "I've had about enough of your childish games! No matter how much you try to cover it up, you're nothing more than a fry cook. I blew off way more important things than this to be here."

Then Jack starts to walk away, with Kaia following, but then he hears from behind him, "But let's not forget, this isn't your average egg salad sandwich."

That makes Jack stop and turn, only slightly curious to hear more.

"You see, this little thing I'm making here is actually a Transforming Egg Salad Sandwich."

What none of them see is a rather old man waiting in the wings, eating a leftover piece of Chicago style pizza, listening in on the whole thing as Jack asks, "Transforming Egg Salad Sandwich?"

Dean goes on, "It's almost done, soon as the cheese has finished melting for me."

Jack thinks, Dean Winchester, what kind of bells and whistles do you have the nerve to try and use on me?

Then, in a flash the likes of which could only be obtained by being a fry cook, the egg salad is spooned onto the bread open faced, and Dean's inviting Jack, "Dig in."

Needless to say, the expectations are not even close to being met.

While Dean takes off his bandana, Kaia takes a closer look, noting, "Like I thought. It's just a normal egg salad."

Jack turns his head away in disgust, "This is nothing more than a little kid cooking for Mommy. I'm not even remotely tempted to take a bite. I have a palate that's been appropriately nicknamed God's Palate. Only well trained, extravagant and subtly made dishes are ever put in front of me. I only eat world renowned cuisine. Something you clearly have no respect for if you think serving me something like this…" Jack makes a rude gesture to the open faced sandwich, "Is good enough to get you in the front door."

Jack's really had enough now, and walks away again, "This exam is finished. I don't even have to taste this to fail you."

But damn it all, Dean stops him again, "But I haven't put the finishing touches on this meal yet."

This kid just doesn't know when to throw in the towel, does he? But Jack still turns around, demanding, "And what could you possibly be referring to?"

Dean carefully lifts one of the pieces of bread, so Jack can see for himself.

It takes Jack a second, but once he sees it, it's undeniable. That's not mayonnaise, is it?

Dean tells Jack, "Take a good look. See, the fun in making a sandwich…" Here, he pushes the plate closer."...is when you're squishing the two slices of bread together, am I right?"

Then he proceeds to do just that, and Jack even makes a little gasp when he sees the egg salad squish in between the bread.

Jack thinks, The heat of the melted cheese is seeping into the salad. And as it does, more and more of the salad combines with it.

But then his sensitive nose picks up on something. Wait. Is that Greek yogurt I smell? It's like with every second the cheddar cheese combines with it, the scent of yogurt is gradually building. So that's it. Transforming Egg Salad Sandwich. It has two completely different components added, so it's completely different from what people usually assume. Then I just have to taste this little sandwich here for myself.

Jack's still completely judgemental as he says, "Fine. I'll admit this is interesting enough to take one bite. But remember, it's only one."

Dean laughs, but Jack demands, "Quit being so smug and hand me that sandwich, you moron."

Dean gladly slides the sandwich closer, "Order up."

 

It feels like several minutes before Jack finally cuts the sandwich in half, and picks up one of the halves, raising it to his mouth and taking the smallest bite he can while still getting the flavors.

Jack's not too sure what he was expecting, but once he's snapped back, he realizes he actually tasted the dish without even judging it, something he never does. And what exactly is that cheese?

"Hold it right there. Are you actually going for another taste? What happened to only needing one to know everything?"

Once Jack realizes Dean actually caught him about to take another bite, he gets defensive,

"What's your problem? You don't get to interrupt God's Palate while he's working! I need complete silence!"

Dean backs off only a little, "Oh relax. I was just messing around."

But Jack still goes in for another bite, then says confidently, "Chobani."

Dean smiles, "Survey says yes. That little sauce is made from Greek yogurt. Typically, egg salad isn't considered healthy because it's made with mayo, which is typically a combination of oil, egg yolks, and vinegar or lemon juice. When I replace the mayo with Greek yogurt, it manages to keep the flavor of egg salad with the added bonus of more protein.  Then, I combined it with some onion powder, paprika, garlic powder. Then, I grilled one side of two slices of pumpernickel bread with cheddar cheese facing up, then just spooned the egg salad onto the bread and let the cheese do the rest."

So the Chobani is a means of a healthier alternative, packed with its own protein and infused with the cheddar cheese. Wait. How is this possible? The sharp notes and the gooiness from the cheddar cheese is blending with the tang from the Greek yogurt, making the hard boiled eggs go down nice and smooth. It's like with every bite, the smoothness and the tang are dancing all across my tongue! The melted cheese is dramatically elevating the simpleness of the hard boiled egg. It's unlike anything I've ever tasted! Jack's thoughts are all hitting him at once the more he thinks about the sandwich.

It's just once huge rainstorm of flavors previously unknown to me!

Then Dean's smugness comes out again,

"Well? How is it? You glad you didn't fail me on the spot after all?"

Jack's not so far gone to where he can't respond, and snaps, "Shut up! I'm nowhere near done judging."

But Dean takes that moment to press his luck, "With a little ingenuity and resourcefulness, even the most pedestrian dishes can be elevated! And that, right there, is what the Winchester Mystery Truck has to offer."

Jack, meanwhile, is visibly shaken from what he's just tasted. No! I'm a world renowned chef, with a palate nobody can even come close to! There's no way in hell I'm approving this!

Jack looks at Dean, as well as what he's wearing, and thinks, This was made by a street rat!

But he still can't stop himself from bringing the sandwich up to his mouth, I'm not approving this. I'm not! I won't let myself approve!

Then, lo and behold, he takes a third bite, and immediately, he's overwhelmed by the flavors again. But you'd never know it to look at him, as he looks like he's still somehow keeping his composure. But inside his head, it's like he's fighting a war inside his head.

I'm not approving this! There's no way!

Dean's doing nothing to make this easier, saying flippantly, "Guess you're right. I'm just another lowlife street urchin. And you may be America's Sweetheart in the food world who possesses God's Palate. But you know something?" He looks right at Jack, who's still struggling to say something, anything, to wipe that smug smile off his face. "When all you ever do is sit on your high horse and judge all is common folk on the ground, you'll never go anywhere in the kitchen. But you know what I'm talking about, don't you?"

Kaia tries to help, "Jack?"

Dean asks, "Well, how about it? Winchester style egg salad sandwich. Is it worthy or not?"

Here, he points a finger at Jack, "I dare you to say it.", knowing how hard Jack's struggling. "What's that?"

Finally, Jack speaks, "It's... it's…"

Dean smiles, ready to hear what he's been waiting for, "Let me hear it."

"DISGUSTING!!!!" is the word that finally comes out of Jack's mouth. No way is Jack ever admitting how hard that one word alone actually was.

 

Well. That definitely wasn't the word Dean was expecting to hear. But the judge has spoken. His food didn't pass. With nothing else for him to do, he packs up his knives and goes, not sure what he's going to do now.

 

Jack storms his way down the hall, yelling out loud, "Who does that asshole think he's trying to fool? He's a complete airhead! The most disrespectful candidate I've ever seen! And towards me, Jack Kline? That's enough to make him permanently blackballed in my book!"

Jack's so wound up, he actually stops and punches a wall, unable to hold onto all this anger anymore.

But once that passes, he feels a sharp shooting pain in his hand from punching the wall, and he rubs it to try and sooth the pain away.

"Dean Winchester...this academy has standards you will never be able to meet."

Then Jack finally reaches the office, where he places a call, informing the caller,

"Hello, this is Jack." A pause. "That's right. Please tell the school's dean, my grandfather that in today's transfer test...there were no students that passed the exam."

 

But nobody bothered to throw out Dean's sandwich when they all left, so it's still just sitting there when the man that was listening in on the test walks up.

He lifts up the uneaten half of the sandwich and takes only one bite. He stops to savor the flavors, then smiles. He picks up the paper that shows a failing mark on Dean's transfer application, and crumples it up.

Chapter Text

It's freezing cold as a redhaired girl turns to her family and friends, who came to see her off before she gets on her plane.

"Well, guess I should get on the plane before it takes off." she says.

"Charlie…" her mom says, tearing up a little. "I still can't believe you're going to cooking school! It feels like just yesterday you were in kindergarten!"

Charlie hugs her mom one last time, "Aw, mom. You don't have to worry about me."

A friend calls out, "Of course not!  Your cooking is the best we've got! You're gonna do great at that fancy school!"

Finally, her mom pulls away, "Oh, I hope you're gonna be alright. Here, take this with you." She hands Charlie a small bag, and when Charlie pulls it out, she squeals.

It's a little Hermione statue, her favorite character from the Harry Potter series.

"I wanted you to have a little good luck charm."

Charlie's so touched, all she can say is, "Thank you!"

But finally, she has to get on the plane, and with a final goodbye wave, she gets on the plane and lands in the state of Kansas, where Kendrick's Culinary Academy resides.

She looks out the window, smiling as she thinks to herself, Thanks everyone. I just know I'll become an amazing chef, then I can come back home!

 

If only that confidence had bled into her cooking ability, because almost the moment she stepped on campus, her grades were anything but amazing.

It was nothing but a line of Ds and D-s, until finally, she actually failed an important exam, along with being handed a final warning, which means if she fails just one more assignment, that's it. Game over. Flying home with her tail between her legs, with no chance of redemption.

Thoughts like these are what's running through her head as she makes her way to Kendrick's Opening Ceremony, along with,

Charlie Bradbury, in the first year in culinary school, is already stepping on a landmine!

 

A short while later, the Opening Ceremony begins, with the speaker now saying,

"I present to you, the academic insignia, as well as our new freshman representative, Jack Kline."

"Thank you." Jack says to the speaker as he walks on stage, where the speaker pins the school insignia onto Jack's uniform.

Among the students are chit chat, ranging from,

"He's already top of his class."

to

"He's really easy on the eyes, too."

Meanwhile, Charlie's still in mid freakout when the speaker speaks up again,

"And now, to begin our ceremonial address. Introducing, the school's director, Mr. Azrail Kline!"

Needless to say, everyone in the crowd is instantly terrified.

"That man has all fine dining cuisine wrapped around his finger!"

"The entire food industry bows down to him!"

"God himself would cower in fear of him!"

"He's the Horseman of Death! The Grim Eater!"

When the man finally speaks, everyone is instantly silent,

"Welcome to Kendrick's Culinary Academy. Congratulations on your ability to make it this far. For the past few weeks, you've mastered the basics of food preparation, as required upon entering. You've also gained more insight into your ingredients. You've already surpassed many drills where you've had to make dishes. You've listened to a variety of lectures, including cooking theory, the value of nutrition, the health of the public, skill cultivation, and perhaps the most important in your eyes, managing a restaurant. Now, as you stand before me at the beginning of the rest of your cooking future, you'll be faced with challenges, the likes of which aren't just relying on your technique or personal knowledge, but also a personal test to see if you really have what it takes to make it in the food service industry as a chef. Which means the majority of you will offer yourselves up on a silver platter for the more deserving among you who will be advancing forward!"

This speech is doing nothing to settle Charlie's nerves, but the directors still not finished.

"Last year, there were 900 freshmen that passed the entrance exam. By the time they were supposed to be sophomores, that number had dwindled down to a mere 56. The amateurs and the ones that fail to meet our standards are promptly expelled with no exceptions. With a group of a thousand freshman, only 100 of them will prove themselves worthy of advancing. Among that one hundred, you can count on one hand who makes it to graduation. It's almost a given you will not be one of them. But that does not make it impossible. Know the recipes, cook the food. Good luck to you all."

Then Director Kline moves to the side, while unseen, Jack is musing to himself.

Kendrick's School's pride stems from educating the select few chosen through a grueling selection process. If you make it here, you'll make it anywhere. But even so, I pity those in my classes. The moment you were born, second place was all you could ever hope to reach. There's only one spot for someone to obtain the crown jewels of Kendrick's Culinary Academy: me, Jack Kline."

Back on the stage, the speaker says into the microphone, "And as the final thing on the agenda, I'd like to introduce a new incoming student."

This strikes Jack as odd, Weird. Guess someone got past a different reviewer.

But that just makes his thoughts take a turn for the worse,  Dean Winchester...makes me want to puke to even think about it. Oh well. What do I care? I failed him, now I'll never see him again.

But in the middle of his mental rant, he realizes the incoming student made their way to the stage, and is about to introduce himself.

"Alright, I'll make this short, sweet and to the point. I'm sure you're all ready to go back to your dorms to study..."

Jack would know that voice anywhere. "What the hell???"

"My name is Dean Winchester. And if I'm being completely honest here, I consider it an honor to have been accepted to this school as step one in my career."

That makes the crowd start whispering, but Dean keeps going,

"I make no excuses. My acceptance was actually a surprise to even myself, but know this. I have no intentions of being usurped by a bunch of Mary Sues who think cooking is supposed to be a breeze when they've never worked a day in their life. I mean seriously. But, now that I'm here, I might as well put myself in the top spot."

Then he steps away from the microphone, resulting in a bunch of angry whispering, while Dean gives one last, "See you at graduation!" with a wave, then walks off the stage.

"Phew. Glad that's over." Dean says to himself, but once he looks up, he sees a familiar face. "Hey! I know you! You're Jack, right?"

Jack's too startled to say anything other than a pissed off huff, so Dean keeps talking,

"Jesus. Public speaking was never my strong suit. Never really got comfortable with it either. How do you think I did? Was it too much?"

But Jack's got other things on his mind, stepping up and shoving a finger in Dean's chest, "How the hell is this humanly possible??? What are you doing here, of all places?"

Dean pulls out a piece of paper, explaining awkwardly, "I uh, got this notice in the mail saying I'd passed. So I figured it would be really rude of me if I didn't at least show up, right?"

Jack can see for himself that yes, Dean's holding a notice proclaiming an applicant has passed an exam, but knows damn well he gave Dean no such thing. "That's not possible."

Dean agrees, "That's what I thought. You really had me thinking I didn't get in. After all, God's Palate himself said my food was disgusting."

Dean looks at him suspiciously as he says this next part, "You know, it's not nice to call someone's food disgusting if you don't really mean it. Try being honest once in a while and just say how you really feel."

That makes Jack even more defensive, "Excuse me?!" Nothing is right about this at all! I know for a fact I failed him! He shouldn't be here at all!

Thankfully, Jack manages to keep his dignity intact as he snaps, "I'm going to make myself perfectly clear so even you can understand: I had nothing to do with your acceptance to this school. If it were up to me, you wouldn't be standing here at all. Not you, nor your second rate cooking. There's obviously been a serious lapse of judgement, or you've been accepted by a simple clerical error. You really think you're going for the 'crown jewels'? I've heard dad jokes that are funnier than that. All incoming students who've actually passed their exams have already learned so many techniques used in fine dining restaurants. Stuff you clearly lack, and will never be able to survive without."

Then he walks away, with one last taunt, "Have fun perpetually in dead last!"

That should be it, but as always when he encounters Dean Winchester, Dean speaks to his retreating back, "Entry level training, you say?"

Of course Jack has to stop upon hearing that, turning around and saying, "That's correct."

Dean keeps talking, "The first time I ever held a knife in my hand, I was 6. My dad showed me how to handle it so I wouldn't cut myself or anyone else. This far, I've spent the last 16 years in the kitchen!"

That definitely makes Jack pause, having not expected a confession like that from Dean.

Dean keeps going, now a little pissed, "I'm not gonna take you calling my food 'disgusting' lying down."

Dean turns around to look right at Jack as he then says, "Slandering my family's food truck is something I refuse to accept. Just you wait, Jack Kline. I will make that mouth of yours pronounce my food 'delicious', and prove exactly what my food means to me."

Meanwhile, Director Kline smiles, having heard every word said between the two. Looks like he made the right call in accepting Dean Winchester.

Chapter Text

While everyone else files out of the ceremony gossiping about the new transfer student's nerve, Charlie is even worse off than before, her thoughts spiraling out of control,

I am so dead. It's almost a guarantee my name will be the first one to be cut from the records! I barely got by in the entrance exam, and as the days have gone by, it's like I'm getting worse every day!

But she's still determined to make sure she stays, No. I'm not gonna let myself get thrown out! All my family and friends from home that got me in in the first place are counting on me! I just need to focus. I'm this close to being thrown out. I just have to keep my head down and not piss anyone off like that new cocky incoming student.

Now that she's actually feeling better, she gets up to walk to her next class, resolved, I'll just make sure to stay the hell away from him!

 

But she never could've anticipated is the assignment awaiting her in her next class, as the teacher's aide speaks.

"Class, starting today, you will be split into different classrooms for the lectures, and cooking with an assigned partner.

Charlie tries her best to stay calm, but everyone in her class looks so intimidating, she can't even imagine who she's been assigned to.

But then he's right there, and even though he's all about being friendly, "Hey there!", Charlie can only think about how the universe just has to be pissed off at her to put her in this uncomfortable situation.

Why me? Why me???

 

Then they're escorted to the cooking room and assigned to their cooking stations, while Dean won't stop talking.

"Wowsers. I don't think I've had a cooking teacher since I was really young."

Charlie's not the only one who's not happy about sharing a class with him.

"He's such a jerk."

"Jackass."

"Did you hear all that crap he said at the opening ceremony?"

"The whole freshman class heard him! Hope someone knocks him flat and wipes that smug smile right off his face."

But either Dean's completely oblivious or he's choosing to ignore everyone, because he's focused on his partner, who's literally sitting on the floor "But anyway, your name's Charlie, right?

Then he sees she's doing something weird with her hands, "Uh, what are you doing? Some kind of weird pre cooking thing?"

Charlie flinches at being caught, then tells him before she can think better of it,

"I uh, just thought it would help me uh, calm some of my nerves."

Dean seems to be surprised by this, "You're actually nervous? Why?"

That makes her even more nervous, but seeing how Dean's going to be her partner whether she likes it or not, she admits,

"Well, it's because if I fail just one more assignment, I'll be thrown out of here."

Dean's trying to understand, "Okay...but isn't this place for the elite? If you're doing so badly, why did they even let you in?"

And that's like an arrow to the chest, Damnit. Just when I swore to keep my head down and not cause trouble, I get the short straw and get paired with the incoming student. This is completely unfair!

But Dean's all smiles as he introduces himself,

"Anyway, I'm Dean Winchester. But it'll be easier on everyone if you just call me Dean. Nice to meet you!"

Charlie replies reluctantly, "Uh, okay... I'm Celeste. But everyone calls me Charlie."

Unfortunately, introducing herself only makes her more nervous, God, it's like everyone's eyes are putting a target on our backs! How does he not see them?

Then the instructor finally walks in, making everyone turn their heads as he says,

"Attention! Good morning. It's time for learning, young chefs."

Immediately, the students reply, "Good morning, Chef!"

Dean tries to pronounce the name on the board, "Uh, coke-rain?"

In her nervousness, Charlie manages to explain, "That's Laurent Cochrane!"

Cochrane speaks with a slight accent as he sets his books down, "The moment you set foot in any kitchen, you and you alone are responsible for the food that comes out of it, which should be nothing less than extraordinary. Regardless of how much training you've had or the environment you were raised in, the rules in my classroom are final. If you produce anything less than an A level dish, it's automatically an F."

Naturally, Charlie's freaking out even more upon hearing that, This can't be! My bad luck just keeps getting worse! My first class is with Cochrane???

Next to her, Dean notes, "Yikes. Guy's pretty strict, isn't he?"

Charlie hastily explains, "That man is famous worldwide for being strict, even by Kendrick's standards! Just last year, he failed an entire class of more than 60 students! 20 of them dropped out just from listening to his lectures! It's no wonder he has the nickname of The Chef that Never Smiles."

Dean takes that all in, "Oh really?" as Cochrane speaks up again, while writing the information on the board behind him,

"Chefs, today you'll be making a Boeuf Bourguignon. It's a famous classic dish in French cuisine, and all the instructions you must follow are on the board. You'll have two hours to complete this dish, then bring them to me."

He pauses to make sure everyone is paying attention, then says, "And with that...allez cuisine!"

Immediately, it's a mad house as everyone grabs their ingredients, while Dean and Charlie stay at their station.

Dean's stuck on the chef's parting words, "Did I hear him say 'Allah cuisine'?", while Charlie's trying to keep a cool head,

Guess we'll just have to give it our best! Just stay calm, and work through it step by step.

But when she looks at Dean again, she can't help but think, Dean acts so confident. That has to count for something in his cooking, right?

But that hope is dashed when Dean asks, clearly confused, "Uh, not to be a dunce, but what exactly is buff... whatever it is he just said?"

That puts Charlie on high alert, asking, "Oh no. Please tell me you're joking. You've never made it before?!"

Dean shakes his head, "Nope. Not even once."

That just makes Charlie want to pass out at all her bad luck coming to a head, while Dean keeps talking,

"But from the recipe, it just sounds like a really fancy beef stew with bacon. Sounds easy enough, right? I'm sure this is gonna be a piece of cake. I'll go take a look for myself." And walks away from their station.

Charlie continues her freakout, That's it. I'm dead. Completely and utterly dead. , while Dean walks to the front of the classroom so he can get a better look at the recipe.

All around them, students start chopping vegetables or cooking the meat, while glaring at Dean's apparent nonchalance.

Charlie finally manages to calm down enough to get started, while keeping the steps straight in her head as she does them,

Saute the mushrooms in butter, then drop them in the pot with the meat. Then let the whole thing simmer over low heat.

Once that's done, she claps a lid onto the open pot, making sure it's on so none of the steam can get out. Now I don't take out the meat for 40 minutes.

But because she's just standing there watching it, she gets more nervous. Now I don't take it out for 39 minutes. No, 38!

Meanwhile, Dean is calling Charlie from somewhere else, "Hey, Charlie! Check this out! There's so many different seasonings in here!"

But that seems to have given Charlie a small reality check, I probably look dumber than dumb as the only one freaking out.

But then she remembers, Oh crap. I'm supposed to start plating! , and moves away from the pot to do just that.

Behind her back, two chefs at the next station over laugh, and quickly move in to put their plan into action.

By the time Dean finally comes back to his station, he feels pretty confident he can pull it off. However, he sees something on the stove that immediately catches his attention.

"Charlie, did you adjust the lid on the pot at some point?"

Charlie's still working on plating, so when she hears that, all the alarm bells go off in her head as she turns around.

"What? No, of course not!"

She moves back to the pot, reminds Dean, "It's supposed to simmer for another 20 minutes."

At hearing that, Dean hears some snickering from behind him, and once he turns to look, he sees two chefs with smug smiles on their faces. 

Dean doesn't like that at all, and immediately opens the lid, and both him and Charlie are disheartened by what they see.

Apparently those two bozos thought it would be hilarious to dump a huge handful of some kind of white substance right on top of their meat.

"What the hell is that?" It's only because of how panicked Charlie is that she can't fully process what she's seeing, so Dean dips one finger into the white stuff to taste it.

"Salt. Someone just dumped a handful of salt all over our dish."

That sends Charlie's anxiety through the roof, "Oh no. What the hell are we gonna do?! We can't use it anymore. All that salt's gonna set us back by a whole hour just so we can get it tender, then soak up all the flavors. And another 30 minutes on top of THAT so the flavors blend into the sauce!"

A look at the clock prompts her to add, "And we can't do any of it because we have half an hour left! There's no way we can serve this to Chef Cochrane! It's a guaranteed failing grade!"

In her mind's eye, she sees her family and friends, all so proud of her for going to cooking school, and now it's all about to be taken away from her.

I'm sorry. I couldn't do it. She thinks as she can't think of anything else to do but wait for the inevitable.

But then, from behind her, she hears the sound of a tray being plunked down onto their counter.

"Here's our backup ingredients." Dean says, showing Charlie the meat, carrots, mushrooms and other vegetables for the dish. "So you wanna take the lead here?"

Charlie has no idea how Dean can possibly think of starting now, "What? You have to be kidding. Dean...if we start over now, we'll never finish in time!"

Dean starts fiddling with something in his pocket, telling Charlie, "Cochrane gave some pretty good tips, didn't he? We're students, but more importantly, we're still chefs."

Charlie says nothing as Dean pulls out what looks like a bandana and ties it around his head, telling her,

"Then regardless, food must always be served when the customer asks for it! So you gonna help me or not?"

This whole display has Charlie deciding to just follow Dean's lead, "Okay."

Dean opens his knife case, pulls out his chef's knife, and immediately starts chopping the onions.

Charlie makes herself busy, handing Dean the seasonings, "Here's the salt pepper and fresh seasonings!"

Dean nods, not looking up, "Got it covered."

Dean then proceeds to toss garlic as well as a secret ingredient that will help pull this dish off, while on the other side of the room, the saboteurs laugh about pulling it off.

One of them says, "Guess he's not so smug after all."

"Don't think so. There's no way they'll pass now."

Meanwhile, Chef Cochrane tastes another group's finished dish, telling them,

"This is acceptable. You pass."

The saboteurs go back to their station, smug,

"Shouldn't be too long before another team finishes. Only the sauce remains. Let's go."

But then, they hear, "Chef Cochrane, our dish is ready for evaluation."

This leaves the saboteurs shocked, "What? That's impossible! How?"

Dean sets the dish in front of Chef Cochrane, with Charlie a few steps behind, "Enjoy, sir."

There's no change on the chef's face as he lifts his fork to the meat to test the tenderness.

Only once he does, he notices something. "This meat is at the perfect tenderness. Fall off the fork tender, even."

Then he looks up, telling them, "I noticed the two of you had a small accident earlier. How were you able to get this result in such a short amount of time?"

Dean smiles, and holds up the secret ingredient, "That's easy, chef. I threw in some honey. I used just enough to rub it all over the meat before I had it simmer, then put a few drops in the seasoning."

Chef Cochrane quirks an eyebrow only slightly as he asks, "Did you now?" Then he looks down at the dish again, "Honey has an enzyme called protease, which breaks down proteins faster than simmering alone. And you used it on the rib cut to make it tender."

Then as he takes a knife to cut a piece, Charlie finally speaks up, "Dean, how could you have possibly known to use honey to get us to finish on time?"

Dean explains easily, "Some time ago, I was reading a cookbook that explained how pineapple juice works really well as a meat tenderizer. But because I was so young, there was no way I was going to waste money just to buy a pineapple for that. So, I turned to the stuff we had on hand, trying out everything I could to see what could do the same thing. Before long, I had my answer."

He holds up the jar.of honey again, "Lasts ridiculously long, and has so many different uses even outside the kitchen. But if you still can't believe it, try it yourself."

Dean cuts a small portion with another fork, and hands it to Charlie. "Here you go."

Both Charlie and Cochrane take their bites at the same time, and for Charlie, it's like an explosion of sweetness on the tongue.

It's like the honey is slowly melting all her troubles away, she just wants to swim in a big pool of honey for the rest of her life, that's how good it is.

But the other students are fixated on something else,

"Chef Cochrane is smiling!"

That makes Charlie snap out of her little daydream, and sure enough, there it is.

The stern chef that everyone said was supposed to be a hardass, is smiling from a dish they were able to produce because of Dean Winchester.

Immediately, Cochrane sets down his fork and informs them, "Chef Dean and Chef Charlie, this dish is nothing less than an A level dish. But…"

That makes Charlie flinch, but it turns out to be for nothing as Cochrane says,

"It's only because I'm not authorized to give you a higher grade that you're being given an A. This dish is nothing short of perfection."

Charlie beams as Dean takes his bandana off, "You're welcome, chef."

 

Meanwhile, the saboteurs are in complete shock.

"Their dish was better than before? That's insane."

But, because they're so focused on what just happened, they completely forget about their sauce, and it's burnt beyond repair.

Even worse, when the other guy tries to season it, he winds up dumping the whole container into it.

It's Cochrane who describes it best upon being served this burnt and over seasoned mess,

"You two, have failed."

 

In the other classroom, the students are patting themselves on the back as they look at their As.

Alicia Banes laughs, "Was that a cinch or what, Maxy?"

Max nods, "When is it not?"

But as he cleans, he thinks to himself, Too bad me and Dean weren't in the same class. I would've loved to be the one to wipe that smug smile right off his face.

 

Back in the first classroom, Dean's putting the honey back where he found it when Charlie walks up to him, "Um, Dean?"

Dean turns, all smiles, "Oh, by the way, Charlie, nice work today."

But Charlie disagrees, "No, thank you for helping me today. It's because of you I...that I…"

Dean's quick to wave off her praise, "Nah, don't worry about it. We should do this again sometime, Charlie."

That's more exciting than when she first for paired up with Dean, thinking , I just might've been paired up with the most talented chef in the room.

Dean, however, has other things on his mind, "Hey, now that we know each other better, would you be willing to try out a new dish for me?"

Charlie's immediately excited at the thought of Dean thinking of her, "Oh! Really? You want me to? Yeah, I'd love to!"

But her excitement is quickly dashed when she sees the disgusting mixture on the spoon,

"Here you go. Honey smothered canned tuna." Dean says, pushing it towards Charlie's mouth, before shoving it in.

Her reaction is even better than the girl who tried the peanut butter tuna, as she whimpers loudly and runs away, while Dean's laughing so hard he can barely breathe.

Once Dean's calmed down, he packs up his utensils and makes his way across campus to find somewhere to sleep for the night.

Chapter Text

"You can't be serious. What the hell is wrong with this place? It's ginormous!"

Dean complains out loud as he walks all over, with a piece of jerky dangling out of his mouth, holding a guide.

Cuthbert Sinclair Dormitory. Why the hell have I yet to find the damn place? It's already friggin sunset!

But more than that, Ugh. I'm tired. I'm freezing. And this jerky's doing nothing for my appetite.

Dean's barely able to stay upright as he keeps wandering aimlessly, part of the guide blowing out of his hand as he looks at all the buildings.

Bunch of pompous buildings for all the pompous asses. What the hell do they need so many for? School's most definitely rolling in dough. Impressive facilities, if nothing else. Maybe my dorm will be too!

The thought does cheer his spirits some, as he says out loud, "Can't wait to sleep in style."

But then he reaches what he assumes is it, and he realizes he was dead wrong.

He sees a sign proclaiming, "Cuthbert Sinclair Dormitory", but other than that, the place looks like it's been abandoned for years.

"So much for living in style."

 

Dean walks through the front door, calling out, "Hello?", but there's no answer. The inside looks just as deserted as it does on the outside.

But then, something else catches his attention, "What the…? Where the hell is that smoke coming from? Is something on fire?!"

Then there's a loud bang, literally causing the ground underneath him to shake, "Now there's an earthquake? Are you kidding?"

Then a small stampede of animals run past him, with a cute blonde girl running after them, shouting,

"Hey, come back here!"

Somewhere, on what Dean assumes is an intercom, he hears an older woman's voice, "Room 116, you can't bring your wild animals into the dorms! If I have to tell you again, there will be consequences!"

As the blonde girl disappears, she calls behind her, "Sorry!", then she's gone.

Then the woman's voice returns, "Room 208, did you use an empty room as a smoker again?! How about I smoke you out instead? I think that's fair."

Somewhere unseen, the culprit says on her intercom, "Yeah yeah. Sorry."

But the woman's not done yet, "And 205! If I find your room trashed again I'll promptly have you thrown out! This place has standards!"

Room 205's tennant replies hastily, "I know! I'm sorry. But it's not my fault these two bozos won't duke it out somewhat else!"

But before Dean can think about any of it, the older woman's voice is suddenly behind him, asking, "You're Dean Winchester, the new transfer looking to reside here?"

Dean turns, and sees an older brunette woman, who looks like she means business as she informs him,

"I'm the dorm mother for this place. Jody. Or Miss Mills."

Dean's mind is reeling, I'm surrounded by whackjobs again!

Then Jody asks, "So what ingredients do you have for your dish?"

Dean has no idea what she's talking about, "Huh? What ingredients?"

Jody's face is incredulous as he informs him, "For the dorm's entrance exam. What else? '1. If you wish to board at Cuthbert Sinclair, you have to cook a dish. You'll only be accepted if the dish meets my standards of cooking. 2. Judging of the dish is done by the dorm supervisor. And finally 3. All applicants can bring any ingredients they want."

Dean's now even more confused, "I didn't know about any of that! I don't have any ingredients on me!"

But Jody's not about to take pity on him, "Then you've already lost. If you can't earn your spot with your skills, this is no place for the likes of you."

Dean can't believe it, "Then what the hell am I supposed to do for tonight???"

Jody is ruthless, "You'll be sleeping under the stars on the ground."

This is getting worse by the minute, "You can't be serious. It's April! You should know how freezing cold it gets out there! Throw me.a bone here! I literally can barely stand because I'm so hungry and exhausted."

But maybe she does have a heart after all, "God, do you sound pathetic. Very well. I suppose you can eat. But there's nothing but leftovers in the kitchen, so it's really a game of chance what's in there. Guess today's just not your day, is it?"

But Dean feels like he's just been thrown the juiciest bone of all, "Wait. Can I use your leftovers for the exam?"

That's completely unexpected, "What did you say?"

With his new determination, Dean tells her, "I'll do the entrance exam. Show me the kitchen."

 

With the flick of a light switch, the kitchen is immediately illuminated, and Dean's blown away by it,

"Wow. You're telling me you've had a kitchen like this all this time?"

Jody is not impressed, "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's egotistical brats with all talk and no game. Do you have any idea how many dishes I've tasted over the years? And you expect me to be impressed with anything you can cook up using half eaten slop?"

Instead of answering, Dean quickly searches through the pantry to see what's available,

Got some potatoes, onions and bell peppers and whatnot… Then he checks the fridge, Carrots and tomatoes… Back to the pantry. Rice…and plenty of spices.

Then, once he's taken note of everything, I got this in the bag.

Dean turns back to Jody to tell her, "Oh yeah. This will be plenty."

Jody is curious, What could this kid possibly be thinking?

Dean pulls out his bandana, informing her, "Ms. Jody Mills, Cuthbert Sinclair's dorm mother, give me a few minutes, and I'll have it right out.", then ties the bandana around his head.

 

In a flurry, Dean gets started right away, throwing a bunch of dried out ingredients into a saucepan, then adds a fresh carrot. Once he's tested to see if it's ready, he gets the rice going, then covers it to let it hydrate as well. Then with one final swoop, he pours some rice into a bowl, then pours his finished creation over it.

Jody's trying to make sense of what she's seeing, "I could be wrong, but there's hardly any meat lying around! So how could he possibly have made a stew like this in barely under an hour???"

But then the dish is right in front of her, while Dean tells her, "I used a lot of your dried out ingredients and even a fresh one to make a hearty vegetable stew."

Jody can't believe it, "Dried out ingredients???"

Dean explains, "I rehydrated your tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper, onion, basil, oregano, and garlic, then brought them to a boil. I let it simmer away, then threw in a still fresh carrot into it. Then I boiled some rice and let it cook, before pouring my stew over it. Given the time constraint, I call it the Winchester: Know Your Resources Hearty Vegetable Stew."

Jody still has her doubts, Impossible. A hearty stew made mostly with dried out ingredients? There's no way. It should be disgusting.

Then she takes a spoonful and lifts it to her mouth.

Once the flavors hit her tongue, she feels like she's just been zapped.

It's so hearty that if he'd told me he used real meat, I would have no doubt he was telling the truth. And it's so tender and juicy. Wait, what's in this broth?

Jody takes another spoonful, this time with only the broth, and she still can't figure it out, Where's all the heartiness coming from? It's the quality of the stock that gives a stew like this its flavor. The taste alone is all the proof I need to know he used some really impressive stock.

Then she turns back to Dean, demanding, "How? I know for a fact we don't have any meat bones or stock cubes in this kitchen that could've been used to make a vegetable stew this hearty."

Dean's all too eager to tell her, "Well actually, that's where it turns out I actually did have an ingredient on me I wound up using."

That's when Jody sees the piece of meat in Dean's mouth, "You mean to tell me you got all this heartiness from a piece of jerky???"

Dean tells her, "Beef jerky is an awesome way to cook a hearty meal without worrying about it going bad. Something me and my dad had to worry a lot about on days when our profits couldn't get us both a hotel room and money for inventory, so we had to get creative. Let it simmer with other dried out ingredients, add some salt and pepper, and you got a hearty vegetable stew, with none of the flavors lost. Perfect dish on nights when money is tight."

Jody has to take a bigger sip of the broth, I had this kid all wrong. If he can make something this delicious using only dried out ingredients, it's not just impressive. It's remarkable! 

She keeps going back for another bite, Such an amazing taste, it's like it's really filling me up. Jerky and dried out vegetables, they all combine to make a delicious hearty stew. Reminds me of young love…

But then she snaps out of it, "Dean Winchester, with this dish, you've been accepted into the Cuthbert Sinclair Dormitory. Congratulations."

Chapter Text

Charlie turns sets the shower on the highest setting in the co ed shower room, ready to just put the whole day behind her, and sighs under the warm steam.

Tasting all those "dishes" from that new kid has completely worn me out. What a dick! Treating me like a non paid intern at a major corporation!

Then she leans back into the spray, to get her hair wet as she says to herself out loud, "Yeah, that Dean was something else alright."

 

Meanwhile, Dean's being told by Jodi, "Dean Winchester, with this dish, you've been accepted into the Cuthbert Sinclair Dormitory. Congratulations."

Dean smiles as he takes his bandana off, saying politely, "Thank you, ma'am."

Jodi hands him a key, "You're in room 124. Don't lose your key."

Excited, Dean grabs it and immediately runs off to go find his room, whole Jodi stays put to muse, Pulling off that dish with such limited ingredients, we just might have someone very interesting joining the gang. Dean Winchester, huh?

 

Back in the shower room, Charlie's now saying to herself, "Since getting here, this hot shower is my only friend. Sure, Jodi can be a bit much, but at least our teachers aren't super strict. And Dean's not here either!"

Outside, Charlie hears someone say, "I think I'll start with a hot shower!"

Charlie turns her head, curious, "Huh?"

Then the door opens, and holy hell, it's Dean Winchester in his birthday suit, looking at her in HER birthday suit.

Immediately, Charlie covers her chest self-consciously, but when Dean doesn't move, she lets out a scream that can be heard throughout the dorm.

Jodi, cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, looks up and smiles, "Looks like he's already making friends. Good for him. Now he just needs the shower schedule."

 

Later, after Dean's had his own shower, he's getting dressed to head to sleep.

"Man, that shower was the bomb."

He looks around his room, and thinks, I just realized this is the first time I've been away from my dad in 18 years.

The thought makes him remember all the times when he was serving a customer from the food truck, while his dad was always manning the cooking.

Then, he realizes something else, "It's eerily quiet in here."

But before he can think too hard on it, a board in the ceiling opens up and a squirrely guy's face shoes up, "Welcome, New Kid!"

Dean's immediate startled, "Who the hell are you and how the hell are you living in my ceiling?"

The guys just says, "Follow me. We're throwing a welcome party."

 

"What part of 'I'm studying for an important test do you guys not understand?!' If you're gonna party, do it somewhere else!" the Asian kid, who's name is Kevin, yells. "Why do you insist on always coming in here anyway?"

The blonde girl sitting on the bed, named Jo, says, "Well what else are we gonna do? You're the only one here with a room this big!"

Kevin, upon noticing Jo, moves to her, "Get off my bed!"

Another blonde girl, this time named Claire, adds, "And let's not forget it's also the cleanest!"

Kevin snaps, "That's because I just finished cleaning it up!"

A guy named Ed, standing next to his friend Harry, notes, "Oh that's true. There did used to be a lot of clutter in here."

Which is Kevin's cue to turn on him, "Because you two idiots trashed it!"

Harry takes his turn, "Get some more chairs in here, man."

But wouldn't you know it, that's right when they bump into a bookshelf and knock a few books off. "Whoops."

Whole Kevin's chewing them out, Dean just sits next to Charlie and watches it all unfold, whole Charlie's still frozen with embarrassment from what happened in the bathroom.

"It's nuts how we wound up at the same dorm, isn't it, Charlie?" Dean's saying to her now.

That seems to help her snap out of her embarrassment, as she turns to him and asks, "Is it though? Or are you actually trying to tell me you passed the entrance exam on the first try?"

Dean admits, "Yeah, kind of. But I'm just glad it worked out. I don't want to sleep out in the elements of I don't have to."

Charlie's definitely surprised, "Amazing. Not everyone here can say the same."

Now it's Dean's turn to be surprised, "Oh yeah? How many times was it for you?"

Charlie tries to play it off, "Oh, you know. So-so. You know how it is."

Dean's confused, but no way is Charlie admitting to him it took her 2 whole months before finally getting in.

Thankfully, she's saved by Claire, who crouches down to offer Dean a drink,

"Care for a drink?"

Dean jumps a little, but just says, "Oh, sure. Thanks."

Claire hands him a cup and pours something into it from an interesting looking bottle.

Cautiously, Dean sniffs it, then actually looks at the liquid itself, "Weird. Looks so... murky. And that bottle doesn't have a label on it."

Claire confirms, "Yeah, it's my own little "cider" I made from apples. Bottoms up."

Dean takes a sip, before asking Claire, "Wait, are we allowed to be this loud around this time at night?"

Claire waves off his concern, "Oh, sure. We're all the way on the edge of campus."

Dean admits, "True, but still…won't our dorm mom get mad?"

But right then, said dorm mom speaks through the intercom,

"Come on down, kids! There's meatloaf and homemade mashed potatoes! Get them while they're hot!"

Immediately, Ed and Harry start walking towards the door, with Dean making a comment, "Are they actually going down there?"

Jo, still on the bed, assures Dean, "I wouldn't worry about them. They'll be back in plenty of time before Jodi goes off on her tangent about the Garrison."

That makes Dean wonder, The Garrison?

Then he remembers what Kaia yelled at him, about Jack being the youngest member to be in the Garrison.

Then he asks the group, "What exactly is the Garrison, anyway?"

Claire looks skeptical, "You actually asking?", while Jo asks, "You mean you really showed up at Kendrick's Culinary Academy with no prior knowledge?"

Then Jo turns to Kevin, "Hey Kev, can you give him a history lesson?"

Kevin's still annoyed, "Why is it always me again?"

Claire quickly says, "Oh quit your whining and help the poor guy out."

Kevin rolls his eyes, but relents, "Fine."

Once he's sure all eyes are on him, he begins,

"The Kendrick's Garrison is a committee made up of 10 highly ranked students that attend here. At Kendrick's, students usually settle any disputes amongst themselves, and they all need a mutual agreement from the Garrison. It's the highest decision making committee on campus. As far as their ranking goes, they're literally one level below the director. Which means yes, even the teachers can't go against a decision made by the Garrison."

Jo picks it up from here,  "It's said that some time ago, there was a time where Cuthbert Sinclair was practically filled to the brim with students, so much so, even some of the Garrison resided here."

Claire adds, "There was even a moment when all the members of the Garrison were here at Cuthbert Sinclair." Then she laughs, "You should see how worked up Jody gets when she talks about it."

So that means Jack Kline has his own seat in the Garrison, huh? Dean thinks, but before he can ask, Ed and Harry come back into the room, "We come bearing delicious homemade goodies!"

At the same time, the squirrely guy from Dean's ceiling plants himself right in front of Dean, "Hello, Dean Winchester. Nice to meet you. Welcome to Cuthbert Sinclair." Then he reaches out a hand, "I'm Garth Fitzgerald IV. I'm a year above you. But just call me Garth."

Dean smiles and takes Garth's hand to shake, "No problem at all."

Garth smiles back, "Well isn't this nice? I'm simply ecstatic to have the incoming student live with us. But you need to remember: we're all young adults living under one roof, sharing our stories and passions. Student life is like a voyage on the sea. I came here head over heels in love with that concept. Gimme a big old hug so we can rejoice in our awesome existence!"

Finally Ed speaks up, "Yeah that's great, but can you not peek in through our ceilings when you call us?"

Garth seems surprised by this, "Don't like it?" Then he turns to the intercom, "Well, I suppose I could use this thing instead. Although I've found Charlie Bradbury's the quickest to respond whenever I do."

That makes Charlie freeze again, "Aw man! Do I have to?"

 

She's sitting on her bed, terrified of the voice from the intercom. 

"You sleeping, Charlie? I'm having so much fun over here. But I'm so lonely...I just have so much food. Let me share it with you! Bring your cute little self down here if you're still awake, alright? I promise it'll be worth it!"

Charlie finally gets enough guts to say back, "You're not gonna leave me alone till I do, are you?"

 

In the present, Claire shakes her head at Charlie and says, "If he does that, just ignore him and he'll give up."

Jo agrees, "Stand up for yourself!"

But Harry admits, "I'm with Charlie. It sucks when he tries to freak us out like that!"

Ed chimes in, "What's even up there anyway?"

This whole exchanged had Dean completely confused, "Jesus, my roommates are a weird bunch."

Charlie says behind him, "Then you'll probably fit in no problem."

Suddenly, Garth raises a cup and asks, "Does everyone have a cup in hand?"

Once he sees everyone does, he says, "Then I propose a toast. To Dean's success and to the glory of Cuthbert Sinclair. Cheers!"

Everyone else erupts in, "Cheers!", as well, then the festivities are in full swing.

It's not long before Dean's had a few too many cups, even exclaiming, "What's in this awesome 'apple cider'? It's probably the best thing ever invented since sliced bread! I could keep drinking this for the rest of my life!"

Charlie shakes her head, "Yeah, he's gonna fit in just fine."

Dean then says, "I want some food! Who's got food!"

Then a voice from the side says, "Sounds like that's my cue to bring out my food."

The voice turns out to be from a brunette, who sets down a plate and describes it, "Some smoked Gouda and three kinds of meat: bacon, brisket and ham."

Dean immediately goes for the bacon, and already starts praising it, "Oh man. Smoked bacon is so good! Really traps the smoky flavor in there!"

Kevin agrees, "Meg, pretty girl, you're a goddess with smoke."

Meg doesn't really respond other than to take a sip of her cider, "Uh huh."

Then Harry sets his own plate down, "Try mine! It's creamed spinach and parsnips, taken straight from our garden out back."

Dean tries that too, "Oh wow. Never thought I'd ever say this about rabbit food, but this is pretty damn good."

Ed makes the comment, "I'll take my crab cakes over this any day."

Which makes Harry turn his attention to Ed, snapping, "Oh come off it! We all know your taste buds are nowhere near the same level as ours!"

Then one shoves the other into the bookcase again, causing more books to fall, which makes Kevin yell,

"What the hell is it with you two?"

Jo adds, "Yeah. This is why the kitchen's almost always in a mess or completely empty!"

Which seems to have worked, because then they both turn to Jo and say, "Shut up, you animal killer!"

Harry says, "You stink like a pig pen."

Ed adds, "And the whole area around your room stinks to high heaven!"

But Jo's not bothered by it at all, "Anyone who says something like that to me clearly has no appreciation of the freshness of my wildlife."

Then she gets up, clenching her hands into fists, "Gimme an hour tops."

Claire and Charlie try to call her back,

"You can't go and strangle something this late!"

"Jo, come back. Just calm down."

Then Dean takes his turn, "Oh that's right!" Then he holds up a Tupperware container and says, "Can't believe I forgot about a fish I just made earlier today!"

Ed exclaims, "Now we're talking, Dean! Let me see!", and takes a spoon, scoops some up and puts it to his mouth.

Followed by him spitting it out and Dean teasing, "Whoops. Guess I forgot to mention it's disgusting."

Everyone else laughs, while Dean keeps apologizing.

Then Garth does something really weird and starts showing himself off in his apron. "Ba bam!" This wouldn't be so weird if it weren't for the fact that Garth's stripped himself down to his boxers.

Ed and Harry aren't even phased, as Harry says, "New it was a matter of time before he's in his boxers and showing off his apron."

Everyone else just claps and laughs their heads off, obviously incredibly tipsy from the homemade "cider".

 

Meanwhile, in her own room, Jody sits by the window, eating her share of tonight's meal and listening to the laughter over the intercourse as she says out loud,

"No matter how much times may change two things never have: students laughing, and how beautiful the stars and moon look every single night without fail."

 

Hours later, while everyone else has finally fallen asleep, only Garth and Dean are still awake.

Garth takes this moment to say, "Tonight was fun, wasn't it?" A pause. "I just want to welcome you one more time, Dean. I'm really glad you made it in here."

Dean smiles and replies, "No no. The honor is mine, really." 

But then Garth realizes, "We're already out of food?" But he doesn't let that bother him, "No matter! We still have some beef tenderloins. I can whip something up no problem!"

Then he gets up to walk down to the kitchen, but not before Dean says, "You're going down there like that?" Referring to his only boxer clad body and apron.

But Garth doesn't even respond, just leaves, then returns a while later with the promised food, "All ready. Eat up! Spice rubbed tenderloin with mustard cream sauce."

Dean's all to eager to eat more food, "Thought you'd never ask!" And cuts a piece and brings it to his mouth.

To say the least, he's completely blown away by the flavors. It's too good! It makes perfect use of the blend of spices. He made such an easy to mess up dish like it was nothing! This guy's nothing like the rest of the people here. He may only be a year above me, but does it really make that big of a difference for someone to make something this delicious?

"Oh, by the way?" Garth suddenly says, making Dean snap out of his food daydream. "You've piqued my curiosity. You said something that got my attention at the opening ceremony. Aiming to put yourself in the top spot here at Kendrick's isn't as cut and dry as you might have been led to believe."

Then Garth says, "I believe I didn't give you a proper introduction. From the Kendrick's Garrison of Ten, I'm seat number 7, Garth Fitzgerald IV."

This completely stuns Dean silent, but Garth keeps talking, "Now that I've let you taste mine…" he pauses. "I'd like to taste yours. Show me exactly how you come through in your food."

Well shit. If Dean wasn't nervous before, he definitely is now.

Chapter Text

Now that the gauntlet has been thrown, The first thing Dean this is, I think I'm starting to get why I'm really here.

Then he smiles, stands up, pulls out his bandana again, and says, "Coming right up."

But then he remembers, "Your family's restaurant is high end southern comfort, isn't it?"

Garth doesn't seem offended by this, just asks, "How'd you come to that conclusion?"

Dean immediately answers, "Because only a tenderloin dish prepared this well would not be out of place on a menu like that. You can't prepare it just anywhere."

Dean looks at the dish again, It was so juicy. And the choice to put a mustard sauce with sour cream and shallots added, makes it a tart and still smooth match for the tenderloin. Tenderloin doesn't have a seasonal limit on it, so he could pair it with thyme and the white wine in the mustard. It's like southern comfort in springtime!

Then Dean says out loud, "Tenderloin...I got it!" He turns back to Garth, "Winchester Mystery's number 21 on our secret menu!"

Garth asks, curious, "Winchester Mystery?"

Dean explains as he ties his bandana around his head, "Name of our family food truck. I'll use beef tenderloin too. Very popular dish. And what the hell, I'll use spring themed ingredients too."

Dean and Garth go straight down to the kitchen, where Dean sharpens his knives and gets to work, pouring some leftover chicken and beef stock in a saucepan to reduce it. 

A while later, back in Kevin's room, Jo wakes up first, complaining, "I think I feel asleep."

Then Claire wakes up, "Me too. Think I had a little too much special apple cider."

But upon hearing the sound of something sizzling in a pan, they all turn their heads towards the door. "Huh?"

Jo asks first, "Is Dean actually cooking?"

Claire deduces, "Guy's got a bottomless pit for a stomach. Probably woke up hungry."

"No, they're facing off." Comes from the other side of the room, prompting them to turn towards Meg. 

Jo asks, "Meg! You were still awake all this time?" Then she realizes what she just said. "Wait, they're actually having a cooking battle?! When did this happen?!"

Meg rolls her eyes as she answers, "No clue. All I know is it was Garth that gave the challenge."

That makes them all go down to the kitchen, and upon seeing them both, Jo just asks, "Um, shouldn't we be more concerned about someone's lack of clothes besides boxers?"

Claire waves it off, "Oh who cares? Let's not be a mood killer now of all times, shall we?"

 

Meanwhile, Dean finishes with the vegetables, cooks the meat, then gets it all on the plate, telling Garth enthusiastically, "Order up! This here is Winchester Mystery Truck's secret menu number 20: Upgraded! Beef Tenderloin with Spring Vegetables."

As he takes the finished dish back to the room and sets it down in front of Garth, Jo, Meg, and Claire, Dean says, "Admittedly, this should be made with lamb, but I wanted to make a different version with beef. Made enough for everyone, so enjoy yourselves!"

Claire goes first, spearing some of the vegetables with a fork and asking, "So what exactly is it I'm eating here?"

Dean explains, "Carrots and beans cooked with boiling saltwater, with bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus and zucchini, covered in a special sauce I made."

Jo whines, "Aw, why do you have to make us more hungry?!" 

Meg agrees, while Garth looks at the dish more objectively.

Okay, so far it looks like just a normal beef tenderloin with vegetables. Wouldn't be out of place on a food truck menu.  Not unless…

Meg and Claire get ready to dig in, admitting, "This is looking pretty good."

But it's Garth that takes the first bite. Then he has another one. And another one. "Delicious!"

Jo notes, "The beef is perfectly juicy, and the vegetables are still crisp! All the flavors pop up on my tongue with every bite."

Claire picks it up, "There's no way just broiling it could've done this, so how?"

Meg takes a bite and says, "Braising."

When Jo and Claire turn in her direction again, Meg says, "He made this tenderloin by braising it. Also commonly called the poele method."

Claire says, "What?", Jo says, "Are you serious?" While Dean just says, "Huh?"

Upon hearing that, Jo points a finger and demands, "Where do you get off acting surprised?"

Dean explains sheepishly, "I've never heard the term 'pollee' in my life, so…"

Jo's taken aback, but Garth speaks up again before she can say anything, "Little cooking lesson for you. Poele is a method of cooking meat that's well known in the French region of Europe. It's one variation of the saute. You heat up olive oil and cook the meat in it, letting the meat absorb the oil to make it juicy."

At Dean's shocked look, Garth asks, "I'm curious, Dean Winchester. Who taught you to cook like the French?"

Dean says, "My dad. He's pretty much been my mentor for as long as I can remember, and he's the one who taught me to cook like this. Said it was ideal to make tenderloin to just the right juiciness. It's awesome with a medley of broiled vegetables. And they're flavored with a sauce made from a dry red wine, beef and chicken stock reduction, and chilled butter whisked in slowly. Gives it an amazing flavor that goes really well with the tenderloin. Depends on what you're after."

But upon hearing Dean's explanation, Garth has a different question, "So your dad is well versed in French cuisine?"

Dean admits, "Not entirely sure. I couldn't say for sure about anything my dad's been up to. But I guess it's accurate to say my dad's studied all over the world."

Garth turns back to the meat, "I can definitely see that." Who would've thought an Irish fish could be made using a French cooking technique? He doesn't stick to one category or cuisine. It's so... freeing! And braising it was perfect, given the thickness of the meat, ideal for both filets and tenderloins. He thought that up in a snap second and made the necessary adjustments. The colorful vegetables look like they just sprouted up out of the ground! No doubt about it, this is definitely spring on a plate.

It's silent for several moments as everyone keeps taking more bites, loving the juiciness from the meat and the deliciousness of the vegetables, until finally, the plate is completely empty.

Garth has to compliment Dean, "Well done."

Dean smiles, "Thanks. I actually like yours too."

Garth holds out a hand, "Thanks for the competition."

Dean takes it, and shakes his hand firmly, and right at the same moment, everyone else in the room starts waking up.