Dean Ambrose is good at many things. Wrestling. Breaking things. Pool. Street racing. Cooking.
But one thing he’s strikingly bad at mushy shit. Which is kinda awkward, really, considering he’s dating one of the most considerate, affectionate humans in the WWE.
“So I was thinking I’d drive up and visit after Smackdown next Tuesday,” Roman says nonchalantly, as they’re Skyping one evening in early February.
“Thought you were coming for Elimination Chamber?” Dean asks absently, trying desperately not to yawn. It’s not particularly late, but his matches this week took a lot out of him and he’s been spending every extra moment in the gym, sparring with Corbin and the Usos to prepare for the upcoming pay-per-view.
“I am. But I figured we might want to, you know, do something. Valentine’s Day and all, you know.”
“Sure. That… that sounds great, Ro.” He covers his face to stifle a yawn, both to conceal his exhaustion from Roman and also to mask any outward appearance of surprise. Inside, he’s flailing, because what the fuck am I going to do? Not for the first time is Dean reminded that he has absolutely no idea how the fuck relationships actually work. Am I supposed to buy Roman a present? Take him to dinner? Wear fancier underwear?
Roman, lacking a full visual, is oblivious to Dean’s current inner chaos and continues happily. “Cool. You yawning on me there, uce?”
“Fuck off. I’m fine.” His body betrays him with an even louder yawn.
“Get some sleep, babe. I can call you tomorrow.”
“Fine. Night, Rome.”
“Love you, Dean.”
He’s lying awake the next night, pointedly not worrying about Sunday, when he starts thinking about the things he loves about Roman. His grin. His hugs. His hair. That gorgeous fucking hair, which always managed to smell good no matter how gross and sweaty he got in the ring and was honestly the softest thing Dean had ever touched.
Now there was an idea. See, Dean and Roman have this ritual. For when Dean needs calm down, or Roman’s had a really shit day. No matter how sore, no matter how tired, Dean always has the energy to play with Roman’s hair. It grounds him, somehow, and from the little hums and moans Roman makes every time he does it, he’s willing to bet Roman loves it even more than he does.
There’s a plan forming in Dean’s mind, but he’s going to need a favour.
Lucky that he knows just who to ask.
“Renee, do you know how to do that twisty hair-weaving shit?”
“Like braids?” she asks, a little confused. They’re backstage before a live event, and Dean has his hands shoved so far into his pockets that Renee’s a little worried they might rip.
“Nah, I can do those. The special twisty shit.”
Renee ignores the fact that Dean Ambrose knows how to braid and continues her questioning. “French braids? Dutch braids? Fishtail braids? Milkmaid braids?”
“So they’re all just fancier fucking braids?”
“Basically. Unless you’re thinking of like, chignons and twists?”
“Like that,” Dean says, pointing at Becky Lynch, walking by in deep conversation with Naomi on their way to the ring. Becky’s fiery hair is caught up in two impeccable French braids.
“Easy-peasy,” Renee assures him.
Easy-peasy may have been a tad optimistic.
“Fuck,” groans Dean, looking down at the tangled mess he’s made of Becky Lynch’s hair. Renee has been an endlessly patient teacher, but it’s just not clicking.
“Ambrose, you have got t’ calm down.” Becky reaches around and grabs his hands, which are shaking more than usual. “Dean, love, you’re holdin’ your breath. Just relax and stop overthinkin’ it.” She turns back around, rolling her shoulders and resuming her previous position.
“Who are you and what have you done with my girlfriend?” asks Renee, a little amazed that the famously impatient Irishwoman is tolerating this so well.
“Anything in the service of romance. Although, I may need t’ grab food soon, love, or I may end up hitting something.”
“There she is!” pipes up Renee, a cheeky grin on her face, and it earns her a swat and a kiss from Becky before they begin arguing about what to order.
Eventually, Dean reaches a point where Renee is confident he has the technique down; he just needs some polish.
“Just practise a few more times beforehand, and it’ll be fine,” Renee assures him, as Becky stands in front of the mirror, thoughtfully eyeing the slightly-lopsided braids he’s managed to create.
“You just need a feel for the tension, Dean. That’s all,” she agrees, finally. “That’ll come with time.”
Dean doesn’t point out that with Valentine’s Day less than a week away, time isn’t something he actually has. He hadn’t exactly been upfront that he was doing this on a deadline. Framed it more as “acquiring a new skill to surprise Roman with at some nebulous time in the future.”
Possibly not the wisest course of action.
“Shit,” is the first thing Roman says when he sees Dean after Elimination Chamber. Dean’s neck and chest are criss-crossed with vicious welts, several of which are already turning to bruises, and he’s stumbling just a little.
Dean shrugs. “I took advantage of his distraction, just like he would have. Corbin just … overreacted a bit.”
“He was out of the match!”
“That didn’t stop us triple-powerbombing A.J. Styles at Survivor Series, did it?”
He has a point, though Roman’s not going to admit that right now. Instead Roman searches Dean’s face, trying to gauge if this is authentic or bravado.
Dean’s detached expression cracks a little. “Pissed he left me for Miz to pin. Fucking pissed. Management’s probably going to send him after my title now, and I ain’t looking forward to getting End of Days’d again. But give it a night to cool off and I’ll be good, Ro. I’m serious.”
“Good thing I booked us a hotel room somewhere else then.” Roman puts an arm around Dean and leads him to the carpark, taking as much of his weight as Dean allows him to.
“Fuck did I hope you’d say that.”
Dean’s head hurts too much to do anything besides lie back and allow Roman to fuss over him, dry-swallowing the offered painkillers and rolling so Roman can ice the fresh welts and spoon him at the same time. He’s angry that the fucking swamp monster went home with the title he still thinks of as rightfully his, but it’s hard to focus on being angry when Roman’s kneading patterns into his spine and murmuring a story about some shock game Creed’s been making everyone play backstage. It’s a very interesting story, but not interesting enough to keep him from passing out in record time.
Dean wakes up to 3 missed calls and a voicemail from a very drunk Corbin apologizing for letting The Miz pin him.
“Meant to kill Miz too before I hit the showers. Promise. There were so many refs, man. You deserved most of it, but I shouldn’t have EOD’d you. Fuck man, I’m an asshole. Fuck me.”
Yep. They’re going to be just fine.
Dean’s lazing around in Corbin’s room watching dumb television shows Monday afternoon when he has a thought.
“Corbin, you have hair,” he begins, slowly.
“Certain factions of the internet disagree, but what’s your point?”
“I need to … borrow your hair.”
Corbin looks at him like he’s grown a second head.
“Gotta practise something.”
“You fucking asking to braid my hair, Ambrose?”
Dean starts to fidget and mumbles something along the lines of “you could have just said no” as a wicked grin spreads across Corbin’s face.
“Oh, I ain’t saying no. But your phone is mine till we’re done, and you better be fucking prepared to get lit up for every tiny mistake.”
Dean raises an eyebrow.
“My best friend from middle school is a professional hairstylist,” he explains, and Dean groans. Somehow the idea of Corbin going full Tim Gunn on him almost seems worse than if he’d just said no.
Corbin is ruthless. But it never gets mean. Even when Corbin is describing one of Dean’s attempts as “more uneven then JeriKO’s power dynamic” there’s an undertone of care, like he can tell how much Dean wants to get this right.
Eventually he pronounces Dean’s efforts as “passable,” which in Corbin-grading means a solid A-, and insists they leave the hotel to eat for once. Dean expects him to take the braid out, but instead he just twists it up under his trademark beanie.
“Leave it in overnight and I don’t have to brush it tomorrow,” he declares gleefully. “That’s at least 15 extra minutes of sleep.”
Dean wonders if he even owns a comb right now. Would probably be in the bottom of his suitcase, with all the other bits and pieces of crap that collect when you basically never clear your bag out. He should really do that soon.
(He doesn’t have one. But he doesn’t clean the suitcase, either, so he never finds out.)
When Dean takes Roman’s hand on the 14th and leads him to sit on the bed in front of some cheesy sci-fi flick Seth recommended, their matches this week stop mattering. Aches and pains, wins and losses, all that shit melts away as Dean starts slowly working though Roman’s hair.
He restarts twice, and it’s not quite perfect, but Roman fucking loves it and he looks hot as fuck. Dean actually blushes at the hushed stream of compliments mixed with absolutely filthy suggestions Roman pours into his ears as he pulls Dean down onto the mattress and flicks off the light.
Dean Ambrose isn’t great at mushy shit.
But he’s certainly starting to learn.