Faster. Faster. FASTER.
Do you hear them? Do you feel them? Do you feel their hands barely grasping your hair? Tugging at your shirt?
Boom. You’re almost dead...
When Dean wakes up, the first thing he notices is his heartbeat. Too fast. Pumping blood too loudly. Then, his breathing pattern.
He barely has time to register anything else; there’s someone next to him.
"Hey, man. You’re okay. Breathe."
It’s a deep, unfamiliar voice. But it’s deep, low and just raspy enough to force him to listen.
He breathes in. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
Always the same. He gets more panic attacks nowadays, but he’s good at hiding them from Becky and Charlotte.
There’s a strong feeling in his chest and he’s so confused he can’t identify it, at first. He wants to get up and run to her.
But then, he understands. Danger, it screams.
And he remembers. Being outside. Becky shouting. The hands digging in his body. The roar.
If he wasn’t so scared, he would laugh.
He sits up quickly, only to fall back down just as fast, nausea awfully making its way in his body until he’s forced to breathe slowly to calm it down. "Oh, uce, stop doing that. Don’t want you to throw up. You alright? Fever?" A big, cool hand stops on his forehead.
He takes a second to enjoy the feeling, cold skin against his. But he can’t let his guard down that much so he shrugs it off. "Fuck off." He never heard his voice so raspy before. "Where...?"
The guy visibly doesn’t take the insult personally. He just respects his decision. "Uhm. They told me to say that you’re back at the motel?" He sounds hesitant, unsure, probably because he doesn’t really understand the sentence.
At least, it makes Dean snicker. It’s a joke between Becky and him. Some nights, when he can’t stay at his own house - well, the gym -, he stays at their little flat. It happened quite a few times already and Becky told him one day that motel made people pay- that maybe they should do that too. The motel’s their flat’s nickname, now.
At least, it means she’s alright.
He nods slowly and closes his eyes for a bit, just enjoying a tiny bit of peace. Then, he sits up- carefully enough, because he really doesn’t want to throw up.
He recognizes the room almost instantly.
That’s where he sleeps when he’s forced to stay at the motel. It’s a tiny room, two beds - which he always found funny so he slept in both - and a small closet. There’s also a mirror and two chairs.
One of the chairs has been moved between the two beds.
And on the chair is a big guy.
His hair is tied in a very neat bun. He has a beard, too, and a calm face. He wears a tee-shirt that doesn’t really hide just how muscular he is.
Memories flash in his mind and he just knows who he is.
That’s Big Daddy Bear.
"Oh. Hey." He rasps out, trying to clear his voice a few times but finally letting it go.
The man smiles. "Hey. Can I see your wounds? Not here to hurt you, uce. I wanna help."
Dean hesitates. If he didn’t know Big Daddy Bear, he would refuse. But he saw him working out and helping others. He knows he’s a good guy. So he slowly turns to face him and nods, still a bit careful.
Big Daddy Bear takes his arm and slowly undoes the bandages there. "My name’s Roman. And, mh, Crossfit Jesus is Seth." He’s visibly holding back his laughter. "You saw us at the gym, didn’t you?"
"Uh, yeah. You’re, uh, you’re Big Daddy Bear." He lets out, too confused to even feel dumb.
"That’s... a surprising name." He laughs, this time, a burst of calm, quiet laughter while putting the old bandages away, already taking a small first aid kit.
His wounds aren’t pretty. Big scratching marks all around, digging a bit too deep in some places. Bright red and bloody. He can see his flesh and he doesn’t like it. There’s also a huge, dark bruise. Only now does he realize just how painful his bicep is, almost moaning every time he tries to use his muscle.
"Yeah, doesn’t look too good. But... It’s alright. It’s gonna heal, nothing vital. You won’t be able to use this arm for a few days, might be a week. But it’s healing, man.” Roman looks sure and confident, gently cleaning up the wounds with a tissue and putting new bandages there.
"Dean. I’m Dean. Ambrose." Once again, his mouth is speaking before he can even think about it. Roman doesn’t look up, starts to undo the bandages on his other arm.
"Nice to meet you officially, Dean." He smiles softly while doing the same process on the other arm. The wounds are bright red but they’re not as deep on this one and the bruise looks like it might fade away sooner.
"Why did you save me? You don’t know me. You don’t know Becks. What if we tried to kill you?" His blue eyes keep sliding on his face, trying to find answers. But Roman doesn’t let go of the emotional stillness mask is wearing.
He gently puts one of Dean’s legs on his lap, putting his foot against his stomach. His abs, Dean notes. "We don’t let people die, here, if it’s useless." He slowly pulls the bandages off, ignoring Dean’s slight grimace. "You couldn’t fight. Not Seth, not in your condition. And no matter how tough you or Becky are, I’m pretty sure we could have worked something out to take you both down. You were hurt, she’s smaller. Could have used you as a hostage. Could have killed you. Lots of possibilities and you’re not winning in any of them."
Dean tenses up, tries not to take his leg back. He can only imagine a big guy like Roman chocking Becky while he’s being killed by the things.
"It’s alright. We’re not mean guys. We saw someone needed help, knew that this town is all about good guys. So you weren’t bad, we’re not, we helped you out. A cool deal." He shrugs, cleaning the wounds a bit slower.
"Mh. And, uh... Seth? Crossfit Jesus?" He asks with suspicion, frowning at the dark marks on his thighs.
"Just there." With that, Roman leans forward, chin almost on Dean’s thigh, showing Seth asleep in the other bed, covered by the blanket. Roman sits back up and goes back to bandaging up his thigh. "Couldn’t sleep well last night, so I let him have some rest. Can take care of you myself."
He has to admit he feels a bit better now that Roman has taken care of his wounds. But he’s still frowning. "I don’t need to be taken care of, man, not a fucking dog."
People usually step back, scowl, insult, call him a freak, hit him... nobody reacts really well when he starts to get like that.
But Roman doesn’t look surprised. He puts his leg back softly on the bed, careful to put it in a way to protect his wounds. "I know you’re a tough dude, Dean. Seth knows it too. We saw you fight half-unconscious. We know you’re tough." His eyes are digging into his, visibly not ready to let him go without him learning his lesson. “But if I can help you out and take care of you, I will. There’s no pride that needs to be involved here, man.” He shakes his head, leans back against his chair. “See me as a Big Daddy Bear if you want. I protect.”
Dean stays quiet, just looking at his bad thigh. The other doesn’t even need bandages, not hurt enough to waste bandages- they’re rare and precious. “Why are you here?” He finally asks, not daring to look at him anymore. He feels ashamed to be so vulnerable.
“Your friend Becky locked us up with you. She said that they had to take care of many things now and couldn’t handle us too.” He can hear the frown in his voice, can see the way his legs tensed up while he was talking. It doesn’t take a mentalist to read that he’s not okay with the decision. “I told her we could leave right away but she said she wanted you to be awake. But she visibly trust us enough to put us with you in a locked room.”
“She’s not bad. Becky. She wants the best for all of us.” Dean surprises himself, whispering what he knows is true. He never really had to think about it to know it, deep in his heart. “I’ll tell her I’m awake. You should wake Crossfit Jesus up.” And with that, he just turns to face the wall and knocks a rhythm against it- it’s too long to memorize it the first time.
Roman takes his advice and Seth is barely awake when the door opens, a tornado of bright red hair coming in. “Deano, last time you fucking do that or I’m kicking your ass all by myself you fucking bitch, can’t believe you dared!” She’s loud but emotional, already hugging him close and squeezing him.
“You’re this close to actually kill me, Becks.” He manages to say, face pressed between her shoulder and her neck.
“Oh, sorry, my bad!” Becky steps back with a small I’m-so-glad-you’re-not-fucking-dead-bro kind of grin. Then, she turns to look at a confused Seth and an amused Roman. “Well, the guy is up, let’s have a meeting, lads. Comin’?”
She’s already gone when they decide to stand up. Dean does so with more difficulty than he thought, hiding it as best as he can. He sees that Seth actually gets it and is about to move when Becky comes back. “Oi, ‘m takin’ care of ‘im but thanks anyway. Kiddo, come ‘ere!” And she’s grabbing him, almost carrying him outside of the room.
The motel, Becky and Charlotte’s flat, isn’t that big. From the outside, it looks just as dead as everything, but it’s a pretty place inside. They keep it clean and full of weapons and escape bags - just in case they have to fly away, one day.
It’s actually more of a workplace than a living place, but he knows they sleep, eat and live here since the beginning.
She’s leading them to the office. Well, what they call the offices. It’s really just a room with a big-ass window, a balcony and, inside, a big table with chairs. It’s pretty well decorated - he knows for a fact that Becky can’t stand staying in bad-looking offices because it makes it all too boring.
They all sit down. Charlotte comes in a second later.
She looks as she usually does. Queen vibes, even in the motherfucking apocalypse; the only one who can give off such vibes in such a dark time. Her long blonde hair tied up in a neat ponytail, she’s wearing a shirt and a simple pair of jeans. She sits down next to Becky, polite smile on full use. “Hello everyone. Dean, wonderful to see you’re still alive.”
“Yeah, it takes more than that to put me down, mh.” He nods, giving her a small smile that she returns instantly, more sincere, and he can see in her eyes that she was as worried as Becky about him. It warms his heart a little bit. Even though he had decided to stay far from people, both of them made their way into his heart.
“My name is Charlotte.” Her last name is powerful, too powerful to be said so easily. Of course, she keeps it quiet. “In case you didn’t get it, this is Becky and, of course, Dean.” She says while looking at both of them as she says their names. “I understood that you both already knew Dean.”
Roman and Seth look at each other for a second, and Seth is the one to talk first. He seems in a rather good mood for someone who just woke up, eyes shining - Dean knows he’s smart and he must like having someone like Charlotte in front of him. Hopefully not romantically or sexually- man, how awkward that would be. “Yeah. Used to see him at the gym. I’m Seth Rollins or, well, Crossfit Jesus, I believe.” His eyes slide on Dean, an amused smirk on his face. Dean isn’t one to blush; instead, he raises a teasing eyebrow and sticks his tongue out between his teeth. It seems to work on Seth, who turns a bit pink. “And, uh, this is Roman Reigns.”
“Big Daddy Bear for you.” Roman adds with a smirk too, looking way too amused by the meeting that he should be. His eyes are lazily sliding around, spending probably too much time on Dean; he’s squirming quickly. Receiving a lot of attention just isn’t his thing. It’s already hard some days with the girls; thankfully, Charlotte is a classy woman, she keeps her distance most of the time and Becky’s rough just like him; she just gets him.
Charlotte laughs, clear, nice Flair laughter. "Ah, the nicknames, right. Dean’s a wonderful thinker, sometimes."
"Char, to the point, mh?" Becky reminds her with a smile, gently patting her shoulder.
Charlotte nods and if he actually didn’t know them, he wouldn’t know that she did her best to restrain herself. Charlotte is a private woman and she doesn’t like to expose herself and her relationship to possible "useless danger" as she had explained it to him when they had met.
She gets up, taking a look outside for a few seconds. "What do you both know about this town and everything happening?"
There’s a moment of silence. Charlotte doesn’t usually do things like that but, well, she’s the leader right now.
Surprisingly, Roman talks. "Used to be a tiny but powerful town, something about the Flair family, if I’m not too wrong about all of this?" He’s frowning, looking like a student during a lesson.
"The father really had power upon the entire city." Seth cuts in with a nod, looking more confident. "We’re not from here but everyone knew Ric Flair." He shrugs and plays with a blond lock of hair. "His son took his place for about a year, right? But he died, and Ric had to come back, poor old man."
"Oh, yeah, I remember. That’s when the hunger crisis broke in. Still don’t understand how people got so mad about it... and so fast.” He looks like he’s really thinking about it for a while. “And that’s how the world became what it is today. Hungry bastards trying to eat us.”
“And what about you?” Charlotte asks, eyes of ice digging into their skins until Seth looks a bit uncomfortable.
“Went here to work out. We saw Dean there a few times. I think you were there too, weren’t you?” Roman asks, looking at Becky with a raised eyebrow.
Becky looks surprised, as if she hadn’t planned to be part of the conversation. Charlotte usually does the talking. “Yeah, I went with him. Not a lot because it wasn’t my gym, but it was nice to work out with him once in a while.”
Dean can’t keep the smile off his face. He remembers it well; the half-excuses to look at Roman and Seth, the confrontation with Becky, the nicknames… It was fun.
“When it all happened, we stayed hidden for a bit. You know, waiting for things to calm down.” Roman shrugs. Dean wonders if it had been Seth’s decision to hide. “For, like, a month. Then, we started to go out to grab food and things. People were already half-dead. Dangerous but worth it.”
“After, we just tried to survive our best. Hiding, hunting, trying to get food, water, medical supplies, weapons… you know it.” Seth leans forward, elbows on the table. “I know what this whole interrogation is about. We’re not dangerous. Well, we are, but not to you. We’re on your side.”
“On our side, mh?” Charlotte keeps the Queen act, all high and superior, just for a little while. Dean knows she’ll drop it soon. “People said that in the past. It’s really hard to trust people in this world, I think you know that.”
“Of course. We understand. But Dean and Becky saw us. It was just working out, but I don’t believe they caught us doing bad things. We’re no bad guys, we don’t care about living people, we just want to survive. We’re just like you.” Seth looks passionate, visibly wanting to show that they mean no harm.
Dean actually believes them. He also understands why Charlotte needs to check people in when they decide to stay in their town.
“Our hands are clean. We only use self-defense when necessary and usually, we try to help people out if we can. I think we show it with Dean, didn’t we?” This is Seth’s last card, his last argument, the strongest one. It’s supposed to convince Charlotte and Becky.
“You did, you obviously did.” She’s nodding but the act is going away slowly. When she talks again, she’s not sitting that straight anymore and her eyes are just tired. “Look, I understand that you don’t want to hurt us. But people came in the past, said the same things, and it didn’t go well at all. I need you to understand that being careful is deeply necessary for us. Especially when you’re trying to handle survivors in a dead town.”
Roman talks next, gently putting a hand on Seth’s shoulder to force him to lean back against his chair. Dean can see him putting a bit of pressure on his shoulder, probably to relax him a bit. It feels like he’s watching something he shouldn’t, so he hastily turns to look at Becky and Charlotte with a frown. “We understand. What’s the condition, Miss?”
Charlotte stops to think. She looks at Becky, eyes full of questions only the two of them know about. Even Dean doesn’t really understand when they do the eye-thing, but he guesses it’s a thing when you’re in a relationship. He has better things to do to really think about it any longer.
When Charlotte looks back at Roman, there is a small smile on her pretty face. “Alright. We do have a proposition. We can let you live here, in town. We can find you a place or you can choose it yourself. But being here means that you’re working for us. Dean, can you explain what you do to them?”
Dean is startled, not thinking they would ask him to talk in one of their meetings. Becky and Dean are mostly there in case it goes wrong; even if Charlotte knows how to fight. They are the terrifying ones. “Uh, yeah, yeah, I can.” He scratches the back of his neck, throwing a look outside. “I hang out a bit with the girls so when they need a job to be done outside, I’m usually on it. That’s what I was doing when we met you guys. It’s not really dangerous, depends on what you’re asked to do, I guess.” He shrugs with an annoyed look.
“Everything’s dangerous now, anyway.” Roman points out, eyebrows raising in a silent demanding way as if asking him to keep talking.
“Yeah. I’ve worked around town a lot so… you look like active, strong guys. You’re probably gonna work where there are a few hungry guys, keep them out of town, stuff like that. It really depends, some days I just go check on everyone that’s on the list, you know, check if they’re alright, alive and well, then, some other days, I’m just gonna walk around, see if there’s not a problem anywhere. It’s not rare to find someone injured somewhere or to find a bunch of these assholes. Someone’s gotta do it. Basic job. I spend at least three days a week trying to find food and stuff like that. To keep us going, you know.”
“If it’s just that, we’re in.”
“Well, you also have to understand that we trust you to a certain extent. We don’t really know what you’re capable of or what’s in your head.”
“You just have to ask,” Seth cuts in with a grin. “Right? You just have to ask and we’ll tell you.”
This time, Charlotte laughs. At least, she seems to like them. “Alright. So, I will just ask you a few more questions and then, we’re done.” She takes a notebook from somewhere - Dean knows she has a drawer full of notebooks about people. “First, Roman. Becky, please, take Seth outside and ask him. Of course, you can still see each other so you know that we’re not actually trying to break you off. It’s just because we want you two to be honest.”
Surprisingly, they obey.
ROMAN REIGNS. Survivor. Male. Brown, long hair. Brown eyes.
Relationship with Seth?
Brothers. Friends. Pack.
How do you see Seth?
Smart-ass dude, calculating, kind, overthinking, nervous/excited.
Since when do you know him?
Used to wrestle in a club together. Two years ago.
Your own strengths?
Good at physical work in general. I don’t give up and I never leave my people.
Your own weaknesses?
Trusting/protecting too much my people, my pack.
Would you kill to protect someone you love?
I don’t know.
Would you let someone die to protect someone you love?
Yes. Not good people if I can avoid it.
Would you let yourself be killed instead of someone you love?
Yes if I’m sure they’re safe later.
Would you abandon your people if it meant having bigger opportunities (a safer place, more power…)?
SETH ROLLINS. Survivor. Male. Brown, long hair. Brown eyes.
Relationship with Roman?
How do you see Roman? An overgrown puppy, definitely.
Your own strengths?
I try to make sure I think about every scenario/issue/answer. I’m good when it comes to aerial fight. I rarely give up.
Your own weaknesses?
I can be too much of an opportunist sometimes. I try to hurt people verbally when I’m angry which usually leads to fights. I’m also, on Roman’s words, “a stubborn, confident bitch". Which can be a strength, I guess.
Would you kill to protect someone you love?
Probably. Not good guys, though. A bastard, not an idiot.
Would you let someone die to protect someone you love?
Yes. Again, not good guys if possible.
Would you let yourself be killed instead of someone you love?
If it’s the only way, I guess.
Would you abandon your people if it means bigger opportunities (a safer place, more power…)?
I hope not.